Category Archives: Courage

How many gods? How many worlds?

Meet the BibleA story is told about Rabbi Joseph Schneerson, a Hasidic leader during the early days of Russian communism. The rabbi spent much time in jail, persecuted for his faith. One morning in 1927, as he prayed in a Leningrad synagogue, secret police rushed in and arrested him. They took him to a police station and worked him over, demanding that he give up his religious activities. He refused. The interrogator brandished a gun in his face and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind.” Rabbi Schneerson answered, “This little toy can intimidate only that kind of man who has many gods and but one world. Because I have only one God and two worlds, I am not impressed by this little toy.” ~ Philip Yancey in Meet the Bible

By “two worlds” Rabbi Schneerson is referring to the temporary, physical existence that describes this life up to the grave and the eternal, spiritual existence of our soul which we experience now but which continues beyond the grave.

If our only hope is this present world then the people and possessions of this life will easily become the “many gods” that we cling to at any cost. But if we have a different hope, a better hope that comes from trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord then no circumstance of life will pose a real threat.

None of us can be sure of how we would respond in a situation like the one described here, but we can choose today to be a man or woman with “only one God and two worlds.”

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

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Filed under Christ, Courage, God, Hope, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Philip Yancey, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

Courage trumps fear!

I was hesitant to post anything related to the tragic events in Boston only because there has already been so much said, but I was so touched by the personal account of Linda Leonard Ambard that I wanted to share it in the hope that it might encourage others as well.

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“Today, I was running the Boston Marathon.  I was the cheerful girl zipping through the marathon with a swish of her red polka-dotted skirt and a huge smile on her face.  I ribbed the army people working the course with my call out, “Air Power.”  I stopped twice to use the potty and I was but a quarter-mile from the end when I heard a loud boom, felt the street shake, and started to smell a smell I… never smelled before.  All hell broke loose.  People were screaming and sprinting away from the finish line.  The race immediately ended.  For me, a girl who was invited to run to honor her soldier who was taken by another terrorist on 27 April 2011, it threw me back into a spot where I immediately felt out of control, that my life was being torn apart, and I stood immobilized sobbing for again the terrorist sought to take yet another thing that matters in my life.”

“I find joy in running and I have grabbed my life back by running.  It is the singular aspect of my life that allows me to find my faith and to find happiness.  I am sitting in total disbelief.  How could it be that two potty breaks saved me today?  How can it be that as I was running to snub my nose at the terrorist that took Phil, another sought to destroy the hard-fought for happiness I have found.  It cannot end this way.  I am shaking and I am physically ill tonight, but I will pick myself up one faltering step at a time until I can run victorious once again.  I cannot let these vile monsters create any more fear in my life.  I just can’t.”

“There were heroes today.  I met a man who was an instructor at my training these past weeks.  He brought his family and found me.  He got me back to my hotel.  A nurse sat with me as I sobbed my eyes out and shook violently in the Dunkin Doughnuts store.  So many people called me.  My phone did not have reception, yet the singular two phone calls that got through were phone calls from people who came to get me.  My children were terrified and that is what hurts.  This event brought fear back into my family–fear of loss and fear of violent acts.  How can I fix the hurts in my children when I am right there?  I ask for prayers and I ask for some time to process this event.  I will find the strength that I fall into with my faith.  The terrorist will never EVER maim my heart, my spirit, or my drive to live life out loud.  Got that?”

Thank you Linda for sharing your story of resolve and courage! May everyone affected by this tragedy find the same resolve, courage and peace that only God can provide!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
~ Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

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

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Filed under Adversity, Courage, Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Peace, Trusting God

Reckless Abandon

What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t get hurt or injured?

  • Skydive from 10,000 feet
  • Race a sports car at 200 mph
  • Bungee jump off a bridge
  • Strap on a hang-glider and leap off a tall cliff
  • Step inside a metal cage and get lowered into shark infested water
  • Climb Mt Everest or Kilimanjaro
  • Walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls

Reckless_Abandon_470X270Would you attempt them if you knew you’d be safe?

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

When Jesus was arrested all of his disciples ran, after a brief sword incident involving Peter, because they were genuinely afraid for their lives.

According to historians there were at least 18 Messiah wannabe’s around the time of Jesus. The book of Acts tells us about two of them. One of those men is Judas the Galilean. (Acts 5:37) The historian Josephus tells us that this Judas of Galilee founded the Zealots – the group of Jews who believed in physical rebellion against the Romans. He and 2000 of his followers were crucified.

The crosses were all left standing in the Galilean countryside because the Romans wanted to send a message. Jesus grew up in Galilee as did some of his disciples. They would have seen those crosses. They knew what the Romans did to the followers of men claiming to be Messiah.

They had every right to be afraid for their lives. But when they discovered the empty tomb and were visited by the resurrected Jesus all of that changed.

Jesus killed death! There was nothing left to fear!

It’s one thing to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face death with confidence and peace. It’s a whole different matter to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face life with confidence and peace.

That’s what we see happening in the lives of the disciples and the early church. Because of their trust in Jesus’ resurrection, and defeat of death, they lived with a reckless abandon.

  • They sold their possessions to help those in need.
  • They openly shared about Jesus even when it brought persecution.
  • And they crossed cultural and social boundaries to do so.

Sociologist Rodney Stark argues that one of the primary reasons for the spread of Jesus’ movement was the way his followers responded to sick people.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius around AD 165, an epidemic of what may have been smallpox killed somewhere between a third and a fourth of the population, including Marcus Aurelius himself. A little less than a century later came a second epidemic, in which at its height five thousand people were reported dying daily in the city of Rome alone.

Historians tell us that the Greeks and Romans tossed their sick loved ones out into the street to die and avoided burying the dead all in an attempt to escape death. Historians also tell us that the followers of Jesus remembered what He taught about caring for the needs of others, even strangers, and they tended to the sick, even though it cost many of them their lives.

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

What would it look like to love and forgive and pray for and meet the needs of others, even our enemies?

What would it look like for us to live with such reckless abandon?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Serving

“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.

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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

Happy New Year – New Adventures Await!

New-Adventures-Await

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

“I should think so – in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit

You’re casting off from a familiar shore, into uncharted waters. It’s scary and overwhelming. You’re tempted to ask: what if I just can’t handle this? You can handle it. You plus God equals life gets handled. The real question is: will I take advantage of this chance to remake myself, will I discover more of the person God made me to be, and will I have the courage to set out on the amazing adventures God has for me? ~ Unka Glen

It’s a new year full of unchartered adventures! As we experience all that comes with it, may we come to be more fully alive in ways that delight God and reveal His glory to those sharing the journey!

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

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Filed under Adventure, Christianity, Courage, Glory of God, God, New Years, Religion and Spirituality

Do something remarkable

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

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Filed under Choices, Courage, Desire, Determination, Inspiration, Life in General, Motivation, Wonder

Indicators of God’s movement

We might never have known anything about David if God had not arranged for Goliath to arise between David and his kingship. It’s a compelling story—one day David was delivering cheese and biscuits and ended up killing a giant. The next day he was carried through downtown Jerusalem, with women hanging over balconies singing songs to his name. Would any of that have happened without a great enemy?

What would the nation Israel have been without Moses facing down Pharaoh before the great migration out of Egypt? Maybe those 450 years of slavery the Jews endured would have lasted much longer.

Even Jesus lived in anonymity until Satan determined that He was more than Joseph the carpenter’s oldest boy.

Here’s why I say an enemy is a necessity: There’s a Goliath, a Pharaoh, a Satan standing between you and who you are destined to become.

Enemies are indicators to you that God is planning movement in your life, and transition is right around the corner.
~Excerpted from The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr.

It may be a person.

It may be a situation or circumstance.

It may even be a social issue.

One way or another you’re facing – or soon will be facing – a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Don’t just ask God to take it away or give you a way around it.

Surrender yourself to Him and let Him use it to accomplish His bigger purposes.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Conflict, Courage, Determination, God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Trusting God