Archive for April, 2012

Heading to Haiti (join us?)

UPDATE: Please also read encouraging update at the end of the post!

When I went to Haiti on a construction mission earlier this year, I was more than a little surprised by the amount of interest shown by people across a whole spectrum of my network. It was very encouraging to feel like I was there representing a lot of concerned and caring people.

Some of you indicated you’d like to find a way to help. Well, here’s your chance!

I’m going back (with our medical team this time) in June. But, even better, a bunch of kids from our church youth group are heading to Haiti to work with the kids in a very poor neighborhood in Cap Haitian. My son Ben is among them! —>

The kids are doing a bunch of fund-raising activities, but as you can imagine, sending folks to another country to minister can be rather expensive. So, we have a website set up where anyone can easily donate toward the expenses of the trip.

All donations are tax-deductible. Just press the big orange DONATE button, select Ben Woodruff’s name from the drop-down box, and you’re good to go. So he’s good to go!

Our desire is to train up a generation of kids that understands the needs of the world, and that aren’t afraid to leave the comforts of home to help those in (sometimes desperate) need. It will be an eye-opening experience for our youth, just as it has been for me and others who have gone to less-developed countries.

As for me, I’m hoping to pay my own way for the medical mission trip (this time, I’ll try to keep my hat secure so I don’t end up with bandana-wear!). We’ll be doing day-long clinics in a handful of villages, where medical care is often somewhere between rare and nearly non-existent.

No pressure, no hard-sell, just an opportunity to partner with us this time as we plan for June. Thanks for reading, and for any encouragement and support you can offer!

– Steve

UPDATE: Since posting this, a number of people have generously donated sufficient funds so that Ben’s expenses are covered, and that generosity is spilling over to help cover some of the expenses of others as well (including me)! We now have a team of 26 people going – by far, the most ambitious effort we’ve ever undertaken as a church – and we will now have a small construction team joining the medical team and the youth group. The Youth Group has been working very hard with fund-raisers all spring, and every donation helps. If you still wish to donate, you can do so – simply follow the instructions above and  your kindness will go toward helping our team minister in Haiti. Thank you!!


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Isaiah’s Keyboard

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV)

With open arms and abundant forgiving grace, God invites every one of us – any one of us – to return to Him. That for which you hit the Delete key in repentance (which is part of the turning/returning) is worthless compared to lifelong fellowship with the God who made you.


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Jesus at the Beach

Earlier this month, Sandy and I spent a couple of relaxing days at Cape May (NJ), where the houses are Victorian, the breezes are fresh, and the beaches are wide. The only downer was the vicious cold I developed just in time for our little getaway. But even that couldn’t take away the loveliness of our stay.

Actually, I used to be much more of a “downer” person. My tendency is to be introspective, perfectionistic, even negative – and when looking within my own soul, I could catalog ten thousand reasons why I didn’t measure up. I would stare within and find an awful lot not to like. Ever been there? I lived there.

Fact is, there’s always plenty of defect and stupidity and sin brewing around in our minds and hearts. Our actions, our desires, our thoughts, our words – they never do match up to the perfect standard of God’s righteousness. Not even close.

At Cape May, you can walk the wide beaches, and the sand seems almost infinite. Imagine trying to count, not merely the smooth little stones that wash up, but every grain of sand! But is that why we are there at the shore, to stare down and despair at something so impossible, so beyond our capacity?

No. We are there to look up, at an ocean that seems, if possible, even more infinite. It would be folly to ask if there is enough water there for us to swim! Or to collapse hopelessly on the sand and refuse to wash it off in the endless waves.

The beach, when gazed at with a narrow lens, seems overwhelmingly large. But in light of the ocean, it is a speck. And, in fact, our earth, viewed in the backdrop of its Creator, is smaller than that speck. Sin, at times, seems infinite and omnipotent. It is not, and cannot be. God alone is.

Yes, our own moral darkness and guilt feels overwhelming. But when we think of Jesus, the Son of God who takes away our sin, we are to look up and away from ourselves, and stare into infinite grace. We are to think about sufficiency. Surplus. Generosity. Free-ness. Unlimited-ness. Power that has no end; love that knows no bounds. A merciful ocean of grace that washes up unceasingly on the sands of our brokenness.

Take a walk along the beach with Jesus, even in your own mind. But, primarily, look up at the ocean, not down at your feet. Jesus came to make “downers” dance. Even on the sand!


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One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

(The book of Acts, chapter 3, verses 1-10)

Some people doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. That God extended (and extends) His hand of supernatural power into our little world of brokenness and need.

This man didn’t. He was broken and disabled from birth. Everyone knew him as the pitiful figure begging at the gate – now he was not merely walking, but leaping. And praising God.

Peter and John had no magic incantations to offer. They were servants of a risen Lord, and it was in the name of Jesus that this man rose and began to walk.

Until you look in the mirror and see a broken and disabled soul, made powerless by sin (a far greater crippler than any birth defect), the message of Jesus, His compassion, His power, and His resurrection will not make any sense. It will seem a fantasy.

Not to this guy. Easter would not be some arbitrary day on the calendar. It was, and is, life indeed.


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Jesus the Disruptive

I like a certain amount of predictability in my life. Like anyone else, I’ll cling to the illusion of control. Tomorrow will be like today, which was like yesterday; and, here’s my planned to-do list.

Like a clock, the hands will move inexorably, predictably. As with the old vinyl record players, the turntable will move at a predictable speed, the needle will move along the groove, the next verse of the song will follow just like it always does.

Except when it doesn’t.

The well-documented life of Jesus was one continuous string of disruptions – overturning the natural order (healing the sick, raising the dead); upsetting the religious apple cart (love for God is from the depth of the heart, not a mere external show of conformity). Lovers of the religious, social, and political status quo did not appreciate this disruptive rabbi – He made claims that they considered blasphemous and seditious. Caesar alone is King. God alone is God. Who is this usurper claiming to be a divine king, dressed in the robe of an ordinary man?

Except He kept doing inconvenient and disruptive things. God-things. He taught with authority, forgave sins, healed lepers, opened blind eyes. How dare He defy our religious laws and scientific assumptions. None of the contemporary eyewitnesses could deny the reality of His disruptive actions or ignore the audacity of His breathtaking claims. All they could do is plot to get rid of Him. A little regicide and we can get rid of this inconvenience source of interruption.

Then He had the audacity to rise from the grave. That really got some people torqued off! Haven’t you heard of natural laws, Jesus??

You see, we want our status quo straight up, please. Which doesn’t include God coming in the flesh to reveal His brightness and expose our darkness.

And that’s the real point, isn’t it? I can put on the blinders and go my predictable, self-directed way if I pretend that there is no disruptive King who is above all creation, including me. I can ignore the reliable testimony of eyewitnesses of old, I can deny the evidence of God that surrounds me – but ultimately, that changes nothing. We may as well put a Lego piece in front of a bulldozer, for all the good our denial will do us.

Jesus is still in the disruption business. And – thankfully – His divine disruptions are a sign of His mercy and favor. God utterly shook up the world by sending Jesus 2,000 years ago. Pray that He will shake up your world right now.


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