Tag Archives: Christianity

God’s Tests

A Godward HeartWe cannot answer every why question. But there is always this answer: my faith is being tested by the Lord who loves me and will help me. And our Lord never wastes his tests. Whether we believe this truth is, in fact, part of the test. In the mind of Jesus, the promise that he would give them the crown of life was enough to sustain the Christians in Smyrna. I praise God that this has been, and pray that it always will be enough…

~ Excerpted from A Godward Heart by John Piper

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)

In other words: “Lord, as You grow our faith by stretching it through tests, may You protect us from the lies of the evil one who would have us doubt Your motives and trust in ourselves rather than in You.”

Abba, Father, help us trust You today!

***

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

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Doubt, Faith, God, God the Father, John Piper, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God

“These things happen.”

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. ~ Romans 7:19-20

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17

brennan_manningI’ve been asked a certain question countless times over the course of my ministry. Sometimes it has been asked with genuine sincerity; other times it was a loaded pharisaical grenade: “Brennan, how could you relapse into alcoholism after your Abba encounters?” Here is the response I gave in The Ragamuffin Gospel in 1990: It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus. Because the Christ-encounter did not transfigure me into an angel. Because justification by grace through faith means I have been set in a right relationship with God, not made the equivalent of a patient etherized on a table.

Twenty-one years later I stand by what I wrote; those words are as true for me now as they were then and on the day of my mother’s funeral. That paragraph from Ragamuffin Gospel spoke to many people; they’ve told me so time after time. I must admit though that from where I sit today the paragraph is a bit much, a little wordy. I believe I can now whittle the lines down to a three word response that incorporates all the truth of a verbose 1990 ragamuffin into a 2011 ragamuffin’s preference for brevity. Question: “Brennan, how could you relapse into alcoholism after your Abba encounters?” Answer: “These things happen.”
~ From All Is Grace by Brennan Manning

Dear Abba,
These things happen. They really do. And while I grieve them and You know I do, I also know deep within that these things are some of the very things that have brought me to my prodigal senses and sent me running back to You, back to my Father, back home. So I don’t thank You for these things but I do thank You for this grace that is greater than the sum of my sins; this mercy that knows my good-for-nothing name and still believes in me; and this tenderness that I’ve done nothing to deserve but loves me anyway. ~ From Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayer by Brennan Manning

Thank you Brennan for being so real. Thank you Abba for mercy and grace.

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Brennan Manning, Brokenness, Christianity, God, God the Father, Grace, Love of God, Mercy, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation

“The Father gave you as a gift to Himself”

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)

Dear Abba - Morning and Evening PrayersPain, inconvenience, sin—these are the problems of being, the alarming, embarrassing, even tragic things that God is apparently willing to put up with in order to have beings at all. But whatever the problems are, they are not the root of being. That root is joy and now. It is important to recapture the element of delight in creation. Imagine the ecstasy, the veritable orgy of joy, wonder, and delight when God makes a person in His own image—when God made you. The Father gave you as a gift to Himself. You are a response to the vast delight of God. Out of an infinite number of possibilities, God invested you with existence. Regardless of the mess you may have made out of the original clay, wouldn’t you agree with Aquinas that “it is better to be than not to be?”
— From Souvenirs of Solitude by Brennan Manning

Dear Abba,
Sometimes I get so entangled in the problems of being that I forget the root, and I miss the forests and the trees, not to mention myself. Wipe the sleep from my eyes this morning, Lord, and help me wake up to the truth that I am a response to Your vast delight. Thank You for making me me. Thank You for making me in Your image. Restore to me the joy of my existence.
~ From Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayers by Brennan Manning with John Blasé

I am awestruck at Manning’s statement that “The Father gave you as a gift to Himself.” May we come to embrace this truth at the core of our being so that we might learn to live out of it!

