On Forgiveness

In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron’s opposition to Moses’ leadership began with their criticism of Moses’ marriage to a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. (Cushites were black-skinned people in Southern Egypt.) Criticism then escalated to his leadership, at which point God turned Miriam’s skin white with leprosy. (God has a sense of irony.) When Moses pleaded with God to heal her, God compared her criticism to spitting in her father’s face, a serious insult which required seven days of isolation. The primary offense–interracial marriage–led to a secondary offense, Moses’ leadership.

Primary offenses often lead to secondary offenses, and many times, it snowballs from there. That’s why “Forgive us our debts as we forgive…”is a daily prayer/decision we must make. If there’s no primary offense, there can be no secondary offense, then.

Being offended–or not being offended–is a choice. I choose to not be offended.

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Lesson Learned: Spend More Time Hanging Out With God

Often God uses my own experiences to teach me valuable lessons. That happened today.

My older son is going to be in town tomorrow. So I called and suggested that he come this evening and we could cook a steak add hang out and watch a guy movie. Hey said that instead, he would just wait and come tomorrow. That way he could sleep in his own bed tonight.

Though he had a valid reason, I admit I was disappointed. I used to have so much time with my sons, and now, with both of them moved away, I have so little time.

It struck me that that’s how my heavenly Father feels. He wants me to spend time with Him, and I find some “valid reason” to do something else. I believe that sometimes what He really wants is our company…He just wants us to hang out with Him. And the feeling I experience this morning when my son opted not to come this evening Is in a very small way how God must feel When we don’t take our opportunity to just hang out with Him.

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Taking back what was His

In Luke 4:5-7, “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” (‭ESV). That authority had been given to ‬‬Adam, but he surrendered it to Satan and the fall. Though it was delivered to him, it didn’t belong to him. It belonged to the One to whom he offered it. Jesus came to take it back and to give it back, which He fulfilled in His death, burial and resurrection.

After Peter affirmed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said it was on that rock of revelation that He would build His church and “the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew‬ ‭16:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬).

This promise was fulfilled in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'”.

Satan couldn’t give Jesus what was already His, and Satan can’t take back from us what Jesus has given us. So stand firm in your faith, knowing Jesus’ victory means your victory!

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Giving It Up to Follow Jesus

Adapted from today’s devo: Not doing wrong does not give you right standing with God. Right standing, or “righteousness” comes from your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If not doing wrong was enough the rich young ruler would not have walked away sad. (Luke 18: 18-23)

Selling everything he had and giving it away to follow Jesus had nothing to do with what he had, but everything to do with what had him. Sometimes in following Jesus He will ask us to give up something. But it’s not what we give up, but what we gain in the process. In my case, when Jesus asks me to give something up it’s usually because what I’m hanging on to is harmful, or hindering my spiritual growth. He asked me to give up being a worship leader, but what I gained in return was far greater than what I lost.

My identity was in my role, not in who I was in Him. And, today I am fulfilling my true calling as a pastor, something that might not have happened had I not been willing to give up leading worship. Being a pastor does not identify me. Now my identity is not in what I do, (though I probably still struggle some with it). My identity is in Him, as I seek to become more like Him every day. And, if He asks me to give up something in the process, I want to do so to fulfill the call He has on my life. I want nothing to stand between me and my Jesus.

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You’re Not Disqualified by Your Past

Sunday at church God spoke to me that there were some in the church who sensed God had a call on their lives, but thought that their past disqualified them. I spoke a word of exhortation that their future was not determined by their past. This morning in my devotional reading John Stanko used the story of Rahab to illustrate that same point. Stanko said, “The message of Rahab is that your past sins and your present occupation cannot keep you from purpose if your heart is set on serving the Lord’s will for your life.”

Rahab was a prostitute, yet God chose her to be David’s great grandmother and, 14 generations later, a direct ancestor of Jesus.

 

No matter your past, a life surrendered to God’s will makes for a life He’ll use for His good and His glory.  Don’t let the devil steal your ministry because of  what you’ve done in the past.

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Peru Missions November 17 1st Report

We are in Lima , Peru, ready to begin a series of service on marriage. Our first service is Sunday morning at Iglesia Apostolica Emmanuel, where we will be speaking for the first time, sharing principles of communication in marriage. Then, tomorrow evening, will be speaking at Emmanuel Bible church in Zarate, celebrating their church’s anniversary with Pastors Jose and Raquel Vicente. There we will Wednesday and Thursday we will be doing a full Gods Blueprint for Marriage seminar at Comunidad de Fe (Community of Faith). Friday we will be speaking at Comunidad Christian Villa Club, sharing principals of a godly marriage. Sunday morning we are back at Comunidad de Fe for their regular Sunday service. And Sunday evening we will minister on marriage for our friends at the church where Stevenson and Soledad Chavez are pastors. We will leave there for the airport and the red eye flight home.

