Archive for the ‘Choices’ Category

Godly Exercise

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse:
he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him,
in those that hope in his mercy.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise thy God, O Zion.” Psalm 147: 10-12 KJV

When Jesus says that He takes pleasure in those that fear Him, He is not saying that He wants us to be afraid of Him. Webster’s Dictionary gives us an excellent definition of what fear means in this Scripture verse. One of the definitions for the word fear that applies to this verse in the dictionary is “to have a reverential awe of.” We shouldn’t be afraid of Him. We should treat Him with the respect, honor and dignity that He deserves.

We read in 1 Timothy 4: 8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” There are people who spend hours doing exercises at home and even go to the gym and to health clubs to get exercise. Yet, these same people might spend twenty or thirty minutes a day reading their Bibles. How this must hurt the heart of our loving Heavenly Father.

It is true that we are to take care of our bodies, but if we put physical exercise before godly exercise, then our exercises have become a god to us. Parents think nothing about spending a lot of money to train their children for the Olympics or on uniforms and equipment for different sports activities; however some of these same parents won’t give money to their children so that their children can serve Jesus as a missionary or evangelist.

It is time that we get our priorities in order. How much money are you spending on sports activities for your children and how much money are you spending on things that will help your children for all eternity? Are you teaching your children that godly exercise is more important than physical exercise? You may tell them that godly exercise is more important but if they see you spending a lot of time doing exercises at home and then going to the gym and health clubs to exercise, they are not going to believe you. Let’s set a godly example for our children.

Copyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

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You Can’t Finish if You Never Begin

Friday, January 13th, 2017

The sermon topic was “Finish Well” and that’s important, but you can’t finish if you never begin.

Seems like lots of folks are afraid to begin. Some wait to figure out their true calling. Some wait for someone else to tell them what to do. Some wait for permission. Some wait for a sign from God. As I listened to the sermon about crossing the finish line with integrity, I couldn’t help wondering how many folks in the audience were still in the starting blocks.

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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

Time to Renew

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Have you ever just needed a fresh start, a clean slate? Ever wanted to start over?

One of the many amazing aspects of following Jesus is the reality of new beginnings. No matter where we’ve been, what mistakes we’ve made, God offers each moment as an opportunity to choose a different path.

Renew doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul. Sometimes it’s just an update, taking stock of where you’ve been and making necessary course corrections. Six months is a good time to assess, evaluate, and renew. I want to use this week to look at my goals for the year and see where I might need to change some tactics, and I want to use it as a time to renew my commitments to those goals.

How about you? What can you renew this week?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

5 Steps in Satan’s Plan to Defeat You

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Many people have many plans for your life. You likely have plans of your own. But have you ever stopped and thought about what the difference between God’s will and yours or the devil’ will would be for your life? I am going to talk about what the devil would have you do and believe. Open your heart because you are about to learn how to avoid Satan defeating you.

There are 5 steps in Satan’s plan to defeat you: doubt, discouragement, diversion, defeat and delay. One by one, they lead you down into a miry pit that you can only get out of by the hand of God who loves us and wants only the best for us. And I have no doubt in my mind that each one of us will go through this process once, maybe even more, times in our lives. After all, we are human and we are quite capable of falling. We are not infallible like God. Just read what the Bible says and be hopeful.

The first step in Satan’s plan to defeat you is DOUBT. Doubt makes you questions God’s Word and His goodness for and toward you. To doubt means to disbelieve and to mistrust. In this case it means to disbelieve God and to mistrust Him. And yet we have no reason for doing either with Him. He has never let His children down.

After doubt comes DISCOURAGEMENT. Discouragement makes you look at your problems instead of staying focused on God and His goodness in your life. Discouragement can easily be overcome, but for some it can lead to detrimental emotional problems like depression. We need to fight, through the power of prayer, this discouragement that Satan attacks us with. God would never do anything to cause us doubt or discouragement. So don’t let Satan get even a slippery grasp on your life. That’s all he needs to bring you spiraling down.

Discouragement will lead you to DIVERSION. This means that the wrong things in life suddenly become attractive and you crave them more than what is right. This is the dangerous step. Once you are into sinful patterns, it is hard to break them. The old saying says that Old habits die hard. Once something becomes a habit, it is very difficult to overcome and get out of.

Once Satan has you into his diversions, he then leads you to DEFEAT. This makes you feel like a failure. It can hurt so bad that some people give up on even trying to get out of a situation. Satan’s grasp is so strong that you just can’t bear to even try for anything good anymore. Defeat is not for God’s children. The victory is already won for the believer and if we just focus on the words “It is finished,” the battle is over, what a difference we would see in our churches.

