Tag Archives: Contentment

Did Jesus miss the obvious?

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting scene!

Intimacy_with_GodJesus had healed enough people for word to spread like wildfire. The crowd quickly got so big it was standing room only spilling out of the house. (Mark 2) Every eye was riveted on Jesus until…

The ceiling split open and four guys lower their friend on a mat.

  • The sick were being made healthy…
  • The blind were seeing again…
  • The demon possessed were being set free…

Imagine the hopes and expectations of this man on the mat with legs refusing to work. And in the midst of all that healing going on Jesus looks at him and says…

“Your sins are forgiven.”

The guy must have been thinking something like: “Um, thanks Jesus but I was sort of hoping you would do something with my legs.”

Did Jesus miss the obvious?

Why would He skip past two legs “out-of-order” to focus on sin?

Surely the man’s legs were the real issue here? Or were they?

Jesus knows something the man doesn’t know—that he has a much bigger problem than his uncooperative legs. The bigger problem is the sin that separates him from God. What good does it do to have legs that work if you’re going to spend eternity apart from God?

So what’s the big, pressing issue for you in this life?

  • Poor health or a life-threatening disease?
  • Finances that keep coming up short?
  • The lack of a meaningful relationship or too many dysfunctional ones?
  • The death of a loved one?
  • Family members and friends who have never accepted God’s gift of grace?
  • Dead end job, bad boss, noisy neighbor, lousy teacher, apathetic students, annoying in-laws, kids bullying your kid…?

Tim Keller enjoyed reading articles by Cynthia Heimel and there’s one he’s never forgotten. She describes being around many young struggling actors and actresses who are desperately looking for their big break into show business. She observed that many of these who did make it into the business became even less content and more miserable than before.

She describes feeling sorry for them because they had the thing they had thought would make everything okay – and it didn’t. Then Heimel added a statement that took Keller’s breath away:

“I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, he grants your deepest wish.”

Jesus didn’t miss the obvious. What He’s saying to the crippled man is this: “I’m not going to play that rotten joke on you. I’m not going to just heal your body and let you think you’ve gotten your deepest wish.”

The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Something or someone else is our savior. Almost always when we first go to Jesus saying, “This is my deepest wish,” His response is that we need to go a lot deeper than that.

What is it that we think we need to make life complete or okay?

If it’s anything other than Jesus, we’re settling for less!

Will we surrender our deepest wishes to discover a new depth of peace and contentment through intimacy with the Lord?

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Contentment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Peace, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Trusting God

Black Friday – Sad but true! :-(

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

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Filed under Black Friday, Choices, Consumerism, Contentment

May God wreck our plans!

We were getting away for a few days to relax and regain some sense of rhythm. But God had other plans!

Susan and I loaded our bikes into the old blue bus (our 20-year-old van) and pulled out late Sunday afternoon headed for a hotel room in Indy. The trip was uneventful, the room was great and the continental breakfast was amazing. But then…

We shopped at a few nearby stores before heading downtown to visit a friend who had just given birth to her third baby. We got within a couple of miles of the hospital when the van started sputtering.

Long story short, we spent another night in Indy and about $500 for a new fuel pump!

The really ironic part is that I’m reading a book about what God may be up to when our dreams get shattered or our plans go up in smoke. And just for the record, I prefer reading about it over actually living it. Just sayin’…

There are certainly bigger dreams out there than just getting away for a few days but it stretched our patience to the breaking point!

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb suggests that God uses the big and little obstacles of life to help us come to grips with what matters most to us. Are we pursuing God in order to secure His blessings of a good life or are we desiring a relationship with God above all else?

The deepest longings of our heart cry out for an experience of God’s presence; and yet we so often settle for lesser passions. Only when those lesser passions get thwarted or crushed will we delve deeper into our soul and come to discover our greater passion for God.

An encounter with God is what we were created for and satisfies our soul like nothing or no one else can. But when the lesser passions of life satisfy us, even if they are only temporary, we forget the bigger passion.

It’s sort of like nibbling on junk food too close to the big meal and losing our appetite for real food.

I’ll be honest. I was very angry and frustrated as we sat there in the hot sun waiting for the tow truck to show up. Was a few days away to relax really too much to ask?

But eventually, a different question made its way to the forefront of my mind.

Are these few days away more important to you than God?

God could have kept our van running but didn’t. God could have prompted me to take a different vehicle but He didn’t. (At least, I don’t think He did. Sometimes I don’t listen so well)

If I want God more than I want a few days away and if I choose to trust God as sovereign, then can I trust Him to be working behind the scenes to accomplish something I know nothing about? In essence…

Would I trust God’s character and intentions to be good even if I didn’t know the “why”?

I have no great “TaDa” moment that resulted from our interrupted plans. I’ve gained no great revelation or insight from what took place. And I still don’t know how we’ll pay for the van or extra night in a hotel.

But I can trust the Author of the story to be good and I can once again sift through my passions to see which ones are most important.

May God wreck our plans, no matter how good they are, to help us discover our greater passion for Him!

