Tag Archives: The Story

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.

6 Comments

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

A role I wasn’t expecting to play

We got there early and endured a hot sun to have primo spots up front, but it was worth it. A parade at Disney World is nothing short of spectacular; the characters, the music, the excitement.

We enjoyed visiting with the folks next to us who were from Canada and we guzzled some drinks to stave off the heat, but the parade was the big attraction.

As the familiar characters walked, danced or rode by on floats I took it all in and got some great pictures. Watching a Disney parade is great fun but then it happened.

I was standing there minding my own business like every other spectator along the parade route when I suddenly and unexpectedly became part of the festivities.

The wolf from Pinocchio was walking by and along with others close by I stuck my arm out to high-five him on the hand… uh, paw. But he wouldn’t do it.

He stopped, turned to face me and placed his hands on his hips. Motioning for me to lean in towards him he took his cape and used it to wipe the sweat off my bald head.

After everyone had a good laugh he gave me a high-five and continued down the street. No one in my family thought to take a picture but we all had fun joking about it afterwards.

Disney wants you to be more than a spectator, they want you to be a part of all that’s going on; and so does God. 

Christianity, in America at least, has become largely an event for spectators. We show up on Sunday and take it all in then go about our week as usual. But that’s not God’s design.

God intends for each of us to be fully engaged with His kingdom purposes and plans every single day. Some days are spectacular, but most are more mundane. But even our mundane Lower Story moments help to advance God’s Upper Story agenda.

A little, unknown boy was there to supply his fish and bread for Jesus to use in feeding thousands of hungry followers.

Some unknown person was there to provide the animal for Jesus to ride in on for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Someone was there to hold the rope used to lower Paul from a window in Damascus for his middle-of-the-night escape.

Sure it’s just another mundane day with nothing spectacular on the horizon. But that doesn’t mean God won’t pull you in or use you to touch a life in some special way today.

Are you ready?
***
If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 14 this week. To learn more about The Story check out the tab above.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God's Will, involvement with the church, Kingdom of God, Serving, The Story

What would we ask of God?

We’ve all heard jokes about being granted a wish by a genie, but what if God showed up to grant us a request? This actually happened to a guy I know who was very serious about following God.

You can read about it yourself in 1 Kings 3:1-15. That guy was none other than Solomon, son of King David. After David’s death, Solomon became the next King of Israel. After completing the Temple God showed up in a dream to grant Solomon whatever he wanted.

Solomon could have requested anything of God but asked for wisdom to lead the people of Israel. It was a very selfless request and God was very pleased with Solomon.

In fact, God was so pleased that He gave Solomon not only what he asked for but more.

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. ~ 1 Kings 3:10-13

People came from far and wide to learn from Solomon. And he penned thousands of proverbs because he wanted everyone to benefit from what God was teaching him.

But it didn’t last…

As wise as Solomon was, he broke God’s boundaries and married women from other nations. God had not placed this restriction on Israel because He was a racist but because He knew that if they let themselves be influenced by people of other nations they would eventually be led into worshipping false, pagan gods.

As selfless and respectable as Solomon’s request was, I believe his father David made an even better request.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Solomon wanted wisdom to serve God well.

David wanted more of God’s presence.

We don’t have to wait for a dream or special visit from God. We are made in His image and exercise a free will. We choose what matters most to us every day by what we give our time, attention and energy to pursuing.

Will we choose the presence of God above everything else today?
***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

8 Comments

Filed under Choices, Christianity, Desire, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Loving God, Priorities, Relationship with God, The Story, Wisdom

Let’s keep God out of the cook book

There are certain times and places when a ready-made recipe is exactly the right approach.

  • Brain surgery.
  • Rocket science.
  • Navigating deep oceans in a sub.
  • Flying a jumbo jet.
  • Building a finely crafted timepiece.
  • Parachuting through the clouds.

These occasions, and many others like them, are best accomplished with a well-laid plan of action. There is little room for error and precision is essential.

Recipes are even quite useful in a kitchen. But they are of little value when it comes to doing life with God.

“Recipes are useful in a well-lighted kitchen. Recipe theology, that collection of practical biblical principles that tell us what to do in every situation, treats confusion as something to be solved rather than entered. It reduces the mysteries of life to things we can manage.” ~ Larry Crabb, Jr. – The Silence of Adam, Page 66

There is no one-size-fits-all Biblical solution to every circumstance because we are not privy to God’s Upper Story plans. Two people in similar situations may be led by God to respond differently.

I’m not suggesting that God’s timeless truths or principles change, but that doing life with God doesn’t fit into a nice, tidy box.

It it did, there would be no sense of adventure. There would be no challenge to stretch our faith. There would be no reason to trust God in the midst of uncertain circumstances.

God invites us to come to Him any time we want. But don’t just run to Him for a solution. Join Him in the journey and delight in discovering new things about God and yourself.

What will be our adventure with God today?
***

If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 12 for this week. You can check out The Story by clicking on the page tab above.

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

4 Comments

Filed under Bible, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Scripture, The Story, Trusting God

Are we trusting Him above all else?

TRUST – a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b: one in which confidence is placed. ~ From Merriam-Webster

When trust is present in a relationship the blessings and benefits are enormous. Conversely, few things bring as much heartache and disappointment as the lack of trust.

God knows both.

Given all that they had been through with God, the nation of Israel should have had no trouble in trusting Him. But they still wanted an earthly leader, a king like all the other nations.

Their first king – Saul – was tall and handsome and strong and flawed! He was almost completely committed to following God’s directives, but almost doesn’t cut it. On more than one occasion he disobeyed God.

So God withdrew His favor from Saul and sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint a new king. Of Jesse’s eight sons, David was the youngest and wasn’t even brought in from the pasture when Samuel first arrived.

If Saul was the pick of the litter, David was the runt. From our Lower Story perspective David was not a likely choice to be the next king of Israel, but God saw things differently from His Upper Story perspective.

“…the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

David was just 16 years old when he was anointed to be the king of Israel, but it would be another 14 years before he was installed as king.

David not only had to wait 14 years to be king but spent most of that time avoiding Saul’s attempts to kill him!

Why would God do this to David?

Because God can only use us to accomplish His kingdom purposes to the degree that we trust Him. And waiting on God pushes us to either abandon Him or trust Him more.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

If you’re struggling through a season of trying to survive and stay alive, take heart. God has not abandoned you but is stretching you to trust Him more.

What kingdom purpose might God accomplish through us as we learn to trust Him above all else?

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

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Kingdom of God, The Story, Trusting God

Trying to use God is always a bad idea!

It has to be one of the most blatant and offensive acts of selfishness ever! It occurred toward the end of the period of the Judges but prior to Israel’s first king. It was a time described like this:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” ~ Judges 21:25

The army of God went out to battle the Philistines… and lost! As they regrouped and tried to figure out why God hadn’t given them victory they struck upon what they thought was a great idea.

Every have a “great” idea flop badly only to be followed by an even worse idea? Multiply it by 1000 and you get the idea. Here’s how it reads:

When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” ~ 1 Samuel 4:3

First time out the Israelites lost about 4000 men. On their second time out they lost 30,000 men!

Was this a black eye on God’s reputation? Hardly! It was a terribly self-centered move on the part of the Israelites.

God certainly did His share of punishing the surrounding people groups because of their wickedness but there is no indication here that God sent them out to battle the Philistines. And no indication that God led them to take the ark of the covenant.

Not only did the Israelites get badly defeated, but they lost the ark to the Philistines!

The root issue: Rather than wanting intimacy with God, they merely wanted His power to carry out their own agenda.

As a representation of God’s presence the ark was there when some amazing things happened. But it was God Himself that provided the power to accomplish those things; and God is not inclined to be used like some sort of magical talisman.

But before we get too self-righteous, let’s be honest; we tend to do the same thing. We may not use something physical like the ark but we do our fair share of approaching God to secure His favor on our plans.

Life is His story, not ours. When we presume to invite God into our plans we not only mock Him but make fools of ourselves. And then when God doesn’t come through for us we get angry.

We need to enter every day and every situation with the same attitude and response that we see in young Samuel when God called out to him in the middle of the night.

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

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Read chapter(s) 11 in The Story this week or click on the page tab above to learn more.

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

5 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God, intimacy with the Lord, Serving, Surrender, The Story

Being the hands and heart of God

Ever watch a movie or theatre production where someone in a supporting role actually outshines the main character? It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, its noticeable. That’s sort of how I feel about the book of Ruth. In case you are not familiar with the story of Ruth here’s a quick overview.

During the period of the Judges Elimelek and his wife Naomi, along with their two sons, leave Israel to escape a famine and relocate in the land of Moab. Elimelek dies, their two sons marry Moabite women and then 10 years later they die. Naomi is left with two daughter-in-laws in a foreign land. She returns to Israel with Ruth who refuses to leave her side.

Life for widows at that time was very, very bleak! Out of love for Naomi, Ruth gleans (collects leftover grain) from a local field belonging to Boaz. Knowing of Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, Boaz acts favorably towards Ruth not only protecting her but providing extra grain for her to collect. Upon learning of this, Naomi instructs Ruth to make herself available to Boaz for marriage. They eventually marry and everyone lives happily ever after. Honest!

But there’s more!

The loyalty Ruth demonstrates for her mother-in-law Naomi is admirable; especially considering that Israel and Moab had a history of being bitter enemies. But what Boaz does is even more amazing.

As God’s holy people, Israelites were to reflect the heart of God by trusting Him enough to act as His hands and heart toward the less fortunate within their community.  Much of the Law was designed to provide opportunities for Israel to trust God, to be generous like God, to demonstrate the love and the justice of God.  God’s means of taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan was through His people.

The levirate marriage was one such custom.  The term levirate means “husband’s brother.”  It was employed when a man died without a son to inherit his land and carry on a family line.  When those circumstances arose, the husband’s brother was responsible to take the widow as his wife and produce a first-born son who would bear the dead brother’s name.  This son would be the rightful heir to his dead “father’s” estate and would carry on the deceased’s family name.  The following children born to the union of the widow and her new husband would belong to the new husband and bear his name.  (Deut. 25:5-10).

Any man who took on this responsibility was known as a Kinsman-Redeemer. Taking on this role was optional and when another relative declined to accept it, likely because Ruth was a Moabite, Boaz willingly stepped in. He had to give his resources to buy the land owned by Naomi/Ruth but would not keep it as his own. Their first-born son would receive it to carry on the lineage of his grandfather/father.

Boaz had nothing to gain from this arrangement other than the company of Ruth as his bride. His selfless act of compassion is remarkable; and it is a foretelling of Jesus’ role with all of humanity.

Jesus gave up His very life to pay our debt of sin, something we could not do, and purchase for us new life and an eternal future with God. Just as Boaz reflected the love and justice of God, we who follow Jesus are called to reflect it as well among those we encounter daily.

How will we be the hands and heart of God to those we encounter today?

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

If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 10 this week. To learn more about The Story click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Generosity, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Loyalty, The Story

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.

4 Comments

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

God’s bizarre strategy

On June 5, 1944 – the day before the Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy – General George S. Patton gave a speech to the Third Army that left no room for failure:

I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am holding my position.” We are not holding… We are advancing constantly, and we are not interested in holding on to anything… Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing, regardless of whether or not we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.

Can you imagine the fear and rush of adrenaline that these young men experienced? The fate of the Free World was truly riding on their shoulders.

The Israelites must have felt the same way as they stood poised to follow Joshua into Canaan to fight for the land that God was giving them. It was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham 600 years earlier. (Genesis 15:16)

And it had been 40 years since they last stood on this very same spot with their parents, grandparents and Moses. Here they are – a new generation – ready to follow God and carry out His kingdom agenda.

But God’s preparations for battle are a bit bizarre, to put it mildly.

  • March over a million people across the swollen banks of the Jordan without any boats, bridges or water wings.
  • Gather all the warriors just days before the first battle and circumcise them.
  • Enter that first battle by placing your musical instruments out front and marching around the fortified city.

From a Lower Story perspective this must have seemed like pure madness. But from God’s Upper Story perspective it made perfect sense.

God wanted to send a clear message to everyone involved, including the Israelites, that this victory was the result of His involvement and not because of their strength. The key to victory was found not in superior weapons and conventional strategy but in obedience.

No less than five times in the book of Joshua they were told: “Be strong and courageous.” Because God was fighting for them they had nothing to fear.

What battle are you facing? What fear are you wrestling with? What is it that keeps you awake at night?

Be strong and courageous!

***
If you’re reading along in The Story be sure to read chapter(s) 8. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story then click on the page tab above and check it out.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Courage, Divine presence, God, Kingdom of God, The Story, Trusting God

Are we there yet?

We’ve all been there and we all have horror stories of our “worst road trip ever!”

“Are we there yet?”

Ours was coming home from Lake Michigan on a hot, scorching day in July. All eight of us packed (like Sardines) in an old van with no A/C! LARGE cups of ice got us home.

But that’s nothing compared to what the Israelites went through wandering in the desert for 40 years! Stop and think about it – 40 years!

When the people of Israel were led to Canaan – the Promised Land – they sent 12 men in to scout out the land. All 12 agreed, the land was amazing, but the people were HUGE!

Caleb and Joshua believed that God would give them victory in conquering the land but the other 10 trembled in fear as they related feeling like grasshoppers next to the people of Canaan. Fear ruled the day and they chose not to trust God.

The consequence of their unbelief was wandering in the desert for 40 years – one year for every day the scouts were in the land. While God provided for their needs, He also waited for everyone 20 years old and older to die off before taking the new generation back to conquer the Promised Land.

Unable to go into the new land himself, Moses offered these final words of encouragement:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Embrace life by trusting and obeying God or go the way of death by trusting in their own plans. It’s the same choice Adam and Eve had way back in the garden. It’s the same choice you and I make every moment of every day.

Will we love, trust and obey God today?

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

5 Comments

Filed under Choices, Courage, Faith, Fear, Loving God, The Story, Trusting God