Archive for the ‘Step 4’ Category

What If You Did It Anyway?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Ever wonder what might happen if you didn’t wait for someone with authority to tell you it’s okay?

Seems like a lot of folks say, “I’d like to do something like that, but _____ won’t approve it.” Fill in the blank with my church, my boss, my family, whatever.

It’s a convenient excuse for failure, if you accept it. Or you can go ahead and do it, if you really believe it’s what God’s called you to do. You’ll likely stir things up a bit, cause some commotion, make the bureaucrats uncomfortable.

If you’ve thought it through, folks usually won’t stop you. In fact, I think there are a bunch of folks waiting to follow the guy who’s crazy enough to make a move.

I think following Jesus is sort of like that. We’ve turned it into this make-believe, predictable, buttoned-up, neatly organized suburban neighborhood where everybody’s supposed to color inside the lines.

Except the One we claim to follow pretty much broke all the rules. He didn’t see much need to ask permission from the religious leaders before doing His Father’s work.

Jesus made a bit of a mess in the neat world the religious rulers created for themselves.

What do you think things would look like if we followed His example?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

The Discipline of Thinking About Our Thoughts

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

wisdom thinking manThis passage came up in our small group this week.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

I’ve read it many times, but somehow that last sentence slipped past  me. I was struck by the notion that capturing my thoughts might be one way of bringing peace into my daily life.

It’s been on my mind a lot this week, a good deal more than usual. What do I think about? Will I practice and refine the discipline of thinking about my thoughts?

I’ve reached one conclusion…it’s difficult, much more difficult than I realized.

Seems so simple. Think about good stuff, and my life will become more peaceful. Who wouldn’t want that?

I do. But I’m clearly going to have to begin with baby steps. Maybe I can capture one crummy thought, turn it to something excellent, and find a bit of peace.

Hey, it’s a start. Wanna join me?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

We’re supposed to love everyone. “Yes, but…”

Friday, April 25th, 2014

“We’re supposed to love everyone, aren’t we?”

“Yes, but…”

“I don’t think we can add a ‘but…’.”

As I understand it, the conversation pretty much died at that point.

When it comes to stuff like love, grace, and forgiveness, there’s no such thing as a “but…” And if you’re like me, that’s tough to get your heart around.

I don’t want the cold-hearted serial child molester to receive salvation and have his sins wiped away when he accepts Jesus. I really don’t want to love the person unconditionally who does things or holds views with which I strongly disagree.

Every bit of logic screams that some cases demand a “but…”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

Jesus proposed a different sort of logic, one in which there’s no such thing as “love, but….”

What would happen if we all found places where we put strings on love and worked to remove them?

No more “love, but..” Just love.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Is Envy Rotting Your Bones?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

I confess I envy people who can eat whatever they want and not get sick. Can you relate?

I can’t eat red meat, pork, shellfish, fried foods, or dairy products. I usually do well at home. When I eat in a restaurant or go away for a few days, the battle begins.

I dislike drawing attention to my food restrictions. However, when a waiter brings me a different meal than the others receive, that’s what happens.

I feel a twinge of envy and wonder if my bones are rotting. How about you?

To make matters worse, I suspect I can’t eat wheat either.

No matter what, I want a heart at peace that gives life to my body. I don’t want envy to rot my bones.

You may not suffer from food allergies, but you may have physical limitations. They challenge you, and you may envy people without them.

Perhaps you’re single and envy your married friends. Maybe you’re married and envy your single friends.

You may live in a townhouse and envy those in a large house with a big patio. On the other hand, you may live in a large house with a big yard and envy those in a townhouse who have less to clean.

Dear God, help me have a heart at peace. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to avoid envy?

How Many Times Have You Needed Forgiveness?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Can you imagine fourteen adults going to lunch at a packed restaurant on Sunday in December after church?

We waited for our lunch longer than usual and were hungry. I found the waitress and asked for bread and butter or crackers. She brought homemade bread and oil.

