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 April 2011

As the sun came up on the other side of Montreal

Late fall 2002, as the sun came up on the other side of Montreal "Jesus Generation" by Hillsong United was playing on the tape deck of our '98 pink Neon. It's a moment frozen in time for me. I LOVE worshiping the sun up... especially while traveling. My wife of 2 years was sleeping beside me as I drove through a part of the country we were discovering for the first time. It was both hopeful and sadly empty at the same time. I was feeling both emotions for the wrong reasons.

See, we were leaving Brantford spend a week with someone we were planning on working with in Fredericton New Brunswick. We were planning on coming back only to grab our few earthly belongings (most of which were wedding gifts we had never used and never planned on). We had returned from Africa as "missionaries to Canada" to our hometown that seemed as destitute as we remembered. We had had enough. We were CALLED to help ignite this "Jesus Generation" and an associate in a new place was offering us a fresh start and a new challenge.

As the sun came up on the other side of Montreal, God was "Emmanuel". God with us. The next week was awkward but we knew we'd grow into our new Eastern life. We went to churches... that were similar. We talked about struggles... that were similar. We left with... similar financial and personal unassurances. A little bit disappointing really.

We drove back into Brantford feeling like the place we knew so well... was different suddenly. It wasn't our "home" anymore. We both looked at each other knowing that Fredericton didn't feel that way either. We felt homeless. We didn't hear much from the East after that. We began to meet with others who felt this way. We talked about moving to other cities. We once legitimately considered the idea of idea of buying an old high school in another Ontario city and moving our young families in there to be able to afford using the building as a ministry centre to see the kind of radical community transformation our hearts felt... as a response to God's heart. Because how we ARE collectively right now... isn't GOOD enough.

We chose Brantford. Because why not. We were already here. This might sound unspiritual to some. But I think it's far from it. I believe God's desire is for ALL to be saved, changed and given the gift of freedom in prosperity. Here, there and everywhere. When we venture on short term missions of anaerobic spiritual activity, we often become aware of the longing God has for His creation to return to Him. This is the state of the world's (plural) we're living in. The intersection of physical and spiritual as His Kingdom aches to come.

But wanderlust doesn't change cities. Investment, commitment and work does. God waits for us to partner with His heart. A life of touring, gawking, hoping and pontificating assures the journeyer an ineffectual life. Even if it's with the admirable goal of enlightenment, youthful zealousness/ignorance often forgets that such wisdom cannot be gleaned from a distance. We DO get to participate in eternal bliss. Heck... the last thing John, in clear anticipation, wrote in Revelation was God's message of:

"I Am Coming Quickly He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all Amen"

But it was AS he was working at changing his surroundings BY good INTO good in accordance to what God was saying to him. I'll never forget that time the sun came up on the other side of Montreal... but a decade of learning and work later, the reason I remember it is for vastly different reasons.

18 April 2011

What are the political implications of "The Accuser of the Brethren?"

I like politics as much as the next guy and more than most but some days... I have no idea why. I tweeted today:

It makes me very uncomfortable that so much time, chatter, and ink is spent ACCUSING our leaders of vile things. And I'm not just talking about party attack ads on each other. I hate that party's feel they must run negative ads... but they do... because they work... because it's where THE COMMON CANADIAN HAS DENIGRATED TO! I wish it was not so, but you've heard the slams around the office and read it on Facebook and Twitter. But Stephen Harper is no more a scary democracy-squasher, than Michael Ignatieff is a traitorous monster, than Jack Layton is a pinko commie.

If's fascinating to type things into Google to see what their "suggestions" are:

This is not good. We have slipped ignorantly into being gobbled up by a cultural monster of mistrust and dishonor. It's not OK that we speak like this about each other... especially to our leaders. All 3 are good, learned men who have chosen to attempt to serve the public using different plans and strategies. NONE of them are monsters. Just different concepts of getting to a very similar place.

So why do we do this? Why do we eat each other alive and fall into self-fulfilling prophesies of negativity? It's uncommon for me... but I'm going to give an easy Christian answer. The Devil. It's not a head-spinning, pea-soup spewing possession situation. It's far more subtle and casual than that. But the root is in Revelation 12:10 where "The Devil" is called something very interesting. The accuser of the brethren. Fascinating description. Actually the verse says,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

It actually speaks of a PERSISTENT enemy who's schemes have been defeated by powerful Messiah who allows us to live forgiven, gracious and FREE! There is something so oppressive that happens when we accuse each other. It's weighty, maddening and icky. It's the opposite of what Christ came to free us into. Romans 14:10-12 says something interesting:

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God

Contempt is a word that has been thrown around a lot in this electoral period... followed by aggressive accusation all around. It's interesting that God looks at us to see if WE'RE treating others with contempt (The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior). Contempt also means, "the wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law" and while we LOVE pointing this out in others (and our leaders) God's watching to see how WE will treat our leaders too. He's interested in how gracious and honorable we're being. He promises that each man will get his day in His high court.

We're ALL fallible. No leaders plan is 100% doable. Things will ALWAYS screw up somehow. Have grace... because we need it too.

Accusing others, who we are supposed to build up, is a promised temptation. It's in the character of the tempter. But the ability to NOT do it was won for us through Christ. I want to challenge all of us in this election season to find a way to honor those brave enough to throw their hat into the ring with ideas. Look past rhetoric to find what is being communicated. See if it matches with your values. Speak up about what you think, but our choice to be integral and bless whoever wins hopefully will begin to neutralize the mistrust and disrespect that has crept into our society.

11 April 2011

Ever felt like your life was supposed to be about something BIG?

I wonder sometimes if the BIG thing that we feel our individual life is supposed to be about... is actually our human interpretation of God's THE big thing that we're collectively being drawn towards to en masse. I'm afraid too many find themselves as actually happy peaceful, working husbands and fathers... only to wrongly be haunted by inadequacy because they're not living the life they're afraid others are leading in Convertible Commercials, Leadership Books, and YouTube videos.

Donald Miller from "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years":

"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'.

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."

My young friends just got back from serving the poor in India. They made some very astute comments to me Friday night as we met and ate together in my living room... knowing that the dirty streets and cramped living quarters were now half a world away. To paraphrase...

"Real Ministry is nothing like the Hillsongs YouTube videos with the song playing in the background. There's nothing really sexy about it at all. You fail more than you succeed. It's putting your money where your mouth is and just doing work"

Facebook status's of young 'passionate' discontents who wax (or whine) philosophic about the BIG dreams in their hearts while failing work, honor, or get dirty where they are ACTUALLY planted... tell the story of The Devil's 'Long Con' when it comes to our lives and destinies.

God's Dream... is peace. Contentedness. Thankfulness for provision. These are a couple of very telling, if somewhat unsexy verses in Bible:

"...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands..."
1 Thessalonians 4:11

Then in 1 Timothy 2 in the context of why we should pray for our leaders to prosper...

"... that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth"

"Ministry" is about us working to help others ALSO live the quiet, peaceful, prosperous in Godliness lives that we've been given as a gift too. This is not an insignificant truth to be taken lightly. Living a life of working hard and sleeping well shouldn't be leaving so many feeling unsettled and second rate. That's the opposite of what the gift is for, and trust me, MANY in our land ache for this gift.

In the process there will be adventures carved out for noble middle aged Canadian men ready to do battle on their own private gridiron. This is where the story of our lives are told as we choose to live them out. But we can never forget that Urban Canada will not look like a Braveheart battlefield but is no less of a Missionfield. At the end of both, the victors and heroes come home tired from a day of WORK work and rest, contented by the glow of the fire... loving wife by their side... taking satisfaction in having their kids fed and greater hope on ahead... wishing the war would just be over so we could all have peace.

This is ALL of us. I think the BIG thing we all feel... is this. This IS big.

Related Blogs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...