Tag Archives: Lord

I’m sick and tired of the hype about new Easter ideas!

I’m all for new thoughts and ideas. They usually help to stimulate my slow-moving and limited brain cells. So I subscribe to various ministry newsletters.

Most of the articles come from men and women seasoned with plenty of ministry experience. And most usually have some nugget of wisdom or insight to offer.

But I’m sick and tired of the hype of new Easter ideas! 

We are still weeks away from Easter but here is a list of the articles that have already come across my computer screen:

  • 16 Tips for Better Easter Impact
  • 6 Preaching and Teaching Tips for Easter
  • 11 Keys to an Explosive Easter Service
  • Easter Challenge to Pastors
  • 40 Easter Outreach Ideas
  • 4 Ways to Keep Easter Guests Coming Back
  • 12 Ways to Make Sure Easter Guests Don’t Come Back (A creative way to express what we should avoid doing)
  • 8 Vital Elements of an Easter Sermon
  • Church Will Give Away $1000 on Easter

If you add all of these magical numbers together they equal: 1 nauseated pastor!

What do you suppose the disciples of Jesus were doing after His death but before that first Easter morning?

Mourning: They were grief-stricken over the death of Jesus. They felt lost.

Examining: How did this happen? Did we miss something? How did we get here?

Praying: “Dear God, do something!”

What if we approached Easter this same way? What if we used this season of Lent to really get ready for Easter?

Mourning: Are we grief-stricken that our sins and the sins of the world led Jesus to be crucified?

Examining: What am I doing with my life? What are my real priorities? Am I putting God first?

Praying: “Dear God, do something! And let it begin with me!”

The only way for the world to experience the effects of a risen Savior is for me to first experience the effects of a risen Savior!

“Lord, stir my heart and quicken my spirit. Draw me closer to You and awaken me to live in the reality of a risen Savior. Transform my head, my heart and my hands as I give myself to love broken people in a fallen world!”

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

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, Easter, Good Friday, Grief, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Lent, Loving God, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Priorities, Reflection, Revival, Sin

Resisting God’s Will

It’s usually said in response to a difficult or hard-to-explain life experience. I believe it’s being said sincerely; but I believe it is sincerely wrong. The comment?

“It must be God’s will.”

I do believe God is sovereign and must ultimately allow something to happen. But that is a far cry from something being the result of His determined will.

We are made in the image of God and possess a free will to make choices daily. Because God is not limited by time constraints He already knows what is going to happen. But that does not mean He predetermined it to happen.

We are left with the weight of our free will and the consequences of the choices we make.

In all our lives there is the will of God. Then, of course, there is our will. Unconsciously, we assume these two match. To know Christ is to give Him an opportunity to deal with the difference between who we are right now and the person He wants to transform us to be. In that process, we often discover many things about Christ that we never knew before, things like He is not Santa Claus! He is not one who dispenses only good (according to our definition of good) but is a Lord who has a purpose quite contrary to our own.

…The trouble begins when the Lord turns out to be not what you thought. Then comes the question: “How do I know if these circumstances are really from God?” I suggest you measure your resistance to those circumstances. Are you resisting what God wants to do in your life because it is so far from what you have always wanted for yourself? ~ Excerpted from Living Close to God (When You’re Not Good At It) by Gene Edwards

One of the essential things that should happen when we gather in our faith communities is a reminder that God is the center of life and we all need to continually surrender our will to His control.

As we gather this weekend, all around the globe, may God be honored by our desire to realign ourselves with His will. May we all pray what Jesus prayed in the garden…

“Not my will but Your will be done…”

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If you’d like to read the first chapter of Living Close to God click here.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Choices, Church, Discipleship, God, God's Will, involvement with the church, Surrender

This one thing is worth boastsing about!

About 20 years ago my brother Dave got hired to be the General Contractor for an unfinished mansion. The purchase price was $350,000. It had a eight-car garage, indoor pool, indoor jacuzzi… You get the idea!

They spared no expense in finishing the house just they way they wanted. They even flew a guy in from several states away to custom cut solid walnut panels for the den.

Dave spent a year-and-a-half overseeing this project and got to know the folks fairly well. Like many who have significant wealth, they cherished their possessions with great pride.

Dave is better at relating to people than anyone I know and can easily put people at ease. He also has a wry sense of humor and can get away with saying things that others couldn’t.

When the project was finishing up the wife commented that they would need to change the security code on the gate because all of the sub-contractors had the current code.

With a sly grin Dave said, “I’ll change it. You don’t have anything I want.”

The gal gave him a playful slap on the arm but what she didn’t realize is that Dave was not only being humorous but truthful.

Even those with modest possessions can become prideful. People boast about things like wealth, education, physical strength, prestige in their career, power and influence, the good done for others, people they know…

People even boast about not boasting like other people boast!

And let’s be honest. Even those of us who have claimed Jesus as Lord still get caught up in it at times. But there is only one thing we should want to boast about – our intimacy with the Lord.

This is what the LORD says:“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24

What is it you consider most valuable? What is it you boast about?

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

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Loving God, Priorities

We all need an occasional reminder

The setting: Our house on a recent Sunday morning as we’re getting ready for church. A brief exchange between Mykaela (one of my 17-year-old daughters – twins!) and myself. I’m in the kitchen and she is in a nearby bathroom.

Me: (walking into the kitchen to find that Mykaela has started a pot of coffee) Thanks for asking if I wanted any.

Mykaela: Well you never ask me if I want any when you fix coffee during the week.

Me: That’s because you’re already gone to school when I make it.

Mykaela: Well… you need to make it earlier.

Me: So I should change the schedule that works for me just to accommodate you?

Mykaela: EXACTLY!

Me: When I get the memo from God that it’s all about you I’ll do that!

This was not a serious exchange but one done playfully. As often as I can, I engage my kids in light-hearted bantering that reminds them that life does not revolve around them.

While I do make every effort to help them embrace that they are unique and special individuals made in the image of our loving Creator, I also make every effort to point out that life is God’s story…not ours.

Our story – if we choose to surrender it – can fit into God’s bigger story and find an eternal purpose. But ultimately, life is God’s story.

It’s easy to forget that. The world markets endless products on the basic premise that we’ll buy into the notion that it’s all about us; that we are the center of the universe. We all need an occasional reminder that it’s not all about us.

So in case you forgot, remember…

Life does not revolve around you! Life is God’s story!
***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Children of God, God, Life in General, Priorities, Surrender

The danger of being even slightly off course

Heading in the general direction of where you want to go is not only disappointing but dangerous.

Mount Rainier is a massive stratovolcano located 54 miles southeast of Seattle in the state of Washington here in the United States. It is a very prominent mountain with a summit elevation of 14,411 feet. It is also considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of its large amount of glacial ice.

Only 4 paths, each with a very different level of difficulty, lead to the summit. But there are hundreds of paths, heading in the general direction of the peak, that lead to dead ends, cliffs, avalanche prone glaciers, and ultimately…

…a high risk of death!  

Obviously, heading in the general direction of the summit is not good enough. And the real danger is being unaware that you’re off course. Even on a wrong path the terrain looks familiar and you can still see the summit.

Most of us are not heading in the opposite direction of pursuing God to live in His Kingdom and because we are heading in the general direction we are lulled into thinking that we will one day get there, but this may not be the case.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

This is not about getting everything in life perfect because that’s impossible and would negate our need for God’s grace. This is about people who participate in certain godly activities but fail to live fully surrendered to Jesus as Lord.

We can attend church, throw something into the offering, read the Bible and even participate in good activities or projects with other christians – things familiar to us – but that doesn’t mean we’re on course with pursuing God.

The key to avoiding the wrong paths up Mt. Rainier and staying on the right path is consistent interaction with a trained, experienced guide. Our guide through life is Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Staying on course goes beyond familiar activities to actually doing life daily in consistent interaction with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

It’s an awareness of their divine presence that we grow into as we interact – asking and listening – through prayer.

The apostle Paul encouraged us to “pray without ceasing because he understood that we can live in constant fellowship with God through prayer. He is with us in everywhere, always – as we get ready in the morning, as we drive down the road, as we go about every activity of an ordinary day.

How are you doing at pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord and living in daily fellowship with Him?

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

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Determination, Discipleship, Divine presence, God, God's Will, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Surrender

A DTR moment with God

There comes a time in every serious relationship when you have to pause for a DTR moment.

DTR stands for Define the Relationship. It’s a moment (or moments) in a relationship when specifics get discussed.

  • How often will we date?
  • Are we going to date only each other?
  • Is it time to meet the families?

Obviously, being on the same page is not only desirable but makes for the best possible relationship.

Once God rescued the young Israelite nation from slavery in Egypt He had them make a pit stop at Mt. Sinai for a DTR moment.

God created us to enjoy us so He takes the lead in spelling out what will make for the best possible relationship.

Relationship 101: The Ten Commandments are given as guidelines for relating to God and each other (Exodus 20). Jesus continues this theme when He defines the greatest commandment as loving God and loving others (Matthew 22).

Temple Blueprints: Specifics on how to construct what will be Gods’ temporary dwelling place close to His people (Exodus 25-31). God does not suffer from OCD but is highly detailed because He wants to test their hearts to see if they are serious about their relationship with Him.

Instructions on Living in Holiness: A multitude of details, including animal sacrifices to atone for sin, are given to teach the Israelites how to live holy lives that reflect the glory and holiness of God. (Leviticus)

From a Lower Story perspective it would seem that God is obsessed with details, but from an Upper Story perspective He is simply making sure we know how to maintain fellowship with Him. It’s all about the relationship!

Today is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter. It’s a time to give up something in order to refocus or deepen our relationship with God. It’s sort of a DTR Season.

Whether you observe Lent or not, let me offer two questions to consider:
1. In what ways am I pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
2. What am I consuming (food, drink or activity) that distracts me from pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?
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If you’re on our journey through The Story then read chapter(s) 5 this week. If you’re not familiar with The Story you can check it out at the tab above or click here.

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

7 Comments

Filed under Commitment, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Lent, Loving God, Loving others, The Story

Keeping our vows

The Vow is a movie that came out in theatres a week and a half ago. It is based on Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s story. Since I’ve not seen the movie I’m not endorsing it but simply referring to it.

According to the Carpenters, the romantic movie is not even close to telling the true story of faith and commitment that has kept them devoted to each other for 20 years.

It began 10 weeks after their wedding on Sept. 18, 1993 when a serious automobile accident left Krickitt with no memories of her husband or their new marriage.

A severe brain trauma wiped out 18 months of her life — the entire time she and Kim met, dated and married.

While he was still madly in love with her, he was a stranger she wanted nothing to do with.

The glue that kept them together was their faith in Christ and the promise they had made before God.

“Both of us know unconditionally we would not have made it through this ordeal without the Lord being in the center of it all,” says Kim Carpenter.

Krickitt spent months in a coma and then months more in physical therapy, but she has never regained those 18 months of memory. Her recovery was slow, her personality changed and at times she told Kim she hated him.

“At a low point in my life, I didn’t think this marriage was going to work. I didn’t have the faith that we were going to make it,” Kim said. “At the same time, I wasn’t going to leave her in the state she was in; I was vowing to stay with her.”

The media first learned of their story when a reporter came to interview Kim about his work as a baseball coach. In the course of the conversation, the story came out.

When the Carpenters renewed their vows at a second wedding in 1996, it was a media frenzy. People were amazed and encouraged by their story, so Krickitt asked God to use their story to show others His amazing love and power.

“We enjoyed the movie but we were a little frustrated by the artistic license they took,” Kim said. “The dramatization in the movie was much greater, but it is hard to put 20 years of challenges into 103 minutes.”

Krickitt’s faith never faltered, and she never considered divorce.

“A Scripture I really hold onto is Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ I believed I was called according to God’s purpose, and I followed with my whole heart,” she said.

Kim said he has taken offense to some of the media reporting him as “heroic, courageous, manly.” They insist they are an ordinary couple with two children, Danny and LeeAnn.

“It is amazing we live in a world that there is such a big deal made about a man and woman who simply did what we said we were going to do,” Kim said.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Commitment, Courage, Determination, Faith, Inspiration, Loyalty, Marriage

God’s trump card… His presence!

God has big plans for His new nation, Israel, but there’s a problem; they’re enslaved in Egypt! So before God can lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey (i.e. – prime real estate), He has to first rescue them.

Maybe God will bring down lightning or send in the S.W.A.T. team or better yet… send a past-his-prime shepherd. Sure, I’ll take curtain #3… NOT!

God speaks to Moses from a burning bush that doesn’t burn up and recruits him to go confront Pharaoh. Moses is flattered, but not interested. Can’t really blame him. He did have three strikes against him.

