Archive for the ‘Abuse’ Category

You are Not a Label!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

An odd question brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

LABELS

“What kind of quadriplegic are you?”

Seriously. Now I not only have to be labeled as a quad, but there are subcategories? I’m getting really tired of labels.

The guy’s sister just had a car accident and he was seeking information. Parents relayed a ton of stuff by phone and I was someone to talk to. I get it.

But I remember a few weeks after my injury. Docs told me I fell into certain categories, slapped labels on my chart, and pronounced sentence.

“You likely won’t live past age 50.” (I was 36 at the time, 27 years ago.)

“You’ll have limited physical independence.” (I taught full-time in a public school classroom for 21 years after my injury; I’ve handcycled nearly 35,000 miles.)

You get the idea. Labels chunk people into categories so we can make broad assumptions about the people in those categories.

Liberal. Conservative. Evangelical. Mainline. Gay. Protestant. Catholic. Black. White.

Muslim.

Each label conjures an image and a bunch of stereotypes that likely don’t describe most of the individuals in any of the groups.

Jesus didn’t do labels, because He saw individuals. He didn’t accept or reject anyone because of the group they came from or any other such silliness.

Think you’re immune from the labeling disease? I had coffee a while back with a friend who casually mentioned, as a tangent to our conversation, that we’d all be better off without Democrats. I chuckled and told him I was registered as a Democrat. His face fell. “I hope you’re joking.” Then he changed the subject.

Labels are lazy shortcuts. Once I know you’re “one of those” I can stereotype you. I don’t have to bother with the hard work of knowing you as a person.

I’m weary of labels. They’re too frequently about fear, bullying, and anger. They’re nearly always about divisiveness.

What kind of quadriplegic am I? I’m the kind who sits in a wheelchair and dreams God-sized dreams.

A challenge: Look for the labels you use to categorize people–or yourself.

It’s Monday! This would be a good week to see people rather than labels.

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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 I Don’t Rescue Others

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

rescueEver feel like you needed to rescue someone?

As a new teacher, I was sure I had a lot to offer. The students needed me. They needed what I had. I was the outside expert parachuting into their world to save them from their ignorance and give them what they couldn’t possibly get for themselves.

As my career progressed I discovered I was working with a horribly flawed model. My students didn’t need to be saved by an expert. They needed a partner who brought some resources and skills to the learning process.

And like every good teacher, I learned and grew from the relationship at least as much as my students.

I’ve been reading a lot about how to address injustice issues like poverty and racism. Like me as a new teacher, our solutions usually involve some version of the outside experts swooping in with their version of a solution.

The best solutions involve relationship in which there’s acknowledgement that everyone’s broken and in need of reconciliation. Local folks contribute both ideas and resources, and the entire process is a partnership. It’s about being servants, not saviors.

And there’s never a sense that we’re “bringing Jesus” into communities in which He’s always been active.

I’ve learned that we tend to greatly oversimplify issues of social justice. Poverty, for example, is a good deal more than simple lack of resources. Without understanding, the best intentions may cause harm.

Victims of injustice already have a Savior. They need a partner.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend this book: When Helping Hurts

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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

Have You Seen God’s Loving Eyes?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV

Father’s eyes are continually scanning the horizons of the entire earth; searching for the heart of even one of His children that He has won to His love. Just the slightest detection or hint of one totally committed heart, evokes an eruption of color from His eyes that rival the Northern Lights dancing and swirling gleefully like a “love drunk” schoolgirl.

I know–I have seen the Northern Lights on a number of northern trans-Atlantic flights. They must reflect His eyes, as they lock in on even one of His children fully committing their heart to His heart. Why do I believe this to be true? Because they explode, dance and twirl all the way across the horizon with the sharpest and broadest display of color imaginable! That is the only way I can begin to capture or describe the experience of looking into His eyes.

Phil Whickam, in his song “You’re Beautiful,” wonderfully proclaims that “The colors of the morning are inside His eyes.? There is no color spectrum or palate known to man that could provide adequate definition to the colors of the morning. They are beyond description, yet Father’s eyes contain them all.

All it takes is one glance into His eyes; when your eyes catch His loving gaze, you see the dancing light and color — and for that moment you are certain His gaze has always been fixed on you. In that moment all of life comes into perspective. For that exhilarating moment; in the loving reflection of His eyes, you see yourself: your history, your family of origin, every relational experience — the good and the bad — and for that moment your life’s journey is okay.

The sum total of your life: the joys, the pain, the ups and downs, the struggles, the failures, the successes and victories, the infirmities, the shameful and knowingly sinful acts of rebellion, the insane and addictive behaviors, the confusion, the doubts, the fears, the deepest-yet untold secrets, the sincere good intentioned attempts at changes and reconciliation, the previously unknown or miss-understood divine interventions, every moment of your history fades into the pure light of His non-shaming, non-judgmental, all-consuming loving gaze.

