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Suffering

(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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PainCharles is nothing short of an odd combination.  He’s an immensely popular preacher and pastor, having preached to more people than anyone else on the planet, with the exception of Billy Graham and perhaps a couple of others. Yet while he rarely shows it, he’s a physical mess.  He suffers from rheumatic gout and kidney disease, and there are days he can’t even leave the house because of the excruciating pain.

His wife is a mess.  This woman, whom he loves dearly, has disabilities of her own, and this weighs heavily on Charles.

His finances are a mess. Despite the reach of Charles’ ministry, a sober look at his books reveals an ugly secret: the man is broke-down broke. 

His relationships are a mess. [click to continue…]

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Storm

We all face days of adversity,
Moments of hostility,
Nights of weeping, uncertainty, regret.
But sometimes those days extend into weeks,
The moments into seasons,
The nights into a relentless deluge with no break in sight.
We all carry a plan for that rainy day,
But what do you do when the storms are raging? [click to continue…]

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Is He Worthy of Honor When Your Heart is Broken?

by Andy Wood on October 19, 2012

in 100 Words

It’s one thing to honor God when your quiver, nest and storehouses are full.

Honoring Him in times of great loss is quite another.

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Today’s a special day – not just because it’s my daughter-in-law’s birthday – that would make it special enough!  But today’s also the fifth birthday of this site.

Almost 10 years ago my friend Kevin Rhoads was telling me about a new way to communicate that had become really popular – something called “blogging,” which was short for “web log.”  “It’s sort of like an online journal,” he said.

Hmmph.  Knowing the kind of stuff I usually put in my journal, my first reaction was, “That’s a crazy idea.  Who would want to read that?”

Then a couple of years later I wrote a book for a 40-day church campaign, complete with videos and teaching sessions, called LifeVesting.  You can read the back story here.  After that, I was looking for ideas to keep the momentum and to expand the message that was in that book.

It was then that I was introduced, I think by Kevin again, to Seth Godin’s blog, and I was hooked as a reader and inspired as a writer.  So that’s how a blog can help.

So on October 12, 2007, the LifeVesting site was launched.  Five years into it, this is post number 780.  Through a wide variety of ideas, rants, thinking-by-writing, and a few pictures along the way, the central theme remains the same:  Your life can be better tomorrow than it is today.  You can create your future, solve problems, impact eternity, and really live today.

This was never intended to be just a blog site, and I’m excited about new plans that are coming.  Soon, Lord willing, I will be developing the “web site” side of this ministry in which we offer a newly-rewritten LifeVesting book, other books and media, and live and online seminars.  In addition to that, we are already working on a web site for The LifeVesting Group, our professional counseling and coaching ministry.  More on that very soon.

But today we celebrate.  Or at least I do, and you get to peer in.  In thinking about what I could share in terms of a “best of” or “most popular,” I found a plug-in that helps me know how often different posts have been shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google-Plus by you, the readers.  There could be many reasons why somebody clicks on a post or page, but only one reason they would share it – it must have meant something to them and they wanted others to see it as well.

So here’s a countdown of the top 11 most-shared posts over the past five years (there was a tie for 10th).  Please click on a few of these – maybe you can see what the excitement was all about.  (Of course, feel free to share them again!) [click to continue…]

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When the burdens overwhelm me
And the floods begin to rise
When I see the circumstances
Through lonely, helpless eyes,
There’s a place to go for refuge
And a place to be restored.
And when the storm has passed away,
I’ll be stronger than before.

It’s a place called Higher Ground.  David referred to it as a “rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1).  “Take me there when my heart is overwhelmed,” he prayed.

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, it was fairly common to hear small craft advisories and warnings of approaching storms or hurricanes in which people in “low‑lying areas” are warned to move to higher ground.  The danger for them is that the storm can literally overwhelm them.

In Psalm 61, David finds himself in a situation in which he is under such pressure of heart that he doesn’t think he can deal with it by himself.  He’s in a “low-lying area” spiritually and circumstantially.  Can you relate? [click to continue…]

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The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. . . The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope. (C. H. Spurgeon)

In East Tennessee a mother suffers a broken leg and a devastated heart as a tornado claims the life of her baby.

In West Alabama a couple hears a noise and opens the front door of their home.  Seconds later, there is no more home, and no more couple.

123 tornadoes, so I hear,  in one day.  The death toll at this point:  319.

Meanwhile, on the same day, in East Texas a spiritual champion and one of the most respected leaders of his generation collides with destiny in the form of a tractor trailer.

And as the world reels and the grieving begins in earnest, a rude reminder comes collecting – the winds blow and the rains fall on the just and the unjust, and none of us has any guarantee of tomorrow.

Does that anger you?  Me, too.

Does it seem unfair?  I get that.  Why do tornados never seem to level prisons?

We can huff on our high horse all we want, but guess what?  Neither you nor I will change the fact that life is unfairly short and at times unbearably hard.

Is that God’s fault?  I’m sure we’ll get our dose of that from the usual sources.  How come nobody ever “blames” God when money’s in the bank, gas is cheap and the ocean is calm? [click to continue…]

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Who’s on First?

by Andy Wood on December 6, 2010

in Following Your Passion,LV Cycle

It’s a famous scene in the movie “City Slickers.”  Curley, the cowboy character played by Jack Palance, says to Billy Midlife-Crisis-Angst Crystal:

“You city folk, you worry about a lot of [stuff]…  You all come up here about the same age, same problems.  Spend about 50 weeks a year getting’ knots in your rope and then you think two weeks up here will untie ‘em for ya’.  And none of you get it.  Do you know what the secret of life is?”

“No, what?” says Crystal.

“This,” Curley says, holding up one finger.

“Your finger?”

“One thing.  Just one thing.  You stick to that and everything else don’t mean [nothing].”

“That’s great, but… what’s the one thing?”

“That’s what you gotta figure out.”

Tough times have a way of bringing out complicated questions.  Ever since Cain killed Abel, or Job’s friends made a “sympathy” visit, people have responded to adversity by haggling and hand-wringing over the deep, often-unanswerable questions in life.  Questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Who’s responsible for that?”

During times like that, we all need somebody who can again bring us back to consciousness. [click to continue…]

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Ever have this happen in school?  You study most of the night for your 8:00 history class.  You’re ready with the names, dates, big themes and theories.  You show up loaded for historic bear… only to discover your history exam isn’t until next week.

Meanwhile, in your 9:00 chemistry class…

Oh…  crap…  Tell me I didn’t just study for the wrong test.

I did.  And maybe you have, too.

You see, for years I’ve been studying for the Midterm Patience Exam.  It’s become something of a byword in Christian circles, if not a bad joke: [click to continue…]

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drowningYears ago I led a high-school junior to Christ with the promise that He would make her life easier and her circumstances better.

He didn’t.

A few months later she wrote something to this effect in a letter to me:  “Why is it that all this trouble started after I became a Christian?  Before I was saved, I never had this kind of trouble.”  How would you respond?

Following the tragic and untimely death of his son, a grieving father looked directly at me and said, “God is punishing me for not taking my boy to church.”  What would you tell him?

Ever since Cain killed Abel, and Job lost nearly everything dear to him, the universal question of the race has been, “Why?”  [click to continue…]

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