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 December 2009

Thinking about life in decades


On the eve of the eve of a new decade... I've been thinking about an article Brian Heasley (from 24/7 Prayer) wrote a while ago about "decades".

"I occasionally meet people who appear to be flicking the remote of their life all the time, going from one channel to the next until they find what they enjoy. Although by the time they find what they enjoy they have so shortened their own ability to give anything long term attention they move on. Thus they just flick through life hoping one day to land on the channel that suits them. Project to project, new initiative to new initiative!

Life as a channel hopper can't be fun.

I once heard someone say "We don't often think of our lives in decades!" OK let's say we have 8 decades of life to live with, if your reading this you have probably lived between 2 and 4 of those decades. So you have 3 or 4 decades left.....

Let's say you have 4 uber-productive decades, what would you like to stick at and achieve per decade? 4 Decades, maybe 4 achievements! Maybe achievements is the wrong word then again maybe it's not. Be good to see people getting a bit more definite about what they want from life.

People without vision wander aimlessly."


Blowing around from place to place... thing to thing... pet passing passion to pet passing passion leaves people in a bad place. Your friendships become fleeting and shallow, it's nearly impossible to establish the type of "community" that Bible espouses, the chances of significant achievement are slim, and the likelihood that your life will be unmemorable becomes high.

I read a tweet this morning from @jaybrock that said,

"92% of resolutions fail because they're largely outcome focused. This year, zoom in on the process, too."


With
a "channel flipping" mindset, I can see how an idealistic goal that the journey starts out with, would never actually happen. I like the idea of thinking in decades because there is work, accountability, and investment inherent in it. It doesn't matter if what my passion is doesn't happen today, tomorrow, or even this year... because I'm working towards something of substance and I'm willing to develop personally and professionally.

Jules from Pulp Fiction might disagree with me... with his "walk the earth" theology...



... but even Jules found out that in real life, what we do means something to our future.

Often we have no idea where to even start. But James 1: 5-8 has a good answer for that and a real challenge to hear God... and get your butt in gear.

5-8If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
(The Message)


As we enter a new decade, I find myself sitting at a good place. 33... 3 kids... house... loving wife... and a thriving church that is willing to work and invest towards important things. I know what I want out of my 30's. I know how I want to enter my 40's. What I don't know totally, is how I'm going to get there. The God mystery lies in between. So it looks like I have some story to write. None of the Big Picture dreams will happen if I'm not motivated enough to throw myself into (and thrive in) what I've been given to do with THIS day... hearing the voice of God all the way.

28 December 2009

You know what has made December EXTRA special this year?

This...
As the XRay tech said on Boxing Day when I suggested they offer festive framing and matting for Christmas chest XRays , "Lungs don't look good even when they're healthy... which yours aren't"

Hacking up mucus every 35 seconds, popping my ears every 10 minutes so my head doesn't feel like it's going to explode and barely sleeping at night for nearly a month and a subsequently worsening demeanor... as truly made this a December to remember.

Thank you Bronchitis. You suck.
Sincerely... Dave

27 December 2009

I have a rare classic Gibson steel guitar in my basement and I'm not afraid to use it

I love the sound of steel guitars. They really are one of my favorite instruments. Turns out that I have 1960ish (hoping to hear from Gibson) Skylark Gibson Lap Steel Guitar EH-500 with it's original case and amp in my basement.

I knew it was there... it was my Dads. Years ago when he was playing and teaching guitar, his parents went out on a limb and dropped a couple hundred dollars (which would have been a BIG deal at the time) on this odd lookin' beauty.

Was scooting around the internet and it looks like it's worth about a thousand dollars and I don't know how to play a guitar! So I'm toying with selling it. I suppose Ebay or Kijiji is the place... but man... it's pretty darn cool. I'm open to offers or suggestions :)

Guitars really seem mean SOMETHING to people. I have to admit that I'm not one of those people. I've never had the love for instruments that others do. After my last recorder class in the 8th Grade, I actually broke it in 2.

But watching my son get his first real guitar for Christmas the other day (a 3/4 size Ibanez) was very very cool.



Quite literally since his first birthday, I've watched Jared communicate with guitars. I wish that I didn't have to say that I don't entirely GET it firsthand... but I don't. But I DO get it secondhand. I've seen so many people pray, prophesy, communicate, express... and make the sweetest of the "new songs" with guitars that I really do appreciate the artistry of the instrument.

26 December 2009

Don Miller on relationships, imperfection and God

"I realized that for years I'd thought of love as something that would complete me, make all my troubles go away. I worshiped at the altar of romantic completion. It's too much pressure to put on a person. I think that's why so many couples fight, because they want their partners to validate them and affirm them, and if they don't get that, they feel as if they are going to die. And so they lash out. But it's a terrible thing to wake up and realize that the person you just finished crucifying didn't turn out to be Jesus."

"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. When you stop expecting material possessions to complete you, you'd be surprised how much pleasure you get in material possessions. When you stop expecting God to end all your troubles, you'd be surprised how much you like spending time with God."

Don Miller from "A Million miles in a thousand years"

24 December 2009

It's a Wonderful Life... the love story

One of my favorite scenes in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is when George and Mary really come together for the first time. It's not the puppy love "lasso the moon" phase that I like. Or the wedding night where Bert and Ernie sing "I Love you truly" in the rain while Mary cooks a rotisserie chicken in their drafty old dream house. Those are the postcard relationship moments. They're nice enough... but are fleeting, infatuation-laced, teenage-romp Matthew Mcconaughey movie moment that little girls swoon over, sure that they've found true love that will last forever. Little boys just unsuccessfully try to recreate those moment to try and get girls. We use whatever we can think of eh.


Personally, I like the scene where Sam Wainwright calls Mary to let her in on the ground floor of a big business deal manufacturing plastics. Such a charmer that Sam. Hee Haw. A Bailey Building-and-loan weary, grumpy,dejected George has just come calling on the girl who doesn't seem to fit into what he sees as "HIS plan." She's not a world traveler. She doesn't seem to have big aspirations. She's even a little bit ordinary. But he just can't get her out of his heart and she's loved him since he was a child.



Mary (who for some reason has cross-stitched a pillow in honor of their "lasso the moon" date) tries to recapture the old magic by playing "Buffalo Girls" on the Gramophone, but George will have none of it and starts kicking things. Nice house guest. When Sam calls, George and Mary on on the verge of a "well fine then!" walk out the door and never come back moment. But then Sam calls George over to huddle with Mary around the old two piece telephone. They can hear Sam talking, but their souls begin to lock and load. With half anger and half insatiable attraction, George drops the phone and shakes Mary. He says, in a "damn it woman" kinda way,


"Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do. And you're... and you're..."


He then gives her the hottest cheek to 1940's cheek-smash that I've ever seen. Moments later, in movie time, they're married. It was a messy melange of passion, tears, selfishness, ambition, honesty, lies, control, love, fighting and destiny. That makes for quite a stew, but it's potent, and very real. Both of the fronts that George and Mary had put on to impress and hide were completely gone. Their best laid plans lay in ruins as their lips joined. Being together may have made little sense (relationships rarely do)... but they couldn't deny what was going on. They were just THEM. Together. Two bare souls submitting to what was happening "in the spirit".


"You're not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that's the only way you'll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End."
Jesus in John 4:44-45 (The Message)


I love spending Christmas Eve wrapping gifts watching this wonderful love story of a man who fights through to live his destiny fully. George is a GOOD man.

Unite Canada... 24/7, 365, 2010


2010 is going to be a fantastic year for Canada. The eyes of the world are about to turn and look squarely at our nation. And it's our prayer that God does the same. Earlier this year, the leaders of the major prayer movements from across Canada got together to listen to what God had to say to our nation. And what came out of it was the call to pray... without ceasing... in Canada... FOR Canada. And so "Unite Canada 24/7 365 2010" is about to launch, spearheaded by my newly engaged friend Daria. This is from her most recent blog:

"Our hope and dream is to unite Canada in prayer right across the nation, including all generations, denominations, cultures, cities and ministries. Different denominations have completed a year of prayer for their nation (the Salvation Army have in prayed non-stop in many nations) and Canadian cities have united in prayer (7 churches in Regina for 40 days, 32 churches in Victoria for 52 days of non-stop prayer)... But we want to go beyond and unite ministries in every city to PRAY like never before, 24-7-365!"


January 8th a church close to Winnipeg will be praying. From January 10-17-, a church in Montreal will be praying... January 15-22- a church in Calgary will be praying but if you would like to be a part of what God's calling our country to... check out 24-7prayer.ca. It's going to be the web-hub... or email Daria at canada@24-7prayer.com.

Merry Christmas from me and my family. Thanks for hanging in blog world with me this year. Believing that 2010 is gonna be bigger and better than 2009 in many many ways.

20 December 2009

There are things we CAN do.

Carlos Whittaker from Ragamuffinsoul.com had a very cool experience the other day. He was in an Atlanta park, shooting some video footage for a song on his upcoming album... when a homeless man named Danny came up to him, knelt, and starting singing HIS song unto HIS Lord. Check this out...



Amazing! Carlos wrote this yesterday on his blog:


If you listen carefully at the end you hear me saying this to Danny.
“Keep trying to make it man.”
He looked me square in the eye…cocked his head sideways with a confused look on his face…and said,
“Trying to make it? No man. I ain’t trying to make it…I’m making it. Jah puts His soldiers everywhere. Jah says, Yea though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death… So He places some of us, in that valley.”


That's some wisdom right there. Wisdom from a real Kingdom-creation named Danny. Wisdom that would have never enriched Los's life... or subsequently our lives if he had brushed Danny aside as an invisible nuisance. NUISANCE? Who would do that? We all do. Often.

Friday night I was driving home and was in a bit of a hurry to get home because my wife was headed out the door to help run the youth program at Freedom House. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some snacks for my movie night with my son. When I came out of the doors, a homeless guy with snakes tattooed on his face was whispering "Do you have any change?"

Most people were totally ignoring his very presence. I actually rarely have physical money in my pocket and I alerted him to that fact and walked back to my van with my "extras" for the evening. Then I heard "The Voice". The same one that whispered into my spirit years ago the word "Africa". The same one that says "be generous on all occasions" when the checkout girl from Walmart asks if I'd like to donate an extra dollar to the Sick Kids Hospital. The Voice said, "He's cold and hungry. There is something you CAN do. Go buy him dinner".

So I did. I went back and introduced myself and reiterated that I didn't have actual cash, but I'd love to buy him some food in a warm place. I took him into the pizza joint in the plaza and got him a couple of slices of meat-lovers. I offered him a pop but he declined saying it was too cold. We parted way with a mutual "Merry Christmas... God Bless you".

That was it. 3.50$ and 5 minutes is what it took to remind me that we CAN and SHOULD do something because we CAN! That's what it took to buy a cold fella a half hour in a warm place and a full belly.

Will it change his life? Not likely in the long run.
Did it effect his day? Yes.
Did it open a door for The Almighty to speak to me Friday night? Absolutely.
Can almost ANYONE afford 3 bucks and 5 minutes to show basic human decency to another fearfully and wonderfully made piece of God-art. Yeah man.

What stops us from doing this more often? It's likely mostly fear. When you talk to the folks who wind up on the streets for one reason or another, they'll tell you that being invisible hurts more than the hunger. In our cultural-mosaic Utopian land where we accept and value difference... we're still pretty freaked by extreme poverty.

One of my favorite songs of all-time is Mr Wendal by Arrested Development (as a side note... Speech, the lead singer, said on his Twitter account said the other day that he and his wife have been serving Jesus for 15 years now). It's about actually valuing a homeless man as a real person to the point where GASP... he might have wisdom that we need.



Here, have a dollar, in fact no brotherman here, have two
Two dollars means a snack for me, but it means a big deal to you
I saw a man with no clothes, no money, no plate
Mr.Wendal, that's his name, no one ever knew his name cause he's a no-one
Never thought twice about spending on a ol' bum, until I had the chance to really get to know one
Now that I know him, to give him money isn't charity
He gives me some knowledge, I buy him some shoes
Mr.Wendal has freedom, a free that you and I think is dumb
Free to be without the worries of a quick to diss society for Mr.Wendal's a bum
Uncivilized we call him, but I just saw him eat off the food we waste
Civilization, are we really civilized, yes or no ?
I feed you dignity to stand with pride, realize that all in all you stand tall.


I think there are valuable treasures that we need to be able to really grow, disguised as life lessons that are hidden JUST barely below the surface of life. We'll harvest these treasures if we'll do the things we CAN do. It gives legs to the things that we can't but HE can.

18 December 2009

Giving Good Gifts


I'm uneasy about the unequivocal righteous railing against gift giving that seems to be rising up these days at Christmas time. I really, really, DO get that things are out of whack with how we do gifts at Christmas, and there does need to be some "market correction". So we're trying to solve this in different ways.

Often there are group gifts or dollar limits. And that's fine. It CAN even be good. But something always feels like it's missing.

When I hear people say, "Let's just not give gifts to each other, we already have everything" it leaves me feeling very unsettled. First of all, the sad thing is that it's likely true! We have SO MUCH that one more do-dad for the trinket-trunk is impractical white noise. So is that the answer? We'll just all take care of ourselves?

I'm also not a big fan of gift lists. "Tell me what you want and I'll just buy it for you" has never felt RIGHT to me. What kind of gift is that? Is it EVEN a gift? Here's what "gift" means.

"Gift: Something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned"


Sounds pretty darn Biblical and powerful to me. Think about gifts Biblically. They were not cheap. They were not practical. And they rarely came in the form that our "lists" to God are written. I love the Mary and Martha story in John 12

"Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus' feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, "Why wasn't this oil sold and the money given to the poor? Jesus said, "Let her alone. You always have the poor with you. You don't always have me."


It's so interesting that Jesus concern was with the extravagant honoring of the moment. It was an expensive, impractical and very sacrificial gift. Even the Christmas story itself involves great gift giving. Matthew 1:11 talks about the Magi (wisemen)

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.


Jeeze... not terribly practical for a new born. They could have at least brought diapers. Poor kid was wrapped in swaddling clothes! Think about it.

  • God made an earth and gave it to man
  • God knew we needed a savior and gave us Jesus (but not in the way people were asking for)
  • Jesus knew we needed his BLOOD and chose to die
  • Romans 8: 16-17 even says that we are Co-Heirs to the stinkin' earth for eternity

"For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering."


These are true gifts. "Something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned"

Last Christmas, Brian preached at Freedom House about how Jesus isn't really even the reason for the season. WE'RE the reason for the season. The Christmas story happened so that the whole earth could be filled with His glory via US since "Christ in me is the hope of glory". And we're called to be those "Little Christs" on earth.

I'm not pro-greed here or for the thoughtlessness of far too many of the gifts that are given at Christmas. Quite the opposite. We need to THINK about what we're doing. In every scenario realize that we're called to be generous givers in some way. Work at your gifts. Find something that MEANS something, costs you something, and points towards God because He IS good. "The spirit of Christmas" doesn't really exist. It's actually the "Spirit of God" being released through our actions that gives you that GOOD feeling when you give.

Bill Murray learned it in Scrooged... and I hope we get it somehow too. When you give... you get. Be greedy to be generous on all occasions for the right reasons.

16 December 2009

FHTV: Christmas

How do we really "DO" Christmas well as Christians... the stuff, Santa, singing... love to hear your thoughts?

Watch live streaming video from freedomhousetv at livestream.com

Santa and the human meat pies of death


Santa Claus is a touchy subject in the church. Perspectives range anywhere from Fred Phelps "Satan Claus" to families who fully embrace the myth of the jolly red elf. I think, after years of discussion, my wife and I have decided that we're not going to make a big deal out of Santa Claus one way or another. We're not going to wrap up gifts from Santa or convince the kids that there is a real master-tinker at polar north with a minion of tiny slaves flying socially outcast deer around the world. In the words of George Sr. (Bush not Bluth)... "wouldn't be prudent at this juncture".

Instead, we're going to teach our kids about why the legend of Santa persists (and when you think about it... it's one of the only real myths that our society as held on to). Starting with Saint Nicholas. This guy's got some AWESOME stories. Like the story of why we give gifts. From Wikipedia:

"A poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public, or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity, he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone."


Very cool. But not quite as cool as Saint Nick's other best know exploit... as someone who was used by God to raise the dead!

"A terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Another version of this story, the man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life."


Go hard Santa Claus! Way to raise the dead!
Note to self: Be careful with meat pies.

It's doubtful that we'll get into the hookers and ground up human flesh aspects of Christmas with the kids... yet... but I TOTALLY love these stories. How much better is raising the trodden upon from the dead and investing in the destiny of young woman than the Coca Cola/Gene Autry/Dickens/Mall employee melange that we now have. A bit more cutting edge? Maybe?

Santa is nice. I don't dislike him. How can you? It's a nice little story that we've developed about a generous man who gives and encourages other to give, so I'll tell the kids that story too. We won't purify our temple on Santa purge or make him of any more importance that Frosty the Snowman, Clementine Oranges, or Nog in it's many forms.

But we will honor the God who empowered Santa's namesake to do what Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4:

18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.


In message right after that verse it says:

"He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."


Saint Nicholas was a history maker and we still feel the ripples of his life today. The Christmas story turns my affections towards Jesus who is too marvelous for words... and reminds me of my role in writing the story of the history of the earth.

12 December 2009

Caroling


Last night and next Friday night, Freedom House has volunteered to be a part of Brantford's Christmas celebrations by caroling in Harmony Square while skaters skate by the big beautiful Christmas Tree. It had been MANY years since I had caroled, but growing up, it was actually not that uncommon. I know this because AS A "CARROL" caroling registered high on the mockery-scale. This morning, Brian and I post-scripted the night.

D: I was actually quite impressed with the theological depth of some of the songs 2nd and 3rd verses.

B: Christmas carols have a high J count

D: That and blunt, unapologetic salvation!

B: And lots of Satan references... muhaha

D: It really wasn't that long ago that people caroled door to door. I remember doing it in elementary school... with the school and with my family/church too. Funny how secular our culture has become in the last 20 years and how quickly we've totally forgotten that it wasn't always that way.

