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 October 2010

I'm Dave and I'm a Christian who takes his kids out for Halloween

Here's Freedom House's Halloween policy. "Vote your conscience". What that means is that Halloween is the ultimate Romans 14 scenario. Read this... it's powerful:

Don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.
(paraphrased v 1-9)

What we won't do is ignore Halloween, because every day is a chance to change your community, life, and world BY good INTO good regardless of our individual opinions on a gray area. We all have the Biblical mandate to not "insist on our own way". Who in the world wants to be in a real family that holds things against each other? We've got enough of that crap to deal with already!

So how in the world can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

I've run the Halloween gambit. I've done church gym harvest parties. I've done carefree trick or treating. I've done trick or treating with a pile of guilt layed on me. I've shut off my lights and pretended like I'm not home. I've had my heart broken for the debauchery of a city. I've handed out candy at my church. You might have a slightly different view on Halloween than me. But that's great! Go hard! But the last 3 years, here's how I've dealt with Halloween...

I got tired of being ostracized from society because of my belief in Jesus. There ARE areas that do not reconcile with society... and non participation works. But there are a HEAP of other areas where it's religious tradition based on shaky reasoning that in no way has a bearing on a relationship with Jesus. And some of these things have separated Christians from being a light in the very world God put us here to inspired on to "love and good deeds." And I'm done with that. The years of shutting my lights off and scolding others for dressing their daughter as a princess are over. For too many years, we were "that house". If you were a trick or treater you knew "that house". The lights were off and you talked to your buddies about how they sucked. I'm quite sure that little boys don't care much about our reasoning behind the silent protest. They just know that you're too damn good to participate in their world.

Are these families with a 2, 4, and 7 year old dressed as the Muppets out just desperately searching for some dastardly act of evil to do? Nope... they are just looking for a smile and some tiny tarts! More "community" happens on my street Halloween night than the rest of the days of the year combined. And people are HAPPY to give to each other. And for too many years... the houses of those called to "light's in the darkness" have been darkened and unwilling to go where people are. Neighborhood families have found the rare community spirit created over simple candy and warm wishes... in others homes. No more.

Last Halloween I dressed as Captain Kindness and sat on my porch talking about how kindness can revolutionize a neighborhood. It was a night that was used effectively and the neighbors KNOW why we were sharing the night without judgment. I'm done with the judging... both Christians and non-Christians over gray areas of little significance. It's a heavy divisive load that I was not designed to carry. I'm sick of intentionally ostracizing myself from conversations over pithy quibbles of "food sacrificed to idols" which is what Romans 14 is talking about.

15-16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning

I can't stop thinking about Pete Greig's "The Vision" where its says:

"...they laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crust on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice... They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and the dirty and the dying"

They are words that are transforming how I live and what I do these days. Pete's word have intrinsic power too... since it's modern poetry reflecting what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:

19-23Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

but but but but... but...

But nothing. I'm a slave to the lost. I could give or take Halloween. It's a "who cares" thing to me. It's of neutral value except it's become a night where my kids and I get to have fun together while helping to create the culture of how our neighborhood will be. Don't kid yourself... you SHAPE your neighborhood's culture. A city is what you make it.

I don't buy the "you're openning your kids up to demons" argument anymore either. I find it to be an immature view on the demonic (that DOES exist). In Ghana back in 2000, we came across a full fledged voodoo priest initiation ceremony, complete with blood sacrifices, idol worship, satanic trances... the whole bit. Albert (our friend) stopped the car and said, "would you like to go see that?". We were stunned. Shouldn't we flee even the appearance of evil? He said... "Nah... if you don't have any unrepented-for sin in your life, you're covered by the blood of Jesus. He who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. You're good."

We are not only conquerors, we are SUPER conquerors. Is there more demonic activity on Halloween? Maybe. VERY debatable though. Even if there is... you're stronger as a Christian and you're called to overcome that darkness. The strongest demonic attack in North American... is the spirit of apathy and fear. And the church LOVES that stronghold every day of the year. Guess what... Jesus wins.

This year, if you're called to pray... we are running a 24/7 Prayer room that you can sign up for an hour by following the links here. My friend Katie is running a great cause called "Trick or Eat" where they are gathering food for the Brantford food bank (linked here). If you're not doing Halloween... that's amazing! Bless you in your choice! Seriously! But don't hide. Do SOMETHING to change your life, family, city BY good INTO good!

And you know why we don't get to hold grey areas over each other? Because 3 years ago... I thought quite differently on the subject. I quietly judged of some of my closest friends on their liberty. It was wrong. I hated the feeling and I don't planning on resuming it... ever. It's IMPERATIVE that we know WHY we're doing what we're doing without being reckless and stupid... and maybe that's where the judgment comes from. Our assumptions that others don't THINK... because they don't think like us.

Maybe next year we'll hang out with our other close friends who we LOVE and who think the exact opposite as us and have a home wing ding. Why? Because I don't want my kids growing up CARING about Halloween. I want them growing up caring about not caring about things that mean NOTHING ... and intentionally living free as slaves to truth.

Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
Romans 14:18

28 October 2010

Sometimes an entire GENERATION disappears

My Great-Uncle Les died this week. He embodied what a GOOD man is. Loved his life. Loved his wife. Loved his kids. Fought for others freedom. Loved Jesus. When the Bible proclaims loudly, "Oh death where is thy sting?"it was written about men like my Uncle Les.

I loved and respected him greatly. We'd camped with them every Thanksgiving weekend since I was a kid... up until this one. Every Remembrance Day I thought of him and often called him to thank him. But it was his time. His death is a celebration. No sting. He's square dancing up a storm in heaven.

Death itself generally doesn't bother, effect or even make me feel sad to be honest. People live... people die. People who don't really know me that well (which is most of you all) can, at times think that I'm a bit of an unfeeling emotionless bulldozer. This is OK though, because I've learned that HOW I process and emotionally react to things is different than most so that's how I'm perceived. I've grown weary of being told it's wrong and sometimes it's even intrusive to other's grieving process. Because of this, I find it best to just share very little... so most of my thoughts will remain my own. BUT this time it's been a little sadder for me than death usually is.

I was greatly moved yesterday at how my Uncle's genuine love and sacrifice for his family changed their lives. His death marks the end of "The Greatest Generation" in my family. Their God, family and country first mentality was the glue that held together our functional societal social norms. And most of them are gone. Mine are.

When a GENERATION disappears, things change. It's not inherently right, wrong or indifferent. People and generations come and go. But I've watched families like mine struggle over the last couple of years to figure out what the new glue will be now that a sticky-generation has disappeared. I'm a pro-change kinda guy. But I think there are elements that have been no-brainer, societal fundamentals that are slipping away and many don't seem to know what to grasp at to put in it's place.

I'm not sad that my Uncle Les died. I'm thrilled for him. No sting. I'll miss him next Thanksgiving and on November 11th. Onward and upward. But I am a bit sad today... hoping that families like mine remember the things "The Greatest Generation" valued and figure out a way to translate the values into our modern society, because the way we did it before is quite literally gone.

24 October 2010

Strathcona Night

Low night clouds scuttle.
Rain steam rises from the road.
Porch pipe smoke lingers.

Few life signs remain.
The final fights have been fought.
Peace creeps down the street.

Common neighbors dream,
Their hopes watch them as they sleep.
"See it" they whisper.

Not found on TV,
Damp truth sits silently still.
Another day waits.

23 October 2010

Stats tell me you'll let other people decide your future on Monday

On Monday we vote for who will lead our city. The ideas and values of the winner will shape your home town. Well actually... stats tell me that most of you WON'T vote. Stats tell me that you'll let other people decide your future. Stats tell me that you'll use excuses like:

  • I forgot
  • I didn't know anything about who was running
  • I don't think municipal politics makes a difference
  • I didn't remember it was today
  • I don't care
  • I'm too busy
  • I kinda a dimwit so I let other people decide my future

Well I doubt you'll say the last one. But that's what you ARE saying by not voting. I know that not everyone is a political junkie. You don't have to be. But you SHOULD care enough to vote because you have the chance to have a voice in shaping your living experience. Stats tell me that you'll care enough to complain if you DON'T like it. Don't be that spaz. So do something about it.

Today, I took my son out and showed him what a democracy is about. It's not a perfect system, but it's an admirable process in which visionaries, can cast their vision and inspire men. It also enables honorable men to rise up and shape the future of their own city. It also encourage nuts to yak about nonsense. Not voting for the right people raise the chances of nuts to win. Don't let nuts win. Please.

This year, we hosted a mayoral debate (that you can watch below) where we asked the mayoral candidates for Brantford some of the questions that mattered to us. Like WHY they care and what role the church should play in our community. I will tell you that MANY of these people, I know personally, and are GREAT people. Take an hour and watch if you haven't yet... then on Monday... vote. Don't be THAT guy.

Watch live streaming video from freedomhousetv at livestream.com

Part 2

Watch live streaming video from freedomhousetv at livestream.com

16 October 2010

"Why" you do things is more important than "What" you do...

... and if you process it it well, the 'why' will dictate the 'what'.

I'm on the front page of the Brantford Expositor today. It's not my name on the byline of a hard hitting journalistic masterpiece. It's not the article on the right about being the politician, academic leader, or arbitrator between a big city deal.

Nope. I'm the one in the mask, cape and giant black underpants.

I grew up reading the Brantford Expositor every day. I was even a paperboy! I would read stories about how people in various walks of life would shape our community in their own way... and I was anxious for the day where I would have my adult turn to be noteworthy enough to make news with my life. It's just how I think. I'm not a quiet person eh. I live life out loud. Always have and always will. I speak, tell jokes, create scenes, communicate, teach. But it even struck me as very funny this morning that "Big Red" (or Captain Kindness) has become noteworthy enough to be a recognized local influential figure. And THAT'S why I'm on the front page! Ha!

As I've grown up, I've learned that,

WHAT you do isn't very important whatsoever UNTIL you intentionally know WHY you do it.

You get one life to live. The things you actually do today, are a part of a legacy you're writing for yourself. Most of the "whats" we do are funny, strange, imperfect, incomplete actions. Only together over time do they tell a complete story.

The Captain Kindness thing... is a goofy little thing that one day at my funeral, I truly hope some funny friend will remember and crack wise about. Because it IS funny. Ludicrous in some ways actually. And funny things happen out of it! Some entirely pointless, and some quite pointed. But it's a "what". A "what" I wouldn't do if there wasn't a why. And after the "whats" are laughed about at my funeral (since funerals SHOULD have WAY more laughter than they do), I pray that the WHY of my life is spoken about... and really taken note of. Because the why dictated those funny little temporal whats.

There was another picture yesterday of me, Brian, our MPP and possibly soon-to-be-mayor. Along with many others, the 4 of us spoke about how we can see our city changed BY good INTO good. All 4 of us believed it with all our heart.

Only 1 of us was in a leotard. But because the WHY is more important than the WHAT... each of us is supposed to use what talents, giftings and callings we've been given to influence our world... on any given day. And that can look like MANY different things on many different days. We should be willing to daily do whatever it takes (and be willing to change the medium at any given time) to communicate and implement truth. You can't ever be too proud to dance a monkey dance for someone else's freedom. Shakespeare wrote:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

(a bunch more in here)...

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Paul wrote something very similar in 1 Corinthians 9 when he said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." What it means... is that what you do, doesn't matter nearly as much as why you do it.

