Category Archives: God’s Will

Like a kid on Christmas morning!

John and I about a year ago.

My friend John has a relationship with God that I greatly admire because he always seems to be in step with and enthused about what God is doing.

Recently we had the chance to spend the better part of a day together and I asked John how he was able to stay in step with what the Holy Spirit is doing? His answer amazed me.

“I wake up every day like a kid on Christmas morning. I just know that God is up to something and I’m excited to see what my part in it will be.”

How cool is that!

God is always up to something. The Holy Spirit is moving and active as He works in us and through us to accomplish the Father’s will.

God could get things done without us but gives us the privilege of being part of His ongoing, unfolding story.

It’s a new day and a new week.

I wonder what God is up to today and what part He’ll want us to play?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, God, God's Will, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Loving others, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

The Real Question

We ask, “Where does God fit into the story of my life?”
when the real question is,
“Where does my little life fall into the great story of God’s mission?”

~ Christopher J. H. Wright

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, God's Will, influence with the world, Motivation, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Worldview

I’m gonna live to be…

I’m gonna live to be 85… according to the Longevity Calculator.

You can click the link below and answer a series of just 13 simple questions to find out how long you can expect to live.

It was developed by Northwestern Mutual Life; though of course it comes with no guarantees or promises.

But before you try it, let me ask you something. If you could actually know exactly how much longer you would live on this earth, would you want to know?

What would you do with one week, one month, or one year left to live? What would you change or do differently?

I once heard Tony Campolo mention this years ago. He suggested that if you are living your life centered on God then you wouldn’t need or want to change anything about how you are living life.

One last question.

How will you live today since it could be your last day on earth?

Longevity Calculator – http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan/

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Death, God's Will, Health & Wellness, Priorities, Religion and Spirituality

God… where are you?

Why would he need to reassure them of God’s presence?

One of my favorite passages is Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

This passage has brought me comfort time and time again, especially the notion that God delights in us and quiets us with His love.

But last week as I was once again reflecting on it something new came to mind.

Why would the prophet need to reassure them of God’s presence?

For whatever reason they were not experiencing a sense of God being with them.

Ever been there? Ever wondered where God had gone and why He seemed to leave you when you most needed Him? I have.

Why would God not make His ongoing presence very obvious? Why does He allow us times of feeling abandoned? Larry Crabb offers this insight:

God’s restraint has a purpose. When He appears to be doing nothing, He is doing something we’ve not yet learned to value and therefore cannot see. Only in the agony of His absence, both in the real absence of certain blessings and in the felt absence of His Presence, will we relax our determined grasp of our empty selves enough to appreciate His purposes. ~ From Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Ever go to meet up with someone and end up alone because you misunderstood the agreed upon destination?

When we expect God to show up in a certain way and He doesn’t, it can feel as if He’s abandoned us when in reality we’re just looking for Him in a wrong location.

We often want God to show up and make a certain situation of life easier. If God determines that such an intervention would not be what’s best for us then He will not show up in that way. It doesn’t mean that He has abandoned us but that we are living with false expectations of how God will make Himself known.

Larry Crabb goes on to say:

Only when we want Him as we want nothing else will there develop in our hearts a space large enough for Him to fill. Because He longs to fill us, He hides His face long enough for us to discover how fervently and exclusively we want Him. When our discovery creates a secret space that nothing else can fill, and when we know that to be true, He enters. ~ From Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Until we die to all our lesser passions in life we will never come to experience the pure joy of simply resting in God’s presence.

May we come to discover that place deep inside that only God can fill with His presence!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, Doubt, Faith, Faithful, God, God's Will, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Not just another marketing gimmick

I tend to be hyper-sensitive to marketing schemes and usually smell a gimmick rather quickly. And this sure seemed like one.

I’m speaking of one particular feature of the new bikes that Susan and I got a couple of months back. Since we were getting serious about riding every day for exercise and our old bikes just weren’t holding up. we went shopping for new wheels.

We started out going about 4-5 miles at a time but are up to anywhere from 12-16 miles. That may not seem like much to a serious bike enthusiast but we’re making solid progress and can feel the difference in our legs.

