Archive for the ‘priorities’ Category

New nuclear doctrine a step toward a morally sound nuclear policy

Evangelical Christians call Nuclear Posture Review a “welcome attempt to marry idealism and realism”

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Today, Evangelical Christians welcome the Obama administration’s long-awaited Nuclear Posture Review as a step toward a morally sound nuclear policy.  Coming just a year and one day after President Obama’s historic speech in Prague, where he articulated a firm commitment to seeking a world without nuclear weapons, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review represents the administration’s first comprehensive outline of the precise ways in which that commitment will impact U.S. nuclear policy.
“The Nuclear Posture Review is a welcome attempt to marry idealism and realism. This is Ronald Reagan’s vision, translated into policies that meet the needs of our post-Cold War, post-9/11 era,” said the Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, an expert on the ethics of nuclear weapons policy and Director of the Two Futures Project, a growing movement of American Christians dedicated to the moral imperative of nuclear abolition.
“In an age of global terrorism, the Nuclear Posture Review recalibrates our nuclear policy around the preeminent goal of non-proliferation and takes seriously the need for U.S. leadership in that global effort,” Rev. Wigg-Stevenson said.
Among the changes in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review:
·      No use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Nuclear posture

·     Significant reductions of the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. national security strategy
·     Changes in nuclear command structure to help prevent accidental launch
·     A commitment to reduce Cold War-levels of nuclear arsenals
·     Firm restrictions on when nuclear weapons can be used
·     Elimination of obsolete weapons systems
·     Rejection of new nuclear weapons programs
“The stated retention of first-strike capacity against states caught violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty seems to be a tactical move to deter nuclear breakout in states like Iran. But for this policy to have any claim to a moral foundation, it must move us toward the position where proliferation crises are resolved and the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack against us or our allies—which must in turn serve as an interim ethic that seeks the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons,” Rev. Wigg-Stevenson said.
The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review was released just days before President Obama and Russian President Medvedev will meet in Prague to sign a treaty committing to deep reductions in each country’s nuclear arsenals—and a week before the President convenes a meeting of 47 heads of state in Washington to seek their commitment to secure loose nuclear materials.
“The use of even one nuclear weapon would cause indiscriminate death and destruction and threaten uncontrollable escalation, both of which are anathema in the just war tradition,” said Rev. Wigg-Stevenson. “The moral imperative is to do everything possible to ensure that no nuclear weapon is ever used, whether in war, terrorism, or by accident—which requires taking concrete, threat-reducing steps toward their multi-lateral, verifiable, and complete elimination.”
Founded a year ago, the Two Futures Project has already ushered in a new era of engagement from American Christians on nuclear issues.  The organization has garnered endorsements from a long list of nationally-known figures, including church leaders like Bill and Lynne Hybels, founders of Willow Creek Community Church; megachurch pastor Joel Hunter; Rob Bell, influential communicator and founder of Mars Hill Bible Church; and Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Christian media elite, including Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant magazine, and David Neff, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today magazine; leaders of national organizations and denominations, such as Samuel Rodriguez, President of the 16-million-member National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners; Noel Castellanos, President of the Christian Community Development Organization; Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church; and political leaders like former Secretary of State George Shultz, Ambassador James Goodby, and former Congressman and Ambassador, Tony Hall. (See http://twofuturesproject.org/endorsements for a complete list.)
“In the past year, I’ve crisscrossed the country, meeting with thousands of Bible-believing Christians who share the conviction that the threat of nuclear weapons is antithetical to the claims of our faith in the twenty-first century,” Rev. Wigg-Stevenson stated.  “Just as Evangelicals have been at the helm of historic movements to abolish slavery and fight global poverty, Christians are at the vanguard of a new movement to lift the nuclear shadow once and for all.”
For more information about the Two Futures Project, visit http://twofuturesproject.org — Twitter http://twitter.com/2FP — Facebook: http://facebook.com/twofuturesproject
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Tiger Woods may have attended Stanford, but the past two weeks have proven how stupid he really is. I like Tiger Woods and believe him to be the greatest golfer of all time, whether he tracks down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional Majors or not. Tiger is the best at what he does, but as we learned from Michael Jordan, being the best in a sport has very little to do with being good in the rest of life.

What’s odd is that we think it does. When I was a youth minister, I frequently told students that one of the best ways they could witness for God was by being good at what they did. Colt McCoy, Hunter Lawrence, Jordan Shipley and Tim Tebow are examples of this. By performing with excellence in one area, our very lives are granted credence in the minds others. It’s only natural that people believe that the excellent are excellent. But that’s not always the case. Through all the fist pumps, chest bumps, sunk putts and kicked rumps, we continue to find that our “heroes” are anything but.

Here’s El Tigre, the worlds most recognizable person, complete with a yacht named “Privacy” slinking around, hooking up with cocktail waitresses and pornstars – allegedly – and thinking, presumably, that he wouldn’t get caught; that no one would find out. You’ve got to be kidding!

That’s just plain stupid.

He was bound to get caught.

But it’s the best thing that could have happened to Tiger Woods.

Why? Because of Steve McNair and Michael Jackson.

Last summer, former NFL great Steve McNair was found shot by his girlfriend. A married man, McNair was having an affair with Shalel Kazemi, a 20-year old, who murdered him in his sleep before turning the gun on herself. (In case you didn’t know, if someone continues to hook up with a string of women who do not care that he is married, he will run across one who is crazy!) That’s what happened to McNair, whose girlfriend feared he was leaving her, and that would have eventually happened to Woods. It’s unlikely that it would have ended in murder, but it almost certainly would have been worse than bad press and a re-written pre-nuptial agreement.

And we all know the disturbing tragedy of Michael Jackson. Something dismaying happens to people when we are too tightly insulated. That was the case with Jackson and has been the case with Woods. No healthy person can exists in a world of yes men and staff rather than friends and mentors. Woods – due to our incessant desire to know everything about everyone – had created his own kingdom, perhaps with Elin and his own mother as the only citizens by choice, the only ones who wanted him for him and not cash or celebrity.

This has been his greatest weakness. Tiger has fired caddies and coaches for doing commercials and giving too many interviews. In Tiger’s world, it’s Tiger’s way or the highway. In fact, Tiger’s mom once reportedly told a former girlfriend of his, “There’s only one star in this family. Tiger.” That’s the problem. Everyone needs people in their life to tell us the truth, to remind us that the world, in fact, does not revolve around us and folks like Woods are woefully short of them.

The titillating headlines concerning the train wreck Woods’ life has become over the past two weeks, present Tiger an opportunity. If he can resist the urge to be handled or save face, he can come clean with himself. No one besides Elin needs an apology or explanation. Tiger has the chance, right now, to rewrite who he is, not to resurrect his shattered image, but become a new man. Right now, Tiger can take a big swing.

Deal with your issues, Tiger, – because it’s clear to everyone now that you have them. Become a better father to your kids (good dads don’t cheat on mom). Stop sporting for gullible, star-struck women, using them as objects, and stop doing whatever else you’ve got going on under the surface. Become a man who is honest, friendly, open, humble, straightforward, less the golf machine and more an authentic man. Just think what Jackson’s life could have been had he a chance to be more Michael and less icon. Today Tiger’s life has a chance to be genuine, something, I think, at the end of life, he would much more enjoy than the coat-check girl.

The Candle Problem

Posted: October 20, 2009 in leadership, priorities

This is some of the most thought-provoking work on motivation I’ve heard. If Dan Pink is correct, it should change everything in the place you work.

Here some thoughts/insights/ questions brought to my mind by Pink.

1. People have to be invested in the organizational mission/goals for this to work. Oftentimes employees can go through difficult times and/ or malaise, what would pink suggest then? I suspect he has a good answer.

2. He mentioned taking money off the table. What should companies do when they can’t afford the best people and the people they have are not the intrinsically motivated kind? And how, in the interview/on-boarding process can you best eliminate those candidates?

What say you?

windowslivewriterleadershipvsmanagement-13209image-thumbIn his book, Tribes, Seth Godin makes these two statements: (1) “Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done” and (2) “Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.”

As I examined these statements from the early pages of Tribes, I realized that throughout my ministry training – both formal and informal – I was taught to manage, not lead. Not only that, but I was instructed in anti-leadership. I was shaped to be adept at strategies of how NOT to change anything, how NOT to innovate, in essence, how NOT to lead.

An oft-quoted piece of advice in this anti-leadership world is that when you are entering a new ministry context, you should spend at least a year massaging the status quo, never changing anything, and challenging as few practices as possible. I understand the root and genesis of this kind of thinking, and there is some wisdom there, but as I have lived it in three different ministry contexts and as I’ve seen other ministers enter into new contexts, I have seen how this thinking has and is leading to the stagnation and decline in my denominational tribe.

What’s more, throughout my ministry training I was taught incredible and deeply troubling truths about God, scripture and the purpose of the church. Invariably, a student would passionately question why our churches weren’t talking about these things. In response, someone would tell us how we had to be patient and take it slow. It is no wonder then that so many churches never mature, develop or grow.

If management is manipulating resources to get known outcomes then the very best a management-trained minister can do is keep a 200-member church a 200-member church! None of the very best and most healthy churches in my non-denominational tribe have grown significantly in the last 10 years.

None.

Zero. 

Nada.

One reason is obvious; our systems are set against innovation, change and growth. For some reason, we have come to believe that our churches should operate as they did 10, 20 and even 50 years ago. This is partly because our very identity is rooted in restoring something that was (1st century church), rather than becoming something that is not yet (the coming kingdom of God).  Clearly then, if your fundamental orientation is backward looking you never need leaders, only managers.  You don’t need men and woman with vision, only exegetes. You wouldn’t want to consider new approaches for new generations; you simply need to force younger people to appreciate what older people appreciate and when they don’t call them faithless. Regardless of how much time we spend talking and praying about evangelism, mission, missional ecclesiology, growth, formation or discipleship, our systems are stacked against ever doing any of them at best and diametrically opposed at worst. I know. I have seen this dynamic up close and personal.

So this is a call to leadership, for myself and for the good men and woman in ministry I have known over the years who still remain within our churches. It is time for us to lead! To look forward and create new pathways and initiate change people can believe in. If we do not, then our brand of churches may be looking at dark days ahead.

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POST-SCRIPT: (It’s important for me to say that I was taught scripture and ministry by extraordinarily faithful men and women, most of whom were taught – or trapped in – the same anti-leadership environs I was. I am eternally indebted to them for their teaching, ministries and gracious “A’s”.)

I’m not a Chicken Little type when it comes to the changing demographics of the world and the current state of the Christian church. I believe Jesus when he tells Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. If they do, then Jesus was wrong and we should all go about doing something else anyway. But as my latent concern for evangelism grows and my heart becomes more missional (not to grow larger churches, but so that people will come to know Jesus), videos like the one below concern me.

While I may not vocalize my concern as demonstrably as the narrator does, the facts are the facts and they are indicative of the churches increasing malaise when it comes to boldly proclaiming our confession that Jesus is Lord. While more and more Christians are rightly becoming more focused on justice issues around the world (I’ll be teaching a class on it next week at Pepperdine University), we cannot lose sight of Jesus’ warning to be less concerned with what can destroy the body in relation to what can destroy the soul.

So here are our options as Christians: 1. Have more kids or 2. Get busy being the church in the world. I’m a both/and kinda guy.

P.S.

I need to mention that one of my church members sent me this video. He said he didn’t know if the stats/facts are/were true and neither do I. At any rate, except for the Southern Hemisphere, the Christian church ain’t doing that great. That’s my point! Not to scare folks — which might be the intent of the film makers.

Congrats to Me

Posted: December 19, 2006 in Christmas, priorities


I would like to be the first to congratulate me on being Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’. Honestly, I can think of thousands of people who have had better or more interesting years, but it would be in bad taste to turn down such an honor.

After all, this year has had it’s ups for me. I was honored to be able to be a reviewer/reader for Sarah Cunningham’s book, Dear Church: Letters from A Disillusioned Generation. I have also had the opportunity to contribute to the writing of The Voice Bible Project, which I’m extremely honored by. I was blessed to teach at both the winter ACU Lectureship and Pepperdine University Lectures on topics which I think are important to the church. In addition, I’ve had a pretty full speaking schedule, speaking to hundreds of teens, ministers, and other adults — which is always needed when a family is living on one income. Plus, this year my wife became pregnant with our second daughter. And my brother — whom I come to love and appreciate more ever day — became engaged to a nice young woman who obviously loves him. Most importantly, I’m still the husband to an absolutely wonderful woman and father to an incredible 3-year-old girl.

I’ve noticed since high school graduation that life seems to move pretty fast — faster every year, it seems. Ferris Bueller was right, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” I have to confess that I’m one of those people who can easily become so engaged with projects and work that I forget to “look around.”

That’s why it’s probably a good thing that Christmas is so close to New Year’s Day. The combination of the two forces us to reflect on where we have spent our time, and what we have done with our minutes, and the whole time the birth of Jesus looms over us reminding us of what is most important. As I reflect on my year, it’s not the projects or production that make me feel like the person of the year, it’s the people whom I love the most that make me feel special, wanted, and loved. Those are the things that last.

Plus, you have to remember, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Nikita Kruschev have all been Time’s “Person of the Year.” Not the best company!

Merry Christmas.