Vision stretchers

One of the things that I’ve learned on my journey through this life, is that success is a balance; and there are many areas that I have to intentionally focus on if I want to grow.  I have also learned the impact that relationships have on our thinking and our decision making.  We cannot drift into excellence, and therefore we need a plan to get better results.  The book, Resolved 13 Resolutions for Life, by Orrin Woodward, has stimulated my thinking in so many areas; and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books.  It explores our lives from many different angles, and challenges us to resolve to live to a higher standard.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed playing basketball with a group of guys at the YMCA in my town.  Not only has it helped me with my physical goals, but it is a lot of fun.  The guys that come to play are very diverse in age, profession, background, etc.  From a very fit 59-year old retired government employee, to a judge…business owners, a variety of professionals, and a group of college kids, we play full court basketball for over an hour–three times a week.  As always when interacting with folks, it’s amazing to see the maturity (or lack of) that is exhibited when there is conflict.  To their credit, most of our games are competitive and fun, and very few incidents occur.  I found myself analyzing the different guys, and wondering what circumstances and relationships led them to their current place in life.  It is somewhat obvious to see that some have learned many success principles, have a good attitude, sport good people skills, and have confidence in themselves.  Then, there are those who lack in these areas and seem to feel that they have something to prove.  They get offended easily, and react negatively when things aren’t going their way.  Looking back, I used to be the guy who needed to prove something, because I didn’t see the big picture or realize my purpose for living. That was when God led people into my life that believed in me, and introduced me to information that changed my perspective.  Now, I am on a journey to continue to learn truths and discover what exciting adventures are ahead.  As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure, or nothing”.

What kind of circumstances and relationships have led you to where you are in life?  Is your life a great adventure?  As I look around and continue to meet people and build communities, I realize that just like the guys at the gym; the difference between people so often comes down to the relationships that they have, and if someone has taught them truths–or more importantly where to find the truth.  It is exciting to think that we have the opportunity to impact people by how we live our lives.  It is also important that we realize the ripple effect of our actions and attitudes on all those that we influence.  It’s a very negative world out there, and a smile, kind word of encouragement, or any positive affirmation does make a difference. As John Maxwell says, ” Those closest to you will stretch your vision, or choke your dreams”.  Let’s be vision stretchers.

God bless! Dean

A Life Well-Lived…

I love to read the stories of successful people, and the challenges they overcame in the pursuit of their dreams.  The LIFE community–led by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady–that I am proud to associate with, is full of stories of average people overcoming the odds to achieve great results.  I recently finished a book that was written on the life of Harry Bollback, co-founder of an organization called Word of Life (WOL), that has made a huge  impact on many lives across the globe.  Harry’s story begins in Brooklyn, NY, where at a young age he began developing a love for music.  There he met and developed a friendship with another young visionary leader, named Jack Wyrtzen.  Jack and Harry both had a passion as teenagers to share their newly acquired faith in God with the world.  They began their journey on the street corners of New York City, and eventually grew to the point that they were renting Madison Square Garden–and even Yankee stadium–to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

In 1943, World War II was raging, and Harry joined the US Marines Corps.  He was part of many bloody battles in the Pacific, and fought beside many brave men who never came home. In one of the many close calls, Harry remembers, “in my company of almost 200 men, I was one of only seven who got out without being killed or wounded.  Years later I found out 40 percent of the First Marine Division, of which I was a proud part, was killed or wounded in that battle.”  Day after day, battle after battle–through unbelievable odds–God preserved Harry’s life for His future plans.

Upon returning home, Harry again rejoined Jack in his vision to reach people for God.  Through some amazing circumstances, they bought some property in upstate New York; and began some camps for kids.  This led to the beginning of  a Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, NY, that eventually expanded to many countries around the world.  In 1951, as the camping ministry was being developed; Harry felt that God was leading him and his family to Brazil as missionaries.  He packed up, left all the comforts of home in the US, and traveled to the jungles of Brazil.  The next twenty years were filled with exciting adventures and near-death experiences, as Harry followed his God-given purpose into many hostile areas in the Amazon jungles. The stories of tribes dying of disease, not being able to communicate due to language barriers, and being many days away from family with no communication; are heart-wrenching.  Nevertheless, through it all, Harry saw many come to a saving knowledge of Christ through his sacrifice.  Today, tens of thousands of people in Brazil have been influenced by the camps and Bible Institutes that Word of Life operates there.

Returning to the United States, Harry again became involved with the WOL ministries.  With Jack’s encouragement, he began writing music and eventually musical productions, that have been produced and performed all around the world.  Harry says, “you should never underestimate the power of suggestion.  Sometimes God works in us to do something we would have never tried on our own by having someone speak His words to us.”.  Overall, he produced 13 musicals, including “Let Freedom Ring,” “Revelation,” “Daniel,” and “Genesis”.  More than two-million people have attended these different concerts throughout the years.

Today, Harry is in his upper 80’s and lives in Florida.  Last week my daughter, who is attending Word of Life Bible Institute in Florida, was able to hear him speak at a conference.  She said of all the great speakers, Harry’s passion was superior to everyone else’s.  His enthusiasm is infectious wherever he goes.  He is truly a blessing to know and be around.  What makes someone’s life so inspiring, and keeps them going and influencing others around them in such a positive way?  As U.S. Army Major General John H. Stafford says, “The secret to success is to stay in love.  Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people.  A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others to achieve.  I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.”  Harry found his purpose in life and fell in love with it.  This purpose has taken him all over the world through incredible challenges and adventures; and has influenced millions of lives.

What challenges are you experiencing?  Is your life a daring, bold adventure that is positively affecting others?  Will your story be worth telling?  I encourage you to challenge yourself with these questions, and surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams.  Life is too short to live small.  God has great plans!

May God bless you on your journey!

Dean