Orrin Woodward Leadership

Inc Magazine Top 20 Leader Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

  • Orrin Woodward

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    Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Leadership. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

    This blog is an Alltop selection and ranked in HR's Top 100 Blogs for Management & Leadership.




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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Know why you believe what you believe.

Unspeakable by Os Guinness

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 28, 2014

As the Chairman of LIFE Leadership, I have made reading a life-long habit. Nonetheless, my summer season was particularly productive this year. I read so many challenging books in Michigan that it is difficult to choose which was the most impactful. However, if I was pressed to choose just one, it would have to be Unspeakable by Os Guinness. This book tackles the question of evil and how the Judeo/Christian, Hindu/Buddhist, and secular humanist world views respond to it. Through following Guinness’s line of reasoning I was left appreciating the strengths and weakness of each worldview while still bolstering my belief that Christianity has the most consistent answers to the problem of, and the response to, evil in the world. 

Most people would see themselves as fighters against evil, but what happens when they realize that the biggest battle against evil is within their own hearts? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the dilemma human beings face in his classic The Gulag Archipelago when he wrote, “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being? And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” To destroy evil we must either destroy our heart or transform it through God’s grace.

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

In his chapter on second chances, Guinness takes no prisoners. Nearly everyone has said the Lord’s Prayer at some time in his/her life. And when we get to the part that states, “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” most of us nod along not realizing exactly what we are praying. For the prayer states that if we don’t forgive others, then we are also praying that God doesn’t forgive us!  But if God doesn’t forgive us, then where does that leave us? Yikes!

Guinness wrote, “No wonder Saint Agustine called the famous line in the Lord’s Prayer ‘the terrible petition’: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ If we pray that prayer and fail to forgive our fellow human beings as we have been forgiven, we are actually asking God not to forgive us. . . nothing that anyone can ever do to us will equal what we have done to God, and he has offered us forgiveness completely and freely. Our duty, then, is to forgive as we have been forgiven and to show that we have been forgiven by being willing to forgive others in our turn. Do they deserve it? Did we?”

It’s important to understand that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. You can forgive someone even if they are unwilling to reconcile. It is this truth that allows Christians to have joy even when their enemies still hate them. Otherwise, they would carry enmity against their foes which poisons their own soul as much as it does their Haters. In the book Unbroken, for instance, POW Ernest Zamperini carried so much bitterness and hatred against a Japanese officer, who abused him in the war camp, that he nearly destroyed his own life through hating and alcohol. In sum, external evil (unjust oppression) had metastasized into internal evil (hatred in the heart). Fortunately, once he was forgiven by Christ, he was finally able to forgive the unrepentant guard.

Why am I telling you this? Because after twenty-one years of leadership, I have concluded that unrepentant sin holds more people back from their God-given destiny than anything else. Lack of forgiveness is sin, plain and simple. If you are a Christian, and harboring anger against someone, let it go. Place it in the same spot your own sins were layed – at the foot of the Cross. This is serious. Stop reading for a second and think about whom in your life you need to forgive. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Is there anyone from your past or present that is binding you in bitterness? Stop drinking poison while expecting others to die. Forgive them like Christ forgave you to release the evil bonds. 

With so much evil and injustice to fight on the outside, why continue harbor these rebels on the inside? Guinness wrote, “. . . true forgiveness is not the same thing as condoning. . . It is not to deny wrong.It is not to tolerate the intolerable or lie down under the outrageous. It is to call a spade a spade, and evil evil, and to allow the full horror of its magnitude and outrage to sink in on every level – and then to be willing to dismiss the grounds of our own personal vengeance toward the evildoer. In other words, forgiveness confronts the evil as evil, and the wrongdoer as guilty, but refuses to retaliate and so refuses to play evil’s game and let evil have the final say.”

It’s time to wipe out our enemies by making them a friend. I let go of my remaining enmity back in 2011, shortly before the launch of  LIFE Leadership. I realized that I could not carry around bitterness and resentment while still leaving enough room to love others as Christ commanded. What about you? Isn’t it time to let the hurts, the bitterness, and the pain go? Christ did that for us and now it’s time we pray rather than poison those who hurt us. Only then will you experience the peace that passeth understanding. Martin Luther King experienced more than his share of oppression, but he did not let the evil conquer his heart; instead, he observed, “We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of the enmity.” Amen to that, Mr. King.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, LIFE Leadership | 22 Comments »

Happy Fathers Day Video

Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 16, 2013

Laurie and I recently returned from a five day fishing journey with our three teenagers still living with us and what a trip it was. I love the bonding time, after a day of fishing, where there are no phones, no emails, just talking and listening to each other.

Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-Mahi

We caught one monster mahi-mahi bull pictured (sorry about the sideways picture. Not sure how to straighten out) here. He ran out 2/3 of my line before I finally slowed him down and started bringing him to the boat. I can sit at the back of the yacht, lost in thought over a book I am reading, and then BAM – fish on!

Over the years, I have learned the value of hard-work to achieve dreams, but also quality-time with family and friends. In fact, the longer I live the more I realize I enjoy and cherish the quality time with people more than the awards, recognition, and monetary gain.

For example, Pastor Tom Crawford asked the congregation who was the only player to win two Heisman Trophy Awards. Seven people out of 700 knew the answer. However, he then asked how many people can name a person in their life who took the time to listen, love, and encourage them. Every single hand, at least that I could tell, was raised on that one.

