Archive for the ‘Assurance’ Category

Hope With Fingers Crossed?

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

hope stoneI heard someone speak about hope as an invitation to disappointment.

“I’m hoping for something to happen when I know the odds are stacked against it. So when I say I hope it goes well, I really mean I’m worried it won’t.”

We’ve all hoped that sort of hope. I hope my friend recovers from cancer. I hope she finds a new job….

We hope those things happen, but perhaps, like the ambivalent speaker, we’re also prepared for disappointment.

That’s not hope, not the hope described by Paul in Romans 15:13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The God of hope is not a God of disappointment. He’s the God who always keeps His promises.

HOPE is a confident expectation based on faith that God always keeps His promises.

So I’m confident my friend will be safe, cared for, and at peace in Jesus’ arms regardless of his physical condition. 

I’m confident she can search for a new job calmly and peacefully, keeping the big picture in mind, regardless of short-term obstacles.

I’m confident God will guide the right people to the FREEDOM TOUR and give us direction, even when it seems chaotic from my perspective.

That’s hope. Those are God’s promises.

He never promised it would be easy or that He’d fulfill our short-term (or long-term) wishes. The prayer says “…thy will be done…”

We wish with fingers crossed. We move forward with confident hope in God’s promises into changed lives. We move forward in impossible circumstances.

HOPE changes what’s POSSIBLE.

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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

Need a New Perspective?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

A fifth grader’s comment brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

PERSPECTIVE

The young lady told me she loved the idea of perspective.

I just spoke to her class and she was escorting me to the office. “Why is perspective so interesting to you?”

She stopped and gazed right into my eyes. “Because,” she explained, “it means I get to control how I look at things. It’s like choosing my attitude instead of letting my attitude choose me.”

I love listening to kids.

Can I be honest, just between you and me? Once in a while this thing of living in a wheelchair still gets a bit discouraging. You would think after nearly twenty-eight years I’d be over that feeling, but I still hit an occasional stretch in which all I can see is how difficult life is and all the things I wish I could do.

Then a young lady reminds me God gave me the ability to decide whether I’ll see darkness or light. It’s not easy, but with the Spirit’s help I can choose hope rather than despair. I’m not a victim of circumstances.

As my young friend said, “Perspective means I get to control how I look at things.”

Is there some situation that requires a new perspective?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

Is Uncertainty Getting to You?

Monday, July 11th, 2016

I’m absolutely sure about today’s word-of-the-week…

UNCERTAINTY

We need to embrace uncertainty.

We want our answers in neat little packages. Most of the time, truth can’t be reduced to a 10-word slogan. Real solutions can’t be captured in 30-second sound bites.

As followers of Jesus, of course we believe in certain absolute truths. We should state those clearly, but we also know there’s a great deal of mystery. God asks us to dream and wonder. Rather than living in a predictable box, He challenges us to think and explore and consider big ideas.

Big ideas involve nuance. They invite questions, investigation, and discussion aimed at learning and growth. Authentic learning is long-term and often painful, but the alternative is hiding from truth behind safe, comfortable platitudes. Fear invites us to grab the simplistic answer, but tough questions rarely come with sound-bite answers that actually work.

Jesus had a lot of time on Earth. He could have dictated a list of clear answers to all of the important questions. Might have been easier, for sure.

Instead, He lived a life of relationships, sacrifice, and love. Then He said, “Follow Me.”

Following Jesus means listening, wondering, seeking. Once we believe we’ve discovered easy answers, or begin following leaders who offer them, we’ve likely wandered off the path.

We’d like our future to be predictable. It isn’t.

We’d like to change someone else. We can’t.

We’d like to know why. We don’t.

We’d like God to validate our notion of justice. He won’t.

God’s in control. THAT’S the assurance upon which we rely.

It’s Monday. Perhaps this is a good day to stop trying to manage a steering wheel we never controlled anyway.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

“The good old days?”

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Can you imagine Jesus pointing us back to “the good old days”?

I can’t. The idea of striving for a return to an imaginary past in which everything was somehow better doesn’t fit at all with following Jesus as I understand Him.

