Principle of Legacy

Woke up this morning thinking about Ethel and Velma. These two ladies, who shared the same last name, lived together. Velma had been married to Ethel’s brother, who had died sometime earlier. Ethel never married. So in their latter years, these two sisters-in-law shared a house, along with a lot of family love and memories.

And quite a love for God.

Whenever I would go see them, it always felt like holy ground.  It was that classic case of going to be a blessing and winding up leaving with the greater blessing. Each was in her own way a marvelous encourager, and each in her own way a hell-stopping intercessor.

As time and age took their toll, eventually death came calling, and Ethel answered the door. I went by to see Velma, who had encouraged me so many times, to try to be an encouragement to her. While I was there, someone else came by, and I’ll never forget Velma’s first words to them. In her beautiful Southern drawl, Velma asked rhetorically, “What we gonna do without Ethel?” [click to continue…]

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(And You Can and Should, Too)

Travel with me to an ancient version of Death Row. A lonely old man sits in isolation – a rare occurrence for a life so well-traveled and surrounded with people. And he awaits his fate.

He’s a dead man walking.

Yet even though his body is scarred and his bones crooked from a hardened life, he doesn’t have the same despair or desperation that’s typical of someone living under a death sentence. In fact, he has – dare I say it? – a sense of satisfaction. Fulfillment. Maybe even a touch of pride.

How do I know? His own words.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Those words from Paul have carried a new fascination for me recently.  Here was a man who know what his life was about, and lived it. He followed the course laid out for him, and he finished it.

Put in other language, Paul had a vision, and throughout his life he stubbornly, doggedly, faithfully pursued that vision.  Doing so was costly in the short run. He was routinely run out of town, beaten to a pulp, deserted by his friends, and bedeviled by danger. But to him it was a price worth paying, to get to the end of his life with two things: [click to continue…]

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Highway

Imagine your life as various points on the highway.  Fast Lane, Slow Lane, Shoulder, Ditch.

And at any given time, in any given area, you can be in one of those four.

Living in the Fast Lane means you’re getting where you’re going. You’re fulfilling your purpose.

In the Slow Lane you have a lot of movement, but you never quite seem to get there, wherever “there” is.

On the Shoulder, your “engine” is running, but you’re not moving ahead at all.

In the Ditch means you’ve crashed or are stuck, and without help you aren’t going anywhere.

Having punched my card in all four locations, I can tell you we’re all a mixed bag. You can be idling on the shoulder in one area, cruising in another, and crashed out in a third. So let’s break it down a little more. [click to continue…]

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Look behind you.

Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.

Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.

Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.

Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.

That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?

All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead. [click to continue…]

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Unclaimed

by Andy Wood on December 2, 2016

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, Principle of Legacy, Waiting

This photo from December 2013 - People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This photo from December 2013 – People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Suppose you were hosting an event for a crowd north of 1,400 people.  Where would you have it?

That’s a pretty serious venue.  Unless your name is something like Biltmore, you can probably scratch the back yard or dining room off the list.  But hey, your local hotel ballroom may fit the bill. Depending on the nature of the event, a few church houses or large theaters or auditoriums would work.

When was the last time you were part of a crowd that big? I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve got to tell you, it was noticeable. Parking was a bit of a challenge. The venue was a little crowded. The energy was palpable. Lots of noise and excitement.

And no, I’m not referring to a Black Friday sale at Walmart.

But I want to tell you about a different kind of assembly. One where 1,430 people came together and hardly anyone noticed.  Parking wasn’t a problem.  Noise wasn’t an issue.  In fact, all was deathly(!) quiet, at a venue that was shockingly small.

The location: a mass grave. [click to continue…]

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personal

You never know who’s watching.

You never know who models his or her life after you.  Sure, there are the ten percent who make it clear, but like icebergs, the other ninety are quiet. Below the surface and virtually invisible, but no doubt there.

All the while watching… for a path to follow… a faith to imitate… or a life that’s contagious.

