Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

28 February 2008

Sex is Messy

11:35 on ABC tomorrow... Ron Jeremy, Craig Gross, Martin Bashir and a few others will be debating... "Is America addicted to Porn?". It takes places at Yale University's "Sex Week"



I really like xxxchurch. That will not be an easy crowd but they're speaking some good truth. Talking about sex in the church is a funny thing man. It's difficult because Christians like firm answers (no pun intended......... yes it was intended). We like to have things spelled out black and white. And sex... is messy. In nearly every way.

It's complex. Because there needs to be decorum and privacy... but sex is SUCH a primary thought of human beings. Our perception of it, either leads to wonderful freedom or bondage and shame.

There's a church called Relevant Church that is in the middle of a 30 day sex challenge where they're asking married couple to have sex every day for 30 days... and single people to abstain from all sexual acts for 30 days. They also have curriculum that goes along with the "acting" that is designed to deepen our understanding of sex and increase intimacy levels.



And it's cool... even for Pastors, Church Leaders, Christians. Because being at peace with sex actually FREE'S you to be the person you're called to be.

Sex... is messy. It's not a science. It's a funky mix of emotion, primal urges, a spiritual potpourri of issues, kids, responsibility, liberation. Sex rarely even looks or feels like you thought it would. And truth be told... most of us suck at it. Single OR Married.

Or at least we think that we do. You make one mistake in a sexual area and you feel the weight of the world come down on you. It could be misplaced thoughts, screwing up on the internet late at night, being an ass to you wife leaving her thinking... "Why would I want to do ANYTHING with this guy?" It even could be a sexual encounter gone awry.

And FYI... that happens... (sex is messy)

You begin to think... oh my gosh I suck. And we walk down the road to an unhealthy thought pattern about sex. I'm in this boat here too. Truth is... sex is messy. And there is no real "getting it right". It's the continual pursuit of intimacy. An intimacy that changes... and constantly has to be tweaked, changed, refined. It is such a God thing that it's even a primary biblical metaphor for Christ and his church...

...so we better keep talking about it man...

27 February 2008

Larry Norman


You know... I really didn't enjoy listening to Larry Norman's music. But it's hardly surprising that people NOW are appreciating what he did.

He was Mr... "Why does the devil get all the good music?" and really, really was a pioneer in Christian music starting down the arduous road of modernizing itself. Of course... as seems to be the case with most things... Christians fought it.

This was back in 1969

"I wanted to push aside the traditional gospel quartet music, break down the church doors and let the hippies and the prostitutes and other unwashed rabble into the sanctuary...I wanted to talk about feeding the poor, going into the world....[I felt that] most of the modern music was anemic and needed a transfusion"


Aaaaaanddddd... Christians all but banned him

"The churches weren’t going to accept me looking like a street person with long hair and faded jeans. They did not like the music I was recording. And I had no desire to preach the gospel to the converted."


Aaaaaaand Christians didn't understand that.

"I'm pleased with what's happening in England and Europe...but I'm not totally thrilled about the commercialization of Christian music in America." Two years prior to the 1984 interview, he had complained that Christian music generally meant "sloppy thinking, dishonest metaphors, and bad poetry" and stated that "I've never been able to get over the shock of how bad the lyrics are."


He died a couple of days ago dirt poor.
Quirky, flawed, dude who had guts enough to just be himself... and like most trailblazers... didn't have the easiet road to walk down... but did make a clearer path for other artists to walk down.


"I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up."












26 February 2008

Jen in Liberia

If you haven't read my sister Jen's blog yet... you should. Jen's the bomb.

I love hearing how different people see life through their own eyes.

This is post from her a couple of days ago.


"I like Africa. It is hot. Everything is dirty. The is a whole lot of garbage. Evidence of the war is everywhere. Buildings are demolished. Streetlights are pretty much non-existant. There are bulletholes in most structures, if they managed to make it through the war. It is muggy and moist. Apparently you can get Malaria. A lot of the time it smells bad. There is no such thing as personal space in the city. Traffic laws are a suggestion at best. Ditches are often smoother and a better option for driving than roads. People yell at you and ask you for money. Everyone tries to find out some token of personal information about you in hopes of you being their ticket to "America". Vehicles are sketchy. You wonder how many years of your life gas emissions are taking off.

A few people in my life have taken to calling me "Princess". I don't think I came by this name by being the most tolerant of uncomfortable or unfortunate circumstances. Yet, in this land where every external factor I can think of is at best "unfortunate", I feel such joy and appreciation for getting to experience, if just for a while, a phenomenal culture. I have been out in Monrovia numerous times now, and each time it takes me a few minutes to adjust. I spend the first few princess moments wishing that the sweat on my forehead wasn't going to permanently glue my bangs to my face, or that deodorant wasn't such a luxury for African people, or that people would stop rubbing their dirty skin against mine. And then I realize that none of these things are going to happen. And my entire perspective changes, as I open my eyes to the wonder of the place I am in.

My new friend Liz is from NYC, and one day, while we were discussing how cool this place really is, she made the comment that it somehow reminds her of New York. I get it. There is this energy and spirit that is unique and that I have never experienced anywhere else I have lived. I am the last person you would describe as "artsy" but even my scientific, methodical brain cannot help but be in awe of the colors and the musicality that are so present all around. The sense of community is amazing. I have had the opportunity through working in the hospital with local day workers to hear what they love about their country and the resounding theme is how Liberians have pulled together and overcome their circumstances as a community. In another blog, I will have to elaborate on what that really means for Liberians, because their history and circumstances make this type of perspective literally a miracle. But, another time. Tonight, I just feel like writing how appreciative I am to be in Monrovia. Every trip to the city is such an adventure. There is continual energy and action and relationship. It is like a dream-world for creepy people-watchers like me.

Another one of my new friends calls it "going to Africa" when we go into the city. I couldn't agree more. I have talked in the past about how life on the ship is very Western and very Unafrican. But going to "Africa" at night or the weekends or on time-off is a completely different world. Before I came here, I had my preconceived notions about what Africa would be like. Although I always wanted to be a part of this world, I could never have anticipated loving it so much. I wanted to be a missionary because I feel like God wants us to love the poor and the sick and the needy and the unloved and those who the world forgot. To be honest, I anticipated this experience being a complete sacrifice of my comfort, my pleasure, and my selfish ambitions. I had no idea that Africa would exceed my wildest expectations and provide me with such delight. Don't get me wrong, I definitely miss the pleasure of having nice hair, the assurance of knowing that you will be able to get home without having to push start your vehicle, and the peace of walking across the street without having to reject 5 marriage proposals, but, overall, I like this Africa!"

25 February 2008

Now let's play... "What his problem?"



Is he pissed at the NIV?
Urination?
Christians?
Pink interior decor?
Woman's peeing habits?
Germany?
His own fashion consultants?

Something true

I'm going to tell you something right now that is entirely true. CANNOT be refuted. It's solid.

"Mango's in every form suck here"

2 weeks of Phillipino Mango like 4 years ago have ruined mango for me here.

I'm sorry but it's true. You're going to have to just deal with it.

24 February 2008

Jesus for President


“It’s easy to have political views – that’s what politicians do. But it’s much harder to embody a political alternative – that’s what saints do. The greater challenge is right living, not just right thinking. In Jesus we meet not a presentation of basic ideas or a new political platform, but an invitation to join up, to become part of a movement, a people who embody good news.”

Shane Claiborne from "Jesus for President"

You know... twice I've filled out party membership forms for the Conservative Party of Canada and nearly submitted them. One click away actually. But I haven't yet been able to for this very reason.

Because it's not (as Goldie Locks once said) juuuuuuust right. I dislike fighting for something that isn't really THE answer.

I actually really like politics and respect politicians They are not "all a bunch of liars".... they are public servants who govern in a democracy and function to the best of their ability within it's structural constraints.

But my calling is to effect my world to see "Thy Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven"... Therefore, I need to "embody good news". News that DOES bring real freedom.

21 February 2008

Frank Caliendo

As a dude who grew up learning to impersonate... and can trace gaining employment at every job I've ever had back to the ability to do voices... THIS guy is impressive.



Best in the biz right now

20 February 2008

Sunsets & Sushi & Sprouts


Bought this older David Crowder album last night called "Sunsets and Sushi". It's electronica remixed Crowder worship. Creative dude this so called "Crowder".

Right now I'm reciting a few Psalms out loud to the beats for my morning devos
From Psalm 85...

"Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies"

What a story this Salvation story is.

19 February 2008

How Paul Simon helped me find Jesus


In 1986, Paul Simon made (in my opinion) the greatest album of my lifetime. He traveled to South Africa and recorded "Graceland" along with artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazzo and legendary guitar player Ray Phiri. It was a magnificent fusion of Paul Simon's poetic genius with then far off sounds and rhythms that most had only heard tales about.

It created controversy. It challenged people's thinking. It was larger than a piece of art. The music made you stop what you were doing and pay attention because something special was happening.

I was young... and growing up, music wasn't a large part of the culture of our home. So Much Music, radio morning shows and what my friends parents had in their homes was my musical baptism. One day... this video with Chevy Chase and a dude I'd never seen came on.



A touch awkward... but I couldn't get the song out of my head. I had no idea what it was about or the back story... but dang that music.

