Tag Archives: iLife Journey

I was feeling good about it until…

The onset of increasing age, poor eating habits and very little exercise combined to make the two previous years… BRUTAL!

I’m speaking of the 5-day parent/teen extreme camping trip that Josh and I did a few weeks back. Having done this trip 5 times before I knew what was coming. With the last two years being so difficult, it was not anything I wanted to repeat.

So I determined to be better prepared. For the two months leading up to our trip I ate better and rode bike several days a week. With 15 less pounds and a bit more muscle this year’s trip was only mildly challenging. And in the process, I’ve discovered that I rather enjoy cycling.

This last Saturday Susan was not feeling well so I rode alone and decided to push myself a bit. I ended up riding 12 miles in one hour which works out to be 12 mph. (Yes, my math skills are stunning).

I was feeling good about it until…

Earlier in the day we noticed lots of bicycles on Highway 40 which happens once every summer for RAIN – Ride Across Indiana. So I checked out their website for some details. Turns out that these people start early in the morning in Terre Haute and finish up later that same day in Richmond (near where we live).

Their entire one-day bicycle odyssey is some 160 miles long and the information on their web site indicated that you should be able to average 12-14 mph. WOW!

Even at the slower rate of 12 mph that’s an average of just over 13 hours on a bicycle in one day! And here I was excited about doing it for just one hour.

But then it dawned on me that I’m not competing against them, I’m competing against myself. I could have chosen to sit on the couch or float in the pool or go out for ice cream. But instead, I got a good workout in and rode the best I ever had.

The same is true with God. My assurance of spending an eternity with Him is based solely on His grace, but I’ll still give an account for how I lived my life. And God won’t evaluate my life by comparing it to anyone else but by what He intended for me when He formed me in my mother’s womb.

God alone knows my full potential, and yours. He has gifted each of us with a personality and a passion and a certain set of skills.

Are we growing into and living out our full, God-given potential?

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Christianity, God, God's Will, Grace, Motivation

I was genuinely shocked!

My dad died at the age of 52 when I was just starting my senior year of high school. It was sudden and unexpected; a massive heart attack while playing golf.

My dad was not one for showing emotions, unless one of us boys had done something stupid. Not an uncommon occurrence with four boys under one roof, but it was more my older brothers than me – really!

About four months after my dad died my brother Dave had me out driving to teach me about rear-wheel drive cars and snow. Front-wheel drive today is much safer but not nearly as exciting or fun.

As we drove we got to talking about Dad. My brother told me something that I wasn’t expecting to hear. He told me that our dad loved us, was proud of us boys and talked about us all the time at work.

I was genuinely shocked!

I truly didn’t know that my dad felt that way. He provided for us and played catch once in a while; but I don’t remember him ever telling me that he was proud of me or loved me.

Back row: Elijah, Joshua, Valerie (Sam’s wife) and Brynden
Front row: Kyrsten, Sam, Aaron and Mykaela

Long before I became a dad I determined that I wanted my kids to know that I love them. When our kids were little Susan and I would play a little game with them.

“Hey, you know what?”

“What?”

“I love you. You know why?”

Why?

“Just because…”

They are older now, ranging in age from 21 to 12. But they still get a hug or kiss and an “I love you” several times a day. It’s less frequent with Eli and Sam since they’re out of the nest but there is no hesitation when we do get the chance to be together.

Expressing our feelings as a family is comfortable and familiar. So I was surprised at the wave of emotions that overwhelmed me last week when I hugged Sam goodbye for the last time before heading back to Indiana.

That same wave hit again two nights ago after talking with Sam by phone for the last time before he deployed with the Marines for six months.

It is one thing to hug your kid as they head out the door for college or their own home; it’s a completely different matter to say goodbye when they are deploying with a military unit.

The odds of staying safe are in Sam’s favor, but the reality of the possibility that he may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice is still very real… and sobering.

Don’t take a single day of life with your loved ones for granted! Cherish every moment and leave nothing unsaid or undone.

And if you feel inclined to offer a prayer for our Sam and all those who serve in the military, I would be most grateful. But don’t just pray for their safety. Pray first and foremost for their relationship with God – to know Him or grow closer to Him.

Thanks!

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

10 Comments

Filed under Children, Family, Loving others, Parenting, Relationship with God

God can rewrite our story

It had been 13 years since we last visited Disney World and some things have changed. But I didn’t realize how much until I watched a DVD this last weekend about the history of the Magic Kingdom. In the 41 years it’s been open some attractions have morphed 3 or 4 times!

Eli pointed out one particular spot in the sidewalk of the Haunted Mansion that was interesting. There is a pipe down in the cement cut off level with the sidewalk.

During one of the physical transformations they cut the pipe but were unable to get it out of the cement. So… they wrote it into the new story of the Haunted Mansion.

God does that same thing for us.

We all have a past. Choices we’ve made that were hurtful to us or others. Things that happened to us that left scars; perhaps even nightmares and a struggle to trust.

If given the choice we’d have them erased forever. In fact, we go to great lengths to keep them buried. Over work, over eat, over drink, over medicate…

We do all manner of things to cope, but God has something better in mind.

God intends to show us that His love and grace are bigger than anything from our past. In fact, He intends to rewrite our story and redeem those very same events so that we reflect His glory in a whole new way.

Not rewrite as in changing the facts, but rewrite as in using it to show what His love and grace can help us to overcome.

The transformation is seldom easy or fast; but that’s true of many things in life.

  • What is it that you have locked away?
  • What means of coping have you tried?
  • How’s it working for you?

The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t work with such wounds. Only the love and grace of God are big enough and strong enough to redeem our hurts and use them to display His redemptive creativity.

You’ll likely need help for the healing journey. Someone to pray with you or encourage you or challenge you when the going gets rough. Perhaps even a pastor or counselor for sorting out the bigger issues. But remember…

No matter what it is, God can rewrite our story!
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Brokenness, Glory of God, God, Grace, Hope, Love of God, Morphing, Trusting God

Preacher uses F word in church!

It’s not what you think. Love the play on words and wish I could get away with this!

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
~ Matthew 6:14-15

***

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

2 Comments

Filed under Church, Forgiveness, Funny, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Jesus, Loving others

There is more going on!

In case you missed my blog from yesterday I mentioned sharing a series of posts based on our visit to Disney World last week. On our first day we visited Hollywood Studios – it’s all about the movies.

Movies in general are a great adventure into worlds unknown and full of wonder. From animated Disney favorites to screen classics of bygone eras.

One of the fascinating aspects of the different attractions is getting an inside peek at how they pull off spectacular stunts. You know… the hidden stuff that makes what we see on the big screen so amazing.

In the Extreme Stunt Show you witness breathtaking manuevers involving cars, motorcycles and falls from tall buildings. And there’s a visit from a real, live Lightening McQueen.

At one point in the show they pick a boy about 11 or 12-years-old to come out of the crowd and help by driving a stunt car using a remote control.

Can you imagine the excitement of that boy?!

After moving the car forward and backward a few times they have him spin it in a 360 degree circle. That’s when you notice a driver on the backside of the car. The boy wasn’t really in control.

That reality, that something more is going on than what we can see, is no where more true than with God.

When the prophet Elisha and his servant were surrounded by a hostile enemy Elisha prayed…

“’Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” ~ 2 Kings 6:17

What appeared to be a dead-end situation really wasn’t because God was active behind the scenes.

No matter what we are experiencing…

No matter what we encounter today…

No matter what we think we see…

…there is more going on!

The question is…

In the midst of our uncertainty and inability to see behind the scenes, will we trust God?
***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Faith, God, Trusting God

How do you view Jesus?

What follows is part of a conversation David Platt had with a Buddhist leader and a Muslim leader. They were discussing how all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different.

“We may have different views about small issues,” one of them said, “but when it comes down to essential issues, each of our religions is the same.”

I listened for a while, and then they asked me what I thought. I said, “It sounds as though you both picture God (or whatever you call god) at the top of a mountain. It seems as if you believe that we are all at the bottom of the mountain, and I may take one route up the mountain, you may take another, and in the end we will all end up in the same place.”

They smiled as I spoke. Happily they replied, “Exactly! You understand!”

Then I leaned in and said, “Now let me ask you a question. What would you think if I told you that the God at the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are? What would you think if I told you that God doesn’t wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us?”

They thought for a moment and then responded, “That would be great.”

I replied, “Let me introduce you to Jesus.”
~ Excerpted from Radical by David Platt

It is a popular notion today that all religions lead to the same God but there are fundamental differences that cannot be overlooked.

Only in Christianity does God make the first move to come to us with the offer of redemption.

Only in Christianity is forgiveness received as a gift of grace rather than earned by human efforts.

Only in Christianity does the founder come back from the grave.

And then there’s the issue of how we view Jesus.

Many religions see Jesus as a good, moral teacher; perhaps even a prophet but nothing more. Yet Christianity views Jesus as the only Son of God. Jesus even claimed to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Therein lies a fundamental difference between Christianity and all other world religions.

How do you view Jesus?

***

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

7 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Evangelism, God, Grace, Jesus

Investing in people, growing as a faith community

I don’t know how it works everywhere around the globe, but here in the American midwest the seasons of the year are noticeably different. This plays a major role in the process of growing a garden.

Well-groomed gardens require different activities according to the season, and those activities occur daily.

This very same principle of ongoing growth is also very evident and necessary in any faith community in which God is actively working to grow and change lives.

So we must continue to invest in the people around us, serving them, receiving from them, and letting God use those experiences to grow us into communities that create results and change lives for the better. We must recognize that significance occurs within the day-in, day-out process of interacting with others.

Just as we make changes in our gardens according to the seasons of the year, so we must adapt to changes within our communities as they struggle, grow, get pruned, grow some more, and flourish. When the harsh circumstances of winter come, for instance, we must huddle together (like the penguins!) in order to sustain one another.

