Category Archives: Children of God

Embracing our new birthright

We really are more than what meets the eye!

“The word natural is a comfortable word. We can manage it. But supernatural? How do we manage that? Do we actually “not belong to the world” in the same way as Jesus did not belong? That’s what he said. Then how are we to understand those obsessive “earthy” feelings we all have?”

“God tells us we are alive in a way we have never been alive before, possessing a birthright we never possessed before. In that moment when we received Christ, God’s miraculous “birthing” act gave us a value, a beauty, a preciousness that lifts us above all earthy measurements.”

“He encourages us to look deep within at his workmanship and make that unexpected discovery of passion for him and a holiness that will set us free to be ourselves—free to live and to love. He invites us to believe the unbelievable about the miracles he has performed in us that enable us to say enthusiastically “Yes!” to him and “Yes” to life, while at the same time saying “Yes” to who we most deeply are.”
~ Excerpted from Birthright by David C. Needham

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children of God, Christianity, God, Morphing, Spiritual formation

Listening to the prayers of our children

There is so much that we can learn from our kids. Jesus not only welcomed children but challenged His audience, and us, to live life with a child-like faith.

Nowhere is God’s listening ear more keen than when it comes to kids and prayer. When children pray, they open up their hearts to the One who knows them best, loves them the most, and accepts them unreservedly. Kids love from their hearts. That is, they believe without doubt, trust without reservation, live without reluctance, sleep without worry, and laugh without restraint.

I miss the simple faith that trusts so readily and lives so simply. But, if we will listen to the prayers of our children, we just might learn to recapture some of the laughter and love that was once so commonplace in our own lives.
~ Excerpted from Whispering in God’s Ear by Wayne Holmes

It’s unfortunate that we lose so much of our child-like approach to life as we grow older. When that happens with our faith it is tragic. No matter what our age, we are children of God.

What would be different about how we do life today were we to live it with child-like faith in a heavenly Father who delights in us?

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

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Filed under Children, Children of God, Faith, God, Trusting God

Uniquely gifted

Before I became a father I thought that kids were primarily the products of their environments. It didn’t take long for me to change that opinion.

While kids are obviously influenced greatly by their surroundings, they are each wired uniquely. As a father of six amazing and very unique kids I am astounded at how kids from the same gene pool can be wired with such different personalities.

One of the great challenges of parenting is to not compare one kid with another. There are the common experiences that get talked about like first teeth, walking, talking and such. But we have tried hard to instill in each of our children the value of their uniqueness as individuals made in the image of their Creator.

The same is just as important within the kingdom of God and among church families.

While we all share a common directive from God to “go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19), each church fellowship will do this differently according to the individuals who make up that church. And within the same church, there are different members with differing gifts and abilities.

It is never wise to let comparisons leave us discouraged. My background is not your background. My gifts are not your gifts. My experience with Jesus Christ is not your experience with Jesus Christ. My personality package is not your personality package. My sins and struggle areas are probably not your sins and struggle areas. We are different! God calls us as individuals into his great, diverse family that stretches across time and around the world.

Remember, it is God himself who delights to blend such a wild collection of individuals, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses into a living, ministering body that brings great glory to his Son…and endless delight to the heart of the Father.
~ Excerpted from More Jesus, Less Religion by Stephen Arterburn

When we gather with our faith communities, lets celebrate the reality that God has created each of us in His image but with a unique set of traits.

May God be glorified as we all work to carry out a common task in our own unique way.

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

7 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Church, Glory of God, involvement with the church

We all need an occasional reminder

The setting: Our house on a recent Sunday morning as we’re getting ready for church. A brief exchange between Mykaela (one of my 17-year-old daughters – twins!) and myself. I’m in the kitchen and she is in a nearby bathroom.

Me: (walking into the kitchen to find that Mykaela has started a pot of coffee) Thanks for asking if I wanted any.

Mykaela: Well you never ask me if I want any when you fix coffee during the week.

Me: That’s because you’re already gone to school when I make it.

Mykaela: Well… you need to make it earlier.

Me: So I should change the schedule that works for me just to accommodate you?

Mykaela: EXACTLY!

Me: When I get the memo from God that it’s all about you I’ll do that!

This was not a serious exchange but one done playfully. As often as I can, I engage my kids in light-hearted bantering that reminds them that life does not revolve around them.

While I do make every effort to help them embrace that they are unique and special individuals made in the image of our loving Creator, I also make every effort to point out that life is God’s story…not ours.

Our story – if we choose to surrender it – can fit into God’s bigger story and find an eternal purpose. But ultimately, life is God’s story.

