Posts Tagged ‘respect’

When An Angel Might Show Up

Monday, October 19th, 2015

ripple-leafI tend to turn following Jesus into an intellectual exercise.

Our small group discussed this verse a few days ago.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

We all agreed on the need to be more aware of the people God might send into our lives. It was a “nice, intellectual discussion.”

A couple of days later Becky and I attended a small gathering in a local restaurant. We met an interesting couple and were enjoying the conversation when a stranger sat down at our table. He introduced himself and asked if he could tell his story.

It was immediately apparent that this young man had some issues, but he did have quite a story wrapped around a rather long, rambling narrative. What I noticed was that my companions displayed much more compassion and genuine interest than I. Frankly, for the first 10-15 minutes I just wanted him to leave.

Thankfully, Becky and our friends redeemed the situation. And as I listened to their questions and saw their concern I thought about the verse in Hebrews. What if this was an angel?

Eventually I managed to get engaged and I suppose the conversation ended as well as it could have in those circumstances. But the entire interaction got me wondering how many times I dismiss an opportunity to show simple kindness toward someone.

It’s so easy to say this guy was rude for interrupting, so it’s okay to push him aside. But hospitality isn’t about easy, it’s about setting my needs and rights aside and serving others.

And who knows when an angel might show up?

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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 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

“My” vs. Service

Monday, September 28th, 2015

A personal discomfort leads to today’s word-of-the-week…

MY

MondayI’ve become sensitive to, and uncomfortable with, the ways I use the word “my.”

My rights. My freedom. My ministry. My team. My turf.

As a follower of Jesus, none of those are mine. Yet I often claim them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as some sort of badge of honor.

Demanding my rights. Defending my freedom. Growing my ministry. Protecting my turf.

Seriously?

All the words about “service” and “holding in open hands” lose their meaning when I think in terms of ownership. Talking about it, while I cling tightly, makes me feel like those religious leaders in Jesus’ day. Blind guides. Whitewashed tombs.

It’s not my book, my story or blog or bike ride or whatever. I want to be aware, not in a false humility way but in a real way that lets others know I don’t believe I own this stuff. At some point our words betray what’s in our hearts.

Please don’t interpret this as judgement of anyone else–too many logs in my own eyes to worry about others’ specks. This is one guy sharing his weakness, hoping you might benefit.

Your thoughts?

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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

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.

You are not Invisible

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

invisibleHagar was a slave and and she was in a mess. (Genesis ch. 16 & 21)

Some of it was her fault, some of it wasn’t. But now she had run away into the wilderness. Pregnant and alone, she waited by a stream to see what might happen. An angel of God appeared and delivered a surprising promise. He told her to return to camp and submit to her mistress.

Hagar was amazed that God would even acknowledge a lowly servant. She called Him “the God who sees me.”

Hagar understood a central truth about God’s character: He’s the God who sees every person equally.

For the last couple of years I’ve been honored to spend some time with men who are recovering from addiction. I’ve learned more from them than they’ve learned from me, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is the pervasive nature of addiction in society. These guys were always here, but they were invisible to me and to much of my suburban culture. Sadly, I think they’re sort-of invisible in my church.

They’re not invisible to God.

This got me wondering about other sort-of invisible people. The door’s open, nobody’s keeping them out, but they aren’t there. Or they are, but they’re on the edges and it’s clear they aren’t really part of the circle.

Homeless people.

Poor people.

Folks without much education (churches look a LOT like schools).

People whose life doesn’t look like the American dream.

I could go on but you get the idea. Many churches just aren’t all that diverse. Those who don’t fit the profile become invisible. We know they exist, but we don’t see them.

Maybe that’s why Jesus hung out with them. He was tired of the religious leaders looking past them and talking about them as though they weren’t in the room. He made them visible because He was the God who sees.

Invisible people make us uncomfortable. It’s hard for me to admit how often I pretend not to see, but it’s a sad truth.

I can’t change that all at once, and there’s no sense beating myself up. So I try to see one or two a little better and go from there.

I trust that the God who sees will see my heart, and help.

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

How Do You Use Your Freedom?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Something I saw (and can’t remember where) prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FREEDOM

I’m grateful for freedom. I’ll bet you are as well.

As a wheelchair user, I might be more aware of day-to-day freedom than a lot of you. I know first-hand what it’s like to not be able to go where I want (can’t use that door), to be confined (can’t use my own basement), to have my options limited (only certain tables or rooms). I know what it’s like to have others make choices for you.

