Tag Archives: 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

If I had hair left I’d be pulling it out!

Are you kidding me?!?!?!

I’ll spare you the details but it has been one of those weeks when the planned agenda not only isn’t flowing well but seems to have supernatural forces pushing in the opposite direction.

Yesterday evening I’m on my way home from picking up a pizza for Kyrsten’s golf banquet and trying to process the chaotic rhythm that has disrupted the last few days. The questions doing laps in my head were:

“Why in the world are all these things coming against me? Why can’t I get through an hour without some unexpected dilemma demanding my attention? Why can’t things go more according to my plan?”

Then as I was navigating the end-of-day traffic a different set of questions began to form in my mind. It went something like this:

“OK Lord. This week so far has gone nothing like I expected or planned. If You are sovereign – and I believe You are – what are You up to? What is going on? And how do I get in step with You?”

I’d love to tell you that the sky opened up with a message from God but that was not the case. I continued to wrestle with what God was up to but the shift in my questions changed my approach to life. I quit growling and actually enjoyed the evening with my family.

How easily we forget that life centers around God’s agenda and not ours. It’s His story, not our story.

May we learn to give ourselves continuously to be part of that story.

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

 

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The Real Question

We ask, “Where does God fit into the story of my life?”
when the real question is,
“Where does my little life fall into the great story of God’s mission?”

~ Christopher J. H. Wright

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

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, God's Will, influence with the world, Motivation, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender, Worldview

Without Any Reservations

Even with the best of intentions, parenting is a tricky journey. The ups, the downs, the unexpected moments – some good, some not so good. With six kids and 21 years under our belt we have come to rely even more on the grace of God and prayer.

When our kids turned 13 we took them away for an overnight trip full of special events as a rite of passage. One of the talks we have is about making their faith in God their own. But just 5 short years later when the time comes for them to head off on their own you can’t help but wonder how they will do.

We have two out of the nest (mostly) and four still at home. Our oldest is beginning his senior year of college and recently got engaged to a wonderful gal.

Eli has had his share of wrestling through faith issues and growing up the kid of a pastor brings its own unique set of obstacles. But to see him grow into his place in God’s story is so rewarding. Yesterday he posted this on Facebook.

I share it not only because it touched my heart as a father but because it challenged me as a follower of Jesus.

“Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Not even necessarily with a person. The first time you experienced something so powerful or amazing or awe-inspiring that you couldn’t imagine ever living without it again. Something so integral to who you are as a person that if you were to lose it, it would be akin to losing a limb. I remember the first time I ever stepped out onto stage. I was seven. I remember the rush. The exhilaration. The feeling that this was the epitome of how I would ever feel. Fast forward six years and I was back on stage at a community theater. Now, almost nine years later, I’m still in love. Ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you that once I’m in a show, I disappear. Every fiber of my being becomes wrapped up into the show and my part to play.”

“Earlier this week, a very wise man in my life reminded me to, “Never forget your first love.” It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t speaking in reference to my love for theater. He was speaking in reference to God. This is what God longs for from us. That we would be so madly in love with him that every fiber of our being becomes wrapped up in him and his bigger story. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a life, but it’s often so easy to lose sight of our first love. So this is my prayer for myself and for all other believers out there. That we might never lose sight of our first love. That we become so wrapped up in God and his story that we can’t help but be an integral part of it. That we learn to truly and completely let go and love God without any reservations.” ~ Elijah Alvey

Is there anything or anyone we’re loving more than God?

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

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Filed under Commitment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Parenting, Prayer, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

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!

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© 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

Indicators of God’s movement

We might never have known anything about David if God had not arranged for Goliath to arise between David and his kingship. It’s a compelling story—one day David was delivering cheese and biscuits and ended up killing a giant. The next day he was carried through downtown Jerusalem, with women hanging over balconies singing songs to his name. Would any of that have happened without a great enemy?

What would the nation Israel have been without Moses facing down Pharaoh before the great migration out of Egypt? Maybe those 450 years of slavery the Jews endured would have lasted much longer.

Even Jesus lived in anonymity until Satan determined that He was more than Joseph the carpenter’s oldest boy.

Here’s why I say an enemy is a necessity: There’s a Goliath, a Pharaoh, a Satan standing between you and who you are destined to become.

Enemies are indicators to you that God is planning movement in your life, and transition is right around the corner.
~Excerpted from The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr.

It may be a person.

It may be a situation or circumstance.

It may even be a social issue.

One way or another you’re facing – or soon will be facing – a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Don’t just ask God to take it away or give you a way around it.

Surrender yourself to Him and let Him use it to accomplish His bigger purposes.

***

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

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Filed under Christianity, Conflict, Courage, Determination, God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender, Trusting God

God’s relentless love

Resist the urge to say you’re too old, too young, too busy, too scared, too worn out, too washed up, too anything to be useful to God.

Truth is, you’ve always been part of his love-the-world plan. Need proof? From the day he formed you in your mother’s womb, God has watched over your every step, making sure you got where you needed to go.

When you stumbled, it was God who steadied you. When you fell, it was God who rescued you. When you lost your way, it was God who carried you home. Why? Because he knows you fully, loves you completely, and holds you close to his heart. God will never give up on you…
~ Excerpted from The Girl’s Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

Like the ocean waves that endlessly rush to the shore, the love of God is relentless in pursuing us and using us to reflect His glory.

God wants to use us today to spread His love and joy and hope everywhere we go.

Are we ready?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Glory of God, God, Hope, influence with the world, Joy, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

No God I won’t, but will You…

It was a dark period in the history of God’s people. The once strong nation divided after King Solomon’s death. The 10 tribes to the north became known as Israel and the 2 tribes to the south were Judah.

This sad state of affairs lasted slightly more than 200 years. In all, there were 38 kings but only 5 – all of them in Judah – were God-fearing, good leaders. God sent prophets repeatedly to call the people to repent and come back into their covenant relationship with Him but they stubbornly refused.

Israel experienced judgment at the hands of the Babylonian Empire. They were conquered and led away into exile. Judah rallied for a time because of placing their trust in God, but another bad king once again led to moral decay and chaos.

When Judah finally experienced judgment at the hands of the Assyrians, it was a two-year ordeal. When the final assault was at hand, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to make one more appeal to God. Jeremiah was straightforward in his message from God – it’s too late!

King Zedekiah, along with all of Judah, persistently ignored God’s prophets who warned about the consequences of unfaithfulness to God. They refused to honor their covenant relationship with God and yet when the chips were down, King Zedekiah wanted God’s help.

Stop and think about that for a moment!

They refused to do life according to God’s directives, but still wanted – perhaps even expected – God to come to their rescue. Does that sound at all familiar to you? It does to me.

I think it describes much of what is called Christianity today.

We participate in church life and even other token activities identified as what it means to be a Christian; but then we do life pretty much how we want. Yet when our back is up against the wall we want and even expect God to come through for us and bless our agenda.

And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

Bob Yawberg, one of my mentors, kept a journal throughout his nearly 40 years of ministry. The simple title was “Saying Yes to God.”

Lord, forgive us for abusing the covenant relationship with You that cost Jesus His very life.

May we recognize that You are the center of life and may we say “Yes” to doing life with You.

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

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Filed under Christianity, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

Almost the 9th King of America

Randy Frazee is the preaching pastor on staff at Oak Hills Church alongside Max Lucado. In the book, The Heart of the Story, Randy mentions a segment from The Today Show back in 2009.

Apparently George Washington was offered the opportunity to become the first king of America, but turned it down. The commentator speculated on how things would look today had George accepted this role.

Through the internet and a genealogy expert, the research staff traced all of George’s living 8000 descendants to see who would be sitting on the throne today. That brought them to the city of San Antonio, Texas – the home of Oak Hills Church and Randy Frazee.

The TV camera panned into a local Burger King only to find Paul Washington asking for his order to be “king-sized.” If George Washington had accepted the offer of monarchy, Paul would now be our ninth king of the United States.

As it turns out, Paul’s son Dick and his kids go to Oak Hills Church and his sons have been to the Frazee household for sleepovers with Randy’s sons. How ironic is that?

When Randy asked them about why George turned down the offer they said it was because he didn’t want America to get back into the same bad situation of a monarchy that had brought the pilgrims from England in the first place.

In 1774 a report to King George of England by the governor of Boston noted: “If you ask an American who is his master he will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.”

The same correspondence goes on to mention a motto popular during the Revolutionary War:

“No king but King Jesus.”

You and I fight a revolutionary war every day. Not an external battle with guns but an internal struggle between walking in the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the flesh that want to pull us away from God.

Our only hope of victory is absolute surrender to Jesus, the King of Kings!

Who is sitting on the throne of your heart?

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

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Relationship with God, Surrender, The Story, 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