When the food came, my friend and I didn’t get ours. The young waitress was close to tears. She wanted everything perfect.

My friend and I could have been angry and ruined the luncheon for everyone else. We chose to forgive as the Lord forgave us.

Our meal came when our other friends were almost finished eating. However, we received complimentary soup, dessert, and a free lunch.

The waitress thanked me for showing her forgiveness. It was easy to do when I thought of my mistakes and sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.

We will all make mistakes and sin until we die. There’s one God, and we aren’t the one.

Let’s make this Christmas our best one by letting go of anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.

Dear God, help me forgive those who have hurt me. Amen.

Application: To thank the Lord for the times he’s forgiven you, whom will you forgive this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright 2010-2013, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Are You Running the Race Marked out for You?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Hebrews 12:1: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Spiritual housecleaning occurs year round. Today’s verse says to “throw off everything that hinders.” As I recover from laryngitis, an upper respiratory infection, and bronchitis, I’ve had time to ask God what I should throw off that hinders me.

Since I can’t do everything, my focus can’t be on what others think is best for me or on “good” things. My focus needs to be on what God thinks is best for me.

The rest of that phrase says to throw off “the sin that so easily entangles.” I love life. I love people, and I want to do everything. That turns into “busyness.” God’s will for me may get lost in that busyness. Throw off that sin is right.

Once I throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, then I can “run with perseverance the race marked out for [me].” I don’t want to limp through the race. I want to run it with perseverance.

Can you identify with me? Must you get sick before you stop, catch your breath, and ask God what hinders you that you should throw off?

Have you taken the time to identify the sin that so easily entangles you? If you have identified it, what have you done about it?

How will you finish the race? Running? Limping? Crawling? Running someone else’s race?

Dear God, help me throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to run the race marked out for you?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2013, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

What To Do When You Mess Up

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Apparently it’s the season for public scandal.

Politicians, athletes, and media figures seem to be lining up to provide the latest highly visible lapse in personal or professional judgment. Personal indiscretions, performance enhancing drugs, political cover-ups—if not for the tragic consequences, the stream of indignities would be laughable.

It’s like a reality TV competition—How Low Can You Go?

Several days ago a relatively unknown Philadelphia Eagles football player named Riley Cooper joined the parade. A video hit the Internet showing Cooper, a young white man, using the “N” word at a rock concert.

There’s no defense or excuse for Cooper’s behavior. His words were reprehensible. But I’m drawn to the incident by the way Cooper, his coach, and his teammates handled a hurtful, difficult, potentially divisive situation.

I think we can learn from the way this young man dealt with a humiliating mistake.

He owned his behavior. No lies, no excuses, no hiding, and no blaming. He stood up, admitted what he did, and took responsibility for his actions.

He acknowledged the harm he caused. No attempt to minimize or deflect, he accepted responsibility for the impact of his words on teammates, parents, and fans.

“I realize how many people I’ve hurt, how many families I’ve hurt, how many kids I’ve hurt,” Cooper said. “That’s what we talked about, the severity of it, and I completely realize that and I take full responsibility for it.”

He apologized, corporately and individually. Facing his teammates—many of whom are black—man to man must have been difficult. I’m sure some of those conversations were uncomfortable and even angry. But he didn’t hide behind a group apology.

He didn’t demand forgiveness. “I told them, ‘I don’t want you to forgive me because that puts the burden on you,’” Cooper said. “I want it all on me. I told them that and I told them I apologize.”

He realizes there’s no quick fix. “It’s going to be tough. No doubt it’s going to be tough,” Cooper said. “I’m going to live with this every day for the rest of my life.”

He can say all the right things now, but ultimately this incident will be resolved based on how Riley Cooper conducts himself over months and years.

I’m in no position to judge. Personally, I’m glad nobody followed me around with a camera phone while I was in my early 20’s.

We all mess up. Mostly life’s not about the mistakes, but about how we deal with them and what we learn from them. Riley Cooper took some good first steps, but he’s got a long way to go.

