Archive for the ‘Step 8’ Category

What Jesus Didn’t Say

Friday, November 4th, 2016

A conversation at a new church inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

DIDN’T

truth1I met a new friend yesterday, and we talked a bit about things Jesus didn’t tell us.

For example, He didn’t tell us that people we love will always agree with us. Or that “enough faith” makes things turn out the way we want.

After our conversation, I made my own list.

He didn’t tell us that loving our enemies would make them stop being our enemies.

He didn’t tell us that people would appreciate our compassion.

He didn’t tell us that drug addicts would stop using drugs if we start programs for them or that prisoners would stop committing crimes if we visit them.

He didn’t tell us that a nonviolent search for justice would be met with acceptance and understanding, that others wouldn’t take advantage of us.

He DID tell us to love our enemies, have faith, help others, visit prisoners, and seek justice.

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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

Comfort Isn’t a Solution

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A thought-provoking quote brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

COMFORT

“Comfort isn’t a solution.”

Take a minute and think about that statement. It’s a truth that turns a lot of our instincts on their heads.

We all know not to simply put a band-aid on even a small infected wound. First you clean and perhaps apply disinfectant, even if it stings. Covering it might be more comfortable now, but you risk bigger problems later.

Comfort doesn’t solve the problem.

Confronting nearly any problem is a lot like that small wound. Confronting it almost always involves some discomfort. Ignoring, soothing, and avoiding simply prolong the issue and usually risk greater deferred pain.

This doesn’t mean we can’t show compassion. It’s possible to acknowledge and deal with pain with empathy and love. But “it’s going-to-be-okay” responses to difficult challenges don’t help anyone.

As I pondered this quote I thought about Jesus. He had the power to comfort the people He loved so deeply, but He didn’t. He asked them to confront the very difficult and painful circumstances of their lives with courage and integrity. He knew they would struggle, but He also knew where the path would lead. And He knew they wouldn’t be alone.

Slapping a band-aid on humanity’s problems wasn’t God’s plan. He sent Jesus to clean and disinfect our wounds, except He took on all the pain.

I’m learning to back away from my endless search for comfort. It’s not about seeking pain, it’s about not avoiding its lessons when it inevitably appears.

How can you show compassion without using comfort to avoid the issues you’ll face?

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!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

Why Is The Other Guy So Unreasonable?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

It’s awfully easy to say, “You’re wrong. You’re an idiot. You’re a loser.”

Not all that yelluseful, though. Shouting at the guy on the other side (who thinks you’re wrong) isn’t likely to close the gap.

If your only goal is to sound cool to your own team by belittling the losers on the other side, I guess finding clever ways to highlight their mistakes makes sense. Otherwise, it only makes a difficult situation worse.

Here’s an uncomfortable fact: people make decisions for a reason. Folks with similar backgrounds and similar perceived options usually make similar choices. So if you want to know why someone made a particular decision, you must take the time to listen and understand their story.

That’s called empathy. Doesn’t mean you agree, only that you make the effort to understand and communicate your understanding.

There are two ways to close the gap.

The short path of violence. Get a bigger club (physical, economic, verbal, political, social), beat the other guy over the head, and force him to your side. Immediate gratification, almost no opportunity for long-term reconciliation.

The long path of nonviolence. Choose relationship, of empathy, of humility, of service, of love. Little possibility of immediate gratification, the only path to long-term reconciliation.

Arc Universe

Jesus spent much of His time with the folks on the other side. They were the losers of His day, and He showed us what might happen when we let go of power and choose empathy and humility.

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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

Do You Agree?

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Recent events got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…
AGREE

Monday Wouldn’t it be great if we could all agree on every issue?

Sadly, The Good Ship Lollipop hasn’t sailed down my street recently and I haven’t taken up residence in Fantasyland. Since I don’t live in a bubble, I’m going to encounter people with whom I disagree.

In fact, I’d argue it’s my job to do exactly that, because that’s what Jesus did. He made a point of hanging out with the very people the hyper-religious types avoided. He went to their homes, attended their parties, ate their food…and asked us to follow Him.

