Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

Do You Know What an Epiphany is?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

It is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Isaiah 64:4) But God has shown it to us through his Spirit. The Spirit understands all things. He understands even the deep things of God.

Who can know the thoughts of another person? Only a person’s own spirit can know them. In the same way, only the Spirit of God knows God’s thoughts.

The Spirit helps us understand what God has freely given us. That is what we speak about. We don’t use words taught to us by people. We use words taught to us by the Holy Spirit. We use the words of the Spirit to teach the truths of the Spirit.

Some people don’t have the Holy Spirit. They don’t accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. Things like that are foolish to them. They can’t understand them. In fact, such things can’t be understood without the Spirit’s help. (1 Corinthians 1:9-17 NIRV)

Much of life is a mystery awaiting an epiphany; a sudden spontaneous leap of understanding. By way of epiphany God is redemptively re-writing our stories. The Bible calls this “gaining understanding”. But there is a huge distinction between learned understanding and the sudden spontaneous understanding of epiphany. The first is processed in the intellect and the second from the heart.

Only the new heart Jesus gives us can process the nuances of epiphany. Why is this so critical? Because it awakens the possibility of living life surprised by Holy Spirit! Apart from the spontaneous understanding Holy Spirit brings we remain stuck in the futility of our on thinking.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21, NIV)

“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4:18) This renders us vulnerable, weakened and interpreting our life from tainted mindsets. Holy Spirit helps us see life from God’s perspective and awakened understanding.

“In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays with groans too deep for words. God, who looks into our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit. And the Spirit prays for God’s people just as God wants him to pray.” (Romans 8:26-27, NIRV)

By way of heart epiphanies Holy Spirit keeps our hearts open and teachable-which sensitizes us to being surprised and molded by Him. It is amazing how He uses the simple experiences and occurrences of our life to teach us a truth we couldn’t get otherwise. A word from Dr. Larry Crabb, in 66 Love Letters: A conversation with God that invites you into His story…which helps you to accurately unpack your new story.

“God says you are living between two epiphanies. You have no higher calling in this life than to reveal the beauty of My Grace until the beauty of my glory fills your heart with joy forever.

My High calling, the vision I am about to set before you, corresponds perfectly to your deepest desire…which releases the power you need to live into My calling, to live the way you most want to live.”

May we have a fresh heart epiphany!

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

Disillusioned?

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

An odd word prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

DISILLUSIONED


Do you think it’s a bad thing to be “disillusioned”?

I’ve always thought the word had a negative connotation, sort of like disappointment, but I actually think Jesus came to disillusion us.

Dis-illusion: to remove illusions…that’s what Jesus was all about. He came to reveal the truth.

Do you want to operate under a bunch of illusions?

It’s Monday. Maybe today’s a good day to grab some truth and shed a few illusions.

Have A Great Week!

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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

Where’s The Bible Centered?

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

old bibleI’ve been reading about different traditions when it comes to interpreting the bible.

Without trying to explain all of the different options, it’s interesting to realize that I see scripture almost exclusively from a Christ-centered perspective. I’d never really considered that other options existed, but I’ve learned that they do.

As our small group studies the life of Abraham, we encountered an incident in Genesis 13-14. Abraham and Lot have to separate because their flocks and herds have grown too large.

Abraham’s the leader and the elder. He’s entitled to choose his portion of the land, but he defers to his younger nephew. He allows Lot to choose first.

Reflecting on Abraham’s character, I see a foreshadowing of Jesus’ model of servant leadership. Rather than demanding his rights, he trusted God’s promise and allowed Lot to take the best land.

Jesus’ teaching shouldn’t have been a surprise. God planted hints all through the story–they just needed to look through the proper lens.

I think that’s still true.

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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

A Burden We Are Not Supposed To Carry

Monday, July 6th, 2015

balance-scale-unbalancedI like to think I don’t judge people.

Problem is, I like to think a lot of things that aren’t true. Sadly, not-judging is one of them.

I’m thinking about this because our small group is doing a study of the life of Abraham, and I find myself frequently being sure the guy was an idiot. He did all this really dumb stuff, made stupid decisions, didn’t learn from his mistakes…

Like I said, I like to think I don’t judge people.

Ever wonder why Jesus told us to avoid playing judge? I suppose there are a lot of reasons, but right now I’m thinking He wanted to remove an enormous burden from our shoulders.

A fallible, imperfect, human judge carries a huge responsibility. We can’t know all the facts and circumstances, and we certainly can’t see into someone’s heart. We’ll always be wrong.

