Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

What I Assume About You…

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

What I assume about you, doesn’t tell me much about you.

I’ve bumped into the notion of assumptions a lot lately. And whenever I encounter the same idea a bunch of times, I figure perhaps God’s trying to get my attention.

What I assume about you tells me a little about the manner in which I view the world. It tells me something about the category into which I place you and about my laziness, because it’s easier to simply assume you’re like all the people who share the single characteristic I used to categorize you.

People who use wheelchairs-they’re helpless, right? Or perhaps they should all be able to ride a handcycle 1500 miles?

What I assume about you reveals a lot about me, but absolutely nothing about you.

I wrote about this a while back (The Problem Of Them). I called it otherizing: the process of discerning and accentuating differences between people so it’s apparent one group is clearly not like us.

Categorizing, otherizing, whatever we call it, it’s the first step to dehumanizing individuals so we can discount them.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor.” One person at a time. I love Dick Foth’s suggestion for avoiding the tendency to otherize.

The next time someone asks, “What do you think about those people?” try this simple response:

“Which one?”

I have a dear friend who’s a committed atheist. Because I write a lot about my faith, I think he wonders if I view him as one of the others.

I hope he knows that when I think of him I never think of a category. I always think of an individual about whom I care a great deal.

People aren’t their ideas, languages, skin colors, cultures, accomplishments, mistakes, beliefs, bank accounts, or nationalities. Jesus sees none of those. When He’s asked what He thinks of all those categories that matter so much to us, He smiles and looks at individuals.

“Which one?”

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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

Let There Be Light!

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

In most of our homes, you simply flip a switch and light fills a dark room. Pretty incredible, really. Let There Be Light!

Now follow me in a thought experiment. Imagine it’s high noon on a bright, sunny day. Could someone invent a “dark bulb” so we could flip a switch and the room would suddenly be dark?

Nope. You can’t pump dark into a room when light’s present, because darkness isn’t a real thing. It’s only the absence of a thing.

The only way to make a room dark is to eliminate the light.

It’s such an obvious truth that it sounds a bit silly to even talk about it. But take a hard look at a lot of what passes for current public discourse and debate. Basically, it’s a series of personal attacks designed to diminish or extinguish others’ lights.
Blowing out the other guy’s candle won’t make yours burn any brighter.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)

We’re supposed to add  light, not eliminate it. We need to spend our time taking the light of Jesus into the dark corners.

Want to eliminate racism? Eradicate poverty? Stop human trafficking? Unify the church?

Don’t ask me. I’m not that smart. But I do know this.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred. Only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s not our job to run around turning off the lights.

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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

What’s Behind the Domestic Violence?

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

“Why is he angry all the time?” Janelle asked me over a cup of tea. “He explodes over nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

“He screamed, cursed, stormed out of the house, slammed the door behind him, and screeched out of the driveway. His excuse was that I didn’t peel the cucumbers in the salad.”

I asked Janelle if he treated his boss and co-workers that way. She assured me he didn’t. I also asked if he treated the waitress at the restaurant, the cashier at the grocery store, or the salesman in the department store that way. Once again, Janelle said he didn’t.

“Have you considered the possibility that he gets angry or violent on purpose to intimidate you and get you to do what he wants?”

As Janelle brushed her tears away, she sighed. “Everything has to be his way, or else he gets verbally and physically abusive with me and the children.”

I asked her what her husband’s father was like. Janelle related incident after incident of how her father-in-law treated his wife and children. She said, “I wish I had seen all that before I got married. I wouldn’t have married my husband.”

I explained that batterers have low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. They expect their wife and children to make them feel better about themselves. When their wife and children don’t, the batterers feel helpless, vulnerable, and outraged. So they turn to aggression, gambling, substance abuse, and other reckless behaviors.

What do you think Janelle should do?

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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

The Furnace of Suffering

Monday, April 18th, 2016

“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!” Isaiah 48:10

The love of Jesus will not preserve His people from trials–but rather, assures them of trials! All whom He loves–He chastens! He has a furnace to purge our dross, and refine our souls. His Word and the Spirit reveal to us our defilement and impurity–and His grace and providence co-operate to remove them. “I am the Lord God who sanctifies you.”

It is divine love which . . .
prepares the furnace,
kindles the flame,
brings the Christian into it,
superintends the whole process, and
brings him out as gold, seven times purified!

