Materialism

waterfall 10

It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.

Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”

Yeah, about that.

I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning.  Sinuses. Head. Neck.  Attitude.  Everything was in pain.

I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower.  That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.

Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?

Boy, did I.

Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum.  This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.

I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach.  Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]

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Flying moneyEver try one of those teachable moments with your kids that gets turned back on you? As in, Who’s teaching whom?

Twenty or so years ago, we were living in West Alabama and I took Cassie, about age 9, to the local shopping center (translation: Walmart).  It was just before Easter.  We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for, so we left past the customer service counter.

“Daddy,” she whispered.  “Look… those people are poor!

I looked.

“Those people” were a middle-aged married couple, standing at the customer service desk. They were very humbly dressed, to be sure. And they had all the individual parts to make their own Easter baskets – apparently not able to afford the prepackaged wonders that were for sale in the back.

Ah, Fatherhood! The opportunities we have to engage with our children at teachable moments to give them perspective, wisdom, and character.  This was certainly one of them, and a donned my SuperDad cape. [click to continue…]

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I have an urgent news flash for you:  Just because you know something is wrong, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid it.

Shocking, I know.  And the corollary is also true: Just because you know you’re supposed to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ll do it.

Suppose you could interview Jonah – the Old Testament’s version of Gilligan – and ask him what the most important requirement was for prophets. What do you think he’d say?  My guess is that he would tell you that a prophet’s number one job is to speak what he hears the Lord saying to speak.

Why, then, did Jonah have to travel from the boat to the belly to the burp to the beach before he decided to do what his own standard said to do?

Resurrect a first-century Pharisee and ask him what it took to please God, and you’d probably hear something about keeping the law and prophets, serving God and walking in humility and discipline.

Why, then, did Jesus refer to the scribes and Pharisees as unwilling to lift a finger to meet a need, doing all their deeds to be noticed by men, loving the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and insisting on being called by respectful titles in public?  If serving God faithfully was so important to them, why did the Son of God warn people not to be like them?

Whenever the bad news breaks out about somebody who has shocked us with their oh-no, no-no behavior, we often ask silly questions like, “Well didn’t they know that was wrong?”  Of course they did.  Why, then, would someone violate their own standards of right and wrong?  [click to continue…]

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Bryce is a prisoner in his own home.  His really nice home with the pool, three-car garage, RV parking, and more bathrooms than family members.  His “friends” are (too) curious about his life and trappings, like something of a bad sequel to The Great Gatsby.  And despite his material success, Bryce remains restless, empty, and hungry for that One Honest Touch.

Tony is a prisoner in his own accomplishments.  A hyper-achiever, he lives in a world of “What mountain have you climbed lately?”  Last year’s exploits are old news to a bored world, many of whom live vicariously through Tony’s courage and imagination.  Inwardly terrified to admit he’s just as bored and scared as they are, Tony longs for that One Honest Touch.

Madison is a prisoner in her own skin.  Always a head turner looks-wise, for as long as she can remember, Maddie’s life has been revolving door of one vain relationship after another.  Superficial.  Super-physical.  Super-lonely.  Her striking beauty has always ensured her all the attention she could ever ask for.  But it never has given her what her heart cries out for most – that One Honest Touch.

Deep Connection

All of us were created with a capacity, and need for, deep connection.  A Touch.  And our spirits never rest until we have it. [click to continue…]

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Be a Shepherd, For God’s Sake!

by Andy Wood on January 31, 2011

in Leadership, Life Currency

Never has there been a higher call – or a greater need – for men and women of God with the heart of a Shepherd. 

The Shepherd leads.  He feeds.  He knows the sheep by name, and lays down his life for them.  His leadership arises from a heart that has once and for all died to all else but the lives of the sheep.  He cares for the ninety-nine who cling to the sound of his voice; yet he pursues with reckless abandon the one who, intent on finding his own way, is now lost. 

Be a Shepherd, for God’s sake!  And in so doing, be an overseer.  

Remember, you can never over-see what you aren’t seeing over.  Rise above your own sins, self-interest, and troublesome circumstances – then you will discern what is happening in the lives of other people.  Watch!  Don’t allow yourself to become oblivious to what is happening in their lives.  Remember, you don’t have to take your eyes off the sheep in order to hear from the Chief Shepherd.

Be a Shepherd, for God’s sake!  And in so doing, be a willing leader.  [click to continue…]

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Bobo Brown Saves Thanksgiving

by Andy Wood on November 22, 2010

in Insight, Spoofs

If you know my oldest-by-five-minutes daughter at all, you will eventually have the ex-Thanksgiving Conversation (XTC for short).  Carrie’s growing frustration is that in the rush to jump from Halloween to Christmas, the world has turned on Thanksgiving 

If you decide to hang your holly before you’ve baked your turkey, it may be a good idea to keep it to yourself.  Otherwise, if “Baby A” finds out about it, you may get The Look.  Or worse, execution-by-XTC.

So when we caravanned from Texas to Alabama this weekend for Thanksgiving, to Carrie, it was all about giving thanks.  And when we attended the Baptist church in Millry Sunday morning, Carrie became a shouting Baptist when Brother Billy talked about Thanksgiving being the Forgotten Holiday.

“Amen!  It’s about time!” she shouted.

Yes, I mean shouted (though she may take issue with my choice of terms).

Still a bit edgy and armed for early-Christmas bear, this led to more conversation.  How can we teach people to value Thanksgiving?  How can we turn the tide of obscene Christmas shopping, at least until the cranberry sauce is back in the fridge?  What can we do to capture the true meaning of what may be America’s most important holiday?

