Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Christmas and Recovery

Monday, December 19th, 2016

This is an important time of year for Christians and I think it is especially so for recovering people. Let us look at some scripture:

Matthew 1: 20-23
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The name JESUS means “God is salvation” or “Savior”; the one who saves people from their sins. Jesus is the Greek form of the Jewish name Joshua, and Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.”

Emmanuel means “God with us” or “God is with us.” Jesus Christ was given by God to us to rescue us from our unmanageable lives, to forgive our sins and to bind up our wounds.

William Barclay put it this way:

“Jesus was not so much The Man born to be King as The Man born
to be Saviour. He came to this world, not for his own sake, but for
men and for our salvation…..

“Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, add what God means us to be. In him alone we see what God is and what man ought to be. Before Jesus came men had only vague and shadowy, and often quite wrong, ideas about God; they could only at best guess and grope; but Jesus could say, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

In Jesus we see the love, the compassion, the mercy, the seeking heart, the purity of God as nowhere else in all this world. With the coming of Jesus the time of guessing is gone, and the time of certainty is come. Before Jesus came men did not really know what goodness was. In Jesus alone we see true manhood, true goodness, true obedience to the will of God. Jesus came to tell us the truth about God and the truth about ourselves.”

This Christmas season celebrate the birth of Christ in this world 2,000 years ago. Celebrate the fact that Jesus lives in you and through you each and every day. Celebrate your own rebirth by baptism of the Holy Spirit. And celebrate by sharing the love of God and the peace of Jesus with those around you.

~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S. O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and the author of the
Christians in Recovery Workbook & Meeting Guide
Christians in Recovery Devotional Journal
and editor of
Morning Exercises – Daily Devotional
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“Little Foxes” that do Great Harm

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

“Catch the foxes–the little foxes that spoil the vines.” Song of Songs 2:15

Solomon is very emphatic here. It is “the little foxes” which do the mischief. If the vines are injured, if the beautiful clusters are destroyed–he warns us that it is the little foxes which have crept in and have been the culprits.

I want to linger over this thought. I want every reader to lay to heart the importance of little things.

“Is it not a little one?” is the excuse of many a soul when entering upon a course that will be fatal to all peace and happiness.

Yes, it may look a little one, but for that very reason, be the more on your guard. A man’s life is made up of little things. “He who despises little things, shall fall little by little.”

A tiny hair has in some way found an entrance into the works of a watch. It touches one of the inner wheels, and so again and again the watch stops or goes irregularly. Much valuable time is in consequence lost, and only after its removal, does the watch prove useful to its owner.

A spark of fire has fallen upon some inflammable materials. It is but a spark at first, but it soon kindles into a flame. By-and-by through that one spark, a group of valuable warehouses is burned to the ground.

A small screw has not been carefully fastened in the boiler of an engine. For a time, no harm comes of it; but after a while, the defect loosens other parts of the machinery. An unlooked for catastrophe shortly afterwards occurs. The boiler explodes and spreads devastation and death far and wide. Many lives are lost, and valuable property is destroyed.

The tiny hair, the spark, the screw
–have often their counterpart in the Christian life. A permitted inconsistency stands in the way and hinders the working of the Savior’s love in the heart. A harsh word does a world of harm. A neglected duty brings evil to thousands.

Catch the foxes, yes, the little ones–let not one of them escape! If you would be secure, you must be determined to spare none–not even the very smallest!

Bear in mind “the little foxes” are especially dangerous, because they creep into the vineyard so secretly. They often get in unobserved. Even so, little sins and faults have a peculiar power to beguile the conscience. They often pass unchallenged. They make but little noise or show, and therefore they deceive the heart, and do their deadly work while we are unaware.

Bear in mind also, that little foxes will soon grow. Week by week, month by month, very insensibly to yourself–the little one is growing stronger and larger! The one you thought at first a mere plaything because it was so small–becomes an over-bearing tyrant!

Is not this true of every sin? It grows by use and habit. Its strength and power is constantly on the increase.

Secret sins are the forerunners of open and presumptuous sins.
If evil is cherished in the deep of the heart, if unholy desires are permitted to remain–soon may follow some terrible breach of the Divine law. Our safety is in watching against the first wrong step. We must not treat the smallest deviation from truth and righteousness lightly. If you once put your foot in the mire of sin–you will sink deeper and deeper!

The little foxes are dangerous, because they make a track for others to follow. A little thief may creep in at the window and open the door for those who are lurking near. So a little fox may lead the way for a troop of others to enter the vineyard. The path is easier to find. The hedge will be broken down, or the opening in the wall made larger; so that where at first there came but one, and that one a little one–by-and-by a whole tribe will be found, and the vineyard utterly laid waste!

So is it with sins. One makes way for another, and each one that goes before makes it easier for others to follow. There is a companionship in sins–you never find them alone. They always accompany one another.

A young man forsakes the House of God and the Bible Class, and regards Sundays as merely days for rest or pleasure. Very often the evil increases fast:
he takes up with bad company,
he then becomes loose in his talk,
he then finds his way to the drinking saloon,
then, perhaps, he gets into profligate habits, and
then acts dishonestly to supply means for his extravagance.
In this way, very often a young life is blighted and robbed of all its fair prospects, and perhaps the man ends his days in a prison or the poor house. In this and many similar ways, one sin is linked unto another–and wretchedness, poverty, shame, and temporal and eternal damnation, are their bitter fruit.

Look at the first sin that crept into our world. Truly it might seem to some to be a small matter–but it was the little fox that destroyed the tender grapes.
It begins with a look and a wish.
Eve sees the fruit and longs for it.
Then she gives ear to the Tempter.
She believes his lie, and doubts the truth and the goodness of God.
She touches, she takes, she tastes.
She persuades her husband to taste likewise.
Thus the evil spreads.
All the joys of paradise are forfeited.
The image of God in the soul is lost.
Briers and thorns spring up in the ground.
Sins and sorrows without end, spring up in the world.
One sin, as we might think a little one, has become a giant–and evil of every kind overspreads the face of the earth! The whole world groans beneath the violence, wickedness, and oppression that lie heavy upon it. And to this hour, the outcome of that sin is seen in the ten thousand times ten thousand forms of vice and wickedness which cover the earth, and fill mankind with untold misery and woe!

Therefore take good heed of little sins. Remember, sin grows, and grows fast! Watch against the beginnings of evil.

(George Everard, “Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!” 1878)

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What About That Setback?

Friday, November 18th, 2016

bumpA friend experienced a setback.

A “speed bump” is how he described it. I’d say it was more like a major detour, but either way, things aren’t exactly going his way right now. This is a guy who’s had his share of struggle along the road, and things were starting to look a bit brighter. This particular speed bump wasn’t part of the plan.

So what do you say? What’s useful, helpful, to someone in a circumstance like this?

First, let’s hold off on the Christian one-liners. It’s God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason. God will use this for good. Even if you believe something like this, it’s simply not helpful to toss a simplistic conclusion into a complex, painful situation. Mostly these are designed to make the speaker feel better; they’re not going to help someone who’s already experiencing confusion and doubt. Let go of your need to offer an easy answer that likely doesn’t exist.

It’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Following Jesus doesn’t mean pasting a permanent fake smile on your face. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you don’t have to be controlled by them.

Want to help? Offer a safe space for her to express these perfectly normal emotions.

Hope is a decision, not a feeling. Hope is confidence in the future based on faith that God keeps His promises. It’s possible to choose hope and feel hopeless…I don’t know how that works, but I’ve been there. You can decide to choose hope, and hold on no matter how you feel.

Want to help? Continue to talk about hope while showing you understand how hopeless it feels.

You are not your circumstances. I am not a wheelchair. My friend is not his “setback.” That’s not how God sees us. We’re defined by how He sees us through Jesus.

Want to help? Show (don’t tell) him that he’s valued as a person beyond his circumstances. The show part is, by the way, hard.

God is long-term. Hope is long-term. Love is long-term. Most of the stuff we focus on…isn’t.

Want to help? Hang around long-term. Do long-term stuff, the things most others won’t do because it’s frustrating and they don’t see results and often they’re not even appreciated.

