Category Archives: Uncategorized

Practice (DOP #21 2016)

I am very guilty of spending most of the month of December focused on the idea of peace, the processes and details of peace.  To an extent that is the point of this project, to wrestle with a concept that seems so simple, but can end up being so incredibly complex.

Of course learning about peace isn’t the same thing as practicing it.  That is somewhere that I really feel that I fall short of achieving in the month of December.  There is always a lot going on, and this year I have a few more things than usual that I am giving my attention too.

I had hoped to be more socially engaged with the world around me, fighting the good fight and trying to uplift the downtrodden.  I was going to spend time with people who were not like me, and I was going to learn their stories so they could be shared.  Intentions that have not yet become actions.  I feel like I end up in this place each year, never quite happy with the steps I have taken to turn thought into action.

I know a lot of people who turn thought into action, and I introduced you to one of them last year who is buying land to build a home for a Nicaraguan family.  I actually dropped off a bunch of scrap metal to her just a few weeks ago, because she is still working towards her goal, striving to finish strong so that her beloved second family can find peace in a stable living situation.

This year, I want to mention someone else who works to bring peace throughout the year.  Her name is April, and she is a funny, energetic and exciting person!  She nearly always has a smile on her face.  I can think of just a few exceptions that I have personally experienced, and those moments are the ones that I want to tell you about.

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April has been going to Nicaragua with our church for several years now, and during her first trip she decided that she wanted to sponsor a student as he went through school.  April picked a young man named Michael, and started sending a monthly check to NRN, the organization that administrates the sponsorship program.  When April came back the next year, she met Michael, whom they had written to several times, but hadn’t gotten much correspondence back from.  She was worried that Michael didn’t really like them, or wasn’t benefiting from the support she had been sending.  Regardless of the lack of feedback, April had been faithful to continue her support.

Check out the video below and you can see just how much April’s support meant to Michael.

Each check April writes is part of a cosmic re-balancing towards peace.  Those who have, giving freely to those who have not.  April sees the ledger swayed towards injustice for Michael, and puts her time and money into setting the balance aright.

April practices peace.

If you would also like to participate in bringing peace to Nicaragua, you can sponsor a student yourself at http://www.nicaresourcenet.org/

Crush (DOP #18 2016)

I, and others who have been a part of this project in the past have struggled with our own role in trying to truly become peacemakers.  I have started so many posts about resolving international conflicts, advocating for a little force now to stop a disaster later, but I have never been able to finish those posts.  I have spent tens of hours across the three years I’ve done this trying to reach a conclusion I can believe in, but each time I have started, I have failed, and badly.  Why does this concept confuse and trouble me so much?

A dear friend sent me some Bible verses a few days ago, and I read over them several times, hoping to find some strand of truth to grab onto to anchor myself in my internal debate.  Try as I might, I wasn’t connecting with those verses in a meaningful way.  Or at least not in a way that felt complete and fully developed.  There was still a mental connection missing for me.  How could a God of peace allow such terrible things like what is going on in Syria or the South Sudan to continue?  How would a peaceful God resolve an international conflict?  Where do you draw the line of peace?

I sat down tonight, dreading the commencement of my now daily task, and once again couldn’t get started.  I distracted myself enough to run out of internet (again) and then curled up under the covers of my bed.  I drug my phone up and scrolled to the section of scripture my friend had sent days before, deciding it wouldn’t hurt to look again into the Bible for wisdom.

Romans 16:20 (a) The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet.

The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet?  What kind of paradox is this?  How can a peaceful God crush anything and still be considered peaceful?

After processing for a few more minutes I finally realized that I’ve forgotten who the enemy is.

The battles I keep wanting to fight are battles against flesh and blood, as if there truly are human beings who we could eliminate to set the world back into proper order.

The enemy isn’t a person, or a group of people, who can be stopped by killing them.  People who do ill towards others are only a symptom of a broader problem.

“The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet.”

Meditate on that with me tonight.  Tomorrow we will unpack it.

Silence (DOP #13 2016)

I couldn’t bring myself to write yesterday.

