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.

29 June 2009

Saturday at Wonderland reminded me of 2 things

When I was a teenager driving up North with friends past endless rock faces, lakes and ditches, we used to play the game "If I drove off the road here... would I die?" I thought of that game as I was climbing the first hill of Canada's Wonderland's new roller coaster, "The Behemoth" on Saturday.

The answer... would be yes pretty much the whole way through as it's a 75 degree drop at 125 kilometers per hour... and it cost about 27 million dollars to make. I rode it twice (missing the Mercy Me concert to do it a 2nd time) and it officially surpassed Darien Lake's "Superman" as my favorite roller coaster.

I didn't always like roller coasters. In fact I used to REALLY hate them. When I was a kid, the wooden roller coasters that
shook you like a human being (veiled Kim Mitchell reference anyone?) and made you feel like you were going to fall out, freaked me out. Feeling the imminent death feeling was NOT that appealing. Go figure. But a friend taught me the secret to roller coasters when the new era of fast, smooth rides dawned. Just let go. It took me a while... but I finally learned this trick. Just let go. After that, I finally got what the POSITIVE rush that everyone raved about was!

As my wife and I were hurdling at break-neck speed together through the North Toronto dusk over the lights of the city... I was reminded of a couple of things.

Freedom is easy
Freedom is hard

It's as easy as choosing to let go. Freedom sits right in front of us waiting to be embraced and to liberate. But it's seemingly extremely difficult to do. I looked at the mass number of people milling about Wonderland and began to wonder what percentage were happy? How many people felt peace and satisfaction... and how many feel lonely and sad when then layed their head on their pillow? I'll hazard a guess that the latter far out-weighs the former.

Freedom doesn't have situational qualifications.

Some people feel OK about life during the "rush"moments but not the quiet ones. Some... the opposite. But I think the freedom to let go of control and trust that God has got ya strapped (or tucked) in... is further reaching than we think. Letting go works whether you're on a roller coaster or sitting alone in your bedroom at night. Both ends of the excitement spectrum are common in our lives and BOTH are necessary to make us rounded, free, effective people.

So Krissy and I through our hands up and embrace a bit of the abandon of freedom feeling on Saturday evening. It was wonderful.

26 June 2009

"Both and" not "Either or"

It's funny that we have such a hard time wrapping our minds around the idea of The Big C Church as a body. One body. One moment we think that how we live out our faith is CLEARLY better and more right than everyone else... and the next our insecurities rise up and we think that what we're gifted at and called to do is peanuts and insignificant.

My goodness are we a bundle of nerves sometimes.

From my perspective... the malfunction happens because of a lack of strategic cohesiveness brought on by a lack of unity... brought on by pride. We SHOULD have large scale evangelistic efforts that are overseen by visionary leaders with the best interests of "The Church" at heart. When done right... it actually facilitates the passions of others for "personal evangelism" and grass roots work. The two are not polarized... they are complimentary. But we're tempted into squabbles so easily. Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 1:

10I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I'll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

12-13 I'll tell you exactly what I was told: You're all picking sides, going around saying, "I'm on Paul's side," or "I'm for Apollos," or "Peter is my man," or "I'm in the Messiah group."I ask you, "Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul's name?"

17God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.

Paul, as a person, was a pretty defined dude. Apostle... Leader... a "I am who I am take it or leave it" no-holds barred kinda guy. When you teach about "giftings", it's great using Paul as an example of how a good leader surrounds himself with people of complimentary gifting (Pastoral, compassion etc) to flesh out his message since we're personally coming from only one slant and hold only part of the big picture.

So when Paul gets annoyed at people for following
HIM or Apollos ... it's not just because he doesn't want the limelight (or out of jealousy of limelight being given to a contemporary)... it's the fact that in picking sides and preferences... the people are ruining Paul's carefully laid out plans of seeing a healthy CHURCH being gifted and released in NUMEROUS areas (1 Corinthians 12) and working together as a body... ONE body.

Cities can be changed by that kind of church.

Strategists can't strategize without pieces to place in place. Pieces that KNOW what their sacred role is and are confident it in. So confident that they are just as ready to prop up a brother for success... as do it themselves. Leaders can lead with that kind of army. Foot-soldiers and grass-rootsies will toil in obscurity and begin to feel jaded and alone (
and trust me... we all feel like that too often) without a big-picture plan. Without vision we die.

If the malfunction happens because of a lack of strategic cohesiveness brought on by a lack of unity, brought on by pride.... then choosing (and supporting) a Big C Church that says "Both And" instead of "Either or" is necessary. Blessing and serving instead of cursing and wrangling for position not only brings life to others... but to you as well. We're all on the same team

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25 June 2009

The Medium and the Message are One

"Aristotle says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha says to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius says to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” Muhammad says to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.” Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me.” In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One."

Excerpt from "A Jesus Manifesto" by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

24 June 2009

You Googled WHAT and found me?

This month's real... honest... word for word... things that people Googled and wound up on my blog; and my sarcastic responses to them.

1. "women are not from venus"

After leaving the toilet seat up for the "final time" John Gray's wife made him rethink a few things.

2. "what are the important things to remember in broadcasting"

As a seasoned broadcaster, I can share with you that it's important to know that no actual money changes hands in broadcasting. You can help yourself to as many passes to Disney on Ice and the Wine and Cheese Show as you want though. In fact it's a good idea to do so. If you bring a big enough bag, you can take home a week's worth of cheese samples!

3. "we both are stubborn asses"

Oh... yes. You've reached stage 3 on the "Marriage Realization Chart". It goes like this...

  1. Honeymoon Bliss
  2. Holy Crap I'm living with a girl!
  3. We are both stubborn asses
Then somewhere around point 8 or 9 you realize that you'll be just fine. Forge on soldier.

4. "the lords prayer, cowboy version lyrics"

... the power and the glory.
For ever and ever.

5. "the rainforest restaurant+brantford"

Oh I'm not sure you really want to eat there right now. It looks like this now.

But in 6 months or so I'd be happy to rent you a lovely apartment in the main dining room area!

6. reverendo lovejoy

El Reverendo Lovejoy español. Él es un predicador con picante latín fuego

7. "pontipines mormon"

I laughed out loud at this one. Every one of us who has been subjected to "In the Night Garden" has thought this and likely said it out loud.

8. "how to make the holie big in ear"

Warning... forthcoming rant: The HOLIE in the ear should not be bigger. Dear young dorks... stop stretching your earlobes to ridiculous proportions. You have a lot of life to live where

a) The hoop in your earlobe will look stupid
b) Taking the hoop out leaving a floppy, mangled, dangly,"Holie" in your ear... will look stupider.

9. "if i kissed someone with the swine flu do i get it to"

Yep... you're pretty much bacon. It's your own darn fault for making out with a pig in the first place.

10. "hide it under a bushel of what?"

Why have we never really asked this before? What does it matter I guess... just let your little light shine darn you.

11. "fear of wet paper towel"

Let us pray.

Breakfast chatter

Aislin Whining at the breakfast table: Nobody is sitting with me!

Jared finishing his breakfast and leaving: Jesus is sitting with you

Aislin: Oh yeah

Jared to me in the kitchen with a twinkle in his eye: Ha ha

Ah let the theology wars begin.

22 June 2009

Impacting the Suburban Ghetto

"The growth of the metropolis throws vast numbers of people into distant dormitories where ... life is carried on without the discipline of rural occupations and without the cultural resources that the Central District of the city still retains."
[Lewis Mumford: Technology and Science Historian, 1922]

Suburbia: the push-button Zion of those who have made it and therefore have it made. There, amid the water sprinkling systems and lava rock landscapes, rises the new Eden with little need for God: Paradise Found, where churches ulcerate themselves trying to sell self-denial to the pampered. Can the urgency of the Cross ever be made real to those who cocoon in front of an entertainment center and insist on defining hell as dandelions and heaven as the proper side of town?

[Calvin Miller: "Rethinking Suburban Evangelism"]

My spirit is both irked and stirred by the suburbs and neighborhoods of Canadian cities. I'm moved by the fact that there are generations of skilled, middle-class, employed, and educated people who unknowingly are now North America's "unreached people group". They are the result of a generation who left an irrelevant church behind... and now find themselves with little spiritual heritage, and even less personal faith of their own. It's sometimes disappointing that Christians over-identify the shortcoming of Suburban living and as a result employee short-sighted and half-hearted efforts to reach those who live there. Simply because they've failed in the past... and it's hard.

  • Downtown is sexy
  • Suburbia is bland
  • Downtown is eclectic
  • Suburbia is repetitious
  • Downtown is vibrant and public
  • Suburbia is quiet and private

Yep... ...and who cares.

The suburbs and "Little Pink Houses" type neighborhoods in our cities are littered with unreached GENERATIONS living in their comfortable caves; untouched. You know the inspiring stories of radical African Missionaries forging into dark jungles with unknown dangers lying ahead... willing to sacrifice their style, comfort, preferences for the sake of OTHERS freedom? Well guess what. It's our divine calling to GO into ALL the world and preach the good news of Jesus.

There is also a misconception that the "quality of life" is better in the suburbs than in the inner city so people don't have the same "needs". Within percentage points, when studies are done about drugs, alcohol, sex, crime, marriage issues... suburbia rates neck-in-neck with the inner city. The same social pitfalls exist... but there is no "Local Mission" around the corner with a listening ear, step up, and a prayer to offer because we haven't put the effort into discovering a legitimate avenue of communicating "The Message".

"Suburban Ghetto" is an increasingly common term... implying numerous things (social, political, economic, spiritual) , not the least of which to the Evangelical Christian should remind us that new strategy is needed to begin to take the Great Commission seriously in our own cities. It doesn't matter a hill of beans if you don't like suburbia. Our love (that God will give us if we ask him for it) for it's people and concern for their spiritual well-being SUPERSEDES personal preference.

Here's something that may anger many some of you. I DO want a large TV. I DO want a killer backyard barbecue/patio/pool set-up. I DO want to make lots of money to be able to be able to buy the latest toys. I DO want a large car with lots of seats. I DO want a golf club membership. I DO want a big house with lots of rooms furnished well. And I want them... because they're all just tools to share Jesus with a key strategic demographic of unreached people in the very cities God wants to make harbors of His glory. I don't personally care one way or another about ME "having" them (since I don't really have any of them yet! Ha!) but whether it meets our standards of righteousness or not... they are ticket's into conversations and invitations into relationship that can lead to changed lives.


Yesterday we got to pray for God to heal the liver of a half-millionaire in my city... on the golf course. We earned a degree of his relational trust over 9 holes by being normal, friendly people... listening to his golf tips (have your body and hands come back to it's original position before your club strikes the ball... thanks John) and through it... God opened a door. The price of the round of golf could have fed a Compassion Canada kid for a month and a half. I'd do it the same way 100 times out of a 100. John's life is worth JUST as much as a child in Africa (of whom we DO sponsor 2) and I'm called to go find John and share the gospel with him.

In the Kingdom, it's not "either or"
It's "both and".

"Waiting on the secular family to be interested in the church's message demands patience. Sometimes it's directly related to need. At seasons of great need, most people are interested in God. If the pastor can lay down the church's availability through advertising or general reputation, when those needs come, the families who thought they were not interested suddenly are. We must socialize before we evangelize"

Calvin Miller
In 1975, God gave Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, a simultaneous vision about the 7 areas in our culture that God wants us to climb and conquer for His Name and Renown.

  • Family: Where Generational Blessings or Curses are passed on to our children
  • Education: Where either Truth or lies about God and His Creation are taught
  • Government: Where Evil is either Restrained or Endorsed
  • Business: Where people build for the Glory of God or the glory of man
  • Media: Where events, news and information are interpreted and passed on people through the lens of good or evil
  • Arts and Entertainment: Where Values and Virtues are either celebrated or distorted
  • Religion: Where people worship God in "Spirit and Truth" or settle for religious rituals

The generations who are lost in the malaise of the Suburban Ghetto... are people of great influence in MANY of these areas in our culture. How can we not take the time to strategize about how to influence the influencers in our cities and then wonder why we're not influencing them?

It's partially because we're not talking to them where they are... in a language they are familiar with. The onus is not on THEM to make the effort. It's on US to put ourselves SECOND. It's on us to SERVE and show kindness (giving us a voice) to those Jesus died for. This is God's desire for everyone from the inner-city to the gated community...

He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we've learned: that there's one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out. This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth.
1 Timothy 2: 4-7 [The Message]

It's the simple message of God's love. When the life of ONE influencer is freed from fear, death, hopelessness... think what the subsequent ripples of reciprocation will bring when you (out of relationship) disciple them. The very thought of it looses the dream of "The City of God" to run rampant through my spirit.

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19 June 2009

Kristina Lynn Carrol

She'll often say, "Why do you love me?" But the smile with which the question is asked has changed over the years. It used to be an insecure, unsure, quarter-mouthed question... asked because the answer was still a question. But now the smile is a wry fun smile. Half smart-alack... half princess waiting to be deservedly doted upon.

So I stop to think...
"Well??" she asks. "Out with it Carrol".

Finding AN answer isn't the hard part. Finding THE answer for the moment is pause-worthy. See there are many valid periphery reasons to declare my love for my love. Non of them are trite... and all of them would be reason enough. But when I use my Forever-Eyes I can see something more than the everyday. As one day melts into another I, an invited guest, watches my one-flesh evolve into something greater than the day before. She can calm my spirit with a word and send my heart racing with a look. How does a simpleton on a time line say what's a heart's really thinking?

I try to wax poetic... but words get in the way of what I really want to say. So I lean in and touch her hair. She playfully sighs, and with a goofy twinkle in her eyes that is intoxicatingly charming to me, she says, "Ahhh... you say it best when you say nothing at all".

Last night we laughed together in our poorly decorated, raggedy kitchen. I did the dishes while she cooked spicy shrimp pasta. We ate it while watching reruns of The Office. Then I fell asleep on her lap while she reveled in the people dancing on TV. It all felt... well.

17 June 2009

Saying without saying

I stumbled upon John Mayer's fantastic performance of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" from his"Where The Light is" album yesterday. It's just a captivating piece to listen to. Something very pretty. Do yourself a favor...

I did some digging into this tremendously engaging song, wondering what it's motivation was. I obviously can't verify these facts, but this is the story behind the story that I found:

" A roadie bought Tom a keyboard that Tom didn't really want. The roadie told Tom that if he wrote one song with it... it would pay for itself. Tom played the 5 opening chords to Jeff Lynne one night. Jeff told him to sing something while repeating the same chords over and over. "Just to make Jeff smile I sang 'She's a good girl, loves her mama' and from there I wrote the first and second verses completely spontaneously."

Axl Rose once asked Tom how he came up with the line about vampires and Tom replied..."
When I'm driving, sometimes I see these shadowy-looking people just off the sidewalks, around the post office. I always thought of them as vampires for some reason."

As it turns out... in this case, Tom's not trying to tell a story. Instead he's painting us picture... with words and sounds. A mix of the cohesive and abstract. Engaging imagery and sounds providing a framework within which to get lost and imagine. Like the experience you hear people tell of about getting mesmerized by the Mona Lisa's smile.

It says... without saying.

It's quite likely you do feel something when you hear this song. It's likely about SOMETHING to you. Some combination of word and sound likely resonates a picture or emotion in you. Some I read about feel love... some feel lonely... some feel sad... some feel free. But this song has lasted for a reason. It's pretty.

As a writer, advertiser and even as one who wants to share life-truths... saying without saying is important. Because it's about communicating truth... via it's beauty. In 1983, Paul Simon released a lesser known song called "Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war". While not an enormously popular commercial hit, it has become shining example of how word pictures can communicate a feeling without being forced into the cheap shortcut of bluntness.

He used stanza's like...

"They danced by the light of the moon
To the Penguins, the Moonglows
The Orioles, and The Five Satins
The deep forbidden music
They'd been longing for"

... about which Rolling Stone commented:

There they are, a Belgian surrealist painter, his old lady and their pooch, dancing naked in a hotel room, window-shopping on Christopher Street and getting dolled up to dine with "the power elite." [...] It's a hilarious and magical juxtaposition of images that's also touching, because Paul Simon obviously identifies with the figure of the grown-up, respectable artist irrevocably smitten with those doo-wop groups, "the deep forbidden music" that originally made him fall in love with rock and roll"

I am an expert on neither art nor poetry. But the times when I have enjoyed either... I have realized that the artist or author has tapped into a life-spring of universal truth, and it has helped me to not only FEEL it... but EXPERIENCE it as well. And that is a beautiful bridge to understanding the depths of truth that are just waiting to be discovered in our world.