B: We did too

D: It's a stunningly quick and drastic cultural mindset shift. It will take an even greater toll on our land/moral mindset over time if there isn't a fresh wave of Christ sown into the common fibre of society. I want revival and all that good stuff too... but what is really needed to shift is a new wineskin of genuine influence of Christ in the functional culture of cities.

B: Genuine influence has to be equated with a strong stand and strong life (but the branding happens - "right wing, bigoted, religious, etc) and limits even well intentioned people. Wonder what counteracts that?

D: Projects that make people move because it's enticingly GOOD.

B: And people who can speak well in public in respectful yet strong ways and point to God in a fresh way.

D: When you live respectfully, I think people will even listen to the most evangelical of messages (spoken or sung) IF you have genuine human respect for everyone.

B: Most have either cowardly stuck their head in the sand - or spoken harshly and got pegged that way.

D: This is why Christians get pegged as "anti" things instead of "pro". I think Christians in Canada are defeatist and have a huddled mentality. We/they consider evangelism war and come at it with a chip on our shoulder. We assume that the big bad world will hate us so we're confrontational first.

B: That develops the us vs them mentality before anything is said. (Brian then made reference to what a mutual friend posted on Facebook this morning. It said...)

"Xmas" and "X-mas" are common abbreviations of the word "Christmas". They are sometimes pronounced /ˈɛksməs/, but they, and variants such as "Xtemass", originated as handwriting abbreviations for the correct pronunciation /ˈkrɪsməs/. The "-mas" part came from the Latin-derived Old English word for "mass".[1] The ..."X" in Xmas is from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of Χριστός, Christ in Greek


B: The closest most Christians get to witnessing is "it's not X-mas"

Excellent discussion.. sounds like one we should pick up this week on Freedom House TV so you can have your say too. As we stood in the pubic square singing about salvation, redemption, and broken curses (as well as figgy-pudding and gay apparel) ... it felt good. Hopeful. Nice. Right. I think one of the beauties of Christmas is that we're all open to the possibility that GOOD could somehow prevail. It's our job to make sure that that hope is fanned into flame.

11 December 2009

Christmas light

Cartoon from NakedPastor.com



"It really sank in with the Christmas story. T
he idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw... a child ... I just thought: 'Wow!' Just the poetry... Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. I was just sitting there, and it's not that it hadn't struck me before, but tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this."
Bono

9 December 2009

Tonight... Heroes

Even this week we've seen "heroes" fall. What REALLY is a hero? How do we become one? Should we even try to become one? Who are your heroes and why?

8 December 2009

All I'm Thinkin About Is You

Spent my day writing inane ads and listening to Springsteen music that I'd never heard before. I'll let you guess which part I liked the best



The man's the boss.

7 December 2009

Turning thinking into doing


Donald Miller's new book "A Million Miles in a thousand years" is really making me stop and think about the functional life of a person of consequence. He reiterates a number of times "A character is what a character does" ... a book about his learning process editing his real life into a character in a story.

It's a real confronting challenge to "thinkers" when you realize that the world doesn't hear your thoughts. Ha. Sounds strange but we quite often wrongly THINK that we really ARE the person we think we are in our own brains. As gross miscalculation in actuality. A character is what a character does. And I'm feeling the pressing of the Holy Spirit more and more these days that we were designed to be anything but average. And good thinkers who don't do anything... are not heroes. It's just not good enough.

I preached 3x this weekend about heroes. I walked a number of groups through Miller's process of using their own life to tell a story in a defined time. It's not an easy task, but trying it very quickly makes you realize that WANT your life to say something.

"I've wondered if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that... we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants"
Don Miller


And this is not some goofy corporate motivational thing. Because Biblical heroism means having a passion for others and a spirit of sacrifice that would lay down their own lives for their brother. Great part about that... is that it's the only way actually LIVE!

Matthew 10: 38-39"If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.


Living life like this both inspires others to do likewise... and lets us act like Matt Chandler when what the world mislabels "tragedy" happens to us. You HAVE to see this.




Imagine that... understanding we're made to honor and testify to God with our lives in EVERY season. Good and Bad. We can choose not to turn our thoughts into actions... for a time. But whether you like it or not... you are a character in the grandest of theaters... and the playwright died so that you, in turn, can play an important, heroic role.

4 December 2009

All the world's a stage

At home tonight getting ready to speak twice tomorrow for our Freedom House youth retreat weekend. I'm chatting about our stories. We all know the beginning of this quote... but the whole thing is amazing



William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It 2/7)

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

3 December 2009

Thursday Night at Home

Tonight after work, I'll pick up my son's first real guitar that we're giddy about giving him for Christmas. After the kids eat, I'll wrestle with Jared, snuggle with Aislin, talk about how pretty the Christmas tree is with Brianna, and flirt a little too much with the girl who has loved me since high school. Then I'll make this amazing Cajun Shrimp Pasta. It's super spicy with extra Tabasco (that's the secret).

After the kids go to bed, we'll sit on the living room floor, eat it quickly like it's going out of style, and talk about how much we like spicy food. We'll lounge on the couch and watch the only four actually funny shows on TV today. We're very happy for Jim and Pam. When 30 Rock finishes, in half a doze, we'll talk about how cool it is that we're about to buy a house that is already our home. We'll admit to each other that world is colder than we wish it was and pull each other closer.

Then we'll thank God... because He's worthy of it.

2 December 2009

Is "Missionary" a dirty word?

Check out Wednesday's show... "Missionary" can be a bad word in our culture... so how does one become a missionary TO Canada? Do we need them? And how "dancing the monkey dance" can change our reality.

1 December 2009

'Story' my book review of "A Million Miles in a thousand years by Donald Miller


I have the privilege of receiving quite a few books and albums to review from a number of different publishers and record companies. Right now, I'm part way through Donald Miller's latest "A Million Miles in a thousand years" from Thomas Nelson.

I won't be the first or last to say that I love Miller's style. He writes books that make me want to be a writer. They are real and introspective, a touch on the snide-side and legitimately funny. How can you not like a guy who's always smoking a pipe? Have you ever NOT liked a pipe-guy? His books also mean something and are written in a way that resonates in Gen X'ers who, like me, have grown up with 'negative' and 'skeptical' as the default settings far too often and are looking for footholds on the mountain of 'belief'.

I've stalled my reading in chapters 9 and 10 because, as often happens to the analytical, Miller's created a point around which my mind/spirit is still formulating the right way to process. The book revolves around how Donald Miller, author of "Blue Like Jazz," edits himself into the character of "Don" in the Blue Like Jazz movie. During that process... he begins to learn about how to really write a story. In chapter 9... Miller tells about friend whose daughter is going down a dark path with a boy who was very bad for her. He says, nearly as a reflex action, that she's trapped in a terrible story. One that doesn't have a meaningful plot line and as a character that doesn't have that anything she's working to overcome. Just a bad story.

Miller's friend thinks about it and realizes that HE hasn't provided the right scenario for his daughter to play a better 'role' in her own story. So he changed it. He actually committed his family to BUYING an orphanage in the third world. His daughter began to get caught up in her new role as a hero. She dumped her boyfriend because he was "too fat. The dad's quote at the end of the chapter is terrific:

"No girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while."


Amazing. This is what Miller writes at the end of Chapter 10:

"I've noticed something. I've never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movie I walked out of was meaningless. I wonder then, if people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is THEIR lives are meaningless. I wonder if they've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us"


So I've been thinking about how 'story' deserves to be lived in response to a God who created us in His image and released into His creation to bring renown back to the Name of author of GOOD itself! On Saturday night at our Santa Clause parade I had a few quiet moments with my son. Me dressed in a big red costume as "Captain Kindness" and he in a small red costume as Captain Kindness Jr. I thought about the story of the Dad and his daughter. I know that my son enjoys 'doing' but I want to make sure I help create every opportunity for him to become the hero of a story. I asked him if he understood why we take time to share Jesus with our city via the message of kindness. I actually wasn't sure what my answer was going to be to his inevitable "No".

He surprised me by replying, "So that our whole city knows that it's important to be kind." I thought that was an excellent answer. Because it's big enough to be a meaningful story. It's long enough to be a feature presentation. It's deep enough to make an impact. It's fulfilling enough to fuel the fire of the protagonist in the coming acts of antagonism that make for a worthwhile story. Even as a 7 year old... I want his story to be an intriguing one.

"The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination."
Shane Claiborne

30 November 2009

Happy Birthday Captain Kindness

Saturday night I donned Big Red (aka Captain Kindness)and we continued out kindness blitz "A Poly Lolly Christmas" in Brantford's Santa Clause Parade



We gave out 2 lolly pops. One to keep and one to give away... because kindness is contagious and can change a city. It also marked the first birthday of Captain Kindness as we invented him for last year's parade.

I laughed yesterday thinking about the fact that in one year, we've established an actual local, widely recognized superhero that has opened GIANT doors with our city. I also wondered how I became this character? Ha! I wondered, if this continues (which it will), if Big Red will become part of my legacy one day. When I'm remembered one day... will THIS be the reason? Maybe. There certainly are worse thing to be remembered for.

