Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

When Should You Seek Justice?

Friday, March 24th, 2017

roman jailPaul and Silas were beaten and tossed into prison illegally.

God intervened and used the opportunity to convert the jailer and his household. It’s a cool story until the following morning when the city officials try to get Paul and Silas to leave without making a fuss about their unlawful punishment.

Why not leave well enough alone? They’ve already been flogged and thrown into a dungeon. Why risk embarrassing the city leaders again?

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” (Acts 16:37)

Paul wasn’t after retribution or vengeance. He didn’t demand a public beating or some sort of punishment for the officials who’d broken the law. But he also knew he needed to confront his persecutors.

Paul decided to set things right. He decided to seek justice, even at the risk of his personal safety.

The bible says the magistrates were alarmed when they learned Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and they came to appease them. Perhaps Paul used the opportunity, as he did earlier with the jailer, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness. I don’t know.

What’s certain is that it’s always the right time to seek justice, to balance the scales and set things right.

The trick, at least for me, is to make sure I’m balancing God’s scales rather than mine. It’s awfully tempting to get self-righteous about my personal USAmerican sense of justice which is usually about punishment or some version of getting even and doesn’t have much to do with what Jesus had in mind.

ALWAYS SEEK JUSTICE

Now all I have to do is be aware of injustice, understand what it means to correct it, and summon the courage to act regardless of risk.

That’s all. Sure glad Jesus is along in case I miss a step or two.

Your thoughts?

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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

Godly Exercise

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse:
he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him,
in those that hope in his mercy.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise thy God, O Zion.” Psalm 147: 10-12 KJV

When Jesus says that He takes pleasure in those that fear Him, He is not saying that He wants us to be afraid of Him. Webster’s Dictionary gives us an excellent definition of what fear means in this Scripture verse. One of the definitions for the word fear that applies to this verse in the dictionary is “to have a reverential awe of.” We shouldn’t be afraid of Him. We should treat Him with the respect, honor and dignity that He deserves.

We read in 1 Timothy 4: 8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” There are people who spend hours doing exercises at home and even go to the gym and to health clubs to get exercise. Yet, these same people might spend twenty or thirty minutes a day reading their Bibles. How this must hurt the heart of our loving Heavenly Father.

It is true that we are to take care of our bodies, but if we put physical exercise before godly exercise, then our exercises have become a god to us. Parents think nothing about spending a lot of money to train their children for the Olympics or on uniforms and equipment for different sports activities; however some of these same parents won’t give money to their children so that their children can serve Jesus as a missionary or evangelist.

It is time that we get our priorities in order. How much money are you spending on sports activities for your children and how much money are you spending on things that will help your children for all eternity? Are you teaching your children that godly exercise is more important than physical exercise? You may tell them that godly exercise is more important but if they see you spending a lot of time doing exercises at home and then going to the gym and health clubs to exercise, they are not going to believe you. Let’s set a godly example for our children.

Copyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

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A New Beginning

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 King James Version

Someone reminded me of a bad decision I made a few years ago.  For a few minutes, satan tried to discourage me and then God brought our Scripture verse to my mind.  This is why it is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.  When we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us and the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our hearts for the forgiveness of our sins, we have been forgiven.

We have a new life and a new beginning and when we say to God “Remember what I did several years ago?”  He will say to us “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t remember that.”  Does this mean that God has a bad memory?  Of course not, it means that He makes a choice to forgive and forget and never hold it against us again.

May God help us to love others as He loves us.  We also need to make the choice to forgive people and then forget about it and never hold it against them again.  However, many times we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts instead of letting it go.  I am so glad to know that when I fail God, and I do fail Him just like you do, He forgives me and forgets it.

Don’t let people put you under guilt because of something you did in the past.  If you asked God to forgive you, let it go.  It is important, however, that occasionally we think about our past just to remind us how far He has brought us.  Praise and thank Him for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for you. Thank Him for all He has done for you.

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JoanneCopyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission.
http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Labels as Excuses

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Are you “one of those people who …”?

I lived in schools for about fifty-two years.

