Tag Archives: Morphing

Enough Already God

A piece of art, in any form, is crafted and put on display to reflect the artist’s creativity and skill; to reflect a virtue or beauty envisioned by the artist. According to the Apostle Paul, we are God’s piece of art.

poiema-logo

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10

The word for “workmanship” in the Greek is poiema and can be translated: achievement, work of art, masterpiece. The more passionate an artist is about a particular piece of art the more they will labor to reshape it and mold it giving it their utmost attention.

C.S. Lewis put it this way…

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the “intolerable compliment.” Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life — the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child — he will take endless trouble — and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient [alive and conscious of its feelings]. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.
~
 C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Most of the time I really do want to be shaped and molded according to God’s intended design. I know that sin has marred and twisted not only my true identity in Christ but also my capacity to reflect the glory of God. But when that process gets uncomfortable or downright painful my heart cries, “Enough already God!”

But God’s love for us will not allow Him to stop working to reshape us into the person He made us to be. And to balk at His work in us is to want less of His love.

Grant us grace God that we might give ourselves wholeheartedly to the work of the Holy Spirit as He transforms us into your poiema!

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

 

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Filed under Christianity, CS Lewis, Discipleship, Glory of God, God, Holy Spirit, Love of God, Morphing, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Place it before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
~ Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

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May we give ourselves fully to God this day and the process of transformation He longs to accomplish in each of us!

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Discipleship, God, God's Will, Morphing, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Taking God’s gift for granted.

RhythmsGraceEver given a gift to someone and had it brushed aside like it was nothing special?

I don’t mean the obligatory, exchange-a-name-and-keep-it-under-$10-gift; but one that was carefully and thoughtfully chosen for someone very special.

Ever have one of those gifts taken for granted?

It’s no fun. In fact, it’s downright painful.

But that’s exactly what I’ve done to God.

Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. ~ Ephesians 4:30 (The Message)

The Holy Spirit living and moving in us to make us fit for a relationship with God – whole and holy – is the most precious and costly gift we could ever receive.

The Spirit takes up residence in us in order to draw our attention to Jesus. All of His divine resources are unleashed in an effort to transform us from the inside out so that we have the character of Christ.

But are we participating in the process?

It’s like getting dance lessons from Fred Astaire, but insisting on taking the lead.

… or business advice from Bill Gates, but ignoring his counsel.

… or voice lessons from Celine Dion, but singing in whatever way we want.

I don’t know what this new year will hold in terms of obstacles or opportunities. I don’t have an inside track on God’s kingdom agenda or what role He wants me to play.

But I do know that I can surrender myself more completely to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I can give myself more completely to His mysterious work of transformation.

I can learn to dance in God’s unforced rhythms of grace.

Will you join me?

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Discipleship, God, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Morphing, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

He kicked my butt!

A few weeks ago I spent a week at a retreat center near Asheville, North Carolina. It was a School of Spiritual Direction with Dr. Larry Crabb.

The schedule was designed to include evening sessions but did allow for a three-hour gap in the afternoon. So on that first afternoon I located a map of trails and headed out.

The longest trail was just three miles long and promised a nice view from a higher elevation. My thought process went something like this:

“I’ve just lost 40 pounds and have been bike riding with my wife for nearly four months now. We’re up to 18 miles a ride and this past week I did a solo ride of 27 miles – my longest to date. It’s only a three-mile hike. No problem.”

To say that I misjudged the effect of elevation on a three-mile hike would be a gross understatement.

It kicked my butt!

About 2 1/2 hours later I dragged myself back to my room and quickly showered for supper. For three days my thigh muscles SCREAMED at me every time I moved.

The same thing happened spiritually with all that took place that week as our group of 31 people explored the nature of our journey with God.

I was captivated by God as the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – existing in perfect, loving community. And I welcomed the invitation to journey further into the fellowship enjoyed by the Trinity.

But the price of admission is a humble and broken spirit. On several occasions the Holy Spirit brought me face-to-face with some of my “false gods” and sinful relational patterns. He kicked my butt – spiritually speaking!

That portion of the journey was brutally painful. And to be honest, I was ready to cut and run more than once.

But the corresponding freedom that came as a result of being embraced by what the Spirit was doing in me was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

The Holy Spirit didn’t confront me with my sin in order to beat me up or heap on guilt and shame. He did it – does it daily – so that I’ll come to the end of my own efforts and more fully rely on His work in me.

This is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 7 and 8. In chapter 7 Paul is totally frustrated with his struggle against the fleshly, sinful nature and wonders who can help him. Then in chapter 8 he’s celebrating the Spirit’s work in us.

5-6 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead-end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. ~ Romans 8 (The Message)

My relationship with God – Father, Son and Spirit – has been very different these last few weeks. And relating to family and friends has been very different as well – more open and healthy; more God-focused.

I believe I’m getting a taste of the real life Jesus came to make possible. And reflecting more of God’s relational glory in the process.

No offense intended, but I hope we all get our butts kicked today by the Holy Spirit!

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

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Christianity, Discipleship, Divine presence, Fellowship, Glory of God, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Humility, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Joy, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Morphing, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Trinity, Trusting God

Making Room for God

To make room for the new thing God wants to do inside of you, old things must go. It’s hard for God to bring about something new within us if we’re still crowded inside with old stuff. When we aren’t seeing more of God’s power, more of God’s breakthroughs, more of God’s presence, more of God’s dynamite, it’s simply because we’re too full of something else for God to fill us.
~ Excerpted from Dry Bones Dancing by Tony Evans

It’s a new day and a new week.

