Archive for the ‘Step 8’ Category

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.”

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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

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
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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

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

Peace and Mutual Edification

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

With the election right around the corner in the USA, peace and mutual edification sound impossible.

We are still one nation under God, and regardless of our party preference, we can still “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

As a child, I remember that in my family we couldn’t discuss politics. Mom and Dad didn’t belong to the same political party. To talk about politics wouldn’t lead to peace and to mutual edification. What about in your home?

Religion can also spark conflict. Instead of asking if someone is a Christian, we ask if the person is Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc. I wonder what God thinks when we don’t emphasize essentials but rather focus on minor differences.

In heaven, we won’t have Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We won’t have Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc. We will be Christ’s disciples who love the Lord.

It’s time to practice for when we are together in heaven for eternity.

Let’s practice peace and mutual edification at home and in our jobs. Let’s practice them in our churches with the staff and each other.

As we live by this verse, we can improve our neighborhoods and our communities.

Dear God, help me practice peace and mutual edification. Amen.

Application: What efforts will you make this week to bring peace and mutual edification to your home and neighborhood?

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

 

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

Humility in Recovery

Friday, July 6th, 2012

In recovery, we need to stay focused on the path ahead. There are many obstacles that can effortlessly obstruct our growth process. One deadly sin that we should always steer clear of is pride. Anyone in recovery is extremely susceptible to external hindrances because we were once slaves to them during our addiction. Outside hindrances can include numerous things, such as shame, resentment, fear, self-centeredness, and pride, among other things. If we are to evade these hazardous obstacles, we should harbor and uphold a humble spirit. Once we are finally clean and sober, have gone to meetings, and have worked the program, we learn that God alone can cure us of our past sins. We must surrender our will and our lives over to the care of God. And this, my friends, requires an act of humility.

Our Heavenly Father loves us all so very much that He will disregard and forget our past life of sin. Here’s an example from

Psalm 51: 5-10:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inwards parts,
And in the hidden part
You will make me know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean;
Wash me,
and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
that the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

The moment we finally surrender our lives to God, we are saved from our sins. As we march forth in humility, we are showered with mercy and the all-powerful love of God.

The Bible states in Matthew 5: 3-5 that
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek [humble], For they shall inherit the earth.

God provides guidance and comfort to those who possess a humble spirit. Those of us who think that we do not need Heavenly guidance are fools because God will distance Himself from anyone who is cursed with arrogance. When we remain humble and request God’s guidance, He will give us the ability to prevail over all the obstacles on our path, while renewing our power and helping us triumph over hardship. Humility is the necessary ingredient for triumph and success.

The Pioneer members of early Alcoholics Anonymous discovered the cure to alcoholism. That cure was Jesus Christ, and even the founders of A.A. recognized this. The early members of A.A. had a 75% to 93% success rate as they dedicated their lives to Christ, while living by Christian-based ideals and principles. They learned the true significance of humility and complete surrender.

Those of us in recovery today should understand that the only way to unearth true life is to submit it to God through Jesus Christ. As we turn our will and our lives over to Jesus, He will cleanse us of our addiction and show us the road to true peace and serenity-a life that is free of sinful dependency. As we pursue the teachings of the Bible, we will find meaning in our present life and ever-lasting peace with our Creator.

Matthew 10:39 states:
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Now that we are treading the path toward full recovery, we require God’s assistance to keep us from stumbling. To ensure Heavenly guidance on our path, we need to humbly confess our sins to one another. This is one aspect of the recovery process that requires humility.

James 5: 16 in the Bible explains,
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

As we step forth with a humble heart, we are blessed with peace of mind, and are healed from all unrighteousness.

John 14: 27 states:
I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Humility is a tremendously imperative spiritual principle that should be embraced and utilized by everyone in recovery. Living in humility will enable us all to acquire the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 22-25 explains,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. As we confess our sins and turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, we are reborn in the Spirit.

We become new creatures in Christ, able to triumph over anything that could hinder our forward growth. The love of God washes over us and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. We are born again into the Kingdom of Light. We learn that if we ever need the guidance of our Heavenly Father, then all we need to do is ask.

Philippians 4: 6-7 states:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Good luck to all, and to all a good recovery.

By Terry D.

Christians in Recovery

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Is Forgiveness a Four-Letter Word?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Many of us may lose a mother, a sister, an aunt, a child or a friend to domestic violence.

Someone else may come along and tell us, “You need to forgive the batterer.” However, we may wonder why we need to forgive him after the horrible things he did.

We may secretly hope the batterer gets the electric chair or life in prison without parole and no visitors.

Vivid memories of the tragedy and the abuse that led up to it swirl in our minds.

In Jeremiah 17:9, God tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

God knew the heart of man and the sins man would commit. He knew what that batterer would do to our loved ones, and He also knew how we would react. Jesus says in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

It’s not easy to forgive, but it’s not impossible either.

Jesus speaks several times in the New Testament about forgiveness.

It must be that Jesus doesn’t consider forgiveness a four-letter word.

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.
Visit her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Why Forgive?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m glad I’m not a preacher. I hate to imagine the mess I’d create by trying to tell others how to follow Jesus. I have enough trouble figuring out my own messed-up journey.

I’m also glad I’m not a preacher because I’d probably end up spreading all sorts of heresy. It’s bad enough when I get these weird ideas about God. It’s good that no one actually thinks I know what I’m talking about.

One of my recent weird ideas involves why God wants me to do certain things. For example, why does He instruct me to glorify Him in whatever I do?

I’m thinking that God doesn’t need my admiration or affirmation. He knows who He is. My petty worship does nothing for Him. Why in the world would He care?

I know it’s more complex than this, but what if He cares because He knows it’s what’s best for me? What if it’s not about adding something to Him—a silly notion—but rather about helping me to live the way He made me?

What if the stuff He wants me to do isn’t for His benefit at all? Makes sense, since He’s God and there’s really not much I can do for Him.

What if Jesus’ “servant leader” model is really God’s core character? I have absolutely nothing to offer, but He enters into relationship with me anyway, simply because He loves me. So when God tells me to do everything for His glory, what if it’s not what He needs but what makes my life full and rich, exactly the way He designed it?

What if “it’s not about Rich” isn’t intended to diminish me. What if God’s direction toward an others-centered perspective is precisely what I need to be completely fulfilled?

Maybe I’m nuts. I’d love to hear your thoughts. But how does all of this relate to the title: Why Forgive?

What if forgiving isn’t just an arbitrary command, some capricious test of obedience to see if we’re paying attention? What if it’s really pointing toward the absolute best, most fulfilling life?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

What if Jesus forgave his killers because He knew it was the most life-affirming, fully human response available? What if forgiving and serving aren’t boundaries but the ultimate path to perfect freedom?

Wow. That’s a lot of “what-if’s.”

I’m glad I’m not a preacher.

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

Can’t Forgive

Monday, March 12th, 2012

“Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

It was a long time ago, in the midst of horrible circumstances, when a pastor said those six words to me.

I thought he mis-spoke. I asked him to repeat. He said it again, clearly and slowly and deliberately. “Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

At the time I didn’t appreciate the level of pain. I just knew we should forgive, and I figured a pastor ought to know that. But knowing is easy. Everyone who follows Jesus, and even most who don’t, know about forgiving.

Knowing doesn’t help much.

# # #

There’s a story I tell sometimes when I’m speaking about  getting past adversity.

A young man named Cody stood in a courtroom, about to be sentenced for a tragic crime, one senseless moment that changed a bunch of lives forever. In one instant of careless driving, Cody swerved and hit two men who’d stopped to help a guy with car trouble.

Zach Templeton—dad, husband, and state trooper, died. Scott Hinshaw, his partner and best friend, was seriously injured. Now, as the man who killed his buddy and nearly killed him stood to be sentenced, Scott asked to speak. He spoke directly to Cody. Here’s part of what he said:

“I’m willing to stand with you and do community service with you and help you honor Zach.

“You messed up Cody, and that one decision cost a life.

“Although you did this … I refuse, and I do not want you, to let this ruin your life.

“You made a mistake. Do not let it define who you are.

“My advice to you is to be better than you can ever be …

“Carry on, brother. We’ll get better.”

This is where life gets real, where it’s not a set of lofty ideas, where that notion of “the valley of the shadow of death” isn’t just poetic imagery.

Ever been there? Thoughts?

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