Category Archives: Peace

Immeasurably More!

Have you seen the new commercial by a well-known do-it-yourself store when a couple rushes into a big house where the walls are covered with nothing but white paper?

They are both carrying markers and when they draw the outline of an object on the blank wall it immediately pops into reality. A new appliance, some pieces of hardware, a new window or door.

As a guy with a carpentry background who struggles to complete remodeling projects on our old farm-house in a timely fashion I would love one of those magic markers.

But the point of the commercial is that this particular do-it-yourself store can take whatever you imagine and make it real. How cool is that?! But I’ve got one better.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul prays for them to be rooted and established in love and able to fully grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. Then he makes this amazing statement:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul has own unique way with words. How do you calculate “immeasurably more”? Whatever it is, God can do it with whatever we ask or imagine.

Obviously, this is not a promise to satisfy our own wants and desires. And our ability to imagine tends to grow smaller as we age. But in keeping with God’s kingdom purposes, what can you imagine God accomplishing?

  • Healing for a wreaked marriage?
  • Boldness to share the hope of Christ with those who don’t know Him?
  • Wisdom and grace for parents dealing with a rebellious child?
  • Real peace for a heart troubled with worry?
  • Freedom from addictions or sinful habits?
  • Better choices made by a rebellious child?
  • The hard-hearted person finally opening up to receive God’s gift of grace?
  • Character and integrity in those who serve in our government?
  • Courage to forgive those who have hurt us?
  • A renewed love of God for those who claim Jesus as Lord?

God delights to bring all manner of new life and restored hope because He loves us more than we can begin to fathom. The question is…

… what is it that we ask God for or imagine Him doing?

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Courage, Family, Forgiveness, Glory of God, Grace, Hope, Imagination, influence with the world, Love of God, Marriage, Parenting, Peace, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Trusting God

Is God Enough?

What is it you’re facing or dealing with that has you feeling like hope is slipping through your fingers like sand from the beach?

Is it keeping you awake at night? Distracting your thoughts during the day?

Remember…

There is not a single need you could possibly have that isn’t addressed by the words of Psalm 23.

Not one.

No matter what inadequacy or hardship you’re facing and how deeply you’re facing it, no matter how problematic or distressful or exacting it may be—if the Lord is your Shepherd, He can meet all of your needs.

The Twenty-third Psalm was David’s way of saying God is more than enough to meet whatever lack or constraint or extremity or impossibility you might ever encounter. ~ Excerpted from God Is More Than Enough by Tony Evans

Don’t rush through Psalm 23. Slow down. Take a few deep breaths. Calm your spirit. Take a few moments to remember that God is God. He is our Creator. He is Lord over all of life. And He is fully aware of everything that troubles your heart.

Now read Psalm 23 slowly, letting the words soak into you like water into a sponge on a hot summer day. Then take a deep breath and read it again.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
2
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.    
3
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

***

What aspect of God as our Shepherd is most meaningful to you?

Click here to read an excerpt from God Is More Than Enough
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Encouragement, Faith, Fear, God, Grace, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Peace, Trusting God

Kony 2012 – Rescuing invisible children

It turned out to be some of the best advice we ever received!

Years ago, when Susan was pregnant with our first (of 6) children, some close friends had a baby shower with the usual activities. But they also had all the other moms write down their best advice.

Among the nuggets of wisdom was the advice to watch our child sleeping. It was said to be one of the most precious moments a parent can experience.

And they were right!

If you’re a parent, you’ve been there. After a day stuffed full of play and discovery your little bundle of energy is all cleaned up and lovingly tucked into a warm, safe bed for the night.

But what if someone broke into your house to kidnap your child? What if little boys were stolen away in the middle of the night and forced to carry guns and kill people? What if little girls were ripped from their loving homes and used as sex slaves?

Probably not where you thought I was heading with this blog, and the very notion of little children being stolen from their parents probably seems so foreign that you can’t begin to imagine such a thing happening.

But it does!

The little boy who was the reason for that baby shower so many years ago is now 21 years old and yesterday I watched a video on his Facebook page that broke my heart.

Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals who is responsible for destroying the lives of some 30,000 innocent children.

