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April 2004












Issues of the heart is an Email newsletter that comes out 2-3 times a week from Pastor Todd and what the Lord has laid on his heart.

Brothers and sisters, 4/1

"Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." With it being the year 2004, do you think God still calls some people to go to certain cities? I think so.

The day before yesterday, I almost choked on a greasy fry in my "value kid's meal" at the Super Arctic Circle. I couldn't believe it! It took me totally by surprise! I sucked in another big swig of Mountain Dew just to make sure I wasn't sleeping. Sure enough! My eyes fastened again on the description of "the top ten emerging U.S. metropolitan areas" in USA TODAY. Believe it or not, Idaho Falls, Idaho is rated #10 in the country. 
Barnes -n- Noble has a great book on the shelf, Cities Ranked & Rated (2004) by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. The mammoth book is loaded with demographics and comparison charts. Other top-of-the-chart "emerging U.S. metropolitan areas" of interest to me are as follows: Bend, OR (#2); Logan, UT (#4); Coeur d' Alene, ID (#5); and Lewiston, ID (#11). For large U.S. metropolitan areas, Reno, NV is ranked #9 in the nation. 
When I read a book like this, my mind just races back and forth over the church planting possibilities. Our cities in the West beckon. No, most of them don't explode with Christian ministries like the crowded entrees on a tri-fold restaurant menu. But for the brother or sister, inflamed by the truth of the gospel, the possibilities are endless. What do you say, guys? What is your burden? You clearly know mine. And here is the glorious part. The gospel cannot fail. Easter is on the horizon. Don't be caught just sittin' in your chair.

Thinking of heart issues,
Brothers and sisters, 4/5

What is the answer to a holy life? Is it church standards or regimented personal programs that you would impose on your heart by personal willpower? Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, I have been down that trail many times. And every time, I have experienced the same gut-wrenching conclusion of the Apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” 
Paul asks the right question. It is not, “What shall deliver me?” That brand new law by the government. The latest exercise program in the fitness center. Or the six-step Bible study that guarantees absolute victory. Or my latest fangled, self-improvement plan for discipleship that I carry out with macho gusto. Yes, I feel constantly pulled in this direction. But the right question is “Who shall deliver me?” Brothers and sisters, who shall deliver us? Sometimes, Paul has to get right in our faces, nose to nose, and say, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” I had an old professor once tell me, “The same you way you began is the same way you walk right now – from faith to faith.” 

Thinking of heart issues,

The answer is not personal power. It's resurrection power!
Brothers and sisters, 4/8

"We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

In the past six weeks, "The Passion of Jesus Christ" has raked in $340 million. This week's issue of Time magazine (April 12, 2004) reports in its front-cover article: "Thanks to the Gibson movie,'the atonement is back on the agenda of American culture'." 
People are in fact discussing the atonement. The violence. The wrath. The blood. The sacrifice. And as each one explores the big question, "why", theories resurface. But in our neck of the woods -- southeastern Idaho, debate extends not only to the "why" but also to the "where" -- the location of the atonement. I'm serious. The book, From the Last Supper Through the Resurrection (2003), edited by Dr. Richard Holzapfel (editor-in-chief of Religious Educator) and Dr. Thomas Wayment (BYU prof. of Ancient Scripture Study) relates, "While much of His anguish would come through the humiliation, torture, and crucifixion He would endure subsequent to His betrayal and arrest, we further understand that most of His atoning suffering occurred in Gethsemane." Callers on talk show radio and local columns in regional newspapers outside Idaho Falls have been repeatedly echoing the same idea in protest the last six weeks. Regionally, if you agree with the idea, you belong to the "one true church." And if you disagree, you lower yourself two notches in your experience of future glory.
I have been really happy for all the opportunity for discussion. We pray and we witness. And we get excited as God confronts hearts with the power of the Cross. Leon Morris wrote, "The atonement is the crucial doctrine of the faith. Unless we are right here it matters little, or so it seems to me, what we are like elsewhere." I find it is easy to spot out those who through the Spirit's enlightenment have come to rest in Christ's atonement -- the Savior's work of reconciliation, propitiation, and substitution. They've got JOY. JOY IN GOD.
Is it possible that the atonement of Jesus Christ can reconcile a hostile, terrorist sinner gone AWOL to a holy, angry (justly so) Commander-in-Chief? Is Jesus' death really substitutionary? Is His atoning work completely sufficient and fully efficacious? We say yes. Yes. Yes! We experience joy. Joy. Joy! Heading into this glorious Easter weekend, I am in awe over the central truth of Jesus' atoning work. In the most awful event in human history, God wove together His terrifying wrath and His sacrificial love into a powerful crescendo. The event changed my life forever.

Thinking of heart issues,

BTW, I love the passage, II Corinthians 5:18-21. John Piper's book, The Passion of Jesus Christ, has been a great church outreach tool to get people meditating on real, biblical truth. Desiring God Ministries sold the books by the case ($1 a book). Much better than the one on the Easter table at Barnes-n-Noble @ $7.99. Since January, I understand that they are up to 1,000,000 in print. Praise the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, 4/11

Broken pieces. Shattered dreams. These were my thoughts as my son and I pulled up alongside an old abandoned swimming pool high on the ridge. Some folks in our church say that many years ago, a child drowned here.
We stepped out of our caravan into the predawn darkness. It was cold. Joshua shivered as I surveyed the shadows. Mangled pieces of metal lay grotesque in cracked concrete. It looked like a place of death.
We headed up the hill, carefully avoiding rocks and gnarled roots. Up on top, we saw all of Idaho Falls twinkling in the valley. Yet we enjoyed little of the view because the wind cut through our fleece jackets like a knife. To make matter worse, it started to drizzle. Hoping for warmth, we huddled together in the dirt and gravel. Why in the world were we up here?! It's miserable.
I could only guess what those biblical women felt in the darkness as they made their way to the tomb of Jesus. There lack of understanding reduced their hearts to hopeless fragments. How could Jesus die? How could His body be imprisoned in a tomb of death? Shut off in darkness. Why? Just then, Joshua interrupted my thoughts, "Dad, let's go home."
I almost agreed. But then came the sun. The morning sun. Warmth. Light. Forgetting gloom and death, I jerked out my Bible to read these thundering words of the Lord. "Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Brothers and sisters, on Easter we are reminded that our King triumphs over all. Happy Easter, friends. It's a Day of Resurrection.

Thinking of heart issues,

For the past two and a half weeks, I have been hoping many would be able to read the big-block words on the ten foot banner strung along my back fence. Black letters proclaim in excitement: "He is Risen! Maranatha!" I long to see the Son of Man, the One more dazzling and blinding than the freshest of Idaho snowfields in the morning sun.
Brothers and sisters, 4/13

A sweet LDS mom, one of our neighbors, brought to our home a woven basket. Inside, we found twelve Easter eggs and a letter expressing their family's love and the resurrection story. So my family sat down together on the living room floor; and one by one, we opened up each egg. Bible verses and little tokens of the work of Christ (ei., a little cup, a nail, a piece of rope, etc.) spilled out on to the carpet floor. I really liked the eleventh egg, bursting with fragrant spices. 
Without a doubt, Sunday exploded with aromatherapy. In so many ways, God is doing His wondrous work. Terrific Lord's Day. So many new faces. And so many beautiful little kids. Between the two morning services and the breakfast spread, we celebrated! And I as reflect back on Sunday's heart devotion, I am so happy and so privileged to be a shepherd of such a church family. Watching all the Christian service, heart devotion in singing, and giving of offerings, I quickly think of egg #11. Paul described it well for the Philippian church: "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." 
So how are you this morning? April 11 is gone, but the living Saviour is not. He came to weeping Mary Magdalene and despairing Peter. And He comes to you in all your agonizing failures. The self-righteous and the self-absorbed have no eyes to see. They miss everything. But not you. Believe. Rejoice. Our Lord is the First-Fruits of the anticipated harvest of glory from the grave (I Cor. 15:23). He is the triumphant Conqueror, crushing death under His feet (I Cor. 15:26). And praise to God, Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).

Thinking of heart issues,
Brothers and sisters, 4/15

"Let your moderation be known unto all men."

One of the best ways that I have seen translated the Greek word underneath "moderation" is "Big-heartedness." Hendricksen throws out a whole list of synonyms: forbearance, kindliness, gentleness, charitableness, and sweet reasonableness. The apostle Paul says this is to be one of our banners we hold high. Why? "The Lord is at hand."
A Christian fundamentalist is worlds apart from any other brand of "fundamentalist" out there. Contrary to foolish media opinion, the deeper one delves into the fundamentals of the Bible, the bigger his or her heart becomes. Brothers and sisters, I have always observed this to be true in a Christian fundamentalist led by the Spirit of God.

Thinking of heart issues,
Brothers and sisters, 4/19

They walk two by two. They bike two by two. There are 56,237 of them. Maybe you have seen them working the streets. Maybe not. They are LDS missionaries. 
Many of them are young people, barely out of high school. And they are given a charge. Don’t just warn. Don’t just build friendships. Don’t get sidetracked by even thinking of calling a girlfriend or momma. Your number one priority is to make converts. For the next two years, get as many baptisms as you are able.
I admire the sacrifice and the discipline of this well-polished, international army. Ed Pinegar, former president of the Missionary Training Center, salutes the batallion with these words, “A missionary needs the confidence of a tightrope walker, the commitment of a marathoner, the enthusiasm of a salesman, and the courage of a mountain climber.”
All I can do is laugh. I don’t have much self-confidence. It seems I have little personal courage. And I definitely don’t have the charisma of a salesman. (Hey, do I sound like Gideon.) That is all right. Because, brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter how powerful, gifted, or talented you or I are. The central issue is Who joins us. God gets great glory in uniting Himself with the weak ones. It is much easier for a weak one to say, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” If Christ is in you, let this be your rallying cry, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I like Kenneth Wuest’s personal translation: “I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength in me.” Believe this concept, brothers and sisters. Claim it with all your heart. You are given strength for the task that lies in front of you.

Thinking of heart issues,
Brothers and sisters, 4/21

My old marriage really stunk. I am reminiscing on the marriage relationship of the old Todd Wood with law (rules and regulations). It made me miserable. I always felt disgusted with myself. The law was my lord, dominating my life, penalizing and condemning me at every path my heart took.
But now, I thank God for the wondrous possibility of a remarriage. I am dumbfounded when the Scripture says, "Thy Maker is thine husband." It is almost too good to be true. But I pinch myself and realize it is not a dream. This is not just a sand castle that will soon dissolve. It is real. For Paul tells me, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." 
Do you realize we are going to be included in the biggest celebration to rock our universe -- "The marriage supper of the Lamb." Numbering in the billions, we will "be arrayed in fine linen." And we won't have to rush in order to get a good seat. Our seats are reserved. The angels will escort us, actually be our waiters. And as good as all this seems, nothing will compare to our first glimpse of our Bridegroom! A voice will swell to the level of "mighty thunderings" saying, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
In Southeastern Idaho, people ask me if I believe in marriage that is sealed for all time and eternity. From time to time, they will question if I believe that families are forever. Oh, friends, don't get me started. This past Sunday, my church family started smiling before I could even get the words out. No, none of this comes about by our first marriage. But . . . oh . . . the second marriage. Hallelujah!

Thinking of heart issues,

Hey, you are stuck with me as a brother forever.
Brothers and sisters, 4/23

"I have you in my heart." Or perhaps it might be as the KJV translators wrote in the margin, "Ye have me in your heart." Either way, the book of Philippians speaks volumes about true ministry. C. H. Spurgeon wrote, "Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you. So carve your name on hearts and not marble."

Thinking of heart issues,
Brothers and sisters, 4/27

In Claudia and Richard Bushman's book, Building the Kingdom (2001), they recorded in print a composite heart cry. Listen to the struggling. "I couldn't be a perfect Mormon, so I didn't feel as if I belonged there. I couldn't pay my tithing every month. I didn't feel as if I could take the sacrament every Sunday. I didn't agree with that Sunday School teacher. At times, I didn't feel that I had the spirit of the Holy Ghost with me. I didn't feel I was in tune with what the Home Teachers were saying when they came and presented a program. When someone called me to do something, I didn't respond with the degree of perfection that was expected. I can't walk on water for you people, and I don't hear trumpets every morning!" 
I have heard the same cry. I sense it all over town. From time to time, some brave soul will puncture through pious conversations, gasping for breath, and just pour out some real frustration. That is good. Because the Bible has the answer. "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."

Thinking of heart issues,

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