Category: Leadership

The Banner That Unites Us. Session 1— Loss

The Banner That Unites Us. Session 1— Loss

On the last day of a sabbatical I took this summer, I had a Zoom conference with my board and shared with them the themes I wanted to teach on in any Peregrine message spoken or written this fall. The themes are: Hope, Courage, Light, Peace, Joy and Unity.

They agreed and said, “Those are great. Go for it.” Then one man spoke up and said, “Craig, before we go to those themes, there is one more urgent one we have to be honest about. It’s Loss. We all have lost so much; it needs to be acknowledged in order for us to heal well.”

Oh, man, is he smart. And he’s right.

If we splatter superficial whitewash over our losses of this past half year, they will fester. If we pretend, we haven’t been affected, and even wounded, by what we are experiencing, we risk ongoing spiritual and emotional infection.

What have we lost?

  1. We have survived, so far, the worst global pandemic in a century. This hit home for me and my wife, Beryl, when she contracted what was diagnosed with the flu late February while traveling, then was hospitalized in Chicago for 11 days, including 5 in ICU.

She had severe pneumonia, atrial fibrillation and suffocating oxygen deprivation.

Back here in CO, I thought she just had the normal flu, until the cardiac doctor’s phone call informed me that she had a 20% chance of stroke.

Wait…what? Cardiac doctor?! Stroke?! What happened to the flu? She survived, thank God, but doctors here confirm she nearly died.

Some of you have lost a friend or loved one to COVID-19 in recent months. If so, I’m deeply sorry. I can’t imagine your loss and I grieve with you.

  1. We watched the greatest collapse of the economy and the largest spike in unemployment since the 1930’s. Perhaps you and your job are one of the casualties.

My son-in-law, Vince, in the hotel industry, was put on furlough for four months, before he unearthed a new job. My son, Conor, in the business travel industry, was just told his job had to be eliminated.

Certain industries may never be exactly the same again. I wonder about you…how is yours? Have you lost yours? Is it hanging by a thread? Do you complete your tasks, at home or at a workplace wondering if this will be the last day? That’s a loss.

  1. We are watching scenes of legitimate demonstration and protest, turn into indefensible destruction and violence. We witness occasions where police are being utterly demeaned, then turning on the public in rage-filled violence themselves. I wonder how I would react if I were them?

Downtown Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Portland and 200 additional American cities are covered with graffiti, profanity, destroyed police precincts, and the blood of fellow American citizens.

We are losing something essential as a society.

  1. We are torn, or at least I hope we are, by the agony of a growing sisterhood of African-American mothers who yet again mourn the loss of their sonswhose deaths are caught on body cams of the officers who shot or suffocated them.

Yet, we see the utter courage and patience of police officers who risk their lives every day to keep our society civil and safe. They sit on assignment in their cars, hoping the person who walks up to the door, one who may need help, isn’t packing a pistol with the intent to kill. This is an enormous loss on all sides.

  1. We watch with heartfelt disbelief the shredding of any sense of national unity and civility, as our political parties and leaders tear into one another with the intent to destroy rather than build.The divisiveness and hatred seem like the worst our nation has experienced since the 1960’s. Or perhaps, the 1860’s.

Our loss can hardly be measured.

  1. The west coast and Rocky Mountain regions of our nation still battle months-long raging infernos that have become the largest in history. Millions of acres, thousands of structures and dozens of lives have been lost.The southern gulf coast has had so many hurricanes we ran out of English alphabet options and have turned to Greek letters. As Romans 8 says, “All of Creation is groaning!”

Thank goodness, we don’t have a presidential mail-in ballot controversy that threatens to dissolve into a constitutional crisis. Oh, wait. Never mind.

Well at least we are spared yet another gut-wrenching battle over a Supreme Court appointment. Oh, wait…never mind

What in the world is going on?!What’s going on is the most overwhelming and destructive convergence of attacks against our physical, emotional and mental health in our lifetimes. It is a horrific, perfect storm that assaults us— heart, soul, mind and strength.

This convergence has left us damaged, on every level of our being. Last spring 1 in 15 American men admitted to feeling depressed. Now it’s 1 in 3. And those are the ones who were courageous enough to admit it. Think the actual number is higher? You bet it is.

I have a lifetime pastor friend who has courageously confessed in public his battle with depression and exhaustion. He’s far from alone. 93% of Americans admit to feeling depleted.

At the very least, when I honestly look in the mirror, and when I look in the face of an honest friend, I’d say we are WEARY. Weary to the core.

We are experiencing multi-faceted assault on levels that our hearts and minds were not built to withstand. The unending news cycle of disasters, the intensity of threats we read about or face, continue to pile up. This is an indescribable loss.

Ultimately, I believe at its foundation, what we are encountering is a spiritual battle hidden beneath the surface and beyond our imagination. Our hope for healing can only be spiritual and beyond our limited human capacity.

If we can’t truthfully acknowledge the personal impact of some, if not all, of what we are living through, then we risk remaining weary, depleted, or angry, indefinitely.

In Peregrine’s weekly men’s teaching and discussion experience, called The Journey, we have chosen this theme: The Banner That Unites Us. It’s a call to Unity. Not unity behind some clearly dysfunctional political party. Not unity to some flawed candidate we are regularly disappointed with. Not unity to some antifa or Alt-right political movement.

For we who call ourselves Christ-followers, we are called to unity far above any of those. It’s unity under the Kingdom to which we are called: The Kingdom of Heaven.

You may think, Craig, that sounds good, but what does that mean, Kingdom of Heaven? Please read this blog again next week. And the week after that. Each week we will explore themes for encouragement, guidance and inspiration. Hope, Courage, Light, Peace, Joy, Unity.

Better yet! Click here to see the first message I gave this week. Take a quick look to see what it’s like. If you would like to join us, all you need to do is register right here. The cost is $30 for 10 teaching sessions. If finances are tight for you right now, that hurdle is removed. Men have given scholarships so you can join us. Just select the Scholarship option and you’re in.

We will claim the promise of 2 Chron. 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Next week, we’ll take the next step in a journey of healing and encouragement. We’ll look at the subjects of Grief and Hope. I truly hope you’ll join me, and over 100 men from across the country, through this blog or through the teaching videos.

Please, don’t stay isolated. We want you. Join us.

“Do You Truly Love Me?”

Years ago I had a personal encounter with a passage from Scripture unlike any I’d had before. I realize that sounds dramatic. All I can say is, it’s the truth. In addition, it has a message for us in our current socially-isolated, safely-distanced world. In 1990 I was working at a terrific mission agency which […]

“Do You Truly Love Me?”
“It’s shocking. It’s awful. It’s tragic. There’s hope.”

“It’s shocking. It’s awful. It’s tragic. There’s hope.”

Those were my words when the first accusations against Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek, came out in the Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today last spring. My words were in response to a group of men who asked how it felt for me, knowing I had served on staff at the church for four years in the 1990’s.

Those words still hold true for me today; they are just stronger. As weeks have gone by more women have courageously stepped forward to reveal shocking stories of harassment, intimidation and inappropriate behavior they say they experienced from Hybels. He still denies the accusations and the elders are now re-investigating the claims, after months of their own denials and unkind characterizations against the women.

From the perspective of 20 years of distance following four years of immersion in the Willow Creek soil I pray for the following:

  1. That all the truth finally comes out. The scope and breadth of harmful behavior, crude touching or worse that Hybels apparently directed toward numerous women must come to light. As long as patterns remain hidden or denied they will remain festering and unhealed. For the sake of the women, for the church and for Hybels’ own emotional and spiritual health all of the truth needs to come out.
  1. For full confession and repentance from Hybels and the elders for their actions and words. Those who have harmed others privately and publicly must confess and repent privately and publicly. This means Hybels admits what he has done. This also means the elders and pastoral staff at the church, and leaders at the Willow Creek Association, many of whom have resigned and have begun to admit their previous errors, take personal responsibility for assumptions they made in defense of Hybels, as well as conclusions they reached and publicized against the women.
  1. For forgiveness when the time is right—for the women. I disagree with the apology approach that includes the words, “Will you forgive me?’ Those are not the words an offender has a right to say to those he has harmed, let alone a response he has a right to insist from them. The offender’s responsibility is to apologize and repent. It is up to the wounded one to determine when and how she will respond. For her sake choosing eventual forgiveness can bring her peace. But she has every right to decide when and how her heart is be prepared to do that.
  1. For the names and reputations of Willow Creek and the Association to be eventually restored. The global impact of Willow Creek can hardly be exaggerated. Certainly there will be hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who will spend eternity with the Lord because of the vision and message of the church. It’s my hope that some day, through genuine self-examination, apology and repentance, Willow will be held in high esteem once again.
  1. That the honor and reputation of the Church at large will be defended. Let those of us who claim to be brothers and sisters of those who have made terrible mistakes of judgment, as well as of those courageous women who have stood up and spoken up, make a commitment to examine our own areas of weakness, selfishness and condescension that harms other Believers, our families, neighbors, co-workers and others who trust us.
  1. That there might be a time when the women who have been harmed would see a spirit of contrition and humility in Hybels, a spirit already demonstrated by the elders and former pastors, that would cause them to welcome a restored relationship on whatever level is safe, healthy and right for them.
  1. That I would cease any arrogant spirit that might cause me to think I am incapable of the hiddenness, defensiveness and deceit that Hybels appears to have carried out. May I turn my eyes toward my own wounded story, healing, and repentance, and allow God to build in me a deeper spirit of humility and compassion toward others.
  1. That God’s name will eventually be magnified and honored because of how those in the center of this profoundly tragic story carry themselves as his followers. And because of how we who call him Lord conduct ourselves.

The challenges we encounter in life have the potential to destroy us. They also carry the equal potential to be defining and transformational steps in increased Christ-likeness. The impact depends on our attitudes and actions in the face of those challenges. I pray this deeply tragic episode causes Willow Creek, the Church at large, you and me to more deeply reflect the Spirit of Christ.

What “No” Doesn’t Mean

It’s taken me quite awhile to learn this lesson. I now know it’s true.

Wisdom from Seth Godin:

What “no” means

I’m too busy
I don’t trust you
This isn’t on my list
My boss won’t let me
I’m afraid of moving this forward
I’m not the person you think I am
I don’t have the resources you think I do
I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

What “No” Doesn’t Mean
Bias From the Bottom

Bias From the Bottom

Author Richard Rohr makes an intriguing observation about the uniqueness of biblical authors versus most authors:

“The vast majority of people throughout history has been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have experienced history in terms of a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the top. Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners, except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom: from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself.

We see in the Gospels that it’s those on the bottom who tend to follow Jesus: the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners, the outsiders, and the foreigners. It is demonstrably those on the inside and the top who crucify him: elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, scribes, and Roman occupiers. Shouldn’t that tell us something really important about perspective? Every viewpoint is a view from a point, and we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the truth all the way through.” [Italics and bold are mine]

How might this insightful point lead you and me to evaluate our point of view and perspective? Do we automatically swing to familiar assumptions, especially about others, or do we pause to think through how issues look and feel from the “other side”?

Who’s In Charge Here Anyway?!

Who’s In Charge Here Anyway?!

trumpcruzHave we seen a more circus-like political process in our lives? I haven’t. I doubt you have.

We are all familiar with the boorish, demeaning, literally below-the-belt accusations flying from one candidate to the other in the current marathon race for the U. S. presidency. Each day brings another series of bewildering headlines revealing head-scratching results and stomach-turning behavior that seem to represent the worst of American politics. I’m saddened by it and ashamed of it.

