“Jesus Christ—the youngest mini-church pastor in history…
Whenever the crowd got big, he’d say something such as, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’ Not exactly the sharpest church-growth tactic. I can almost picture the looks on the disciples’ faces. ‘No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll never get on the list of the fastest growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you.’
By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.”
~ Excerpted from Radical by David Platt
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.
Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
~ From Jesus’ prayer in John 17 (The Message)
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.
Christianity is a love relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a religion to observe, a set of rituals to follow, or a list of disciplines to master. It’s astounding but true that almighty God wants to communicate with us, and He has a lot to talk to us about.
The same God who was present as each world empire rose and fell, who observed humanity making each scientific discovery, and who will judge every world leader, every ordinary person, and every demonic power—this God, who is infinitely wise and all-powerfully strong, wants to interact with you and me.
~ Excerpted from Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby
God created us to enjoy us.
He redeems us to restore intimate fellowship that was lost because of our sin.
Jesus is preparing a place for us to live with Him forever.
Stop and reflect on this…
No matter what it is that’s at the top of your “To Do” list today; spending time with you is at the top of God’s.
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.
For most of us its the start of another work week. We’ve taken time to gather with our church family to celebrate God and be reminded that life is His story; but now its time to leave all that behind and head back to work. Or is it?
Do we leave God behind when we leave church? Is that building we gather in really the house of God, the place where He resides? Or does God dwell in us and go with us wherever we go? It’s the later one in case you’re not sure.
God goes with us and intends for our work to be a mission field. James Campbell expresses it well in this excerpt from his book About My Father’s Business.
I live to glorify God by loving, serving, and challenging others to be all they can be, and to give all of themselves to Jesus Christ. This is what I am attempting to do in every venue of my life every day. I approach work from two perspectives at the same time:
How can I do my job and do it well?
How can I make a difference for Christ in the lives of the people I will meet today?
These two drivers must work together. Committed Christians who are lousy workers have little influence. And great workers whose faith in Christ is always kept secret have little value in building God’s kingdom. Every day, we have two jobs. We are to be great employees, managers, and business owners. But our other job is to be a secret (or not so secret) agent for God. We are to look at our coworkers, subordinates, clients, superiors, vendors, and owners through the lens that God looks through, and then to love, serve, and challenge them to move toward Christ, one step at a time. “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).
Gathering with our church family is like showing up for practice or getting together in a huddle. Monday thru Saturday is when we get on the field and participate in God’s great adventure of touching others with His grace and truth.
May you and God have a great work-week together!
“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” ~ Luke 21:16–19
How can some of us be put to death, yet realize the promise that “not a hair of your head will perish”? The answer can only be found in a radically different concept of safety. Jesus sees things from His Father’s perspective. In His eyes, the passage from this world into eternity looks more like a coming-of-age, or a rite of passage. It’s a beginning of something much more than it is an end of something. Remember your high school graduation? Caps and gowns, hugs, high fives, and perhaps a few tears. It’s a bittersweet occasion marking the passing of one phase of life, but the sadness is overshadowed by the anticipation of the many experiences awaiting you on the road ahead.
~ Excerpted from Bulletproof by Chuck Holton
Are we satisfied with temporary safety or trusting God for real, eternal safety?
Blogging is a peculiar process. Some posts come alive quickly while others can take a bit of coaxing to develop. Sometimes the ones that I feel really good or excited about don’t get much response and ones that I sort of just throw together end up resonating with people in a big way. It’s very unpredictable.
But one of the more unique things that can happen with a blog is that on any given day a post from months ago can get a big response today. That’s what happened yesterday. A blog entry from August entitled The Real Jesus was viewed by three times more people than the blog that was written for yesterday. Wow!
What excites me when that happens is not the number totals but the fact that this happens because someone is choosing to pass it along to encourage or challenge someone!
“Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.“ ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 (New Living Translation)
That’s what sharing this journey of following hard after Jesus is all about. God never intended us to go it alone. We need to be diligent and intentional about finding ways to encourage others along the way.
How can we encourage one another today?
