Category Archives: Resurrection

God can be trusted!

God can be trusted

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

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Filed under God, Love of God, Quote, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Trusting God

Reckless Abandon

What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t get hurt or injured?

  • Skydive from 10,000 feet
  • Race a sports car at 200 mph
  • Bungee jump off a bridge
  • Strap on a hang-glider and leap off a tall cliff
  • Step inside a metal cage and get lowered into shark infested water
  • Climb Mt Everest or Kilimanjaro
  • Walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls

Reckless_Abandon_470X270Would you attempt them if you knew you’d be safe?

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

When Jesus was arrested all of his disciples ran, after a brief sword incident involving Peter, because they were genuinely afraid for their lives.

According to historians there were at least 18 Messiah wannabe’s around the time of Jesus. The book of Acts tells us about two of them. One of those men is Judas the Galilean. (Acts 5:37) The historian Josephus tells us that this Judas of Galilee founded the Zealots – the group of Jews who believed in physical rebellion against the Romans. He and 2000 of his followers were crucified.

The crosses were all left standing in the Galilean countryside because the Romans wanted to send a message. Jesus grew up in Galilee as did some of his disciples. They would have seen those crosses. They knew what the Romans did to the followers of men claiming to be Messiah.

They had every right to be afraid for their lives. But when they discovered the empty tomb and were visited by the resurrected Jesus all of that changed.

Jesus killed death! There was nothing left to fear!

It’s one thing to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face death with confidence and peace. It’s a whole different matter to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face life with confidence and peace.

That’s what we see happening in the lives of the disciples and the early church. Because of their trust in Jesus’ resurrection, and defeat of death, they lived with a reckless abandon.

  • They sold their possessions to help those in need.
  • They openly shared about Jesus even when it brought persecution.
  • And they crossed cultural and social boundaries to do so.

Sociologist Rodney Stark argues that one of the primary reasons for the spread of Jesus’ movement was the way his followers responded to sick people.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius around AD 165, an epidemic of what may have been smallpox killed somewhere between a third and a fourth of the population, including Marcus Aurelius himself. A little less than a century later came a second epidemic, in which at its height five thousand people were reported dying daily in the city of Rome alone.

Historians tell us that the Greeks and Romans tossed their sick loved ones out into the street to die and avoided burying the dead all in an attempt to escape death. Historians also tell us that the followers of Jesus remembered what He taught about caring for the needs of others, even strangers, and they tended to the sick, even though it cost many of them their lives.

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

What would it look like to love and forgive and pray for and meet the needs of others, even our enemies?

What would it look like for us to live with such reckless abandon?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Serving

As you read your Bible… don’t lose Jesus!

CautionAre you on the “read through the Bible in a year” bandwagon? It is that time of year when we amp up new strategies with our diets, our exercise, our finances and our Bible reading. But be careful!

Now, before I go any further let me be clear that I am all for new strategies with a new year. Some bemoan that such efforts are worthless since they seldom last the whole year but one report indicated that nearly half of all resolutions are kept for six months. That same report states…

“People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

Better to try, and fall short than not try at all!

But before you get too gung-ho about a new Bible reading strategy – which my wife and I are doing – let me offer you this caution.

It’s not about more Bible knowledge or principles to follow as much as it’s about a closer relationship with Jesus.

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” ~ John 5:39-40 (The Message)

It is entirely possible – and way too prevalent – to know the Scriptures but not know Jesus.

In Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley makes this observation about the early church:

“It was led by men and women who were fueled not by what they believed, but by what they had seen. That simple fact sets the church apart from every other religious movement in the history of the world. After all, it wasn’t the teaching of Jesus that sent his followers to the streets. It was his resurrection… The men and women who made up the nucleus of the church weren’t simply believers in an abstract philosophy or even faithful followers of a great leader; they were eyewitnesses of an event.”

That “event” was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the same Spirit that raised Jesus to life again is available to bring us alive to God in new and life-giving ways.

May our Bible reading lead us closer to Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Scripture

Resurrection day plus one… now what?

Yesterday we celebrated Easter, the day set aside to recognize the resurrection of Jesus. But now what?

Late yesterday afternoon Susan and I hid eighty-some eggs around the outside of our house. Then we watched our kids – the four still at home – hunt for them.

One of the things that I found fascinating is that when they saw an egg they would often hurry to get it and rush right past another egg without noticing it.

I think we do that same thing with the resurrection.

We hurry to celebrate the reality that Jesus’ victory over death brings us hope for life beyond the grave. But in the rush we miss the reality that it also brings us hope for life before the grave.

Several decades ago the catch phrase for evangelism was: “If you die tonight do you know if you’d go to heaven or hell?”

I believe this was asked with good intentions but I also believe it warped the message of the Gospel.

The disciples journeyed with Jesus and learned to trust Him with every aspect of how to do life differently here and now, which eventually led to trusting Him with death.

We jump with people to trusting Jesus with death and then try to back them up to trust Him with how to do life here and now; which tends to be a hard sell.

Making the resurrection all about securing new life for us beyond the grave is sort of like having doctors and hospitals only to help secure our safe passage into death.

Doctors and hospitals exist to help improve, maintain or restore a certain quality of life. And Jesus’ resurrection secures for us the opportunity to do life here and now in a completely different way.

In what is refered to as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, Jesus taught what it looks like to bring God’s kingdom influence to the world by living the resurrection life here and now. Here are just a few things He taught.

  • Don’t wear your righteousness only on the outside, like the Pharisees, but live with a changed heart as you embrace righteousness from the core of your being.
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
  • Forgive others just as God has forgiven us.
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow or what you don’t have but seek first the kingdom of God.

Does this describe how we’re doing life?

To celebrate the resurrection on Sunday with our voices but then deny the resurrection every other day of the week with our actions makes a mockery of God.

Will we proclaim Jesus’ resurrection by how we live today?

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

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Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Easter, Forgiveness, Heaven, Hope, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Resurrection