Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

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
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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 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 !
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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

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

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?”

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

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.

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

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
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

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