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Hope Community

Raise your hand if you want tomorrow to be better than today.

Raise your other hand if you would rather God give you prosperity than calamity.

Good.  I’ve got you where I want you.  Now give me all your money.

You and I were hard-wired for hope. Something in our DNA makes us want to believe that tomorrow can and will be better than today.  When times are easy, we tend to presume on that.  When times are tough, we go looking for it.

Maybe that’s why Jeremiah 29:11 has become such a popular verse in recent years. Go into any Christian book store or gift shop and you’ll see it on coffee mugs or on some idyllic painting or poster:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Doesn’t that do something for you?  It certainly does for me.  It tells me something about the heart of my God for me as an individual, and for the people I care about.

Trouble is, we take it completely out of context. [click to continue…]

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I was going to write something about America or the lost art of Independence or something like that today.  Then I heard that Andy Griffith died.  What – or who – could be more quintessentially American than that?

Andy and his neighbors in Mayberry came into our home weekly when I was a kid – and daily through syndication for years after that.  And there was a reason.  Yes, he served as a reminder of a simpler time.  After all, can you imagine anybody but Opie having a secret password – much less a dozen of them?  But he also reminded us of the values and wisdom we’re capable of, even today.

Nobody ever actually lived in Mayberry.  Yet vicariously millions of us have.  There wisdom wasn’t reserved for ivory tower elitists or political think tanks.  Lifetime lessons were readily available from places like the Sheriff’s office, Floyd’s Barber Shop, or Gomer and Goober’s Service Station.  The cast of characters, always good for a laugh at ourselves, also reminded us of somebody we knew.

Everything I ever needed to know, I could have learned in Mayberry.  So could you.  Here’s just a sampling… [click to continue…]

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I Have a Maker

by Andy Wood on October 28, 2011

in 100 Words

Take a look at this picture.

Care to guess where these beautiful stones came from? [click to continue…]

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A Community of Fathers

by Andy Wood on June 29, 2011

in Life Currency,Turning Points,Words

“Joel Andrew Wood!  I call you to walk with me in Integrity, Responsibility, and Accountability, and to join me in this community of men!”

There, through a line of tiki torches and a longer gauntlet of whooping, encouraging, cheering men walked my son.  For fourteen years I had been his hero.  Tonight he would be mine.

As he reached the end of the double line where I was standing, I placed a special necklace around his neck that he has to this day.  Then I turned him to face those men and said some of the most powerful words I have ever spoken:  “Gentlemen, this is Joel Andrew Wood, my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

I have always lived with the honor of walking in my own father’s unconditional favor – even when he didn’t always approve of my choices.  On this night 11 years ago, I had the greater honor of publicly declaring that same kind of blessing over my son.

A Fatherless, Manless Culture

Ours may be the only culture that has no formal point where a boy becomes a man. [click to continue…]

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To see in him the image of two – an increase to my place in the world;
To shelter him, and walk at his pace until he can walk at mine;
To lend my strength until he has his own;
To model a partnership of intimacy and trust;
To introduce him to an abundant world;
To teach him the ancient ways, that will live in him beyond my lifetime;
To set him free, even from my influence;
To touch eternity by the ways I touch his life…

This is the sacred trust – to forever remain the friend of a child.

Photo Source:  Scenes from Indonesia

Photo credit:  REUTERS/Beawiharta

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Bringing Hope to the Land of Nod (Part 3)

1.  Reconnect the spiritual with the interpersonal.
2. Expose anger for what it is, and provide a model for forgiveness.
3.  Respond to Victimhood by Redefining Responsibility

4.  Reopen doors of trust and acceptance.

group-prayerEvery vibrant relationship is a dance with trust.  As the relationship deepens, so does the trust.  As the trust grows, the relationship deepens even more.

That said, it’s easy to see why the citizens of Nod have an itty bitty trust issue.  “Fool me once,” and all that.

Do people trust you?  The challenge we face in being instruments of healing is that trust, once broken, is incredibly difficult to restore.  Yet without it, hearts remain crippled and closed off.

Our goal for the citizens of Nod is to lead them to do more than survive.  We believe God wants them to thrive. [click to continue…]

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communityJan is a mother of four, two each from two failed marriages.  This morning, her 19-year-old lost his temper and verbally crushed his mother with a flurry of profanity and rage.  Jan wanted to die, literally. I got the call.

Last year, at the tender age of 44, Bruce became a husband for the first time.  Less than a month later, his bride, this time blushing with anger, ordered Bruce out of the house.  Their divorce was final last week.

Larry introduced himself to me by telling me how he was betrayed and fired by his corporate board.  Then he faced the most insidious wound of all – the church wound.  After months of being ostracized, the victim of church politics, Larry finally realized the need for a change. “When your wife has to take a tranquilizer on Sunday mornings just to go to church,” he said, “it’s time to do something different.”

All these people share two things in common.  First, they’re living in the Land of Nod (see the previous post).  The age that’s given us instant gratification, disposable everything, and technology-on-demand has elevated revolving door relationships to an art form.  The people I just introduced you to are Exhibit A.

Second, on Sundays they’re in our church.  [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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(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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There’s more to vision than hopeful daydreaming about a desired future.

Yes, vision sees the goal, but it is aware of much more than that.

Vision sees the path from here to there.

Vision recognizes the need for decisive action.  It has a bias toward making the jump.

Vision also recognizes the risks and potential dangers that lurk on all sides, and prepares accordingly for them.

Vision then sees beyond the goal.  It recognizes the larger community, and the visionary’s place in the larger world.

Yes, vision sees the goal.  But true visionaries recognize that success is more than the perfect landing.

(This extraordinary picture of Oberstdorf, Germany as reflected in the goggles of Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai is one of many that can be found here.  PHOTO:  Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

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