A few years later, my great grandmother died. My Dad let me take the day off school. On a -30 degree morning... me, my Dad, and my aunt piled into our giant Ford Econoline Van and headed to Northern Ontario. We stopped at a dirty little mini-mall half way for lunch. That song had been rolling around in my head that morning...

"A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!"


I slinked away from the food court and found my way into the previously forbidden territory of a "Record Store" GASP! It just wasn't something we did at our house for some reason. Secular music was a bit scary, foreign... somewhat blasphemous. I stumbled through the arduous process of asking the record-jockey about this song I barely knew. He somehow picked up on what I was babbling about and helped me find "Graceland". Now I had no money. I'm not totally sure what my grand plan was... but my Dad walked in at that moment and saw me ogling an album.

Maybe it was just because of the emotion of the day... but without saying much, he took the CD in his hand and walked up to the counter and bought it for me. He kinda gave me one of those, "don't tell your mother" looks. Even at that moment I knew I had stumbled into something good. This was not a top 40 hit album that my friends had piles and piles of next to their video games. I had neither of those things... but I was glowing at this.

Then I heard it.


"And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle,
Lasers in the jungle somewhere,
Staccato signals of constant information,
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby,
These are the days of miracle and wonder,
This is the long distance call,
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all o-yeah,
The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky,
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby don't cry
Don't cry don't cry"


I ate up the poetry. The music just felt deep. Deeper than I knew about. A place I hadn't been before but had always wanted to go. I may have been a hard to handle, punk of a kid, but much of it was because the one thing I had alway wanted to be... WAS OLDER. I knew there was more to life than math equations, baseball and Sunday School. This was one of the first tastes I'd ever had of DEEPER.



"She makes the sign of a teaspoon
He makes the sign of a wave
The poor boy changes clothes
And puts on after-shave
To compensate for his ordinary shoes

And she said honey take me dancing
But they ended up by sleeping
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights on
Upper broadway
Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes"


It's about oppression, greed, financial disparity, pleasure, irony, sadness... but said WITHOUT saying it... and it was spoken eloquently with funky bass, African harmony, and word pictures! Good gosh man... it was stunning.


"Strong wind destroy our home
Many dead, tonight it could be you
Strong wind, strong wind
Many dead, tonight it could be you

And we are homeless, homeless
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake
Homeless, homeless"


Who are these people? What is their story? How can they sound so happy singing about this???


"In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing round my nursery door
I said take this child, lord
From tucson arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she wont bother you no more

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Josephs face was black as night
And the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the southern hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African skies"


After getting through the entire disk on my near virgin CD player, I shivered just a bit. It was nearly as if I caught a glimpse of a place that I was sure existed but others had been trying their darnedest to convince me was only in my imagination. I began think about this big blue globe I lived on. How big it is... yet how tangible it was to live life fuller than with simply the tools I had in front of me.

I began to learn about Africa. I wanted to be there. Meet this Joseph... and check to see if his face was black as night.

A couple of years later... Paul Simon released "Rhythm of the Saints". An album recorded in Brazil, done with Latin rhythms, West African sounds and even deeper lyrics.

"Obvious Child" may be my favorite song ever. The HUGE Brazilian drum barrage off the top makes my heart race (even still this morning) when I hear it.



"Sonny sits by his window and thinks to himself
How it's strange that some rooms are like cages
Sonny's yearbook from high school
Is down from the shelf
And he idly thumbs through the pages
Some have died
Some have fled from themselves
Or struggled from here to get there
Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls
Runs his hand through his thinning brown hair

Well I'm accustomed to a smoother ride
Maybe I'm a dog that's lost his bite
I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don't expect to sleep the night
Some people say a lie is just a lie
But I say the cross is in the ballpark
Why deny the obvious child?"




"The cool, cool river
Sweeps the wild, white ocean
The rage of love turns inward
To prayers of devotion
And these prayers are
The constant road across the wilderness
These prayers are
These prayers are the memory of god
The memory of god

And I believe in the future
We shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime
But in yours I feel sure
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edges of a thunderstorm
And these streets
Quiet as a sleeping army
Send their battered dreams to heaven, to heaven"


I don't believe in all of the theology of Paul Simon's music. (I do believe that most songs do have a theology behind them. A premise of truth behind a piece of art). But it spoke to me about something I needed to know about, in a language and sound that scratched the itch of my soul. It revealed really deep truths about man and our collective struggle "from here to get there". It introduced me to a world larger than what I called my own.

I surely didn't fall on my knees and cry out for God... in fact... I let much of it stew uncomfortably in my head for many years. Like a burr hidden maddeningly in my sock. It even made me a little bit MORE jaded about our societal ills, our seeming human futility, out desperate grasps at making the far off spiritual... ours. It was hard because I couldn't correlate these concepts of truth with anything that resembled an answer.

