The other day Laura Kate, age 4, decided (again) what she wants to be when she grows up.  She wants “the person who dumps those big piles of dirt.”

The other day I, age 53, decided (again) what I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be the author of a book on leadership.

She’ll think of other things she wants to be when she grows up, and I’ll think of other things I’ll want to be when I grow up.  I guess when either of us quits thinking of who or what we want to be at a point of maturity, it’ll be time to die.


There is only one person who gets to measure love by obedience – that’s Jesus.  All the rest of us have a different standard.

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(Giveaway alert:  Keep reading to learn how you can win a free copy of John Smoltz’s new book, Starting and Closing.)

When I was in Virginia Beach a couple of weeks ago, I had a happy surprise.  That Sunday afternoon I watched the Braves finish off a sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis in what may be their last win of the season.  I especially enjoyed having a chance to hear John Smoltz as one of the broadcasters.  I told my son later how impressed I was that this man, who our whole family has enjoyed as a professional athlete, had brought that same professionalism (and humor) to the broadcast booth.

Imagine my surprise when I’m roaming the hotel at midnight in search of something not made by Pepsi, and there, 928 miles from St. Louis, is John Smoltz, having a midnight burger and fries.

“Andy!”  he said.  “How long has it been?”

“Forever, dude!” I replied.  “I just saw you on TBS this afternoon!  What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for an interview in the morning.  Hey, I heard you spoke at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.  How’d it go?”

“It went well, I think.”

“That’s awesome.  Hey, I’ve been keeping up with the LifeVesting blog.  I read it every chance I get.”

“Seriously?  Man, that’s awesome.  Did you tell Tommy we named our cat after him?”

“Yeah, he thinks that’s hilarious.  Says you ought to name your next dog after Maddux and call him Mad Dog.”


Okay, so… um… it didn’t exactly go like that.  [click to continue…]

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Robin and Gift

It was a fairly eclectic group gathered around the dining room table Saturday night.  A combination of old friends and acquaintances, family, and a special friend who had literally traveled around the world to be here.

All eyes were on our Thai friend Gift, who had come from Bangkok with her son Dift to stay with us for four weeks.  She was sharing with those who came to her “welcoming party” about the dream she had to establish an export business.

The goal:  to support her husband Dui’s ministry among the three distinct congregations, Bible study groups and the additional pastor training ministry he has established.  Also to give Thai women an opportunity to earn a living in keeping with their considerable work ethic and skill.

Gift designs exquisite jewelry and has a growing team of Thai women who are able to make her designs by hand using certified-authentic gemstones from China and other places.

After sharing her brief story and dream, Gift’s focus changed to address my father-in-law, who was seated at the table with us. He had left Thailand with his family when Dui was just two years old and Gift was one.  Though he hasn’t lived there since 1974, because of his frequent returns and ongoing relationships, he remains a hero there to this day.  And that was the word – hero – that Gift used to describe how she and her husband saw Dr. Willis.

“We pray that we can have the same…” Gift was saying, and she paused, looking to no avail for the right English word.  Finally, all she could do is say it in Thai.

“How do you say, gam-lang jai?” [click to continue…]

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Quick Question:  What do the people you lead (and you do lead somebody) do when trouble shows up?

Quick Answer:  They do what you lead them to do.

More Thoughtful Question:  Do the people you lead (and you do lead somebody) run for the hills or cower in fear at the first sign of trouble, or do they courageously rise up to the challenge?

More Thoughtful Answer:  They do what you lead them to do.  Not necessarily what tell them to do or manipulate them to do.  What you lead them to do.

That reminds me of a story.  True story.  About a guy named Eli.  Now Eli was a soldier, and being a soldier, he had a Commander-in-Chief.  And the reason Eli’s Commander-in-Chief was the Commander-in-Chief was because he was the biggest dude in all the land.

You know what the problem is with making the biggest dude in all the land the Commander-in-Chief?  Sooner or later he’s gonna run into a bigger dude.  And that’s what happened.  Eli’s boss went quaking in his boots to the rear of the line because he was staring down the barrel of an overwhelming challenge.

So you know what Eli did?  He quaked in his boots too.  I’m talking, Give up now.  Better fled than dead.

One day later – one day! – that’s Eli with his shield up, his sword drawn, charging headlong into the enemy’s camp and taking no prisoners.  What made the difference? [click to continue…]

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If you intend to be successful in any area of life, sooner or later you are going to have to have to fight for it.  I wish I could tell you that being intentional (a popular darling word) was enough.  But it isn’t.

I wish I could prove to you that some simple formula – here a step, there a technique, everywhere a quick-and-easy procedure – would guarantee the fulfillment of your fondest hopes.  Can’t do it.

