Category Archives: Compassion

May God bless you…

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

– Franciscan Benediction

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

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Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Compassion, Grief, influence with the world, Justice, Kindness, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Serving, Suffering

For the community of Aurora, Colorado

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

 

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Filed under Compassion, influence with the world, Loving others, Prayer

God’s relentless love

Resist the urge to say you’re too old, too young, too busy, too scared, too worn out, too washed up, too anything to be useful to God.

Truth is, you’ve always been part of his love-the-world plan. Need proof? From the day he formed you in your mother’s womb, God has watched over your every step, making sure you got where you needed to go.

When you stumbled, it was God who steadied you. When you fell, it was God who rescued you. When you lost your way, it was God who carried you home. Why? Because he knows you fully, loves you completely, and holds you close to his heart. God will never give up on you…
~ Excerpted from The Girl’s Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

Like the ocean waves that endlessly rush to the shore, the love of God is relentless in pursuing us and using us to reflect His glory.

God wants to use us today to spread His love and joy and hope everywhere we go.

Are we ready?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Glory of God, God, Hope, influence with the world, Joy, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

Longing

I want neither a blood-’n’-guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero; nor a speculative religion that would imprison the gospel in the halls of academia; nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion.

I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst.
~ Excerpted From The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

 

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Filed under Church, Compassion, Fellowship, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Jesus, Peace

Punching holes in the darkness

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of classic books like Treasure Island, spent his childhood in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 19th century. As a boy, Robert was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighters who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night.

One evening, as young Robert stood watching with fascination, his parents asked him, “Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?” With great excitement he exclaimed, “Look at that man! He’s punching holes in the darkness!”

When we invite Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart we are giving ourselves to further God’s kingdom purposes, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we choose to forgive those who have hurt us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we sacrifice our comfort and resources to help others in need, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we honor God’s boundaries with our sexuality, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we pray for those who despise us or hate us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we take time to listen, really listen, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we let go of worry and instead praise God, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we offer kinds words in return for harsh words, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Culture, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Generosity, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Loving others, Praise

All about love

Jesus came to make available to all of mankind a new covenant relationship with God. After celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus let Himself be betrayed by a friend and gave Himself up to be arrested. Why?

In spite of our reluctance and resistance, the essence and novelty of the new covenant is that the very law of God’s being is love. Pagan philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had arrived through human reasoning at the existence of God, speaking of him in vague, impersonal terms as the Uncaused Cause and the Immovable Mover.

The prophets of Israel had revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a more intimate and passionate manner.

But only Jesus revealed that God is a Father of incomparable tenderness, that if we take all the goodness, wisdom, and compassion of the best mothers and fathers who have ever  lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of the redeeming God.
~ Brennan Manning in The Signature of Jesus

Only love can begin to explain why Jesus would surrender Himself to go through being tortured and crucified for our sins.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8 (NASB)

As we prepare to celebrate Easter may we be overwhelmed by the love of God!

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

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Filed under Compassion, Easter, God, Jesus, Love of God

What would happen?

You and I live in a culture where we gather in stadiums and around televisions for hours at a time to watch guys run around a field with a pigskin ball in their hands as they try to cross a white line.

We express enthusiasm, emotion, and affection for football and other sports, and it begs the question, what would happen in our culture if the church prayed with such passion? What would happen if Jesus dominated our affections more than the superficial trivialities that garner our attention? What would happen if we spent hours before God praying on behalf of the church, the lost, and the poor around the world?

Of course, your Radical Experiment does not have to start in a stadium. It can start in your living room or prayer closet. Anyplace can be the place you begin to connect the practice of prayer with the purpose of God in the world.
~ Excerpted from Radical by David Platt

He’s right you know. We spend a boatload of time and energy and resources on things that are only temporary.

One day we will all stand before our Maker. Imagine Him asking:

“How could you spend all that time on games and stuff that turned to dust when men, women and children all over the world were lost and needing to know me?”

I don’t offer that to make you feel guilty but as a gut-check. Are we paying attention to what matters most?

Beyond arenas and games, there are even good things that can distract us from the more important work of praying for those who don’t know Jesus.

I read the David Platt quote yesterday morning as I was gearing up for a big week of activities surrounding Easter. With three messages to prepare, three services to plan, and a fourth service to participate in I was already feeling some pressure.

These are good activities surrounding what is arguably one of the most important days for all followers of Jesus. I want to do a good job and that’s one of the reasons they hired me.

But even preparing for our church activities should take a back seat to praying for those all around the world who do not yet know the grace and truth of God made real and available through Jesus!

What would happen if we spent hours before God praying on behalf of the church, the lost, and the poor around the world?

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Church, Compassion, Determination, Easter, God, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Jesus, Loving others, Prayer, Priorities

Why all the facial hair?

My good friend Jeff is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, but if you saw him right now coming down the street you would likely duck into a store or make your way to the other side of the street. Why?

His beard is menacing!

Here, in his own words, is why he is growing it out.

“Rick, I am growing my beard after one of the most humbling experiences of my life at Kid’s Kamp (our version of VBS) 2011. Last year our children and youth ministries were raising money for Dave and Jen Bell, missionaries our fellowship supports in Kenya. In a moment of craziness I agreed to have PART of my head shaved if the kids were able to meet the financial goal we set for them at Kid’s Kamp. We set the goal high, or should I say, I set the goal high. Not surprisingly, the kids and their families far exceeded the goal that had been set for them.”

