Tag Archives: Friendship

Mourning turned to dancing… in the aisle!

Max is the twenty-three-year-old autistic grandson of Chuck Colson, founder of BreakPoint Ministries. The following account is first maddening and then pure delight.

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A few months ago Max’s mother, Emily, and Patty Colson took Max to see “Muppets Most Wanted” at a Boston-area theater. After settling themselves into their seats, the previews began. And that’s when things went south.

The MuppetsNormally, Max gets a bit excited at the beginning of a film, and then he calms down. But life with autism is unpredictable, as Emily wrote on a special needs parenting site. When the first preview exploded loudly onto the screen, Max covered his ears and shrieked, “I want to go home!” Emily tried to calm him, but as soon as Kermit the Frog appeared on the screen, Max shouted “The Muppet movie!”

When the volume spiked again, Max shouted once more “I want to go home!” That’s when other movie-goers let Emily know in painful and no-uncertain terms that Max was not welcome.

As Emily and Patty escorted Max out, the audience began to applaud. “It was the sound of an angry mob chasing us away with their jeers and taunts,” Emily writes.

It’s hard to recover from experiences like that. But God used it to offer a mighty blessing, not only to Max and Emily, but to hundreds of other special needs children.

Not long after Emily wrote about unexpectedly becoming the entertainment at the theater, a woman named Renee came up to Emily after church. “Do you think Max would like it if we rented a theater?” she asked.

The following Sunday, Pastor Paul told the congregation what had happened to Max, and announced Renee’s great idea: “She rented out an entire theater so that friends of Max can watch the Muppet movie with Max.” Pastor Paul declared, “If you’re a friend of Max, you’re going to the movies, whether you like Muppets or not!”

“Everyone laughed. And everyone bought tickets,” Emily writes.

A local newspaper picked up the story. Hearing of the event, called “Love to the Max,” a limousine company owner offered to take Max and his friends to the theater in style in a 37-foot limousine. The employees fought over who was going to have the honor of driving Max. The winner? A man whose own grandson was autistic.

The CEO of a local Friendly’s Restaurant offered gift certificates for ice cream or meals. People volunteered to help out at the theater, doing everything from taking kids to the bathroom to bringing them popcorn.

So many people bought tickets that the Regal Cinema had to expand the event to two theaters. In the end, 500 children, with their families and friends, went to see “Muppets Most Wanted.”

This time, when the Muppets began singing their first number, “the music catapulted Max right out of his seat,” Emily recalls. He began dancing in the aisle. The audience began to applaud as Max danced his way down the aisle, “grabbing hands and pulling others into his dance.”

The children enjoyed the film, and as it ended with a final Muppet song, nobody wanted to leave. “Suddenly, people flooded into the aisles [and] began to dance. Everyone free. No armor. No barriers between us,” Emily writes. “I looked around and wondered if this is what Jesus envisioned when he said, “Love one another . . . The joy was contagious.”

As Chuck would have said, this was the Church being the Church. People came to love on these kids, “the least of these” and their families. And they were living out 1 Cor. 12, which reminds us that all parts of the body of Christ should be valued and honored.
~ By Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint Ministries

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

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Filed under Adversity, Compassion, Dance, Friendship, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Kindness, Loving others, Serving

Tagging along with the Spirit’s movement

SoulTalk“My job is to follow the Spirit’s movement, never to try to move people on my own.  I am to desire the Spirit’s goal for my troubled friends: not a better marriage, but an aroused appetite for God that could lead to a better marriage.  I am to wait for the Spirit to move and then tag along, to walk through doors he opens into their souls, not to insist they see something now and change.”
~ Larry Crabb, Soul Talk

I’ve been stuck on a phrase from Romans 8:4 for quite some time now. Paul is addressing our need to learn to walk in the Spirit and says, “instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.” (The Message)

Not only do I long for a deeper experience of embracing what the Spirit is doing in me but also what He is doing in the lives of those around me and how I can be a part of their journey – not to fix them but to help awaken in them a deeper longing for God.

question mark orangeWhat is the biggest challenge for you in “tagging along” with the Spirit’s movement?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Friendship, God, Holy Spirit, Loving God, Loving others, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Forgive… love… be a friend…

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

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Filed under Christianity, Forgiveness, Friendship, influence with the world, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

Our need for honest feedback

The Last Czar is a biography about the life of Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia. While his generals were brutally suppressing dissent, they told him civil unrest was the result of foreign influence and assured him his own people loved him.

The Czar didn’t have any other source of information so was completely unaware that his generals were not being truthful with him. Not a good position to be in.

When the Communists took over, he was caught by surprise and forced to abdicate. Sadly, the Bolsheviks eventually executed him and his entire family. It is a sad and tragic story.

Few of us are czars, but the same lack of honest feedback can be devastating. We need truth tellers around us in two critical areas.

The first area is horizontal and pertains to our relationships with people. We fill the role of friend, spouse, son or daughter, parent, employee or boss, coach or teammate.

The second area is vertical and pertains to our relationship with God. Our core identity is that of being a child of our Creator; embracing a new identity in Christ.

Maybe it’s because I hit 50 last year or maybe it’s because I have two grown sons living far from home, but I’ve been reflecting more and more on what got my attention in the last 30 years. Relationships are what make our lives rich and we all need feedback to make them as strong as possible.

The area of our relationship with God is perhaps even more critical. All of us live with a gap between what we profess or live outwardly and what is really going on in our heart. For some, this gap is small but for others the gap is rather large.

The danger is that this largely invisible gap is easy to conceal because we tend to focus on managing our external behavior with a highly trained filter. Dress nice, smile and be nice around church friends, drop some money in the offering plate and help out occasionally.

All those things are good but they don’t always accurately reflect what is going on beneath the surface. We need traveling companions who will ask us the hard questions and give us honest feedback.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

God’s design to make us more like Jesus happens best when we journey together and engage in honest feedback.

Who are your traveling companions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Authenticity, Children of God, Courage, Discipleship, Fellowship, Friendship, God, God's Will, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Truth

It’s sharing the journey that makes it worthwhile!

The last time Eli, our oldest, was with us on a family vacation it was the summer of 2008 – just prior to his senior year of high school. Since then his college and summer work schedule has made it impossible for him to join us. So being with him a couple of weeks ago at Disney World was extra special.

Eli and Goofy

He’s always been a good kid but the changes that happen between 17 and 21 years-of-age are significant. He is a sharp young man and yes I’m biased but I could provide you a long list of others who would agree.

Since he’s lived down there for several months now, working at Disney, it was like we were visiting his home turf and he loves being there. Eli wasn’t just with us he was delighting in showing us around and acted as our personal tour guide.

He wanted to make sure everyone was having a great time and he routinely asked everyone what their favorite part was so far. After some of the bigger events he would turn to me with eyes twinkling like a kid in a candy store and ask, “What’d you think, Dad?”

It was so fun watching him interact with his younger siblings and listening to what they most enjoyed. He even coaxed Brynden into riding Mount Everest – a backwards roller coaster, mostly in the dark – with the promise of a special Disney souvenir.

I didn’t have any one favorite activity, though the late evening “Wishes” event at the Magic Kingdom was breath-taking. For me, the best part was taking it all in with my family. None of it would have been as special without them and even small things were special because of them.

Whatever it is that’s happening, where ever it is you’re headed, it’s the people sharing the journey that make it special. Take time today to stop and appreciate them. Let them know how much they mean to you.

And thank you for sharing the journey of this blog! I appreciate it more than you know!

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

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Filed under Children, Family, Fellowship, Friendship, Life in General, Parenting

The best kind of fellowship

So I have this friend…

We are similar in age, similar in interests, similar in values, similar in our faith, even similar in our backgrounds.

We have no trouble interacting with people on a daily basis, but we tend to be slow in opening up to others about deeply personal issues.

We use to get together for lunch on a regular basis but life circumstances have changed and our paths don’t cross as often.

One day last week God rearranged my agenda for me without my permission and against my wishes; imagine that! As a result, I was able to meet my friend for lunch and we ended up talking for 3 and 1/2 hours!

We obviously needed the chance to catch up with each other and share some deep soul issues that we’re wrestling through. The fascinating thing is that after all that time together… nothing got solved! But it was some of the best fellowship I’ve ever experienced.

As a society we tend to pride ourselves on being able to solve most issues. The phrase “Do-It-Yourself” has become a commonly used acronym – DIY; even in the realm of Christianity.

But what if God has in mind for us a higher objective?

After 3 and 1/2 hours of pouring our hearts out to each other we walked away with no concrete solutions but with two essential realizations.

1. We realized that we were not alone in our struggles! Knowing that you have someone to share the journey is priceless in terms of providing a sense of hope. God never intended us to go it alone, but that tends to happen when we keep our struggles to ourself.

2. We realized that God is still with us right there in the midst of all the mess! We tend to want quick and concrete solutions from God but often times He wants us to wait and trust. Our fellowship was a chance to invite God into the dialogue and help each other see things from His perspective.

May we all find fellowship with friends who remind us that life is God’s story and we can trust Him with the details!

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

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Filed under Divine presence, Fellowship, Friendship, Hope, involvement with the church, Loving others, Trusting God

What did you say?

[The setting: Our family room on an ordinary, routine morning.]

Susan: “Blah blah blah, blah blah… blah blah…”

Rick: “Blah blah blah!”

Susan: “Do you realize you interrupted me?”

Rick: “Nope. I thought you were done. Go ahead, I’d rather hear you hear it.”

(Awkward pause and strange look from Susan!)

Rick: (working feverishly to get out of the hole) “Wait! ‘…hear you hear it…’ Does that mean I’d rather say it than listen to you say it? That’s not what I meant.”

I suppose you could call it a Freudian slip but I think it reflects a common ailment in our world today. We are too eager to be heard and not eager enough to listen; and this causes all manner of problems.

