Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

Whose Truth Is It?

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

truth1I believe in absolute truth.

I also know humans view truth through the imperfect lens of their own experience. As the picture indicates, it’s impossible to consider truth independent of the perspective of the observer.

Truth is a cylinder. From my perspective, it’s a circle. You’re certain it’s a square.

I’ve observed that people of good will who love Jesus with all their hearts can reach different conclusions on many issues. I believe we must listen to one another and accept the reality that we all see through a glass darkly.

We must major in the majors and minor in the minors.

What unites matters more than what divides.

Can you see the benefit of understanding that where you see a circle and the other person sees a square, the reality may be a cylinder?

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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

Do You Agree?

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Recent events got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…
AGREE

Monday Wouldn’t it be great if we could all agree on every issue?

Sadly, The Good Ship Lollipop hasn’t sailed down my street recently and I haven’t taken up residence in Fantasyland. Since I don’t live in a bubble, I’m going to encounter people with whom I disagree.

In fact, I’d argue it’s my job to do exactly that, because that’s what Jesus did. He made a point of hanging out with the very people the hyper-religious types avoided. He went to their homes, attended their parties, ate their food…and asked us to follow Him.

Do you think He entered a house and started by saying something like “I want you to know I hate your sinful lifestyle and I’m only here because it’s my duty”? Do you think He felt like He was lowering His standards? Did He send someone else because He didn’t want to associate with some particular class of sinner?

I think He hung out with people because He loved them. He wasn’t worried that the neighborhood (or the country) might lose God’s favor because He honored, reached out to, respected another human being.

Jesus said it’s easy to love those who love you in return. He called us to do the hard thing, to love and serve those who aren’t so easy to love. (Luke 6)

I won’t speak for you. I think others see my faith in how I respond to those with whom I disagree. Honestly, I miss the mark a lot and I’m sorry for that.

I’m trying. I want them to see Jesus.

The Pain of Self-rejection

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

There is no pain quite like the sting left in the wake of self-rejection. Yet, our own failures open the door to the possibilities discovered in the feeling and knowing of regret and guilt. It is bravery of the highest degree to plumb the depths of our secret war with ourselves. “To thine own self be true.”

Freedom is sweetest once we are released from the dark dungeons of hiding and denial. It begins while allowing the pain of self-rejection to push us toward the light found only in the brutal, honest, fearless, inventory of our?self. Beyond that veil we begin to discover the boundless realities of Grace!

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, BUT shouts to us in our pain.” C. S. Lewis

God shouts Grace, Grace to us in our pain! Only the shouts of Grace drown out all the other voices. While beginning to listen more to the shouts of Grace, “we find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand??out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

We discover in the midst of all these shouts of grace that “He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway…God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (Romans 5, Msg.)

Christ arrived right on time, in the midst of our failure and deepest denial. “And that’s not all. We throw open our door to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.” And in the open door of Grace, we are flooded for the first time with the light of true self?discovery!

While my own doing completely disqualified me; his doing now defines me. I am what I am by the grace of God. I am because he is! His grace was not wasted on me; instead I am inspired to labor beyond the point of exhaustion, more than anything I ever did under the law of performance; whatever it is that I accomplish now has grace written all over it. I take no credit for it. (1Corinthians 15:10 Mirror Bible)

Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. (Romans 1:5, The Message Bible)

There’s something bigger going on…but; that is the rest of our stories!
Ron Ross

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Your Opportunities in 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016

For the first Monday of 2016 a perfect word-of-the-week

ENCOURAGEMENT

2016I’m so grateful that you read these words each week, and I’m prompted to begin 2016 with a message of encouragement.

I can’t promise you smooth roads and an easy path. Life doesn’t work like that. I do believe God offers an opportunity to write a remarkable story with the days of 2016. Like any great story, it will include challenges and conflict. You’ll need courage, and faith, and trust, and hope.

“Take courage! I Am. Don’t be afraid.”

I can’t promise God won’t give you more than you can handle. That’s a platitude for posters. I’m confident, though, that He’ll surround you with folks who will share the load, if you’ll let them. And Jesus will always walk beside you.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

May you find a cause worth investing in, fighting for, sacrificing for. And please remember that worthwhile investments involve risk, and fights worth fighting often leave a few battle scars. And sacrifice means…sacrificing something.

May you live free of fear. In a world in which many seek to manipulate by manufacturing and magnifying fear, I hope you’ll trust that God’s at work and the message of fear is the enemy’s lie.

