Tag Archives: Choices

A Declaration of Trust

Notice what the psalmist DIDN’T say…

“This is the day that I have made…”

“This is the day when every circumstance will go the way I want…”

“This is the day when no obstacles or people will interfere with my plans…”

The psalmist is making a declaration of trust in God’s sovereign agenda.

We don’t know what this new day or new week will hold.

  • Unexpected obstacles.
  • Financial struggles.
  • Relational issues.
  • Health concerns or perhaps even the death of a loved one.

But nothing that comes at us will be a surprise to God. Life is His story, not ours, and we can choose to trust Him with the unknown and the unexpected. We can make a declaration of trust.

God has not promised a problem-free life or even a quick solution to every difficult circumstance that we might face; but He has promised to be with us always – through everything that life throws at us.

And God’s presence is better than any earthly blessing!

“This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Divine presence, Faith, God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

I’m gonna live to be…

I’m gonna live to be 85… according to the Longevity Calculator.

You can click the link below and answer a series of just 13 simple questions to find out how long you can expect to live.

It was developed by Northwestern Mutual Life; though of course it comes with no guarantees or promises.

But before you try it, let me ask you something. If you could actually know exactly how much longer you would live on this earth, would you want to know?

What would you do with one week, one month, or one year left to live? What would you change or do differently?

I once heard Tony Campolo mention this years ago. He suggested that if you are living your life centered on God then you wouldn’t need or want to change anything about how you are living life.

One last question.

How will you live today since it could be your last day on earth?

Longevity Calculator – http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan/

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Death, God's Will, Health & Wellness, Priorities, Religion and Spirituality

Obedience to biblical principles can be wrong?

It’s a surprising thought, and not a little disturbing, that obedience to biblical principles can be wrong. But when doing right is a strategy to get what we want, our energy is pride and our focus is self. ~ Larry Crabb in The Pressure’s Off

Think about it.

We live in a world absorbed with linear thinking. If I do A then I get B as a result. It’s simple cause and effect.

If I want to enjoy dessert then I must eat my vegetables or clear my plate.

If I want to avoid another spanking then I will pick up my toys.

If I wear the right clothes or am a standout athlete then I’ll be popular in school.

If I dress and look and talk a certain way then I’ll get the guy/girl I want to go out with me.

If I get good grades in school then I’ll have a better chance at a good career.

Linear thinking - cause and effect – has its place, but not in relationships. When we apply this principle to getting what we want from people we are manipulating them. And regardless of the outcome… it’s wrong!

This same thought process is especially dangerous in our relationship with God.

“If I read my bible regularly and pray and tithe and volunteer and ________ (fill in the blank), then God will (must) bless me with the good things of life.”

Really? Where is that written?

But I’ve been faithful to You God, why…
… did my spouse leave me?”
… is my kid rebelling?”
… are we struggling with finances?”
… are we experiencing a health crisis?”

It’s not always obvious but it’s often there just below the surface; this notion that God owes us certain blessings.

I don’t think that Jesus is opposed to such blessings in our lives, but when we seek those blessings from God more than we seek God Himself then we are committing idolatry.

And following biblical principles in order to secure blessings from God is a cheap attempt to manipulate and control God.

Jesus said that real life is being in relationship with the Father. This is what eternity in heaven is all about but it starts right here and now.

Forgives us Lord and stir our passions for wanting You more than anything or anyone else in life.

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

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Filed under Bible, Choices, Christianity, Desire, Eternity, God, Heaven, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

Fix our eyes on…

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

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Filed under Choices, Eternity, Faith, Kingdom of God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation

Only if we die to self!

The Christian life is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Our earthly nature, even at it’s best, is self-serving and self-absorbed. Even good deeds are often done to serve our own purposes or make us appear better than we really are.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we’re all broken souls in need of God’s healing touch.

When the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us He gives birth to a whole new nature; one that is born from above – focused on God and others.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? ~ Matthew 16:24-26

God longs to infuse us with this new life and new nature so that we can lavish it on those we encounter. But it’s an either/or proposition. This new life is possible…

Only if we die to self!

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Christianity, CS Lewis, Discipleship, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

Do something remarkable

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

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Filed under Choices, Courage, Desire, Determination, Inspiration, Life in General, Motivation, Wonder

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

Radical Faith: Why one church gave away their tithe for a year

What follows is by John Richardson.
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Do you remember the story of Jesus walking on the water?

The disciples were half-way across the Sea; Jesus was standing alone on the bank of the water; the Father said, “Go ahead, step on top of the waves.” That’s an amazing moment of faith to me.

I completely understand that Jesus is fully God. But the reality is also that He is also fully man: a man who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) So stepping on top of the water must have been a remarkable moment of faith.

In the logic of the moment, Jesus obviously realized that this had never been done before. People don’t walk on water.

A few species of lizards can run across the water, but they know not to slow down. Several bugs can float on top of water, but they don’t have the mass of a fully-grown man. And in this moment, the Father is telling His fully-grown-man-Son to stand on a liquid surface.

The amazing part is that Jesus trusted Him enough to take that first step. That’s a ridiculous amount of faith. It’s in the realm of God asking you to flap your arms and fly. It defies all laws of nature. But Jesus trusted enough to follow in simple obedience.

Not too long ago, our church stood on the bank of the water. We’re kind of slow. We didn’t even understand how close we were to the water’s edge – and to a ridiculous faith challenge.