If God decides to do something new in us, will there be room?

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, God, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Are we expecting Jesus to make a difference in our life?

A couple of weeks ago a friend blogged about the event in Luke 8 where a woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus’ garment while He was passing by and was immediately healed. It’s an excellent blog post and you can read it here.

As I reflected on what Ali had written about that incident and how it impacted her own journey with God, it got me thinking about another aspect of that same story.

Jesus knew that He had been touched and stopped to ask who had done it. When no one spoke up, Peter said “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” ~ Luke 8:45

In other words, “Come on Jesus, this sort of thing happens in a crowd. What’s the big deal?”

And Peter was right. Think about it. It’s impossible to move through a crowd and not bump into or brush against those around you. There were likely multiple people making contact with Jesus as He moved through the crowd.

So why did this one woman experience healing?

Look at how Jesus responds to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” ~ Luke 8:48

This woman had faith. She believed that touching Jesus’ garment would make a difference in her life. She was expecting something to happen as a result of reaching out to encounter Jesus.

And notice where this takes place. It’s in the midst of a crowd walking by. It was an ordinary moment that was part of an ordinary day.

  • No special location…
  • No special occasion…
  • No special music…
  • No special wardrobe…
  • No special surroundings…
  • No special ANYTHING!

What made this ordinary moment somehow extraordinary was the divine presence of Jesus and the expectation of one woman who believed that He could make a difference in her life.

Today is just today. But it is ripe with the presence of Jesus everywhere if we will choose to recognize Him.

Are we drawing close to Jesus? Are we expecting Him to make a difference in our life?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Desire, Divine presence, Faith, Healing, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God

Genuine Worship

Worship is our greatest privilege, the highest thing we can do.

In genuine spiritual worship, we bow before the Most High God, the most merciful and reliable and winsome of all beings, and we crown Him as Lord of all that we are. We consent to His gracious, transforming work; we agree that He can work in us so that we’ll be willing and able to do His will. In other words, we choose to let Him be God in our lives.

Worship includes yielding to God as our Lord and Master. We see this in Romans 12:1, where God asks us to offer Him our bodies, our lives, our entire person. This, He says, is true worship.
~ Excerpted from Treasury of Praise by Ruth Myers

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

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Filed under God, God's Will, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Worship

Our need for honest feedback

The Last Czar is a biography about the life of Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia. While his generals were brutally suppressing dissent, they told him civil unrest was the result of foreign influence and assured him his own people loved him.

The Czar didn’t have any other source of information so was completely unaware that his generals were not being truthful with him. Not a good position to be in.

When the Communists took over, he was caught by surprise and forced to abdicate. Sadly, the Bolsheviks eventually executed him and his entire family. It is a sad and tragic story.

Few of us are czars, but the same lack of honest feedback can be devastating. We need truth tellers around us in two critical areas.

The first area is horizontal and pertains to our relationships with people. We fill the role of friend, spouse, son or daughter, parent, employee or boss, coach or teammate.

The second area is vertical and pertains to our relationship with God. Our core identity is that of being a child of our Creator; embracing a new identity in Christ.

Maybe it’s because I hit 50 last year or maybe it’s because I have two grown sons living far from home, but I’ve been reflecting more and more on what got my attention in the last 30 years. Relationships are what make our lives rich and we all need feedback to make them as strong as possible.

The area of our relationship with God is perhaps even more critical. All of us live with a gap between what we profess or live outwardly and what is really going on in our heart. For some, this gap is small but for others the gap is rather large.

The danger is that this largely invisible gap is easy to conceal because we tend to focus on managing our external behavior with a highly trained filter. Dress nice, smile and be nice around church friends, drop some money in the offering plate and help out occasionally.

All those things are good but they don’t always accurately reflect what is going on beneath the surface. We need traveling companions who will ask us the hard questions and give us honest feedback.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

God’s design to make us more like Jesus happens best when we journey together and engage in honest feedback.

Who are your traveling companions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Authenticity, Children of God, Courage, Discipleship, Fellowship, Friendship, God, God's Will, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Truth

Embracing our new birthright

We really are more than what meets the eye!

“The word natural is a comfortable word. We can manage it. But supernatural? How do we manage that? Do we actually “not belong to the world” in the same way as Jesus did not belong? That’s what he said. Then how are we to understand those obsessive “earthy” feelings we all have?”

“God tells us we are alive in a way we have never been alive before, possessing a birthright we never possessed before. In that moment when we received Christ, God’s miraculous “birthing” act gave us a value, a beauty, a preciousness that lifts us above all earthy measurements.”

“He encourages us to look deep within at his workmanship and make that unexpected discovery of passion for him and a holiness that will set us free to be ourselves—free to live and to love. He invites us to believe the unbelievable about the miracles he has performed in us that enable us to say enthusiastically “Yes!” to him and “Yes” to life, while at the same time saying “Yes” to who we most deeply are.”
~ Excerpted from Birthright by David C. Needham

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children of God, Christianity, God, Morphing, Spiritual formation

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

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