It’s easy to forget that. The world markets endless products on the basic premise that we’ll buy into the notion that it’s all about us; that we are the center of the universe. We all need an occasional reminder that it’s not all about us.

So in case you forgot, remember…

Life does not revolve around you! Life is God’s story!
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Children of God, God, Life in General, Priorities, Surrender

What takes His breath away?

Do you have a favorite setting or scene in nature that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away?

  • A bright, sunny day with no clouds in the sky…
  • A sandy beach with waves crashing onto the shore…
  • A forest full of lush, green trees…
  • A humming-bird paused in mid-air…
  • A field full of blooming flowers…
  • A deer drinking from a cool, country stream…
  • A majestic mountain range that seems to roll on forever…

For me, it’s the sun setting over a beach.

The picture above was taken a few years back when our family got the chance to tent camp on the beach of Lake Michigan. There is nothing in the world like going to sleep and waking up to the sound of waves hitting the shore.

Do you know what it is that stops God in His tracks and takes His breath away?

You and me!

Revisit the creation story. Every time God brought something new into the picture He declared it to be “good.” But when He brought Adam and Eve into the picture, God declared it to be “very good.”

Regardless of what might be going on in your life or how you feel about yourself – God is looking at you with a sense of awe and wonder!

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The Story page (see above tag) has been updated with a summary of Week 1 and the sermon from last Sunday has been added to the Sermons/Audio page (see above tag).

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Filed under Children of God, Love of God, The Story

Giving God what only you can give!

I remember waiting what seemed like an eternity to have kids. We had been trying for six years and the specialists gave us only a 5% chance of being able to have children. Yep, they were wrong!

And when Susan was pregnant with our second child I sincerely wondered how I could possibly love another one like I loved the first one. God mysteriously enlarges a parent’s heart!

Now with six of them I’m amazed at God’s grace and amused by how different six kids from one set of parents can be!

Different shapes, different sizes, different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different interests and different abilities.

One of the most enjoyable things about watching them grow up is how they come to express love in different ways. And when that love is directed towards me it is a unique and precious gift because they express it in ways that reflect the unique nature of my relationship with each of them.

The very same unique gift of love is what each of us can offer to God.

We bring God joy simply by responding to Him, by taking time with Him as His loved one, His fair one, to sit at His feet and let Him speak to us His words of love.

How easily we forget what an honored privilege it is to offer our personal worship to God. When you go before Him and worship Him, you give Him what no one else in the universe can give: your own personal love, your own personal adoration, your own personal response to Him. Joy comes when you respond to your heavenly Father with your unique personality, which He created—when you take to heart His Word and tell Him your feelings and your love.

God uniquely fashioned each one of us for Himself…. Each of us is individually precious to Him and will be for all eternity. Each of us can give Him the intimacy He longs for, the intense pleasure and satisfaction of our unique ways of relating to Him.
~ Excerpted from 31 Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers

 How will we respond to God today?

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If you have the time, leave a comment about how you most enjoy responding to God.

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Filed under Children of God, Family, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Loving God, Worship

The Trouble with Invitations

Invitations come in all shapes and sizes today. By email or text message; through Facebook or a personal invite; some even come the old-fashioned way of snail mail. But no matter how they come, they can also cause a fair amount of trouble.

A lack of invitations can leave us feeling unloved, unimportant… even unwanted. None of this is true from God’s perspective. He values us enough to have sent Jesus to die for our sin. But the enemy will use a lack of invitations to try to get us down on ourselves.

Don’t go there! Find your identity first and foremost as a child of God. (1 John 3:1)

On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of too many invitations and this is a big problem today. For a variety of reason we are obsessed with overloading our calendars with activity after activity after activity…

We have somehow come to equate hyperactivity with an abundant life but something just isn’t adding up. We are doing more and more but we are statistically more miserable than ever. Why? Because we have substituted activities for genuine, deep relationships.

Therapist Will Miller, author of Refrigerator Rights, makes this observation.

“If you talk to any therapist today, the problems we see mostly are mood disorders: depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social detachment. As blessed as we are as Americans, as prosperous as we are, there’s all this depression. So where is it coming from? I’m convinced it’s rooted in the loss of ‘refrigerator rights’ relationships.”

A person with refrigerator rights is someone who can come into our home and feel comfortable going to our refrigerator to make a sandwich without our permission. Miller argues that too many Americans suffer mentally and emotionally because they have too few of these kinds of relationships.

