Category Archives: Christianity

Christianity is all about…

larry-crabb-photo“Life in Christ is all about relationships, with God, others, and ourselves.  When we reduce Christianity to a series of steps for handling life better or a set of truths to believe or a list of things to do, we miss the whole point of the gospel. God created us (and then re-created us) to enjoy His kindness and loving generosity and, in the strength of that enjoyment, to reflect His character by giving ourselves unselfishly to each other.”

~ Larry Crabb Jr., Understanding Who You Are

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

 

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Filed under Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Loving others, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Satan’s Masterpiece

Satan’s masterpiece is not the crack addict. Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is satisfied with this world. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is untroubled by all that is in his Larry Crabb Captureor her interior world that’s opposed to God. He’s content with all the resources that he has to make his life work, and he’s enjoying respect and recognition and affection, and he’s never broken before God to the point where he lives for no one but God. That’s Satan’s masterpiece.

The Spirit’s masterpiece is someone who doesn’t look very mature sometimes. The Spirit’s masterpiece can be someone who is deeply troubled, someone who struggles a lot, someone who is aware of his or her own interior world and doesn’t like what’s there, someone who’s troubled by the world in which they live, someone who therefore cries out to God, “Reveal Yourself to me. You’re all that I want. There’s nothing in my perception that can satisfy me except You. I know it’s You.” That’s not foolishness. That’s wisdom, and the person who’s crying out to God for satisfaction may look very unstable, may not have a good job, may not have very much money. They may not be chipper and happy all the time, but if that person is in fact the Spirit’s masterpiece, all that may be going on… there’s still going to be a pattern of kindness, a pattern of movement toward other people, and a pattern of abiding trust in God through struggles along the way.
~ Dr. Larry Crabb in SoulCare 201, Lesson 7

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Satan, Trusting God

Learn to enjoy his presence.

John Ortberg“Many Christians expend so much energy and worry trying not to sin. The goal is not to try to sin less. In all your efforts to keep from sinning, what are you focusing on? Sin. God wants you to focus on him. To be with him. “Abide in me.” (John 15:4) Just relax and learn to enjoy his presence. Every day is a collection of moments, 86,400 seconds in a day. How many of them can you live with God? Start where you are and grow from there. God wants to be with you every moment.”
~ John Ortberg in Soul Keeping

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

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12 Forgotten Things Every Christian Should Know

As someone in the middle of the journey of following after Jesus I found this article by Frank Viola very accurate and encouraging. Perhaps it will likewise encourage you or someone you know.

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Jesus Christ has seven ministries today. One of them is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. In this role, whatever Jesus has begun in your life, He has promised to complete (see Phil. 1:6). That’s great news!

The beginning of the Christian life is easy. The end is joyous. But the middle is where the fiercest battles take place, and many fall away. The real test of faith comes in the middle of our journey.

Jesus is the trailblazer, pathfinder and pilgrim of God’s way. This is the meaning of Christ being the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Not only did Jesus blaze the trail, but He also finished the pilgrimage. And He gives His people the strength to tread where He trod and arrive where He awaits.

I wish someone had told me the following things when I was walking on the clouds of the newfound joy of my salvation at age 16. This list goes beyond the typical recommendations for new believers (read the Bible, pray regularly, get involved in a fellowship, etc.). I’m not mentioning those, as they are “givens.”

The list doesn’t represent any kind of order or priority. Rather, this list offers some honest insights and practical advice for your journey as a believer:

1. Christians will break your heart.

The greatest pain you will receive will be at the hands of fellow and professing believers.

2. Not everyone who professes Christ knows Him.

The fruit of real faith is love—treating all others the same way you want to be treated.

3. God will not meet all of your expectation.

And he will sometimes appear not to fulfill His own promises.

4. You will experience dry spells where there is no sense of God’s presence.

Learn to live by faith, not feelings.

5. Build a library and read the best Christian books in print.

Don’t waste your time on “pop” Christian books. Go for depth.

6. Write your goals down (goals = dreams = prayer requests).

And document when a prayer or goal is answered or fulfilled.

7. Never judge other Christians unless you’ve walked in their shoes.

Always think the best of others (Matt. 7:12).

8. Choose a mentor.

But never choose one who is insecure, speaks negatively about others or has an inflated ego.

9. Some of the things you struggle with now you will struggle with when you are old.

Resist condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

10. Many of the answers you have now will prove inadequate later in life.

Always be a student and a child in the kingdom.

11. Never bluff an answer to someone’s biblical or theological question if you don’t know the answer.

Learn to say, “I don’t know.”

12. Discover who you are in Christ, and learn what it means to live by His indwelling life.

While there is a great deal of talk today about following Jesus and being a disciple, very little airtime has been given to discovering how to live by Christ’s indwelling life.

This is both tragic and ironic, because we cannot follow Jesus or properly be His disciple if we don’t know how to live by His life.

And this is the heart of the New Testament and the gospel.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” … “Not I, but Christ lives in me.”

~ This article is an excerpt from Frank Viola’s new book, Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ.

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, God, God's Faithfulness, Religion and Spirituality

Why is it called “Good Friday?”

As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ.

First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century. Among the possible origins for the term “Good Friday” there are two that are most plausible.

