Archive for the ‘Things to Ponder’ Category

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?

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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

Does Your Heart Have Eyes?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

“The only way this works is if I see with my heart.”

We were talking about knowing God’s plan when this gem stopped the discussion. I asked him to elaborate.

“I’ve always thought it wasn’t real unless I could evaluate it, touch it, taste, smell, hear, or see it. But now I believe the only things that really matter are those I can see with my heart. That’s the only way the world makes sense.”

As I drove home I thought about people who would scoff at the notion of “seeing with my heart.” I felt sad for them.

A lot of amazing things can be experienced by the five senses, but I agree with my wise friend.

The things that truly matter, the things worth living and dying for, can only be seen with the heart.

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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 Your Image Of Jesus?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

jesusWhat do you picture when you think about Jesus?

Seriously, what just popped into your head?

Me? I actually think about this quite a bit. I just picture walking along a quiet path together. Yeah, walking—no wheelchair. Just walking, and sometimes there’s talking but it’s okay if it’s quiet. It’s the being there together that matters.

There are smiles and laughter. And He wants to walk slowly and stop and look at stuff I don’t even notice.

I know this—I NEVER imagine talking theology, the kind of stuff Christians argue about and get divided about. I imagine questions, but they’re always really basic, stuff like, “What was it like for you when I fell off the roof?”

Mostly I imagine He likes hanging out with me. Of course He loves me—that’s part of the job description, right? But knowing, believing, He likes me, was a big step.

I suppose my internal picture will offend someone—not religious enough or reverent enough or whatever. Sorry for that. My point wasn’t so much to share my notion as to prompt you to consider your own.

That was part of the point, after all, the WORD made flesh so we could identify a bit better. So, back to the original question.

What do you picture when you think about Jesus?

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

Do You Think Old Stuff is Irrelevant?

Monday, May 26th, 2014

The holiday sparks today’s word-of-the-week…

MEMORIAL

MondayToday’s Memorial Day in the U.S.

It’s a day for remembering, but memorials are also about traditions, markers, and monuments. Many of us will travel today to special places, either physically or in spirit, to pay our respects and remember loved ones.

In Joshua 4, God told Joshua to create a special memorial to commemorate His people’s entry into the Promised Land. After the work was finished, Joshua gave this command.

“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

It’s easy to forget. When life gets busy and NOW seems so pressing, old stuff can seem, well, old and irrelevant. It’s tempting to move forward and pretend the old stuff doesn’t matter.

That’s a mistake. Just like that alter of stones, we need to remember those who came before. Before we fire up the grill we need to stop and honor their sacrifices, their wisdom, and their hard work.

Happy Memorial Day!

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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

This Is What A Gift Looks Like

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

gift in open handsThis weekend I watched a man receive a gift.

The gift had a good deal of sentimental, emotional value to the giver. He’d held it as a reminder of a special time and place. It was cared for and kept safe for a very long time.

The gift meant something quite different to the man who received it. It meant freedom, trust, a chance to begin a new chapter. It was something the man couldn’t have bought for himself.

These two men had never met until the morning this gift changed hands. The giver handed his prized item to a total stranger, no strings attached. He doesn’t know if it’ll be treated well or trashed.

That’s true generosity. No conditions. Risk. Sacrifice.

I felt like I witnessed a holy moment, something we see all too rarely in our conditional, what’s-in-it-for-me culture. A man gave, from his heart, something he valued to another man who needed it, and asked nothing in return.

I’m pretty sure I felt Jesus smile.

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 Can You Miss Church?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

puzzleWords matter.

We might dismiss them as “just semantics,” but often they’re not. We choose words that consciously or unconsciously express how and what we think.

Last time I told you What I Learned By Missing Church. As I considered the responses I realized that my own title revealed something odd about my internal thoughts.

Do you see it?

What does it mean to “miss church”? Apparently, I equate “church” with “sitting in an organized, weekly worship service.” I didn’t do that, so in my mind I “missed church.”

Of course, I know better. I’ll bet you do as well. We know church isn’t a building, or a special room, where God lives so we can visit Him once a week. We know—but knowing isn’t doing. If “going to church” reveals a heart that’s narrowed “being part of a community” to “weekly worship service attendance,” I need to do some soul searching.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t attend weekly worship, listen to teaching, etc. All of that’s an essential piece of what church is about.

But it’s only one piece of an infinite puzzle. This little episode reminds me to examine my words and what they reveal about my heart. I don’t want to go to church.

I’d rather do church.

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 Much Does God Really Expect from You?

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Something our pastor said got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…

BEST

The preacher said, “We must do our best to…”

I wondered how much God really expects from me. It seems like a lot of people get buried in the notion that God expects perfection, or at least some level of superhuman performance. They give up because they know they can’t measure up.

I think the pastor was exactly right…in two ways. All God expects is my best. He takes my messed-up, less-than-perfect efforts and uses them to accomplish His purposes.

But there’s another side to the equation. He expects my BEST—good enough isn’t good enough.

Sometimes I don’t even try because I’m afraid I’ll fall short. But God doesn’t care about that.

It’s Monday. Maybe it’s a good week to give God my best and let Him take care of the results.

Have a great week.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 2008-2013 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 Better Way To Say “I’m blessed”?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

blessingI’ve decided to stop saying, “I’m blessed.”

I suppose I ought to explain, because I believe I’ve been blessed in many ways far beyond my ability to comprehend.

  • “I enjoyed great health in 2013. I’m blessed.”

I catch myself saying these sorts of things occasionally, and frankly I don’t think they’re true. I don’t think God’s blessings arrive in the form of temporary circumstances or material possessions that happen to align with my perception of “good.”

There’s an implication that I deserve something special. If I’m blessed with good health, what’s the message for those who aren’t? If I’m blessed by comfortable, stable finances, what do I say to millions of believers who work long hours but survive on a few dollars per day?

Blessing isn’t about my perspective. If I think it’s good, does that make it God’s blessing? By extension, any immediate situation I don’t like becomes—God’s curse? I don’t think so.

It’s about responsibility, not blessing. The gift of favorable circumstances isn’t a pat on my head, it’s a call to serve. The purpose of a gift is to share it.

An Alternative?

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Copyright 2008-2013 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 about “I’m thankful”?

Here’s The Only Thing That Works

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

thing-called-loveI’m continually fascinated by how many people see Jesus as a control freak.

As I learn more about Him, I see no evidence that He cared about rigid external rules. Jesus was about radically transforming hearts, and you don’t do that through fear and punishment.

I spent a bunch of time over the weekend talking to a man who’s devoted most of his life to helping men overcome addictions. When I asked what he’d learned he replied, “Punishment doesn’t work. You can’t change behavior through fear. The only thing that works, long-term, is love.”

Honestly, I don’t get why that’s so hard to get.

If you believe Jesus was who He said He was, then you believe He had the power to force everyone to conform. If He wanted rules and consequences, one snap of His fingers would have brought all the armies required to enforce compliance. I’ll bet a few well-placed lightning bolts would have whipped folks into shape fairly quickly.

During Easter we remember His choice to surrender. We acknowledge His decision to set aside power and control, to walk the path of service. We marvel at His willingness to wash His disciples’ feet.

We commemorate Jesus’ example of sacrificial service which demonstrates that His way didn’t involve control.

My friend’s comment focused my attention on the principle that guided Jesus’ life. He was never about punishments, power, coercion, fear or rules.

Love is what works.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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