Life, in other words, is not about how much one accumulates as about how much serves. Being a father is a massive responsibility and blessing. One, unfortunately, that too many males seem to take frivolously. One of my goals is to teach males how to be men and I have been blessed to see this occur thousands of times in my life. Males have to step up and “Play the Man” like I said on an older blog post.

Most males want to be men, but lack role models, information, and encouragement to become good husbands, fathers, and men. This can change when these young males enter a community of men who can model manhood. LIFE Leadership is one such community and a good church is another.

Here is a fantastic video for Fathers Day that everyone should watch. Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Fun | 37 Comments »

The Death of Western Civilization?

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 26, 2013

Is Western Civilization Dying?

A man may live according to his father’s code even after abandoning the faith which gave the father his code. But the grandson will have neither faith nor code. – Edmund Opitz

Habits are so powerful that one can reject the end of a principle and yet still practice the means to that end. In fact, this is exactly what happened when the evolutionary world-view captured the imagination of the thought leaders just before the turn of the twentieth century. Due to the conflict between the origins of mankind described in the Bible and those described by evolutionary theory, most intellectuals, tossed God and the Bible overboard.

Interestingly, however, the intellectuals, for the most part, did not toss the moral ethics out which came from the Bible. In a word, they wanted to enjoy the fruits of a tree they had just cut down. Unbeknownst to them, believing they had cast God aside, they had actually cast themselves adrift into the ocean of relativism. Nonetheless, since nature abhors a vacuum, the intellectuals of this era at least attempted to find another foundation for absolutes and moral conduct to replace the Bible. Indeed, this quest was tackled in earnest by many of society’s brightest thinkers just before the first World War (WWI).

World War I

World War I

Not shockingly, no other firm foundation for moral absolutes was discovered and the fantasy of perpetual peace, prosperity, and progress was dashed on the reality of millions of WWI corpses. The scale of death, dismemberment, and destruction was by far the worst, up until that time, in mankind’s recorded history. At the end of the “War to End All Wars,” a new generation of leaders graced the world’s stage who followed their fathers in rejecting the Christian faith, but went even further by also rejecting any absolute code of moral conduct, duty and service. Surrendering the search for absolutes, modern man rejected their heritage from the Greeks, Romans, and Christians quest for natural law and moral absolutes.

Instead,the modern intellectuals pontificated upon the relativism of all morals and values across various societies, ignoring their underlying unity. This left Western Civilization vulnerable to Machiavellian tyrants whose love of power was no longer checked by any ethical norms accepted within society. Predictably, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Tojo, to name just a few, rose to prominence through filling the ethical void in society with unadulterated power. Promising wealth, security, and salvation in the anthill mentality of society, any citizen rejecting the program was deported, imprisoned, or executed.

In history, as in science, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In this instance, the power-hungry dictators were resisted in their plans for world conquest by the still free remnants of Western Christendom. In truth, these opposing forces could not maintain peace for long and it was only a matter of time before the ideological battles were replaced by physical ones. Not shockingly, World War II (WWII) made WWI look like a lover’s spat. Western Society’s best and brightest lost their lives on battlefields because, a few generations before, their grandfather’s had lost their faith in classrooms.

Simply stated, ideas have consequences. They have consequences from a personal, societal, and eternal perspective. Accordingly, it is wise to understand the reasons past generations built the fence lines before contemplating its removal. The twentieth century began in enthusiastic optimism, but ended in depressing despair as modernity was tossed overboard and post-modernity began. Curiously, having rejected faith in God, modern man now realized the futility of finding absolutes, apart from God. Thus, mankind, instead of turning back to God rejected God and His absolutes, leaving society without a firm moral foundation. Consequently, society is stumbling towards Gomorra in an orgy of materialism, hedonism, and escapism with no ultimate meaning.

Clearly, something has gone dreadfully wrong in post-modern society.Human nature is designed in such a way that it must worship something. If humanity will not worship God then the subsequent void will be filled by an all-powerful State. Egypt, Persia, and the late Roman empire all worshipped their kings as Gods who protected society’s order.  Modern man, ironically, although claiming to be secular, is repeating the historical fallacy by worshipping the State. The State as an all-powerful entity does not end well for mankind. In fact, anyone familiar with the Five Laws of Decline (FLD) knows how this scenario ends historically – the FLD will continue to increase, reeking havoc as individual liberty dies and society economically and politically collapses.

Post-modern man has sold his birthright and is reaping the whirlwind, forced to suffer through the deluge of political propaganda, collectivist creations, and democratic demagogues. Liberty – a concept once held so precious that many willingly sacrificed their lives for it – is, in the post-modern age, glibly surrendered to the State for the hope for illusive security. Indeed, Western Civilization stands at the precipice, peering into the dark abyss. By rejecting God and his absolutes, modern man has lost his liberty. The modern  States assume all power, meaning, and direction for the anthill society. Perhaps, before post-modern man takes another step, he should reevaluate grandpa’s decision to remove the fence line that started mankind on its downward descent.