Jesus is about moving forward, about taking risks. He’s about an unfolding story of justice that can’t be written in an imagined, idealized past.

I can only picture following Jesus on a road leading into a future filled with hope. I can’t imagine turning back in fear.

Prospective leaders prey on our desire for the imaginary safety of the good old days, when everybody got along and kids always behaved. Of course, everybody didn’t get along and kids didn’t always behave. Also might be good to remember that, depending on which good old days we’re recalling, some of our parents or grandparents experienced Great Depression and Jim Crow.

In an uncertain world, it’s tempting to believe the lie that the promise lies in a return to the good old days. Jesus invites us to the path of hope

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

His Compassions are New Every Morning

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed,
because His [tender] compassions fail not.  Lamentations 3:24 AMP

Each Christian may find in his own case, some peculiar token of God’s providential kindness to him. It is in the details of each man’s personal history that we find the most touching manifestations of God’s providential care. None of us can refuse to acknowledge that we have been the objects of a watchfulness which has never slumbered, and of a benevolence which has never been weary in doing us good.

Were we to attempt an enumeration of all the . . .
blessings which we have received at God’s hand,
deliverances which He has wrought out for us,
snares from which He has preserved us,
manifestations of His long-suffering patience, and tender mercy, of which we ourselves have been the objects–were we to begin with the years of infancy and helplessness, and to trace our progress through the slippery paths of youth, until we reached our present state–we would soon find how impossible it is to reckon up the sum of our innumerable obligations to “the loving-kindness of the Lord.”

For not only has God spared us in life, and upheld us from day to day, by His almighty power; not only has He given us our daily bread, and made our cup to run over–and that, too, notwithstanding all the ingratitude which we have displayed, and the manifold provocations which we have offered; but, in peculiar seasons, in seasons of difficulty and trial–He has often delivered . . .
our eyes from tears,
and our feet from falling,
and our souls from death!

And as often as we have cried to the Lord in our trouble, He has delivered us from our distresses–or supported and comforted us under them. So that each of His redeemed people, on a review of God’s dealings with Him, will be forced to exclaim:
“The Lord has been my Shepherd!”
“I have not lacked any good thing!”
“Hitherto has the Lord helped me!”
“The Lord has done all things well!”
“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!”

~ James Buchanan, “Comfort in Affliction” 1837

Who Is This Guy?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

I take inspiration where I find it.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Mega-famous actors, cowboys, chase scenes, romance, drama, great music, even an iconic bicycle encounter with an angry bull…what’s not to love about a film in which Butch concludes another caper with the line, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Sadly, these likable heroes are also bank robbers who eventually become targets of a dedicated, relentless posse. Despite their best efforts, Butch and Sundance simply can’t shake them. At what turns out to be a turning point in the story, Butch exclaims, “Who ARE those guys?”

Jesus’ disciples said something similar during a violent storm. Their boat was about to sink. They looked around and saw Jesus, head on a pillow, sleeping peacefully.

They woke Him and shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The bible says Jesus rebuked the storm and everything immediately calmed down. I imagine Him standing, stretching, and looking around at their frightened faces, wondering if they would ever get it.

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

And just like Butch Cassidy, the disciples asked, “Who is this guy?” (They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41)

Jesus is pretty hard on His friends. In other translations He asks, “Why are you such cowards?”

What’s He saying…to them, and to us?

I think it’s important to take Jesus’ two questions together. He’s telling them they don’t need to be controlled by their fear because He’s with them.

And, to reinforce the point, He demonstrates His power. Even the mighty storm can’t withstand Jesus’ words.

Who Is This Guy?

I don’t think it’s a question for an old film or an ancient bible story.

I think it’s a question we must ask every day.

Is He asleep? Doesn’t He care?

Doesn’t He see the injustice, the abused children? Doesn’t He care about the violent storms that threaten to overwhelm us?

I believe He’s awake. I believe He cares deeply, just as He cared that day on the lake. I believe He wants us, you and me, to trust, to do our best not to live in fear.

