Tag Archives: Bible

The Grubby Book

This is a reblog of a post done by a fellow-writer residing in Australia. You can check his blog out here. Thanks Pieter!
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Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2

In a previous vocation I had the privilege of officiating at the funerals of many older saints. Quite a few of these had gone through wartime experiences in Europe or Indonesia. They had been through the worst that humanity can inflict upon their brothers and sisters.

A Psalm that was often requested at their funerals was Psalm 91. It encapsulates both the horror of war and the beauty of God’s grace. These people were able to declare in life and in death, “The Lord is my refuge.” They had the confidence, in a bombing raid or in a Japanese prisoner  of war camp, that nothing could remove them from their place in the eternal family of God. Incidentally, it was this solid expression of  faith that was lived by the Moravians in the face of danger that impressed and impacted John Wesley so deeply a few centuries earlier.

One story I remember clearly: on a visit to an elderly white-haired saint, I noticed a small grubby book, in an otherwise immaculate bookcase. I commented on its incongruity. This elderly man, while holding his wife’s hand, told me its story. This was the Bible he kept in a tropical  Japanese prison camp. His wife and children were in a separate camp. He kept it closely wherever he went.It was his constant companion. He would have been severely punished, even killed, if he had been found with it. The worst moments were snap inspections. So when an inspection was called he quickly scratched a hole in the dirt and stood on the book. It was a precious memento that had pride of place in his bookcase. It was a reminder of God’s centrality in his and his family’s life. And he added with a wink, “I could always say I stood firmly on the Word of God.”

May we also dwell in the Most High by “standing” firmly on the Word of God.

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Filed under Bible, Courage, Faith, intimacy with the Lord, Trusting God

Taking God at His word

If I fail to live as I’m instructed, I undermine my own credibility to remind or teach my family to live as they’re instructed. How can I credibly teach others to obey God if I don’t? You and I need to make sure we are obeying as well, and that we are providing a climate where obedience can flourish.

Such a climate begins with our own respect for and adherence to Scripture. We cannot take our cues from our culture. We must return to drink deeply from the headwaters. Christian thought springs directly from the nature of God and its revelation in His Word.

Every major tenant of our faith is a matter of revelation not explanation. Each is a mystery to be learned no way other than by revelation. We know what we know by taking Him at His Word. We apprehend His intentions and affirm our allegiance by believing what He says. Whether it is the nature of our salvation or the nature of our homes, we take it by faith, trusting and obeying.
~ Excerpted from Tender Warrior by Stu Weber

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

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

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Let’s keep God out of the cook book

There are certain times and places when a ready-made recipe is exactly the right approach.

  • Brain surgery.
  • Rocket science.
  • Navigating deep oceans in a sub.
  • Flying a jumbo jet.
  • Building a finely crafted timepiece.
  • Parachuting through the clouds.

These occasions, and many others like them, are best accomplished with a well-laid plan of action. There is little room for error and precision is essential.

Recipes are even quite useful in a kitchen. But they are of little value when it comes to doing life with God.

“Recipes are useful in a well-lighted kitchen. Recipe theology, that collection of practical biblical principles that tell us what to do in every situation, treats confusion as something to be solved rather than entered. It reduces the mysteries of life to things we can manage.” ~ Larry Crabb, Jr. – The Silence of Adam, Page 66

There is no one-size-fits-all Biblical solution to every circumstance because we are not privy to God’s Upper Story plans. Two people in similar situations may be led by God to respond differently.

I’m not suggesting that God’s timeless truths or principles change, but that doing life with God doesn’t fit into a nice, tidy box.

It it did, there would be no sense of adventure. There would be no challenge to stretch our faith. There would be no reason to trust God in the midst of uncertain circumstances.

God invites us to come to Him any time we want. But don’t just run to Him for a solution. Join Him in the journey and delight in discovering new things about God and yourself.

What will be our adventure with God today?
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If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 12 for this week. You can check out The Story by clicking on the page tab above.

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

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Filed under Bible, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Scripture, The Story, Trusting God

A DTR moment with God

There comes a time in every serious relationship when you have to pause for a DTR moment.

DTR stands for Define the Relationship. It’s a moment (or moments) in a relationship when specifics get discussed.

  • How often will we date?
  • Are we going to date only each other?
  • Is it time to meet the families?

Obviously, being on the same page is not only desirable but makes for the best possible relationship.

Once God rescued the young Israelite nation from slavery in Egypt He had them make a pit stop at Mt. Sinai for a DTR moment.

God created us to enjoy us so He takes the lead in spelling out what will make for the best possible relationship.

Relationship 101: The Ten Commandments are given as guidelines for relating to God and each other (Exodus 20). Jesus continues this theme when He defines the greatest commandment as loving God and loving others (Matthew 22).

Temple Blueprints: Specifics on how to construct what will be Gods’ temporary dwelling place close to His people (Exodus 25-31). God does not suffer from OCD but is highly detailed because He wants to test their hearts to see if they are serious about their relationship with Him.

