Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Religion stifles imagination?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

I surprised someone in a conversation about today’s word-of-the-week…


A lady said religion stifles imagination.

I agreed, which surprised her. “But,” I continued, “religion isn’t necessarily the same thing as following Jesus.”

We had a cool, though brief, discussion about human-created religion with its often burdensome rules and constraints. She didn’t know anything else existed, so I explained that Jesus essentially spent three years poking at established religion. I encouraged her not to confuse Jesus with His followers.

I proposed that there is nothing stifling about Jesus.

J.R.R Tolken… Lord Of The Rings. C.S. Lewis… Chronicles of Narnia. Are those enough imagination?

To me, God is infinitely creative and we’re made in His image. How can imagination NOT be integral to who we are?

I suspect my friend was telling me that the “religious folks” she knows don’t show a lot of imagination. So perhaps she just hangs out with the wrong crowd.

Or… maybe we’ve allowed ourselves to become a little too predictable, a little too safe.

Where can you and I demonstrate this week that Jesus was anything but safe and predictable?

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

Caution, Fear and Religious Inhibitions

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Each of us has a significant part to play in God’s plan of Redemption! And it is not a “bit” part or role! It is a call to “fight the good fight of faith.” Preparation is critical; even non-negotiable. More than Moses have sheepishly argued with “God-The Director” saying; “God you have the wrong man.” As we present our case before God, revelation begins to open our eyes as to why we might, in fact, be the best choice for the part!

“Look, God, your God, has placed this land as a gift before you. Go ahead and take it now. God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, promised it to you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t lose heart.” (Deuteronomy 1:21, Msg)

The land is now a relationship placed before us as a gift. This relationship with his/our Father provides the same security Jesus has enjoyed with Heavenly Father for all eternity. Within the embrace of this intimacy we can now be diligent and fearless in our faith journey!

7 Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going.8 and don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.9 Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”  (Joshua 1:7-9, Msg)

As we take the land, Jesus reveals that we pre-existed in His Father; He defines us. He justified us and also glorified us. He redeemed our innocence and restored the glory we lost in Adam’s fall. What further ground can there possibly be to condemn us? 

In His death he faced our judgment; in His resurrection he declares our innocence; the implications cannot be undone! He now occupies the highest seat of authority as the executive of our redemption in the throne room of God. 
What would (could) it take to distance us from the love of Christ? You name any potential calamity; intense pressure of the worst possible kind, cluster-phobia, persecution, destitution, loneliness, extreme exposure, life-threatening danger or war? His love has placed us above the reach of any onslaught. (Adapted from verses in Romans 8)    

Throw caution, fear and religious inhibitions to the wind of Holy Spirit and embrace His passionate draw, pulling you closer to His heart than you ever imagined was possible! 

As the previous waves come crashing on the shore of your faith journey, be pulled by the overwhelming undertow of His great love and be ready to ride the next waves of Glory! 

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.

Your Opportunities in 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016

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


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.


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

Begin Where You Can

Monday, December 28th, 2015

“I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be perfect.” Genesis 17:1

“Perfection is impossible!” we are in the habit of saying; and therefore we do not try to reach perfection. But it is better for us always to keep our aim high, although we cannot hope to reach it. If we have low ideals and aims–our attainments will be low. We cannot look with approval upon anything lower than the perfect beauty of God Himself–and not have the beauty of our own life dimmed thereby. We should always keep perfection before us–as our aim. We should keep our eyes ever fixed upon the perfect model, Jesus Christ!

He Himself taught, “Be perfect, therefore–as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. We are always to seek to model our life upon the divine pattern. Of course we cannot reach this lofty standard in a day–but the way to Christlikeness, is to strive toward it.

When a child begins to write, his scrawling lines fall far short of the beauty of the original at the top of the page. Book after book he fills with his scribble–but if he is diligent, each new page shows a little improvement, and by and by–his writing rivals the original. We can learn to live holy and sweetly, only in the same way. Begin where you can, no matter how imperfect or faulty your life–but strive always toward perfection, and at last you shall be like Christ! That is the hope which shines before us: when we shall see Him as He is–and shall be like Him!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

FREE recovery magazine “The Gabriel”

Friday, December 18th, 2015

The latest issue of CIR’s FREE recovery magazine “The Gabriel” is now available for Download

You are encouraged to download this, print it out or put on a diskette and share it with your loved ones, church, pastor and/or recovery group. It is jam packed with inspiration, tips, resources and information for everyone in recovery

De-Stressing Christmas Time

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

“Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy. Glory to God in the Highest And on Earth, Peace to All People of Good Will.” Luke 2:10,14 nativitychina