That’s not a burden God wants us to bear. Judging is God’s job.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

You and I get the chance to live without the horrible responsibility of dispensing justice for everyone else.

Rest. Easy. Light. Free.

Kind of a cool gift, huh?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

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

But What Does the Bible Mean?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Why can’t the bible just mean what it means?

Well, it does. But knowing what the bible means isn’t always quite as simple as it might sound.

My friend Jon Swanson wrote about some words in the book of James. As Jon explains, words often require a bit of digging and wrestling if we want to understand the author’s intended meaning. That’s especially true when the original words were written in a different language to people operating in an ancient cultural context.

For decades, Christian leaders used accepted biblical scholarship to justify slavery. Rather than condemning or dismissing them, perhaps we should ask if we’re missing similar blind spots in our own interpretation.

Too many folks simply accept and repeat what they’re told by “experts.” I’ve discovered it’s possible to find experts with good hearts who honestly disagree. Personally, I’d rather say “I’m not sure” than claim knowledge of a “truth” when I’m uncertain.

The bible does mean what it means. It’s up to you and me to read with an open heart, willing to hear God’s voice even when the message might be uncomfortable.

If nothing ever surprises or challenges me, if it always agrees with my pre-conceived worldview, maybe I need to listen a bit more carefully.

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

A Drop of Water

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust! Isaiah 40:15

Within the compass of a drop of water we are told that sometimes a thousand living creatures may be discovered; and to those diminutive creatures, no doubt, their size is something very important. There is a creature inside that drop which can only be seen by the strongest microscope–but it is a hundred times larger than its neighbor, and it feels, no doubt, that the difference is amazing and extraordinary.

But to you and to I, who cannot even see the largest of these creatures with the naked eye, the larger animalcule is as imperceptible as his dwarfish friend–they both seem so utterly insignificant that we squander whole millions of them, and are not very penitent if we destroy them by thousands.

But what would one of those little imperceptible animals say if some prophet of its own kind could tell them that there is a ‘giant being‘ living that would reckon the ‘whole world of a drop of water’ as nothing, and could take up ten thousand thousand of those drops and scatter them without exertion of half its power; that this ‘giant being’ would not be encumbered if it should carry on the tip of its finger all the thousands that live in that great world–a drop of water; that this ‘giant being’ would have no disturbance of heart, even if the great king of one of the empires in that drop should gather all his armies against it and lead them to battle?

Why, then the minuscule creatures would say, “How can this be? We can hardly grasp the idea?”

But when that microscopic philosopher could have gotten an idea of man, and of the utter insignificance of its own self, and of its own little narrow world–then it would have achieved an easy task, compared with that which lies before us when we attempt to get an idea of our great God.

We think of the infinite nature of God in being able to marshal all the stars, and govern all the orbs which bespangle the brow of night; but I take it to be quite as great a wonder that He should even know that such insignificant nothings as we humans are in existence, much more that He should count every hair of our heads, and not allow one of them to fall to the ground without His express decree.

The Infinite is as much known in the ‘small’ as in the ‘magnanimous’, and God may be as really discovered by us in the drop of water as in the rolling orb. But this is astonishing of God–that He even observes us!

(Charles Spurgeon, “God’s Estimate of Time” 1862)

What Really Matters?

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

What do you see when you approach a staircase?

Me? I see a diabolical obstacle designed to keep me from reaching the other level.

Of course I don’t believe the builder intended to frustrate me. I’m simply seeing the stairs through my personal biases.

I know the creator of this sign meant well. I’m sure he didn’t intend the chuckle as I picture myself rattling down 15-20 flights of smoke-filled stairs because “the sign told me to do it!”

The stairs are a good reminder for me when I’m tempted to pound on my bible because “it says what it says.”

In my experience I’ve known people of good will who love Jesus with all their hearts, and yet have studied deeply and reached different conclusions about certain theological issues. They read the same words, follow the same Lord, but hear different results.

Augustine said: In the essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love).

I often picture the folks I spoke about above sitting in a room. Certainly they’d disagree about important issues–how could it be different in a room filled with smart, educated people with their own biases, backgrounds, and life experiences?

But they’d agree about love, about service, about placing God at the center. They’d agree that following Jesus comes first, that the CHURCH is more important than any individual church. They’d agree on grace, forgiveness, gratitude, and hope.

Those are the essentials, the things the world needs from us.

I don’t read scripture in a vacuum. The bible says what it says, but what I hear is colored by my biases and preconceptions as well as those of my teachers.

I believe God wants me to think, to study and listen and reach conclusions. But I always want to hold my ideas lightly, without the need to be right or win the argument.

I hope I listen before I speak. What unites matters more than what divides.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

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

How Critical is Your Value to Jesus?

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Can you indulge me a moment of what may seem to be a hyperbolas overstatement? Okay, here goes. You cannot exaggerate how critical your value is to Jesus. His Message hinges on you and me believing the Gospel for ourselves in every moment of every day! Apart from faith, believing and trusting His Message we have no hope of truly knowing or sustaining our accurate value and worth.

Our value is not measured by our performance, intellect, position, titles or pedigree. Thank God it isn’t! Instead, our value is revealed in the exchange rate of our purchase! In Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father exchanged equivalent value to redeem us to himself.

Their act of redemption and reconciliation is the mandate of our worth and ministry. (The word, ‘katalasso’ translates as reconciliation; a mutual exchange of equal value.) That makes our value the same as Jesus’! Hold on, before you declare that statement of fact as blasphemous-remember that is God’s opinion and declaration.

“This is radical! No label that could possibly previously define someone carries any further significance! Even our pet doctrines of Christ are redefined. Whatever we knew about him historically or sentimentally is challenged by this conclusion. By discovering Christ from God’s point of view we discover ourselves and every other human life from God’s point of view!

In the light of your co-inclusion in his death and resurrection, whoever you thought you were before; in Christ you are a brand new person! The old ways of seeing yourself and everyone else are over. Acquaint yourself with the new!

Jesus did not reveal a “potential” you, he revealed the truth about you so that you may know and believe the truth about yourself and be free indeed!

Too now see everything as new is to simply see what God has always known in Christ; we are not debating man’s experience, opinion, or his contribution; this is 100% God’s belief and his doing. In Jesus Christ, God exchanged equivalent value to redeem us to himself.” 2 Cor. 5:16-18, The Mirror Bible

(Again, the word ‘katalasso’ translates as reconciliation; a mutual exchange of equal value.)

This is the divine exchange: he who knew no sin embraced our distortion. Even though He appeared to be without form; this was the mystery of God’s prophetic poetry. He was disguised in our distorted image, marred with our iniquities; he took our sorrows, our pain, and our shame to his grave and birthed his righteousness in us. He took our sins and we became his innocence. 2 Corinthians 5:21, The Mirror Bible

Just what is the exchange rate of our value to God? Isaiah hit the nail on the head of our genuine value:

The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:10

Just as many were astonished at you — so was he marred in his appearance, more than any human, and his form beyond that of human semblance — so will he startle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand. Isaiah 52:14-15

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But surely he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we ourselves are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

He was not bruised by God but by the very humanity he was about to redeem! Romans 8:30

Jesus reveals that man pre-existed in God; he defines us. He justified us and also glorified us. He redeemed our innocence and restored the glory we lost in Adam. The fundamental question is can you and I walk by faith in our redeemed innocence while we are feeling the sting, failure, shame and stain of our vain attempts at self-improvement?

Faith the Divine Exchange,

Ron Ross

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

Doing Your Best vs. Being the Best

Friday, June 5th, 2015

A great group discussion got me thinking about two sides of today’s word-of-the-week…

BEST

I tossed out my idea that life doesn’t have to be a competition. In a group of men, I knew there’d be pushback.

“Without competition, what’s the incentive to improve? Competition is just the way we’re wired. Everyone wants to be the best.”

The conversation became pretty intense. I wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind, I simply wanted to offer an alternative for consideration.

After a good deal of back-and-forth, one man got a bit frustrated.

“I’m here to do my best. If someone else can’t keep up, that’s their problem.”

“Okay,” I replied, “but please consider one possibility.”

Doing your best isn’t the same as being the best.

I’d argue that we do our best as servant leaders in a community. We’re wired for relationship and service.

By all means, do your best this week. Just don’t get consumed by a false need to be the best.

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

A Post about “Nothing”

Monday, June 1st, 2015

“Nothing” is an odd word. How can you write a blog post about nothing?

You can play interesting word games with “nothing.” For example:

A crust of bread is better than nothing, and nothing is better than a big, juicy steak.

Apparently, a crust of bread is better than a big, juicy steak.

Or consider this philosophical conundrum:

Doing “nothing wrong” might be the same as “doing nothing.”

Over the weekend I encountered one comforting use of this confusing word.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:38-39 (The Message)

Nothing can get between us and God’s love…

That’s not a word game. That’s an assurance on which to begin a Monday.

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