Restoration

wpt043Way back in the day, Chuck Bolte and the Jeremiah People did a hilarious skit called “The Service” about five people sitting on a church pew waiting for the service to start.  There was an older couple, a younger couple who had it all together and knew it, and a young wife who in tears admits that her husband has left her and moved into a hotel.

Out come the clichés.  In one place, Chuck who played the younger man, said something like, “You see, Julie, as Christians we’re on God’s winning team.  We make our baskets, we sink our putts, we cross the goal line!”  Then he asks that penetrating question:  “Julie, have you made Christ the center of your marriage.”

“Look,” she says.  “I don’t know how to make Christ the center of our marriage.  I come here for help and all I get are words… words I’ve said to myself a thousand times.”

Ouch.  But hey, at least she got some words.  Sometimes church people don’t even do that.

In 35 years of some sort of ministry, I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of gritty grace.  Sure, some people got it wrong.  But I’ve seen enough people get it right to dismiss my own “inner Pharisee” and pay it forward.  They taught me how to run to the spiritually wounded, not away from them.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way. [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Church keep outA few years ago I was having coffee with an old friend and colleague.  I was in a pretty wounded state at the time, and felt compelled to tell him my story.  He was compassionate, listened attentively, then asked, “How can I help?”

“I was thinking about visiting your church,” I said, “and just wanted you to know.”

“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” he replied. “We’re not much of a healing place.”

Wow.  There it was.  Translation:  We’re more interested in fresh blood than spilled blood.  But to be fair, his church was and is true to its mission as they perceive it.  And at least he was kind enough to be honest.

For years I have heard the old saying, “The Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded.”  Let me say right up front, that’s not accurate.  If you really believe that, you’ve never been in a corporate “army” or a political one.  The wounded get eliminated there all the time.

But the church is supposed to be different, right?  We’re supposed to be trophies of grace, havens of love, lighthouses of hope and (make your own cliché here:  [blank] of [blank]).  So what’s up with that right foot of fellowship? [click to continue…]

{ 10 comments }

Peaceful Pond

You’re feeling disappointed or rejected,
Lonely or loveless,
And even though you know better than to believe all that in your head,
You’re too lost in “to-do’s” or “he-did’s” to even recognize your own heart.
Time to come and find your rest.

You’re feeling restless or impatient,
Guilty or angry,
And even though you know you live face-to-grace,
You’re too consumed with how far you have to go to recognize whose job it is get you there.
Time to come and find your rest.

You’re feeling anxious or worried,
Burdened or exhausted,
And even though you know it isn’t your load to carry,
You’re too loaded with responsibilities and cares to recognize that you’ve picked them up again.
Time to come and find your rest. [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Q – I am really backsliding in my relationship with God and I’m not really worshipping like I used to. What should I do? Please help.

There is more to life than trusting Christ as your Savior and waiting to die so you can show up in heaven.  He has designed a journey of growth, love, and intimacy that allows you to make choices today that will serve you in this life (the future) and the next (your eternal home in heaven).  It’s also possible, however, that you can waste your life and its opportunities for intimacy with the Lord.  That’s the basis of this question.

Every believer deals with this issue – what to do when we find ourselves drifting away from that connection with the Lord.  If somebody gave merit badges or degrees in this, I’d be at the front of the line!  Here are some things I have found to be helpful in reconnecting my life with God, reordering my priorities, and renewing my spiritual life. [click to continue…]

{ 26 comments }

You show me Grace in the cases
Where I would be tempted to give up on me.
Yet you see past the walls and the falls to the work of art
Hidden in this cold heart of stone.
You alone have the faith to see what I could be
When You finish the good work You started in me
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the places
Where I’m still resisting the changes You make.
So you shake my desire from the mire of my stubborn will –
Patiently waiting till I bend.
You intend only good for me – to flourish, free
From the lifeless and broken man I used to be
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the spaces
Between where I should be and where I remain,
With a stain from a past that still casts a dark shadow when
All I can see is sin and shame.
Yet you came to restore the years and store the tears
That I’ve cried in my brokenness, longing and fear
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the faces
Of people who touch the untouchable me.
They can see through my blindness, with kindness they lovingly
Call out the best in me to grow.
And You know how I need to feel what You can heal
Through the tangible goodness You chose to reveal
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the traces
Of glory that whisper to me of my home.
While I comb through the aches and the breaks of a world that yearns
For the day You return to claim
Those you came to redeem from the grave and captive slaves
Like I was when You found me and paid all to save –
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

{ 1 comment }

Perdido Key, Florida.  I was in a hotel room, desperately reading my Bible, even more desperately crying out to God.  Somewhere along the way I had, well, lost my way.  And I couldn’t find my way back.