Be sure, on this Memorial Day to thank military veterans for serving our country in defense of our freedoms. Also, be sure to play your part in the LeaderShift and restore Western Civilization to its historic freedoms.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Freedom/Liberty | 29 Comments »

Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 26, 2013

The Bible states people are transformed by the renewing of their minds. The LIFE Business provides truth in the 8F’s of life to do just that. Here is an article I wrote several years back that discusses why so few people seem hungry to transform themselves. Nonetheless, I cannot think of anything else that a person can do where he can have a bigger impact than to help lead people to truth. I know the huge difference it has made in my life and many others. The LeaderShift is coming and I am so looking forward to April 16th!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

I can remember growing up, watching the Dallas Cowboys religiously every Sunday afternoon.  I watched every game possible, as I was sure that my (yes, I owned them in my imagination) Cowboys played better when I cheered them on.  Year after year, I supported the team, collecting the football cards, studying all the statistics, and buying every football magazine to keep abreast of the latest roster developments.  What was I paid for this magnificent display of loyalty you ask?  Absolutely nothing, in fact, I paid out money, an item in short supply, for the joy of vicariously being part of the Tom Landry’s legendary Cowboy organization.  As I grew older, my fanaticism diminished slightly, but even as a newly married young man, with responsibilities of my own, working all week, getting my MBA at night, I still watched the games.  While the game was on, in an attempt to impress my friends and family, I would predict the plays by studying the Cowboy’s formations.  My fans would ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ in approval at another play predicted successfully.  When the Cowboys started winning Super Bowls, Troy Aikman received a huge salary increase, Emmitt Smith hit the pay dirt with his new contract, and so did Michael Irvin, but I, on the other hand, was still busted, offered no loyalty bonus as the Cowboys biggest fan (Ok, I had plenty of competition here).  There are times in a person’s life, just a few, where truth whispers to you, not quite audible, but  distinctly there.  Most choose to ignore it, changing the channel on the TV, turning up the radio, or grabbing another beer, which is what I tried to do, but I couldn’t shake it.  Eventually, the whisper turned into a roar, it blared in my mind, consuming my thoughts, making me nauseous, unable to enjoy the game, so I walked into the another room to think.  Many question arose in my mind. Why was I spending so much time watching other people win in life, while I plodded along in anonymity.  Why is my life seemingly incomplete, unless I catch the latest game?  Is this huge time commitment really taking me where I want to go in life?

Thankfully, I had parents who had taught me the American Dream, the belief in our country and the ability for anyone willing, to accomplish anything that they set their heart and mind to do.  I had, only months before, been introduced to a community building business, and had started reading and listening to grow myself.   That day, I made a decision to stop watching other people’s success and start creating my own success.  Through God’s grace, a loving wife, hard work, and great friendships developed along the way, Laurie and I converted the hours spent watching sports into the hours necessary to build our business, eventually leaving our jobs, freeing up lots of time.  Over the years, I have seen many other people, faced with the same time challenges, make different decisions, choosing the sports teams success over their own success.  If that is what someone wants to do, then more power to them, as I believe in freedom that strongly.  But I knew, that many of my friends, really wanted to win, but didn’t seem capable of overcoming the inertia of their LazyBoy chair to get into action.  They wanted to win, would have loved the results of winning, but never seemed to do what it takes to be a champion.  This success paradox puzzled me for years.   But as a leader, I focused on serving those who were ready to change, while loving and encouraging the rest of the community who weren’t ready to make that level of commitment to success, hoping that eventually they would come around.

Several days ago, while contemplating why nearly everyone loves sports excellence, yet only a few love personal excellence, I had an epiphany, finally answering the success paradox.  The more I thought about it, the stronger I feel that my hypothesis, for why more people don’t pursue personal success, will stand the scrutiny of reason and time.  I believe human beings are designed to win, being hard wired to strive for excellence in life, but, due to man’s fallen nature, the wires are crossed, being misconnected at birth.  People do not strive for success because they believe they are unworthy and incapable of winning, so they seek out victories vicariously through people, teams, or bands that are winning around them.  Here is how the Bible explains the consequences of man’s violations of God’s law and the subsequent fall from grace, Genesis 3:18/19 reads:

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

God’s original hard wiring proceeded from dream development directly to dream accomplishment, with little struggle to bring forth results.  But after man’s fall, work was brought work into the equation, forcing man and woman to work hard (thorns and thistles), enduring pain to bring children and the fruits of all labor into the world.  Mankind still loved winning, but now had this alien principle, of painful labor to overcome, in order to experience victories.  One cannot go from dream to victory without experiencing the struggle step, earning a living by the sweat of your brow.   Thus my hypothesis, because of the faulty wiring due to the fall, people want success, but not the hard work and long hours associated with it. In an effort to obtain the results without the work, people are drawn to the perceived shortcut, living vicariously off of other people’s victories through being a fan, not a performer.  In other words, people experience a feeling of success through their favorite sports team, without having to endure the level of pain and discipline needed to really win.  This is the vicarious victory, the feeling of accomplishment when the team wins, sharing in the celebration, feeling part of the winning team, but conveniently skipping the pain of the process involved in becoming a winner.  But the real victory in life is who people become in the dream, struggle, victory process, so by shortcutting the process, they shortcut their own personal development.

One might be thinking, if the struggle is now part of the process after the fall, why not just rewire the brain to achieve success according to the new rules of life?  That is a great question, leading me to the next success thought.   We are all born to win, even after the painful fall, but desperately need reprogramming from the Master programmer.  Without His reprogramming, people believe that they are unworthy of greatness, believing life’s trials and tribulations beyond their ability to overcome, misunderstanding the effects of the fall, they internalize the pain, believing they are worthless, instead of allowing the pain of rebellion to lead them back to their Maker, a Maker who would reveal to them their true destiny.  The truth is that we are made in the image of God and have endless potential inside of us, accomplishing greatness when we serve our Maker and others.  The reminds me of the inspiring poem written my Myra Brooks Welch called The Touch of the Master’s Hand:

It was battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
Hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three”,

But, No,
From the room far back a grey haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its’ bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its’ worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
All battered with bourbon and gin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Master’s Hand.

My dear reader, you are the the beautiful violin, having a worth beyond any asking price, lacking only the touch of the Master’s hand to accomplish your life’s purpose.  Inside of each person is talents and skills beyond imagination, but unless the wires are reconnected to the new conditions of life, people will wander aimlessly, wondering why life is so hard, and their dreams seem so far away. Do not succumb to the negativity surrounding you, but search out the Master to be reprogrammed for true greatness.

But can’t you just reprogram yourself, without the need of the Master’s help?  Sadly, to a certain extent, yes.  But the problem is that self programmed people move through life with themselves as the center of existence.  A person can become moral, hardworking, and successful financially without the master, literally becoming prideful at his own work, but can never experience true joy, unless he is one of the Master’s instruments.  I have lived portions of my life in all three conditions.  For a time, I believed that I was junk, acting out this faulty belief system, hurting myself and others. For a time, I believed I was the programmer, developing a pride in my professional success, while attempting to ignore my personal misery.  But finally, mercifully, came the touch of the Master, and my life has never been the same since.  From my vantage point, the one essential attribute, lacking in our modern world is belief.  Belief, not in yourself through your own reprogramming, but a belief in the God of the universe and in his Son, the Master who touches the human hearts, changing them forever.  No longer will one need to pursue victories vicariously through their favorite sports teams, movie stars or rock bands, as they will have the Master Himself, pursuing victories for Him in their lives.  I still enjoy winning sports teams, but they are no longer define my life, as I have my own life to live, focusing on winning the race set before me, pressing towards my mark in life.  No longer will you feel unworthy of success, because you will know that you were designed by the Master with a specific purpose in mind.  No longer will you run to experience the elation of success vicariously, because you will live the Dream, Struggle, Victory process in your own life, developing into a leader so that you can serve the Master and others.  Moreover, when people truly believe in themselves, they will pursue their own personal and professional excellence with as much ardor and passion as they formerly pursued their vicarious excellence?  Don’t misunderstand me, I think being fans of successful people is important and I encourage my kids to have heroes, not to displace their own success, but merely as models for what is possible to those who dream, believe and achieve.

Imagine if all of sports fans, who love watching successful coaches lead their teams, chose to live a life of excellence to the same standards of excellence that they hold their sports teams up to?  Can you imagine if all of the fans, fans who expect nothing less than excellence from their favorite teams, developed the same high expectations for their families and work teams?  Fans that pay good money to see excellence in sporting events, will, in their personal and professional lives, no longer tolerate mediocrity, holding to the same success standards in their own lives, that they expect from their favorite sports teams?  The paradox of success is solved only when we view life through a Biblical lens.  Several day ago, I asked why the paradox existed.  Why fans, who love excellence in competitive sports enough to pay for the right to experience it, will not apply the same standards of excellence in their own competitive professions, even though others are paying for the right to experience it.  The answer to the paradox is lack of belief in themselves and their purpose in life.  The are beautiful people, with amazing potential, with great passion (we can see that at every sporting event), but missing out on their purpose in life, due to the faulty wiring at birth.

As a life coach, for the last 18 years, I have mentored many people through the reprogramming process.  Nothing brings greater joy to me on this earth, than having a front row seat, watching the Master hands restore a work of art to its original beauty.  I used to be a fan of a sports team, a team that I had never met, spent hours of my time, never to be restored, watched other people pursue their dreams as I buried my own.  Now I am called to mentor the greatest group of leaders in the world, spending hours of my time serving these masterpieces, pursuing my destiny by helping others pursue theirs.  I am a blessed man already, but my dreams are even bigger.  I dream of a world where all people, that are willing, can pursue excellence.  I dream of a world where all people are free to pursue their God given visions.  I dream of a world, where men and women have the courage to dream, the perseverance to struggle and the humbleness to be victorious, having corrected their hard wiring, by a touch of the Master’s hand, no longer afraid to become what they were called to be. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith | 53 Comments »

Reflecting Back on Israel

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 7, 2013

I love reading Chris Brady’s blog post. So much information, humor, and the ability to make you think wrapped up into one. This particular post shares about our trip to Israel shortly before the launch of the LIFE Business. What a fascinating trip and experience! One of the dreams of getting out of the 9 to 5 lifestyle was an ability to travel and see all the history that I routinely read about. This dream has been answered many times thanks to compensated community building. What travel dreams do you have on your bucket list?

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

IMG_5179Stone steps greet my weary feet once again, while the sun keeps up its constant beaming from above, pounding on my hat and searing my skin.  The bag on my back, though small, irritates me from long companionship, and the camera that produces the pictures I so love is an annoyance. My senses are overloaded and my brain is full.  It’s been another full day of touring the Holy Land.

From Dan to Beer-Sheva, and Caesarea (Maritime) to En-Giev, we’ve covered this land.  We swam in the Sea of Galilee and bobbed in the Dead Sea (this latter event so comical I couldn’t stop giggling at the curious situation of lying on top of the water).  We’ve surveyed archeological digs both old and new, gathered smooth stones from the Brook of Elah where David did so to the great chagrin of Goliath, and drove to the military installations along the borders of the Golan Heights. We passed through the Palestinian checkpoint at Jericho where the soldier there (Palestinian) was watering flowers. I’ve seen the Israeli soldiers, many of them young girls with cute pony-tails bouncing down the backs of their uniforms, toting AR 15 machine guns as if they were shopping bags.  We have pushed through crowded, narrow market streets while the Muslim call to prayer boomed loudly from speakers mounted to minarets high above.  I’ve seen monks in their brown robes with white ropes, nuns in their hobbits, and beggars of several faiths.

