Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Are You Serving or Shaming?

Monday, March 10th, 2014

I feel compelled to comment on today’s word-of-the-week…

SERVE

MondayJesus told a story we know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s about a man who’s attacked, beaten, robbed, and left half-dead by the side of the road.

A priest and a Levite (the religious good guys) passed by without stopping to help. Then a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, bandaged his wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his care.

The Samaritan served a man who most likely hated him. At the end of the story Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

Another time, Jesus spent time at a well with a Samaritan woman. According to religious rules and traditions, He shouldn’t have even been there. The woman herself expresses shock when he asks her for a drink.

Jesus came to serve the world, not to shame it. He washed the feet of those whose sins He carried to the cross a few hours later. He said crazy things like, “Love your enemies” and “When you did it to the least of these you did it to me.”

He said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles,” extending an oppressive Roman law which allowed a soldier to demand that a stranger carry his heavy pack up to one mile. Jesus told his followers to serve beyond the minimum requirements and walk two miles.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:47)

Over and over Jesus welcomed, associated with, and served those rejected by organized religion. And He reserved His strongest condemnation for religious leaders.

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
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

How to Bring Sweetness and Healing to Your Home

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Did you grow up in a home where a parent or both parents screamed, cursed, and insulted each other?

If you did, with time you probably became a victim of their verbal and emotional abuse too.

Now you are an adult, and your home can be different. You can provide peace and love for your family. You can help your children grow up with self-confidence and self-respect.

Start with pleasant words. No matter what you need to say, say it in a gentle manner.

Set boundaries in your home about communication and lead by example. If you don’t want your children to scream, don’t scream at them or your spouse if you are married. Insist that your spouse and extended family not scream in your home either.

If you don’t want your children to curse and call each other names, don’t curse or call them or your spouse names. Insist that your spouse and relatives also refrain from doing so.

Your goal is pleasant words that are “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Dear God, help me speak pleasant words and apologize when I don’t. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to bring sweetness to the soul and healing to the bones of your family?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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Copyright 2010-2013, 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

Who Lights Up Your Life?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Who are the people who brighten your days?

I’m blessed to know a number of impressive, intelligent, influential folks. I know people who demonstrate wisdom, insight, leadership, discernment, tenacity, compassion, service, and sacrifice. I learn a great deal from their teaching and leading. I certainly couldn’t do what I do without their generosity and support.

But as I reflect on 2013 I’m aware of a much smaller circle of individuals whose mere mental image brightens my day. When I think about them I almost can’t help smiling.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” He invited us to follow Him, to be like a city on a hill, to let our light shine in the darkness. That’s what the folks I’m describing do for me.

I wonder:

Am I that kind of person?

Some of the people in that circle are family, some aren’t. Some are close friends, some aren’t. So what distinguishes them? What characteristics can I strive to emulate if I want to be the kind of person that brightens lives?

They have a clear sense of purpose that permeates every part of their life. Most of their choices and actions, in every area of life, seem intentionally directed toward their central life purpose.

They’re remarkably generous. They’re especially eager to share time and connections.

They have a keen desire for justice. They perceive justice as setting things right rather than getting even or blindly following rules.

They have an enormous capacity for demonstrating grace.

They’re serious about their work, not so serious about themselves.

They’re extremely good, active listeners. They display genuine interest in others’ stories.

They offer a glimpse of the way Jesus loved and accepted people–unconditionally.

I want to be that sort of person. It’s not really a goal or resolution, because you can’t draw a line and say Okay, now I’ve arrived.

But I can be more aware. I can train to do better.

Who brightens your life?

What would you add to my list?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright 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

What If Christmas Isn’t Merry?

Monday, December 23rd, 2013


What pops into your mind when you think of Christmas?

Colored lights, tinsel, festive decorations? Familiar music, parties, family gatherings? Joy, the promise of a Savior, God with us?

How about death, loss, and grief? That’s probably not what you expected.

Christmas is a time for glad tidings of great joy, but we also must be sensitive to those for whom the holiday invokes painful memories and highlights difficult circumstances. This isn’t the cheeriest of holiday greetings. I hope you’ll forgive me for reminding us that we’re likely to encounter folks that can’t quite share our holly-jolly spirit.

When I began teaching I was struck by a predictable rise in discipline problems between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. It took a while to understand that, for some kids, that two-week break was anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Family expectations, increased alcohol use, and financial stress lead to increased conflict. Those kids dreaded being isolated in often violent and abusive situations.

