Tim Keller's Talk at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

What I learned from Tim Keller’s talk at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in June of 2018

I recently had the opportunity to work as the Program Director of City to City’s The Gospel and our Cities Conference.  I enjoyed working alongside a wonderful organization that is doing great things. I also learned a lot from Tim Keller, who heads the organization.  

I wanted to share a video from The National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast which Tim Keller spoke at in June of 2018, and some of the insights I got from his talk.

What can Christianity offer our society here in the 21st century? Tim Keller’s talk at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast addressed that question. He references the metaphor often used in the Bible - the use of salt in meat. When salt is dispersed throughout the meat, it both enhances and preserves the meat. Like salt, Jesus says that Christians should be dispersed throughout society. In order to make a difference, Christians must exist in the culture but remain different from the rest of the culture.

Tim Keller gave the example of stealing from an old woman. It could be easy to steal her purse, run away, and not get caught. Yet, we don’t do it. Why don’t we? There are two reasons he gives...two moralistic views. The first reason is that to pick on a weak person would mean that you too, are weak. This is known as a self-regarding ethic, which stems from a culture of shame and honor, where strength is important. The second reason you don’t steal from the old woman is because you choose to think about her. This is the other-regarding ethic, of which the ultimate value is love. Research shows that most people resonate with the latter. Interestingly, the moral of love comes from Christianity. So, whether you claim to be Christian or not, you have been shaped by Christianity.

Christians love others for their sake, they do not have a person vendetta. In fact, the first person to fight slavery was a bishop. He argued that slaves are humans too, and deserve to be loved. Since, they too are images of God and cannot be sold. Imago dei. In case you are unfamiliar, imago dei is a term coined by Christians, meaning “image of God.” We are all images of God, and we all have the capacity to have fellowship with Him. As a nation, we must not forget that. There are no degradations in the imago dei.

Since you were made in the image of God, it is important to stay true to yourself. God made you exactly how He wanted you to be. So, follow your own inner light, and don’t let anyone tell you what is right or wrong for you. Christians cannot “benefit” society if they are like everyone else in society. Keller’s advice is to not to live for yourself. Live for God, and live for your neighbor.

The problem at hand is in trying to form more people from our society to support these ideals. These ideals take sacrifices, such as giving up wealth and power to help the less fortunate. Another example of self-sacrifice is forgiveness. Unfortunately, we, as a society are becoming more and more incapable of producing people that can forgive. Our culture is becoming increasingly individualistic and teaches self-actualization. So, if there is no social benefit, why become a Christian? Keller leaves us with two reasons why Christianity is, and should be, seeked after:

  1. Christianity offers communion with God and

  2. Christianity provides us with a loving relationship (not just an opportunity to win favor).

Number 2 is my personal favorite - Christianity offers a loving relationship with God.



Interview with Todd Peterson, former NFL Kicker

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J. Todd Peterson was drafted in 1993 by the NY Giants, leading to a 13-year career in the NFL where he also played for Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco and Atlanta. He set a number of team records and two NFL records – one of which is since broken (most 40-plus-yard field goals in a season). He was named NFL True Value Man of the Year for the Seahawks in 1996 and twice received the NFL Players Association Byron “Whizzer” White award for excellence in character and leadership on his teams. He was twice nominated for the NFL’s Bart Starr Award. Peterson retired in 2006 as one of only 34 players to score over 1,000 points. He is the only player in NFL history to make game-winning field goals for five or more different teams. During his career he served three different terms on the NFLPA’s board.

Peterson lettered in football at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1988 and 1989 before transferring to the U. of Georgia. He graduated with a BBA in banking and finance in 1993 and was honored his senior season as the university’s first GTE Academic All-America in a decade.

The Petersons like to help families with influence and resources leverage those assets most effectively. They enjoy traveling with others to see missional opportunities and desire to see their peers experience the joy of giving.

