Tag Archives: Richard Alvey

Like a kid on Christmas morning!

John and I about a year ago.

My friend John has a relationship with God that I greatly admire because he always seems to be in step with and enthused about what God is doing.

Recently we had the chance to spend the better part of a day together and I asked John how he was able to stay in step with what the Holy Spirit is doing? His answer amazed me.

“I wake up every day like a kid on Christmas morning. I just know that God is up to something and I’m excited to see what my part in it will be.”

How cool is that!

God is always up to something. The Holy Spirit is moving and active as He works in us and through us to accomplish the Father’s will.

God could get things done without us but gives us the privilege of being part of His ongoing, unfolding story.

It’s a new day and a new week.

I wonder what God is up to today and what part He’ll want us to play?

***

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

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, God, God's Will, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Loving others, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

The Coffee is Brewing

Jesus did not endure his days on earth out of a sense of obligation. His life was characterized by joy and energy; it was spent in relationship with others. Today, too many Christians line up to follow God out of duty or guilt, or even hoping to win a ticket to heaven. They completely miss the warmth and richness of the experience of living with God. They fail to pick up the aroma of what God is doing in their part of town.

Here’s the truth: God has set up shop where you live. The doors are open and the coffee is brewing. God is serving the refreshing antidote to the conventional, unsatisfying, arms-length spiritual life—and God invites you in. God won’t make you stand in line.

~ Excerpted from The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet

Pull up a seat, pour a cup of coffee and enjoy a few moments with God. He managed to handle the details of life before we were born and He’ll handle them long after we are gone. Give yourself to what you were created for – intimacy with the Lord.

Then head back into your activities with the awareness that you are not alone.

***

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

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Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

***

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

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God

Obedience to biblical principles can be wrong?

It’s a surprising thought, and not a little disturbing, that obedience to biblical principles can be wrong. But when doing right is a strategy to get what we want, our energy is pride and our focus is self. ~ Larry Crabb in The Pressure’s Off

Think about it.

We live in a world absorbed with linear thinking. If I do A then I get B as a result. It’s simple cause and effect.

If I want to enjoy dessert then I must eat my vegetables or clear my plate.

If I want to avoid another spanking then I will pick up my toys.

If I wear the right clothes or am a standout athlete then I’ll be popular in school.

If I dress and look and talk a certain way then I’ll get the guy/girl I want to go out with me.

If I get good grades in school then I’ll have a better chance at a good career.

Linear thinking – cause and effect – has its place, but not in relationships. When we apply this principle to getting what we want from people we are manipulating them. And regardless of the outcome… it’s wrong!

This same thought process is especially dangerous in our relationship with God.

“If I read my bible regularly and pray and tithe and volunteer and ________ (fill in the blank), then God will (must) bless me with the good things of life.”

Really? Where is that written?

But I’ve been faithful to You God, why…
… did my spouse leave me?”
… is my kid rebelling?”
… are we struggling with finances?”
… are we experiencing a health crisis?”

It’s not always obvious but it’s often there just below the surface; this notion that God owes us certain blessings.

I don’t think that Jesus is opposed to such blessings in our lives, but when we seek those blessings from God more than we seek God Himself then we are committing idolatry.

And following biblical principles in order to secure blessings from God is a cheap attempt to manipulate and control God.

Jesus said that real life is being in relationship with the Father. This is what eternity in heaven is all about but it starts right here and now.

Forgives us Lord and stir our passions for wanting You more than anything or anyone else in life.

***

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

7 Comments

Filed under Bible, Choices, Christianity, Desire, Eternity, God, Heaven, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture

God… where are you?

Why would he need to reassure them of God’s presence?

One of my favorite passages is Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

This passage has brought me comfort time and time again, especially the notion that God delights in us and quiets us with His love.

But last week as I was once again reflecting on it something new came to mind.

Why would the prophet need to reassure them of God’s presence?

For whatever reason they were not experiencing a sense of God being with them.

Ever been there? Ever wondered where God had gone and why He seemed to leave you when you most needed Him? I have.

Why would God not make His ongoing presence very obvious? Why does He allow us times of feeling abandoned? Larry Crabb offers this insight:

God’s restraint has a purpose. When He appears to be doing nothing, He is doing something we’ve not yet learned to value and therefore cannot see. Only in the agony of His absence, both in the real absence of certain blessings and in the felt absence of His Presence, will we relax our determined grasp of our empty selves enough to appreciate His purposes. ~ From Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Ever go to meet up with someone and end up alone because you misunderstood the agreed upon destination?

When we expect God to show up in a certain way and He doesn’t, it can feel as if He’s abandoned us when in reality we’re just looking for Him in a wrong location.

We often want God to show up and make a certain situation of life easier. If God determines that such an intervention would not be what’s best for us then He will not show up in that way. It doesn’t mean that He has abandoned us but that we are living with false expectations of how God will make Himself known.

Larry Crabb goes on to say:

Only when we want Him as we want nothing else will there develop in our hearts a space large enough for Him to fill. Because He longs to fill us, He hides His face long enough for us to discover how fervently and exclusively we want Him. When our discovery creates a secret space that nothing else can fill, and when we know that to be true, He enters. ~ From Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Until we die to all our lesser passions in life we will never come to experience the pure joy of simply resting in God’s presence.

May we come to discover that place deep inside that only God can fill with His presence!

***

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

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, Doubt, Faith, Faithful, God, God's Will, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

An Unmanageable God

“Manageable visions
are not worthy
of an unmanageable God.”

Pause long enough to reflect on this quote by Larry Crabb from Shattered Dreams. At some level and in some way we all want to be in control; but God is untamable and unmanageable. Anything we can do for Him is small compared with what He can do through us.

What awe-inspiring things could happen today were we to let God be in control?

***

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

5 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God, influence with the world, Religion and Spirituality

May God wreck our plans!

We were getting away for a few days to relax and regain some sense of rhythm. But God had other plans!

Susan and I loaded our bikes into the old blue bus (our 20-year-old van) and pulled out late Sunday afternoon headed for a hotel room in Indy. The trip was uneventful, the room was great and the continental breakfast was amazing. But then…

We shopped at a few nearby stores before heading downtown to visit a friend who had just given birth to her third baby. We got within a couple of miles of the hospital when the van started sputtering.

Long story short, we spent another night in Indy and about $500 for a new fuel pump!

The really ironic part is that I’m reading a book about what God may be up to when our dreams get shattered or our plans go up in smoke. And just for the record, I prefer reading about it over actually living it. Just sayin’…

There are certainly bigger dreams out there than just getting away for a few days but it stretched our patience to the breaking point!

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb suggests that God uses the big and little obstacles of life to help us come to grips with what matters most to us. Are we pursuing God in order to secure His blessings of a good life or are we desiring a relationship with God above all else?

The deepest longings of our heart cry out for an experience of God’s presence; and yet we so often settle for lesser passions. Only when those lesser passions get thwarted or crushed will we delve deeper into our soul and come to discover our greater passion for God.

An encounter with God is what we were created for and satisfies our soul like nothing or no one else can. But when the lesser passions of life satisfy us, even if they are only temporary, we forget the bigger passion.

It’s sort of like nibbling on junk food too close to the big meal and losing our appetite for real food.

I’ll be honest. I was very angry and frustrated as we sat there in the hot sun waiting for the tow truck to show up. Was a few days away to relax really too much to ask?

But eventually, a different question made its way to the forefront of my mind.

Are these few days away more important to you than God?

God could have kept our van running but didn’t. God could have prompted me to take a different vehicle but He didn’t. (At least, I don’t think He did. Sometimes I don’t listen so well)

If I want God more than I want a few days away and if I choose to trust God as sovereign, then can I trust Him to be working behind the scenes to accomplish something I know nothing about? In essence…

Would I trust God’s character and intentions to be good even if I didn’t know the “why”?

I have no great “TaDa” moment that resulted from our interrupted plans. I’ve gained no great revelation or insight from what took place. And I still don’t know how we’ll pay for the van or extra night in a hotel.

But I can trust the Author of the story to be good and I can once again sift through my passions to see which ones are most important.

May God wreck our plans, no matter how good they are, to help us discover our greater passion for Him!

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

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Filed under Adversity, Contentment, Desire, Discipleship, Divine presence, Frustration, God, intimacy with the Lord, Patience, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Suffering, Trusting God

Only if we die to self!

The Christian life is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Our earthly nature, even at it’s best, is self-serving and self-absorbed. Even good deeds are often done to serve our own purposes or make us appear better than we really are.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we’re all broken souls in need of God’s healing touch.

When the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us He gives birth to a whole new nature; one that is born from above – focused on God and others.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? ~ Matthew 16:24-26

God longs to infuse us with this new life and new nature so that we can lavish it on those we encounter. But it’s an either/or proposition. This new life is possible…

Only if we die to self!

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

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Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Christianity, CS Lewis, Discipleship, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

God alone

Theologian John S. Dunne tells of a group of early Spanish sailors who reached the continent of South America after an arduous voyage.

Their caravels sailed into the headwaters of the Amazon, an expanse of water so wide the sailors presumed it to be a continuation of the Atlantic Ocean.

It never occurred to them to drink the water, since they expected it to be salty, and as a result some of these sailors died of thirst.

Can you imagine the scene? Men dying of thirst even as their ships floated on the world’s largest source of freshwater.

Every day our soul thirsts for meaning, purpose, joy, peace, contentment, delight, satisfaction, adventure…

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well He offered her water that would fully and completely quench our thirst. (John 4)

God alone can satisfy the deepest longings of our soul and He makes Himself available to us no matter where we are by His Spirit who dwells within us.

Do our lives resemble those Spanish sailors or are we finding our deepest satisfaction in our Creator – the One who made us to enjoy us?
***

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Contentment, Desire, Divine presence, God, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Peace, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Climbing Mount God

So—how do you scale something as majestic as Mount God? How do you get to know someone as big as Him?

Answer: a little at a time.

We don’t wake up one day to discover that we are really “tight” with God just because we want to be. Knowing God—like going up the Matterhorn—requires that we pay a price. And that we take a lot of small steps every day.

But the main thing is to take the first step. In the little book of James we find the promise, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” God has already made the first move, inviting you through His Son Jesus Christ to come as close as you want. But you have to respond, telling (and showing) God that you want to be His friend.
~ Excerpted from Wired: For a Life of Worship by Louie Giglio

How can you take the first step toward knowing God better today?

***

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

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, God, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality