Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

Our True Relationship with Him

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

We should observe, how our Lord speaks of the relation between Himself and true believers. He
says, “Henceforth I call you not servants but I have called you friends.”

14You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another. John 15:14:-17 MKJV

This is indeed a glorious privilege. To know Christ, serve Christ, follow Christ, obey Christ, work in Christ’s vineyard, fight Christ’s battles, all this is no small matter. But for sinful men and women like ourselves to be called “friends of Christ,” is something that our weak minds can hardly grasp and take in. The King of kings and Lord of lords not only pities and saves all them that believe in Him, but actually calls them His “friends.”

We need not wonder, in the face of such language as this, that St. Paul should say, the” love of Christ passeth knowledge.” (Ephesian 3:19.)

Let the expression before us encourage Christians to deal familiarly with Christ in prayer. Why should we be afraid to pour out all our hearts, and unbosom all our secrets, in speaking to one who calls us His “friends”? Let it cheer us in all the troubles and Borrows of life, and increase our confidence in our Lord.

“He that hath friends,” says Solomon, “will show himself friendly.” (Prov. xviii. 24.) Certainly our great Master in heaven will never forsake His “friends.”

Poor and unworthy as we are, He will not cast us off, but will stand by us and keep us to the end. David never forgot Jonathan; and the Son of David will never forget His people. None so rich, so strong, so independent, so well off, so thoroughly provided for, as the man of whom Christ says, “This is my friend!”

~ J. C. Ryle, <a href=”http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?event=AFF&p=1015079&item_no=971084″>“Daily Readings from All Four Gospels”</a>“Daily Readings from All Four Gospels”

 

The key of Death is in the Savior’s hands!

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

“Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Ever-living One! I died–but see, I am alive forevermore! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead).” Revelation 1:17-18

When it is affirmed that Jesus holds “the key of DEATH,” it is plainly implied that none can pass out of this present world without His appointment. And, more generally, that He is lord of the living not less than of the dead, and has a thorough control over everything that can in any way affect the lives of men. An absolute power over death, necessarily presupposes a corresponding power over life and its affairs. And it is by the exercise of His providence in sustaining life–that He fulfills His purpose as to the time and mode of their departure hence.

Has the Redeemer the keys of death? Then this should mitigate the anxiety which often preys upon the mind when we look forward into futurity, and contemplate the prospect of our own death. We should remember, that as the Redeemer alone has the keys of death–nothing can happen to send us forth from the world before the time which He has appointed for our departure. Neither man nor devils can abridge the term of probation assigned to us by our gracious Master. Nor, until He is pleased to call us away, shall any power on earth or in Hell prevail against us. The Redeemer is possessed of absolute power over the course of our lives on earth–and over the time and manner of our departure out of the world.

No accident, no hostile violence, no insidious snare, no dark conspiracy–can touch our life–but by His command. And surely, when we reflect on the numerous dangers to which human life is exposed–the frailty of our frame–the diseases to which it is subject–our constant exposure to fatal accidents–the malice of open or concealed enemies–it must be consolatory to know, that the key of Death is in the Savior’s hands, and that, come what may, we cannot be forced out of the world, until He opens the door and bids us to come to Him.

More especially, when we are visited with disease, and threatened with a speedy termination of life–the Savior’s power over the keys of death should repress or assuage those violent anxieties as to the probability of death or of recovery–and those disquieting speculations as to the outcome of disease, and the mode of its treatment. For disease cannot kill, nor can medicine cure–without the appointment of Him who holds in His own hands the keys of life and of death! And if He has fixed the outcome of this disease–then why should we be anxious? If death is in our cup–that cup has been put into our hands at the time fixed by unerring wisdom and infinite love!

(James Buchanan, “Comfort in Affliction” 1837)

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The Third Chapter of Life

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
~Anatole France

Frequently the inspiration for what I write comes from a particular word on phrase that swims around in the sea of my consciousness.
‘Chapter Three’ kept floating to the surface of tangible awareness and so it became the focus for a bit of research and led me to ‘The Third Chapter’, a book by sociologist, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot.

Ten thousand baby boomers turn sixty each day. A newly identified developmental stage, the ‘third chapter’, focuses specifically on the years from 50 to 75. Recognizing that this cultural change can result in a deeper, richer understanding of the aging process, the author notes that society often offers a murky view of this phase, unsure how to view a population that is “neither young nor old.”

“We must develop a compelling vision of later life:
one that does not assume a trajectory of decline
after fifty, but one that recognizes it as a time
of change, growth, and new learning; a time when
our courage gives us hope.” from The Third Chapter

Challenging the idea that people over fifty enter a period of diminishing opportunities, Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot brings a rejuvenating new perspective to these debates. As people move from one developmental stage to the next, they are likely to experience the twin emotions of loss and liberation, despair and hope, pessimism and optimism. It is difficult to let go of the familiar, the routine, the proven, the daily rituals; so hard to relinquish your solidity, your expertise, your status and station and take the risk of embracing the new, the unproven, and the unfamiliar.

This requires the willingness to take risks, experience vulnerability and uncertainty, learn from experimentation and failure, seek guidance and counsel from younger generations and develop new relationships of support and intimacy.

This book includes and shares the insights of courageous souls from all walks of life who redefined “work,” reinvented themselves, and tapped their emotional resources in creative new ways. The result is a revolutionary yet realistic challenge to all who are living in the Third Chapter, providing a gateway to liberation and greater meaning as each day unfolds.

