Healing

You wouldn’t have known from meeting Martha the first time that her life had been a sinking ship.  Rewind from the near-poverty this single mother of two sons lived to the day she walked away from her “covering” – an abusive, controlling religious system.  Go back a bit further to the time her minister husband left her for another woman.  If you dare, rewind a bit more to the night she and her husband came home to find their third son, Matthew, dead in his crib from SIDS.

Life had not been kind.  But you wouldn’t know it from the courageous smile, the ox-like willingness to work, and the radiant joy she had in her relationship with Jesus Christ.  Sure, Martha had her moments, and could cry with the worst of ‘em.  But a heart so captured by the grace of God will cling to it, even when everything else seems lost.

I once asked her why she didn’t just walk away, since loving and serving God had been so costly.  I don’t remember any words – just the look on her face that let me know I had just asked the most absurd question possible.

A heart once captured will never let go. [click to continue…]

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It was a year ago today.  

In one sense, as my Dad said yesterday, it has flown by.  In another, it felt like a thousand years.

But if one thing has emerged from the past 365 days, it’s that when people or Bible writers talk about the “God of All Comfort,” I can say “Amen” and turn the pages with credibility.

But it didn’t start – or end – with the events surrounding my mother’s sudden death.  In fact, the biggest lesson of all was that healing of the heart is a journey through time.

Translation:  Don’t tell me how much comfort or encouragement you’re feeling in the funeral home.  You have no clue yet about comfort.  You’re still being buoyed and insulated by kind people and the truths of your faith.

Comfort – the real kind – comes later.

In the last year, I have been blessed to live what I have preached for years – that the words we use about a Heavenly Father who is who is able to empathize with our weaknesses and invites us to boldly approach a throne of grace are all true.  And believe me, other than the promise of eternal life, I can’t think of a promise that is more vital.

How does He do it?  If you’re the one just leaving the cemetery or the courthouse or the hospital, what can you expect?  How does the Lord put the pieces back together?  While every experience of loss – whether it is through death, rejection, forced job termination, or the death of a dream – is unique, I think I have found some common elements in the way our Heavenly Father brings about His healing. [click to continue…]

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Mosaic

by Andy Wood on June 13, 2010

in 100 Words

We live in a broken world, but we don’t have to accept brokenness as the final answer. 

We are broken people, but our lives don’t have to be defined by the irreparable messes we’ve made or the grave wounds we carry.

In the hands of a Healer,

And the heart of an Artist,

We are more than a pile of useless pieces.

We are His work of art.

And in a stunning act of clarity and focus,

He chose…

Only…

To work…

With broken pieces.

But He insists that you entrust all the broken pieces of your life to Him.

(This beautiful glass mosaic is the art of Kelly Aloha, of Caloma, California.
Visit her studio on the river the next time you visit the Caloma Valley.)

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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…]

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No telling how many times I’ve said to someone, “Put this in your oven and let it bake for a while,” or “I don’t have this all sorted out yet – it’s still in the oven.”

I thought I’d share some of the “bread” that’s in my oven right now.  Here are seven half-baked, half-raw ideas I’m heating up.  I may toss ‘em.  I may cook ‘em up.  Put them in your oven too, and let’s see what comes out.  You can help, if you’d like, by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

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There is no such thing as a porcelain healer.  There are expert healers, wounded healers, bloody healers, spiritual healers.  But if your goal is to look pretty on a shelf or remain detached from the broken, the sick, the wounded, or the dying, you aren’t much use.  For God’s sake, stay out of the way of those who are.

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“The Lord has made everything for its own purpose…” (Proverbs 16:4). If God is purposeful, He must be faithful to complete His purpose.  Otherwise, He’s an idiot or impotent, a scoundrel or attention-deficit, careless or passive.  In other words, if He is purposeful but not faithful, He’d be created in our image.

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Even my dog hates closed doors.

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The Ultimate test of a leader is whether he will “lay down his life for his sheep.” In other words, will he say no to his instinct toward self-preservation and do what is best for the people he leads?  If you must maintain your position, your salary, your perks, or your title at all costs, you are no leader.

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“Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions?  Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”  –Andy Andrews, The Noticer.

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Having a wallet that’s an inch thick is NOT a status symbol.  (Wait for it… wait for it…  Here it comes… What’s in YOUR wallet?)

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Overheard on “Criminal Minds” a few weeks ago:  “Scars remind us of where we’ve been, but they don’t have to dictate where we are going.”

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Our granddaughter, Laura Kate, with Elmo’s help, is learning about holes.  The square hole, the round hole.  The star-shaped hole, the rectangle hole.  She’s learning to put the square piece in the square hole, and Elmo tells her how awesome she is. 

At 20 months, that’s pretty good.  Before long, she will graduate from Elmo and his octogons  and stars.  And she will discover new holes to fill.  Deeper holes.  One downright abyss.  And many more complex shapes.

Who Said That?

