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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?

***
© 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

Charlton library sends police to collect overdue books from 5-year-old

According to a report by CBS, a Charlton, MA mom says her local library crossed the line when they sent police because of her daughter’s overdue library books. After police came to the door, 5-year-old Hailey burst into tears and asked her mom if the police were going to arrest her.

Charlton Police Sergeant Dan Dowd stopped by the home of Shannon Benoit to let her know that her daughter had two books several months overdue which needed to be returned or paid for.

The Benoit’s insist they never got any warnings. They found and returned the books, but Hailey’s mom argues that sending a cop to their house was like pounding a ten penny nail with a sledge hammer.

Even Sgt. Dowd admits he wasn’t real keen on it. “Nobody wanted to, on this end to get involved in it,” says Sgt. Dowd. “But the library contacted us, and the chief delegated, and apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole.”

It does seem a bit extreme, but I think that many churches do the same sort of thing. We get all bent out of shape about little issues that don’t really amount to a hill of beans and neglect what really matters to God. When pressed about what was most important Jesus replied:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

This is the heart of the iLife Journey – to live out loving God and loving others by pursuing…

  • intimacy with the Lord
  • involvement with the Church, and
  • influence with the World

Pursuing a deeper, richer love of God and others will help us put all the other matters of faith into their proper perspective!

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, God's Will, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Loving God, Loving others, Priorities

Some new blog stuff for a new year

I’m a big believer that we should all be perpetual learners. To quit learning is to quit living. And since it’s a new year I’m trying out a few new things with the blog; stuff that I’m learning from other bloggers.

  • A Facebook page for the iLife Journey
  • A condensed About page
  • A new The Story page

A Facebook page: One of my favorite parts of blogging is the chance to connect with people from all over the country and even the world. The chance to get feedback on a blog and dialogue about the journey of following Jesus is priceless!

For a while now Eli – my oldest and a junior in college – has been telling me that a Facebook page would allow for more ongoing dialogue between people and would help me reach a bigger audience. So if you do Facebook check it out here. Click the “Like” button to stay updated on new posts and some other things I’m planning to share. And if you want to connect with me personally on FB you can friend me on my page here.

A condensed “About” page: This is no biggie if you’re already following my blog but I’ve condensed and combined personal info and background info about the iLife Journey onto one “About” page. I did this because I tend to get wordy sometimes but primarily to free up space for a new page tab…

A new “The Story” page: The Story is a condensed, chronological Bible that provides the scope of God’s story from Genesis to Revelation in just 31 chapters. Our church is going to be preaching and teaching through this 31 week Bible and I’m going to be doing some specific things on my blog so that others can join us on this unique journey of finding our story in God’s story. You can read more about it on the page tab above.

Feel free to let me know what you think and thanks again for sharing the journey!

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, involvement with the church, Scripture

The Trouble with Invitations

Invitations come in all shapes and sizes today. By email or text message; through Facebook or a personal invite; some even come the old-fashioned way of snail mail. But no matter how they come, they can also cause a fair amount of trouble.

A lack of invitations can leave us feeling unloved, unimportant… even unwanted. None of this is true from God’s perspective. He values us enough to have sent Jesus to die for our sin. But the enemy will use a lack of invitations to try to get us down on ourselves.

Don’t go there! Find your identity first and foremost as a child of God. (1 John 3:1)

On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of too many invitations and this is a big problem today. For a variety of reason we are obsessed with overloading our calendars with activity after activity after activity…

We have somehow come to equate hyperactivity with an abundant life but something just isn’t adding up. We are doing more and more but we are statistically more miserable than ever. Why? Because we have substituted activities for genuine, deep relationships.

Therapist Will Miller, author of Refrigerator Rights, makes this observation.

“If you talk to any therapist today, the problems we see mostly are mood disorders: depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social detachment. As blessed as we are as Americans, as prosperous as we are, there’s all this depression. So where is it coming from? I’m convinced it’s rooted in the loss of ‘refrigerator rights’ relationships.”

A person with refrigerator rights is someone who can come into our home and feel comfortable going to our refrigerator to make a sandwich without our permission. Miller argues that too many Americans suffer mentally and emotionally because they have too few of these kinds of relationships.

