Category Archives: Inspiration

This is where the Church belongs!

Like most of us, Thomas Keinath felt the need to spend some time away from the office. In Keinath’s case, the “office” is Calvary Temple, a “mega-church” with a 2,000-plus seat sanctuary in an affluent suburb, in Wayne, New Jersey.

Instead of a personal retreat or a fun-filled vacation, Keinath spent that week living with the homeless in nearby Paterson, New Jersey.

During the day, he wandered through the streets dressed like everyone else. At night, he joined the homeless as they built fires to keep warm from temperatures that dropped into the teens.

He wrote mini biographies about the people he met and their life story. Why would he do all of this?

According to Keinath, “I needed to understand what they were experiencing, and I needed to feel their pain; how could I bring help or healing to the streets if I did not know what their needs are?”

To put it bluntly, people in Wayne tend to avoid Paterson like the plague. But not Pastor Keinath and the folks at Calvary Temple.

This church is reaching out to their neighbors in some vital and tangible ways. They are not only taking basic supplies to the homeless but they are bringing them to services at the church on Sundays.

This is just the beginning of what Keinath calls “a long-term solution” that includes building a center that will “shelter the homeless while helping them recover from problems including substance abuse.”

Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39) is being the church as God intended. It’s living out the gospel like the Christians of Caesarea did centuries ago.

In the early fourth century, the city was hit by a plague. While everyone was fleeing the city, the Christians stayed to minister to the sick and dying.

As the church historian Eusebius wrote, “All day long some of [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them.” Other Christians took it upon themselves to feed the rest.

This is how Christianity prevailed over Rome and spread like wildfire. And the same is still possible today.

Hitting the streets to meet peoples’ needs. This is where the Church belongs!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Compassion, Generosity, Grace, influence with the world, Inspiration, involvement with the church, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Serving

Keeping our vows

The Vow is a movie that came out in theatres a week and a half ago. It is based on Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s story. Since I’ve not seen the movie I’m not endorsing it but simply referring to it.

According to the Carpenters, the romantic movie is not even close to telling the true story of faith and commitment that has kept them devoted to each other for 20 years.

It began 10 weeks after their wedding on Sept. 18, 1993 when a serious automobile accident left Krickitt with no memories of her husband or their new marriage.

A severe brain trauma wiped out 18 months of her life — the entire time she and Kim met, dated and married.

While he was still madly in love with her, he was a stranger she wanted nothing to do with.

The glue that kept them together was their faith in Christ and the promise they had made before God.

“Both of us know unconditionally we would not have made it through this ordeal without the Lord being in the center of it all,” says Kim Carpenter.

Krickitt spent months in a coma and then months more in physical therapy, but she has never regained those 18 months of memory. Her recovery was slow, her personality changed and at times she told Kim she hated him.

“At a low point in my life, I didn’t think this marriage was going to work. I didn’t have the faith that we were going to make it,” Kim said. “At the same time, I wasn’t going to leave her in the state she was in; I was vowing to stay with her.”

The media first learned of their story when a reporter came to interview Kim about his work as a baseball coach. In the course of the conversation, the story came out.

When the Carpenters renewed their vows at a second wedding in 1996, it was a media frenzy. People were amazed and encouraged by their story, so Krickitt asked God to use their story to show others His amazing love and power.

“We enjoyed the movie but we were a little frustrated by the artistic license they took,” Kim said. “The dramatization in the movie was much greater, but it is hard to put 20 years of challenges into 103 minutes.”

Krickitt’s faith never faltered, and she never considered divorce.

“A Scripture I really hold onto is Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ I believed I was called according to God’s purpose, and I followed with my whole heart,” she said.

Kim said he has taken offense to some of the media reporting him as “heroic, courageous, manly.” They insist they are an ordinary couple with two children, Danny and LeeAnn.

“It is amazing we live in a world that there is such a big deal made about a man and woman who simply did what we said we were going to do,” Kim said.

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

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Filed under Commitment, Courage, Determination, Faith, Inspiration, Loyalty, Marriage

The value of discomfort

I recently read about a long-distance runner named Dean Karnazes. Check out his list of accomplishments:

  • He ran fifty marathons in fifty states on fifty consecutive days.
  • He once ran 350 miles in three days—without stopping and with no sleep.
  • He’s run the Badwater Ultramarathon seven times. It starts in Death Valley, 250 feet below sea level and concludes, 135 miles later, halfway up Mt. Whitney, at 8,360 feet. He won the race in 2004 on his fifth attempt.
  • He runs 100 to 170 miles a week.
  • He couldn’t find time to run 4–6 hours a day, so he began sleeping less. He currently only sleeps four hours a night.
  • His resting heart rate is 39 beats per minute!

Can you begin to fathom the kind of energy and effort and discipline it requires to accomplish such phenomenal physical feats?! It truly staggers the imagination!

In another interview in Outside magazine, Dean offers a unique perspective that many of us have forgotten:

Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.

I believe that in every area of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, vocational - God desires to stretch us and grow us. He longs to bring the real us out because each of us is His gift to the world. We each have a role to play in furthering His kingdom plans here on earth.

Are we settling for comfort or giving ourselves to be stretched and used for His glory?

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Filed under Choices, Determination, Glory of God, Health & Wellness, Inspiration, Morphing

Chelsey’s Story

This is a powerful testimony of how God uses us to touch and change lives with his love. This is my first time using Vimeo on my blog so if the video doesn’t appear try clicking here.

Who is it that God has brought into your life that needs to experience His love?

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Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Evangelism, Freedom, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Love of God, Loving others, Mercy, Morphing

Because faith is a verb

Tonight, I rock a baby who is not mine.