Hang around when the short-term folks lose patience. Don’t judge them.

That’s what Jesus does.

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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

Waiting for God to make the first move?

Friday, November 11th, 2016

A challenging story from a wonderful speaker brings today’s word-of-the-week…

WAITING

waitAre you waiting for God to make the first move?

Mark Batterson, best-selling author and pastor at National Community Church in Washington D.C. was guest speaker at our church this weekend. He talked about prayer. He asked, “If you’re praying for something, do you trust God to answer or are you waiting for Him to make the first move?”

He told a story. A new campus location was about to open, and they needed a drummer. So everyone prayed, but no drummer appeared. They began to wonder if perhaps this location wasn’t meant to have a worship band.

Then someone observed that the campus didn’t own a drum set. Another person asked, “Why buy drums before we have a drummer?”

Mark said at that point he suggested a different perspective. “We’re asking God for a drummer. Perhaps we need the courage, or the faith, to step out and buy a drum set and trust Him do what He chooses with it.”

The worship leaders were waiting for God to make the first move.

How often do we do that? How often do we essentially offer God a deal: we’ll be happy to step forward as soon as you (God) do your part.

It’s called faith because I don’t get to know step #2 before I take step #1.

Go ahead and pray for just the right drummer. But buy the drums.

What’s the first step you need to take while you pray?

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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 Doors Won’t Open for Us

Monday, October 31st, 2016

A statement of frustration brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

OPENS

doorway“It feels like even when I’m at the right door it never opens for me.”

“Okay, tell me how it works.”

“It’s like I’m following my dream, doing the thing I think I’m called to do, but the door never opens.”

“So following your dream feels like you’re fighting yourself?”

“Exactly!”

“Well, here’s my theory. I think if you’re following your God-inspired dream, it shouldn’t feel like that. It may not be easy, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re fighting yourself.

“Can we try something?

“Sure.”

“Imagine Jesus is standing on the other side of that door, knocking. Please push the door open and let Him in.”

He reached for the handle. “You mean ‘Pull the door open,’ right? I can’t push it. It doesn’t open that way.”

“No, I’d really like you to push it. I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.”

“But  can’t push it open.”

“Wait, are you telling me that if Jesus Himself was standing on the other side of that door you couldn’t push it open if I told you to?”

“Well, I could try, but that’s not the way it opens.”

“Do you think it’s possible that’s what happens with the doors of your dreams? I think sometimes we decide in advance not only WHAT should happen but EXACTLY HOW it should happen.

“Maybe you’re at the right door, but you’re absolutely certain you should push through it when that’s not the way it opens.”

The popular view says if the door doesn’t open, it wasn’t your door.

Maybe it simply opens the other way.

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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

Have You Given up?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

A renowned international speaker said, “Yvonne, it took me 20 years to become an overnight success.”

I think of those words often and use them to encourage other speakers and myself. Have you given up on your dreams? Have you pushed your goals aside?

Go back in time with me to a fisherman named Simon. He and another fisherman had fished all night but caught nothing. They left their boats at the water’s edge and were washing their nets. They were done trying to catch fish.

Jesus got into Simon’s boat, sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he finished, he told Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).

Simon said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

If you had been Simon, would you have tried one more time? Would you have trusted the Lord enough not to give up?

Sometimes I work hard on goals and dreams my way and want results in my time rather than God’s. Can you identify with me?

Luke 5:6-7 says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

Talk about results. I will wait, let the Lord direct me to the deep water, and haul in his overflowing blessings. What about you?

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Hope With Fingers Crossed?

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

hope stoneI heard someone speak about hope as an invitation to disappointment.

“I’m hoping for something to happen when I know the odds are stacked against it. So when I say I hope it goes well, I really mean I’m worried it won’t.”

We’ve all hoped that sort of hope. I hope my friend recovers from cancer. I hope she finds a new job….

We hope those things happen, but perhaps, like the ambivalent speaker, we’re also prepared for disappointment.

That’s not hope, not the hope described by Paul in Romans 15:13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The God of hope is not a God of disappointment. He’s the God who always keeps His promises.