Instructions on Living in Holiness: A multitude of details, including animal sacrifices to atone for sin, are given to teach the Israelites how to live holy lives that reflect the glory and holiness of God. (Leviticus)

From a Lower Story perspective it would seem that God is obsessed with details, but from an Upper Story perspective He is simply making sure we know how to maintain fellowship with Him. It’s all about the relationship!

Today is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter. It’s a time to give up something in order to refocus or deepen our relationship with God. It’s sort of a DTR Season.

Whether you observe Lent or not, let me offer two questions to consider:
1. In what ways am I pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
2. What am I consuming (food, drink or activity) that distracts me from pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
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If you’re on our journey through The Story then read chapter(s) 5 this week. If you’re not familiar with The Story you can check it out at the tab above or click here.

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

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Filed under Commitment, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Lent, Loving God, Loving others, The Story

Just keep at it!

Curt was a year ahead of me in high school. Both in and out of the weight room he encouraged me with working out. During one lapse Curt checked on me and I told him that my schedule kept me from being consistent so I figured it wasn’t worth the effort because it wouldn’t do me any good.

Curt expressed that he faced the same issue but that the key was to just keep at it. Since he was a standout in several sports and went on to attend Notre Dame University on a wrestling scholarship – no small accomplishment – his advice carried some weight (pun intended).

That’s always been a struggle for me. If I can’t do something the way I draw it up in my head then why bother?!

Last week Susan and I decided to eat better and exercise at a local gym. Long story short… it didn’t go as planned. Schedules got interrupted and I had a few lapses in eating better.

Even though the week was bumpy, it still yielded some benefits. No matter what your pursuing, the key really is to just keep at it!

This is especially true in our journey with God!

We extol the virtues of Biblical characters like Moses, David, Ruth and Paul because of their excellent examples, but we tend to ignore the frequency with which those same people totally screwed up! Take Abraham for example.

Abraham followed God to begin a new nation and faithfully offered his son on the altar when told to do so; but he twice lied about Sarah being his wife in order to protect his own skin and slept with Sarah’s servant when God’s promise of a son didn’t come fast enough!

Notice how God responds to Abraham. He didn’t toss him aside and start over with someone else. God lovingly and patiently worked with Abraham and used him to carry out His bigger plan.

We’ve been invited to share in God’s Upper Story plan to reach every man, woman and child with the good news of His grace and truth. The advancement of God’s plans, and our participation in them, are not driven by our perfect efforts but by His limitless grace!

Trust in His grace and just keep at it!

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If you’re reading along in The Story with us then read chapter(s) 3 this week! If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

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Filed under Determination, God, Grace, The Story, Trusting God

Fitting the pieces together

The Bible displays an Upper Story and a Lower Story. 

The Upper Story tells the big picture, the grand narrative of a loving God seeking relationship with mankind as it unfolds throughout history.

The Lower Story contains the details of particular people, the episodes we’ve become familiar with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood… even our own stories.

This Upper Story is really a framework around which we approach and apply any one part of the Bible.  It unifies God’s whole message to us and helps guide us through the difficult times in life by doing two things:

  1. Reminding us of God’s eternal, long-range plan and,
  2. Putting our experiences into a divine context formed by a perfect, loving Creator.

God’s agenda in the Upper Story is to reach every man, woman and child, all around the world, with His grace and truth. Eternity with God is a divine party; a celebration to end all celebrations and God doesn’t want anyone to miss it.

Our agenda in the Lower Story tends to be comfort and enjoyment. Such longings are not inherently wrong or evil, but they seldom serve to advance God’s Upper Story agenda. And quite often, they are directly opposed to it.

Jesus’ death on the cross could be described with many words, but comfort and enjoyment would not be among them. Yet He endured such pain and agony to fulfill His part in advancing the Father’s Upper Story agenda.

So, by putting all we read from Scripture into the larger picture, we can make modern-day applications that take into account the grand, mysterious ways of God, and guards us from misapplication that can result from an isolated “what this verse says to me” approach.  In other words, the Upper Story creates the context for the Lower Story.

For example, without the Upper Story, a lost job could be seen as an event without hope.  But put into the context of the larger chronicle of our lives, and God’s perfect design, that lost job can be seen in a very different light, perhaps as an opportunity for God to advance His kingdom agenda.

So when you seek to understand something from the Bible, or the events and circumstances of your life, remember… there is a bigger, Upper Story being written into which the smaller details fit.

We may not always understand how they fit, but we can trust the One who is writing The Story!

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If you’re journeying with us through The Story then read Chapter One this week. If you’ve not heard about The Story you can check it out by clicking on the page tab above.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, God, God's Will, Grace, Kingdom of God, Life in General, Scripture, Surrender, The Story, Trusting God, Truth

How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

We can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul.

Really? Stifle spiritual growth and destroy the soul? That’s the observation made by Richard Foster in Life with God. He points out that the root problem has to do with two common objectives people have for studying the Bible.

The first issue is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. There is much that we can learn from the Bible and learning is a vital part of growing. But knowledge alone tends to make us arrogant.