The video below is nearly 30 minutes long. Believe me, I know the value of even a single minute. And I wouldn’t ask you to use 30 of them if it weren’t vital. PLEASE make the time to watch this video.

Then get involved by going here and pass it along to others. It’s just too important to ignore!

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

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Freedom, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Peace, Persecution, Suffering

The best of 2011 and a “Thank You”

There goes another year! Mom was right, “the older you get the faster time flies.” As my second year of blogging wraps up I’m grateful for everyone who has shared the journey and humbled that my audience has nearly tripled.

The adventure of blogging is still a bit strange and mysterious to me. For example, of the Top Ten blogs from 2011, listed below, the number one blog is actually from last year! Go figure! Anyway, here they are in case you missed them the first time around.

1. My issue with Christmas cards – click here

2. Hannah’s socks – click here

3. Neighbors sign peace deal to end feud – click here

4. Friday Funny! 😉 – click here

5. What does your billboard say? – click here

6. Don’t give in to shallow praise! – click here

7. Black Friday advice from Maxine – click here

8. The Real Jesus – click here

9. Uniquely You – click here

10. Why is it called “Good Friday?” – click here

Thanks for sharing the journey and Happy New Year!

***

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Filed under Best of, Blogging, Christmas, Good Friday, Gratitude, Humor, Jesus, Just for fun, Loving others, Peace, Praise, Serving

A countercultural lifestyle of forgiveness

“The way you are with others every day, regardless of their status, is the true test of faith.” ~ Brennan Manning

“God calls His children to a countercultural lifestyle of forgiveness in a world that demands an eye for an eye – and worse. But if loving God is the first commandment, and loving our neighbor proves our love for God, and if it is easy to love those who love us, then loving our enemies must be the filial badge that identifies Abba’s children.”

The summons to live as forgiven and forgiving children is radically inclusive. The demands for forgiveness are so daunting that they seem humanly impossible. The exigencies (urgent action requiring great effort) of forgiveness are simply beyond the capacity of ungraced human will. Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others. In boundary moments such as these there is only one place to go – Calvary.”
~ From The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning

Lord, empower us by Your grace to forgive those who have hurt us!

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Filed under Children of God, Christianity, Forgiveness, Grace, influence with the world, Loving God, Loving others, Peace

A deep, abiding love

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” ~ Ephesians 3:17-18

No matter how hard we try, how many achievements we make, or how many ideals we keep, we will never be able to do enough to earn God’s love. Such attempts lead us down a dead-end road paved with feelings of life-depleting guilt and condemnation. Only the grace and love that God gives freely through his merciful nature can provide us with that which we long for: peace and joy.
~ Excerpted from Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson

Stop for a moment and consider this truth. God cannot love you any more than He does right now! Really! Nothing you do will make Him love you any more or any less!

Are you allowing yourself to be embraced by His deep, abiding love?

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Filed under Christianity, Grace, Joy, Love of God, Peace

Will we die empty?

The following is from a blog post by Todd Henry describing some insight that came from a challenging season of life. I found it very inspiring and trust you will as well.

During that season, I was in a meeting in which a South African friend asked, “Do you know what the most valuable land in the world is?” The rest of us were thinking, “Well, probably the diamond mines of Africa, or maybe the oil fields of the middle east?”

“No,” our friend replied, “it’s the graveyard, because with all of those people are buried unfulfilled dreams, unwritten novels, masterpieces not created, businesses not started, relationships not reconciled. THAT is the most valuable land in the world.”

Then a little phrase popped into my head in such a way that it felt almost like a mandate. The phrase was “die empty.” While it may sound intimidating, it was actually very freeing because I was suddenly aware that it’s not my job to control the path of my career or what impact I may or may not have on the world. My only job—each and every day—is to empty myself, to do my daily work, and to try as much as possible to leave nothing unspoken, uncreated, unwritten.

I made a commitment that if any given day were my last I wanted to die empty, having completely divested myself of whatever insight or work was in me to share on that day. As I began to apply this principle to relationships, art and work, I felt a measure of peace even in the midst of busy times. Once I realized that I only have influence over the work that’s in front of me, I stopped trying to control things that were beyond my grasp.

