Category Archives: Glory of God

Happy New Year – New Adventures Await!

New-Adventures-Await

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

“I should think so – in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit

You’re casting off from a familiar shore, into uncharted waters. It’s scary and overwhelming. You’re tempted to ask: what if I just can’t handle this? You can handle it. You plus God equals life gets handled. The real question is: will I take advantage of this chance to remake myself, will I discover more of the person God made me to be, and will I have the courage to set out on the amazing adventures God has for me? ~ Unka Glen

It’s a new year full of unchartered adventures! As we experience all that comes with it, may we come to be more fully alive in ways that delight God and reveal His glory to those sharing the journey!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adventure, Christianity, Courage, Glory of God, God, New Years, Religion and Spirituality

God’s Glory and Grandma’s Traditions

He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. ~ 2 Kings 18:4

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The bronze snake had at one time been an instrument of transformation. It healed people. Saved them from the consequences of their sin. But then the people turned it into an object of worship. And thereby ruined it and robbed it of its power.

This is the essence of traditionalism. It’s not simply holding onto Grandma’s preferences. It’s when we take things. Good things. Effective things. And we end up worshiping them instead of the God who used them for a season. And it can happen to anything.

Hymns. Or modern worship.

Live preaching. Or video preaching.

One campus. Or multiple campuses.

Sunday school. Or small groups.

None of these are bad things, but they’re also not the ultimate thing. And therefore, we shouldn’t treat them as such.

Otherwise, we run a dangerous risk. The very thing you hold up as a tool for transformation today can easily become an idol of tradition tomorrow.

And God has a way of smashing our idols. Or rendering them powerless.

Don’t get me wrong. We should never lose our appreciation or respect for the things God uses to reach people and transform their lives.

But we should also never allow them to steal God’s glory by becoming a greater object of our affections than God or the new ways He wants to work among us.

God’s glory is greater than Grandma’s traditions.

And our own as well.

~ By Steven Furtick

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Anything, no matter how good or Godly it might appear to be, becomes an idol – a false god – when we are more attached to it than we are to God!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Glory of God, God, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

He kicked my butt!

A few weeks ago I spent a week at a retreat center near Asheville, North Carolina. It was a School of Spiritual Direction with Dr. Larry Crabb.

The schedule was designed to include evening sessions but did allow for a three-hour gap in the afternoon. So on that first afternoon I located a map of trails and headed out.

The longest trail was just three miles long and promised a nice view from a higher elevation. My thought process went something like this:

“I’ve just lost 40 pounds and have been bike riding with my wife for nearly four months now. We’re up to 18 miles a ride and this past week I did a solo ride of 27 miles – my longest to date. It’s only a three-mile hike. No problem.”

To say that I misjudged the effect of elevation on a three-mile hike would be a gross understatement.

It kicked my butt!

About 2 1/2 hours later I dragged myself back to my room and quickly showered for supper. For three days my thigh muscles SCREAMED at me every time I moved.

The same thing happened spiritually with all that took place that week as our group of 31 people explored the nature of our journey with God.

I was captivated by God as the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – existing in perfect, loving community. And I welcomed the invitation to journey further into the fellowship enjoyed by the Trinity.

But the price of admission is a humble and broken spirit. On several occasions the Holy Spirit brought me face-to-face with some of my “false gods” and sinful relational patterns. He kicked my butt – spiritually speaking!

That portion of the journey was brutally painful. And to be honest, I was ready to cut and run more than once.

But the corresponding freedom that came as a result of being embraced by what the Spirit was doing in me was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

The Holy Spirit didn’t confront me with my sin in order to beat me up or heap on guilt and shame. He did it – does it daily – so that I’ll come to the end of my own efforts and more fully rely on His work in me.

This is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 7 and 8. In chapter 7 Paul is totally frustrated with his struggle against the fleshly, sinful nature and wonders who can help him. Then in chapter 8 he’s celebrating the Spirit’s work in us.

5-6 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead-end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. ~ Romans 8 (The Message)

My relationship with God – Father, Son and Spirit – has been very different these last few weeks. And relating to family and friends has been very different as well – more open and healthy; more God-focused.

I believe I’m getting a taste of the real life Jesus came to make possible. And reflecting more of God’s relational glory in the process.

No offense intended, but I hope we all get our butts kicked today by the Holy Spirit!

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

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Christianity, Discipleship, Divine presence, Fellowship, Glory of God, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Humility, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Joy, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Morphing, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Trinity, Trusting 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.
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

12 Comments

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