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.

30 April 2008

The City of God

I've said it before... but I really believe in the generation that are college age. They are going lead the charge to real wide spread denominationless revival in North America... and in Brantford.

A couple of nights ago, friends of ours called us and we prayed through whether or they should take off in the middle of the night and head down to Lakeland Florida where God is doing AMAZING things! Healing the blind, deaf, the paralyzed, cancer and on and on. People are coming from all over North America and half a million have watched on God TV or their UStream site. Those running these ongoing revival services really believe that this is a vehicle to spread healing around the world. And I'm in on that!

Last night a reporter from the local CBS affiliate was there and God healed her of a migraine headache (she had been throwing up in the bathroom). You can read her story here. On a side note... I also LOVE how so many of those who are in Lakeland are young people. Just down to earth real people not caring about anything but God. The age of the religious nut bar being the only ones who want God are over... thank you very much.

So our newly married friends who had only a few days off been classes and summer classes, drove all night to Lakeland and last night we watched them on God TV being encouraged, spurred on, and sent back to Brantford full of whatever's living in that hockey arena in Lakeland.

And that's their desire... and I LOVE that. It's great that things are happening in Florida. It's super that the media sees a change in Florida. I live in Brantford. I want it here!

Another one of my revolutionary friends emailed me this video that she made. It's an amazing expression of this generation's desire to see our community be transformed from making the news about being the "Crime Capital" and having feces in our water (check THIS out... yuck) to being the CITY OF GOD.



"The Hungry Win"
Brian Beattie

Just try and convince me differently. I Dare you.
Brantford... will... win.

29 April 2008

Laugh or Cry?


I'm going to go with...

1) Silence
2) Silence
3) Run for Paper Towel
4) Realize Paper Towel is useless
5) Cry
6) Laugh
7) Cry
8) Cancel adult plans for the night
9) Sigh
10) Pour a bath

28 April 2008

Quoth Ebby Calvin LaLoosh:

"A good friend of mine used to say, "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while."
I don't think that life is half as complex as we try to jam into its character description. All the gadgets that we've invented to make our days more profitable, don't really change life that much. They're just shiny pieces of metal. Catnip.

I learned this in the city of Sunyani Ghana. I was walking through a grass field on my way to a convention meeting. There was a group of about 8-10 boys playing soccer in just their shorts. The ball was accidentally booted towards me in a way that even my inept soccer skills could handle. One young guy looked at me playfully and crouched in a goalie stance. I gave him a little Magic Johnson head fake and slipped the ball through his legs. The other kids roared with laugher at their friend who had just been schooled by fat "Obruni" stranger.

These are the type of moments that the Olympic purests claim unite us. It was a pure relateable moment where we both connected... one where rich/poor/white/black/read/not read didn't matter. Maslow and his hierarchy of needs buys it. That we're really all the same...


We get our jollies on each level from different places... but sometimes I think simple is better.

On Saturday night, I went to a benefit concert at the church that I grew up in. Sitting at the table next me was an older lady named Muriel Stevenson. She spent much of her life as a Missionary in India. As a kid, she would share her stories of far off lands with our Sunday School Class on our felt board breaks. They were like real life insider information about a place and people that... to that point... were just "things" a teacher had made me memorize about in school. I remember her violin that she used as a tool to break down cultural barriers and create common human ground . I remember the kindness with which she spoke about the Indian people whom she had fallenl in love with.

She didn't use Veggie Tales materials from the local Christian retailer. No video. No powerpoint. Just a very kind older woman of God being honest about what fuels her life fire.

On the "culturally relevant scale" (in the sense that we think of it) to a sarcastic suburb kid... Muriel would have score a 1.5 out of 10. 1 because she's human. She got the half because I like her. Yet she impacted my adult life more than any hip youth leader.

To be honest. I didn't ever attend youth groupy things. I found them contrived and I could see the hidden motives behind pizza parties and road trips. I didn't like being manipulated and I wouldn't play the game out of principle... even if the thing they were trying to get at was good. I acknowledge that I am a different kind of duck, but I think that truth speaks for itself through the cultural wrapping paper.

I've alway hated wrapping paper. My wife mocks me for how poor my wrapping skills are. It's now a Carrol joke to find the boxes that have that "Dave touch". But it's such a waste. I sometimes think we waste such a disproportionate amount of time on how we dress Jesus up like a culturally relevant Barbie doll.

We love to hate the Jesus Junk littering the market place. But how much of what we do is just Jesus Junk too? Cluttering up THE story of life that has lasted from age to age...

