Archive for November, 2009

Another reason to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons is that all Christians ultimately believe that a world of unbounded peace and unity will eventually be. This is an eschatological reasoning. Perhaps John Howard Yoder can best articulate this point, but suffice it to say this: There will be a day in the future in which the lion will lie down with the lamb. There will be a day of complete, undisturbed peace. As a follower of Jesus, both my instincts and my calling are to live as if that day is this day. I am called to live my life to honor this coming and peaceable Kingdom. I am summoned to live as though – as Jesus said – the Kingdom of God is near.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6.9ff). Prayer, as always, is not only a petition to God, but also a call to local, global and real action. To pray such a prayer involves my decision to side with God toward the in breaking of God’s Kingdom.

If Christian people know that a day is coming without not only war, but also without the threat of war, annihilation, fear, forceful coercion or terror, we are to actively engage the bringing about of that day.  In stark contrasts, a world in possession of over 20,000 nuclear weapons opposes the vision of God for the earth and the vision of God for His children. The simple fact that I can thoughtlessly or easily live in a world that is made, shaped, and formed by such deadly and dangerous weapons, without giving voice to a more peaceful vision for humanity suggests – to me at least – that I do not take the Lord’s Prayer seriously.  As I do when I give a cup of water in the name of Jesus, when I pray and petition world leaders to reduce and  eliminate nuclear weapons, I stand as a voice in this world calling out for the initiation of the next world.

I cannot imagine, therefore, that there will be nuclear weapons in heaven – as I cannot imagine rape, abuse and murder – so I must oppose them here. I cannot imagine that lasting, hopeful peace will be instituted by the threat or commencement of violence. It has not worked for past superpowers and it will not last for the nations now in possession of nuclear weapons. These weapons are icons of our bent to destruction rather than peace. This is an inclination that God, I suspect, wishes we did not have.

Scripture teaches us that only peace is eternal, and not “peace” at the tip of the sword, therefore, let us together step into eternity’s peace…today.

As I think of a world free of nuclear weapons, one of the driving reasons to work toward that end is creation.

From the beginning, orthodox Jews and Christians have affirmed that God is the Creator and Sustainer of both the world and the universe. It was at the voice of God the world was made; light separated from darkness, the waters parted, sky gathered, moon and stars to govern the night and a greater light to watch the day. Out of God’s creativity burst forth-living creatures – birds and fish and all living things. Out of God’s love these created beings were ordered. And it was through God’s heart that these creatures were charged to “be fruitful and multiply.” The culmination of God’s rupture of passion was his shaping of beings made in his image – he made them male and female. They were His icons, placed on earth and set in a garden to care for and love it, sharing in God’s own regard for the fierce wonder and beauty formed by God’s own word and breathe.

As one who is dedicated to serving God with my entire life, I must take seriously God’s petition to humankind to serve as curators of His handiwork. God gave the first couple a garden to tend. Had creation never known The Fall, caring for God’s creation may have been our full and final concern. Yet we did know the fall, and out of our fallen state we have created weapons that can reduce God’s creation to rumble with little more than the push of a button.

This is not hyperbole.

At present there are 20,000 nuclear weapons available for deployment. Just one Hiroshima-sized weapon would immediately kill 60,000 people and poison 320 miles leaving the land unlivable for at least a generation. This is utter and indiscriminate devastation delivered upon the very creation God has given those made in His image to care for. You do not have to be a card-carrying member of the Sierra Club to know that this kind of violence visited upon the ground we walk can irretrievable harm all living things. Perhaps this is the reason men and women across the political spectrum support this action. But, of course, for Christians the issue is deeper.

Scripture teaches us that heaven and earth declare the glory of God. At this moment in history, humankind possesses weapons, which at the very least, have the potential to mute Creation’s voice and scar that which God has given us. The simple fact that a head of state or – more likely – a madman armed and emboldened by twisted faith and hatred could scuttle what God has made sacred is untenable.

Adam and Eve launched our descent into sin by stepping outside the proper limits given them by their Creator; the obvious destination of said descent is clearly the final destruction of God’s first gift. We who chose to honor God and express gratitude for all He has made and given must rebuke this last and terminal step. For this reason, people of faith must look beyond the horizon to a place and time where humans cannot undo what our Lord first did. We must work for a day free from nuclear weapons.

Last week I spoke for over an hour with Tyler Wigg Stevenson, the founder and director of the Two Futures Project (2FP). 2FP is a movement of American Christians for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. That sounds impossible, right? I will address that suspicion later this week, but for now, suffice it to say, that I think it is possible. It is in America’s best interests. It’s in the world’s best interest. It’s the only way to ensure some part of the world will not be devastated by a nuclear weapon, and I want to do all within my very limited power to eliminate all nuclear weapons everywhere. And you should too.

This is not a bi-partisan, non-partisan or post-partisan issue; it is simply human. A world free of nuclear weapons was the dream of Ronald Reagan and has been reaffirmed by Barack Obama. A non-nuclear world also enjoys the support of men and women across the political spectrum including George P. Schultz, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger and William Perry – all former Cold Warriors. These leaders have their own reasons for a world free of nuclear weapons, but I have my own. Throughout this week, I will highlight 4 reasons why you – and every Christian you know and worship with – should work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

However, before we dive into that, I want to tell you what to do before you fully know why you’re doing it. You’ll just have to trust me. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s effective. You won’t regret it.

This month, Two Future Project is drawing attention to the Global Security Priorities Resolution. This is a bipartisan bill that calls for reducing US and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1500 warheads per side – with the resulting savings split between efforts to combat nuclear terrorism and programs that encourage global child survival.

To succeed, the Global Security Priorities Resolution needs 25 Members of Congress to sign-on as co-sponsors. Last week each Member got a letter from the main sponsors, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Dan Lungren (R-CA), asking that they join them. But so far, only 14 out of 435 have signed on! We need your voice.

This November, 2FP has put together a 4-part plan, which will take you about 15 per week. The first step (which began last week) is to send your elected representative this. Fill it in, send it on, get the word out to five or more friends.

For social media junkies like me, 2FP also asks that you Twitter like crazy. Here’s a sample tweet: @2FP is making a nuclear-free world my biggest priority for Nov. If you have 15 min., join me! http://twofuturesproject.org/november

If you’re not on Twitter, please periodically use this status for Facebook: The Two Futures Project is making a nuclear-free world my biggest priority this November.  It only takes 15 minutes a week to make a big difference.  Please join me: http://twofuturesproject.org/november

This past Wednesday morning, I had a great conversation with Tyler Wigg Stevenson regarding the Two Futures Project. I’ll be writing about this more in the upcoming weeks. But for now, please watch this video and act accordingly.

5 Tips to Success

Posted: November 4, 2009 in family, leadership, life

I’m always on the look out for what successful and productive people do to be and become successful and productive. I seek out these habits – like arising early – as a means to drink from the marrow of life and get as much from my short time on earth, both for myself and for the Kingdom of God, as possible. Here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful hopefully, they’ll be helpful to you too.

  1. Turn off the T.V. Successful people don’t plop down in the easy chair every night and let cable T.V. wash over them. They are engaged from the moment they arise until they go to sleep. Whether at work, with friends, with their children or spouse, just about anywhere, successful people want to live a life, not watch one. Television is a black hole. Here’s what I suggest: Pick out a few shows – 2 or 3 – per week that you like. Set your DVR or TIVO to record them and plan a time to sit down and watch. You can even save up episodes for a marathon viewing or perhaps when you’re sick or need a “mental health” day. Beginning on Sunday, I don’t sit down to watch a T.V. show until Thursday night. I watch The Office and 30 Rock. On Friday night, Rochelle put the girls to bed, hop into our PJ’s and watch DVR’d episodes of Glee. That’s all we watch, except the occasional football game, which is also DVR’d – which saves me at least 30-45 minutes of commercials. Time in front of the tube can be spent with other people, studying, working on cause you care about, or reading something to keep yourself educated, up to speed, and growing.
  2. Never lie to yourself. Don’t lie about where you are (health, financial, education, with God, business, etc…). If you know your organization, personhood, spiritual life or family is in an unsustainable situation, lying won’t help. In order to be successful a leader must be brutally honest about his or her failings, as well as those of their organization. Unfortunately, the higher you are on the organizational chart, the less likely it is that you will hear the most useful criticism. As a Senior Minister, I hear feedback about nearly everything in the organization…except myself. I have to look past my ego and get real with what I’m doing. Make a commitment to be honest and instill this commitment as a value throughout your organization.
  3. Listen To The Criticism that You Do Get. Instead of rehashing my thoughts on criticism, I’ll refer you these 2  previous post.
  4. Become a Lifetime Learner. As the saying goes, “leaders are readers.” I am consistently reading 3 books. One having to do with spiritual/theological life, one about leadership and organizations, and one for fun. This is in addition to what I’m reading for preaching/teaching and anything I’m writing. Ideas actually don’t fall from the sky; they are sparked – typically by reading and intellectual engagement. I’ve learned from the men and women I’ve considered successful that a lifetime of learning is the key to success.
  5. Plan, plan, and plan. Many people never accomplish their goals because they never planned to. I use a personalized form of Michael Hyatt’s Master Task List to set my agenda for the month before a to-do list for each week. Every day I review and make more plans. You can’t do anything well that you do in a hurry or at the last minute. Maybe my life is over-planned. But most days, I feel as though I’ve served God, my congregation, my wife and family and my dreams well.

There you have it, a few keys to success that I’ve learned for people who are actually successful. But I don’t want to leave you without this bonus note. Success comes to those who do it! Don’t be jealous of other authors if you’ve never sat down and forced yourself to write. Don’t envy the minister with a growing congregation if you don’t have the guts to make the necessary decisions. Don’t poke fun at the physically affectionate family if you’ve never put the kind of time and energy into your family life that produces closeness and trust. If you want to do something, DO IT! Many of the people you and I know to be “successful” are considered successful because they stepped out and did it, while everyone else waited to see.

Every time I mention to someone that I wake up at either 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. the first question they ask me is “Why?”. Why would anyone who doesn’t HAVE to wake up that early do so? Apparently it’s OK for people who must be at work that early, but why punish yourself?

early-riser-rooster-300x225

Become An Early Riser

I’m not naturally a morning person, though. Because I am a night owl, I presumed the move to early rising was going to be a struggle. It wasn’t. Now having made the shift, I am an early-riser evangelist, believing everyone should do it. And here are three reasons why:

  1. Spiritual Development. Most Christ-followers I know want a deeper relationship with God. We know how to do it – prayer, spiritual reading, silence and solitude, along with other spiritual disciplines – but most of us don’t have good time to do it. It’s not that we don’t have time altogether; we don’t have good time. The time we have for ourselves, after work and kids, church and life, we are often far too exhausted to do anything worthwhile. Rising early changes the scales in the direction of spiritual formation. When I wake up, before the kids, the dawn and the Dawn Rochelle (my wife), I have the best and most time – coffee aided, of course – to engage God. Getting up a little earlier affords me the opportunity to orient my life towards God.
  2. Knowledge is King. Another plus of arising at five is seeking and finding all the news that’s good to know about our world. Karl Barth once said that a good preacher prepares his sermons with his Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. And he’s right. Each morning, I crack open my MacBook Pro, fire up my Google Reader and check all the news sites and blogs that I favor. Before 6:30 a.m. I’ve picked up leadership lessons from the likes of Michael Hyatt and Brad Lomenick; I’ve been introduced to ways of connecting others with what I’m doing through folks like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan, and I’m up to speed on national and international events thanks to Politico.com, NYTimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, and drudgereport.com. Being on the west coast, most of what’s going to happen in the world has already happened by the time my neighbors wake up, but I’m ahead of the game. More than that though, throughout my day I don’t have to check websites, etc…once I arrive at the office, I can focus on being with people and tackling the day’s tasks.
  3. Family Harmony. Once our oldest daughter began school, we quickly realized that all four of us waking up, preparing and eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting dressed at the same time was pretty tough. Now, I’m awake, coffee-fueled, fed and ready to go by the time the girls get up. This makes our mornings much less stressful resulting in better, less stressful mornings.

There you have it.  There are other reasons – such as a more productive workday and exercise – which serve as additional reasons to get up early, but I think you’re getting the point. My encouragement to you is to give it two-weeks, make a plan describing what it is you want to do with your time and stick to it. You’ll find that your bedtime comes earlier, but, most likely, it’ll be worth it.