October 7th, 2011, by

Steve Jobs at MacWorld 2005 Photo: mylerdude

Steve Jobs was a bright light in the world of technology. He is certainly one of the men who had a significant impact on the world through his genius and innovation. In light of his passing, I decided to post an excerpt from  his commencement address  at Stanford University in 2005.

His story, in and of itself, truly is an inspiring and touching testimony of faith, conviction and perseverance. Something we could all use a bit more of in life.  Check out the entire transcript of his speech if you like or watch the video online.  -S.N.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.”

October 7th, 2011, by

“Anger is like liquid. It’s fluid. It’s like water. You put it in a container and it takes the shape of that container,” says Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee on our show this week. “We took our anger and put it into a peaceful container…That anger, in that peaceful container, propelled us.”

Today, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Gbowee, Yemeni women’s rights activist Tawakkul Karma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – the first woman to win a free election in Africa.

The Nobel committee chose these women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Both Gbowee and President Johnson Sirleaf have appeared on our show. Be sure to watch our conversations with them below and share your thoughts.

(View full post to see video)

(View full post to see video)

September 21st, 2011, by

This companion e-book to the Tavis Smiley Reports primetime special—which examines the staggering dropout rate among young Black males—picks up where the broadcast leaves off, with expanded discussion and resources needed to harness concern into collective and effective action. The volume is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

August 30th, 2011, by

Recently, I was invited by a friend to attend a spiritual conference for single men and women. The conference was designed to help those living a single Christian life fellowship more with one another, grow spiritually and learn or share some tools to help them in their quest to be pleasing to God.

It was really a great experience. A lot of people opened up and really shared some of their concerns and challenges about being a single Christian. Throughout the conference, there were a wealth of speakers on dating and relationships, forgiveness and parenting, as well as some very candid tips on how to live a spiritual life while being a single person. Here are just a handful of the tips shared.

1. Find someone to help you remain encouraged. Talk to someone who takes your spiritual concerns seriously. There is definitely a healing effect in talking to others who care about your concerns. Also, look to find those who are walking the same spiritual path, who are willing to be a friend to you along your journey. Most people are willing to help you if you let them know you’re in need.

2. Pray daily. It may sound easy enough, but those who haven’t given it a try should know — prayer works! Prayer allows one to release the challenges or concerns being faced and place them into the hands of a greater power. If you’re looking to overcome stress in life, remain steadfast in your daily walk or just seek to maintain a positive spirit in everyday circumstances, prayer is the key.

3. Read and study the scriptures. To borrow a phrase I once read, “there is no substitute for reading the Bible.” The Bible will help you remain grounded and has many stories of inspiration,  discipline and direction. As you read, you’ll come across messages of encouragement, endurance and, sometimes, even sacrifice. Reading and studying the Bible will help you develop in ways unimaginable.

4. Stay involved with activities. Staying busy can help you get outside of your own head and reality for a while. Whether it’s a recreational event, sports league, small group or other entity, staying involved keeps you active and level-headed. And that’s the best way to be when living a spirit-filled life.

5. Minister to someone else’s needs. Believe it or not, single Christians have a responsibility to take care of certain needs of the church. Focusing on the needs of others helps to put your own concerns in perspective and allows you to be a blessing to someone else. Whether it’s assisting seniors at church, helping youth and teens or visiting others in the hospital, remember to care for the “least of these.”

So, is being a single Christian too hard? No, if you implement the right tools. Putting all of these suggestions into practice may take time, but given the level of spiritual growth attendees at the conference were looking to attain, I wouldn’t be surprised if these individuals begin teaching classes of their own sometime soon.

August 13th, 2011, by

If you’ve heard of Barbara Ehrenreich, the National Magazine Award-winning American journalist, human rights activist and renowned muckraker, it’s probably related to her 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. To expose the terrible living and working conditions of America’s legions of working poor, Ehrenreich spent months traversing the country, working as a hotel maid, waitress, nursing home aide, housecleaner and Wal-Mart salesperson, while trying (with varying degrees of success) to live on the money these minimum-wage jobs brought in.

The book was a huge hit, becoming a New York Times best seller and garnering praise from across the nation. Ehrenreich has been busy since, writing books about the polarization of American politics and the surprisingly negative effect of positive thinking on our culture, but now, ten years after Nickel and Dimed, she returns to the subject once again, discovering that things are largely much worse for America lowest wage earners.

In a recent essay on Salon, How America turned poverty into a crime, Ehrenreich turns a hard gaze on the laws and institutions that are, effectively, making it a crime to be poor during one of the worst recessions in American history. Indeed, while the people in her book struggled to feed and house themselves and their families ten years ago, it was during a time of great prosperity for the rest of America. Now, things have gotten much, much worse.

According to Ehrenriech, as many as 29% of American families could be living in poverty, and thanks to laws that treat these mostly hard-working people like criminals, it has become an even more difficult cycle to escape. Check out the piece on Salon. Ehrenreich is one of the best voices on the side of the working poor in American journalism, and she needs to be heard.





August 12th, 2011, by

The Response rally participant Jeff McKee

Rick Perry’s public foray into the Christian realm during his time as governor of Texas has brought many protestors and supporters for his efforts.

Recently, I spoke with one rally participant, Jeff McKee on his personal thoughts and experiences on the day’s rally.

What made you want to come out to this event today?

