Category Archives: Commitment

Without Any Reservations

Even with the best of intentions, parenting is a tricky journey. The ups, the downs, the unexpected moments – some good, some not so good. With six kids and 21 years under our belt we have come to rely even more on the grace of God and prayer.

When our kids turned 13 we took them away for an overnight trip full of special events as a rite of passage. One of the talks we have is about making their faith in God their own. But just 5 short years later when the time comes for them to head off on their own you can’t help but wonder how they will do.

We have two out of the nest (mostly) and four still at home. Our oldest is beginning his senior year of college and recently got engaged to a wonderful gal.

Eli has had his share of wrestling through faith issues and growing up the kid of a pastor brings its own unique set of obstacles. But to see him grow into his place in God’s story is so rewarding. Yesterday he posted this on Facebook.

I share it not only because it touched my heart as a father but because it challenged me as a follower of Jesus.

“Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Not even necessarily with a person. The first time you experienced something so powerful or amazing or awe-inspiring that you couldn’t imagine ever living without it again. Something so integral to who you are as a person that if you were to lose it, it would be akin to losing a limb. I remember the first time I ever stepped out onto stage. I was seven. I remember the rush. The exhilaration. The feeling that this was the epitome of how I would ever feel. Fast forward six years and I was back on stage at a community theater. Now, almost nine years later, I’m still in love. Ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you that once I’m in a show, I disappear. Every fiber of my being becomes wrapped up into the show and my part to play.”

“Earlier this week, a very wise man in my life reminded me to, “Never forget your first love.” It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t speaking in reference to my love for theater. He was speaking in reference to God. This is what God longs for from us. That we would be so madly in love with him that every fiber of our being becomes wrapped up in him and his bigger story. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a life, but it’s often so easy to lose sight of our first love. So this is my prayer for myself and for all other believers out there. That we might never lose sight of our first love. That we become so wrapped up in God and his story that we can’t help but be an integral part of it. That we learn to truly and completely let go and love God without any reservations.” ~ Elijah Alvey

Is there anything or anyone we’re loving more than God?

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

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Filed under Commitment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Parenting, Prayer, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

A better strategy!

What would happen if we were to focus on the four out of every ten adults and one out of every three teenagers who have already asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior—and do everything we can to help them grow into inspired, unmistakable disciples of Jesus?

What would happen for God’s kingdom if we did not consider our job complete when people confess their sins and say a prayer inviting Jesus to be their Redeemer, but would use their new commitments to Christ as a launching pad for a lifelong quest to become individuals who are completely sold out—emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually—to the Son of God?

Churches work hard at trying to expand and strengthen the kingdom of God with all types of creative and life-affecting ministries. Thousands of churches are currently fine-tuning their worship services to make them more attractive and compelling. The typical church labors to integrate numerous programs, classes, and other offerings into its menu of possibilities…

But here’s a better strategy: Ignite people’s passion for God and get out of their way. When individuals are single-minded in their devotion to God, their commitment to His ways and His principles becomes much deeper, much more intense. Once they have made an enduring and serious commitment, the peripherals don’t matter as much.
~ Excerpted from Growing True Disciples by George Barna

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God's Will, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

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.

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

Crying out to God

After Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and teaching and studying His Word  for many years, it was only recently that I made what was for me a life-changing discovery. I saw that the Bible makes a distinction between “prayer” and “crying out to God.”

What I have noticed since that time is that He will arrange or allow circumstances to arise that seem to have no solution—and then do nothing to remove the problem. Until I cry out. And not one second sooner!

Each situation seems so hopeless, and sometimes a cry seems so futile. Yet this is precisely the setting God wants in order to demonstrate His loving care and His powerful hand of protection.

Sometimes a cry will bring freedom from emotional bondage; in other cases, God will provide healing from a dread disease, help in a moment of grave danger, or clear direction in a season of deep perplexity.

In every circumstance, the need to cry out is a humbling reminder of my total inability to accomplish anything significant for God. And the result of crying out is a wonderful demonstration of His supernatural power to achieve all that is needed.

~ Excerpted from The Power of Crying Out by Bill Gothard

Lord, may we hunger for You and cry out for Your presence in our lives.

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Commitment, Desire, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God

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.

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

Investing in people, growing as a faith community

I don’t know how it works everywhere around the globe, but here in the American midwest the seasons of the year are noticeably different. This plays a major role in the process of growing a garden.

Well-groomed gardens require different activities according to the season, and those activities occur daily.

This very same principle of ongoing growth is also very evident and necessary in any faith community in which God is actively working to grow and change lives.

So we must continue to invest in the people around us, serving them, receiving from them, and letting God use those experiences to grow us into communities that create results and change lives for the better. We must recognize that significance occurs within the day-in, day-out process of interacting with others.

Just as we make changes in our gardens according to the seasons of the year, so we must adapt to changes within our communities as they struggle, grow, get pruned, grow some more, and flourish. When the harsh circumstances of winter come, for instance, we must huddle together (like the penguins!) in order to sustain one another.