No one had more demands on his time than Jesus. And while Jesus was always busy, He was never in a hurry. His discernment in saying “Yes” or “No” to people and their invitations came from first saying “Yes” to intimacy with the Father. (Mark 1:35 ff) It’s a way of life He’s willing to teach us.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message)

Are we willing to learn from Him?

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Filed under Children of God, Choices, God's Will, Grace, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus

What’s in a name?

I have always been a fan of unique children’s names though it can be taken too far. I know of a preacher in Michigan named Ivan Odor who had a sister named Ima Odor – no kidding! But how far is too far?

The Israeli news source Galgalatz reports that Lior and Vardit Adler are the proud parents of a bouncing baby one-year-old girl named after the Facebook Like button.

Apparently, the parents were looking to call their daughter something unique. The moniker is not meant to be a gimmick; they just like (pun intended) the meaning behind the name.

The Adlers are hardly the first people to saddle their kid with a suspect name.

One man offered to name his son Batman if he could get 500,000 people to become fans of his Facebook Page, and another couple named their child Facebook in honor of the role the social network played in the recent revolution in Egypt.

Names are special to God as well but for a different reason.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. ~ Revelation 2:17

How cool is that! God has a name just for you and me. He’s preparing to write it on a white stone and present it to us for having stayed faithful to Him in this journey of life!

What do you think your name will be?

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Filed under Heaven, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God

Thanks for sharing the journey!

Hey gang! April was a month of new records not only for rainfall (arg!) but also in the number of views for my blog! It has grown steadily over the last four months and April was 3 times larger than December, 2010. WOW!

I don’t do a blog for the numbers but it’s a real boost to know that it’s encouraging others in their journey of following after Jesus. To all of you who have passed my blog along to friends or reposted it on Facebook – Thank You!

In case you are new to my blog or have missed some lately here are my top five posts from April:

#1 – Why is it called “Good Friday?”
#2 – One person can make a difference!
#3 – The dethroning of Thor
#4 – A rare tribute for the colorectal surgeon! 😉
#5 – I’m no country boy, but…

Something new! Even though my viewership has been increasing I am always looking for new ways to improve my blog. One suggestion I came across recently was to do an About page as a sort of biography or introduction. You’ll notice I have a new tab above. Let me know what you think!

In the works! I’ve had a couple of people suggest that I create a Facebook page for iLife Journey as this would allow for more dialog between those reading my blog posts and make it easier to pass along. I’m still trying to figure that one out but will let you know when I have it up and running.

If you have any ideas or suggestions as to ways I could improve the blog, topics I could touch on or specific stories I might write about – please leave me a comment. I greatly value and enjoy all your feedback! And as always…

…thanks for sharing the journey!

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Filed under Blogging, Gratitude, involvement with the church

Leave ’em hanging!

TV shows, movies and books use it to great effect. It’s called the “cliffhanger” which means: “leave ’em hanging.” The storyline involves a crisis but then ends without resolving it so you are left wondering how everything turns out. It’s a good way of getting people to come back for more, but that was not my intention with last Tuesday’s blog. 

Many of you who view my blog through Facebook left comments of well-wishes and as I’ve run into several of you the first words out of your mouth have been to ask about Aaron and the kids. Thank you so much for your concern and your prayers!

I am delighted to tell you that Aaron’s next couple of nights have gone much better. He is settling into a routine and had a good first check-up with the pediatrician. He’s even gained 1/2 ounce since leaving the hospital!

Sam and Valerie came over later that Monday afternoon that Grandma Susan got to babysit Aaron. Susan was able to share with them a few practical suggestions that were helpful and we both offered plenty of encouragement.

All of this serves as a reminder as to why God gives us each other to share the journey. So that we can encourage one another and share what we’ve learned.There are, in fact, over 50 “one another” statements throughout the Scriptures!

Take time today to appreciate those who are sharing the journey with you. And thanks for sharing this journey with us!

 

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Filed under Encouragement, Family, involvement with the church, Life in General, Loving others

Keep tossing the pebbles!

