Category Archives: Glory of God

Like little children…

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. ~ Matthew 18:2-4

Sometimes in our attempt to be “very grown up” we lose some important childlike qualities such as the humility to be willing to ask for help. Our pride or fear of looking foolish gets in the way.

  • Having trouble with the car or an appliance or a house project… you learn to ask for help
  • Having trouble with a school or work project… you learn to ask for help
  • Having trouble understanding your wife or girlfriend or women in general… you learn that there are some things in life that no one can help you with… (just keeping it real!)

Well… you get the idea.

The Holy Spirit dwells in us to lead us in living a life that delights in God and reflects His glory. But we’re learning a whole new way to live – one that revolves around God rather than us.

Because it’s a new way to live and because we tend to gravitate back to old patterns, we need help navigating unchartered territory. While the Holy Spirit is more than willing to help, we must be willing to ask for it when we need it.

 So, what do you need help with?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Children, Christianity, CS Lewis, Glory of God, Holy Spirit, Humility, Religion and Spirituality

Not an excuse to abuse God’s grace

There is a fine line between living by grace and abusing it. As Paul concludes his thoughts at the end of chapter 5 in his letter to the Romans he speaks of how we are lavished with grace through Jesus Christ. In fact, he even states that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

But you can tell that Paul is aware that this could lead some to take advantage of grace and abuse it because he opens chapter 6 of Romans with this statement:

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” ~ Romans 6:1-2

God’s lavish grace is no excuse to live as we want but rather makes us acceptable to a holy God and then empowers us to live differently. Larry Crabb says it well…

“I might mention in passing that my acceptability in Christ is no warrant for careless living.  Scripture also teaches that I am accountable to God for how I live. 

If I understand accountability, but not acceptability, I will live under pressure to behave well in order to be accepted.  If I understand acceptability, but not accountability, I may become casually indifferent to sinful living. 

When I understand first my acceptability and then my accountability, I will be constrained to please the One who died for me, fearful that I might grieve Him, not wanting to, because I love Him.” ~ Larry Crabb in Effective Biblical Counseling

May we be fully embraced by acceptability AND accountability, in that order, so that we can live in such a way as to demonstrate the grace and truth (John 1:14) that flowed from Jesus when He lived among us.

And in doing so, may we reflect the glory of God!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Christianity, Forgiveness, Glory of God, God, Grace, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Truth

God’s relentless love

Resist the urge to say you’re too old, too young, too busy, too scared, too worn out, too washed up, too anything to be useful to God.

Truth is, you’ve always been part of his love-the-world plan. Need proof? From the day he formed you in your mother’s womb, God has watched over your every step, making sure you got where you needed to go.

When you stumbled, it was God who steadied you. When you fell, it was God who rescued you. When you lost your way, it was God who carried you home. Why? Because he knows you fully, loves you completely, and holds you close to his heart. God will never give up on you…
~ Excerpted from The Girl’s Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

Like the ocean waves that endlessly rush to the shore, the love of God is relentless in pursuing us and using us to reflect His glory.

God wants to use us today to spread His love and joy and hope everywhere we go.

Are we ready?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Glory of God, God, Hope, influence with the world, Joy, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

Approval addiction

“Hello. My name is Rick Alvey and I am an approval addict.”

I don’t know exactly when it started or what all has contributed to it, but I admit it. I struggle with wanting the approval of others.

I know and believe that I will one day stand before God and give Him – and only Him – an account of my life. And yet, I still struggle with being concerned about how others perceive me.

The truth is, no matter what we say or do there will be someone who disapproves. Even Jesus, who lived a perfect life, was constantly criticized for what He said and did; and for the kinds of people who were drawn to Him.

But being concerned about how others view us is not all bad. We are to live in such a way that others see God in us and are drawn towards Him. So to a certain degree it does matter.

But if it matters too much then I find myself inhibited. I might know what I believe God would have me to say or do but I hesitate because of who it might offend. I’m guessing that at least some of you reading this can relate.

And this is especially tough as a pastor because people have heightened and/or unrealistic expectations of me, and my family. I read a story recently that was a great encouragement.

“A reporter once asked an insightful question when interviewing a woman from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra:’ How does it feel to get a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of your performance and then wake up in the morning to a negative review in the newspaper?’

Her response was even more insightful. She said over time she has learned not to pay attention to the applause of the crowd or the disapproval of the critics. She was only after the approval of her conductor. After all, he was the only person who really knew how she was supposed to perform.”
~ From Replenish by Lance Witt

God is our conductor. Only He knows precisely the role that we are to play in His unfolding story of grace and redemption. He alone has a completely eternal perspective on life down here.

May God grant us the grace to seek only His approval.
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Authenticity, Children of God, Christianity, Glory of God, God, Loving God, Relationship with God, Trusting God

We are small and God is big

A Russian satellite has captured what is thought to be the highest resolution picture of our planet ever taken from space.