Every glance into His eyes becomes a divine, romantic encounter of intimacy (into-me-see). And in that moment you recapture the deep knowing of childlike simplicity. You are restored to the sweet innocence of perfect Holy Communion with Him! In this loving exchange you are only aware of Father’s joy and complete delight to be with you! You are arrested by His joyous approval and pleasure. And you become a prisoner of love!

You are confronted in this sacred moment, with His great plan for you and the wondrous place of significance you have in His will and purpose! In this same moment you recapture destiny and calling. You finally fit. Everything has meaning — there is nothing in life that has been without reason — nothing wasted. Even your sorrows aren’t wasted — you see their redemptive value! Grief and loss is finally acquainted with Father’s loving plan. All of life’s divine purpose comes into clearer focus — in the perfect light and color of Father’s heart piercing glance.

Our Lord Jesus knew that revelation of Father’s love changes everything. No Cross is unbearable. In Father’s eyes we see that every test refines our faith like gold! The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes on Jesus…He began and finished the race of life we are in…He set the pattern for us to follow. We are to study how He did it.

He never lost sight of the goal or the prize. He always kept his Father’s will before Him. And Jesus always knew He was headed for an exhilarating finish — in and with His Father. Jesus always kept the Father’s loving glance in view. He only did what He saw His Father doing and because of that, He could put up with anything along the way — even the Cross, with all its shame! The only proof we need is that He is now seated at the place of highest honor; His Father’s right hand. Thus, we can see in His eyes (no matter what is happening around us) that we are also seated with Him in Heavenly places.

The climax of discovery in Father’s eyes is the passionate love of Jesus. His fiery love trumps everything else! Let the love of Christ be your life! Stir the embers in your heart by always remembering how he abandoned himself to/for us. His love is contagious, not reluctant but extravagant. His love calls the prodigals home to his heart; and at the same moment it unstops the ears of all the elder brothers.

There is no place for rules or law in His loving gaze! The moment you replace the spontaneity released through his eyes you lose the edge of romance! And the romance we discover in his eyes is scandalous, undisputable, un-diluted, pure loving grace!
In the grip of Papa’s loving gaze!

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

Turning the Other Cheek…. a Choice?

Friday, July 10th, 2015

“So I guess you’re gonna tell us we have to turn the other cheek.”

The sarcasm puddled on the table. A guy who’s lived on lobster boats doesn’t easily buy the notion of non-violnece.

We were talking about fear, and I said “He hit me” doesn’t mean “I have to hit him back.”

The guy kept going. “So I’m supposed to just let people assault me and my family, right?”

“That’s not what I said. This isn’t about ‘turn the other cheek’ at all.

“It’s about the words ‘have to.’ I ‘have to’ hit him back is a lie. You don’t ‘have to’ do anything.”

“Okay,” he replied, “what’s the alternative?”

“It’s simple. You choose.”

The room got quiet. Another guy chuckled. “So can I choose to hit back?”

I had them, and they knew it. Finally somebody said, “Sure. But you gotta take responsibility for it.”

I asked him to elaborate.

“I can’t be like a little kid…he made me do it. I choose to fight, or not. I choose to drink, or not.”

The first man wasn’t giving up. “In real life, it’s not that easy…”

“You’re right. Life ain’t about bein’ easy.

“But either you choose, or someone else chooses for you.”

Then I turn to the original question. “Turn the other cheek or defend yourself–your choice. You listen to Jesus and learn what He really meant. Then you decide and take responsibility for your decision.”

Simple. Not easy.

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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

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.

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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

What about Dignity and Respect?

Monday, December 29th, 2014

I’ve chosen a misused word as this year’s final word-of-the-week…

RESPECT

Toward the end of my career I operated my classroom with a single principle: Everyone (including the teacher!) always deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Some kids believed respect was earned, but I taught them respect means regard. It means I see you, I acknowledge you. You treat others with basic respect because you acknowledge their basic human dignity and worth.

You don’t have to like them, admire them, trust them, or follow them. Those are earned.

You certainly don’t have to agree with them.

But everyone, by virtue of being a child of God, deserves to be treated respectfully.

No name-calling. No bullying. No gossip.

Work as a team. Apply the golden rule.

How different would the new year look if everyone who follows Jesus resolved to treat everyone with dignity and respect?

Yeah, I’ll mess it up, too. But I’m willing to try.

How about you?

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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

Does Your Spouse Love You?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

 “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

You probably know a domestic violence victim, or you may be one yourself.

Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in so called “Christian” homes. Batterers use “submission” as their excuse to abuse their spouses. Domestic violence can be verbal, emotional, physical, or financial.

As today’s Bible verse says, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”

If a man loves his wife as his own body, he has neither reason nor excuse to punch, kick, spit on, curse, threaten, humiliate, or hurt his wife in any way.

A woman, who loves and respects her husband and herself, cannot allow her husband to be abusive. That gives him permission to sin against her and God.

In addition to sinning, the abusive spouse also breaks the law and commits a crime.

