Archive for the ‘Renewal’ Category

Christmas and Recovery

Monday, December 19th, 2016

This is an important time of year for Christians and I think it is especially so for recovering people. Let us look at some scripture:

Matthew 1: 20-23
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The name JESUS means “God is salvation” or “Savior”; the one who saves people from their sins. Jesus is the Greek form of the Jewish name Joshua, and Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.”

Emmanuel means “God with us” or “God is with us.” Jesus Christ was given by God to us to rescue us from our unmanageable lives, to forgive our sins and to bind up our wounds.

William Barclay put it this way:

“Jesus was not so much The Man born to be King as The Man born
to be Saviour. He came to this world, not for his own sake, but for
men and for our salvation…..

“Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, add what God means us to be. In him alone we see what God is and what man ought to be. Before Jesus came men had only vague and shadowy, and often quite wrong, ideas about God; they could only at best guess and grope; but Jesus could say, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

In Jesus we see the love, the compassion, the mercy, the seeking heart, the purity of God as nowhere else in all this world. With the coming of Jesus the time of guessing is gone, and the time of certainty is come. Before Jesus came men did not really know what goodness was. In Jesus alone we see true manhood, true goodness, true obedience to the will of God. Jesus came to tell us the truth about God and the truth about ourselves.”

This Christmas season celebrate the birth of Christ in this world 2,000 years ago. Celebrate the fact that Jesus lives in you and through you each and every day. Celebrate your own rebirth by baptism of the Holy Spirit. And celebrate by sharing the love of God and the peace of Jesus with those around you.

~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S. O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and the author of the
Christians in Recovery Workbook & Meeting Guide
Christians in Recovery Devotional Journal
and editor of
Morning Exercises – Daily Devotional
CIR Members can respond in the
CIR Message BoardsNot a member yet? Join Us!

What About That Setback?

Friday, November 18th, 2016

bumpA friend experienced a setback.

A “speed bump” is how he described it. I’d say it was more like a major detour, but either way, things aren’t exactly going his way right now. This is a guy who’s had his share of struggle along the road, and things were starting to look a bit brighter. This particular speed bump wasn’t part of the plan.

So what do you say? What’s useful, helpful, to someone in a circumstance like this?

First, let’s hold off on the Christian one-liners. It’s God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason. God will use this for good. Even if you believe something like this, it’s simply not helpful to toss a simplistic conclusion into a complex, painful situation. Mostly these are designed to make the speaker feel better; they’re not going to help someone who’s already experiencing confusion and doubt. Let go of your need to offer an easy answer that likely doesn’t exist.

It’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Following Jesus doesn’t mean pasting a permanent fake smile on your face. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you don’t have to be controlled by them.

Want to help? Offer a safe space for her to express these perfectly normal emotions.

Hope is a decision, not a feeling. Hope is confidence in the future based on faith that God keeps His promises. It’s possible to choose hope and feel hopeless…I don’t know how that works, but I’ve been there. You can decide to choose hope, and hold on no matter how you feel.

Want to help? Continue to talk about hope while showing you understand how hopeless it feels.

You are not your circumstances. I am not a wheelchair. My friend is not his “setback.” That’s not how God sees us. We’re defined by how He sees us through Jesus.

Want to help? Show (don’t tell) him that he’s valued as a person beyond his circumstances. The show part is, by the way, hard.

God is long-term. Hope is long-term. Love is long-term. Most of the stuff we focus on…isn’t.

Want to help? Hang around long-term. Do long-term stuff, the things most others won’t do because it’s frustrating and they don’t see results and often they’re not even appreciated.

Hang around when the short-term folks lose patience. Don’t judge them.

That’s what Jesus does.

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 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 Worry Overwhelming You?

Monday, November 14th, 2016
The Bible forbids us to worry. Our Lord Himself speaks of it as foolishness and sin (Matt. 6:25-34). Peter tells us to cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Worry and faith do not go together; they are, in fact, in contradiction to each other. To worry is to lack faith.
Consider this: God cannot worry. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things therein. All things were made by Him, and all things are under His omnipotent hand and control. Moreover, as James declares, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Not an atom can ever escape God’s government and control.
This means that God has nothing to worry about, because everything is under His full control and accomplishes His purpose. If the Lord be our Lord, then Romans 8:28 is true for us: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If the worst that happens to us is made to work for good in the Lord, we cannot lose.
This is why anxiety and worry are a sin. They mean a distrust in the Lord. They mean, moreover, that we insist on playing god and on trying to run our lives according to our plan. We then sinfully refuse to take hands off our lives to commit them to God’s keeping.
When our Lord says, “Take no thought for your life” (Matt. 6:25), or “do not worry, or be anxious, about your living,” He is summoning us to faith. If we refuse to have faith in the Lord, how can we expect Him to care for us? And if we refuse to have faith and insist on worrying, then we will have something to worry about: having denied the Lord, we will not have His care or providence. Take your choice: God’s care or your anxiety.
Taken from A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 7.
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!

