Tag Archives: Healing

God… the ultimate recycler

Turning Your Down into UpGod is the ultimate recycler—nothing goes to waste. He is able to use every experience, even your depression, to help you to grow. Chuck Swindoll, in his book Hope Again, puts it this way: “This variety of trials is like different temperature settings on God’s furnace. The settings are adjusted to burn off our dross, to temper us or soften us according to what meets our highest need. It is in God’s refining fire that the authenticity of our faith is revealed. And the purpose of these fiery ordeals is that we may come forth as purified gold, a shining likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” Even amidst the fiery trial of depression, God is able to bless you and help you to grow. You must decide to meet him in this challenge for your life and learn more about him. Through difficult struggles, you learn about your true nature. You learn who makes up your true network of support. As you are comforted and supported, you learn about the steadfast love of the Lord.

~ Excerpted from Turning Your Down into Up by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD

What circumstance or mindset are you wrestling with and have you surrendered it to God?


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


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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, God, Grace, Healing, Hope, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Surrender, Trusting God

God’s amazing judo move

This Beautiful Mess“The kingdom of God is the kingdom of life, health, beauty, salvation, and freedom (to name just a few of its qualities). The enemy of the kingdom, whom the Bible refers to as Satan, is always attacking that life, that health, that beauty. He attacks spiritual freedom. He wants us to be paralyzed. His relentless attacks are why things are not the way they are supposed to be—yet. But in the midst of all the tensions of life, the kingdom of God comes crashing in. It usually crashes in quietly, though.

…God has this amazing judo move that He uses to attack the kingdom of darkness. He causes all things to work for good to those who love Him, the Bible says. God takes what is meant for evil and turns it for good, if we trust Him at those times and embrace His sovereign goodness even in the midst of our pain and loss. The good He works for us will be a foretaste of the ultimate restoration that will occur when His kingdom comes in all its fullness. It doesn’t make the cost of death less real. But it shows a way through.”

~ Excerpted from This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

The older I get the more I come to realize that every season of life is a new shade of learning to trust God’s “amazing judo move.”

What are you needing to trust Him with today?


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


Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Faith, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Religion and Spirituality, Satan, Trusting God

Answering the Call

For you, the call is literally within your grasp. It’s the place you show up each day and the problems you encounter in the process. Possibly for you, it’s putting a dent in the never- ending cycle of poverty that destroys so many lives, neighborhoods, and nations. Or creatively addressing the malnutrition, poor health, and disease that’s wrecking so many families. Or tutoring, mentoring, and fostering fatherless children. Perhaps the addiction to drugs, alcohol, career advancement, affluence, or pornography is what enslaves and torments your friends the most. What ever it is that’s broken, whatever you see wrong, remember— God’s intention and method of restoration is to use you to bring his redeeming love to the world.  This is the “power of the ought” at work— the way restoration living begins to flood and transform our entire cosmos. It represents Christ’s power to change the world.
~ Excerpted from Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

What corner of this broken world will we encounter today? Will we answer the call?


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

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Compassion, God, Healing, influence with the world, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

How to Tell 50 Juvenile Sex Offenders About Jesus

What follows is a blog post by Caleb Wilde

Sin is cyclical…

I will never forget the first time a group of us gave a chapel service to about 50 juvenile sex offenders. They were a crew of 14 to 19 year olds from all over the East Coast who had been charged with a serious sex crime.

For teens, a “serious sex crime” is often limited to:

  • child molestation
  • sexual assault of a child or minor
  • rape.

I was given the opportunity to share with them for about 15 minutes. And although I knew going into this chapel service I was going to be the main speaker, I didn’t want to prepare a message full of statements.

Being that it was a smaller group that could respond to me while I spoke, I instead prepared a message full of questions.

The first question I asked was this: “How many of you have been seriously hurt by others in your lives?” They all raised their hands.

The assumption with children and teenagers—especially these kids—is that they were first victims. Victims who became victimizers.

Most of us follow the same process. When we are hurt, we react in retaliation.

Then I asked them, “How many of you have wanted to hurt others in the same way you’ve been hurt?”

Same response. Some of them blurted out, “I want to hurt them worse.”

Most of us react proportionally to the seriousness of our pain. If someone cuts us off while we’re driving, we might flip a finger or shout something out. On a more serious level, if somebody abuses us physically, we may try to abuse others or, possibly, abuse ourselves through substances. The sad thing for these kids we visited was that many of them were in juvie for the sins of somebody else. Yes, they’re still guilty of their crimes, but they were first victims.

They had been raped.

They had been sexually molested.

They had been sexual assaulted.

They had been the victim of a crime they didn’t have the power to stop. They had been overpowered and exploited.

As I was closing, I asked them, “If you had the power to hurt those who hurt you, what would you do?

They all replied they’d inflict all the pain they could. And their story is the story of the world. A story of abuse, exploitation, reaction, and retaliation. A story of war, of hatred, of tribalism, of divorce, of revenge.

Speaking to these 50 juvenile sex offenders, I was speaking to the story of humanity.

A story that has been slowly changing toward redemption through the introduction of a new narrative.

Jesus came to this Earth with all the potential power he wanted. He healed the sick, raised the dead, touched the untouchable, and healed the souls of the broken. He never used his might for evil. Even his enemies said he was innocent. Yet, he was outcast, beaten, spit on, possibly raped (it was acceptable for soldiers to rape criminals), and eventually killed at the request of those he loved.

He could have—maybe even should have—destroyed his enemies.

He had the power to, but he didn’t. I explained to these kids that the only innocent person who ever walked the Earth was abused to the point of death, but instead of reacting in retaliation, he forgave and redeemed.

These kids were fixated by the message. It wasn’t my message; it was a new perspective, a new story, a different option that began to melt the coldness of their hearts, just like it has millions of others throughout history, including my own.

Sin is cyclical…but so is love. With one act of grace, a new narrative has been born…again and again.

Caleb is a sixth generation funeral director. He has a graduate degree in Missional Theology. He blogs at http://www.calebwilde.com You can connect with him on Twitter or facebook.

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Filed under Brokenness, Forgiveness, Grace, Healing, influence with the world, Jesus, Love of God, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Sin

Only if we die to self!

The Christian life is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Our earthly nature, even at it’s best, is self-serving and self-absorbed. Even good deeds are often done to serve our own purposes or make us appear better than we really are.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we’re all broken souls in need of God’s healing touch.

When the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us He gives birth to a whole new nature; one that is born from above – focused on God and others.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? ~ Matthew 16:24-26

God longs to infuse us with this new life and new nature so that we can lavish it on those we encounter. But it’s an either/or proposition. This new life is possible…

Only if we die to self!

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


Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Christianity, CS Lewis, Discipleship, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

A God of mercy?

What follows is a personal account from someone in the theatre in Aurora, CO where a gunman openned fire two days ago.

So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.


Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,



Please join me in continuing to pray for all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Thanks, Rick


Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Grace, Grief, Healing, Heaven, Hope, influence with the world, Mercy, Peace, Praise, Prayer, Suffering

Are we expecting Jesus to make a difference in our life?

A couple of weeks ago a friend blogged about the event in Luke 8 where a woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus’ garment while He was passing by and was immediately healed. It’s an excellent blog post and you can read it here.

As I reflected on what Ali had written about that incident and how it impacted her own journey with God, it got me thinking about another aspect of that same story.

Jesus knew that He had been touched and stopped to ask who had done it. When no one spoke up, Peter said “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” ~ Luke 8:45

In other words, “Come on Jesus, this sort of thing happens in a crowd. What’s the big deal?”

And Peter was right. Think about it. It’s impossible to move through a crowd and not bump into or brush against those around you. There were likely multiple people making contact with Jesus as He moved through the crowd.

So why did this one woman experience healing?

Look at how Jesus responds to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” ~ Luke 8:48

This woman had faith. She believed that touching Jesus’ garment would make a difference in her life. She was expecting something to happen as a result of reaching out to encounter Jesus.

And notice where this takes place. It’s in the midst of a crowd walking by. It was an ordinary moment that was part of an ordinary day.

  • No special location…
  • No special occasion…
  • No special music…
  • No special wardrobe…
  • No special surroundings…
  • No special ANYTHING!

What made this ordinary moment somehow extraordinary was the divine presence of Jesus and the expectation of one woman who believed that He could make a difference in her life.

Today is just today. But it is ripe with the presence of Jesus everywhere if we will choose to recognize Him.

Are we drawing close to Jesus? Are we expecting Him to make a difference in our life?
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.


Filed under Christianity, Desire, Divine presence, Faith, Healing, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God

Captive Audience

Philip Yancey shares the following account:

At each meeting on my 2006 tour of South Africa I told the story of Joanna, who embodies grace and reconciliation. When we went to Cape Town she invited us to Pollsmoor Prison, where she works. It’s an amazing place, five separate prisons linked by underground tunnels, holding eight thousand prisoners in all, triple the expected number.

Several hundred men crowded into a kind of exercise room, and Joanna led the service. She has a remarkable presence, greets each prisoner by name, and commands respect from inmates and authorities alike. Most days the prisoners are allowed out of their cells for only one hour, so a chance to attend a church service is a welcome relief. I’ll not soon forget the sound of several hundred male voices singing lustily,

“Soon and very soon we are going to see the King… No more crying there… No more dying there…”

After the meeting we visited one of the three cells that the prison has designated as “Christian Cells.” Forty-nine men sleep in a room about the size of my living room. They have triple-tiered bunk beds, and a few sleep on pieces of foam on the floor. The “toilet,” a plastic garbage bag servicing all forty-nine men, gets emptied once a day, and the resulting stench hit me like a wall.