1 Corinthians 12-13
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.



27 April 2008

Stuff Christians Like

Enunciating in song:

What is our obsession with hearing every syllable of every word? Not an apostrophe to be found. Even the hymns had some givn's... fount's... They were rhymers and schemers baby.

Sprite and Cranberry Punch:

A must on any table.

Rallying around each other:

You know, for all our foilbles... when a brother needs a pick me up, Christians care and act on it. Last night people from many denominations and churches came together just to tell a Pastor and his wife that they care about them.

Joy, who has been battling cancer for some time now... is one cool chicky. Listening to her tell about how her situation has taught her what the "body of Christ" is really about was enlightening. People who she doesn't even know send cards, buy tickets to prime rib dinners and pray. Just because of the simple fact that..

... we're all in this thing together.

26 April 2008

If you're in Brantford

You should come to Freedom House tomorrow... Chris Friel, the former youngest mayor in Canada is going to be speaking about "Influence". Check out the details.

Best Shinystats Big Ear Google searches for April

And here we go...



Is she ever! I was over at E2's pad last night and pimped her ride. Then Phillip said something racist to me. Then he shot me. But thankfully, as my homeboy... E2 is now contractually obligated to cap him.

Street rules is street rules.



I'm so happy that Fanta pop has returned. It was all over in Ghana but since being blessed by His Holiness... I'm predicting big things in the St. Mark's Cafeteria.



Two words. Manute Bol.



"Call 1-888-pft. The pft agency. The agency that couldn't care less"




How about this one? That's pretty stupid.
Oh those wacky Chinese. Such cut ups they are.





These are 2 good reminders. Did you hear what Michael Moore said last week?
"My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate."
Wee bit full of ourselves these days? Yeah well... HE HAS BIG EARS. HA HA HA HA HA

Come crashing down a few pegs Mr. Movement.

Sigh

I wish I was a movement.



That's EXACTLY the kind of tattoo that I'm allowed to get ironically enough. There's my movement... the "Mythical Tattoo" movement. For those of us who kinda want one but can't pull it off.

Take that Mr Big Barack Ears!











Jesus junk is everywhere these days. How about "disturbingly inappropriate glow in the dark Jesus Light switch"?





Oh please make it stop....





I hope that was the same guy who searched for both of those things. I think that search #2 about #2 would make a really good #1.




Just look for the hot dog bun. That one was easy.



I'm hoping that you are 49 years old. Because then you are this thing:



Otherwise... you're the same age you are in English.
Next...




Personification: "The attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions".
Now... if I did have a gay armpit, I would have to keep it away from the other genetically identical armpit so as to not cause them to stumble. Daytime is easy. It's while I'm sleeping that I'm worried about.



2 ll's in Carrol? Oh you must be looking for him...
















Well thanks for popping by. Hope you found what you're looking for. I'm uncomfortable with this mental image. Moving on.
With the loin cloths and all... moving on moving on...



Well if Brantford is the City of God... then the Chicken City of God must be Duluth. Yep Duluth, "Chicken City of God".



Step #1: Check with Dave before you do anything.
Step #2: Pretend you're Bruce Springsteen
That's all I've got. Thanks for checking with me first before attempting to sing though




FYI... it's called "Christmas in Brantford" and it's the most wonderful day of the year. A day for the giving and receiving of each other's trash. I miss it like I miss Thursday night Seinfeld.



25 April 2008

The THIS and The THAT

1. Found a fascinating web site called "Dear God". Just people writing to "Whoever's out there". I love praying for the felt needs of people. It's very expository about the human condition to hear what people would say to a deity if they could. Some great photography here too.

2. You know that friend who always hands you a CD and says... "you gotta listen to this?". Well my friend handed me Glen Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield's double "Trimmed 'n Burnin'" & "Slow Burn" Christian Blues Discs. Have a listen.

REALLY
GOOD
BLUES

3. Really good news from Gay Scientists. They've found "The Christian Gene"



That's funny for about 8 reasons.

4. If you were thinking of spending your weekend in Kinshasa Congo, please be aware that witch doctors are stealing penises there. So guard your junk, OK?

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.
I'm Dennis Miller... that's the news and I... am... outta here.

Why won't Christians write songs about girls?


"My Music doesn't come from the heart... it comes from the groin"
Bryan Adams

...and yet Bryan Adams has written some fantastic love songs. Could it be that sex and real pure love have a connection somewhere? Gee Whiz Billy.

