Posts Tagged ‘hatred’

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)

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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

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

Dealing with Self-righteous People

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Self-righteous people are just comparing.

I never thought about it like that until Don Miller pointed out that self-righteousness is really just a way of building myself up by tearing others down. It’s not about being truly righteous, only appearing to be in a bit better class of sinner than the next guy.

That’s why self-righteous folks are so concerned with rules. Man-made rules are nearly always designed to distinguish who’s doing it better, even if the distinctions are artificial.

I started thinking about Jesus’ principles and realized they’re never like that. You can’t rank people based on how much they love. You just love, as much as possible, and there’s always more where that came from. Same for grace, hope, truth, mercy, compassion, forgiveness—you start trying to measure and compare that stuff and you start looking pretty silly.

You can’t force people to do the things that matter to Jesus—love, forgive, and all the rest—and you can’t make rules about them. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for the Pharisees who substituted their own burdensome rules for the freedom of following His principles.

I learning that God doesn’t care much if I love right, or forgive right, or do compassion right. He doesn’t grade on a curve—in fact, He doesn’t grade at all.

I think He celebrates when we try our best to do those things and forget about keeping score.

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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 Suppose Jesus Was Serious?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Peace“Peace be with you.”

Jesus said those exact words at least three times in John 20.

The other night during our small group study a random thought popped into my head: Do you suppose He really meant it?

What if He was serious? What if He really intended for us be at peace?

It’s a fair question, if only because so many of Jesus’ most visible, dedicated, vocal followers seem dedicated to anything but a peaceful life. Observers could be excused for concluding that following Jesus involves a good deal of anger, strife, and fighting with “the other side.” (Don’t believe me…take a look at what passes for political “discourse” as the election approaches.)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

What if He cares more about the peace in my heart than what I accomplish or who I impress or how many Facebook friends I have?

What if He doesn’t care who gets elected, but He cares enough to die for the person I’m sure is going to ruin the nation? And what if He wants me to let go of the nasty, judgmental attitude that hardens my heart?

“Peace be with you.”

Do you suppose He expected us to actually live it?

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

What are the Results of Your Words?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

As someone who has had instances of writer’s block, this scripture frequently comes to mind:

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Granted, it doesn’t always feel conducive to the writing process; words are kind of important. Nevertheless, I suppose it is worth pondering.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

I remember, as a kid, having some cutesy stationery with babies, spouting statements like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me” and “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” That one really stuck with me. And, it was only years later I discovered that cutesy slogan was, in fact, scriptural.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27-28

Furthermore, there’s a little thing called consequences:

The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives. Proverbs 18:6-7

Yeah, that’s not appealing. I don’t know about you, but being ensnared does NOT sound like a party to me.

I keep thinking about Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet going on a tear about “Words, words, words…” and we know how well THAT went. (If you don’t, please feel free to look it up).

The point is, words carry results with them, either positive or negative; they’re not neutral.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

Do we get it right? Most of the time, probably NOT. Yet, that’s no excuse not to pay attention to the principle at all.

So, worth considering, words be few.

There’s some merit to the writer’s block condition after all.


Copyright by Sheryle Cruse.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sheryle is the author of
Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.
Visit her web site: http://www.freewebs.com/daughterarise

Are We Excluding God?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

locked doorWe’re systematically excluding God from our culture.

Excuse me?

You’ve heard the refrain. The country’s in trouble because we exclude God from the public square. Christmas loses its meaning because someone says Happy Holidays. Public schools stink because kids don’t pray.

Apparently, we need to let God back into our culture.

Every time I hear that I wonder when God got so small. I always had the idea God could show up wherever He pleased.

Personally, I think God’s in every public building, every business, every public school classroom, every temple, and probably every church. I think He loves everyone in each of those places—equally. And there nothing anyone can do to exclude Him.

As for prayer, I taught in public schools for thirty-five years and I prayed in school frequently. Students raised the issue once in a while and I assured them they were welcome to pray whenever they wished. I never quite figured out how anyone could prevent it, or why they’d care—unless it matters who sees your prayers or if you want to force someone else to pray.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Jesus appeared as a Jew in the Roman Empire. God doesn’t need government permission to show up. God’s going to go where He wants, and we can’t keep Him out.

If you think Jesus left that public school, you’re wrong. He’s there, even though a lot of His privileged followers left for more comfortable surroundings.

If you want approval, or if you want everyone else to agree with or act or look like you, you’ll have to build a wall and isolate yourself with like-minded folks.

Trouble is, that’s not what Jesus did. He hung out with the riff-raff and asked us to follow Him.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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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

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)

Don’t Make Mountains out of Molehills

Friday, December 5th, 2014

“All the days of the despondent are miserable–but a cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

There is a class of little annoyances such as we make for ourselves by a complaining, or an overly fastidious temperament. There are some who make such a fuss about trifles, tormenting themselves, and worrying others by a perpetual fault-finding and discontent–as every trifling irritation is magnified to a mountain–that all pleasure is spoiled by their presence!

It is a good rule in little things, as well as great things, that “what can’t be cured–should be endured”–and endured cheerfully!

I am not advocating slovenly and careless endurance of little vexations which may be remedied–let them be set right by all means, and the more quietly as well as quickly, the better. But I have observed people who were most ludicrously discomposed by trifles which neither they nor anyone else could remedy, and which should have been overlooked with a smile, if noticed at all.

There are many overly finicky people in the world, who groan over such trifling irritations. It is really ludicrous to hear the gravity with which some people will allude to the fact of the road being dusty, even alleging that as a reason for not going a walk; others are as much afraid of a shower; others of too much sunshine; some are terrified at the idea of being over-heated.

There is no end to these idle fancies and fears! If you laugh at these miserable people–then they think you are unfeeling. If you sympathize with them–then they multiply and increase their petty annoyances!

Let us all beware of making much of little irritations. Let us learn to laugh at them, remembering how very annoying such complaints are to others, as well as bothersome to ourselves.

A cheerful person who refuses to notice trifles or be aggravated by them–soon ceases to feel them! While to those who seem to find a perverse pleasure in dwelling on, and being daunted by them–these little discomforts will actually become real cares, and will eat out half the comfort of their lives!

(Henrietta Wilson, “Little Things” 1852)

Does Your Spouse Love You?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

 “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

You probably know a domestic violence victim, or you may be one yourself.

Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in so called “Christian” homes. Batterers use “submission” as their excuse to abuse their spouses. Domestic violence can be verbal, emotional, physical, or financial.

As today’s Bible verse says, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”

If a man loves his wife as his own body, he has neither reason nor excuse to punch, kick, spit on, curse, threaten, humiliate, or hurt his wife in any way.

A woman, who loves and respects her husband and herself, cannot allow her husband to be abusive. That gives him permission to sin against her and God.

In addition to sinning, the abusive spouse also breaks the law and commits a crime.

If you want a Christian home, you teach your children by your example how to love and respect each other. That way, little boys won’t grow up thinking it’s all right to batter women to get their way. Little girls won’t grow up thinking it’s all right for men to humiliate and hurt them.

Dear God, help me love and respect others and myself. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to be a role model of love and respect?

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