Tag Archives: Hope

How many gods? How many worlds?

Meet the BibleA story is told about Rabbi Joseph Schneerson, a Hasidic leader during the early days of Russian communism. The rabbi spent much time in jail, persecuted for his faith. One morning in 1927, as he prayed in a Leningrad synagogue, secret police rushed in and arrested him. They took him to a police station and worked him over, demanding that he give up his religious activities. He refused. The interrogator brandished a gun in his face and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind.” Rabbi Schneerson answered, “This little toy can intimidate only that kind of man who has many gods and but one world. Because I have only one God and two worlds, I am not impressed by this little toy.” ~ Philip Yancey in Meet the Bible

By “two worlds” Rabbi Schneerson is referring to the temporary, physical existence that describes this life up to the grave and the eternal, spiritual existence of our soul which we experience now but which continues beyond the grave.

If our only hope is this present world then the people and possessions of this life will easily become the “many gods” that we cling to at any cost. But if we have a different hope, a better hope that comes from trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord then no circumstance of life will pose a real threat.

None of us can be sure of how we would respond in a situation like the one described here, but we can choose today to be a man or woman with “only one God and two worlds.”

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christ, Courage, God, Hope, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Philip Yancey, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

Always in His gaze

Refining SilverThe woman asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. “Oh yes!” he replied. “I cannot take my eyes off the silver. If it is left in the furnace even a moment too long, it will be destroyed.” The woman suddenly understood the beauty and comfort of Malachi 3:3: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

Yes, there are times when it seems as if we will be swallowed whole by the fires of hell itself. The pain seems too hard to bear. The fear is paralyzing. The doubt is overwhelming and the questions flood our hearts and minds…

Our trials are not random persecutions. Heaven is not in a panic. Where we are and what we are going through is no surprise to God. We may be knocked down and kicked around by life, but if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not be destroyed.

~ Excerpted from Trusting God by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Faith, God, Grief, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Suffering, Trusting God

I’m Sorry

I'm sorry“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi wasn’t the first to express it and he certainly won’t be the last. And to be honest, I understand his sentiments.

“Christians aren’t perfect, we’re just saved.” It’s a popular bumper sticker and while it is true it is far too often used as an excuse for behaving badly.

Sometimes Christians can be rude and selfish and greedy… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can walk right past others and not even give them the time of day, as if they don’t even exist… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can look down their nose at others and judge them for their sins while ignoring their own sins… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians can be so opinionated about a subject that they won’t even listen to someone with a differing opinion… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians gossip about others… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act one way at Church and a different way at work or at school… I’m sorry.

Sometimes Christians act like they have life all figured out and that their life is perfect even when they don’t and it isn’t… I’m sorry.

I’ve lived half of a century (now I feel old!) and in that time I’ve served four different churches and been involved with many, many others. This lack of consistent living is widespread and common.

I’m sure you can add to this list but you get the idea. And since I’m being honest I will admit that I’m sometimes guilty of these same things.

Being a Christian is more than wearing a title, professing certain beliefs, sitting in a church service for one hour a week and following a formula to have a ticket stamped for life beyond this life. It means actively following Jesus to become like Him. It means learning to think and believe and feel and act like Jesus more and more. It means loving God and others every moment of every day.

We won’t get it right all the time; but that’s no excuse for not giving ourselves to the journey of doing life with God and learning to love like Jesus. And when we get it wrong we need to own it and apologize for it.

Note to my Christian friends: If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, but they…” Stop right there! Every person will one day stand before God to give an account of their life and their actions. NO ONE will be able to excuse their behavior by saying, “Yeah, but they…” We will be responsible for ourselves then so we might as well start being responsible for ourselves now.

One last confession: If my hope were in other Christians I would have given up on the Church and Christianity a long time ago. Some of my greatest blessings have come from other believers but so have some of my greatest hurts.

My hope rests in Christ Jesus alone! He is the only one who makes this messy, imperfect journey worthwhile.

Who is your hope in?

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Christ, Christianity, Church, Confession, God, Hope, involvement with the church, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Repentance, Sin

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.

1 Comment

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

Waiting…

525170_10151547659529939_275963450_n

But those who wait on the Lord
will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

~ Isaiah 40:31

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Hope, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Trusting God

Considering what lies ahead

The gifts have been opened, holiday meals eaten, and reheated and eaten again. Relatives are gone, the house and schedules are beginning to return to some semblance of normalcy. Now our minds turn toward a new year and the possibilities that are present as the calendar signals another year on the horizon.

This is a wonderful time to slow down and listen in prayer to what God’s desire is for you in the coming year. In prayer, release disappointments, unfulfilled projects and goals, and any hurts that happened over the last year. Give the Holy Spirit time to speak encouragement and hope to your heart. Give thanks for the blessings and the blessings hidden in the trials and tests you experienced. Surrender any losses into God’s hand and let His love heal your heart. Like each new day, each year is full of the hope to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

~ Excerpted from 365 Days to a Prayer-Filled Life by Germaine Copeland

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, God, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, Reflection

Thank you scandalous God…

Christmas prayer

***

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Emmanuel, God, Gratitude, Hope, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality

The Christmas Chord

A creative take on

telling the Christmas Story

_____

***

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Hope

Bonhoeffer on Overcoming Fear

In January 1933, shortly before Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer preached this sermon at a vespers service on the evening of the second Sunday after Epiphany. It was a time of great tension in Berlin, and of widespread fear. The Hindenburg government was tottering, indeed was about to go under, and with it Germany’s fragile first republic, created at Weimar after World War I. There was fear of Communism — the “Red Tide from the East” — and other extremist movements, and danger from open fighting in the streets. In the midst of this storm, Bonhoeffer was no more certain of the future than anyone else, but he was sure that followers of Christ should know where to turn.

Matthew 8:23–27: And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

The overcoming of fear — that is what we are proclaiming here. The Bible, the Gospel, Christ, the Church, the faith — all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings. Fear is, somehow or other, the archenemy itself. It crouches in people’s hearts. It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down. Fear secretly gnaws and eats away at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others, and when in a time of need that person reaches for those ties and clings to them, they break and the individual sinks back into himself or herself, helpless and despairing, while hell rejoices.

Now fear leers that person in the face, saying: Here we are all by ourselves, you and I, now I’m showing you my true face. And anyone who has seen naked fear revealed, who has been its victim in terrifying loneliness — fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying — that person knows that fear is only one of the faces of evil itself, one form by which the world, at enmity with God, grasps for someone. Nothing can make a human being so conscious of the reality of powers opposed to God in our lives as this loneliness, this helplessness, this fog spreading over everything, this sense that there is no way out, and this raving impulse to get oneself out of this hell of hopelessness.

But the human being doesn’t have to be afraid; we should not be afraid! That is what makes humans different from all other creatures. In the midst of every situation where there is no way out, where nothing is clear, where it is our fault, we know that there is hope, and this hope is called: Thy will be done, yes, thy will is being done. “This world must fall, God stands above all, his thoughts unswayed, his Word unstayed, His will forever our ground and hope.”

Do you ask: How do you know? Then we name the name of the One who makes the evil inside us recoil, who makes fear and anxiety themselves tremble with fear and puts them to flight. We name the One who overcame fear and led it captive in the victory procession, who nailed it to the cross and committed it to oblivion; we name the One who is the shout of victory of humankind redeemed from the fear of death — Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Living One. He alone is Lord over fear; it knows Him as its master; it gives way to Him alone. So look to Christ when you are afraid, think of Christ, keep Him before your eyes, call upon Christ and pray to Him, believe that He is with you now, helping you . . . Then fear will grow pale and fade away, and you will be free, through your faith in our strong and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

From the Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Isabel Best copyright © 2012 Fortress Publishers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor and theologian whose striking theological journey and public witness against the Nazi regime led to worldwide fame after his death in 1945. He authored many classic books, including “The Cost of Discipleship” and “Life Together.”

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fear, God, Hope, Jesus, Peace, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

You are I AM – Mercy Me

I recently came across this song by Mercy Me and it has really touched my soul. The message is powerful and I hope it proves to be an encouragement to you as well.

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, Encouragement, Freedom, God, Grace, Guilt, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Mercy, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God