No one had more demands on his time than Jesus. And while Jesus was always busy, He was never in a hurry. His discernment in saying “Yes” or “No” to people and their invitations came from first saying “Yes” to intimacy with the Father. (Mark 1:35 ff) It’s a way of life He’s willing to teach us.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message)

Are we willing to learn from Him?

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Filed under Children of God, Choices, God's Will, Grace, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus

“I want a Hallmark movie life!”

I’m usually pretty agreeable when it come to watching stuff on TV. Susan and I enjoy many of the same shows. And having more than one TV in the house helps provide some variety when necessary.

But every once in a while I get a bit ornery and offer some sarcastic commentary… even when it’s not requested! Though I usually do it in a good-natured way just to have a little fun and work Susan up to an ocassional glare or sometimes even a “You can leave now!”

Our little exchange last night brought about a new response from Susan.

She just turned the TV off!

So what brought about such a response? I walked in the Family Room when she and Kyrsten were watching one more (seemingly endless!) Hallmark movie.

Now, I will conceed that compared to a lot of the junk on TV the Hallmark movies do well at promoting solid, healthy family values. But my issue with them is that they ALWAYS end in such a way that everything works out just right and everyone lives happily ever after.

So I blurted…

“I want a Hallmark movie life where everything always works out OK in the end!”

Instead of the usually silent glare Susan perked up and said, “You do! Because with God everything ends up OK in the end!”

To which I responded, “Yeah. But they get it after two hours and then spend the rest of their life living happily ever after.”

I was certain I’d won the moment until Susan replied, “But compared to spending eternity with God, this life is like a two-hour movie!”

Touche’!

When we do life as a child of God it does all work out in the end!

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Filed under Children of God, Christianity, Heaven, Life in General

Remember, others are watching!

Yesterday I blogged about the term hypocrite and how it was Jesus who took a word used simply to describe actors on a stage and used it as a stinging rebuke against the religious leaders of His day. But is it really that big of a deal?

YES!

It is critical for both those inside the church and those outside the church.

To those inside the church Jesus said…

“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” ~ Matthew 5:20

We are saved by grace, but that is no excuse for living as we please. We are children of God and if our outward behavior doesn’t match up with what we profess to believe about Jesus being our Savior and Lord, then we won’t get to experience heaven. That’s about as serious as it gets!

But this issue of hypocrisy is also critical to those outside the church. A book entitled Unchristian written a few years ago is based on a research study that shows eighty-five percent of unchurched young adults believe Christians to be hypocritical. Eighty-five percent say Christians say one thing, do something else.

Wow! Even if you allow for some misperceptions and drop those percentages by 10 percent you’re still looking at some staggering numbers. No wonder more people aren’t attracted to God’s church.

I’m convinced that part of what attracted people to Jesus was the fact that how He lived matched up with what He taught. A person who lives with that kind of authenticity is not only rare but very appealing.

We have to give ourselves to living more authentically. Not only because we don’t want to miss out on experiencing heaven, but because we don’t want to discourage others who don’t yet have a relationship with God.

Remember, others are watching!

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Filed under Authenticity, Children of God, Christianity, Evangelism, Heaven, influence with the world

Making $320,000 look like chump change!

There was an article a while back delving into the true value of a good kindergarten teacher. Anyone have fond memories of kindergarten or the impact your teacher had on you?

This article described that the average kindergarten teacher makes about $30,000 a year. Research, however, has estimated that when you take into account the additional money earned by adults who had a good kindergarten teacher, those teachers are actually worth about $320,000 a year!

That’s no typo! Good kindergarten teachers are making 10x the impact their salary indicates. This does not mean that if you happen to be underpaid in your current occupation you can blame it on your teacher. But it does demonstrate that what we earn can’t define our worth. Salaries, big or small, do not necessarily correspond to our real value.

There are many occupations today in which people pour themselves out for the good of others or the Kingdom of God but don’t get heavily or adequately compensated. You need to understand that you are of more value than the number on a paycheck. What you’re doing and the impact you’re making is significant, even if your salary package is not.

  • Teachers
  • Civil Servants
  • Military Personnel
  • Mothers
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Church volunteers
  • I’m sure you could add to this list…

I doubt that any of us are getting a $320,000 raise any time soon. But perhaps we could give our perspectives a $320,000 raise and understand that the value of what we’re doing is far greater than the money that we’re making.

Your worth is determined by the God who is in you and the impact He’s making through you. And believe me, it actually makes the $320,000 look like chump change.

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Filed under Children of God, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Life in General, Loving others, Parenting, Serving, Work