IMG_5617We walked into many an old church, usually constructed dead atop some Biblically important site, now entirely obliterated by the building meant to commemorate the very event it now obscures. Perhaps the most adventurous activity was wading through the narrow (and sometimes short) tunnel of Hezekiah, a 1750 foot wonder that snakes around back and forth under the old City of David and takes water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.  This required feet that could withstand long exposure to the cold and still flowing spring water, a flashlight, and the ability to duck repeatedly, as well as a decent ability to fight off claustrophobia.  But we all made it through, shamed by the 90 year old lady who soldiered through it with us without a word of complaint or even a slow step.  Climbing the recently unearthed ceremonial staircase from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount above (way above, I might add) turned into another spelunking adventure as we ended up squeezing between ancient ashlars that framed a drainage system (at least that was our best guess)

 I’ve seen wild Ibex, commercially tamed camels one can ride for ten shekels, and prairie dogs with a fancier name which I now forget.  There have also been cats, lots of cats, loose in every nook and cranny of these old cities. But everywhere and all the time there have been people.  I have been all over the world, and have visited what I had previously believed to be some pretty crazy, diverse plIMG_5518aces.  But I must admit, never in my life have I seen anything like Israel.  Enemies exist in muted tension side by side.  Radically different faiths fight for the same commemorative soil.  Cultures crash like cars in a downtown intersection, with sounds and wounds just as loud and painful.  I work my brain like a prize fighter trying to make sense of it all.
Israel, chosen by God to be the intersection of the world.  Israel, today, as much as ever, upholding its duty to be the place where all the cultures flow together. Our trip was billed as a study tour, and study tour it has been.  Under the masterful tutelage of Dr. Doug BookmIMG_5541an from Shepherds Theological Seminary in North Carolina, we’ve been whisked around this mysterious land like the students in the classroom of Miss Frizzle, the zany but enthusiastic grade school teacher whose “Magic School Bus” transforms itself into whatever shape is needed to give the students a tactile, on-location lesson of the material being covered.  With contacts in every corner of this land, Dr. bookman has us transported up to places like the half-built and then abandoned palace of Jordan’s King Husain, which was begun in 1965 but quickly abandoned with the outbreak of the Six Days War in 1967.  From it’s ruined hulk, a place (to quote Dr. Bookman) where “Osha has never been,” we could look out at the surrounding hills and almost see the Bible narrative that occurred there coming to life.  While we pass other tour groups in silly kerchiefs and matching hats, we sneak around where people rarely go and take a look from off the beaten path.
IMG_5668
Another joy has been traveling with long time friend and business partner Orrin Woodward and his wife Laurie. As we learn we discuss, and review and analyze.  Learning is always more fun in concert with other minds equally enthused and invigorated with the lamp of growing understanding.  Further, we’ve been in cahoots with a small team of others from California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia, who have been as fun as they have been adventurous.
This tour is not over, but its days are rapidly ending. And as they close, I realize once again that the more I learn, the more there is to understand.  Further mystery is always on the other side of new understanding, and these days in Israel have opened me to more wonder than I ever could have imagined.  My appetite to study and learn even more about the foundations of my faith and the plan of God for this land is mightier than ever. My faith is stronger, my knowledge higher, and my camera fuller than when I began. And yes, my feet might throb as I drop into bed at night, but my mind races and my heart leaps at all that God has done.

Posted in Faith | 36 Comments »

All Grace Outreach: Ligonier Ministries

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 3, 2013

All Grace Outreach

I watched a cool video this Sunday morning on RC Sproul’s Ligonier Ministies. RC is making a huge difference in the world by keeping the main thing the main thing – God’s glory. Ligonier is one of the ministries that All Grace Outreach supports because it is getting God’s word out to the people around the world. The LIFE Business give 100% of corporate profits of the LIFE Faith series to various charities selected by the LIFE PC. I love our motto, Have Fun, Make Money, and Make a Difference and this is exactly, by God’s grace, what we intend to do.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News, Faith, LIFE Leadership | 21 Comments »

All Grace Outreach (AGO): 2012 Year in Review

Posted by Orrin Woodward on January 31, 2013

All Grace Outreach

All Grace Outreach

I am happy to report a blessed banner year for All Grace Outreach (AGO) in 2012. While many charities are struggling, AGO nearly doubled it fundraising thanks to a growing LIFE Leadership business. Another amazing attribute of the AGO charity is the percent of funds that actually reach the charities, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the board and LIFE Leadership staff. AGO is a nondenominational Christian charity that focuses on spreading the gospel message and serving those in need. LIFE Leadership gives 100% of its AGO Series (a monthly book and audio subscription) corporate profits to help fund the charity. In addition, the LIFE Leadership community gives generously at conventions during the Sunday morning worship services.

Several years back, Tim Marks, Chris Brady, and I had numerous conversations on how to build the AGO charity properly. AGO is not a church; consequently, we developed several principles to operate by. For instance, although man may divide Christ’s church into denominations, we know that Christ unites all Christians on the Cross by His sacrifice. In other words, we will not go by our denominations in heaven, but merely as servants of the King. Hence, AGO gives to charities supported by Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, and others. Accordingly, AGO’s goal is to support charities that advance Jesus Christ’s Kingdom by fulfilling the Great Commission. The entire AGO Board would like to offer our thanks for all of those who made 2012 such a blessed year.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Throughout 2012, All Grace Outreach continued its mission of impacting and improving the lives of children both locally and globally and funding Christian outreach efforts throughout the world. It was a phenomenal year for AGO. We feel humbled, honored, and blessed to have been able to touch the lives of so many struggling people as we spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Our fundraising efforts for 2012 brought in $397,760 (a 95.5% increase over 2011). The operating expenses for the year totaled $6,110, of which $3,968 was used for booklets that are handed out for free, with the remaining for accounting, banking, and office items. Donations totaled $344,850, with the remaining $46,800 designated for donation to various charities in the 1st quarter of 2013. As a result, 98.5% of the funds were, or will soon be, distributed by AGO to organizations that focus on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and/or assisting women and children. Following is a list of some of the organizations that AGO supported in 2012. We pray that God will use all donations for His glory and renewed hope and a better quality of life for those in need.

  • A New Beginning Pregnancy Center
  • Founders Ministries
  • GAP Ministries
  • Ligonier Ministries
  • PLNTD
  • Pregnancy Care Centre
  • Samaritan Center
  • Wisdom for the Heart
  • Zoie Sky Foundation

AGO does not employ any paid staff and runs completely on volunteer labor. Words cannot express how grateful we are to all those who have contributed their time, talent, and effort to advance our cause. We look forward to what God has in store for 2013. May His love and grace abound to all those who thirst and hunger for His love.

God Bless,

All Grace Outreach

Posted in Faith | 64 Comments »

Courage and Humility

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 20, 2012

Rarely in our pagan past does one find courage and humility used to describe the same person; however, G.K. Chesterton explains how true Christianity marries the two seemingly paradoxical terms together within believers. In today’s dumbed-down culture, reading Chesterton can stretch a person’s thinking, not to mention his vocabulary. :) Still, I encourage everyone to sift through Chesterton’s thoughts and wrestle with the ramifications of the Christian faith for leadership in society today. The greatest leaders are humble and courageous. How? Because they know their cause is bigger than themselves and their own personal needs. (See RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE for more on purpose.) The bigger the purpose then, the less about self it is. For those who would change the external world must first change their internal mindset. The LIFE business cannot transform the world until the members have transformed themselves. This is the ultimate assignment. Here is the close of Chesterton’s article.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

I have not spoken of another aspect of the discovery of humility as a psychological necessity, because it is more commonly insisted on, and is in itself more obvious. But it is equally clear that humility is a permanent necessity as a condition of effort and self-examination. It is one of the deadly fallacies of Jingo politics that a nation is stronger for despising other nations. As a matter of fact, the strongest nations are those, like Prussia or Japan, which began from very mean beginnings, but have not been too proud to sit at the feet of the foreigner and learn everything from him. Almost every obvious and direct victory has been the victory of the plagiarist. This is, indeed, only a very paltry by-product of humility, but it is a product of humility, and, therefore, it is successful. Prussia had no Christian humility in its internal arrangements; hence its internal arrangements were miserable. But it had enough Christian humility slavishly to copy France (even down to Frederick the Great’s poetry), and that which it had the humility to copy it had ultimately the honour to conquer. The case of the Japanese is even more obvious; their only Christian and their only beautiful quality is that they have humbled themselves to be exalted. All this aspect of humility, however, as connected with the matter of effort and striving for a standard set above us, I dismiss as having been sufficiently pointed out by almost all idealistic writers.

It may be worth while, however, to point out the interesting disparity in the matter of humility between the modern notion of the strong man and the actual records of strong men. Carlyle objected to the statement that no man could be a hero to his valet. Every sympathy can be extended towards him in the matter if he merely or mainly meant that the phrase was a disparagement of hero-worship. Hero-worship is certainly a generous and human impulse; the hero maybe faulty, but the worship can hardly be. It may be that no man would be a hero to his valet. But any man would be a valet to his hero. But in truth both the proverb itself and Carlyle’s stricture upon it ignore the most essential matter at issue. The ultimate psychological truth is not that no man is a hero to his valet. The ultimate psychological truth, the foundation of Christianity, is that no man is a hero to himself. Cromwell, according to Carlyle, was a strong man. According to Cromwell, he was a weak one.

The weak point in the whole of Carlyle’s case for aristocracy lies, indeed, in his most celebrated phrase. Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men. But the essential point of it is merely this, that whatever primary and far-reaching moral dangers affect any man, affect all men. All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired. And this doctrine does away altogether with Carlyle’s pathetic belief (or any one else’s pathetic belief) in “the wise few.” There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. Every oligarchy is merely a knot of men in the street—that is to say, it is very jolly, but not infallible. And no oligarchies in the world’s history have ever come off so badly in practical affairs as the very proud oligarchies—the oligarchy of Poland, the oligarchy of Venice. And the armies that have most swiftly and suddenly broken their enemies in pieces have been the religious armies—the Moslem Armies, for instance, or the Puritan Armies. And a religious army may, by its nature, be defined as an army in which every man is taught not to exalt but to abase himself.

