Archive for the ‘Step 5’ Category

Acceptance

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Have you ever tried your hardest to have someone accept you? Unfortunately I admit I have.

Sometimes we struggle to find success in our work. We find our value in what we do instead of who we are.

We may rush to the mall to buy clothes in the latest fashion or the “in color.” We define ourselves by what we wear.

We women may measure our self-confidence by our cooking skills and hospitality.

Men may compare their tools and electronic devices to seek acceptance.

However, our confidence is a God-confidence. Christ accepted us, and we weren’t perfect.

With Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, God accepted us and made us part of his heavenly family. Christ accepted us as his brothers and sisters.

Rather than see one another as competitors or enemies, we are to accept one another. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept only people who share the same social or economic status. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept people if they are the same color or race we are.

God’s Word tells us to accept one another in order to bring praise to God. We can accept one another and take advantage of our privilege to bring praise to God.

Dear God, help me accept others as Christ accepted me. Amen.

Application: What group of people or specific person does God want you to accept this week in order to bring praise to him?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, 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

Do I really Have To?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Most guys know our wives are a lot smarter than we are.

This morning I was working on an interesting project, a video to promote Florida Hope Tour 2013. I’m enjoying the challenge, but I’m not exactly a skilled video editor. I have to learn the software as I go, so it’s taking a lot of time. It doesn’t help that I get sidetracked by playing with all sorts of fun little features I’ll never use.

So while I was in the middle of figuring out how to create a really cool—and completely unnecessary—video effect, Becky asked a question. I, of course, acted like she’d interrupted the creation of an epic masterpiece.

“Why are you so impatient?”

“I have to get this finished.”

“No, you don’t. You don’t have to do anything.”

Like I said, my wife’s smarter than I am.

She’s absolutely right. I’m not Bob Cratchit, with Ebenezer Scrooge standing over my shoulder. I decided to make the video in the first place. I’m doing it because it’s interesting, because it’ll be helpful to others. I don’t have to do it. I want to do this project.

In fact, I get to do it.

It’s not a silly distinction. I’ll bet we all fall into the trap of have-to at least occasionally.

Have-to is all about drudgery and compulsion. The boss is making me do it—whatever “it” is, whoever “the boss” is. I do it all the time: I have-to do my devotions, I have-to take the dog running…

Get-to is completely different. Get-to is about gratitude and freedom.

Do you really have-to go to work, or make dinner, or attend your kid’s soccer game? Before you answer, consider how many folks would love to have your job or your family.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

I know Paul was writing about a different issue, but I think the principle’s similar. We’re all free to choose gratitude. We all get to pick between have-to and get-to.

What’s one of your have-to obligations? Does it seem different if you choose gratitude and turn it into a get-to?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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 Trouble He Causes – When Someone Has Hurt You

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Psalm 7:16: “The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.”

Since I am a licensed professional counselor, people often tell me about someone who has treated them or a loved one in a shameful or violent manner.  They often can’t understand how someone can continue to behave that way and get away with it.

God’s Word says the person doesn’t get away with it. Sooner or later the day of reckoning comes.

King Saul in the Old Testament attempted several times to kill David who would succeed him as king. In the Battle of Mount Gilboa in I Samuel 31:1-3, the Philistines seriously wounded King Saul. He asked his armor-bearer to draw his sword and run it through him. “His armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it” (verse 4). The armor-bearer then fell on his sword and also died. Verse Six tells us, “So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.”

In the book of Esther, Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai “neither rose nor showed fear in his presence” (Esther 5:9). Haman built a gallows seventy-five feet high to hang Mordecai on it, but Haman was the one hung on that very gallows (Esther 7:10).

Years ago someone hurt me deeply. I asked God to help me release the person to him and not hold a grudge. Eventually the trouble the person caused recoiled on the person. The pattern of violence in that person’s life eventually came down on that person’s head far harder than I could have ever imagined.

Perhaps someone has hurt you or a loved one. You may struggle with feelings of anger and a desire for revenge. Although it is not easy to do, let the negative feelings go.  Remember the end of King Saul and Haman and remember this verse.

Dear God, help me believe the trouble a person causes recoils on himself. Amen.

Application: When will you meditate on this verse this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, 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

Why Humility?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Humble yourselves. That sounds obscene. At least to the culture of self-promotion and “get ahead at all cost” and “don’t look back, the competition is gaining on you” it sounds obscene.

Humility is a forgotten virtue. Often confused with weakness or timidity, humility is about knowing our proper place in the world without flaunting it. Only God can exalt in a permanent way, so the key is to know our place before him and let him put us in the place he chooses to honor him.

A humble heart is tender towards God, and He responds when it cries out to Him. And that may be why He sometimes allows hard things into our lives – to bring forth the fruit of humility.

As God does great things in our midst, we don’t ever want to forget what He’s brought us through. We can do nothing without His intervention. But as we keep humble, contrite, tender hearts, there is no end to what He can accomplish not merely in our own lives, but for our children’s children.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, Chaplain Michael Clark

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional

as well as a Recovery Support Specialist

Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

Regrets

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV

Regrets. We all have them, don’t we? But one thing I’ve learned as we come closer to the end of our earthly life: ultimately it isn’t what we didn’t do for ourselves that we regret so much as what we didn’t do for others. I have absolutely no regrets over any kindness I’ve offered, any selfless deed I’ve performed, or any gift I’ve given. If I regret anything it’s those times I could have given but chose not to; times I served myself rather than others; times I spoke an unkind word rather than a healing one.

Billy Graham, in Nearing Home, writes, “Don’t come to the end of your life and look back with regret over a hurt that could have been forgiven or a relationship that could have been healed—if you had only seized the initiative and taken the first step.” Now is the time—right now, today, even this very moment—to seize the initiative and take that first step toward reconciling a broken relationship or encouraging someone in need or giving of yourself. How easy to put it off and tell ourselves we’ll do it “later,” but we aren’t promised later. This may be our only chance.

If we love God and regularly offer up praise and worship, prayers and thanksgiving to Him, then we need to heed the admonition in Matthew 5 to FIRST go to that one we’ve offended (or who has offended us) or from whom we are estranged for whatever reason—and do whatever we can to make it right. That person may or may not accept our efforts, but we will have gone a long way in ensuring we don’t reach the end of our earthly journey with a cartload of regrets following along behind us.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Jesus Says “Sorry” Is A Verb

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

“I’m sorry.” Why are those two little words so difficult to say?

I made a mistake. I need to apologize. It’s not that hard.

So why is it so hard?

Maybe there’s a better question. Why is it so hard to say I’m sorry and really mean it? Or even better, what does it mean to really mean it?

That’s the real question: what does “being sorry” really mean?

Apologize … and MEAN it

I know this will shock you, but I occasionally broke the rules as a kid. I recall my mom telling me to apologize to someone. I’d comply grudgingly, and she’d say, “Now go back and say it like you MEAN it.”

Dad was a bit more concrete. “If you’re not sorry, I’ll MAKE you sorry!” Mostly an idle threat, but it worked on a little kid.

Sorry was about feeling bad. Sorry meant regret and shame and fear. If you felt enough of that stuff, then you were really sorry.

Jesus didn’t say much about feeling sorry, but He did talk about repentance. In Luke 13:3 He says, “…But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Especially coming from Jesus, that’s the sort of thing you take seriously. Repent or die? I’ll feel bad, guilty, scared—I’ll feel guilty and regretful, I’ll beat myself up. Whatever it takes, I’ll be as sorry as possible to avoid that sort of punishment.

Huh?

Except—that doesn’t really fit with the rest of Jesus’ message. He doesn’t seem to be about instilling regret, shame, and fear.

In John 8 the religious leaders confronted Jesus with a woman caught in adultery. After He dealt with the leaders, He was alone with the woman. At the end of their conversation, He doesn’t embarrass or rebuke her or tell her to slink away in shame. Instead He simply instructs her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Maybe Biblical repentance isn’t about feeling bad. Maybe it’s not a feeling at all.

Maybe repent is a verb.

Biblical repentance means “to turn.” Jesus wants me to turn away from sin and toward God. He wants me to adopt God’s perspective. He doesn’t want me to feel bad—He wants me to leave my life of sin.

In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul discusses an issue of correction with the church. He explains that his intent wasn’t to harm them. Then in verse 10 he says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Godly sorrow brings repentance that … leaves no regret.

Mom was right

Now that I think about it, that’s really what my mom wanted as well. She wasn’t interested in making me feel ashamed, but she did want me to turn away from wrong behavior.

I still need to apologize.

“I’m sorry.” I acknowledge and accept responsibility for my actions. I want to learn from my mistakes and make better choices. I want to look in God’s direction, not my own. I want a new beginning.

I want to move forward in faith, hope, and love.

Do you struggle to repent without feeling guilty or ashamed?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Prove Your Love for God

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11, NKJV).

I am an avid follower and supporter of the Voice of the Martyrs and other such ministries that support believers around the world who suffer for their faith. As I read the stories of these courageous brothers and sisters, I am struck by the motivation for their courage: their great love.

To a person, those who stand strong for their faith in Christ despite persecution are marked by the depth of their love for God and others—including their tormentors. That sort of unwavering, selfless, forgiving love can flow only from a grateful heart that has first received the unconditional and undeserved love of the Father and the sacrificial gift of His Son. When we truly begin to grasp the enormity of God’s love for us, we can do nothing but respond with a thankful spirit and an outpouring of love for everyone we meet.

We all know people who seem unlovable. (This may be hard to believe, but there may even be some who consider us the unlovable ones!) Seriously, if God limited His love to those who deserved it, none of us would be able to receive it, would we? The Scriptures tell us “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). God didn’t wait until we cleaned up our act or earned our way into His presence to make the supreme offering of love on our behalf; He did it while we turned our back to Him and went our own way, wallowing in the pigpen of our own making and proclaiming our own goodness each step of the way.

First John 4:8 proclaims the great truth that “God is love.” Apart from God, there is no love; all else that masquerades as such is a sham—lust, need, desire. God’s love is selfless, and that’s the sort of love He calls us to model to others. Not only is that a difficult thing to do, but it’s actually impossible in our own strength. Only the One who loves us without measure can flow that love through us to others. Immerse yourself in His boundless love today, and then prove your love for God by allowing it to flow from you to those who may be the most unlikely candidates and yet need it just as desperately as we do.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Are You Still a Little Savage?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me!” Psalm 51:5

Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered: he wants what he wants–his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toys, his uncle’s watch, or whatever. Deny him these and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty; he has no morals, no knowledge and no developed skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, but all children are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in their self-centered world of infancy, given free reign to their impulsive actions to satisfy each want–every child would grow up a criminal, a killer, a thief, and a rapist.”
~ Reb Bradley, “Biblical Insights into Child Training”

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

“Remember that children are born with a decided bias toward evil, and therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong. The mother cannot tell what her tender infant may grow up to be–tall or short, weak or strong, wise or foolish–all is uncertain. But one thing the mother can say with certainty–he will have a corrupt and sinful heart! It is natural for us to do wrong. Our hearts are like the earth on which we tread–let it alone, and it is sure to bear weeds!”
~ J. C. Ryle

“Every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” Genesis 8:21

Application: Prayerfully consider in what ways you remain selfish or self-centered. Ask God to open your eyes to see yourself as you really are and then ask Him to bring you healing.

Willing To Be Willing

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… [Ephesians 4:21(a)]

Do you cling to any traces of bitterness?

Last week I wrote about talking to a younger version of me (Teaching Me). As I re-read my account of learning a scarcity mentality, it felt like I wrote a bit dispassionately. My words seemed somewhat cold and academic; I think I told the story but scrubbed away the raw emotions.

Fact is, I still harbor some bitterness toward my dad. I’m not proud of that, but there it is.

He did what he knew—there was no evil intent on his part. And he’s been gone for more than a year. Why am I still bitter?

Sometimes bitterness is right out in the open. Someone harms me and I want to strike back. I want vengeance. I want to get even.

That sort of acrimony can bury me in hatred, but at least it’s apparent. I see the danger, and I can choose to confront and resolve it.

I think the nastiest form of bitterness sneaks into the dark corners of our hearts. It hides behind old hurts and almost-forgotten struggles and festers within accumulated, unacknowledged slights. This subtle bitterness secretes venom in nearly imperceptible doses until our hearts harden and crack from long-term toxic exposure.

Bitterness also seems to create a cycle like the steps in the picture. The poison engenders more anger and an escalating desire for vengeance, leading to even greater bitterness. It’s an endless death spiral, every downward step leading inevitably to the next.

I have a sense that there’s no such thing as a “little” bitterness. One taste of “getting even” leaves us wanting more and still more, and down the steps we go.

Antidote

The encouraging aspect of the steps is that they lead eternally down—or up. I think we get to choose which direction we travel. So if bitterness destroys like poison, what’s the antidote? What’s the secret to stepping upward?

I think the antidote is forgiveness. I need to recognize my dad’s impact (done), acknowledge the pain (done), and then sincerely let go of the resentment (uhhh…apparently not quite done).

I don’t wish to be overly self-critical. Forgiveness isn’t an event as much as a process. As my friend Jeff Lucas says, the critical step is “to be willing to be willing” to forgive. Perhaps that’s the key to turning the cycle around and walking up the steps toward light and freedom.

It’s not about sprinting, or even getting, to the top. It’s about stepping up rather than down.

If my feelings are an accurate barometer, I don’t think I’ve completely forgiven my dad yet. But I am willing to be willing. Hopefully that gets me going up the steps, because I’m tired of trudging downward.

You? Any old resentments hanging out in the shadows? Are you willing to let go, or at least willing to be willing?

Bitterness imprisons life. Love releases it.
Bitterness paralyzes life. Love empowers it.
Bitterness sours life. Love sweetens it.
Bitterness sickens life. Love heals it.
Bitterness blinds life. Love anoints its eyes.
Harry Emerson Fosdick

I’d tell the younger version of me to choose love and forgiveness, to do his best to walk up the steps. The journey down isn’t all that satisfying.

How about you?

Do the Faults of Others Bother You?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

There is a duty of fault-finding. The Master Himself teaches it. In the Sermon on the Mount, He makes it very plain. We must note carefully, however, where the duty begins. We are to look first after our own faults. “Why do you look at the mote that is in your brother’s eye–but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?”

We must consider the beam that is in our own eye!

The form of this question suggest that we are naturally inclined to pay more attention to flaws and blemishes in others–than in ourselves; and also that a very small fault–a mere mote of fault in another person–may seem larger to us than a blemish many times greater in ourselves!

Of course, it is far easier to see other people’s faults–than our own. Our eyes are set in our head in such a way–that we can look at our neighbor, better than at ourselves. Yet we all have faults of our own. Most of us have quite enough of them to occupy our thought, to the exclusion of our neighbor’s faults–if only we would give them our attention.

Really, too, our own faults ought to interest us, more than our neighbor’s, because they are our own; and being our own, we are responsible for them. We do not have to answer for any other one’s sins–but we must answer for our own sins, “Each one must give an account of himself.”

Also, the responsibility for getting rid of them, is ours. No faithful friend, no wise teacher, can cure our faults for us. If ever they are taken out of our life–it must be by our own faith, our own firm, persistent effort.

It is a fact, that the faults which we usually see and criticize in others–are the very faults which are the most marked in us! In our judgment of others–we show a miniature of ourselves. If this is true, we should be careful in judging others, for in doing so–we are only revealing our own faults! This should lead us also to close scrutiny of our own life, to get rid of the things in us which are not beautiful.

~ J. R. Miller, “The Duty of Fault-Finding”