“From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you!” He cleanses them in the laver of the Word by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit. But He also cleanses them by a variety of afflictive dispensations, through which He causes them to pass.

Our sin calls for trials–His love sends them!

Our nature repines at trials–but grace submits to them!

Our corruption is enraged at trials–but the Spirit sanctifies them to our good, and our Savior’s glory.

He makes His people choice ones–in the “furnace of affliction!” He says, “I will put you into the fire–and will purge away your dross.”

Believer, never repine at your trials, nor be over-anxious for their removal. They are appointed by Jesus as your Purifier–and are choice blessings in disguise!

Seek their sanctification,
wrestle with God that you may see His love in every stroke, and
look to Jesus that you may enjoy His presence when passing through the flame!

Nothing can hurt you–while Jesus is near you; and He is never nearer to you–than when you are in the furnace! For He sits right there as the Refiner . . .
watching the process,
regulating the heat, and
waiting to effect a gracious deliverance–when the ends of His love are answered.

He is only preparing you for fresh manifestations of His glory–and fitting you for larger communications of His love.

In the furnace, you will lose nothing that is worth keeping–but you will obtain what is truly valuable!

The flesh and the soul need constant cleansings–for corruption is so deeply rooted in our nature, that it takes a long and painful process to purge it out! But in reference to the furnace, your Lord says, “The Lord did this to purge Israel’s wickedness, to take away all her sin!”

~James Smith

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Rejoicing… after being flogged

Friday, April 15th, 2016

REJOICING

The apostles were called in front of the Sanhedrin and ordered to stop proclaiming the gospel.

To reinforce the point, the men were flogged before they were released. Of course the apostles defied the rulers and continued to preach, but I’m stuck on this little verse.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. (Acts 5:41)

Rejoicing…after being flogged. I’m not sure I could do that. Could you?

It’s awfully easy to pray for persecuted Christians from the safety of American religious freedom. And it’s awfully easy, in the safety of American religious freedom, to label any perceived slight as persecution.

But how many of us would sign up to be flogged…and then rejoice?

Following Jesus isn’t always the safe, easy deal we make it out to be. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be flogged because of my faith. But this incident has me wondering. I hope I’d be courageous if I had to stand for my beliefs.

I’m not sure I’d rejoice.

Maybe it’s a good week to pray for those who face religious persecution…and to be grateful.

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

Spiritual Abuse by Spouses or Partners

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Spiritual abuse is one form of abuse a spouse or partner uses to exercise power and control over his wife or partner.

If she works outside of the home, he refuses to let her tithe on her own income.

He makes fun of her if she reads the Bible or another spiritual book.

When his wife reads the Bible to the children or prays with them, he enters the room, repeatedly distracts them, and laughs about it.

If she plays a Christian hymn or chorus on the piano, he screams at her to stop. He tells her she can’t play “that type of music” when he’s home.

He uses foul language and takes God’s name in vain in front of her and the children.

He talks about other Christians and says he doesn’t know a single Christian who is fun to be with including his wife. He says they’re all hypocrites anyway, and that’s why he won’t go to church.

He claims his right to say and do what he wants because he is the head of the household. He then quotes Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

It seems strange that the abuser who knows Ephesians 5:22 so well avoids Ephesians 5:21 that says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

The batterer also ignores Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” He selects one verse to justify his abuse and ignores the rest of the Bible. He treats the Bible as if it were a buffet where he can pick and choose what he wants and leave the rest.

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!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

Are You Real Or A Poser?

Monday, April 11th, 2016

POSEREver hear the term “poser”?

Occasionally you’ll see someone with a $10,000 bike, outfitted head-to-toe in the latest gear, with almost no wear-and tear on their equipment and little desire to climb even the smallest hill. They look the part, but apparently the fancy getup is all for show. They want to fit in, look the part, without doing the work and making the sacrifice.

In Acts 5 members of the early church community generously sold possessions and donated the proceeds to those in need, not out of obligation but a spirit of love and concern. That’s important–this donating wasn’t required.

Ananias and Sapphira sold a field and made a donation. All good, except they lied. They kept part of the proceeds but told everyone, including God, they’d donated the entire amount. As punishment, they died.

It’s a tough story, but let’s not lose the lesson.

