Grief

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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Christmas 2016

As your heart gathers around memories of Christmases past and delights of Christmas present, as the busyness and stillness collide in something called “holiday,” I pray that like all those involved in the first Christmas, this would be a day of wonder for you.

I pray you would embrace joyfully the beauty of mystery – knowing that the mysterious is a cousin to the miraculous – and you are gloriously free from being able to explain everything in 140 characters or having to control any and every outcome. [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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(Unlike the previous story, this one actually happened)

Day 0

Lazarus TombMorning seems to come more quickly in Bethany. This village, whose name means “House of Affliction,” sits on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.  Seems fitting, I suppose.  One of three designated healing centers in Israel, Bethany is certainly no place for slumber.  Even one of the town’s leaders, Simon, has earned the nickname “the Leper” for obvious reasons.

This place gets up early for healthcare.

In one particular house, the residents have yet to sleep. There a man named Lazarus lies very ill, and nothing seems to help.  His sisters Martha and Mary care for him around the clock. Martha has spent the night on her feet; Mary has spent the night on her knees.  Nothing has helped.

If only Jesus were here.  That’s the conclusion both sisters – usually so different in perspective – agree upon.  They know Jesus loves them uniquely; their home has been His refuge. Jesus faithfully and completely heals perfect strangers. Lazarus He loves!  This is a no-brainer, if they can just get word to Him in time. [click to continue…]

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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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Broken RoadThis is a story about a father and son.

About a pathway to prosperity and strength.

About how that pathway separated them, then brought them back together again.

It’s a story of shattered dreams, unspeakable grief, profound loneliness, and the ultimate family reunion.

This is the story of the Broken Road, and how God used it in two people’s lives to rewrite history – theirs, and yours.

Psalm 105 contains an interesting description of the father, Jacob:

Israel also came into Egypt;
Thus Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
And [God] caused His people to be very fruitful,
And made them stronger than their adversaries.

Sounds simple enough.  But let me ask you a question. If you were going to write a plan to get somebody to a place of fruitfulness and strength, how would you script it?

Start with a dream, maybe?

Then a few targeted objectives?

Maybe a good strategic plan, with a collaborative partnership or two?

Throw in some hefty funding, maybe some high-dollar training, and a few little victories to establish momentum, and you’re on your way, right?

That’s not exactly how this story went down.  [click to continue…]

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Dancing on BeachIt’s my strength, Nehemiah says… the joy of the Lord.

It’s the result of an exchange, according to Isaiah’s prophecy.  The Spirit of God anointed Jesus to exchange my mourning and ashes for beauty and joy.  Surely you don’t think somewhere along the way He’s lost that anointing, do you?

Jesus later told his disciples that they would mourn (at his death), but that their mourning would be turned to joy when they saw Him again (after His resurrection).  News Flash!  In case you missed it, He’s still alive.

Moreover, Jesus said, as they asked in His name, they would receive, and their joy would be full.  So about that asking…

Joy is the fruit of the Spirit because joy is one expression of the character and nature of God.

It’s here that the Lord gets a bum rap. [click to continue…]

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RickI didn’t know it would be the last time.

But then again, we both had lived long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to this sort of thing.

It was in Orlando, coming up on three years ago.  Rick said he’d drive me back to the airport. We had been together during the Southern Baptist Convention. (It would be less-than-honest if I said we had been there FOR the Southern Baptist Convention).  But we used the meeting there as an opportunity for a reunion of the Wolfepack. Rick was always the undisputed leader of that gang.

During a difficult time in my life, they had made sure to include me in the meeting. And it was as though we had never missed a beat. That’s the nature of the truest of friends.

Rick dropped me off at the airport to fly home. Just after walking into the terminal, I realized to my horror that I had left my phone in his car.  I found a way to call it, and of course, he turned around and brought it back to me.

Doctored.

He took that picture of himself on it (above), and made it the wallpaper.

That was Rick.

And I kept it as my wallpaper for about a month after my wife started asking, “How long are you going to keep that?” [click to continue…]

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Storm

We all face days of adversity,
Moments of hostility,
Nights of weeping, uncertainty, regret.
But sometimes those days extend into weeks,
The moments into seasons,
The nights into a relentless deluge with no break in sight.
We all carry a plan for that rainy day,
But what do you do when the storms are raging? [click to continue…]

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His Dearest Friend

by Andy Wood on January 11, 2013

in Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle

Dearest FriendHere’s a thought question for you.  Did Jesus have a best friend?  If so, who was it?

Aunt Ruth, who was neither my aunt nor was she named “Ruth,” used to say it was Judas.  “Only a friend can betray a friend,” she would say.  I told her she was nuts.

You could obviously make the case for Peter, James and John collectively.  He took them places the other disciples didn’t go, and let them see parts of Him the others didn’t necessarily see.  He also gave each of them nicknames – something guys like to do with their friends.

Individually, Peter and John seemed to have this ongoing competition for who was going to be the closest to Christ.  John even referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  But Jesus said more to Peter directly than any other disciple.  Of course, Peter was also saying more to Him apparently.

I have another suggestion for who his dearest friend was…

…and it was a girl. [click to continue…]

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