45 Things I Want in a Presidential Candidate

A year from now we will (very possibly) have a new president-elect in the U.S. As a registered voter in California, I will have zero influence in deciding the election. But that doesn’t keep me from having opinions about what kind of candidate I’d like to see succeed in becoming America’s 45th president. If I did happen to live in a state like Iowa, New Hampshire, or one of the other “primary” battlegrounds where my vote might feasibly matter, I would be looking to cast a vote for a presidential candidate who fit the following qualifications. Are there any good candidates out there?

We Have to Occupy Something

What exactly is the purpose of Occupy Wall Street? Apart from a vague sense of it  being the liberal progressives’ counterpart to the Tea Party, and a coalition of unionists, anti-capitalists and mad-as-hell twentysomethings angry about the rising cost of Netflix and Facebook’s infuriating shape-shifting, it’s sort of unclear.

As a “movement,” Occupy Wall Street doesn’t reveal an organized grassroots agenda as much as it represents a general climate of anger, frustration, and antagonism against the “haves”–a suspiciously narrow (1%), heartless, no good very bad group whose entrepreneurial success and capitalistic success apparently oppress the 99% of us have-nots who are being unfairly kept from sharing in the 1 percent’s riches.

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Water Like Gold (only much more valuable!)

Peter Ole Kukan is a long-time Maasai friend of ours.  He sat on our porch yesterday morning and, in the process of chewing the news, let us know that women in his village are walking 2 hours each direction for water these days.  They fill jerry cans on the backs of donkeys then begin the 2 hour journey home again. Over the next couple of days, the water is doled out like the precious commodity it is.  Not a drop is wasted.  

Have you ever seen how dirty your hands get milking a cow?  Or handling a goat?  Or just living life in a place where water doesn't flow out of taps on-demand?  

I wonder how many times I wash my hands in the course of a day...

I'd like to think I'm pretty careful with water.  I consider myself aware.  I'd like to believe I'm good about electricity, as well.  We don't leave lights on that don't actually need to be on.  We've changed most of our bulbs to energy-savers.  

Take Action Bible

Last year ConversantLife is partnered with Thomas Nelson, Inc. and World Vision in a unique and biblical campaign called "God's Word in Action." Through this comprehensive campaign, Thomas Nelson's Bible Group pledged $100,000 to World Vision to help eradicate poverty and preventable deaths among children.

As a follow up to this inspiring campaign, Thomas Nelson has introduced the Take Action Bible as a way to encourage everyday people and families to put their own faith into action by serving Jesus somwhere in the world, whether it's at home or abroad.

"If you had asked me a year ago if I would travel to a third world country to build a home for someone who did not have a home, my answer would have been, 'Not right now.' Ask me that same question today,  and my answer would be, 'Absoluely yes.'" Such is the dynamic testimony of Jason and Lisa, who traveled with seven friends to Haiti, where they built two homes in connection with a local church.

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Not Something to Cheer

A few weeks ago at the GOP presidential debate, some in the crowd cheered as Rick Perry defended his record on the death penalty. It was a horrifying thing to watch. Why is anyone cheering for the death penalty? Regardless of one’s political stance on capital punishment, it seems to me that at best it is a necessary evil–but certainly not something to be celebrated.

Perhaps sparked by the Rick Perry / audience cheering debate, the Washington Post has featured an array of columns on the issue of capital punishment in its “On Faith” column in recent weeks. Among other things, the columns have illustrated just how diverse the opinions are on this issue, even among Christians.

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Troy Davis & The New Jim Crow: It Could've Been Me

As I sit here stunned and a bit silenced, I’m befounded by the decision to murder a man with no physical evidence, witnesses who recant their testimony, another shooter identified, and a pile of evidence pointing to doubt in the murder of an off duty police officer, Mark MacPhail. If you are unfamiliar with what has been happening here, then simply type in Troy Davis into any search engine and read up on the facts. Kevin Powell, Lisa Guerrero have written some amazing pieces and Jasiri X has had an amazing push for the stay of execution for Troy Davis that you can read as well.
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9/11: Memorials, Heroes, and the absence of God.

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, I have noticed some confusion within myself as to how to deal with the tragic events which occurred on that day ten years ago.  One is how we have identified that horrible day by numbers on the callendar instead of a name.  Perhaps this reflects our tech savy age?  Past generations do not identify with 12/7/41 or even 12/41.  What am I referring to?  The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, or perhaps “the day that will live in infamy”.   To prior generations, a day of national significance in our nation’s history marked merely by a number would resemble something more along the lines of communicating in morse code.  Althought 9/11 triggers a memory of what we experienced both collectively and individually, to identify the day with a date instead of a name leaves a certain amount of ambivalence.

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Why are we at the Center of the World?

Two weeks ago, my son and I watched the reports on CNN concerning Somalia together. Afterwards, we had dinner and my eight year old prayed for the children who don’t have food and gave thanks for his own food. This is pretty normal in our house, so that isn’t the part I remember many days later. What I remember is his question during dinner moreso than the prayer before we ate.


“Dad, why is all the news about America, when there are so many other people and so many other countries in the world?”

He’s got a point. Why are we at the center of the world? And if we’re not, then why do we act like we are? Now, don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t a rant that smacks of being unpatriotic or hyper critical of the U.

Simple Giving – Do the Easiest Thing First for 9/11

Simple Giving – Do the Easiest Thing First


As we come to 9-11 it is easy to think big but it is better to think small.


Inevitably when I speak on my book Humanitarian Jesus the question comes up – “How do we actually start giving ourselves away?  How do we start serving our neighbor?”


I think the problem is that when we try to tackle slavery, water, poverty, or massive trauma like 9-11, Katrina, etc. it is difficult to find a foot-hold.  We see the “big guys” making huge impact.  Million dollar gifts, bailing out on life and diving in as a volunteer, shifting giant organizations to a new focus.  These are all very good – but not the fundamental basis of humanitarian investment.

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Rescued from Hell on Disneylands Doorstep

"Once we started looking for it - and almost stopped ignoring it - we started finding it everywhere."  - Sergeant Craig Friesen, head of Anaheim's vice unit. 

The CNN Freedom Project site headlined an incredible story of justice and bravery today. The setting of the story told is geographically in my backyard. Literally steps from the “the happiest place on Earth” (Disneyland, Anaheim), a 17-year old girl was trapped hell on Earth; child prostitution.  Friesen, working as an undercover, arranged to meet the child at the Disneyland Hotel for what she thought was a typical day in her life servicing “Johns” with sex. God had a different plan in store for her today! Friesen and his team from Anaheim PD showed up, arrested the pimp and treated the girl, and another girl they were able to locate, as victims of human trafficking and not as criminal prostitutes.  

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