Category Archives: Choices

Letting vs. Making

available to GodThe potential pitfall for those of us who want to let our lives count comes when we shift gears from simply letting to frantically trying to make our lives count. Your life can count when you forget trying to make something happen and simply let your life be available to God.
~ Excerpted from Let Your Life Count by Donna Partow

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, God, God's Will, influence with the world, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

The Focus of Your Life

More Jesus - Less Religion - Book CoverWhen Jesus walked this earth, he worked to get the focus off “good” people doing what appeared to be “good things” and to get their focus back on God. Many people in first-century Israel were pointing to the rules; Jesus pointed to a God who wanted a relationship with his people. Religious professionals focused on the law; Jesus focused on the Lawgiver who knew our hearts and offered us grace in the midst of our failures.

A healthy, growing faith is always focused on the person of God himself, not on cheap substitutes. A healthy faith begins and ends in God, not in rules or regulations or sheer, raw duty. Jesus, not religion, is at the core of a robust Christian faith.

Today Jesus offers you and me the same opportunity he gave to those people in the early church. Oh, we can still perform and conform out of obligation. We can still try to feel good by all the “good deeds” we chalk up.

Or we can love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. We can experience his love and come to know him intimately. We can stop hiding behind our facades of religious order and meet him right where we are. We can focus on him and find sanity, rest, and peace when all hell seems to be breaking out around us.

I urge you to experience for yourself his love and acceptance. Grow closer to him and choose him because you truly love him. Make him—not your “good deeds” nor anyone or anything else—the focus of your life.

I promise…you will never regret it.

~ Excerpted from More Jesus, Less Religion by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

What will be the focus of our life in this new week?

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

 

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

“But if not.”

The Dunkirk Evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, between May 27th and the early hours of June 4th 1940.

dunkirk1

More than 300,000 the British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk in the Second World War and their death or capture seemed all but certain. The evacuation was ordered on May 26th along with a call by King George to pray for the troops.

In a speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill called the events in France “a colossal military disaster”, saying that “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” had been stranded at Dunkirk. In his We shall fight on the beaches speech on June 4th, he hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance”.

At one point during this whole series of events a message was sent to the war command: “But if not.”

It was a reference to the three Hebrews in the book of Daniel who refused to bow to a golden statue erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. The choice was bow to the statue and save their skin or honor God and face the fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” ~ Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV)

They chose to honor God and He rescued them from certain death, but what’s amazing is that they made their choice knowing God was able to save them but not knowing if He would save them.

We face difficult circumstances all the time. And it’s completely understandable to ask God to straighten out the kinks. But are we ready to trust Him even if He doesn’t? Will we say…

But if not.

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

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Filed under Adversity, Choices, Christianity, Courage, Faith, God, God's Will, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

Place it before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
~ Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

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May we give ourselves fully to God this day and the process of transformation He longs to accomplish in each of us!

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Discipleship, God, God's Will, Morphing, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Taking God’s gift for granted.

RhythmsGraceEver given a gift to someone and had it brushed aside like it was nothing special?

I don’t mean the obligatory, exchange-a-name-and-keep-it-under-$10-gift; but one that was carefully and thoughtfully chosen for someone very special.

Ever have one of those gifts taken for granted?

It’s no fun. In fact, it’s downright painful.

But that’s exactly what I’ve done to God.

Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. ~ Ephesians 4:30 (The Message)

The Holy Spirit living and moving in us to make us fit for a relationship with God – whole and holy – is the most precious and costly gift we could ever receive.

The Spirit takes up residence in us in order to draw our attention to Jesus. All of His divine resources are unleashed in an effort to transform us from the inside out so that we have the character of Christ.

But are we participating in the process?

It’s like getting dance lessons from Fred Astaire, but insisting on taking the lead.

… or business advice from Bill Gates, but ignoring his counsel.

… or voice lessons from Celine Dion, but singing in whatever way we want.

I don’t know what this new year will hold in terms of obstacles or opportunities. I don’t have an inside track on God’s kingdom agenda or what role He wants me to play.

But I do know that I can surrender myself more completely to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I can give myself more completely to His mysterious work of transformation.

I can learn to dance in God’s unforced rhythms of grace.

Will you join me?

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Discipleship, God, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Morphing, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Skip Christmas?

According to a recent BreakPoint article by Eric Metaxas, a new survey of Americans found that 45 percent would rather skip Christmas this year claiming they don’t have enough money to celebrate the holiday!

Times are tough and the economy is soft, but does it really all come down to dollars?

Ruth Haley Barton, in an Advent devotional, describes people feeling the pull of Black Friday and stores opening earlier. They didn’t want to leave family gatherings early but didn’t want to risk missing out on great bargains.

“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family…It shouldn’t be that way but in a sense there’s no way around it.  Everything ends up with a dollar amount.  Even your happiness.” 

Maybe it does all come down to the dollars! Maybe it is all about the stuff! Maybe we should skip Christmas!

Bonhoeffer

Or maybe not…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII. Because he strongly and openly opposed Hitler and the Nazi regime he spent two years in prison and was executed just days before the end of the war. This excerpt is from a letter written to his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, December 1, 1943.

I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: “We’re beggars; it’s true.” The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth. ~ From Love Letters from Cell 92

While many today expect a lackluster Christmas due to not enough stuff, Bonhoeffer sat alone in a prison cell expecting a glorious Christmas because of no stuff. He understood that the absence of material things would make more room in his heart for God and the gift of the Christ child come to earth.

question mark orange So what will it be, skip Christmas or create space for God to make it something extra special?

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

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Filed under Advent, Black Friday, Choices, Christianity, Christmas, Consumerism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Divine presence, God, Religion and Spirituality

Black Friday – Sad but true! :-(

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

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Filed under Black Friday, Choices, Consumerism, Contentment