Category Archives: Encouragement

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

Always in His gaze

Refining SilverThe woman asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. “Oh yes!” he replied. “I cannot take my eyes off the silver. If it is left in the furnace even a moment too long, it will be destroyed.” The woman suddenly understood the beauty and comfort of Malachi 3:3: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

Yes, there are times when it seems as if we will be swallowed whole by the fires of hell itself. The pain seems too hard to bear. The fear is paralyzing. The doubt is overwhelming and the questions flood our hearts and minds…

Our trials are not random persecutions. Heaven is not in a panic. Where we are and what we are going through is no surprise to God. We may be knocked down and kicked around by life, but if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not be destroyed.

~ Excerpted from Trusting God by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland

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

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Filed under Encouragement, Faith, God, Grief, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Suffering, 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

You have already won a victory

Boat

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
~ 1 John 4:4 (NLT)

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Divine presence, Encouragement, Faith, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Trusting God

God is for us!

Eyes Wide Open“I turned the question over in my mind while looking at the clouds drifting by that day. If God is for us, who can be against us? In the first part of the question, the ‘if’ isn’t really casting any doubt. It is in fact assuming the truth of what it states. God is for us! He’s for us. Looking at it another way, He’s for us!

The God who created the sky, the trees, the landscape, the clouds—that God. The God who created the universe—that God. The God who is spinning our planet on its axis right now at a thousand miles an hour, ensuring that we travel 1.3 million miles today in our orbit around the sun—that God. The God who has the expanse of the universe in the palm of His hand. The God who created the complexities of the human eye, the human cell, and the DNA strand. That God is for us—for us!

And if He is for us, then ‘who can be against us?’”

~ Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

You are I AM – Mercy Me

I recently came across this song by Mercy Me and it has really touched my soul. The message is powerful and I hope it proves to be an encouragement to you as well.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, Encouragement, Freedom, God, Grace, Guilt, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Mercy, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

Harder than we were expecting

It was a journey we were ill-prepared for and “utterly exhausted” would be a step up from how we felt when it was over.

Our daughter Kyrsten is a senior in high school and playing golf for only the second year. We are familiar with golf in general and I have played a few times long ago, but she is the first one to participate on a school team playing the sport.

Last year we attended a regular match involving one other school. A girl from each school is paired up (five girls from each school) and assigned a hole to begin at. Then they proceed to play nine holes of golf.

For an hour and a half we found ourselves enjoying the beautiful natural setting in all of its quietness and splendor. Of all the sporting events our kids have participated in, it was by far the most relaxing and enjoyable experience we’ve ever had.

This year, last Saturday to be precise, we experienced our first tournament match involving four schools. That was the journey we were ill-prepared for.

One girl from each school is put into a group and the four of them are assigned a hole to begin at. Instead of just nine holes they play the entire 18-hole course.

We noticed all the other families riding around in carts and figured they had money to burn or were just a tad lazy. But 5 1/2 hours later in 92 degree weather, we fully understood why they rode around in carts… with coolers strapped on… with lots of liquids and snacks!

It was harder than we were expecting!

Needless to say we learned our lesson and will be better prepared the next time.

Jesus once warned those who would follow Him to first count the cost because it wouldn’t be a bed of roses. Having journeyed with Jesus now for 33 years I understand His advice.

The journey is much harder than I was expecting!

As with any such experience it helps to know we are not alone and this song by Steven Curtis Chapman says it so well. Whatever it is you’re facing remember… we’re just taking the “Long Way Home.”

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, Heaven, Hope, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Suffering, Trusting God