  1. He was already 80 years old. (No disrespect intended)
  2. He was a poor communicator. (Notice that God doesn’t disagree)
  3. He had skeletons in his closet. (Wanted for murder of an Egyptian)

So what does God offer as a confidence boost? His very presence. I’m sure that Moses appreciated the offer, but since he didn’t know God very well it didn’t much help. God eventually conceded to a couple of traveling companions for Moses. (Exodus 3)

Now, fast forward to the part of the story where Moses and the people are at Mt. Sinai. While Moses is up on the mountain with God the people down below give in to all kinds of nasty idol worship – a real slap in the face to God.

God tells Moses that they can still go to the promised land but without His presence. God isn’t going to go with them because He’s concerned about getting angry enough to wipe them all out. (Exodus 33)

But Moses states very clearly that if the Lord’s presence is not going to be with them then he doesn’t want to go. Moses’ experience with God in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and on the mountain was enough to convince him that all he really needed was God’s presence.

How about you? What is it you’re facing? What is it you need in order to deal with it? Is God’s presence enough?
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If you’re on our journey through The Story then read chapter(s) 4 this week. If you’re not familiar with The Story you can check it out at the tab above or click here.

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Filed under Divine presence, Faith, intimacy with the Lord, The Story, Trusting God

When troubles come…

Notice that I didn’t title this blog entry “IF troubles come…” If you’re breathing, trouble will NOT be a stranger to you!

The notion that following Jesus equals an easy, comfortable, pain-free journey through life is one of the BIGGEST, oldest and most dangerous of misperceptions. False expectations, in general, set us up for disappointment; but this one can crush our spirit and even our faith if we’re not careful.

Often when a hard time hits, when a crisis hits, when a tragedy hits, we want out. We ask God for an airlift out of our problems. But many times God wants us to learn in the midst of those difficulties—and to learn especially about His love for us:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37 NLT)

Notice that phrase “all these things.” This passage isn’t saying we won’t face some of these struggles, but that in them we’re “more than conquerors.”

If you’re seeking to obey the Lord, expect opposition. Expect obstacles. Expect difficulties. But also expect God to see you through.
~ Excerpted from Beyond by Greg Laurie

Joseph is a prime example! (Genesis 37, 39-50) Betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers! Falsely accused by his employer’s wife and tossed into prison. Forgotten about by a friend after helping him understand a dream.

From our Lower Story, earthly perspective we could easily conclude that God had forsaken Joseph. But twice – when he arrives in Egypt as a slave and when he is thrown in prison, it clearly states that “the LORD was with Joseph.” (Genesis 39:2, 21)

God sustains Joseph and we eventually learn that all of this was used by God to further His Upper Story, kingdom agenda.

How can we prepare our hearts to trust God when troubles come?

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If you’re reading The Story with us then read chapter(s) 4 this week. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story then check it out on the page tab above!

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Filed under Divine presence, Faith, God, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God, The Story, Trusting God

Our divine Advocate!

How we view God is critical to our relationship with Him. But equally important is what we understand about how God views us!

Like a lot of people I know, I grew up with an image of God as an impossible-to-please task master who barely tolerated us and was always ready to smack us on the hand (or worse) when we made a mistake or stepped out of line.

We are told in Scripture to “fear the Lord” because He is God, but the kind of fear I walked in was not healthy or intended by God. As Mark Batterson puts it:

Ultimately, the only thing we ought to fear is living outside the umbrella of His authority. Nothing fills you with holy confidence like knowing that God Himself is your advocate. You don’t have to take matters into your own hands, because they are in the hands of God Almighty. You can bless those who curse you. You can pray for those who persecute you. You can love your enemies. Why? Simply because you know that God is your advocate. ~ Excerpted from Soulprint by Mark Batterson

Advocate: supporter, backer, promoter, believer, activist, campaigner, sponsor, encourager, one in favor of another…

God is our loving Creator who delights in us and is always there for us. No one on the face of this earth can fill that same role!

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? ~ Romans 8:31b

As we give ourselves to participate in His unfolding story of grace and truth we can have confidence that we face nothing alone! He is always with us and for us!

He is our divine Advocate!

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Filed under Courage, Divine presence, Fear, Fear of God, God, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Trusting God