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16 June 2009

I liked singing back when singers couldn't sing

Depth of character exposes the shallowness of ability

The Crackled, Quiet, Spoken, Truth-tale speaks volumes in the twinkle of an eye.

The authority of an honest expression embarrasses the falsetto phonies

If you sing a song the same way twice... it's possible you're just repeating yourself instead of discerning the moment.

15 June 2009

Live interactive Church... Thy Kingdom Come?

Ever have those technological encounters where it feels like you're living in "The Jetsons"? I'm JUST old enough that I'm still somewhat in awe of what we can do in our world these days.

Last night we experimented with live-streamed interactive church at Freedom House for our annual Conference, this year called "Kingdom Come" happening last night, tonight and tomorrow. We had UStream... Twitter... Facebook... Blog... online chat's... all interwoven together as the meeting was going on.

What it practically meant was me setting up a terminal with my Sony Vaio at the back of the room and remotely controlling a camera while updating and interacting online with the nearly 200 people who passed through our little webcast last night. We took live polls, one showing that around 70% of the viewers had never been to Freedom House before. We connected with, and prayed for, friends... people in Pennsylvania, around Canada, Brantford and beyond saying... "we're here around an altar with some folks who'd love to have faith to contend for what's going on in your life". Some sought us out... and some we sought out. Some cool interaction and prayer really.

As a broadcasting student and a culture-nut... the philosophy behind Christian television always seemed to have a disconnect and a few unconnected dots, because the communication is too often unidirectional. The philosophy was always, "We must find a way to get The Message to where people are... and people aren't coming to church. They are in their homes... and TV gets into their homes." And that's a solid line of evangelical Kingdom rational. Really... it's ALL good.

But in my Christian TV experience... I've found there is a potential snare in doing something where there is no human connection. When I would actually talk with people on Nite Lite Live, many said they didn't go to church or have Christian friends because they watch Christian TV for their teaching. But there is no relationship... interaction... or even POTENTIAL for a second step. You can't pop by a TV studio for coffee.

I wrote my 3rd Year College Thesis about the state of Christian broadcasting around the globe and the need for "Next Step". It's conclusion was about the need for a way for media to connect to a real place with real people who could care and offer community, relationship, accountability... a follow-up discussion. The needs to be a way for a continuing interaction.

Last night I got a peek into a synthesis of technology, culture, communications and a life changing God that COULD really do some damage in advancing the Kingdom of God. Taking "The Message" to a place where a broader-scope of ears are listening in forum where interaction is facilitated... with a connection to a place of community and love. Like it or not... the positive impact that last summer's Lakeland explosion was (and continues to be) felt around the world because of the power of God combined with strategic communication.

This social media thing is FAR from perfect... and many don't like it. There are parts I don't like either! But who cares? Brother Christian... you're supposed to be a lump of clay. Many people don't like me either! People are different and God's not willing that ANY perish. It's just another tool that falls under Paul's description of evangelism in 1 Corinthians 9 19-22

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

That said... a webcast is no substitute for being in room full of worshipers. And honestly... sitting at a computer typing on Twitter and UStream made it so I (
personally) didn't fully engage myself in the on-goings of the night. But who cares?? The message of the cross (and Freedom House's little moto) is essentially "Get Free... Live Free... Free Others". In North America, there are many who Jesus would see as that sheep that wandered away from the flock. People who have given up on their faith. Jesus goes out of His way to find those people. He leaves the 99 to find the 1.

I'm not entirely sure than in God's desire to see "The Message" go to the ends of the earth... the personal preferences of the sheep already in the barn, plays much of a role. We need to be sacrificial, wise, intentional, strategic and humble to really see what we (and He) desires to see.

Love to see you tonight or tomorrow either in person at the Freedom House City Center at 7pm or online. In fact I'll even embed the live feed right here at Big Ear Creations too. Interesting days we live in friends. Like the Jetson's sometimes.

12 June 2009

And now for no reason...

Please don't attempt to drink milk or soda while watching this literal version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" or horrible things will happen.

I thought about writing something insightful today... but between a worsening bout of the "can't sleeps" and getting ready to do a youth retreat this weekend... my brain's mush. And not like the nice pudding kinda mush. More like bread that's been left in a small cup of water for 3 days accidentally.

Thanks to Jesus Needs New PR for this linking this video. Also thanks to Jim Gaffingan for making that great routine about bacon. I also want to thank Hans Gruber for make John McLean mad all those years ago... that was so good for the rest of us.

10 June 2009

Adeste Fideles

"O Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant: o come ye to Bethlehem, come and behold Him, born the King of Angels.

Yea, Lord we greet Thee, born this happy morning; Jesu, to Thee be glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing"

One of the beautiful things that happened at the nativity... was COMING to worship. It's an ALIVE Jesus-truth at any time of the year.

Together... differing races, economic classes, social status's, styles of life... came to a
place to worship the King. They came long distances by faith at personal cost. Financial, time, reputation cost. They came to a plain untrendy temple-barn... not because it was comfortable hip thing to do... but because Jesus was there. But really, if Jesus is somewhere... why WOULDN'T you go?

Coming together with others to worship Jesus is one of my favorite things in the world to do. Living your faith alone without other tangible human contact, touch, bothering, provoking, encouragement... is a shallow faith experience. Shallow because you limit
yourself in how deep your God-Experience can possibly be... because it's only you. Your thoughts... Your perspective... Your bias... Your single voice. There is strength (great strength) in numbers.

The other aspect is, that in not participating with a body of believers, you rob others of the blessing of you and your gifts. Ubuntu. Our very belief system is woven together by relationship and interdependence on each other... and actually worshiping together in a place is a glorious experience.

It's beautiful because it's never "just right" for anyone. But as a worship session, filled with individual people holding signs that say what we think we are, turns into us laying down those crowns and picking God's "I AM" sign... the things that divide us just melt away into a warm-supernatural embrace.

O Come ye to Bethlehem where the word of the Father is now in flesh appearing.

8 June 2009

Ubuntu: "I am because you are"

"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."

Bishop Desmond Tutu

I love this "Ubuntu". We Christians have somehow missed building "loving our neighbor as ourselves" into our Jesus Culture. How did this happen? Instead we, with the trumpet of "peculiar people" blasting, use our own salvation as a building permit to construct a high-walled, exclusionary island for ourselves... often locking out the REST of the people for whom Christ died. The "world" is beginning to REALLY get this. Is The Church getting it? We should.

Here's the Message version of 1 Peter 2:9-10 (the peculiar people scripture)

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

It's only because of Jesus that I'm "something" & "accepted".

I am because you are.

It's true of Man's need for God. We are because He is. It's also true of Man's need for each other... because Christ in me is the hope of Glory. Ubuntu is powerful... because it's God principle. It's life GIVING instead of life taking. It's trusting instead of skeptical. It's dependence instead of independence.

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5 June 2009


It's nice sometimes to find a nice place with nice people.
Sometimes nice feels better than deep.

Nice is still but not motionless.
It's a blurry eyed sunset and an empty mind waiting for the moment of it's choosing to get up and go to bed.
Nice means lots because it requires little.
Just stopping.
Not much happens in Nice...

...sitting... waiting... laughing... smiling...

It's pretty here.
Nice is relationship to Overbearing's religion.

Nice floats on an air mattress in a backyard pool listening to CCR, knowing a there's a party around the corner... and lazing your way over to your own drink instead.

But nice is a bedroom community.
There are whispers about those who choose to stay in Nice.
I like nice.
One day I look forward to settling down there.
Good schools... nice neighbors... low taxes.

But every time I try to look at a house listings, there something reminds me...
that Nice may be our destiny, and we're welcome to visit anytime...

... but the road to Nice isn't finished yet.

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So you think you can dance?

I've watched more dancing in my lifetime than any one man rightfully should. And believe it or not... I half know what I'm talking about because of it. Well... maybe a third.

My Aunt and Cousin ran a dance studio... so lots of my family were involved in dancing over of the years. My one cousin is actually an EXCELLENT professional dancer now. So I went to practices and recitals, and competitions. I watched my cousin and sister create lavish routines on our linoleum hallway and Grandma's basement... FOR FUN!! So now, each week my wife and sister Commandeer the TV for "Dancing with the vaguely recognizable" (as a comedian roasted last season) and "So you think you can dance".

I'll be honest. I hate watching it. But I do it for two reasons.

  • I love my wife and sister.
  • I enjoy mocking bad TV and Facebook and Twitter are GREAT places to share my pain

That was a direct "in tears" (surprise) quote. "All my ability was like born and raised in my bedroom. Like totally". I have witnesses. It all seems like a real life Zoolander playing out before my eyes.

Please don't get mad my dancin' family members. I know that it's not all like this. But come on now... these show are off-the-chart over-the-top.

3 June 2009

The Conspiracy of Kindness

Kindness is a maniacal wildfire... if we choose to start it. Tonight I'm taking my youth group on our monthly RAK Attack. I threw some ideas out on Facebook and Twitter for dialogue about what we could do to show kindness to a city... in one hour... with a small group of teenagers.

I got this idea from a friend from high school:

What a cool idea eh? Encourages the business... encourages people who are being kind already... and keeps the cycle going! So we're doing that one thanks to a kindness-minded person's creativity. I also threw out the idea of bringing Thank-You cards and snacks to the police and firemen in the city but was looking for other suggestions about who works hard and could use a Thank-You too...

Amazing just how many of us ARE aware of the opportunities to be kind that sit right in front of our noses every day. Why is kindness a conspiracy? Because it's subversive and a little underground... but it's impact can barely be measured.

See Kindness is a life-breather. It puts wind in the sails of ships destined for greatness... but headed for destruction. It colors in the black and white lines of the "City of God" diagram. How could it happen you ask? Stop and think of what WOULD happen if people were kind to one another... ON PURPOSE. The atmosphere of a city WOULD change.

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2 June 2009


Both Krissy and I say the word "Superfantastic" a great deal. I'll let you in on a little Carrol insider dirt. As Inigo Montoya once said, "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Many years ago, I had a friend who worked at a Canadian Big Box style store just as it was exploding across the country. Before the front doors opened everyday, the entire staff was asked to stand in a circle holding hands. One person had to take the lead and shout out "What kind of day are we all about to have today?". At that point, EVERYONE in unison had to respond with a rousing, "Superfaaaaaaaaaaantasic!!!!" Then the team had to put a large shiny happy smile on their face and act Superfantastic. The day my friend's grandmother died was the day he quit... because the store wouldn't let him go out on the sales floor with anything less than a superficial Superfantastic attitude.

I really don't like being asked how I'm doing to be honest. It's quite likely the biggest sham of a human interaction we all regularly engage in. My mind immediately starts spinning about how to really answer the question and not be trite or smarmy. It's considerably easier just to say, "Superfantastic", flash a plastic grin and move it along.

Erin: Hi, guys. How you doing?
Dwight: Erin, how many times do I have to tell you? It is not necessary for you to ask us how we are doing every time you interact with us.
Erin: Right. I'm sorry.
[sighs] Now, how can I help you?

Maybe Dwight is right (under the right circumstances). I hate being "superfantastic" honestly. More than almost anything I hate phoniness. But how are we supposed to respond to a drive-by "How are you doing?" I'm not going to go into the parts of life that are questions, hurtful, puzzling, thought-provoking, painful or joyous in 15 seconds between sips of coffee... because

  1. Most people don't really want to hear because caring has habitually become "in passing" and superficial
  2. There isn't the time for a conclusion to that interaction. Anything worth talking about takes time.
  3. Honestly... what's going on isn't always fit for public consumption

And so "Superfantastic" (
or "fine" as normal people would say) becomes our default. The answer actually found by having real relationships. I don't think we SHOULD just spill how we're really doing all the time. We'd never get anything done! But we SHOULD make sure that we have people in our life that never get our "superfantastic" response. People who we can spill our guts to, blow off steam about other people's stupidity to (yep... I think that's OK), people who we can be totally silent and just sit with because there aren't any real words to say.

Doing that keeps life grounded I think. At least it does for me. Having actually worked through how you're doing with someone... allows us to legitimately say, "fine" and it be true instead of a Superfantastic cover-up.

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