The second issue is that people often study the Bible to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. When we go looking for simple formulas we greatly increase the risk of taking Scripture out of context and this can lead to some unhealthy conclusions.

The real danger in these two common ways of approaching the Bible is that they leave us or someone else in charge. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than submitting to the process of transformation that Scripture can accomplish in us. When we approach the Bible from the perspective of whole-life discipleship to Jesus, amazing changes can take place in us.

So how do we approach Scripture in a way that promotes real life change?

READ with an open, focused mind and a surrendered heart. Ask God to help you understand the context (big picture) of what you’re reading and the author’s original intentions.

REFLECT on what you’re reading. Pause to reread portions of it and let it soak in. If something really speaks to your heart highlight it or make a note. If something raises a question jot it down to explore later.

RESPOND to what you’ve read. Is there an action to take or an attitude to adjust? Is there a sin to confess or a praise to offer God? Prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to continue speaking to you from what you’ve read.

Use a small notebook to record your daily reading, reflecting and responding. This is a great way to review your journey with God through Scripture and can be an encouragement when times get tough.

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If you’re sharing our journey through The Story then read chapter one in it and The Heart of the Story. If you’re just hearing about The Story and want to know more click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Bible, Holy Spirit, Morphing, Prayer, Reflection, Scripture, Surrender, The Story

Invited to unveil a bigger story

Remember all those people in the Bible that were part of God’s unfolding story? Abraham, Gideon, Esther, Paul and countless others? On the day that God invited them into His bigger story, do you suppose they woke up thinking it was just another day?

What if today is not just another day but a God-appointed moment in time? What if today is specifically designed for you and me to participate in His unfolding story? What if God wants to use us to unleash His story of grace and redemption into the world right where we are – today?

“God is not merely the Creator of our life. He is also the Author of our life, and he writes each person’s life to reveal his divine story. There never has been nor ever will be another life like mine—or like yours. Just as there is only one face and name like mine, so there is only one story like mine. And God writes the story of my life to make something known about himself, the One who wrote me. The same is true of you. Your life and mine not only reveal who we are, but they also help reveal who God is.

… Your story helps reveal the Greatest Story, the story that God is telling about himself. God intends for each of us to live for a greater glory, and a greater story, than our own.

So take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It’s time to read your own life, because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.”
~ Excerpted from To Be Told by Dan B. Allender

Are we giving ourselves to be part of God’s unfolding story?

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To learn more about The Story and how you can participate in the journey, click the page tab above.

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5 Reasons NOT to read your Bible

1. It may change your assumptions about God.

It’s common to have wrong perceptions about God until we encounter Him through the Scriptures.

2. It may show you that you’ve mistaken religion with relationship.

Many churches promote a system of behaviors rather than a relationship like what we see in the Bible.

3. You may give up trying to be perfect.

There is one common trait shared by all those people who are part of God’s story – they were misfits who messed up A LOT!

4. It may affect how you relate to others.

You may begin to see people not for how they can benefit you, but for how you can impact them.

5. It may challenge you to leave behind a legacy.

You may be compelled to give your life to a greater cause, a bigger story, one that extends far beyond your pleasures or comforts.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

There is no substitute for spending time in God’s word. If you’ve ever struggled with reading through the Bible or are looking for a new adventure, our church family is going to be sharing a journey through The Story.

But you don’t have to be a part of our church family to share in the adventure. You can read the books for yourself and follow along with my blog. Click on The Story tab above to read more about it.

Wether you join us or not, make it a priority to spend time with God in His word!

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Filed under Bible, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Scripture, The Story

Some new blog stuff for a new year

I’m a big believer that we should all be perpetual learners. To quit learning is to quit living. And since it’s a new year I’m trying out a few new things with the blog; stuff that I’m learning from other bloggers.

  • A Facebook page for the iLife Journey
  • A condensed About page
  • A new The Story page

A Facebook page: One of my favorite parts of blogging is the chance to connect with people from all over the country and even the world. The chance to get feedback on a blog and dialogue about the journey of following Jesus is priceless!

For a while now Eli – my oldest and a junior in college – has been telling me that a Facebook page would allow for more ongoing dialogue between people and would help me reach a bigger audience. So if you do Facebook check it out here. Click the “Like” button to stay updated on new posts and some other things I’m planning to share. And if you want to connect with me personally on FB you can friend me on my page here.

A condensed “About” page: This is no biggie if you’re already following my blog but I’ve condensed and combined personal info and background info about the iLife Journey onto one “About” page. I did this because I tend to get wordy sometimes but primarily to free up space for a new page tab…

A new “The Story” page: The Story is a condensed, chronological Bible that provides the scope of God’s story from Genesis to Revelation in just 31 chapters. Our church is going to be preaching and teaching through this 31 week Bible and I’m going to be doing some specific things on my blog so that others can join us on this unique journey of finding our story in God’s story. You can read more about it on the page tab above.

Feel free to let me know what you think and thanks again for sharing the journey!

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