15 January 2015

Reflections on a Paris Peace March

Consider some paradoxical thoughts about the peace march earlier this week in Paris, in the aftermath of the attacks in that city.
       1. Everyone wants peace for themselves. Even anarchists want to live in a secure and safe environment. The peace march demonstrated this primal urge;
       2. Some evil acts cause enemies to build a bridge to stand against the evil;
       3. Why was President Obama or his representative missing?;
       4. There is a fine line between free expression and lack of decency. It was barbaric what terrorists did in murdering people from the satirical magazine. However, it is rude and undignified to draw cartoons ridiculing Mohammed (or Jesus, or Buddha, or other iconic figures);
       5. The problem in Europe is less with Islam "inviting" and more about Christianity "fading." Something always fills the spiritual vacuum, which has been created by more than a century of secularization in Europe. What Europe desperately needs is a spiritual revival of millions of people following Jesus in a new way.

12 January 2015

My Diverse Interests

Last week someone commented on the many and diverse involvements that I have. It is true that I do a variety of things, and I hope they are with purpose and intention. So here is an overview:
     1. I care about diversity of culture, beliefs, and lifestyle and the intersection of all of this. This is the impetus behind The Isaac-Ishmael Initiative which I began four years ago.
     2. I care about equity economically and socially, especially in the Two-Thirds world where most people live in abject poverty. This is why I am involved with a great relief and development agency, Dorcas Aid International.
     3. I umpire youth and adult baseball for about 5 months per year, because I love the game and because it puts me in touch with real people living life in their own way. Umpiring reminds me of my blue-collar roots in New York and keeps me grounded.
     4. My wife and I have raised Labrador Retriever puppies for the last few years, because we love animals and embrace the 8 weeks of chaos, sleep deprivation, and joy that puppies bring to us and to the families who adopt them.
     5. I serve in my local church, Denver Community Church, because being in community should not be an option. Church is messy at times. But the alternative is isolation and that's just hell.
     6. For many years I have had a deep concern for and involvement in leadership, which led me to start a company called Step Up Enterprises that I run with my great business partner, Lizzy Wagner. We believe that everyone has a next step, even if it is the tiniest baby step. We have a counseling section and a consulting section - in both we help people and organizations through the many challenges and stresses of life.
     So these are my diverse and varied interests. What I hope motivates me the most is that I know I only have a certain number of days on earth and I don't want to waste time. I want to make the very most of the life I have been given.

06 January 2015

The Core of Shalom

This is from my friend Tim Addington and his newly released book, "Deep Influence." For me this is at the heart of shalom.
"One of my greatest fears is that I would settle for a shallow heart, becoming distracted by strategies, activities, and “accomplishing the mission”—all good pursuits, but not the foundation of lasting influence. Growing deep with God and allowing His character to transform me ensures that my leadership emanates from a mature spiritual and emotional core. Shallow hearts and minds do not lead to deep influence!"
~ T.J. Addington in Deep Influence

05 January 2015

Bono on Jesus

This is from the A to Z new year's letter by Bono, posted on the U2 website:

At this time of year some people are reminded of the poetic as well as the historic truth that is the birth of Jesus. The Christmas story has a crazy good plot with an even crazier premise - the idea goes, if there is a force of love and logic behind the universe, then how amazing would it be if that incomprehensible power chose to express itself as a child born in shit and straw poverty. 
       Who could conceive of such a story? If you believe it was the protagonist, as I do, then we should try to be really respectful of people who think the whole thing is a bit nutty or worse... Religious people are the best and worst of us...handle us with scepticism... 
       Strangely, maybe, some of the most rational thinkers see some kind of cosmic sense in all this... Francis Collins, who led the human genome project, is an obvious one… the language of science and faith are not necessarily at odds.... 
       But back to the Christmas story that still brings me to my knees - which is a good place for me lest I harm myself or others. Christmas is not a time for me to overthink about this child, so vulnerable, who would grow so strong... to teach us all how vulnerability is the route to strength and, by example, show us how to love and serve. 
       To me this is not a fairy tale but a challenge. I preach what I need to hear... 

02 January 2015

C.S. Lewis on Peace

"Not all kinds of peace are compatible with all kinds of goodwill, nor do all those who say 'Peace, peace' inherit the blessing  promised to the peacemakers." ~ "God in the Dock"

01 January 2015

Shalom Begins with "We"

Shalom begins in a community - "let us create man in our image," says God at the creation. It was the dawn of shalom, when darkness was replaced with light.
       Thousands and thousands of years later modern man has made shalom into a ME rather than a WE.
       And there can be no shalom when it is singular. Shalom is always plural and many - we, our, us.
       The moment we consider shalom as "the many" rather than "the one" we are faced with the question: Who is the many? Another way to ask it is, Who is my neighbor?
       Increasingly, the answer to that question is a great challenge. Often times our neighbor or work colleague or grocery assistant is not like me. He or she is "other" - other culture, other language, other skin color, other faith tradition.
      It is into this otherness that I believe God calls us to shalom. The "we" of shalom is diverse and scattered and multi. This is the journey to shalom.