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 August 2009

Can you tell the difference between a petting party and a civil service exam?

From Rear Window:

Look, Mr. Jeffries, I'm not an educated woman, but I can tell you one thing. When a man and woman see each other and like each other, they oughta come together--wham!--like a couple of taxis on Broadway, and not sit around analyzing each other like two specimens in a bottle.

Jeff: There's an intelligent way to approach marriage.

Stella: Intelligence! Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence. Ha, modern marriage!

Jeff: Now we've progressed emotionally.

Stella: Baloney! Once, it was see somebody, get excited, get married. Now, it's read a lot of books, fence with a lot of four-syllable words, psychoanalyze each other until you can't tell the difference between a petting party and a civil service exam.

*** For the record... yes I can tell the difference***

30 August 2009

Summer Baseball

"When I am sitting in the stands, surrounded by friends on a summer evening, the crack of the bat becomes a signal to look up from my conversation, pay attention for a moment and wait for the opportunity to cheer together."

Summer School: Catching baseball fever

Emily Senger, National Post

Friday, August 28, 2009

My youth kids: Everything

So proud of them.

29 August 2009

What Old Navy Needs

I stood in Old Navy today... watching other dazed Dad's do the same thing as me. Pushing a stroller with a vacuous, glassy-eyed glaze, behind their wife and walking-kids as they dig through a bevy of pants, skirts, sizes and colors from what seems like a bottomless supply of options.

We hear distant mumbles that are vaguely recognizable like:

"Do you think this shade of blue goes well with her eyes?... Or "Can you believe he's in a size 3 ... remember when he was a 1X?"... Or "Is the seat of those trousers too bunchy? They're bunchy aren't they? You think they're bunchy don't you?"

There are no answers to these questions. Just a vacuous cavern of nothingness that will eventually implode into a ... "OK... WE'RE DONE. LET'S GET OUT OF HERE" The only way to save lives and marriages is a designated Dad's area filled with sports highlights and leather couches. The first clothes store who does this well will be the winner.

It benefits Old Navy, because eventually Me and my brethren drag the women away from shopping kicking and screaming. This does not have to be. No one needs to die. I'm not even sure we care how many items wind up in the giant Old Navy bags or how long our wives and kids take trying on every t-shirt in the clothing universe... as long as we don't have to stand there are answer questions to which there are no answers. And because of it... we'll cut the trip short. Last night's sports highlights calm this mental storm. Ladies, you know how you can't haul us away from sports on TV... this is using our "flaws" to your advantage!

We can even give you our opinion on things... maybe you could attach a web-cam apparatus to your head and when you're ready for our one word answer, you could buzz a buzzer of some description we have attached to our bits and pieces, and your image would appear in the lower right part of the flat screen TV. "Yep" or "Nope" we'd say. And our answer would mean more because our brains are engaged because we're in discussion with other Dads about Michael Vick's contribution to the new wild-cat formations of the Eagles or why JP Richardi should be fired.

See... it's perfect.
If you are this place of business that would like to hire me to implement these and other genius ideas... bigearcreations@gmail.com.

28 August 2009

Every man dies... not every man really lives.

I watched all of Braveheart during the down moments of the day today. I needed it. There are only 3 film moments ever produced that truly move me every time I've seen them... 2 are in Braveheart. It's quite simply one of the most inspirational movies ever made.

Without exaggeration...I remember walking out of Braveheart in theater back in the day, knowing that my life was somewhat changed by what I'd just seen. It's the best of what movies can be when it gives voice to (and motivates us towards) something true inside us.

"Every man dies... not every man really lives."
William Wallace

"I know you can fight but it's our wits that make us men"
Malcolm Wallace

26 August 2009

Social Media: A veritable bay of profundity or a big bag of babbling jibber-jabber

I am approaching 1000 blog posts here on Big Ear Creations. This is 998. The value, depth and security of this social media revolution we've found ourselves in has been questioned and mistrusted right from the start. But the fact that social media has distinctively changed how our culture communicates, purchases, interacts, chooses and thinks... is undeniable and therefore cannot be ignored or left "unworked".

I'm not sure we are even close to being able to piece together where all the chips will fall when the dust of this revolution settles. My current profession (mainstream radio) is a jump ball. Last night on the George Snuffleupagus Show, "The Smashing Pumpkins" talked (quite "vehemently" I'd say) about how even the most cutting edge thinkers in the music are still trying to piece together what the new reality is. But one thing is for sure. The old is gone.

There are days where it all just seems like a big bag of babbling jibber-jabber. But then again... just yesterday is just my travels of Facebook, Twitter and Blogs... I was exposed to a veritable bay of profundity. In just one day... these are words of wisdom that I've been enriched by that I didn't know the day before.

"God moments are not moments when God shows up. He is always there. God moments are those moments when we show up."

"The question is not, Are people leaving? The question is, WHO is leaving? You choose who you lose"

"The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know"
Napoleon Bonapart via Steve Straza

"In the average church= Only 10% of members serve in ministry, 50%wont, but 40% say"Ive never been asked or don't know how" Go after them!


"Sometimes I wonder why people ask hard questions based on the Bible yet don’t want to hear the hard answer based out of the Bible."

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Mother Teresa

“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” -
J.R.R. Tolkien
from @JesusNeedsNewPR

Let me quote Phil Vischer from his "Platform Agnostic" discussion from the other day:

"As Christians, we need to be platform agnostic: "No, I am not in the tv business or the internet business. I am in the content business." We need to get our content out in as many ways as possible: iTunes, Hulu, YouTube, Comcast Video on Demand, etc. There are so many ways to transmit storytelling and teaching into a household, you can't say there is one way. They are all how we can reach people"

Perfect? Nope.
Big? Yep.
Important? Heck yes... because people are there... LOTS of them.


24 August 2009

Yooooooo Joe!

On our honeymoon 11 years ago, I convinced my bride that it would be a good idea to go and see "Saving Private Ryan". As it turns out, even though it's one of the most accurate reproductions of WWII battle ever... it fails significantly as a mood-setter.

So last night as we were picking what moving picture program to go and see for our anniversary, I was faced with a similar dilemma. Sweet talk my way into seeing a Tarantino... and horrify my wife. In the words of The Who... "I won't get fooled again". The other option was to cave and watch yet another a ridiculous girlie romp through the relationship daises. No Dice.

So even though neither of us REALLY wanted to see it... we went to GI Joe. And I'm shocked to admit that I liked it! Bizarre. As one of my closest friend's wrote me on Facebook today,

"Dave, your disappointing me! You shouldn't be getting shallow in your old age. To enjoy a movie you usually need a freakin deep study of the inner turmoil of the subjective sub-conscious!!"

And he's right! I do normally need that. But GI Joe had THIS going for it.

Those kids could have been me... I used to play that game for HOURS AND HOURS. Remember when Cobra created their subliminal Rock band "Cold Slither"? Ha...

My favorite shot of the movie was the last one... where all the planes landed on the coveted air-craft carrier! It was the ultimate GI Joe toy that only one guy in my circle of friends ACTUALLY had in his GI Joe oasis rec room.

I missed the witty repartee of Shipwreck and the mustached greatness of Bazooka. He was the man.

It's not often that I find a movie where I can actually just shut my analytical brain off... what things blow up... and revel in the nonsensical movieness. But GI Joe just brought back too many memories of making airplane noises with my buddies to not enjoy it!

23 August 2009

Sunday Morning Thoughts

"For too long we have read Scripture with nineteenth-century eyes and sixteenth-century questions. It’s time to get back to reading with first century eyes and twenty-first-century questions"

NT Wright

22 August 2009

I was 21

I've posted this a number of times on my blog... but it's MY blog... and I like it.

At 21 years old, I stood on a pink carpeted generic church platform, singing Great Big Sea shanties in head, trying to distract my mind from sweating. It was all I could think of doing while waiting for my bride to appear through the solid pine double doors.

There were dusty rose bows on the pews. Simple.
The nondescript church candelabras were hauled out of the storage closet/baptismal tank and topped out the usual wedding trappings. Lukey’s boat being paint green allowed me to stop from giving in to the combination of laughter and vomit that was struggling for premium position inside me. Thankfully for the immediate family in the front row, the raucous vocals of Alan Doyle won out.

An overwhelming moment. A good portion of me felt confident.

I assumed I was ready for the glorious martial life that lay ahead. I mean, we passed the Pentecostal Assemblies martial scan-tron test didn’t we?

I thought that I had grasped the magnitude of what I was doing. Many of the guests KNEW we were far too young and naive. I could hear the whispers. Some were not happy that they had to come to a wedding that was having its reception in a gym with no booze. I knew this and cared not. They were all getting Kaisers with ham it… so drink your orange drink and be happy!

My policy for the previous year had been, no matter how many episodes of “The Wedding Story” that I was forced to sit through… never give an opinion on a wedding dress.

Not a “that’s a nice neckline”… or a “what a stupid looking train”. Nothing.

The truth is that I think most wedding dresses look foolish. Enormous poofy explosions of lace and beads. And wedding makeup? Why is deep sea blue over top of the eye supposed to be attractive? I like my ladies looking like they’ve been in a hockey fight. And wedding hairdos? They all end up looking like an army of hornets have built a summer home in the bride's skull. Wear that to work on Monday and you would be a laughing stock, but today… “belissimo”.

I was “taking one for the team” and would, for all eternity, insist that the dress was a beautiful garment that was etched in my brain for all eternity.

Then I saw my bride.

And everything stopped.

Her appearance knocked me in the throat yet I didn’t really even see it.

If we didn’t have pictures taken, I couldn’t have told you what happened for the rest of the day. All I remember was sporting a goofy grin that I couldn’t shake.

Marriage is sloppy.

It’s messy.

It’s inexact.

It’s blood, sweat and tears.

It’s victory and it’s defeat.

It’s intensely secure and it's madningly repetitious

It's truly an adventure that you have the privilege of sharing with your best friend, lover, and mate.

You NEVER know what lies ahead. But when you walk there with her in one arm... and Him on the other... it's a tale that Tolkien couldn't pen.

21 August 2009

Jelly Telly... Phil Vischer ... and Platform Agnosticism

Phil Vischer is really interesting, thoughtful, cool guy. He's Mr Veggie Tales if you didn't know. Well... Phil WAS Veggie Boy. Then they made the gigantic Jonah Movie that was released widely in commercial theaters. Phil recalls, "We laid off half the studio the morning after our premiere party. I don't know if you could soil a memory more than that. It was brutal."

Big Idea... one of the most cutting edge Christian companies/ministries around went bankrupt. In Phil's new book called "Me Myself and Bob" he talks about how this collapse actually deepened and enriched his faith in God. REALLY fascinating that he's humble enough to actually continue to write Veggie stuff and voice Bob the Tomato for the new owners of the company he gave everything to build.

Well... since leaders lead and you can't keep a good man down... Phil's passion for teaching kids about Jesus has now taken the form of an amazing new website that I played around with tonight with the kids for the first time called "Jellytelly.com." This is how he communicates his passion...

Great heart, passion AND mind. There is a terrific interview with him in Christianity Today called "Platform Agnostic". He's got some fantastic things to say about kids, culture and media. Here are the highlights for me:

"I've learned the hard way that movies are not a great teaching medium. If you want to engage people emotionally, great—but you can't ever turn to the camera and say, "Now I have three points I want to make about parenting." You can do that on TV.
Sesame Street does that. Dora the Explorer does that every day and nobody says, "That's not filmmaking! That's didactic!" The difference is that people do not go to the movies to be preached at. That's the bottom line. The more you preach, the fewer you reach. What frustrates me with the film business is how much time, energy, and money you have to spend to have the opportunity for two sentences of real transparent meaning.

As Christians, we need to be platform agnostic: "No, I am not in the tv business or the internet business. I am in the content business." We need to get our content out in as many ways as possible: iTunes, Hulu, YouTube, Comcast Video on Demand, etc. There are so many ways to transmit storytelling and teaching into a household, you can't say there is one way. They are all how we can reach people. It's an interesting and quite tumultuous time in media.

The world of entertainment is splitting into two directions: 1) The ultra-high end. This includes the $200-million films like
Iron Man and the Pixar productions, which are becoming more and more common. 2) The ultra-low end. This is everything from YouTube videos to the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network to $10,000-per-episode reality TV shows. What's dying is the middle. What was once the bulk of the industry—prime-time television and high-end kids' shows—is just withering because the economics don't work anymore. So what we're looking at is not how Christians can make $200-million movies—I'm not sure that is a viable pursuit—but how can we be in the daily flow of ideas. No longer is the plan to work five years to tell one story with all the resources of a small Asian country."

There's nothing quite like the feeling of making a bank teller laugh so hard other customers scowl at them.

I've had a crappy day today. Between no sleep, stupid squabbles, a smoking van, and a husky-voiced automated phone call telling me that my bank card may have been skimmed... it hasn't been one of my favorite days ever.

So I headed over to the bank to get my card replaced and walked up to the teller (did you know banks still have those?) who looked like she had been, what American Evangelists would call, "Baptized in Lemon Juice". Doesn't it suck that most customer service workers are usually miserable because of the moody customers they've had to deal with all day?

I'll answer for you. Yes it does suck.

So there we were... two moody people both about to do ANOTHER crappy thing that we didn't want to do in our crappy day. So I decided I'd go right into stand-up material.

I woke her up with a left jab bit about automated messages. She snickered reservedly. So I comboed up with a right cross about having to change my pin number for the first time since I was 13. She tried to put her head down to guard her growing giggles but I could see her bouncing up and down. Then I layed an uppercut smack down on her as we were going through my recent card uses and I recalled last night's trip to Lowe's to buy paint in a tornado!

BOOM! Laughter explosion!
Loud... long... and very very public

There is no better feeling in the world than pushing someone beyond the point of laughter restraint and then just keep feedin' them.

I left the bank and she was still laughing. I felt better... she felt better. Ahhh....
Laughing is nice. You can quote me on that.

20 August 2009

The Case For Early Marriage

This Saturday Krissy and I will celebrate our 11th Anniversary! Yeah for us! We were young, head-strong, unaware... and we knew 3 things for sure.

  1. God was the going to be the central focus of our lives
  2. We wanted each other in every way
  3. Those two had to happen in the fullest possible way NOW or we'd explode.

So August 22nd 1998, at the age of 21 in a pink Pentecostal church... we got gussied up and made an ancient, profound covenant with each other to the backdrop of a buffet lunch in a church gym... then drove to Muskoka and explore the bit s and pieces of point number 2.

This morning I read an amazing article by Dr. Mark Regnerus (author of
"Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers") in Christianity Today called "The Case for Early Marriage... Amid our purity pledges and attempts to make chastity hip, we forgot to teach young Christians how to tie the knot.".

You can read the full article here but I'm going to copy a great deal of it here in this blog post because it has some excellent things to say about sex and marriage.

"Just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort. I'm certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I'm suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don't and won't.

The nearly universal hostile reaction to my April 23, 2009, op-ed on early marriage
in The Washington Post suggests that to esteem marriage in the public sphere today is to speak a foreign language: you invoke annoyance, confusion, or both. But after years of studying the sexual behavior and family decision-making of young Americans, I've come to the conclusion that Christians have made much ado about sex but are becoming slow and lax about marriage.

Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s.Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It's battling our Creator's reproductive designs. The data don't lie.

Unfortunately, American evangelicals have another demographic concern: The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is far from even. Among evangelical churchgoers, there are about three single women for every two single men. This is the elephant in the corner of almost every congregation—a shortage of young Christian men. Evangelicals make much of avoiding being unequally yoked, but the fact that there are far more spiritually mature young women out there than men makes this bit of advice difficult to follow. No congregational program or men's retreat in the Rocky Mountains will solve this.

Given this unfavorable ratio, and the plain fact that men are, on average, ready for sex earlier in relationships than women are, many young Christian women are being left with a dilemma: either commence a sexual relationship with a decent, marriage-minded man before she would prefer to—almost certainly before marriage—or risk the real possibility that, in holding out for a godly, chaste, uncommon man, she will wait a lot longer than she would like.

Still, the data from nearly every survey suggest that young Americans want to get married. Eventually. That makes sense. Our Creator clearly intended for male and female to be knit together in covenantal relationship. An increasing number of men and women, however, aren't marrying. They want to. But it's not happening. And yet in surveying this scene, many Christians continue to perceive a sexual crisis, not a marital one. We buy, read, and pass along books about battling our sexual urges, when in fact we are battling them far longer than we were meant to. How did we misdiagnose this?

The answer is pretty straightforward: While our sexual ideals have remained biblical and thus rooted in marriage, our ideas about marriage have changed significantly. We advise our children to finish their education, to launch their careers, and to become financially independent, since dependence is weakness. "Don't rush into a relationship," we caution them. "Hold out for a spouse who displays real godliness." "First loves aren't likely the best fit." "You have plenty of time!"

Consequently, the focus of 20-somethings has become less about building mature relationships and fulfilling responsibilities, and more about enjoying oneself, traveling, and trying on identities and relationships. Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed. Increasing numbers of young evangelicals think likewise, and, by integrating these ideas with the timeless imperative to abstain from sex before marriage, we've created a new optimal life formula for our children: Marriage is glorious, and a big deal. But it must wait. And with it, sex. Which is seldom as patient.

Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed. Increasing numbers of young evangelicals think likewise, and, by integrating these ideas with the timeless imperative to abstain from sex before marriage, we've created a new optimal life formula for our children: Marriage is glorious, and a big deal. But it must wait. And with it, sex. Which is seldom as patient.

many young adults consider it immature or humiliating to rely on others for financial or even social support. They would rather deal with sexual guilt—if they sense any at all—than consider marrying before they think they are ready. This cultural predilection toward punishing rather than blessing marriage must go, and congregations and churchgoers can help by dropping their own punitive positions toward family members, as well as by identifying deserving young couples who could use a little extra help once in a while. Christians are great about supporting their missionaries, but in this matter, we can be missionaries to the marriages in our midst.

Americans have become well acquainted with the cultural notion that getting the right fit in a marital partner is extremely important. Chemistry is the new watchword as we meld marriage with science. There is no right answer to such questions, because successful marriages are less about the right personalities than about the right practices, like persistent communication and conflict resolution, along with the ability to handle the cyclical nature of so much about marriage. While it may be nice to find an optimal match in marriage, it cannot hold a candle to sharing a mental and spiritual commitment to the enduring covenant between God, man, and woman. It just can't. People change. Chemistry wanes. Covenants don't.

Today's young adults show tremendous optimism about their own personal futures, leading many to sense they are entitled to a great marriage that will commence according to plan, on their timetable.

So enough of the honeymoon banter: insiders know that a good marriage is hard work, and that its challenges often begin immediately. The abstinence industry perpetuates a blissful myth; too much is made of the explosively rewarding marital sex life awaiting abstainers. The fact is that God makes no promises of great sex to those who wait. Some experience difficult marriages. Spouses wander. Others cannot conceive children.

In reality, spouses learn marriage, just like they learn communication, child-rearing, or making love. Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it. Abstinence is not to blame for our marital crisis. But promoting it has come at a cost in a permissive world in which we are increasingly postponing marriage. While sex matters, marriage matters more. The importance of Christian marriage as a symbol of God's covenantal faithfulness to his people—and a witness to the future union of Christ and his bride—will only grow in significance as the wider Western culture diminishes both the meaning and actual practice of marriage. Marriage itself will become a witness to the gospel.

Time and again, I've listened to Christian undergraduates recount to me how their relationships turned sexual. One thing I never ask them is why. I know why. Because sex feels great, it feels connectional, it feels deeply human. I never blame them for wanting that. Sex is intended to deepen personal relationships, and desire for it is intended to promote marriage. Such are the impulses of many young Christians in love. In an environment where parents and peers are encouraging them to delay thoughts of marriage, I'm not surprised that their sexuality remains difficult to suppress and the source of considerable angst. We would do well to recognize some of these relationships for what they are: marriages in the making. If a young couple displays maturity, faith, fidelity, a commitment to understanding marriage as a covenant, and a sense of realism about marriage, then it's our duty—indeed, our pleasure—to help them expedite the part of marriage that involves public recognition and celebration of what God is already knitting together. We ought to "rejoice and delight" in them, and praise their love (Song of Sol. 1:4).

The woman I loved led me to Jesus so I haven't been a single Christian a single day. I'm not sure how I became "that guy" who never had to struggle to find a Christian mate... but it is what it is I guess. I always say that God KNEW I couldn't be trusted to even be by myself for a day.

But we did choose to get married at 21. And sex WAS a major factor. I had a year left of college and would have had to rent another room... and live with a dude (a nice dude but a dude none the less). So our choices were... wait a year and struggle daily with varying degrees of success to suppress the sexual desires God had put in us... and be apart.

Or live with the girl I wanted to be with for the rest of our lives, explore the full extent of the passions inside us (and honor God while doing it), and add an extra year of marital stories to the collection our grandchildren will retell one day.

I'm committed to have a legendary marriage with my wife. She knows it... and it WILL be. I think it already is in some ways.

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19 August 2009

Stand by me

During our Tuesday prayer and worship night (Fusion) last night... I starting singing Ben E King's classic song "Stand by me". I was actually thinking about this unforgettable "Playing for Change" version performed by an eclectic group of musicians from every corner of the world... together... in their own style.

One lady in the room heard me singing and told me after that the words gave her hope and the strength she needed in the moment to keep pressing on, believing for a miracle that she'd been believing for for a long time. A gentle reminder that God stood by her during a time when "the land is dark".

My mind went a different place when I was singing it. My mind went to the people who are the forerunners in life and specifically in ministry. Both then and now.

THEN: I was thinking of Acts chapters 1 and 2 when the Jesus peeps were forced with the conundrum of how to be "Christians" without the Christ physically beside them! This is how it went down:

6When they were together for the last time they asked, "Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?"

7-8He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world." 9-11These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, "You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left." (Acts 1:6-11, The Message)

So they forged on back to their clubhouse and took care of the necessary administrative work in what was likely a bit of a "
When the night has come and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we'll see" couple of days. They did what they knew they were supposed to do (because it's what Jesus had taught them)... they prayed. And then suddenly like a rushing wind... you know what happened. He stood by them.

But then they were called to go out and be bold Christian leaders and witnesses to a world and religious establishment that was sure to mock them. But they knew they could do it... "
No I won't be afraid, just as long as you stand by me". Heck it hadn't been that long ago that Peter couldn't even admit he KNEW Jesus... but now with the Holy Spirit was standing by him... he finally GOT that whole Matthew 16 rigmarole where Jesus told him that he was rock on which He'd build the church. So that's exactly what he did.

But without Him... even the deep rooted would have wilted.

NOW: I was thinking about the difficult and often wearing nature of being the same kind of charge-ahead Christian leader. People who do real kingdom damage are not often universally liked. In fact it seems like some even revel in trying to take bold people down a notch... assuming that they deserve to be knocked of their high horse.

And the reality is... that a smart leader knows these arrows are coming. They are prepared for it and it won't deter them from their goal. But if they don't stop to intentionally invite the Holy Spirit to stand by them, being their empowerer, preparer, leader, guide and friend... it can feel pretty "When the night has comeish" while they're pressing on.

It's beautiful what our God does for us when we worship "in spirit and in truth". We give ourselves up... and ask Him to come close. He does it... and the truth we need comes becomes so tangible.

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17 August 2009

The Fall

You know how church people right around now start saying... "I'm pumped about the fall. We've got some AMAZING things coming up this fall!". Well... I'm saying that too.

I'm looking forward to thinking and acting bigger.

16 August 2009

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity"...

... that's from American writer Harlan Ellison (thanks to my friend Steve's facebook status on that one this morning). OK one more stupidity beaut.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe"
Albert Einstein

You can bank on people doing stupid things. You can bank on YOU doing stupid things. As much as we wish it wasn't so... I think the reality is that most of the time we're dealing with very little revelation about who we are and who Jesus is. Most of the time we're just trying not to look dumb and let the rest of the world in on just how silly we feel in our own ignorance and lack of exposition.

Sunday mornings worshiping at church with the people in our church family are not exempt. People do stupid things. Act stupidly. Come... go... change... sometimes in God-led ways... sometimes based on incomplete information. You'll go through seasons where everything just "feels right" and others where it "feels wrong" because of it. But feelings change on a dime! I can feel one thing on the way to church and after being exposed to God's light and truth... I feel entirely different! What an awfully stupid thing to base decisions on... feelings.

"Nothing is more devastating to prayer than when I start to evaluate it by my feelings"
Eugene Peterson

Einstein was wrong by about there being only two infinite things by the way: 1 John 1...

1-2From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

3-4We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Even more beautiful that the infinite God who created an infinite universe and has infinite love... chose to defeat the bondage of our infinite human stupid through Jesus. It's why this morning I'm gonna go sing this

14 August 2009

It's Sex Week and I'm square dancing!

"Welcome to Canada. Want some fudge?"
Steven Wright from Canadian Bacon

Good day eh from the Great White North you crazy sex weekers here from Matthew Paul Turner's blog! Here... try a Dixie Cup full of maple syrup. It's a home brew mixed with my very own igloo ice. Igloo sex is some good lovin' while were talkin' copulation.

I've been loving the frank, honest stuff being discussed on Sex Week at Jesus Needs New PR and it's an honor to be a part of it with my article today called "Sex is like Square Dancing". If you haven't been following it closely... let me give you some of the highlights.

You know what I LOVE about when Christians talk about sex... it's SUPER uncomfortable. We come at it with so many voices in our head. We've got what our mommies told us. What our childhood church said. What we actually think. What we think the Bible says. What the new hip Bible people are saying. What we actually do sexually. What we secretly want to do... and it's all SUPER uncomfortable to share because it's so sensitive and personal and other people think differently.

But who cares???

This is the nature our faith experience! Sex is a huge part of life so to keep it isolated and laced with shame is beyond irresponsible. We're called to work out our salvation together with God... and others! Sometimes I'm going to think you're a crackpot and sometimes you'll think I am. But as a house of living stones, we need each other to complete any picture, whether we're talking about sex or city transformation.

Thanks for popping by Big Ear Creations! Love to have you back. Follow me on Twitter here or friend me up on Facebook here.

Now... let me conclude with a dramatic reading of Canada's national poem

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13 August 2009

The ache of incomplete

In 1989... a horrible civil war ravaged the country of Liberia for nearly 15 years. In North America, we didn't hear much about Charles Taylor and the magnitude of the terror he unleashed on this West African nation. It's likely when blips would make it's way onto our radar... most would tsk disapproving and mutter something about "those countries". My sister spent the better part of a year docked on Mercy Ship in Monrovia and she'll tell you that nation is still in shambles.

From 1990 until this very day, there are an estimated 35,000 Liberians who have fled into neighboring Ghana and set up a refugee camp called Buduburam. During our time in Ghana, we got to tour the camp itself and had the chance to befriend a number of displaced Liberians including a quirky dude named "Boyky" pictured here on the left at his Bible College graduation.

Boyky (and numerous others) told us some of the worst stories you could ever imagine about armed children coming into homes and slaughtering their families. For real. It's not a Leo Dicaprio movie. It's the reality of real people who we met, had Bible studies with, and who I taught to play catch and swing a baseball bat.

Every week Albert, Boyky and us would go to a hostel in Accra at night and run a Bible study to encourage the Christians living in this rather unseemly place. There were a number of Liberians in the group who would share as we dug into God's word and tried to figure it all out together. Often Boyky would bring his cool little guitar and would sing, so one night I brought my video camera and captured this amazing version of an old song "In the Arms of Sweet Deliverance".

The sound of his voice singing "when last our traveling days are gone, I will rest somewhere beyond the sky" is forever burned in my spirit. Boyky talked a lot about the suffering of his people... but always did it knowing that God is good. He was a tireless worker, learner, and worshiper. You could tell there was a longing for home in everything he did. The ache of incomplete. We all have it since this world is not our home... but what he had experienced in life made his calling on "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" hauntingly poignant.

We're not home yet. It's a good thing not to get comfortable where we all. The ache of incomplete is kinda like a Paul esc thorn in the flesh. I think the lonely feeling that we all sometimes feel when we look up at the stars at night and miss long lost friends or family who have gone home first, shouldn't discourage us. It should be a reminder to not grown weary in doing good. It should be a reminder that He's gone to prepare a place for us. It should motivate us to press on in faith. It's what our calling is... and it's more than enough.

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12 August 2009

Anglers Angling

"Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to buy descent tackle on a philosopher's salary."
American Writer Patrick McManus

Last week at this time I was sitting out on a rock in the middle of Lake Temagami with my Ipod on and my Bible open... just looking and listening. It was beautiful and refreshing both physically and spiritually. I've always loved northern lakes. Every year since we were adult enough to have one of those mandatory wooden frames in our kitchen, my parents have bought me the "Cottage Life" calender that fits into the frame for Christmas so I can gaze every morning at a glossy reproduction of someone's peaceful oasis. It's breathably nice. But last week I realized again... that it's a nice place to visit but I couldn't live there.

Today on my lunch break, I sat on a bench looking down the escarpment at the city of Hamilton below (thinking about my city...Brantford). From my perch on the bench, seeing the flurry of city life below made me think of last week's fishing experience and Jesus's invitation to Peter and Andrew of, "
Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men". Seeing the city with perspective from above... it was almost like I could just cast out a line and starting fishing for souls. This is the kind of fishing that gets my blood pumping. Men-fishing.

I hadn't fished in likely 15-20 years but I knew I couldn't spend a week on lake with friends and a son who loved it without joining in. So I fished. I remembered the parts I liked about fishing and the parts I didn't too. More than anything it was a wonderful refresher about the realities of fishing that are important to apply to man-fishing trip with Jesus.

A phrase that God always rings with conviction in my mind when I see men making man-things of far greater importance than they should be... is "
Anglers Angling". Everyone seems to always have a selfish angle to conversation, relationship, business. An intentionally schemed angle that is played with personally beneficial results in mind. Not necessarily destructive... but an angle none the less.

The word angler means both "A planner who draws up a personal scheme of action" AND "One who fishes with a hook". A fisherman. What Jesus asked his disciples to be. It's something that takes skills too. Fish don't just jump into boats. The "fishers of men" scripture in Mark 1 is very similar to this in Matthew 4.

18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him. 21Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

To fish... you need a plan. You need to spend TIME doing it. You need to know what you're trying to catch... and you need to select the correct bait too. There IS a lot of angling in men-fishing too. Paul, in trying to explain salvation and spiritual bodies to men-fishers in 1 Corinthians 15:39 said:

All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.

Fish take bait on an impulse. All of the conditions are just right for their flesh to react to the proper stimulus and the end result is our fillet dinner. Men are different. More complex. But still fishable.

Looking over Hamilton I saw homes with thousands of little fish swimming around who on the surface look different. Carp, Goldfish, Walleye, Salmon, Bass, Pike, Perch. They are all so different. Different eating patterns. Different spawning runs. Variant personalities. And we're supposed to catch 'em all.

When I hear God whispering "
Anglers Angling" into my ear... it's usually with a tone of disgust to spur me into "Thy Kingdom Come" prayer. It's gives me the sense of "they're not seeing the big picture here. They are skillfully fishing for something that isn't worth fishing for. And they'll likely catch it because they've studied and planned. But they couldn't be fishing for something better!"

It's interesting to note what comes after Jesus calling to the fishermen in BOTH Mark 1 and Matthew 4. In both chapters, it's followed by stories about Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons... along with his new followers. He went fishing for men (while teaching others to do it too), using heavenly bait that the world couldn't replicate.

Matthew 4 :23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. 25 Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.

This morning Rick Warren twittered this:

  • Sociology = The study of human social behavior
  • Soteriology = The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus Christ

Here's the thing. Rick does BOTH. He learns about and serves who he is fishing for... man. But the key to effective baiting is that one IS more important than the other. Jesus said in John 6:44
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." via the Holy Spirit. He draws the fish to the baited hook... but HE'S not the fisherman. We are. We are called to be informed, skilled, patient, and knowledgeable men-fishers. We need to know our fish inside. We need to be prepared to have our boats filled with men-fish...

... and then be OK with not catching a single thing too. Fishing can be like that. We have to be able to sleep well knowing that even a bad day out on the water fishing with Jesus is better than any old "successful" day of angling for chaff.

"Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish."
Sparse Grey Hackle

"The best fisherman I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them."

John Gierach "Fly Fishing the High Country"

The good news however... you will catch fish. And you'll love it.

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11 August 2009

Seinfeld on Blackberries

This is why I don't have a.... oh who's kidding who. I'd be hooked if I had one too.

10 August 2009

I need you to do something NOW.

Sunday August 2nd 2009 5:30AM

“Dave... Jared is having heart pains. Get up NOW” my wife told me with a tone in her voice and a look in her eyes that I was quite unfamiliar with as I stirred awake. I'm not even sure there is a word for what I saw. What's fear and panic mixed with that adrenalin ram-rod thing that leads to those stories of super mama's lifting automobiles off their babies that you see on TV called? Whatever it's called... that's what I saw in Mama Bear's protective eyes.

I grew up in teacher's house where vacation meant that everyone was off for the summer. One wasted day didn't seem to mean that much. But vacations as a radio copywriter who lives on the promise of “perks in lew of pay”... are a precious commodity. Good friends of ours had invited us up to their cottage in Temagi Ontario... a day long car trip from home. The cottage is on it's own island, a 20 minute boat ride from the mainland plopped in the middle of a painting that hangs in our living room. I used to think that I'd like to live a place like Temagami. A little spot in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rocks and water, where nobody would bother me with pesky life issues. I could be a bumpkin (which is loosely defined as someone who drives past a field of long grass and says, “hey... I should chew on some of that”)... sure... why not. Now, at the time, the issues I wanted to bail from were math class, girls who only liked me like a friend and my tendency to let too many short-hops go through my legs in leftfield... but none the less. The first time I got called a city-slicker for washing my hands, I realized I could never actually live up north. That, along with the realization that the chances of finding a of girl who liked The Simpsons, Field of Dreams AND me, were slim.

Turns out... it can also be tricky to find a convenient hospital from the middle of a lake too. I jumped out of bed to watch my son stripped down to his underwear in the bathroom screaming and shaking, shouting “My heart hurts!” I went white and swallowed the lump that had dropped anchor in my throat. I reached for his chest and his heart was racing. I suspected immediately that this was something serious because my son never complains about feeling sick. The first warning sign we ever get that he might be feeling any sort of illness whatsoever is projectile vomit. Sometimes we wish there was even a little bit of a puke air-raid siren first! So for him to be a flopping around like a mackerel not able to stop the pain in his heart... was serious and we all knew it. After 5 minutes or so, his pain seemed to stop and Jared climbed into bed with us shell-shocked by the wave of pain he had just experienced. He had barely laid his head on the pillow, however, when it came back... hard.

“Dave... I need you to do something NOW! I am NOT OK with this.” Neither was I of course... but I knew my wife needed my action. Lines had been drawn in the sand and the roles we each needed to play had been defined. She didn't want me to hold my son... that's what she would be doing come hell or high water. She needed me to make a plan of action and get the wheels in motion. There are times that I can be a bit of an indecisive guy. Well... actually that's actually not entirely true. I subscribe to the “Happy Wife... Happy Life” philosophy. And in my vast experience, I find that the male brain's method of decision making doesn't always a happy wife make. “Whatever you'd like dear” is not as jerkish as some ladies like to think. We just want you to be happy. Smiling nervously.

“I need you to do something NOW” is not the time for that. I picked up the phone and dialed 911 for the first time in my life. I was all of a sudden “that guy” from the movies or from the ER episode... I was “that guy” with the hysterical child in the background trying to stay calm answering surreal questions on the phone with a stranger. It almost felt like I was talking with a telemarketer asking me profiling questions trying to put together a hot new long distance package for me. It must have sounded like that to my wife too because as I was answering about what seemed like the minutia of Jared's medical history, she looked at me, exasperatedly threw her hands up, and shouted “are they coming or what???” They were... but it seemed that I had forgotten to mention those little details. Krissy exhaled and calmed notably as the latest round of Jared's pain subsided. “That all I needed to know” she said.

Sometimes the book of Psalms bugs me and I don't entirely get why it's the default "devotional" book. It's certainly the easiest to “let God lead you” to. You can get a vision of a Holy Ghost led verse in anywhere up to 150 chapters... and be right. Ever ask God what chapter you should read and he says Hebrews 15? Then you just flip on into James and hope nobody noticed? I mean, it's beautiful writing and all. It's got that whole “God-Breathed” factor going for it. And it's not that I don't like Psalms... but it's always struck me as a touch whiny.Here's David's writing formula for almost every Psalm.

  1. Crap crap crap... I'm under attack here
  2. Whoa is me... WHOA
  3. Things are really bad now
  4. Take me now Lordy
  5. Wait a second
  6. You're a pretty Big God
  7. Now that I think about it... you're a really good God
  8. I love him, I love him, I love him... (it's even funnier when you picture Kind David jumping around on Oprah's couch)

It just always seemed to me like David spent to much time whining and it used to bug me. Why couldn't David just be more like Paul? I can sink my teeth into a medium rare Paul-steak marinaded with a bold flavored “Go to jail for Jesus” sauce. I'm philosophically there with the martyrs. Everybody must get stoned!

But there's a lot of weakness, fear and 911 calls for help in the Psalms... on the way to the bold declarations of faith at the end that we like to sing to a with a hot new musical hook. Maybe God knows better than I do.Maybe Paul had the 911 calls too. It sometimes seems like David talks himself along the way to victory. Like it Psalm 28. David starts out by saying, “I pray to you O Lord my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent I might as well give up and die.” So basically he's saying, “I need you to do something NOW”. He goes on to whine... I mean talk about how he's been wronged by people who “care nothing for what the Lord has done”. But by the end... it seems like God did what he asked him to.

6 Praise the Lord!
For he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The L
ord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

As we piled into my beat up Ford Windstar on the way to the hospital to catch up with my wife and son who had been taken away, feeling better in the ambulance, I began to feel the color come back to my face. But my head was swimming with thoughts. I thought about just how wonderful the Canadian health care system was. I was thinking about what a calming factor the EMT's that came by boat to the cottage were. I also noticed a line of thinking, very unique to my Christian experience.

I knew that I needed to worship somehow. Not a thank-you worship... or a party time worship... or really in any manor that was on my spiritual radio presets. I skipped my ipod past the Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits album to whatever the latest trendy hippy worship record was. I'm not sure what the breathy flavor-of-the-month worship guy was singing... but I was quietly singing “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will go strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.” As too-trendy-for-our-own-good, contemporary Evangelical types... we like feeling things. I person love those hour-long worship slow-jam sessions. The kind where you pretend you're a Holy Ghost beat poet over in the corner... saying our own things of consequence in “our own voice”.

But there is something beautiful about saying "I need you to do something NOW" to what the alcoholics call, “a higher power”. Step 2 has always seemed like the wild cat formation of the 12 steps to sobriety to me. I think about how funny and uncomfortable it would be for an alcoholic atheist to finally decide to back off the Smirnoff and be confronted with the “acknowledge a higher power” thing. Really? Step 2 doesn't explicitly say “Humble thy self before the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob and mark the spot of your conversion with an Ebeneezer Stone. Selah”. It just wants you to acknowledge that you need a “higher power” to make it through the day. It's a funky one because it's a big step to say... “yep there is a something bigger than me”. It's THE biggest issue mankind deals with and most spends the bulk of our lives trying to piecemeal together. But in a tiny circle of strangers talking about how Budweiser ruined their marriage... it's been found over and over that saying, “I need you to do something NOW because I can't do it alone”... just plain works.

On that van ride to the hospital to find out what was up with my son... I felt comfort knowing that I had someone bigger, smarter, kinder, and difficult to understand to worship. I felt comforted by a God that in my ignorance... I could look at a say, “I need you to do something NOW”. And He does it. I thought... “Even if I had no evidence, relationship, intimacy or feelings connected to God.... If this was all I got... I'd still believe. It would all be worth it”

Because I DO need Him. I can't do it on my own.
All of you is more than enough for all of me.

Long story short... my son is OK. It looks like he may have something called SVT that shouldn't be a long term problem and we had a wonderful holiday where God showed Himself strong, true and faithful yet again.

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