Posts Tagged ‘judgement’

Where Do You See Jesus?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Sometimes the simplest questions are the best.

The pastor asked one of those simple questions when Becky and I visited a new church with our FREEDOM TOUR teammate Andrew Thorne last weekend. He began the message by asking, “What would change if you saw Jesus in the person next to you?”

The pastor shared a parable. I won’t get into the entire setup, but the result was statements like these:

If your buddy messed up, you might be quicker to cut him some slack or give him the benefit of the doubt if you saw Jesus in him.

You might not notice the homeless woman’s disheveled appearance if you saw Jesus in her.

You’d likely be less judgmental toward those who see things differently…

You might not be “too busy when someone needs help…

You get the idea.

Jesus said it plainly.

“Then those sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25: 37-40 Msg)

He wanted me to see Him in the person next to me.

I don’t know about you, but I can get awfully wrapped up in making faith difficult. I need to be reminded regularly that Jesus is a person, not a collection of complicated ideas. Following Him is really about knowing Him.

It’s a relationship, not graduate school. I can start by seeing Him…in you.

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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

Concerned About What Others Think?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

I think I’ve messed up a personal principle, which prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

OTHERS

Perhaps this is just for me, but I have a sense it might touch a few of you as well.

I’ve been overly concerned lately with what others think.

I value feedback and the counsel of friends. I’d never want to be the guy who doesn’t care about other people. But there’s a point at which that concern tips into worry, and I think I rolled over that line.

“What will people think?” just isn’t a helpful question—unless you want to live in fear.

Better questions:

  • Is this what I believe?
  • Will this be helpful?
  • Can someone learn from this?
  • Will this bring me closer to Jesus?

I’m sure you can think of more questions. What are your thoughts?

Let’s do what matters this week, and stop worrying about what others might think.

 

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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 If You Did It Anyway?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Ever wonder what might happen if you didn’t wait for someone with authority to tell you it’s okay?

Seems like a lot of folks say, “I’d like to do something like that, but _____ won’t approve it.” Fill in the blank with my church, my boss, my family, whatever.

It’s a convenient excuse for failure, if you accept it. Or you can go ahead and do it, if you really believe it’s what God’s called you to do. You’ll likely stir things up a bit, cause some commotion, make the bureaucrats uncomfortable.

If you’ve thought it through, folks usually won’t stop you. In fact, I think there are a bunch of folks waiting to follow the guy who’s crazy enough to make a move.

I think following Jesus is sort of like that. We’ve turned it into this make-believe, predictable, buttoned-up, neatly organized suburban neighborhood where everybody’s supposed to color inside the lines.

Except the One we claim to follow pretty much broke all the rules. He didn’t see much need to ask permission from the religious leaders before doing His Father’s work.

Jesus made a bit of a mess in the neat world the religious rulers created for themselves.

What do you think things would look like if we followed His example?

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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

We’re supposed to love everyone. “Yes, but…”

Friday, April 25th, 2014

“We’re supposed to love everyone, aren’t we?”

“Yes, but…”

“I don’t think we can add a ‘but…’.”

As I understand it, the conversation pretty much died at that point.

When it comes to stuff like love, grace, and forgiveness, there’s no such thing as a “but…” And if you’re like me, that’s tough to get your heart around.

I don’t want the cold-hearted serial child molester to receive salvation and have his sins wiped away when he accepts Jesus. I really don’t want to love the person unconditionally who does things or holds views with which I strongly disagree.

Every bit of logic screams that some cases demand a “but…”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

Jesus proposed a different sort of logic, one in which there’s no such thing as “love, but….”

What would happen if we all found places where we put strings on love and worked to remove them?

No more “love, but..” Just love.

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Copyright 2008-2013 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

Can Our Rights Be Wrong?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

bill of rights“I have the right to ______.”

You fill in the blank—the possibilities are nearly endless. We’re all about defending and demanding our rights.

A few days ago I read an article about human trafficking in which the author cited compelling data linking prostitution, pornography, and the meteoric increase in internet trafficking of minors. In a comment, one guy angrily defended his constitutional right to view pornography, affirmed by THE SUPREME COURT! (his caps.) He went on to express his anger at “self-righteous Christians” trying to take away his right to do whatever he wanted in his private life.

