Category Archives: Desire

A radical health and fitness secret

A couple of months ago Susan and I bumped into a friend that we’d not seen in a while. She had lost considerable weight and when I asked how she’d done it she said… Get ready. You’re going to want to write this down.

“Eat less, move more.”

I know, I know. It will take a few minutes to wrap your head around such a radical concept. Take your time. Let the layers of wisdom unfold as you pause to reflect on it. And don’t get too upset. Reread the title of the blog. I never said it was a “new” secret.

I don’t know how much money is actually made yearly on new diet plans or books but I am sure it’s no small amount. Add to that the endless parade of new exercise products or workout programs and we could make a sizeable dent in reducing national debt.

But in the end it all comes back to simple common sense and basic physics. Eat less, move more. What great advice!

Susan and I have been doing that for a few months now with riding bikes and eating smarter – more protein and less carbohydrates. Besides losing weight and feeling better, it’s fun to rediscover a whole new wardrobe in your closet.

And along with a changed waistline is a change in what we enjoy. Riding bike wasn’t all that fun to begin with but now we look forward to it. Our bodies long for it if we skip a couple of days. And we no longer crave the junk food.

First, we made a conscious choice to exercise and eat better; then our bodies began to long for and enjoy those things more and more.

The same is true of God. The Spirit abides in us to stir our longings for fellowship with God but we can make a conscious choice to spend more time with God.

We can make time to enjoy His company in silence and solitude. We can intentionally do life with Him as we go through our day.

The more we give ourselves to fellowship with our Creator, the more we will long for it above everything else.

“As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God… Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” ~ James 4:6, 8

It’s a new day and it’s our choice.

 Will we choose to draw closer to God?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Desire, God, Health & Wellness, Holy Spirit, Humility, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Obedience to biblical principles can be wrong?

It’s a surprising thought, and not a little disturbing, that obedience to biblical principles can be wrong. But when doing right is a strategy to get what we want, our energy is pride and our focus is self. ~ Larry Crabb in The Pressure’s Off

Think about it.

We live in a world absorbed with linear thinking. If I do A then I get B as a result. It’s simple cause and effect.

If I want to enjoy dessert then I must eat my vegetables or clear my plate.

If I want to avoid another spanking then I will pick up my toys.

If I wear the right clothes or am a standout athlete then I’ll be popular in school.

If I dress and look and talk a certain way then I’ll get the guy/girl I want to go out with me.

If I get good grades in school then I’ll have a better chance at a good career.

Linear thinking – cause and effect – has its place, but not in relationships. When we apply this principle to getting what we want from people we are manipulating them. And regardless of the outcome… it’s wrong!

This same thought process is especially dangerous in our relationship with God.

“If I read my bible regularly and pray and tithe and volunteer and ________ (fill in the blank), then God will (must) bless me with the good things of life.”

Really? Where is that written?

But I’ve been faithful to You God, why…
… did my spouse leave me?”
… is my kid rebelling?”
… are we struggling with finances?”
… are we experiencing a health crisis?”

It’s not always obvious but it’s often there just below the surface; this notion that God owes us certain blessings.

I don’t think that Jesus is opposed to such blessings in our lives, but when we seek those blessings from God more than we seek God Himself then we are committing idolatry.

And following biblical principles in order to secure blessings from God is a cheap attempt to manipulate and control God.

Jesus said that real life is being in relationship with the Father. This is what eternity in heaven is all about but it starts right here and now.

Forgives us Lord and stir our passions for wanting You more than anything or anyone else in life.

***

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

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Filed under Bible, Choices, Christianity, Desire, Eternity, God, Heaven, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

May God wreck our plans!

We were getting away for a few days to relax and regain some sense of rhythm. But God had other plans!

Susan and I loaded our bikes into the old blue bus (our 20-year-old van) and pulled out late Sunday afternoon headed for a hotel room in Indy. The trip was uneventful, the room was great and the continental breakfast was amazing. But then…

We shopped at a few nearby stores before heading downtown to visit a friend who had just given birth to her third baby. We got within a couple of miles of the hospital when the van started sputtering.

Long story short, we spent another night in Indy and about $500 for a new fuel pump!

The really ironic part is that I’m reading a book about what God may be up to when our dreams get shattered or our plans go up in smoke. And just for the record, I prefer reading about it over actually living it. Just sayin’…

There are certainly bigger dreams out there than just getting away for a few days but it stretched our patience to the breaking point!

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb suggests that God uses the big and little obstacles of life to help us come to grips with what matters most to us. Are we pursuing God in order to secure His blessings of a good life or are we desiring a relationship with God above all else?

The deepest longings of our heart cry out for an experience of God’s presence; and yet we so often settle for lesser passions. Only when those lesser passions get thwarted or crushed will we delve deeper into our soul and come to discover our greater passion for God.

An encounter with God is what we were created for and satisfies our soul like nothing or no one else can. But when the lesser passions of life satisfy us, even if they are only temporary, we forget the bigger passion.

It’s sort of like nibbling on junk food too close to the big meal and losing our appetite for real food.

I’ll be honest. I was very angry and frustrated as we sat there in the hot sun waiting for the tow truck to show up. Was a few days away to relax really too much to ask?

But eventually, a different question made its way to the forefront of my mind.

Are these few days away more important to you than God?

God could have kept our van running but didn’t. God could have prompted me to take a different vehicle but He didn’t. (At least, I don’t think He did. Sometimes I don’t listen so well)

If I want God more than I want a few days away and if I choose to trust God as sovereign, then can I trust Him to be working behind the scenes to accomplish something I know nothing about? In essence…

Would I trust God’s character and intentions to be good even if I didn’t know the “why”?

