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Getting to Global Zero

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

Why I Twitter (and you should too).

I’ve had a hard time convincing my wife and others like her why I Twitter. “Why do you use twitter? What’s the point? Isn’t Twitter just another in long line of mouthpieces for self-obsessed people with delusions of grandeur? Don’t people just post inane information about themselves in the vacant hope that someone will care?” These kinds of questions and taunts are routine and have recently been asked by my favorite sports talk show host, Jim Rome, who spent a good portion of his show last week mocking Twitter and those who tweet.mm_twitter

If you’re wondering whether or not some of the folks tweeting are self-obsessed and tweet only about their mundane lives, yes some are. I don’t follow those people! Those folks serve little purpose, and I’ve put the public on notice that those who tweet about what they’re having for lunch run the risk of being “unfollowed.” Still there are a great many people who use Twitter to great effectiveness for their mission, message and tribe. I think primarily of Michael Hyatt, Guy Kawasaki, Tim Sanders and others. And you can too.

Let me give you some reasons why I think Twitter is a powerful resource.

  • Impact. Through tweeting you can get your message in front of a lot more people. Because your text is limited to 140 characters, you can’t blather on, but you can inform, encourage, and direct your audience. Plus, they don’t have to come to you like a blog post. You go to them. All you have to do is figure out a way for them to follow you. I used to blog in this space quite a bit. Quite frankly, it got to be a hassle. I was an early-comer to blogging, and the medium has changed significantly over the last five years. One thing that was always true though was that to have a high readership I had to post 4+ times per week. Many times I didn’t have that much to say! With Twitter now, I simply reference that a new post is up and hundreds of people can potentially see it within minutes. The same number of readers it took days to accumulate, now access the blog within the first hour it’s posted. This combined with retweets has exploded blog readership (though not comments to my discontent). My impact is now far wider, and because of it, I can post just once a week and my content is generally stronger. This is a win-win when your message is the Kingdom of God. I reach more people with my messages through the web (blog + podcast + Twitter + facebook) than I do on a Sunday morning. Maybe up to 4 times as many. That’s an impact for God’s Kingdom. Brought to you by twitter!
  • Knowledge. Twitter, more than anything else, gets knowledge and information to me fast. I learned of Michael Jackson’s death, the uprising in Iran and countless other news items through Twitter. Most of the time, someone on Twitter “breaks” the story before traditional news agencies. An easy criticism is that the folks on Twitter can post anything and we should be slow to trust what we read there. That is a possibility, however, my experience has been that Twitter-ers, like me, are incredibly concerned with their own credibility and treating their followers as friends. We are generally slow to throw a disprovable “fact” against the wall. Interestingly, it has been those in the news media, politics and public life who most often tweet first and think later. More than that, I follow the tweets of people in the same industry I’m in or want to be in or those who have something to teach me. They direct me to great information that I’m blessed to know. I’ve learned about writing, leadership, marketing, technology, missional living and ministry by following people who know more about those things than I do. I draw from the wisdom of Andy Stanley, Greg Daniel, Donald Miller, Rick Warren and others without paying a dime to hear them at a conference. I know what they’re reading, what they’re thinking, and how they are working with and leading organizations. For free.
  • Followers Become Friends. I have friends on Twitter that are not my friends in the conventional sense. I have spent little or no time with Dave Lemley, Greg Kendall-Ball, Travis Stanley, Darin Campbell and others, but we share both a common faith heritage and common perspective on U.S. and world events. I’m allowed to dialogue with them about those particular items and build relationships with them though I’ve never spent more than an hour with any one of them. In other cases I follow and am followed by people like David Christian whom I have never met, yet we’ve had many discussions. That’s just cool! It’s a glimpse of heaven where we will know and be fully known.

  • Thinking. Like all writing, tweeting makes you think about what you think. Do you really want to advocate that position? Is this something I should post without being able to enter a conversation or give some background? How can I be coherent in 140 characters (in 119 characters if I want to be retweeted)?

I encourage tweeting and am trying to discern ways that I can incorporate it in meaningful ways during church services, and classes and with our staff.

To get started on Twitter, check here, here and here.

What It Says… (Authentically Black)

I believe deeply in our democratic process and the need we, as Americans, have to participate in our electoral process. I’ve written about this current presidential more than most. This, I think, is the most important election of my relatively brief life (34-years). That’s why I thought what Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) said Sunday morning on Meet The Press was both beautifully articulate and powerful.  Please note, Gen. Powell is endorsing a candidate, but I am not. What I’m interested in is what he says about the American Experiment. Embedded in his words are the hopes and dreams of our founders. He rejects narrow politics, racism and heralds inclusion and conversation. I continue to find Colin Powell a singular man, worthy of respect from all.

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I heard Powell tell the story of the young Muslim man who was killed serving this country, my country. It was simply beautiful, stirring in me the deepest aspirations, and love for what we can be as a country. It was clear — in these days of sound-bite politics, robocalls, negative campaigning and slanderous accusations — that Gen. Powell is a focused, thoughtful and deliberate man, whether you like and agree with what he says or not. What he says, and the way he said it, indeed says a lot about him.

Of course, folks like Rush Limbaugh fired off their belief that Powell endorsed Obama merely out of racial considerations. Limbaugh wrote, “Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I’ll let you know what I come up with.”  With all respect to Mr. Limbaugh, are we really expected to believe that Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is incapable of seeing past his own race? Are we supposed to believe that a man of his stature makes decisions based on one factor? Do you sincerely believe that black people align with other black people simply because of our shared race. If so, you are wrong. And I urge you to spent 5 minutes in your local African-American barbershop. Mr. Limbaugh, you are surely insane. You are insane if for no other reason than if Colin Powell was that desperate to see a black President, then he could have already. It could have been him! Sadly (and I do mean sadly), I’m listening to Pat Buchannon say much of the same things Limbaugh says. Is this what white Americans thinks about black Americans? Race is ALL that we are capable of considering. I fear that is the case. I can’t tell you how many people have assumed that since I’m black I am voting for Obama.  Apparently — to some people — I am little more than a skin color.

To Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Buchannon, I say this: If you think that black people are incapable of voting for a black person for reasons other than race, then that says more about you — and your views about race — than ours.

Donald Miller Words, Indeed

The text of Donald Miller’s closing benediction from Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.

 

“Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.

Amen.”

Don Imus …

I’ve been extremely busy that last few weeks, so a lot of my thoughts have gone unblogged. But if you’re interested in what I think about the Don Imus fiasco, click here.

I think Whitlock is on to something. What’s more, Whitlock is a smart, thoughtful columnists, who had previously been berated by Imus over another issue.