If you want a Christian home, you teach your children by your example how to love and respect each other. That way, little boys won’t grow up thinking it’s all right to batter women to get their way. Little girls won’t grow up thinking it’s all right for men to humiliate and hurt them.

Dear God, help me love and respect others and myself. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to be a role model of love and respect?

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 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

Are You an “Insider” or “Outsider?”

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Yall comeA few years back my friend Tim talked about a church strategy he called Y’ALL COME.

The notion seemed simple. Open the doors wide, put up a sign, have people at the doors with big smiles, and we’ve done our part, right?

Not so much.

Tim claimed Y’ALL COME wasn’t good enough. He said we can’t wait for folks to show up, that it’s our responsibility to go get ‘em. He said we have to reach out and bring people into the church. (I described Tim’s creative response in Who’s Special?)

I think that’s a great first step, but it’s only a band-aid. The people we “bring in” are always going to feel like outsiders, because that’s in fact exactly what they are. There’s “them” and there’s “us” and we’re inviting “them” to become part of “us.” Obviously “us” is superior to “them” because we’re asking them to assimilate.

In Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul explains that Jesus’ death reconciled BOTH Jew and Gentile to God. The Jews wanted to believe they were the original in-crowd and now the Gentiles were being invited to join and become some sort of second-class Jews. But Paul writes, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…”

This is about a lot more than skin color or lifestyle. I experience it when people make assumptions about me and attempt to marginalize me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways because I sit in a wheelchair.

This is about anyone who’s perceived as different from us because they feel that perception. We can call them special and create all the ministries we want for them, but as long as they’re “them,” they’re never really part of us.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

My guess—and maybe I’m wrong—is we mostly don’t believe we’re all the same—especially if we’re part of the privileged majority.

Justice means the ground at the foot of the cross really is level, and if we’re honest we’d rather have the illusion of occupying slightly higher ground.

Until we acknowledge our bias, we can’t let it go. And until we let it go, justice and reconciliation will be nice words.

The ground in my own heart’s not as level as I’d like. Jesus and I have a bit of excavating to do.

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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 website www.relentlessgrace.com

When You See A Bully In Action

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Last week I asked a tough question.

How we can oppose injustice while demonstrating unconditional grace and forgiveness? I even posed a specific situation and asked what you would do if you observed this event:

Suppose a guy in a wheelchair visited a public spot that, by its nature, was minimally accessible. And imagine that the guy and his companions were subjected to continual rude, insensitive comments from other patrons or staff members who objected to the perceived inconvenience caused by the presence of a wheelchair.

Here’s My Take

As the guy in the wheelchair, I’d roll away if possible. That’s not an endorsement of bullying behavior, it’s a personal choice to say I’m okay with who I am and I don’t want to risk escalating the situation.

As an observer, I’d intervene. Every time (I hope).

I might go to the person in the wheelchair (and his companions) and reassure them that the bullies are wrong. I might help them diffuse or get away from the situation.

I might locate a supervisor and seek help in dealing with the bullies.

I might talk directly to the bullies and ask them to stop their behavior. Ideally I’d have a discussion, bring them together with the person in the wheelchair, and facilitate understanding.

I might, as a last resort, call law enforcement.

I’d choose based on the apparent level of potential conflict and the perceived opportunity for discussion and reconciliation.

I would do my best not to be divisive or to shame anyone—including the bullies.

This is a difficult situation, but “difficult” isn’t an excuse for inaction. I hope I wouldn’t turn away from someone being bullied. I hope you wouldn’t, either.

A child who’s been bullied or abused becomes easy prey for a sex trafficker. Nobody else cares, so when a pimp says nice things and offers protection, she believes his lies.

An adult who’s been bullied or abused loses self-esteem. Why not give in to the perceived comfort of alcohol, drugs, pornography, or other addictive behaviors when no one believes in you?

We’re called to respond—always—with love and grace. But we’re also called to stand up for the oppressed.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6)

“Love and grace” must never be an excuse for failing to confront injustice courageously with wisdom and discernment.

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

How Can You Diffuse Resentment?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Judges 8:1: “Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they criticized him sharply.”

Do you sometimes think you can’t win even when you do the right thing? Gideon obeyed God and fought Midian with the 300 soldiers God allowed him. He knew God won the battle for them.

The Ephraimites were jealous of the victory of their fellow Israelites. Their jealousy and pride prevented them from acknowledging the success of Gideon and the 300 soldiers without their help.

Gideon had a choice to make. His first option was to say they were jealous because they didn’t take part in the battle and couldn’t claim the victory.

His second option was to praise the Ephraimites for all they had done. He chose that option. With a humble heart, Gideon said in verses 2-3, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?”

With divine wisdom and humility Gideon didn’t let the situation escalate. The end of verse 3 says, “At this, their resentment against him subsided.”

How will you respond to criticism?

Dear God, please help me answer with your wisdom and humility when people criticize me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to diffuse resentment as Gideon did?

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 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