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Showing posts from December, 2008

The Missing Lunch

My lunch was gone. I went to the fridge in our kitchen at Bud’s Warehouse to retrieve the pizza I brought in from home. It was missing in action. Recently, this has been happening with regularity and my emotions flashed. What am I going to do for food? I had planned to finish some work while eating at my desk. Now I had to burn 45 minutes in the quest for something to eat. I announced to one of our key managers that stealing food should not be tolerated anymore. If someone was hungry and asked…the pizza would be theirs. But if someone can’t be trusted with honesty in little matters, when no one is looking, how can they be trusted with the big things?

While that is certainly true and an important point of teaching in our job-training program, it isn’t the end of what we can learn from a missing lunch. I was able to drive to Chipotle and solve my hunger problem by purchasing a Mexican steak salad. For many around the world, unexpected events thrust hunger upon them with little chance of…

Broken

Brokeness is often the path to rebirth. We live by that wisdom in our faithventure business Bud's Warehouse. In a CNN editorial, Chuck Colson, who went to prison for Watergate crimes, shares how brokeness led to a changed life. He captures the spirit we try to share with individuals rebuilding lives from alcoholism, addiction, felony conviction and homelessness. When we reach the end of ourselves, through failure or sin, we find God. Chuck Colson went on to found Prison Fellowship, a group we have worked with at times over the last 10 years.

Splitting

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my family set out in our van for the mountains to join our friends in the annual quest for a Christmas tree. It was a picture-perfect Christmas setting: a steady snow was falling as we hiked up the trail from the forest service parking lot where we paid $10 for our permit. We spread out searching for the best tree. This quest was more like undertaking an Easter egg hunt with 50 other people competing for the perfect tree. We found our tree, posed for a picture and then proceeded to cut it down. Before we started the hard work of hauling it to the car, my kids started counting the rings to determine the age of the tree. It was 30 years old. In Colorado’s arid mountain environment it took 30 years for the tree to grow to the perfect height of 12 feet. There were wet years where the tree grew fast and there were dry years where the tree hardly grew at all. But one couldn’t help but feel like the hunter who took down Bambi’s mother. This tree was now split…

Revolving Investment Fund

Belay Enterprises established the Ascent Fund a few years back to provide micro-enterprise funding to faith venture businesses in the Denver metro area. Unfortunately, we found that domestic micro-enterprise is an extremely difficult undertaking. It’s hard to find entrepreneurial opportunities in our community where a relatively small financial investment will make a difference. Unlike in international micro-enterprise, domestic micro-loans are unable to take advantage of currency exchange rates and lower costs of living rates. So a two hundred dollar investment in Kenya makes a big difference to a business while an investment of $2000 in the United States barely provides any positive impact for the domestic enterprise. As a result, the scale of money makes it a costly proposition in the United States for the micro-fund with a much lower probability of generating revenues to perpetuate the program. Over the years, this reality has caused us to change our focus from micro-enterprise to…

Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

It’s that time of year again for annual holiday celebrations. But this year, many companies are forgoing or cutting back on the annual party in the interest of saving money during a recession. For some, it seems wrong to celebrate when so much is bad in the economy and many people are hurting financially. I have to admit that I wrestled with whether it was a good idea to have a party this year. But we decided to celebrate because, as a faith venture, it’s important to gather as a group, eat good food, have fun and remember what God has done for us.

Indeed, in the Bible books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, you see several points where God asks his people to set aside time to gather as a group and celebrate God’s blessing with a feast. In particular, Moses urges the Israelites in Deuteronomy 14: 26-27 to set aside a portion of money and time to “buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the pre…

Wired for Success

I have been participating in monthly meetings of the employment committee of Denver's Road Home program. This group is the job development part of Denver's initiative to reduce homelessness in the community by 75% over 5 years. The committee is made up of various community nonprofits that serve the homeless community.

One topic frequently discussed is the issue of finding employers willing to hire felony offenders. At a recent meeting, I was excited to hear of a new program that trains felons for high-wage technical jobs for the Denver metro area's growing green energy industry. The Rays of Hope Program is providing high-tech training and job placement services to 500 individuals with non-violent felonies. Turnabout, a nonprofit career and education program, is administering this program through a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, from the U.S. Department of Labor. I am hopeful that this program will be a good next-step for many of the non…

Hood Check Joy

Every Wednesday morning at Bud’s Warehouse, the staff gathers for our weekly hood check. This is a time where each person “pops the hood” of his or her life and let’s everyone peer inside. It’s a powerful time of sharing that is largely responsible for enabling the business as ministry Bud’s Warehouse to succeed. When you throw a bunch of people together in a faith venture who are rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, or felony conviction, the hood check provides the environment for grace and understanding. It allows the workplace to succeed. I often argue that all businesses need to practice the hood check. I am convinced they will see benefits when staff members understand each other better.

Last week, we started our time together by listening to the passage in Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) where Paul urges: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by pr…

Life as a Story

I was headed out the door to grab a bite for lunch because someone had eaten the soup I had stored in the fridge for lunch. I guess they needed the soup more than I did…just another day at Bud’s Warehouse. On my way across the parking lot I noticed an older gentleman looking lost after riding his bike up to the building. That’s how I met Eugene.

One of the great dangers of leadership is becoming so busy that there are no margins for the unexpected encounters with others. Eugene wanted to meet with someone at the Good Neighbor Garage but they weren’t expecting him and wouldn’t be back for an hour. I asked Eugene if he wanted to wait around until they got back. He asked if there was a restaurant nearby. I suggested he join me for lunch. He jumped at offer and joined me in a short car ride. That’s when I learned the story of Eugene. And what a story it was.

Eugene spent time in the Pacific theater during World War II. After the battle of Okinawa, he borrowed a boat for a short tour and row…

Slumdog Millionaire

I want to add my voice to the growing chorus of people amazed by a new movie in limited release. Slumdog Millionaire has jumped to the top of my all-time favorite movies. I would be surprised if this movie doesn’t sneak up and become the best picture for the upcoming Academy Awards. I saw the movie two nights ago and I have been unable to shake the storyline, images and music from my mind. It’s a brutal modern Oliver Twist meets Who Wants to Be A Millionaire that captures the deep contradictions of the culture of India where social class clashes with middle class mobility. It’s jarring but it’s also deeply satisfying in that it speaks to that deep human desire that wants to know that deep injustices will be made right and that love will overcome. India is a country on the rise but it’s also a place that needs faith ventures and saints like Mother Theresa.