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.

31 October 2008

A good looking bunch of humans I love

I'm a very lucky man to have such family and friends around me. Sometimes I don't stop and remember what I've been given.

I'm a blessed man.
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So after all the Halloween hoo haw I'm dressing up as...

Yep... I'm Steven Harper.

Some people dress scary.
Some people dress as a super hero.
Some people do the "that's weird" thing.


I thought to myself, "who do I know who can rock a sweatervest, holds kittens with bold confidence, and who my increasing gray hair will compliment?"

So look out Eagle Place. The PM is coming to your door tonight.


30 October 2008

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell me the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing but example's always clear.

American poet Edgar Guest

29 October 2008

Hi. I'm Dave. And I'm a Christian who takes his kids out for Halloween.

This past Sunday (and throughout this week) we Freedom House peeps have been debating Halloween and it's been totally amazing. We decided to rip open the can of worms and serve them up hot... expose the pink elephant... and let everyone give their thoughts about one of the hottest of Christian Hot Topics around. It was great too! You know why? Because it's one of those disputable matters that Romans 14 talks about:

Don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.
(paraphrased v 1-9)

... and who in the world wants to be a real family that holds things against each other? We've got enough of that crap to deal with already!

So how in the nuts can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

I've run the Halloween gambit. I've done church gym harvest parties. I've done carefree trick or treating. I've done guilted trick or treating. I've shut off my lights and pretended like I'm not home. I've had my heart broken for the debauchery of a city. I've handed out candy at my church. But here's what Halloween means to me this year...

I'm tired of being left out of society as a Christian. I'm done with it. The years of shutting my lights off and scolding others for dressing their daughter as a princess are over. Too many years we've been "that house". If you were a trick or treater you knew "that house". The lights were off and you talked to your buddies about how they sucked. I'm quite sure that little boys don't care much about our reasoning behind the silent protest. They just know that you're too damn good to participate in their world.

Are these families with a 2,4, and 7 year old dressed as the Muppets out just desperately searching for some dastardly act of evil to do? Nope... they are just looking for a smile and some tiny tarts! And for too many years they've discovered seldom-found community in the candy-apple and goofy jokes of our neighbors.

I'm done with the judging... both Christians and non-Christians. It's a heavy divisive load that I was not designed to carry. I'm sick of intentionally ostracizing myself from conversations over pithy quibbles of "food sacrificed to idols" which is what Romans 14 is talking about.

15-16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning

I can't stop thinking about Pete Greig's "The Vision" where its says:

"...they laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crust on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice... They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and the dirty and the dying"

They are words that are transforming how I live and what I do these days. Pete's word have intrinsic power too... since it's modern poetry reflecting what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:

19-23Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

but but but but... but...

But nothing. I'm a slave to the lost. I could give or take Halloween. It's a "who gives a crap" to me whether I do it or not. I don't buy the "you're openning your kids up to demons" argument either. In Ghana one day who came across a full fledged voodoo priest initiation ceremony, complete with blood sacrifices, idol worship, satanic trances... the whole bit. Albert (our friend) stopped the car and said, "would you like to go see that?". We were stunned. Shouldn't we flee even the appearance of evil? He said... "Nah... if you don't have any unrepented-for sin in your life, you're covered by the blood of Jesus. He who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. You're good."

Is there more demonic activity on Halloween? Maybe. VERY debatable though. The strongest demonic attack in North American... is the spirit of apathy. And the church LOVES that stronghold every day of the year. But guess what... Jesus wins.

This year in Southern Ontario on Halloween, an amazing event called "The Cry" is being held in downtown Toronto. It's a worship and prayer declaration of unity. It's totally the stuff I dig and it's gonna be amazing. And I'd be directly disobedient to God by going. Why? Because my son is gonna be so excited to dress up like superman. My daughter is going to be the first ever Hippy-princess... and my other daughter is gonna be the cutest dang Eeeyore this world has ever seen. And as someone who works full time... and is out almost every night of the week doing ministry (which is my PASSION) ... I WOULDN'T DARE miss out on such a time.

So how can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

- I will be worshiping God by being a Dad who is engaged with his kids.
- I will be worshiping God by creating memories with my wife and sister who are two of the people I most enjoy spending time with and laughing with.
- I will be worshiping God by hanging out with my neighbors and meeting the school mom's and dad's and kids that my wife has crafted wonderful relationships with.

And you know why we don't get to hold grey areas over each other? Because 3 years ago... I thought quite differently on the subject. I quietly judged of some of my closest friends on their liberty. It was wrong. I hated the feeling and I don't planning on resuming it... ever.

It's IMPERATIVE that we know WHY we're doing what we're doing without being reckless and stupid... and maybe that's where the judgment comes from. Our assumptions that others don't THINK... because they don't think like us.

Maybe next year we'll hang out with our other close friends who we LOVE and who think the exact opposite as us and have a home wing ding. Why? Because I don't want my kids growing up CARING about Halloween. I want them growing up caring about not caring about things that mean NOTHING ... and intentionally living free as slaves to truth.

Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
Romans 14:18

28 October 2008

I want to wish the fattest man in the world a very happy honeymoon... in his enormous bed

On behalf of my wife... my kids... my sea monkeys... my sea horse... my sea urchins and me... I just wanted to wish all the best to Manuel Uribe and Claudia Solis on their nuptials.

As the world's fattest man and the chick who used to date another of the world's fattest men until he died and then turned her affections to him and helped him drop 500lbs and then was driven to his wedding on flat bed truck...

I just wanted to say mazel tov. Ya crazy kids ya.

27 October 2008

Is Pinball Canada's Obama?

Royson James of the Toronto Star wrote an amazing article yesterday about Pinball Clemons that told what is truly an inspiring story... it's just not the story they set out to tell.

The world has NO IDEA how to handle a Christian who lives life for Jesus as a normal, humble, kind, influential, passionate, purposeful man... and who combines it with extraordinary community service. They'll assume it's to achieve a high status or it's laced with some evangelical ulterior motive. In this case, they've found a guy who is so GOOD that a city and country is trying to make him be the chief administrator... even though he's thriving spreading "hope" in other ways. Here are some highlights:

He's not running for public office. He doesn't need these people – their votes or their adoration – but his very presence is infectious.

