Books and Music

Seegulls lined up

In his book The Noticer, Andy Andrews offers this riddle:

Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?

Answer: Five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.

I don’t know who decided that the road to hell needed paving, but whoever it was picked some pretty good material. There will always be plenty of good intentions for people to talk about, and even satisfy themselves that having the intention is enough work for today. The problem is, they never get around to actually doing anything about the intention.

They were very sincere. But a lack of action made them sincerely wrong. [click to continue…]

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Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies

Chariots-Of-Fire

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”

I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.

I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.

I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:

Why do you do it?

I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.

In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.

Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]

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falling man

Honestly, I was a little disappointed.

“Gonna be old school today,” I thought to myself as the choir started in on Dottie Rambo’s classic, “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” set to the Irish tune of “Danny Boy.”

When it comes to church music, I can be nostalgic, but I’m not much of an old school guy.  I’m more of a “sing a new song to the Lord” type.  So on this day I settled down on the pew to politely smile and nod away my mild disappointment.

I think God had a nod of his own.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard the words – Lord knows, the song was written in 1968 and was a regular fixture in my teenage years.  Every traveling music evangelist with a reel-to-reel tape recorder, every AM radio station blaring out gospel favorites, every traveling duo, trio, or quartet, they all did this song.

But on this day, just a few weeks ago, I heard – as in, heard with the heart – a line that shook me to the core.  This is literally what I wrote in my notebook: [click to continue…]

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Lattice

In his book, Rekindled Flame, Steve Fry tells of moving to Nashville and talking to some Christian recording executives about a potential project.  When asked what he was working on, he told them about wanting to write a worship musical that focused on the character of God.  To his surprise, they were very cool to the idea.

Frankly, they said, most believers wouldn’t buy an album about God.

Seriously?

Yep.

According to their demographic studies, that kind of project wouldn’t appeal to most Christians.

Later he met with a book editor that he knew had his finger on the pulse of the Christian marketplace.

“I want to write about God!” he said. “I want to take snapshots of the many wonders of His character and just focus on Him.”

“I’d like to help you write that kind of a book,” he replied. “In fact, the Christian market desperately needs that kind of book. But honestly, the average Christian is not going to buy a book about God.” The editor added:  “The only way you can get the average believer to read a book about God is to somehow show them how God benefits them.”

I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m offended, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m the exception… [click to continue…]

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Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailDear Friends,

I am very excited to announce that for the next five days, The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, available exclusively through Amazon.com as a Kindle book download, will be available to you and 5,000 of your closest friends absolutely free.

For the next five days, Friday, November 29 through Tuesday, December 3, interested readers may download this title from Amazon absolutely free.  Click here to download.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas describes how the lives of twelve different ordinary people are forever changed when they embark on their own unique pathway to the true meaning of Christmas. Through stories that are part autobiographical, some reflections of others I have known, and some made up to make a point, you will find your own unique pathways to the meaning of Christmas in the brief encounters you have with these characters.

This book will help you discover in a fresh way why God invaded history in the person of a helpless baby in Bethlehem. Just as the first Christmas was experienced by real, excited, hurting, stressed-out, frightened, faith-filled people, so is yours. But those life circumstances – good or bad – can be pathways to breathtaking joy as you discover how greatly loved and desired you are.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas is the first of a three-part series called the Twelve Joys of Christmas. And what greater joy can there be than to discover that your life is all part of a larger plan to give you a future and a hope?

Click here to download.

Why are you giving this book away for three days?

Two reasons.  First, I want to share it as a gift to you for you to enjoy and be blessed by.  Honestly, this isn’t the kind of book you’d take to read at your next Christmas party.  But it’s a good resource for those times when you want to be still.  To reflect.  To hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice again. [click to continue…]

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Stanley Emotions

“The strongest man who ever lived – our Savior, Jesus – experienced and showed very deep emotion.”

-Charles Stanley, Emotions

Try to have a serious conversation about feelings – unless of course you’re in a therapist’s office – and you’ll run into two possible ditches. The first typically comes from men, who start shuffling uncomfortably and muttering something about not being very emotional.  They are emotional, of course, but to this crowd, emotions are what you have when the power goes out with two minutes to go in a tight Super Bowl.  At best, emotions are something you deal with, but certainly not something you talk about, for crying out loud.

The other ditch tends to be populated more by women, and treats emotions as little gods or dictators of our state, against which we are powerless to do anything except bow down.  Their banner: “I can’t help it – it’s just the way I feel.”  When Debby Boone sang, “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right,” this crowd wiped a tear and lit a candle.