 Where to begin. We are each of us connected, one to the other through spirit. Tragedy that is occurring anywhere is affecting everyone, everywhere, in the world.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
                                                                                       Psalm 23:4
And so, from this point, here in the tiny space that I occupy in the universe, it is through my belief in the Holy Spirit and the seed of his worth that is placed in our hearts, made courageous, that I rejoice and fear not.  In this holy season, for all seasons, through faith,  we celebrate the birth of our Lord, heaven’s answer for our salvation.
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can!
                         John Wesley
There’s no denying the end of the year is a busy time. Years ago Jim and I found an easy way to de-stress the holidays . We began to celebrate “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Put simply, the first day of Christmas is December 25th, the twelfth day being January 5th, followed by Epiphany on January 6th. By changing our mindset about having all preparations completed for and expectations met during one twenty four hour period, on Christmas Day, we were liberated to truly enjoy the entire holiday season that begins in spirit on Thanksgiving.
This new perspective did not require gift giving on twelve days. In fact, over time, we came to do less and less “store shopping” and began to observe and celebrate the true miracles of Christmas that come from the hearts and minds of each of us.
So, whether you adopt the tradition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as your own, or not, make  it a priority to find quiet time for yourself.  In a world with much strife yet many miracles, remember to thank God for your blessings. You may even experience a greater appreciation for the sacraments of Christmas and its sacred music.
With gratitude and much love, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Until next month, remember to count your blessings and share the sweetness in your heart.
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy

Turmoil at Christmas Time

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Most of the time I don’t want to turn on the news. Robberies, shootings, and knifings make me wonder what happened to love and compassion. So do drug and alcohol-related deaths, domestic violence, and child-abuse. Do you feel that way too?

Cultural diversity, tolerance, and individual differences are preached more than ever before, but that doesn’t seem to resolve the situation. The crimes mentioned above, continue to leave families doubled over in pain and many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Amidst the Christmas lights, cookies, and carols, I struggle to understand why married couples turn into enemies, siblings into rivals, and coworkers into carriers of gossip and jealousy. Do you also struggle to understand this?

And yet I will not give up hope. Instead I will meditate on Isaiah 9:6:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

During this Christmas season, I choose to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and the significance of why he came to earth.

When I sense the turmoil in homes and offices, I will call upon the Prince of Peace. When I long for a miracle, I will pray to my Mighty God and Everlasting Father.

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
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website:

You are Not a Label!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

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


“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.


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

Is it well with your soul?

Friday, November 13th, 2015

A thirty year flashback prompts today’s word-of-the-week…


It is well with my soul!

More than thirty years ago I made “public profession of faith,” one denomination’s way of marking adult commitment to Jesus. I was asked to choose a song, and I selected Horatio Spafford’s When Peace Like A River.

I chose that song for one particular line: It is well with my soul!

Three decades ago I thought I had it all figured out, me and Jesus and this commitment I was making. Turns out I really had no clue, that I was only giving what little of me I understood to what little of Jesus I understood (thanks, Dick Foth). Turns out that’s all any of us can do.

But despite all that, it was well with my soul, and it has been for all these years, even when many other parts of life have been pretty messed up. That’s about Jesus, not me.

Horatio Spafford wrote his famous hymn when his life was ripped to shreds. His daughters had died, his finances were in ruins, and as he crossed an ocean in isolation he could still say It is well with my soul!

That’s why Jesus came. It wasn’t about our politics, our sports teams, or any of the big, important things that occupy our time and energy.

Jesus came so it could be well with our souls.

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

Are You Standing Outside the Doorway?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

“Who would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited to dwell in the King’s presence and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Certainly, all would assume that no one would so foolishly give up a royal life to merely stand in the doorway, separated from all the pleasures of living in the King’s presence,” adapted from the wisdom of Andrew Murray, from his classic “Abide in Christ.”

Tragically, many who come to Jesus as Savior and Redeemer never go beyond the doorway to abide in Him. They fail to learn the simple spiritual discipline of “Abiding in Christ” and practicing the presence of God. Experiencing the unspeakable joy of dwelling in the presence of God is the birthright of every follower of Jesus.

Is our “imposter” mask blocking the presence of the very one we desire to be closest too As a direct result many Christians feel broken and angry but don’t think they can express these real feelings around others?or to God. So we put on a mask to hide our identity. Feelings of embarrassment and shame make us hide from the One who truly loves us. He is calling and encouraging us to let go of this stressful, unreal impostor lifestyle and freely accept our identity as a child of God

“Take care to live in me (practice my presence daily/hourly), and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me.For apart from me you can’t do a thing.But if you stay in me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted…I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love.” John 15: 4, 5b, 7, 9, The Living Bible

Life lived in the presence of Jesus is fruitful, powerful, joyful and secure. When we learn to practice His presence we stay connected to the source of all we will ever need. A relationship can’t be maintained in a healthy functional way apart from regular dialogue and fellowship.

“The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory. There I’ll be when trouble comes. He will hide me. He will set me on a high rock out of reach of all my enemies. Then I will bring him sacrifices and sing his praises with much joy. Listen to my pleading, Lord! Be merciful and send the help I need. My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me, O my people.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27: 4-8 The Living Bible)

Is this the cry of your heart? Lord, I am coming!

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.