Posts Tagged ‘motives’

Do You Shine Or Reflect?

Friday, January 29th, 2016

EarthForty-seven years ago, two humans first stood on the moon.

July 20, 1969 offered an historic opportunity for perspective. Many folks saw an opportunity to look toward the stars. Others turned and gazed homeward.

The shining blue Earth reminded me of a curious bit of advice I saw recently. The author suggested if you want to grow and learn you must “Get out of your own light.”

Sounds sort of profound, huh? There’s only one teeny, tiny flaw in the logic. You and I are just like that bright blue Earth… we have no light of our own. The Earth only reflects the sun’s light.

We only reflect the light of Jesus.

We can’t “get out of our own light.” We can, however, turn toward the Light.

If we reflect Jesus’ light, we become a beacon shining in the darkness. We show people the way as surely as that small reflective disc guided explorers home.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

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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 hear what I hear?

Monday, January 25th, 2016

“Do you hear what I hear?” Is your heart strangely warmed within you–like the men who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus right after he was raised from the dead? Or like Francis of Assisi have you heard the ‘call’ to walk away from the riches and stature offered in ‘Babylon’ (the world) and to care for the destitute and most marginalized around you?

Hearing the call of Jesus is not about having “it” all figured out. Neither is it about arguing doctrinal positions or whether your grace experience can be characterized as “hyper” or “balanced.” And it’s not shoving a Bible down someone’s so called “lost and headed to hell throat”; whether it be an Authorized KJV (only by the way), The Message, The Mirror, or the NIV translation.

The holy call and mandate that all followers of Jesus share in common is to take the Kingdom/Grace Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world! This clarion call demands that we who carry this awesome message be a reflection of the passionate love of Jesus!

1 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that! (Ephesians 5:1-2, Msg)

Jesus called twelve of his followers (and now us as well) and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and too tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives… Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the Kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons… You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment… (Matthew 10:2-4, 6-7, The Message, emphasis mine)

This call hasn’t changed. The fields are riper than ever. The Kingdom is still here. People are just as bruised, hurt and confused. Our power source is still Jesus. Our authentic testimony of saving grace still brings healing, raises the dead, comforts the afflicted, kicks the enemies butt and brings light to the darkness. The untouchables still need the tender touch of Jesus through us. We are still ‘the equipment.’ This is not a job for sophisticates and know-it-all’s. No, it is our job and calling. The simple; the humble, those whose lives have been completely re-ordered and healed by Jesus himself—these are those who readily respond and are daily listening for the next ‘call’.

This is simple enough. The call and provision of Jesus elevates our daily purpose. Can you imagine a higher purpose? Can you find a more meaningful investment of your life? The return is phenomenal and eternal! We don’t need to wait on slick marketing, fund-raising campaigns or complicated, “high browed” elitist strategies. Christ in us, through His indwelling Holy Spirit is more than enough! The motivation of Father’s heart will beat and course through every cell in our bodies us as we simply share His message of grace. His loving, fiery passion will capture our hearts as we share His heart with the world around us.

In the grip of Papa’s loving and graceful call,

Ron Ross

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.

Religion stifles imagination?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

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

IMAGINATION

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 !
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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

Are You Spiritually Ready for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Have you asked your extended family, friends, and coworkers if they are ready for Christmas? I have more than once.

Perhaps people have asked you if you’re ready. They’ve asked me.

When you think about being ready for Christmas, do you think about Christmas presents, mailing cards, and stockings hanging over the fireplace? I used to think if I finished those things, I was ready.

Now I think in terms of spiritual readiness for Christmas. Is my conscience clear? Do I hold anger, bitterness, or resentment toward anyone? Do I need to sit with my journal and Bible to forgive someone?

So how did I turn from material readiness to a spiritual one? I thought about God sending his only Son to earth for the forgiveness of my sins. I accepted God’s gift and wanted to show my gratitude.

God’s Word in John 15:14 says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

I wanted God to include me as one of his friends. One of his commands is to forgive. He tells us that in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Will you be spiritually ready for Christmas? It’s not easy. I struggled for years to get through my list of people I needed to forgive. Without friends, coworkers, and mentors, I couldn’t have succeeded.

It’s not too late to get spiritually ready for Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

God And Baseball

Friday, November 27th, 2015

200px-Sandy_KoufaxSandy Koufax is a quiet, reserved man.

From 1960-1966 he was arguably the best pitcher in major league baseball. On October 6, 1965, Koufax declined to pitch the opening game of the World Series. Sandy Koufax is Jewish, and that day was Yom Kippur.

I remember being dumbfounded by the news. Fourteen-year-old me would have traded essential body parts to play in a World Series. Why would a guy turn down a chance to pitch game 1 for church?

I’m less dumbfounded these days. You shall have no other gods before me.  I get it.

Or…do I? I’ve never been faced with anything like the choice Koufax faced, and I likely never will. But I wonder what I would do? This isn’t about skipping church or anything legalistic. It’s deeper.

It’s about What comes before God?

When Koufax was asked in later years about whether his decision was difficult, he said it really wasn’t. He said it was just a matter of respect.

My life’s pretty darn cushy. I live under a blanket of privileges, most of which I probably don’t even recognize (until the toaster breaks).

I wouldn’t trade body parts these days for a spot in the World Series, mostly because I don’t have that many working body parts remaining. Paralysis alters one’s values, I guess.

But we all have our “cling-to’s,” those things or experiences we just don’t want to let go of.

Sandy Koufax let go of pitching game 1 of a World Series because God was more important.

I wonder what I’m clinging to so tightly that it’s more important than God? You?