A Star journalist watched him open doors for strangers, initiate conversations with doormen and executives, defer to others, go crazy with juiced Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, ingratiate himself to seldom-seen relatives at a tailgate party, worry over his sister and deliver a 90-minute speech to a tough crowd of salespeople in Orlando for their motivational conference.

It is easy to understand why political headhunters drool over the prospects of his candidacy.

Richard Morris, manager of the city's energy efficiency office and a friend, says while Clemons is a grassroots kind of guy, it's the country, not just the city, that needs him.

"His influence is global. This guy could ... listen, Barack Obama has nothing on Mike Clemons, as far as I am concerned," says Morris who's helped politicians organize in the same Chicago precincts where the U.S. presidential hopeful Obama cut his political teeth.

"Mike's about hope, just like Obama. He needs some federal office to lead us to a broader horizon."

"I was always a more serious person than I was represented as," says Clemons, who's in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. "I'm jovial and smile all the time; I take things lightly so people think you're a lightweight. People who don't know me don't know that I have an opinion.

"Everything is not okay with me."

He's a committed Christian, husband, father – in that order – and he takes them all seriously.

The problem is, public office isn't something he craves.

He's told every day, he says, and in many ways, that he's a natural for it, that he could run through mayoral candidates the way he's juked and evaded massive linemen intent on doing him serious damage on the football field. He jokes that the only political parties that haven't wooed him are the Green party and Bloc Québécois.

"I'm uncomfortable with it. My job is to support our mayor, police chief and different stakeholders – support, not be combative. So I don't take it seriously and hope the mayor doesn't take it in that vein.""If I do it, it would be out of responsibility; it would not be out of desire.

Clemons quickly reverts to safe ground. It's the little deeds of community service that build society, not the monumental mission of political service, he says. What good is being a big shot politician if you abuse your wife and kids, or don't hold a door open for someone or smile at people.

"It's the little things that make a person," he says. "Everything else has at least a hint of selfishness in it. What you do when someone isn't watching is what you are."

"Right now my heart is with the kids in the priority neighbourhoods."As chair of the Youth Challenge Fund, Pinball manages the $30 million the Ontario government pledged to help such neighbourhoods escape the scourge of crime and poverty. He has also helped transform the Argos into a community-minded sports franchise,

When you put people first, you always win." It seems like a perfect maxim for a politician to live by."

...or a person to live by. I want to go back to a verse from Matthew 22 that I've been thinking a lot about

37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.

39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

In the Greek the words "unto it" translate out to mean more like "until". Love the Lord with all you heart UNTIL you love your neighbour as yourself. YES!

I'm sure there are a Christian groups that want Pinball to drop his passion for the neighborhood and become a Pastor. It's the logical progression right?

Not necessarily. God made Pinball with a unique calling that pastoring a church could very well stifle.

Then there are the MANY in Canada that want him to be a political figure and just let all his GOOD explode out and ooze over the country. It's the logical progression for someone who is influencial with people and actually serves right? Not necessarily. God made Pinball with a unique calling that being Prime Minister could very well stifle.

I mean... maybe he is destined to be Prime Minister. I'd vote for him! Heck... I might even go to his church! But more than anything... I wanna be like Mike. Cus Mike really really loves the Lord his God and is subsequently loving his neighbour as himself. And legit hope is spilling out of it... and it's pointing to Jesus. Christ in me is the hope of glory.

Pinball's living my life. Your life. He's a wonderful beacon of what an activated, empowered, annointed Christian can look like.

I suppose in some ways... he is Canada's Obama. Although in Obama's case, people are putting their hope in one person who represents and idea. In Canada... I'm putting my hope the kind of person that Pinball is. A nation of unselfish people who are givers as a lifestyle.

25 October 2008

My first "Down Home Kitchen Party"

I once asked a Newfy what they did for fun. He told me... "Down Home Kitchen Parties". I didn't know what he meant... until tonight.

Obama's not your boyfriend... or your Savior

I am going to begin walking across the United States and handing out cards that say this...

I was having a chat yesterday with a buddy of mine who spent quite a number of years living in the states. He was (lets be polite and say) "lamenting" the fact that Canadians "think that the republicans are idiots because of how the media portrays them". Agreed. Americans seemingly do too.

I was already fired up after seeing this heart warming video (that has been viewed by 4.2 million people) called "I'm voting Republican"... telling us that Republicans don't want to find a cure for Aids or Breast Cancer. That the Republicans will make food unsafe. And that they think people don't deserve health care. Yes. Evil evil public servants.

Fascinating article here from Pat Buchanan called "What if SNL mocked Michelle Obama?"

The media cannot get enough of the "Saturday Night Live" impersonations of Palin as a bubblehead. News shows pick up the Tina Fey clips and run them and run them to the merriment of all.

Can one imagine "Saturday Night Live" doing weekly send-ups of Michelle Obama and her "I've never been proud" of my country, this "just downright mean" America, using a black comedienne to mimic and mock her voice and accent?

"Saturday Night Live" would be facing hate-crime charges.

How do we know? When the New Yorker ran a cartoon of Michelle in an Angela-Davis afro with an AK-47 slung over her shoulder, New Yorker editors had to go on national television to swear they were not mocking Michelle.

Also as a reaction to Joe Biden's gem of a statement...

"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. ... Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said … we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
Joe Biden

Buchanan says...

"Had John McCain made that hair-raising statement, he would have been accused of fear mongering about a new 9/11. The media would have run with the story rather than have smothered it."

But wait... that's OK right? Because Obama is your boyfriend right? He's dreamy. He'll solve world hunger. He'll make it all OK won't he? Opie says so! So does the freakin' Fonz!
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Dang those celebrities are convincing. I should believe Andy Griffith. He kept that Barney Fife under control for lo those many years.

