Guidance

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band appears in the 122nd Rose Parade, themed "Building Dreams, Friendships," in Pasadena January 1, 2011.

I grew up in the true home of Mardi Gras. And being in the high school band back in the day, we marched in our share of Mardi Gras parades. It was a nice way to raise money for the band, contribute to local community life, and to create some space between the floats so they didn’t run into each other. Plus, we helped contribute to festive atmosphere of Carnival season.

I had a pretty interesting role in all this, because I was the Drum Major – the guy in the fuzzy hat that directs the band on the street as they march.

Which means I spent a lot of my time marching backwards through the streets of Mobile.

There are two things you learn by marching backwards on a five-mile parade route. First, it’s always better to be at the front of the parade than the back. Why?

Horses. Lots and lots of cancer-free-and-proud-of-it horses, who exist on a high-fiber diet.

Need I say more? [click to continue…]

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Start your engines

It’s hard for Alex to force himself to go to work these days. The honeymoon there is way past over, and the only reason he shows up now is a paycheck.  He compares himself to others who have gone way too long without any job, and feels guilty for complaining.  But this work situation is starting to affect his health, his relationships, and his confidence.  He’s been looking, but no other possibilities have presented themselves.

What does Alex do? Does he endure or does he walk away?  Does he press on, or does he “step out in faith” in search of new opportunities?

Tyler and Jennifer have reached a similar decision, not about work, but about the church they attend.  The congregation has been hit hard with splits, neighborhood transition, and pastoral changes.  They have been a part of this fellowship since they married, and have faithfully served.  But they have moved to another neighborhood themselves, and it feels harder and harder to go back to what feels like a sinking ship.

What do they do? Is this a time to be “steadfast, immovable,” and all that? Or is it a time to “mount up with wings as eagles” and fly away?

(Yeah, you can make the Bible say just about anything you want it to in cases like this.)

These kinds of questions are common for any believer… [click to continue…]

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Is God Loosening Your Tent Stakes?

by Andy Wood on November 16, 2012

in Since You Asked

My friend Bruce Reinhardt has a unique way of communicating through metaphors.  He’s the one who taught me this phrase to describe when God is preparing us for a major change.  “We can look back and see that the Lord was loosening our tent stakes.”

I have long ago lost count of the number of times I have used that imagery.  It especially speaks to people who tend to think their “tents” (translation:  lives) are anchored in concrete.

If your heart’s still lost somewhere on Walton’s Mountain or you’re still imagining working at that same location until you’re shipped off to the retirement home you may need to wake up for this one.  We’re not just living in a mobile society.  We’re living in a changing one.

Fact is, you may actually be less mobile and still have multiple changes.  As of this year I have lived in Lubbock, Texas longer than anywhere in my life – 16 years.  But I’ve drawn paychecks from 16 different places.  Not all full-time, of course. But the point is, many of those had to do with changes that were handed to me that I didn’t ask for.  And not all of them involved leaving a place of employment. [click to continue…]

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Do you believe that God has a plan for everybody’s life?  Do you believe that He wants you to know what that plan is?

Ask the average believer and he or she will probably answer, “of course.”  The idea that God has a plan for our lives is right up there with the idea that we have a guardian angel and God wants us to go do heaven.

Ask Henry Blackaby, however, and he’ll probably tell you something different.  The esteemed author of Experiencing God says we get it backwards.  It’s not that God has a plan for my life… it’s that God has a plan, period.  And our task is to align ourselves with God’s plan for the world.

Point taken.  That doesn’t change the fact, however, that those whose hearts are turned toward God have a sincere desire to please Him, and to have confidence that they are following in a path He wants the to follow.

So… back to the question someone asked – How do you know when you’re doing God’s will?  Let me suggest three guideposts you can use to evaluate your life in light of God’s will for you. [click to continue…]

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If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulder,
I know my brother that He will carry you.
-Scott Wesley Brown

It was on an old four-propeller Lockheed Constellation airplane, on an 18-hour-long flight from Tokyo to San Francisco.  It was the mid-1950s.  Carol Willis was just a baby and had a severe earache.  To try to comfort her, her dad walked her up and down the aisle of that old plane throughout that long night.  If you’ve ever traveled with ear-sensitive children, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Over the years the family nightmare became something of the family joke.  Harlan – my father-in-law – would say, “I walked all the way across the Pacific Ocean carrying you in my arms.”

But the family joke also became the family prophecy and the family legacy, and it was a part of Carol’s emotional DNA.  Carol spent her growing up years in Thailand, where she and her family traveled across that ocean again to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to a nation they love to this day. [click to continue…]

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If you just read the title of this and are still reading, you don’t have time for cute stories or complicated formulas, so I’ll just get to the point, if that’s OK.

If you are in a situation where you are at a complete loss as to what to do, it’s because you need to reset your glance and your gaze.  You have allowed your gaze – your long-term focus – to become set on your circumstances, your prayer request, your frustration, your pain, your desperate desire for change, or something other than the Lord.  You’re glancing at God, asking Him to fix whatever you’re gazing at.

Nice try.  I understand why.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Reset your gaze on God, and your glance on the world around you.

That’s what it means to wait on the Lord.

That’s what it means to praise, or to worship

Yes, that’s in the Bible. [click to continue…]

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As long as people have searched for direction, worshipped their Creator, and looked for language to express their passion and warmth, we have returned again and again to stand by the fire.

The fire was an agent of God’s guidance and an ongoing expression of worship in the days of the tabernacle.  And we kept returning to stand by the fire.

A refiner and cleansing agent of the hearts of men, the fire was a symbol of God’s hatred for sin and an affirmation for the prophets who spoke His truth.  And again and again, we kept returning to stand by the fire.

The fire was a weapon of God’s voice, a light in the darkness, and an expression of hospitality and welcome. And from the dark places and lonely spaces, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

The fire revealed a passion for God’s word in our bones, the baptism of the believer, the instrument of God’s testing, and the piercing gaze of the risen Christ.  And out of desperation or terror, love or longing, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

And even today the Spirit and Bride invite you to come.  To be warmed and convicted and cleansed and restored and pure as you stand by the fire. [click to continue…]

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The other day I turned left out of a parking lot and started heading south on Avenue Q, between 19th and 34th Streets in Lubbock, where I live.  If you’re not familiar with that stretch of road, it’s a seven-lane thoroughfare, with three lanes each heading south and north, and a turn lane.  Big.  Wide.  Sprawling.  Busy.

It was in the afternoon, around 3:00 or so.  I was talking on the phone with Joel, my son.  Traffic was busy enough, but not nuts.  I was in the middle lane, with cars pretty much all around me – left and right, front and back.  I was probably about a quarter mile from the 34th Street intersection when the strangest thing began to happen.

I went blind. [click to continue…]

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Had coffee with a sweet friend last week.  She was describing the amazing things the Lord has worked in her life over the summer as she has gone through a wonderfully painful, gloriously gut-wrenching season.  Each day the Lord has brought new strength, insights, healing, and refreshing as she prepares for a future that is far less certain… but far more peaceful.

Did you get that?

Far less certain, but far more peaceful.

Like many people, she had defined peace and satisfaction in terms of being able to predict what the future held (among other things).  Now as she returns to school, she heads off into an unknown destiny, with lots of uncertainties.  But she has a phenomenal peace that she is being held right in the center of God’s heart and hand.

Here’s how she expressed it to me.  I was so touched, I wanted to share it with you (my paraphrase): [click to continue…]

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So many random thoughts or snippets of wisdom (or something)… so little time.  Here are seven more ideas that are still in my “oven”.  And if you’re a sucker for these kinds of things, and just can’t get enough from Facebook or Twitter, check this out.  Or maybe this or this.

Not long ago I read about this great procrastination test on the Psychology Today website.  The test helps you target patterns of procrastination, then do something to change them.  I clicked on the link and left it on my browser for a couple of days until I could get to it.  Yes… I procrastinated taking the procrastination test.  Until the browser locked up and I had to restart it… and lost the test.  Ugh.  The good news is, I found it again (thanks, Google).  The bad news is, I’m still procrastinating.  If you’d like to load it up and procrastinate taking it with me, you can find it here. [click to continue…]

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