So walk your path authentically. Believe hopefully.  Live abundantly, all the while leaving clues for searching hearts to find.

Because somebody’s watching.  And they’re following you. [click to continue…]

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It was a funny exercise. The memory-making type of thing that happens randomly when you spend time hanging out with kids. Or in my case, grandkids.

Laura Kate and Shepherd (#1 and #3 of 9 if you’re keeping score) were in the back seat and we were headed home from a VBS family night. With everybody’s schedule crossways on this particular night, I got to be the “family.” We’d had the program, topped off by some awesome brain-freezing shaved ice. They had played in the bounce houses some, and now we had escaped the Alabama humidity and were back in the truck headed to their house.

We got to talking about different sounds that animals make, and I was asking them if they could imitate them. Then, on a whim, I asked, “Can you imitate Fischer?”

Fischer is their four-year-old little brother.

Laura Kate popped up: “Mama, Shepuhd and Sistuh huht my feewings.”

You just had to be there… It was dead-on and hysterically funny.

We went from that to others, like their parents, but the first one was the hit of the night.

Who doesn’t love a good impression – especially a funny one?  And it’s true, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – even to an 8-year-old.

It’s also a raw demonstration of leadership at a very fundamental level. [click to continue…]

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Grandpaw and Button

One of my favorite pics of Grandpaw and Button

It was one of the many differences between us.  Maybe it was generational. Maybe it had more to do with personality. I don’t know.  To me it was silly at best, annoying it worst.

Corny, that’s it.  It was corny.

But my dad did it without apology, and routinely yucked about it.

“This is so-and-so,” he would say, “but I call him [insert nickname here].”

To know him well enough to banter at all – which for him meant more than one conversation – usually earned you some sort of nickname.

The manager of the local bank:  “I call her Cuz.”

A friend and pastor’s wife:  “Here comes Trouble.”

His and Dean’s friend Dolores got a play on the pronunciation, for no apparent reason:  “Doh-loh-reez.” [click to continue…]

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Daddy and Laura KateYou’ve probably never heard of Yarbo.  Unless, of course, you’ve spent some time tooling through Washington County, Alabama.  This unincorporated community, positioned halfway between Chatom and Millry, flies by your car window pretty fast on Highway 17.  A couple of old chicken houses, an abandoned softball field, a few house trailers, that’s about it.

At least that’s how it looks through my window.  Yarbo is a place on the way to some other place.

My dad had a different view.

On his regular excursions between Millry, his home at the time, and Chatom or Mobile, he would notice a singular figure sitting in the shade of one of those mobile homes.  An older black gentleman would spend hours there, offering a friendly wave at passers-by.  And there in the warmth of those Southwest Alabama summer days, my father found a kindred spirit.

He waved back.

Eventually he came to look for his nameless friend and would make a point of tooting his horn and waving.  Though separated by all the things that make for TV news sound bites – race and economic status and culture and probably politics – each of these men found in a simple gesture a point of connection.

That wasn’t enough for my dad. [click to continue…]

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Grandpaw and Archer

I started writing this last Wednesday with an urgent prayer that I would get home in time to see my dad before he passed away. What would normally have been a routine knee replacement surgery poked a vicious bear called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.  He would never leave the hospital.

Lynchburg to Charlotte

On the plane headed home from Lynchburg. Going home to a father who is going home himself. It seems that everybody – including him – has concluded that there is no fight left. He gets weaker every day and this morning he has some sort of infection that requires everybody to wear a glove and mask to be in the room with him.

I postponed the weekend trip to Lubbock. Cassie and Joel are on the way. They will get to Mobile ten minutes before I do. It’s just a matter of time.

It was both distracting and comforting to be at a conference filled with worship leaders, listening to people sing about victory over death and the power of the blood of Jesus – even the old standby “I’ll Fly Away.” It takes on a totally new meaning when my daddy is about to be doing the flying. [click to continue…]

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