Posts Tagged ‘rights’

Fear of Offending Others

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I got a lesson in fearless this week.

A Facebook friend wrote some courageous thoughts about how the world appears from her perspective. Latter she said she probably lost a few friends because she was so brutally honest and vulnerable.

I reassured her. Real friends don’t walk away because you’re honest. Anyone who deserts you in those circumstances wasn’t really a friend, right? And then I realized how easy, hollow, and empty those words sounded to me.

Why?

If I’m honest, I’m often afraid to say exactly what I think here. I soften the words, talk around the difficult issues, and avoid stating what might be controversial opinions.

I can offer all sorts of excuses. I don’t want to be divisive or become a stumbling block. Those are legitimate concerns, but they’re not the real reasons.

I’m afraid—of offending you, of what you’ll think. I’m afraid of losing you if I say the wrong thing.

I’m not proud of that. God didn’t create us to live in fear. A blog about following Jesus ought to be a place of vulnerability and trust.

But there’s my friend’s harsh experience. And if you don’t believe Christians will attack someone for putting a controversial idea out there, take a look at some of the comments on this post by Don Miller.

I say good for Don and good for my friend. I admire that kind of fearless. I believe Jesus wants us to demonstrate that kind of fearless.

I’m not there yet.

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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

What’s The Most Difficult Thing?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

“I didn’t know it would be this hard.”

He’s a tough guy. Lived on the streets, sold drugs, survived and in many ways thrived in a harsh, violent world.

To me, THAT sounds hard, always looking over your shoulder and sleeping with one eye open, never knowing who to trust, literally fighting your way through every day. I can’t really imagine what that would be like, but it seems like it would be about the most difficult life possible.

He walked away, gave it all up. He put down the weapons, left the addictions, turned away from the violence. He dropped the defenses, the armor, the force field that surrounded him. He decided to try to trust and believe in something bigger than himself.

He decided to follow Jesus.

He didn’t expect easy. But he didn’t expect it to be this hard.

I asked, “What’s so hard?”

“Loving people. Letting them love me.”

Does that surprise you? Who would’ve imagined love would be harder than guns and violence and drugs and death, harder than guarding every move and suspecting every motive?

Love means vulnerability. It means sacrifice. It means commitment to what’s right rather than my rights.

Love means the other guy might win, because it’s not about winning. It means listening and understanding before speaking.

Love means a priority on relationships and processes, not short-term results. It means valuing and practicing gratitude, abundance, and service.

He’s right—love is really hard.

I’m glad we don’t have to do it alone.

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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

If Someone is “Right” is it OK to Nuke Others?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

By nearly any definition, Aaron Swartz was a computer prodigy, a brilliant, eccentric young man. As a teenager he created some of the backbone Internet systems we take for granted and later campaigned for online transparency and freedom. You can read briefly about his life, legal issues, and tragic suicide here.

Like most folks with a cause, Swartz pushed boundaries and irritated powerful people. Eventually the government indicted him and threatened more than thirty years in prison.

We could debate the seriousness of his crimes—this article indicates that even his “victim” agreed that his principle outweighed any minor harm—but that’s not the point. In that same article, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig makes a powerful observation:

“We need to get beyond the ‘I’m right so I’m right to nuke you’ ethics that dominates our time.” (emphasis mine)

Somehow, we’ve got to rise above the notion that my rights, or even being right, are transcendent.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Jesus died for my freedom. My rights, my liberty, don’t originate from a man-made constitution. They’re absolute, purchased at the cross. I am totally free, but…

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Jesus didn’t die for my rights. He died for what’s right.

Not always the same.

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Copyright 2008-2012 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

But being right doesn’t change lives or hearts

Friday, January 11th, 2013

I’ve been thinking all week about our pastor’s weekend sermon. He talked about the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. John 8:2-11

There’s so much to the story, but I can’t get past one fact: the Pharisees were willing to stone this woman—to death! Her life mattered less than their desire to trap Jesus and uphold their self-righteous legalism.

Look at the contrast. The so-called religious people were so concerned about stopping sin that they would kill to accomplish it. Jesus cared so much about a woman’s life—and yours, and mine—that He willingly died a humiliating death to save it.

We all know this story. All week I’ve been wondering whether we understand its lesson, whether anything has changed since the day that disgraced woman was thrown at Jesus’ feet.

Theology, sin, truth—they all matter. But being right doesn’t change lives or hearts.

The Pharisees wanted to be right because it made them powerful. Jesus loved people because He knew it worked.

Truth, without love, is simply noise.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

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Copyright 2008-2012 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

I’m Absolutely Certain…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

…but I might be wrong.

Last week I wrote about preaching and politics. Several folks asked, in comments and emails, if I’m claiming Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics.

As more than one person correctly observed, following Jesus impacts every aspect of a disciple’s life. Of course we ought to be responsible citizens, and of course biblical principles ought to inform and guide our actions and choices.

