Category Archives: Leadership

Fog of War

Seems like everyday someone famous is dying.  It’s really too bad that a great man like Robert McNamara who died this week at age 93 isn’t being talked about because of America’s need to worship the King of Pop.  McNamara, who defined the role of Secretary of Defense in the US and played a huge role in involvement in the Vietnam War. 

Like so many people do when they reach their later years, McNamara deeply struggled with how he lived his life. His particular struggle was over his beliefs and participation in war.  It was about year ago that my close friend, Ian shared with me a documentary called, “Fog of War”.  Both of us had spent a lot of time discussing the tension of what exactly is patriotism and where does it fit in the life of a Christ-follower.  It’s not that we didn’t want to love our country…but how do we love our country and reject some of the many things that seem to define patriotism?

I went home that afternoon and rented “Fog of War”.  It’s a chilling, honest, and heart-wrenching documentary on the life and career of Robert McNamara.  My eyes were opened to how our military system works, the kind of power the Sec. of  Defense has, and just how easy it is to make a mess of this world.

But why the film remains one of the most important I’ve ever seen, is because of how McNamara looks into the lens of the camera and pours out every emotion and struggle that he was left to live with.  Questions…regrets…shame…

Have you seen it?  What were some of your thoughts from it?  Did it change any of your beliefs about war?

Love and Peace.

Advertisements

Resting in Love

It’s 6:30am, and I’m sitting at the ktichen table watching the sun rise over the distant tree-line.  One would think this is a perfect way to spend an early morning, except I’m not enjoying it all that much.  We have a 5 month old baby who is learning his way in the art of sleep and the last two weeks have been brutal!  Really, it’s been since before he was born that I had a night of uninteruppted sleep and it’s starting to catch up to me.  So…I wish I was in bed and not looking at a sunrise.

Now that I’m done complaining about me…there is one thing that I’m very excited about in life.  The journey of learning to sabbath.  I know…not very exciting, is it. 

Througout the grand-narrative of scripture, we see God’s plan and desire for restoration.  In both big and small ways, the Bible clearly paints a picture of people being spiritually restored back to a place where God’s presence becomes central to their existence .  Hearts, minds, bodies…being restored.

One of the plans God has restoration is through the discipline of rest, or Sabbath. The Sabbath as Jesus reminded the religious people of his day was made for us, not us for the Sabbath.  It was Jesus’ way of saying that God designed us to be people who work, but that all of our work and accomplishments will never make God love us more. 

God loves us not for what we do, but for who we are!

I’m at a time in my life where being a husband, a father of three young children, and a pastor to a church is both incredibly rewarding and stressful.  To be those three things in healthy, God-honoring ways is not easy!  I would love more sleep, but what I really need is rest.  I look forward to a week’s vacation next month, but for my heart and mind to be restored back to a place where God is central to my existence…I need a day each week where I learn to rest in God’s love. 

Yesterday happened to be a day of rest for me.  Spending the day outside (ferry ride, picnic, and park) with my family.  Work was far from my mind…I chose to see parenting as a blessing and not something to survive…I put away my lists of things I’m working on or thinking through…prayed and reflected on God’s unconditional love as much as I could.  This was Sabbath, and while I wish I were in bed right now catching up on months of lost sleep…I feel ready for a long week of work. 

A day of rest is something I need to practice.  I need to model it for my family.  I need to remember that God desires to use me and speak to me even when I’m NOT busy with work.  Sabbath is about knowing my place…to be restored back to my place of knowing God and His love…to remember that my work as a pastor could never define my existence in this world the way unconditional love desires to.  It’s a tough journey for me…

Love and Peace.

Using business skills for social good

Last week I was informed by a good friend that Northwest University in Kirkland, Wa. is getting set to launch a new and Master’s program in Social Entrepreneurship.  This is a great opportunity for someone who desires to one day start a non-profit, or for urban pastors who are realizing the cultural changes taking place and the need for a shift in some of our approach to reaching our communities.

This Friday the 27th at 7pm, Northwest University will be hosting a free lecture with guest speaker Victoria Trabosh.  Victoria is the founder of Itafari, a non-profit working to help genocide survivors in Rwanda.  She has 31 years of business experience and now gives her life to helping others learn to use their skills in the world of social change.

It’s free, so if you’ve got a heart for this kind of thing and nothing else to do…you should go!  Here’s the link to register…

Love and Peace.

