I once read that among those who run in marathon races, somewhere around the 18th mile to the 22nd mile of that 26-mile run, the runner hits “The Wall.”

(That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to a marathon, other than the three days I just hiked through the Disney jungle, but I digress…)

The Wall is a place so hard that the runner thinks he or she can’t possibly continue the race.  It’s a little uncertain whether The Wall is physical or psychological, but it’s real.  And the temptation to drop out of the race is greater at this point than at any time in the race.  The runner feels he can’t make it.  The lungs burn, the heart pounds, and the runner fights dizziness and nausea.  A little voice begins to whisper (or scream), “Why torture yourself?”

You may not run 26-mile marathons, but if you are a follower of Christ, that fact alone means you are in an endurance race.  And you can expect at times to encounter “The Wall.”

You will find The Wall when you have tried time after time to pray consistently, and have failed. [click to continue…]

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I can take you to the spot.

I can point to where I was standing.

The old, worn gold carpet is long gone, I’m sure.  The house on Watson Road has likely been redecorated many times since we lived there.

But there’s no mistaking that spot where I made one of the most life-altering decisions of my life.  And get this:  I never told a soul about it.  In fact, I never uttered a word.  But in a silent transaction of the mind, will, and emotions, with three simple words I began a process of sowing to the wind… and reaping a whirlwind.

The words?



Up. [click to continue…]

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This has been a season for sinking souls.

In California, two very dear friends are facing their second-greatest fear as their son is deployed with the Marines to Afghanistan.  They know the promises of God.  They know full-well that every other military parent or spouse has walked this same path.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the emotions are more than they bargained for.  Tossed about and beat up, their souls are sinking.

Here in Lubbock, a bright young professional had launched a successful and lucrative career when his work was upended by petty, jealous people.  He lost his job and another significant source of income.  And though he was innocent of the lies told against him, and though he has bounced back in a different setting, he still retreats to an emotional cave of isolation, as if he were totally guilty.  Broken, bewildered, and just going through the motions, his soul is sinking.

In my home state, a once-confident, faith-filled woman lives in the wake of one of the most grotesque griefs of all – the death of a dream.  Sure she had heard from the Lord about her future, and bold in her expectations of how He would order her steps, nothing has turned out as expected.  First the heartbreak.  Then the waiting.  Then more disappointment.  Now rudderless and aimless, she feels powerless to choose any direction… her soul is sinking.

However committed or expectant you or I are, none of us is immune to the sinking of the soul. [click to continue…]

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It’s time to break the silence.  So in a minute I’m going to tell you the most shameful, disgraceful thing I’ve ever done. Then I’m going to tell you the second most shameful, disgraceful thing I have ever done.  I’m not proud of either (hence the terms “shameful” and “disgraceful”), but in the spirit of James 5:16, there is healing to be found in honesty and vulnerability.  

More on that in a minute.  But first, here are seven new half-baked ideas that are still baking up in my oven… [click to continue…]

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sun-through-clouds1During the American Civil War, General William T. Sherman was driving his troops through Georgia on his decisive march to the sea.  He had left a small contingent of men behind in a fort on Kennesaw Mountain to guard the rations.  General John Bell Hood of Texas attacked the fort, and a fierce battle followed.  One-third of the men were killed or wounded, and J. M. Corse, the general in command, was severely injured in the fighting.

Just as he was about to hoist up the white flag and surrender, a message came through the signal corps set up on a chain of mountains.  General Sherman was within 15 miles of the fort and had sent the message:  “Hold fast.  We are coming.” Those few words so encouraged the defenders that they held on and kept the fort from falling into the hands of their attackers.

You and I are a little like that contingent of Union soldiers.  We’re part of a victorious army that has been left for a season to be stewards of the resources of our Commander-in-Chief.

And we’re under attack. [click to continue…]

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spiritual-gifts-wordleSpiritual gifts are in the news lately.  Figured out what yours is/are yet?  It’s a fascinating study, provided we approach it with the right attitude.

The Internet Monk suggests that the Holy Spirit gives different people different gifts in different situations – challenging the assumption that we somehow receive a gift load when we are saved and carry that with us throughout a lifetime.

