Where will you go this Year?

In Elton Trueblood's book entitled Lessons in Spiritual Leadership, he notes that Abraham Lincoln's leadership was influenced not only by a growing self-awareness and events of real suffering, but he was also influenced by Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Washington D.C.

In 2015, I found myself in: New York, Italy, East Africa, the Netherlands, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington D.C. and a host of other spots. And my worldview is impacted at various points along the way. Now, if you believe a worldview is simply a stoic framework, then you probably have a bit of trouble with the idea that a sense of place can impact one's own awareness. Yet, I dare say that we are all influenced by and influencers of the places we find ourselves in.

How you influence those places that you pass through and how those same places influence you matter.

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Year in Review: Barna’s Top 10 Findings

In its 30-year history, Barna Group has conducted more than one million interviews over the course of hundreds of studies, and has become a go-to source for insights about faith and culture, leadership and vocation, and generations. Barna Group has carefully and strategically tracked the role of faith in America, developing one of the nation’s most comprehensive databases of spiritual indicators. Barna Group works with thousands of business, nonprofit organizations and churches across the U.S. and around the world,

With the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, a jump in concerns about religious freedom, and an overall secularization of Americans’ views, 2015 was a year of increasing anxiety among people of faith. Barna compiled its top 10 findings and trends from a vast array of research conducted in the past 12 months:

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Main Street; Morrison, Illinois

Is home the same place you grew up?

Hopefully, you don't think the question is stupid, mundane, or trivial. I think it's important because I think most people are searching for home. Current refugees are in search of a place where good wins out and where they can put down roots and live in peace. Soldiers fight for our homeland. We lock doors at night because we want to protect loved ones and because we want to rest at home.

Yet, my current home is not where I grew up--though Morrison remains my hometown. My stepfather's real estate office is on Main Street, right across from where the bakery used to be--where my grandfather bought me donuts every Friday morning during my middle school and high school years. There is an annual 'paint the town' event on Main Street and it's where homecoming parades marched down and I remember the storefronts being decorated for some home basketball games.

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221B Baker Street

One of the most famous addresses in the world isn't a real one. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character who lived in London at 221B Baker Street. It's a place people went to for help and the address still looms large.
What address comes to mind when you are at your wit's end? In recent current events, we will have heard now of Syria and we understand that we have a history with Russia. We know that refugees seeking help are seeking also an address--a place where one can either call home or visit to feel at home. I can tell you that I grew up on Henry Rd and later moved to Portland Avenue and Heaton Street. Most people could care less, but I knew where I received mail and I knew a place that was called mine.
It's what we want leaders to protect when they go to war.
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Twenty Years of Amazon

by Stan Jantz

It’s been 20 years since Amazon launched a website that changed the world. Okay, that may be overstating things a bit, but it most definitely changed my world. I was the happy owner of a large chain Christian retail stores, doing business the way booksellers had been doing business for centuries: stock a bunch of books, provide a nice environment in a good location with a friendly, knowledgeable staff, and you were pretty much guaranteed to be successful.

When Amazon.com was launched, I was curious, so I registered just to see how it worked. Remember, in 1995 there were no search engines, no Google, no ecommerce of any kind. Smart phones wouldn’t appear for another 12 years. There was just the Internet and email, and both were more novelties than necessities. So the notion of buying my favorite commodity through a computer fascinated me.

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Advice to Boomers: Think Like a Millennial

I had a conversation with my neighbor that got me thinking about the nature of work these days. My neighbor retired from his career as a radiology oncologist last year. He was just 62. As he has reminded me over the years, “I’m the doctor you don’t want to see.”

He certainly helped a lot of people extend their lives, but he also saw a lot of death. “All of those cases accumulate and finally they get to you,” he told me. Besides, he observed, if you do just one thing all your life, there finally comes a time when you say, “I don’t want to do that any more.” So he retired.

I suspect a lot of people in my Boomer generation are in this place right now. Those who can afford to retire have done so or are strongly thinking about it. Those who aren’t there financially wish they could be. I feel for those who are ready to retire but have no choice but to keep their nose to the grindstone. I have no words of wisdom for them.

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That Time Pain & Joy Collided in a Court Yard in Congo

Years ago I found myself standing in an open area wedged between two buildings with a young boy who had a fierce case of the giggles. I would simply look at him and he’d crack up. I will never forget the sound of that sweet laughter or the dark almond shaped eyes of that little boy. He wore faded and worn pink overalls and his bare feet danced around the concrete floor as he laughed.

The memory and sound of his joy-filled laughter is forever etched in my mind. It wasn’t just the sweet laughter that marks this moment unforgettable; it was the culmination of so many emotions and thoughts that this particular place triggered within me.

Tags | Global

Gotham City

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in the world of Batman. Since I was pre-kindergarten, I used a towel  for a cape and donned a mask and tried to save the city against the likes of the Joker, the Penguin, or the Riddler. The truth remains: I still am a fan of the Dark Knight.

In fact, let me point out a few similarities.

We have the same initials: BW.

We both can point to emotional distress and loss as a catalyst for certain decisions and actions.

We both are more nocturnal than the average person and both have a rather tight inner circle. Oh, and there’s more, but you are already rolling your eyes a bit, so I’ll stop here for now.

Teaching my Son to Be a World Class Christian

It was seven years ago today I returned from a trip to the beautiful Sub-Saharan African country Malawi. You can read more about that trip in past posts here and here.  

In the seven years since that experience, I married a wonderful man from Cameroon, began a new career in the pharmaceutical industry and had a sweet baby boy named Justice. With all of that change, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel abroad since Malawi and I miss it like California misses the rain.

Nine years ago I loaded up my car and high tailed it to America’s north east to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS), leaving southern California in the dust. That decision came about after an incredible life changing experience visiting Kinshasa, DRC in 2003.

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Tags | Global

Upstate New York

Most people are busy. That's what we say to each other. 

"Hey, Fred, how are things? Are you keeping busy," asks Barney.

"Yep, looking forward to a break," says Fred.

And they pass each other thinking that that is good, normal, and productive. Keeping busy has become an expectation. We expect to be pulled in different directions and we expect others to also go from one activity to the next. And we hardly give such things a second thought.

But busyness is not a sign of good work or productivity. Busyness, in fact, may be a form of lazyness. It may be a way to avoid setting priorities and it may be a way to numb out and it may be something that is simply not good.

Traveling recently to upstate New York to get away, I found a sense of rhythm again. Unforced and unrehearsed. And guess what? I was still productive. I still managed to get some things done.

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