Tag Archives: Courage

Legacy

Memorial Day is set aside as a special time to recognize and honor those who have given their very life in defense of our freedom. A freedom we should never take for granted.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Navy SEAL Adam Brown and his story as told in Fearless. If you missed that post you can read it here, but I want to share with you the impact it had on the man who wrote about Adam.

Despite the impact and magnitude of the bin Laden mission, Adam’s story stands on its own. Throughout his life he inspired scores of people, and his story has continued to change the lives of many—including mine.

He’s reminded me to appreciate every moment with my family, to be goofy rather than grumpy, to get back up no matter how hard I might get slapped down, to sometimes buy my children a cupcake when I pick up coffee in the morning but to call it a muffin “because,” as Adam would tell Savannah, “as long as you call them muffins, they’re okay to eat for breakfast.” And though I hadn’t opened a Bible in more than twenty-five years, his faith encouraged me to question my own questioning about religion.
~ Excerpted from Fearless by Eric Blehm

Adam Brown’s life and legacy could be summed up with one word: Fearless

What one word do you want people to use when describing your life and your legacy once your story on this side of the grave is complete?

Are you living living that kind of life?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under Choices, Commitment, Courage, Determination, Eternity, Faith, influence with the world, Memorial Day, Sacrifice

Fearless: The Adam Brown Story

I’ve read my share of inspirational stories, but none compares to that of Adam Brown – a SEAL Team SIX Operator. From hometown hero… to drug addict doing jail time… to Navy SEAL, it’s a story of triumph second to none.

Fearless is a chronicle of heroism and humanity at its best. Adam Brown was a man of extremes, whose courage and determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman.

It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses and persevered to reach the top-tier of the US military. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam’s  final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.

“As a rule, we don’t endorse books or movies or anything regarding the command where I work, and Adam Brown worked, but as the author writes in Fearless, ‘you have to know the rules, so you know when to bend or break them.’ This is one of those times. Read this book. Period. It succeeds where all the others have failed.” ~ Anonymous SEAL Team SIX Operator

“Fearless is a clear and deeply honest portrait of an authentic American man who lived and loved with an intrepid personal velocity. For most of us, the failures and disappointments in life take their toll. Not for Adam Brown. He vanquished all life’s heartbreaks with faith, humility, and hard work.”
~ Kurt Johnstad, screenwriter, Act of Valor and 300

Fearless will hit bookshelves next week but I got the chance to read a prerelease copy and had trouble putting it down. I laughed… I cried… I was inspired to live life to the fullest.

To learn more or to order the book go here.
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

22 Comments

Filed under Choices, Commitment, Courage, Desire, Determination, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Loyalty, Sacrifice, Teamwork

Our need for honest feedback

The Last Czar is a biography about the life of Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia. While his generals were brutally suppressing dissent, they told him civil unrest was the result of foreign influence and assured him his own people loved him.

The Czar didn’t have any other source of information so was completely unaware that his generals were not being truthful with him. Not a good position to be in.

When the Communists took over, he was caught by surprise and forced to abdicate. Sadly, the Bolsheviks eventually executed him and his entire family. It is a sad and tragic story.

Few of us are czars, but the same lack of honest feedback can be devastating. We need truth tellers around us in two critical areas.

The first area is horizontal and pertains to our relationships with people. We fill the role of friend, spouse, son or daughter, parent, employee or boss, coach or teammate.

The second area is vertical and pertains to our relationship with God. Our core identity is that of being a child of our Creator; embracing a new identity in Christ.

Maybe it’s because I hit 50 last year or maybe it’s because I have two grown sons living far from home, but I’ve been reflecting more and more on what got my attention in the last 30 years. Relationships are what make our lives rich and we all need feedback to make them as strong as possible.

The area of our relationship with God is perhaps even more critical. All of us live with a gap between what we profess or live outwardly and what is really going on in our heart. For some, this gap is small but for others the gap is rather large.

The danger is that this largely invisible gap is easy to conceal because we tend to focus on managing our external behavior with a highly trained filter. Dress nice, smile and be nice around church friends, drop some money in the offering plate and help out occasionally.

All those things are good but they don’t always accurately reflect what is going on beneath the surface. We need traveling companions who will ask us the hard questions and give us honest feedback.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

God’s design to make us more like Jesus happens best when we journey together and engage in honest feedback.

Who are your traveling companions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Authenticity, Children of God, Courage, Discipleship, Fellowship, Friendship, God, God's Will, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Truth

Bonhoeffer’s prayer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, a participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism and a founding member of the Confessing Church. He was involved in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945, 23 days before the Nazis’ surrender. His view of Christianity’s role in the secular world has become very influential.

