Tag Archives: Christ

Come Holy Spirit… clear the air

It’s hard to imagine the force of wind that Hurricane Sandy unleashed on the East Coast of the United States. 

From what I read, winds hit nearly 100 mph and affected regions of the country hundreds of miles inland. Even here in Indiana we had winds in the 25-30 mph range with gusts up to 50.

Add flood waters and rain/snow to the mix and the damaging effects to the East Coast are massive! Last I heard some 8 1/2 million people were without electricity.

As I prayed for these folks yesterday a different kind of wind came to mind; the one Paul describes in Romans 8 when he speaks of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in chapter 7 about his struggle, and failure, against sin. He comes to the end of his rope and wonders who can save him.

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1-2 (The Message)

As devastating as a storm like Hurricane Sandy can be, the ravages of sin on the soul are eternally worse. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell among us to bring new life.

Anyone else tired of struggling against the flesh with its selfish desires?

Anyone else ready for a fresh wind from God to clear the air?

Anyone  else at the end of their rope and ready to cry out to God for mercy?

Come Holy Spirit and be welcome in my heart and my life. Do for me what I can’t do for myself; help me to be more obsessed with God than anything or anyone else in this life.

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

6 Comments

Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Freedom, Holy Spirit, Mercy, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Surrender

Without Any Reservations

Even with the best of intentions, parenting is a tricky journey. The ups, the downs, the unexpected moments – some good, some not so good. With six kids and 21 years under our belt we have come to rely even more on the grace of God and prayer.

When our kids turned 13 we took them away for an overnight trip full of special events as a rite of passage. One of the talks we have is about making their faith in God their own. But just 5 short years later when the time comes for them to head off on their own you can’t help but wonder how they will do.

We have two out of the nest (mostly) and four still at home. Our oldest is beginning his senior year of college and recently got engaged to a wonderful gal.

Eli has had his share of wrestling through faith issues and growing up the kid of a pastor brings its own unique set of obstacles. But to see him grow into his place in God’s story is so rewarding. Yesterday he posted this on Facebook.

I share it not only because it touched my heart as a father but because it challenged me as a follower of Jesus.

“Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Not even necessarily with a person. The first time you experienced something so powerful or amazing or awe-inspiring that you couldn’t imagine ever living without it again. Something so integral to who you are as a person that if you were to lose it, it would be akin to losing a limb. I remember the first time I ever stepped out onto stage. I was seven. I remember the rush. The exhilaration. The feeling that this was the epitome of how I would ever feel. Fast forward six years and I was back on stage at a community theater. Now, almost nine years later, I’m still in love. Ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you that once I’m in a show, I disappear. Every fiber of my being becomes wrapped up into the show and my part to play.”

“Earlier this week, a very wise man in my life reminded me to, “Never forget your first love.” It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t speaking in reference to my love for theater. He was speaking in reference to God. This is what God longs for from us. That we would be so madly in love with him that every fiber of our being becomes wrapped up in him and his bigger story. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a life, but it’s often so easy to lose sight of our first love. So this is my prayer for myself and for all other believers out there. That we might never lose sight of our first love. That we become so wrapped up in God and his story that we can’t help but be an integral part of it. That we learn to truly and completely let go and love God without any reservations.” ~ Elijah Alvey

Is there anything or anyone we’re loving more than God?

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

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Filed under Commitment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Parenting, Prayer, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

What New Path?

Where he was, who he was with, and the circumstances of the request all combined to help determine the path Jesus would take. Do we expect any less of Christ today? How open are you to surprises? Are you willing to take paths that Jesus is blazing and follow him as he hacks a way in the wilderness?

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with Paul and brought the Gentiles into the body of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with Saint Francis and brought all of creation into the body of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with Martin Luther and turned the altar toward the people, who are the body of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with John Wesley and strolled out into the streets and the fields to find lay leaders who would lead the body of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with Charles G. Finney, and an industrial, urban world was claimed as part of the body of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ walked a new path with Billy Graham, and a multiracial, multinational, multicultural world was affirmed as part of the body of Christ.

What new path is the Spirit of Christ walking with you and with your church?

~ Excerpted from What Matters Most by Leonard Sweet

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Filed under Christmas, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality

Not an evening stroll!

Wait Lord, I need to catch my breath! (pant, wheeze, gasp)

“I have learned to appreciate my father’s willingness to let God be the mystery that he is and, with eyes wide open, to pursue him, not with the precision of a crossword puzzle fanatic but with the reckless passion of a pilot flying into the Bermuda Triangle. 