Peterson also serves on several boards, including Global Generosity Movement, Passion Conferences, the Young Life Foundation, and as chairman for Pro Athletes Outreach. Peterson and his wife, Susan, live in North Atlanta and have two children.

For more information on Todd please see the link below.  

https://www.gospelpatrons.org/films/more-than-a-pro

I recently had a chance to sit down with Todd and catch up.  

What are you currently doing now? Can you please share about your previous NFL career?
I played in the NFL for thirteen years, starting in 1993 and retiring in 2006. I was a kicker. Most of my career was spent with the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Francisco 49ers. I was fortunate enough to be playing for the Falcons in my hometown, right before my retirement. I have been married for 25 years to my wife Susan, an incredible, godly woman and leader. We have two amazing children - my daughter is in her third year at Virginia, and our son is in his first year at Vernon.

Currently, I sit on a number of boards, both in the for-profit private and nonprofit company domain. I feel that Lord has blessed me with many opportunities during my career in the NFL. I got to meet some amazing people around the country and even around the world. Since my retirement, I felt an overwhelming calling to use the influences, resources, and relationships I gained during my career to build the kingdom through a variety of different ministries and business interests.

Did you know you were going to do this after you got out of the NFL? Can you please tell us about your faith journey?
I think that when we trust Christ, we experience salvation. Scripture says we are saved by grace through faith, not our merit, our performance, or our works. His work on the cross saves us. He says, believe this and I am going to invite you on a great adventure. Our faith in Christ invites us on a journey. When we start our walk with Christ, trust God, and begin to have the spirit of God lead us through life, it takes us on a journey. Spiritual maturity takes place over time through various experiences and circumstances. Relationships also help to shape us to be who we are today. Scripture is pretty clear that in life of a Christian, growth is normal. Philippians 1 says that God is faithful to complete the good works He starts in us, to the day of Christ returning, or if Jesus chooses to take us home before that. I think that I am in the process of sanctification. When I left the NFL, I thought that God may have some pretty cool stuff in store for me, but I don’t think I could have scripted it to be nearly as adventurous and amazing as He has allowed it to be. I think that God is always doing immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

How did you come to your faith?
It wasn’t as a young boy, but it was before my NFL career. It occurred over the several years as I finished high school and early into college. From when I was about seventeen, or eighteen years old, to about twenty, I think the Lord was allowing me to see how my empty my world was. When we put our stock, or our faith in things of this world, (relationships, money, success, athletics, academics, fame, connections, anything other than Christ), we feel void and empty. God saved me from a lot of heartache. I didn’t have to go down a path of a lot of horrifying stuff to realize my need for Him. But I did go down a path that led me to feel empty at the end of the day and on a path of worry and self concern, fear, insecurities, and peacelessness. I finally reached a place where, as 1 Corinthians 1 says, the folly or the foolishness of God is wiser than a man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than a man’s strength. It quickly became apparent to me that I would be a fool if I didn’t ask God for His folly in my life. When His folly is greater than my wisdom and His weakness greater than my strength, then I would be crazy to think I should use my wisdom and my strength to live. I am better off with His folly and his weakness. I realized that I needed Him and was desperate for Him; and that He loved me and invited me into a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. That is how I came to faith.

Can you talk about all the different ministries you are involved in, what drives you, and what you are hoping to accomplish through those ministries? My wife and I really sense that the unique opportunity the NFL presented was an Esther moment in our lives. God chooses times and places for us. So, at for that time in our lives, He had us in the NFL. My career in the NFL was clearly a “business” of making kicks. You get compensated well for playing pro sports. Wins and losses matter, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter as much as the eternal security of people. So, we saw the opportunity to invest in my teammates, to care for their families, and to be in relational ministry. Young Life is something we are very connected with, my wife is a trustee of Young Life, and we believe in relational ministry and caring for people. We have been cared for by God, and God says to imitate God. Therefore, we want to care for, love, and serve other people. I think that was the context of our NFL ministry. Most of that happens through our connection with Pro Athletes Outreach. We serve on that board, and I serve as the chairman.