“After that experience “the Holy Spirit” gave birth to an idea in my heart. There is one thing I do in my life that receives more unsolicited comments than any other thing that I do: that is growing a beard. My unscientific research suggests that 95% of people that comment are strongly opposed to the beard while the remaining 5% are tight-lipped about their opposition. Needless to say, I thought I could use the beard for the cause of Christ.”

“So Sunday, August 7, 2011 is the last time I shaved or trimmed my beard with the exception of my mustache. My much publicized (among our fellowship) intention is to leverage my beard as a means to raise financial support for some very dear friends of mine, Gianni and Stephany Bruno, missionaries with Italy for Christ (click to learn more). The Bruno family will be the missionaries we highlight this summer during our week of Kid’s Kamp and 100% of the financial support raised that week will go to support their ministry.”

“In a typical beard growing year, I never make it past six months of growth, in fact, only one time has that happened. I made it a few days past 6 months and my wife informed me that if I didn’t shave I wouldn’t be present for the delivery of our 2nd child, Hannah. That was all I needed to hear to shave the beard. I’m glad I did since Hannah was born a week later.”

“Thankfully, my wife isn’t pregnant this time around, so I am pretty sure I will be able to make it to the day the beard will be sheared, Friday, July 13, 2012. In fact, in a rare show of affirmation for the beard, my wife recently said, “The beard is growing on me.” To which I replied, “Me too.” Now I am convinced that with God all things are possible.”

We can’t all grow a beard of epic proportions to support those taking the good news of God’s grace and truth to people all around the world. But we can all do something!

Are you making yourself available to God?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Determination, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Inspiration, involvement with the church, Loving others, Missions, Serving

We can make a difference

It’s impossible to ignore all that’s going on in the world but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming.

With all the negative, heartbreaking things going on all around the globe how can one person make a difference?

By doing one small act of compassion at a time!

As we grow in our love relationship with God, we begin to empathize with God. We feel what He feels. Then we begin to sympathize with others.

We experience sympathy breakthroughs as we see the image of God in others. And when those empathetic feelings turn into compassionate actions, they set off chain reactions with eternal ramifications.

Don’t underestimate the spiritual significance of even one act of compassion done in the name of Christ. That one act of Spirit-prompted compassion can change the course of history.
~ Excerpted from Primal by Mark Batterson

What we observe going on in the world may come to us as one big mess but it’s really the culmination of many, many small decisions. We may not be able to change the whole world by demonstrating compassion through one small action; but we can help to tip the scales towards making things better.

I would rather do something and come up short than toss in the towel early and do nothing!

What will we do today to express and extend God’s compassion?

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

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Filed under Choices, Compassion, Determination, influence with the world, Loving others

Being the hands and heart of God

Ever watch a movie or theatre production where someone in a supporting role actually outshines the main character? It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, its noticeable. That’s sort of how I feel about the book of Ruth. In case you are not familiar with the story of Ruth here’s a quick overview.

During the period of the Judges Elimelek and his wife Naomi, along with their two sons, leave Israel to escape a famine and relocate in the land of Moab. Elimelek dies, their two sons marry Moabite women and then 10 years later they die. Naomi is left with two daughter-in-laws in a foreign land. She returns to Israel with Ruth who refuses to leave her side.

Life for widows at that time was very, very bleak! Out of love for Naomi, Ruth gleans (collects leftover grain) from a local field belonging to Boaz. Knowing of Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, Boaz acts favorably towards Ruth not only protecting her but providing extra grain for her to collect. Upon learning of this, Naomi instructs Ruth to make herself available to Boaz for marriage. They eventually marry and everyone lives happily ever after. Honest!

But there’s more!

The loyalty Ruth demonstrates for her mother-in-law Naomi is admirable; especially considering that Israel and Moab had a history of being bitter enemies. But what Boaz does is even more amazing.

As God’s holy people, Israelites were to reflect the heart of God by trusting Him enough to act as His hands and heart toward the less fortunate within their community.  Much of the Law was designed to provide opportunities for Israel to trust God, to be generous like God, to demonstrate the love and the justice of God.  God’s means of taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan was through His people.

The levirate marriage was one such custom.  The term levirate means “husband’s brother.”  It was employed when a man died without a son to inherit his land and carry on a family line.  When those circumstances arose, the husband’s brother was responsible to take the widow as his wife and produce a first-born son who would bear the dead brother’s name.  This son would be the rightful heir to his dead “father’s” estate and would carry on the deceased’s family name.  The following children born to the union of the widow and her new husband would belong to the new husband and bear his name.  (Deut. 25:5-10).

Any man who took on this responsibility was known as a Kinsman-Redeemer. Taking on this role was optional and when another relative declined to accept it, likely because Ruth was a Moabite, Boaz willingly stepped in. He had to give his resources to buy the land owned by Naomi/Ruth but would not keep it as his own. Their first-born son would receive it to carry on the lineage of his grandfather/father.

Boaz had nothing to gain from this arrangement other than the company of Ruth as his bride. His selfless act of compassion is remarkable; and it is a foretelling of Jesus’ role with all of humanity.

Jesus gave up His very life to pay our debt of sin, something we could not do, and purchase for us new life and an eternal future with God. Just as Boaz reflected the love and justice of God, we who follow Jesus are called to reflect it as well among those we encounter daily.

How will we be the hands and heart of God to those we encounter today?

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

If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 10 this week. To learn more about The Story click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Generosity, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Loyalty, The Story