You know, I was sitting here wondering why I persist to type words into a OneNote 2010 page, when it struck me that writing is a true act of faith.
Who knows whether or not anyone will read them? I mean, most of us write because we want to connect with others. But honestly, my book did not sell anything like I thought it would when I dreamt of its release. For years I had ideas of what it would be like to be a published author. Not because I wanted fame or fortune. The realities are much different than movies. But because I wanted to serve and impact readers. Wow! Where was my head?
WRITING FOR CHANGE
No, I believe that my first book and my blog have taught me a lot. I still want to connect, but now whether I do or not I realize that I write because I have something to say and I love saying it. I believe that God has given me a perspective that combines with a gift of encouragement, to help others to be all that they can be in Christ.
I also know how much I love a helpful book. I’m changed by the reading and applying of what I read to my life. When a good book mentors me, I’m a better man for that. I want to pass that gift along to those who read my books. I want my books to mentor, coach along the journey to Christ’s Kingdom reign.
Truly, faith is keeping at something, even when you don’t see the results you expected. It’s believing what cannot be seen but being assured that it’s the right thing to believe.
Before I completed and published my first book, I had breakfast with Gordon MacDonald at Friendlies. I wanted him to mentor me as a writer. He asked me to tell him my story. I talked. He listened graciously. I realized even while I was talking that I wasn’t communicating my passion for writing. Instead, I was telling him something else. It was as though God was allowing him to see something in me that needed addressing.
After breakfast, he recommended that I read a book. “This is not a Christian book I’m recommending, but it will be helpful for you to read it,” he said.
The title was In the Shadow of Fame: A Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson by Susan Erikson Bloland, the daughter of famed child psychologist, Erik Erickson. As a sidenote, I’m just finishing a memoir of a woman who separated from her husband for a year and met Joan Erickson while walking along the beach. They became close friends. That book is entitled A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, by Joan Anderson.
In retrospect, I realized that my reasons for publishing were mixed. Shortly after I read Bloland’s book, I completed my book. I sought the Lord to purify my motives. Then I released the book at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and for Kindle and Nook. Sales were mainly to family, friends, and fellow pastors. Of course my church family and fellow associational leaders encouraged me as well. But that was about it. For the first year, I continued to write. But then I stopped.
I went into a depression which, I later found out, was a “dark night of the soul.” I withdrew from people and things I usually enjoyed. I felt exhausted all the time. Because I was a busy pastor and associational leader as well, I began to question my calling.
Everything lost is taste and savor. Fortunately for me, I had praying friends and ministry partners. Some wise counsel helped me recognize God at work, not the enemy. He was taking everything but Him. Funny, because I thought I had given him everything already–many times. But He sees deeper than we ever could.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
I’m on the other side of all that now. It took two and a half more years to slowly let go of everything but Him. It was truly a spiritual winter. But the great thing about tracking through the winter with the Lord is that spring is the next season to follow. Spring is a time for sowing and planting, digging around and preparation.
Now I’m settled in a great peace, waiting only on Him. I am also searching out a coach on the road ahead of me in spiritual formation, while at the same time coaching those whom God has sent my way. But I’m no longer an expert–Dr. Alves. I’m merely a witness, testifying to whatever the Lord shows or entrusts to me.
And . . . I’m writing again. Writing by faith. My one prayer is that the Lord will use the process of writing by faith in my life first . . . And if He so chooses, in the lives of those who may be drawn by His Spirit to read.
QUESTION: Have you ever experienced what I’m talking about?
A pastor friend of mine from Nova Scotia shared his approach to preaching, teaching, and writing. He decided to not speak “against” anything. Instead he speaks and writes “for” what is biblical and good. This keeps him positive and lets people draw their own conclusions about how the positive message should inform their values and opinions (I think it keeps him out of the line of fire too, although he might disagree).