I wish I could assure you that if it was really hard, or lonely, or dangerous, that the idea was certainly not God’s will.  If that were true, the Almighty’s got some ‘slpainin’ to do with some people who are now in heaven.

But the truth is, sooner or later, you’re going to have to fight for your family.  Or for your testimony.  Or for your walk with God.  Sooner or later you’re going to have to fight for answered prayer.  Yes, answered prayer!  Or the advancement of the gospel.  Or the safety of one of the world’s most endangered species – American children.

Sometimes when you run to the battlefield you may discover that you are the only one standing there.  You may find that you’re surrounded by taunting enemies, and for backup you have a bunch of gossips, critics and spectators – but nobody willing to draw a sword or raise a shield with you.

Still think that cause is worth the fight?  David did.

In the familiar story of David and Goliath, the young man after God’s own heart – newly empowered and anointed by the Spirit of God – brought a giant to his knees while the army of the living God looked on in disbelief.  What was the difference between David and the rest of the army of Israel?  Didn’t they have the same power available to them?  Yes.  Didn’t they have the same God?  Yes.  So what did David have that they didn’t?

In the life of David, there was a difference in: [click to continue…]

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He was careless in the conflict, and a bit presumptuous in the battle.  Unaware of the schemes or the true power of his enemies – unaware at times of who his enemies actually were – he went down, wounded in the battle.

This is not your typical military operation.  This is a spiritual battlefield, known for its invisible armies and stealth weapons.  Known also for its enormous array of spectators – some cheering you on from heaven, others just watching a battle they themselves should be engaged in.

Lying there, ashamed, in pain, and afraid, it’s easy for discouragement and fear to have the final word.  But deep in his spirit another wounded soldier’s testimony from long ago begins to stir his broken courage and will: [click to continue…]

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Perdido Key, Florida.  I was in a hotel room, desperately reading my Bible, even more desperately crying out to God.  Somewhere along the way I had, well, lost my way.  And I couldn’t find my way back.

Back to a consistently focused walk with God.

Back to a first-love commitment to Jesus.

Back to a sense of spiritual usefulness and power.

Back to a faith that could at least move me, even when it couldn’t move mountains.

Back to the hope that somehow tomorrow could actually be better than today.

I could have told you how to find your way back to wherever you left your path.  But I was lost as last year’s Easter egg when it came to me.

I heard all the things I already knew in my head.  Didn’t help.

I heard all the platitudes and steps and methods I’d told others and they had told me.  Ditto.

I heard all the sermons I had preached to others about coming back to Jesus, and they were profoundly useless to me.

And what I was reading in the Bible wasn’t helping much, either.  I kept reading passages in psalms where David would pray things like, “Vindicate me, O God, because I have walked in my integrity.”

I didn’t have any integrity.  And the last thing I needed to see in that situation was vindication.  Justice either.

In desperation I silently cried out, “God!  Is there a verse in there for the rest of us?”

And He showed me something that changed my life. [click to continue…]

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Imagine a giant stadium, and you’re in it.

As in, on the field.

You’re engaged in a contest that will test every fiber of your strength, will, endurance, and confidence.  Sometimes you’re on defense, and the task is to stand your ground against an opponent that has considerable resources.  Sometimes you’re on offense, and the task is to recapture lost ground or gain new ground as you outwit, outmaneuver, or overpower your enemy.

Let’s just go ahead and dispense with the obvious.  I like you and everything.  But left to your own game plan or abilities, you’re cosmic road kill. Dead meat with all the trimmings.

You.  Can’t.  Win.  This.

Heck, you won’t even make the uniforms look pretty.

Oh, and did I mention… this is no game.  This is your life.  The visible and the invisible.  The temporal and the eternal.  The private and the very public.  The “spiritual” and the “secular” (as if there is any distinction).

Fortunately, you do have some weapons at your disposal that are mighty through God. And there is a pathway – a strategy that leads to prevailing strength and power.  [click to continue…]

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The Frailty of the Human Heart

by Andy Wood on August 27, 2010

in LV Stories

The life you invest in is often as close as your own son or daughter…

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The Buoyant Heart

by Andy Wood on August 23, 2010

in Ability, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Waiting

“Sure I may be tuckered, and I may give out, but I won’t give IN!”  (Molly Brown, from “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”) 

We spend a lot of time thinking about sinking. 

In the mental and spiritual circles I travel in, we focus a lot on discouragement, sadness, grief and such.  The most-read article I have written this year is titled, “The Sinking Soul.”

And for good reason.  We live in a broken world.  Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted.  A significant part of the New Testament was written to people who face severe, mind-numbing hostility and pain.  And left to our own devices, the devil has sinking souls for breakfast.

But maybe it’s time for a different look.  [click to continue…]

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