Many modern Englishmen talk of themselves as the sturdy descendants of their sturdy Puritan fathers. As a fact, they would run away from a cow. If you asked one of their Puritan fathers, if you asked Bunyan, for instance, whether he was sturdy, he would have answered, with tears, that he was as weak as water. And because of this he would have borne tortures. And this virtue of humility, while being practical enough to win battles, will always be paradoxical enough to puzzle pedants. It is at one with the virtue of charity in this respect. Every generous person will admit that the one kind of sin which charity should cover is the sin which is inexcusable. And every generous person will equally agree that the one kind of pride which is wholly damnable is the pride of the man who has something to be proud of. The pride which, proportionally speaking, does not hurt the character, is the pride in things which reflect no credit on the person at all. Thus it does a man no harm to be proud of his country, and comparatively little harm to be proud of his remote ancestors. It does him more harm to be proud of having made money, because in that he has a little more reason for pride. It does him more harm still to be proud of what is nobler than money—intellect. And it does him most harm of all to value himself for the most valuable thing on earth—goodness. The man who is proud of what is really creditable to him is the Pharisee, the man whom Christ Himself could not forbear to strike.

My objection to Mr. Lowes Dickinson and the reassertors of the pagan ideal is, then, this. I accuse them of ignoring definite human discoveries in the moral world, discoveries as definite, though not as material, as the discovery of the circulation of the blood. We cannot go back to an ideal of reason and sanity. For mankind has discovered that reason does not lead to sanity. We cannot go back to an ideal of pride and enjoyment. For mankind has discovered that pride does not lead to enjoyment. I do not know by what extraordinary mental accident modern writers so constantly connect the idea of progress with the idea of independent thinking. Progress is obviously the antithesis of independent thinking. For under independent or individualistic thinking, every man starts at the beginning, and goes, in all probability, just as far as his father before him. But if there really be anything of the nature of progress, it must mean, above all things, the careful study and assumption of the whole of the past. I accuse Mr. Lowes Dickinson and his school of reaction in the only real sense. If he likes, let him ignore these great historic mysteries–the mystery of charity, the mystery of chivalry, the mystery of faith. If he likes, let him ignore the plough or the printing-press. But if we do revive and pursue the pagan ideal of a simple and rational self-completion we shall end–where Paganism ended. I do not mean that we shall end in destruction. I mean that we shall end in Christianity.

Posted in All News, Faith, Leadership/Personal Development | 13 Comments »

The Paradox of Christian Virtues

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 19, 2012

Here is part two of G.K. Chesterton’s article. Chesterton compares the best virtues of our pagan past with the paradoxical virtues of the Christian faith and arrives at insights that everyone ought to think deeply upon. Whether a person ultimately agrees or not, it’s important to know why he believes what he believes. Again, the key to this blog is to stimulate thought in a friendly and non-combative fashion. Remember, a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Consequently, all real change begins on the inside when a person begins to think. In sum, that’s the goal of the LIFE business. Here are some profound thoughts by Chesterton to think upon. :)

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

G.K. Chesterton

My general meaning touching the three virtues of which I have spoken will now, I hope, be sufficiently clear. They are all three paradoxical, they are all three practical, and they are all three paradoxical because they are practical. It is the stress of ultimate need, and a terrible knowledge of things as they are, which led men to set up these riddles, and to die for them. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of hope that is of any use in a battle is a hope that denies arithmetic. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of charity which any weak spirit wants, or which any generous spirit feels, is the charity which forgives the sins that are like scarlet. Whatever may be the meaning of faith, it must always mean a certainty about something we cannot prove. Thus, for instance, we believe by faith in the existence of other people.

But there is another Christian virtue, a virtue far more obviously and historically connected with Christianity, which will illustrate even better the connection between paradox and practical necessity. This virtue cannot be questioned in its capacity as a historical symbol; certainly Mr. Lowes Dickinson will not question it. It has been the boast of hundreds of the champions of Christianity. It has been the taunt of hundreds of the opponents of Christianity. It is, in essence, the basis of Mr. Lowes Dickinson’s whole distinction between Christianity and Paganism. I mean, of course, the virtue of humility. I admit, of course, most readily, that a great deal of false Eastern humility (that is, of strictly ascetic humility) mixed itself with the main stream of European Christianity. We must not forget that when we speak of Christianity we are speaking of a whole continent for about a thousand years. But of this virtue even more than of the other three, I would maintain the general proposition adopted above. Civilization discovered Christian humility for the same urgent reason that it discovered faith and charity—that is, because Christian civilization had to discover it or die.

The great psychological discovery of Paganism, which turned it into Christianity, can be expressed with some accuracy in one phrase. The pagan set out, with admirable sense, to enjoy himself. By the end of his civilization he had discovered that a man cannot enjoy himself and continue to enjoy anything else. Mr. Lowes Dickinson has pointed out in words too excellent to need any further elucidation, the absurd shallowness of those who imagine that the pagan enjoyed himself only in a materialistic sense. Of course, he enjoyed himself, not only intellectually even, he enjoyed himself morally, he enjoyed himself spiritually. But it was himself that he was enjoying; on the face of it, a very natural thing to do. Now, the psychological discovery is merely this, that whereas it had been supposed that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by extending our ego to infinity, the truth is that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by reducing our ego to zero.

Humility is the thing which is for ever renewing the earth and the stars. It is humility, and not duty, which preserves the stars from wrong, from the unpardonable wrong of casual resignation; it is through humility that the most ancient heavens for us are fresh and strong. The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, “the light of common day.” We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightning, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, in which we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.

The terms “pessimism” and “optimism,” like most modern terms, are unmeaning. But if they can be used in any vague sense as meaning something, we may say that in this great fact pessimism is the very basis of optimism. The man who destroys himself creates the universe. To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea. When he looks at all the faces in the street, he does not only realize that men are alive, he realizes with a dramatic pleasure that they are not dead.

Posted in All News, Faith | 14 Comments »

G.K. Chesterton: Pagans and Christians

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 18, 2012

Last night, while doing some research on the Greeks for a future book, my mind kept ruminating on Solomon’s statement “vanity of vanities” as I read the history of the Greek’s self-destruction. While pondering human sinfulness, I started to read the last article in a book of essays on the genius of the Greeks. Even though I had no idea who the author was when I started reading, within minutes I knew this writer viewed the intellectual landscape from a different perspective than the rest of the essays. The whole book was fascinating, but the last article, by G.K. Chesterton, blew me away. Remarkably, in less than 3,000 words, he summed up what I was wrestling with, capturing the similarities, as well as the differences, between the best of the Pagan past and the Christian future.

Indeed, most of the authors raved about the greatness of the Greeks, and truth be told, there is much to admire and respect. Still, when one methodically analyzes the Greeks’ dreams in comparison to their historical realities, it’s enough to make the most optimistic of leaders (me) suffer from temporary melancholia. :) In a nutshell, Greek society’s apex was the united city-states defeat of the previously invincible Persian Empire. Unfortunately, however, after a thirty-year Periclean peace, the rest of Greek history is one long series of fratricidal wars, ending with the Roman Conquest and Pax Romana. In consequence, some of the greatest mental achievements (in philosophy, politics, science, theater, etc.) in the world’s history were accomplished in the midst of the mass destruction of the very civilization responsible for their creation.

Needless to say, Chesterton’s article was a breath of fresh air, helping me sort out the gap between the Greek dreams and the Greek realities. Why is this important? Because the LIFE business has big dreams as well. One of my reasons for reading about past leaders and cultures is to learn lessons from their example so I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes. Yesterday, Chris Brady and I discussed how much one can learn by simply reading, listening, and associating. :) Without any further ado, here is the first of several posts on Chesterton’s Pagans and Christians.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The real difference between Paganism and Christianity is perfectly summed up in the difference between the pagan, or natural, virtues, and those three virtues of Christianity which the Church of Rome calls virtues of grace. The pagan, or rational, virtues are such things as justice and temperance, and Christianity has adopted them. The three mystical virtues which Christianity has not adopted, but invented, are faith, hope, and charity. Now much easy and foolish Christian rhetoric could easily be poured out upon those three words, but I desire to confine myself to the two facts which are evident about them. The first evident fact (in marked contrast to the delusion of the dancing pagan)—the first evident fact, I say, is that the pagan virtues, such as justice and temperance, are the sad virtues, and that the mystical virtues of faith, hope, and charity are the gay and exuberant virtues. And the second evident fact, which is even more evident, is the fact that the pagan virtues are the reasonable virtues, and that the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity are in their essence as unreasonable as they can be.

As the word “unreasonable” is open to misunderstanding, the matter may be more accurately put by saying that each one of these Christian or mystical virtues involves a paradox in its own nature, and that this is not true of any of the typically pagan or rationalist virtues. Justice consists in finding out a certain thing due to a certain man and giving it to him. Temperance consists in finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that. But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.

It is somewhat amusing, indeed, to notice the difference between the fate of these three paradoxes in the fashion of the modern mind. Charity is a fashionable virtue in our time; it is lit up by the gigantic firelight of Dickens. Hope is a fashionable virtue to-day; our attention has been arrested for it by the sudden and silver trumpet of Stevenson. But faith is unfashionable, and it is customary on every side to cast against it the fact that it is a paradox. Everybody mockingly repeats the famous childish definition that faith is “the power of believing that which we know to be untrue.” Yet it is not one atom more paradoxical than hope or charity. Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.

Now the old pagan world went perfectly straightforward until it discovered that going straightforward is an enormous mistake. It was nobly and beautifully reasonable, and discovered in its death-pang this lasting and valuable truth, a heritage for the ages, that reasonableness will not do. The pagan age was truly an Eden or golden age, in this essential sense, that it is not to be recovered. And it is not to be recovered in this sense again that, while we are certainly jollier than the pagans, and much more right than the pagans, there is not one of us who can, by the utmost stretch of energy, be so sensible as the pagans. That naked innocence of the intellect cannot be recovered by any man after Christianity; and for this excellent reason, that every man after Christianity knows it to be misleading.

Let me take an example, the first that occurs to the mind, of this impossible plainness in the pagan point of view. The greatest tribute to Christianity in the modern world is Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” The poet reads into the story of Ulysses the conception of an incurable desire to wander. But the real Ulysses does not desire to wander at all. He desires to get home. He displays his heroic and unconquerable qualities in resisting the misfortunes which baulk him; but that is all. There is no love of adventure for its own sake; that is a Christian product. There is no love of Penelope for her own sake; that is a Christian product. Everything in that old world would appear to have been clean and obvious. A good man was a good man; a bad man was a bad man. For this reason they had no charity; for charity is a reverent agnosticism towards the complexity of the soul. For this reason they had no such thing as the art of fiction, the novel; for the novel is a creation of the mystical idea of charity. For them a pleasant landscape was pleasant, and an unpleasant landscape unpleasant. Hence they had no idea of romance; for romance consists in thinking a thing more delightful because it is dangerous; it is a Christian idea. In a word, we cannot reconstruct or even imagine the beautiful and astonishing pagan world. It was a world in which common sense was really common.

Posted in Faith, Freedom/Liberty | 20 Comments »