Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

What If Prayer Doesn’t Work?

Monday, September 15th, 2014

vending“It doesn’t seem like my prayers work.”

Now there’s a conversation starter. You just have to inquire—what do you mean, they don’t “work”?

“Well, it seems like none of the stuff I pray about ever happens. Ever. It’s like God’s not listening. Or if He is, He’s not answering.”

I felt like the smart kid in the front row. I KNEW the right answer to this one—I had the perfect platitude to put a quick end to this discussion.

Well, you know, sometimes God says YES, sometimes NO, sometimes WAIT, but He always answers.

Fortunately, I managed to stifle the smart kid for a moment. “So you told me that you talk to your mom every Sunday night, right?”

He looked a little confused by the sudden left turn. “Yeah, we talk for at least an hour.”

“Why?”

“Why? Well, I miss her. Haven’t seen her since I came here, so we just talk. I tell her what I’m doing, how things are going, stuff like that.”

“And that helps?

“Yeah, it helps a lot. I always feel better after I talk to her.”

“Do you ask her for stuff?”

He obviously thought it was a strange question. “Not really. We just talk.”

“And how do you think it would go if you spent the whole time asking for stuff?”

He smiled. He saw where this was going. “That would be pretty weird.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet your mom would get tired of being treated like a vending machine.”

“So you think that’s what I’m doing when I pray?”

“I think Jesus wants us to get to know Him, just like your mom. He’s a person. And He wants you to talk to Him the way you talk to your mom.

“Maybe prayer’s more of a conversation and less of a shopping list.”

“But aren’t we supposed to tell Him our needs?”

“My opinion? Of course! He wants to hear everything that’s going on. But I get a little nervous about the notion of ‘praying harder’ as if the intensity of your prayer might change God’s mind. It’s like there’s a right way or a wrong way to pray, and if you do it right you’ll get what you want.

“Be careful thinking you can manipulate God with your faith or whatever. And be careful thinking you understand how God’s working or how he answered a prayer. Because He always responds, but sometimes it’s long-term or in ways you have trouble seeing.”

This is a smart guy, and you could see the wheels turning. After some silence he said, “So Jesus is a person, not a vending machine. And the point of prayer is conversation, not results.

And prayer is like talking to my mom?”

Not bad.

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 ww.relentlessgrace.com

Jesus Didn’t Die to Make Us Feel Better

Friday, September 12th, 2014

“Why did Jesus die?”

It’s a great question, one for which every follower ought to have a response. I was tempted to offer my version of the “right” answer, but that’s not really how you generate dialogue.

So we talked for a few minutes, and then one guy said, “Why don’t we list some reasons He didn’t die?”

I thought that sounded really interesting, so I asked him for an example.

“Well, Jesus didn’t die to make me feel better.”

The room got really quiet. “Talk some more about that.”

“Well, a lot of what happens with religion seems to be about making people feel good. We say comfortable stuff and water everything down because we’re more concerned with people’s feelings than with telling the truth.

“But a lot of what Jesus said made people uncomfortable. We need to get over the idea that He came to make us feel good.”

By the time we finished a wide-ranging discussion of why He didn’t die (to make me rich or to keep me safe, for example), the man who asked the original question provided his own answer.

This teaching thing isn’t so tough, huh?

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!ixon
<>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 ive Hope Another Chance. Visit his website www.relentlessgrace.co

Do You Think You Don’t Have Enough?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The more abundance of truly valuable things a man has–the more he has of true riches.

A child counts himself rich when he has a great many marbles, and toys, and rocks–for these suit his childish age and imagination.

Just so, a worldly man counts himself rich when he has a great store of gold and silver, or lands and houses.

But a child of God counts himself rich when he has . . .
God for his Portion,
Christ his his Redeemer, and
the Spirit for his Guide, Sanctifier, and Comforter.
This is as much above a carnal man’s estate in the world, as a carnal man’s estate is above a child’s toys and trifles–yes, infinitely more!

It is above all things desirable, that we adopt a correct scale to estimate things. When we make our personal audit, we shall fall into grievous error if the principles of our reckoning are not thoroughly accurate. If we reckon buttons as silver, and brass as gold–we shall dream that we are rich, when we are in poverty!

In taking stock of our own condition, let us be sure only to reckon that for riches, which is really riches to us. Wealth to the worldling is not wealth to the Christian. His currency is different, his valuables are of another sort.