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

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Filed under Adversity, Contentment, Desire, Discipleship, Divine presence, Frustration, God, intimacy with the Lord, Patience, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Suffering, Trusting God

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

Are you hungry for God?

“…I don’t want to go to a church that values our experience of God above our hope in God.  As difficult as it is, and it sometimes can be agony, I want to experience my emptiness or loneliness and learn to hunger after God as I hunger for no one and nothing else.  I want to be convinced that no experience available to me in this life, from God or the devil, can satisfy that hunger.  Paul said it best: if there is no heaven, no better world where satisfaction is lasting and deep, then living like Jesus in this world is stupid (1 Cor. 15:19).”  ~ Larry Crabb in Real Church

A lot of focus in the church today has to do with creating satisfied customers so that they’ll return and our numbers will grow. More activities! More excitement! More buzz! But is this really of God?

Consider how we engage with one another as the body of Christ. We strive to support and encourage one another, which is good; but in the process we tend to rush toward solutions that will alleviate discomfort. We don’t want to see others struggling and if we’re honest, it makes us uncomfortable to be around those who are struggling.

But what if that period of struggling is exactly what God intends? What if God wants to use that dissatisfaction to grow in us a deeper hunger to find our ultimate satisfaction in Him alone?

When you walk away from your church gatherings, are you content with the amount of God you’ve encountered or are you hungry for more of Him?

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

6 Comments

Filed under Church, Consumerism, Contentment, God, involvement with the church, Relationship with God, Spiritual growth

Is it enough for you?

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
~ 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Is it enough for you?

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

4 Comments

Filed under Contentment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Peace, Relationship with God

Thanksgiving quotables worth pondering

Sure it’s another Thanksgiving, but are we really thankful? May these quotes stir your heart and deepen your sense of gratitude as they did mine!

“You can’t be grateful for something you feel entitled to.”  ~ Steven Furtick

“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world: It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.” ~ William Law

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ The Apostle Paul – I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing the journey!

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Filed under Contentment, Gratitude, Thankfulness

Jesus did what?

“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds…” ~ John 7:37 (NLT)

What? You’ve never seen the picture of Jesus standing and shouting? Holding the lamb – yep! With children on His lap – sure! Arms stretched out over a city – you bet! But shouting? Nope! Never seen that picture; but that’s what He did.

The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted. John uses the same Greek verb here that was used three others times when people shouted.

  • The blind man shouted, appealing for sight. ~ Mark 10:46-47
  • Peter sinking in the water, crying out for help. ~ Matthew 14:29-30
  • The demon-possessed man who shouted, pleading for mercy. ~ Mark 5:2-7

Very intense moments to be sure. What would fill Jesus with such passion?

Thirsty souls!

The festival mentioned above was the week-long celebration that was the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. People slept in tents and lined the streets. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down to the temple.

Announced by trumpets, the priest encircled the altar every day… once a day… for seven days. Then on the last day, the great day, the priest gave the altar a Jericho loop – seven circles while pouring seven vessels of water. The climax of a monumental celebration. It may have been at that very moment…

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” ~ John 7:37-38

He shouted to get our attention. He shouted because His time was short. He shouted because He loves us and wants to quench our deepest thirst.

And Jesus uses a verb that suggests repeated swallows. Literally, “Let him come to me and drink and keep drinking.” As Max Lucado puts it:

“One bottle won’t satisfy your thirst. Regular sips satisfy thirsty throats. Ceaseless communion satisfies thirsty souls.”

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Filed under Christianity, Contentment, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God

He gave up how much money?!

I’m not an avid baseball fan and yet I couldn’t help but be awestruck by a recent story involving Major League Baseball.

As you might imagine, pitchers arms are rather fragile and prone to injury from all the hard throwing they do. Since a team must pay the player regardless of his performance, signing a free-agent pitcher to a long-term contract is one of the more risky gambles in MLB.

When the Kansas City Royals signed Gil Meche to a five-year, $55 million contract four years ago, baseball fans and experts alike predicted that the Royals would regret their actions. But here’s where the story gets good!

Meche’s first two years with the Royals went well; he even made the American League All-Star team in his first season. But in his fourth year, he made only nine starts, as the result of a bad shoulder. Nonetheless, since he was owed $12.4 million for 2011, the Royals expected him to return to the team, sore shoulder and all, perhaps as a relief pitcher.

But then in January, Meche shocked the Royals and the entire baseball world by announcing his retirement. He was essentially forfeiting the $12.4 million he was owed! He didn’t want to take the money when he knew that he wouldn’t be able to pitch, at least not effectively. Meche said it…

“just wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated called Meche’s announcement “perhaps the most unbelievable finish in major league baseball history.” He pointed out that not only had Meche performed at a high level the first two years of the deal, but that, arguably some of his injury problems were the Royals’ doing.

Yet, Meche, who is invariably described as “modest,” decided that “the team’s done enough for me.”

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough… Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (The Message)

In an age of greediness and self-indulgence Gil Meche is a breath of fresh air; a reminder that the most important things in this life are not the THINGS in this life!

Lord, teach us what it means to be content in You!

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Filed under Contentment, Desire, Money