I can’t express how much it means when someone goes out of their way to serve, to grant me a small bit of freedom when they didn’t need to. It’s an act of service, putting my well-being ahead of their convenience, comfort, or rights.

Freedom’s a precious commodity. We ought never to take it for granted.

The Good Samaritan had every right, and every reason, to pass by. He chose to forego his rights, set aside his convictions (Samaritans absolutely hated Jews), and serve the man before him. Instead of seeing a _____ (you fill the blank) he saw a person in the image of God.

When I show up, I’m frequently inconvenient. And yes, I know there’s a law that says they have to let me in. But the law doesn’t say they have to like it, and some folks make it clear they’d rather not have me around. I get in the way, slow things down, make other customers uncomfortable.

I’m grateful for those who open their hearts, who view their freedom as an opportunity to serve rather then an opportunity to exclude.

I think that’s what Jesus had in mind. Follow me and be free…to serve, to welcome, to love. Even those who make you uncomfortable. Even those who get in the way. Even those you don’t like or approve of.

Even old, bald guys in wheelchairs.

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

Fact or Opinion?

Friday, August 28th, 2015

A philosophy question prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FACT

I always told my students it was wrong to cheat on a test.

More than just against the rules, cheating was intrinsically, morally wrong in all circumstances. In 35 years I don’t think anyone ever questioned that assertion. I guess I assumed it was a fact, a moral truth.

Recently I saw these two definitions:

Fact: Something that is true and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

So is my statement about cheating a fact or simply a shared opinion? Can I test or prove that cheating is morally wrong?

I say Yes. I say moral truths exist, and I rely on Jesus as my expert witness.

For those who claim faith in the bible is a matter of opinion, I say:

The truth is true, even if you don’t believe 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

When You Say or Do the Wrong Thing

Friday, July 24th, 2015

After the legal separation, I never wanted to say anything against my estranged husband in our son’s presence. After all, my husband was still his father.

So much for my good intentions not to say anything against his father in front of my son. I let my tongue rip loose until I saw the hurt look on his face. I stopped immediately.

No matter what, my husband was still his father. My son needed both of us, and I learned to keep my mouth shut—not an easy lesson for a woman who likes to talk and hear herself think out loud.

I didn’t see that incident as one poor choice. Instead I saw it as a failure. My friends helped me distinguish between the two.

You won’t get it right every time either. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. When that happens, I encourage you not to see your setback as a failure. The only failure is to let a setback cause you to give up.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Dear God, when I say or do the wrong thing, give me strength to get back up and move forward. Amen.

Application: What will you do the next time you say or do the wrong thing?

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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

A Sense of Brotherhood in Recovery

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

A friend’s graduation inspired today’s word-of-the-week…

WE


My friend Melvin completed a year-long rehab program.

At his graduation the other guys spoke about Melvin’s time with them. I was struck by how often they used the word “we.”

These men arrived from big cities and small towns. Most had tough roads marked by a good deal of adversity, some self-inflicted and much not. Along the way they learned not to trust or even to let others get close.

And at this place, through months of hard work and tears, they discovered a sense of community and brotherhood. A bunch of guys who didn’t trust anyone learned to trust each other and discovered the incredible power of we.

A year ago Melvin was another addict. These guys wouldn’t have turned their heads to give him a second look.

Now–he’s a part of we, and the conversation was about how we can support him and make sure he succeeds.

We is the way we’re wired, the way God created us in His image. We is how we share hope.

We is how we love.

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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

Where’s The Bible Centered?

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

old bibleI’ve been reading about different traditions when it comes to interpreting the bible.

Without trying to explain all of the different options, it’s interesting to realize that I see scripture almost exclusively from a Christ-centered perspective. I’d never really considered that other options existed, but I’ve learned that they do.

As our small group studies the life of Abraham, we encountered an incident in Genesis 13-14. Abraham and Lot have to separate because their flocks and herds have grown too large.

Abraham’s the leader and the elder. He’s entitled to choose his portion of the land, but he defers to his younger nephew. He allows Lot to choose first.

Reflecting on Abraham’s character, I see a foreshadowing of Jesus’ model of servant leadership. Rather than demanding his rights, he trusted God’s promise and allowed Lot to take the best land.

Jesus’ teaching shouldn’t have been a surprise. God planted hints all through the story–they just needed to look through the proper lens.

I think that’s still true.

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