HOPE is a confident expectation based on faith that God always keeps His promises.

So I’m confident my friend will be safe, cared for, and at peace in Jesus’ arms regardless of his physical condition. 

I’m confident she can search for a new job calmly and peacefully, keeping the big picture in mind, regardless of short-term obstacles.

I’m confident God will guide the right people to the FREEDOM TOUR and give us direction, even when it seems chaotic from my perspective.

That’s hope. Those are God’s promises.

He never promised it would be easy or that He’d fulfill our short-term (or long-term) wishes. The prayer says “…thy will be done…”

We wish with fingers crossed. We move forward with confident hope in God’s promises into changed lives. We move forward in impossible circumstances.

HOPE changes what’s POSSIBLE.

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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

Need a Fresh Start?

Friday, September 16th, 2016

A friend brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

FRESH START

startMy friend needs a fresh start today.

In fact, given his circumstances he may need a few fresh starts in the near future. In the past lots of us gave up something, or started something. It’s cool to have a nice, neat time when everyone has permission to do something new that gets us a little closer to God. We make starting over the “in thing to do” on that one particular day.

Someone who’s struggling, like my friend, might get the wrong idea. He might think there’s something magic about that day and, if you miss it, you missed your chance.

God, of course, cares a lot about second chances and fresh starts. He loves it when someone makes and keeps a commitment for the forty days of Lent, but He’ll be thrilled if my friend gets a fresh start today. Or tomorrow.

If you know someone who gave something up, maybe you can take a moment to ask how it’s going. If he’s struggling, encourage him. If she slipped, remind her that perfection isn’t the goal.

If you know someone like my friend, make sure they know it’s always a good day to start over. As many times as it takes.

God offers you and me a fresh start. Let’s use it well!

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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

Need a New Perspective?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

A fifth grader’s comment brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

PERSPECTIVE

The young lady told me she loved the idea of perspective.

I just spoke to her class and she was escorting me to the office. “Why is perspective so interesting to you?”

She stopped and gazed right into my eyes. “Because,” she explained, “it means I get to control how I look at things. It’s like choosing my attitude instead of letting my attitude choose me.”

I love listening to kids.

Can I be honest, just between you and me? Once in a while this thing of living in a wheelchair still gets a bit discouraging. You would think after nearly twenty-eight years I’d be over that feeling, but I still hit an occasional stretch in which all I can see is how difficult life is and all the things I wish I could do.

Then a young lady reminds me God gave me the ability to decide whether I’ll see darkness or light. It’s not easy, but with the Spirit’s help I can choose hope rather than despair. I’m not a victim of circumstances.

As my young friend said, “Perspective means I get to control how I look at things.”

Is there some situation that requires a new perspective?

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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 Well Do You Wait?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

I don’t like to wait in line at the grocery store or anywhere else. How about you?

Inevitably, I end up behind a person who forgot one item at the other end of the store or a customer who buys something without a price on it.

When it comes to my prayer requests, I want God to answer immediately. Sometimes he does. Other times I wait for years for his answer.

In 1 Samuel 10:3, the prophet Samuel told Saul, “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Saul waited seven days. Samuel didn’t come, and Saul’s soldiers “began to scatter.” Saul sacrificed the offerings to the Lord. Samuel arrived shortly after that and asked him what he had done.

Notice Saul’s response in 1 Samuel 13:11-12, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,I thought, Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

In verse 13, Samuel said, “You have done a foolish thing . . . You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.”

Did Saul learn his lesson? Look at 1 Samuel 28. After Samuel’s death, he saw the Philistines coming and panicked. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord didn’t answer him.

Rather than wait for an answer, Saul asked a medium for advice. He ignored God’s command against that practice and his own law against mediums in Israel.

The medium brought up the late Samuel, who told him in I Samuel 28:19, “The LORD will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

As I read those chapters, I reflected on the importance of obedience and waiting on God. His timing may not be mine, but he loves me and wants what’s best for me.

I don’t want to take matters into my own hands and suffer the consequences the way Saul did.

God loves you and wants what’s best for you too. Will you wait for his perfect timing?

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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