Tag Archives: Mercy

“These things happen.”

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. ~ Romans 7:19-20

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17

brennan_manningI’ve been asked a certain question countless times over the course of my ministry. Sometimes it has been asked with genuine sincerity; other times it was a loaded pharisaical grenade: “Brennan, how could you relapse into alcoholism after your Abba encounters?” Here is the response I gave in The Ragamuffin Gospel in 1990: It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus. Because the Christ-encounter did not transfigure me into an angel. Because justification by grace through faith means I have been set in a right relationship with God, not made the equivalent of a patient etherized on a table.

Twenty-one years later I stand by what I wrote; those words are as true for me now as they were then and on the day of my mother’s funeral. That paragraph from Ragamuffin Gospel spoke to many people; they’ve told me so time after time. I must admit though that from where I sit today the paragraph is a bit much, a little wordy. I believe I can now whittle the lines down to a three word response that incorporates all the truth of a verbose 1990 ragamuffin into a 2011 ragamuffin’s preference for brevity. Question: “Brennan, how could you relapse into alcoholism after your Abba encounters?” Answer: “These things happen.”
~ From All Is Grace by Brennan Manning

Dear Abba,
These things happen. They really do. And while I grieve them and You know I do, I also know deep within that these things are some of the very things that have brought me to my prodigal senses and sent me running back to You, back to my Father, back home. So I don’t thank You for these things but I do thank You for this grace that is greater than the sum of my sins; this mercy that knows my good-for-nothing name and still believes in me; and this tenderness that I’ve done nothing to deserve but loves me anyway. ~ From Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayer by Brennan Manning

Thank you Brennan for being so real. Thank you Abba for mercy and grace.

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

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Filed under Brennan Manning, Brokenness, Christianity, God, God the Father, Grace, Love of God, Mercy, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation

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.

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

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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

Come Holy Spirit… clear the air

It’s hard to imagine the force of wind that Hurricane Sandy unleashed on the East Coast of the United States. 

From what I read, winds hit nearly 100 mph and affected regions of the country hundreds of miles inland. Even here in Indiana we had winds in the 25-30 mph range with gusts up to 50.

Add flood waters and rain/snow to the mix and the damaging effects to the East Coast are massive! Last I heard some 8 1/2 million people were without electricity.

As I prayed for these folks yesterday a different kind of wind came to mind; the one Paul describes in Romans 8 when he speaks of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in chapter 7 about his struggle, and failure, against sin. He comes to the end of his rope and wonders who can save him.

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1-2 (The Message)

As devastating as a storm like Hurricane Sandy can be, the ravages of sin on the soul are eternally worse. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell among us to bring new life.

Anyone else tired of struggling against the flesh with its selfish desires?

Anyone else ready for a fresh wind from God to clear the air?

Anyone  else at the end of their rope and ready to cry out to God for mercy?

Come Holy Spirit and be welcome in my heart and my life. Do for me what I can’t do for myself; help me to be more obsessed with God than anything or anyone else in this life.

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Freedom, Holy Spirit, Mercy, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Surrender

As quickly as God…

“Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly
as God in Christ forgave you.”

~ Ephesians 4:32 (MSG)

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Conflict, CS Lewis, Forgiveness, God, Grace, Loving others, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality

How to Tell 50 Juvenile Sex Offenders About Jesus

What follows is a blog post by Caleb Wilde
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Sin is cyclical…

I will never forget the first time a group of us gave a chapel service to about 50 juvenile sex offenders. They were a crew of 14 to 19 year olds from all over the East Coast who had been charged with a serious sex crime.

For teens, a “serious sex crime” is often limited to:

  • child molestation
  • sexual assault of a child or minor
  • rape.

I was given the opportunity to share with them for about 15 minutes. And although I knew going into this chapel service I was going to be the main speaker, I didn’t want to prepare a message full of statements.

Being that it was a smaller group that could respond to me while I spoke, I instead prepared a message full of questions.

The first question I asked was this: “How many of you have been seriously hurt by others in your lives?” They all raised their hands.

The assumption with children and teenagers—especially these kids—is that they were first victims. Victims who became victimizers.

Most of us follow the same process. When we are hurt, we react in retaliation.

Then I asked them, “How many of you have wanted to hurt others in the same way you’ve been hurt?”

Same response. Some of them blurted out, “I want to hurt them worse.”

