Tag Archives: Morphing

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

An unnecessary pain in the butt!

“If I’m on mission for God and sold-out to serving Him, then He will remove anyone in opposition to me and make the journey smooth.”

I wish this were true because I hate conflict and turbulence of any shape, size or kind. But it’s not!

The older I get the more I recognize that those people who have been a source of friction for me have played an important role in shaping my journey with God.

Facing opposition has pushed me to trust God more, develop a more Christ-like character and served to sharpen my focus in regard to how God wants to use me for His kingdom purposes.

I have some important news for you: to fulfill your purpose and stay true to your calling, you’ll need to understand the reason for enemies. If you do that, then when they rise up against you, you will quickly recognize what’s happening.

The truth is, it’s not really them—it’s the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is using them to try to sabotage and abort your future.

As I was determining how to respond to the enemies coming against me from all sides, I found one scripture that I hung on to like a drowning man grasping a piece of wood: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

What this means is that all our afflictions or problems in life, no matter how horrible they seem, are not a big deal compared to the payoff for facing and enduring them. And the results for us in heaven will be great and eternal.
~ Excerpted from The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter, Jr.

Even Jesus, the very Son of God, endured conflict from others in every arena of life. The author of the Hebrew letter writes:

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. ~ Hebrews 5:8 (NASB)

From our Lower Story perspective conflict seems like an unnecessary pain in the butt! From God’s Upper Story perspective it can be a way of growing us and leading us to fulfill His kingdom objective.

All that we endure here and now will seem like a vapor compared to the “weight of glory” that will be ours when we stand face-to-face with our Lord!

***
If you’re following along in The Story then read chapter(s) 9 for this week. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

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

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Filed under Conflict, God's Will, Kingdom of God, Morphing, The Story, Trusting God

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!”

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

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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

The value of discomfort

I recently read about a long-distance runner named Dean Karnazes. Check out his list of accomplishments:

  • He ran fifty marathons in fifty states on fifty consecutive days.
  • He once ran 350 miles in three days—without stopping and with no sleep.
  • He’s run the Badwater Ultramarathon seven times. It starts in Death Valley, 250 feet below sea level and concludes, 135 miles later, halfway up Mt. Whitney, at 8,360 feet. He won the race in 2004 on his fifth attempt.
  • He runs 100 to 170 miles a week.
  • He couldn’t find time to run 4–6 hours a day, so he began sleeping less. He currently only sleeps four hours a night.
  • His resting heart rate is 39 beats per minute!

Can you begin to fathom the kind of energy and effort and discipline it requires to accomplish such phenomenal physical feats?! It truly staggers the imagination!

In another interview in Outside magazine, Dean offers a unique perspective that many of us have forgotten:

Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.

I believe that in every area of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, vocational - God desires to stretch us and grow us. He longs to bring the real us out because each of us is His gift to the world. We each have a role to play in furthering His kingdom plans here on earth.

Are we settling for comfort or giving ourselves to be stretched and used for His glory?

***

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Filed under Choices, Determination, Glory of God, Health & Wellness, Inspiration, Morphing

It’s not my fault!

Last week I came across a blog written by a late twenty-something male from another country (not the USA). One of his statements caught my attention like the last chocolate chip cookie on a plate of crumbs.

It seemed very obviously flawed, but perhaps I was missing something. To be safe I ran it past my wife Susan – she saw it too.

Later, at the dinner table, I tossed it out to get a response from my kids. We’re talking twin 17-year-old girls and two guys; 15 years old and almost 12 years old. Yep! They saw it too! Here it is…

“I believe in destiny. If I fail, it’s because of destiny only. If I succeed, it’s because of my own efforts only.”

Go ahead, read it again. Notice anything peculiar?

Destiny, however that might be defined, is to blame for failure but success is due to personal effort alone! I.e. – I’m not to blame if it goes wrong, but I get the credit if it goes right! No responsibility, no blame, no guilt… no problem!

ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!

Certainly there are events and circumstances in life beyond our control, but to use something or someone else as the excuse for our failings is sad on many, many levels. But it’s not new!

When confronted with his sin Adam pointed to Eve and told God, “That woman you gave me…” Eve followed suit and said, “The serpent deceived me…”

Many years ago a newspaper in England ran a question for the public to consider - “What is wrong with the world?”

G.K. Chesterton, a well-known Christian, replied with a letter to the editor that read, “I am.”

Until we admit our sin and brokenness, God’s grace will be powerless to transform us. And if we don’t change, how can the world change?

May God’s grace empower us to own our own shortcomings!

***

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Filed under Accountability, Brokenness, Grace, Guilt, influence with the world, Morphing, Sin

Untapped potential

We are captivated by stories of normal people coming to possess super-human abilities. A skinny nerd is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spiderman. A mild-mannered scientist is exposed to gamma radiation and becomes the Hulk.

But that’s the stuff of bed-time stories right?

Maybe… maybe not!

As a Christian, you’ve been genetically engineered to transform into someone more spectacular than Spiderman and more incredible than the Incredible Hulk. You have been granted the opportunity to develop the very nature and character of Jesus! Within you lies the potential to

  • think the thoughts of Jesus
  • possess the inner peace of Jesus
  • enjoy the freedom from material concerns that Jesus enjoyed
  • experience the connection with God’s that Jesus experienced
  • respond to mistreatment as Jesus responded
  • receive the praise from God that Jesus continues to receive
  • love as Jesus loved

Spiritual transformation is about ordinary people like you and me discovering that we can live extraordinary lives.

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)

When we give ourselves to be transformed by God’s Spirit we will learn to do life differently, like Jesus! And as that happens, people will be drawn to know more about God! Don’t settle for less than what God intends and provides! Remember, we all have…

…untapped potential!

***

To learn more about participating with God in the process of transformation click the Morphing tab above!

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Filed under Discipleship, influence with the world, Morphing, Surrender

How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

We can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul.

Really? Stifle spiritual growth and destroy the soul? That’s the observation made by Richard Foster in Life with God. He points out that the root problem has to do with two common objectives people have for studying the Bible.

The first issue is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. There is much that we can learn from the Bible and learning is a vital part of growing. But knowledge alone tends to make us arrogant.

The second issue is that people often study the Bible to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. When we go looking for simple formulas we greatly increase the risk of taking Scripture out of context and this can lead to some unhealthy conclusions.

The real danger in these two common ways of approaching the Bible is that they leave us or someone else in charge. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than submitting to the process of transformation that Scripture can accomplish in us. When we approach the Bible from the perspective of whole-life discipleship to Jesus, amazing changes can take place in us.

So how do we approach Scripture in a way that promotes real life change?

READ with an open, focused mind and a surrendered heart. Ask God to help you understand the context (big picture) of what you’re reading and the author’s original intentions.

REFLECT on what you’re reading. Pause to reread portions of it and let it soak in. If something really speaks to your heart highlight it or make a note. If something raises a question jot it down to explore later.

RESPOND to what you’ve read. Is there an action to take or an attitude to adjust? Is there a sin to confess or a praise to offer God? Prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to continue speaking to you from what you’ve read.

Use a small notebook to record your daily reading, reflecting and responding. This is a great way to review your journey with God through Scripture and can be an encouragement when times get tough.

***

If you’re sharing our journey through The Story then read chapter one in it and The Heart of the Story. If you’re just hearing about The Story and want to know more click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Bible, Holy Spirit, Morphing, Prayer, Reflection, Scripture, Surrender, The Story