(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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Leadership TestIn his profile of University of Alabama quarterback A. J. McCarron, John Wertheim describes a scene that took place when the record-setting quarterback first arrived and joined the team as an 18-year-old freshman.

At his first intrasquad scrimmage McCarron was grouped with walk-ons, facing the defensive starters.  He was sacked early and often, and wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t even remove his cleats before marching into Coach Nick Saban’s office afterward.

“I need to talk to you,” he snapped.

“O.K.,” said Saban.

“You want me to show you what I can do, how I can play? Well, I can’t do s— when you put me with walk-ons who can’t even block. I don’t understand why you don’t put me with the [starters].”

“Why? Because today we were testing your leadership,” Saban said, barely looking up. “And you failed. Miserably.”

Life is filled with little tests (and big ones), and they aren’t always what they seem. Tests of faith. Tests of skill or knowledge. Tests of character.  Tests of performance. And yes, tests of leadership.

Most of these tests reveal themselves in the rearview mirror, not in the windshield. It’s only after the fact that we can truly see them for what they are.  What we can do, however, is use hindsight to identify when others faced tests of leadership and learn from their successes or “miserable failures.”  Here are five ways to recognize when your leadership was being tested: [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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PainCharles is nothing short of an odd combination.  He’s an immensely popular preacher and pastor, having preached to more people than anyone else on the planet, with the exception of Billy Graham and perhaps a couple of others. Yet while he rarely shows it, he’s a physical mess.  He suffers from rheumatic gout and kidney disease, and there are days he can’t even leave the house because of the excruciating pain.

His wife is a mess.  This woman, whom he loves dearly, has disabilities of her own, and this weighs heavily on Charles.

His finances are a mess. Despite the reach of Charles’ ministry, a sober look at his books reveals an ugly secret: the man is broke-down broke. 

His relationships are a mess. [click to continue…]

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Road through the Palouse Region.

The Dream

Somewhere in the deepest places of your heart, however old and tired or fresh and alive it may seem, there lurks The Dream. Rooted in who or what you believe to be true, grounded in what you are most passionate about, The Dream is your ideal sense of beauty, happiness, and ultimate contentment.

For many people, The Dream is so patently obvious or so magically impossible, they hardly think about it, much less discuss it. For others, The Dream is tantamount to heaven, so they assume that the only joy here is preparing for life there, after death.

Let me be clear.  “God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being” (1 Corinthians 2:9, CEB). But in setting your heart toward home, He has given you a sense of life as it ought to be… as it can be. It may seem impossible this side of heaven…

Nevertheless, The Dream is there.

And you are here.

And in between are the Distance and the Spaces.

The Spaces are those markers and milestones that speak of the progress you have made in the direction of The Dream.

The Distance is the ruthless, unyielding set of facts, measurements and rules that, apart from God’s grace, show us just how far we have to go. [click to continue…]

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Tired TroubleIt’s hard not to like Mike when you first meet him. He looks like an 8 x 10 glossy, has a charming smile, and a welcoming demeanor.  When he tells you that he’s the pastor at Grace Church just around the corner, it makes you want to visit.

What you can’t see at first, but will discover soon enough if you get to know him, is that Mike is running on emotional and spiritual fumes.  He’s exhausted from carrying a mental and spiritual burden for so long, as if he has carried it all by himself.

But Mike’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. He’d be better off if he was.

Sarah’s in a tight spot.  She’s not the public charmer that Mike is, but she is bright, resourceful, and has a clear head for retail business and marketing. It’s no wonder the local Chamber voted her the businesswoman of the year last year. Her entrepreneurial drive and instinct for customer tastes have served her well.

Until now.  The first couple of years of the recession drained all her reserves, but Sarah found a way to navigate through those challenges. Now she’s faced with tough competition, over-extended credit, and changes in employee healthcare laws.  It’s getting ugly at Sarah’s Boutique and Bridal.

Sarah is in a tight spot; but she’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. She’d be better off if she was. [click to continue…]

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Dock Empty ChairWhen you’re seven kinds of busy and 21 kinds of tired…

When you’re pulled in so many different directions you need a compass to find the bathroom…

When it’s bedtime and you just remembered that you forgot suppertime…

It’s time for a different tune.  It’s time for His song of peace.


When you speak all day with the language of engagement…

When you find yourself panting even while you’re sitting still…

When you’re feeling guilty because you’re not checking something off that stupid list…

It’s time for a different tune. It’s time for His song of peace. [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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obstacle courseSecond period was blue.  Dark blue.  That was the color of our gym shorts in seventh grade.  Well, at least for those who sailed down the steps at Azalea Road Junior High to greet the red shorts brigade who was returning from Coach Crenshaw and Coach Perkins’ gym class.

Always anxious for coming attractions, we’d ask the boys from first period, “What are we doing?”  Sometimes it was something awesome like battle ball or football.  Sometimes it was something exotic like gymnastics.  But one thing was sure to send a chill up my adolescent spine:

The Obstacle Course.

I should probably mention here that my athletic ability was legendary.  In my own mind.  But running headlong into a class of 60 or so peers left little doubt that my gateway to glory wasn’t through athletics.

And if there was any doubt – if there was any shred of athletic dignity left in me – the Obstacle Course loomed as a reminder of the inglories that awaited. [click to continue…]

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I enjoy taking pictures the same way an 8-year-old “artist” enjoys sidewalk chalk.  But as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with old cameras. They remind me of some of my own heritage, and they fascinate me as I imagine where they have traveled and what they have captured on film, or lately on disk.  I’ve often said to myself, maybe one day I’d like to add a few to my own old camera collection.

Well.  This weekend the motive, means and opportunity all converged as we travelled to my son’s house for Easter weekend, and I came home with these 23 treasures.  Most of them are in the “junk” category.  But I did pick up a really old (still working) movie projector, a circa-1900 Conley wooden box camera, and a couple of Kodaks from the 1950s. [click to continue…]

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