K-12, four years of college, and thirty-five years as a teacher—52 of my first 58 years, interrupted by brief stints to build houses (which I enjoyed) and rehab from my injury (which I enjoyed a lot less). Toss in some nights and summers doing a Master’s degree, and it all adds up to a lot of time in schools.

When you live in schools, you learn about labels. Geek. Nerd. Jock. Goth. Skater. Gangster. School’s all about labels. The only worse fate than being labeled and stuck in a group is NOT being labeled and stuck in a group.

Jocks and gangsters get to walk down the middle of the hallway, crowds parting before them in a confused mixture of adoration, disdain, and fear. Geeks and nerds slink along the walls.

In college I took a class called “Adolescent Psychology.” The professor’s opening line: They’re all crazy!

We learned that kids group themselves as a way of separating from parents and developing an identity, that’s it’s normal for them to try out different costumes and roles. Colored hair, odd clothing, mimicked behaviors—it’s all just part of growing up and figuring out who they are. One of the many paradoxes of adolescence involves the need to discover one’s individuality by identifying lock-step with a group.

And we learned that it’s a phase, that eventually we grow out of our need to define ourselves by the group(s) to which we belong.

That professor was mostly right. They ARE all crazy, which explains my love for them as co-conspirators. They do try on identities like costumes, which makes them fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. There’s something refreshing about a young lady with pink spiked hair and holes in her jeans intently solving an equation, especially when she shows up after Christmas break with beautifully curled hair and a flowered skirt.

The adolescent labeling process makes developmental sense, bringing humor and pathos to a difficult, confusing stage of life. But I always felt less comfortable when adults insisted on placing kids in much less temporary categories.

During my career I taught classrooms filled with “gifted” students and others identified as “special needs.” I often wondered whether Christian parents believed some kids weren’t gifted by God, or whether ANY parents thought their kids weren’t special.

In the same room I’d find kids who were creative and artistic, lazy and driven to achieve, lethargic and hyper-active. Some were inquisitive, some wanted to read everything in sight, and some were fascinated by technology. Some struggled to focus as they worried about issues at home.

And of course it’s obvious which group I just described, right?

I think the professor missed an important point. I don’t see much evidence that we grow out of our adolescent need to define ourselves with labels. When you live in a wheelchair you get really sensitized to labels. People slap them on my forehead (which has plenty of room) like bumper stickers. But you don’t need paralysis to see the harmful effects of labels.

Last time I discussed labels as averages.  Today I’m thinking about labels as excuses.

Labels excuse laziness.

    No need to actually invest in getting to know the person and really understand his perspective. Just slap on a label, toss him in the right bucket, and you “know” all you need to know about him.

Labels excuse marginalization. She’s one of “them” and “they” just can’t do certain things. Of course we’ll be nice to her, but we can’t expect her to really participate. We’ll make a spot on the edges where she can watch without getting in the way.

Labels excuse unacceptable behavior. If you attach the “enemy” label to someone, you don’t have to treat them with respect. So it’s suddenly okay to demonize and shout at the person with different political views. There’s nothing wrong with gossiping and spreading rumors about “bad” people, right?

Labels excuse divisiveness. Why would we support that “evangelical” church down the street? And that one over there that doesn’t condemn our notion of “unbiblical” behavior, or the one around the corner that’s “right wing?” Just label them and the walls magically appear.

Of course, labels don’t really excuse any of these, but they certainly provide convenient excuses. When I hear adults using labels in such hurtful ways, I wonder how much we’ve really progressed since eighth grade.

I can chuckle when a kid with baggy pants will only associate with other kids that have the same brand of baggy pants. They’re learning, and next year they’ll all have short hair and khakis.

It’s a lot harder to find the humor when adults use a label based on behavior, belief, appearance, or perceived ability to justify including or excluding an individual.

And if you’re tempted to think it’s really not that important, that labels are just words, that “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” I’d offer an alternative view.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart.

Broken bones are easily treated; no surgical procedure exists that can mend a broken heart.

Do you see examples of labels as excuses?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Does a Christian Have to be Nice to Everyone?

