Category Archives: Peace

Did Jesus miss the obvious?

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting scene!

Intimacy_with_GodJesus had healed enough people for word to spread like wildfire. The crowd quickly got so big it was standing room only spilling out of the house. (Mark 2) Every eye was riveted on Jesus until…

The ceiling split open and four guys lower their friend on a mat.

  • The sick were being made healthy…
  • The blind were seeing again…
  • The demon possessed were being set free…

Imagine the hopes and expectations of this man on the mat with legs refusing to work. And in the midst of all that healing going on Jesus looks at him and says…

“Your sins are forgiven.”

The guy must have been thinking something like: “Um, thanks Jesus but I was sort of hoping you would do something with my legs.”

Did Jesus miss the obvious?

Why would He skip past two legs “out-of-order” to focus on sin?

Surely the man’s legs were the real issue here? Or were they?

Jesus knows something the man doesn’t know—that he has a much bigger problem than his uncooperative legs. The bigger problem is the sin that separates him from God. What good does it do to have legs that work if you’re going to spend eternity apart from God?

So what’s the big, pressing issue for you in this life?

  • Poor health or a life-threatening disease?
  • Finances that keep coming up short?
  • The lack of a meaningful relationship or too many dysfunctional ones?
  • The death of a loved one?
  • Family members and friends who have never accepted God’s gift of grace?
  • Dead end job, bad boss, noisy neighbor, lousy teacher, apathetic students, annoying in-laws, kids bullying your kid…?

Tim Keller enjoyed reading articles by Cynthia Heimel and there’s one he’s never forgotten. She describes being around many young struggling actors and actresses who are desperately looking for their big break into show business. She observed that many of these who did make it into the business became even less content and more miserable than before.

She describes feeling sorry for them because they had the thing they had thought would make everything okay – and it didn’t. Then Heimel added a statement that took Keller’s breath away:

“I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, he grants your deepest wish.”

Jesus didn’t miss the obvious. What He’s saying to the crippled man is this: “I’m not going to play that rotten joke on you. I’m not going to just heal your body and let you think you’ve gotten your deepest wish.”

The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Something or someone else is our savior. Almost always when we first go to Jesus saying, “This is my deepest wish,” His response is that we need to go a lot deeper than that.

What is it that we think we need to make life complete or okay?

If it’s anything other than Jesus, we’re settling for less!

Will we surrender our deepest wishes to discover a new depth of peace and contentment through intimacy with the Lord?

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Contentment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Peace, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, 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.

Courage 2

“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

World Peace?

World Peace - Love your family

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

 

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Filed under Family, influence with the world, Loving others, Peace, Quote, Religion and Spirituality

Bonhoeffer on Overcoming Fear

In January 1933, shortly before Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer preached this sermon at a vespers service on the evening of the second Sunday after Epiphany. It was a time of great tension in Berlin, and of widespread fear. The Hindenburg government was tottering, indeed was about to go under, and with it Germany’s fragile first republic, created at Weimar after World War I. There was fear of Communism — the “Red Tide from the East” — and other extremist movements, and danger from open fighting in the streets. In the midst of this storm, Bonhoeffer was no more certain of the future than anyone else, but he was sure that followers of Christ should know where to turn.

Matthew 8:23–27: And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

The overcoming of fear — that is what we are proclaiming here. The Bible, the Gospel, Christ, the Church, the faith — all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings. Fear is, somehow or other, the archenemy itself. It crouches in people’s hearts. It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down. Fear secretly gnaws and eats away at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others, and when in a time of need that person reaches for those ties and clings to them, they break and the individual sinks back into himself or herself, helpless and despairing, while hell rejoices.

Now fear leers that person in the face, saying: Here we are all by ourselves, you and I, now I’m showing you my true face. And anyone who has seen naked fear revealed, who has been its victim in terrifying loneliness — fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying — that person knows that fear is only one of the faces of evil itself, one form by which the world, at enmity with God, grasps for someone. Nothing can make a human being so conscious of the reality of powers opposed to God in our lives as this loneliness, this helplessness, this fog spreading over everything, this sense that there is no way out, and this raving impulse to get oneself out of this hell of hopelessness.

But the human being doesn’t have to be afraid; we should not be afraid! That is what makes humans different from all other creatures. In the midst of every situation where there is no way out, where nothing is clear, where it is our fault, we know that there is hope, and this hope is called: Thy will be done, yes, thy will is being done. “This world must fall, God stands above all, his thoughts unswayed, his Word unstayed, His will forever our ground and hope.”

Do you ask: How do you know? Then we name the name of the One who makes the evil inside us recoil, who makes fear and anxiety themselves tremble with fear and puts them to flight. We name the One who overcame fear and led it captive in the victory procession, who nailed it to the cross and committed it to oblivion; we name the One who is the shout of victory of humankind redeemed from the fear of death — Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Living One. He alone is Lord over fear; it knows Him as its master; it gives way to Him alone. So look to Christ when you are afraid, think of Christ, keep Him before your eyes, call upon Christ and pray to Him, believe that He is with you now, helping you . . . Then fear will grow pale and fade away, and you will be free, through your faith in our strong and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

From the Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Isabel Best copyright © 2012 Fortress Publishers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor and theologian whose striking theological journey and public witness against the Nazi regime led to worldwide fame after his death in 1945. He authored many classic books, including “The Cost of Discipleship” and “Life Together.”

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

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Filed under Fear, God, Hope, Jesus, Peace, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

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

A God of mercy?

What follows is a personal account from someone in the theatre in Aurora, CO where a gunman openned fire two days ago.

So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.

Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie

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Please join me in continuing to pray for all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Thanks, Rick

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Longing

I want neither a blood-’n’-guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero; nor a speculative religion that would imprison the gospel in the halls of academia; nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion.

I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst.
~ Excerpted From The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

 

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