Back to a consistently focused walk with God.

Back to a first-love commitment to Jesus.

Back to a sense of spiritual usefulness and power.

Back to a faith that could at least move me, even when it couldn’t move mountains.

Back to the hope that somehow tomorrow could actually be better than today.

I could have told you how to find your way back to wherever you left your path.  But I was lost as last year’s Easter egg when it came to me.

I heard all the things I already knew in my head.  Didn’t help.

I heard all the platitudes and steps and methods I’d told others and they had told me.  Ditto.

I heard all the sermons I had preached to others about coming back to Jesus, and they were profoundly useless to me.

And what I was reading in the Bible wasn’t helping much, either.  I kept reading passages in psalms where David would pray things like, “Vindicate me, O God, because I have walked in my integrity.”

I didn’t have any integrity.  And the last thing I needed to see in that situation was vindication.  Justice either.

In desperation I silently cried out, “God!  Is there a verse in there for the rest of us?”

And He showed me something that changed my life. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

I know a guy named Garrett who has completely changed my impression of him in a matter of a couple of years.  When I first met him, he came across as a slacker – lazy, unmotivated, and a pretty bad student.  But the last time I saw him he had rewritten his story – at least the one that played out in my head.  Truth is, Garrett is sharp, actually quite brilliant as a communicator, and a potential world changer.

What made the difference?

Time.  Perspective.  A little experience.  In Garrett’s case, he never stopped anything or changed anything.  I just had more time to get to know what he was capable of.  The one who needed changing was me.

Sarah and Ben were a different case.  [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Starting Over, Finishing Well

by Andy Wood on August 11, 2010

in Uncategorized

This is about endurance.  

About playing hurt.

About finishing strong.

This is about starting over.  About reinventing yourself, your future, your relationships.

Before there was a Ripkin or a Rocky Balboa (VI), there was Lou Gehrig.  The Iron Man played in 2,130 consecutive baseball games.  However many seasons that was, Gehrig never missed a game. 

Did he ever get hurt, sick, or tired?  Yep.  But he always showed up at game time. 

That’s one of the keys, you know.  Just show up.

After Lou retired, he had a physical examination.  [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

An important part of creating a compelling future has to do with remembering.  That’s why lately I’ve been visiting some museums on a fairly regular basis. 

I’m not referring to anything with the words, “Smithsonian,” “Historical,” or “National” in it.  The museums I’m talking about are in my head, some really old computer files, and my journals.

Lately I’ve been visiting the Dream Museum.  I suggest you do the same.

The idea for this little excursion was planted in my heart last August at a men’s retreat, where my friend Mickey asked a compelling question:

What dreams have you had either stolen or detained, to the point you have given up on them?  Maybe the Lord is telling you to pick that dream back up again.

That really registered with me.  “Electrified” may be a better term.

(Pause.  Are you entering your dream museum yet?  Visiting what’s in mine may help me, but it won’t do much for you.  So let me ask you what Mickey asked all of us:  What dreams have YOU had that were either stolen or detained, to the point you have given up on them?)

I didn’t have an immediate answer to the question, other than some unfulfilled physical dreams that I believe were prophetic.  But I couldn’t get over the gut feeling that some long-ago dream had been shelved to the point that I had forgotten about it, but the Lord hadn’t.   [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Ever hear of the Law of the Hammer?  Also called The Law of the Instrument, it has been attributed to both Abraham Maslow and Abraham Kaplan (neither of whom were carpenters, I don’t think).

The Law of the Hammer is based on the idea that people tend to look for cure-alls or over-use familiar tools, especially in dealing with people.  It says, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

Wise.  In other words, diversify your toolbox.

I’m not a carpenter either, and six months of bending nails in 1979-80 can attest to that.  But I’ve spent a lot of my life building, working with, leading, and being an instrument of healing to people.  And I have observed a corollary to the Law of the Hammer that is important to remember in dealing with people.  I call it The Law of the Nail:

If you are a nail, and especially if you’ve been pounded a time or two, everything (and everybody) looks like a hammer.

I’ve been on all sides of that.  I’ve been the nail.  Banged the nail.  Straightened out bent nails.  Sat in on more than my share of Nails Anonymous meetings (including pastors’ prayer meetings).  I’ve hired nails to go to work for me without realizing how pounded they had been.  And I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that living in a broken world means working with and leading broken or bruised people.  So at the risk of pounding the metaphor too much (sorry), here are some ideas for finding healing if you are the nail, or in the next post, working with and leading the nails in your organization or workplace. [click to continue…]

{ 5 comments }