Do you think He entered a house and started by saying something like “I want you to know I hate your sinful lifestyle and I’m only here because it’s my duty”? Do you think He felt like He was lowering His standards? Did He send someone else because He didn’t want to associate with some particular class of sinner?

I think He hung out with people because He loved them. He wasn’t worried that the neighborhood (or the country) might lose God’s favor because He honored, reached out to, respected another human being.

Jesus said it’s easy to love those who love you in return. He called us to do the hard thing, to love and serve those who aren’t so easy to love. (Luke 6)

I won’t speak for you. I think others see my faith in how I respond to those with whom I disagree. Honestly, I miss the mark a lot and I’m sorry for that.

I’m trying. I want them to see Jesus.

Your Opportunities in 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016

For the first Monday of 2016 a perfect word-of-the-week

ENCOURAGEMENT

2016I’m so grateful that you read these words each week, and I’m prompted to begin 2016 with a message of encouragement.

I can’t promise you smooth roads and an easy path. Life doesn’t work like that. I do believe God offers an opportunity to write a remarkable story with the days of 2016. Like any great story, it will include challenges and conflict. You’ll need courage, and faith, and trust, and hope.

“Take courage! I Am. Don’t be afraid.”

I can’t promise God won’t give you more than you can handle. That’s a platitude for posters. I’m confident, though, that He’ll surround you with folks who will share the load, if you’ll let them. And Jesus will always walk beside you.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

May you find a cause worth investing in, fighting for, sacrificing for. And please remember that worthwhile investments involve risk, and fights worth fighting often leave a few battle scars. And sacrifice means…sacrificing something.

May you live free of fear. In a world in which many seek to manipulate by manufacturing and magnifying fear, I hope you’ll trust that God’s at work and the message of fear is the enemy’s lie.

May you, whenever possible, seek to think the best of others. Regarding people with mistrust and suspicion causes us to make up untrue stories in our heads and to ascribe bad motives to even good deeds.

May you leave the past in the past and avoid the silliness of tripping over obstacles that are behind you.

May you minimize worry which wastes so much energy and adds nothing to the quality of life.

May you forgive, not because it’s deserved or because you want to or because you feel like forgiving or even because you’re supposed to forgive. I hope you’ll forgive because it’s the only lasting path to peace and freedom.

May you know, with absolute confidence, that God works for good in all circumstances. None of your effort, success, struggle, pain, or failure will be wasted.

May you move forward with hope, the confident expectation that God always keeps His promises.

May you always lead with love. Not because it’s easy or because it makes sense or because it gets the desired short-term results. May you lead with love because it’s the path to Jesus and because, in the end, it’s the way the universe works.

My encouragement, dear friends, to you and to me for 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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!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

Choices: the “Best” or the “Right?”

Friday, November 20th, 2015

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.” Luke 10:42

Paul prayed that his friends “may be able to discern what is best.” Philippians 1:10

We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path–and we ought to choose the best things. Even among ‘right things’ there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.

There are many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things–but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes–when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings–when they might ask for spiritual treasures!

They are like “the man with the muck-rake” in Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’–who only looks ‘down’ and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish–while over his head are crowns which he might take into his hands!

They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright for some lentil stew. They toil for this world’s vain things–when they might have been laying up treasures in Heaven!

We only have one life to live–and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once–and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us–things we can keep forever!

It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and strive and struggle–to do things that will leave no lasting results when our life is done–while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!” Colossians 3:1-2

~J. R. Miller, “Life’s Byways and Waysides”

Missing the Point

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

A lesson in grace brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

BETTER

Ursula Ward had just heard the verdict.

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was guilty of murdering her son, Odin Lloyd. She stepped forward to speak before final sentencing.

“I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after.”

“She’s a better person than I am.” That was the takeaway of many news folks and talking heads as they marveled at this woman’s uncommon grace and courage.

They missed the whole point. They missed it because they didn’t listen to the whole statement.