But I wouldn't trade that struggle for anything. Because when I let Jesus change my "premise of truth"... my foundation... the real life truths that Paul Simon's music helped show me, became real LIFE where it was once a dream of what might be. And it was partially in this very digging for answers that I accepted Jesus as the giver of real life.

17 February 2008

Blame it on the Boogie



One the biggest differences between African Culture and North American is that here... to even mention the supernatural precludes you from being rational person.

There... "not getting good enough witchcraft" is an official reason for loosing a soccer match. I remember when we were in Ghana, the Accra team called "The Hearts of Oak" were in a major tournament and country officially called on the nation for Intercessory Prayer! This from a Ghanaian newspaper...

1.an object venerated superstitiously and used as a fetish or amulet by tribal peoples of West Africa.
2.the magical power attributed to such an object


"In the 2008 African Nations Cup group D game between Angola and Senegal's renowned Lions at Tamale Stadium the other day, a member of Senegal's "technical team" was removed by match officials towards the end of the first half.

He had apparently been sprinkling something out of his pocket onto the athletics track on the side of the pitch. Journalists covering the match did not think much about the incident at the time, though there was some muttering about him being a "juju" man.

But the incident took on a different hue when the Senegalese press reported a few days later that the country's sport minister Issa Mbaye Samb had suffered a nervous breakdown after his imperious President Abdoulaye Wade demanded to know why the national soccer team had done so badly.

The Senegalese newspaper L'bservateur reported mysteriously that sources (or could that have been sorcerers?) did not rule out the possible involvement of witchcraft in Samb's "sad and inexplicable" affliction and his sudden departure for the old mother country for treatment and recuperation.

The report was not clear whether Wade had berated Samb for blaming his team's poor performance on inadequate witchcraft or for not providing the team with sufficiently potent witchcraft.

But it did say that the marabouts, or juju men, had predicted that the tournament would be a disaster, though not quite as bad as it turned out and added that according to police sources many members of the Lions had been seen in Ghana with said marabouts.

In the opening match of the tournament between hosts Ghana and Guinea, several Ghana fans carried a "juju pot" containing leaves and liquid in order to "scare away all devils", while churchgoers went to their Sunday service bedecked in the country's red, gold and green for a "cleansing" ceremony designed to inspire "total victory".

Again, the magic seemed to work, as Ghana's Sulley Muntari scored a last-minute screamer to win the game, the Guardian reported.

Back in the 2002 semi-final between Mali and Cameroon it was reported that Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer and his goalkeeping coach, Thomas Nkono, were arrested by riot police for placing a magic charm on the pitch before the match.

Two years previously, Senegal had again been on the losing end of a charm offensive (so to speak) during a quarter final with Nigeria. Just 15 minutes from time Senegal was one goal ahead.

A Nigerian football official then sneaked onto the pitch and made off with a charm which had been placed in the back of Senegal's net. Over the next 15 minutes, Nigeria scored twice to turn the game around.

There were strong rumors some time ago that Bafana's deputy assistant physio was actually a practitioner of the dark arts. But if so, he must have been exorcised since then. Or perhaps he simply got out-charmed in Ghana."

Blame it on the Boogie indeed. Sounds so bizarre to our ears... but if the spirit world is, in most ways, more real than the world we can see, touch, and feel... who's culture is more bizarre?

I'm not always a huge fan of blaming everything on the boogie, but then again... I don't see people healed, raised from the dead, and rarely even saved. So again I ask... who's culture is more bizarre?

16 February 2008

14 February 2008

Unvalentines Day

There are some cultural oddities that I'll give into... just because of the... "why fight it?" factor. But I have great disdain for Valentines Day. I can taste the bile just saying that word.

There is zero basis for Valentines Day. Some commercially cooked up nonsense that has the nerve to tell me when and how I should show love for my wife?

That's amateur. Hackey.

Her: "Tell me you love me"
He:"I love you"
Her:"Mean it you dork"
He:"But you told me..."
Her:"Get out of my face and go fetch me novelty bear"

Make it MEAN something you hacks. Do it up good. So in my house, we celebrate UNVALENTINES DAY. Here's the Unvalentines Day manifesto...

"Unvalentines Day comes but once a year, without warning, 30 days before or 30 days after February 14th"
So throw up your rawk fist if you're feelin' me when I drop this right on Valentines Day. It's not too late. Cancel diner. No couples bowling tonight. Don't go make out at a glow in the dark mini-putt. You can do it.

13 February 2008

The Story of Kumar


I'm going to re-post a FANTASTIC article written by Brant Hansen from a blog called "Letters from Kamp Krusty". It's the kind of story that is both astounding, and not uncommon. It's the story of Kumar.

