Trials

(The Squeeze, Part 2)

In the previous post I introduced the idea of the squeeze – that when life comes calling or the world comes knocking and we get squeezed, whatever is on the inside comes flying out.  Specifically, when life or the world squeezes, two things quickly become evident – what’s in your character (your decisions) and what’s in your heart (your desires).

That why Peter addresses this encouragement to a group of Christ followers who were living life in The Squeeze:

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:1-3, NIV).

When Our Flesh Demands Relief

People who are hurting instinctively crave relief.

NOW!

Like Job, the tendency is to move from “Lord I’m trusting you for deliverance” to “Lord stop it now or explain yourself!

When we stubbornly hold onto the demand for God to change things, five kinds of behavior emerge. [click to continue…]

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Maybe I’m weird (okay who said that?).  But this video fascinates me, and I can watch it over and over.

Maybe it’s the technology involved in capturing the motion.  Or…

Maybe it’s because it illustrates an important truth I learned years ago:

Q. – Squeeze an orange until something gives, and what comes out? 

A. – Orange juice.

Q. – Why does orange juice come out?

A. – Because orange juice is what’s inside.

Q. – So what comes out of you when you get squeezed?

A. – Whatever is inside.

The Squeeze.  Can you relate?  The truth is, sometimes the world or the devil or life-in-general comes calling, and there ain’t room enough in this here peel for the both of us.  Something’s gotta give. 

And out it comes… whatever is on the inside.

That’s why I just smile whenever I hear somebody blurt out something, then hurriedly say, “Oh… I didn’t mean to say that.”  [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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Jason’s Story Could be Yours

by Andy Wood on May 24, 2010

in Turning Points

(A Turning Point Story)

Have you ever met someone who, in a matter of a few minutes, made you so mad you wanted to reach across a Pizza Hut booth and slap some sense into him?  Or lay hands on him… by the throat?  Or baptize him with a pitcher of Pepsi (‘cause he’s not worth wasting a pitcher of real Coke on)? 

If you answered yes to any of those, you may have once been in youth ministry, too.  Or you’re just a little weird when it comes to Pizza Hut.

This is a story with a surprise ending.  This is Jason’s story.  And it could be yours… or the next teenager you meet. [click to continue…]

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When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t walk through “the fire” alone?

Isn’t it interesting that we nevertheless must walk through the fire?

God doesn’t seem to need our advice for how hot the flames should be,

or even where in the natural they come from.

He only asks that, when the pathway leads through them, we keep moving.

And when the flames taunt, we keep trusting.

(Lyrics from “How Firm a Foundation.”  Photo credit:  AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

(For more stunning photography from the San Bartolome de Pinares in Spain, click here)

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trust-2It’s the ultimate test, and I’ve blown it.  Often.  Thank God He’s let me live to go one more round or two, maybe to get it right next time.

In a world awash with the expectation of push-button success and results, what do you do when you’ve done everything you know to do, and you still haven’t seen what you expect – what you long for and expect to see? [click to continue…]

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(10 Things God Uses to Enlarge Your Legacy)

stretchOkay, take your mark.  You’re about to take off on a marathon.  Your coach is the Lord Jesus, the Author of your faith.  Under His direction, you’ve cast aside any weights that may hinder you.  At His instruction, you clear your way of any sin that might entangle you.  At His signal, you’re off!  And following His wise counsel, you have focused your attention on him, because he’s the Finisher of your faith as well.

You lengthen your stride and settle in.  You know this is no sprint; you’re in it for the long run.  Before long your body, mind, will, and emotions, begin signaling you, this won’t be easy.  But about the time you reach your first obstacle, God has a surprise for you.  You are not alone! You’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! And they’re “in the grandstands” cheering you on.

These aren’t just spectators.  They’re your “friends in high places” – people who have run the same race and faced the same obstacles you face.  In this greatness are models of faith and perseverance who

by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment (Hebrews 11:33-37).

These aren’t just dead figures from the past.  Their faith – and witness – live on.  They’re watching you.  Pulling for you.  Believing in you.  Teaching you.  They’re here to testify – that’s what witnesses do – that you, too, can influence a new generation.  They also testify of the tools our Father uses to deepen your message, and enlarge your influence.  Here are a few: [click to continue…]

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The Ring

by Andy Wood on March 14, 2008

in Following Your Passion, LV Cycle

NinjaI had never seen a rank test before.  What I did see impressed me.  And taught me.  I know it’s dangerous to talk in layman’s terms about something you don’t fully understand, but I want to tell you what I saw.  (No, this picture wasn’t it.  I just thought the little fella looked cute.)

For those of you, like me, who have never taken a martial arts class, a rank test is a challenge a student must face in order to receive a higher-ranked belt.  White belts challenge for yellow, yellow belts challenge for blue, and so forth.  I walked in on a Monday night several years ago to what I assumed was a routine karate class, and found out my kid (age 8 at the time) was being tested.  What made it interesting was that he didn’t know it at the time.

Best I can tell, the rank test involved two different parts.  First, students had to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of what they had been taught.  The different moves and techniques were reviewed over and over under the watchful eye of the master.

Then came The Ring.  At least, that’s my name for it.  [click to continue…]

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