And finally, once you feel you are defeated you are lead into DELAY. You put off doing something – usually something good so that it never gets done. In this case, you put off calling on God so your life never gets straightened around.

If you are feeling or experiencing ANY of the above 5 steps in your life, I suggest you call a/your pastor and get some spiritual guidance. Better to feel a little awkwardness now than to completely turn around the path to your eternity.

This battle plan that Satan has for all living persons was first set in motion with Adam and Eve. Satan placed doubt in Eve’s mind about what God had said. When she learned she could be like God, she was discouraged with what she had and wanted more. All of a sudden that tree and its fruit looked pretty good – she fell for the diversion. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, they felt shame and defeat. They knew Satan had gotten the better of them and they had saddened God’s heart. And when God did approach them, the delayed in answering because they knew what they had done was wrong. Rather than coming forward and saying sorry to God, they both made excuses, blaming someone or something else for their actions. This was the delay process.

And now, thanks to them, we all have to deal with these five steps. Some may have to go through all five of them in order to finally see the light. Some may only go through 1 or 2 or 3 before they realize what’s happening.

Don’t despair. God won’t leave you there. All you need to do is lift your eyes Heavenward and reach up with your hand and God will take it and lift you up, cleanse you and give you a brand new start.

We don’t need to stay stuck in the mire and mud of our sins. God knows we are human and He is fully willing to give us a helping hand. All we have to do is reach out and ask. Don’t let Satan get the victory because God has already won the entire spiritual war. Keep focused on the Lord in your heart and you won’t stumble into Satan’s battle ground.

By Sheri Liegh Adams, copyright Sheri Liegh Adams, all rights reserved

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A New Beginning

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 King James Version

Someone reminded me of a bad decision I made a few years ago.  For a few minutes, satan tried to discourage me and then God brought our Scripture verse to my mind.  This is why it is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.  When we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us and the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our hearts for the forgiveness of our sins, we have been forgiven.

We have a new life and a new beginning and when we say to God “Remember what I did several years ago?”  He will say to us “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t remember that.”  Does this mean that God has a bad memory?  Of course not, it means that He makes a choice to forgive and forget and never hold it against us again.

May God help us to love others as He loves us.  We also need to make the choice to forgive people and then forget about it and never hold it against them again.  However, many times we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts instead of letting it go.  I am so glad to know that when I fail God, and I do fail Him just like you do, He forgives me and forgets it.

Don’t let people put you under guilt because of something you did in the past.  If you asked God to forgive you, let it go.  It is important, however, that occasionally we think about our past just to remind us how far He has brought us.  Praise and thank Him for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for you. Thank Him for all He has done for you.

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JoanneCopyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission.
http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Resolutions and Priorities: Seeking and Finding

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I chuckled when I read an email from Barnes & Noble on January 3. It listed three diet books for the New Year at 20% or more off. On the news on TV, one of the newscasters talked about his new book on losing weight.

Some people need to lose weight for health reasons, but not everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.

Some friends told me they wouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution because they probably wouldn’t keep it after two or three weeks.

A lady in my exercise class said the first two or three weeks in January the exercise classes are packed. Then they go back to their normal size.

My New Year’s resolution is not based on diet and exercise. Instead it is based on Jeremiah 29:13. I want to seek the Lord with all my heart and find him. I pray that resolution will become stronger with each passing month.

My citizenship is in heaven, and I’m going to spend eternity with my heavenly Father. I might as well get to know him now.

How will I seek him and find him? I’ll spend more time in prayer and daily Bible study. I’ll review more Bible verses on a regular basis and join the women’s Bible study group that resumes this month.

Praise & worship will become a daily practice. As I work at the computer, that music will fill me with the presence and power of the Lord. I will sing to the LORD and praise him as long as I live.

Will you join me in 2017 to seek the Lord with all your heart?

Dear God, help me seek you with all my heart. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to seek and find the Lord?

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Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVCAll 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

New Year’s Motto: Look Up!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have
new toils,
new trials,
new temptations, and
new troubles.

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year–let us seek grace to follow our Lord’s loving advice, and “look up!

Do not look back–as Lot’s wife did.

Do not look within–as too many do.

Do not look around–as David did.

But “look up!” Look up to God–He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, “Look unto Me, and be delivered–for I am God!”

Look up for light to guide you–and He will direct your path.

Look up for grace to sanctify you–and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.

Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God’s will–and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Look up for comfort to cheer you–and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.

Look up for courage to embolden you–and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might–He will increase strength.

Look up for endurance to keep you–and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.

Look up for providence to supply you–and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Look up in faith–exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.