Tim Challies also wrote last month about discovering your giftings.

The Barna Research Group just did a survey on spiritual gifts and discovered some interesting stuff.  Since they’ve been doing this for a while, they reported some fascinating trends among Americans claiming to be born again:

  • Evidently the Holy Spirit is recognizing a greater need for encouragement over the last several years (can’t imagine why!).  The percentage that claims to have the gift of encouragement has tripled – growing steadily from 2% in 1995 to 6% today.
  • Also, apparently the Spirit has decided that Americans have enough understanding of the gospel (or maybe that some of the mega churches have all that sown up).  Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.
  • On the other hand, Lucy, churches may have some ‘splainin’ to do. Evangelicals who have no idea what their gift is rose from 8% in 2000 to 13% today.

One of the questions about spiritual gifts that comes up occasionally is whether the gifts mentioned in Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, and Romans are exclusive. That is, are those sixteen or seventeen spiritual gifts the only ones the Holy Spirit gives?  Were those lists – all of which are different – meant to be just examples, or are they the only possibilities?

That sure came up on the Barna survey!  More than one-fifth (21%) of survey respondents claimed to have spiritual gifts that aren’t mentioned in the Bible.  These include:

  • a sense of humor
  • singing
  • health
  • life
  • happiness
  • patience
  • a job
  • a house
  • compromise
  • premonition
  • creativity
  • clairvoyance.

So I gotta tell you, my wheels are turning.  While it may be risky to step outside the framework of the Bible, the possibility of other spiritual gifts brings up some interesting ideas.  If other spiritual gifts really do manifest themselves in the Body, then I think I may have discovered some.  And I’m sure building a wish list for others.  So with apologies to the Apostle Paul, here are ten possible charismata he just didn’t mention:  [click to continue…]

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(A spiritual leadership fable.)

Hi, I’m Josh.  Pleased to meet you.

Hi, Josh.  I’m Andy.  So tell me about yourself.

I’m a poker.

A what?

A poker.

You mean, like a poker player?

No.  I mean, like a poker in your fireplace.

You’re a poker?

Yep.  Poker.

Okay, I’m steppin’ out a little here, Josh.  What does a poker do?


(Should’ve seen that coming.)  Okaaay.  Pokes what?

I poke people.



You just walk up to them and poke them with your finger?

Naw, not like that.  That’s creepy.

Ya think?

I do for people what a poker does for your fireplace. [click to continue…]

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Hell in the Hallways

by Andy Wood on September 8, 2008

in LV Cycle, Waiting

The LifeVesting Cycle

1.  Allocate your resources.

2.  Explore the possibilities.

3.  Follow your passion.

4.  Execute your plan.

5.  Protect your investment.

6.  Enlarge your capacity.

7.  Wait

It’s one of my biggest fears.

I’m standing face-to-face with the God of heaven to account for my life.

My sin is covered, but God is looking at what I did with the life He gave me.  And he holds up a thumb and index finger, one inch apart.

“Andy,” He says, “you were this close, to seeing it happen, and you quit.  The blessing you were looking for was just around the corner.”  No wonder he’ll wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Many a wonderful idea started well, but never came to fruition because somebody pulled the plug too soon, and refused to wait.

Just for the record and the sake of full disclosure, I hate waiting.  I hate being told that waiting is the solution to any problem or situation I’m facing.  I believe traffic lights will be in hell, and I hate waiting at them – particularly when nobody’s coming from the direction of the green light.  I hate waiting in line and loathe waiting on hold while listening to a computer on the telephone (which will also be in hell).

That said, and my flesh notwithstanding, there is no substitute for time.  And the larger the investment, the longer the wait.  It takes 40 days to make a squash, and 40 years to make an oak tree.  How long do you suppose it takes to make a man or woman of God?  I heard of a recent controversial study that suggests it takes 26.5 years to make an adult in the U.S.  Makes sense to me.  Jewish tradition held that it took 30 years to make a rabbi.  (Yes, that’s why Jesus waited.) [click to continue…]

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