GOD KNOWS ME MORE THAN I CAN EVER KNOW MYSELF–AND STILL LOVES ME!

(Edited to Fit Me, From “There’s Hope for Today”, March 18, 2017)

Myers-Briggs says I am an ESFJ. By temperament I am a sanguine/choleric. By culture I am Southwest. My politics are conservative. My theology is Spirit-filled Evangelical, and my hobby is chasing storms. Do you think you know me now?

Here’s more. I hate golf, love chocolate, eat too much red meat and potatoes, admire musicians, read a lot, drive, eat, and talk too fast, and spend too much time online. If I were Gen-X, I’m certain I would be diagnosed with some hyper-disorder and drugged into a manageable state.

Have you got a read on me yet? A few more bits and pieces: My greatest loves, apart from God, are my wife, my kids (including their wives and our “adopted” kids), and my grandkids.  I’m running low on faith in politicians, weathermen, TV evangelists, tax cuts, stock markets, and “as-seen-on-TV” products. I rejoice in fatherhood, weep at the thought of our empty nest, laugh at least twice a day, sing with a voice only God could love, dream big dreams, believe in miracles, hold out with optimism, and always take three where a dosage of two is recommended.

If you were to add to this list my complete self-knowledge, my wife’s insight, and my sons’ input, you would have but a shadow of a fingerprint compared to God’s complete knowledge of me. And when all is said, and all is known, He loves me still. Amazing grace!

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What We Need is What Millenials Need, Too!

I read an article this morning on “Six Things Millenials Need From Pastors”.  The article listed The Gospel, Authenticity, Transparency, Passion, Effort and Love.  It dawned on me that Millenials need the same thing we need.

People said my “Boomer” generation would have trouble reaching the “Gen-Xers”, yet Marsha and I, over the years, have had no trouble connecting with that generation.  Many of those we have connected with call us “Mom” and “Dad”, reflecting a relationship we’ve taken very seriously, and we consider it a privilege to be spiritual parents to so many.  A friend of ours thought incredulous for us to think we have a “mom and dad anointing”, but I don’t know any other way to describe it.  The reality is, we extend to the the love, acceptance and forgiveness that was extended to us by Jesus Christ.  We don’t judge them, even when we may not agree with their lifestyle or their mindsets, but we recognize they are a work in progress.

I can’t help but think the Millenials can be reached with the same thing that has reached the Gen-Xers.  They want the same thing–love, acceptance and forgiveness.  They want to see their spiritual leaders exhibit the same thing we all want.  Unfortunately, however, Millenials are being labeled as self-centered, wanting everything handed to them, being awarded for  participation instead of effort.  And, because they are being labeled, they are often pre-judged before they are given a chance.

Instead of judging  Millenials, lets just love them, and give them the same things we need.  We all need Jesus; we all need purpose; we all need love, acceptance and forgiveness.  We all need the Gospel, authenticity, transparency, passion, effort and love.  Let’s work on meeting those needs in their lives, as well as our own.  After all, we’re all a work in progress.

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Burn the Bridges and Say “Yes!”

(The following came to me during worship at church Sunday morning.  It was for me, but I know it was for someone else as well.  Maybe it is for you!)

“I’ve called you for a purpose beyond yourself.  Until you are willing to say “Yes” to that purpose, I have no red to reveal to you how to fulfill that purpose.  But, once you say “Yes”, I will unveil the “How” of the purpose. Stop looking for a “Why” to your purpose and say “Yes” to the purpose, and the “How” will come to you in floods of revelation.  You’ll NEVER be fulfilled until you say “Yes” to your purpose..  Burn the bridges and say “Yes!”

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MINISTRY CALLING–WHEN IT’S JUST NOT HAPPENING

When there is a call of God on your life–and we all have a call of God on our lives–and it’s not happening the way you thought it would, or as quickly, it may mean you’re just not ready yet.  There is, likely, something in your character or preparation that isn’t in place.  I believe it’s likely the former.  There are some character issues you need to address.  In the meantime, impatience can set in, and you try to make things happen on your own.

Is it a character issue?  In my case, a character issue is faced was a performance-based mindset.  I had, most of my adult life, been a shaker and a mover, using my own devices to make things happen.  And, I thought that my “getting it done” was the guide to my acceptance.  In the process, I became impatient.  But  a good friend, Bill Fitzer, shared two scriptures with me that I latched on to, and they became the words I held on to as the Lord prepared me for the pastoral call I was destined to fulfill.

The first was 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (emphasis added).  It is His timing that matters, and only when my timing is His timing  (not the other way around!) that God’s plan is fulfilled.  His timing meant giving me time to deal with the character issues I faced.  And, the sooner I dealt with them, the more quickly His timing would be fulfilled.

The second was Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”  It wasn’t my works, but His gift that would take me where He wanted me to go.  Learning to use the gifts, and not my abilities, was a lesson I had to accept.  For, it’s He, not me, that really makes it happen.