It isn’t because I didn’t have anything I wanted to write about, but rather because I didn’t know how to write it.  I suppose in a way, I still don’t how to write what I want to write.

My newsfeed was full of the news that yesterday, the rebels in the city of Aleppo were nearly wiped out.  The conflict in Syria is incredibly difficult for me to figure out.  Rebels and Pro-government forces have been fighting for so long, and so bitterly that neither side is necessarily better than the other.  While it is true that Pro-government forces have used chemical weapons, guided munitions, and artillery bombardments in an attempt to destroy those who are rebelling, those who are rebelling don’t have clean hands either.  Many rebel groups are known for their direct links to organizations we would consider terrorist organizations.  Pro-government forces regularly bomb hospitals and schools.  Rebel forces hide in those places…drawing the fire upon the innocent.

The conflict in Syria is hard to unravel, especially after nearly 5 years of fighting.

No one has clean hands.

My thoughts are filled with what-ifs…what if the UN had found a way to effectively intervene and de-escalate this conflict early in the first year?  What if our own government had enforced the red-line it set to keep chemical weapons off of the battle field?  What if the Russians had not joined the fighting?  What would have happened if Russia and China had not blocked a security council resolution with their invincible vetoes?

What if I had started writing about this sooner?

What if I had found my way there as I feel called to do?

There is plenty of blame for all sides, including myself.

As I watched videos of those who were in the rebel areas say goodbye to anyone who would listen, as they told us they honestly did not expect to live through the next few hours, I can’t even describe what was going on in my heart and in my head.  How could this be?  What could I have done?

(An example is here)

I tried to write for a while, but I couldn’t.

I lay down in my bed, safe from harm, and fought back an overwhelming sense of depression.  A feeling of total failure.  A feeling of loss.  I couldn’t speak.  It was too much.

Yesterday was my moment of silence.

Checkmate (DOP #12 2016)

Politics is anything but peaceful, but I see something coming that I feel ought to be addressed.

You’ve likely heard that President Obama has asked the intelligence community to look into recent computer hacking and its impact on the past election.  One of the most important things to a democracy is knowing that the advertised results of an election are the true results, so the integrity of an election is an important thing to guard.  There are countless countries in Africa that are in a constant state of turmoil because their election results can not be trusted.   They go through conflict after conflict simple because voting results can’t be trusted.

So, whether you agree with a single thing President Obama has done in his 2 terms or not, this is an important thing he is trying to do.

Unfortunately I believe we have been out played.

In chess you win the match by forcing your opponent’s king into a situation from which there is no way to escape to safety.  It requires delicate maneuvering and strategy to achieve this, but once your trap is set, there is no recourse.  The game is over.  The king is helpless, defeated.

We are in a political situation that has brought our country to the brink of a great divide.  Both sides are at fault, we share the blame.  Our country stands at the top of a terrible drop, teetering, poised to fall.  Our opponent has put us in a situation that seems inescapable.

I don’t know if our election results have been manipulated, but half of our country is unhappy with the current results.  They are perhaps predisposed to believe there was cheating.  The other half believes the election to have been won fairly, and will fight bitterly to defend their victory.   It doesn’t actually matter if the results were hacked by our opponents, they only have to convince us that they were, and there will be open war on our streets.

Perhaps results were affected by hacking.  In which case, our democracy is in danger.

Perhaps hacking didn’t successfully result in actually changing the outcome of the election, but it is far easier to plant evidence that it did, than to actually do it.

We may not be in checkmate just yet friends, but we may have only one way of escape.

No matter what side of the politic argument you fall on, please decide now, before the government concludes it’s study, that you will not respond in violence.

Pledge now to seek peace and unity in a disastrous situation.

We may have just one move left.


You’ll notice I didn’t implement a specific opponent.  A skilled opponent would remain invisible until the battle was already won, so perhaps there is a scapegoat being used to hide the real opponent.  There is no hope to be found in fighting against our opponent as destroying his cities and killing his people will not result in peace.  We have been outmatched, our only hope is to find unity where it can be found, before it is too late.  