Following Christ is a wild adventure full of risk, frustration, excitement, and setbacks.  It is not an evening stroll in a planned community along a well-manicured path.” ~ From God of My Father by Larry Crabb

I don’t know about you but I need the occasional reminder that being on a journey with God through this life is nothing short of a wild adventure.

Truth be told, I tend to prefer things calm and quiet and controlled. But too much of that gets old real fast!

Yet too much of the wild adventure can leave me breathless and grabbing for something to hold on to so I don’t collapse.

This summer has left me feeling like that. Breathless and grabbing…

It always seems to come back to the core issue of trusting the Author of the bigger story.

OK Lord, I’m ready to go when You are…

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

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, Faith, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

No more counting

Years ago I heard Tony Campolo speak about being part of a ministerial association where he lived. Every group has their measuring stick and this group used Sunday evening attendance. So the first thing they did each meeting was to go around the circle and share that statistic.

Tony decided to have some fun and play their game. When it was his turn, he reported that they had between 3 and 4 hundred in attendance for their Sunday evening services. Every pastor in the room was awestruck and Tony became the new guru of that little group. His words of wisdom were valued like gold and everyone had questions to ask.

Then a few months into these meetings someone asked Tony exactly how many people they averaged in attendance at Sunday evening services. Tony replied with something like “37.”

As you can imagine, everyone was stunned. “But you said it was between 3 and 400!” To which Tony replied, “37 is between 3 and 400.”

I love it! How could they be so vain as to think that the number of Sunday evening attenders is the measure of success in a church.

I would never do that. But I would use the number of blog followers to boost my confidence and measure my success. I’ve even looked for the number of followers on other blogs that I visit.

How could I be so vain?!

Everyone likes to have someone reading their blogs and positive affirmation can be great fuel to spur us on in writing. But this shouldn’t be our primary motivation.

If it’s all about God then it’s simply a matter of sharing what He has put on our heart and trusting that He will use it according to His will; whether it’s with a thousand people or just one soul.

But it’s hard. Even the tips others give you for building a following include visiting lots of other blogs to either “Like” a post or “Subscribe” to their blog. The idea is that people will return the favor. But I can’t bring myself to do that.

I enjoy checking out other blogs when time allows, but if I like a post or follow a blog it’s simply because it touched my heart and challenged me in some way.

Jesus taught that the way to confront the issue of greed in our heart is to give stuff away.

So to confront my tendency to “number watch” my blog I’ve stopped posting how many people are following through Subscription. Though it just dawned on me that the number of people following my Facebook page is still listed. I wonder if that can be removed?

What’s your real motivation for blogging or doing anything for the cause of Christ?

P.S. – And anyway, the number of followers posted by WordPress was wrong by my count. It was actually… never mind.  LOL

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

8 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Blogging, Loving God, Motivation

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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Filed under Bible, Scripture, Trusting God

Embracing our new birthright

We really are more than what meets the eye!

“The word natural is a comfortable word. We can manage it. But supernatural? How do we manage that? Do we actually “not belong to the world” in the same way as Jesus did not belong? That’s what he said. Then how are we to understand those obsessive “earthy” feelings we all have?”

“God tells us we are alive in a way we have never been alive before, possessing a birthright we never possessed before. In that moment when we received Christ, God’s miraculous “birthing” act gave us a value, a beauty, a preciousness that lifts us above all earthy measurements.”

“He encourages us to look deep within at his workmanship and make that unexpected discovery of passion for him and a holiness that will set us free to be ourselves—free to live and to love. He invites us to believe the unbelievable about the miracles he has performed in us that enable us to say enthusiastically “Yes!” to him and “Yes” to life, while at the same time saying “Yes” to who we most deeply are.”
~ Excerpted from Birthright by David C. Needham

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

3 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Christianity, God, Morphing, Spiritual formation

Becoming real

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

– C.S. Lewis

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Filed under Authenticity, Choices, Christianity, Discipleship, God, Jesus, Life in General, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

At the top of God’s “To Do” list

Christianity is a love relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a religion to observe, a set of rituals to follow, or a list of disciplines to master. It’s astounding but true that almighty God wants to communicate with us, and He has a lot to talk to us about.

The same God who was present as each world empire rose and fell, who observed humanity making each scientific discovery, and who will judge every world leader, every ordinary person, and every demonic power—this God, who is infinitely wise and all-powerfully strong, wants to interact with you and me.
~ Excerpted from Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby

God created us to enjoy us.

He redeems us to restore intimate fellowship that was lost because of our sin.

Jesus is preparing a place for us to live with Him forever.

Stop and reflect on this…

No matter what it is that’s at the top of your “To Do” list today; spending time with you is at the top of God’s.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Choices, Christianity, Divine presence, Glory of God, God, God's Will, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Priorities

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.

4 Comments

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