In the Cubicle Next Door

PicforblogthingwithcomputerEach Sunday morning, Kumar sits in a folding chair, waiting for the rock band to start up, and the preacher to give a seeker-sensitve sermon. The chairs are partly filled, in a school gymnasium, just outside Washington, D.C.

He's a small man, from Chennai, India, and here, in the rows for the audience, he's part of someone's Big Vision. Like many others, the church start-up has a visionary, who hopes it becomes the next Willow Creek, even hoping to buy 40 acres in suburban D.C. (Anyone got a half-bil for that?)

And Kumar, who's 36, drives each day to his office job at Sun Microsystems, where he spends a lot of time checking urgent email from very far away.

Friday night, I walked with Kumar, and our mutual friend, Woody, to a crowded Whole Foods Market in Alexandria. I made a salad about four times bigger than his, but when we got back to the hotel room, it took him a couple hours to finish. I kept asking questions. He kept answering.

-------------

Kumar was on a crowded bus in Chennai, India. He heard God's voice. "Unmistakably," he says. I heard God say, twice, 'Seek Me.' That was it. Twice."

Just "Seek Me"?

"Just 'Seek Me'. And I knew it was God, but which God? I was Hindu. Was it Vishnu? Calli...? No idea. I just knew it was God. Somehow, I knew it. Unmistakable."

And Kumar isn't the gullible type. He has multiple advanced degrees in Aero Engineering and Physics, for starters, from the M.I.T.-equivalent in India.

He studied and researched, but just wasn't satisfied that it was one of his familiar gods, and eventually found a friend with a Bible -- a "good luck charm" -- and traded a textbook for it. He started reading, got confused, but eventually was pointed to Jesus.

He became a Jesus-follower. Costly decision.

-------------

His parents weren't happy. They scheduled an arranged marriage. Kumar met his wife-to-be on Friday, told her and his parents on Saturday about his Jesus decision, and got married on Sunday. "They thought it would blow over," he says. It didn't.

Six months later, there was an intervention. Her family, his family, neighbors, friends -- 150 people strong -- all telling him to repudiate his faith. He refused. His parents, fearing for their reputation, said he should leave the area immediately. They would tell everyone that he was dead.

-------------

Kumar took a job in the states. He drove to a big church building. "I didn't know what else to do," he says. "Nice cars everywhere. I liked that."

He walked in, and was taken aback. "It was a fancy church, and everyone was a black person, and they were quite animated. They were walking on their chairs around the room. I was confused, but they were happy.

"They had a testimony time, and I like microphones, so I got up and told them, 'I am so happy about Jesus! I do not want a Mercedes or a BMW! I want to go back to India to tell people about Jesus!' Everyone applauded me! I was the center of attention! But I had just lied! I did not want to go back. Actually, I did want to be rich. I did want a Mercedes."

But some brothers took him to a room and prayed with him, that his return to India would happen. "I did not want to go back to India..."

-------------

A few years later, he went back to India. Kumar took his vacation from Sun, and headed over with no plan. He just went door-to-door, and told people about Jesus.

The first day, 45 people decided to become Jesus-followers. How'd THAT happen?

"I don't know. I just went door to door, and neighbors would introduce me to others, and I was amazed."

-------------

Kumar still takes his vacations, two weeks a year, and heads to India. But things have grown. From those first 45, and from his trips over the past seven years...

More than 100,000 conversions. 139 communities. More than 100 pastors. Model orphanages for children suffering from AIDS Schools for Dalit children, the lowest-of-the-low in India. Shelters for little girls, now rescued from prostitution. Food. Medicine. Jesus.

They want to name projects after Kumar. He does not allow them. He spends hours every day, after work, praying and communicating and wondering what the next move is. He doesn't raise financial support. Not his style.

"God always provides. Children are dying in a project, because all we have is rice for them, and not much. Woody gave us some money for a down-payment on four acres with hundreds of coconut trees, and then several families who know us each called me, unaware of what we were doing. 'God woke us up last night, and we can't get you off our mind. Here's five thousand dollars...here's a thousand dollars...we got the forty-thousand we needed to buy the land. I am always amazed."

-------------

"Kumar...I don't get it. We made a quantum leap in your story. 45 people decide to follow Jesus, and now more than 100 thousand. Wha...? How...?"

We sit at our table in our hotel room, and Kumar starts laughing. I laugh, too! -- and then, I realize, he's not laughing. He's crying, and he can't speak.

"So many have died..."

Who has died?

"So many of our pastors, so many of our people..."

I look at Woody, who knows the stories, and he bites his lip and nods.

"They are beaten to death, they are killed, because they are talking about Jesus. It happens all the time in India, but the country is very concerned about image, very concerned about foreign investment, they pretend it doesn't happen.