Am I today poorer in money than I was ten years ago. And at the same time, am I more humble, more patient, more earnest, more loving? Then set me down as a rich man!

Have my worldly goods largely increased during the last few years? And at the same time, am I also more proud, more carnal-minded, more lukewarm, more petulant? Then I must write myself down as a poorer man, whatever others may think of my estate.

A Christian’s riches are within him!
External belongings are by no means a sure gain to a man.

A horse is none the better off for all its gilded trappings. Just so, a man is in truth, none the richer for his sumptuous surroundings.

Paul was richer than King Croesus, when he was able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!” Philippians 4:11-12

Such contentment surpasses riches! Solomon, after summing up all his possessions and delights, was compelled to add, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”

If a man should labor to be rich after the fashion of the poor African natives, and should accumulate a large store of shells and beads–yet when he came home to England he would be a beggar, even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

Just so, he who gives his heart and soul to the accumulation of gold coins–is a beggar when he comes into the spiritual realm, where such coins are reckoned as mere forms of earth, non-current in Heaven, and of less value than the least of spiritual blessings!

O, my Lord, let me not merely talk thus, and pretend to despise earthly treasure–when all the while I am hunting after it! Grant me grace to live above these perishable things, never setting my heart upon them; nor caring whether I have them, or have them not. But give me grace to exercise all my energy in pleasing You, and in gaining those things which You hold in esteem. Give me, I beseech You, the riches of Your grace–that I may at last attain to the riches of Your glory!

~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883

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!

What Would You Do?

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

What_Would_You_Do_logoQUESTION: How much grace?

ANSWER: Grace is boundless and unmerited.

QUESTION: Who do you forgive?

ANSWER: Everyone.

Yeah, I know it’s not that simple—except, it really is. Not easy, for sure, but those are the principles to which we’re called.

So now I have a real-world question for you to ponder.

How do we act out those principles in the face of injustice?

Injustice doesn’t have to be human trafficking or murder. Let’s boil it down to something we all encounter. How do we act out grace and forgiveness when we encounter someone being bullied?

When I was a kid, the standard advice was Punch a bully in the nose. Now we hear Stand Your Ground.

What Would You Do?

The following situation isn’t truly hypothetical. It’s a sanitized compilation of some actual situations I’ve faced.

Suppose a guy in a wheelchair visited a public spot that, by its nature, was minimally accessible. And imagine that the guy and his companions were subjected to continual rude, insensitive comments from other patrons or staff members who objected to the perceived inconvenience caused by the presence of a wheelchair.

As a companion, What Would You Do?

As an observer, What Would You Do?

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

Are You Nurtured by the Victory Parade?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

“In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way to salvation–an aroma redolent with life.” 2 Cor. 2:14-15a, The Message.

There is a method to this seeming madness. Everything we have gone through and will go through today, whet the spiritual whistle of all around us. Our day to day life produces a testimony of perpetual victory. Yes, I know it is a process-but; ultimately, in Christ it will be tomorrow’s testimony of the grace, love and mercy of God!

The key — the beginning words in this passage…’In Christ, God leads us…’ He really is in charge. Things have not run amuck. All is not for naught. There really is a purpose for everything. I question this as much as the next person. But; I always end up going full circle; praising God for the new, fresh and powerful testimony that today’s tests produce tomorrow.

The kicker — you have to continually rest in His leading. I’m sure none of you have ever argued with Papa about what He has allowed in your life. As Paul put it, ‘you never kick against the prick.’ The difference will be whether our lives emanate with the fragrance and visible evidence of the Gospel of Grace or not.

The most powerful, tangible, and authentic evidence of the Gospel is our testimony! Will you co-operate with His lead today? If so, He will take you from place to place as a perpetual victory parade? Victory parades are a lot more fun than continual defeats. This is the essence of revival and revolution! Go start a Gospel revolution today with your fragrant testimony.

In the grip of Papa’s victorious grace, 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.

Do You Toy with Sin?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

“If we play around the viper’s hole–it no wonder that we are bitten!”

An old proverb advises us not to play with sharp-edged tools, lest we cut our fingers.

It is a sin to trifle with sin! If we must play, we had better find harmless toys! That evil which caused Christ a bloody death, is no fit theme for any man’s sport.

Playing with wickedness is a hazardous game! Sooner or later, we will pluck the lion of sin by the beard, and we shall be torn in pieces!

This is true of indulgence in strong drink: “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper!”

