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Showing posts from September, 2011

Business and Ministry: Not Business or Ministry

It’s deeply embedded into our evangelical worldview that business and ministry are like oil and water…they don’t mix. I know because even though I am a big proponent of business as mission and have spent the last 12 years running a faith venture organization , I still find myself, at times, subconsciously dividing the two and thinking that business is business and ministry is ministry. Last week, I participated in a business leader forum and heard another Christ-follower lamenting about how his business goals seem less spiritual than the mission goals he aspires to in his business. Yet, in his view, the business goals are more important to the survival of his business than any other activity. For followers of Christ, the reality is that the imaginary dividing wall that we sometimes try to erect between life and faith has been torn down. Business activities can reflect God’s will if they are done with great faith. I have always been drawn to business entrepreneurialism b

Grace Through Consequences

“He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 1 Samuel 3:19, NIV If we went around the table at Bud’s Warehouse discussing how this verse from the Old Testament makes us thankful, there would be no shortage of conversation. In my experience, individuals rebuilding lives from prison have a heightened awareness of God’s love and care for each of them. So, one by one, stories would be shared of how people were thankful for an ability to trust God and how he brought good into their lives. But if we backed up and looked at the preceding chapters 2 and 3 in 1st Samuel, the discussion would become more difficult. These great words of faith and trust were spoken by the priest Eli after the young boy Samuel received a rather dramatic call from the Lord and a troubling message from God: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from

Starting the Employment Relationship Behind Bars to Reduce Recidivism

A job can change a life...especially in the case of ex-offenders re-entering society from jail. The leading factor as to whether a former inmate will return to prison is their ability to obtain a job. That is why my organization Belay Enterprises partners with the church to create faith-based businesses that employ individuals rebuilding lives. A few years ago, we began asking what would happen if we started the relationship with ex-offenders before they were ex-offenders? I became intrigued with this idea when reading about how the Prison Entrepreneurship Project in Texas saw developing the relationship with individuals while they were still in jail as key to the lower recidivism rates they achieved. I'm excited that Belay may be able to test this idea in the future with a possible partnership with the Denver Jail to create a food packing and culinary training business in the jail's new commercial kitchen. Two friends of Belay, Walt Hawley and Brad Behan, have put toge

Party Girl: Dresses for Guatemala

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I always enjoy hearing about the start-up of a new faithventure . And I am particularly excited to hear of a new business in Guatemala being started by a former Denver resident, Frank Tillapaugh, whose leadership 20 years ago set the seeds for Mile High Ministries which incubated my organization, Belay Enterprises , 17 years ago. Maya Mesoamerica Mission is opening Party Girl, a fancy dress retail business to provide opportunities for women at risk of human trafficking or modern day slavery. The business will partner with churches, civic groups, businesses, and individuals from North America to receive donations of bridesmaid, wedding, quinceanera, communion, flower girl or other fancydresses for resale in Guatemala. Besides employing disadvantaged women, the business will also generate revenues to be reinvested in the community as part of a micro-business project. In Denver, Mile High Ministries and Joshua Station is collecting dresses this month for delivery to Guatemala. If

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

"There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings." — Wendell Berry in Poetry and Marriage

Listen and Learn

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV) I think one of the first lessons I learned when starting to lead Bud's Warehouse over 12 years ago was the importance of listening. People rebuilding lives from homelessness, addiction and prison have much to teach if they are given a chance to share. Too often, the teacher is prone to drown out the lesson with words because we are mesmerized with our own thoughts. (Note: I am speaking to myself here.) How better to ask questions, shut up, and listen to the Holy Spirit teach all of us through others. In today's Bible study, I was reminded of that reality. The room's uncomfortable silence on the topic of dealing with change in your life was broken by the simple question: "When was one time in your life when you dealt with significant change?" In return, we learned that change builds faith muscles, shows God as the unc

Faithventure Freshbox Partners with Faith Mission Shelter to Employ the Formerly Homeless

For individuals rebuilding lives from homelessness, a job is a key part of achieving self-sufficiency. Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio recognizes that reality with its innovative faithventure, Freshbox Catering , which provides employment and training for the Faith Mission Ohio shelter. Over the last few years, the organization has become the social enterprise standard for a cutting-edge catering brand with a high-quality training program. Fresh Box serves Columbus area businesses with delicious and healthy sandwiches and salads for lunch-time events. But it's more than just a catering business. As Fresh Box's web site explains: We provide a unique work environment that embeds employment readiness, advanced job skills, financial literacy, and professionalism right into our operations. Our tiered employment model allows Freshbox team members to demonstrate their motivation and initiative while being supported and challenged along the way. We hold our employees

Waiting for a Resurrection

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“He goes to church but he’s not a Christian,” someone recently shared with me. “Why do you say that?” I asked, curious to hear this person’s perspective. The answer included that this individual was only doing it for his children. He was cheating on his wife and he was a big drinker. Afterwards, I regretted my failure to caution him when making such a judgment. After close to 13 years working with people rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison, I’ve learned that God can be present in the messiest life situations. Indeed, God is often most present in those very circumstances. Jesus warns us about making decisions related to who is in and who is out, leaving that call instead for God. We too easily become little Pharisee’s convinced of our own right-standing with God and angry that Jesus would choose to dine with “the tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 9:11, NIV) And when it comes down to it, all of us have junk in our live--actions and choices that hav