They were two branches off the same Vine.

Designed in the Vine’s image, each a was unique expression of the nature of its Creator.  One was tender and sensitive, with stunning intuitive wisdom. The other was strong and masculine, with a compelling view toward the horizon.

They loved being branches of the Vine.  And they loved each other. But they’d cut themselves off from the flow of the Vine’s life.  They believed the lie that they could thrive on their own.  The result: An odd combination of life and death in the same form.

Form without flow.

Image without reality.

As they dreamed of a future together, they asked one another, “How can we shape ourselves so our offspring can know our love and be fruitful?” [click to continue…]

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It all started with a dream last week,

About a friend I hadn’t seen in more than a decade,

And hadn’t talked to in six years.

Even though it had been so long

And so much life had passed us by,

I realized how important he still is to me.

My love for him and his family is as strong as ever.

And that dream made me take a look at the tapestry of my relationships

And realize somebody was missing.

[click to continue…]

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A man was brought into court for trial and found guilty.  The judge happened to be a close boyhood friend of the accused, although they had not seen each other for many years.  Remaining impartial, the judge sentenced the defendant and levied a penalty – a fine – appropriate to his crime.  The fine was so large that the accused could not pay it, so a jail sentence seemed to be the only alternative.

The judge then did a very unusual thing.  Leaving the bench, he approached the convicted man, shook his hand, and announced, “I’m paying the fine for you.”  There in the courtroom the law was satisfied, and so was love.

Beautiful justice.  Scandalous love.

What a picture of the cross.

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree

On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me

Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white

On that beautiful, scandalous night.

The ultimate intersection:  two beams connected, the vertical and the horizontal.  One pointed to God, one reached out to man.  And there, suspended between heaven and earth, the Prince of Glory was judged in love.

The ultimate paradox:  how could something so ugly be so beautiful?

The ultimate collision:  sin met grace.

The ultimate demonstration:  the love of God and the sin of man.

The ultimate betrayal:  thirty stinking pieces of silver for the life of the Son of God.

The ultimate rejection:  unconditional love, hammered through with nails.

The ultimate ransom:  innocent blood for guilty humanity.

Beautiful justice.  Scandalous love. [click to continue…]

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Formula 432

by Andy Wood on June 29, 2010

in Conversations

(Forgiveness Laboratories, Inc. – Part 2)

In our last episode, we were left in a place called Forgiveness Laboratories, Inc. where Joe Jacobson, the owner and founder, was explaining some of their findings.  And he was about to share something about forgiveness that I had never seen before.  If you haven’t read the previous post, I would encourage you to do that first…

Joe said, “Our greatest discovery happened when we combined what we call Formula 432 with Element 118.”

“Sounds very chemical,” I said.

“Aw, just lab talk,” Joe said with a smile.  “One of our guys used to be a youth pastor.”

“Say no more,” I said.

“Formula 432 is actually Ephesians 4:32.  We learned it as kids in church:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

“I noticed that on the wall in your lobby,” I said.

“Then you probably also noticed Element 118 on the other wall,” said Joe.  It’s from Isaiah 1:18:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”

“When our researchers combined these two truths, we made a breakthrough discovery about forgiveness.”

“What’s that?” I asked, intrigued. [click to continue…]

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The Advocate

by Andy Wood on April 2, 2010

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Eternity

Heard any good lawyer jokes lately?  Here’s one: 

Q: Why did God make snakes just before lawyers?

A: To practice.

All fooling aside, I have a new appreciation for the justice system these days.  There, when a person is accused of a crime, it is required of the system (the court) that he/she have an advocate.  The advocate’s sole responsibility is to look after the best interests of the accused. 

Q: Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?

A: Professional courtesy.

It is not the advocate’s job to determine guilt or innocence; that’s for the judge and/or jury. 

Q: What do you have when a lawyer is buried up to his neck in sand?

A: Not enough sand. 

It is not the advocate’s job to be liked or appreciated. 

Q: What’s the difference between a dead dog in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?

A: There are skid marks in front of the dog. 

The one task – the one focus – of the advocate is to stand in the gap for the accused.

When popular culture collides with the legal system, advocates get a bum rap.  These attorneys are portrayed as ruthless, win-at-all-cost scoundrels who will do anything to get the defendant off, guilty or not.


Q: Why is going to a meeting of the Bar Association like going into a bait shop?

A: Because of the abundance of suckers, leeches, insects, and nightcrawlers. 

So why the appreciation for advocates?  Because I know what it’s like to need and not have one.  My guess is, you do too.  Have you ever sat defenseless outside a closed door while somebody else made decisions affecting you?

For those who trust and follow Christ, however, the story doesn’t end there.  Even when we have no advocate in the board room, the committee or wherever, we have an Advocate nonetheless.  Check this out: [click to continue…]

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The Sting and the Save

by Andy Wood on October 12, 2009

in Tense Truths

Okay, first watch the short video, then let’s talk. 

This is an adaptation of a story Henri Nouwen used to tell.  Voice, illustrations, direction by Allen Weathers…

Before the dawn of time as we know it, God foresaw.  [click to continue…]

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The Stain

by Andy Wood on June 29, 2009

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Eternity

stainFor Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.

You and I were created in a stainless image.  Our first parents appeared on the outside as what they were on the inside – innocent in the likeness of their Creator.

Then came the Stain.

Soiled and discolored, we instinctively knew something was wrong.  We tried soaking it out and scrubbing it out.  But the Stain never went away.  Like silver is discolored simply by exposure to the air, we were forever tarnished by the choices we made, and those made upon us:

Passion stains.  Anger stains.  Gluttony stains.  Pride stains.  Fear stains.  Rejection stains.  Deception stains.

Pick a role, we’ve tried it out. [click to continue…]

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From Robes to Rags

by Andy Wood on April 9, 2009

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Eternity

ragsRag.  Now there’s an every-day word.

Unsophisticated, earthy, almost guttural – rags are blue-collar, made-for-dirt, hidden-from-company kind of stuff.

We all have them, but some people go to considerable lengths to deny it.

“It’s not a wash rag, dear.  It’s a wash cloth.”

“Oh.  Yew not from around heah, are ya’?”

That t-shirt or those shorts you’re wearing?  Rags in the making.

I grew up with wash rags, shop rags, shoeshine rags, snot rags (my dad’s term), and dust rags.  “Dust cloths” were the property of Yankees and people from other parts of town. [click to continue…]

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First-hand Smoke

by Andy Wood on October 8, 2008

in Enlarging Your Capacity, LV Cycle

Sometimes people do profound, powerful, healing things because they see the light.  Sometimes they do it because they feel the heat.

Imagine for a minute that you’re part of a crew of thousands, sent by no less than the king of a global power, to do the most important assignment of your life.  Your job is to rebuild the temple of God.

For seventy years your people have languished.  All your life, you’ve heard the stories. 

The land.

The promise.

The covenants.

The city.  Oh, the city!

And there on a mount called Moriah, you’ve heard about the most splendid, most glorious instrument of the worship of God.  Envisioned by the Sweet Psalmist of Israel, and built by his son, the wisest of kings ever to occupy the planet, this masterpiece was destroyed.

Your fathers came clean with you.  They owned up:  they’d screwed up miserably.  And there was nobody to blame but themselves.

But today’s a new day, [click to continue…]

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