The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name “Gute Freitag” is Germanic in origin and literally means “good” or “holy” Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name “God’s Friday,” where the word “good” was used to replace the word “God,” which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud.

It was no coincidence that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey (Psalm Sunday) on the very day that Jewish families were to choose a lamb to sacrifice. And Jesus’ death occurs at 3:00 p.m. on Friday which was the very hour that the sacrificial lambs were slain in the temple. John the Baptist said it best when he declared:

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” ~ John 1:29

This song by Ray Boltz is one of my favorites for depicting both the brutality of Jesus’ death and the beauty of God’s love on display some 2000 years ago on what we refer to as Good Friday.

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

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Maundy Thursday and Good Friday… Why Bother?

Maundy Thursday 2Growing up in the Catholic Church I’m sure we attended on some of the days that are special according to the church calendar but I don’t recall. Then in my late teens I surrender my life to Christ Jesus and was part of an independent Christian Church that didn’t observe such days except for Easter and Christmas.

Fast forward three decades and for the last few years I’ve pastored a church that does participate in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services; and I’ve come to appreciate them very much.

Enduring a power outage gives you a new appreciation for electricity and all the comforts that come with it. And not surprisingly, the longer our gap of no power lasts, the greater our appreciation for it grows.

New depths of disappointment tend to be followed by new heights of joy.

In a similar way, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday develop in us a greater appreciation for Easter. They are opportunities for us to experience and contemplate some of what the disciples must have experienced with Jesus during His final hours …

  • Their excitement of gathering together for the Passover Meal, wondering if Jesus was about to take the throne and restore Israel to a state of independence…
  • Their uncertainty when Jesus led them to the garden to pray …
  • Their shock when Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested like a common criminal…
  • Their disbelief and utter horror as their teacher, the one they’d left everything to follow, was being tortured and nailed to a cross…

But then Sunday comes and with it the empty grave! How can we begin to describe the powerful emotions that must have swept over them with all that was going on?

Making time to participate in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services helps to develop in us an even greater appreciation for Easter and the hope that was born again when Jesus conquered death!

Find some services at a church near you or locate some resources online to reflect on what took place so many years ago. And then celebrate Easter like never before!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Easter, Good Friday, Jesus, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Does archeology help or hinder trust in the Bible?

I’m not a big science buff but did find this article by Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint rather interesting. There is a link at the end of the article if you want to read more.
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Archaeological finds that claim to de-bunk the Bible are sure to make headlines. But what about all the other archaeological evidence?    

Recently, two researchers from Tel Aviv University made headlines when they claimed that the Bible’s historicity was undermined by, of all things, camel bones.

Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas

The camel bones in question were discovered in ancient copper mines south of the Dead Sea. After dating the bones to the tenth century before Christ, the researchers concluded that the stories of Abraham and other patriarchs possessing camels 1,000 years earlier could not have been true.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline? As Todd Bolen of the Master’s College told Christianity Today, their conclusion, based on a single finding, was definitely “an overreach.”

And Titus Kennedy of Biola pointed out that “a camel is mentioned in a list of domesticated animals from Ugarit, dating to the Old Babylonian period,” which ran from 1950-1600 BC, around the time of the biblical patriarchs.

Speaking of facts, in the latest issue of Biblical Archeology Review, Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue asks and answers the question “how many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically?’

The conservative answer is at least fifty.

The most famous of these is King David who, until relatively recently was believed by many scholars to either be a “shadowy, perhaps mythical ancestor” or a “literary creation of later biblical authors and editors.”

All of this changed, however, in 1993 when archaeologists found a stele dating from the ninth century B.C., commissioned by the king of Damascus with the inscription “House of David.” The issue of David’s historicity was laid to rest.

In addition to David, archeologists have been able to independently corroborate the existence of kings such as Hezekiah. The water tunnel he used during the Assyrian siege, described in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, has been discovered in Jerusalem.

Confirmation isn’t limited to those described as doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Eight of the northern kingdom’s kings—including the notorious Ahab and Jeroboam II, whose reign was denounced by Hosea and Amos—have been verified archaeologically.

Nor is independent corroboration limited to the kings of Judah and Israel. The existence of numerous pagan kings mentioned in the Bible has been verified by archeologists. Some of them, such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Cyrus the Great of Persia, are prominent figures in world history.

Others are not. Second Kings and Isaiah both mention Adrammelech, the son and murderer of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. The Bible tells us he then fled and never took over as king. Cuneiform inscriptions confirm the biblical tale.

Even the Iron Age equivalents of middle-level bureaucrats mentioned in Scripture have been independently verified.

Make no bones about it: The Bible is easily the most verified book of antiquity—and not just its historical figures, but the copies of the manuscripts themselves. It’s not even close. For instance, the oldest surviving copies of works we have by Herodotus, Plato and even Homer only date back to the early middle ages—some 800 and 1,300 hundred years after they were written.

In contrast, as Frederick Kenyon of the British Museum put it, “the interval … between the dates of the original composition [of the New Testament] and the earliest extant evidence [is] so small as to be in fact negligible.”

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You can find other similar resources at the bottom of the article as it appeared on the BreakPoint Web site by clicking here.

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

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture