I am Second…

Hello. My name is A.J. Wood, and I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

If my introduction reminds you of something you might here at an AA meeting it’s because that’s the stigma I held as a Christian for the longest time. This view wasn’t something that people had thrust upon me, but rather a culmination of opinions long gathered through my experiences in and out of church.

Being a Christian was the secret I kept to myself, rather than share with other people, and if shared it was a passing statement generally whispered or directed towards the immediate conversation, lest outside parties point and say, “Oh, he’s one of them.” Of course, I’ve never felt like one of them.

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Top 4 Ways Christians Can Unleash People’s Expectations

Today at Abundant Life Church, our Student Pastor, Donnie Culpepper, asked parents to release their expectations on their children so that God could unleash the potential of this next generation.

The statement about expectations really took hold of me because throughout this past month the message has been about saving our city. Pastor Hennigan challenged the church body to step out and take an active role in delivering God’s message. Based on independent studies, church bodies will dwindle away to almost nothing in the years to come, and 2050 marks a date that would see significantly less people in the Word of God.

I believe a key part to reaching out to people is an understanding of expectations.

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Christmas Lights, Inspiration & Poop

Hey, thanks for stopping in. It’s late evening on Sunday night, and I’m making a go at trying to post regularly again.

This morning the Wood clan was a bit tired, cranky or otherwise engaged, so a personal appearance at church didn’t happen. Thank goodness for the Big God Podcast, ALC‘s live church broadcast. Great for times when you need the Lord’s message in the comfort of your own home. Jeff Manning delivered another fine sermon, and I’ve come to appreciate the way he delivers a poignant, educated message with such wit & humor. Truly, that man can preach. Kudos to his wife Echo for putting up with his shenanigans. Some quick thoughts from today’s message–John 3:16–while many wish that the “spirit of Christmas”  would carry throughout the year, here’s hoping we Christians can be mindful of our Savior more often. We should make a proactive effort to engage the spirit of Christ, instead of being the nice “gift-wrapped” Christians Jeff M mentioned today.

Aack! Only 14 minutes left before the night is through. Hurry, hurry, must type clever stuff…

Friday evening, Michelle had a well deserved night out with the girls, and I stayed home with Sydney. I have to mention that while my schedule is crazy busy, I do try to be as hands-on in the father role as possible. This means changing diapers. Now, many a comedian has joked of the experience, and honestly, I thought it was all hype after my daughter was born. I mean, I changed her diapers the first week, and I’ve been handling that duty for several months now. I scoffed when other dads cowered at the thought of changing a diaper, really it’s no big deal… at least it wasn’t until Friday night. What I didn’t know is the toxicity of the poop increases with age. I dropped Michelle off for her date, and she cutely gave me words of encouragement. “You sure you can handle a night with baby all by yourself?” Uhm yeah… I got this… or so I thought. It was about an hour later that I learned smell really is the strongest of our sensory inputs. Changing diapers? Poopie-pants? Not a big deal when there’s no odor. Newborn babies smell good, and hey! their poop really doesn’t smell at all. But then things changed. It’s one thing when you’re mentally prepared for an event, it’s a completely different experience when it catches you FULL ON by surprise. I swear, I almost closed the diaper back up and thought, “Sydney’s not crying, Michelle can change this when she gets home.” That’s when baby girl started to cry. I knew I’d have to man up, get my hands dirty, and do the doo-doo. I’m a little fuzzy on what happened next. I seem to recall feeling light-headed from the scent. The odor was so strong, our black lab Duke got up and left the room. I tried to find my happy place, but I was more concerned that Sydney would playful grab a handful of dookie and launch it up in my face. Eeeww! Work faster, work faster.

In the end, I survived the experience, but ever mindful of what my next encounter might bring.

Looks like my time ran over, so good morning to all those just checking in. In closing, earlier Friday evening the family took a holiday carriage ride through the Deerfield community where the neighbors are crazy for Christmas lights. I snapped off a few photos, and posted them on Flickr. Enjoy the photos, and make it a great week!

Ye of Little Faith

Greetings dear readers. The holiday season is upon us, and I hope this post finds you in good company & happy times. As much as I want to flush out a new design for the blog, part of my journey towards life improvements (health & office for late arrivals), includes getting back to regular blog posts.

I haven’t quite come up with a weekly theme (Firgs is spot on with daily scheduled themes), but I am going to try to get a post schedule down. I have been able to do that on Twitter, and if you’re following me then you’ve probably seen I post daily Adobe tips at 9AM & 9PM Monday through Friday.

In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to share how I’m getting my house in order, and that will include a behind the scenes peek here.

Now that we’ve gotten business out of the way, I wanted to share today’s lesson from church. Actually, I wouldn’t do Jeff Manning’s sermon service by trying to break it down (subscribe to Big God Podcast on iTunes), but it did speak to me. It was Mark 6:6 that got my attention. Jeff talked about how Jesus returned to Nazareth, and here he stood amongst folks in their unbelief.

To me the sermon was a testament to faith in the midst of crisis. As we look at the current state of the world, things are lookin’ a bit glum. Here in the U.S. we are perhaps looking at the end of the industrial era as we know it.

As I sat in church this morning, my heart weighed heavy. It’s hard to empathize with the plight of others when you’re facing you’re own adversity. Maybe it’s easy for some, but I find myself feeling guilty whenever I feel bad about my situations. Guilty you ask? Well sure, I know that despite my crisis, there’s someone else who has it worse. Maybe it’s a human defense mechanism, “Well, yeah we’re short on funds, but did you here about Bob – he got fired today.”

Really, I think it comes down to needing a release valve. Everybody needs an outlet to vent. I know there are times when I’m down & out, I don’t want you to relate to me being down & out, I just want you to shut up & listen THEN if you should choose to speak choose your words wisely. I’m a pragmatist, I want constructive support not speeches. (But hey, God bless you for your support)

But I digress, we were talking about unbelief & Jeff’s sermon – faith as it were. I realized today, sitting in church, listening to Jeff Manning speak, that you really don’t know if you have faith or not until it’s tested.

Signs… everywhere there are signs

Are you reading the signs?

(Click the image above to open full size)

The above cartoon from Sinfest seemed appropriate this morning. All too often I find myself asking the Lord for direction, but the communication seems a bit one sided. As a business owner, older-than-average-college-student, husband, new father, it would be nice to clearly see the path God wants me to follow.

How do I discern between my pride and my passion? Am I following the road in His glory or have I not changed direction out of my own stubbornness? When do you give up on a dream in order to take up responsibility?

The past month has been quite a challenge on both a personal & professional level. The dynamic of my life is swirling in whirlpool of choices, and I would prefer not to create a lot of collateral damage with a wrong decision.

And that’s the crux of the problem. You pray, and you take it on faith that you’ll be listening when God whispers in your ear. You pray that gut feeling, or instinct, or sign you think you see is the one that God meant to show you.

But what if you’re so busy looking for the signs you miss your exit?