"They are the reason this growth has happened. Their blood. I ask God, 'Why do you let this happen to these people who love you?' They have nothing. Our pastors are not paid. There is no money. But I realized, God is releasing them, at last. They have nothing, they are beaten, they are hungry, they live on the ground, in the streets, and God finally releases them to go home."

Pause. And I can't talk, either.

-------------

Woody, who met Kumar at that seeker-sensitive church in suburban D.C., says I should let Kumar eat his salad. He's right. It's getting late.

-----------

If you're reading this on a weekday, Kumar is sitting in a little room at Sun and doing his job, and answering far-flung emails while he prays. And on Sundays, he sits on a folding chair in a high school gym, and hears about the church's big plans. It will be costly, but just think what could happen, with a new building!

He admits he wonders sometimes...

"They have now added us to their missions budget. They give $1,000 per year. I guess I am happy for that, but..." and his voice trails.

But...the church has other priorities, and a Big Vision for an another affluent suburb that, need we remind, needs Jesus, too.

So a guy comes up to me and asks, "Can married Christians be "total freaks" in the bedroom?"

I had an excellent MSN chat yesterday with a friend of mine. He's a great guy who does some wonderful work investing in our community and we've developed a pretty good relationship over the last couple of years. He's not a Christian but every now and again we get to have some really cool chats about it.
(He gave me permission to shat our chat BTW)

Dude says:
I've always had a question and never really knew anyone I could ask without sounding bad.. about Christianity..

Dave at Work says:

shoot...I've heard em all

Dude says:
ok, how is sexuality dealt with.. I just can't picture 2 married Christians being total freaks in the bedroom.. I've always been kinda curious about that

Dave at Work says:
really eh? well it's an area that Christians rarely used to speak about

Dude says:

exactly.

Dave at Work says:
I actually talk about sex quite often when i preach... ha
it shocks some people but it's actually totally liberating sexually in marriage... because you know the other person is not gonna leave you so you've got the perfect context for freedom and sexual exploration

Dude says:

interesting...
but come on man, can you honestly tell me when some 19 year old girl in a short jean skirt and boobs hanging out walks past you, there is nothing in your head that says "I'd hit it" (for lack of a better phrase.. ) lol

Dave at Work says:
ha

Dude says:

i mean no disrespect

Dave at Work says:
none taken

Dude says:
but we're guys.. we're human.. you know how guys can talk, i think? lol

Dave at Work says:
yeah it's something that's in there... but I also don't think that it's right to act just on impulses. Ya know? Like I alway say (or at least think) "thump thump" when I drive past a pedestrian
i don't' want to hit them... but some twisted thing in my head says it.

Now I'm not saying that this is true for all Christians. Many are pretty repressed folks (because of a messed up Christian culture for alot of years), but marriage is the best context for sexual freedom because you can delve deeper than the surface impulses.

Dude says:
gotcha
well thanks for answering
I've always been curious

you're the coolest Christian I have met
I'll be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of most Christian's I've met -- no disrespect, but a lot of them seem close minded in some aspects

Dave at Work says:
and MANY are... and it's just as frustrating for me... I'll bet more so
because I'm around them a lot

Dude says:
yeah, i could see that!

There have been people who have posed the question, "are we (the church) answering questions that nobody is asking?". And that's a legit question to ask ourselves. But I think the issue is even a bit deeper.

I think the question is... "are we talking to anyone?" Ha. Are Christians even just being normal people and having real conversations? I'm not sure that even IF WE WERE answering the questions that people were asking... we wouldn't be heard at all! Ha.

Just be normal. Of course Christians have great sex, but there is something that is so anal retentive about the way we handle ourselves that we're (rightfully based on the evidence) thought of as prudes. I don't like being a part of THAT club. God's big, wild and free... THAT'S my God.

And by the way... I'm over-the-moon excited to be a part of a Christian Community that is NOT like that. Freedom House, and the amazing people in it, have taught me something wonderful over the years. I wrote this on the wall in our prayer room.

Church is at 10:30 Sunday. You should come.

12 February 2008

Fruit


I remember going to hear an evangelist speak once and he said the words, "if you're not a soul winner, you're a backslider". Ha. Glad I wasn't a 19 year old new Christian at that moment. This dude was hardcore. He was a crash down the door of the Crack House, haul out that hooker, jam a little Jesus down her windpipe and get her into a small group kinda fella. I actually really liked him. He lived out his passion and saw some big fruit. I can dig that. But the "if you're not a soul winner, you're a backslider" comment has always bothered me. Because all of our kids are different... and so is our fruit.

We had our son just shortly after a friend of Krissy's had one too. And what a whopper of a baby HE was! He was and is this larger than life kinda baby! He walked first, he talked first, he ran first, he interacted with other kids better. He was "wonder baby"! It was astounding easy to look at Jared and think,

"What's wrong with you? Shouldn't you been walking? Why aren't you saying "mohodadada" by now?" If you're a not a crawler, you're a backslider Jared. Repent and crawl in Jesus name (insert tongues here)."