Deep stuff, friends.  Insight needed beyond my little pea brain.  This calls for the wisdom of Solomon, the intelligence of Einstein, and the people skills of Bill Clinton. 

“You’re in luck,” I proclaimed to the fam.  “It’s time to go over the river and through the woods!”

“But we’re already at Grandmother’s house,” said Cassie.

“Different river, different woods!” I exclaimed triumphantly.  “It’s time you met Bobo Brown.”  [click to continue…]

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It all started with that 55-mph speed limit.   In the mid-1970s, Americans traded in their muscle cars for Toyotas and slowed down.

But a certain segment of the population balked.  These people were paid to transport goods to their destinations in a timely manner, and felt that the new speed limits were doing considerable harm to their livelihood.  So they started working together to cover each other’s back.

This created a fad that spawned a counterculture, complete with its own lingo, music, and personal identities.  Everybody, it seemed, rushed out to get a CB radio.

Once the stuff of rescue workers, hobbyists, and the like, citizens-band radios became standard equipment in many vehicles.  Gone were the official call-letters used by the “legal eagles” who actually paid for a license to use the things (KFN 0508, if you even remotely care what ours was).  Everybody used a “handle.”

A handle was a nickname you gave yourself so that people could “grab hold” of you by saying something along the lines of, “Break, one-nine.  How ‘bout that Blue Goose?  You got your ears on”?  And you, assuming that was your handle, would reply something like, “Ten-four, good buddy.”

No, children, I’m not making this up.

CBs, for the most part, have gone the way of the 55-mph speed limit, though our trucker friends still use them.  But you still have a handle – a unique identity by which you can be “grabbed.”  [click to continue…]

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highway 2Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks for the pleasures God has designed for me to enjoy,
But no longer will I allow my life to be driven by the pursuit of pleasure.
I will no longer sacrifice joy on the altar of happiness.
I will never again measure my success by my ability to escape pain.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks for the material blessings God entrusts to me,
But no longer will I associate money with happiness.
Never again will I believe the lie that gain is godliness,
Or that my worth is measured by what I own.
From this day forward, I will use things and love people,
Not the other way around.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks to God for the ways
I can be a blessing to others.
I will accept with humility
The words of gratitude and honor I receive from others.
But I will never again live to please other men.
Today I choose to get off the pedestal,
Knowing that I don’t have to live in the gutter to do so.
I will find my honor in being no more than a man,
But no less than a child of God.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
And instead, I reach for the stars.
I will spend my life in pursuit of my God-given destiny.
By His grace I will fulfill the purpose for which
I was created and redeemed by Christ.
By His love I will touch the lives of those He died for.
And by His power
I will span the breech between time and eternity.

From this day forward,
I will seek dreams as big as the heart of my God
And visions as great as the need of this world.
And though through human failure
I may never see all those dreams come true,
When I stand to face my Lord and my God,
I pray He will see a heart determined to do exploits for His glory.

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It was the Beverly Hills of ancient Asia.  A center of wealth and high-end commerce.  A medical haven, where people came from miles around for treatment of various ailments.  If you wrote your mama and told her your job was transferring you there, she’d have something to brag about the next day.  This was some place.  And there was a church in town.

How would you like to get a personal letter from Jesus Christ, where the first thing he said was, “I know what you’ve been doing”?  That can be a little unnerving!  But that’s exactly what Jesus said to the First Church of Coolville, alias Laodicea.  He had a few other things to say as well.  Let’s peek at their mail:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see (Revelation 3:15-18).

Looks like the guys and dolls in Lala Land had a few things to learn about wealth.

So do we.

They thought they were loaded; Jesus said otherwise.  Remember, though, that in spite of its scathing message, this was a love letter.  And in his love, Jesus gave them, and LifeVestors everywhere, a few pointers on His economy. [click to continue…]

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The Estate Sale

by Andy Wood on July 11, 2008

in Consumers, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Money

Estate SaleI have eye-opening experiences in odd places.  I want to tell you about one that took place a few years ago at a house on 80th Street in Lubbock, a few houses away from where we used to live.  Our former neighbors were having an estate sale, and I have to confess, I’m a sucker.  So I strolled down to take it all in.  The sale was professionally managed, well organized, and quite thorough.  They were selling what appeared to be everything that wasn’t bolted to the walls or floor.

Like most estate sales, this was a trip back in time.  And somewhere amid the 8-track tapes, 70s-era stereo, and the costume jewelry, it happened.  Somewhere in my own mind, I was standing in the middle of my own estate sale.  Watching crowds of strangers pick over my treasures that, over the years, I had spent tens of thousands of dollars on.  Seeing them bargain with somebody over curtains or books or something – for dimes on the dollar, of course.  “Dear God,” I half-exclaimed and half-prayed, “tell me there’s more to my life than old stuff to be bartered over!”

As I continued to wander through the house, I could identify with the fun and excitement of this family as they had purchased that new appliance, received that special Christmas gift, or took advantage of those today-only prices and sales.  In so many ways, this was a typical American family.  Nice house.  Nice stuff, albeit touched by time.  And now all of it was being left behind.

It’s bad etiquette, I suppose, to actually ask about the people whose possessions we’re pilfering through.  Are they still living?  Do they have family?  Could I be standing next to their daughter or niece?  But I couldn’t help but wonder.  As I stood in what once was their home, I felt sure I was looking at a poor reflection of who these people really were.

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