Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

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?

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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

Missing the Point

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

A lesson in grace brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

BETTER

Ursula Ward had just heard the verdict.

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was guilty of murdering her son, Odin Lloyd. She stepped forward to speak before final sentencing.

“I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after.”

“She’s a better person than I am.” That was the takeaway of many news folks and talking heads as they marveled at this woman’s uncommon grace and courage.

They missed the whole point. They missed it because they didn’t listen to the whole statement.

Ms. Ward began with a remarkable comment: “I thank God for being here this morning.”

Seriously? Gratitude to God for that moment? I wonder why no one focused on that rather incredible demonstration of faith?

Then she ended with this simple benediction: “May God continue to bless us.”

If you listen to the entire statement, you hear grief, anger, pain, saddness–Ms. Lloyd wasn’t in denial and she’s wasn’t pulling punches.

She didn’t forgive because she thinks she’s stronger or better than anyone else. I think she understands her relationship to God. I think she understands her weakness.

I know I’m reading a lot into a few lines. I suspect she knows that forgiveness isn’t an event. She didn’t forgive her son’s killers in that courtroom so she could be done forgiving.

She did it so she could travel a difficult, daily journey of forgiveness that will allow her and her family to heal without bitterness and anger.

We can only choose that journey because we know we don’t have to travel alone. Jesus already walked the road…He knows the way.

May God continue to bless Ursula Ward, her family, Aaron Hernandez, and all of us on the journey.

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

Turning the Other Cheek…. a Choice?

Friday, July 10th, 2015

“So I guess you’re gonna tell us we have to turn the other cheek.”

The sarcasm puddled on the table. A guy who’s lived on lobster boats doesn’t easily buy the notion of non-violnece.

We were talking about fear, and I said “He hit me” doesn’t mean “I have to hit him back.”

The guy kept going. “So I’m supposed to just let people assault me and my family, right?”

“That’s not what I said. This isn’t about ‘turn the other cheek’ at all.

“It’s about the words ‘have to.’ I ‘have to’ hit him back is a lie. You don’t ‘have to’ do anything.”

“Okay,” he replied, “what’s the alternative?”

“It’s simple. You choose.”

The room got quiet. Another guy chuckled. “So can I choose to hit back?”

I had them, and they knew it. Finally somebody said, “Sure. But you gotta take responsibility for it.”

I asked him to elaborate.

“I can’t be like a little kid…he made me do it. I choose to fight, or not. I choose to drink, or not.”

The first man wasn’t giving up. “In real life, it’s not that easy…”

“You’re right. Life ain’t about bein’ easy.

“But either you choose, or someone else chooses for you.”

Then I turn to the original question. “Turn the other cheek or defend yourself–your choice. You listen to Jesus and learn what He really meant. Then you decide and take responsibility for your decision.”

Simple. Not easy.

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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

A Burden We Are Not Supposed To Carry

Monday, July 6th, 2015

balance-scale-unbalancedI like to think I don’t judge people.

Problem is, I like to think a lot of things that aren’t true. Sadly, not-judging is one of them.

I’m thinking about this because our small group is doing a study of the life of Abraham, and I find myself frequently being sure the guy was an idiot. He did all this really dumb stuff, made stupid decisions, didn’t learn from his mistakes…

Like I said, I like to think I don’t judge people.

Ever wonder why Jesus told us to avoid playing judge? I suppose there are a lot of reasons, but right now I’m thinking He wanted to remove an enormous burden from our shoulders.

A fallible, imperfect, human judge carries a huge responsibility. We can’t know all the facts and circumstances, and we certainly can’t see into someone’s heart. We’ll always be wrong.

That’s not a burden God wants us to bear. Judging is God’s job.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

You and I get the chance to live without the horrible responsibility of dispensing justice for everyone else.

Rest. Easy. Light. Free.

Kind of a cool gift, huh?

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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 Really Matters?

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

What do you see when you approach a staircase?

Me? I see a diabolical obstacle designed to keep me from reaching the other level.

Of course I don’t believe the builder intended to frustrate me. I’m simply seeing the stairs through my personal biases.

I know the creator of this sign meant well. I’m sure he didn’t intend the chuckle as I picture myself rattling down 15-20 flights of smoke-filled stairs because “the sign told me to do it!”

The stairs are a good reminder for me when I’m tempted to pound on my bible because “it says what it says.”

In my experience I’ve known people of good will who love Jesus with all their hearts, and yet have studied deeply and reached different conclusions about certain theological issues. They read the same words, follow the same Lord, but hear different results.

Augustine said: In the essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love).

I often picture the folks I spoke about above sitting in a room. Certainly they’d disagree about important issues–how could it be different in a room filled with smart, educated people with their own biases, backgrounds, and life experiences?

But they’d agree about love, about service, about placing God at the center. They’d agree that following Jesus comes first, that the CHURCH is more important than any individual church. They’d agree on grace, forgiveness, gratitude, and hope.

Those are the essentials, the things the world needs from us.

I don’t read scripture in a vacuum. The bible says what it says, but what I hear is colored by my biases and preconceptions as well as those of my teachers.

I believe God wants me to think, to study and listen and reach conclusions. But I always want to hold my ideas lightly, without the need to be right or win the argument.

I hope I listen before I speak. What unites matters more than what divides.

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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

Forgive and Forget?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

“I can’t forget how my dad treats my mother,” Bridget screamed in her counseling session. “So how can I forgive him?”

“Why not take this situation one step at a time?” I asked the young woman.

Bridget raised her brows and said she didn’t understand.