I was flipping around the radio the other day and I heard a catchy new Kid Rock song called "All Summer Long". It only caught my ear since it's bed is a smashup of "Werewolves of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama". This song can't hold a candle to either of the songs it's stolen from. It's not a good song by any stretch of the imagination. But it's one of those "makin love down by the lake with my girl" kinda songs.
And it got my mind a flyin' as lyrics like that seem to do.

Remember the first time you heard Van's Brown Eyed Girl and you heard him get overwhelmed remembering making love in the green grass behind the stadium? I used to love that idea. Since I'm a dude. It's seemed pretty cool to me. Still does. I wanted to sing sha la la la la la la la tee dah.

I gave it a try and I wasn't singin' a whole lotta anything. Then I got that ring on my left hand... the piggy that "went home"... and gave it another go.
Sha la la la la la la la tee dah! But I'll be gosh darned if I can find a good "makin love in the green grass with yo wife" song at The Gospel Lighthouse.

Oh wait you're saying. What about that one Geoff Moore "If you could see what I see" tear jerker that my brother sang to my wife at my wedding... confusing everyone about why he was serenading his sister-in-law (doing it OT style). It's pretty and all. Makes a nice scripture greeting card... but the honeymoon mix tape didn't have a heck of a lot of Geoff Moore on it.

NOTE: Yes we were married in the "mix tape" era.

Honestly... someone write a good summer, fun, "makin love in the green grass" song that doesn't include Kid Rock spoiling it for me by "smoking funny things". With Jesus, we've been given the greatest gift of legit freedom there is! And we waste our time being prudes and pretending to play the role of "Christian" as it was scripted for you back when you signed on the dotted line! Sheesh. That couldn't be any stupider. Being conservative churns my stomach.

Think I'll get a sitter on Saturday. Actually I've got one. We're going to a Christian concert full of love songs in support of some great friends. I think I'll put in a request...
Take it Van...

24 April 2008

I shoulda been courtside!!!


Come on now. I got hosed this morning. Toronto Sports radio station, The Fan 590 had a contest this morning to find the best Sam Mitchell impression. The winner got court side seats for the Raptors v Orlando Playoff game tonight.

Sam Mitchell comes on the morning show every week and lambastes Don Laundry and Gord Stellick. It's extremely funny hearing a professional coach threaten to strangle jocks with a hose and run them over on the Don Valley Parkway.

My personal fav was when he said,
"you're about to feel the ratta tat tat of my batta bat bat on your head"
Go Smitch. So I got on air... and even made it to the final 3. But alas. I got hosed by some hoser. Here's the dramatic recreation of my entry.


powered by ODEO

Come on! I am Smitch!

23 April 2008

Sometimes I feel I want to... HONK HONK... Runaway


Sometimes I don't get humans. If I was ever going to go back to school, I think I'd study Sociology. I'd spend many years and many dollars trying to figure humans out... and realize that I'm no closer to figuring anything out.

I've been feeling very pulled at from every direction of late. It can feel like a stress bomb of not enough time, energy, money and Dave to go around. And truthfully... lots of that is because I've chosen to serve in various capacities of ministry.

And no complaints about that. I choose it. I love it. It's part of my "calling"... and I'm one of the lucky ones since Freedom House is an astoundingly healthy church. No really. It's a bit of and oddity. This whole blog post is NOT about somebody in my church doing something stupid.

But man... even in an amazing scenario like we have in Brantford... it's more than enough trying to live the life of a husband, father, employee, minister, writer... whatever I actually am. But, when you add some of the human "x factors" life can get "Cousin It" kinda hairy.

Most people have no idea what ministers/missionaries subject themselves to. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, who was sharing with us some of the horrible things her family (who do ministry) have had to endure lately from mean spirited, bitter people, whom they poured their life and time into... only to be paid back with lies and gossip and heartache.

So why would a Pastor fight through hurt on a Sunday morning, force a smile, and tell a gathering of "Christ Followers"... half of whom are growling at him... all about Jesus and his love? Because it's the only hope for ALL of us. And he knows it. And he's right. Even if he has to lock himself in his office after and find a way to make his flesh believe the truth living in his spirit.

One major variable about spiritual leaders that make their situation different is the "God has called me to do..." factor. It's a voluntary community where people attempt to hear God and obey. Both leaders and laity. And while there is far too much division between leader/laity and the there is less difference between the two than we've functioned in for years... there is something VERY God significant about not only submission to leaders... but honoring and blessing them too.