I appreciate the fact that Gov. Perry requested it statewide, and it even went further than statewide. But I wanted to come out and support him and support the Lord and be a part of it. I didn’t want to miss it.

Tell me about the experience inside the stadium. What was it like?

Once the worship started and the Holy Spirit showed up…I mean, the presence in the room speaks for itself. Was there an element of peace? I can’t really say that there was peace. No, I mean it was the element of being in the presence of the Lord.  That was the (laughs) — that was the  element.

The event was funded by an organization that’s been in the media and critiqued for being on the fringe side. Did you see any problems or concerns with the picketers?

No sir, I didn’t.  I saw ’em. We saw ’em picketing whenever we came up. I thought what they needed was to come inside and get in the presence, you know. No, there was no problem with the picketing.

Any final thoughts?

No sir,  just [that] I appreciate it and praise the Lord.

August 8th, 2011, by

As I read The Wall Street Journal this past weekend, I came across an interesting article. Reporter Katherine Rosman wrote about how she decided she wanted to keep her last name upon marrying her husband.

Just two weeks later, she was inundated with e-mail and responses from readers on what they thought about her decision.

In many cultures and societies, it’s common to have a woman take on the last name of the man she’s marrying. But as societies progress, many different ideas emerge as to what’s appropriate or acceptable. The traditional idea of a woman taking on her husband’s name works for me.

From a biblical standpoint, the relationship between a man and woman is supposed to mirror the relationship between Christ and his church. Just as believers in the Christian faith wear the name of Christ, those who are ladies wear the name of their husbands.

So what’s your take? Should women take on their husbands’ last name in marriage, or are there other considerations? Is the idea of a woman taking on her husband’s last name too old-fashioned, or are there some things that shouldn’t change? Share your thoughts.

August 1st, 2011, by

There were sighs of relief this week when a  Texas judge ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Perry’s controversial role in a major religious event.

Judge Gray Miller threw out a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The organization, which sued Perry, cited that his participation in the upcoming August 6 day of prayer is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

Billed as “The Response,” the day is designed to be a time of fasting and prayer in order to seek God’s help in the realm of political life.

While Judge Miller’s ruling states that Gov. Perry’s involvement in the event is constitutional, there are a few gray areas that deserve a closer look. Consider the following.

If Gov. Perry hosted a day of prayer event that was organized with the help of interfaith religious leaders, he would stand a greater chance of making the claim that the event is truly open to everyone who wants to participate. Yet, when the name of Jesus Christ is introduced as the sole name of the one you and others will be praying to, it becomes in fact an exclusionary event. Add to that fact you have a sitting governor endorsing the event and you have a state-endorsed religious ceremony.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation or any other organization has a right to call into question whether or not an elected official is putting a bias towards one religion — be it Christianity or any other religion. In this case, The Freedom From Religion Foundation was right to take legal action against Gov. Perry on this issue.

In the final analysis, I think both Gov. Perry got off lucky on this one.

August 1st, 2011, by

Parents have long been concerned with the idea of what images their children are exposed to when playing video games. With kids spending exorbitant amounts of time online or gaming, there are concerns about how those images may affect them as they grow up.

Now occasionally, I’ll admit, that I enjoy the battles found in God of War, or going to a buddy’s house to play Halo.  But I’m not 16 anymore, and I’m not the one playing these games for up to 13 hours a week.

So, it’ not too far fetched to believe that parents in the Christian community who have children playing video games want games that, in some way, teach positive lessons and don’t somehow add to the level of chaos that already exists in mainstream pop culture.

Christian groups and game developers came together to discuss the possibility of new game play content and values at the Christian Game Developers Conference held earlier this month.

Taken from the National Journal Community of e-Experts and an excerpt at the Christian Game Developers Conference in July, “We live in a culture that is often being driven by entertainment. Culture is most defined by arts and entertainment because this is where people’s values can be shaped and games can play a major role in reinforcing Christian values,” said Os Hillman, president of  Marketplace Leaders and author of Change Agent.

“I challenge creators to develop games that provide a means of thinking differently by engaging in entertainment that can incorporate wholesome fun and stimulation for the mind, but also stimulate their thinking in new ways.”

For all intents and purposes, I think Mr. Hillman is right, but the final vote will really come down to dollars. If developers can strike the right balance between mayhem and morals, there are huge profits to be made. In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see if the future of “gaming with a message” actually has a prayer.

Christian video games? Will anyone play them?

August 1st, 2011, by

Are you a person of faith who invests? Do you know what companies your dollars are supporting? Many individuals each year unknowingly invest their dollars into companies that they may not support.

In an effort to remedy those concerns, one company has decided to take a biblical approach as the basis of their new investment strategy.

Tithe Capital, LLC  is a Christian based investment firm.  The company’s mission is to invest dollars in a Christian values-based manner.

For the record, companies like Tithe Capital have been around for some time, but are beginning to find their place more frequently in the investment market place due to both a real and perceived sense of trust.

Many are happy to invest their dollars into companies they see as morally sound. And, from a business standpoint, there definitely seems to be a market for people of faith who want to invest as well.

Faith based investment firms also provide a different avenue for those looking to invest their earnings, but are leery of so-called greedy tycoons and investors found on Wall Street.

For people looking to investing with firms that will be good stewards of their financial earnings, this may be just what they’ve been waiting for.

It’s really an interesting way to invest one’s money. One that will likely continue to grow for many years to come.

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