In Biblical understanding, the elderly are to be venerated and identified with wisdom and closeness to God. Indeed the word ‘elder’ and ‘overseer’ are
used interchangeably.

“Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honour,
especially they who labour in the word and doctrine..”
1 Timothy 5:17

Here’s to a creative and fulfilling Chapter Three for all of us who have turned that page!

~*~
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy

Can Affliction Be Good?

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten. It often comes back to me when I think of the way in which the Lord leads His people.

The fable runs that a few ears of wheat were growing in the corner of a field, and it was promised to this wheat that it would one day be brought before the Queen. But by-and-by the mower came with his sharp scythe and cut the wheat, and feeling the sharpness of the scythe, it said, “I shall never stand before the Queen!” Presently it was laid in the wagon, and pressed and borne down by the other sheaves, and again arose the cry of distress and despair. But, more than this, it was laid on the threshing-floor, and the heavy flail came down upon it. It was taken to the mill, and cut and cut and cut; then it was kneaded into bread; and at last it was placed in the hot burning oven. Again and again was heard the cry of utter, hopeless despair. But at length the promise was fulfilled, and the bread was placed on the Queen’s table!

There is a great spiritual truth beneath the fable. Christians are God’s wheat, sprung from the incorruptible seed of His Word, and from the precious seed of the crucified, buried body of our Lord–and He purposes that one day they shall stand before Him! But there needs much preparation.

There comes the sharp scythe of bereavement–the loss of child or parent or spouse.

There comes the oppressive burden of care.

There comes the severe tribulation (the very word signifies threshing), seasons of adversity and disappointment.

There comes the mill, the trial that utterly breaks us down, and fills the whole spirit with distress.

There comes the hot furnace of agonizing pain or fear.

All these are doing their appointed work, stirring up faith and prayer, humbling to the very dust–and yet lifting up the Christian, by leading him nearer to God, and enabling him at length to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted!”

~ George Everard, “The Home of Bethany” 1873

Are Assumptions Being Made?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions people make about you, your story, and your experiences disclose a great deal.

They disclose a great deal about the person making the assumptions, and you may wish to pay attention to what that person is telling you about himself.

But those assumptions disclose nothing about you.

We spend far too much time and energy trying to meet or refute assumptions made by others. Wasted time, wasted energy.

Your identity, my identity, they’re based on what God sees through Jesus. A person worthy of love, worthy of a second chance.

A person worthy of Jesus and His sacrifice.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That’s the assumption God made about you, and me.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to stop listening to the assumptions made by others and start listening to those made by God.

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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

How Do You Know If You Suffer from PTSD?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

“What’s wrong with me?”  Thirty-eight-year-old Charlotte asked me.

“What makes you ask that?”

She whispered, “When I was a child, my dad beat me almost daily for any little thing.” Her eyes moistened, and she reached for tissue from her purse.

Charlotte said she didn’t live at home, and that situation occurred years ago.

“How do you feel now?”

“I have nightmares of my dad screaming at me and beating me with a belt. I wake up in a cold sweat.”

Can you identify with Charlotte in having nightmares?

I asked her how long she had been having those nightmares. She said for the last six or seven months.

“The term for those nightmares is ‘recurrent distressing dreams.’ What other symptoms do you have?”

Through tears she said, “Sometimes I feel as if I’m back home. I can hear my dad scream at me, and I feel every blow of his belt on my body.”

“I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. That must be scary. Those feelings are ‘flashbacks.’”

Do you have flashbacks?

“Under no circumstances will I go back to my parents’ home. I avoid my dad and places where he might go. I won’t call the house.”

I recognized Charlotte’s “persistent avoidance or efforts to avoid external reminders of” her dad.

Do you persistently avoid or try to avoid external reminders of a traumatic event?

“What about any negative changes in thought and feelings related to the trauma?

With a sigh, Charlotte said, “Men make mean parents. Having a man in the house is dangerous.”

She screamed, “I’m angry about what happened. I’m afraid if I visit my parents, my dad will beat me again. I have trouble concentrating and falling asleep or staying asleep.”

As she wiped her tears, Charlotte said she had felt that way longer than a month.

I said she did have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and advised her to find a therapist who specialized in PTSD.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, I encourage you to do the same.

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Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Do You Make Things Complicated?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Recent experience has me re-visiting a previous word-of-the week…

SIMPLE

What Jesus asked of us is simple.

I need to remember that today. Maybe you do too.

He asked us to love with no strings. Sacrificially. Love God. Love others. Love ourselves.

That’s it.

Of course, it’s not easy. Or safe. Or cheap.

But when we make it complicated, when we act like you can’t be involved without some sort of advanced training, we need to stop.

Following Jesus might be the hardest thing in the world, but it’s simple.

Love. God. Others. Self.

It’s Monday! Maybe it’s a good week to give yourself a break. Don’t make it so complicated.

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

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.

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

Ten Questions to Ask

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Ten questions to ask at the start of a New Year, or on your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

[This] is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are ten questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God:

1. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year–and what will you do about it?

2. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life–and what will you do about it this year?

3. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

4. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

5. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

7. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

8. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

9. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

10. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace–on your phone, tablet, day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc.–where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

~Don Whitney

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