Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

30 June 2010

Christianity in "New Canada" is not as crazy as you might have thought

*** PREFACE:I don't buy it when right-wingers go on "the media is just crazy left-wing" tirades nor do I buy it when left-wingers rant about the "crazy right-wing media". Every written thing has a bias. It's OK. It's our job to find the bias and glean the truth through our bias-filters. Eat the meat and spit out the bones***

Tomorrow is Canada Day... and I love my country. I believe it to be strong, free, and growing into something more beautiful every day. National Post commentator Jonathan Kay wrote an excellent commentary yesterday called, "The 'new Canada' same as the old". As I noted above, I'm not a left-wing media conspiracy guy... but in my lifetime, I have seen the picture that has often been painted of Canadian Christianity being progressively uglier and quite unlike the existing... and progressing reality.

He tells a very interesting story about Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla's qualifications as a "New Canadian":

A few years ago, some editors at a rival Toronto newspaper were informally batting around names for a splashy weekend feature about faces of the “New Canada.” The discussion turned to sports, and one of the editors suggested Jarome Iginla.

As the story goes, the room initially lit up with excitement. And why not? Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla isn’t exactly descended from blueblood loyalists. The five-time NHL all-star was the league’s first black team captain, not to mention the Calgary Flames’ all-time goals leader. His father was an immigrant from Nigeria, his mom a Buddhist from the Pacific northwest. How much fashionably “newer” can a Canadian get?

But then, just as quickly, another editor took the air out of the room.

“The guy is a religious, church-going Christian,” he said. “You know that, right?”

Silence followed. Being religious per se doesn’t prevent you from being part of the media-sanctioned “New Canada” — but preference goes to the “newer” faiths. Christianity is so … old-school. Without further ado, the editors moved on. “Uh let’s see … Who else we got?”

The article goes on to talk about the largely unspoken realities of cultural mosaic culture that we grew up learning about the value of in school. Christianity and Judeo-Christian values run HIGH in it! But for some reason, even Christians (who clearly have a poor world perspective) sometimes go off about how it's withering our traditional moral fabric. It's silly of us to be so unaware that Christianity outside of North America and Europe is GIGANTIC! It should be encouraging that we're a part of a massive movement of people who believe in loving our neighbors radically! Why there are still people that ASSUME that people from "wherever they're from" are bringing some kind of voodoo to our land, I do not get.

You want to see a vibrant Canadian church in action? Check out the Korean churches in Toronto. A couple of years ago I made friends with some ordinary, working-professional (not clergy) Ghanaian folks in Brampton who planted a church. Now THAT was a prayer room. Heck... Ghana is 83% Christian! To most... numbers like that are but a pipe dream.

Christianity Today did a story this week about the Ghanaian soccer team called "The Black Stars" who are kicking butt in the World Cup right now called "Ghana: The Team That Prays Together". Check this out:

"We are Christians and we all know how important God is. We all respect God and we pray every time before the game and after the game. ... We praise God, what he has done for us. Then the next day is match-day, so we use that opportunity to give us strength and help us go on into the game."... Captain John Mensah

And this...

"We love to sing together, dance together, pray together," Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan told Bradley. "It brings joy to our hearts. This is our team."

At the end it talks about how the entire NATION was called to prayer and fasting for their team! How different from what we perceive to be "new Canada" is that??? But the reality is that these are the folks that are making up the reality of New Canada.

Not to mention that, despite what a minority would have you believe, "The Church" (that's right... the "organized religion" that so many even inside Christianity shortsightedly, seem to despise so much) is rising in the public's perception of value.

According to Church researcher Ed Stetzer's Canadian Church research, among UNchurched young Canadians:

  • 75% of younger unchurched Canadians agree that church is generally helpful to society
  • 78% agree that God actually exists
  • 50% agree that Jesus died and came back to life
  • 51% say they would be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked them to

It's strange how discouraged and persecuted-mentality Christians can get. Not that a little persecution here and there is necessarily a bad thing, since where it actually DOES exist the church EXPLODES! But this is not the reality we live with in Canada. This is an era of opportunity for Christians to show the love of Christ in a more public way. The progressive, active, passionate Church IS being accepted even more than even a decade ago. And it's in part because of the hard work of visionaries... AND also the immigration of MANY who KNOW what it means to function in a THRIVING, empowered Christian manner.

Happy Canada Day 2010. I'll be spending it dressed as Captain Kindness, leading our Kindness Crew in serving our city's big party and hosting the main stage entertainment for 2 hours! Why? Because Jesus Name and renown is the desire of my soul.

Find a way to go continue making Canada great tomorrow.

God keep our land glorious and free.

24 June 2010

Your small (or large) business marketing could take GIANT leaps forward today...

... with just A LITTLE cultural & communication analysis and a night of thought.

One thing I have learned in life (both advertising-wise and not) is that what you're doing had better accomplish at least 2 or 3 purposes or you're likely wasting your time. If it's a singularly focused action... you'd be better served to stop and think it through further because there is likely a way to save time and money and do 3 things at the same time more effectively.

For example... I just got my hair cut at First Choice Hair Cutters. I don't know the inner workings of their corporate structure, but from what I know of them... I like them. They have sleek chains, they market sharply, they are inexpensive, and you know what you're getting. I'm a regular for these reasons.

I went and got a haircut at First Choice today. The young girl (who I'd never seen before) sat me down in the chair. In the old days, someone named Vince who had been your barber for 25 years knew what you wanted... no need to ask. But that doesn't happen today. So for the 678th time in my life, a generic girl asked me what level I wanted the buzzer set at and what I wanted done. I AGAIN had no idea, because who keeps that bit of info squirled in the memory banks? There's only room for so much eh! So we winged it... as always.

I watched as the same process happened with 2 other clueless men and their young girl. So I thought about this:

What if each station had a digital camera or smart phone, and at the end of a successful haircut, they took a picture and emailed it to the client (including pertinent information like the name of the cut and the buzzer number) so next time, he could say... "Give me this". It's a man's dream. Getting what THEY want without having to verbalize it.

First Choice would get another email address for marketing purposes, the customer vocalizes his pleasure with the company and could even be encouraged to upload the picture to FC's Facebook site for a coupon of some description... exposing the good haircut to all his contacts. 1 dollar off for a simple upload... 2$ if you share it with 10 friends. That makes the consumer take an action step (that doubly benefits him) towards a company that, while they are inexpensive and efficient... likley struggles to achieve the personal connection that kept humans going to their same barber for a lifetime in the past.

The social media communication revolution has opened EASY, inexpensive doors for companies (of any size) to create interactive possibilities. It's not just as easy as HAVING a Facebook site though. You have to create a reason for consumers to interact WITH YOU. And it's simply not that hard to do... and it can do 3 different things at once... if you take some time to really think.

I emailed First Choice my idea... not because they don't think like this... because I think they do and it could really spur new areas of business.

23 June 2010

The top 5 Biblical characters who have gotten the shaft by history

5- John the Baptist

He's number 5 because history has done him PRETTY well. He WAS that one voice crying in the wilderness. But it's the annual church Easter play that is never kind to John the Baptist's legacy. He's always kind of a mix of Mr. Burns during his "See my vest" song and Hacksaw Jim Dugan. I mean... I get that he WAS a locusts and honey kinda fella but the short burlap sack on a theater stage surrounded by all those bathrobes and flip flops hasn't done him well!

4- St. Peter

Simply because of the jokes. There are about 4000 old jokes where either Raquel Welch, Rodney Dangerfield, Milton Berle or some old human dies and arrives at "The Pearly Gates". It's always Peter who meets them and has to take their sass talk. How did Peter get the opening the gate job??? I'd be less than pleased if I was him. I mean... he was a MAIN CHARACTER in THE book and he gets the equivilant to the no-pension Walmart greater gig?? No dice. And speaking of dice...

3- Tie between Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias

Ever heard of them? Of course not. They are "The Others". You used to learn Sunday School songs about the 12 disciples Jesus called to help him... but it was an old list. I mean... JUDAS made the song! These two made the cut only after "The Incident". And it was via dice rolling to see who was "in". But then they were the in the inner circle when the whole stinkin' book of Acts was written during the glory years! I suppose it might have been because Joseph was called Barsabbas and was ALSO known as Justus... and that's hard to rhyme in a song.

2- Tie between Dorcas and Nimrod

Same reason. Is there really an explanation needed? You know how Christians like to name their kids Biblical names? Dorcas and Nimrod... not so much.

1- Onan

Come on now. Onan needs a hug. The man has been known for all eternity as the masturbation guy. If I was Onan's family, I'd be circulating one of those Facebook petitions asking for people to realize that their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great Grandfather's sin was because he did not impregnate their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great Aunt. NOT masturbation. Sure he spilled seed on the ground... but ... wait a minute ... both are pretty uncomfortable legacies. One little seed spilling and Onan (regardless of ANYTHING else he did with his life) has been known for all eternity as the seed spiller.

22 June 2010

The music of LOST

I hadn't thought about LOST for a while... but since Joe Purdy's "Washed Away" and the Dawn Soap, oil covered bird washing commercial ad is on JUST a bit these days (wonder why)... I've been remembering the quality of the soundtrack that LOST had for all those years.

Got some of the more obscure stuff in here too. Take a few minutes and scan through...

Such a darn good, full, robust story and production. A summer full of "Dancing with people I don't care about" makes me remember it every time.

19 June 2010

Are we in the middle of a giving revolution?

I saw this on Donald Miller's Twitter site the other day...

It's a link to a press release from Warren Buffet outlining why he is personally pledging to give away 99% of his money to charitable philanthropic destinations. Here are some highlights:

Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day. Millions of people who regularly contribute to churches, schools, and other organizations thereby relinquish the use of funds that would otherwise benefit their own families. The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge

My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.)

My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I've worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate's distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.

The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.

He, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, are challenging rich Americans to give 50% of their net worth as well. It's called the "600 Billion Dollar Challenge". Some are very suspicious of the motives behind their actions. But regardless of our opinions... this is changing the face of giving.

CTV news talks about how groups representing "average" folks are responding:

Other more grassroots groups have made more modest calls. For example, Giv3 encourages Canadians to donate three per cent of their income every year to charity, while also volunteering three hours a month.

While that doesn't sound like much, the group notes that most Canadians give less than once per cent of personal pre-tax salaries to charity, with lower income groups giving a higher percentage of their income (1.7 per cent) than higher income groups (just 0.5 per cent).

Really? Canadians give LESS THAN 1%?? And the lower income folks giving MORE?? Those are very sad numbers. It's clear to me that giving in our cultural context... is broken.

Giving... quite simply is RIGHT. Sacrificial giving... is RIGHT. It changes both the giver and recipient. And it feels SO good. Even Hollywood knows it, because that "giving is right" revelation/euphoria sells tickets. Doesn't always mean that they DO it however.

Here's the other thing about giving (and it's also reason why people are suspicious about Gates and Buffet) ... giving gives you power and influence. Imagine the influence on the earth the rich of America will have through giving to causes they care about. Not only will legitimate problems be solved... not only will your spirit be lighter... but people will listen to you more. Your cred level goes up. As it turns out, people will want what you have even more than when you just bought homes and drove Italian cars.

Companies are learning that giving bolsters their brand. Same with individuals.

Is this devious? I'm there are some gentle hearts that might feel that. But process this a bit further here. Giving just turns out "right" because it IS right! In fact we should recognize that you will change for the better and have influence in what you give towards. It's pretty spiritually accurate actually. You sow where you want to go.

Former NBA notable Manute Bol died Saturday. He is 14th on the all-time blocks leaderboard in the history of the league... but the notable part of his life was because of giving.

Bol came from Sudan and was given what he described as a "gift from God". His height. He was 7'7 and weighed only 225lbs. He was standout individual because of how different a player and person he was. Manute Bol built hospitals, schools and even served as a liaison for peace in Sudan. He gave pretty much everything. So much so that in 2007 he got very sick and didn't have the money for his own health care because he had given it all away.

After his NBA days were over, he did stupid reality TV and goofy made-for-tv things (ex boxing matches and horse races) even though he was in physical pain, because they would pay him more money than most Sudanese people could dream of. And he gave it to things he believed in.

Today he's remembered as one of the most exemplary professional athletes of this or any generation.

God cares about our giving. He knows that WE need to give to have a healthy life, to provide care for others AND have influence on earth and heaven. What He doesn't care that much about... it the amount. Although however... He DOES care about the percentages.

Mark 12: 41-44Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, "The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all."

That widow has been remembered and impactful for 2000 years. Back to the eye of the needle thing. Jesus said in Matthew 19:

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

He said it when an exuberant, wealthy, young buck wanted to know how to get eternal life and Jesus suggested he sell all his stuff! He turtled. Quick. Jesus was making a point that you have to be able to give it all away because stuff here doesn't matter. We aren't accumulating here... we're accumulating in heaven based on how open handed we are here. It's just a bit harder when we have a lot of stuff. Not impossible. Same mindset required. Just a larger number.

We get fooled and impressed by numbers. It's not the amount... it's the percentage... and the sacrifice. So here's the Gates/Buffet deal. It's not about the amount. God's not impressed by their numbers. But no matter how Buffet spins it... 99% costs something. In an age where most people are giving NOTHING (or precious close to it) ... 99% is pretty darn cool. And their challenge is well-timed because the rich have a LOT of making up of time to do when it comes to giving.. so this great start.

But it WILL start something. Quite likely in the middle of a giving revolution. Those who give will steer the focus of the world. Time to start really thinking about how to give strategically. Find what you believe in and give to it. It's just RIGHT.

17 June 2010

"Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed."

"Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed."
From "Mythopoeia" by JRR Tolkien

We've been working through the Ravi Zacharias DVD series called "Foundations of Apologetics" on Wednesday nights at Freedom House. Last night, PhD, theologian, and chair of Theology, Religion and Culture at King's College London Alister McGrath... talked about God.

He painted an eloquent verbal picture of the simple faith that I base my life on. At the end I looked over at my friend with a satisfied look on my face and said, "Wow... what a beautiful thing Christianity is".

His primary message (as I interpreted it) was that the best way to "prove" God is not to try to prove Him at all. It's to point to Him. He talked about how people make the mistake of desperately hanging on to thing of beauty that we see, find, discover or even stumble upon on earth. We hold it... and treasure it ... and often get caught in thinking that it is "the end". Beauty is not the end. It's a signpost that points beyond to God.

He talked about how our asperations (even Godly ones) will fall short as we try to create beautiful worlds. And they'll fall short... for God's purposes. When they fall short, it causes us to look past what we've found to what is beyond us. It's the constant pull towards the beyond. The spirit is never completely satisfied until it reaches it's day when it gets to be with God.

We all sense this longing. This idea that McGrath is talking about used to bother me greatly. "If I'm a Christian, I HAVE the answer. I've 'found it'" I'd say working myself into a mini-tizzy.
My former primary argument about why U2 weren't really all that Christians whatsoever was because of the "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" lyrics.
"But if you've found Jesus you HAVE found what you're looking for! Say it LOUD!", I'd say in my zealous 20's way that I've come to regret a little.

Looking now, I think that there is a "pointing to God" factor is Bono's lyric that says he's spoken with the tongue of angels and STILL hasn't found what he's looking for. Me too. I've seen and been a part of some pretty cool stuff, but I'm still looking at the prospects of living in a broken world... with a broken life... being pulled and wooed by the Spirit of God onward over the hills to where there is something better. There has to be. Every night I get to make lovely campfire and feel OK. But I know the journey through the wild country continues in the morning.

McGrath referenced JRR Tolkien's poem "Mythopoeia" in his lecture. It was written in September of 1931 WITH and TO his contempary and friend CS Lewis. As the preface to the poem Tolkien wrote,

"To one [C.S. Lewis] who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver'."

The argument between the two was because Tolkien used stories to communicate God. He would soon go on to write what has been come to known as one of the prototypical mythopoeian epics "The Lord of the Rings".

Lewis didn't like it at first because the scenario's weren't real. But as he eventually found out... you can't take the "story" part out of this faith. It's how God the Father through Christ the Son, via the Holy Spirit chooses to point men towards Him creating the longing to find Him.

Here's how Wikipedia talks about how Lewis processed it:

Lewis later began to speak of Christianity as the one "true myth". Lewis wrote, "The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. "Subsequently, his Chronicles of Narniais regarded as mythopoeia, with storylines referencing that Christian mythology, namely the narrative of a great king who is sacrificed to save his people and is resurrected. Lewis' mythopoeic intent is often confused with allegory, where the characters and world of Narnia would stand in direct equivalence with concepts and events from Christian theology and history, but Lewis repeatedly emphasized that an allegorical reading misses the point (the mythopoeia) of the Narnia stories.

I started reading my 7 year old son Jared, "The Lion the Witch and Wardrobe" last week. I'm personally anxious to read him more and more each day because I love watching the wheels turning inside his little brain. I love seeing him getting lost in Narnia along with Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund. I love hearing him process the deception of the White Witch. And I'm very much looking forward to Aslan entering the story and having this beautiful and vivid picture of our God as a part of his 7 year old wooing towards eternity.

Humanity and it's imperfection IS a part of the God story. "Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.". In fact the Bible says we're all being changed from "glory to glory". If we could find what we were looking for now, the late night longings of the soul would go away. But maybe they were never meant to go away. Maybe they are actually the thing that draws us deeper. It's not that there is no answer... there most certainly is. And one day it will even be in full. As McGrath said last night:

"We're an empty jar that is conscious of our emptiness and knows it should be full."

16 June 2010

People Like Jesus but not the church. Is this fair? Check out the FHTV dialogue

People Like Jesus but not the church. Is this fair? Are we stuck with this? perception? Can it be changed? We ARE being judged. How should it effect the way we show Jesus to the world?"

Watch live streaming video from freedomhousetv at livestream.com

15 June 2010

10 years with the same vision

I had a wonderful lunch meeting today with friend who has a real heart for church planting (he's a part of the group who runs the fantastic website iamsecond.com). During our "how to take over the world" dialogue (the only kind of dialogue really worth having), I began to tell him about the who's, whats, wheres, whens and hows of my life.

In the middle of it... I realized something that has greatly encouraged my spirit. I've been following the same vision for almost exactly 10 years now. How about that eh? That's a pretty cool anniversary!

There is a Nietzsche thought that has been adapted and written about by Eugene Peterson that says:

"The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results in, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."

I have spent my time doing different things during this past decade, but I can honestly say that the reasons behind EACH and EVERY significant action (and most insignificant ones too) I've made in the last 10 years has been because of ONE VISION and dream. It dominates my waking and sleeping thoughts... and it's size has done nothing but increase as the years go on.

I couldn't have predicted the struggles and I wouldn't have predicted what living my day to day life would practically look like a decade into of the intentional action of following a dream. I also couldn't have foreseen HOW many of the victories have come. But they HAVE come.

Vision is a funny thing. You often can't see the progress day to day when you're committed to the "long obedience in the same direction" program. But from the summer of 2000 that God breathed vision and passion into my spirit while living in Accra Ghana, to the summer of 2010, SO MUCH progress has been made. The theoretical, spiritual and conceptual... has taken on far more of a physical form than most gave a fighting chance to.

And it's funny... because the best bits of the establishment of this vision have been entirely God's doing. It just takes people willing to put their shovel in the ground to work in Jesus name... and then KEEP WORKING at that vision. And you continue to do it even when you don't see or entirely understand how what you're doing will ever work. That's the wonderful thing about vision... you just KNOW that it MUST happen.

I mean... you don't have to persist. Aside from the fact that it's Biblical. And the idea that the quote that talks about it resulting in "something which has made life worth living" being something I don't know if I could deal with not being said of me one day. Living a life that made God's name great. Really great.

Isaiah 26:8

Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts

14 June 2010

"Life is like this" conversations

I've always been someone who's wanted to be older than I am, because I suspect that older-me will have far clearer understanding of the world than current-me does. I know current-me has a better perspective than previous-me does.

We really should have as many, "Life is like this" conversations with people older and more successful than we are as we can. So many of these folks will describe vital, deeper truths about life in simple, concise and poignant ways.

A friend of mine graduated from McMaster University last week. Her and her husband were telling me about the "Life is like this" talk that outgoing University president Peter George gave to the eager group of world-changers. It was simple and really quite wonderful advice (paraphrased from memory).

1. Have a nice suit
2. Don't chew gum at a job interview

3. Find someone you can always talk to

4. Get enough sleep

5. Keep a smile on your face and encourage others with kind words.

It's a small reminder that the complexities of life should not be our masters. Simple, honest principles like mutual respect, friendship, stewardship and kindness win out in life over the long-run. Some find that simplicities are idealistic and unpractical. Too easy for the "real world". But there must be a reason older, wiser, people than me can more successfully adopt a "Don't worry be happy" attitude to life... and have it work both for their own peace of mind, and also lead down the road to practical success in this world.

I believe that part of it is that life is like this...

You choose solid, base absolutes. An onslaught life-variables are thrown at you. You react with integrity according to your absolutes. What happens... happens. You learn to go to bed with a smile and enjoy the ride.

On March 3rd, Peter George gave his last lecture at McMaster titled, "The Last Lecture: Lessons from 45 years at McMaster". Here's a few lines from "The Sil", the Mac Student newspaper.

“I never dreamed of being president of a university, especially this one that I love so much,” admitted George. “I have given my life to education because I believe it to be the most worthy endeavor.

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

George did not hesitate to admit that there have been criticisms and complaints directed at him, but that one must be able to handle both praise and criticism. “I have learned that you can’t avoid mistakes…it’s what you learn from them that counts…In the true McMaster style, make new and innovate mistakes”

Wonderful thoughts that will help us grow today.

12 June 2010

My minor contribution to African sports

Even though soccer's not my game, I'm really enjoying the World Cup. Especially seeing the world spotlight being turned on Africa and African sports. It makes me happy and nostalgic remembering my VERY small contribution to African sports. I founded and coached the Ghanaian Christian Baseball Association back in the year 2000. My friend Albert is now the President of Baseball in Ghana.

Since we hosers are STILL very poor at the futball... I'll be cheering for the Black Stars! Go Ghana.

11 June 2010

The worst things about being a Christian

Well let's see. We have Biblical promises and precedents that say we will:

* Be hypocritical, doing the things we desperately hate the most to the point of being the worst of sinners ourselves
* Be required to walk the hard unpopular road
* Be dealing with FRIENDS that WILL

  • betray us,
  • put us to death,
  • abandon us when we're poor,
  • avoid us like the plague,
  • ridicule us,
  • cross the street to avoid us,
  • want to blot us from their memory,
  • forget us like a corpse in a grave,
  • discard us like broken dishes in the trash,
  • gossip about us calling us "criminally insane",
  • behind locked doors they will plot how to ruin us good.

... and that's our friends.
OK what else?

* People who we love will slander us... and we'll be asked to love them back.
* God may make us blind, sick, covered in boils or afflict us in creative ways for His purposes.
* Our churches often have fighting in them over stupid things
* Our relationships will include MANY misunderstandings and infighting a plenty.
* If we get hit by someone we have to offer them other side to hit too.

... so not just a beating but a DOUBLE BEATING!

* How does a physical and metaphorical thorn in your flesh sound?
* We'll be asked to not worry about the biggest worries our age has ever seen including wars, revolutions, disease, hunger and natural disasters.
* We're not allowed to care to much about stuff like buildings, houses, or even how we're going to feed and clothe our families.
* We'll be persecuted... even hauled out of churches to stand trial before high ranking government officials, maybe be jailed... and maybe even be killed for believing in Jesus

Oh wait there's more...

* Your parents and family may hate you and reject you... they themselves might be the ones who kill you
* You'll likely struggle not to go nuts because of what you're being asked to endure because it will be excruciatingly emotionally and physically demanding.
* God will use you to make arguments that everyone will think are foolish... intentionally.
* There is a supernatural being who will never relent in trying to steal from you, destroy you and kill you. It will use other people... or it will used YOU against YOURSELF... or sometime do it itself

Fun eh?
But it just doesn't matter.

It just doesn't matter.
It just doesn't matter.

This stuff will happen. Expect it. It's OK. It just doesn't matter. It's all part of the package because this world is broken and we live here for a little while. But believe it or not, it's a beautiful world that God's using you (through this stuff) to woo it back to Him.

The difference is this. The God who created the entire world, is in love with you and this Era is a drop in the bucket of time. And frankly it's not half as bad as it sounds because:

1) Well you fall in love with Jesus... his presence makes EVERYTHING melt away during that intimacy, giving you hope. Because it's a reminder that one day we won't be separated anymore and the tears ago away for good.

2) We're called to model Jesus ability to overcome these things. Other people, who don't have the benefit of a personal relationship with God, go through some of the same issue. They need you to help them through.

Christ experienced them all too. Worse actually because He not only took His pain... he took yours too... and that causes us to worship and make the worst parts of being a Christian seem pretty inconsequential. More than that actually. They are actually Good because it brings us closer to the sound of this AMAZING love.

"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Romans 5: 3-5

So guess what? It just doesn't matter.

9 June 2010

Today is a GOOD DAY for Brantford

At 10:52 AM Tuesday morning, the first bricks fell to the ground as the demolition of the south side of Colborne Street began. To say this has been a touchy issue over the last 6 months would be quite an understatement.

There have been good people and dumb people making both quality and poor arguments on both sides of the debate. Long before this present reality, I have supported the demolition and rebuilding/re-dreaming of this stretch of buildings downtown. I have my reasons. And they are good reasons. I also have good friends who hold very strongly opposing views. Many of their points were well thought out too.

Even though I'm happy about the direction it did go, to be honest, I wouldn't have been crestfallen if they had kept the buildings and restored them either. Because buildings are just bricks. They are not everlasting entities. Material should never be the master of people. I continue to maintain a city is ABOUT it's people. A building's role (new or old) is to facilitate the prosperity of it's inhabitants. If a piece of soulless substance doesn't do that... it doesn't serve it's purpose.

Regardless of your opinion or my opinion about this SPECIFIC issue, (and there was no RIGHT or WRONG answer... we all just have opinions) a decision was made. By the end of the summer the largest black mark on our city for the last 30 years will be gone.

Today is June 9th 2010. It is quite literally the beginning of a new era in Brantford's history. No one can argue this point. Change IS happening. It's what we've ALL desired, worked for, even prayed about. We ALL knew that change needed to happen. And it's VERY good.

Here's where you're going to feel tempted resume the fight. To bring up where the first head of lettuce was sold within 6 miles of the Grand River, or to weep about where the poor study-weary teens will play squash with a river-view. Keep smiling. Resist it. Don't give into the temptation to write that pessimism-laced Facebook quip about Brantford's demise in the heat of the moment. That's what the National media did about our "awful downtown" when it was in ruins... and now again for the remedy to the ills that stopped them from coming and caring in the first place. That's a lot of gall and giving into that is skeptical hopelessness... and our city deserves better.

Brantford... let's speak up (sorry... had to). We have a clean slate. A blank canvass and a growing army of passionate dreamers who hopefully can now come together to build... in a hopeful way.

Today is a GOOD DAY in Brantford. But then again, if we choose to look deep enough, we'll see that there is more good than not in most days. But we MUST persist in participating in this good. Every time I sit down with 30 and 40 something leaders in politics, business, communication and faith... we come to the common conclusion that Brantford (here and now), is a place of great opportunity. It's a place where people with vision, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work/invest long term, WILL create what this city looks like for the next 100 years. This isn't true of every city here and now. It is of Brantford.

Last night I sat in my living room with a couple other visionaries and wrote about, plotted direction for, and layed out actualization plans for a Kindness Project that will instigate a new untapped level of synergy and interconnectedness
between multiple areas of influence in our city... based around making a mutually beneficial kindness commitment. Changing a city BY good INTO good. Using time, energy AND MATERIAL to help prosper the people in our city.

I think that TODAY a great day. It's the first day of a new Era. But today... just like yesterday... your city is what you put into it.

8 June 2010

Unite Canada 2010: TRUSTING prayer to really, actually, literally, physically lead us

As a part of the 24/7 Prayer Canadian National team... we're participating in the amazing "Unite Canada 2010" initiative where individuals, churches and prayer organizations are joining forces to cover Canada in prayer 24/7... 365 this year. I wrote this for their website today... thought I'd share.


Hello there Canada! My name is Dave Carrol from Brantford Ontario (we call it the City of God) and I’m a part of the 24/7 Prayer National leadership team.

As we’re praying together as a nation, I wanted to pose a few questions for us to think about… or while we’re at… pray about. How much do we really trust what God says in prayer to lead our physical actions? When was the last time was that THIS day’s actions were directly dictated by YESTERDAY’S word from God? When was the last time that those actions made no practical sense? When was the last time that following the nudging from an invisible man in the sky… cost us something tangible?

I get to help lead a wonderful church called Freedom House in Brantford. When we planted it close to 7 years ago, we decided that we were going to make our decisions the hard way. Through prayer. Quite literally from when it comes to finances, buildings, ministries, and the direction of our actions as an active body of believers… our leadership team will sit together in prayer and let God speak to us collectively. We’ll let Him share what He wants with each of us, and then we’ll share it together. We’ll even ask Him ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions… and then we’ll simply do what He says.

Truthfully… sometimes it’s scary when the answer He gives isn’t what we expected or it’s one that doesn’t seem to fit into OUR grand plan. But in these scenarios, even when He’s just download ‘cost’ to us, there is an incredible peace that comes with it.

I love how The Message translates the prophesy talk in 1 Corinthians:

“Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other. If you choose to speak, you’re also responsible for how and when you speak. When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches—no exceptions.”

Oh there’s one more thing we prayery people should remember. Since we’ve chosen to interact consistently with the King of Kings, we need to understand that God is on the lookout for those who are listening. And it’s because He has things for us to do.

Revelations 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Prophetic people have a long, lustrous spiritual career of… ummm… interesting tasks. Like laying on their side making fires out of poo (see Ezekiel), marrying prostitutes (see Hosea), and being tasked with interpreting the on-goings of creatures with more eyeballs than then creatures should have (Dr. John on this one). With this as our heritage, and with the understanding that His goal have His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven… we really SHOULD be prepared for God to speak to us. I mean REALLY speak with the intention that we’ll REALLY hear and we’ll REALLY do it, so that we’ll FULLY play our designed role in His REALLY good plan.

So… what’s He saying Canada?

Dave Carrol


Truth is not subjective.
A perception that creates ones reality, while a convincing illusion, is still an illusion.
Truth humbly presides over illusion.
It WAS and IS and IS to come.

Effective communication of truth does not make the truth any truer.
The medium is not the message.
It never was.
That's a carnival game barked by the medium-makers hoping we rubes would buy it... and we did.
Any prizes won at that ring toss were poorly made and had come apart at the seems by the time the carnival came to town again.
Truth remains undisturbed by trends, waves and disposable mediums.

The truth doesn't NEED two to be truth.
Heck... it doesn't even need one.
But a truth unshared, while no less true, is untapped.
Truth is a living thing... not a slab of granite.
When truth is shared, the motive for the creation of that truth in the first place is revealed.
It's love.
Big, sloppy, warm, uncliched love.

Tangible, electric, fiery truth... realized and actualized between souls manifests the larger purpose of truth.
It's the exponent on a whole number.

The truth is... that the sum is greater than the parts.
The truth is... that we're a part of the truth... but we're not THE truth.
The truth is... that we understand only in part.
The truth is... that it's all far bigger than we can handle...

... but even sharing in a sliver of it is worth it. And it's worth sharing anyway we can.

6 June 2010

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! | Video on TED.com

Amazing thoughts about how our thinking needs to shift when it comes to learning both in our current culture and into the future. I think it's applicable teaching and encouragement in many life disciplines... including the church.

I love the wrist watch being obsolete as a "single function device".

2 June 2010

Good taste is the enemy of great art

"I remember reading a thing Picaso once said. I like to read what famous artists have to say because I'm barely able to look at their paintings without going into a coma trying to figure out what it's about. He said that 'good taste is the enemy of great art' which I think is very true. Good taste has all to do with being cultured and being refined. If art has to do with anything, it has to do with being human.

Here's the thing that I think we often forget is that we don't have to impress him. He's already knocked out about you. And if He was cultured and He was as civilized as most Christian people wish He was... you would be useless to Christianity.

God is a wild man. Because God takes the junk of our lives and he makes the greatest art in the world out of it."

The fact that God uses us as his masterpiece in the sloppy mess we find ourselves in... should keep us humble and full of grace for others. Although it doesn't always work out that way. Here's an excerpt from Don Miller's "Having Right Theology does not mean you know God".

"Theology can become an idol, but it is more useful as guardrails on a road to the true God. Theology is very important, but it is not God, and knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God.

What I came to understand, then, is Christian conversion is relational. It is not theological or intellectual any more than marriage is theological or intellectual. In other words, a child could become a Christian if they had a mysterious encounter with Jesus, and a simple thinker could become a Christian if they had a mysterious encounter with Christ, and even a person who was a Muslim or a Buddhist could become a Christian if they had a mysterious relational encounter with Christ. This is the only answer at which I could arrive that matched the reality in which we live, the complexity of scripture, and the mysterious invitation offered to us by Jesus.

I hear the masses saying, “But no! A person cannot believe in multiple Gods and be a Christian.” Let me counter with some questions:

Can a person have bad theology and be a Christian?

Has your theology ever been corrected, and were you really a Christian before?

Is your theology all worked out now so you have no more reason to study, and if not, are you a Christian?

If you believe a person’s theology has to be right to be qualified for Christian conversion, then you are saying a person comes to know God, in part, because he has right ideas, and I respectfully disagree. Do I think right theology is important? Absolutely, but I do not believe it has any agency to convert anymore than directions to the doctor’s office has the power to heal.

I have a friend who countered, adamantly, that unless a person understood and agreed with the theological idea of total depravity, he could not be a Christian. I asked my friend when it was that he understood the idea himself, and he answered his sophomore year in seminary. I asked him, then, when he had become a Christian, and he told me when he was in the third grade. His reasoning was obviously insane, and I don’t think he is alone. I believe that God wants us to engage with and be transformed by His Word."

These things should be so liberating and fill us with patience, grace and humility. I think when we really think about them and choose to acknowledge them, it does. Because we WANT to be the freedom freak Pete Greig talks about in The Vision.

Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs.

If we're holding on to our precious little rights and wrongs... we'd best not because good taste is the enemy of great art.

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