Tag Archives: Brokenness

Paradoxes

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and I get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games.

Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life’s story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, ‘A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”
~ Brennan Manning

Thanks for being honest Brennan! It’s nice to know we’re not alone!
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Christianity, Conflict, Encouragement, God, Grace, Love of God, Trusting God

God can rewrite our story

It had been 13 years since we last visited Disney World and some things have changed. But I didn’t realize how much until I watched a DVD this last weekend about the history of the Magic Kingdom. In the 41 years it’s been open some attractions have morphed 3 or 4 times!

Eli pointed out one particular spot in the sidewalk of the Haunted Mansion that was interesting. There is a pipe down in the cement cut off level with the sidewalk.

During one of the physical transformations they cut the pipe but were unable to get it out of the cement. So… they wrote it into the new story of the Haunted Mansion.

God does that same thing for us.

We all have a past. Choices we’ve made that were hurtful to us or others. Things that happened to us that left scars; perhaps even nightmares and a struggle to trust.

If given the choice we’d have them erased forever. In fact, we go to great lengths to keep them buried. Over work, over eat, over drink, over medicate…

We do all manner of things to cope, but God has something better in mind.

God intends to show us that His love and grace are bigger than anything from our past. In fact, He intends to rewrite our story and redeem those very same events so that we reflect His glory in a whole new way.

Not rewrite as in changing the facts, but rewrite as in using it to show what His love and grace can help us to overcome.

The transformation is seldom easy or fast; but that’s true of many things in life.

  • What is it that you have locked away?
  • What means of coping have you tried?
  • How’s it working for you?

The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t work with such wounds. Only the love and grace of God are big enough and strong enough to redeem our hurts and use them to display His redemptive creativity.

You’ll likely need help for the healing journey. Someone to pray with you or encourage you or challenge you when the going gets rough. Perhaps even a pastor or counselor for sorting out the bigger issues. But remember…

No matter what it is, God can rewrite our story!
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Glory of God, God, Grace, Hope, Love of God, Morphing, Trusting God

Are we being real?

Look at the blue building in the picture below. Notice anything different about it? For starters, it’s not real. Disney is busy reconstructing the location so they put an elaborate canvas over the area so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

I can appreciate that. Disney is working hard to create a whole different environment for you to experience and they don’t want this construction zone to distract from the atmosphere of the Magic Kingdom they are working hard to provide.

At Disney World, this is awesome!

At church, this is lethal!

Each of us is an unfinished work of art being reshaped and recrafted by our Maker until the day we go to be with Him. But doing life as a community of believers is part of the process.

When we cover it all up we are protecting ourselves from being judged or ridiculed; which unfortunately sometimes happens. But we also make it impossible for God to use other believers as part of the process of reshaping our lives to reflect the life of Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we come to church tossing all our dirty laundry around. No one likes to be covered in someone else’s smelly stuff. But I am suggesting that we drop our mask of pretending that everything is OK and just fine.

Church should be the one place where we can experience a lavish abundance of God’s grace so that He can do whatever reshaping needs to be done.

As you gather this weekend, pray for your church family. Then leave your mask at home and go wearing the grace of God that you want others to share in. Lets…

Be the church and be real!

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

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Church, God, Grace, involvement with the church, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Self-made obstacles are the worst!

A few weeks back I blogged about my accidental discovery and enjoyment of the show Restaurant Impossible. In just 48 hours Robert Irvine completely renovates restaurants that are about to go belly up. More than just change, he brings hope.

On a recent episode the owner was a gal who was unbelievably stubborn! She epitomized the phrase, “My way or the highway.” But that wasn’t her only issue.

Her harsh style with others left the staff either afraid of her or disengaged. She even argued with paying customers when they didn’t like a particular food dish.

Even her own son who tended bar for her spoke up about her harsh demeanor. But she was stubborn and unwilling to change… at first.

Then Robert Irvine got really tough with her. It was definitely a case of tough love and she needed it. Once she finally broke and took ownership of her issue then real change began and the transformation was astounding.

I’m sure glad I don’t wrestle with being stubborn! (I said to myself so my family wouldn’t object!)

I may not get as harsh with people but I’m every bit as stubborn. And let’s be honest, so are you!

We all have our own ways of thinking or wanting something done. And because it’s our way it’s the right way, so why change?

Because God is Master renovator and He has big plans for us!

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” ~ Romans 8:29-30 (The Message)

It’s amazing to me that folks with a failing restaurant will invite Robert Irvine to come help them and yet be so resistant to change. How can they ignore his experience and track record?

How can we do that very same thing with God when it comes to the life-changing transformation He intends to accomplish in each of us?

Our ever-changing lives are a testimony to the grace and glory of God. It draws the attention of others to God. Our unchanging lives are a testimony to our stubbornness; and God is nowhere to be found.

Which testimony will we put on display today?

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Discipleship, Glory of God, God, Grace, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

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?

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© 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

A 600 year old promise fulfilled!

I love it when a promise is kept and I enjoy keeping promises I’ve made. There is something very special that happens in relationships when promises are fulfilled.

  • Trust grows and deepens.
  • A sense of value is experienced.
  •  And we are imitating our heavenly Father.

God had promised Abraham that his descendants would one day inhabit the land of Canaan (Genesis 15:16). God used Joshua to make good on that 600 year old promise, and has given them everything they need to be a great nation:

  • A set of guidelines on how to live,
  • His presence in the tabernacle,
  • A way to reconcile their sins, and
  • The land he had promised their ancestors.

But it isn’t enough!

The Israelites abandon God to worship false, pagan gods. Angered, God turns them over to be oppressed by neighboring nations. They eventually repent and cry out to God for help. Graciously, God raises up a judge to rescue and lead them.

For a season of time the people follow God. But when that judge dies they once again abandon God to chase after false gods.

The period of Judges lasted roughly 330 years. During that time, the Israelites spent 111 years being oppressed by other nations because they repeat this same cycle – sin, oppression, repentance, deliverance – six times!

The people are slow to learn and fickle in their faithfulness; but God remains faithful.

There is no longer any condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1); but we are far from perfect and still wrestle with our sin nature. And so… we repent.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  ~ 1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)

Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you… ~ Acts 3:19 (MSG)

Even though we are slow to learn and fickle in our faithfulness, God remains faithful!

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Forgiveness, God, Grace, Guilt, Repentance, Sin

We grieve with hope

Yesterday I helped a friend grieve and say goodbye to a son he never got to hold. He and his wife lost a little boy about 12 weeks into the pregnancy. His name is Benjamin James.

Benjamin is face to face with our Creator but my friend and his wife are walking through a valley darker than any they’ve ever experienced. And it sucks!

This is not how God intended life to be. That’s why He’s busy creating a new place for us to be with Him forever. A place without death or suffering or tears. But until that day comes we endure some serious heartache.

The Apostle Paul tells us that all of creation is groaning under the strain of a fallen, broken world.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. ~ Romans 8:18-22 (NLT)

Seasons of suffering, like what my friends Brian and Karen are going through right now, add to the groaning mentioned here by Paul. But no matter how deep our sorrow runs, God’s grace runs deeper… and wider… and stronger.

So for now, we grieve with hope and wait for the day when God’s glory will make it all fade away.

With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman was shared as part of the memorial service for Benjamin.

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Glory of God, Grief, Heaven, Hope, Suffering

It’s not my fault!

Last week I came across a blog written by a late twenty-something male from another country (not the USA). One of his statements caught my attention like the last chocolate chip cookie on a plate of crumbs.

It seemed very obviously flawed, but perhaps I was missing something. To be safe I ran it past my wife Susan – she saw it too.

Later, at the dinner table, I tossed it out to get a response from my kids. We’re talking twin 17-year-old girls and two guys; 15 years old and almost 12 years old. Yep! They saw it too! Here it is…

“I believe in destiny. If I fail, it’s because of destiny only. If I succeed, it’s because of my own efforts only.”

Go ahead, read it again. Notice anything peculiar?

Destiny, however that might be defined, is to blame for failure but success is due to personal effort alone! I.e. – I’m not to blame if it goes wrong, but I get the credit if it goes right! No responsibility, no blame, no guilt… no problem!

ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!

Certainly there are events and circumstances in life beyond our control, but to use something or someone else as the excuse for our failings is sad on many, many levels. But it’s not new!

When confronted with his sin Adam pointed to Eve and told God, “That woman you gave me…” Eve followed suit and said, “The serpent deceived me…”

Many years ago a newspaper in England ran a question for the public to consider – “What is wrong with the world?”

G.K. Chesterton, a well-known Christian, replied with a letter to the editor that read, “I am.”

Until we admit our sin and brokenness, God’s grace will be powerless to transform us. And if we don’t change, how can the world change?

May God’s grace empower us to own our own shortcomings!

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Filed under Accountability, Brokenness, Grace, Guilt, influence with the world, Morphing, Sin

True restoration

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. ~ Romans 5:1 (The Message)

That’s how God works when he redeems his people. He does so much more than save us; he restores us. Whatever Satan has stolen, God gives back. Whatever time we’ve lost to sin, he reclaims through love. The wounds inflicted upon us by the world are healed by his wonderful grace.

This is the Jesus we worship—the Savior who died so that we can live!

This is the message we bring to a world still bound by sin.

This is the only testimony worth telling—the only thing that really matters!
~ Excerpted from Soul Obsession by Nicky Cruz

Did you catch Paul’s statement there in Romans 5:1 – “…make us fit for him…”? That’s the restoration part that Nicky Cruz writes about. We are broken. We are fractured. We are wounded souls.

But our heavenly Father delights in works of restoration. And no amount of damage or brokenness is beyond His ability to restore. Like a master craftsman He loving pieces us back together. But that’s only possible when we are honest with our brokenness.

Entrust yourself to the loving hands of the Master!

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, God, Grace, Love of God, Surrender, Trusting God

Chelsey’s Story

This is a powerful testimony of how God uses us to touch and change lives with his love. This is my first time using Vimeo on my blog so if the video doesn’t appear try clicking here.

Who is it that God has brought into your life that needs to experience His love?

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Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Evangelism, Freedom, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Love of God, Loving others, Mercy, Morphing