Personally, I’ve no interest in limiting anyone’s rights. Passing a law might make us feel better, but it’s actually an extremely ineffective way to change “moral” behavior. Want examples?

  • Prostitution is illegal in every state. Does anyone believe those laws stop paid sexual activity or its horrible side effects
  • Slavery and human trafficking are illegal in every country. Nearly 30 million people live in modern-day slavery, and human trafficking is the second largest worldwide organized crime activity (behind drugs).
  • Illegal street drugs proliferate in every community despite massive law enforcement campaigns and billions of dollars wasted on a virtual revolving door of incarceration involving a huge portion of our population.

Jesus refused to deploy power or fear to control behavior. Paul frequently deferred his rights as a Roman citizen, accepting illegal beatings and imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. He wasn’t interested in his rights, but in God’s notion of what’s right.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

Just wondering how different things would look if every follower of Jesus surrendered our “right” to judge those who disagree. What if we gave up our right to fight back, to shout for our political beliefs, to edit the truth to fit our version of reality?

What if knowing Jesus mattered more than getting our way? What if loving our enemies was really more important than winning? Would things look any different?

Do you think we could change the world if justice—setting things right, from God’s perspective—was more important to us than our rights?

Jesus gave His life for that principle.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 2008-2013 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

Is Envy Rotting Your Bones?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

I confess I envy people who can eat whatever they want and not get sick. Can you relate?

I can’t eat red meat, pork, shellfish, fried foods, or dairy products. I usually do well at home. When I eat in a restaurant or go away for a few days, the battle begins.

I dislike drawing attention to my food restrictions. However, when a waiter brings me a different meal than the others receive, that’s what happens.

I feel a twinge of envy and wonder if my bones are rotting. How about you?

To make matters worse, I suspect I can’t eat wheat either.

No matter what, I want a heart at peace that gives life to my body. I don’t want envy to rot my bones.

You may not suffer from food allergies, but you may have physical limitations. They challenge you, and you may envy people without them.

Perhaps you’re single and envy your married friends. Maybe you’re married and envy your single friends.

You may live in a townhouse and envy those in a large house with a big patio. On the other hand, you may live in a large house with a big yard and envy those in a townhouse who have less to clean.

Dear God, help me have a heart at peace. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to avoid envy?

Are You Serving or Shaming?

Monday, March 10th, 2014

I feel compelled to comment on today’s word-of-the-week…

SERVE

MondayJesus told a story we know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s about a man who’s attacked, beaten, robbed, and left half-dead by the side of the road.

A priest and a Levite (the religious good guys) passed by without stopping to help. Then a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, bandaged his wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his care.

The Samaritan served a man who most likely hated him. At the end of the story Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

Another time, Jesus spent time at a well with a Samaritan woman. According to religious rules and traditions, He shouldn’t have even been there. The woman herself expresses shock when he asks her for a drink.

Jesus came to serve the world, not to shame it. He washed the feet of those whose sins He carried to the cross a few hours later. He said crazy things like, “Love your enemies” and “When you did it to the least of these you did it to me.”

He said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles,” extending an oppressive Roman law which allowed a soldier to demand that a stranger carry his heavy pack up to one mile. Jesus told his followers to serve beyond the minimum requirements and walk two miles.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:47)

Over and over Jesus welcomed, associated with, and served those rejected by organized religion. And He reserved His strongest condemnation for religious leaders.

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Copyright 2008-2013 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

Who’s In The Looking Glass?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

How would you live a life that “magnifies the Lord?”

Our small group looked this week at the passage known as “The Magnificat,” or Mary’s song of praise. In Luke 1:46 (ESV) she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

One of the discussion questions asked how you’d go about living a life that “magnifies the Lord?” One guy offered a pretty good visual.

He talked about a magnifying glass, and how if you turn it one way it focuses on you but if you turn it around the focus shifts away. We thought that was good but then realized you can’t really focus on God, or at least it’s really hard, because you can’t see Him. But you can turn the magnifying glass on other people. We reached this conclusion.

We make life about Jesus when we shift the focus to others and their needs rather than ourselves.

The study took us to this passage in Philippians:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:2-4)

I’ve read those words many times. I’m fairly sure I understand their meaning. But, you see, there’s a problem.