The question isn’t whether we should engage in politics. The question is: How?

And “How?” brings me back to yesterday’s thoughts about Best Intentions and our pastor’s assertion: Bad things are often done by people who think they’re doing the right thing.

I don’t want to be one of those people.

I know smart, wise, highly-educated, passionate followers of Jesus who disagree about the proper biblical position on even the most difficult, highly-charged public policy issues. I’ve watched Christians—who absolutely believe in their position—become arrogant, condescending, judgmental, and sometimes downright abusive toward those who reach different conclusions.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus wants.

I believe it’s possible for two people engaged in a sincere, prayerful search for scriptural truth to advocate different responses to the difficult problems of a broken world. Each has the right to believe passionately in his position and the civic responsibility to support it.

But each has a greater responsibility to value principle above passion. A wrong choice, pursued with total passion and conviction for all the right reasons, is still wrong.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

It’s not my job to be right at any cost. It’s not even my job to be right.

It’s my primary responsibility to love others in the name of Jesus, not so they will see I am right, but so they will see He is loving. (thanks Don Miller)

Personally, I don’t feel comfortable speaking for Jesus on potentially divisive issues. I don’t want to be like the disciples in Mark 10:13-14, so certain they were helping Jesus that they actually offended Him.

I don’t want to offend Jesus by being so certain I’m right that I actually do what’s wrong.

in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas

In Essentials, Unity –In Non-Essentials, Liberty –In All Things, Charity

Your thoughts?

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Copyright 2008-2012 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

Cutting Ties

Monday, October 1st, 2012

I’ve purposely de-friended and un-followed a few of my online connections recently. Have you ever done that?

It’s difficult. I don’t want to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings. These folks weren’t being overtly profane or abusive. I’m just taking a little of my own advice (What Do You Think About?)

In response to that post, a reader reminded me of the beautiful paraphrased version of Philippians 4:8 from The Message:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

“You’ll do your best…”

After  thinking about those words, I decided I don’t want to read a diet of critical political rants and other negative comments. There’s enough of that stuff without voluntarily subjecting myself to it in a social setting. So I chose to step away from those who insist on posting a stream of anger and criticism.

One person requested a reason. I explained as graciously as possible, and he accused me of trying to stifle free speech.

I think there’s a difference between suppressing speech and establishing personal boundaries. My former connection has every right to post whatever he chooses. I have an obligation to intentionally select what I read, watch, and listen to.

I always want to respect and listen to other points of view, even those find disagreeable or distasteful, when they’re expressed appropriately. I think it’s dangerous to live in a protective bubble that isolates me from other perspectives.

But each of us has an obligation to guard our hearts and minds.

Thoughts and attitudes are shaped by what we focus on. I’m just trying to move a bit closer to true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, the beautiful, and things to praise.

You?

How do you filter your online inputs?

Economic and Financial Abuse

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Economic or financial abuse is one type of domestic violence. It shows up when the husband or partner refuses to allow his spouse to take part in financial decisions. He tells her or implies that women are inferior. He says they don’t have the intelligence or skills to handle finances.
He insists on keeping the checkbook and all financial records without letting her keep up to date with their financial status. Should he pass away first, she would have no idea how to pay bills, how to keep a checkbook, and how to handle the economic situation. She probably wouldn’t even know where he kept the checkbook and financial records.
He usually refuses to let her work outside of the home. If she does work, he belittles her job and her education and has her turn over her paycheck to him.
Without her knowledge, he will apply for credit cards and checking accounts, place her name on them, and make investments.
He may give her one check and fill in the information for her. If he gives her an allowance, he will most likely demand a full account with receipts of how she spent the money. However, he feels no obligation to give her an account of anything he does.

When it comes to his retirement fund, he will make full regular payments. If he talks to her about her retirement fund, he will suggest she put in a meager amount. He knows it won’t ever amount to much, and this will allow him to continue his power and control over her.

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Copyright 2010-2012, 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

I’m Okay, You’re Okay?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11, NKJV).

The story of how Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery is an all-time favorite for many of us. We love that the Savior was merciful and compassionate, even turning the spotlight from the woman to her self-righteous accusers. But to focus on the Lord’s lack of condemnation to the exclusion of His admonition to “sin no more” is to misrepresent the truth and power of His words.

A few decades ago I came across a popular book titled I’m Okay, You’re Okay, and it struck a chord of concern in me because the book was selling like crazy and readers were extolling the virtues of its anything-goes message. Some years later I had the privilege of working on Josh McDowell’s manuscript for his book The New Tolerance, in which he cautioned the Church not to get caught up in the world’s ever-increasing love affair with that “I’m okay, you’re okay” type of mantra. Josh rightly predicted that our society was well on its way to making tolerance the number-one virtue and intolerance the gravest sin. We now live in that culture, where the most oft-quoted (and misused) verse in the Bible is “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, NKJV). Though it is true we are not to judge others based on our own opinions or personal values, neither are we to toss out the absolutes of God’s Word in fear of being considered intolerant.