When the spring and summer months provide us the opportunities, we must share in the work of planting and nourishing. And when it’s time for the harvest, we must be willing to serve and celebrate all that God has done and is doing.
~ Excerpted from A Significant Life by Jim Graff

Before we just assume that this is happening within the faith community we are a part of, let me pose a few questions to consider:

Do you see evidence of God working to grow people in your church family?

What season of the growth cycle is your faith community experiencing?

In what ways are you involved with others in sharing the journey of following hard after Jesus?

Are you praying for your church family, inviting God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others?

In what ways are you personally investing in the lives of others to encourage their growth in Christ?

Are you surrendered to what God is wanting to do in and through you?

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

6 Comments

Filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Serving, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Uniquely gifted

Before I became a father I thought that kids were primarily the products of their environments. It didn’t take long for me to change that opinion.

While kids are obviously influenced greatly by their surroundings, they are each wired uniquely. As a father of six amazing and very unique kids I am astounded at how kids from the same gene pool can be wired with such different personalities.

One of the great challenges of parenting is to not compare one kid with another. There are the common experiences that get talked about like first teeth, walking, talking and such. But we have tried hard to instill in each of our children the value of their uniqueness as individuals made in the image of their Creator.

The same is just as important within the kingdom of God and among church families.

While we all share a common directive from God to “go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19), each church fellowship will do this differently according to the individuals who make up that church. And within the same church, there are different members with differing gifts and abilities.

It is never wise to let comparisons leave us discouraged. My background is not your background. My gifts are not your gifts. My experience with Jesus Christ is not your experience with Jesus Christ. My personality package is not your personality package. My sins and struggle areas are probably not your sins and struggle areas. We are different! God calls us as individuals into his great, diverse family that stretches across time and around the world.

Remember, it is God himself who delights to blend such a wild collection of individuals, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses into a living, ministering body that brings great glory to his Son…and endless delight to the heart of the Father.
~ Excerpted from More Jesus, Less Religion by Stephen Arterburn

When we gather with our faith communities, lets celebrate the reality that God has created each of us in His image but with a unique set of traits.

May God be glorified as we all work to carry out a common task in our own unique way.

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

7 Comments

Filed under Children of God, Church, Glory of God, involvement with the church

Extraordinary is a “disposition of the heart” sort of thing

Ever feel like your daily routine gets… routine? Every ask yourself how you got where you are? Ever wonder what happened to the spark?

Whew! I’m glad I’m not the only one!

The truth is, God not only desires you to live extraordinarily but also has equipped you to do so. Don’t ever forget these words. Etch them on the tablet of your heart. A remarkable, amazing, extraordinary life is not restricted to certain individuals or professions. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you serve in life.

If you’re a schoolteacher, businessperson, government leader, stay-at-home mom, athlete, factory worker, hairstylist, student, pastor (the list is endless), it doesn’t matter, because you were created for extraordinary achievements in that role.

The power to accomplish remarkable feats and live an exceptional life is not tied to an occupation but to a disposition of the heart. This is not only God’s will but also His great pleasure.
~ Excerpted from Extraordinary by John Bevere

Living extraordinary lives is a “disposition of the heart” sort of thing.

A disposition is a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way. In this case, it means having a heart inclined to bring God glory by doing our very best at whatever it is we are doing.

It’s a new day and a new week, how’s your disposition?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under Choices, Commitment, Determination, Glory of God, God, influence with the world, Life in General

An unnecessary pain in the butt!

“If I’m on mission for God and sold-out to serving Him, then He will remove anyone in opposition to me and make the journey smooth.”

I wish this were true because I hate conflict and turbulence of any shape, size or kind. But it’s not!

The older I get the more I recognize that those people who have been a source of friction for me have played an important role in shaping my journey with God.

Facing opposition has pushed me to trust God more, develop a more Christ-like character and served to sharpen my focus in regard to how God wants to use me for His kingdom purposes.

I have some important news for you: to fulfill your purpose and stay true to your calling, you’ll need to understand the reason for enemies. If you do that, then when they rise up against you, you will quickly recognize what’s happening.

The truth is, it’s not really them—it’s the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is using them to try to sabotage and abort your future.

As I was determining how to respond to the enemies coming against me from all sides, I found one scripture that I hung on to like a drowning man grasping a piece of wood: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

What this means is that all our afflictions or problems in life, no matter how horrible they seem, are not a big deal compared to the payoff for facing and enduring them. And the results for us in heaven will be great and eternal.
~ Excerpted from The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter, Jr.

Even Jesus, the very Son of God, endured conflict from others in every arena of life. The author of the Hebrew letter writes:

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. ~ Hebrews 5:8 (NASB)

From our Lower Story perspective conflict seems like an unnecessary pain in the butt! From God’s Upper Story perspective it can be a way of growing us and leading us to fulfill His kingdom objective.

All that we endure here and now will seem like a vapor compared to the “weight of glory” that will be ours when we stand face-to-face with our Lord!

***
If you’re following along in The Story then read chapter(s) 9 for this week. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

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

4 Comments

Filed under Conflict, God's Will, Kingdom of God, Morphing, The Story, Trusting God