Ms. Ward began with a remarkable comment: “I thank God for being here this morning.”

Seriously? Gratitude to God for that moment? I wonder why no one focused on that rather incredible demonstration of faith?

Then she ended with this simple benediction: “May God continue to bless us.”

If you listen to the entire statement, you hear grief, anger, pain, saddness–Ms. Lloyd wasn’t in denial and she’s wasn’t pulling punches.

She didn’t forgive because she thinks she’s stronger or better than anyone else. I think she understands her relationship to God. I think she understands her weakness.

I know I’m reading a lot into a few lines. I suspect she knows that forgiveness isn’t an event. She didn’t forgive her son’s killers in that courtroom so she could be done forgiving.

She did it so she could travel a difficult, daily journey of forgiveness that will allow her and her family to heal without bitterness and anger.

We can only choose that journey because we know we don’t have to travel alone. Jesus already walked the road…He knows the way.

May God continue to bless Ursula Ward, her family, Aaron Hernandez, and all of us on the journey.

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!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

When You Say or Do the Wrong Thing

Friday, July 24th, 2015

After the legal separation, I never wanted to say anything against my estranged husband in our son’s presence. After all, my husband was still his father.

So much for my good intentions not to say anything against his father in front of my son. I let my tongue rip loose until I saw the hurt look on his face. I stopped immediately.

No matter what, my husband was still his father. My son needed both of us, and I learned to keep my mouth shut—not an easy lesson for a woman who likes to talk and hear herself think out loud.

I didn’t see that incident as one poor choice. Instead I saw it as a failure. My friends helped me distinguish between the two.

You won’t get it right every time either. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. When that happens, I encourage you not to see your setback as a failure. The only failure is to let a setback cause you to give up.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Dear God, when I say or do the wrong thing, give me strength to get back up and move forward. Amen.

Application: What will you do the next time you say or do the wrong thing?

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Copyright by 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

Forgive and Forget?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

“I can’t forget how my dad treats my mother,” Bridget screamed in her counseling session. “So how can I forgive him?”

“Why not take this situation one step at a time?” I asked the young woman.

Bridget raised her brows and said she didn’t understand.

I suggested she first walk through the truth of her father’s verbal and physical abuse of her mother and how much that hurt her.

Her eyes moistened with tears, and soon she sobbed. “He scared me. I hated all the commotion. Worst of all, Mom’s taken it for years.”

Bridget shook and cried again. She said that her dad also mistreats the kids. “I can’t stand his screaming, cursing, and temper tantrums.”

With a gentle tone, I explained that forgiveness is a process and takes time, especially when a person has been traumatized. Bridget nodded and leaned back in her chair.

“In the Bible, God tells us numerous times to forgive, but he never says, ‘Forgive and forget.’” I paused for Bridget to think about that. “If you forget, you may place yourself in a dangerous situation with your father and subject yourself to more abuse.”

At the end of the session, Bridget left with a journaling assignment and a Bible verse to meditate on and memorize.

Your circumstances may not be the same as Bridget’s, but you may also struggle with forgiveness. You may think you can’t forgive unless you forget.

Forgiveness won’t change the past. A healed memory doesn’t mean you develop amnesia about it.

Proverbs 22:3: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Dear God, help me understand forgiveness isn’t forgetting. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to begin your process of forgiveness.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright by 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

Reconciliation with God, Others and Yourself

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Reconciliation has many aspects: reconciliation with others (who you have offended or who have offended you), reconciliation with yourself. Reconciliation with God.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:
1. The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.
Reconciliation and friendship with God, really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment.
2. In Scripture, the means by which sinners are reconciled and brought into a state of favor with
God, after natural estrangement or enmity; the atonement; expiation.

— How do you define reconciliation in your own practical terms?
— Has it been missing from your life and/or recovery?
— What issues and difficulties have you encountered finding reconciliation with:

** God
** Others whom you have hurt or who have hurt you
** Yourself

— Do any scriptures speak to your heart regarding reconciliation?

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