Look up in prayer–asking for what God has graciously promised.

Look up in hope–expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.

Look up with adoration–and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.

Look up constantly–let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, “Our eyes are on the Lord our God–until He shows us mercy.”

Look up–for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year–but “Look up!” This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? “Look up” and hear Jesus saying to you, “Do not be afraid–I Myself will help you!”

Are you discouraged? “Look up”–and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? “Look up” for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin–look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God’s dear Son!

Do not look too much at self–but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you–loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
bind up your broken heart,
calm your perturbed spirit,
cheer your drooping mind, and
fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
for all that you need;
from all that you fear;
through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You–and will look up!” Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!”

Do not look at your sin–it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self–it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan–he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men–they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials–they will deject you!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us–looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!” Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently–to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking–to Jesus, who is at God’s right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

James Smith, “A New Year’s Motto” 1865

Labels as Excuses

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Are you “one of those people who …”?

I lived in schools for about fifty-two years.

K-12, four years of college, and thirty-five years as a teacher—52 of my first 58 years, interrupted by brief stints to build houses (which I enjoyed) and rehab from my injury (which I enjoyed a lot less). Toss in some nights and summers doing a Master’s degree, and it all adds up to a lot of time in schools.

When you live in schools, you learn about labels. Geek. Nerd. Jock. Goth. Skater. Gangster. School’s all about labels. The only worse fate than being labeled and stuck in a group is NOT being labeled and stuck in a group.

Jocks and gangsters get to walk down the middle of the hallway, crowds parting before them in a confused mixture of adoration, disdain, and fear. Geeks and nerds slink along the walls.

In college I took a class called “Adolescent Psychology.” The professor’s opening line: They’re all crazy!

We learned that kids group themselves as a way of separating from parents and developing an identity, that’s it’s normal for them to try out different costumes and roles. Colored hair, odd clothing, mimicked behaviors—it’s all just part of growing up and figuring out who they are. One of the many paradoxes of adolescence involves the need to discover one’s individuality by identifying lock-step with a group.

And we learned that it’s a phase, that eventually we grow out of our need to define ourselves by the group(s) to which we belong.

That professor was mostly right. They ARE all crazy, which explains my love for them as co-conspirators. They do try on identities like costumes, which makes them fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. There’s something refreshing about a young lady with pink spiked hair and holes in her jeans intently solving an equation, especially when she shows up after Christmas break with beautifully curled hair and a flowered skirt.

The adolescent labeling process makes developmental sense, bringing humor and pathos to a difficult, confusing stage of life. But I always felt less comfortable when adults insisted on placing kids in much less temporary categories.

During my career I taught classrooms filled with “gifted” students and others identified as “special needs.” I often wondered whether Christian parents believed some kids weren’t gifted by God, or whether ANY parents thought their kids weren’t special.

In the same room I’d find kids who were creative and artistic, lazy and driven to achieve, lethargic and hyper-active. Some were inquisitive, some wanted to read everything in sight, and some were fascinated by technology. Some struggled to focus as they worried about issues at home.

And of course it’s obvious which group I just described, right?

I think the professor missed an important point. I don’t see much evidence that we grow out of our adolescent need to define ourselves with labels. When you live in a wheelchair you get really sensitized to labels. People slap them on my forehead (which has plenty of room) like bumper stickers. But you don’t need paralysis to see the harmful effects of labels.

Last time I discussed labels as averages.  Today I’m thinking about labels as excuses.

Labels excuse laziness.

    No need to actually invest in getting to know the person and really understand his perspective. Just slap on a label, toss him in the right bucket, and you “know” all you need to know about him.

Labels excuse marginalization. She’s one of “them” and “they” just can’t do certain things. Of course we’ll be nice to her, but we can’t expect her to really participate. We’ll make a spot on the edges where she can watch without getting in the way.

Labels excuse unacceptable behavior. If you attach the “enemy” label to someone, you don’t have to treat them with respect. So it’s suddenly okay to demonize and shout at the person with different political views. There’s nothing wrong with gossiping and spreading rumors about “bad” people, right?

Labels excuse divisiveness. Why would we support that “evangelical” church down the street? And that one over there that doesn’t condemn our notion of “unbiblical” behavior, or the one around the corner that’s “right wing?” Just label them and the walls magically appear.

Of course, labels don’t really excuse any of these, but they certainly provide convenient excuses. When I hear adults using labels in such hurtful ways, I wonder how much we’ve really progressed since eighth grade.

I can chuckle when a kid with baggy pants will only associate with other kids that have the same brand of baggy pants. They’re learning, and next year they’ll all have short hair and khakis.