What do you need to empty yourself of today? Is there a project that you’ve been waiting to begin that seems too daunting? Take a small step today to get the ball rolling. Is there a conversation that you need to have, but have been waiting for the perfect time? Pick up the phone. Is there an idea that you want to execute but there’s no room for it in your create-on-demand role? When you get home tonight, get moving on it.

The last thing Jesus said on the cross was, “It is finished.” There was much more to do in God’s kingdom agenda, but He had done everything the Father had given Him to do. To use Todd’s words Jesus died empty.

Life is short. It’s our choice. Will we die empty?

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Filed under Life in General, Peace

So what’s the deal with peace?

I realize I’ve only been blogging for a year and a half but I’ve never had this happen before. Two weeks ago today I posted an article entitled Neighbors sign peace deal to end feud. It was a little article by Reuters news service about neighbors gone mad who finally resolved their issues by signing an actual peace deal.

The first day it was posted it only got 14 views, the second day only a couple. But the third day after posting it there were 31 views and for two solid weeks now it has averaged 75 views a day! I’ve had articles get big numbers before for a day or two but never one that got high views for two weeks.

I can’t help but be curious about why this article continues to be so intriguing. Are people into the Jerry Springer type situations like these neighbors were living out; or is there that much genuine interest in peace?

If you have an opinion I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment. In the meantime I’ll continue to wonder what draws people to certain blog posts.

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Filed under Blogging, Peace

Two kinds of gratitude… one brings real peace!

A few years ago, university psychologists conducted a research project on gratitude and thanksgiving. They divided participants into three groups. People in the first group practiced daily exercises like writing in a gratitude journal. They reported higher levels of alertness, determination, optimism, energy, and less depression and stress than the control group. Not surprisingly, they were also a lot happier than the participants who were told to keep an account of all the bad things that happened each day.

The benefits of gratitude are enormous and obvious; but we need to understand that there are two kinds of gratitude. American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards identified them as Natural Gratitude and Gracious Gratitude.

Natural Gratitude, as its name implies, flows out of us effortlessly when good things happen to us. It could be something big like receiving an inheritance or as small as someone letting you go ahead of them in the checkout lane. But there’s nothing very hard or difficult about it.

Gracious Gratitude can be more challenging because it’s the gratitude we express for God and His goodness even when we are surrounded by difficult circumstances. It’s rejoicing in God’s character and love for us when the health report is negative, the bills outweigh the checkbook or a family member dies unexpectedly.

This gracious gratitude for who God is also goes to the heart of who we are in Christ. It is relational, rather than conditional. Even though our world may shatter, we are secure in Him. The source of our joy, the love of the God who made us and saved us, cannot be hindered by any power that exists (Romans 8:28-39). People who are filled with such radical gratitude are unstoppable, irrepressible, overflowing with what C. S. Lewis called “the good infection” – the supernatural, refreshing love of God that draws others to Him. The peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! ~ Romans 5:3-5 (The Message)

We need to be more intentional about Gracious Gratitude!

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Filed under Faith, Gratitude, influence with the world, Peace, Thankfulness, Trusting God

Neighbors sign peace deal to end fued

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A handshake wasn’t enough for two Malaysian neighbors embroiled in a lengthy and bitter feud sparked by complaints over barking dogs — the two actually signed a peace treaty.

The three-year battle began when one of the men complained to the police in Malaysia’s southern Johor state, where they lived, about his neighbor’s noisy dogs, the Star newspaper reported.

The dog owner retaliated by playing loud music at night, throwing cans of paint into his neighbor’s house and driving his car into the gate. His neighbor filed a counter complaint about the music.

When both men decided to end the feud recently, they opted for a signed peace deal or “Memorandum of Understanding” to keep each other in check.

One of the main points in the peace deal, brokered by a public complaints bureau, is that the dog owner has to find a way to minimize barking at night.

“If either of the two men decides to break the Memorandum of Understanding, the other can bring this document and present it either to the police or in court,” said mediator Michael Tay. “I hope both men can live in peace with each other.”

***********

Playing loud music… throwing cans of paint… driving into the gate… REALLY?

I’m glad that these neighbors finally found a way to resolve their issues but sad to know of all the damage done before they arrived at a solution. Surely we can do better than this, especially those of us who follow the Prince of Peace.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. ~ Romans 12:17-19

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Filed under influence with the world, Loving others, Peace