I’m beginning to think that I’ll adopt a version of that philosophy, but I’d like YOUR opinion. I shared with another friend in ministry and he said that Jesus often spoke out against things, especially injustice and sin. Who could do better than to follow the model of Jesus? Except that his approach led him to amass a huge crowd of enemies among the unrepentent and the religious heirarchy. Ultimately his values and worldview took him to the cross, where he absorbed their evil and took the penalty that their sins deserved. By the way, Jesus did this willingly. According to his own testimony, as the Son of God, he had at his disposal tens of thousands of powerful spiritual beings (angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, etc) who could have wiped out everyone around him and rescued him, but he surrendered willingly. Ponder that sometime.
I’m not sure, if Jesus walked today, that anyone would even listen to him. Well, they might listen, but I KNOW they wouldn’t HEAR. I’m certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he would be labeled a bigot, intolerant, noninclusive (he called the Syrophonecian woman a “dog”–meaning Gentile), he could get physical at times (as in the temple courts when he overturned the seller’s tables). No, he would not really be taken seriously. He would be viewed as unruly and narrow-minded, judgmental, holier-than-thou.
Perhaps that’s why we–as true disciples of Jesus–were invited to “go outside the city” and take our stand there, with Him. We are not taken seriously in this culture. No one’s listening to the warnings of implosion. No one, including the church, wants to hear messages or writings that confront our sin, hypocrisy (pretending to have virtues but acting opposite to them), or waywardness. We want positive, feel-good, affirm-my-sin-and-opinion, messages.
So . . . that leads me to my new approach. I’m not settled upon it yet. I know I’m called to write and speak plainly so that people can take warning, turn and be saved. But what do I do in an evil culture that’s not really listening? I think I should do what God does . . . I will speak ONLY to those who are really listening–that would be believers who want to grow and know intimate fellowship with Jesus. I will also speak to genuine seekers. And I will speak only what the Lord gives me to speak. That would be values aligned to his Word, the Bible. If people want to argue, they can argue with God. He who has ears to hear, let him/her hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV)
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
QUESTIONS: What do you think?
For me, there’s no cure like the beach. Such a variety of things combine here to relax and refresh me. The wind, the water, the sand, the sun, my slow pace, all combine to restore my joy and refocus my attention. Even if I sit in the condo and simply listen to the sounds while I write or reflect, I enter a new frame of mind and heart.
This morning it was overcast and cool as the tail end of last night’s storm cleared out. But there’s nothing sad about the lack of sun. It’s simply another mood.
Only at the beach do I totally let down. In the morning, I’m sitting with a coffee. Watching all the movement around me. Hearing a constant, distant roar of high tide under a nine knot Northeast wind, settles me into the rhythm of nature. Every few seconds, gusts hit the balcony door. Since it’s not tightened down, the wind moans past it into the sitting room briefly rustling the fig tree’s long, slender leaves. The blinds sway and clack–some wind-inspired conversation I’m not privy to.
I smell coffee, sea spray, and wild roses. These are the smells of my experience here at the shore. I remember the smells at the shore when I used to go as a teenager to West Dennis, Cape Cod, every summer. There I smelled salt water, sun-tan lotion, beach plum, scrub pine, and clam flats. Sometimes I was treated to the smell of an old fashioned New England clambake.
Along the beach, spume and spray lift with every crash of the white topped waves as they spend their energy down the shoreline. Colorful jackets and sweatshirts here and there make their way along the paths over dunes to disappear beyond. Then minutes later they reappear far out along the waterline. I sit and watch. I listen to the quiet in my spirit, undisturbed–at rest and grateful.
Later afternoon, the sun returns and I sit out with a tall, cold, Iced tea or juice–ice cubes clinking and sweat dripping down the glass onto my coaster. Listening to my favorite playlists of Brazilian bossa nova and smooth jazz or of the beach songs I recall from my past. No agenda. No conditions. No schedule. Just plain laziness and rest. I’m not a tourist here. I’m planted. The perfect atmosphere to inspire a creative spurt and perhaps a stray post.
I believe I’ve found my cure.
QUESTION: What does the beach do for you? Is it a cure for you?
©2012, David C Alves
Ever wonder why the western church lacks such power and presence? Ever wonder why your life seems to be missing something that would take you over the top in your spiritual growth? Do you want to be more like Jesus?
This word is to those who consider themselves disciples of Jesus Christ. This word is to those who have experienced supernatural regeneration and are “born-from-above.” This word is for those in that group who want to go deeper into the mysteries of Christ.
This word is for those who do not think that they already know all there is to know about being a child of the King. This word is for those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and want to know Him better. You’re disatisfied with the status quo. Tired of fighting the church wars. Underwhelmed by the crowds of professing believers who are more about appearances, perfomance-based-easy-believism, and simple platitudes. You are more interested in relationship than a pursuit of knowledge for knowledge-sake. You beleive the Scripture that says knowledge “puffs up” but that love “builds up.” So you want to know the deep love of Chirst and of the Father.
What if you’re not who you think you are?
What if you’re who God thinks you are? What if you’re not merely a servant of God, or a disciple, or even a friend of God. What if you’re who the Father says you are . . . a “son”?
I believe that He has illumined His intent for the church at this season of our journey? I believe that our understanding of who God says we are is an essential prerequisite to the Second Reformation–God’s recapturing of Family, of relationship in His image.
What difference would it make to KNOW that you are loved deeply and have an identity that you may have heard of, but not yet discovered in experience? What if entering into who God says you are were to transform not only your thinking but your everyday decisions and activities? What if the truth about you placed you squarely in the family that God is Father of?
I believe that the Father wants us to know this important truth:
“All who are led by the Spirit are the ‘sons of God.” (Romans 8.14)
Are you born-from-above? Then you have “the right to become [one of the] ‘sons of God.’ (John 1.12)
Are you “led by the Spirit”? The you are one of the “sons of God.” When’s the last time you heard a message on “sonship”? And if you did hear one (and I’d stand amazed, because in 35 years as a Christian, I’ve never heard ONE) did you understand how important it is to God that you understand that identity? Why did He make sure that Scripture preserved and outlined our sonship?
This is an important word for the church today. Sonship is the key to you living into the fullness of what Jesus did in His Atonement. His sacrifice accomplished more than simply forgiving your sins so that you could fly off to heaven [which is an unbiblical image anyhow].
Your identity as one of the ‘sons of God’ is the word for His Family today.
My book explains from the Word of God why the biblical doctrine of sonship is so important to God the Father, and thus needs to be important to me and you. Perhaps understanding sonship is the next step in your walk with Christ and your fellowship with the Father. I wrote this book to help those who have responsibility in spiritual formation or who are mentors. I also wrote it for anyone who is willing to go deeper. WSOGSW is not an easy read. You may find that you read some and then put it aside for awhile because you have to ponder or dig into the Word. But you receive what you’re willing to give. If you study and meditate upon these truths, you will be amazed at the result.
What others are saying:
“Believe Who You Are, Do What You Must,” @ Lay It Down | Carl Simmons
Five-star Amazon Reviews by church leaders
QUESTION: How do you view yourself in light of the fact that God has made you a “son.” (yes, ladies too).
©2012, David C Alves
- Adopted into God’s Family (joequatronejr.wordpress.com)
- Government of God is familial – discuss? (face2facegduffty.wordpress.com)
- Like Father Like Son (dpeacemakers.wordpress.com)
- Does Church Matter? (askfathereric.com)
Have you ever had a really bad week and reacted in ways that discouraged you? You thought that you had dealt with that anger. You thought that you were reacting more like Jesus, and all of a sudden . . . someone set you off and the “old you” was still there.
Well, I had a day like that last week. Those little annoyances get under the skin and I find myself reacting in anger or defensive tones with people. As I’ve grown in the Lord, it happens less and less, but it still happens. Then our Enemy starts in, “You think you’re such a good Christian. Well, you’re no different than you’ve ever been.”
We ask, “Lord . . . how long till I change and get the victory?”
Those are discouraging times for us.
But Phil. 1:6 says “ . . . he who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
In another place, Scripture says that we are being transformed “from glory to glory DAILY.” The Lord reminds me that He is not finished with me yet. I am growing. I have changed. And so have you.
As we take off the old self and put on the new, Jesus will manifest Himself in the new self that He has placed in us. Paul said, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I. But Christ lives in me.
Jesus is in the transformation business and you and I are His favorite subjects. He will complete what He has started. And sooner than you think, you (and I) will come forth as gold.
Father, will you please keep us focused on Jesus. Keep us anchored in your character and living out of the new self, created to be like you in true righteousness and holiness. Thank you Father.
©2012, David C Alves
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘
–from Deut. 1:6-7 NIV
I have a feeling that some of us just need to GO today—as in move out and trust God. Go in obedience to Him ONLY.
Have you ever heard the saying, “When the going gets rough, the rough get going.” The idea is that winners face what is difficult by taking action.
The action believers are called to is to GO! Are you willing to GO? Going requires several actions on our part:
* We must choose to obey. Everything begins when I choose to say “yes” to God. I must love Him enough to be willing to go against my tendency toward laziness.
* We must break camp. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zones—intentionally.
* We must move out (by faith). We must DO something that demonstrates our seriousness.
Ask God to give you opportunities this week. Ask someone you know who cares about lost people to pray with you this week about this.Then watch God prove His love for the lost through you.
Could this be confirmation for you? Are you amazed? As though the Lord is speaking directly to you? Just make your decision, trusting that you CAN depend fully upon His love–even if you make a mistake.
What a thrill awaits you as God lets you share His love with others. The Lord bless us all as we watch the great things God will do in our midst as we reach out beyond our current boundaries.
©2012, David C Alves
The fact that Jesus is alive is indisputable. God himself is the first witness to this fact. Then come the twelve Apostles, to whom he appeared. Then the 500 other eyewitnesses recorded in Scripture. Then the countless witnesses throughout human history. And then me and my friends and family who know Him in our own lives.
How about YOU? Are you a witness to this truth yet?
Have you yet come to know that Jesus is indeed alive from the dead? That He can communicate with you. That He wants to share His love and treasures of wisdom and knowledge with you? That you are important enough to Him that He gave himself as a willing sacrifice to bridge the huge Chasm between you and His Father–Yahweh–the Only, true and living God.
He has opened to way to the Father for all those who are willing to believe. He has made us all “sons of God” through faith in His life, death, and resurrection from the dead.
This faith is not a blind faith. This faith is a faith based upon sufficient evidence and unimpeachable eyewitness testimony. This is a faith based upon personal experience as well. This is a faith that smashes all anti-supernaturalism. NO ONE who truly comes to know him and the Kingdom of God will remain a materialist. We believe in that which is also spiritual.
Today, because Jesus has risen, you can too. Today . . . because Jesus is alive, your spirit can be brought to life too. God is the one who accomplishes this in answer to your calling out to Him. When you choose to believe, and ask Him to come into your life. Get ready for weird and wonderful things to happen.
Invite Christ to be alive IN YOU! Then get ready for your life to change . . . significantly.
First, believe that Jesus died and rose to live again as He testified. Ask Him to produce a godly sorrow in you for your me-centeredness and self-conceit. This will open the way for repentance [the desire to change your mindset and direction in life away from your way to His]. When you repent (turn to Him), He will meet you in a way that you can understand. Invite Him into your life. Invite Him to be Lord. Watch what the living Jesus will do.
Life will still be life. You may face tremendous challenges or difficulties, but you will face them with Him. He will be all that you need in the midst of every trial. He will be your Counselor. He will keep you in the center of His love and take you safely home to the Father.
May the Lord be with you as we prepare to celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year. If He is already alive in you, may you manifest His life to others. If you’re just coming to know that He’s alive, may this year’s celebration have brand new meaning for you. God bless you richly. Grace and Peace to you.
QUESTION: Is Jesus alive in you?