Better

by Rich Dixon on April 20, 2015

HAPPY MONDAY!

A lesson in grace brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

BETTER

MondayUrsula Ward had just heard the verdict.

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was guilty of murdering her son, Odin Lloyd. She stepped forward to speak before final sentencing.

“I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after.”

She’s a better person than I am. That was the takeaway of many news folks and talking heads as they marveled at this woman’s uncommon grace and courage.

They missed the whole point. They missed it because they didn’t listen to the whole statement.

Ms. Ward began with a remarkable comment: “I thank God for being here this morning.”

Seriously? Gratitude to God for that moment? I wonder why no one focused on that rather incredible demonstration of faith?

Then she ended with this simple benediction: “May God continue to bless us.”

If you listen to the entire statement, you hear grief, anger, pain, saddness–Ms. Lloyd wasn’t in denial and she’s wasn’t pulling punches.

She didn’t forgive because she thinks she’s stronger or better than anyone else. I think she understands her relationship to God. I think she understands her weakness.

I know I’m reading a lot into a few lines. I suspect she knows that forgiveness isn’t an event. She didn’t forgive her son’s killers in that courtroom so she could be done forgiving.

She did it so she could travel a difficult, daily journey of forgiveness that will allow her and her family to heal without bitterness and anger.

We can only choose that journey because we know we don’t have to travel alone. Jesus already walked the road…He knows the way.

May God continue to bless Ursula Ward, her family, Aaron Hernandez, and all of us on the journey

HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

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The God Who Sees

by Rich Dixon on April 16, 2015

invisibleHagar was a slave and and she was in a mess.

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.

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My

HAPPY MONDAY! A personal discomfort leads to today’s word-of-the-week… MY I’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 […]

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Where’s Your Focus?

“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 […]

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Freedom

HAPPY MONDAY! 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 […]

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A Pilgrim Asks Questions

He’s on His way home, this leg of the journey nearly complete. That’s how the end of this week feels, and yet so much must have been swirling around in His head as He contemplated the road ahead. It wouldn’t be easy, but He didn’t come for easy. Honestly, there’s a lot swirling around in […]

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Fact

HAPPY MONDAY! 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. […]

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Conditional Faith?

“Your family and their descendants will be enslaved and abused for four hundred years, but then everything will be okay.” Imagine receiving THAT email. How would you respond? That’s exactly the message God delivered to Abram in Genesis 15. Among all His lofty promises, God assured Abram that he’d be fine but his family would endure […]

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Fast

HAPPY MONDAY! My “former teacher” self sponsors today’s word-of-the-week… FAST You should be able to do it fast without thinking. That was the commonly-accepted definition of basic skills “knowledge” when I started teaching. If you could get the right answer, fast, without thinking, you “knew” it. I was told to reward kids who produced fast answers […]

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Two Roads Diverged?

Should we focus on teaching scripture or on outreach and social justice? Yes! Scripture-or-social-justice is a false choice created by people who are afraid. They want to build thick, fortified walls, fill the moat with monsters, and pull up the drawbridge so the big, bad, scary world can’t get in. Trouble is, Jesus said we’re […]

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