The detail in this image is simply staggering! I don’t know what comes to your mind, but like my friend Jeff who sent this to me, I am reminded of how small we really are and how big God is!

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. ~ Psalm 8:3-5

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Glory of God, God, Life in General, Wonder

What’s driving our ambitions?

Warfarin (also known as Coumadin) is an anti-clotting medication normally used in the prevention of thrombosis and thromboembolism, the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels and their movement elsewhere in the body.

Before being used as a medication for human beings it was, and still is, used as rat poison! How ironic that the same basic ingredient we use to rid ourselves of unwanted rodents is used to save our very lives. But this same irony exists with other, less tangible aspects of life such as our ambitions.

Ambitions alone are not inherently good or bad. But the motivation driving our ambitions makes them good or bad. What is the motivation behind our ambitions in life?

Are we driven to achieve or accomplish for ourself or for God? Are we measuring success by His standards or by ours? How is our ambition affecting our family? Who is getting the accolades, God or us?

In the book of John we see Jesus making statements like these:

  • “in myself, I can do nothing”
  • “I do not please myself”
  • “I do not accept praise from men”
  • “I came down from heaven not to do my will”
  • “I do nothing on my own”
  • “I am not seeking glory for myself”

“Even as the Son of God, he was aware he was not pursuing his own agenda but fulfilling the Father’s plan. How incredibly humble for the infinite and perfect Son of God to say, ‘I’m not seeking my own glory.” ~ Lance Witt

If anyone could have thought that life revolved around them it was Jesus. And yet, He willingly gave Himself to fill a role within the Father’s bigger Kingdom story.

“All of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.” ~ 1 Peter 5:5-6

Like medications, ambition must be handled with care because it has the potential for good or bad.

What’s driving our ambitions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Glory of God, God, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Loving God

God can rewrite our story

It had been 13 years since we last visited Disney World and some things have changed. But I didn’t realize how much until I watched a DVD this last weekend about the history of the Magic Kingdom. In the 41 years it’s been open some attractions have morphed 3 or 4 times!

Eli pointed out one particular spot in the sidewalk of the Haunted Mansion that was interesting. There is a pipe down in the cement cut off level with the sidewalk.

During one of the physical transformations they cut the pipe but were unable to get it out of the cement. So… they wrote it into the new story of the Haunted Mansion.

God does that same thing for us.

We all have a past. Choices we’ve made that were hurtful to us or others. Things that happened to us that left scars; perhaps even nightmares and a struggle to trust.

If given the choice we’d have them erased forever. In fact, we go to great lengths to keep them buried. Over work, over eat, over drink, over medicate…

We do all manner of things to cope, but God has something better in mind.

God intends to show us that His love and grace are bigger than anything from our past. In fact, He intends to rewrite our story and redeem those very same events so that we reflect His glory in a whole new way.

Not rewrite as in changing the facts, but rewrite as in using it to show what His love and grace can help us to overcome.

The transformation is seldom easy or fast; but that’s true of many things in life.

  • What is it that you have locked away?
  • What means of coping have you tried?
  • How’s it working for you?

The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t work with such wounds. Only the love and grace of God are big enough and strong enough to redeem our hurts and use them to display His redemptive creativity.

You’ll likely need help for the healing journey. Someone to pray with you or encourage you or challenge you when the going gets rough. Perhaps even a pastor or counselor for sorting out the bigger issues. But remember…

No matter what it is, God can rewrite our story!
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Glory of God, God, Grace, Hope, Love of God, Morphing, Trusting God

Making the most of our time

We were very intentional with picking our week to visit Eli, our oldest, in Florida and hang out at with him at Disney World. He is doing a college internship there and his little “blue card” allowed us some nice discounts. Woo hoo!

We purposely avoided the week of Spring Break because EVERYONE would be there. But we also didn’t want to go after school let out for the Summer for the same reason. So we pulled the kids out of school and went the last week in April.

The theme parks were busy but not overly crowded. We got to do everything we wanted and never waited more than about 35-40 minutes. But one special feature made all the difference – Fast Pass!

Fast Pass is not unique to Disney World but it is free and very handy. Rather than wait in line you can get a Fast Pass and come back later to use a different entrance and save time. For example…

If it is 4:00 and a ride has a wait time of 50 minutes you can wait or get a Fast Pass. The Fast Pass will specify when to come back such as between 5:00 and 6:00. So you get the Fast Pass and then go do some others things before going back to use it.

With the Fast Pass you enter by way of a different line and it usually only takes about 10 minutes. This way you can do more and wait less.