* My best friend passed away last December 23rd. I’m sure his wife and son will experience periods of profound sadness amidst piles of wrapping paper.
* I know folks who will be alone for the first time this Christmas. Divorce, death, kids moved away, husband’s deployed in Afghanistan—lots of reasons to find some loneliness and despair beneath the tree.
* For many years December was a really tough month for me. My injury happened on December 5th, and you can imagine that memories of Christmas in the ICU with screws in my head didn’t exactly make succeeding holidays an occasion for excited anticipation.

However, I’m also living evidence that God redeems and heals painful circumstances. As I began writing this, I realized that December 5th had passed un-noticed. And my story about my hospital Christmas is that the nurses decorated me—they hung Christmas ornaments from the screws. Hospital humor, I guess.

God is gracious and patient and relentless—hey, that would make a good book title: Relentless Grace! He didn’t give up on me, and he’ll work for good in troubled situations this year as well.

But even knowing that doesn’t make the darkness disappear for folks who are in the middle of the storm. We don’t have to hide our own celebration, but I hope we make time to listen to those who look at the baby in the manger and wonder where He went.

My one suggestion—don’t try to make it all okay, because right now it’s just not all okay. Don’t offer platitudes and catchy scripture passages that are somehow supposed to turn that frown upside-down. People who are hurting don’t need cheering up as much as they need someone to listen without judgment or expectation.

I’ve said before that some of the most bizarre statements I’ve ever heard came from well-meaning Christians who wanted to provide a tidy explanation for a horrible, senseless accident. If someone’s hurting, you won’t help by assuring them that it’s all part of God’s plan. That’s not what they need.

What do they need? You.

We all know one person who needs someone to have lunch or a cup of coffee or a beer with them over the next two weeks. Call that person. Listen and laugh and cry and let them share the pain and the memories. It might be uncomfortable, but it’ll be okay.

I’m thinking it might have been a little uncomfortable for God’s Son to leave Heaven for a smelly stable. But that’s what He did, because He knew some hurting people who needed Him.

This shouldn’t be a depressing reminder. Following Jesus in real life means encountering some mud and potholes and hurting people along the road. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna Christian who crosses to the other side and misses the joy of servicing and listening.

It’ll be hard sometimes, but it’ll be okay.

Who do you need to call?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

All You Need Is Love?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

I’ve been pondering 1 John for several weeks. Frankly, it’s been a bit frustrating.

I’m trying to understand why the writer goes on and on about love. I get that love is a big deal. It’s the big deal. But it feels like the letter goes around and around this same topic.

I figure I must be missing something deeper. So I continue to mull over these words, seeking the wisdom of this old man who walked beside Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I think he’s saying I can’t love on my own. Any “love” I create is some kind of sentimentality, at best a shadow of the sacrificial agape that’s God’s inherent nature. Since “God is love” (verse 16), my attempt to love on my own is essentially creating God in my image.

I can only reflect the love I’ve received and accepted.

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:21)

I’ve known “spiritual” folks who wanted to withdraw, live in isolation, focus on God and their relationship with Him. If I understand this statement, John’s saying we can’t really do that.

I think he’s telling us community isn’t optional, that love for God must be expressed as love for other people.

In our culture, neither of these notions is comfortable. John seems to claim we’re not the independent, self-made individuals we prize so highly. We don’t get to be in control, and we can’t have it our way.

We’re interdependent on others and dependent on God.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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Dixon
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

Did You Really Hear What You Heard?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Our church heard sort of a groundbreaking message this weekend.

(I told you part of it last time. )

I suppose in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t earth-shattering. A buddy used to keep things in perspective by quipping, “It can’t be that important if more than a billion Chinese folks don’t even know about it.”

But the Kingdom of God isn’t built on earth-shattering events. It’s built by ordinary people and local churches taking risks, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have. In the life of our church, and hopefully our community, this message signaled the casting of a significant vision.

What I found curious was the varied reactions I heard. So I asked a few folks their thoughts about the main point of the message.

Frankly, it seemed like we didn’t attend the same service. Certainly we didn’t come away with anything close to the same call to action.

It’s tempting to blame the pastor, but Jesus experienced the same issue. People have deployed His words in ways He never intended for two thousand years.

I shouldn’t be surprised. We’d like to believe we’re neutral observers, but in fact we all listen, watch, and interpret through unique filters composed of our experiences and biases. We may know the same information, but that’s no guarantee we’ll reach similar conclusions.

It’s not about what you look at. It’s about what you see.

It’s not about the words someone says. It’s about what you hear.

It’s not about the evidence. It’s about what you do with it.

Two lessons for me:

Don’t assume others heard what I meant to say. In fact, it might be good practice to assume they didn’t hear it quite as I intended.

