Category Archives: involvement with the church

Mourning turned to dancing… in the aisle!

Max is the twenty-three-year-old autistic grandson of Chuck Colson, founder of BreakPoint Ministries. The following account is first maddening and then pure delight.

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A few months ago Max’s mother, Emily, and Patty Colson took Max to see “Muppets Most Wanted” at a Boston-area theater. After settling themselves into their seats, the previews began. And that’s when things went south.

The MuppetsNormally, Max gets a bit excited at the beginning of a film, and then he calms down. But life with autism is unpredictable, as Emily wrote on a special needs parenting site. When the first preview exploded loudly onto the screen, Max covered his ears and shrieked, “I want to go home!” Emily tried to calm him, but as soon as Kermit the Frog appeared on the screen, Max shouted “The Muppet movie!”

When the volume spiked again, Max shouted once more “I want to go home!” That’s when other movie-goers let Emily know in painful and no-uncertain terms that Max was not welcome.

As Emily and Patty escorted Max out, the audience began to applaud. “It was the sound of an angry mob chasing us away with their jeers and taunts,” Emily writes.

It’s hard to recover from experiences like that. But God used it to offer a mighty blessing, not only to Max and Emily, but to hundreds of other special needs children.

Not long after Emily wrote about unexpectedly becoming the entertainment at the theater, a woman named Renee came up to Emily after church. “Do you think Max would like it if we rented a theater?” she asked.

The following Sunday, Pastor Paul told the congregation what had happened to Max, and announced Renee’s great idea: “She rented out an entire theater so that friends of Max can watch the Muppet movie with Max.” Pastor Paul declared, “If you’re a friend of Max, you’re going to the movies, whether you like Muppets or not!”

“Everyone laughed. And everyone bought tickets,” Emily writes.

A local newspaper picked up the story. Hearing of the event, called “Love to the Max,” a limousine company owner offered to take Max and his friends to the theater in style in a 37-foot limousine. The employees fought over who was going to have the honor of driving Max. The winner? A man whose own grandson was autistic.

The CEO of a local Friendly’s Restaurant offered gift certificates for ice cream or meals. People volunteered to help out at the theater, doing everything from taking kids to the bathroom to bringing them popcorn.

So many people bought tickets that the Regal Cinema had to expand the event to two theaters. In the end, 500 children, with their families and friends, went to see “Muppets Most Wanted.”

This time, when the Muppets began singing their first number, “the music catapulted Max right out of his seat,” Emily recalls. He began dancing in the aisle. The audience began to applaud as Max danced his way down the aisle, “grabbing hands and pulling others into his dance.”

The children enjoyed the film, and as it ended with a final Muppet song, nobody wanted to leave. “Suddenly, people flooded into the aisles [and] began to dance. Everyone free. No armor. No barriers between us,” Emily writes. “I looked around and wondered if this is what Jesus envisioned when he said, “Love one another . . . The joy was contagious.”

As Chuck would have said, this was the Church being the Church. People came to love on these kids, “the least of these” and their families. And they were living out 1 Cor. 12, which reminds us that all parts of the body of Christ should be valued and honored.
~ By Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint Ministries

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

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Filed under Adversity, Compassion, Dance, Friendship, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Kindness, Loving others, Serving

I’m Sorry

I'm sorry“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi wasn’t the first to express it and he certainly won’t be the last. And to be honest, I understand his sentiments.

“Christians aren’t perfect, we’re just saved.” It’s a popular bumper sticker and while it is true it is far too often used as an excuse for behaving badly.

Sometimes Christians can be rude and selfish and greedy… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can walk right past others and not even give them the time of day, as if they don’t even exist… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can look down their nose at others and judge them for their sins while ignoring their own sins… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can be so opinionated about a subject that they won’t even listen to someone with a differing opinion… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians gossip about others… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act one way at Church and a different way at work or at school… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act like they have life all figured out and that their life is perfect even when they don’t and it isn’t… I’m sorry.

I’ve lived half of a century (now I feel old!) and in that time I’ve served four different churches and been involved with many, many others. This lack of consistent living is widespread and common.

I’m sure you can add to this list but you get the idea. And since I’m being honest I will admit that I’m sometimes guilty of these same things.

Being a Christian is more than wearing a title, professing certain beliefs, sitting in a church service for one hour a week and following a formula to have a ticket stamped for life beyond this life. It means actively following Jesus to become like Him. It means learning to think and believe and feel and act like Jesus more and more. It means loving God and others every moment of every day.

We won’t get it right all the time; but that’s no excuse for not giving ourselves to the journey of doing life with God and learning to love like Jesus. And when we get it wrong we need to own it and apologize for it.

Note to my Christian friends: If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, but they…” Stop right there! Every person will one day stand before God to give an account of their life and their actions. NO ONE will be able to excuse their behavior by saying, “Yeah, but they…” We will be responsible for ourselves then so we might as well start being responsible for ourselves now.

One last confession: If my hope were in other Christians I would have given up on the Church and Christianity a long time ago. Some of my greatest blessings have come from other believers but so have some of my greatest hurts.

My hope rests in Christ Jesus alone! He is the only one who makes this messy, imperfect journey worthwhile.

Who is your hope in?

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

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Filed under Accountability, Christ, Christianity, Church, Confession, God, Hope, involvement with the church, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Repentance, Sin

His Divine Rhythm

The word perichoresis comes from two Greek words, peri, which means “around” and chorea, which means “dance.” It is a term that the early church used to describe the relational intimacy between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s what some have referred to as The Dance of the Trinity.

I believe God wired us in such a way that our deepest longings can only be truly satisfied when we are in a relationship with Him; learning to dance in His divine rhythm.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

I long to do life more and more in step with God’s unforced rhythms of grace. And I long to see the church – the body of Christ – do the same!

I’m reminded of Jesus’ invitation here in Matthew 11 when I hear songs like the one below: One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful. You may not care for the song but you can’t help but be amazed at how these five guys do their part to contribute to one rhythm.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Dance, Discipleship, God, God the Father, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Jesus, Music Video, Perichoresis, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Teamwork, Trinity

A shared rhythm in Christ Jesus

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?  They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.”
~ The Pursuit of God,  A. W. Tozer

One of the most profound things that can happen when we gather together as the body of Christ is the coming together in a shared rhythm within a common journey because we are re-centering our lives on the One around Whom life revolves – Christ Jesus.

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

 

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Discipleship, God, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Jesus, Quote, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

A real church…

“A real church never values participating in programs above relating in community.  And it faces the disturbing truth that involvement in small groups too often amounts to little more than participation in a relational program.  A real church aims toward spiritual community, where souls connect, where shame weakens, where sin surfaces, where failure meets grace, where irritations soften, where holy desire grows.”

~ Larry Crabb, Real Church, Page 152

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Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Church, Discipleship, Grace, involvement with the church, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Cultivate Thankfulness

Definition: to prepare and use for the raising of crops; to loosen or break up the soil; to foster the growth of; to improve by labor, care or study.

Synonyms: acquire, develop, form.

We regularly cultivate things such as:

  • Relationships
  • Gardens
  • Health
  • Resources
  • Careers
  • Ideas

But have you ever considered what it would look like to cultivate thankfulness?

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. ~ Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

From what Paul mentions here, to cultivate thankfulness involves at least three things.

The first is the Word of Christ. The narratives of Jesus; the Bible; Scripture. And what great imagery Eugene Peterson uses here – letting it have the run of the house.

The second is to instruct and direct one another. It’s something we do together.

The third is to sing about it. Other versions refer to this as psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

I could elaborate on each of these elements but… I’m not going to; at least not now. But I will encourage and challenge you to wrestle with what all of this means by inviting the Spirit of God to bring it to life for you.

As we enter into another week of celebrating Thanksgiving, what better to occupy our minds than what it means to “cultivate thankfulness“?

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

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Filed under Gratitude, involvement with the church, Praise, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Spiritual growth, Thankfulness

Real Church

“I want to go to a church that reaches my heart with truth.  Of course, truth must reach my head–I need to know what the Bible says–but if it stops there, the truth I hear and perhaps believe will lack power.  It will not be living and active.  It will not set me free.  It will not provide what I need to shift my addiction from less than God to God.”     ~ Real Church, Page 82

Question for Reflection:

  • What do you think a church might look like that reaches your heart with truth?

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Heart, involvement with the church, Religion and Spirituality, Truth