It not only provides good exercise but has given us another means of connecting – not an easy thing to do with nine of us in the house! And since we tend to ride in the evenings and live in the country we are seeing our fair share of beautiful skies and sunsets.

So what is this particular feature that immediately struck me as just another marketing gimmick?

The 21 speeds!

In case you are not aware, there are 3 gear levels at the pedals and 7 gear levels on the rear tire – hence the 21 gears. (Once again my math skills stun and amaze!) There is a little bit of overlap but still that’s a lot of gears; especially the lowest gear of 1 – 1.

Who in their right mind would need a gear as low as 1 – 1? Riding in it on level ground is like shadow boxing on a calm day – there simply is no resistance.

Since we live out in the country we enjoy our share of cascading terrain but none of the changes in elevation are too bad and if you keep your momentum heading into a hill it’s not that tough to get up the other side.

But then…

We came upon the mother of all hills! Since I don’t ride with a smart phone or GPS I don’t know the actual change in elevation but it is massive!

That was the evening I discovered that the gear 1 – 1 was not just another marketing gimmick!

You don’t go very far very fast, but you do keep moving and that is the point.

Life can feel that way sometimes. There are seasons when the pace is breakneck and it’s all you can do to hang on. But then there are times when trudging through the events of life can feel like moving at a snail’s pace. But any amount of movement is better than the alternative.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ~ Isaiah 55:8

God’s purposes and timing are different from ours. Certain events or seasons of life go too fast for my liking and other’s go way too slow. But God is working in a rhythm that accomplishes His good intentions in ways we seldom comprehend at the moment.

When we get frustrated with what seems to be a pace that is too slow, we need to remember that some movement is better than no movement and that God is still working to bring about His good and perfect will.

So shift down a gear and keep pedaling!

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P.S. – The padded bicycle shorts are no gimmick either! Turns out they’re a real blessing in the end! (Pun intended)

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

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Determination, God, God's Will, Life in General, Motivation, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

I was feeling good about it until…

The onset of increasing age, poor eating habits and very little exercise combined to make the two previous years… BRUTAL!

I’m speaking of the 5-day parent/teen extreme camping trip that Josh and I did a few weeks back. Having done this trip 5 times before I knew what was coming. With the last two years being so difficult, it was not anything I wanted to repeat.

So I determined to be better prepared. For the two months leading up to our trip I ate better and rode bike several days a week. With 15 less pounds and a bit more muscle this year’s trip was only mildly challenging. And in the process, I’ve discovered that I rather enjoy cycling.

This last Saturday Susan was not feeling well so I rode alone and decided to push myself a bit. I ended up riding 12 miles in one hour which works out to be 12 mph. (Yes, my math skills are stunning).

I was feeling good about it until…

Earlier in the day we noticed lots of bicycles on Highway 40 which happens once every summer for RAIN – Ride Across Indiana. So I checked out their website for some details. Turns out that these people start early in the morning in Terre Haute and finish up later that same day in Richmond (near where we live).

Their entire one-day bicycle odyssey is some 160 miles long and the information on their web site indicated that you should be able to average 12-14 mph. WOW!

Even at the slower rate of 12 mph that’s an average of just over 13 hours on a bicycle in one day! And here I was excited about doing it for just one hour.

But then it dawned on me that I’m not competing against them, I’m competing against myself. I could have chosen to sit on the couch or float in the pool or go out for ice cream. But instead, I got a good workout in and rode the best I ever had.

The same is true with God. My assurance of spending an eternity with Him is based solely on His grace, but I’ll still give an account for how I lived my life. And God won’t evaluate my life by comparing it to anyone else but by what He intended for me when He formed me in my mother’s womb.

God alone knows my full potential, and yours. He has gifted each of us with a personality and a passion and a certain set of skills.

Are we growing into and living out our full, God-given potential?

***

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

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Filed under Accountability, Christianity, God, God's Will, Grace, Motivation

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

Pushing for something good can turn bad

Few people outside of Wayne County, Indiana have likely heard the name Ralph Teetor, but millions use one of his inventions every day – cruise control.

Ralph was a longtime president of Perfect Circle, an automotive parts manufacturing company in the small rural community of Hagerstown, IN where I pastor a church.

He was a gifted engineer who invented many things despite the fact that he was blind from the age of 5.

As the story goes, he was playing in the yard with a friend and was accidentally stabbed in the eye. Not lacking for resources and wanting the best possible care for their son, his parents took him to the best eye doctor in the region (Cincinnati, OH).

The eye was badly injured but his parents insisted the doctor do everything possible to save it. I don’t know much about the medical knowledge of eye doctors in the late 1890’s but it certainly must have been limited compared with what they know today.

In spite of the doctors best efforts the injured eye developed an infection that in turn spread to the other eye and rendered it blind as well. Had the injured eye been removed, he would have had sight with one good eye.

I’m not second guessing his parent’s decision. We all want the very best for our children and will sacrifice everything to make that possible. But sometimes pushing for something good can turn bad.

As followers of Jesus who are giving ourselves to further His kingdom here on earth, it is easy to push for something good without first stopping to consider or pray about whether it is God-ordained.

God’s ways are not our ways and God’s timing is not our timing. To participate with Him is not just finding something good to do but learning to do life in step with Him so that we can do the right thing at the right time.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus offers rest to all who would follow Him. It’s a promise to teach us how to live in step with God and the phrase used by Eugene Peterson in The Message is “unforced rhythms of grace.”

The offer still stands as the Holy Spirit who resides in us can teach us how to do life with God.

What would it look like today or this week to do life in God’s unforced rhythms of grace?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Discipleship, God, God's Will, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Wisdom

Genuine Worship

Worship is our greatest privilege, the highest thing we can do.

In genuine spiritual worship, we bow before the Most High God, the most merciful and reliable and winsome of all beings, and we crown Him as Lord of all that we are. We consent to His gracious, transforming work; we agree that He can work in us so that we’ll be willing and able to do His will. In other words, we choose to let Him be God in our lives.

Worship includes yielding to God as our Lord and Master. We see this in Romans 12:1, where God asks us to offer Him our bodies, our lives, our entire person. This, He says, is true worship.
~ Excerpted from Treasury of Praise by Ruth Myers

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

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Filed under God, God's Will, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Worship

Our need for honest feedback

The Last Czar is a biography about the life of Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia. While his generals were brutally suppressing dissent, they told him civil unrest was the result of foreign influence and assured him his own people loved him.

The Czar didn’t have any other source of information so was completely unaware that his generals were not being truthful with him. Not a good position to be in.

When the Communists took over, he was caught by surprise and forced to abdicate. Sadly, the Bolsheviks eventually executed him and his entire family. It is a sad and tragic story.

Few of us are czars, but the same lack of honest feedback can be devastating. We need truth tellers around us in two critical areas.

The first area is horizontal and pertains to our relationships with people. We fill the role of friend, spouse, son or daughter, parent, employee or boss, coach or teammate.

The second area is vertical and pertains to our relationship with God. Our core identity is that of being a child of our Creator; embracing a new identity in Christ.

Maybe it’s because I hit 50 last year or maybe it’s because I have two grown sons living far from home, but I’ve been reflecting more and more on what got my attention in the last 30 years. Relationships are what make our lives rich and we all need feedback to make them as strong as possible.

The area of our relationship with God is perhaps even more critical. All of us live with a gap between what we profess or live outwardly and what is really going on in our heart. For some, this gap is small but for others the gap is rather large.

The danger is that this largely invisible gap is easy to conceal because we tend to focus on managing our external behavior with a highly trained filter. Dress nice, smile and be nice around church friends, drop some money in the offering plate and help out occasionally.

All those things are good but they don’t always accurately reflect what is going on beneath the surface. We need traveling companions who will ask us the hard questions and give us honest feedback.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

God’s design to make us more like Jesus happens best when we journey together and engage in honest feedback.

Who are your traveling companions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Authenticity, Children of God, Courage, Discipleship, Fellowship, Friendship, God, God's Will, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Truth