I know what you’re thinking. “Where do I get a Fast Pass for the grocery store or my favorite restaurant?” Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

But my point is this: Because we were there for a limited time and wanted to participate in certain activities, we worked hard to make the most of our time.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. ~ Ephesians 5:15-17

Paul encourages the disciples in Ephesus to make the most of every day by doing what is important to the Lord. It means giving everything you have at that moment because you don’t know if you’ll get another opportunity.

None of us lives with the guarantee of tomorrow, and yet we tend to put off the most important stuff as if we’ll always have a tomorrow.

  • Expressing love to those closest to us
  • Extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us
  • Playing with our kids
  • Sharing the good news of God’s grace with those who don’t yet know Him

As a pastor, conducting funerals is not my favorite thing to do. It is a good opportunity to minister to people but the heartache and grief can be tough to handle at times. Yet, I’m always grateful for the reminder not to take life for granted. Each day is a gift from God to be lived for His glory.

If you knew that today would be your last day on earth, how would you live it?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Children, Choices, Family, Glory of God, God, God's Will, Priorities

It was worth the wait!

There we were, having stood in line for 25 minutes already, and it was our turn to go next… then they left. We were the next in line to meet Winnie-the-Pooh and Eeyore, but it was their time for a break. Arg!

(Warning: Spoiler – In reality, its only a 4-5 minute break because it’s a different team coming out to the meet and greet. Sorry if that spoiled any of the magic for you!)

So we kept our place in line and waited. But then we heard rumors that Tigger might be coming out too!

Now, just to be clear; Tigger is one of my all-time favorite characters and when people tease me about having  all manner of Tigger memorabilia blanketing my office I simply remind them that everyone needs a hero. I even had a dog named Tigger when I was growing up.

I don’t know if its his bounce, his laugh or his optimism; but Tigger has been a favorite for as long as I can remember. I have various sizes of stuffed Tiggers. One bounces. One sings. And one does both!

Other than a couple new ones which my family bought me, the rest are garage sale specials or second-hand stores deals.

So we waited, and he came! Tigger was in the house!

It was worth the wait!

God’s timing tends to work that way too. God seems to be on a different schedule or rhythm than me. I’m guessing you can relate.

I’ve seen the plaques and posters declaring that if we’re waiting on God it’s because He has something even better for us. But I’m not sure. I think it depends on how we define better.

If better means something I’ll enjoy even more, then no, that’s not always the case. But if better means a more complete fulfilling of God’s kingdom plans, then yes, I would agree.

Waiting, on this side of the grave, sometimes leads to something more enjoyable here and right now; but not always. Sometimes waiting is followed by heartache and tragedy.

  • Waiting for a medical test that comes back as bad news.
  • Waiting for that special someone to call or come back and make things right, but they don’t.
  • Waiting for that promotion or pay raise that will help make ends meet, but it doesn’t come.

Yet even when waiting doesn’t turn into something better here and now, God’s bigger kingdom purposes continue to unfold. That’s when we can wait with hope because of the glory that will be ours with Jesus in eternity beyond this life.

No matter what it is you’re waiting on God for, and no matter how it turns out…

It will be worth the wait!

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

5 Comments

Filed under Eternity, Glory of God, God, Hope, Kingdom of God, Patience

Are your ready for the trip?

Last week our family – the four kids still at home – packed up and got ready for a fun-filled week in sunny Florida. We were excited about all of it except for the 16 hour drive.

Our oldest (no at home), Eli, is a junior at Anderson University but is participating in an 8-month college internship with Disney World in Orlando.

Yes – it is a real internship and he is taking classes on-line to keep his hard-earned scholarships.

No – I did not take time away from our family vacation to write this last week’s blogs. I did them ahead of time and just kept up with comments.

Yes – it is a tough gig to get off work and run free around Disney World; but someone has to do it so it might as well be Eli.

No – we cannot adopt you and pass along family discounts. But we’ll put you on the waiting list with others who have asked.

Getting ready for a week-long trip is very different now that the kids are older and able to pack for themselves. The last time we visited Disney World was 13 years ago before Brynden was born and we were chased out of Florida by a hurricane.

Packing for a trip gets easier the more you do it. Knowing when you’re leaving allows for a comfortable pace of getting things ready.

There are those occasions when trips are made unexpectedly. A sudden illness or tragic accident can mean an urgent departure. And those who serve in the military sometimes have to leave at a moments notice.

But there is one journey we’ll all have to make and for most it will be unexpected.

Death.

Are you prepared to enter into eternity? Have you received God’s gift of grace and surrendered to Jesus as Savior and Lord?

And still… even if you are ready for eternity in terms of your relationship with God, are you ready in other ways?

What important matters or conversations are you putting off for another day as if you’re sure you’ll be here for tomorrow?

Family vacations in fun-filled locations are one of life’s most treasured experiences. But nothing in this life compares with the glory that awaits us in God’s presence beyond this life.

Are you ready?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Glory of God, God, Grace, Heaven, Hell, Relationship with God