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Commitment

Nighttime PrayerJordan’s heart is still awake, even though his body surrendered to sleep an hour ago. He’s restless. Anticipating. Watching and listening for that heart connection he once knew. In the psalmist’s language, Jordan is thirsty like a deer panting for streams of water.  He knows what he’s thirsty for, and He knows that God is faithful.  And yet in this dry season, He feels so far away.

Caitlyn waits all the time, but the nighttime seems the rudest. She waits for a change in her mother’s prognosis, even though no change is coming. She waits for that dreaded decline in respiration, though it seems her Mama is too tough and too stubborn to die. The days keep her busy, but the nights at the bedside turn up the volume on Caitlyn’s grieving heart.  She knows that ultimately what she’s waiting for is the Lord.  And He feels so far away.

Brody is exhausted. It’s been the longest night of his professional life, but the rookie firefighter forges ahead through the rubble of what once was a safe place for kids; a cruel tornado had other ideas. Keeping his own two children, ages 4 and 2, close in his heart, Brody alternately prays he will find survivors and rages that a just, loving God lets innocent children die. His faith is as weary as his body and mind. He wants to believe God.  But He feels so far away.

Cindy sorts through photos and memories of what sometimes looks like someone else’s life. She called it her “days of awakening,” and so they were.  Though she had been a believer since she was 11 years old, amazing things began to happen in Cindy’s life when she was a student in college. Unusual, near-instant answers to prayer. Life-changing mission trips where once she even witnessed a miraculous healing. Extraordinary spiritual growth.  Now ten years later, Cindy is hungry to see those days of awakening again. But it’s been a long time, and He feels so far away. [click to continue…]

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English: Scroll of the Psalms

Okay, let’s start an argument. What would you say are the two most important words in the Bible?

You’re wrong.

I know because my two words are (probably) different, and I know I’m right.

Yeah, yeah, I know, they’re all important. But the way I figure it, if the Lord took the time to repeat something over and over and over, He must be getting at something.

Now I have to admit, it took me about 40 years to realize this. Which is about how long it took Moses to figure some things out, too, but I digress. The reason I took so long is because I let my brain check out when it should have been sitting up and taking notice. [click to continue…]

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Something changed that night.  And you are the beneficiary.  But so many things changed in and around that night that this sometimes gets lost in the shuffle and scuffle.

For three-plus years, Jesus-the-Master had been leading a band of twelve full-time followers.  “Disciples,” He called them.  And they did what disciples do.  Listen.  Learn.  Serve.  Make mistakes.  Listen.  Lean some more.  Serve some more.  There were teachable moments and forgettable moments.  Fighting times and healing times.

But just before His death, Jesus was giving these loyal men (Judas had already left) a final round of teaching.  One guy calls this, “Jesus’ Cram for the Final Exam.”  I love it.

Tucked in between these massive concepts about vines and branches and the coming Holy Spirit, Jesus rewrote the contract between Him and those who follow.  Read this carefully: [click to continue…]

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I keep a list of Darling Words – words that have a lot of charm or inspire the imagination.  “Forever” is one of those words.  It speaks of life.  Grace.  Commitment.  And a long, long time.

Used poetically, Forever speaks of a depth of love that’s supposed to exceed the way we feel about watermelon or melted cheese on tater tots.  It’s supposed to last longer than the latest distraction or the next annoying thing somebody does.

Forever is sometimes used to take a snapshot of a moment or a feeling.  It’s the language of a hopeless romantic or magical thinker, inviting someone to a lifetime of adventure.

But more than that, Forever speaks the language of letting go of the past and starting something new.  It speaks of a lifetime pursuit worth waiting for or something more powerful than death and the grave.

We come by our attraction to Forever honestly.  The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  In spite of the vanity of our fallen condition, we are instinctively drawn to love for the long haul and life beyond this lifetime.  Why, then, is “Forever” such a fleeting thing?  Why don’t connections or commitments last beyond the latest inconvenience or frustration? [click to continue…]

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We live in a disposable culture.  “Old” has been redefined by phone companies in terms of seconds, and kommitment has been karikatured by kertain kelebrities as a multimillion-dollar hoax. And in a culture where the official religion is the Church of Relative Truth, disposing of beliefs or vows is old news.

Science has made recycling possible, but we’ve taken the plunge with some things – and people – that never should have been “cycled” in the first place. It’s one thing to recycle McDonald’s napkins; recycling children is another story.  And some people recycle relationships with little more care than they might recycle motor oil or a milk jug.

