Giving

Alabaster Jar

Suppertime.  And it’s quite a little dinner party there in Bethany.  All twelve disciples of Jesus are there, as is Jesus Himself, for whom the dinner was made.

Curiously enough, Lazarus – the friend of Jesus who never uttered a recorded word – is there, too.  And this is after his four-day journey to the pit.

Martha is there, of course, being Martha, and making things happen.

And in comes Mary.  She’s carrying an alabaster box.  With all the movement and conversation as people recline at a Middle Eastern dinner table, I doubt very many people notice her at first.  But that’s OK.  Mary wasn’t interested in being noticed.  She was interested in something – and Someone – much greater.

That said, no one could escape the fragrance that filled the room.  It penetrated everything, everyone, everywhere.

Is that nard?

Nard it is.

That’s expensive stuff.  To say nothing of the now-broken box that carried it.

Where is that coming from? [click to continue…]

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Shoes on the Altar

Update:  You can see the video here:

Love where you live.

That’s the theme at our church for the next few weeks.

There are lots of planned ways to do that over the next few weeks, and it’s fun to be a part of that.  But the goal, as Pastor Alan explained yesterday, is to help us get to the point where we do it in the moment.  Don’t just plan to love where you live sometime next week.  Love where you live in this moment.

His inspiration, in part:  Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan.

Alan said he’d been reading that story over and over, and was impressed by the fact that the Samaritan loved his neighbor in the immediate.  He didn’t say, “Hey, if you’re still in the ditch when I come back through I’ll stop and help you.”  He helped him as soon as he encountered the need.

I loved it.  He said it kinda funny, so I laughed, but totally agreed with the point.

Then came the curve ball. [click to continue…]

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horses

I have always loved horses.

Ever since I looped one of Mama’s belts for a stirrup and mounted the arm of our couch, using a bent coat hanger for a cowboy hat (we wuz broke back then), I have loved horses.

Ever since the days of Trigger and Silver, “My Friend Flicka,” and Black Beauty, I have loved horses.  I love the faithfulness of their companionship.  I love the elegant beauty they demonstrate when they race.  I love their strength and power, which remains to this day the standard by which mechanical engines are measured.

Even now, horses turn my head and, if it’s available, my camera.  They’re just magnificent animals.

That said, I’ve rarely ever actually ridden a horse.  Only galloped once – thought I was sure to take the dirt nap, or at least have dirt for dinner. [click to continue…]

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Set of three red candles burning in the dark

What stockings there are in this house are hung, and most all of the Christmas decorations are out and up for this most unusual of Christmases – one in which we are anticipating the birth of a grandson.

In the kitchen alone, the candles and stuffed carolers next to the miniature street lamp sing in inaudible celebration that it’s Christmas.  Five trees of some size or shape adorn the china hutch and island.  Candles and ribbons grace the table, and the Santa hat makes a nice addition to the ceramic pig that keeps watch over all things kitchen.  A stuffed snowman (that lights up, of course) perches on a chair in the corner.  And a healthy collection of Santa-and-the-Missus salt and pepper shakers give new meaning to that cliché of all Christmas clichés – ‘Tis the season.

But what most catches my eye is a little string of letters hanging down from the upper cabinet, next to the stuffed snowman.  Those four letters spell the word, H-O-P-E.

Isn’t that the renewable resource that is Christmas – the celebration of the birth of the Hope of the Ages?  That however sorry or desperate the world looks (have you read the news lately?), there still is hope?

We live in an age where linkin’ stinkin’ thinkin’ together has become an art form, and the cynics seem to be winning.  But this Christmas can be a reminder to me and to you that we’re not done hoping. [click to continue…]

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Lost for Words

by Andy Wood on July 22, 2013

in Esteem, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle

Speechless LoveThere are over 3,000 words in the English language to describe some kind of feeling.  According to design student Pei-Ying Lin that’s about 21 words short. Lin, in working with colleagues from London’s Royal College of Art, identified 21 words from other languages for which there is no English word.  Example: The Russian word, Tocka, which means “Great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause…ache of soul, a longing with nothing to long for.”

You can find out more, and see Lin’s infographic, by clicking here.

Of course, what Lin has accomplished, while significant, is no real surprise – especially for anybody who’s ever found themselves not knowing how to express exactly how they felt.

Sometimes the gratitude is too great. [click to continue…]

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It was Christmas Eve morning, I don’t know, about 12 years ago, I guess.  I got up way ahead of everybody else, and for some reason had to go to the grocery store.  And for some other reason I can’t remember, it wasn’t our regular grocery store.

When I walked in, I noticed that the supermarket had a case of 24 Christmas gel candles marked down to a buck apiece.  On a whim, I bought an entire case of them and hauled them home.

I was inspired.

(By the way, completely irrelevant side note, but that’s just one more reason to do your Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.  Black Friday’s got nuthin’ on the bargains you can find the day before Christmas.  More here.)

I got back home and everybody was still settled in to their long winter’s nap.  So I went to work.  I sat down at the computer, grabbed a sheet of labels, and printed 24 that read, “Thanks for the light you bring to our lives every day.  Merry Christmas, The Wood Family.”

Boy, was I inspired. Click here to see what happened

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In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.  He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.  He couldn’t eat, and he avoided his friends.  The doctor found that he was in prime physical condition.  Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.  Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.  “You must go and see him,” the doctor advised.  “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown.  He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.”

“No, he can’t help me,” said the patient.  “You see, I am Grimaldi!”

It’s one of those ironies, a paradox of life in general, and a hidden truth of Kingdom life in particular.  Laughter flows out of pain.  Joy would be nonexistent without sorrow.  Grace wouldn’t exist if there were no need for it.  And what I lack becomes the basis for what I have to offer. [click to continue…]

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Your Journey of Desire

by Andy Wood on February 16, 2011

in Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle

Okay, so try this.  Let’s take a little mental inventory.  Go back to the twilight of your thinking last night – that mental place where you drift between the time you close your eyes and the time you actually go to sleep.  (I can tell you mine, but I’m saving it for a future blog post… watch for something called the “three A’s.”)

Or… how about the first line of thinking out of the mental gate this morning – that place where your mind went before you got out of bed?

Was it something to do?

Something you were worried about?

Some pressure, or pain?  Or some pleasure or something/someone you were grateful for?

Was it a longing, or an idea?  Or a feeling of dread?

Recapture that thought or line of thinking for a minute… then go behind it… and look for the desire. Based on your thinking, mentally complete this sentence:  “I want to _____________.”

It could be something you want to feel.

Could be something you want to accomplish.

Could be something you want to experience.

Could be somebody you want to connect with, serve, or resolve an issue with.

Got it yet?  Okay, let’s dig a little deeper. [click to continue…]

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What Will You Render?

by Andy Wood on July 7, 2010

in Esteem, Life Currency

Render.  It’s one of my favorite words in the English Bible.

I have to admit, it’s partly because it just sounds so awesome.  I can just hear that boxing ring announcer now:

“Lllllets get ready to RrrreeenNNNderrrr.”

You can do a lot with that.

More important, of course, is what the word means.  [click to continue…]

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wishful thinking“I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” -1 Corinthians 9:22-23, The Message

I’ve devoted a lot of time to a life powered by wishful thinking.  With that came a lot of declaring about what I was going to do, and by when.  Those lists I referred to in the last post even contain a pretty crazy collection of audacious plans.  Just one problem.  Some of them are lifetime pursuits, and I still haven’t started the chase.

Setting goals or writing down wish lists is a bit like writing a check.  [click to continue…]

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