The Good News is simple and powerful—Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins, and there is no other way of salvation (see John 14:6; Romans 5:8). To receive the free gift of salvation Jesus offers, we must turn from our sin in genuine repentance and trust in Him and His sacrificial death on our behalf (see 1 John 1:8–9; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8–9)…
Now I want you to see how the church and the Good News connect: The church is the vehicle that Jesus chose to take the message of the gospel to every generation and
Are you seeing the bigger picture? The church matters because Jesus chose it to tell and show the world the message of His love. And this message, carried forward through history and lived out for all to see, is the world’s only hope.
~ Excerpted from Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet with your church family this weekend!
Reading is one of my primary venues for connecting with God; and every once in a while I come across something that speaks to the deepest parts of my soul in a fresh and life-giving way; such as the following by Brennan Manning.
Thomas Merton‘s notion of sin focuses not primarily on individual sinful acts but on a fundamental option for a life of pretense. Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us. “There can only be two basic loves,” wrote Augustine, “the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness of God.” (Emphasis mine)
Merton said that a life devoted to the shadow is a life of sin. I have sinned in my cowardly refusal – out of fear of rejection – to think, feel, act, respond, and live from my authentic self. We even refuse to be our true self with God – and then wonder why we lack intimacy with Him.
Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. When we accept the truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are enveloped in peace, whether or not we feel ourselves to be at peace. By that I mean the peace that passes understanding is not a subjective sensation of peace; if we are in Christ, we are in peace even when we feel no peace.
The Master says to us: “Burn the old tapes spinning ’round in your head that bind you up and lock you into a self-centered stereotype. Listen to the new song of salvation written for those who know they are poor. Let go of your fear of the Father and your dislike of yourself. The father of lies twists the truth and distorts reality. He is the author of cynicism and skepticism, mistrust and despair, sick thinking and self-hatred. I am the Son of Compassion. You belong to me and no one will tear you from My hand.”
Jesus discloses God’s true feelings toward us. As we turn the pages of the Gospels, we discover that the people Jesus encounters there are you and me. The understanding and compassion He offers them, He also offers you and me.
~ From The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning, p. 31-32
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” ~ 1 John 4:15-16
It’s not often that I recommend a resource before I’ve actually read or watched it but that’s how sure I am of Kyle Idleman’s new book – Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. I’ve heard Kyle preach/teach on numerous occasions and he is not only one of the most gifted communicators I know but also one of the most authentic. The following is from his website.
Are you a follower of Jesus?
Don’t answer too quickly.
In fact, you may want to read the book before you answer at all. Consider it a “Define the Relationship” conversation to determine exactly where you stand.
fan: an enthusiastic admirer.
In the Gospels, Jesus never seemed too interested in fans.
Is that how you define your relationship with Him? An “enthusiastic admirer”? Close enough to Jesus to get the benefits but not so close to require sacrifice?
He was looking for followers. Not just any follower though, but a…
completely. committed. follower.
How would things change if we lived as Jesus lived, and loved the way He loved?
Yesterday Susan and I picked up Valerie and Aaron early in the morning to go to Indianapolis. Sam (our son and Valerie’s husband for those who don’t know) was participating in a state-wide Marine recruit activity.
Several hundred young men and women from all around Indiana came together to test their physical fitness with running 1-1/2 miles, chin ups, sit ups, lifting 30 pound ammo boxes over their head and tug-of-war as a group competition.
Most of them had done these things before in smaller, regional settings; but this was a whole new arena with higher ranking officers present. One new element for the recruits was their first exposure to actual Drill Instructors!
I’ll spare you the details but I will say that the energy level in the gym was very intense and very focused! The Drill Instructors schooled the recruits on the proper manner in which to address them during boot camp. Very impressive and a bit intimidating!
After about 25 minutes of this the Drill Instructors came over and spoke with the family members to answer questions and explain a bit of what they do. One thing that stuck out to me is that the recruits are not allowed to refer to themselves as “I”. This and other similar training methods are designed specifically to help the recruits lose their sense of individuality and learn to function as a single unit.
I think that’s a lesson that we in the church desperately need to learn. I’m not suggesting that we treat each other as recruits and shout at one another nose to nose; but I think we need to work at creative ways that would help us become more aware of following Jesus as a community of disciples.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5
If you have any ideas on how we could encourage more of a community, group mindset within the church leave me a comment!