For the fifth time this year, we have a foster-baby.

I snuggle her close and gaze into her eyes as I feed her a bottle and sing Jesus over her. I kiss her forehead and pat her back just as if she were mine. I swaddle her tight and I tuck her in beside my pillow as if she were mine. But Jesus said, “Not this one.”

When we offer to foster a baby in the midst of our craziness, and when people learn that we are fostering another baby, they make the “you’re crazy” face. (come to think of it, people make that face at me a lot ;) ) “Don’t you already have your hands full?”

Yes. My hands are full. My heart is full. My life is full. And that is why I do it. Because faith is a verb. Faith does. Love does.
~ From a blog by Katie Davis

In December of 2006, 18-year-old Katie Davis from Brentwood, Tennessee, traveled to Uganda for the first time. She was immediately captivated with the people and the culture.

In the summer of 2007, Katie returned to Uganda to teach Kindergarten at an orphanage. As she walked the children home, she was shocked to see the sheer number of school-aged children sitting idly on the side of the road or working in the fields. She learned there were very few government-run public schools in Uganda, and none in the area where she was working. Most schools in Uganda are privately operated and therefore require school fees for attendance, making impoverished children unable to afford an education.

God laid it on Katie’s heart to start a child sponsorship program. Originally planning to have 40 children involved, the program now sponsors over 400 children.

Now the mother of 13 daughters, Katie offers, “People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people.” 

You can read more about Katie here.

God isn’t calling all of us to move to Uganda and love on children in need. But He is calling us to live out our faith in some tangible way. What is God pulling your heart to do?

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Filed under Courage, Determination, Faith, influence with the world, Inspiration, Loving others

A one-man band

Josh Wilson uses a loop pedal to play an instrumental version of Amazing Grace that is simply amazing!

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Filed under Grace, Inspiration, Music Video, Worship

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

There’s an old proverb that’s states, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” ~ Proverbs 26:11 But what if we could better prepare ourselves to stay away from folly all together and learn from those further down the journey of life?

Adam Donyes is the Founder and Director of the Kanakuk Link Year - a special learning process for high school graduates that prepares them for college. He lives in Branson, Missouri with his wife and dog. Over the past twelve months Donyes has been polling fifteen different men.

The list of men includes President’s of Nationally known Ministries and Corporations, Authors of best-selling books, CEOs, CFOs, a Division 1 basketball coach, and even a man listed on the Forbes 400. In an effort to learn and grow from their experiences he’s been asking them one question:

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

He received 45 nuggets of wisdom and narrowed it down to 15. From that list I want to share the top ten that really struck a chord with me. If you have a nugget of your own that you would add to this list leave me a comment.

  1. The most important person you can lead is yourself.
  2. Nothing is more valuable than relationships.
  3. Maximize the moments with your children.
  4. Listen—you will never find the pulse of your family or organization if you don’t learn to listen.
  5. Worrying is temporary atheism. Rid yourself of worry.
  6. Spend time reading and receiving the Truth every morning, because the world will only lie to you the rest of the day.
  7. Saying “I’m sorry,” when spoken from a genuine heart, has great healing power.
  8. Character should always trump talent.
  9. Retreat and Rest—if ships don’t come back to the harbor, they’ll eventually sink.
  10. Don’t stop learning—you’re not as smart as you think. make the most of this day!

May we all learn from the expriences of others and use it to make the most of this day!

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration, Life in General

Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns

Every day is a divine opportunity to praise God but Sunday tends to be the day we gather as communities of faith to offer up collective worship.

Sometimes praising God flows easily because life is basically going well for us. But at other times praise is much more challenging because of difficulties that seem to have us surrounded and feeling the weight of the world. Those difficult moments are when praise can be real and deep and truly meaningful.

To praise God even when circumstances are unbearably hard requires faith and courage and a relentless trust in God. This video is a few years old (2007) but delivers a powerful and timely message. Whether you’ve heard this song or not you’ll be blessed and challenged by the story that precedes it!

If this video does not load or play properly click here.

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Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Courage, Faith, Inspiration, Praise, Suffering, Trusting God, Worship

A testimony of persistence

Alison Levine is simply an amazing woman! Her life is a stunning testimony that with persistence you can accomplish extraordinary things; even despite physical challenges. Here’s a quick list of her accomplishments:

  • Alison served as the team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition.
  • She skied across the Arctic Circle to the geographic North Pole.
  • She made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile journey from west Antarctica to the South Pole.
  • She completed the Adventure Grand Slam—climbing the Seven Summits (highest peak on each continent) and skiing to both Poles, an accomplishment fewer than thirty people in the world can claim.

On her first attempt to reach the top of Mt. Everest in 2002 she led the first women’s team ever to attempt this feat. All the major media were covering her expedition. Ford Motor Company was a major sponsor. Talk about pressure! Yet, she made the tough decision to turn back just 200 feet from the summit.

Though heart-breaking, she didn’t give up. She came back to Mt. Everest in 2010 at the age of 44 with another team. This time, they successfully reached the summit.

How’s your persistence?

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Filed under Commitment, Courage, Desire, Determination, Inspiration

God’s vision for you

As sure as God made you, He also has a vision for how your life will go. He doesn’t force it on you, or play tricks on you to see if you’ll stray. He stands by, patiently waiting for hearts that will turn to Him with a sincere desire to know His will at any given moment. And since He also invented communication, you can rest assured that when God is ready to give you direction, you can’t miss it.

~ Excerpt from Discovering God’s Will by Andy Stanley

What is God’s vision for your life?

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Filed under Encouragement, God's Will, influence with the world, Inspiration, Life in General, Trusting God