And I don’t know how to do that, not really. Except He promised He’d walk with us, you and me, and help if we ask.

I think the best we can do is try to understand a little more each day Who Is This Guy who calms the storm and holds me in the hollow of His hand.

That, and follow Him.

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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

Our wisest plans and best endeavors…

Friday, May 27th, 2016

We are disciples–Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school, and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn–such as . . .
self-denial,
a distrust of creatures, and
an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
afflictions–are mercies,
losses–are gains,
hindrances–are helps, and
all things, even those which seem most contrary–are working together for our good.

Creatures smile upon us–or frown upon us; caress us–or disappoint us;
friends grow cool–and enemies become kind–
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing–it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing–we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents–are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences–we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us–only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man–nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed–and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher–would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be–to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

(Letters of John Newton)

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How Should I Respond?

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Difficult current events prompt today’s word-of-the-week…

RESPOND

Of course we’re sad.

Confused. Afraid. Angry. Hopeless.

God’s not surprised by events that we find beyond comprehension. And He’s not offended by the range of emotions that rush over us.

Jesus came, not so we would deny our feelings, but so we could face them, deal with them, and move forward with confidence.

Feeling confused because events just don’t fit your notion of how things ought to work? What if our response is to trust that God really is in control, that He sees from a broader perspective, that His kingdom is at hand?

Feeling afraid? What If we respond to Jesus’ words (Matthew 14:27), “Take courage. I am. Don’t be afraid.” What if we decided not to live in fear?

Feeling hopeless? What if we ask ourselves if this is an opportunity? What if this is a chance to respond by believing that God keeps His promises. That’s what hope is–a confident expectation that God will keep His promises.

Angry? As Stephen was about to die as the church’s first martyr, he refused to seek vengeance. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

What if our response is trust, courage, hope, and forgiveness?

What would it look like if we choose to shine that kind of light into the darkness?

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Maybe it is a good week to refuse to let feelings rule.

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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

Trusting in God – No Matter What

Friday, May 13th, 2016

“I delight to do Your will, O my God!” Psalm 40:8

Faith endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life–by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err–and too loving to be unkind.

There is no higher aspect of faith, than that which brings the heart to patiently submit unto whatever God sends us, to meekly acquiesce unto His sovereign will, to say, “Shall I not drink the cup of suffering which my Father has given me?” Faith when it reaches the pinnacle of attainment declares, “though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him!”

When we receive all that enters our lives as from God’s hand, then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings–whether in a hovel, a prison-dungeon, or a martyr’s stake–we shall be enabled to say, “The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant place!” But that is the language of faith, not of sight or sense.

“Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine!” Luke 22:42

“It is a genuine evidence of true godliness when, although plunged into the deepest afflictions, we yet humbly submit ourselves to God. It is the height of piety to be submissive to the sovereign will of God.” John Calvin

“It is not enough to bear the cross, but we must take it up, we must accommodate ourselves to it, and acquiesce in the will of God in it. Not, “this is an evil, and I must bear it, because I cannot help it;” but “this is an evil, and I will bear it, because it is the will of God.” Matthew Henry

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremy Burroughs

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Seeing God’s Hand in Our Trials

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

We must see our heavenly Father’s hand in our lesser trials and cares, as much as in the greater ones.

David recognized the hand of God, in Absalom rising against him in rebellion–but he saw it no less in Shimei throwing stones and dust and casting bitter words at him.

Just so, let us see God’s hand in everything. These petty troubles and vexations are a part of our schooling for Heaven. They are just as much sent from above, as the fierce storm that wrecks our home and leaves us desolate in a cold world. They all come . . .
to prove us,
to humble us,
to draw out the grace which God has given us,
to break the tie that binds us too closely to earth,
to knit the tie that draws us nearer to Heaven.

Let us ever fix this in our minds. Let us say to ourselves,
“My Father has sent this trial!
Not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him.
The very hairs of my head are numbered by Him.
So I will trust His heart, where I cannot trace His hand.
He is too wise to be mistaken–and too good to be unkind!”

~ George Everard, “Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!” 1878