Don’t Be A Poser

Ananias and Sapphira didn’t have to donate anything. They didn’t even have to sell their field. But they wanted to impress, to appear more generous than they were.

God doesn’t want us to be posers. Jesus came to relieve us of the burden of trying to be someone we can’t be anyway. He told us we’re free.

God’s likely not going to strike us down for posing, but we pay in other ways. Hiding behind made-up identities, creating masks that allow us to fake it and pretend we’re someone we’re not, all that is a lot of work that keeps people away.

It goes both ways. If we really want others to be vulnerable and authentic, we need to stop judging, condemning, and categorizing. Every time we draw a line and decide that sin is unacceptable we encourage someone to become a poser.

That’s not biblical, and it’s not what God wants.

The notion of a poser-free community is a bit scary for most of us. It takes courage to truly encounter people where they are, free of expectations.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it alone.

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

Comfort Isn’t a Solution

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A thought-provoking quote brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

COMFORT

“Comfort isn’t a solution.”

Take a minute and think about that statement. It’s a truth that turns a lot of our instincts on their heads.

We all know not to simply put a band-aid on even a small infected wound. First you clean and perhaps apply disinfectant, even if it stings. Covering it might be more comfortable now, but you risk bigger problems later.

Comfort doesn’t solve the problem.

Confronting nearly any problem is a lot like that small wound. Confronting it almost always involves some discomfort. Ignoring, soothing, and avoiding simply prolong the issue and usually risk greater deferred pain.

This doesn’t mean we can’t show compassion. It’s possible to acknowledge and deal with pain with empathy and love. But “it’s going-to-be-okay” responses to difficult challenges don’t help anyone.

As I pondered this quote I thought about Jesus. He had the power to comfort the people He loved so deeply, but He didn’t. He asked them to confront the very difficult and painful circumstances of their lives with courage and integrity. He knew they would struggle, but He also knew where the path would lead. And He knew they wouldn’t be alone.

Slapping a band-aid on humanity’s problems wasn’t God’s plan. He sent Jesus to clean and disinfect our wounds, except He took on all the pain.

I’m learning to back away from my endless search for comfort. It’s not about seeking pain, it’s about not avoiding its lessons when it inevitably appears.

How can you show compassion without using comfort to avoid the issues you’ll face?

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

Experiencing Hell

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Whatever affliction or trouble a child of God meets with–it is all the hell he shall ever have! Whatever eclipse may be upon his name or estate–it is but a little cloud which will soon be blown over–and then his hell is past!

Death begins a wicked man’s hell.
Death ends a godly man’s hell.

Think with yourself, “What is my affliction? It is but a temporary hell. Indeed, if all my hell is here on earth–it is but an easy hell. What is the cup of affliction–compared to the cup of damnation!”

Lazarus could not get a crumb; he was so diseased that the dogs took pity on him–and as if they had been his physicians, licked his sores. But this was an easy hell–the angels quickly fetched him out of it!

If all our hell is in this life–and in the midst of this hell, we have the love of God–then it is no more hell, but paradise! If all our hell is here on earth, we may see to the end of it; it is but skin-deep, it cannot touch the soul. It is a short-lived hell. After a dreary night of affliction, comes the bright morning of glory!

Since our lives are short–our trials cannot be long!

As our riches take wings and fly away–so do our sufferings!

Let us learn then, to be content, whatever our circumstances.

(Thomas Watson, “The Art of Divine Contentment”)

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REALLY ?

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Our small group brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

REALLY?

“Do you really believe that? Really?”

In Acts 3, Peter tells a 40-year old man who’s been crippled since birth to walk in the name of Jesus. He takes the man’s hand and, just like that, the guy walks, leaps, and dances.

Our small group discussed this miracle. Peter stepped forward courageously, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We had a great conversation. Then I thought I’d up the ante a bit.

“I’ve been in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury for 28 years. Who here believes that God could heal me–right here, right now–and I could stand, walk, leap, and dance?”

A couple of hands shot up immediately, then others followed. And then we talked, about the medical realities, the science, what we know. And we asked ourselves Do we really believe this could happen, right here in front of us? Really?

We believe what’s impossible, what can’t happen. That’s why it’s called faith. And still we say, “I believe, but…”

Do we really believe what we believe?

It’s Monday. And it’s okay to doubt. Really.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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