Christmas

Joy Comes to the House of Affliction

by Andy Wood on December 20, 2013

in Life Currency, Love, LV Stories, Words

An imaginary story of what could have been…

Olive ChaliceEvening falls quickly in Bethany, as the sun seems to drop like a rock on the other side of the mountain, and beyond that, the Holy City of Jerusalem. And in this village – whose very name means “house of affliction,” the mood often seems to do the same.

There always seems to be something else to do in Bethany, this place of never-ending chores.  This village, one of three in Israel set aside to treat the sick, is a place of care and service. Duty and devotion.  Its residents usually find a sense of satisfaction there.

But not this time.

Not when duty and devotion means saying good-bye to one of its own.

One of Bethany’s most cherished servants, from a deeply respected family, has died giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.  And in this House of Affliction, the hits just keep on coming.

The official time of mourning now passed, duty calls, and the people of Bethany, still reeling, must man their stations.  And as 12-year-old Martha trudges through her evening chores – something she once relished doing with her Mama – no one feels the unfairness of it all more than she. [click to continue…]

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(The Twelve Names of Christmas, Part 1) 

Cross and Cradle

As you may have detected from one of the previous posts, we spent last week in the magical confines of Disney World in Florida.  “We” means all 15 of us – kids, spouses, and grandkids from age 5 to age 11 weeks. And, of course, about 12 thousand of our closest friends.

Every once in a while in this sea of strangers, about half of whom weren’t speaking English, I’d see somebody with that familiar cursive “A” on a cap or shirt, and out it would come – that instant bond forged among strangers as the result of two simple words:  Roll Tide!  And brother, it was instant.  Truth be told, I did see a few people wearing blue and orange and was tempted to say “War Eagle!” to them, but just couldn’t get words to form in my mouth.

And if you have no idea what any of that last paragraph means, never mind.

There is another rallying cry, however, I do want to tell you about.  In times of trouble in ancient Israel, including times of going into battle, they would summon courage and unity with one simple word:

Immanuel!

Immanuel was their way of expressing confidence that God was present with and fighting for the cause of his people.  And it was no accident that when Jesus arrived on the scene in Bethlehem at that first Christmas, one of his biographers made mention of it: [click to continue…]

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Christmas LoveIt starts out innocently enough.  You dutifully climb into the attic and start hauling out the boxes of decorations.  Once again the house is tricked out with stockings, twinkling lights, and the scents you save for just this time of year.

You ask the familiar questions: Do we go with same-old same-old, or try something completely new and different?  Are we staying home, or traveling, or both?  Who’s coming and going?  What’s on the calendar between here and there?  And of course, what should be get for [fill in the blank] this year for Christmas?

But here’s the tricky part – other than Black Friday, nobody’s giving you any extra time to make all that happen.  You still have a job to go to (hopefully), 21 meals a week to account for, meetings to attend, bills to pay, promises to keep.

So how do you make it all fit together?  You hurry.  You scurry.  And sometimes you worry that it never quite seems to all get done.

Truth be told, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to get it all in.  And therein lies the rub… because the one thing that Christmas is all about often gets lost in the flurry.  [click to continue…]

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Bored ChristmasThe other day my son-in-law and oldest grandson had this little exchange:

Cohen:  What does that sign say?
Curtis:  Pedestrian crossing. Are you a pedestrian?
Cohen: No. I’m a Christian.

Super funny at face value.  Typically profound as children’s funny things can be when you dig deeper.

Everybody knows what pedestrian, the noun, means, right?  “Walker.”

Or in more recent days, “somebody who texts without a seat belt.”

But as an adjective, “pedestrian” means something different.  The dictionary definition:

“lacking inspiration or excitement; dull.”

Synonyms include words like dull, boring, tedious, monotonous, uneventful, unremarkable, tiresome, wearisome, uninspired, unimaginative, unexciting, uninteresting, and uninvolving.

Are you pedestrian?

No.  I’m Christian.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if being a Christian really was the opposite of being pedestrian?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if somebody said, referring to one of us, “He’s too much of a Christian to live a pedestrian life”? [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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fireplaceOn this cold December night, when life, relationships and future hope seem more complicated than ever, I pray that that the Father of lights would give you the joy of His presence and the gift of simple happiness throughout the coming year, with the light of every new sunrise.

I pray that he would remind you often of how deeply you are loved, unforgettably engraved in the palm of His hand, steadfastly held by His grace day and night.

I pray that in an age where nothing seems to last, that the One who promised us a home with Him forever  would keep the language and love of forever dancing in your heart and mine as long as you and I have breath. [click to continue…]

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Many years ago the cartoon character Cathy expressed the anxiety many people feel this time of year.  She says to her boss:  “My left brain is making lists of people I haven’t sent cards to yet.  My right brain is at the craft store, thinking up creative gifts I could make before Christmas.  My nerves are at the mall, worrying whether I should have gotten the other necktie for my Dad.  My stomach is still at last night’s party begging for more Christmas cookies.  My heart is stuck in traffic somewhere between my mother’s house, my boyfriend’s house, and the adorable man I saw at the post office.”

Her boss asks, “What is it you want, Cathy?”  Cathy replies:  “May what’s left of me sneak home early and take a nap?”

For many people, Christmas has become something other than a celebration.  It’s more like a mission. The holiday, instead of being a holy-day, has become a holocaust.  The celebration has become a sale, “Silent Night” has become replaced with “Walmart Fight.”

And have you noticed how guilty you always seem to feel at Christmas?

You spent too much money, or didn’t spend enough.

You didn’t get everything your kids asked for, or the present wasn’t the right size.

You didn’t give enough to the church or the Salvation Army.

You “put Christ back into Christmas” and were “too spiritual,” or you had too much Santa Claus and reindeer.

Do you ever wish you could just somehow go back and start over?  Football coaches have a good term for this:  they call it going back to the fundamentals.  Let’s give that a try this year.  Let’s make Christmas a celebration again… 100% guilt-free! Click to see a great idea for connecting with people

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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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Remember what it was like as a kid to go to sleep on Christmas Eve?

Stockings hung with care, note and snack left near the tree…

Listening with both ears for any sound that resembled, well, anything…

Sneaking a peek out the window to see if you could see, you-know-who…

Trying to go to sleep cause you-know-who can’t you-know-what until you’re fast asleep.

[Cue the choir…]

Then came the morning!  Wow!  Where to start?  All that stuff!

And then… [click to continue…]

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This just in, in case you missed it.  Christmas is less than a month away.

True confession:  Yesterday I snarled in my journal,  “I’ll just be glad when it’s over.”

But today, in honor of the late Zig Ziglar, who passed away yesterday, I’m “doing a checkup from the neck up.”

Every year, we have the same choice when it comes to the enchantment and the challenges of the holidays.  Do we hunker down, sit tight, and hope for the best?  Or do we seek to flourish?  To make the most of our relationships, our worship, and even our painful experiences?

Survive or Thrive?  It’s up to you.  It’s up to me.

When it comes to being a thriver, here are five suggestions, for how you can come out of the bunker and actually have a season of delight:

[click to continue…]

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