Thank you for your prayers as we continue this work of the Lord.

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TEN INCREDIBLE DAYS OF MINISTRY!

As the title suggests, our June missions trip was an incredible time.  Marsha and I presented material from our book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage”, in four meetings, including a pastors conference.  It blesses us to see how our story of repentance, reconciliation and restoration touches so many lives.

Every trip to Peru is special, but this one was made extra special because we stayed with one of our adopted Peru families, Paul and Maria Diamond and their daughter, Alani. And we were accompanied by our spiritual son and grandson from home, Aaron and Andrew Hollinger, and by Diana Velasquez, one of our spiritual daughters, from Amarillo, TX,.

Andrew got his preaching feet wet with two youth conferences. Aaron ministered at a youth Conference, a business leaders’ workshop, and at Pastor Samuel Castillo’s church. Pastor Samuel was our Hispanic pastor here before returning to Peru to serve with his father.

We arrived on Thursday June 1, and went to work the next evening at a marriage conference hosted by Pastors Luis and Sofia Soldevilla.  In our first session we shared our testimony, and how Marsha and I learned to forgive ourselves when dealing with sin.  Out of that message over half of the congregation were set free from the guilt and shame of their own sins.  Saturday we spoke at another marriage conference, this one is San Juan de Lurigancho, hosted by Pastors Jans and Rachel Ramirez,  and we saw similar results.

We were at Comunidad de Fe and Emanuel Bible Church Zarate on our first Sunday.  Since that day was Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church, I preached from Acts 1 and 2, then invited each congregation to experience the Power of Pentecost and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Dozens responded to that invitation, filling the front of the sanctuaries.  There were many salvations at each service.

Tuesday June 6, Diana Velasquez and Marsha spoke at a women’s conference at Emanuel-Zarate.  About 100 women were in attendance, learning what it means to be brave women of God.

Wednesday we made a 2 hr 45 minute trip to meet with a house church, Christian Villa Club.  In my mind I was evaluating the trip to meet with a group of about 15.  But when one of those 15 received Jesus Christ as his Savior, I concluded, “Yes, it’s worth it!’

Thursday I preached at an Evangelical Church of Christ in San Juan de Lurigancho, where long time friend, Abraham Gueverra, is pastor.  What began as a very small turnout turned in to a nearly full house.  I had a message prepared on the blessing of giving, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to preach on Luke 15, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, the Prodical Son and the Bitter Older Brother.  At the conclusion six people received Jesus, including the worship leader and drummer!

Friday evening we spoke at a parenting conference at Emanuel Bible Church San Juan de Lurigancho, to a predominately non-Christian group of moms and dads of children through ages 1-6.  We shared the importance of parents demonstrating love for each other and for the children, and an importance of growing up in a home without strife.  Following that we answered questions like,  “What do you do when your 3-year old has a temper tantrum?”, or “What’s the appropriate discipline for a 2-year old?”  Marsha’s years as a pediatric nurse in Tulsa helped her field those questions.

Satiarday evenning we spoke at a pastors conference in the Villa El Salvador district.  Marsha spoke to the women on leadership, and I spoke to the men on overcoming discouragement.  Over half of the 100 or so in attendance came forward for prayer for their discouragement.    Then,  in a joint session we both shared “Marriage is a Cross-Cultural Ministry”, from “Los Planes de Dios Para Matrimonio” (God’s Blueprint…”)

meanwlie on Saturday Diana was speaking at a women’s conference, while Aaron and Andrew  two meetings, the first for young adults on the second floor

Sunday morning I preached the 8:30 service at Catredal de Fe on “Seven Tactics of the Enemy and How to Overcome Them”, which is the subject of the next book I’m working on.  We left about 25 copies of our book, with instructions that the proceeds go toward relief for the victims of the recent flooding in Peru.  We were only about ten minutes out, en  route to our next ministry event, whe the church called requesting more copies!

Our final ministry stop was at the Evangelical Church of Christcin San Martin, one of our “home churches” in Lima, where Juan de Dios and Cristina Huaman are the pastors.  There, I preached a message of hope from Mark 4, when Jesus calmed the storm.  Following lunch with Pastor Juan and Pastora Cristina we returned to our host home, where we spent our final hours before returning home.

On my second trip (Marsha stayed home that time), God said not to count the number of salvations on our trips because it could lead to pride.  So, though I don’t know how many people received Jesus Christ as Savior on this trip, there were a bunch!  But, even if it were only one who was saved, it was worth the trip to that one!

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are looking at November or early December for our next trip, and will keep our friends posted on our plans.

 

 

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The Church Needs 5-Fold Ministry Leadership

The term “pastor” has, in many cases, come to mean “senior leader” of the church.  But, in reality, “pastor” is but one of the five-fold ministry gifts given to the church.  A congregation that expects their senior leader to not only fulfill the responsibiliies of pastor, (shepherd), but also as the visionary (apostle), God’s spokesperson (prophet), soul-winner (evangelist) and trainer (teacher) is expecting more of their leader than that leader is capable of.  It simply can’t be done by one person.  That’s why God gave the five-fold ministry gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11,  12).  

It’s been my observation that the growing, thriving churches aren’t led by a five-fold pastor,  but by an apostle, prophet or evangelist who can bring the sheep in. But, that leader has a five-fold pastor working alongside who is responsible for tending to the flock.  Pastors’ strengths, generally, are not conducive to church growth, but church maintenance, taking care of those who are part of the church community.  The leaders’ strengths, on the other hand, are conducive to church growth by catching a vision for the church and imparting that vision, first to the leaders,  then to the congregation and, ultimately, to the area in which the church is planted.

The church that recognizes that all five ministry gifts are needed to fully function is best able to fulfill its purpose and to grow. Stan DeKoven, President of Vision  International University, said in the school’s recent newsletter, “Pastors are but (at best) 1/5 of the team members required to equip God’s people for mature Christian living, and probably more than the 5-fold are needed to impart the requisite skills for the next generation of leaders/pastors.”   When we look at Ephesians 4:11,  12, we see the five-fold leaders’ roles are not to do the work of the ministry, but to “equip the saints”, or, as the NIV says, “to prepare God’s people” for that work.  

In conclusion, we must not expect more of our senior leader than he is capable of doing.  We should be working to raise up a leadership team of five-fold ministers under the Headshhip of Jesus Christ and the congregational leadership of one who can capture the vision and impart it to his team and the church.  The result, as found in Ephesians 4:13, will be unity, clarity, and maturity as we find our identity in Christ.

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GOING TO PERU IN JUNE!

Marsha and I are planning our next mission trip to Peru in June.  This trip came about after I was asked if we would be willing to minister in a pastors’ conference for 200-400 pastors.  I said that would be a possibility.

Next thing I knew, we’d been booked for the Pastors Conference on June 10, and also a parenting conference the evening before, and a church service the evening after!  So, we made some other contacts and our schedule filled up very quickly and we are booked solid for the trip.

We will be joined by Aaron Hollinger and his son, Andrew, and by Diana Velasquez, who went with us in 2015.  We estimate our expenses to be about $3000.   You may have seen news coverage about the severe flooding in Peru.  Any money we raise over and above trip expenses will be given to help flood victims.  Several churches with whom we have connection are active in flood relief efforts.

Please be praying for our team.  And, if you’d like to partner with us financially, please make your check to Word of Life Fellowship, and memo “Dixon Peru”.  The address is 808 SW 14th St. Bentonville AR 72712. You can also donate through the church web site, wlfar.com, and click on “GIVE”, then follow the prompts.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  You’ll be able to follow us on our trip on Facebook @pastorjimdixon or @marshastiredixon, or on Jim’s blog, pastorjimdixon.wordpress.com.  God bless!

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I WAS ON HIS MIND AS HE ENTERED JERUSALEM…

I can’t even begin to imagine what must have been going through Jesus’ mind as He entered Jerusalem on that Sunday.  The people were shouting “Hosannah! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”  Yet, Jesus knew that those same people would be shouting, “Crucify Him!”, just a few days later.  How His heart must have been breaking, as He knew his “triumphal entry” would require His death before true triumph would be seen.  In the Garden of Gethsemene His agony was revealed as He cried out to His Father, “Is there not another way?” yet, all the while, knowing the answer to that question.

In these seven days we Christians refer to as “Holy Week”, let’s remember that the celebration of the resurrection is preceded by realization of the agony that Jesus must have been experiencing as He walked the streets of Jerusalem that week.  We look at the cross as the price Jesus paid for our salvation, but His pain of suffering must have begun long before, knowing what was in the hearts of the same people who were shouting praises on Sunday.

Thank God we live on the Easter side of the cross!!!

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