When the spring and summer months provide us the opportunities, we must share in the work of planting and nourishing. And when it’s time for the harvest, we must be willing to serve and celebrate all that God has done and is doing.
~ Excerpted from A Significant Life by Jim Graff

Before we just assume that this is happening within the faith community we are a part of, let me pose a few questions to consider:

Do you see evidence of God working to grow people in your church family?

What season of the growth cycle is your faith community experiencing?

In what ways are you involved with others in sharing the journey of following hard after Jesus?

Are you praying for your church family, inviting God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others?

In what ways are you personally investing in the lives of others to encourage their growth in Christ?

Are you surrendered to what God is wanting to do in and through you?

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

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Filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Serving, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Extraordinary is a “disposition of the heart” sort of thing

Ever feel like your daily routine gets… routine? Every ask yourself how you got where you are? Ever wonder what happened to the spark?

Whew! I’m glad I’m not the only one!

The truth is, God not only desires you to live extraordinarily but also has equipped you to do so. Don’t ever forget these words. Etch them on the tablet of your heart. A remarkable, amazing, extraordinary life is not restricted to certain individuals or professions. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you serve in life.

If you’re a schoolteacher, businessperson, government leader, stay-at-home mom, athlete, factory worker, hairstylist, student, pastor (the list is endless), it doesn’t matter, because you were created for extraordinary achievements in that role.

The power to accomplish remarkable feats and live an exceptional life is not tied to an occupation but to a disposition of the heart. This is not only God’s will but also His great pleasure.
~ Excerpted from Extraordinary by John Bevere

Living extraordinary lives is a “disposition of the heart” sort of thing.

A disposition is a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way. In this case, it means having a heart inclined to bring God glory by doing our very best at whatever it is we are doing.

It’s a new day and a new week, how’s your disposition?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Commitment, Determination, Glory of God, God, influence with the world, Life in General

A DTR moment with God

There comes a time in every serious relationship when you have to pause for a DTR moment.

DTR stands for Define the Relationship. It’s a moment (or moments) in a relationship when specifics get discussed.

  • How often will we date?
  • Are we going to date only each other?
  • Is it time to meet the families?

Obviously, being on the same page is not only desirable but makes for the best possible relationship.

Once God rescued the young Israelite nation from slavery in Egypt He had them make a pit stop at Mt. Sinai for a DTR moment.

God created us to enjoy us so He takes the lead in spelling out what will make for the best possible relationship.

Relationship 101: The Ten Commandments are given as guidelines for relating to God and each other (Exodus 20). Jesus continues this theme when He defines the greatest commandment as loving God and loving others (Matthew 22).

Temple Blueprints: Specifics on how to construct what will be Gods’ temporary dwelling place close to His people (Exodus 25-31). God does not suffer from OCD but is highly detailed because He wants to test their hearts to see if they are serious about their relationship with Him.

Instructions on Living in Holiness: A multitude of details, including animal sacrifices to atone for sin, are given to teach the Israelites how to live holy lives that reflect the glory and holiness of God. (Leviticus)

From a Lower Story perspective it would seem that God is obsessed with details, but from an Upper Story perspective He is simply making sure we know how to maintain fellowship with Him. It’s all about the relationship!

Today is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter. It’s a time to give up something in order to refocus or deepen our relationship with God. It’s sort of a DTR Season.

Whether you observe Lent or not, let me offer two questions to consider:
1. In what ways am I pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
2. What am I consuming (food, drink or activity) that distracts me from pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
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If you’re on our journey through The Story then read chapter(s) 5 this week. If you’re not familiar with The Story you can check it out at the tab above or click here.

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

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Filed under Commitment, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Lent, Loving God, Loving others, The Story

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.

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

God of my… some things

At one time I trusted God with everything; my marriage, my family, my work, my friendships, etc. I was confident that His plans were better than my plans. Life and faith in God were simple and straight-forward.

But somewhere along the way things got out-of-hand.

  • Pressures of life began to squeeze our marriage and less time together meant less of a foundation to stand together against the various assaults that came at us. There were times when we were ready to throw in the towel and quit!
  • As the kids got bigger and ventured out into the world there were new struggles with kids that were cruel and situations that were unfair but beyond our control.
  • Unhealthy work environments began to sap my passion for ministry and without realizing it I slipped into “survival mode.”
  • And then there’s the issue of people! I know how messed up and hurtful human beings can be because I am one. Relationships that don’t get handled well don’t fix themselves or go away; they come back to bite you in the butt!

In short… life got messy and complicated!

What happens when our current faith in God gets trumped by our circumstances of life? Ancient believers referred to this experience as the “dark night of the soul” – a crisis of faith that either destroys our trust in God or drives us deeper into Him.

My first encounter with this was a bit daunting! But I’ve come to embrace this as a healthy and normal part of our journey with God. I’m learning not to dread such moments but to see them as an invitation from God to go deeper in my trust of Him.

The song God of My Everything by Bebo Norman has come to be a powerful reminder that no matter how complicated life gets or how out-of-control it might seem, I can still trust God with everything. If the video below doesn’t play then click here.

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Filed under Commitment, Doubt, Faith, Family, God, intimacy with the Lord, Life in General, Marriage, Music Video, Parenting, Trusting God, Work