Category Archives: Life in General

Life verses even more life!

LifeIn his introduction to Paul’s letter to the Philippians Eugene Peterson makes this observation:

Paul doesn’t tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He simply and unmistakably is happy. None of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He wrote from a jail cell, his work was under attack by competitors, and after twenty years or so of hard traveling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and would have welcomed some relief. But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul experiences from the inside. For it is a life that not only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this “spilling out” quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.

Joy is life in excess!

I’m captivated by the imagery that Peterson creates with these five simple words. And they very aptly describe Paul’s perspective on life even when his immediate circumstances were anything but “user-friendly.”

I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. ~ Philippians 1:12-14

How unnatural it seems for Paul to be filled with joy while imprisoned for sharing the Gospel of Jesus. But then again, Paul wasn’t the central character in his life – Jesus was. He goes on to write:

I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. ~ Philippians 1:18b-21

Paul considered everything that exists on this side of the grave as “life” and everything that happens on the other side of the grave as “more life.” What a profound and liberating perspective.

No matter what we come up against this week, may we see it not as a burden to our agenda but as an opportunity for God to further His kingdom through us.

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

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Filed under Christianity, God, Jesus, Joy, Life in General, Praise, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, 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

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.

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

One way to deal with frustration

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right. Strike that! When was the last time you had a day when nothing seemed to go right?

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I actually woke up early and was excited to get the day underway. But it went downhill as soon as my feet hit the floor. I’ll spare you the details but it was definitely a “two steps forward, three steps back” kind of day.

I tried taking space. I tried talking with God. (more like grumbling at God) I even downed about 8 oatmeal/butterscotch cookies. Didn’t work, but they were good. And oatmeal is healthy right?!

If I still had hair I would have pulled it out!

So when I got home that evening, Susan and I took a bike ride. That was a big help.

Fresh (though humid) air, the chance to chat with Susan and a beautiful sky as the sun disappeared into the horizon.

No big spiritual insight here, just the observation that sometimes a good physical workout does more to put things in perspective than anything else.

Go ahead. Get active.

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

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Filed under Anger, Frustration, Health & Wellness, Life in General, Recreation

Faithful in the mundane

Mundane: 1. Lacking interest or excitement; dull. 2. Of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.

There are moments when I’m a fan of the mundane. Life can sometimes get so crazy and busy and chaotic that a little bit of uneventful, ordinary mundane is wonderful. But most of the time I hate it!

I spent three weeks working in a factory once and thought I was going to go insane. No offense intended to those who work in a factory. It is valuable labor and I respect those who do it. I’m just not wired to do the same thing over and over and over.

But often times, moments that appear to be mundane are really the fertile ground God uses to grow us and prepare us for the next phase of our journey with Him.

My God was a carpenter’s son with calluses to prove it. He swept sawdust from the floor at the end of the day. His feet were dirty most of his life. He wiped the sweat from his brow in his Nazareth existence, and for thirty years he waited. He obeyed. He was faithful in the mundane.

We don’t hear much about this part of Jesus’ life. There aren’t many verses dedicated to it, so we concentrate on the big events: the incarnation, the healings, his crucifixion and resurrection. But Jesus was not just biding time on his journey through the ordinary. God had an eternal purpose for the dust and troubles that prepared Jesus for the path of suffering ahead. I believe he has a purpose for the dust you and I encounter today.
~ Excerpted from At the Corner of Mundane and Grace by Chris Fabry

No matter how ordinary or mundane today’s activities may seem, God is still working in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Let’s be faithful in the mundane!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Faithful, Life in General, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

The best part of our trip was…

Last week I blogged about A chance to learn something new when my son Josh and I left for a 5-day parent/teen extreme camping trip. This was the sixth time for me but the first for Josh.

That’s Josh and I on the right side.

I was excited about what we might learn about ourselves, each other and God while sharing in some challenging and fun experiences.

Josh rock climbing like a mountain goat!

Josh had done some of these things before: The giant swing, the zip line, camping out under the stars and even cooking over an open fire.

But some were new experiences: rock climbing, rappelling, high ropes course obstacles, caving, hiking the New River Gorge and white water rafting.

Josh on the giant swing! Lower arrow is the platform; upper arrow is Josh!

Josh loved every part of it and we enjoyed seeing some old friends along with making new ones. Worshipping with just a guitar and a sky full of stars is simply amazing. And the chance to share about our journey with God and encourage one another was priceless.

Other parts of our trip were not so fun as we got: stuck sleeping on some slanted ground, run off the river one day by a bad storm, and had to deal with wet stuff in the tent because of that same storm… but that’s all part of the adventure.

Ami, Josh and Anna during our hike.

I anticipated sharing with you some great, new insight learned during our outing, but the best part of our trip was simply the chance to be together.

Sometimes I obsess with looking for or wanting to share some new insight and forget that the real core of life is about the relationships we have in the midst of the journey.

Years from now the mention of just a few choice words will make us laugh and smile as Josh and I relive the moments we shared together. Those are the kinds of moments that make life rich and full.

Are you enjoying those moments with your loved ones?

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

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Filed under Children, Family, Fellowship, Life in General, Loving others, Parenting, Priorities

A chance to learn something new

Josh and I leave today – Wednesday, July 4th – for a 5-day parent/teen extreme camping trip. We will drive three hours to a camp in Ohio where we will experience various obstacle course events and then we’ll load up in a van and drive several more hours to a primitive camp setting near Beckley, WV.

Our group of 8 or 10 will spent Thursday caving, Friday whitewater rafting and Saturday hiking before we head home on Sunday. In between we’ll cook over an open fire, worship under the stars and dig into God’s word together.

If all of that sounds exciting and exhausting… you’re spot on! It is both of those things and more!

To be honest, I’ve done this trip 6 times now so it’s very familiar. But this will be Josh’s first year to go and that makes all the difference in the world. His four older siblings each got turns going and the memories we made are priceless.

Doing the different challenges with each kid has proven to be very interesting because they each have their own likes, dislikes and comfort zones.

Doing the blind (totally dark) crawl in the cave with Elijah, our oldest, was memorable as we could hear each other breathing heavy from being nervous. But he absolutely loved the whitewater rafting.

Sam, our second oldest who is now a U.S. Marine, thought the blind crawl was a piece of cake and even a bit boring; but he never did go up to the high ropes course.

It was especially meaningful two years ago when our family was going through a very difficult season of life. It was the girls’ – Mykaela and Kyrsten (twins) – first year to go. I was brought to tears watching them challenge and encourage each other as they did things way outside their comfort zones.

So I’m eager to see how Josh enjoys our adventure. What parts of it will stretch him and how will he respond under pressure? Five full days away from the familiar getting to know ourselves, each other and God a little better.

It’s fun to do all of this in a planned, prepared way. But life doesn’t always work that way. Actually, it seldom works that way. The challenges come at us when we least expect them or feel ill-prepared to handle them.

But that’s when we learn something new about ourself and the God who is orchestrating this journey.

What circumstances or seasons of life have stretched you the most or taught you something new about yourself or God?

P.S. – I look forward to hearing from you but won’t be able to respond until we get back from our trip.

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

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Filed under Camp, Family, God, Life in General