I suggested she first walk through the truth of her father’s verbal and physical abuse of her mother and how much that hurt her.

Her eyes moistened with tears, and soon she sobbed. “He scared me. I hated all the commotion. Worst of all, Mom’s taken it for years.”

Bridget shook and cried again. She said that her dad also mistreats the kids. “I can’t stand his screaming, cursing, and temper tantrums.”

With a gentle tone, I explained that forgiveness is a process and takes time, especially when a person has been traumatized. Bridget nodded and leaned back in her chair.

“In the Bible, God tells us numerous times to forgive, but he never says, ‘Forgive and forget.’” I paused for Bridget to think about that. “If you forget, you may place yourself in a dangerous situation with your father and subject yourself to more abuse.”

At the end of the session, Bridget left with a journaling assignment and a Bible verse to meditate on and memorize.

Your circumstances may not be the same as Bridget’s, but you may also struggle with forgiveness. You may think you can’t forgive unless you forget.

Forgiveness won’t change the past. A healed memory doesn’t mean you develop amnesia about it.

Proverbs 22:3: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Dear God, help me understand forgiveness isn’t forgetting. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to begin your process of forgiveness.

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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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

It’s Your Fault Not Mine!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Margaret sat down in my office and said, “No matter what happens in our marriage, my husband says, ‘It’s your fault not mine.’”

I sat in silence and waited for her to say more. Her dark brown curly hair touched her shoulders, and her light brown eyes moistened with tears.

“Last night he cursed and screamed at me, ‘It’s your fault not mine. If you had served a better dinner and on time, I wouldn’t be angry.’” Margaret sighed, shook her head, and said, “Are all men like mine?”

“No, some are but not all of them.” I thought of similar incidents on my caseload, but I didn’t share those with Margaret. Instead I told her about a man named Aaron who was left in charge of a group of people and led them into doing wrong. When the leader returned, Aaron blamed the people.

Margaret laughed and said, “That sounds familiar.”

“What’s sad is that Aaron told the people to take off their gold jewelry.”

He told the leader, Moses, “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

After we both laughed, I said, “Imagine that. An idol came out of the fire, but it wasn’t Aaron’s fault.”

“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughing stock to their enemies” (Exodus 32:25).

Dear God, when I’m wrong, help me admit it. When I’m not, help me admit that too. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week not to enable someone to get out of control and blame you?

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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Reconciliation with God, Others and Yourself

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Reconciliation has many aspects: reconciliation with others (who you have offended or who have offended you), reconciliation with yourself. Reconciliation with God.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:
1. The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.
Reconciliation and friendship with God, really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment.
2. In Scripture, the means by which sinners are reconciled and brought into a state of favor with
God, after natural estrangement or enmity; the atonement; expiation.

— How do you define reconciliation in your own practical terms?
— Has it been missing from your life and/or recovery?
— What issues and difficulties have you encountered finding reconciliation with:

** God
** Others whom you have hurt or who have hurt you
** Yourself

— Do any scriptures speak to your heart regarding reconciliation?

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The wicked prosper–the righteous have adversity

Monday, February 16th, 2015

“If you see oppression of the poor, and perversion of justice and righteousness throughout the land–do not marvel at the matter.” Ecclesiastes 5:8
In the midst of his soliloquizings and moralizings, King Solomon interjected an occasional counsel or exhortation: “Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, there was wickedness; and that in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there also.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16), and he bids his readers not to be surprised or stumbled thereat.

It was a timely word, for such passages as Job 12:6 and 21:7; Psalm 73:2-12; Jeremiah 12:1 show that the Old Testament saints were deeply exercised over the prosperity of the wicked–and the adversity of the righteous. Solomon, therefore, seeks to remove this stumbling-block and prevent their taking offence at, or murmuring against, God’s divine government.

Fallen human nature being what it is, we should not think it strange that the strong oppress the weak, or that justice should be corrupted by those in high places. Man is made to reap the bitter harvest of his apostasy from God.

Yet, however perplexed we may be over the success which so often rewards the workers of iniquity, let us be assured that nothing escapes the notice of the Most High God, that He “regards” and has wise reasons for permitting the frequent miscarriage of human justice by the magistrates and rulers of earth. There is One infinitely above to whom they must yet render an account, and from whom they will receive “a just recompense of reward.” (Hebrews 2:2)

(Arthur Pink, “No Marvels” 1952)

Stop “Otherizing”

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The baby in the manger brings us an odd word-of-the-week…

OTHERIZING

star-near-bethlehem-israel2“Stop otherizing.”

It’s the Christmas message, the thing the baby’s been trying to tell me.

Other-izing: the process of discerning and accentuating differences between people so it’s apparent one group is clearly not like us–they’re the “others.”

The whole point of Christmas was Jesus erasing the lines between “them” and “us.” He didn’t ask us to “tolerate others.” He became one of us to eliminate the entire concept of others. As long as we perceive others in Christ, reconciliation and inclusion are just fancy church words for “you inferior folks need to change your ways and be like us superior folks.”

Jesus didn’t say, “If you want to be with me, come and live my story.” He knew the gap was too great, and He loved too much to allow it to remain.

So Jesus quite literally “died to self” as He left the comfort of the Trinity and merged His story with ours.

You don’t pay the kind of price Jesus paid for others. You only do that for family. As my friend Dick Foth says: “Jesus left His place and came to our place.”

At Christmas I think He asks if we’re willing to do the same.

Do I love too much to allow the gap to remain? Will I pay the price to remove it?

Will I stop otherizing?