Transformation

Daily News Headline

Back in the late sixties and early 70s we gathered around our TV sets with the three available channels on Monday nights for Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in on NBC.

One of the repeated gags on the lightning-fast show was the old joke from the diner, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” I remember in one episode, the waiter is behind the counter and seven or eight people sitting at the bar say, one right after another, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” Whoever was playing the waiter went down the counter, spewing out one punch line after another. Sorry, can’t find the YouTube clip for that, but it went something like this:

There’s a fly in your soup? Keep it down sir, or they’ll all be wanting one.

There’s a fly in your soup? Sorry sir, guess I forgot it when I removed the other three.

There’s a fly in your soup? Then we’ve served you too much soup, the fly should be wading.

There’s a fly in your soup? Couldn’t be, sir. The cook used them all in the raisin bread.

There’s a fly in your soup? It’s OK, Sir, there’s no extra charge!

There’s a fly in your soup? No sir, that’s a cockroach, the fly is on your steak.

There’s a fly in your soup? What do you expect? It’s fly soup.

Call me weird, but that’s one of the first things I thought of when I read the headline of the New York Daily News in the immediate wake of the devastating shootings in San Bernadino – yet another American city whose name has become synonymous with mass murder.

GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS, the headline blasted, riffing on and ripping the condolence statements of Republican presidential candidates. [click to continue…]

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Gratitude

Come on, admit it… when you first saw this title you started hearing the old hymn in your head, didn’t you?

I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

If not, I’ll bet you are now.

With apologies to Philip Yancey for borrowing the title of his excellent book,  I had a curious collision with “amazing” the other day and thought I’d share it. It started when I read this simple greeting from the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that sweet?

Any believer anywhere can testify, as John Newton and the Corinthians could, that the grace of God has been given to us by Christ Jesus. And if this verse had no other context or backdrop it would be precious enough. But our thinking about it would soon lose its edge. Sure, everybody who knows Christ can testify of the grace of God.

Next!

Sure, we were “wretches” and now we’re saved. But that was a long time ago for a lot of us. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for me lately, Grace?

The answer to that – Grace in the present, not the past – is what’s so amazing about grace. [click to continue…]

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When Epic Failure Becomes Matchless Beauty

by Andy Wood on April 8, 2015

in 100 Words, Photos

IMG_6744

This is an epic photographic failure.

A tight shot of these delightful flowers on a sunny spring day became anything but.

The shutter fired way too fast; the results were embarrassing.

Dark.

Dreary.

A disaster.

Hello “delete” button.

But then my photo failure, in the domain of editing software, became something completely different. [click to continue…]

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Beautiful view of silhouette of airplane

(A Fable)

Aging and sad, a grand hulk of useless machinery sits in an airplane hangar when it probably should have been sold for scrap.  Designed by an Engineer as an elegant flying machine, this plane has never left the ground or even taxied the runway.  For reasons that still don’t make sense, when the time came to assemble all the parts, in the end the plane looked more assaulted than assembled.

To an untrained eye everything appeared to be in place.  There was a fuselage, wings, wheels, and engine shrouds.  But if you looked closer, you would see that the assemblers failed to actually install the engines.

The assemblers did other damage to the interior of the plane as it was being put together – so much, in fact, that the order was canceled and a new plane secured. Having royally failed inspection, the plane was unwanted and unneeded.  It would have cost more to fix what was broken than it would have simply to start over.  So for years, lost in the shadow of what could have been, the airplane sat, exposed to the elements, powerless, lifeless, and unwanted.

Word reached the Engineer of the plight of the flying machine. Moved by a sense of love for his designed creation and a conviction that airplanes were made to fly, the Engineer did the unthinkable.  [click to continue…]

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Baptism

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).

They’re called watershed moments.  Critical turning points.  They’re moments in time when nothing that follows will ever be the same as before. And for the most significant of those, we may spend a lifetime unpacking what actually changed.

The watershed experience in the life of Jesus described above – when He was baptized – reminds me of the most significant watershed experience you or I could have – the day Jesus comes to indwell our lives.  And just as the experience of Jesus was a triune experience, with the Holy Spirit descending and the Father affirming, so, too was mine.  And the same is true for you, if you have trusted Him as your Lord and Savior.

Just what did you receive at conversion? [click to continue…]

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TransformationWe’ve seen and heard it described in myriad ways.  Some are actually in the Bible.  It’s a place where the streets are paved with precious metal.  A place of purity and timelessness.  A place of extraordinary worship and togetherness.  A place where nobody worries about the safety of their children and nobody nervously waits for lab results.

Yes, I’m talking about heaven.  And like the uber-hit song says, I can only imagine what it will be like.  But like you, I have imagined quite a bit… some in earnest, some in fun fantasy before the Lord.

But there was one thing about heaven I had overlooked until a couple of days ago.  I had read and actually preached from this verse many times and passed right over it.  I’ve read this verse at gravesides and church houses countless times and never quite got it.  But I think it’s an important thing to get… [click to continue…]

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It’s hard to look in the mirror – literally or figuratively – and not see it…

The evidence…

The scars…

The stains that are so obvious to us and, we’re sure, to the world around us.

Let someone float a compliment our way, and up they rise, at least in our silent thoughts –

The objections.

The dismissals.

That internal whisper that says, “If only they knew the whole story…”

Know what?  Somebody does.  And He’s the only one who has lived your story and His.  And His declaration over you is the final say:

Sin erased.  Shame forgotten.

Make no mistake about it.  [click to continue…]

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You show me Grace in the cases
Where I would be tempted to give up on me.
Yet you see past the walls and the falls to the work of art
Hidden in this cold heart of stone.
You alone have the faith to see what I could be
When You finish the good work You started in me
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the places
Where I’m still resisting the changes You make.
So you shake my desire from the mire of my stubborn will –
Patiently waiting till I bend.
You intend only good for me – to flourish, free
From the lifeless and broken man I used to be
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the spaces
Between where I should be and where I remain,
With a stain from a past that still casts a dark shadow when
All I can see is sin and shame.
Yet you came to restore the years and store the tears
That I’ve cried in my brokenness, longing and fear
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the faces
Of people who touch the untouchable me.
They can see through my blindness, with kindness they lovingly
Call out the best in me to grow.
And You know how I need to feel what You can heal
Through the tangible goodness You chose to reveal
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the traces
Of glory that whisper to me of my home.
While I comb through the aches and the breaks of a world that yearns
For the day You return to claim
Those you came to redeem from the grave and captive slaves
Like I was when You found me and paid all to save –
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

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Have you ever woken up first thing in the morning and realized you were in a museum?

And you were what was on display?

You may not have recognized the location at first because everything seemed so real.  You were traveling through one mental display after another of your past life.

Names.

Faces.

Feelings.

Friends.

Sometimes the scenes are wistful and happy reminders of people and days gone by.  Sometimes you’re reliving the glory days.  But sometimes it plays out more like a horror movie or a disaster cleanup.  It’s ugly – and you’re the reason.

It may be a new day on the outside, but in here you’re trapped in the old ones. [click to continue…]

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I live because…

Jesus fought me. He was my holy enemy, mercifully blocking my stubborn rebellion.

Jesus bought me. He was my sacrificial redeemer, willingly shedding His blood for my pardon.

Jesus sought me. He was my desperate lover, tenderly calling me out of my hiding. [click to continue…]

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