My dreams, life, time, thoughts are focused on the community transformation part. And as I've had the amazing chance to be able to work as a team with other gifted people with the same dream... you get to realize that your own individual part, is only fraction of the picture. We cannot indulge ourselves in self-importance. Our role is simply our role. The whole is what's important.

"we who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals." (quarry worker's creed in renaissance times)

The dream is not doing something that makes ME feel good. The goal is "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Our lives are a designed to be a sacrifice. It's how others are freed.

27 November 2009

Science be praised! They're finally talking with the Martians!

From today's Toronto Star:
RESPECTED SCIENTIST SAYS ALIENS ARE AMONG US

Finally!

Here are some much anticipated highlight's coming from Astrophysicist Latchezar Filipov, head of the Space Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences... better known as "Mr. Science 2009".

1. He and his colleagues are in contact with extraterrestrials who are "living among us." And they don't like what they see.


- Well... maybe you shouldn't have stationed them all in Western New York... and Bulgaria!


2. "We sent (the aliens) 30 questions about global problems," said Filipov, who was vague about how he actually conveyed the queries. "And now we have some answers." The "answers" came in the form of pictograms in crop circles.


- When he had the meeting for the original "questionnaire" drop-off with Spacey-Stacey... maybe the barter agreement should have included the exchange of email addresses so the martians would have a more clear method of filling in the blanks. They also should have exchanged local candy products. Just to shake it up.


3. Filipov says the aliens are here, observing us, but unobservable by us for some reason.


- For some reason. For some reason they only appear as six foot rabbits named Harvey. For some reason.

4. Filipov asked the aliens about the SETI, the broad umbrella project searching for alien life, and the supposed end of the world in 2012, when the Mayan calendar expires.He told the Star that the aliens have told him SETI doesn't work, owing to a confusion about communication through "magnetic fields." They also said there is some truth in the 2012 predictions, having something to do with volcanoes in Mexico.


- OOOOOOOOK. Be mindful of Mexican volcanoes. Gotcha. Who knew that martians followed the Mayan calender. I'll bet them Mayan calenders will be popular Christmas items since so much seems to revolve around them.


5. Further, more prosaic revelations include that the aliens are angry about global warming, disagree with in-vitro fertilization and don't like cosmetics


- The aliens are hippies? Do they AT LEAST shave their armpits?


6. This work is only beginning, Filipov cautioned, and he is still open to the fact that he could be mistaken – "I don't yet believe that this is absolutely true information."


- "But we're hoping. Well... especially me. That tape recorder wasn't on right?"


7."In Bulgaria now, we have a very strange reaction to my research," Filipov said. "The people in Bulgaria are frightened, they don't understand this."You must understand that this is a very complicated situation."


- That look in those glossy Bulgarian eyes isn't fright Dr Science.

26 November 2009

The Cross is in the Ballpark


Some people say a lie is just a lie
But I say the cross is in the ballpark
Why deny the obvious child?
Paul Simon from "Obvious Child"


"The Cross is in the Ballpark" is an image that has germinated inside me over the years. When I first heard the song, I was playing night baseball a couple times a week on my hometown's "B" ball diamond. Right field had a short porch, but left field was deep and dark. There was a haunting Oak tree just beyond the chain link fence that would glisten as the dew started to fall. I used to imagine it as a cross looming tall over us as we played our boy games. Something constant and real keeping watch over us.

WP Kinsella (author of Shoesless Joe/Field of Dreams) wrote a lesser known book called "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy" It's both a very tangible, and very fantastical story Gideon Clarke who slips through a crack in time to experience a 2000 inning baseball game in 1908, between the Tinker to Evers to Chance Cubs and a group of locals forgotten by time. The game turns into a heartbeat. Life, God and destiny begin to be made known.


These days "The Cross in the Ballpark" (like good poetry should do) has come to life for me. These days I describe is as the obliteration of lines we've drawn between the sacred and the secular. See... because some people say that a lie is just a lie, but the cross is in the ballpark. It's everywhere. Why deny the obvious? Everything is sacred. And I LOVE it when people GET this.

Dirk Hayhurst is a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and is a friend of a friend. He's a bit of a baseball player oddity... in that he's a deeper thinker, a writer (the soon-to-be-released "Bullpen Gospels") and a very sharp dude. As a side note... his twittering is fantastic @TheGarfoose. He's been writing articles for a local Canton Ohio newspaper and a few weeks ago a great piece called "Prayers are answered in unusual ways". Here's a snippet.


This unpredictable nature of baseball is what leads the men who play it to create such fanciful routines, rituals and superstitions — including buckets of chicken, compulsive tooth brushing and the occasional wearing of women’s underwear. Do these things really impact the sport or are they done simply to soothe a player’s mind?

