A Perspective on Fear

One of the ways that I get out of the Christian bubble is by volunteering my time as a police chaplain. It makes for some interesting stories to be sure. I was on a ride-a-long last friday and I got into some great conversations with the officer I rode with. I asked him all sorts of questions. One of them was “Do you ever get afraid?” His anwer kind of startled me.

“Never.”

“Really?” I said. To me, I thought he might have just been trying to be macho or keeping up with the tough cop image. Lucky for me he must have seen my perplexed look and he felt compelled to elaborate.

“I trust in my training and the other officers around me. What is there to be afraid of?”

“I don’t know, the unknown?” I confidently fired back. And then it dawned on me how lame I sounded. Was I afraid of something?

I have been replaying that conversation in my mind all week. What if I viewed my Christian life like this? What if I looked fear in the face and gave it no concern because I was so confident in my God and in those who God had put around me? And I began to see a beautiful image of how we should act as believers. Suddenly, 2 Timothy 1:7 makes more sense. We are not to live with fear and uncertainty of the unknown, but with confidence and passion that we are well equipped for what is before us. Bring on the unknown.

Jim and Casper

I had the opportunity to interview Jim Henderson and Matt Casper, the authors of the book, Jim and Casper Go to Church. Jim is a former pastor and Matt is an athiest. They went across the country and evaluated different church experiences. In part of the conversation Matt talks about what he feels when people try to get him to come to church by threatening him with hell. His answer is provactive and insightful.

(CASPER) “I’m not interested in going to your church because I’m scared about hell. What kind of starting point for any kind of relationship is that?”

(JIM) “For example, when you hear that question, it’s like someone coming up to you and saying…”

(CASPER) “What would you do if I told you your wife was screwing around on you right now? It’s really a very uncomfortable, negative thing to say to someone. And it’s definitely not a starting point for a friendship or any type of relationship. And so I’ve never been a big subscriber of that when people threaten me with hell. C’mon, give me a break. So the nature of communicating with anybody is about finding common ground.”

Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell

I just read Oren Harari’s leadership book about Colin Powell and was very impressed. It’s not a biography and it’s not written by Powell so it doesn’t matter whether you are a fan of him or not. It’s probably the best leadership book I’ve ever read. There is too much to quote (I drained a few highlighters) but let me highly recommend this to any leader.

Hooray for 100!

So I just noticed that I have reached 100 comments on my blog and I thought that was worth a small celebration. So put a bright hat on and dance around for a little bit. It’s the small things in life that are the best to enjoy… 200 here we come!

Into the Wild

I just read this book by Jon Krakauer and I found it absolutely fascinating. It is soon to be made into a movie so I’d read it before then if you have the chance.

It tells the story of a guy named Chris McCandless whose body is found dead in an abandoned bus in a remote part of Alaska (I’m not giving anything away here, it says this on the cover of the book.) It is the story of the last few years of his life as he hitchhikes across the US and Mexico and eventually into Alaska. What is so great about the book is that it’s a collection of people’s first hand experiences with him, exerpts from his own diary, and quotes from books that he highlighted that were found with his body. It speaks volumes into the idea of adventure and community, or lack thereof.

I don’t agree with his stance on everything, but I’ve learned a lot of insights from his perspective. Here is part of a letter that he wrote to someone:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiaitive to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Pour Your Heart Into It

My wife and I have had an ongoing irony in our marriage from day one. She has a passion for coffee and loves Starbucks and has even worked at at least three different stores in two states. But I never really “acquired the taste.” This has been much to the frustration of my wife and many others. Still, I have sat on the sidelines intrigued by the success of Starbucks even though it was never my thing. Recently, I read a book by Howard Shultz, CEO and Chairman of Starbucks, called Pour Your Heart Into It. It has changed my tune.

Like many other critics of Starbucks I always viewed it as a viral infection taking over the world one store at a time. Every time I sneezed I looked up to see another store even closer to me than before. But after reading Shultz’s book I realize that many people don’t know the true Starbucks story or just how great a leader Howard Shultz really is. The book tells all about the many oppositions that he has faced in the life of the company. The thing that stood out to me the most was just how passionate he was for what he was doing. And I started to reflect on what this would look like in the church. For example, read a few of these exerpts and then apply the thinking to church.

“I had never heard anyone talk about the product the way Jerry talked about coffee. He wasn’t calculating how to maximize sales, he was providing people with something he believed they ought to enjoy. It was an approach to business, and to selling, that was as fresh and novel to me as the Starbucks coffee we were drinking.”

“What we proposed to do at [Starbucks], I told them, was to reinvent a commodity. We would take something old and tired and common–coffee–and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We would rediscover the mystique and charm that had swirled around coffee throughout the centuries.”

The last passage is especially intriguing to me. Imagine reading something like this about the church. “We will take something old and tired and common–the local church–and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We will rediscover the mystique and charm that has swirled around the church throughout the centuries.” It sounds like the church in Acts 2. I wish half of the Christians today had the same amount of passion for seeing people meet Jesus and experience Him in community that Starbucks has for something as trivial and fleeting as coffee. Keep it brewing Howard.