I still, occasionally, have to remind myself of these two scriptural principles.  If you are wanting to fulfill the call on your life, and it’s not happening as quickly as you think it should, I encourage you to grasp these principles, and deal with your own character issues.  It’s a whole lot better when you let God move rather than try to do it on your own.

 

 

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Heart Attack! One Year Later…

A year ago today I was transported from the Mercy-Bella Vista ER to Mercy Medical Center, where I was immediately taken to the cath lab. Heart attack!!! Though I was in intense pain, I don’t recall having any fear. And, I knew that, at some point, I would wake up…but I didn’t know where–it would be either in heaven or the hospital.

Marsha Stire Dixon, meanwhile, was awaiting word on my condition. My cardiologist came to the waiting room after working on me for over 1 1/2 hrs., and said, “The procedure was unsuccessful; there’s nothing we could do.” My poor wife collapsed, believing the dr. was saying I’d died, when he explained that I was still alive, but my single blocked artery could not be penetrated to insert a stent. It remained blocked, and there had been some heart damage, but I had survived the ordeal.

It was after that I experienced some personal fear–fear that I would have another heart attack. The cardiologist said, “You’ve already had your heart attack. You’re not going to die from another one!” He said that with medication, diet and lifestyle change I’d live a normal life.

I began 12 week weeks of cardio therapy and worked my way back toward that normal life.

A year later, I take several meds. I eat better. I’ve lost weight (though I have a lot more of it to lose.) I’ve slowed down a little, though not as much as I hoped or expected to. And things are, for the most part, normal. Meanwhile, I stand in faith, knowing that healing is as much a part of the salvation package as eternity in heaven is.

So, a year later my heart is filled with gratitude to God for keeping me on this side of heaven. I can’t begin to express all the blessings of the past year, or the anticipation of the blessings to come in the future. I get to watch my grandkids grow up. I’m here for Marsha, who especially needs me right now as she recovers from her surgery.  And we’re in a ministry transition that excites me as much as the prospect of entering full time pastoral ministry did almost 30 years ago.‬.

Thank you, Lord, for leaving me here on earth for an extended season. I’ll do my best to fulfill that which remains for us to do. Amen.

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Gratitude for the Privilege of Serving the LEO Community

I’ve been indirectly involved in law enforcement all my life. My grandfather retired from the sheriff’s office in Wichita, KS, and was a major influence in my life. One of the careers in my adult years was as a broadcast journalist which connected me with law enforcement on a regular basis. But, it was in the mid 80’s I became personally involved in law enforcement, as a reserve deputy with a suburban Oklahoma City sheriff’s office.

Fast forward to 2000, following the deaths of three Rogers Police Department officers at their own hands, Police Chief Tim D. Keck met with Pastor Dave Hadsell and me to discuss establishing a chaplain program for that department. The program was launched, and I continued to serve that department under Keck, then Chief Steve Helms and, later, Steve Hamilton, who scuttled the chaplain program. Then, in 2012 newly elected Sheriff Kelley Cradduck asked me to develop a Chaplain Division modeled after the program we established at RPD and appointed me Chief Chaplain

Last year Shawn Holloway announced his candidacy for sheriff, and asked that if he were elected that I would continue serving as Chief Chaplain. And last night I prayed at the swearing in ceremony for our new Sheriff Shawn Holloway, the entire sheriff’s office.  Along with the deputies, the Chaplain Division members present were sworn in.

I shared the background to establish foundation for one of the most rewarding ministries in which I’ve been involved. I’m grateful to Tim Keck for trusting me to lead the RPD Chaplain Program, and to Steve Helms for continuing that trust. At BCSO Kelley Cradduck’s confidence in me during his tenure is deeply appreciated. And to Sheriff Shawn Holloway, thank you for your continued confidence. But my deepest gratitude goes to Jesus Christ who called me into His service.  I’ll do my best, under God’s guidance, to serve the men and women of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

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SOMETHING HAS TO DIE!

During our recent trip to Peru Marsha and I had many opportunities to share from our book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage”.  Knowing that the trip was the launch of a new direction of ministry for us, we reviewed each of the seven times we  spoke of how God divinely restored our marriage, and what we learned about a godly marriage during the years that followed.  We found better ways to verbally express the principles God revealed to us in the restoration process.  Our biggest challenge is helping people see that it’s not how bad we were, but how good God is.   We’re still seeking God’s direction on how to present the message in such a way that people–especially couples–can learn from us.

This morning in my devotional time I sensed the Lord showing me that an important part of our testimony is that SOMETHING HAD TO DIE in order for me to live for Jesus.  I share in our testimony that my career was my god, even telling Marsha,at one point, that if she made me choose between her and my career she would lose.  But, on July 16, 1979, my god died, and some of me died with that.  It was through that death that I searched for the true and living God, and just over a year later, on August 28, I gave my life to Jesus Christ.  It was death to self and new life in Jesus that set the stage for Him to work in my life, preparing me for what was to come later when, through repentance and reconciliation, we both found new life in our marriage as well as in our lives individually.