Glenn (DOP #8 2016)

On my way home today, I heard on the radio that John Glenn, Mercury astronaut, senator, and STS astronaut passed away at the age of 95.   Mr. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, and while he wasn’t the first person on earth to do so, his mission was an important one for the United States.  I never knew him personally, but I benefit from his work every day.

NASA, and the space program get a bad rap.  They do incredible things, pushing the leading edge of technology and the human spirit, but since doing incredible things tends to cost a bunch of money, people don’t really care for them.  I believe that many don’t really see the benefit of the work NASA does.  However, If we took away all of the technology that we have now as a direct result of the space program, we would all be left lost and wandering.  (I mean literally…like…GPS and a whole bunch of other stuff just wouldn’t work.)

I don’t want to focus too much on Mr. Glenn today, but I do want to take this opportunity to look at where the space program has brought us, and where it might lead us in the future, especially as it relates to peace.

I wasn’t born until 1984, but as I read history books from the era of the Cold War, it feels like it must have been a dark time.  The United States had developed a weapon so powerful it could wipe out entire cities, and the arms race lead to more and more powerful weapons being developed every day.  During the height of the Cold War, there were planes in the air 24/7, constantly ready to unleash a nuclear holocaust in a moments notice.  I’ve seen clips of the films where school children are trained to duck and cover in case of nuclear attack, and all around it seemed like an incredibly tense time.

It was around this time that the space race was heating up as well.  Obviously the governments of East and West were not going to stand idly by while the other side began it’s conquest of space.  Who knew what weapons could be developed, or new resources could be exploited in the vast reaches of space?  It was important for both sides to be the best in space, if only to ensure the other side didn’t have an advantage.

As the Soviet Union and the United States vied for supremacy, they enlisted the help of the best and brightest minds in the world, and poured vast quantities of resources into their respective programs as they pursued victory.  As history is currently written, the United States won the race by reaching the moon first, and the Soviet Union began to fade into the past, until it eventually crumbled under the weight of it’s own empire.

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So what does any of this have to do with peace?

At any point, the East or the West could have used the technologies they were creating to attack each other.  At any point, the East and the West could have redirected their massive resources away from space flight, and into funding a war against the other.  At any point, the best minds on the planet could have been focused on how best to kill each other, instead of how to break free from the Earth that holds us, and do something incredible and new!

The space race seems so innocent until you realize that it may have been the exact thing to save us from a full blown nuclear conflict.  Instead of focusing on death and destruction, we taught ourselves to reach higher than we believed possible!  We used our creative energy to actually create, and not to destroy!  We took men, who since the beginning had been born, lived, and died on 1 planet, and sent them to the moon!

We strove to reach a higher height.

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The space program still fills me with hope for our future.

In 1975, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. shared a handshake between 2 nations in space.  The U.S. visited the Mir space station many many times while it was in operation.  Through our shared endeavors in space, we found common ground.  We brought our resources together, and we shared knowledge with each other.  This gives me hope.  Our best and brightest minds were focused on working together, instead of working to destroy each other.

If we fast forward to now, Russia and the United States have experienced a significant cooling in relations over the last 5 years, and there have been moments where those relations were positively frigid.  Fights over the role of both countries in Syria, Crimea, Ukraine, and Turkey have all been quite tense at times.   I’ve heard talk of a renewed cold war, and renewed conflict between superpowers.   I don’t know what lies ahead for the two nations now that there is a new president-elect, but things have been more than a little touchy recently.

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Through all of this, the United States and Russia have continued to cooperate on the International Space Station.  In spite of the politics on the ground, some of humanities finest minds continue to work together to learn more about the earth we share, and the space that surrounds us.  They are even creating a new language together.

Peace can be found when we focus on reaching outside of our current boundaries, when we focus not on the distribution of limited resources, but rather the development of new resources and ideas.  Peace can be found, when those who are mindful, take the time to learn and understand another culture as they work towards a shared goal.  Peace can be found as we strive together to break the bonds our birthplace has put upon us, and reach for the stars.

I often pray for peace on Earth.

I am thankful for peace in space.