In a recent conversation with a group of friends we carefully shared our frustrations, as well as our hopes for how this might end. I say “carefully” because we’ve probably all learned that there is no telling which of your friends is going to launch into an angry rant about his favorite candidate, or against any that you might entertain. We’re walking on eggshells. And that’s with friends.

The depth of emotion in this caucus season reveals the long-simmering disappointment so many feel with our system and our leadership. OK, fine. That doesn’t excuse violent behavior or relationship-killing words.

And then, this morning I read Psalm 46:6, “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.” Indeed, we see nations in uproar; we certainly see kingdoms falling. But what about the last part of that verse? Lord, I long for you to lift your voice and, oh, do we hope to see the earth melt. Melt, not as in a fiery apocalypse, which will eventually come; but melt in a spirit of justice, respect and peace. When in the world is THAT going to happen?

Who do we hope in? Personally, not in any of these candidates. We followers of Jesus should be engaged in our world, I’m convinced. I’ll vote, I think. But I have no hope that any one of these limited, flawed humans can bring the kind of world we all long for. Push forward their agenda? Sure, we can count on that. Bring about global (or even national) peace, justice and security? Really? I’m afraid that is well beyond their ability.

Who’s in charge here anyway? The Almighty One. He is our hope and our salvation. Not the one who lands the White House. I want to be aligned with God’s Kingdom and his purposes; not one man’s or woman’s. I’m for the Kingdom of heaven and want to speak and live for that one. Therein lies my hope.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (v. 10)

 

Are You Constrained or Unleashed?

Are You Constrained or Unleashed?

Not long ago I heard a speaker, sadly I don’t remember his name, say, “Don’t just give people rules to follow; give them values to believe in.” I think that is remarkably perceptive advice.

Rules constrain people into obedience due to another person’s position of authority or ability to punish non-compliance.

Values unleash a person to action based on what he or she believes in; they form a powerful connection with ideas or principles that matter on a heart level.

At Peregrine Ministries, we guide and inspire men on their life journey, to help them leave a life-giving legacy. In doing so, we are compelled by the following values:

Legacy
Legacy is the part of us that lives in others after we’re gone. We receive an
inheritance we didn’t choose. Transformation determines the legacy we will pass
on.

Transformation
Every word we write and every action we take as a ministry is to see the hearts
of men increasingly transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Authenticity
We aspire to conduct our relationships with a commitment to being truthful about
ourselves, so that the man others see is increasingly consistent with the man we
are beneath the surface.

Community
We pursue the “Third Place”- not home, and not work, it’s a setting where we
know others deeply, reveal ourselves genuinely, and simply enjoy each other’s
presence.

Integrity
The commitment to make every decision with honesty, even when it hurts.
We willingly speaking the truth in love; bringing both courage and compassion.

Compassion
The conscious choice to feel what others feel, and to act on their behalf. It comes
from our own wounds that are healed and redeemed.

Redemption
When God takes a part of our story that is broken, and turns it around 180 degrees to
make it a powerful source of healing for others.

Mission
Being compelled to act, speak and live from the deepest part of our hearts for the
benefit of others. The unique combination of God-given talents, gifts and values
that create God’s calling in our lives. We can’t not do it.

Adventure
We embrace the risk, challenge and exhilaration of regularly engaging with
Creation.

Significance
Reminding ourselves, and teaching men, that our significance is not based on
our Power, Possessions and Prestige, but on the foundation of who our Creator
is.

Transcendence

Though we live in a broken world, we intentionally anticipate, plan for and celebrate the periodic glimpses of overflowing joy, jaw-dropping beauty and staggering glory we encounter in nature, music, art, writing, sports and relationships. These are all clues of an eternal, transcendent hunger in our hearts.

These values inspire us at Peregrine to do what we do.

Have you ever identified your deepest values? What do your actions, your priorities and your emotions reveal about your values?

I’d love to hear what they are.