Tag Archives: Loving God

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.”

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

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

Christianity is all about…

larry-crabb-photo“Life in Christ is all about relationships, with God, others, and ourselves.  When we reduce Christianity to a series of steps for handling life better or a set of truths to believe or a list of things to do, we miss the whole point of the gospel. God created us (and then re-created us) to enjoy His kindness and loving generosity and, in the strength of that enjoyment, to reflect His character by giving ourselves unselfishly to each other.”

~ Larry Crabb Jr., Understanding Who You Are

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

 

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Joining God in His story

get_lost-featured1Genuine expressions of your love for Christ are often quite small, simple even.

  • Join the girl no one ever sits with at lunch.
  • Baby-sit for a single mom.
  • Take a meal to a sick family.
  • Rake the leaves in the yard of the grouchy old man next door.
  • Take a walk with the little girl down the street whose parents are never home.
  • Clean the house of a family in which the financially struggling parents are both working two jobs and never have time to catch up.
  • Sit on the street with a homeless person, and listen to her story.

Your opportunities to work alongside God will be revealed through your friendship with Him. He will invite you into His story in ways that uniquely fit you—but He may also lead you to do things that are not in your comfort zone.

~ Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh

How will we join God in His story today?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, God, influence with the world, Loving God, Loving others, Serving

The Focus of Your Life

More Jesus - Less Religion - Book CoverWhen Jesus walked this earth, he worked to get the focus off “good” people doing what appeared to be “good things” and to get their focus back on God. Many people in first-century Israel were pointing to the rules; Jesus pointed to a God who wanted a relationship with his people. Religious professionals focused on the law; Jesus focused on the Lawgiver who knew our hearts and offered us grace in the midst of our failures.

A healthy, growing faith is always focused on the person of God himself, not on cheap substitutes. A healthy faith begins and ends in God, not in rules or regulations or sheer, raw duty. Jesus, not religion, is at the core of a robust Christian faith.

Today Jesus offers you and me the same opportunity he gave to those people in the early church. Oh, we can still perform and conform out of obligation. We can still try to feel good by all the “good deeds” we chalk up.

Or we can love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. We can experience his love and come to know him intimately. We can stop hiding behind our facades of religious order and meet him right where we are. We can focus on him and find sanity, rest, and peace when all hell seems to be breaking out around us.

I urge you to experience for yourself his love and acceptance. Grow closer to him and choose him because you truly love him. Make him—not your “good deeds” nor anyone or anything else—the focus of your life.

I promise…you will never regret it.

~ Excerpted from More Jesus, Less Religion by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

What will be the focus of our life in this new week?

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

 

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

People can be hard to love!

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
~ Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)

Love them anyway

When I saw the quote above a few days ago several thoughts rushed through my mind:

Thought #1: YES! They can be!

Thought #2: Um… yes, I can be!

Thought #3: God, how do you not give up loving on us when we can be so unreasonable, illogical and self-centered?

Thought #4: God, grant me the grace to love like you love. I can’t do it on my own.

May we extend His love to those we encounter today!

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

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Filed under Christianity, God, Grace, influence with the world, Jesus, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

“It’s crazy…” ~ Francis Chan

Francis Chan

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

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Why I’m giving up bathroom time for Lent

I know what some of you are thinking.

“Dude! There are several… essential activities that place in the bathroom. How can you afford (why would your wife allow you) to give up bathroom time for Lent?”

Pursuing-God

Not to worry! Let me explain.

Up until a few years ago our family of 8 shared one bathroom! Whew! There was always a line to get in and a common phrase heard frequently was “No camping out in there!”

When our oldest was 17-years-old we were able to add a second bathroom and relieve some of the pressure (pun intended)!

Now that the two oldest have graduated High School and moved on to their next adventure there are only six of us sharing two bathrooms. A much better ratio!

I’ve always had a penchant for reading while on the throne. So when my wife got me a Kindle Fire last year I had multiple books at my fingertips while using the bathroom. (It’s the little things that make life so special!)

