Adversity

Join me on a little excursion.

If you love words as much as I do, and you have any appreciation whatsoever for Jesus Christ, I want to show you some of the most soaring, majestic language ever recorded about Him.  Our journey will pause at three locations, all in the New Testament.  Here’s the first… read this slowly. [click to continue…]

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Relaxing in the park

If all you knew about love was rumor and reputation,
If all you held on to were wistful hopes or magical memories…
If everything you trusted to carry you relied on fair weather
Or the favor of fickle people,
Then whatever you know of love would be vain.

But there is a Love that is real, that stands and delivers
More than wishful thinking or the Good Ole Days…
A Love that lasts through the strain of the Dog days
And the pain of disappointing people…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth.

If all you knew of love was agreement and approval,
And the whole world danced while you sang your song…
If every morning greeted you with sunshine and rainbows
And the endless praise of life-long admirers,
Then what you call Love is at best empty.

But there is a Love that holds on to you when life pushes back,
And embraces you warmly when people grow cold.
A Love that endures the pelting of blinding storms
And the ignorance of sightless critics…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth. [click to continue…]

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Leading the Team Out of a Maze

Nobody talks about the life-changing leader who helped them raise their umbrella at the beach.  Influence happens only rarely in comfort zones or times of ease. Vision is not the starry-eyed product of Monday morning quarterbacks or couch potatoes. Adversity was made for leadership.  And leaders were made for adversity.

Seth Godin puts it this way: [click to continue…]

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Thunderstorm and lightnings in night over a lake with reflaction

It doesn’t take much for a breeze
To become a roaring fury –
Or a gentle, soaking shower
To become a fierce, howling squall.
In a matter of mere moments,
The elements that nourish you
Can soon threaten to destroy you
Or just paralyze you with fear.

That is true in the natural…
More so in the relational.
Sometimes the waves that pound at you
Are tides of public opinion.
Sometimes the winds that howl to you
Are the voices of the critics.
Sometimes the raindrops that pelt you
Are problems with no solutions.

When storms are raging,
It’s time for engaging
Your faith, your hope, and your love. [click to continue…]

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Shadows

Into every life there come those moments that cut new paths – awkward, ugly paths – across our landscape.  Shadow experiences that block the warmth of the sun’s rays and leave us in a dark spot – or leave dark spots on us.

Most of these shadow moments are fleeting.  Just as the sun stays in motion across the sky and recasts the shadows on the ground, life moves on and the light returns to our lives.

But sometimes the Shadow has a life and mind of its own.  Sometimes it simply refuses to leave, and we’re left with the scars and the questions and the daytime darkness that threaten to block our sun forever.  Sometimes, regardless of the truths we know or the time gone by, it just seems that the Shadow’s always there.

When the Shadow’s always there, if feels as though you have your own personal cloud suspended right over you, while the rest of the world basks in the sunshine.  It’s easy to worry that you’re everybody’s else’s downer… when the Shadow’s always there. [click to continue…]

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Adversity

Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.” -Matthew Henry

You’re thinking you must have done something terrible.  Or maybe that God’s been playing favorites, and you’re not one of them.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re going through adversity, you seem to be surrounded by people whose lives seem so easy?  So effortless?

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to feel offended – actually offended – when you’re plowing through the tough stuff?  As if God or life or the world owed you something and hasn’t paid up?

Let’s face it – nobody gets up in the morning yearning for a hard day.  Nobody prays for more pain.  And yet go to any source of earthly or heavenly wisdom, and you’ll see somebody talking about the pure value of adversity.  Let’s just start at the top:

It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes (Psalm 119:71).

Speak for yourself, holy man!  This is twenty-first century America, where God owes us an easy life.  We’re on his winning team and all that.

Right?

Think again.

Some of the most profound wisdom you can ever attain will come at the other end of affliction, which is a general word for whatever crap you’re going through.  If it hurts, it’s affliction.  I know, yours is unique and your situation is different.  I know – believe me, I know – that your pain is real and you’d do just about anything for some relief.

I also know that if you’re right in the middle of the affliction right now, you may probably want to save this for future reference.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the abundant treasure when all you can do is feel the fire of the furnace.  But I want to tell you that there truly is beauty, even in your moments of deep pain.  Learning from the experience of the psalmist, you can find ways that what looks bad today can lead to extraordinary goodness tomorrow.

What’s so good about affliction? [click to continue…]

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Falling 2

Okay, so you bit the dust.

Or somebody else rubbed your face in it.

You zigged when life or the economy or the whole dang world zagged, and now you’re in the soup.

As a 55-year veteran of falling, regardless of the reason, let me take on the role of Captain Obvious:  It hurts.  And it’s way past scary to try and get back up.

And that’s exactly why you’d better have a Source beyond your own willpower to make that happen.  Check this out: [click to continue…]

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Pouting 2

Having it rough lately?

Blues gotcha by the, um, barnacles?

Feeling betrayed by your so-called friends, or battered by life in general?

Ready for that pity party?

Let me suggest a couple of guys to leave off the invitation list.  [click to continue…]

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Tightening Your Grip

by Andy Wood on February 25, 2014

in 100 Words

Aiming Shotgun

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess (Hebrews 4:14, NIV)

Ever yank the trigger on a shotgun?

You probably learned an important lesson.

And you may have learned it the hard way… [click to continue…]

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(Unlike the previous story, this one actually happened)

Day 0

Lazarus TombMorning seems to come more quickly in Bethany. This village, whose name means “House of Affliction,” sits on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.  Seems fitting, I suppose.  One of three designated healing centers in Israel, Bethany is certainly no place for slumber.  Even one of the town’s leaders, Simon, has earned the nickname “the Leper” for obvious reasons.

This place gets up early for healthcare.

In one particular house, the residents have yet to sleep. There a man named Lazarus lies very ill, and nothing seems to help.  His sisters Martha and Mary care for him around the clock. Martha has spent the night on her feet; Mary has spent the night on her knees.  Nothing has helped.

If only Jesus were here.  That’s the conclusion both sisters – usually so different in perspective – agree upon.  They know Jesus loves them uniquely; their home has been His refuge. Jesus faithfully and completely heals perfect strangers. Lazarus He loves!  This is a no-brainer, if they can just get word to Him in time. [click to continue…]

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