Friday, December 9th, 2016

“One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned.”

A very unpleasant and ungodly woman once told me, “A Christian must be nice to everybody.” What she meant was that I had to take her nasty criticisms and yet be sweet to her. Was she right? A minister tried to tell me, within the past week, that we should all be like Jesus, who, according to this minister, loved everybody and never had an unkind word for anyone or ever indulged in name-calling. Was he right?

Not according to my Bible. Jesus called Herod “that fox” (Luke 13:32); He called the Pharisees “hypocrites”; “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”; “whited sepulchres”; “serpents”; a “generation of vipers” (Matt. 23:23-33); and much more. On one occasion, He even called Peter “Satan” (Matt. 16:23) for counseling a wrong course of action.

Nor is strong, blunt language lacking in the prophets and apostles. The Bible rings out with strong condemnation of a great many persons as well as nations, and sins as well as sinners. Neither Jesus Christ nor the Bible is “nice to everybody,” nor can we be, without sin.

The Bible’s strong language does not represent sin or weakness on the part of the prophets, apostles, or Jesus Christ. Their anger is righteous anger, and their plain, blunt language is godly indignation and righteous judgment.

One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned. Nothing seems to be called by its right name these days. Murderers are called “freedom fighters,” and revolutionary mobs are called deprived and underprivileged people whom we must subsidize. Hoodlums are called victims of their environment, and so on.

Because of the inability of many to face facts plainly, they are easily imposed on by knaves and fools. Evil and foolish persons are tolerated, allowed to take up time and attention and to hamper godly men and women.

We cannot deal with evil unless we first of all face up to it for what it is and call it by its right name. We have had too much nicey-nice from politicians and preachers. It is high time to use some blunt, plain, and strong language, and then, by the grace of God, to take steps against the powers of evil. We cannot win a battle until we first of all recognize that we are at war.

We need more strong language, strong deeds, and strong men. God give us such men!

~ R. J. Rushdoony
Taken fromA Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 6 .

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What Can You Do for Your Aging Parents?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

“The doctor doesn’t want me driving anymore?” my dad told me on the phone.

Have you heard that before? I didn’t say much, but I agreed with the doctor. Dad is legally blind in one eye and hard of hearing in both ears.

His doctor makes house calls monthly, and his nurses visit weekly. That way Dad doesn’t need to drive to them.

With the distance between us, I call frequently and pray for Dad as often as I think of him throughout each day. I claim Psalm 121:8: “The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Years ago when my mother was still alive, I begged my parents to move here. However, they wouldn’t hear of it. Dad says, “It’s too late now.”

I tell him it’s never too late. I worry about him climbing up and down the stairs and taking care of that big house and large front and back yard.

Of course, Dad insists he can do it all and doesn’t need help.

He refuses to move into a small one-story apartment. He says, “My home is paid for. Why should I pay rent?”

“Because it would be easier for you,” I tell him.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact Dad won’t change his mind. So I go back to Psalm 121:8.

Can you identify with me? Will you pray Psalm 121:8 or another special Scripture for your aging parent(s)?

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

What Jesus Didn’t Say

Friday, November 4th, 2016

A conversation at a new church inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

DIDN’T

truth1I met a new friend yesterday, and we talked a bit about things Jesus didn’t tell us.

For example, He didn’t tell us that people we love will always agree with us. Or that “enough faith” makes things turn out the way we want.

After our conversation, I made my own list.

He didn’t tell us that loving our enemies would make them stop being our enemies.

He didn’t tell us that people would appreciate our compassion.

He didn’t tell us that drug addicts would stop using drugs if we start programs for them or that prisoners would stop committing crimes if we visit them.

He didn’t tell us that a nonviolent search for justice would be met with acceptance and understanding, that others wouldn’t take advantage of us.

He DID tell us to love our enemies, have faith, help others, visit prisoners, and seek justice.

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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

Love isn’t a feeling

Friday, October 21st, 2016

A conversation from a long time ago prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FEELING

thing-called-love“Love isn’t a feeling.”

My friend looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars. “Of course love is a feeling. When you fall in love, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!”