Do you remember playing in or around water when you were a kid… or last summer? Tossing sticks into the creek and watching them float downstream. Skipping flat stones across the surface. Dropping a pebble in a still pond and watching the ripples roll on and on and on…

The pebble toss comes to mind with my blog. For the majority of 2010 it averaged about 300 views a week or 1200 a month. But the last four months it has steadily increased and nearly doubled. It went from 1259 views in December to 2327 views in March! WOW!

It’s not because I have done anything different because I haven’t. I post the blog/toss the pebble and many of you are passing it along or reposting it in other venues like Facebook. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

The same thing happens every time we offer a kind or generous deed. It immediately blesses others but then moves that person or group to bless others. It rolls on and on and on… The truth is that we may never know how far a single blessing travels until we get to heaven.

Keep tossing the pebbles!

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Filed under Encouragement, influence with the world, Loving others

8 simple, difficult words

It’s been a couple of weeks now since we were hit by the winter storm that stopped everybody in their tracks. It’s been interesting to chat with people from different parts of the county to hear about the particulars of how they weathered the storm. I’ve even picked up a few practical ideas for the next time a storm threatens to interrupt our electricity.

I’ve also enjoyed hearing about what people did to pass the time while they were stuck inside for days at a time. Playing games, watching movies, reading, baking, spending time on Facebook, listening to music…

One thing people did was read more on the internet. I know because during that week of the storm my blog views almost doubled! I’m human enough to get enthused when my audience grows but also realistic enough to recognize that it wouldn’t stay that high once the captive audience was set free.

Sadly, we do the very same thing to God. We get busy running and going and doing and miss time listening to our Creator until something BIG or dramatic stops us in our tracks and we become attentive to His presence.

God delights in nothing more than being with us! He gave everything, even His very Son, in order to make intimate fellowship with Him possible. It’s not something we should feel obligated about, but something we should recognize as a privilege unlike anything else in life. But we first have to be willing to slow down. David said it best when he wrote…

Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

Eight simple words that are not always so easy to live out. We are a people who thrive on the next activity. We have trouble pausing long enough to listen to God and pursue deeper intimacy with Him. But it is the essence of life! I also like the way that Eugene Peterson states it in The Message:

Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.

Don’t wait for the next dramatic event to stop you in your tracks, take time today to step out of the rat race and enjoy God’s presence.

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Filed under intimacy with the Lord, Loving God

In just one hour!

Ah! The weekend is finally here… almost! Two days! More than 48 hours (for most people) to chill out and relax. So what will you do with your weekend? Wait… I’ll make it easier. Just consider one hour of your weekend. What could you do in just one hour?

  • Take a nap.
  • Read a book.
  • Work on a house project.
  • Watch part of a ball game or movie.
  • Have coffee with a friend.
  • Browse the web or log onto Facebook.
  • Listen to a CD.
  • Go shopping.

The number of things you or I could do with just one hour is nearly endless.

Now consider that in the course of that same hour 330 children will die from hunger somewhere in the world!

Every day, nearly 8,000 kids under age 5 die because of hunger-related causes. Some starve. Others get sick leaving their bodies too weak to fight. And almost all of these deaths are preventable.

If you’re like me it’s hard to fathom such numbers. I’ve never personally witnessed such suffering so it doesn’t seem quite real or possible. And yet it is very real, very possible and very tragic!

But we can make a difference!

Five weeks from today, on March 18th, a group of Jr and Sr High students are going to gather at the Hagerstown Congregational Christian Church to participate in a 30 Hour Famine. Last year they raised over $1500. This year their goal is $3000!

Here’s what you and I can do to help:

  1. Pray, that God would bless everyone involved!
  2. Save your change and donate!
  3. Tell others and invite them to join in!

Let’s enjoy our weekend. Let’s be grateful for all that we are blessed with, especially our food. And let’s do our part to help those less fortunate!

“…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:40

To Donate: Make checks payable to Hagerstown Congregational Christian Church and write FAMINE on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to the church at 201 S. Washington St., Hagerstown, IN  47346  ~  and THANKS!

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Filed under influence with the world, Loving others