Most of us react proportionally to the seriousness of our pain. If someone cuts us off while we’re driving, we might flip a finger or shout something out. On a more serious level, if somebody abuses us physically, we may try to abuse others or, possibly, abuse ourselves through substances. The sad thing for these kids we visited was that many of them were in juvie for the sins of somebody else. Yes, they’re still guilty of their crimes, but they were first victims.

They had been raped.

They had been sexually molested.

They had been sexual assaulted.

They had been the victim of a crime they didn’t have the power to stop. They had been overpowered and exploited.

As I was closing, I asked them, “If you had the power to hurt those who hurt you, what would you do?

They all replied they’d inflict all the pain they could. And their story is the story of the world. A story of abuse, exploitation, reaction, and retaliation. A story of war, of hatred, of tribalism, of divorce, of revenge.

Speaking to these 50 juvenile sex offenders, I was speaking to the story of humanity.

A story that has been slowly changing toward redemption through the introduction of a new narrative.

Jesus came to this Earth with all the potential power he wanted. He healed the sick, raised the dead, touched the untouchable, and healed the souls of the broken. He never used his might for evil. Even his enemies said he was innocent. Yet, he was outcast, beaten, spit on, possibly raped (it was acceptable for soldiers to rape criminals), and eventually killed at the request of those he loved.

He could have—maybe even should have—destroyed his enemies.

He had the power to, but he didn’t. I explained to these kids that the only innocent person who ever walked the Earth was abused to the point of death, but instead of reacting in retaliation, he forgave and redeemed.

These kids were fixated by the message. It wasn’t my message; it was a new perspective, a new story, a different option that began to melt the coldness of their hearts, just like it has millions of others throughout history, including my own.

Sin is cyclical…but so is love. With one act of grace, a new narrative has been born…again and again.

Caleb is a sixth generation funeral director. He has a graduate degree in Missional Theology. He blogs at http://www.calebwilde.com You can connect with him on Twitter or facebook.

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Filed under Brokenness, Forgiveness, Grace, Healing, influence with the world, Jesus, Love of God, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Sin

Man arrested… for not leaving jail!

Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

Rodney Dwayne Valentine had just been granted his freedom from the Rockingham County jail in northern North Carolina on a recent Saturday morning. But when Valentine refused to leave the prison, police arrested him for trespassing and sent him back to his cell.

According to The News & Record of Greensboro, the 37 year 0ld Valentine reportedly refused to leave the jail site, after authorities declined his request for a ride to a local motel. He had been in prison since May 22 on a charge of damage to personal property.

Officers reportedly suggested that Valentine simply take a cab to the hotel, but he allegedly refused. When he still hadn’t left the premises that afternoon, Deputies charged Valentine with second-degree trespassing.

And now, Valentine is being held on a $500 bond while he awaits a scheduled court appearance on August 9.

Have you every heard anything so ridiculous?

I have!

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable about a servant forgiven a debt he could not possibly hope to repay, who then goes out and demands a few dollars back from a fellow servant.

When the forgiving king hears of this he brings the first man back and reprimands him for not extending the grace he himself had received.

All to often, we are that first man. God has lavished us with immeasurable grace. Yet we tend not to be as lavish in extending it towards others.

For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love  serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Forgiveness, Grace, influence with the world, Loving others, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

A God of mercy?

What follows is a personal account from someone in the theatre in Aurora, CO where a gunman openned fire two days ago.

So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.

Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie

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Please join me in continuing to pray for all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Thanks, Rick

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Grace, Grief, Healing, Heaven, Hope, influence with the world, Mercy, Peace, Praise, Prayer, Suffering

Grace Over Fairness

In order to untangle us from the web we had spun for ourselves, God had to do something very unfair. He had to send his son to this earth to die for sins he didn’t commit.

Is Christianity fair? It is certainly not fair to God.

Christians believe that God sent his son to die for your sins and mine. Fairness would demand that we die for our own sins. But the good news is that God opted for grace and mercy over fairness. Excerpted from How Good is Good Enough? ~Andy Stanley

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man [Adam], how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life   through the one man, Jesus Christ!” ~ Romans 5:17 (NIV)

As a new day and a new week begins, I am grateful for God’s lavish grace! May we be overwhelmed by it today!

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

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Filed under Christianity, God, Grace, Jesus, Love of God, Mercy, Thankfulness

Mercy and grace to spare!

One of my favorite passages!

May you be overwhelmed today by God’s lavish mercy and grace!

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

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Filed under Christianity, Grace, Kingdom of God, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Trusting God

Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is…

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

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Filed under Christianity, Grace, Hope, Jesus, Mercy, Peace, Truth