Bonhoeffer wrote the prayer below while incarcerated in a Nazi prison, uncertain of what his future would hold.

MORNING PRAYER
O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray And to concentrate my thoughts on you: I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me… Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now, that I may answer before you and before me. Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It’s a new day and most of us are likely enjoying freedom outside the walls of a prison. We may be facing a variety of events and issues; some big and some small; some tough and some easy. But few of us are facing execution.

In the midst of his darkness, Bonhoeffer asked God for the liberty and strength to live in such a way that he could one day stand before God unashamed.

When we pray today, what will we ask of God?

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

6 Comments

Filed under Courage, God, Humility, Inspiration, Persecution, Prayer, Trusting God

Jesus had other options

It’s impossible to know all that the disciples experienced following Jesus’ death, but surely it involved confusion, doubt, anger, shock, disbelief, grief, hopelessness…

Among all the rush of emotions and thoughts, perhaps some of them considered the possibility that Jesus had other options.

From Alan T Dale’s Portrait of Jesus

The Zealots believed that a physical, violent revolt was needed. Surely if they stand up to the Romans, God will come in power to deliver them. Jesus could have taken up arms with the Zealots.

The chief priests controlled the temple. They walked a tightrope of collaborating with the Romans without getting close enough to upset other Jews. Jesus could have gone along to get along and used the temple as a teaching platform.

The Essenes withdrew to the countryside to start over in their own communities. Jesus could have done this and had quite a following out where it was safe and quiet.

Pilate ruled the region on behalf of Caesar. Jesus could have cut a deal with Pilate and worked from within the system to make some changes. Imagine Jesus being connected with influencing the Roman Empire from the inside.

God had already done many miracles through Jesus. All Jesus had to do was call for a legion of angels to come take up the battle. Perhaps one more dazzling miracle is what was needed.

All of these are options, but Jesus chooses none of them.

In the garden, alone and deserted, Jesus says, “I know what I must do. I will not fight. I will not run. I will not deal. I will not dazzle. I will die. I will die. Not my will Father but Your will be done.”

Jesus knows that rebels always die so He dies on a cross in place of the rebels, men like Barabbas. Jesus goes to the cross and literally saves Barabbas’ life.

Jesus knows that with a word from Him the crowds will attack. Many of the Roman soldiers were just boys from nearby Syria working for the Roman government. So Jesus will not say that word. He goes to the cross and Roman soldiers live.

Jesus knows that if He flees to the wilderness, His disciples will be gathered and executed. That happened to every other wannabe Messiah, and His disciples are scared to death. He dies and they are saved.

Jesus knows that any kind of uprising will bring the wrath of Rome and Jerusalem will be destroyed. So He dies to save Jerusalem.

Jesus dies for all these people who hate Him. And from this one act of sacrificial love the world is forever changed.

But they don’t understand. They don’t grasp that this is part of a bigger plan. When Jesus is arrested and crucified, all their hopes die with Him. For this moment… all seems lost.

Jesus had other options, but He chose to give His life.

“No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.” ~ John 10:18 (CEV)

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

3 Comments

Filed under Choices, Christianity, Courage, Easter, God, Jesus, Love of God, Sacrifice, Suffering, Surrender

Immeasurably More!

Have you seen the new commercial by a well-known do-it-yourself store when a couple rushes into a big house where the walls are covered with nothing but white paper?

They are both carrying markers and when they draw the outline of an object on the blank wall it immediately pops into reality. A new appliance, some pieces of hardware, a new window or door.

As a guy with a carpentry background who struggles to complete remodeling projects on our old farm-house in a timely fashion I would love one of those magic markers.

But the point of the commercial is that this particular do-it-yourself store can take whatever you imagine and make it real. How cool is that?! But I’ve got one better.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul prays for them to be rooted and established in love and able to fully grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. Then he makes this amazing statement:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul has own unique way with words. How do you calculate “immeasurably more”? Whatever it is, God can do it with whatever we ask or imagine.

Obviously, this is not a promise to satisfy our own wants and desires. And our ability to imagine tends to grow smaller as we age. But in keeping with God’s kingdom purposes, what can you imagine God accomplishing?

  • Healing for a wreaked marriage?
  • Boldness to share the hope of Christ with those who don’t know Him?
  • Wisdom and grace for parents dealing with a rebellious child?
  • Real peace for a heart troubled with worry?
  • Freedom from addictions or sinful habits?
  • Better choices made by a rebellious child?
  • The hard-hearted person finally opening up to receive God’s gift of grace?
  • Character and integrity in those who serve in our government?
  • Courage to forgive those who have hurt us?
  • A renewed love of God for those who claim Jesus as Lord?

God delights to bring all manner of new life and restored hope because He loves us more than we can begin to fathom. The question is…

… what is it that we ask God for or imagine Him doing?