The translation of The Bible has been a huge deal to us. We had the privilege of being introduced to Bible translation about 16-17 years ago and are now involved in ministries like Athletes in Action and The Seed Company. I am currently on the board of The Seed Company and have been serving as chairman for five years. From that came Illumination, which is an alliance between the ten leading Bible translation agencies. They are working together to eradicate bible poverty by 2033. The hope is that 100% of the world population will have access to the gospel and/or some portion of the scripture in their own language through the work of Illumination. More specifically, by 2033, 99.9996%, almost 100%, will have access to the New Testament in their own language and 95% of the world’s population will have access to the Bible in their own language. Scripture says that two things last forever, the word of God and the soul of man. We believe Bible translation is the collision and the intersection of those two things. We are really passionate about that.

For more information on this please see the following link:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/may/together-for-gospels-bible-translation-unity-illuminations.html

As expressed earlier, we have a passion for the work Young Life does, which is ministry to young people: middle school kids, high school kids, and college folks. Another thing we are really passionate about is stewardship, and the movement of biblical generosity that is occurring in the church today. This goes along with nurturing and caring for others. We think It is important for believers to be philanthropic realizing that God has entrusted us with more than we need. Stewardship should be done in a way that advances the kingdom and helps other people steward well with what He has given to them.

What are some effective tips for ministries to partner and to work together?
I think that the key to partnering together is having unity. We found this out at Illumination. They really do a good job spurring unity. We talk a lot about generosity, humility, and integrity, fostering unity and collaboration. God clearly commands us to be honest, transparent, and operate with integrity with one another. He hates lying. I think when people from different agencies are generous like God and humble like Christ, towards one another, it breeds and fosters unity, partnership, and collaboration. The enemy has many names, and a few of them are the confuser and deceiver. What he wants us to be self-interested, stingy and deceive each other, sneak around each other, and accuse each other. But what God wants is for us to be generous, humble, and honest. I think when brothers lean towards each other in generosity, humility, and integrity, the end result is unity in the body. Ephesians 4 says be diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit through a bond of peace. The world is constantly trying to find kinks in our armor, and the enemy is constantly trying to divide the church. But when we are united and work together, scripture says in Romans and 1 Corinthians, that the body of Christ has many complimentary parts, and when they are working together they create a very beautiful effect. We find that we see people move from darkness to light and be raised from death to life. God is pleased when brothers come together in unity.

Was there a team or teammate that influenced you?
It was the guys that were older and more mature than me. They were mentors to me and discipled me, like Mike Singletary, Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, and Eugene Robinson. I think the guys that were my contemporaries were Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, Brian Young, Scott Gragg, and Grant Williams. A lot of guys I played with became dear friends. We ran together and were brothers. We are committed to the same things and on the board of PAO (Pro Athletes Outreach). There is a biblical model of discipleship. If we don’t have guys in leading us, guys with us, and guys following us, then we aren’t really living the way God created us to live. Mike Cannon and Andy Lee were young punters that were coming into the league when I was retiring, and went on to have pro-ball careers. I think that I gave to them what a lot of guys had given to me.

Seattle was a unique team to play for, because PAO was headquartered in Seattle for about 25 years. There was a real concerted effort by a church up there, Antioch Bible Church, to invest in us players. The pastor of Antioch Bible Church,Kent Hutcherson, who was a former player and Karl Payne, the chaplain for about twenty years of the Seahawks, along with PAO, invested in many of us on the team. A lot of those guys that played in Seattle, went on to play at a lot of different places in the NFL, and I really believe, shined brightly for Christ.

4 Things I Learned from the article "Should Hierarchy Disappear in the Workplace"

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This article was written by Dylan Walsh in the Stanford Business School Periodical.