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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 www.relentlessgrace.com

Choices: the “Best” or the “Right?”

Friday, November 20th, 2015

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.” Luke 10:42

Paul prayed that his friends “may be able to discern what is best.” Philippians 1:10

We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path–and we ought to choose the best things. Even among ‘right things’ there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.

There are many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things–but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes–when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings–when they might ask for spiritual treasures!

They are like “the man with the muck-rake” in Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’–who only looks ‘down’ and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish–while over his head are crowns which he might take into his hands!

They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright for some lentil stew. They toil for this world’s vain things–when they might have been laying up treasures in Heaven!

We only have one life to live–and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once–and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us–things we can keep forever!

It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and strive and struggle–to do things that will leave no lasting results when our life is done–while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!” Colossians 3:1-2

~J. R. Miller, “Life’s Byways and Waysides”

The Truth About Truth

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

What’s truth? Can we know it? Is there more than one version?
truth
Heady questions, for sure.

The sort of truth I’m talking about is eternal. It connects generations because it gives us a place to link current ideas and trends with those from previous eras.

I’m pretty sure truth can’t be expressed in words. Jesus came as a person and said He was the truth. I think we have to experience truth, live with it, travel with it in relationship if we want to understand it. That’s why Jesus rebuffed demands for a list of rules or a code that would tell people how to follow Him.

Truth, I think, always includes an element of mystery and wonder. Eternity is a very big place, and we’re always going to come up short when we try to wrap our finite minds around an eternal truth. It’s okay. Just because I don’t know everything doesn’t mean I don’t know anything. Rather than whittling away at the mystery until I narrow it to something I can grasp, I want to be content to stand in awe of what I can’t comprehend.

Finally, I personally feel no need to defend or justify truth. Others may differ, but I’m convinced I’ll never change someone’s mind with my words. I’ll be available and I’ll always offer my perception of truth, but my job is to demonstrate grace as freely as possible and trust God to open doors.

I have good friends who are certain there’s no such thing as absolute truth. We’ve had interesting conversations and I understand their premises. They smile when I say:

NOT BEING KNOWN DOESN’T STOP THE TRUTH FROM BEING TRUE

I’m grateful for the hope of a future based on the foundation of truth.

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 www.relentlessgrace.com

Why I Don’t Rescue Others

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

rescueEver feel like you needed to rescue someone?

As a new teacher, I was sure I had a lot to offer. The students needed me. They needed what I had. I was the outside expert parachuting into their world to save them from their ignorance and give them what they couldn’t possibly get for themselves.

As my career progressed I discovered I was working with a horribly flawed model. My students didn’t need to be saved by an expert. They needed a partner who brought some resources and skills to the learning process.

And like every good teacher, I learned and grew from the relationship at least as much as my students.

I’ve been reading a lot about how to address injustice issues like poverty and racism. Like me as a new teacher, our solutions usually involve some version of the outside experts swooping in with their version of a solution.

The best solutions involve relationship in which there’s acknowledgement that everyone’s broken and in need of reconciliation. Local folks contribute both ideas and resources, and the entire process is a partnership. It’s about being servants, not saviors.

And there’s never a sense that we’re “bringing Jesus” into communities in which He’s always been active.

I’ve learned that we tend to greatly oversimplify issues of social justice. Poverty, for example, is a good deal more than simple lack of resources. Without understanding, the best intentions may cause harm.

Victims of injustice already have a Savior. They need a partner.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend this book: When Helping Hurts

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 www.relentlessgrace.com

Being like Him here and now?

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now?

“So that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Titus 2:10

Martin Luther’s insignia was a rose; in the rose a heart; in the heart a cross.

The rose suggests fragrance and beauty–a Christian life should be beautiful, winning, attractive. It should be sweet, pouring forth the fragrance of holy love wherever it goes.

The heart in the rose suggests that all true living for Christ is from the heart.

But at the center of all was the cross. Until we have Christ, we can have neither fragrance nor beauty. We must never forget that nothing but the self-sacrificing love of Christ in our hearts can transform our lives.

We sometimes sing, “Take the world, but give me Jesus”–but do we really mean it? It is a very sweet hymn, but do we mean it? Are we ready to have the prayer answered, fully, wholly–whatever it may cost?

We expect to be like Christ in Heaven, but do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now? Would we exchange our poor, meager measure of Christlikeness today–for Christ to have the complete control of our lives? It would make a tremendous change in our lives, at least, in some of our lives.

“If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

 

~J.R. Miller, “The Religion for the New Year” 1903

Where’s Your Focus?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

“What was Jesus’ primary focus during His three years of public ministry?”

It’s a trick question. I’m always a bit suspicious of single correct answers to complex questions.

Thomas wasn’t around when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. When his friends told him what happened, Doubting Thomas earned his forever nickname. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, Jesus showed up again. Rather than scolding, Jesus gently invited Thomas to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas proclaims, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus might have been indignant about Thomas’ lack of faith. He might have wondered if these guys learned anything in three years.

Jesus never focused on himself. For Him it was always about God and the needs (not wants) of others.

In that moment Jesus gave Thomas what he needed to fulfill the specific role to which he’d been called.

Re-read the last sentence. Isn’t that the promise?

Makes me think. As a follower, what if I looked at my own circles–family, church, workplace. What if I took the focus off me and looked at each person in the circle.

What if I asked What does that person need? Rather than advancing my agenda and achieving my goals, what if I asked myself what I could do to advance theirs?

Here’s my answer to the opening question: His focus was on God and on other people. Jesus would be the guy offering to take pictures of folks.

Jesus’ life wasn’t a selfie.