There’s this quote that’s been ascribed to all kinds of people over the years.  I’ve heard that Billy Graham said it.  Then Augustine.  Or maybe C. S. Lewis.  But most popularly, Blaise Pascal.  The quote reads, [click to continue…]

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The Friend of a Wounded Heart

by Andy Wood on May 20, 2009

in Insight, Life Currency, Love

grief-stairwellThis is for Larry Chastain.

Larry Whitehurst.

Dawn Pitchford.

David Overton.

Dee Ann Hallmark.

Thomas Barrett.

Priceless people, much younger than me, whose last visit I had with them was over a casket.

This is for parents and grandparents, girlfriends and boyfriends now long since somebody else’s spouse, little brothers and sisters who once were left as only children.

This is for Caden Trethewey and Elizabeth Rodes.  Two children I will never meet in this life whose stories profoundly touched me, and I think will touch you.

This past Saturday, Elizabeth was born in South Carolina.  Both her parents, Will and Kelly, are on staff at Newspring Church in Anderson.  She was nine inches long and weighed 8 ounces – a victim of anencephaly.  Without asking for it (who would?), Will and Kelly discovered what so many before them have – that Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted.

Here’s Will in his own words:

I wish that I could describe the presence of God that was with us in that hospital room, but I can’t. Even if you know Jesus, it would probably defy your comprehension, like it still does mine. It is just one more thing in life that I don’t understand, but I do know that God is sovereign and He reigns over all of this and all that is to come.
This is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a great work.

You can (and should) read his entire reflection of the story here.

The Tretheweys tell their own story in the remarkable video below. [click to continue…]

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communityJan is a mother of four, two each from two failed marriages.  This morning, her 19-year-old lost his temper and verbally crushed his mother with a flurry of profanity and rage.  Jan wanted to die, literally. I got the call.

Last year, at the tender age of 44, Bruce became a husband for the first time.  Less than a month later, his bride, this time blushing with anger, ordered Bruce out of the house.  Their divorce was final last week.

Larry introduced himself to me by telling me how he was betrayed and fired by his corporate board.  Then he faced the most insidious wound of all – the church wound.  After months of being ostracized, the victim of church politics, Larry finally realized the need for a change. “When your wife has to take a tranquilizer on Sunday mornings just to go to church,” he said, “it’s time to do something different.”

All these people share two things in common.  First, they’re living in the Land of Nod (see the previous post).  The age that’s given us instant gratification, disposable everything, and technology-on-demand has elevated revolving door relationships to an art form.  The people I just introduced you to are Exhibit A.

Second, on Sundays they’re in our church.  [click to continue…]

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Leading Broken People

by Andy Wood on September 8, 2008

in Esteem, Leadership, Life Currency, Love, Words

A couple of weeks ago David Hayward, a pastor and gifted artist/cartoonist, posted this picture on his blog site, in a post titled “How I’m feeling about the church lately.”

(Used by permission)

(Used by permission)

I can relate.  For more than 30 years, it has been my privilege, my headache, my joy, and my nightmare to work with broken people or broken churches.  Prior to launching Turning Point Community Church in 2003, three of the four churches where I was senior pastor had experienced major divisions, open conflicts, forced termination of my predecessor, or some other kind of grief or pain.  Some had lived with the crud for so long, they’d arrived at the conclusion that this was somehow supposed to be normal.  “I’m sure it’s like this everywhere,” they’d intone.  “Oh, no it isn’t!” I’d scream inside, all the while smiling on the outside.

The brokenness isn’t limited to the organization.  David’s cartoon reminded me of something we used to proclaim loudly here.  Underneath the doorway leading into our rented facility, our church used to hang a banner that represented a passion and sense of calling for us.  Every Sunday, every worshipper at Turning Point walked under its message:

A Place to Begin Again.

I roughly estimated that for a long season, 80 percent of the people who arrived at Turning Point for the first time came here to heal.  Some came from broken marriages; others from broken lives of addictions or economic messes.  Many came bleeding from the most insidious wound of all – the church wound. [click to continue…]

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Prosper

by Andy Wood on July 8, 2008

in Insight, Life Currency, Turning Points

(A Turning Point Story)

About 20 miles east of Denton, Texas a small ridge runs north and south along what people in Dallas know as Preston Road.  Visible from 10 miles away, all along the top and slope of that ridge rest the homes, churches, and schools of Prosper – a community of farmers and commuters to Dallas.  I had the first of what would be many of these picturesque views in September 1981, when I virtually limped there for a job interview.  Little did I know the significance that town would have in my life, family, and ministry to this day.  This is about the roads that led into, out of, and back into an unforgettable town nobody had ever heard of.

Four months earlier, I had loaded up all my earthly belongings in a Hertz rental truck, put my gorgeous Irish Setter puppy, Dixie, in the cab, and left Mississippi for Texas.  I was to start seminary in the fall, and thought I’d get a head start on a job and hopefully a church to serve.  I was so happy, so optimistic, I literally sang my own version of a Swaggert song:

On my way to heaven,

Stoppin’ off by Texas on the way!

I got a sales job representing the prestigious Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce.  Rented a really nice house.  Was leaving a wonderfully successful youth ministry.  God was good!  Life surely would be good, too.

It didn’t turn out that way.  [click to continue…]

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