Change

Change your nation instead.  Or your community.  Or your neighborhood.  Or in those really desperate cases, change yourself.

Changing the world has become a cliché.

“This generation will change the world.”

“You have the power to change the world.”

“That [insert role of another person] you [insert action you perform] may just change the world someday.”

Maybe they can.  Maybe you will.  And yes, it is possible.

And no, you probably won’t.  [click to continue…]

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I don’t know what else to call them.  But if they were all in the same vicinity or neighborhood, they’d be part of a ghost town.  They’re usually uninhabitable, with windows and doors gone or broken, and the roof letting in morning sunshine.

There’s at least one near you somewhere, but it may not be as easy to see as the hundreds that dot the wide open landscape near where I live.

Abandoned, but never empty.  For lack of a better term, I call them ghost houses.

Not haunted houses, though I’d rather not wander into one of these things after dark.  Broad open daylight either, for that matter.

Once upon a time these places provided a home for families.  Now they sit empty.  Sometimes the reason is obvious; sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all. Just in the last week I’ve seen several once-lovely and spacious homes now left to the elements, vandals, and critters.

Maybe someone died, and left no heir.  Maybe business dried up or sold out and forced a move.  Maybe the place got tied up in some sort of disagreement in court or with a bank.

Regardless, the end result is the same – empty, eroding testaments to lost usefulness and life.

Oh, if they could talk!  Oh, if they could teach us!

Call me weird (okay, who said that?).  But what started as a years-long fascination has led me to visit and photograph over 200 of these old places over the last week.  Most were houses.  But there are also old stores, gas stations, barns, schools, and even a few abandoned churches.

Some are part of the three certifiable ghost towns I’ve visited (a story for another day).  Most stand alone on the edge of town or in the middle of nowhere.

Nobody built one of these planning for them to sit desolate.  But sit they do.  And while the ghost houses have lost their primary purpose because nobody can actually live or work in them anymore, they being dead still speak.

And no, they’re not hollering, “Boo!”

They’re teaching some powerful lessons that speak to us as individuals and leaders, churches and organizations. [click to continue…]

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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…]

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I have a friend who doesn’t do change well.  I have another who aches for it.  Strangely enough, they both find themselves routinely responding in the same ways.

Both are fiercely loyal, probably to a fault.  They will cling to relationships, to institutions, even to ideas long past what most people would consider healthy or normal.

Both are very deliberate in the ways they go about making decisions – to the point that life sometimes barges in and makes the decision for them.

Both have dreams that seem to escape them while they wait for the circumstances to improve… which they never seem to do.

Interestingly enough, both are people of great faith.  These are not casual Christians.  They are heart-deep in a pursuit of God’s best for their lives.

They also have their differences.  One pushes himself to grow, to stretch, to improve – only to find out the ladder he was climbing was leaning against a bombed out building.  The other refuses to consider that if she keeps doing the same things, she’s likely to get the same results.

One will analyze a situation to death without ever taking action, then analyze what happened when the action took him.  The other will react to situations on the basis of emotions, but typically they’re feelings of fear or regret.

Meanwhile, the winds of change just keep on howling.  To one it feels like a blowing rain.  To the other it feels like a mocking tormentor. [click to continue…]

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Can we talk about The Elephant in the Room? 

Most of the time we use the phrase to describe the unspoken but obvious thing between two or more people that no one is talking about.  There’s a different elephant, however, that I want to explore. 

It’s the one in your head.

I don’t know what yours is doing, but the elephant my head likes to dance.  Badly.

The Elephant in Your Head is the one or two things that appear in every mental photo.  The two or three things that interrupt – albeit silently – any patterns of forward thinking.

What do you do when you’re the elephant in the room? [click to continue…]

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Changing Seasons, Changing Lives

by Andy Wood on November 27, 2010

in Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Waiting

Years ago a Persian king wanted to discourage his sons from making rash judgments.  He sent the oldest son on a winter journey to see a mango tree.  Spring came and the second oldest went on the same trip.  Summer followed and the third son went.  When the youngest boy returned from his autumn visit, the king called them together to describe the tree. 

The first said, “It looks like a burnt old stump.”  The second described it as lovely and green; the third declared its blossoms as beautiful as the rose.  The fourth said all were wrong.  “Its fruit is like a pear.” 

“Each is right,” the king said.  “You just saw the same tree in a different season.”  

Before you evaluate other people, make sure you have seen them in all their seasons.  No one is always anything.  [click to continue…]

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Here are seven more ideas, thoughts, or “wish I’d said thats” baking in my mental oven lately. How about you?  Do you have any half-baked ideas you’d like to share?  Drop it in the comment box below. 

Want to see more?  Try here, here, or here.

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“God is a violent pursuer of a wayward soul.” – Brandon Gilbert

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“Even when we fail to validate the gospel, the way we respond to failure can validate the gospel.”  -Nathan Ables [click to continue…]

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I want to take you to a place where, frankly, we aren’t invited.  For just a minute, let’s be one of “those” people we often gripe about – those rubberneckers on the highway, who seem fascinated with somebody else’s messes.  

In this case, we’re creeping up to a closed bedroom door, where on the other side, we can hear muffled sobs. 

A man’s sobs.

A few days ago, somebody from home had rocked his world.  The news was bad, and every ounce of optimism he once had was crushed.

You should have been here yesterday.  He was really blubbering then.  And he will be again tomorrow.  Fasting, too.  And praying.  Lots of praying. 

But as he cries and prays and cries and fasts and cries some more, something happens.  [click to continue…]

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dscf1780There’s an old colloquial saying in Thailand that has become something of a joke.  Makes for a great t-shirt, too.  When foreigners would travel to the Land of Smiles, and ask if this whatever was the same as the whatever where they came from, or the whatever from another part of the country or town, the standard reply was, “Same same, but different.”

Why do they have the same two kinds of markets sitting right next to each other?  Same same, but different.

Are the people on the southern coast the same as the people in Chiang Mai or Bangkok?  Same same, but different.

Do the cooks turn out that Thai cuisine they way their grandmothers did it?  Same same, but different.

Today those who deal with the realities of change in this, the only nation in Asia never colonized, face great challenges and great opportunities.  And yet, they hold on to a culture that is the friendliest form of fierce independence I have ever met.  Same same, but different. [click to continue…]

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butterflySpring is a season of new beginnings and exquisite beauty.  Everything that just appeared lifeless and grey is bursting forth with new energy and color.  I call it the Renaissance, because it reminds me of new birth.  And for me, that’s a multi-dimensional experience.

Because so much life appears all around us, it’s easy to assume that renewal just sort of happens automatically.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Springtime represents a triumph – a victory won through a fierce, even savage struggle and patient determination.

We love, for example, to see the trees or vines begin their growth for the year.  But it’s easy to forget how many of those plants were pruned – some of them nearly all the way back to the ground – in order to produce maximum beauty.

Plowing is another struggle of spring. [click to continue…]

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