Listen. Ask questions. Seek feedback. Say it another way.

That’s one reason I value your comments, whether on the blog or Facebook. They help me know where I missed the mark.

Don’t assume I heard what was really said. Take notes. Be more aware of my personal biases. Ask questions, especially if something doesn’t quite fit.

Too often I jump to conclusions based on initial impressions. I react rather than choosing a considered response.

I’m biased and I’m prejudiced. So are you–in different places and directions.

Awareness and acceptance of those realities are first steps toward seeing and hearing a bit more clearly.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
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

What are You Learning on the Bike Trail of Life?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

There are unexpected depths in human beings, and abilities beyond the world’s imagining. We all ride the same road, and if we ride it together, we can get where we want to go.  ~Charles Kuralt

You can learn a lot on a bike trail.

The way the other folks choose to travel mostly doesn’t impact your ride. If you work hard and make good decisions, things generally go pretty well.

Sharing the trail means occasionally yielding or slowing down. Crashes happen if everyone insists on always getting their own way.

A skinned knee is a big price to pay for being right.

Sometimes you encounter a problem. When that happens, it’s nice to have other folks stop and help. Remember that when you see someone else struggling.

Diversity is part of the attraction of the trail. If everyone rode the same bike or walked the same speed it wouldn’t be as interesting.

There’s not much point in telling others how they should ride, unless they ask.

Just because someone else travels differently doesn’t make them, or you, wrong. There are lots of ways to move along the trail.

It doesn’t make much sense to compare. There’s no such thing as “best” or even “normal.” Everyone’s got their own reason for being there. Some are working out, some are socializing, and some are just enjoying the scenery.

Kids—and those who act like kids—seem to have the most fun. There must be something to learn from that.

Old or young, fast or slow, bike, rollerblade, walk, or wheelchair, we all travel the same road.

Things might be smoother if we learned to appreciate the folks with whom we share the trail.

When Jesus called little children to Him, he didn’t say only rich children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)

What’s your observation about the diversity you encounter on the trail?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
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

Spiritual Gifts for Each One – Are You Using Yours?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I Corinthians 12:7: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

“I can’t serve in church. I don’t have any spiritual gifts.” Have you said that before?

What does God say in his Word? According to this verse, “each one” has received a spiritual gift. It doesn’t say “some of us” or “a chosen few of us.”

Not only have we all received a spiritual gift, we are to use it “for the common good.”

“I’m too old. I’ve served long enough. Let the younger people do it.” Have you said that or heard it before? I’ve heard a few seniors tell me that.

How strange that God doesn’t say we are to serve for a while and then retire. The Bible doesn’t mention that we serve only until we reach a certain age.

Perhaps we can’t teach the Bible as Beth Moore does, but that doesn’t mean we can’t serve. When I look around the church on Sunday morning, I see the nursery volunteers who love and care for the babies; those who prepare the coffee, hot water for tea, and donuts; greeters at the door; men and women at the various ministry tables, such as women’s ministry and military ministry; ushers who hand out the church bulletin and take up the collection; those who take care of the sound and lights; the orchestra; the choir; the drama department; and the list goes on.

Verses four and five in I Corinthians say, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”

Perhaps you’ve sinned in the past and think you’re not good enough to serve. God loves you. He forgives you, wants you to serve, and gives you a second chance. We are all sinners whom God has forgiven.

As you consider what your gift might be, ask yourself a few questions. What brings you joy? What energizes you? How can you bless others? How can you show God’s love for his church?

Dear God, please show me the spiritual gift you gave me. Amen.

Application:  How will you serve “for the common good” this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2013, 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

Insiders: Doing Something Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Friday, November 16th, 2012

INSIDERS

Do you ever think about how much of what we do is aimed at insiders?

I’m not sure why, but recently I’m struck by how my “church stuff” resembles a closed circle. It just doesn’t seem like I’m doing much to turn that circle into more of a spiral that reaches out and makes Jesus a bit more relevant to the daily lives of folks in my community.

Most of the folks who read this blog are followers of Jesus. Same with my books. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but I wonder if I’m just taking the easy route. Folks who already know about Him are generally a pretty receptive audience. We can create some nice warm-fuzzies by huddling up with the home team.

But, to abuse the sports metaphor, I’m feeling as if I spend a lot of time in the comfort and safety of the locker room. Bible studies, small groups, worship services—they seem to me like the preparation, the practices, and the intra-squad scrimmages.

I need that continuing preparation, but at some point I need to do something beyond the home team. I need to play the game, and I’m realizing I don’t really know what that means. I guess this week’s as good as any to begin figuring it out.

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