Archive for the ‘Step 6’ Category

Taking Stock: The Past Year, The New Year

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

This is the last evening of the year! I am trying to sum up my year’s life. The days have come to me like clean, white pages–and I have tried to put upon each something beautiful to keep for me when the eternal books shall be opened.

It has been a year of opportunities. I am conscious of not having embraced them all. I have neglected duties of love, not always doing the things I should have done. I have not grown in heart-culture and spiritual life as I ought to have done. These neglects and all my sins, I humbly confess.

Yet I thank God for the past year. I cannot now change anything in it. But I want to learn lessons of experience from my failures and mistakes, and carry them forward into the new year.

I would forget the good things I have done, and try to do better things next year. No year’s life, however beautiful, is beautiful enough to simply repeat–it must be improved upon. So I leave my year, with all its blots and blessings, with God, who will forget nothing worthy, and will look graciously upon my mistakes.

“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 3:13-14

(J.R. Miller, December 31, 1907)

Following Ezra

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

If I would be like Ezra the scribe, bringing things new and old out of a full treasury, and guiding the feet of the perplexed into the ways of peace–I must look in four directions:

1. First, I shall turn my gaze inwards upon my HEART. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra had prepared his heart, and so must I. I must understand that vital religion is deeper . . .
than external observance of religious rituals,
than a valiant confession of the lips,
than an ordered theological belief system.
It is the soul convinced of sin, confiding the Savior, filled from above with penitence and faith and peacefulness and power.

He alone can plead with others and can prevail–who has undergone this most radical change, and whose heart is prepared for his work by its simple trust in the redeeming and quickening mercy of his Good Physician.

2. Then I shall give attention to my MIND. For “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” He was a pupil in the school of the heavenly oracles. He hungered and thirsted for clearer and profounder and more adequate conceptions of that wisdom which is eternal and divine.

To the last of my life, I must be a disciple and student of God’s Word. He has more light and truth to break forth from His holy Word; but He reveals them to those alone who search and dig for them as for hidden treasure. How can I feed my fellows with the bread of the soul, unless I am busy appropriating and enjoying it myself?

3. And I shall be watchful over my LIFE. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra was careful not merely to study the Word, but to DO it. He was saint as well as scholar! Day after day, the purifying Word kept him from staining his garments, and made his character gracious and godly. The sermon I preach by what I AM–is more eloquent than the sermon I preach by what I SAY!

4. And, finally, I shall guard and train and hallow my LIPS. It was Ezra’s ambition to teach God’s decrees and laws in Israel–to speak . . .
when the fitting opportunity presents itself;
with no affectation, but naturally and sincerely;
as a dying man to dying men;
the unyielding truth in love and pity and tears;
to the glory of God.

May I tread in the wake of Ezra the scribe!

(Alexander Smellie, “The Secret Place” 1907)

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Subtle Sin

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Had

I become
so preoccupied

with
major sin

from deep
within

that
in the
darkened
night

I lost sight

of
my need

to deal
for real

with
the more

subtle
sins?

Does
the
subtle
sin of worry

still
tell a
lingering
story?

Or anxiety
that
menace

of society?

More so
that

subtle sin
of
irritability,

unthankfulness?

Or
that harsh
word,

demanding
to
be heard?

Need
I now
revisit

the
unloving
actions
of a

critical
spirit?

Oh, my goodness,
Father

What
A wake up
call

I am

guilty

of them
all!

~*~

Copyright: Rev.Bola Animashaun – all rights reserved.
Rev. Animashaun is the Pastor of Christians Victorios Fellowship – Int., UK
and a Member of Christians in Recovery.

Where’s the Milk?

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

milkThere’s a story of a mom who (back in the days when such a thing was considered safe) gave her little boy some money and asked him to ride his bike to the corner store (when there still were such things) to buy a half-gallon of milk.

“I want you to ride straight to the store, buy the milk, and ride right back home,” said Mom.

“Okay, Mommy,” replied the boy. And off he rode.

It was a glorious summer afternoon, filled with the sort of things that interest little boys more than errands and half-gallons of milk. He investigated a few bugs, played with a dog, chatted with the old man down the street, and watched some older boys shoot baskets in a driveway.

After a couple of blocks and several mental detours, his mom’s complicated instructions sort of faded into the warmth of the afternoon. All he could recall was “…ride right back home.” He knew that part was important.

So he turned and pedaled as fast as possible for home. Bounding into the kitchen he announced, “Mom, I’m home.”

“Honey,” she asked, “where’s the milk?”

The little boy looked dejected. “But Mom, I came right home, just like you said.”

The boy completed the ride, but he forgot the milk. The milk was the whole reason for the trip.

What’s the “milk” for you on this tour? What’s the ultimate purpose, that essential element that makes it all worthwhile? What’s at the center, so critical that reaching the goal without it would render everything else meaningless?

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

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

 

Pigs And Perfume: Whitewashing a Tomb

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

My dad had a lot of “sayings.”

He seemed to have an adage for nearly any circumstance. Most were funny, many weren’t suitable for this blog or any other polite company.

One of his favorites was “pouring perfume on a pig.”

After he retired, Dad once served as an expert witness for an attorney in a highly technical legal proceeding. To Dad’s eye, the facts were clear and reasonable minds ought to look at what happened and agree on an obvious resolution.

Lawsuits, of course, aren’t that simple. The lawyer tried hard to justify all the years of expensive legal wrangling to Dad, who not-so-politely told him it was all a big pile of “stuff.”

“It’s just your way of sucking more money from these poor people,” he said, “and all your fancy words don’t make it stink any less. You’re just pouring perfume on a pig.”

Dad believed in telling it like he saw it. He wasn’t a church guy, but he and Jesus would have agreed on the painful results of hypocrisy. In fact, Jesus used His own colorful metaphor for the religious teachers who covered their dead teaching with fancy words.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28

In first-century Israel, a tomb was a stinking, rotting place—about as nasty as it gets. You could paint it and make it look good, as long as nobody inspected too closely. Because no amount of surface paint could conceal the systemic stench.

Whitewashing a tomb was as effective as pouring perfume on a pig.

Jesus condemned false religious piety, but there are other forms of everyday hypocrisy in which we all engage.

We’re often not very real…about pain, about doubt, about what we don’t know. We cover it with whitewash or perfume or fancy words. We pretend, we fake it, we present what we’re sure the world expects to see.

We paint ourselves with false happiness at church. We douse ourselves with cheap cologne, hoping to mask the scent of broken relationships, physical struggles, financial challenges, and personal darnkess rotting just beneath the surface.

We pretend no one sees what we’re hiding as we scramble to pour more perfume and splash more paint.

But they do see, because pouring perfume on a pig doesn’t change the pig.

What do you think might happen if we just stopped hiding?

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

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?

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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