That’s why I’m glad Charles Stanley has brought some truth and balance to the conversation in his new book, Emotions: Confront the Lies, Conquer With Truth.  Dr. Stanley profoundly shaped my life and ministry with a sermon series on the same subject many years ago. Through him I learned, among other things, that all emotions are God-given, and it’s healthy to get a grasp on what their original purpose was/is.  Also, however, all emotions are also sin-corrupted.  Because of that, many people live in the grip of painful, devastating emotions that they feel powerless to overcome. [click to continue…]

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Are You a Rebounder or a Wallower?

by Andy Wood on October 4, 2013

in Books and Music

Rebounders-Cover-300x456I’m fascinated by people that Rick Newman calls “Rebounders.”   Maybe that’s because about once every four years, on average, I find myself punched in the gut by some sort of setback or in-my-face adversity. Sometimes they’re of my own super-talented making. At other times the setbacks come in the form of pain dished out by others, significant grief situations, or life circumstances that are beyond anyone’s immediate control.

To be clear, I’m not referring to annoyances like the allergy attack I endured this morning or the fender benders I’ve lost count of over the years. When I say setback, I mean that somewhere I’ve been body-slammed and whatever I thought progress was has come to a complete halt.

That’s why I’ve been fascinated by Newman’s book Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to SuccessRick is an award-winning journalist and has spent considerable time researching both the science and the stories of those who have suffered greatly, yet come back powerfully.

Along the way, Rick observed two kinds of people – Rebounders and Wallowers. Rebounders are those who have the skills to bounce back from adversity.  Wallowers “tend to be the people who get stuck… and don’t understand why and who remain convinced that their tribulations are somebody else’s fault.”

In setting the table for the stories he tells, Newman suggests four quick ways you can tell if you’re a Rebounder or a Wallower. I’d like to add a fifth from a spiritual perspective.  Oh… and if you don’t mind bracing for bad news, Rick says there’s a 67% chance you’re a Wallower. But the good news is that you have the power to change that.

So how ‘bout it? Are you a Rebounder or a Wallower?  Here’s where to look for answers: [click to continue…]

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cross

“Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…”

And the multitudes surrounded Him, and shouted words of praise
As He rode a strong young donkey through the holy city’s gates.
Everything they did exalted Him; they praised Him as their King,
But He never smiled in victory – He never said a thing.
And they all surrounded Him again in just a few short days,
But their cries had lost their ecstasy, their words had lost their praise.
Everyone through sticks and stones at Him, they mocked and cursed His name,
And the man they worshiped as their King hung on a cross in shame.

They all said, “Crucify! I’ll live the way that I want to live.”
They said, “Crucify! The Man asks for more than I can give.
Yes I love Him, but He simply doesn’t fit my plans,
And the only way to do what I want is to crucify this Man.”

[click to continue…]

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One of oneTurns out there was something almost as satisfying Monday night as watching Eddie Lacy, A. J. McCarron and company put looks of futility and bewilderment on yet another BCS opponent – a game, by the way, I have waited since 1966 to witness.

It was a commercial.  For Dr. Pepper, of all things.  Now as long as I’ve known anything about Dr. Pepper and commercials, they have always had some kind of big song and dance production.  And this commercial was no exception.

What was exceptional was the song in the commercial.  It sort of stopped me in my tracks.  I actually hit rewind to see the thing again.  (If you know anything about me and commercials, you will know this rarely happens.)  If you’d like to see the commercial, it’s already on YouTube, and you can watch it here.

I didn’t run out and buy Dr. Pepper.  But I did hurry to iTunes and found the song.  I just discovered it was released on iTunes on January 7, the day the commercial ran.

The song is by the Nashville group Vinyl Hearts, and it’s called, “I Am.” You can hear it in its entirety by clicking below.  Please, hear the song in its entirety. [click to continue…]

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Will You Help Me Give 5,000 Books Away?

by Andy Wood on December 6, 2012

in Books and Music

Update:  Over the three-day giveaway period we distributed more than 3,300 books!  Not quite to the goal, but I’m grateful and excited nonetheless.  The book is still available for $2.99 by clicking here.

Dear Friends,

I am very excited to announce the publication of The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, available exclusively through Amazon.com as a Kindle book download.  And I’d like to give a copy to you and 5,000 of your closest friends absolutely free.

For the next three days, Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, interested readers may download this title from Amazon absolutely free.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas describes how the lives of twelve different ordinary people are forever changed when they embark on their own unique pathway to the true meaning of Christmas. Through stories that are part autobiographical, some reflections of others I have known, and some made up to make a point, you will find your own unique pathways to the meaning of Christmas in the brief encounters you have with these characters.

This book will help you discover in a fresh way why God invaded history in the person of a helpless baby in Bethlehem. Just as the first Christmas was experienced by real, excited, hurting, stressed-out, frightened, faith-filled people, so is yours. But those life circumstances – good or bad – can be pathways to breathtaking joy as you discover how greatly loved and desired you are.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas is the first of a three-part series called the Twelve Joys of Christmas. And what greater joy can there be than to discover that your life is all part of a larger plan to give you a future and a hope? [click to continue…]

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