Much of the article was based upon knowledge from Lindred Greer, a professor of organizational behavior. Walsh begins the article, “Should Hierarchy Disappear in the Workplace,” by mentioning two known business beliefs: defined hierarchy and commanding leadership. Surprisingly though, one of these is wrong. Greer states that real organizations that have a clear hierarchy within the firm result in people turning against each other when they face an outside threat. Effective teamwork in the midst of threats requires egalitarianism, a culture in which all voices matter, not a hierarchy that focuses more on centralized power.

Greer is not the only one who shares in this belief. The article mentions studies whose research backs this belief. The results from research reported that hierarchical teams that felt like they were competing against other teams and generally underperformed. Egalitarian teams, on the other hand, did not underperform. Below, I included two studies mentioned in the article that were performed by Lisanne van Bunderen of the University of Amsterdam, Daan Van Knippenberg of Drexel University, and their research team.

Study One

The first study was an experiment conducted with teams of three students. These students developed and pitched a consultancy project to a prospective client. Some of these teams were non-hierarchical, while members of other teams arbitrarily received titles: senior consultant, consultant, junior consultant. Some teams faced no rivals, while others were told they were competing with a rival firm for clients. The researchers found that the subset of hierarchical teams facing competition with rival firms struggled with infighting, while the egalitarian teams cooperated on their work.

Study Two

The second study was conducted within a Dutch health insurance company. Surveys were handed out to 158 existing teams within the firm. The surveys measured the degree to which teams felt egalitarian or hierarchical and how much they perceived conflict with other teams in the company. Company managers also rated team performance. The results were the same as in the first experiment.

Van Bunderen believes that egalitarian teams are more focused as a group, because they feel as though they are in the “same boat” and share a common fate. This shared mentality prompts them to work together. On the flipside, hierarchical team members feel as though they have to fend for themselves because they are at different levels. They are willing to fight to protect themselves even if it is at the expense of others. So the question is, should hierarchy in the workplace be avoided? If so, how can existing hierarchical organizations rearrange themselves? How do leaders lead then?

Greer emphasizes the fact that we need to consider specific contexts when answering the previous questions. For example, if there is no external threat, then a hierarchical structure should be fine. But for a company facing a competitive market, egalitarian tendencies actually may be best in order to encourage employee cooperation and performance. The reality is that hierarchy at work is unavoidable, but if properly moderated, many problems can be avoided and solved.

Walsh finishes the article with a thought-provoking quote by Greer, “I’ve always said that if there were a Nobel Prize for management, it would go to the person who finds an organizational structure that’s not based on vertical differentiation, on hierarchy, on leadership,” she says. “Other than Holacracy, there have to be ways to organize that don’t imply inequality and inequity-ways to organize that are more mutually respectful and reinforcing.”

Rootless Oaks

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We are going to conclude this series by looking at the fourth trap, being “rootless.” Christians can fall into the trap of resembling a “rootless” tree - depends on others to hold it up, has shallow roots, and dries up when it faces trials.

There are Christians that are not well-rooted. Their roots are only surface level and not deep. These Christians may look good and seem strong, but the reality is that other Christians are supporting them by surrounding them. But as soon as trials come, they quickly fall away and tumble in their faith.

Luckily there are Christians that resemble oak trees. Oak trees are known for sinking their roots deep into the earth and the inability to be shaken. These Christians are like oaks, because even in the midst of trials, they still stand strong and praise God.

Who are the five people you spend the most time with and what path are they on? Hopefully both answers are positive, because you are the average of them. You don’t want to surround yourself with bad company, for they corrupt morals. The path of the wicked leads to destruction. Instead, surround yourself with strong christians. Make Jesus Christ one of your five closest people. Jesus will make a huge difference in your life and will change that average. If one of your five people is the Lord, you cannot be shaken.

So grow deep roots to thrive in your faith; trust in the Lord, and you will never be shaken.

As we conclude this series I want to remind you of the four traps you should be aware of us a christian:

  1. Avatar Christians

  2. Fruitless vines

  3. A prayerless and powerless life

  4. Rootless faith

Avoid these traps and live out your life in a way that glorifies God.

