Category Archives: Children of God

What if God doesn’t want us to do life for Him?

Back on Mother’s Day my daughter Mykaela and I were discussing different aspects of a relationship with God when she made a familiar statement.

“I want to do life for God in a way that pleases Him.”

Life with GodI’ve made that same statement countless times and was delighted to hear her express such a God-honoring sentiment. But this time it triggered a peculiar thought.

Doing life for someone typically happens when that person is absent or bed-ridden with illness or even dead. You know, like “Win one for the Gipper.” But since God isn’t absent or sick or dead, maybe there’s an even better option.

Maybe God would prefer that we do life with  Him rather than for Him.

Just before His departure and return to the Father Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus was speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which He describes in John 14:15-23. And Paul said, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

I used Mother’s Day as an example and explained that instead of planning the meals and special activities for Susan, I planned them with Susan. I got her input on what she would most enjoy.

It’s not a bad thing to take 10 minutes at the start of a day to talk with God and commit to living for Him. But how might our days go differently if we went into them with the awareness of God’s presence; of doing life with Him?

Even our most God-honoring plans for any given day will have twists and turns thrown into the mix. If I’m doing life for God with a set agenda then these twists and turns will likely aggravate me as unwanted intrusions. (Quite often they do!)

But if I approach each day with God then perhaps He’ll give me grace for the unexpected or even use them to redirect me toward a divine encounter I hadn’t planned on.

Prayer keeps us connected to God so that we can do life with Him at any given moment. And He delights in doing life with His children!

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Divine presence, God the Father, God's Will, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Prayer, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Like a Little Child

 

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” —Matthew 6:1-2

Dear Abba - Morning and Evening PrayersJesus says in effect: Like a little child, consider yourself to be of little account. Blessed are you if you love to be unknown and regarded as nothing: all things being equal, to prefer contempt to honor, to prefer ridicule to praise, to prefer humiliation to glory. To practice poverty of spirit calls us not to take offense or be supersensitive to criticism. The majority of hurts in our lives, the endless massaging of the latest bruise to our wounded ego, feelings of anger, grudges, resentment, and bitterness come from our refusal to embrace our abject poverty, from our obsession with our rights, from our need for esteem in the eyes of others. If I follow the counsel of Jesus and take the last place, I won’t be shocked when others put me there, too. (Excerpt from Lion & Lamb by Brennan Manning)

Dear Abba,
You know me all too well. I seek out honor and praise and glory on a daily basis like a bloodhound. I find it and I’m satisfied, but only for a day or two as someone or something comes along and ruins it. Then I’m off again, sniffing out something to prove to everyone just how spectacular I am. But I was not created to be a bloodhound, led by his nose. No, You created me as Your child, to be led by Your hand, the hand of a loving Father Who will provide all my needs if I will just trust You. And Lord, that’s where it gets hard.

~ From Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayer by Brennan Manning with John Blase

When I read this devotional yesterday morning Brennan’s words cut to the core of my being. Especially his statement about how our “resentment and bitterness come from our refusal to embrace our abject poverty …our need for esteem in the eyes of others.” So much of what we do or buy seems driven by our desire for significance.

It immediately made sense and then I proceeded to wrestle with it all day long.

Its one thing to consider yourself of no account; but quite another to have people and circumstances confirm it.

  • Could I trust God to be enough?
  • Would I surrender to His agenda?
  • Could I be content simply being a child of the King?

Yesterday I held the hand of our Father and found His love to be enough. Will I trust Him again with this new day?

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Brennan Manning, Children of God, Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

Adopted…

Dug Down DeepWhile justification borrows the language of the courtroom to help us understand God’s work of salvation, adoption uses the language of family to help us see that behind all of God’s saving work is a deeply relational and personal motive of love. God tells us that when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us as his sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5). More than anything else this should convince us of God’s love. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Justification gives us a new legal status. Adoption gives us a new family and a new father. This is another expression of our union with Christ.

Because Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, as we trust in him, we receive his status as a child of God. John 1:12 says that to all who receive Jesus, to all who believe in his name, “he gave the right to become children of God.” In Christ, we are not forgiven servants. We are given all the rights and privileges of natural-born children. We are adopted and welcomed into the warmth of relationship with God as our loving Father. Romans 8:15–16 describes the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of adoption” who enables us to cry to God as our Abba—an intimate Hebrew term akin to dad. It combines intimacy and respect. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit “that we are children of God.”

~ Excerpted from Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Christ, Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Love of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

A True Child of God

Clear Winter Nights - book cover“‘The Word’s powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Even the long lists of names remind you of the faithfulness of God, from generation to generation…’

‘Trusting Jesus and being a true child of God meant that whatever God said about His Son, He could say about me. He loved me…Not because I was smart or special or had great talents or gifts. It wasn’t because I was living the ‘good Christian life’ I was trying so hard to get right. He just looked at me and loved me. He delighted in me like a father delighting in his children. It suddenly all made sense…’

‘And I saw how deep my sin was. How foolish I was to try and fix myself. How silly my attempts at being a good man looked compared to King Jesus. And then I saw grace. I could look through Jesus’s righteousness and hear God say, ‘You are My beloved son…In you I am well pleased.’ And here I hadn’t even done anything.’”

~ Excerpted from Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Children of God, Christ, Christianity, God, Grace, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

Who Are You?

Eyes Wide OpenIf somebody asked me, “Who are you?” I could say lots of things. I could say, “I am Jud. I am married to Lori. We have two kids and a slobbery bulldog named Roxy. And I am horrible at Guitar Hero for Xbox.”

These are aspects of who I am, but my identity is not found in them. According to the Bible, my identity is found in God. He chooses me. I’m His possession. And that is who you are too.

It doesn’t matter what your employer says, what your parents say, what your ex says, or what your friends say. God says that as His follower you are chosen. You are loved just as you are, and your identity is complete in that. You can’t earn it, and you can’t undo it; there is nothing you can do to achieve it. What could be more awesome?

~ Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite

So how would you answer the question “Who are you?”

***

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

5 Comments

Filed under Bible, Children of God, Christianity, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

The apple of His eye

Get LostPsalm 17:8 finds the psalmist pleading, “Keep me as the apple of your eye.” The apple of the eye is the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in another person’s pupil. To see it, you have to be close. Intimate. To see yourself as God does, you have to get lost in His intimacy.
~ Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh

Do you see yourself as God sees you?

Are you pursuing intimacy with the Lord?

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Children of God, Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Like Children Playing

Children playingI recall sitting in a church service with my parents when I was very young, listening to the minister invite people to come to the front for prayer. People went forward (some were crying as they did), knelt, and prayed. When they finished they returned to their seats, and I noticed a distinct change in them. They were happy and at peace. I looked to my dad for an explanation, but he only motioned me to be silent.

Finally a day came when I looked to my dad, and he bent down to speak. “Would you like to go forward?” he asked. I nodded my affirmation. Like those who had gone before, I knelt, prayed, and cried. Before long I felt better too, and I sensed the time had come to return to my seat. My dad smiled. My little world and I were at peace. I didn’t want to ever leave that place or lose that feeling…

I believe I saw the prayer time to be a form of play. It was fun. It made me feel good—just like play. And perhaps most prayer and worship begin for children as an extension of play. Maybe we should go back to that time to discover the pure joy of being in the presence of the heavenly Father. Our cares will be lighter if we relearn how to play in the presence of God, to let our prayers be an extension of the joy that comes from being with the One who knows us, loves us, and accepts us unconditionally.

~ Excerpted from Whispering in God’s Ear by Wayne Holmes

May we find delight today playing in our Father’s presence!

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Christianity, Divine presence, God, God the Father, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Prayer, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

You are unique!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
~ Psalm 139:13-15

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

9 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Christianity, God, Love of God, Wonder

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.

12 Comments

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

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?
***
© 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