Personally, I’m rooting for him.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Got Any Buried Secrets?

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Last weekend our pastor talked about an incident from the early life of Moses.

As usual, I got trapped on one particular thought and probably missed the whole point of the message.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (Exodus 2:11-14)

Have you ever had a secret, something you weren’t proud of and tried to hide? I have. It messes up every part of your life.

Moses had a skeleton buried in the sand. He was careful. He thought nobody knew, because he “looked this way and that” and was sure no one saw his sin.

Maybe they knew, maybe not—didn’t matter, because when someone questioned his integrity, guilt and anxiety overwhelmed him. Moses couldn’t stand up to criticism because he was afraid he’d been discovered.

Recently a Roman Catholic friend told me he was trying to find a way back to the church. He recounted a conversation in which a priest told him the only solution was to confess and do penance for all his sins from the past couple of decades. My friend left that discussion convinced there was no hope. He couldn’t possibly deal with the guilt and regret of so many sins from so many years.

I think he, and maybe the priest, missed the point. God doesn’t want us to relive and feel guilty for our mistakes. We’re already doing that in a never ending cycle of fear and guilt, hiding and wondering when someone will find out. He wants us to confess so we can accept the forgiveness available through faith in Jesus. It’s not about punishment and guilt. It’s about moving forward in freedom.

If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:15b-16)

The whole point of confession is healing, removing the burden of hiding the secret and wondering who knows. Confession allows me to stand in the light rather than skulking in the shadows.

Because of the guilt, doubt, and fear created by his secret in the sand, Moses lost his ability to advocate for justice. Even though he was right, he couldn’t stand before the penetrating question of a Hebrew slave.

We’ve been focusing on this verse as we prepare for our upcoming bike tour.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

We want to seek justice, defend the oppressed, etc. We hope to use the ride as a platform from which to create awareness and encourage people to become engaged in resisting the horrible injustice of human trafficking.

If I want to advocate for justice, I guess I need to make sure I don’t have any secrets buried in the sand.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Do You Have the Courage to Do the Right Thing?

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

A four-year-old philosopher brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

TRUTH

My cousin has been emphasizing the importance of always telling the truth with her four-year-old daughter. Seems like a simple, straightforward concept, right?

So after one particular heart-to-heart, the young philosopher got that look that said there was something spinning around in her brain.

“Mom, Jesus always told the truth, didn’t He?”

“Of course He did, sweetie.”

“Mom, didn’t they kill Jesus because He told the truth?”

Learning what’s right is tough enough.

Age four is pretty young to understand the courage required to do the right thing.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

How Does Forgiveness Work?

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

I’ve told you before about my unauthorized personal version of the bible. It’s called RUV—Rich’s Unstandard Version.

Occasionally I encounter a conversation with Jesus in RUV when I’m trying to make sense of words from the real bible.

Jesus and His friends are hanging out after a long day. Peter asks, “Can I ask you about that whole ‘seventy times seven’ thing?’” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Jesus says, “Of course.”

“Okay. I get that ‘seventy times seven’ was a metaphor. You’re telling us not to keep track, right?”

Jesus nods.

“But you said something today that’s really bothering me. You said, ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ Luke 6:38

“That’s right. It’s one of God’s principles. You not only get what you give–you get more of what you give.”

The fire crackles as everyone lets that sink in. Finally John summarizes.

“So you’re saying if I forgive I’ll be freely forgiven, but if I judge someone harshly, even when they deserve it, I’ll be judged even more harshly.”

“That it.”

“But,” objects James, “what about someone who does something really horrible? Are you saying I should forgive even really terrible actions?”

Jesus pokes at the coals. As the flame illuminates the faces, Jesus looks around the circle.

“Do you think God ranks sins, that some are ‘better sinners’ than others?”

Heads shake slowly.

“It’s a principle. Give, and it will be given. With the same measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com