I have no great “TaDa” moment that resulted from our interrupted plans. I’ve gained no great revelation or insight from what took place. And I still don’t know how we’ll pay for the van or extra night in a hotel.

But I can trust the Author of the story to be good and I can once again sift through my passions to see which ones are most important.

May God wreck our plans, no matter how good they are, to help us discover our greater passion for Him!

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

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Filed under Adversity, Contentment, Desire, Discipleship, Divine presence, Frustration, God, intimacy with the Lord, Patience, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Suffering, Trusting God

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

God alone

Theologian John S. Dunne tells of a group of early Spanish sailors who reached the continent of South America after an arduous voyage.

Their caravels sailed into the headwaters of the Amazon, an expanse of water so wide the sailors presumed it to be a continuation of the Atlantic Ocean.

It never occurred to them to drink the water, since they expected it to be salty, and as a result some of these sailors died of thirst.

Can you imagine the scene? Men dying of thirst even as their ships floated on the world’s largest source of freshwater.

Every day our soul thirsts for meaning, purpose, joy, peace, contentment, delight, satisfaction, adventure…

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well He offered her water that would fully and completely quench our thirst. (John 4)

God alone can satisfy the deepest longings of our soul and He makes Himself available to us no matter where we are by His Spirit who dwells within us.

Do our lives resemble those Spanish sailors or are we finding our deepest satisfaction in our Creator – the One who made us to enjoy us?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Contentment, Desire, Divine presence, God, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Peace, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Are we expecting Jesus to make a difference in our life?

A couple of weeks ago a friend blogged about the event in Luke 8 where a woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus’ garment while He was passing by and was immediately healed. It’s an excellent blog post and you can read it here.

As I reflected on what Ali had written about that incident and how it impacted her own journey with God, it got me thinking about another aspect of that same story.

Jesus knew that He had been touched and stopped to ask who had done it. When no one spoke up, Peter said “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” ~ Luke 8:45

In other words, “Come on Jesus, this sort of thing happens in a crowd. What’s the big deal?”

And Peter was right. Think about it. It’s impossible to move through a crowd and not bump into or brush against those around you. There were likely multiple people making contact with Jesus as He moved through the crowd.

So why did this one woman experience healing?

Look at how Jesus responds to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” ~ Luke 8:48

This woman had faith. She believed that touching Jesus’ garment would make a difference in her life. She was expecting something to happen as a result of reaching out to encounter Jesus.

And notice where this takes place. It’s in the midst of a crowd walking by. It was an ordinary moment that was part of an ordinary day.

  • No special location…
  • No special occasion…
  • No special music…
  • No special wardrobe…
  • No special surroundings…
  • No special ANYTHING!

What made this ordinary moment somehow extraordinary was the divine presence of Jesus and the expectation of one woman who believed that He could make a difference in her life.

Today is just today. But it is ripe with the presence of Jesus everywhere if we will choose to recognize Him.

Are we drawing close to Jesus? Are we expecting Him to make a difference in our life?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Desire, Divine presence, Faith, Healing, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God

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.

***
© 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

What would we ask of God?

We’ve all heard jokes about being granted a wish by a genie, but what if God showed up to grant us a request? This actually happened to a guy I know who was very serious about following God.

You can read about it yourself in 1 Kings 3:1-15. That guy was none other than Solomon, son of King David. After David’s death, Solomon became the next King of Israel. After completing the Temple God showed up in a dream to grant Solomon whatever he wanted.

Solomon could have requested anything of God but asked for wisdom to lead the people of Israel. It was a very selfless request and God was very pleased with Solomon.

In fact, God was so pleased that He gave Solomon not only what he asked for but more.

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. ~ 1 Kings 3:10-13

People came from far and wide to learn from Solomon. And he penned thousands of proverbs because he wanted everyone to benefit from what God was teaching him.

But it didn’t last…

As wise as Solomon was, he broke God’s boundaries and married women from other nations. God had not placed this restriction on Israel because He was a racist but because He knew that if they let themselves be influenced by people of other nations they would eventually be led into worshipping false, pagan gods.

As selfless and respectable as Solomon’s request was, I believe his father David made an even better request.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Solomon wanted wisdom to serve God well.

David wanted more of God’s presence.

We don’t have to wait for a dream or special visit from God. We are made in His image and exercise a free will. We choose what matters most to us every day by what we give our time, attention and energy to pursuing.

Will we choose the presence of God above everything else today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Desire, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Loving God, Priorities, Relationship with God, The Story, Wisdom

Are we really pursuing the better life?

So… exactly how would you define “better life”?

  • More money…
  • Better job…
  • Newer car…
  • Bigger house…
  • Happy kids…
  • Better health…
  • Dream vacation…
  • Happier relationship/marriage…

“Have you ever realized that living for the Better Life is an insult to God?  It’s the same insult paid by the prodigal son to his father: ‘Your only value is what you can do for me.  I don’t have any interest in knowing you.  Just give me what I need to enjoy this life.’ That’s too close to how we think.” ~ Larry Crabb, The Pressure’s Off, Page 149

When God met Moses in a burning bush that did not burn up, He said that His name was “I AM.” It’s a simple verb that means “to be” or simply “be.” God was expressing that He alone is the essence of life.

Jesus came to dwell among us as the only one who could make God known to us (John 1:18). John also describes Jesus by saying, “in Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).

A little further on in John’s account he records Jesus saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

The real “better life” is deeper, richer intimacy with God!

Are we seeking God for His blessing, what we can get from Him to make life here more comfortable; or are we seeking God for greater intimacy with Him?

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Filed under Desire, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God