May you, whenever possible, seek to think the best of others. Regarding people with mistrust and suspicion causes us to make up untrue stories in our heads and to ascribe bad motives to even good deeds.

May you leave the past in the past and avoid the silliness of tripping over obstacles that are behind you.

May you minimize worry which wastes so much energy and adds nothing to the quality of life.

May you forgive, not because it’s deserved or because you want to or because you feel like forgiving or even because you’re supposed to forgive. I hope you’ll forgive because it’s the only lasting path to peace and freedom.

May you know, with absolute confidence, that God works for good in all circumstances. None of your effort, success, struggle, pain, or failure will be wasted.

May you move forward with hope, the confident expectation that God always keeps His promises.

May you always lead with love. Not because it’s easy or because it makes sense or because it gets the desired short-term results. May you lead with love because it’s the path to Jesus and because, in the end, it’s the way the universe works.

My encouragement, dear friends, to you and to me for 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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

No Christmas Family Reunion for Me!

Monday, December 14th, 2015

“I don’t want to go to the Christmas family reunion, Ms. Ortega,” Julia told me in my counseling office. Her hands trembled as she spoke and unbuttoned her sweater.

“What makes you say that?” I asked as I looked into her blue eyes.

“My mom and dad will argue most of the day. My aunt Mary won’t speak to my aunt Dorothy, and each will act as if the other one isn’t there.”

Julia’s facial muscles tightened as she discussed the family dynamics. I waited to hear what else she might say.

“That’s only half of the story.” Julia sat in silence for a minute and stared out the window. “My sister expects everyone to do what she wants, or she will get angry, curse, and cut them out of her life. My uncle Charlie will get drunk and misbehave.”

In my experience as a counselor, I’ve heard similar stories. Perhaps you feel like Julia and don’t want to go to your Christmas family reunion either.

You can write a list of the pros and cons of attending and then decide. You can consider other ways to spend Christmas day.

If your family members want to know why you won’t attend the family reunion, tell them you want a peaceful Christmas or have other plans.

You can invite good friends and neighbors to your home for a peaceful Christmas dinner.

Psalm 34:14b: “Seek peace and pursue it.”

Dear God, I want Christmas to be peaceful not hostile. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to “seek peace and pursue it”?

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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

When Christmas Is Hard

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Have you lost a loved one or been through a divorce? Have you faced a major move or the loss of a job? Have you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or made a significant change in your lifestyle?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any one of these questions, Christmas may be a struggle for you. It may not be a warm “fuzzy” time of Christmas cookies, carols, and cards.

You may not feel like eating Christmas cookies or singing Christmas carols. You may not want to send Christmas cards or enjoy reading the ones that you receive. You may not want to be caught up in the social whirlwind of plans, parties and programs.

Please don’t force yourself or fake feelings you don’t have. Please be gentle and patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to rest, to write in your journal, and to seek peace and quiet.

You may need more time in prayer, Bible study, meditation, and praise and worship. That’s okay.

Soft relaxing piano, harp, or guitar music may soothe you. Listen to it and take care of yourself.

Psalm 85:8: “I will listen to what God the Lord says;?he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants.”

Dear God, I’m lonely and tired. Please help me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to experience God’s peace?

 

You are Not a Label!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

An odd question brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

LABELS

“What kind of quadriplegic are you?”

Seriously. Now I not only have to be labeled as a quad, but there are subcategories? I’m getting really tired of labels.

The guy’s sister just had a car accident and he was seeking information. Parents relayed a ton of stuff by phone and I was someone to talk to. I get it.

But I remember a few weeks after my injury. Docs told me I fell into certain categories, slapped labels on my chart, and pronounced sentence.

“You likely won’t live past age 50.” (I was 36 at the time, 27 years ago.)

“You’ll have limited physical independence.” (I taught full-time in a public school classroom for 21 years after my injury; I’ve handcycled nearly 35,000 miles.)

You get the idea. Labels chunk people into categories so we can make broad assumptions about the people in those categories.

Liberal. Conservative. Evangelical. Mainline. Gay. Protestant. Catholic. Black. White.

Muslim.

Each label conjures an image and a bunch of stereotypes that likely don’t describe most of the individuals in any of the groups.

Jesus didn’t do labels, because He saw individuals. He didn’t accept or reject anyone because of the group they came from or any other such silliness.