Day to day something still has to die.  I have to die daily to myself to live for the Savior and remember that I’m not in the marriage relationship to be served by Marsha, but to serve her.  My god dying in 1979 so the God who died and rose from the dead to rule and reign forever could be my God was painful at the time, but worth every heartache and tear, and today I’m dead to self and alive to Jesus.  And when we tell our story in the future I’ll be sharing that something had to die in order for me to truly live.

Perhaps your church would like to host a marriage workshop.  While the workshop, if presented in its entirety, is five sessions, we can share a single session in a church service or couples meeting, or anywhere between the one and five sessions as your need permits.  Message me if you’re interested in having Marsha and me come.  Or go to http://www.godsblueprint.info and follow the link to contact us.  (The web site is undergoing reconstruction and some links aren’t working while others don’t look quite right. We’re working on it.)

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FAITH UNDER ATTACK!

(Note: before posting this email I received this morning, I did my “due diligence” and verified the story through several sources. Religious freedom is under attack, and it may only get worse. If you are not concerned about it, you should be.)October 26, 2016

Dear Pastor Dixon,

By most standards, Dr. Eric Walsh would be considered a standout job candidate. When he was in California, he was the director of the City of Pasadena’s Public Health Department and was appointed to President Obama’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDs. His professional credentials showed he was going places. In 2014, he was hired by the State of Georgia’s Department of Public Health. But when some state officials learned that he was also a lay minister in his church, he was investigated and quickly let go.
Documents released by First Liberty Institute include emails showing that Georgia officials assigned employees to examine his sermons on YouTube — sermons dealing with common Christian themes including creation, compassion, spiritual growth, the family, and Christian living. He was fired after this examination.

Determined to stand for his (and others’) freedom to believe, Dr. Walsh filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia, alleging unlawful religious discrimination. As part of that lawsuit, the State of Georgia issued a subpoena demanding that Dr. Walsh hand over his sermons, sermon notes, and all pastoral documentation — including his Bible.
Apparently, not even the margin notes of a Christian’s Bible are off limits from the government’s intimidation machine.

Unless Georgia state officials are looking for devotional inspiration for how better to treat their fellow citizens, this type of intrusion is nothing more than an intimidation tactic. FRC stands with Dr. Walsh and any other pastor who is targeted by the government because of what is said in the pulpit…

Standing (Eph. 6:13),

Tony Perkins

President

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A CHANGE IS COMING!

Most of the time when God is moving in Marsha’s and my lives, we sense a shift in the spiritual atmosphere around us in advance. We’re sensing such a shift now, as we continue to prepare for our trip to Peru. The primary focus of this trip, as you know if you’ve read our posts, is marriage ministry. And, we believe this is in preparation for when we return. 

 Ever since entering into ministry our calling has been as local church pastors. Even in Peru, our ministry focus has been training and equipping local pastors and church leaders. But, now, we believe a shift to a broader ministry has come, and we’ll be looking beyond the local church and taking God’s Blueprint for Marriage to the field.

We will be seeking opportunities to share when we return in Mid-November, whether those opportunities be Sunday or mid-week services, or marriage workshops. I never expected, at 68 years old, to be making what seems to me to be a very bold move. But, it’s what God is directing us to do.  
Last time God gave us marching orders I dragged my feet before finally becoming obedient. This time I want to tackle the assignment boldly, without hesitation and without any fear of failure. It’s a God-called shift in ministry, and I’m excited to see what He has in store for us!  
Follow God’s Blueprint for Marriage on Facebook or at Godsblueprintformarriage.com. If you’d like to see God’s Blueprint for Marriage come to your church, please contact me. 

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WHOSE SIDE IS JESUS ON?

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “ Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” “Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.”‭‭Joshua‬‬ ‭5:13-15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Many theologians believe, as do I, that the commander of the Lord’s army was a “Christophany”, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. In essence, Joshua asked the question, “Whose side are you on?”, to which the reply was, I’m not here to take sides; I’m here to take charge!”  
We have the opportunity for relationship with the post-resurrection Jesus. On the basis of that relationship, what if, rather than listen to the voices of candidates, media and social network pundits, we would ask Jesus the same question Joshua asked, and then listened, and then did what He said. He still speaks today, but we have to listen for His voice rather than to the voices of the world in order to hear Him. If we did that, just maybe the walls of division would “come tumblin’ down”!
I have to admit I’ve done a lot of praying for the candidates, but very little about how I should vote. Now, I’m going to try to close out the other voices and listen ask I ask God to direct my voting decisions.  I don’t want Him to be on my side.  I want to be on His side!!!

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