  • Misunderstandings…
  • Individual assignments dropped…
  • Hurt feelings – directly and indirectly…
  • Fights or arguments due to all the above…

As Mom would say, “There’s a reason God gave you two ears and one mouth.”

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. ~ James 1:19-20

Slow down! Take a breath! Listen!

Someone just might say something today that God wants you to hear!

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Filed under Friendship, Life in General, Loving others

Guarding our most valuable asset – Part 2

“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.”

~ Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Yesterday I blogged on why it is so critical to guard our hearts, today I want to touch on how we can do that. Taking care of our physical heart requires discipline; habits of exercise and eating right. The same dynamic is true for guarding the heart that King Solomon is referring to here in Proverbs. Here are some suggestions.

The Discipline of Reflection. Like a bad amusement park ride the pace of life just keeps getting faster and faster. Making time to pause periodically and reflect is crucial.

We live in a busy and noisy world that will suck the life out of us if we let it. This is why it is essential that we intentionally pull away to a quiet place, pause, and reflect. If Jesus needed to do this (Mark 1:35), how much more important is it for us?

The Discipline of Rest. It was no accident that God took the seventh day of creation to do nothing with Adam and Eve. Reread the 10 commandments and notice which one gets the most attention. (Hint: Remembering the Sabbath – Exodus 20)

We were designed by our Creator to need rest. Eight hours of sleep. One day every seven to relax. Don’t skip vacation time! Without rest our judgment gets blurry and the heart is more vulnerable to attack. Make rest a priority and write it in on your calendar.

The Discipline of Recreation. There is a difference between amusement and recreation. There is nothing wrong with amusement but it can leave us more tired than before we started. Recreation, on the other hand, are those activities that recharge us.

Reading a good book. Creating something with wood or crafts or even baking. Playing an instrument simply to enjoy it. Spend time working on that project that’s been waiting all this time. It will be different for everyone but the common thread is that the activity refreshes our soul.

The Discipline of Relationships. We are wired by a relational God to be in relationship with Him and others. Our level of involvement with others will vary depending on our personality but we need others with which to share the journey.

Make time to deepen important relationships and do all that you can to keep them healthy. They do more to strengthen our heart than we realize. And our most important relationship with the one we pursue with God!

These disciplines will help guard our heart and our heart will direct the course of our journey in life!

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Filed under Determination, Friendship, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Margin, Recreation, Reflection, Rest

How to bless your spouse!

Susan and I are celebrating 28 years of marriage today!

It doesn’t seem possible and it hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our fair share of struggles but it has been more than worth it. I’m convinced that a vital element of our longevity, and any long-term marriage, is being each others best friends.

We haven’t gotten it all figured out but we are continuing to work at it. Every marriage has room to grow in this area of friendship so I’m passing along three suggestions I recently came across.

1. Make a list of what you would want in a best friend. Perhaps your list would look something like this:

Prospective candidates for best friend will:

  • Make me feel good about being me.
  • Affirm my best qualities (especially when I am feeling insecure)
  • Call out the best in me, and hold me accountable to the best version of myself.
  • Listen without judging or trying to fix me.
  • Give me the benefit of the doubt.
  • Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day.
  • Remember my birthday, favorite foods, music, and art.
  • Know my story and love me regardless.
  • Spend time with me, just because they enjoy my company.
  • Speak well of me when I am not present.
  • Serve me with a joyful spirit and without complaining.
  • Speak the truth to me when no one else will.
  • Never shame me, diminish me, or make me feel small.
  • Become excited about what I am excited about.
  • Celebrate my wins!

2. Commit to becoming that person for your spouse. That’s right! Turn the table. Don’t be preoccupied with getting but follow Jesus’ example of giving and love as He loved us (John 15:12). When a couple focuses on getting what they want first then both go away disappointed. But when they give themselves to loving the other person first, they both go away content.

3. Keep at it! It won’t always be easy but with God’s help it will always be possible. Let God use your marriage as a living testimony of His grace and love in action!

And one more thing! Pass this along to your married friends who could use the encouragement!

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Filed under Friendship, Loving others, Marriage

Would Jesus be your friend?

From the world’s point of view, Jesus didn’t seem very picky about His friendships. He hung out with the lowliest of the low–the despised, the forgotten, and the unnoticed. One of the accusations leveled against our Savior was that He was “a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’ ” ~ Luke 7:34

For the most part, that accusation was true. Jesus seemed far more interested in the sincerity of a heart than the perfection of a life, and He found many sincere seekers among those the religious elite labeled as “sinners.” But it wasn’t just the poor and the messed-up that Jesus came to save. He came for ordinary folks and the extraordinary as well. “To all who received him,” John proclaims in his gospel, “to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). You didn’t have to perform or measure up to some religious standard to be Jesus’s friend. You simply had to accept what He had to offer.
~ Excerpted from Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver

Do we extend friendship to others the way Jesus did?

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Filed under Authenticity, Friendship, influence with the world, Jesus