A knock at midnight

In being a pastor over the last 12 years I have had my fair share of doubt and questions for God.  I’ve been tired to the point of almost quitting, discouraged to the point of exhaustion, and simply felt alone.  Today as I woke up the first thing I did was to listen to some of Martin Luther King’s speeches and sermons. 

In listening to them and thinking about tomorrow’s Inauguration, I can’t help but celebrate America.  I’m excited about Obama’s leadership and the hope he’s bringing to the world.  But today really isn’t about Obama.  It’s about America.  We’re far from perfect, but as a nation we’ve come together in ways MLK only dreamt of.

One particular speech that struck me was MLK’s sermon called “A Knock at Midnight”, in which he talks openely about the personal pain of standing up for justice.  He admits his loneliness and times of being afraid.  The corresponding video reminds us how ugly things were in the south, and I’m left to believe it can only be because of God and His faithfulness to heal and work through people that we now have a holiday in honor of MLK.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”  Martin Luther King

I hope that you find some comfort in his words as well as the courage needed to live for love. 

Love and Peace.

change we really should beleive in

I’m getting very excited for Tuesday the 20th!  It’s Inauguration Day and history will be made as the world watches the first African-american President sworn into the White House.  Whether you voted for President-elect Obama or not, we all must realize the importance and impact of this day.

Obama’s thing has been change.  He has spent the better part of the last 2 years working to convince Americans that his leadership, wisdom, character and integrity will provide “change we can believe in”.  I’m hopeful, and so far I’ve been fairly impressed with most of the people he’s chosen to bring around him.  But there’s something deeper happening than faces who fill cabinet spaces or government positions.  There’s more than a changing of the guard…there’s a change in words.  Big change!

Yesterday I was watching the news and catching up on the events leading to next Tuesday, when I heard Senator Clinton speaking before a committee as she shared her vision for being Secretary of State.  She spoke very clearly about engaging with Iran.  Not in war terms, but in conversation terms.  This is one change for sure as our new President honestly believes we can respectfully converse with world leaders, while still maintaining a strong defense against world terrorism. 

But the biggest change we’re seeing is the words they are choosing to use.  Yesterday Iran and other threatening nations were called “rigorous adversaries”.  That should catch our attention!  They weren’t referred to as the “axis of evil”, “the enemy”, “those people”, or “the others”. 

The words that are being used show us that they are being thoughtful about the use of our words and how they impact the world.  They aren’t being wimpy or weak…but respectful and intelligent. 

As a Christ-follower this matters to me and I for one believe in that kind of change.  It doesn’t change the fact that there is evil at work, but it will help the world see how much fear we live with and have been convinced of by our poor use of words.  We are a great nation and if we’re to model greatness, it should not be done with threats or by casting fear, but with respect and a humble confidence!

Love and Peace.

you thought our congress was bad…

Apparently the US and South Korea are tangled up in a huge mess as both sides try and make some trade deals.  The South Korean Parliament is divided with those who oppose the deal being locked out of the meetings.  The NY Times ran these crazy pictures today which show us just how intense other governments can be.

Here’s a picture of people locked out as they desperatley try and break through the barriers…

Here’s what happened to those same guys once they broke through…

Note to self: When wanting to enter a South Korean meeting…knock first!

I can just picture this in Washington DC as little Nancy Pelosi fends of the conservatives with brass knuckles and nunchucks!  Now that would be news worth watching!!!

Love and Peace.

Why Stories Matter…

The other day while having lunch with my friend Parker, we got to sharing some stories of people we know who have had some incredible life-change.  It was one of the moments where we were both reminded of how powerful and important it is to engage into others’ stories…because stories shape our lives and remind us that each of us a part of something much bigger than ourselves!

One of my more recent friends is Jeff Greer.  Jeff is an amazing song-writer and singer, who has a passion for those in our world caught in the injustice of slavery, and for the local homeless here in Seattle.  Specifically, the Nickelsville community in the UW district.  A community of homeless people who have been treated unfairly by the city and Mayor Nickels. 

Jeff has been spending his Monday nights with these people singing, listening, and learning.  Recently, Jeff shared this video on Facebook.  It’s a story…one that matters.

Jeff is a good man, whom I believe God is using more than he realizes.  People like Beau are seeing Jesus through guys like Jeff who have slowed down just enough to give his Monday’s to be with the homeless, and now they are the ones I’m sure who are encouraging, teaching and giving hope to Jeff! 

Funny how that always seems to happen…makes me wonder why I don’t serve more!

Love and Peace.