The Scriptures are clear that murder, stealing, lying, adultery, and other behaviors contrary to the character of Christ are absolutely wrong. Period. Not because we say so but because God says so. To proclaim His Word is not judging; it is simply believing that what He says is True because, after all, He is Truth, and God cannot contradict His own nature and tell a lie.

The Scriptures also instruct us to “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, NKJV). Certainly we need to proclaim God’s truth from a heart of love, desiring to see people saved and healed and set free, for truth without love causes terrible damage to the hearers. However, love without truth becomes license and allows people to remain in their sin and continue in their separation from God.

And that is why Jesus so clearly said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” He assured her that she did not have to live under condemnation, but He also admonished her to change her ways. “Sin no more,” He warned her, for if she truly understood His message and received His forgiveness, her life would be marked by repentance, an “about-face” from her previous walk away from God to one heading straight for His heart, a life epitomized by a desire to please her Lord and reject a life of sin.

By all means may we refrain from imposing our opinions and personal values on others, but may we also love enough to speak the truth of God’s Word so others can turn from sin and enter into eternal life.

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Copyright 2009-2012 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Where Are We Going?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

One day Jesus took a walk on the beach and saw two brothers named Simon and Andrew working as fishermen.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

I would have asked where we were going. If you’re asked to take a trip, isn’t it fair to know at least the general path you’re going to follow? Shouldn’t you get to know what’s going to happen, what’s going to be expected from you, before you commit?

I think God’s answer is, “No.”

I’ve spent the last eighteen months or so immersed in this notion of chasing dreams, and if I’ve learned one thing it’s that God isn’t usually going to show me the entire course before I begin. Even when I think I know what’s supposed to happen or what He wants, I’m likely to be wrong.

It’s up to me to prepare as much as possible, but at some point I have to take a step without knowing much more than the next step along the path. There has to be a certain amount of trust that God will show me what I need to know when I need to know it.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t claim to know exactly how that works, and I certainly don’t claim that it’s easy or comfortable to commit to a process when you don’t know where it’s leading. And I don’t claim some heroic sense of faith about stepping into the unknown.

But I’m pretty sure that God’s not about easy or comfortable. I think He values character over comfort and motives over results or even specific purposes. And I think He totally understands how hard it is to do something completely on faith, especially when it’s scary. That’s why He offers to journey with us.

He didn’t say, “Go.” He said, Come, follow me.”

I once read a survey that claimed that more than 90% of the respondents wanted to write a book and fewer than 1% actually wrote one. So what distinguished the 1%? Was it talent? Vision? Purpose? God’s guidance?

I don’t think it was any of those. I think what distinguished the 1% was that at some point they actually sat down and wrote. They started.

A dream is the God-inspired desire to share your unique gifts and passions to serve others and make a difference in the world.

That “God-inspired desire” is present in every person.

To every one of us He says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18)

To every one of us He says, “Come, follow me.”

I think He’s still saying those things. Right now.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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 we live in “an able-bodied world”?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Rich’s Ride provided countless rewards and a few challenges. One significant test arrived in the form of a question.

A Christian disability-advocacy group invited me to a meeting. I began as I often do with a small audience, by asking what they wanted me to talk about. After a short pause, a lady began the discussion with a statement/question I’m still processing.

“You’re doing this amazing project that inspires everyone, especially people like us. Can you tell us how you’re able to function so well in an able-bodied world?”

Before reading further I invite you to ponder those lines for a moment. What stands out for you?

Her question still challenges me on several levels, but one phrase honestly stops me cold: an able-bodied world.

What’s your immediate reaction? Do we live in “an able-bodied world”?

If so, I’m an interloper; I don’t belong. An able-bodied world might tolerate me, even make allowances for me, but I’m at best a resident alien. A guy who’s paralyzed below his chest cannot claim full citizenship in an able-bodied world.

This was a Christian organization, and they assumed God created the world for people who meet some arbitrary physical, mental, and emotional standards. I guess those of us who fall short ought to stay out of the way and feel grateful that we’re allowed to hang out on the edges.

I’m not blind to reality. I want to figure out how to follow Jesus in real life, and it’s clear that I face a unique set of physical challenges. There’s no point in pretending.

But words have incredible power to shape our attitudes. Description becomes perception, and perception becomes reality. I hope you’ll leave a comment here with your thoughts on some questions that challenge me.

  • What are my unspoken assumptions about who belongs and who doesn’t?
  • Where do my words and behaviors marginalize others?
  • Where’s the line between being realistic and simply catering to my own comfort zone?

Do we live in “an able-bodied world”?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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