Of course, some things should be disposed of, either because they’ve satisfied their purpose or because they hinder our growth and progress.  Henry Cloud, in his must-read book Necessary Endings, says,

“Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”

We can’t be free to let go, however, until we have some clear life anchors – those beliefs, relationships, and commitments that keep us grounded and pointed in the right direction.  Simply put, there are some things you should never let go of.  The question is, how do you know what to throw away and what to keep?  What’s the difference between a relationship or belief that serves as an anchor and one that is more like a ball-and-chain?

Here’s where I would start in your search for life anchors: [click to continue…]

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(Sort-of-random thoughts at 30,000 feet with a lot of free time on my hands…)

It takes minutes to make paper fly; to build something capable of carrying you long distances takes months, and a lot of helpful, smart people.  The same is true with your important dreams – and your character.

You were created with the language of Forever in your heart, and nothing else will satisfy.

“I will” spoken with resolve has power, but your resolve will be tested and the limits of your willpower will be exposed.

You were not born with the wisdom and capacity to wait, but wisdom and reward waits for those who learn to.

God created the world for you, not you for the world – but He does hold you accountable for leaving it better than you found it.

A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them.  Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them.

Summers are God’s way of showing that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn.

I just saw a man express his gratitude by giving up his first class seat to a woman… who happened to be wearing a United States Army uniform.  I wonder how I can say thank-you to somebody today.

I will always respect the one who can wait (there’s that word again) with discipline, but then decisively act with courage.

I’m not so sure that God has a plan for you so much as God has a plan period and invites you to participate joyfully in it… Or bruise yourself on it. [click to continue…]

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Frankford and 82nd.  Sitting at the light.  Laura Kate (age almost-3) and I have been on an adventure.  And she is about to ask me a very important question.  But first, a slight rewind…

“Laura Kate, first we’ll go to the grocery store.  Then we’ll go by Grammy’s office and pick up some prizes she has for you.”

“That’s an awesome plan,” she says.

In between, she learns six (count ‘em) verses of an Easter song her uncle Joel and I wrote when he wasn’t much older than she is now.  Which brings us to the traffic light near our house on the way home.

“Papa,” says the voice in the back seat.  “Are you growed up?”

“What did you say?” I reply.  “Am I growed up?”

“Yes,” she says, very seriously.

“Yeah,” I mutter.  “I’m growed up.”

“Yay, Papa!  You did it!

Sometimes I wonder.

I wish it was that easy to claim maturity.  Sometimes I think I’m still a kid when it comes to such things.  And sometimes I feel, well, old.  But there’s a difference between growing up and growing old.  Peter Pan and his Lost Boys were only half right.

It’s OK to be a baby when you’re still a baby.  But there comes a time when the word of God and the world of people come together to shout, “Grow up!” After addressing the Corinthians as a pack of carnal children, Paul writes to the Ephesians that “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

How do you measure your maturity?  How do you know when you’re growing and when you’re floundering?  Let me hasten to say that maturity isn’t found in big words or fat bank accounts, or your ability to make babies or get a job (although keeping a job may impress a few people).

In gauging your maturity level, I have found five things that act as measuring rods for progress.  You are as mature as: [click to continue…]

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A couple of years ago I played around with the idea that maybe there are spiritual gifts – those unusual abilities that are so beyond-the-natural they had to come from the Holy Spirit – that aren’t mentioned in the Bible. The possibilities included gifts such as the gift of dogs, cough, receiving, and criticism.  You can find the whole list here.   

Good news, friends!  The SGC (that’s Spiritual Gifts Commissary for you uninitiated) has announced a fresh, lively shipment of new models for 2011.  I feel most certain you know at least one person with each of these. And who knows?  Your search for understanding of your own supernatural endowments just may end right here. 

Here in no certain order (except alphabetical), are ten MORE spiritual gifts you won’t find in the Bible… but maybe-just-maybe, when the Spirit (or something) is moving, you’ll see these manifestations: [click to continue…]

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What are you going to do with the resurrection of Jesus?

Let’s assume for a minute that you actually believe it.  That three days after He was crucified, He actually rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Now what?

I guess you and I have to decide where to file that.  We can be part of the 380.  Or we can be part of the 120. [click to continue…]

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A Dance of Promises: A Scripture Symphony

by Andy Wood on January 10, 2010

in Uncategorized

Raised HandsI am the Lord, and there is no other;

apart from me there is no God.

I will strengthen you,

though you have not acknowledged Me, 

I will sing of Your strength,

in the morning I will sing of Your love;

for You are my fortress,

my refuge in times of trouble. 

Call upon Me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.

 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

My goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life,

and you will dwell in My house forever. 

I will lie down and sleep in peace,

for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. 

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.  [click to continue…]

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