I can appriciate that we're excited about what our fruit looks like. When you find a really nice, big banana at the grocery... it's pretty darn wonderful. But some people don't dig bannanas. You know? Carers think everyone should be baking pies for each other. Prophets think every time I have a dream I should pray through its colour scheme. My fruit looks like me and Krissy. It's as unique as we are, but dealing with fruit is a tricky propasition. Because we were made to worship AND reproduce. Intimacy and Giving. In and Out. Within the bond of intimacy, God desires to birth big, full, promised land like kinda fruit. But it sure can look and smell weird.

10 February 2008

There is only you

I love this Small Town Poets Song.
There is a lot of gobilty gook that goes along with livin' life, doing ministry, working jobs, being a man...

But there is only you.






Growing more uneasy with every question asked
It seems you're jealous of my interests
And the graven things I've cast
Waking resolutions of twenty years or more
That I would disallow golden cows my favor anymore

Your wishes set in stone, I broke the first of ten
I've cleared this temple out come take your place again

There is only You

Tiptoe from an awkward scene
Not fooling anyone
Am I dumb enough to kneel with my accusers
Or brave enough to run
Petty daggers bounce weakly off my back
I'm leaving breathless gods and secrets in my tracks
Your wishes set in stone, I broke the first of ten
I've cleared this temple out come take Your place again

There is only You

To a thousand generations
Of the faithful man
You will show Your favor Lord

There is only You

9 February 2008

Find Jenny


Can you see Jenny in this picture?

She's on a boat... parked at that harbor.

In Liberia.

This morning she wrote,

"Seeing Ghana on the map everywhere makes my heart a little happy"

I have to admit that I find it extremely cool knowing that my sister is in West Africa. I really do miss it.

Fair Fight?


"OK Snowman... it's me against you"
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8 February 2008

Neil says...


"I think that the time when music could change the world is past. I think it would be very naive to think that in this day and age. I think the world today is a different place, and that it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet.''

Neil Young

Still cool music. Not world changing but hey...




7 February 2008

Africa and me


I talk about it a lot. But 7 months in Africa changed me. It took me from being one person with a fixed set of social norms, God expectations, cultural assumptions... and made me into a fuller human, a better husband, and a clearer thinking Christian.

I want to share my private journals with you to show you some of my process... because it wasn't a simple one.



I learned lessons that I wasn't expecting to learn, but what God did during this "marinating" time has been foundational for me as I've launched into adult ministry.

Today my little sister Jen leaves for Liberia. You should follow her blog called "When I grow up, I want to be nurse in Africa... or a ballerina." Also my friend Sarah in Kenya took some astounding shots of Kenya last weekend. Check out her blog for more, "Out of Africa".

Just had this great chat with one of my best friends Matt... (who is about to embark on an excellent adventure of his own)

Matt: you think you'll ever go back to Ghana?
Dave: yep, but i don't think africa will ever be my focus. I think i'll go back for fun
I TRULY believe that there will come a day where there is enough wealth for Christians to do the ministry they dream of and there won't be the need for so much cross cultural stuff
Matt: ya man
Dave: and we won't need to go to africa to see poverty to be impacted. I think that's such crap that people go to see horrible situations and come back "changed", and then live high on the hog and send their 30 bucks a month to a kid
Matt: haha!
Dave: like.... PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE and context doesn't matter. Get a heart for people and go!
Matt: totally. i couldn't agree more. Even just the mindset that what people see, is worse than what they live in is such a twisted thought. like, why do we assume that our living conditions are superior just because our houses are bigger?
i honestly couldn't care less if people live in huts...i actually think it's great
Dave: ditto
What we think about when we think about Africa barely moved me. I learned from powerfully free, culturally relevant (their own culture), dedicated Missionary's. Every time I go out of Canada... my heart burns (and hurts) for Canada even more.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

6 February 2008

Smell that?

Song of Solomon 1:3
"Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!"

I take my lead from one of the greatest lovers the world has ever known. Pepe le pew. When Pepe caught the scent of the female skunk... he drifted in it's direction. Other cartoons did it with pie... but Pepe was smart. He got the girl. Foghorn can have his darn pie.

My wife and I fell hard for each other in high school and ended up at different colleges a couple of hours apart. But we were hooked. Nothing could keep us apart. No sleet. No snow. No college. We were the mailmen of love. In 3 years I didn't miss coming home one single weekend. One weekend she was over at my house and I let her wear one of my shirts. One of my gamers. We likely spent our Saturday night like most good Canadian horny Christian college students... laying on the couch side by side, watching hockey, pretending we weren't just using it as an excuse to have our bodies touch.