This is equally true of all other forms of evil, especially of the lusts of the flesh. Lewd words, soon lead to foul deeds. Yet such is the folly of men, that they run dreadful risks in sheer wantonness, as though vipers and cobras were fine playmates, and devils were merry-makers!

“Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Do not let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” Psalm 19:13

Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883

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!

The Devil’s Chessboard

Friday, August 15th, 2014

So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes! 2 Corinthians 2:11

“Be watchful; the world is the devil’s chessboard! You can hardly move backward or forward, but he is ready to attack you with some temptation!”

Those who play at the game of chess know that great caution is needed. Your opponent is working toward a design of which you know nothing; and while you imagine that you are doing exceedingly well, he is entrapping you!

The game of life
, as against Satan, is one in which . . .
his maneuvers and artifice,
his long practice and stratagems,
his superior skill and deceptiveness,
and his unscrupulousness–
give him an immense advantage over our poor self-conceited folly!

Lord, help us! You know our adversary; be pleased to deliver us out of his hand.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes!” Ephesians 6:11

~ Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883

When God gazes on Gaza, What does He see?

Monday, August 4th, 2014

When God gazes on Gaza
What does He see,
Political divisions, Levitical pleas?
Impoverished citizens
Cowed by a wall,
A nation entombed,
Loves He them all?

Would genocide sanctified
Enter His plan,
By rocket’s red glare
Would He scorch all the land?
Might He prefer blood flow
To honey or milk,
Dance as the innocents
Fall in their filth?

The God who called Abraham,
Gave him two sons,
Watched while the two streams diverged
Each one
Powered by passion to destiny fill,
Would God will a bloodbath
Where He’d life instilled?

World is now watching
As battle unfolds,
Prophets in history
These clashes foretold,
But I ponder peace as I
Switch on T.V.
And note the short distance
From there to Dead Sea.

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 Roadrunner. All rights Reserved.

 

Does Your Worship Matter?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

On our recent tour, our teammate Doug was fond of the greeting “Gloria a Dios” (glory to God).

Even when he received a nasty gash on his leg from a stray piece of glass in a trash bag, he limped to our starting circle with a hearty Gloria a Dios.

I thought it was a great alternative to “How ya doing?” I liked being reminded of our shared commitment, but I found myself asking what might seem like an odd question.

Why should God care whether we glorify Him or not?

I don’t intend to be disrespectful. Quite the opposite—He’s God. Why does it matter to Him whether I even acknowledge Him, much less offer Him the glory for my meager efforts?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

This isn’t a new question for me. I suspect it bubbles to the surface when I’m feeling especially vulnerable or uncomfortable. I suppose a diminished sense of self-worth leads to the notion that my worship won’t matter to God.

Ever been there?

It’s a lie, of course, but I think I get the reasoning twisted around. Maybe you do as well.

It’s certainly true that God doesn’t need me to give Him glory. In fact, He doesn’t need anything from me, you, or anyone else. He’s God.

So why does it matter? The secret is in the second paragraph above—“I liked being reminded…”

Gloria a Dios isn’t for God’s benefit, it’s for mine. Each time Doug repeated the greeting I remembered my connection to the Creator, my dependence on Him. I remembered that the ride was about justice, and that we were letting God use us to set things right for a handful of kids.

God doesn’t need me to glorify Him, but He knows I’m more at peace, more aware, more grounded, when I do.

In the midst of a hectic week when it was so easy to lose focus, Doug’s greeting took me home. I’m grateful.

Gloria a Dios indeed!

Copyright by Rich Dixon. All rights reserved.

What if They Don’t Want Help?

Friday, July 4th, 2014

No helpPLEASE DON’T HELP!

Suppose you noticed someone in obvious distress holding this sign. What would you do? WWJD?

My dog Monte’s official title is “service dog,” though many folks call him a “helper dog.” I don’t think the difference is one of semantics. Serving is different than helping.

The strong help the weak, the big help the small, the able help the disabled. The superior help the inferior. Those who can help those who can’t.

Service turns this around. Servants are humble, invisible, and lowly. Servants do the tasks deemed unfit for the masters. In Jesus’ words, “A servant is not greater than his master.”

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, the servant of all.”

How might a servant approach the person in distress with the “PLEASE DON’T HELP” sign?

How might an attitude of service impact or alter the interaction?

How would the person with the sign be involved?

What have you learned or observed about service?

We’re attempting to operate as a team of “servant leaders.” Is that a platitude or a reality? How does one fulfill both roles?

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