From the monthly archives:

January 2009

xmma-00145News Flash!  This just in…  In a shocking reversal of public opinion, somebody thinks something’s wrong with the church.

Here’s a blast from the past from an old B.C. Cartoon.  Picture the anthill, and the Dad ant poking his head out the top.  His teenaged son is coming back from the movies.

Dad:  “How was the disaster movie, son?”

Son:  “A disaster.”

Son:  “Why do they make so many disaster movies, Dad?”

Dad:  “So when Armageddon comes, we can all go back to sleep and say we’ve seen it already.”

I can see a 2009 update:

Dad:  “How was the disaster movie, son?”

Son:  “A disaster.”

Son:  “I thought we’d see a bunch of explosions, death and mayhem.”

Dad:  “Let me guess – you saw the Ted Haggard documentary instead.”

Pick your spot – inside the church or outside.  Mainline, sideline, or no-line.  House churches and megachurches.  Political and “news” organizations.  Cultural elitists and preachers.  Gay rights advocates and Fred Phelps.  Everybody seems to converge on one common opinion:

The church sucks. [click to continue…]

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loving-fatherGod wants us to get it.  We typically don’t.

We want to have it.  We often won’t.

God says, if you don’t get it, you won’t have it.  And you can’t have it just by going out and getting it.  You have to… well, get it, first.

Get it?

I think I’ll start over.

Jesus told a variety of stories that present God as a wealthy landowner with servants.  These include the laborers in the vineyard, the wheat and the tares, the talents, the landowner, and the vine-growers. The common theme that runs through each story is that humans fail to understand the heart of the One who owns it all.  To God, the relationship always is more important than the “stuff.”

Get it?

The laborers in the vineyard didn’t.  Our friend the hoarder didn’t.  The vine-growers sure didn’t get it.  And while we’re keeping score, neither did the Prodigal Son or his pouting older sibling.

They all missed it.

Somehow they all got it in their head that God was holding back, unfair, mean, scary, selfish, whatever.  They became so hung up in the grapes and the goats, they missed it.

And lost it.

Because they didn’t get it. [click to continue…]

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Tense Truth: If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a citizen of a kingdom that is always one generation from extinction, and you are that generation. On the other hand, you are part of a kingdom that will never die. Armed with the most relevant, life-giving message ever known to mankind, we reach out with urgency to a dying generation, yet with confidence in a living God.

angel-prayerBorn on the first Easter and commissioned forty days later, the history and destiny of the world has been forever changed and shaped by an army sent forth by the Lord Jesus Himself. You are now part of that army.

Conceived in the eternal heart of God, nurtured in the womb of a rich man’s grave, this army entered the world with very little fanfare. There were no parades. No marches. No legions of soldiers with their pomp and circumstance.

Rome hardly noticed; most of Jerusalem heaved a sigh of relief. The Rabble-rouser was dead, His disciples terrorized, His followers shocked numb. The Armies of Death had won again, and life(!) would go on as usual.

Then came Sunday. Oh, then came Sunday!

Then rolled the stone.

Then fell the guardians of the grave.

Then rose the Lamb, the Lion, the Prince of Peace!

Out came the cry, at first as hoarse as a whisper: “He’s alive! And He’s calling for you.”

From everywhere they came: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, male and female, the religious and the rebels. They saw for themselves the difference a risen Savior would make. And true to the prophecies of Daniel, out of the kingdom of Rome there rose a kingdom that would never, never die – one that would subdue all other kingdoms and fill the world. And true to God’s promise, that kingdom and its Resurrection Army – your Resurrection Army – is still alive and well today.

What gives this Resurrection Army its power to overcome? [click to continue…]

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truth-loveThis is about the difference between creeds and deeds.  Action and diction.  Your words and your walk.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you want to be known and respected as a man or woman of truth.  That may be a big assumption, of course, since it’s possible that you went to bed last night with the happy memory of somebody you conned.

But if you’re a believer, God has placed a desire in your heart to please Him, and truth is one of the things that does that.  So is love.  So it’s no surprise that the Bible describes spiritual maturity as the fine art of “speaking the truth in love.”

And it is a fine art.  What do you do when words and wishes collide?  What do you say when your honest thoughts and feelings aren’t very loving?

Years ago I was sitting in a therapy group, where a couple of people were talking about their “inner child” and their “inner adolescent.”  It was a poignant discussion by some people who were sincerely seeking healing and growth.  But I couldn’t help but think, “My problem isn’t my inner child, or my inner adolescent.  My problem is with my inner jackass.”

I figured it would be better to stay quiet.  Love?  Maybe.  Self-protection?  No doubt about it.  I said it best when I said nothing at all.

The greatest love tends to show up in the fewest words.  [click to continue…]

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inaugurationOkay, surely this is just a coincidence.

During the days of the Carter administration, “Carter Country” was a popular sitcom.  Reagan’s presidency produced a number of “this-guy’s-gonna-get-us-killed” movies about nuclear war, including “The Day After.”  The Clinton years gave us record numbers of movies made about the U.S. President – including “Dave,”  “Wag the Dog,” and “Primary Colors.”  And the Bush years produced a mixed bag of spiritual themes (“Chronicles of Narnia,” “Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” and “The Passion of the Christ”) and war-on-terrorism flicks and shows like “The Unit.”

So President Obama takes the oath yesterday.  And what’s the first new TV rollout, starting tonight?

Lie to Me.”

No relation whatsoever, I’m sure.

Here are my favorite two quotes from yesterday: [click to continue…]

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I Gave God Time

by Andy Wood on January 19, 2009

in Life Currency,LV Cycle,LV Stories,Time,Waiting

(For once.  Sort of.  Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice.)

The house was quiet, as it usually is at 4:30 a.m.  I was awake, stretched out on my face on the living room floor.  I’d been studying the life of Abraham.  I’d been studying my life, too.  It was Fall 1997.

Two years earlier, I’d been through a “crash and burn” experience, followed by a difficult, but amazing healing and restoration process.  Through it all, I had a more intimate relationship with the Lord, a greater marriage than ever, and an awesome relationship with my kids.  I was serving on the staff of an exciting, dynamic church.  Just one thing was missing.

“Lord,” I asked.  “When will I get to be a senior pastor again?”

There as I prayed, Abraham’s faith became mine, and I received the freedom and faith to enter into new territory with the Lord.

“You haven’t told me what kind of church you want,” I heard Him say.

The faith began to rise, and I began to write: [click to continue…]

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Help Wanted:  Branches

Master of the Universe, a firm dedicated to establishing change agencies throughout the world and providing eternal dwelling places for an undisclosed number of people, is seeking branches on which to conduct its fruit-bearing strategy.  Generous benefit package.  Unlimited positions available to trusting and trustworthy candidates.  No previous experience necessary.  Will train the right candidate(s).  (Please note:  No advancement possible.  This is an entry- and exit-level position.  The other two positions – Vine and Gardener – have been permanently filled.)

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Stop doing God’s job.  Not only is it unnecessary, it’s ridiculous.  And believe me, when you try to solve God-sized problems with man-sized vision and wisdom, you will be ridiculed.

So, following up from the last post, how DO we approach situations, opportunities, challenges, and problems that are larger than we are?

You approach them like a branch would.  [click to continue…]

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Imagine the looks and the laughs.  You’re a servant – socially, a nobody.  You own no property, have little-to-no money.  On a busy city sidewalk, you are nameless and faceless.

And yet here you are, in the local real estate office, looking for investment properties.

Or maybe sitting around the local JerusaBucks, sipping on a latte and asking some of the locals about business opportunities or stock market preferences.

You’re a legend in your own mind.  But if anyone knew you, they’d laugh you out the door.

Version 2.0

Imagine the awkwardness and anguish.  You’re a servant – socially a nobody.  You own no property, have little-to-no money.  On a busy city sidewalk… well, you get it.

And yet here you are, being asked by the most powerful man you know, to look out for part of his money – more money than you’ve ever seen, much less ever held in your hand.

Echoes of your parents’ proverbs still ring in your ear – stuff like, “A fool and his money are soon parted.

Can’t he find someone else for the job?  This is risky business, and you’re no risk taker.

Isn’t there some hole somewhere…?

Above Your Pay Grade?

How do you handle assignments that are, in the words of the president-elect, “above your pay grade?” [click to continue…]

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Last week at a yet-to-be-revealed location, the President of the United States was assassinated.

Don’t rush to your local paper – you won’t find any mention of it in the press.  Many people believe it was a conspiracy, but there will be no arrests.  Nor will you hear of trials, sentences, or executions.  And lest I start an ugly rumor, I’m not talking about President Bush, or President-elect Obama.  This president didn’t actually make it to the White House, or Congress, or even a voting booth before he was cut down.

Fact is, he never made it to the nursery.

The President wasn’t alone.  Also killed last week were six federal judges, thirteen members of Congress, two state governors, thirty-one legislators, and more than a hundred teachers at various levels.  Figure a dozen or so preachers into the mix, but they don’t count.  Add to it almost a thousand nameless welfare recipients, a couple hundred various professionals, and some amazing artists and musicians.

All dead.  The killings were executed(!) flawlessly.

All defenseless.  No one had time to call the police, send for Secret Security agents, or even pull a weapon.  One or two might have raised a fist in self-defense.  Not much help, though. [click to continue…]

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(And other lessons learned from The Senior Ladies Exercise Club)

I couldn’t help but overhear.

The way I figure it, the whole block could have overheard.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but I did make a lifestyle change (hey, I’ve done it three days in a row – that ought to count for something).  Yes, friends, I’m back in the gym.

I’m still trying to figure out the best time of day to work out.  I think people like my associate, who works out at 4:30 every morning, need to work on a different kind of health, if you know what I’m sayin’.  So yesterday, I show up about mid-morning, to find the parking lot completely full.

Not a good sign.

Well, maybe they’re all in a class or something, I hoped to myself, as I headed to the cardio room to resume my Couch-to-5k training schedule.  To my chagrin, the place was packed.  Every treadmill taken.  And it was only when one became available and I nabbed it that I realized – I’d been sucked into the vortex of the Senior Ladies Exercise Club.  They probably have their own name for it; that’s just my name for the Twilight Zone I was in.

The last time I was this surrounded was when I was asked to speak to a room full of women-only about Things Husbands Wished Their Wives Understood.  They were a great group, really sweet and highly motivated.  Didn’t matter – I was scared to death.

Anyway, there were three ladies on treadmills to the left, and what seemed like 93 to the right. [click to continue…]

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