It’s a lot harder to find the humor when adults use a label based on behavior, belief, appearance, or perceived ability to justify including or excluding an individual.

And if you’re tempted to think it’s really not that important, that labels are just words, that “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” I’d offer an alternative view.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart.

Broken bones are easily treated; no surgical procedure exists that can mend a broken heart.

Do you see examples of labels as excuses?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 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 a Christian Have to be Nice to Everyone?

Friday, December 9th, 2016

“One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned.”

A very unpleasant and ungodly woman once told me, “A Christian must be nice to everybody.” What she meant was that I had to take her nasty criticisms and yet be sweet to her. Was she right? A minister tried to tell me, within the past week, that we should all be like Jesus, who, according to this minister, loved everybody and never had an unkind word for anyone or ever indulged in name-calling. Was he right?

Not according to my Bible. Jesus called Herod “that fox” (Luke 13:32); He called the Pharisees “hypocrites”; “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”; “whited sepulchres”; “serpents”; a “generation of vipers” (Matt. 23:23-33); and much more. On one occasion, He even called Peter “Satan” (Matt. 16:23) for counseling a wrong course of action.

Nor is strong, blunt language lacking in the prophets and apostles. The Bible rings out with strong condemnation of a great many persons as well as nations, and sins as well as sinners. Neither Jesus Christ nor the Bible is “nice to everybody,” nor can we be, without sin.

The Bible’s strong language does not represent sin or weakness on the part of the prophets, apostles, or Jesus Christ. Their anger is righteous anger, and their plain, blunt language is godly indignation and righteous judgment.

One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned. Nothing seems to be called by its right name these days. Murderers are called “freedom fighters,” and revolutionary mobs are called deprived and underprivileged people whom we must subsidize. Hoodlums are called victims of their environment, and so on.

Because of the inability of many to face facts plainly, they are easily imposed on by knaves and fools. Evil and foolish persons are tolerated, allowed to take up time and attention and to hamper godly men and women.

We cannot deal with evil unless we first of all face up to it for what it is and call it by its right name. We have had too much nicey-nice from politicians and preachers. It is high time to use some blunt, plain, and strong language, and then, by the grace of God, to take steps against the powers of evil. We cannot win a battle until we first of all recognize that we are at war.

We need more strong language, strong deeds, and strong men. God give us such men!

~ R. J. Rushdoony
Taken fromA Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 6 .

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Christmas: Why The Foundation Matters

Monday, December 5th, 2016

wexnerAppearances can deceive.

We’re deluged with slick media campaigns aimed at promoting a message that places a shiny cover on something that might be a bit less spiffy when the lights are turned off. I reached back a couple of years for these thoughts.

A while back I watched one of those DIY shows. A young woman purchased a cute, completely refurbished bungalow. After a few months the surface restorations began to crumble because the previous owner merely covered over serious, costly-to-repair problems.

As a first-time owner, she was overwhelmed and tempted to walk away. But the house had a solid foundation and structure. Experienced professionals peeled away the shiny appearance, exposed the systemic issues, and repaired them properly.

The show reminded me of a story. An architect visited the Wexner Art Center at Ohio State University. The building design reflects a post-modern view of reality. Pillars support nothing. Staircases go nowhere. The idea is that there’s no pattern—to the building or to life.

As the guide explained the designer’s vision, the architect asked, “I wonder if they designed the foundation the same way.”

“Of course not,” replied the guide, “the building would collapse.”

Exactly.

Maybe Christmas is a bit like that. As we get lost in the lights and tinsel, the gifts and expectations, we forget that appearances can deceive.

Maybe we decide the whole thing’s a sham. It’s all wrapping paper and commercialism, and when you strip those away there’s nothing worthwhile. So we toss aside the whole notion and walk away.

Maybe we decide it’s only what we see. Maybe Christmas means nothing more than shiny toys and parties. Maybe it’s all pillars supporting nothing and stairs going nowhere, with no pattern or meaning, so we just give in to “Happy Holidays.”

Or…

Maybe, like the builders, we learn to see the structure and the foundation.

Takes discipline because, let’s be honest, foundations aren’t all that sexy. Nobody walks into a really cool house and says, “Wow, that floor looks really stable.”

It’s nice to paint the walls. It’s just a good idea to make sure they’re solid and waterproof first.

There’s nothing wrong with a silly, whimsical, aesthetically challenging building, either. It’s fun to walk around and point and wonder. But I’m not going inside unless the foundation designer knew what He was doing.

I like the lights and the music. The shopping and crazy commercialism—I pretty much ditched that a long time ago.

But the Jesus part—the foundation—I want to see that more clearly.

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