Grace

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8)

The nature of the shameful is to hide from God when we sense He’s moving toward us.

The assumption of the fallen is to assume that the Great Unfallen would not pick us up. [click to continue…]

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Problem

It’s the elephant in your room. It may well be the first thing that people who know you think of when asked about you.  But maybe it’s been a part of your architecture so long, you’ve put a lamp shade on it and called it decorations.

I’m talking about something all of us have.  The things we wish were different, but check back with us five years from now and our “elephant” is still there.  It’s what I call our PWGA.  The Problem that Won’t Go Away.

You may refer to it in different language. You may use words like “weakness,” or “cross to bear.”  By now you may address it as the “same old same old” or as I did once in reference to my New Year’s resolutions:  “Oh, you know, the usual.”

For many people, their PWGA is something that is heart-rending. Something they’ve asked or even begged God to fix, heal, or otherwise change. And yet the PWGA remains.

For other people, a PWGA is a problem requiring a solution they aren’t willing to apply.  I know two words that can fix some people’s PWGA:  “I’m sorry.”  Or their nuclear cousin:  “I was wrong.”  But that’s too high a price for some people to pay. They’d rather live with the problem.

Some people have PWGAs that they are convinced have solutions. But they haven’t yet found those solutions and don’t know how to leverage their relationship with God to address it.

By now you probably have one or more of your own PWGAs floating around in your mind. Hold that thought. I want to introduce you to another guy. [click to continue…]

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2016ASE

This is a 2016 silver dollar.

It’s official, struck by the United States Mint. [click to continue…]

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Boxing Gloves

How would it change the way you approached God if you knew – with confidence – that He was not angry with you? Or even arguing, wrestling or wearying you?

Take a look at this promise:

“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made” (Isaiah 57:16).

The essential Old Testament story of the relationship between God and man is one of contention. The Lord had His standards – His Law. Man had his willful rebellion and sinful nature – so bad, even the finest of heroes is revealed as deeply flawed.

But in the verse above the Lord reveals another side to His character, and promises another kind of relationship. It will be one not based on contention or anger, but on revival and rebuilding.

I thought you should know today that this promise has been fulfilled. God is not contending anymore. He’s out of the wrestling business. [click to continue…]

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Gratitude

Come on, admit it… when you first saw this title you started hearing the old hymn in your head, didn’t you?

I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

If not, I’ll bet you are now.

With apologies to Philip Yancey for borrowing the title of his excellent book,  I had a curious collision with “amazing” the other day and thought I’d share it. It started when I read this simple greeting from the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that sweet?

Any believer anywhere can testify, as John Newton and the Corinthians could, that the grace of God has been given to us by Christ Jesus. And if this verse had no other context or backdrop it would be precious enough. But our thinking about it would soon lose its edge. Sure, everybody who knows Christ can testify of the grace of God.

Next!

Sure, we were “wretches” and now we’re saved. But that was a long time ago for a lot of us. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for me lately, Grace?

The answer to that – Grace in the present, not the past – is what’s so amazing about grace. [click to continue…]

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When Epic Failure Becomes Matchless Beauty

by Andy Wood on April 8, 2015

in 100 Words, Photos

IMG_6744

This is an epic photographic failure.

A tight shot of these delightful flowers on a sunny spring day became anything but.

The shutter fired way too fast; the results were embarrassing.

Dark.

Dreary.

A disaster.

Hello “delete” button.

But then my photo failure, in the domain of editing software, became something completely different. [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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Against the Wind

It’s one of the loneliest of all encounters,
The most agonizing of all relationships,
Where it seems as though the very air you breathe
Pushes hard against you as you try to move forward.
Yet move you must.
The calling is too strong…
The need is too great…
Press on …
Press on against the wind. [click to continue…]

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Heaven Worship

I could duplicate stories like these all day…

The Job Site

I was working construction (pausing here for those who know me to gasp or laugh or something).  It was a high-pressure day and I was off with a coworker on an assignment with a deadline that just wasn’t getting done.  It was Friday afternoon, I was leaving out of town, and the pressure just kept building.  I was a failure at this, and knew it.  I figured at that point the whole world knew it.

I had to swing by the other job site where my boss and Ricky were, to give the boss the bad news. Ricky and I usually worked together, but we’d been separated for a few days on different projects.  I’ll never forget the way Ricky made me feel – it was as though we hadn’t seen each other in years.  After hours and hours of devaluing myself in my head, his infectious smile and greeting made me feel like the king of the world.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

The Classroom

In a transparent moment in an online classroom filled with future and present church leaders I wrote this:

“If I could go back and do one thing over again in my 32 years of pastoring… I would be more ruthlessly intentional about leadership development.  I would allow myself to be criticized more for neglecting some things in order to focus more on developing discipling leaders. As passionate as I am and was about preaching, and as passionate as some of you are, may I just say, preaching alone won’t come close to accomplishing this.  Leadership development isn’t about lessons, outlines, or proclamation.  It’s about duplication of your passion, knowledge, skillsets, and passion in the lives of others.”

In reply to that, I got a simple, but profoundly encouraging reply from a student in that class:

I hope you know that by teaching guys like me you ARE accomplishing leadership development.  I doubt I will meet you here on earth, but someday I look forward to seeing you in glory! Thanks for everything, and may God richly bless you as you follow Him.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word. [click to continue…]

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Praying at sunrise

Cesar Malan was a famous minister from Geneva.  He showed genuine interest in the spiritual welfare of anyone he met. And get this!  He would actually ask them about it!

Once Malan asked a woman he had just met about her relationship with God.  Caught off guard, and somewhat annoyed by his question, she curtly said she didn’t care to discuss the matter.

Apparently this wasn’t the first time Cesar had faced such a response.  The minister kindly assured her that he would be praying for her salvation.

It wasn’t long before circumstances brought the two together again.  As they talked, it became apparent to Pastor Malan that the Lord was responding to his prayers.  The once-antagonistic woman had recognized her spiritual need.  Now she was asking him what was required to become a follower of Christ.

The preacher replied, “Come to Him just as you are.” [click to continue…]

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