There, we heard some of the prisoners’ own stories: “I’m a murderer in for life plus thirty-eight years… I’m a rapist… I killed my wife.” One by one they told of how God has changed their lives, and how they seek to live for God even if they never get out. Joanna and her husband, Julian, run a program of restorative justice, which walks the men through stages of confession, repentance, then victim restitution. We sang a few songs and emerged into shockingly fresh air and the beauties of Cape Town.

One scene stayed with me. Instead of pornography or graffiti, the prisoners had decorated their cell with the words of hymns and praise choruses. The most touching to me, in light of what Joanna had said in the restaurant (see yesterdays blog), was “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”
     ~ From Trip Notes, South Africa, 2006 (Gracenotes, p. 319)

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Filed under Courage, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Loving others, Morphing, Peace, Serving

Making God Visible

Philip Yancey shares the following account:

On a 2004 visit to South Africa I met a remarkable woman named Joanna. She is of mixed race, part black and part white, a category known there as “coloured.” As a student she agitated for change in apartheid and then saw the miracle that no one had predicted, the peaceful dismantling of that evil system. Afterward, for many hours she sat with her husband and watched live broadcasts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

Instead of simply exulting in her newfound freedoms, Joanna next decided to tackle the most violent prison in South Africa, a prison where Nelson Mandela had spent several years. Tattoo-covered gang members controlled the prison, strictly enforcing a rule that required new members to earn their admittance to the gang by assaulting undesirable prisoners. Prison authorities looked the other way, letting these “animals” beat and even kill each other.

Alone, this attractive young woman started going each day into the bowels of that prison. She brought a simple message of forgiveness and reconciliation, trying to put into practice on smaller scale what Mandela and Bishop Tutu were trying to effect in the nation as a whole. She organized small groups, taught trust games, got the prisoners to open up about the details of their horrific childhoods. The year before she began her visits, the prison had recorded 279 acts of violence; the next year there were two. Joanna’s results were so impressive that the BBC sent a camera crew from London to produce two one-hour documentaries on her.

I met Joanna and her husband, who has since joined her in her work, at a restaurant on the waterfront of Cape Town. Ever the journalist, I pressed her for specifics on what had happened to transform that prison. Her fork stopped on the way to her mouth, she looked up and said, almost without thinking,

Well, of course, Philip, God was already present in the prison. I just had to make him visible.

I have often thought of that line from Joanna, which would make a fine mission statement for all of us seeking to know and follow God. God is already present, in the most unexpected places. We just need to make God visible.
~ From Finding God in Unexpected Places (xiii-xiv)

May we all make God visible today!


Filed under Courage, Determination, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Loving others, Serving

I sort of get it now!

A while back I blogged about how we tend to shy away from people when they are hurting and broken. This not only perplexes me but even angers me at times. Of all people, we who belong to the One who can truly bind the wounds of the broken hearted should be a better expression of His grace and mercy.

I’ve wrestled with this issue from multiple angles. I’ve been there for others during a difficult time and felt the discomfort of not being sure what to say. It’s never easy but God’s grace always makes a way. And the truth is, just our presence means more than trying to have the right words.

I’ve also been there when others poured out their heartache of feeling abandoned and alone during a period of intense pain or trial. And I’ve been on the side of brokenness and felt the sting of feeling as if I had the plague or had fallen off the face of the earth.

I know there are those who can testify to how friends rallied around them during a time of difficulty. But far too often the opposite occurs and hearing about those who were not forgotten during a time of need only makes the pain of loneliness that much worse.

I’m sure there are a variety of reasons for why this “avoidance” tends to happen but I think that Peter Scazzero offers some timely and sobering insight into the matter when he states…

In our culture, addiction has become the most common way to deal with pain. We watch television incessantly. We keep busy running from one activity to another. We work seventy hours a week, indulge in pornography, overeat, drink, take pills – anything to help us avoid the pain. Sadly, the result of denying and minimizing our wounds over many years is that we become less and less human, empty Christian shells with painted smiley faces. ~ From Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, p. 139

I sort of get it now! We avoid others who are struggling with intense pain because we avoid dealing with our own pain. It makes perfect sense, but it’s WRONG! Consider what Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

If we never get honest enough to face our own pain we will never know real healing. If we never draw close to God for grace and mercy to deal with our own heartache and brokenness, we will never be able to be there for others whom God would have us to comfort and encourage.

Will we do life as “empty Christian shells with painted smiley faces” or will be get real?


Filed under Courage, involvement with the church, Suffering