Remember when you wanted that whatever-it-was from Santa Claus?  Or your employer?  Or your spouse or parents or educators or whoever… only to get it and be disappointed?

Remember when you thought, “If I could just make this amount of money, I would be content?”  And you did… and you weren’t?

Remember the time you dreamed and dreamed and dreamed some more about a meaningful goal and were disappointed?  But it didn’t keep you from dreaming some more?

Remember when you didn’t have your health or didn’t have any money or didn’t have anybody and it was all you could think about?  Then when health or wealth or somebody showed up, it only served to point out something else you don’t have – and now all you think about is that?

All these and more are examples of something that stirs us, motivates us, alarms us or moves us in a certain direction, but never quite allows us to rest once we get where we think we’re going.

I’m talking about your Driving Force, and yes, you have one.  Maybe more than one. [click to continue…]


Frankford and 82nd.  Sitting at the light.  Laura Kate (age almost-3) and I have been on an adventure.  And she is about to ask me a very important question.  But first, a slight rewind…

“Laura Kate, first we’ll go to the grocery store.  Then we’ll go by Grammy’s office and pick up some prizes she has for you.”

“That’s an awesome plan,” she says.

In between, she learns six (count ‘em) verses of an Easter song her uncle Joel and I wrote when he wasn’t much older than she is now.  Which brings us to the traffic light near our house on the way home.

“Papa,” says the voice in the back seat.  “Are you growed up?”

“What did you say?” I reply.  “Am I growed up?”

“Yes,” she says, very seriously.

“Yeah,” I mutter.  “I’m growed up.”

“Yay, Papa!  You did it!

Sometimes I wonder.

I wish it was that easy to claim maturity.  Sometimes I think I’m still a kid when it comes to such things.  And sometimes I feel, well, old.  But there’s a difference between growing up and growing old.  Peter Pan and his Lost Boys were only half right.

It’s OK to be a baby when you’re still a baby.  But there comes a time when the word of God and the world of people come together to shout, “Grow up!” After addressing the Corinthians as a pack of carnal children, Paul writes to the Ephesians that “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

How do you measure your maturity?  How do you know when you’re growing and when you’re floundering?  Let me hasten to say that maturity isn’t found in big words or fat bank accounts, or your ability to make babies or get a job (although keeping a job may impress a few people).

In gauging your maturity level, I have found five things that act as measuring rods for progress.  You are as mature as: [click to continue…]


Six Signs of a Spiritual Attack

“Well, how did it go?” Robin wanted to know.

“I just want to be teachable,” I said in a hollow, measured voice.

“What did he say?” she asked – getting ready to rise up in my defense.

What did he say, indeed?  The scene happened during my first pastorate.  Our church had grown quickly and had experienced changes, which is never an easy thing.  Now we were trying to establish our annual budget and define our biggest priorities.  And a man I’ll call Joe wanted to know if he could meet with me.

When we got together, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, “It is obvious that you aren’t here to help our church grow, but to make a name for yourself.”


I listened mostly (although I did tell him I didn’t appreciate him judging my motives).  I listened as he talked about church’s former days.  I listened as he talked about troublesome people.  I listened as he offered his version of a solution to our problems.  I listened (and stared, frankly) as he “led” us in prayer – weeping all the while.

And I went home, still listening.

I Hate Criticism.

For years I hollered to whoever would listen that “there’s no such thing as constructive criticism.”

I was wrong. [click to continue…]


Remember the time your life was changed because you doubted your ability, and someone you trusted convinced you that you could do it? 

Do you remember the healing effect that took place when somebody who hurt you deeply said those magic words?  “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry” changed everything in an instant.

How about the time somebody saw something in you that you couldn’t see in yourself – something unique, special, gifted – and pointed it out?

All of these are examples of the six most powerful things you can say to someone.

You and I wouldn’t have to talk very long to agree that words have power.  The old proverb still rings true that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  If that’s true, then doesn’t it make sense that we have the power to intentionally choose life with our words?

I’ve made my living with words for a long time.  And yes, I have seen up close and personal how words can crush someone’s spirit, destroy relationships, and create a slow (or quick) march to death.  But I have also been on both sides of conversations where words gave life, strength, renewed passion and courage.

There are all kinds of ways to encourage, inform, and give new vision.  But six expressions stand apart, in a league of their own.  If you want to take your words to the next stratosphere, try one or all of these six in your relationships: [click to continue…]


An old fable passed down for generations (and doctored a little bit)…

An elderly man was traveling with a boy and a donkey.  As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.  The young people there said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed on the animal’s back.

When they came to the next village, the moms in the crowd said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride.  To please them, he got off and set the boy on the donkey’s back and continued on his way.

In the third village, senior adults accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk.  The suggestion was made that they both ride.  So the man climbed on and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the animal rights activists were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road. [click to continue…]

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In the course of this short year so far, I have been reminded suddenly, and sometimes rudely, how short life can be, and how there are no guarantees of the things or people we tend to take for granted in this world.

I have also been reminded that life is filled with the potential to make mistakes.  Sometimes those mistakes arise out of misguided values.  Sometimes out of boneheaded stubbornness.  Sometimes mistakes arise out of good things taken too far in self-serving directions.  Often those mistakes come when we lose our sense of balance.

I’ve thought a lot lately about how short life is, and frankly, sometimes how much shorter that I wish it could be.  Hillsong United’s “Soon” sure sounds appealing: [click to continue…]


Sometimes Words Aren’t Enough

by Andy Wood on March 17, 2010

in Life Currency, Love, Words

Okay, so there’s this song… but more about that in a minute.

If you haven’t discovered Animoto yet, you need to check it out.  This online service can take your pictures and/or video clips and produce killer videos.  You can do a 30-second piece for free, or for a modest annual membership fee, get unlimited full-song-length videos.  The program generates it for you.  You can upload your own music or choose from their impressive library.  You can then share your masterpiece with friends and family, or, if you want to improve on it, click on the re-do button and let Animoto give it another whirl.

So with the birth of our grandson and our granddaughter coming to visit for Spring Break this week, cameras have been clicking left and right.  So I started tinkering around with Animoto to see what it could do.

It was then I discovered the song. [click to continue…]


My Ten Most Addictive Sounds

by Andy Wood on February 23, 2010

in Uncategorized


Martin Lindstrom has learned what sounds – branded and unbranded – are most likely to turn your head.  Or move your heart.  Or open your wallet.  Hmmm.  Suppose the above video may be a hint?

Together with Elias Arts, a sound identity company in New York, Lindstrom’s company, Buyology, Inc. tested 50 volunteers and measured their responses to a wide variety of sounds.  He has made a list of the 10 most powerful and addictive sounds.

You can forget waves, rain, or birds.

But if you hear the five tones of the Intel jingle, you are very likely to be drawn to it; it’s the second-most addictive sound in the world right now.  Third on the list (and you know that’s right… a cell phone set on vibrate).

To find out what the number one most addictive sound is, as well as the top 10 in both branded and non-branded categories, [click to continue…]


The house was profoundly quieter now.  The funeral service was a sweet combination of faith-filled worship and fitting tribute.  The dozens of family members, cousin-strangers, and delightfully helpful friends and neighbors have retreated back to dock with “normal.”  All that remained this evening were my dad, my sister and me. 

After thank-you notes, food rearrangement, guest dish collecting and sorting, and a pause for supper, my dad decided to start the process of going through stuff.  Her stuff.  While my sister began looking through and sorting out her desk, he emptied her purse.  Inside was what I suppose is a typical example of a 71-year-old woman’s typical daily haul.  A wallet with all the ID cards, insurance and AAA whatevers, and credit cards.  A wad of keys.  Pills – lots of pills.  Fingernail and lip stuff.  A comb.

And a receipt.

“Hey,” Daddy said, looking over the receipt.  “You know what?  I’ll bet she bought me a Valentine card.”

That’s sure what it looked like.  A loose receipt in Mama’s purse revealed the purchase of a greeting card sometime early last week or the week before.  But where was it hiding?

We started looking everywhere.  The desk.  Files.  Closets.  I asked about the car.  Alas, no card.

“I sure wish I could find that card,” Daddy kept saying.

Finally, my sister found it in what should have been an obvious place, just above the workspace on her desk.  And sure enough, he was right.  She had bought him a card that was just waiting for her signature.  And here is what it says: [click to continue…]


Maybe it’s because I majored in history in college.  Maybe it’s because I’m an explorer at heart (not always a good thing).  Maybe it’s because I’m a typical man who hates to ask for directions, or maybe it’s because I often wind up in places I didn’t intend to go.  But regardless of the reason, one of the most common questions I ask myself is, “How’d I wind up here? 

That’s a pretty handy thing if you want to stay out of the bad neighborhoods, the dead ends, or the “I told you so’s” in the future.

But wouldn’t it be more helpful to have a bit of a roadmap ahead of time?  Maybe to get some directions that apply to whatever path I or you think we’re on? [click to continue…]