Tag Archives: Christ

How many gods? How many worlds?

Meet the BibleA story is told about Rabbi Joseph Schneerson, a Hasidic leader during the early days of Russian communism. The rabbi spent much time in jail, persecuted for his faith. One morning in 1927, as he prayed in a Leningrad synagogue, secret police rushed in and arrested him. They took him to a police station and worked him over, demanding that he give up his religious activities. He refused. The interrogator brandished a gun in his face and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind.” Rabbi Schneerson answered, “This little toy can intimidate only that kind of man who has many gods and but one world. Because I have only one God and two worlds, I am not impressed by this little toy.” ~ Philip Yancey in Meet the Bible

By “two worlds” Rabbi Schneerson is referring to the temporary, physical existence that describes this life up to the grave and the eternal, spiritual existence of our soul which we experience now but which continues beyond the grave.

If our only hope is this present world then the people and possessions of this life will easily become the “many gods” that we cling to at any cost. But if we have a different hope, a better hope that comes from trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord then no circumstance of life will pose a real threat.

None of us can be sure of how we would respond in a situation like the one described here, but we can choose today to be a man or woman with “only one God and two worlds.”

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

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Filed under Christ, Courage, God, Hope, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Philip Yancey, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

I’m Sorry

I'm sorry“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi wasn’t the first to express it and he certainly won’t be the last. And to be honest, I understand his sentiments.

“Christians aren’t perfect, we’re just saved.” It’s a popular bumper sticker and while it is true it is far too often used as an excuse for behaving badly.

Sometimes Christians can be rude and selfish and greedy… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can walk right past others and not even give them the time of day, as if they don’t even exist… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can look down their nose at others and judge them for their sins while ignoring their own sins… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can be so opinionated about a subject that they won’t even listen to someone with a differing opinion… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians gossip about others… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act one way at Church and a different way at work or at school… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act like they have life all figured out and that their life is perfect even when they don’t and it isn’t… I’m sorry.

I’ve lived half of a century (now I feel old!) and in that time I’ve served four different churches and been involved with many, many others. This lack of consistent living is widespread and common.

I’m sure you can add to this list but you get the idea. And since I’m being honest I will admit that I’m sometimes guilty of these same things.

Being a Christian is more than wearing a title, professing certain beliefs, sitting in a church service for one hour a week and following a formula to have a ticket stamped for life beyond this life. It means actively following Jesus to become like Him. It means learning to think and believe and feel and act like Jesus more and more. It means loving God and others every moment of every day.

We won’t get it right all the time; but that’s no excuse for not giving ourselves to the journey of doing life with God and learning to love like Jesus. And when we get it wrong we need to own it and apologize for it.

Note to my Christian friends: If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, but they…” Stop right there! Every person will one day stand before God to give an account of their life and their actions. NO ONE will be able to excuse their behavior by saying, “Yeah, but they…” We will be responsible for ourselves then so we might as well start being responsible for ourselves now.

One last confession: If my hope were in other Christians I would have given up on the Church and Christianity a long time ago. Some of my greatest blessings have come from other believers but so have some of my greatest hurts.

My hope rests in Christ Jesus alone! He is the only one who makes this messy, imperfect journey worthwhile.

Who is your hope in?

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

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Filed under Accountability, Christ, Christianity, Church, Confession, God, Hope, involvement with the church, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Repentance, Sin

Adopted…

Dug Down DeepWhile justification borrows the language of the courtroom to help us understand God’s work of salvation, adoption uses the language of family to help us see that behind all of God’s saving work is a deeply relational and personal motive of love. God tells us that when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us as his sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5). More than anything else this should convince us of God’s love. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Justification gives us a new legal status. Adoption gives us a new family and a new father. This is another expression of our union with Christ.

Because Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, as we trust in him, we receive his status as a child of God. John 1:12 says that to all who receive Jesus, to all who believe in his name, “he gave the right to become children of God.” In Christ, we are not forgiven servants. We are given all the rights and privileges of natural-born children. We are adopted and welcomed into the warmth of relationship with God as our loving Father. Romans 8:15–16 describes the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of adoption” who enables us to cry to God as our Abba—an intimate Hebrew term akin to dad. It combines intimacy and respect. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit “that we are children of God.”

~ Excerpted from Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

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

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Filed under Children of God, Christ, Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Love of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

A True Child of God

Clear Winter Nights - book cover“‘The Word’s powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Even the long lists of names remind you of the faithfulness of God, from generation to generation…’

‘Trusting Jesus and being a true child of God meant that whatever God said about His Son, He could say about me. He loved me…Not because I was smart or special or had great talents or gifts. It wasn’t because I was living the ‘good Christian life’ I was trying so hard to get right. He just looked at me and loved me. He delighted in me like a father delighting in his children. It suddenly all made sense…’

‘And I saw how deep my sin was. How foolish I was to try and fix myself. How silly my attempts at being a good man looked compared to King Jesus. And then I saw grace. I could look through Jesus’s righteousness and hear God say, ‘You are My beloved son…In you I am well pleased.’ And here I hadn’t even done anything.’”