But over the last couple of months I’ve gravitated from reading to playing games on my Kindle while sitting on the toilet. With another bathroom available it proved possible for me to get lost back there for significant lengths of time. (According to Susan it can be hours!)

Digital games are not inherently bad or sinful, but my pattern was becoming unhealthy. So one of the things I’m giving up for Lent is playing games on my Kindle when using the bathroom.

I can hear your sigh of relief that I’ve not given up on the essential activities that take place in a bathroom! Glad to relieve your concerns.

And I’ll admit that I did have fun considering alternate titles for this blog such as: “Giving up time on my throne to seek His throne.”

But I’ve challenged my family and our church family to consider that Lent is more than merely giving up something for God. The real core issue is repentance for putting things ahead of God and a renewed pursuit of intimacy with Him.

In Matthew 6 where Jesus says, “…when you fast…” He also says, “…when you give…” and “…when you pray…”

Fasting serves to challenge our dependence on physical passions that can become more important to us than God.

Giving serves to challenge our longing for and pursuit of things we don’t yet have but think we need even more than we need God.

Praying serves to remind us that life is not our story but God’s and encourages us to depend on Him rather than ourselves.

So during this period leading up to Easter I’m continually asking God three questions:

  • Lord, what would You have me give up?
  • Lord, what would You have me to give away?
  • Lord, what or who would You have me to pray for?

Perhaps most important in all of this is the motivation. I’m not doing any of this to secure God’s favor or love. Those have already been lavished on us through Christ Jesus. What God wants, what He created and redeemed us for, is greater intimacy with us.

I’m wrestling with all of this because I’m captivated by His love for me and I want to draw closer to Him.

Will you join me?

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P.S. – I’d enjoy hearing about your plans for the season of Lent or any discoveries you make along the way.

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

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Lent, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Tagging along with the Spirit’s movement

SoulTalk“My job is to follow the Spirit’s movement, never to try to move people on my own.  I am to desire the Spirit’s goal for my troubled friends: not a better marriage, but an aroused appetite for God that could lead to a better marriage.  I am to wait for the Spirit to move and then tag along, to walk through doors he opens into their souls, not to insist they see something now and change.”
~ Larry Crabb, Soul Talk

I’ve been stuck on a phrase from Romans 8:4 for quite some time now. Paul is addressing our need to learn to walk in the Spirit and says, “instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.” (The Message)

Not only do I long for a deeper experience of embracing what the Spirit is doing in me but also what He is doing in the lives of those around me and how I can be a part of their journey – not to fix them but to help awaken in them a deeper longing for God.

question mark orangeWhat is the biggest challenge for you in “tagging along” with the Spirit’s movement?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Friendship, God, Holy Spirit, Loving God, Loving others, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

You have nothing until…

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)

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

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Filed under Christianity, Eternal Life, God the Father, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Love Like Jesus

At the core of God’s identity is a community; an intimate fellowship. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father; and out of that embrace of love comes the Holy Spirit as the breath of life.

The image of God as a Triune God or the Trinity is not something we can completely wrap our heads around, but it does give us the primary context in which to journey with God and others. And that context is relational!

So when Jesus is questioned about what commandment is most important He responds with love God and love others. (Matthew 22)

Elsewhere, Jesus said:

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34

But what does it really look like to love like Jesus?

To love like Jesus is to actively participate in what is best for another person even at great personal sacrifice and even when they don’t deserve it.

We understand the part about actively participate. And we understand personal sacrifice as a part of it. But loving others when they don’t deserve it causes us some struggle.

And yet, that’s how Jesus loves. Listen to how Paul states it in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome.

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. ~ Romans 5:6-8 (MSG)

We might be able to think of a few people – likely family members or close friends – that we would love like this but that’s not really the point. To love like Jesus is to love everyone this way.

As we come to “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) we will be transformed and empowered to love like Jesus.

Is there a better way to influence the world and advance God’s kingdom purpose of inviting others into the dance of the Trinity?

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

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Evangelism, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Trinity