 

About Walls, Boundaries and Over-Investing

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by Sonia Singh

Walls

People were never born with walls. So then, why do we ever create walls? We put up walls, we build walls, and some of us even add mazes to walls (Iʼm guilty of it). Is it because sometime or somewhere in the past, we were hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, and there was no one who showed us how to embrace that feeling of being hurt? We did not know how to process, move past and heal from it. Therefore, the one thing we did know, which comes naturally for most, is to protect ourselves, and not allow ourselves to be put in that position again.

The thing with walls is that it has two sides. A wall can protect you from receiving negative emotions, experiences, feelings, but it also blocks you from receiving and experiencing Godʼs full blessings. So, in order to breathe and feel that fresh air, you need to create windows within your walls, and choose wisely who you let inside your walls. It is not wrong to have a wall, but it is wrong to put everyone on the outside of your walls. You donʼt need everyone, you only need a handful of people whom you trust, who are genuine and truly care so that you may be vulnerable, honest, and you may be you! And thereʼs no better feeling than being no one else but you! As the awesome, precious person that God has made and called you to be.

Boundaries

One factor that might contribute to why I created these walls, could be my failure to create boundaries. Boundaries are necessary, boundaries are good. The right kind of boundaries, of course. Being in a tightly-knit asian culture, where we know nearly no boundaries. Whatʼs my business, becomes your business. And it becomes everyoneʼs business, this principle kind of goes against what we know, what Iʼve known. There is value in this, as it creates a sense of care but it can also create a false sense of care, depending on the motives

When everyone makes your business theirs, it also creates an added unnecessary pressure. It also takes peopleʼs focus away from what they should be dealing with first, their own issue, work on their own problems, their own progress (First take the speck out of your own eyes so you may clearly remove the speck in your brotherʼs) . Thereʼs a fine line between being nosy and genuinely caring. The first simply comes to take (to hear, to know whatʼs the latest story); while the latter, comes with the intention to give (a word of encouragement, a lending ear, a prayer). The first destroys, depletes trust. The latter builds. So evaluate yourself the next time youʼre about to get or share “updates”, especially when itʼs not your story to tell.

Boundaries are good, because it creates a feeling of safety. A safe environment, where you can open up, you can be honest, you can be vulnerable, and once again, you can be you! (yes, you). My lack of realization for this need of boundaries have caused me to build walls, and mazes. And it has led me no good. So now, that my walls are somewhat down, I choose wisely whom I let in, and I create necessary boundaries. Those who have earned my trust, I will let in, a step further, a step further. I donʼt know how this will work out, but this sure sounds like a much better plan than to continue living alone in that wall of mine, ever lonely, and ever suffocated and with no fresh air. Weʼll see how this goes.

Over-investing vs Giving

One of the things I struggle is, my tendency to give. I have needed to learn to tame this desire to give, because time and time again I over give and I over invest, where I should not. Those who knows me well, knows how loyal and generous I am in this regard. I give my time, my attention, and I invest in emotionally, I empathize (often times a little too much than is required).

I have always know that I have just so much love, so much care, so much to give, but I just need to be wise in who and how I choose to channel it to. (Being a type 2 in the Enneagram test, this confirms my life long wondering of why is it that I have this constant need and find fulfillment in giving).

When you give, you give what you have, with no expectation of return. You give, is an act of simply letting things out, an outflow.

But when you invest, you may sometimes put in more of what you can afford. Or you put in what you donʼt yet have. Or perhaps you have even sacrificed something, some time, some desire, some dreams, some aspect, some values, to put into that whatever youʼre investing in. And so itʼs only natural to expect some sort of return. Whether it be the same favor, the same kind of attention or the same kind of gesture somewhere down the line when you need it, in return.

Different types of relationship, requires a different kind of giving/ investing. When in a context of friendship, when in the context of relationship and within the context of marriage. They each call for a different level of giving. The Bible calls us to give our all when in the context of marriage (in return for commitment), but other than that, I believe there is only so much that can be given in outside the context of it. And we should be wise about how much you can give.

So it is key to find a balance, to know and be aware of how much I can give without feeling left dry or without feeling like he/ she is being slack, when I (in my rarest occasion) do ask for a favor/ help in return. Because I very very rarely ask for help (itʼs a pride thing, and thatʼs another story, another struggle to battle, but Iʼm working on it), so you know, when I do ask and I donʼt get the support I was hoping (the support Iʼd be willing to immediately give should I be asked), I wonʼt feel meh.

Thereʼs definitely a lot more to this, but thatʼs for another time :) Til then, God bless!

Interview With Dale Gifford

Dale Gifford was a dear friend and mentor.  I met Dale in 2009 after he had retired as the CEO of Hewitt Associates.  It began the start of a nine year relationship where he was my mentor and advisor.  Dale was a role model to me and I love him so very much. I wanted to share an interview I did with Dale a number of years ago.  

For more information on Dale Gifford please visit Dale Gifford Memorial.

What role has your faith played in your career success?

My faith affects how I view my responsibility and my role in life. I wouldn’t say it has a dramatic impact every day, but it does have an overall impact in recognizing the importance of people and the impact I have on people. It is not just about valuing people for what they do, but valuing them for who they are.

Can you identify a moment where your faith may have been a driving force for what you do?

The recognition of the calling of my role affected me more earlier in my career than in the middle. I felt my calling was a result of my giftedness in mathematics and academics. I knew I should use them, but was unclear how. As I got into increasing roles of leadership, it was obvious to me that God had created a platform for me. This platform for influence and impact was one that I didn’t deserve on my own, or could orchestrate on my own. That is when it became clear that I had a responsibility to impact employees, their families, and those connected to our organization.

Do you use a different measuring stick when you measure the success of your past company versus charitable nonprofit?

The principle measuring stick of profitability does not apply the same way for churches or ministries. In fact, I wouldn’t want to invest in them if they accumulated a lot of money and didn’t use it for Kingdom purposes. It is important to be provided with stories, data, and information on the impact organizations are having. I look at which ones are driven more by stories rather than by financial impact. Also, in general, I would prefer to provide significant support to organizations that have a broader base of investors and supporters.

As a person in your position, how does one responsibly select investments of your time, resources, charitable contributions, etc.? How do you make those choices and selections?

It takes intentionality and discernment. What takes highest priority? I choose to focus financial resources on organizations that coincide with my passions and where I want to invest my time. For me, it is events and organizations related to my church, leadership, and those that help emerging leaders.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about leadership development and emerging leaders. I am becoming more involved with and concerned about the injustices existing in the world, such as poverty. I want my heart to be softened even more in that area, but know that my skills could be put to better use for leadership than injustice issues. To provide a greater impact on the Kingdom, it is important to help the next generation, and to help them better utilize their skills.

For these emerging leaders that you want to influence, what is the message you want to give them?

There are multiple messages:

  1. Pay a lot of attention to what your passion is. Ask yourself how God has influenced your capabilities and passions.

  2. While you are creating an impact, continue to recognize that your capabilities and passions come from God.

  3. Don’t be pulled into the world’s perspective of being too proud about what you accomplished. If we don’t do things for God’s will, then we won’t have as much of an impact.

What kept you from being engulfed in outside pressures?

I recognized that my gifts and interests didn’t come from a lofty role. My wife and and I both came from humble backgrounds. We have experiences that are different and interesting than most. I enjoyed applying my skills to whatever situation came my way. Rather than seeking, I got pulled into expansive opportunities. I feel content and a responsibility to work hard and be all that God wants me to be.

If you were to give yourself advice when you first started off you career, what would it be?

Dear young me, God has a plan for you. It’s a wonderful plan. You should have some intentionality, but don’t think you have to have it all figured out. It will become clearer to you as you become older. Continue to be goal-oriented and do the best you can do. Be the best you can be, and do it all for God.