Do You Fully Recognize the Hand of God?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

We are to fully recognize the hand of God in whatever trials and sorrows may be appointed for us. And if we see God’s hand in them, we shall . . .
find that our cares and sorrows give us fresh errands to the throne of grace;
see redeeming love in them all;
be assured that Divine wisdom has ordered all for good;
believe that a Fatherly discipline and a tender regard for our highest welfare, have in some way seen them to be needful. So we shall trust and not be afraid.

One day a mother’s hand brings to a child a present of a toy.
At another time, the same hand gives the necessary food.
At another time, the same kind hand dries the child’s tear, and lifts it up when it has fallen.
At another time, the mother brings to the child, a cup of bitter medicine.
All of her dealings with the child are ways of showing her love, and perhaps the last in giving the medicine manifests her love the most.

Is it not so with our Father above? With far more than a mother’s love, He cares for His children.
Sometimes He bestows a temporal gift that greatly adds to our happiness.
Sometimes He gives the necessary provision for our life.
Sometimes He raises us up when we have fallen, and dries the tear of penitence or sorrow.
But it is equal love–yes, perhaps greater love–when He sends to us some distressing providence, or appoints some bitter cup of suffering or bereavement. It is for our highest good. It is the healing medicine which is to overcome some sinful propensity, or to preserve us from some temptation.

Let us believe this, and trust our Father’s love. Let us believe that He cares for us, and that He will remove the trial when its work is done. Let us commit our way unto Him, and roll upon Him the burden which oppresses us.

(George Everard, “Christian Living!” 1881)

That Master Key!

Monday, September 19th, 2016

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart! Hebrews 4:12

I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.

A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.

But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.

I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears–but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out the remedy for every form of misery and evil–it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.

Holy Scripture is our Father’s love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe.

Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements–not one of these evils, or any other… we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need–but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?

~George Everard, “Strong and Free, A Book for Young Men” 1882

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!

Need a Fresh Start?

Friday, September 16th, 2016

A friend brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

FRESH START

startMy friend needs a fresh start today.

In fact, given his circumstances he may need a few fresh starts in the near future. In the past lots of us gave up something, or started something. It’s cool to have a nice, neat time when everyone has permission to do something new that gets us a little closer to God. We make starting over the “in thing to do” on that one particular day.

Someone who’s struggling, like my friend, might get the wrong idea. He might think there’s something magic about that day and, if you miss it, you missed your chance.

God, of course, cares a lot about second chances and fresh starts. He loves it when someone makes and keeps a commitment for the forty days of Lent, but He’ll be thrilled if my friend gets a fresh start today. Or tomorrow.

If you know someone who gave something up, maybe you can take a moment to ask how it’s going. If he’s struggling, encourage him. If she slipped, remind her that perfection isn’t the goal.

If you know someone like my friend, make sure they know it’s always a good day to start over. As many times as it takes.

God offers you and me a fresh start. Let’s use it well!

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 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
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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

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.

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 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

Breaking Away from Our Past

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 3:13-14

We have here Paul’s wise theory of life–progress by forgetting, by letting go of the things that are past.

“Forgetting what is behind.” Probably most of us have done things we would much like . . .
to leave behind,
to blot out from memory,
to cut altogether loose from,
to bury in oblivion.

We cannot turn back the hands of the clock, that we may have any day over again. But we may bring to God all the mistakes, the follies, the sins–and He will forgive us, and then use even these poor broken things for good.

A traveler tells of finding a place beside the sea, where many ships were dashed upon the rocks–and a beautiful house built altogether from pieces of wreckage gathered from the shore.

That is about the best many of us can do. We have little else to bring to God but wreckage–disobediences, broken commandments, mistakes, sins. Yet it is a wonderful thought that even with such materials, if we are truly penitent and repentant–our Master will work, helping us to build beauty in our lives. Sins forgiven become lessons for us. Out of a past full of failures, we may make a future full of strength and beauty–through the grace of Christ. We cannot forget our sins, but we may be wiser and better for them.

~ J.R. Miller

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!