joylessThis morning I have the privilege of preaching at Shadow Hills Baptist Church here in Lubbock.  After dreaming about hearing John Piper preaching in my head all night long that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him” (and I’ve never actually listened all the way through to one of his messages), I believe the Lord was “instructing me in the night watches” (Psalm 16:7) to preach on joy, and specifically how we can lose it.  Here’s a quick summary of what I’m sharing there…

The most joyful people on the planet are believers in Jesus Christ.

The most joyless, miserable people on the planet are Christians, too.

Those who don’t have a relationship with Christ don’t know any better, and as they say, “Ignorance is bliss.”  But those of us who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, then somehow lost that sense of His presence, know there is something missing.

I’d like to show you how that’s possible.  How can someone who has experienced this amazing joy suddenly find themselves without it? [click to continue…]

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The inhabitants of a small third-world village were understandably alarmed.  An earthquake was literally shaking every corner of their world, and they were terrified.

All except for one elderly woman, that is, who remained completely calm throughout the whole ordeal.  When things had settled down, one of the villagers asked her, “Weren’t you afraid during that earthquake?”

“No,” she replied, “I wasn’t.  You see, I just rejoiced to know that I have a God who is powerful enough to shake the world.”

Needless to say, she had a “peace that passes all understanding.”  I wonder if I do.  I wonder if you do.

I was speaking on this at a retreat over the weekend and I recognized something really important about the peace that is every Christian’s birthright:

Peace isn’t the punch line of a beauty contest joke or the passive purview of those who breathe deeply and chant.  Peace isn’t for sissies.  It’s the result of a conquest.  It is an expression of the God of Heaven going to war to protect our thoughts and minds.

Read these two well-known verses again and look for the traces of battle: [click to continue…]

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Bryce is a prisoner in his own home.  His really nice home with the pool, three-car garage, RV parking, and more bathrooms than family members.  His “friends” are (too) curious about his life and trappings, like something of a bad sequel to The Great Gatsby.  And despite his material success, Bryce remains restless, empty, and hungry for that One Honest Touch.

Tony is a prisoner in his own accomplishments.  A hyper-achiever, he lives in a world of “What mountain have you climbed lately?”  Last year’s exploits are old news to a bored world, many of whom live vicariously through Tony’s courage and imagination.  Inwardly terrified to admit he’s just as bored and scared as they are, Tony longs for that One Honest Touch.

Madison is a prisoner in her own skin.  Always a head turner looks-wise, for as long as she can remember, Maddie’s life has been revolving door of one vain relationship after another.  Superficial.  Super-physical.  Super-lonely.  Her striking beauty has always ensured her all the attention she could ever ask for.  But it never has given her what her heart cries out for most – that One Honest Touch.

Deep Connection

All of us were created with a capacity, and need for, deep connection.  A Touch.  And our spirits never rest until we have it. [click to continue…]

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I hate sleep.  I’m afraid I may miss something. 

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I “get it” and I get it.

I know that, too.  God’s design and all that.  It just chaps me a little that somebody who lives to be 90 will spend 30 years of their lives physically unconscious… and then talk about “sleeping in” as if it’s a life goal.

What’s even more disturbing, though, is how easy it is to be asleep when our eyes are open.  Spiritually oblivious to a world of life and movement and transformation and possibilities – all ready and waiting… for the awakened spirit.

Snapshots of Awakening

February 3, 1970.  In a small Kentucky Christian college, students showed up for what they thought was a routine chapel service.  It was anything but.  What was supposed to be an hour-long service lasted for 185 hours round the clock.  And the lights never went off in the chapel until Ju [click to continue…]

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dreams 2There are two places from which to dream – a place of frustration, or a place of contentment.  Each has its own perspective and advantages.

Dreaming from a place of frustration is necessary, because without it, nothing would ever change.  Dreaming from a place of contentment is necessary, because without it, nothing would ever remain rooted where it should be.

Dreaming from a place of frustration arms us with hope.  Dreaming from a place of contentment coils us in faith.

Dreaming from a place of frustration helps define our boundaries.  Dreaming from a place of contentment helps raise our standards. [click to continue…]

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As you can probably tell from here and here, I’m a big fan of Winnie the Pooh.  I pretty well ignored him during my first childhood, but in my second – with my own children – he and his friends became some of my favorite characters.

There in the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh is a model of contentment.  He helps his friends, enjoys the outdoors, doesn’t fret about his weight, and never loses his patience.  He loves his honey, and his only real worry is seeing to it he has a plentiful supply.  His friends are high-strung (Rabbit), insecure (Piglet), maternal (Kanga), and playful (Roo), gloomy (Eeyore), egotistical (Owl), and irresponsible (Tigger).

Winnie the Pooh?  He’s just proud to be here.

I think I may have found the secret to the chubby cub’s contentment.  Just outside the hollow tree where he lives is a log that is used for sitting.  Beside the log is a sign that reads, “The Thotful Spot.”  Being a Bear of Very Little Brain, Pooh must think hard, and think often.  Whenever there is a problem or a confusing question, or practically any occasion that requires a brain, he returns to the Thotful Spot to think.  He doesn’t always come up with the right answers.  But he always comes away with an idea.  And he always comes away happy.

Everybody needs a Thoughtful Spot.  [click to continue…]

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Can You Be Content AND Change the World?

by Andy Wood on August 18, 2008

in Tense Truths

Tense Truth:  I must learn to accept the world and its circumstances as it is, not as I would have it.  I must also learn to take courageous action to be an agent of change.  The wisdom to know the difference is found in the discipline of hearing God’s voice.


Contentment and Change decided to play table tennis one day.  I was the ball.  Can you relate?

Serve:  Be grateful for all you have.

Return:  Do something to change the world!

Rest in the Lord.  Wait quietly for Him.

Press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ.

Be still.

Get off your butt.


Seize every opportunity.

Be content!

Don’t be complacent!

Don’t be covetous.

Be courageous.

Wow.  I’m tired, and I’m not ever keeping score.  I’ve never bothered to even count the number of times I’ve zigged (tried to change something) when I should have zagged (been content with the situation).  Or vice-versa – when the call was to hit the ground running, I hit the hay. [click to continue…]

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How’s THIS for a Tip?

by Andy Wood on February 20, 2008

in Consumers, Gamblers, Hoarders, LV Alter-egos, LV Stories

MarvinThen there’s Marvin Burchall.

Two years ago, Marvin is on the job in his native Burmuda, waiting tables at a resort. And from his perspective, that’s all he was doing. His job.

Lynn Bak saw it a bit differently. She saw an outgoing, approachable young man whose impeccable service and attention to detail revealed a professionalism way beyond his 23 years.

Lynn Bak is paid to know these kinds of things. She coordinates the School of International Education in Bermuda for Endicott College, whose main campus is in metropolitan Boston. She travels to the Elbow Beach Bermuda resort every three weeks or so. And a couple of years ago, she got to know Marvin.  You won’t believe what happened next.

[click to continue…]

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