Obama isn't a terrorist either (and it's equally as stupid to say such things) ... but just because John McCain creeps us out on TV closeups... doesn't make him Satan! Republicans aren't killing kittens. They aren't abusive Uncles! Sweet mother open your eyes! Obama's a nice dude. But he's not your boyfriend.

American will be in for quite a shock when mid November rolls around and he says...

"oh yeah.. um...i guess we don't have the money to do everything i said and it MIGHT take longer to change the culture of the white house than a day... ummm... i guess i can't do that. Oh yeah... and we're gonna invade Pakistan too. Sorry about the peace thing you wrote those nice songs about.... thanks for the votes".

I don't dislike the guy... REALLY. But this has turned into a downright SCARY beast of an election to me. And it's THIS poster that is the most unsettling me to.

Actually... Obama being your Savior is WAY worse than making him your pretend boyfriend. See... you can't put your hope in one guy. Oh wait. Yes you can. You'd better just make sure it's the right guy.

In his name the nations will put their hope
Matthew 12:21

24 October 2008

You Googled WHAT and found me?

And now it's time to find the funniest things that people Googled this month... and somehow wound up on my blog. Some doozies this month. As always... this is not for the faint of heart... or the easily offended. Just real, raw, googling action by world wide weirdos.

1."spandex public erection"

What is my 6th Grade nightmare Alex

2. "yet sex dominates our thoughts

That's a great ending to any sentence. Makes you sound smart. Try it

"I wanted to eat some toast this morning... yet sex dominates our thoughts"
"I started doing my math homework... yet sex dominates our thoughts"
"My home just lost half its value and it's Mr Noodle for dinner again... yet sex dominates our thoughts"

Nice work you horny professor you.

3. "theology out of dumbo"

(In my best TD Jakes voice) The ELephant Dumbo... is stoe-ree of ah... EPIC proportions. That ELephant didn't believe he could-AH... rise on the wings of the EEEEEagle! Yet it was a TINY mouse's faith like a mustard seed who beLEEEEved in Dumbo. And Dumbo doth spread his giGANTIC ears and did a MEEEERicle to a thunderous chorus of hallelujahs!!!! Praise the Lord. Please be seated.

4. "stephen dion poop dove"

Did you know that according to the National Science Foundation's "Tree of Life" project... the number of species on earth is estimated to be anywhere from 5 million to 100 million but roughly 2 million have been cataloged?

I think there MUST be room to call one the Stephane Dion Poop Dove. It's stunningly beautiful. A real crowd pleaser.

5. "steven is a silly poo"

He sure is.

6."proverb on nipple care"

Hmm... well there is the Song of Solomon 7:

Your full breasts are like sweet clusters of dates. I say, "I'm going to climb that palm tree! I'm going to caress its fruit!" Oh yes! Your breasts will be clusters of sweet fruit to me.

So if boobs are fruit... maybe the nipple is the stem? And the Bible doesn't speak much about stems. There are roots, vines, trees, branches, fruit, boobs... but no nipples. Sorry. I tried.

7."positive quitting"

I've never quit something positively. I've used the term "pull that pickle out of your butt with a huge set of tongs" when quitting... but I don't recall that ending well.

8."november 29 2008 brantford, ontario thanksgiving"

Sorry. Too late Earl. Turkey's all gone. See ya next season.

9. "i can has sex?"

I doubts it Clem.

10. "funny fasting food"

it's HILARIOUS to fast meat... the way you loose all your energy... hahahaha... and when you fast caffeine and your body shuts down from withdrawal... it's a RIOT!!! LOLlololol... Oh stop me now, I'm rolling on the floor over here.

11. "church communication methods video projector"

It's the desperate Googlings of a 75 year old board member on the "AV committee" after being told that the overheard doesn't work anymore.

12. "Derek webb shit in church"

Did he now?

13. "God creation god creation god creation god creation god creation god creation god creation dot mack and michael jackson the the the the the the the th"

Weirdest... search... ever.

14. "do big ears skip a generation?"

Listen... your kids should be so lucky to have big ears! Friends of our just discovered last week that their boy has one big ear. Their kid looked up at them excitedly and said, "Just like Dave Carrol! I have Dave Carrol ears!" He's 6 years old. And brilliant.

23 October 2008

Some Blogs worth following

One of my best friends and my pastor Brian Beattie is blogging now! Wow. I never thought I'd see the day. Well actually I saw the day 2 years ago during his election days. But then those days ended. But now he's back... and BIGGER than ever. Check out "Think Big Live Big". He's one of the Biggest thinkers I've ever met and I've discovered over the years that his brain thinks CREEPILY similar to mine.

I've written about him before but my buddy Keith (who is driving his car from Brantford to the tip of South America) is blogging his way through the trip on "Keefer's [G]odyssey". He's been gone about a month and is now in Mexico. I want to hear every detail of the trip, but instead Keith just writes incredibly profound things about God. I'm super proud of my friend Keith.

This is a blog called "Rightup" by my friend Emmanuel Dogbevi... a journalist in Accra Ghana. Among other things, he's the editor of ghananewstoday.com. The blog is a peek into the world of someone who's actually digging into may of the unjust things that go on in Ghana. He's a straight shooter and good friend. This is a picture of him on one the ewaste dumps in Accra. (PS... he's the black guy)

268 Generation Blog is the Passion Blog. The last six month's it's been a terrific running journal by Louio Giglio as he... along with Crowder, Tomlin, Redman, Hall and the crew have led thousands of young people in seventeen cities, six continents and sixteen nations (including China!) in passionate worship. Love these guys.

"My Intimate Marriage" ... Christian Sex Secrets" is the new blog by Robert and Susan Irwin who are the best Christian Sex Bloggers I've found. They write about some really good stuff about sex within the Christian marriage and the PLETHORA of issue within. Excellent read whether you're married or not.

And my wife's new blog is... OK I don't think there's a chance that she's going to have blog any time soon. But doesn't she look cute in this toque from around our bonfire last night? Uh huh she does.

22 October 2008

I have a weird job sometimes

How does one write an ad for THIS?

Really? Inverted nipples? REALLY??

I think that "It's not what you know... it's who you know" is Biblical

Last night at our "Fusion" prayer and worship night (which if you're from Freedom House... you REALLY shouldn't miss) I was again absolutely, totally blown away by what it's like when you throw off the myth of restraint... and JUST TOUCH GOD.

It's such joy, peace, exuberance... I almost want to drag everyone into such a place. And it all comes through knowing Jesus.

"It's not what you know... it's who you know"
is a phrase that has pissed many a failed job applicant off. It seems somewhat off-putting. Elitist possibly. Unjust maybe? Shouldn't we be judged on our own merit? Shouldn't we earn what we deserve and get what we work for?

I was thinking about "It's not what you know, it's who you know" the other the day in the context of influence. About how when you build a relationship with someone... they trust you, share good things with you, and want to help you succeed just as you helped them succeed. In a blog post a couple of days ago I wrote:

Prayer is the ULTIMATE "it's not what you know but WHO you know". Because when you pray... things happen. God IS God! When you'd layed down your life and surrendered it to God... you've become his friend. You've got RELATIONSHIP with him and because of it... you've got his ear. You know Him and you've got access to his riches to share with others.

But you know what? When you take it a step even further. The entire concept of salvation through Jesus is ALL ABOUT "it's not what you know, it's who you know". Check this out..

Truth is that we're NOT "good enough" by our own merit to hang out and chat with God yet we have an open invite. Or be seated with him in heavenly places yet the chair is warm and waiting. In the OT... they'd tie a rope around the legs of people who headed into the presence of God in case they weren't clean, were struck dead, and a minimum wage worker had to haul their lame carcass out with the human fishing line. Then this happened:

But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, "This has to be the Son of God!"
Mark 15: 37-39

"Veil begone... New from Johnson and Johnson"

It's only because of "the THAT" that we get to have all "the THIS". Nothing we've done or learned or can get us where we want to go. "It's not what you know... it's WHO you know" can seem unfair when you're not the one who knows the guy. But it would only be unjust if the invitation to know "the guy" wasn't open to you too. Not only that... but Jesus leaves the 99 in the flock to find the 1... because he only wants the best for EVERYONE. It defies our logic and free's our souls.

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
Matthew 16: 24-26

21 October 2008

Wanna know what happens when you go where God tells you?

Canadian Impressions

Dr. Stone, would you give the court your impression of Mr. Striker? I'm sorry, I don't do impressions... my training is in psychiatry."

I always find it very interesting to hear what people outside of Canada think about my county.

Yesterday I did a voiceover gig for an IKEA in Houston Texas with my "Polka Jim" voice (some of you know what I'm talking about) and I was instructed:

Watch those Canadian ABOOOTS in the word "about". It should sound like "uh-Bowwt" like "a bout of the flu"

Really eh? Okey Dokey then.
So I was doing an American accent in the voice of a slightly effeminate high talker as a Canadian suburban hoser. Look out Houston.

I asked my new friend Brian (who is from Europe) yesterday about his Canadian impressions after spending a week here in the great white north. He said:

  1. You're not Americans
  2. It's a large country leaving me with a sense of being over whelmed when it comes to kingdom transformation
  3. You guys are very relational

It's quite true on all fronts.

The East coast is VERY different from Quebec...
who is VERY different from Ontario...
who is VERY different from the Prairies...
who are VERY different from the West...
who is VERY different from the North...

And when you add the Native Canadians second "vessel" going along the same "river"... I count 7 very different areas of life in Canada. And they are often quite dissimilar in values, culture, language and priorities.

So if this is the case, how do you get over the "being over whelmed when it comes to kingdom transformation" if kingdom transformation is the goal?

20 October 2008

Hope Dispensers

I don't know much that is more powerful than hope. After spending a weekend thinking about the "Darwin's Nightmare" documentary, I led a discussion about social justice for our Hot Topics segment at Freedom House yesterday. I've had some fascinating reactions to hearing this story of despicable abuse, both in blog world and at Freedom House yesterday. But the prevailing sentiment from both the "I can't even listen to this it's so disturbing" crowd AND the "I'm diving in with two feet forward" crowd is that...

"it's discouraging... the world's problems are huge and seem unsolvable. What can I do?"
Most of us

Yup... me too. But then along comes hope.

The term "hope dispenser" has been popping up in my spirit again and again lately. I didn't used to like the word hope because it wasn't as "solid" as redemption. When you're redeemed... you're REDEEMED. Even prayer indicates an actual tangible conversation. But HOPE is a little bit more illusive because there is far more of an intangible component.

Dictionary.com's 1st definition of hope is:

1. "The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. "

It's NEVER easy to believe that the injustice that you see around you can be fixed. It's IMPOSSIBLE without hope. It's interesting to look at the 4th definition of hope
4. "A person or thing in which expectations are centered"

So HOPE is something that can be embodied. Something can BE hope. That makes Psalms 130:7 a very powerful verse.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

What a powerful progression here. We are asked to CHOOSE to put our hope in the Lord because He IS ("big I" is) unfailing love... and the redemption that we're all clamoring for comes with putting our hope in the Lord. FULL redemption. It's such a powerful process.

You see because God DOES care about people in tragic situations... you'll almost always find people on the ground sharing Jesus with those who are suffering. In "Darwin's Nightmare" there were interviews with a Pastor and a school teacher who were serving a community being ravaged by injustice. They were in terrible situations being "hope dispensers". And they need your prayers. Your encouragement. Because as "hope dispensers" yourself... you can spur your brother on to "love and good deeds"... and prayer matters.

Trick is that you can't dispense hope... if you don't have it.

So how do you get hope? My advice is check out Brian's podcast of his teaching about the "Good Samaritan" on the Freedom House Blog. The highlight being Jesus instruction to us to "Go be a neighbor". Like God when God said this to Moses in Exodus 4: 2-3

Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."

God began to use what Moses had "in his hand".
Why? Because it was in his hand.

Let me show you just how this hope dispensing can work. And this is just in the last couple of days! I've been blogging about random acts of kindness for a bit now and after a post last week about "living the good life" ... my amazing friend Keith who is driving across the western hemisphere wrote me:

Your making me home sick Dave. God told me to clean up the side walk of a block in Philadelphia, and now I try to do some everywhere I stop. Good life.

Wow! Nice. Then this morning my friend amazing friend Ashely who is YWAMing in Australia wrote me:

"i was challenged and inspired by the one about RAK attack. I was in a 24 hr McDonalds this weekend at 5am in Sydney... vomit and garbage EVERYWHERE. these poor teens job was to come in and wash the walls and mop up vomit. i helped them clean up garbage (after reading your post.. thanks for opening my eyes!) its not always "someone else's job"


Do you know what has stirred in my spirit when I read that? Hope.

And you know what I plan on doing with it? Spilling it out on others.

And you know what will happen? Other people with have hope that "The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best."

And you know what that can do?

Change the world.

19 October 2008

Picture of the weekend

Brianna after taking out a headband and ponytail. She left them in for a record 5 minutes.

She either looks like Phylis Diller or a 1990's skateboarder.

Friends may fail me

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918)

18 October 2008

Darwin's Nightmare

I watched a documentary last night called Darwin's Nightmare. It may be the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life. This Academy Award Nominated Doc's premise is basically...

People introduced a gigantic monster fish into Lake Victoria that destroyed it's ecosystem completely. Then Europeans came and set up factories. They then paid Tanzanians pennies to fish for these monsters. Most end up working ALWAYS and dying from diving with crocodiles while their wives become prostitutes to the European workers and die from AIDS. But it's OK... since most in Tanzania were starving at the time... they would sell them a pile of rancid fish carcases at a hundred dollars a pile that made them sick.

Oh yeah... and the Russian planes that they hire to take the fish to Europe are actually bringing guns, bombs and tanks to Africa from arms dealers. The fish money is just to offset the cost of the flight. They target and fund the countries where wars are already raging while introducing new weapons to peaceful countries, while raping a land of its natural resource and sodomizing their passed out children who are high from burning and sniffing the plastic packaging of the fish plants.

"For Christmas, European children get grapes. The African children get guns. It's just business"
Russian pilot

I can't begin to even tell how sick this makes me. Sadly... this is not a stand alone story in Africa. My friend Emmanuel in Accra is investigating Europe and North American dumping their e-waste in Africa. And because of poverty... the ewaste is burned for its metal... thus poisoning the land and water and killing the people.

Somehow... someway... this has to stop.

17 October 2008

Jon Stewart on the Canadian Election

This seems JUST about right doesn't it?

I'm Dave Carrol and I AM the weird older brother in the attic.

16 October 2008

"but i dont' wanna be a pirate!"

George Carlin once said:

"Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there's an INVISIBLE MAN...LIVING IN THE SKY...who watches every thing you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever 'til the end of time...but he loves you. "

Honestly... I think that's how most people look at Christians. At least those of us who say, "Jesus is the way the truth and the life"... and have our life choices reflect it. And Christians are often kept at an arm's length because of it. We're seen to have just enough of the "touch o' crazy" in us to not be completely trusted with the keys to the city. Kinda makes the whole "be in the world but not of it" a bit easier since we're never really welcomed anyway. But that's OK... I seem to remember a similar thing happening to Jesus (and it turned out OK for him).

But we ARE called to be people of influence. In the 70's both Loren Cunningham and Bill Bright talked at great length about what have become known as the "7 mountains of influence". The areas that they believed that the church needs to be influential in.

  1. The Home
  2. The Church
  3. Schools
  4. Government and Politics
  5. The Media
  6. Arts and Entertainment and Sports
  7. Commerce, science and technology
And I'm quite sure they didn't have in mind just creating insular counter culture, bizarro world Christian alternatives... they meant being integral parts of, and influential members of these "mountains" in the world we all live in.

So how are we doing? I think most of the world is OK with the letting the church be influential in the church. But anytime Christians venture into the other realms... it's Katie bar the door.

***See flattering media portrayal of Sarah Palin***

(BTW...How many of us gulped twice when we saw her being shredded to pieces for being PRAYED over by a... wait for it... AFRICAN Pastor! Oh my goodness... how COULD she!!! Spend some actual time in Africa and you'll see that they have their own culture! GASP! Who's intolerant now?)

Influence comes from relationship. It does. Many get up in arms with the "it's not what you know but who you know" thing. Maybe we should just get to know more people! Salt and light man. All it is... is someone in a relationship with another person. It's someone who has EARNED another's trust. As a Christian... I think there are 2 tools that we have that are fool proof when it comes to communicating God's love to our society.

Prayer... and Serving.

Doing something kind for someone? Who can refute that? Helping a family with yard work? Baking a pie for a neighbor? Folks don't say no to pie. And all of a sudden... you've made a friend. You've introduced yourself as a genuine caring person and established a basis for trust.

The principle is the same for the other larger scale mountains. Serving builds trust which leads to influence.

Prayer is another thing that people rarely say no to. They may not come to Holy Ghost Hoe-down night... but ask someone if you can pray for them about their felt needs? Almost everyone will accept whether they believe in who you're praying to or not!

Here's where it gets fun. You remember the "it's not what you know, it's who you know" thing? Prayer is the ULTIMATE "it's not what you know but WHO you know". Because when you pray... things happen. God IS God! When you'd layed down your life and surrendered it to God... you've become his friend. You've got RELATIONSHIP with him and because of it... you've got his ear. You know Him and you've got access to his riches to share with others.

I have no desire to be looked at like a nut job. It's not something WANT. But Paul DELIGHTED when he was persecuted for his faith... and he lived a life of influence that was laced with love for the truth and those who are called to share it.

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Gal 5:23

Livin' the good life

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows.
John 10:10 (Amplified Bible)

Pete Wilson from Cross Point Church in Nashville wrote a great blog this morning about why he thinks our financial crisis is a good thing. The long and the short of it is that this is a fabulous opportunity for Christians to "model" and "help"

This is our chance to model that our faith is not based on the economy. I believe it will provide numerous opportunities for the church to step up and be the church. The last two decades have been dominated by materialism and the church has not escaped this. The driving question has been what can I get? I believe the question will start to change and it will be all about what can I give.
This is what makes our faith so lively and vibrant. It's not about comfort and wealth. It's about serving and pointing towards hope (and even though the posters would tell you otherwise... hope comes from Jesus... who is not running running for president).

It's so strange to see what, even in a much needed season of church overhauling that has happened in the last 20 years, we've almost accidentally slipped into. My buddy shared this very funny and eerily accurate video called "What if worship was like an NBA game?"

OK the Darlene Zeke thing was funny. But you've felt this before haven't you? We've become quite comfortable in it too... even though we know that it's a bit like fast food for our souls. It still gets us what we need to get through the day, but we're getting fat, lazy, and ineffective because of our diet.

Last night I took a group of 25 or so to RAK Attack our local neighborhood Price Chopper. We handed out quarters for grocery carts, held umbrellas for people going to their cars, bagged groceries, cleaned the lunch room, broke down boxes, faced shelves... it was AMAZING. The manager didn't know we were coming and as it turned out, they were short staffed and were going to have to work late cleaning but our "RAK attack" kindness bomb saved them a headache last night.

And you know who won? EVERYONE won last night. It actually felt revolutionary. It felt like a "why in the world aren't we doing this more often?" We showed and shared Jesus to MANY people in MANY ways doing very simple things in a very short amount of time. By washing stuff and bagging groceries!

Light flickers from every secret motive, from every conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps—their Satan games.
This is an army that would lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day, its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great “well done” of faithful sons and daughters.
Pete Greig from "The Vision"

The same is true with our expressions of worship. I'm very lucky that we've created a worship driven community. Where the THINGS we do are birthed out of a legitimate free exchange of love between me and my God. A community where we're free to express that love to God in the way that it naturally comes out of the individual. See... I'm loud sometimes. I was asked last weekend how I best communicate with God, and as I looked at it... this is how it works often for me.
  1. Spend a good chunk of time trying to shut my brain off
  2. Followed by loud, demonstrative, declaration spouting, cathartic yelling, Bruce Springsteen left-handed air band rockin
  3. Then my spirit is free to listen and my brain begins to process what God's saying
It's different for everyone. Check out this video here from a group of 24/7 Prayer guys from Oklahoma called "Triibe". They pray with their drums.

"Prayer to me is far more than just a monologue with God. Its breathing... It's being. If you think prayer is relegated to talking... then you're probably not going to get triibe"

Love it... because it's just legit. It's the good life... because it's man freely connecting with the Jesus who said, "I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows." It's got NOTHING to do with economics. It's got EVERYTHING to do with Freedom.

What will you do with your freedom?

I'll say it again... get free, live free, free others.

15 October 2008

Hello Earl... I'm the scrutineer

My friends and family have learned over the years to not give me detailed tasks. Let me talk, strategize, lead, delegate... pull that string and I'm like a "Chatty Cathy" doll, but details and Dave sometime have issues. Turns out... being a scrutineer is a detailed task. Doh! Let me walk you through last night's election process.

5:30- Arrive home... ready to head out to vote and be a scrutineer at the same poll

5:45- Looked at my folder... "Hmmm I don't vote at a school on Main Street". Where is Main Street?

5:46- Google Mapped "Main Street"

6:00- Dropped my ballot in the box... ah... that felt good.

6:15- Arrived at Main Street in Brantford. Turns out, it's not so main of a street. It also turns out that it has no polling station on it.

6:20- Pulled into the train station to find a phone book

6:21- Discovered that pay phones and phone books aren't found easily anymore

6:22- Realized that my campaign package INCLUDED a map... OF PARIS!!!

6:45- Arrived in Paris to a grumpy old feller (that I nicknamed Earl) carrying around a "how to be unpleasant to scrutineers" government handbook

6:50- Sat down at a desk with my 100 bingo sheets (the system of tallying who has and hasn't voted) and transcribed them on to my papers

7:40- Left bingo sheets in Paris and drove back to Brantford with my homework in a 1987 Topps Baseball Card Tim Raines novelty folder.

7:55- Campaign office tells me that all I needed to do is bring the bingo sheets in. My homework was useless (which was kind of like my high school homework). I hear that these instructions were in my training. Darn these details. Darn them to heck. Darn them to an eternity of papercuts and Smooth Jazz.

7:56- Also realized I had a "PC Party" sticker instead of "Conservative". I'd change it up but I doubt ole Earl at the polls has his sticker printer program on his Macbook out in Paris tonight.

8:15- Returned to Paris. Thought I'd take a stroll to kill time.

8:20- Paris is dark and boring.

8:25- Two teens just came bursting out of the polls yelling, "YEE HAW GREEEEEEEEEEEN! They told me I couldn't wear a green shirt but look at this baby... GREEEEEEEEEEEEN!"
Truly inspiring moment. Where's a camera when you need one.

8:30- Sat down to wait until the polls closed with a man who talked for an hour about when and where he's purchased old butter crates over the course of the last decade. Riveting.

9:00- Took a walk through the Catholic elementary school. Saw a bleeding Jesus on the cross statue on the wall with a handwritten note on it saying "Should children really be looking at this everyday?" Dang Protestants and their protestant ways. Spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch.

9:30- Polls close. Hallelujah chorus ensues.

9:31- A gym full of hockey moms begin to tear down boxes and count ballots as if a bomb was going to go off and Keifer Sutherland was about to break in.

9:45- We launch into a ten minute discussion (complete with diagrams and legends) about what the voter meant when he put a squiggly circle in the box instead of an "X". This is the stuff movies are made of. I "scrutinized" it though. I scrutinized it good.

10:30- Got my last final tally sheet and headed for the after party.

By the time I arrived and ate 3 chicken wings... Steven Harper was Prime Minister again... Phil McColeman was Brantford's new MP... and the party was hoppin'.

This is now the second time I've put my name to a candidate's campaign but playing vastly different role's in each. Both times I was struck by the nearly artistic contrast that an election is. It's all so big... and so small at the same time. All across Canada, there were hockey mom's in gyms, retired teachers reading government manuals, discussions about spoiled ballots... and families walking the dog on a chilly October evening to the polls to speak their mind in government issued pencil.

It's grand and humble. Micro and Macro. I like learning about people. Who we really are, why we do what we do, and how we effectively communicate a passionate message to the masses . It's an exercise in seeing the big picture, then and setting out a small scale plan to achieve those big things. I love it. The strategy makes me tingle. Maybe that's a better role than scrutineer for Dave.

Ha... ya shoulda been there.

14 October 2008

Faytene Kryskow's Election Observations

I found Faytene Kryskow's facebook status REALLY interesting today.

Faytene is a very cool girl from 4myCanada.ca who's ministry is involved in the Federal government, ACTUALLY has interaction with our national leaders, and has chatted with those in Parliament about the issues that matter to Christians in Canada.

My Pumpkin Spice Latte just made me think...

Starbucks "The Way I See it" quote #26

"Failure's hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever."
Po Bronson Author


Dancing the Political Monkey Dance

Election Days are tossed salad of...





arrogance and humility

I have a phrase that I've begun to use with increasing frequency. It's "Dancing the Monkey Dance". I'm not sure if invented it or borrowed it but it someone else but it's on my "A List" of sayings right now.

It means doing menial, repetitious, sometimes personally exasperating things... for the benefit of others. For example... Chris Farley used to "dance the monkey dance" with his self described "fatty fall down" humor style. He was more intelligent than his characters appeared to be, but because his passion was making people laugh... he danced the monkey dance (even though it was somewhat "below him") in order to achieve his goal.

Elections are like the breeding ground for monkey dancing. It's sometimes unfortunate that without the monkey dance... ideas and true passions aren't heard because of the negative parts of the electoral tossed salad like habit, arrogance and choreography.

In the end... I plan on "supporting" the winner of this election in some way. Even if it's just by praying blessing on them. Why? Because none of the leaders wake up in the morning and say, "Today I think I will try and destroy Canada today. I shall do so by..." No. They all feel strongly about our country and are driven to see Canada be the "true north strong and free". And it's not easy with others screaming bloody murder at you. And if at the end of the day you don't believe that (regardless of your political leanings) ... you may need to have a good soul scrub-down and reassess your priorities in life.

That's why 1 Timothy 2: 1-3 says...

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Leaders ESPECIALLY need to be supported and blessed. Not the opposite. Leader bashing is a part of the political monkey dance that seems to be directly linked to democracy. I watched a documentary on democracy that analyzed the implementation of democratic systems in various cultures. One scenario was a group of Chinese elementary school children who had never been exposed to the concept. They offered a mythical inter-classroom title up as the prize, elected candidates and held a vote. The same thing happened as does in North American even though they had no context of what democracy was all about.

sides taken

back room




selfishness guided monkey dancing

So we all dance the monkey dance, trying to pretend we're not... while trying even harder to convince people that OTHERS are. Today, try to look through the monkey dances. See why the monkey's showed up to entertain in the first place. Because they each care. Pray. Then vote.

It's important.

12 October 2008

I'm Thankful today

This may be the first Thanksgiving since Krissy and I have been together (so that's 13 years) that we've been able to spend with her family. Normally right now I'm camping in Owen Sound, waking up in on a crisp fall morning... starting a fire to cook a big camp breakfast. Bacon, eggs, homefries, toast. I do miss being there, but the plus side is that we get to spend one of my favorite holidays with the rest of my family. I'm Thankful for that.

We didn't go North this year because I was going back and forth to a conference (set in an amazing old monastery in Cambridge) that featured 24/7 Prayer. Thursday night about 30 of us from Ontario (and one from Montreal) who have been captured by the heartbeat this worldwide move of God, met together to worship, dream and meet Brian Heasley from Ibiza. If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out this inspiring video about his 24/7 Prayer Room and outreach base in the party hub of the European continent. Really cool guy living the life that Jesus commissioned us to live. You know... as a difference maker. An Earth shaker. Someone who loves God, loves others and acts accordingly.

Then yesterday, we drove back up to the monastery to chat more about what God wants to use 24/7 prayer to be in Canada. We had some great moments of prayer (that ending up looking like a drinking a pumpkin latte at Starbucks) with each other. There was good God dose of wisdom, revelation, kinship, vision...

So this Thanksgiving... I want to thank God for letting me meet such wonderful people over the years. I thank God that for friends who THINK BIG and change the world around them, but with the spirit of humility, through their love of God and their subsequent love of God's creation.

Chris Jones was teaching yesterday and made this keen observation. About Matthew 22...

37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.

39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

He was saying that if you Greekersize the words "unto it"... it translates out to mean more like "until". Think about that! It sheds SO much light on the faith/works discussion.

Love the Lord with all you heart UNTIL you love your neighbour as yourself.

And I KNOW people who have the courage to live this. Wow. Who am I? I'm thankful today.

Happy Thanksgiving friends


11 October 2008

Globe and Mail Endorses Harper

I'm not sure how I feel about newspapers endorsing political candidates... but they do. It's almost more palatable on a National level then by a local paper. I've seen my personal friends submarined by endorsements from the only show in town. And it didn't seem fair to me.

But I think this endorsement called "Harper is growing into the job" is a very good analysis of Stephen Harper (the good and the bad) and why, when balanced out, he's worth voting for.

"An election rarely offers perfect choices. Voters are called upon to sort through a catalogue of inputs — issues, policies, past records, regional affiliations, personalities, etc. — in casting their ballots. On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us."

"Mr. Dion is a decent man of great integrity and tremendous courage, most evident in his years as minister of intergovernmental affairs under Jean Chrétien. But a leader he is not. If you want to meet the most inflexible head of a major political party, Mr. Dion takes it in a cakewalk."

"The Green Shift has been an electoral disaster not because a carbon tax/income tax swap is a bad idea, but because his proposal is ill-timed, ill-considered (why mix an anti-poverty initiative into a tax on greenhouse gas emissions?) and ill-presented. You cannot be a leader without creating followers and Mr. Dion has failed to attract followers to his signature policy."

"The supposedly obstinate Mr. Harper has been nothing if not open to adjusting as circumstances change. He was masterful in building a "big tent" centre-right alternative to the "natural governing" Liberals. His vision, determination and adroitness restored political competition to Canada, not an insignificant accomplishment."

"He acted calmly and decisively to forge a cross-party consensus and made sure the status of nationhood went to the Québécois people, not to Quebec."

"Indeed, the most important characteristic Mr. Harper has shown over 33 months in office is a capacity to grow. There is no reason to think he won't continue along the same trajectory if re-elected — a good thing, too, since there is much more for him to learn."

The article does also talk about the Conservative's need to improve their environmental plan. It's true. It needs to be improved. They also say...

"Mr. Harper should also use his political skills to wring real meaning out of last spring's apology to aboriginals. The rampant social pathologies afflicting native Canadians — from suicide to alcoholism to poor educational outcomes — remain the greatest stain on Canada's history and reputation. Coaxing First nations peoples into a full partnership with other Canadians and full participation in the Canadian economy and society would be the stuff of a prime minister intent on real achievement."

Also true. And as someone who's home is on land that is being targeted with the words, "this land has never been surrendered"... it's important to me to know my Prime Minister know that this is a VERY important issue for Canadians and First Nations People.

I think we're all getting close to being tired of talking about politics! But think of it this way... the Americans have been going for a year and aren't done yet. But we owe it to our country to take one last look at where to cast our ballot, and make a a smart choice.

10 October 2008

It's not Dion's fault

It's not Dion's fault that his English language skills aren't terrific... well kinda actually. But it's not Dion's fault that he has a hearing disability. Toronto Star September 9th...

He said he has trouble, for instance, if everyone is speaking at once during a cocktail party. Dion and his officials on the Liberal campaign were unable to say what the condition is called.

But he said it affects his ability to "catch the music of the beautiful language of English."

"I hear everything when it is isolated, but when it is confused with other sounds it is completely confused,"

I remember when I read that, it explained a lot. But my first thought was... "When I see parliament on TV, it reminds me of a cocktail party with lots of different sounds" in it's own precious way. I just wondered how that would work? Then this happened yesterday.

I've been in front of... and behind the camera many times. It's tough... and outtakes are common. When I was doing my little rant videos, for each successful shot... there were 15 flubs. But not understanding questions, not being able to process quickly, not being able think on your feet, and not being able to communicate fluently in the primary language of the country you're leading are not great attributes for a Prime Minister. And it's not Dion's fault. He seems like a nice guy. All the leaders do. Well maybe not Jack. They ALL want what they believe is best for Canada. Well maybe not Gilles.

Sarah Palin gets ripped up and down and becomes a satirical character for public mockery in the United States for not giving quick polished answers... which isn't right. It's not her fault that she's new at the gig. She was picked to be in that role. Same with Stephane Dion. He was picked by his party as the best leader they had. And it's not his fault.

But If it was a job interview (and it is) would you hire him?

9 October 2008


Sometimes you read books to learn. Sometimes they are pure pulp. Some are a slice of life that leave you with a feeling. Churched is a little bit of all of them.

Here's how Matthew Paul Turner ends this very personal book...

"Last Sunday Jessica and I went to church. It was Easter. A couple of people got baptized. The guy sitting next to me took two smoke breaks. I closed my eyes during the praise and worship. Pete gave a sermon about hope. We took communion. I wasn't afraid"

Afraid? Why is not being afraid surprising? Afraid of what?
Maybe Moose. After reading about Moose... I'm afraid.

Moose was one of Matthew's childhood Sunday school teachers who carried a drawing of hell in his back pocket. He once pulled out a barbie doll, told the kids that she had lung cancer because she was a smoker, and that she was going to burn in hell. Moose then turned out the lights and lit the doll on fire, screaming "Do you want to go to hell boys and girls?".

I'm afraid of Moose. And smoking. Dang those heathen smokers.

As I read through Matthew's collection of childhood stories about growing up in a strict fundamentalist Baptist church I had to laugh at how smoking was a common thread as one of the great evils of western civilization. Matthew tells a story of going to a family barber to get a "Baptist" haircut and leaving afraid for eternal safety of the barber because of his cigarettes.

Afraid. There's that word again. Maybe the yearly boxing match with Satan didn't help.

I like "Churched" because I grew up in the church too. Not in the same context and not with the same intensity as Matthew details, but many of the elements are there. Getting to know Matthew a bit over the last year and now reading of the roots of his journey tells a very interesting story. In many ways it's my story too. It's entirely possible that it's your story too. And if it wasn't so tragic... it would be even funnier.

One of the questions we ask when we do servant evangelism on the streets is "so what's your church background?". And almost EVERYONE says something. From the transvestites who we caught making out in our church nursery one night to downtown business owners (even if it's "My mama prays for me") most of our culture has SOME contact with the church. And that likely means contact with some well meaning people... trying to serve God honestly... and looking like a basketcase.

On the streets when we get into any discussion that is God-related, one of the first things that people do is apologize for their language or their cigarettes! They assume that they wouldn't "qualify" for our club with a cigarette in hand. This... is OUR fault. That Christians were so "Churched" for so long that something as stupid as rolled up leaves have become a "roadblock" between a soul and the creator of the soul.

Leaves... are thin. Very thin.

I chatted with Matthew briefly this morning about my impressions of the book and I wrote this:

Dave: you know what runs through my mind when I think about what Christianity became for years and years... is that these are well meaning people just doing what they know/ have been taught to do. Makes me a bit sad because I wonder what a generation of people our parents age would have been like... how effective for Christ they could have been in this world if they weren't burdened down with a backpack jammed full of religious nonsense
Matthew: yep... that's it
Dave: well meaning people lighting barbies on fire. Now there's a punk band name
Matthew: haha

Random House Publishing was kind enough to give me an extra copy of the "Churched" to give away... so the first person (who lives in Brantford so I don't have mail it) that asks for it... you can have a free copy of your own. It's a very funny book written by a very funny guy living out one of my favorite saying... "get free, live free, free others".

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