I pray. I’d like to think my invocations are more than superstition, but during times such as these, when I wander to the ballpark, when no amount of compulsive tooth brushing cleanses the disgust, when my supplication becomes frustration about the absence of a changeup, communing with the Almighty seems less than divine.

At the end of my most recent walk/performance evaluation with God, a sound of joy interrupted our talk, pulling my attention from the destination of the locker doors to the patch of four-base-agony I was on last night.

There, on field, were dozens of happy children.

Plastic bases marked miniature diamonds in left, right and center field, populated by parents pitching soft, foamy balls to the long, loopy swings of bat-sized kids. The players were special-needs children. Some played positions in wheelchairs, others from behind braces.

Still others stood, under the pull of autism or Down syndrome.

God and I watched the scene.

When a long swing struck a ball into play, the children let loose with shouts, chasing after the white bauble like freshly lit firecrackers. Once caught, they clamored at the opportunity to throw their prize. To whom or where seemed irrelevant. Just throwing it was fun enough.


I couldn’t help but wonder, what did that father and his daughter pray? Was it superstition or sincerity? Were they angry when they called on God? Did they grumble about a lack of fingers to fold while praying, how it wasn’t part of their plan, how they’re tired of meeting under such circumstances?

Or were they grateful to a God that makes hugs and home runs possible, even without arms?


In this case... the cross truly was in the physical Rogers Center ballpark. Dirk sensed it. The kids did too. You could have too if you were there and realized that the sacred is all around us if we'll open our eyes to see it. Reading the things that Dirk writes is refreshing because he GETS that baseball isn't the be all and end all of life. It's just a thing. The cross is in your office. It's in your backyard. It's in the streets. It's at the bar. It's in the parks. Everything, everywhere, every moment is an opportunity to bring a little bit more of heaven to earth. Jesus taught us to pray it... so that we'd see it... and then gave us the task of allowing it happen even more.

25 November 2009

Tonight's FHTV


"What have you always wanted to ask about God? Sex, Politics, Religion... no issue is off limits... whatever you've always wanted to ask, this is your night"

Home for Christmas



I'm a people watcher. Today after scarfing down a synthetic Taco Bell something or other, I walked the mall and exercised my "staring problem". Today what I saw were people searching for what we know as "Home".

There were people I've been... like the sleep deprived new parent walking halls, just happy to be around other adults and relishing the chance to change a diaper in a new exotic location. There were people I've not yet been... like the gang of old men in hats, desperately trying to make their small coffee last as possible so that their camaraderie could linger.

What I saw was a vast array of different people... who, at the end of the day, all want to be locked in, away from the coldness, sitting contently with someone who loves them. We've dubbed this feeling as being called "home" but that words seems to be fairly unique to our culture.

"Home is an English word virtually impossible to translate into other tongues. No translation catches the associations, the mixture of memory and longing, the sense of security and autonomy and accessibility, the aroma of inclusiveness, of freedom from wariness that cling to the word ‘home' and are absent from ‘house' or even ‘my house.' Home is a concept, not a place; it's a state of mind where self-definition starts. It is origins, a mix of time and place and smell and weather wherein one first realizes one is an original; perhaps like others, especially those one loves; but discreet, distinct, not to be copied. Home is where one first learned to be separate, and it remains in the mind as the place where reunion, if it were ever to occur, would happen. All literary romance, all romance epic, derives from the Odyssey and it is about going home. It's about rejoining; rejoining a beloved, rejoining parent to child, rejoining a land to its rightful owner or rule. Romance is about putting things aright after some tragedy has put them asunder. It is about restoration of the right relations among things. And ‘going home' is where that restoration occurs, because that's where it matters most."

- Bart Giamatti, Former Professor of Comparative Literature, Former President of Yale University, Former Commissioner of Major League Baseball



There often seems to be quite the dichotomy in how North Americans react during the Christmas season. We're quite Pavlovian with the Christmas frills, in how it triggers "Home". Some find it cheap considering the treasured value of finding "Home". A principled stand yes... almost so "principled" that forgets just how many of us are lonely and longing for even a sniff of something that feels RIGHT.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
- Maya Angelou


Taking a step back and a deep breath reminds me that heaven is my home... and that Jesus charge to me is pray and work for our earth to be like it. It's true that we must be careful not to salivate at the wrong bells. In my youthful arrogance, there have been too many times I've begrudged others their "home" under my own restless colored banner. One day all of our earthly "stands" will just fade away and the "home" that we get tastes of here and there will be in full.

"The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness."
2 Peter 3


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