8 October 2010

My week of talking about city transformation

I got to speak 3 times this week (To University Students, In a ministry team training session, and on freedomhousetv.com) about the thing I've spent a decade thinking about, praying about and working towards. City Transformation BY good INTO good. I could speak about it every day and not cover it all, because it's the thing that bursts out of my spirit, mind and mouth... always. It's the dream that makes me move each day.

I suggest pouring through Ed Silvoso's Transformourworld.org. It's filled with resources, stories and encouraging stories from networks of people like us who want to see their very own street reach it's full potential.

I re-watched Ed tell his story about his hometown of Rossario. They worked hard to help facilitate the repentance of the spiritual leaders in their city and establish unity within the body of Christ. Then people dedicated their homes as “Lighthouses of Prayer” for the lost sheep in the neighborhood. The facilitated a city wide prayer meeting on the radio... and then in a day, visited every home in Rossario. Each group in their local church neighborhood.

They'd offer "favors" (which leads to favor) and would meet people's "felt needs". Then they'd ask if people were struggling from a list of things ranging from depression to sickness. The public was invited to a "Prayer Fair" where people were prayed for by the whole church in the city. It was only after people's felt needs were met, that God was brought up. Then the liberating message of Jesus was shared.

The next day, the church got together and had communion together in a brand new spiritual climate... that was VERY good.

Practically, this looks different in North America but Silvoso often reinforces that the methods and vehicles vary between each culture and location. But what unleashes power is the principles.

1. Unity
2. Prayer for everyone
3. Meeting felt needs before spiritual needs
4. Everyone is minister in their own Marketplace

Cities where the spiritual leaders of the one city Church (who God has placed there) will pursue these things... they see miraculous and very practical revivals happen in their city.

Nothing in Christendom gets me as excited as this. But it takes work, time, vision and commitment. This week I wrote on Facebook...

... because it's true. I gave my life to Jesus because I believe He wants His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven, and because my life is about serving His vision. So this is how my time is spent. Because it's where my treasure is

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Have a great Thanksgiving... and find SOMETHING to intentionally do, to change your city BY good INTO good over the weekend.

3 October 2010

On the other side of the darkness

On the other side of the darkness lays an unsettling uncertainty.
Thoughts of tomorrow disrupt the Utopian hue of the fireside.
All things that men seek seem near in the reflective contentment of night.

Who knows about tomorrow.
It's suspicious.
The still of days-end is aged scotch... where things are good. Right.

2 October 2010

You Googled WHAT and found me?

Real things that real people actually Googled looking for real answers... and wound up on my blog this September. Let's see if I can answer any questions you crazies have.

"mongolian sheep herder" - I have my hobbies and my reasons are my own.

"udder cup" - It's substantially easier than milking, pasteurizing, & putting it in those bags.

"gigantic fish in moses lake" - You may have gotten this story wrong.

"www.party and disco pictures for kid" - It's cute when the elderly try to use the internet.

"vasectomy cartoon" - With the voice of David Spade as the vas deferens.

"very demotivational. com i see three pigs what do you see?" - This is why it's important to read through small group material before making it Wednesday night fodder.

"were not perfect we laugh way to hard we are way too loud and we are such dorks but doing it together is what makes us best friends forever" - I've long suspected there where a ton of love-struck, Bieber-hounding teen girls reading my middle aged rantings on my blog.

"three stooges smell" - I'm going to imagine they smell like Brylcreem and tweed.

"the holy spirit speak shalalalala" - Here's a social media savvy Christian tip. I think that people should maybe think about not putting tongues speaking on the internet.

"steve miller naked" - Pass

"nipples on toast"
"jesus on toast" - Am much as I like nipples and our savior... I prefer peanut butter on toast.

1 October 2010

Parenting Advice from Phil and Claire

From this week's Modern Family:

Claire: Your kids don't need to know who you were before you had them. They need to know who you wish you were and they need to try to live up to THAT person. They're gonna fall short, but better they fall short of the fake you than the real you.

Phil: Which is why we don't hide anything.

Claire: That is the opposite of what I just said.

Phil: I was not listening.

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