Sunday night came... I packed up my gear and we parted ways for another long week. But when I unpacked, I found quite a treat in my bag. Her smell was in there. My black button-down shirt that kinda made me look like Bruce Springsteen (OK maybe not) smelled like her. Her body. Her perfume. Her scent. The same smell that filled my nose on the couch. That was it for the shirt. It was officially out of the clothing rotation. For as long as that smell lasted... in the evenings where just looking at pictures of her just didn't hit the spot... I'd lay that shirt over my face and let her scent envelop me.

Smell moves you. It stops you in your tracks and moves you in the direction of it's source. Smell is actually a byproduct of what's in the room at the time. When you ask people what they don't like about hospitals, people often say, "the hospital smell". It's really not the reason but it's a sensory reactions to what's going on around you. Wine lovers use the term robust to describe the full, rich, deep smell of a fine wine. There is something special and a little bit Holy tied into a smell.

Oh Come on

Come on now... it's SLUSH outside! In my day...

5 February 2008

5:11am

Anyone know how to write a book?

So far I've got,

1) 5am alarms
2) Google docs
3) Coffee
4) 3 years of nonsensical notes
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4 February 2008

Secretly

I spent a good chunk of today going through some old writing that my friend rescued from my dearly departed computer. I wrote this just over 2 years ago. I remember when I wrote it... it felt very strange to be open about my "crap". But as this says, being real and raw is the only thing that feels right.



Secretly I wish I could be a farmer
Secretly I know every attempt at controlling my own destiny has failed
Secretly every time I pass a car dealership I wish it was “Lockport Gambino Ford”
Secretly I know more can be done
Secretly I hope nobody can see that I’m riding a Merry-go-round
Secretly I wish my street was paved with gold
Secretly I’m tired of shouting
Secretly I’m not sure if two heads really are better than one
Secretly I’m not as tough as I pretend to be
Secretly I wish I looked better in cool clothes
Secretly I’ve become accustomed to failure
Secretly I can’t forget the pictures I saw when I was 8
Secretly I’m just beginning to learn to feel at home in my skin
Secretly I maintain that Field Dreams was Spirit-led
Secretly I’m not sure why more people don’t get me
Secretly I’m hurt more often than I show
Secretly I’m not satisfied with this life
Secretly most of my smiles are for others benefit
Secretly I know that I’d do anything
Secretly I know that, if left to myself, I wouldn’t speak much
Secretly I don’t get the whole motorcycle thing
Secretly being raw scares me, but it’s the only thing that feels right
Secretly repetition sickens me
Secretly I hate more than I should
Secretly I know the thing stopping God… is me

January 1
st 2006

Nothing

Nope.

Nothing.
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1 February 2008

Britney and Church Burnout from Naked Pastor


Check this out from David Hayward AKA "Naked Pastor"

www.nakedpastor.com

"What’s happening to Britney Spears has me thinking about how we treat the stars in our own communities. I think Britney is more of a victim of our culture than the cause of her own demise. I’ve seen this over and over again in my own life and in the lives of others in churches. This is roughly what happens:

  1. She shows that she’s gifted.
  2. She is invited to take responsibility as an opportunity to exercise or share this gift.
  3. She, usually being young in years or in the faith, gladly takes it on because she can use her gift and there’s some gratification in her gift being recognized.
  4. She is rewarded with praise, admiration, adoration, recognition, fame and sometimes money.
  5. With rewards and responsibility comes more responsibility, so this person is given more to do or the level of responsibility is increased. They become, necessarily, committed with verbal, written or unspoken expectations or contracts.
  6. Because this person was too young or immature to recognize her own boundaries or endurance and because she was unable or unwilling to say “No!”, they start to show signs of wear and tear.
  7. In the industry, this is met with more praise and the ethic of hard work paying off is preached, as well as the old idea that this is the cost of responsibility. Our curiosity into her humanness and vulnerability elevates her even further in our own eyes. In the church, this wear and tear is met with more prayer, encouragement, and servant-theology, service and sacrifice is preached even harder.
  8. Over time she begins to crack. This is evidenced by increased absences, embarrassing mistakes, illness, sloppiness, outspokenness and surprising behavior.
  9. This is met with either pity or outright condemnation. Correction is attempted. But we still expect her to produce and perform better than she ever has before.
  10. Finally, she crashes and burns. She totally loses it.
  11. The general reaction is scorn and blame. She is perceived and treated as though she is the scum of the earth because it is her own fault. She asked for it!

I see this with Britney. I see this is the church. All the time. These people are seen as failures, burn-outs, has-beens, dead wood… whatever. And it makes me sick because we are the ones who created them. I can’t see us stopping it either because we love to be entertained and the show must go on."

Really really insightful stuff.
Church is not a game.
God is GOD.

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