Our prayer was simple, but honest. We came to God asking one question that we genuinely did not know how to answer. We prayed,

“What can we do so that our neighbors will consistently see You when they interact with us?”

Much to our surprise, we sensed that the answer from God was, “Become generous as I am generous.”

And as we prayed further, we realized that He wasn’t kidding. He was prompting us to give away all of our tithes and offerings for an entire year.

For our small church community, this was one of those “Go ahead, defy the laws of nature” moments. God was challenging us to put our faith in action. He was asking us to love our neighbors with our resources.

After much fear and trepidation, we decided to go for it. Our faith paled in comparison to that of Jesus, but the Father held our hands as we stepped onto a liquid surface.

From April 2010 through April 2011, all of the tithes and offerings that were given to Traceway went to help the abused, neglected, sick, poor, and unstable of our city.

These gifts from God went to keep a few families out of home foreclosure after job losses. Other gifts went to provide housing for abused mothers who escaped literally with their children and the clothes on their backs. Some gifts went to pay medical bills and build handicap access ramps. Others went toward providing a vehicle for a family and aiding in disaster relief after a devastating local tornado.

These gifts were not a redistribution of wealth. The gifts were an entry point into the lives of these families. Each donation provided an open door for sharing the love of God and providing these people with a church community that would embrace them.

To be completely honest, not all of the giving turned out the way we hoped.

We had a few Peter-esque moments where we thought we were going to sink. At other times, we struggled because of the attitudes of the recipients. Some of them wanted a handout and nothing more. One lady even got mad at us after the 1997 Toyota Camry that we donated to her was not up to her standards. In those moments, we saw the mess that often accompanies incarnational-giving.

But we also learned how deeply God values our willingness to walk into the unknown with Him.

Potentially on par with that, we learned that God values our willingness to walk into the mess with Him. After all, that’s what He does…day after day after day. He joins each of us in our mess. He loves us and generously gives us gifts that nudge us closer to Him.

The faith of the people who make up Traceway Church is typically closer to that of a sinking Peter than that of a buoyant Jesus. But we are learning to trust the voice of God and stay alert to His movements.

As God calls us to follow, we hope to run forward with courageous faith. We are learning to trust the voice of the Father and create environments to unleash radical faith as He leads.

How will we trust God today!
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John Richardson has been a pastor and church planter for over ten years. His passion is to see the church more accurately reflect the heart and ministry of Jesus. His first book, Giving Away the Collection Plate is available at http://www.tatepublishing.com. John and his wife, J.D., have three daughters and live in Mississippi.

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Filed under Choices, Faith, Generosity, God, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Loving others, Money, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

Man arrested… for not leaving jail!

Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

Rodney Dwayne Valentine had just been granted his freedom from the Rockingham County jail in northern North Carolina on a recent Saturday morning. But when Valentine refused to leave the prison, police arrested him for trespassing and sent him back to his cell.

According to The News & Record of Greensboro, the 37 year 0ld Valentine reportedly refused to leave the jail site, after authorities declined his request for a ride to a local motel. He had been in prison since May 22 on a charge of damage to personal property.

Officers reportedly suggested that Valentine simply take a cab to the hotel, but he allegedly refused. When he still hadn’t left the premises that afternoon, Deputies charged Valentine with second-degree trespassing.

And now, Valentine is being held on a $500 bond while he awaits a scheduled court appearance on August 9.

Have you every heard anything so ridiculous?

I have!

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable about a servant forgiven a debt he could not possibly hope to repay, who then goes out and demands a few dollars back from a fellow servant.

When the forgiving king hears of this he brings the first man back and reprimands him for not extending the grace he himself had received.

All to often, we are that first man. God has lavished us with immeasurable grace. Yet we tend not to be as lavish in extending it towards others.

For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love  serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Forgiveness, Grace, influence with the world, Loving others, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

It’s MY choice!

I know it started way before my earliest recollection of it, but there seems to be no end to it. I’m speaking of that general notion that life is all about me.

It was a Burger King slogan that told me to “Have It Your Way.”

It’s a common thread in most advertising campaigns but it has reached a new high, or low depending on how you look at it.

The other day I was in the check-out line when I noticed gum with the label “UP2U”

I didn’t get it at first. Picking a pack of gum is my choice to begin with so why do I need one pack of gum with two flavors that gives me yet one more choice?

OOOOH, now I get it! Because it reinforces my individuality, my freedom to choose, the notion that life really is all about me.

Sure it’s only gum, but it’s MY choice!

Why pick gum with just one flavor when I can get a pack with two?

I want to feel empowered every time I choose which flavor to chew.

But wait! What happens if I don’t choose evenly? What if I run out of one flavor before I run out of the other? I won’t have any choice to make!

Unless I choose to go back to the store and get more multi-flavor packs of gum.

Whew! That was a close one!

Maybe one day I’ll be able to go online to order my gum and choose how much of each flavor I want! AWESOME!

That breeze you feel blowing across your face is from the rotation of the world as it revolves around me.

Me and MY choice! Ha Ha Ha! (He laughed in an evil, self-satisfied sort of way)

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him  deny himself and  take up his cross and follow me. 25 For  whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For  what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or  what shall a man give in return for his soul? ~ Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)

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

 

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Consumerism, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality