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.

26 January 2010

Silly Virgins

God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.

In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!' "The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil. 'They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.'He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you. 'So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.

Jesus in Matthew 25: 1-13 (The Message)

I DO NOT want to be a silly virgin. In fact, it's likely worth considering the next time you think, rationalize, ponder and judge your way though worship instead of actively engaging. God's never dishonored those who eagerly want Him more than anything (regardless of the appearance of silliness) . He doesn't find it silly at all actually. He reserves that label for us in our halfheartedness.

You just never know when He'll show up. Wouldn't want to be sitting cross-armed and pouting when your God comes looking for someone who simply has their arms open to receive Him.

24 January 2010

Francis Chan: If Jesus Had a Church Here, Mine Would Be Bigger

Francis Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley California. He wrote a very challenging article recently (read the whole thing here) that said:

Last summer I came to a shocking realization that I had to share with my wife: If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. He was the one who said, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NIV) I’m much more popular than Jesus...

Rarely is there a pastor whose character exceeds his reputation. If I were to ask those closest to you about your relationship with God, what would they say? If I were to ask God the same question, what would He say? If your family, friends, and congregation have better things to say about you than God, it’s because you give them that impression. We do this because we can. God gifted us with an ability to communicate. Too often we use this ability not to convey who we are, but who we want others to think we are.

This is why Christ crucified is THE MESSAGE. It's the toughest message of all, because it requires the most of us. All of us actually. Our life, gifts, ministries, successes and failures (our stories/races) DO matter to a God that encourages us to win... because Christ in us is the hope of glory.

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever"
1 Corinthians 9:25

But Jesus said in Mark 10:18, it's not because WE are good.

"No one is good—except God alone."

As Philippians 2: 12-13 says, it's all about us acknowledging that our purpose is to fulfill His good purpose... and working at dying more and more to ourselves to allow it to fully happen.

"...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. "

And in that... we all find ourselves setting bars short of where Jesus did "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Therein lies the challenge for communicators. But that's OK. I love a good challenge.

22 January 2010

"Jesus" on Letterman

I couldn't sleep last night, so I stayed up watching the late night talkshow war (By the way, for my money in the Conan vs Jay debate... the answer remains a clear, resounding "DAVE")

I'm glad I did stay up... because THIS happened.

Blind Boys of Alabama... dang son.

21 January 2010

"You were always on my mind"

Over 300 people have recorded this beautiful song written in 1972, originally performed by Brenda Lee. Elvis also sang it in the 70's around the time he split up with Priscilla, but Willy Nelson defined it in 1982.

I love listening to Willy's road-weary, character-rich voice bring the words...

Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind

... to life. It makes you feel the emotional reflections of the wandering wonderer and compels one to stop for a moment and take inventory of how often your affection is actually displayed towards the one who is always on your mind.

It's an area of God-prodding in my life of late. Taking the time to do the little things for my wife that seem to make all difference. And honestly... I don't PERSONALLY understand it because she IS always on my mind. And she should know that right?

Men have this very male habit of not stopping on our quest to conquer long enough to tell (or show) our wives that we love them how THEY need it. Too many good men wind up wishing they could put into words what Willy Nelson did, but not finding the right words, leaving things unsaid and locked in the painful holding-cell of silence.

Our Men's Small Group at Freedom House is studying the John Bevere book "Honor's Reward". He made reference the other day to 1 Peter 3:7 that says:

"... husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."

God takes treating your spouse "as you should" very seriously. Even to the point of saying that He won't answer your prayers if don't. 1 Peter 1: 1 also puts out the challenge to wives:

"Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs."

Mutual submissiveness, while difficult, is beautiful. I wrote this to my wife the other day,

"I want our love story to be legendary. As we were chatting about husbands and wives submitting and loving enough to die for each other last night... I realized again just how much of a constant changing and growing these scriptures require of us. And just how vigilant we must be in protection of a healthy covenant."

My letter was a bit of a "You ARE always on my mind" letter. Husbands... your wife needs that. I've learned enough about marriage to know that she needs to know, that out of anything you'll ever conquer in this world, it doesn't mean anything without her at the center.

Wives... I'll let you in on one of the mysteries of your husband's mindset. You shouldn't always think the worst about the long hours your husband works at achieving his goals. In a very real, and intentional way, he is doing it FOR YOU. He's doing it to be the husband and man, whom his bride will see as successful and of worth. It's ingrained into him and you'd miss it if it wasn't there. But men need to communicate this in a way that is truthful and meaningful to their wives to show them honor and make sure they know they are first.

And this is the sometimes seemingly mythical carrot mutual submission. The answer... is work and time. It's making the effort. It's speaking the unspoken thoughts and then in the safety of that place, reveling in WONDERFUL Biblical picture painted in Proverbs 5

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.

18 January 2010

The truth about politicians

The truth is that the reason people don't like them... is because people don't necessarily like to be managed. And it's their job to manage. It happens at work. At church. At home. It's life.

There have been a glut of articles and stories lately about the "failure" of the first year of Obamamania and how it hasn't lived up to expectations. Well no kidding! Because people fell into the trap that I wrote about over and over and over... they attached the word "Hope" on a grander scale to something/someone that does not bring legitimate hope. And people bought it because of the inspirational story that it WAS, the slick marketing (which is totally OK), and the fact that humans DO hunger for HOPE. It's built into us.

I'm stunned at the shock people have had about Obama. He has done pretty much exactly what he told people he was going to do, including escalating war in Afghanistan. It really was quite a study in human behaviour during the election to see Obama talking about how he will proceed with war in new places, while people were lost in a gooey-eyed wonderland about how he would establish world peace because he was young and hip. Obama himself must be wondering if people even listened, or are just reacting childishly when the realities of WORK and SACRIFICE arrive in the mail.

Accomplishing goals and establishing new frontiers takes work. Most of it behind the scenes. And while that is going on, you can easily lose the PR war (which has become the meal ticket). The truth is, most politicians are hard-working public servants who are attempting to lead in the way they know best with the best of motivations. The truth is that most politicians (for all the griping of those who feel that the world is entitled to their option) make a fraction of what they would make in the private sector. The truth is that politicians sacrifice an exorbitant amount of personal, unpaid time to the excruciating minutia of management that demands it of them... so that SOME larger picture change can happen at the sum of it all.

The truth is that as soon as politicians take a public stand, half (or likely more than half) of the people they care enough about to serve... hate them and call them names your mother would have washed your mouth out with soap if she heard you saying. This... is WRONG.

But this is part of the burden of leadership. Leadership IS sacrificial servanthood. And, for some reason, it's not an easy thing for most to empathize with. And this makes it especially difficult when, in a democracy, you NEED those very people who scream bloody murder at you... to care enough to "sacrifice" 5 minutes of their time once every four years to make a pencil mark beside your name on a piece of paper. Then they can go back to ignoring what you're really saying.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Winston Churchill

People AND other politicians (or leaders) do themselves no favors when they accusingly shout "liar" at each other. More often than not, it's just us not liking having someone "managing" or "leading" us because it's a skin-level temporal inconvenience or reaction to change. Not always... but more than we'd like to admit. And that's whining. And that's not becoming of an adult.

On the Christendom front, my friend wrote a fantastic blog the other day called "The Pride of Criticism"

Criticizing involves a lot of pride. It is very self-gratifying to find you have the “one up” on your church’s leadership or your fellow Christians. Some would be so bold as to criticize the body of Christ as a whole. These people are seldom brave enough to confront the people to which they have so much to boast against behind their back.

Matthew 12:25 states that, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Criticism tears down and divides, it does not edify. It is like a sickness. What body functions well when it is sick? Granted some people have great ideas for changes.

Some people have great discernment for spiritual things. But you will forever hear me quote my father who says, “You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem.”

It would do us all well, to think twice before being that critical voice. At very least we should make sure we've done what we can to build up our leaders... before deciding it's our place to play God, and tear them down.

1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
Romans 13

12 January 2010

Is Baseball sustainable in Toronto?

I was either going to blog about sex with robots or baseball today. And I just had a great baseball chat with a friend... so baseball won. Here's the chat we just had. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sex with robots... coming soon.

J: Is baseball sustainable in Toronto?

Dave: Totally. It's a major market. I don't know how it can't be.

J: What level of success is required?

Dave: At least competitive

J: B
ut are you trying to create demand for something that people don't want?
ie...hockey in warm climates?

Dave: A winner still draw 40,000. That's double any Leaf game.

J: It's way more affordable than the Leafs

Dave: I think the fact that for the big games, it still fills the Dome tells me that if there were meaningful ballgames, it would work.

J: That makes sense.

Dave: Beginning of last year, there was serious buzz that WOULD translate into crowds over a season.

You're right...the buzz was great... but did it translate into crowds in April/May?

Dave: No... not right away but over a season I think it would have. The reality is that our generation (mid 30's) who grew up loving baseball in the 80's are the demographic with the money/power/influence now... theoretically.

BUT...the kids aren't excited about it and its the kids that you take to the game and that drive things long term. They have lost a generation.

Dave: Hockey is facing the same issues though. I don't think it's just baseball.

yes...great article in The Toronto Star about it yesterday. (Leafs losing young fans to video games)

Dave: The Leafs may be the only team that gets away with being crappy and still succeeding but there are many many sports fans in and around Toronto. More than enough to make a good franchise successful. But there has been a decade of JP Richardi's mismanagement and everyone in baseball knows it

J: There was an interesting article a few months ago on ESPN about how corporate seats were such a huge thing for a while...but now, companies can't justify doing it and the new Yankee stadium was built around that...but no one is buying them.

Dave: Sucks for them... ha!

J: You've gotta keep the game with the masses

Dave: Especially in baseball because there are just so many games and so many tickets to be sold.

Stiffs like you and me that can't afford to go to a ton of games... but make a pilgrimage once or twice

Dave: Once ESPN releases 3DTV next year, we'll stay home :)

Still something about the smell of a ballpark. That you can't simulate unless they get smell-o-vision.

Dave: Like the Jetsons. I love the ballpark too. No one can change the channel at the ballpark. There won't be any celebrities dancing at the ballpark.

So what do you think? As the Blue Jays enter a (hopefully) legitimate rebuilding process... is baseball sustainable in Toronto?

11 January 2010

Money Vaccine

A friend and former pastor of mine shared this quote from Rich Stearn's (used to be CEO at Lenox Inc and is now the president of World Vision USA) book called "The Hole In Our Gospel" the other day.

"I have often thought of the tithe in a different way, as a kind of 'inoculation' against the power that money can sometimes hold over us. When we are vaccinated against a deadly virus, our bodies are injected with a small amount of that virus, weakened so that it won't hurt us. By putting this small amount into our systems, we develop an immunity to the virus, and it can no longer harm us. Metaphorically speaking, paying a tithe on our income has the same effect. By cheerfully giving away a small portion of our money, we become immune to the corrupting power it can have in our lives. When we tithe, not out of obligation, but out of love and obedience for God, we are making the bold statement that money has no power over us. Even when we give it away freely, we know that we can depend on God to replenish it and sustain us."

Such an interesting way to think about it!

The tithe (for some inexplicable reason) always seems to be a much-ballyhooed issue. Well... I suppose it's because it requires you to give away 10% of your income... and that's BEFORE you "give". It does COST you something. It can wreak some serious havoc in the new converts budget. I'm very glad that tithing has been a non-negotiable from the beginning to me and my wife, because it would be much harder to start part-way through. Although... when you consider the seriousness with which Malachi 3: 8-12 talks about it, that really shouldn't matter much.

Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

"You ask, 'How have we robbed you?'

"The tithe and the offering—that's how! And now you're under a curse —the whole lot of you—because you're robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers." The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. "You'll be voted 'Happiest Nation.' You'll experience what it's like to be a country of grace." God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.

As the tax season approaches, I draw closer to the day where I'm forced to sit and look at the amount I make compared to the amount I give away. Numbers are solid... cold... hard... absolute. There is no cheating God or Man with them. Normally I'll look, and for a second say in the back of my mind, "I could have bought X,Y,Z with that money". Then I stop and marvel at what God has made the way for us to do and the way that He lets us live... providing all the way through. Every year of our marriage, we've been amazed at how God provides PERFECTLY. Far more perfectly than we could have made that extra 10% work. That's what makes us genuinely celebrate the amount we're able to sow into our church each year. Not to mention that that's how churches afford to function. Tithing is extremely vital to the vitally of our lives for so many reasons.

When you hear the God-super-stories in remote African location where all they have is a prayer and a few pennies... an ingredient that they have (that comes naturally out of circumstance) that we don't, is absolute "Reliance". They NEED God to make it. That's what Stearn is talking about when he wrote, "When we give it away freely, we know that we can depend on God to replenish it and sustain us." Tithing is not a punishment or a curse. Quite the opposite. It prevents those things and releases God to do that beautiful thing He does in our finances when we rely on Him.

Understand me that I'm not bragging, as this is just a Biblical responsibility of all believers. It should be the given. After all, God paid a much higher price than we did... and requires much more than 10% from us. Actually... He wants ALL of us.

6 January 2010

Freedom House TV tonight

Tonight we ask the question "Does my life prove what I believe?" AND "What DO we REALLY believe".

Watch live streaming video from freedomhousetv at livestream.com

Freedom House TV exists because of generous donations from people like you. Thanks.

3 January 2010

The Africa factor in the church (It's not what you think... and that's kinda the point)

Very interesting article in the National Post December 31st called "Christianity's new centres of power" The article focuses on the Catholic and Anglican church specifically... but the principle holds true into the Evangelical church as well. Here are some highlights.

The dream is a reality in such places as Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, where there is an explosion in Christianity. In the past decade, this demographic surge has started to spill out of Africa, as well as Asia and Latin America, in the form of missionaries to the West, a trend influencing everything from styles of worship to doctrine.

2 January 2010

'Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help you'.

I just finished Donald Miller's "A Million miles in a Thousand years"... and I wish there was more to read. It's the same feeling I get when LOST finishes for the week. I want MORE. That's what good writing will do.

This book about not just sitting, reading, but WRITING & making something where there's nothing. It's written to motivate into motion. You really should head over to Amazon (here) and buy it.

From Chapter 36:

"It's interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God.

It's as though God is saying, 'Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help you'.

Before I learned about 'story', I was becoming a fatalist. I was starting to believe you couldn't feel meaning in life because there wasn't any meaning to be found. But I don't believe that anymore. It's a shame, because you can make good money being a writer and a fatalist. Nietzsche did it with relative success. Not personal success, mind you, because he rarely got out of bed. But he's huge with the twenty-something intellectuals. He's the Justin Timberlake of depressed Germans, and there are a lot of depressed Germans.

I don't ever want to go back to believing life is meaningless. I know there are biochemical causes for some forms of depression, but I wish people who struggle against dark thoughts would risk their hopes on living a good story-- by that I mean finding a team of people doing hard work for a noble cause, and joining them. I think they'd be surprised at how soon their sad thoughts would dissipate, if for no other reason than they didn't have the time to think them anymore. There would be too much work to do, too many scenes to write."

1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Cool new stuff in the New Year from Freedom House TV...

We have a new HD cam, some great new toys to use in "Livestream", a new look website AND starting January 6th... FHTV will be live Wednesday Night's at 9pm instead of 7. That gives you time to have your evening, get home, flip up the laptop and participate in whatever the discussion is that night!

Have a Happy New Years Day bloggy people! By the way, I went to the late night Sherlock Holmes movie last night... really good movie. When you see good movies, it reminds you of how bad the bad ones (most of them) really are.

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