Joy

Baby Ready

He’s this year’s first round draft choice. The Player to Be Named Later.  If you’re keeping score that’s number nine for us, and the eighth boy in a row.

Yep. It’s Baby Maybe season, and the landing gear is down.  He can be here at any time.

Now the official due date is sometime around the end of the month, but all indications point to a potential early arrival.  So we’ve made ourselves ready to go when the word goes forth.

We’re living with a sense of imminence.  And it’s affecting every part of our lives. [click to continue…]

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Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies

Chariots-Of-Fire

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”

I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.

I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.

I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:

Why do you do it?

I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.

In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.

Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]

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Above the Fog

There’s a productivity that gets things done.

There’s another productivity that makes things one… that nourishes the soul and flourishes into gratitude…

Expectancy…

Joy.

This is Productivity of the Soul.

Both are important.  [click to continue…]

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Sadness and happiness

Hop on the Hypothetical Bus with me for just a minute.  Let’s take a ride.

Let’s assume that as far as you know you’ve been doing everything you know to do correctly.

  • You brush and floss 2-3 times a day.
  • You have your daily devotions.
  • You exercise devotedly.
  • You give your money regularly to your church and other places.
  • You do a really good job at whatever you call work.
  • You only eat organic Cheetos.
  • You get your milk from a Christian cow.

Yet despite all the good things you’re doing and the faith and expectations you’ve been exercising, you just checked the scoreboard and,

Uh oh…

Your life is something like that mean football cheer:

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind!
Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind…
You!

What do you do when the news should be good, but it’s discouraging instead? [click to continue…]

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Shadows

Into every life there come those moments that cut new paths – awkward, ugly paths – across our landscape.  Shadow experiences that block the warmth of the sun’s rays and leave us in a dark spot – or leave dark spots on us.

Most of these shadow moments are fleeting.  Just as the sun stays in motion across the sky and recasts the shadows on the ground, life moves on and the light returns to our lives.

But sometimes the Shadow has a life and mind of its own.  Sometimes it simply refuses to leave, and we’re left with the scars and the questions and the daytime darkness that threaten to block our sun forever.  Sometimes, regardless of the truths we know or the time gone by, it just seems that the Shadow’s always there.

When the Shadow’s always there, if feels as though you have your own personal cloud suspended right over you, while the rest of the world basks in the sunshine.  It’s easy to worry that you’re everybody’s else’s downer… when the Shadow’s always there. [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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My 2013 Christmas Prayer for You

by Andy Wood on December 25, 2013

in Life Currency, Love, Words

Three Candles

In the stillness of the night or the glory of the morning that is Christmas, my prayer for you is that beyond the traditions and trappings, through the gifts and the connections, you approach it all with a heart that is fully awake and aware of the Larger Story and the part you still must play.

I pray that you would fall in love again this Christmas with a first-love kind of desire for Jesus, whose birth we celebrate. I pray that your soul would find in Him and in those whose lives you touch the sweetest of love that gives graciously, forgives completely, and waits patiently when you or I fail miserably.

I pray that you have those God-breathed encounters in which your heart is so full you are lost in the moment.  I pray that your heart is so captured with the wonder and joy of the presence of God, even in the simplest of experiences, you could stay in that moment and hold Him tightly. [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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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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(A Conversation)

Crossroads

You’d think by now I’d have this down.

Have what?

Making decisions and finding God’s will.

Is that what you mean by “being at a crossroads?”

Yeah, I have some decisions to make, and it’s kind of a mixed bag.  Some really good things and some really challenging things, either way I go.

Okay…

But I don’t want to just do what I want to do. I want to do God’s will.

As opposed to your will?

Yes.  I know that he speaks through my desires.  But even that’s mixed up right now.

And you need Him to sort all that out for you?

Yeah.

Sorta like those neon arrows on the highway at night that say, “Stop here?”

Boy, wouldn’t that be awesome? [click to continue…]

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