“And then you fall out of love and it’s the most horrible feeling in the world, right?” She nodded.

“And you always fall out of love, because that mushy-gushy feeling doesn’t last.

“Real love, the kind of love you can count on, is a decision.”

We had a long discussion that evening. My friend never gave up; it was years later that she quietly told me, a bit sadly, “I think you were right. Love is a decision.”

I’m reminded of this old conversation because a guy told me recently that his faith didn’t feel very strong. He wondered if something was wrong.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I assured him. “Feelings come and go. They are what they are. But…

“Faith isn’t a feeling. Real faith is a decision.”

Feelings matter. A lot. It’s good to understand, talk about, and share your feelings with God. But we need to keep them in their proper place.

Jesus said, “Take courage. I AM. Don’t be afraid.”

He wasn’t telling us to deny normal, natural feelings of fear. Everyone feels afraid at times. He asked us to decide, to choose not to be controlled by those feelings. And to assist, He placed Himself, I AM, in the center.

Don’t feel like forgiving? That’s likely pretty normal, but authentic forgiveness is a conscious decision. I choose to forgive despite my feelings, and when I slide into a desire for vengeance I lean on grace and forgive again.

Most of following Jesus isn’t nice, flowery, gooey feelings. It’s simple obedience and basic daily choices and messing up and starting again.

That’s all Jesus did, except for the messing up part. It’s what He asked of his friends.

And us.

What simple choices can you reaffirm? Might be a good week to accept your feelings without allowing them to take over. 

When Should You Seek Justice?

Monday, October 17th, 2016

roman jailPaul and Silas were beaten and tossed into prison illegally.

God intervened and used the opportunity to convert the jailer and his household. It’s a cool story until the following morning when the city officials try to get Paul and Silas to leave without making a fuss about their unlawful punishment.

Why not leave well enough alone? They’ve already been flogged and thrown into a dungeon. Why risk embarrassing the city leaders again?

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” (Acts 16:37)

Paul wasn’t after retribution or vengeance. He didn’t demand a public beating or some sort of punishment for the officials who’d broken the law. But he also knew he needed to confront his persecutors.

Paul decided to set things right. He decided to seek justice, even at the risk of his personal safety.

The bible says the magistrates were alarmed when they learned Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and they came to appease them. Perhaps Paul used the opportunity, as he did earlier with the jailer, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness. I don’t know.

What’s certain is that it’s always the right time to seek justice, to balance the scales and set things right.

The trick, at least for me, is to make sure I’m balancing God’s scales rather than mine. It’s awfully tempting to get self-righteous about my personal USAmerican sense of justice which is usually about punishment or some version of getting even and doesn’t have much to do with what Jesus had in mind.

ALWAYS SEEK JUSTICE

Now all I have to do is be aware of injustice, understand what it means to correct it, and summon the courage to act regardless of risk.

That’s all. Sure glad Jesus is along in case I miss a step or two.

Your thoughts?

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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

It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure.”

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The current political “discussion” inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

KNOW

imageSome folks seem to know just about everything.

The wisest people I know, the ones I trust the most, seem to be full of doubt. Where others see black-and-white, they see all sorts of nuance and shades of gray. They’re more likely to ask tough questions than to provide easy answers.

The people I describe aren’t stupid or wishy-washy. They know what they know. They aren’t afraid to speak the truth.

They also aren’t afraid of, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure how that works.”

Our culture tries to tell us we’re supposed to know.

What’s God’s plan for your life? You’re supposed to know.

Where do I find forgiveness? What does grace mean to me?

What did Jesus mean in that story? How does it apply to your life?

What’s the best way to read the bible?

You’re supposed to know. And some folks do know, and they’ll tell you the right answer, for them and for you.

I’ve noticed the wise people don’t know the answers to those kinds of questions. They’ll share their experience and help you discover your own meaning.

It’s easy to be intimidated or impressed by those with all the answers.

Me? I want to be a bit more like the wise folks I described. It makes life a whole lot less stressful.

How about making it okay to say, “I’m not sure”?