I’m entitled. I’m an American. I have rights. The Constitution says so. Advertising says so. The legal system says so. My hard work and the stuff I’ve accumulated say so.

And along comes Jesus saying I have no rights at all, that none of it belongs to me and it’s all a gift. Is He really claiming I’m supposed to value His principles above those set forth in the Declaration Of Independence, inalienable rights with which I was endowed by my creator?

I think He’s saying exactly that. I think He saying I’m entitled to nothing, that He cares about what’s right, not my rights. I think He’s saying I’m supposed to care about people, not flags and documents and winning.

The problem is, I like my moderately entitled life. I like the relative safety and comfort with which I’m blessed. I’m grateful, and I don’t pretend to deserve any of it, but I also don’t want to lose it. I don’t mind looking first to the interests of others, as long as I get to park my car in the garage every night.

So I nibble away at the edges, a corner here and there, perhaps a bit less selfish than before, trying to turn the magnifying glass a little more toward others. But “not looking to my own interests”?

Hardly.

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Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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’s The Fear?

Friday, January 31st, 2014

facing fearWhat’s the fear?

That’s my opening question this week in my workshop at Harvest Farm. I hope they don’t turn the question back at me. I’d rather discuss their fears than reveal mine.

This week our small group looked at a passage from Philippians 1. Verse 27 says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

One of the discussion questions asked if we were doing that—and how we knew. So looking a bit further, verse 28 says one piece of evidence is operating “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”

So we asked ourselves:

Are we living fearlessly, in a manner worthy of the gospel?

And of course we’re not, and we come back to the original question:

What’s the fear?

Let’s be honest—nobody’s going to bomb my house because I follow Jesus. I don’t have to hide my faith. But I don’t live fearlessly.

The day after our study I encountered a Facebook post from someone in another city whom I know fairly well. There were a few comments from folks in my social media circle of influence, and as I read I felt pretty strongly that the discussion missed the mark in an important way.

I carefully composed a response, edited my words, re-read them…and then pressed DELETE. Why? I was afraid.

Afraid I might not say it just right. Afraid I’d offend someone. Afraid of what they’d think. I allowed what I believed to be an untruth, albeit a minor one, to stand unchallenged—among friends—because I was afraid.

Certainly the fate of civilization won’t turn on a small Facebook discussion, but I suspect this is exactly the sort of issue Paul addressed. I think Jesus asks us to be faithful in the small stuff, to treat it like big stuff.

That Facebook interaction bothers me. It’s not about the issue; that’s inconsequential. But the questions demand answers.

Are we living fearlessly, in a manner worthy of the gospel?

What’s the fear?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 2008-2013 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

Drive Thru Prayer?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The sign said: DRIVE THRU PRAYER.

We looked and, sure enough, right next to the church driveway sat a guy in a folding chair under an awning.

I made my typical sarcastic remarks. “I need my prayer supersized. Can I get fries with that?”

We passed that church a few times during our days in that city. Despite my casual dismissal, I wish I’d stopped. I didn’t particularly want a quick prayer, but I’d like to know the story.

I wonder how many great conversations started beside that driveway. How many connections were made, how many relationships started, because he took time to sit by that driveway?

Did someone ever see the sign when they were at the end of the rope and decide it was worth a try even if they didn’t really believe?

I’ll never know, because I didn’t take time to find out. I was too busy. I’d already pre-judged, so I didn’t need to bother discovering what was really happening.

“Drive thru prayer” probably wouldn’t be my thing. Some folks think cranking a handcycle across the country is an odd way to engage others in conversations about hope and possibility, and they’re probably right. It’s okay, because Becky and I are doing what we can, where we are, with what we have. That’s all God asks.

What if the “drive thru prayer” folks were doing the same? Maybe this was one group’s way of reaching out. Maybe they met and connected with a lot of new people. Maybe some folks pulled over, got out of their cars, sat in the grass, and talked about life.

You see my point, right? This isn’t about handcycling or drive thru prayer.

It’s about taking time to hear the story, saying something as simple as, “Tell me more,” before deciding I know what’s going on.

I believe God uses a goofy dog and a handcycle to help people believe in hope. Perhaps He’s more creative than we realize.

Maybe He’s not limited to methods that meet my approval.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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