Think you’re immune from the labeling disease? I had coffee a while back with a friend who casually mentioned, as a tangent to our conversation, that we’d all be better off without Democrats. I chuckled and told him I was registered as a Democrat. His face fell. “I hope you’re joking.” Then he changed the subject.

Labels are lazy shortcuts. Once I know you’re “one of those” I can stereotype you. I don’t have to bother with the hard work of knowing you as a person.

I’m weary of labels. They’re too frequently about fear, bullying, and anger. They’re nearly always about divisiveness.

What kind of quadriplegic am I? I’m the kind who sits in a wheelchair and dreams God-sized dreams.

A challenge: Look for the labels you use to categorize people–or yourself.

It’s Monday! This would be a good week to see people rather than labels.

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

The Truth About Truth

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

What’s truth? Can we know it? Is there more than one version?
truth
Heady questions, for sure.

The sort of truth I’m talking about is eternal. It connects generations because it gives us a place to link current ideas and trends with those from previous eras.

I’m pretty sure truth can’t be expressed in words. Jesus came as a person and said He was the truth. I think we have to experience truth, live with it, travel with it in relationship if we want to understand it. That’s why Jesus rebuffed demands for a list of rules or a code that would tell people how to follow Him.

Truth, I think, always includes an element of mystery and wonder. Eternity is a very big place, and we’re always going to come up short when we try to wrap our finite minds around an eternal truth. It’s okay. Just because I don’t know everything doesn’t mean I don’t know anything. Rather than whittling away at the mystery until I narrow it to something I can grasp, I want to be content to stand in awe of what I can’t comprehend.

Finally, I personally feel no need to defend or justify truth. Others may differ, but I’m convinced I’ll never change someone’s mind with my words. I’ll be available and I’ll always offer my perception of truth, but my job is to demonstrate grace as freely as possible and trust God to open doors.

I have good friends who are certain there’s no such thing as absolute truth. We’ve had interesting conversations and I understand their premises. They smile when I say:

NOT BEING KNOWN DOESN’T STOP THE TRUTH FROM BEING TRUE

I’m grateful for the hope of a future based on the foundation of truth.

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

When An Angel Might Show Up

Monday, October 19th, 2015

ripple-leafI tend to turn following Jesus into an intellectual exercise.

Our small group discussed this verse a few days ago.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

We all agreed on the need to be more aware of the people God might send into our lives. It was a “nice, intellectual discussion.”

A couple of days later Becky and I attended a small gathering in a local restaurant. We met an interesting couple and were enjoying the conversation when a stranger sat down at our table. He introduced himself and asked if he could tell his story.

It was immediately apparent that this young man had some issues, but he did have quite a story wrapped around a rather long, rambling narrative. What I noticed was that my companions displayed much more compassion and genuine interest than I. Frankly, for the first 10-15 minutes I just wanted him to leave.

Thankfully, Becky and our friends redeemed the situation. And as I listened to their questions and saw their concern I thought about the verse in Hebrews. What if this was an angel?

Eventually I managed to get engaged and I suppose the conversation ended as well as it could have in those circumstances. But the entire interaction got me wondering how many times I dismiss an opportunity to show simple kindness toward someone.

It’s so easy to say this guy was rude for interrupting, so it’s okay to push him aside. But hospitality isn’t about easy, it’s about setting my needs and rights aside and serving others.

And who knows when an angel might show up?

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

What We Can Learn from Children

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

kidsI like the children’s sermon.

Becky and I visited a church yesterday that does a children’s sermon during worship. The kids gathered around the leader, poking and squirming and trying to listen while he showed them a bag filled with stones.

“What do you notice about the stones?”

Hands shot up and he pointed to one youngster.

“They’re all different colors. God made them different colors just like He made people different colors.”

Wow. A murmur ruffles through the crowd. I’m thinking we’re not going to improve on that so we might as well go home. The leader called on another kid.

“They’re all different shapes and sizes just like God made people different shapes and sizes.”

By now I figure this must be rehearsed. The leader must have planted these responses.

Turns out he had an entirely different point in mind, so he thanked the kids for their great observations and moved on to teach a wonderful lesson.

Don’t you think it’s cool, though, that little kids just take it for granted that God created people like stones, in all colors and shapes and sizes? Kids know God didn’t make “normal” stones.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we worked a little less hard at teaching them to believe in things like racism and discrimination?

We could do that, you know. We have a guide who hung out with stones of every shape, size, and color.

He even hung out with broken stones, like me, and made them whole again.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)

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