***

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

1 Comment

Filed under Brennan Manning, Christianity, God, God the Father, Love of God, Religion and Spirituality

Like a Little Child

 

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” —Matthew 6:1-2

Dear Abba - Morning and Evening PrayersJesus says in effect: Like a little child, consider yourself to be of little account. Blessed are you if you love to be unknown and regarded as nothing: all things being equal, to prefer contempt to honor, to prefer ridicule to praise, to prefer humiliation to glory. To practice poverty of spirit calls us not to take offense or be supersensitive to criticism. The majority of hurts in our lives, the endless massaging of the latest bruise to our wounded ego, feelings of anger, grudges, resentment, and bitterness come from our refusal to embrace our abject poverty, from our obsession with our rights, from our need for esteem in the eyes of others. If I follow the counsel of Jesus and take the last place, I won’t be shocked when others put me there, too. (Excerpt from Lion & Lamb by Brennan Manning)

Dear Abba,
You know me all too well. I seek out honor and praise and glory on a daily basis like a bloodhound. I find it and I’m satisfied, but only for a day or two as someone or something comes along and ruins it. Then I’m off again, sniffing out something to prove to everyone just how spectacular I am. But I was not created to be a bloodhound, led by his nose. No, You created me as Your child, to be led by Your hand, the hand of a loving Father Who will provide all my needs if I will just trust You. And Lord, that’s where it gets hard.

~ From Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayer by Brennan Manning with John Blase

When I read this devotional yesterday morning Brennan’s words cut to the core of my being. Especially his statement about how our “resentment and bitterness come from our refusal to embrace our abject poverty …our need for esteem in the eyes of others.” So much of what we do or buy seems driven by our desire for significance.

It immediately made sense and then I proceeded to wrestle with it all day long.

Its one thing to consider yourself of no account; but quite another to have people and circumstances confirm it.

  • Could I trust God to be enough?
  • Would I surrender to His agenda?
  • Could I be content simply being a child of the King?

Yesterday I held the hand of our Father and found His love to be enough. Will I trust Him again with this new day?

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Brennan Manning, Children of God, Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

Letting vs. Making

available to GodThe potential pitfall for those of us who want to let our lives count comes when we shift gears from simply letting to frantically trying to make our lives count. Your life can count when you forget trying to make something happen and simply let your life be available to God.
~ Excerpted from Let Your Life Count by Donna Partow

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Choices, Christianity, God, God's Will, influence with the world, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

God is the larger context

story of god“When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”
~ Eugene Peterson
***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Surrender

Awe and Wonder

“And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” ~ Isaiah 6:3 (NIV)

stand in awe of GodWorship is humbling, but it is also delightful, invoking a sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder. Astonishment and wonder are always found in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The difficulty with this today is that everybody is sure of everything. The proud man cannot worship God any more than the proud devil can worship God.

Without mystery, there can be no worship. If I can understand God, then I cannot worship God. I will never get on my knees and say, “holy, holy, holy” to that which I can figure out. But the more I know of God, the less I understand about Him.

It is in the presence of the Holy Spirit that I begin to recognize what a sinful man I really am. The apostle Paul said, “Woe is me.” Isaiah the prophet cried, “Woe is me!” when he came into the presence of God. They were experiencing the mysterious wonder of that One who is incomprehensible.

~ From My Daily Pursuit by A.W. Tozer

Father God, fill us with a fresh sense of awe and wonder that we might worship you anew, amen!

***

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

7 Comments

Filed under A W Tozer, Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Humility, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Wonder, Worship

In the Silence

Deck into the woods“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
~ Mother Teresa

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, God, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality

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?

***

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

4 Comments

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

The Art of Being Human

Souvenirs of SolitudePerhaps the main reason that we are such poor practitioners of the art of being human; why we so often teeter on a tight-rope between self-hatred and despair is that we don’t pray. We pray so little, so rarely, and so poorly. For everything else we have adequate leisure time. Visits, get-togethers, movies, football games, concerts, an evening with friends, an invitation we can’t decline—and these are good because it is natural and wholesome that we come together in community. But when God lays claim on our time, we balk. Do we really believe that He delights to talk with His children?

~ From Souvenirs of Solitude by Brennan Manning

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Brennan Manning, Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Prayer, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality