Where Am I?

Galatians 2: 20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

This is a beautiful verse, one full of the grace of God and the sacrificial love of Christ. Yet, there was a day when the ideas expressed here challenged me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die. Even though I pursued God relentlessly, there was a part of me that held back. There was a part of me who had reservations. What does it mean to die to self and live to Christ? What happens when we completely give our lives over to Christ so that the life we presently live is Christ in us?

When I was a young Christian I was on fire for Christ but I wasn’t sure what this meant. Maybe many of you have grown past this but perhaps there are just a few who can relate to the challenge I wrestled with. I wanted to be with Christ. I desired deep, meaningful fellowship with Jesus but I didn’t want to give up who I was. I wondered, “If I give myself to you wholly will I get lost? Where am I if I am in you? Am I afraid of losing my identity? Who will I be? Will I be me?” For all my faults, I liked who I was and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop being me.

This may sound silly to you but I wondered if I would still get to do the worldly things that I enjoy doing such as kayaking and bike riding. I had some thoughts in the back of my mind that I could not be holy and enjoy these activities. Of course, you know the answer. Jesus loves kayaking and Father is an avid cyclist. We do those things together. In fact, many times I rather ride or kayak without other people because that is Dad time. When we all get to heaven, I fully intend to go kayaking with Jesus. I may do it every day. Who knows? They enjoy all those things. The Scriptures say that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6: 17). He isn’t trying to take these things away from us. He is the one who is supplying them. The meaning of a life in and with Christ is that we get to do all these things with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These activities are actually more fun now than they were because I get to spend that time with some of my very best friends.

I am still me even though I have given myself to Christ. I am just becoming a better version of me. I am Ivey 2.0. The life of Christ is in me. It is coursing through my veins, suffusing my muscles. He is even in my breath. He isn’t taking away from my former life. He has given me new life, more life, and better life. I am dying to the brokenness of the world and being reborn daily by the renewal of my mind in Christ. He opens new doors in my heart, mind and spirit and with each one he breathes new and abundant life into me.

If you have ever been concerned about getting lost in Christ, I have only encouragement for you. There is no downside to letting your former self pass away because the reborn, renewed self is so much more fun to hang out with. If you truly die to self, you will arise with healing in your wings. Jesus will only move into the rooms of your heart which you allow though. You may have been a Christian for 40 years by now but there may still be areas of your heart that are verboten to God. My advice is: throw open the doors and invite Him in. It is all good.


1 Timothy 6: 17

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

Will you let me just gloat and praise God today? I had a marvelous day yesterday. I was supposed to go to the beach this week but just couldn’t work out my schedule. So, my consolation prize was to get to take my mountain bike out for a ride yesterday. I haven’t ridden my mountain bike in a long time.

The day began with a picnic lunch seated next to the river. The birds frolicked about as the river serenaded us with its gentle tune. The weather was perfect and some of the trees beginning to lose their leaves. I love riding through the forest in the rain of falling leaves.

As I began to ride, there was a gentle fall breeze. I was exultant in the beauty, the weather and how good it felt to pedal that bike. It felt good to breathe, as if I had not breathed in days. The world slowed down for a little while and the peace of the Lord reigned supreme. My legs felt powerful as I pushed the bike down the cinder path. It was an experience of sheer delight.

I wish I could tell you that I had some amazing revelation while I was out there or that God spoke in my ear the whole time, but, He was uncharacteristically quiet. None the less, it was so clear that He was with me and that this was the day the Lord had designed for me.

It was a time of enjoyment; a time the Father gave me to enjoy all the good things He has done for me and the many things He has provided purely for my enjoyment. It was a time of personal ministry where the Lord met my needs and nurtured my inner being.  We had a wonderful day together and though I was tired, I was also surprisingly refreshed by the experience. I found a new place for the Father and I to meet in the pictures of my mind. By the way, when you find those beautiful places by the river, in the mountains or at the beach, take a picture of where you and Jesus sit so that when you get home you can revisit that spot together in your mind.

So, I have no great epiphanies to give you today, no sage advice. I have only an insight. We have heard it said that sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. That is so true but sometimes the roses are a bike ride in the mountains, along one of the oldest rivers in the world, which actually flows north instead of south. God has created all these wonders for us to enjoy so enjoy them and give Him thanks. And just think, if He would create all that just for your simple enjoyment, what else will He do?

Balance Beam

Proverb 21: 17 – 18          NIV

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Wow! That is a powerful statement. We have become very developed in seeking pleasure whether it is our TV time, our hobbies, food, drink, vacations, or any of a number of pleasures. There is a place for recreation, no doubt. There is a time for play and there is also a time for work. Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for everything (3:1). Solomon isn’t denying that in today’s proverb, after all, he was also the author of Ecclesiastes. The point I believe Solomon is trying to convey is that using our energy in seeking pleasure is a vain activity which leads, ultimately, to emptiness. We even work to fulfill our pleasures but there must be things of substance in this life and in this world which would give us much greater satisfaction that simply chasing pleasure.

Of course, the clear point that Solomon makes is that this seeking after pleasure will lead us to poverty and this is from the richest man to ever live upon the earth, even to this day. Solomon was so rich that he didn’t even bother with silver. I accept what Solomon suggests here but also speculate that the endless search for fulfillment in pleasure leads to an impoverished lifestyle. I mean to say that perhaps this person’s poverty does not see him living on the streets and begging at soup kitchens but that he is none the less very poor in spirit, in friends, in fulfillment, in rewarding relationships with his family, and a plethora of other ways.

The one pleasure that Solomon highlights in this passage is the desire for wine and oil. There are so many among us whose life seeps away at the bottom of a wine glass. Their ambition for more fruitful pursuits is swallowed up by the pleasure they seek in that glass. Time, which is such a valuable commodity, gets wasted when much good could have been done. All this pursuit buys is regret. We do not want this for our loved ones. Life is so meaningful but can we wasted so easily.

One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is that it is all about balance. You can work too much, play too much. Almost all things, even good things, can turn into negatives when we exercise them out of their proper balance. There are many nice and pleasurable things in our life and God gave us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17), but they can be overdone and then become detrimental to our lives. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10: 23). Perhaps this is the admonition which Solomon is giving us today, that is, to spend our time in fruitful pursuits. Let us not run the race seeking pleasures only because at the end of our days on earth we, ourselves, will say, “Vanity, vanity; it was all vanity.”

Good God

Romans 8: 32      (New Living Translation)

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Our God is a good God. That cannot be said enough. So many times we think that God is punishing us when something bad happens in our lives or that God is trying to teach us a lesson. That just is not true. Our Father loves us. If He loved us enough to let His only son die a cruel and horrible death for us, will He not also give all good things to us? Is it reasonable to suggest that He did not withhold His son but is withholding all kinds of other good things from us? The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6: 17 that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” We are increasing in our knowledge of God and His nature. As we do we also increase in our trust in Him because we come to know that He wants to perform good works in our lives. Then the relationship with Him also grows and we come to trust Him even more. The more trust we put in Him, the more we are able to walk faith. It all keeps growing to our benefit but the first step is ours. We must let him be a good God to us and expect good things from Him.