I'll tell you something. You can't treat your pastor well enough. Because it's super hard eh.

1 Timothy 5: 17-19

Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, "Don't muzzle a working ox" and "A worker deserves his pay."Don't listen to a complaint against a leader that isn't backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.


It's not an easy scenario for the family of those laying themselves on the line either. My favorite song right now is "Washed by the Water" by Need to Breathe. It's written by a couple of PK's ("Pastor's Kids" as we hip Christian Culture dufus's say). I'm sure there's some "funky" incident at it's heart.

Daddy was a preacher. She was his wife. Just tryin to make the world a little better. You know, shine a light. People started talking, trying to hear their own voice. Those people tried to accuse my father... said he made the wrong choice. Though it might be painful. You know that time will always tell. Those people have long since gone, my father never failed.

Even if the Earth crumbles under my feet. Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me, I won’t never ever let you down. I won’t fall as long as you’re around me.

Even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising. Even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water.







Beautiful. So we press on like it talks about in 1 Corinthians 9:6-7:

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Wanna know what my "dream" has been the last few months? Last month a friend of mine (another PK) took me out to Williams for coffee and Jones Soda. He GAVE me and Krissy a trip to an hot island somewhere for our upcoming 10th anniversary this August. It was a answer to a prayer that I fully expected not to be answered. Between kids, life, church and being broke all the time... we never go vacation. And frankly... I've never felt like I needed it before.

But for whatever reason... I now feel like it. Being able to lay down in bed at night and think about doing NOTHING... is about the sweetest dream around. As Kramer said to Costanza,
"In my mind... I'm already there".

I knew most of this the day I gave my life to Jesus. I weighed it all out. Counted the cost... and I'm all in. I decided that God is actually real. And the Jesus really is The Way, The Truth, and The Life... so none of it matters. Making God Big IS my life. There is nothing I'd rather be doing. And that's why good people are doing good things all over the world, even though the reward is mostly differed to another time and place...

...but Billy...
...what a reward it is.

21 April 2008

Juno


I have a hard time watching movies these days for 2 reasons.

1) Most movies are stupid.
{stoo-pid} "lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull"
2) Ones that aren't stupid have naked people swearing like Richard Pryor in them.

But my wife and I watched and LOVED "Juno" last night. It's a funny movie that doesn't ram "funny" down your throat with shtick. It let's the teen-pop-culture-laced dialog, given to intriguing wonderful characters, tell it's own story. Like the Gilmore Girls on half speed. It also handles the multi-faceted issue of teen pregnancy from an insiders perspective.

It's not always easy to step back and have a spirited point-counter point, pro-life vs pro-choice debate... when you're 16 and have a human growing in you.

Juno: Well, you know, I was thinking I'd just nip it in the bud, before it gets worse, because they were talking about it in health class, how pregnancy, it can often lead to... an infant.
" Juno" shows the cavalier line of thought facing teens towards abortion. They barely believed me in Ghana when I tried to explain it, but it's somewhat a cultural norm in the culture teens face. This is an exchange with a girl at the abortion clinic after Juno began "the process":

Girl: Here, have a condom. They're boysenberry.
Juno: I'm actually off sex right now, thanks.
Girl: My boyfriend wears them every time we have intercourse. They make his junk smell like pie.

The abnormality of this, combined with remembering what her friend outside the clinic chanting "All babies want to get borned" told her about her baby having fingernails... made Juno decide to carry her baby to term and find a family to adopt it.

Obviously... lot's happens to Juno... including her figuring out how to make decisions and choices that someone her age is unequipped to make. And she makes them very well with the help of a disappointed but loving family who stick up for her. Her divorced and remarried father helps her process her own feelings about life, relationships, marriage, babies...

Mac MacGuff: Are you having boy trouble because I gotta be honest I don't really much approve of you dating in your condition. That's, uh, that's kinda messed up.
Juno: No, Dad, it's not--
Mac MacGuff: I mean that's pretty skanky. Isn't that what you girls call it? Skanky? Skeevy?
Juno: Please stop.
Mac MacGuff: Tore up from the floor up?

He goes on to give Juno this cool nugget of fatherly wisdom:

Mac MacGuff: Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with.


Juno gives the baby to the right person. Her family supports her and forgives her. The father of the baby and Juno fall in love and write weird acoustic guitar songs together. It's a happy movie about real people battling to make the right choice in a life that is full of unexpected variables.

Life is imperfect.

It's one of the issues I have with "you can do" success pimpin' motivational types. I think life is more like baseball than a Tony Robbins convention. The best batters in baseball succeed 3 out of 10 times. It's what you choose to believe about yourself after the 7 outs you make that makes you a success or not.

I wanna taste saltier

The Church Factory in it's status quo state simply does not churn out the kind of Christians that can truly influence this earth in their Christ-called role. Salty Christians.

Matthew 5:13-14

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
Jesus

I want share a bit of a recent interview between Tony Campolo and Kara Powell who is the director of Youth Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. It's context is the unbalanced nationalistic leanings of the American Church... but listen to what a Christian Big Thinker who desperately wants to see the Church function in an influential social capacity has to say about what we do:

Campolo: I find most youth workers haven't a clue as to what macro economics is all about and how macro economic factors influence the poverty, and create the poverty in third world countries. They don't understand why third world peoples are angry with America...They hate a powerful country that is able to control international trade in such a way as to increase poverty in third world while it aggrandizes itself. Those insights into how things operate on the macro level and how macro factors in politics and in economics in third world countries and in our own country foster poverty are totally beyond the comprehension of most youth workers and that's a very sad thing indeed...

That means that in reality what is generated is pity, instead of anger. They should be angry at what is being done to these people by forces that are beyond their control...

I think [youth workers] need to know that young people don't know what's going on in the world...They [teenagers] have become so overly nationalistic under the auspices of the religious right that they cannot see anything wrong with America...The reality is that of the twenty two industrialized nations the United States is dead last in the proportion of it's national budget it assigns to helping the poor and the third world...

Kara Powell: What would you say to the youth worker, who isn't just dealing with kids who are nationalistic but parents who are [nationalistic][Campolo interrupts]...

Campolo: Point blank, I am not impressed with youth workers. I find that they don't know what's going on in the world. That youth work becomes a matter of fun and games. When I go the National Youth Workers Convention I get more depressed every year. Because what I find is what the youth workers are really interested in is techniques. They don't want to deal with issues. They don't want to deal with the hard nosed facts of what is going on in the world.

And when anything is said that causes questions to be raised about the role of the United States in fostering third world poverty, literally, this is literal, they get up and walk out. And when youth workers are that way I don't see much hope for kids. As a matter of fact I think that MTV may do more to help kids be sensitive to the needs of what is going on in the world than youth workers. If you are asking me, who is turning more people onto poverty, it's Bono of U2, rather than youth workers. Youth workers are pressured into maximizing big turn outs at the youth gatherings at their churches. That doesn't usually come by making them sensitive to the needs of the poor and the oppressed.

Dave Note: OK cool. But here's the interesting part. How do you motive people to action?

Campolo: I am very fascinated by is how much mystical experiences with Christ transform young people into ardent social activists and into evangelists. We have to recognize that we need More than just a social conscience youth worker who has a program. We need for young people to be invaded by the Holy Spirit and inwardly motivated. I really do believe that the Holy Spirit is a transforming force in peoples lives, and that when the Spirit of Christ is alive in people, they become very aware of injustices. They become very sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed.

And I don't want the church to simply become another social activist group. I want it to be filled with people who are imbued with the Holy Spirit that has sensitized them to the injustices in the system and to the sufferings of the poor. Increasingly we are finding that as we nurture intimate spirituality, that one of the consequences is not this 'me and Jesus' thing where Jesus becomes my boyfriend. But a process where by Christ becomes a motivating force within people that drives them into ministry to needy people."

End

On Sunday at Freedom House, we talked about Revival vs Social Influence. Embarrassingly often, churches draw a line in the sand and choose which side they will work towards. We're kinda afraid that the "skin" of either side is so repulsive to the other that both are not achievable.

We're either knockin 'em down with Todd Bentley or we're hugging the homeless with Shane Claiborne. Why choose? I want it ALL. That's my dream! But what Tony Campolo is saying is such truth that I'm stunned churches haven't had the marbles to really live it out.

Live life in the FULL ON presence of God... and let the goodness of God living in us birth not only dreams... but the strategy to be people of influence in our age. Go be the "salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth."

Oh yeah... and BTW... this goes for youth too. As our kids Pastor Nicki says;

"There is no Jr. Holy Spirit"

20 April 2008

I am your latin nightmare

It seems to be physically impossible for me not to carve something stupid into my face before I shave off a beard.

I... am a little boy trapped inside a huge ear... under a sombrero.

Hey check it out... i look like Pavlov!
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