Tag Archives: Morphing

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

4 Comments

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

3 Comments

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

4 Comments

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

Are we being real?

Look at the blue building in the picture below. Notice anything different about it? For starters, it’s not real. Disney is busy reconstructing the location so they put an elaborate canvas over the area so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

I can appreciate that. Disney is working hard to create a whole different environment for you to experience and they don’t want this construction zone to distract from the atmosphere of the Magic Kingdom they are working hard to provide.

At Disney World, this is awesome!

At church, this is lethal!

Each of us is an unfinished work of art being reshaped and recrafted by our Maker until the day we go to be with Him. But doing life as a community of believers is part of the process.

When we cover it all up we are protecting ourselves from being judged or ridiculed; which unfortunately sometimes happens. But we also make it impossible for God to use other believers as part of the process of reshaping our lives to reflect the life of Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we come to church tossing all our dirty laundry around. No one likes to be covered in someone else’s smelly stuff. But I am suggesting that we drop our mask of pretending that everything is OK and just fine.

Church should be the one place where we can experience a lavish abundance of God’s grace so that He can do whatever reshaping needs to be done.

As you gather this weekend, pray for your church family. Then leave your mask at home and go wearing the grace of God that you want others to share in. Lets…

Be the church and be real!

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

4 Comments

Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Church, God, Grace, involvement with the church, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

We did not get where we are on our own

Yesterday I blogged about our family packing up last week for a vacation to Florida. Our primary reason for going down was to see our oldest son who is working at Disney World as part of a college internship.

We spent three days at Disney theme parks, then a fourth day at Cocoa Beach and Downtown Disney (shopping stores outside the theme parks).

There were a few things that stuck out to me right away as good material for a blog post but I decided to ignore them and just enjoy being with my family.

It’s easy to get preoccupied and lose the moment. I’ve done that before with taking pictures or video. You get so focused on capturing the next pose that you forget to enjoy simply being with your family and taking it all in.

So I did a week of blogs before we left for Florida and just took time daily to respond to comments.

Then on the last day Susan mentioned that a certain event would make a good blog post and that I should blog about our trip. So I took a few minutes to jot down some ideas and then promptly put them aside.

Now that we’re home I want to do some blogs about our time in Florida because trips are a great source of new stories and it will be a great way to remember special moments of our trip.

My first observation is that we had help getting to Florida.

Of our four vehicles the newest is 15-years-old and our van, the vehicle we would use for such a trip, is 20-years-old. Since we don’t have a vehicle we trust to go that far (1000 miles) and we couldn’t afford to fly, we borrowed my father-in-law’s Honda van (pictured above).

As we soaked up all the sun and fun of being in Florida we were keenly aware that we did not get where we are on our own. And the same is true in our journey with God.

Stop and reflect for a moment on where you actually are in your journey and who has played or is playing a significant part. The older you are the longer the list will be.

Some encourage. Some comfort. Some teach. Some push. Some pray. Some challenge. Some inspire. All play a part in our journey.

We did not get where we are on our own!

Sharing the journey is not an optional pleasantry, but an essential necessity. It’s a God-designed part of our journey toward maturity in Christ.

Who has played a part in your journey? How can you thank them? How can you pray for them? What are you  waiting for?
***

P.S. – Thanks for the use of your van Dad Howard!

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Family, Fellowship, God, Gratitude, Loving others, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Investing in people, growing as a faith community

I don’t know how it works everywhere around the globe, but here in the American midwest the seasons of the year are noticeably different. This plays a major role in the process of growing a garden.

Well-groomed gardens require different activities according to the season, and those activities occur daily.

This very same principle of ongoing growth is also very evident and necessary in any faith community in which God is actively working to grow and change lives.

So we must continue to invest in the people around us, serving them, receiving from them, and letting God use those experiences to grow us into communities that create results and change lives for the better. We must recognize that significance occurs within the day-in, day-out process of interacting with others.

Just as we make changes in our gardens according to the seasons of the year, so we must adapt to changes within our communities as they struggle, grow, get pruned, grow some more, and flourish. When the harsh circumstances of winter come, for instance, we must huddle together (like the penguins!) in order to sustain one another.

When the spring and summer months provide us the opportunities, we must share in the work of planting and nourishing. And when it’s time for the harvest, we must be willing to serve and celebrate all that God has done and is doing.
~ Excerpted from A Significant Life by Jim Graff

Before we just assume that this is happening within the faith community we are a part of, let me pose a few questions to consider:

Do you see evidence of God working to grow people in your church family?

What season of the growth cycle is your faith community experiencing?

In what ways are you involved with others in sharing the journey of following hard after Jesus?

Are you praying for your church family, inviting God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others?

In what ways are you personally investing in the lives of others to encourage their growth in Christ?

Are you surrendered to what God is wanting to do in and through you?

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

6 Comments

Filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Serving, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender

Self-made obstacles are the worst!

A few weeks back I blogged about my accidental discovery and enjoyment of the show Restaurant Impossible. In just 48 hours Robert Irvine completely renovates restaurants that are about to go belly up. More than just change, he brings hope.

On a recent episode the owner was a gal who was unbelievably stubborn! She epitomized the phrase, “My way or the highway.” But that wasn’t her only issue.

Her harsh style with others left the staff either afraid of her or disengaged. She even argued with paying customers when they didn’t like a particular food dish.

Even her own son who tended bar for her spoke up about her harsh demeanor. But she was stubborn and unwilling to change… at first.

Then Robert Irvine got really tough with her. It was definitely a case of tough love and she needed it. Once she finally broke and took ownership of her issue then real change began and the transformation was astounding.

I’m sure glad I don’t wrestle with being stubborn! (I said to myself so my family wouldn’t object!)

I may not get as harsh with people but I’m every bit as stubborn. And let’s be honest, so are you!

We all have our own ways of thinking or wanting something done. And because it’s our way it’s the right way, so why change?

Because God is Master renovator and He has big plans for us!

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” ~ Romans 8:29-30 (The Message)

It’s amazing to me that folks with a failing restaurant will invite Robert Irvine to come help them and yet be so resistant to change. How can they ignore his experience and track record?

How can we do that very same thing with God when it comes to the life-changing transformation He intends to accomplish in each of us?

Our ever-changing lives are a testimony to the grace and glory of God. It draws the attention of others to God. Our unchanging lives are a testimony to our stubbornness; and God is nowhere to be found.

Which testimony will we put on display today?

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Brokenness, Discipleship, Glory of God, God, Grace, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender