Tag Archives: Heaven

Need a shot of adrenaline for your soul?

The end product of biblical Christianity is a person—not a book, not a building, not a set of principles or a system of ethics—but one person. ~ Frank Viola & Leonard Sweet in Jesus: A Theography

William Wilson PhotographyJesus!

After offering up a who’s who list of giants of the faith (Chapter 11), the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! ~ Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)

I’ll be honest. A shot of adrenaline into my soul sounds pretty good right now. I’ve been feeling fairly discouraged and frustrated lately for a variety of reasons. My guess is I’m not alone.

The reminder that Jesus endured much more than I’ll ever face and not only survived but thrived is very encouraging. All because “he never lost sight of where he was headed.”

So I’m starting this week with a renewed passion to keep my eyes on Jesus no matter what comes at me. And while I know that Satan will do his best to distract me – and likely succeed at least a few times; I also know that the Holy Spirit will be relentless in drawing my attention back to Jesus.

How about you? Need a shot of adrenaline for your soul?

***

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

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Frustration, God, Heaven, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Heaven in His Eyes – Rich Mullins with Zion

A friend and fellow blogger posted a Rich Mullins video today that was timely for me and made me a bit nostalgic so I decided to post one of my favorites. This song is from Rich’s earliest LP done with a group called Zion. It was always one of my favorites and every time Rich came out with a new album I kept hoping it would be on it. Just nine days before his unexpected death Rich recorded a demo of this song to be on his upcoming album. The demo version is rustic and the final cut on “The Jesus Record” features Michael W. Smith. I still prefer this version from his first LP.

P.S. – I still have the original LP and have it transferred into mp3 format for my iPod.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Heaven, Jesus, Music Video, Rich Mullins

A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

***

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

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God

Obedience to biblical principles can be wrong?

It’s a surprising thought, and not a little disturbing, that obedience to biblical principles can be wrong. But when doing right is a strategy to get what we want, our energy is pride and our focus is self. ~ Larry Crabb in The Pressure’s Off

Think about it.

We live in a world absorbed with linear thinking. If I do A then I get B as a result. It’s simple cause and effect.

If I want to enjoy dessert then I must eat my vegetables or clear my plate.

If I want to avoid another spanking then I will pick up my toys.

If I wear the right clothes or am a standout athlete then I’ll be popular in school.

If I dress and look and talk a certain way then I’ll get the guy/girl I want to go out with me.

If I get good grades in school then I’ll have a better chance at a good career.

Linear thinking – cause and effect – has its place, but not in relationships. When we apply this principle to getting what we want from people we are manipulating them. And regardless of the outcome… it’s wrong!

This same thought process is especially dangerous in our relationship with God.

“If I read my bible regularly and pray and tithe and volunteer and ________ (fill in the blank), then God will (must) bless me with the good things of life.”

Really? Where is that written?

But I’ve been faithful to You God, why…
… did my spouse leave me?”
… is my kid rebelling?”
… are we struggling with finances?”
… are we experiencing a health crisis?”

It’s not always obvious but it’s often there just below the surface; this notion that God owes us certain blessings.

I don’t think that Jesus is opposed to such blessings in our lives, but when we seek those blessings from God more than we seek God Himself then we are committing idolatry.

And following biblical principles in order to secure blessings from God is a cheap attempt to manipulate and control God.

Jesus said that real life is being in relationship with the Father. This is what eternity in heaven is all about but it starts right here and now.

Forgives us Lord and stir our passions for wanting You more than anything or anyone else in life.

***

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

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Filed under Bible, Choices, Christianity, Desire, Eternity, God, Heaven, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

Harder than we were expecting

It was a journey we were ill-prepared for and “utterly exhausted” would be a step up from how we felt when it was over.

Our daughter Kyrsten is a senior in high school and playing golf for only the second year. We are familiar with golf in general and I have played a few times long ago, but she is the first one to participate on a school team playing the sport.

Last year we attended a regular match involving one other school. A girl from each school is paired up (five girls from each school) and assigned a hole to begin at. Then they proceed to play nine holes of golf.

For an hour and a half we found ourselves enjoying the beautiful natural setting in all of its quietness and splendor. Of all the sporting events our kids have participated in, it was by far the most relaxing and enjoyable experience we’ve ever had.

This year, last Saturday to be precise, we experienced our first tournament match involving four schools. That was the journey we were ill-prepared for.

One girl from each school is put into a group and the four of them are assigned a hole to begin at. Instead of just nine holes they play the entire 18-hole course.

We noticed all the other families riding around in carts and figured they had money to burn or were just a tad lazy. But 5 1/2 hours later in 92 degree weather, we fully understood why they rode around in carts… with coolers strapped on… with lots of liquids and snacks!

It was harder than we were expecting!

Needless to say we learned our lesson and will be better prepared the next time.

Jesus once warned those who would follow Him to first count the cost because it wouldn’t be a bed of roses. Having journeyed with Jesus now for 33 years I understand His advice.

The journey is much harder than I was expecting!

As with any such experience it helps to know we are not alone and this song by Steven Curtis Chapman says it so well. Whatever it is you’re facing remember… we’re just taking the “Long Way Home.”

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

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, Heaven, Hope, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Suffering, Trusting God

Our ultimate hope

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

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Filed under Christianity, Death, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Hope, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Serving

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.

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,

Marie

***

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

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

This is not the bigger reality

A few weeks back our family enjoyed several days at Disney World in Florida where our oldest son is doing a college internship. As our time came to a close and we packed up to head home we all shared a common sentiment…

(Sigh) “Back to reality.”

We’ve all been there. It’s a familiar way to express our disappointed that another vacation has come to an end. On a smaller scale, Monday can bring the same sentiment as it looms on the horizon of our weekend.

It signifies entering back into the work-a-day world and the often tedious or pressure-filled daily routines that all-to-often grind us down and zap our energy.

But during the long drive back to Indiana – 16 hours – it struck me that what we refer to as “reality” isn’t really the bigger reality.

Sure this world is what we know best. It’s familiar to us on multiple levels. It is tangible and real. We can taste it, touch it, smell it… experience it in every possible way. But…

This is not the bigger reality.

Speaking of how we tend to be overconfident in making plans here in this present world James writes:

You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. ~ James 4:14

Our lives are like an early morning mist that disappears with the rising sun. Very real but very, very temporary.

Speaking of the nature of our earthly bodies Paul used the term tent; an apt comparison with the eternal nature of our true essence. In his 2nd letter to the disciples in Corinth he wrote:

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1

Tents are great, when they serve their intended purpose. They enable us to visit places where no permanent residence exists. They are a shor-term solution, just like our earthly bodies.

It would make sense to put all your trust and resources and efforts into preserving a tent only if it were your only reality, your only option.

But for those of us who belong to God’s kingdom, there is a bigger reality waiting for us beyond this life.

Whatever’s going on in your life that is good, enjoy it but don’t put too much stock in it. It’s only temporary.

Whatever’s going on in your life that is bad, endure it and don’t give up. It’s only temporary.

This is not the bigger reality!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Eternity, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Life in General

Our Magic Moment came at a price

It was our last day at Disney World. We had gotten to the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 am and it was 10:25 pm. We were spent… but wanted to squeeze in one more ride.

When we got to the ride the sign said there was a 40 minute wait. The park was only open for another 35 minutes so we couldn’t use a Fast Pass.

As we stood there talking about what to do an older gentleman who works at Disney came out to chat with us. Learning of our dilemma he told us we only needed to know two words – Magic Moment.

After a bit more chit-chat he took us to the Fast Pass line and sent us through with instructions to tell the ride attendant those two special words.

As we stood there waiting to board the ride Eli said, “You just had your Magic Moment.” He explained that those who work in the parks try to give out special treats like that to help add an extra spark to your visit.

It was a great way to end our fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom. But I couldn’t help thinking about all those people who had been waiting in line before we got there. They were still waiting when we got on the ride.

Our Magic Moment came at a price.

Those of us who belong to the kingdom of God have freedom from sin and death. We have a new identity and a new lease on life. We have a restored relationship with God and the promise of an eternity with Him forever.

We did nothing to earn it.

We did nothing to deserve it.

It comes to us free, but it came at a price.

It cost Jesus His life.

What will we do with God’s gift today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Eternity, Forgiveness, Freedom, God, Grace, Heaven, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Relationship with God, Sacrifice, Sin, Stewardship, Thankfulness

Our Magic Moment came at a price

It was our last day at Disney World. We had gotten to the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 am and it was 10:25 pm. We were spent… but wanted to squeeze in one more ride.

When we got to the ride the sign said there was a 40 minute wait. The park was only open for another 35 minutes so we couldn’t use a Fast Pass.

As we stood there talking about what to do an older gentleman who works at Disney came out to chat with us. Learning of our dilemma he told us we only needed to know two words – Magic Moment.

After a bit more chit-chat he took us to the Fast Pass line and sent us through with instructions to tell the ride attendant those two special words.

As we stood there waiting to board the ride Eli said, “You just had your Magic Moment.” He explained that those who work in the parks try to give out special treats like that to help add an extra spark to your visit.

It was a great way to end our fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom. But I couldn’t help thinking about all those people who had been waiting in line before we got there. They were still waiting when we got on the ride.

Our Magic Moment came at a price.

Those of us who belong to the kingdom of God have freedom from sin and death. We have a new identity and a new lease on life. We have a restored relationship with God and the promise of an eternity with Him forever.

We did nothing to earn it.

We did nothing to deserve it.

It comes to us free, but it came at a price.

It cost Jesus His life.

What will we do with God’s gift today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Eternity, Forgiveness, Freedom, God, Grace, Heaven, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Relationship with God, Sacrifice, Sin, Stewardship, Thankfulness