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

2 Comments

Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Courage, Family, Forgiveness, Glory of God, Grace, Hope, Imagination, influence with the world, Love of God, Marriage, Parenting, Peace, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Trusting God

Kony 2012 – Rescuing invisible children

It turned out to be some of the best advice we ever received!

Years ago, when Susan was pregnant with our first (of 6) children, some close friends had a baby shower with the usual activities. But they also had all the other moms write down their best advice.

Among the nuggets of wisdom was the advice to watch our child sleeping. It was said to be one of the most precious moments a parent can experience.

And they were right!

If you’re a parent, you’ve been there. After a day stuffed full of play and discovery your little bundle of energy is all cleaned up and lovingly tucked into a warm, safe bed for the night.

But what if someone broke into your house to kidnap your child? What if little boys were stolen away in the middle of the night and forced to carry guns and kill people? What if little girls were ripped from their loving homes and used as sex slaves?

Probably not where you thought I was heading with this blog, and the very notion of little children being stolen from their parents probably seems so foreign that you can’t begin to imagine such a thing happening.

But it does!

The little boy who was the reason for that baby shower so many years ago is now 21 years old and yesterday I watched a video on his Facebook page that broke my heart.

Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals who is responsible for destroying the lives of some 30,000 innocent children.

The video below is nearly 30 minutes long. Believe me, I know the value of even a single minute. And I wouldn’t ask you to use 30 of them if it weren’t vital. PLEASE make the time to watch this video.

Then get involved by going here and pass it along to others. It’s just too important to ignore!

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

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Freedom, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Peace, Persecution, Suffering

God’s bizarre strategy

On June 5, 1944 – the day before the Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy – General George S. Patton gave a speech to the Third Army that left no room for failure:

I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am holding my position.” We are not holding… We are advancing constantly, and we are not interested in holding on to anything… Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing, regardless of whether or not we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.

Can you imagine the fear and rush of adrenaline that these young men experienced? The fate of the Free World was truly riding on their shoulders.

The Israelites must have felt the same way as they stood poised to follow Joshua into Canaan to fight for the land that God was giving them. It was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham 600 years earlier. (Genesis 15:16)

And it had been 40 years since they last stood on this very same spot with their parents, grandparents and Moses. Here they are – a new generation – ready to follow God and carry out His kingdom agenda.

But God’s preparations for battle are a bit bizarre, to put it mildly.

  • March over a million people across the swollen banks of the Jordan without any boats, bridges or water wings.
  • Gather all the warriors just days before the first battle and circumcise them.
  • Enter that first battle by placing your musical instruments out front and marching around the fortified city.

From a Lower Story perspective this must have seemed like pure madness. But from God’s Upper Story perspective it made perfect sense.

God wanted to send a clear message to everyone involved, including the Israelites, that this victory was the result of His involvement and not because of their strength. The key to victory was found not in superior weapons and conventional strategy but in obedience.

No less than five times in the book of Joshua they were told: “Be strong and courageous.” Because God was fighting for them they had nothing to fear.

What battle are you facing? What fear are you wrestling with? What is it that keeps you awake at night?

Be strong and courageous!

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If you’re reading along in The Story be sure to read chapter(s) 8. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story then click on the page tab above and check it out.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Courage, Divine presence, God, Kingdom of God, The Story, Trusting God

Are we there yet?

We’ve all been there and we all have horror stories of our “worst road trip ever!”

“Are we there yet?”

Ours was coming home from Lake Michigan on a hot, scorching day in July. All eight of us packed (like Sardines) in an old van with no A/C! LARGE cups of ice got us home.

But that’s nothing compared to what the Israelites went through wandering in the desert for 40 years! Stop and think about it – 40 years!

When the people of Israel were led to Canaan – the Promised Land – they sent 12 men in to scout out the land. All 12 agreed, the land was amazing, but the people were HUGE!

Caleb and Joshua believed that God would give them victory in conquering the land but the other 10 trembled in fear as they related feeling like grasshoppers next to the people of Canaan. Fear ruled the day and they chose not to trust God.

The consequence of their unbelief was wandering in the desert for 40 years – one year for every day the scouts were in the land. While God provided for their needs, He also waited for everyone 20 years old and older to die off before taking the new generation back to conquer the Promised Land.

Unable to go into the new land himself, Moses offered these final words of encouragement:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Embrace life by trusting and obeying God or go the way of death by trusting in their own plans. It’s the same choice Adam and Eve had way back in the garden. It’s the same choice you and I make every moment of every day.

Will we love, trust and obey God today?

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

5 Comments

Filed under Choices, Courage, Faith, Fear, Loving God, The Story, Trusting God

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.

2 Comments

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