~ Excerpted from Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

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

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Filed under Bible, Children of God, Christ, Christianity, God, Grace, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

Part of a Story that never ends!

I Am Not“Abandoning the tiny story of me and embracing the forever Story of Jesus will allow our little lives to be filled with the wonder of God as we live for the unending applause of His name. And joining our small stories to His will give us what we all want most in life, anyway: the assurance that our brief moments on earth will count for something in a Story that never ends.”

~ Excerpted from I Am Not But I Know I AM by Louie Giglio

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

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Filed under Christ, Christianity, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality

Jesus Comes for Sinners

Ragamuffin Gospel“Here is revelation bright as the evening star: Jesus comes for sinners, for those as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used-car salesmen. Jesus not only talks with these people but dines with them—fully aware that His table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.”

~ Excerpted from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

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

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Filed under Brennan Manning, Christ, Christianity, God, Gospel, Grace, Sin

Not interested in big crowds

Radical“Jesus Christ—the youngest mini-church pastor in history…

Whenever the crowd got big, he’d say something such as, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’ Not exactly the sharpest church-growth tactic. I can almost picture the looks on the disciples’ faces. ‘No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll never get on the list of the fastest growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you.’

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.”

~ Excerpted from Radical by David Platt

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

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Filed under Christianity, David Platt, Discipleship, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality

His Divine Rhythm

The word perichoresis comes from two Greek words, peri, which means “around” and chorea, which means “dance.” It is a term that the early church used to describe the relational intimacy between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s what some have referred to as The Dance of the Trinity.

I believe God wired us in such a way that our deepest longings can only be truly satisfied when we are in a relationship with Him; learning to dance in His divine rhythm.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

I long to do life more and more in step with God’s unforced rhythms of grace. And I long to see the church – the body of Christ – do the same!

I’m reminded of Jesus’ invitation here in Matthew 11 when I hear songs like the one below: One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful. You may not care for the song but you can’t help but be amazed at how these five guys do their part to contribute to one rhythm.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Dance, Discipleship, God, God the Father, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Jesus, Music Video, Perichoresis, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Teamwork, Trinity

God Wants to Use You

There was the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:27–34. God could have reached him without human help. Instead, He allowed Paul and Silas to be incarcerated in his jail. From these two prisoners, the jailer heard the gospel, and he and his family came to faith.

I think also of Cornelius in Acts 10, a centurion searching for God. An angel told him he needed to meet someone named Simon Peter, and the angel explained where to find him. Interesting. The angel could have given him the gospel. Instead God chose to use Simon Peter.

And what about Saul (later the apostle Paul) in Acts 9? While it’s true he was converted through an encounter with Christ Himself on the Damascus Road, God sent Ananias to confirm this with Saul and to pray for him to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. So you see, God uses people. And He wants to use you. ~ Excerpted from Beyond by Greg Laurie

As we begin a new day and a new week we know what’s coming – mostly. Work, school, errands, chores, outings of various kinds, etc. But what we don’t know is who God intends for us to influence.

It might be someone we see on a regular basis – a family member, a coworker, a fellow student…

Or it might be an unexpected encounter with someone we’ve never before met.

We don’t know who, when, where or how… but we do know that God wants to use us.

Will we be ready and responsive to the Spirit’s lead?

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

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Filed under Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

Love Like Jesus

At the core of God’s identity is a community; an intimate fellowship. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father; and out of that embrace of love comes the Holy Spirit as the breath of life.

The image of God as a Triune God or the Trinity is not something we can completely wrap our heads around, but it does give us the primary context in which to journey with God and others. And that context is relational!

So when Jesus is questioned about what commandment is most important He responds with love God and love others. (Matthew 22)

Elsewhere, Jesus said:

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34

But what does it really look like to love like Jesus?

To love like Jesus is to actively participate in what is best for another person even at great personal sacrifice and even when they don’t deserve it.

We understand the part about actively participate. And we understand personal sacrifice as a part of it. But loving others when they don’t deserve it causes us some struggle.

And yet, that’s how Jesus loves. Listen to how Paul states it in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome.

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. ~ Romans 5:6-8 (MSG)

We might be able to think of a few people – likely family members or close friends – that we would love like this but that’s not really the point. To love like Jesus is to love everyone this way.

As we come to “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) we will be transformed and empowered to love like Jesus.

Is there a better way to influence the world and advance God’s kingdom purpose of inviting others into the dance of the Trinity?

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

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Evangelism, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Trinity