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.

21 June 2011

Then the book came life, he moved into the neighborhood ... and started hosting Barbecues!

"The Word became flesh and blood,and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes,the one-of-a-kind glory. Generous inside and out. True from start to finish."
John 1:14

This is a marvelous thing and it's THE biggest difference between the God that I know and the perception of this God that I know many have.

We had a gentleman who lives on the street come to Freedom House this past Sunday. He came up to Brian at the end of the service bearing gifts. A loaf of garlic bread and a home theater sound system in a shredded plastic grocery bag. Sometimes it's best not to ask questions :)

He burst into tears as he expressed his thanks to "us" for giving him a hamburger 2 summers ago on the street. He then played catch out in the mall with my kids for about half an hour. What was going on there that 2 years after a street Q, he'd react like that. I believe it was a demonstration of the absolute power and impact that a "cup of cold water" given in Jesus name has whether man GETS it or not. At the end of the day he walked back into the church to say goodbye to "the big guy" because he lives "a long way away". This was not the time to talk theology but he was experiencing the results of what he wasn't comprehending.

Some 3 thousand years ago, God had men write about him and his character. Jesus came to town and wreaked havoc on the small minded way we thought about a distant God. Then... like an AMAZING movie, this book came to life as a real person. This person moved into the neighborhood and started having people over for dinner. It was an INCARNATION of GOOD.

Incarnation literally means "embodied in flesh or taking on flesh". Our role is go into the world that God loved so much and LIVE out good in Jesus name. It brings grown men to tears. It confounds the sharpest arguments. It very literally changes cities BY good INTO good. And truth be told... I don't get exactly how it happens but I'm always humbled to be a participant in it.

Tonight, try to wrap your mind around the fact that Jesus moved into your neighborhood. Let that sink into your heart. Then try to wrap your mind around the fact that now... he's left you there to look like Him with skin on to host the barbecue. If that sinks into our being and we act on it... cities will change.

17 June 2011

Is Kindness something you DO or ARE? Digging deeper into the word "Kindness"

Acts of kindness are common enough in our home that my kids refer to "doing" kindness. But is kindness something you "Do" or something that you "Are"?

Good question. Let's hit the kindness HOME button and look at what the word means. It's actually a difficult word to define, but the most common definition is:

Kindness = "Showing benevolence"

Interesting... so what does benevolence mean?

Benevolence = "The disposition to do good"

Interesting... so what does disposition mean?

Disposition = "The predominant or prevailing tendency of one's spirits; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood"

Now let's work backward. Your disposition is more or less the state of your spirit. The way you ARE. The default setting of your life. This is a key to understanding how everyday kindness can be sustained and transformational. Truth is that if we're honest, our disposition is not always the greatest. DOING an act of kindness here and there is not that difficult... but dealing with the deeper issues that go into creating one's disposition is tougher. These are the issues that either propel us towards, or impede us from pursuing a life fueled by OTHERS instead of ourselves.

But we CAN control our disposition to be in a GOOD place.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Take it back up the word-ladder to "benevolence". Changing our disposition so that our default setting is on "GOOD" enables us to be genuinely benevolent. It's another concept. Kindness however... real kindness is in the DOING.

Dave's Definition: Kindness is the act of showing benevolence birthed out of a RIGHT spirit.

THAT is both personally, and tangibly-transformational kindness that lines up with how Proverbs 3:3-4 describes it:

Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart. So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man

The answer to the question of "Is kindness something you 'Do' or something that you 'Are'?" I believe is... it is something you do BASED on what you are.

From Hmm to Mmm : Using Social Media to communicate a big idea

I had the privilege of speaking at Tweetstock 5 last night and it was doubly cool because it was hosted at Freedom House this time! The theme of the night was "The Art of Community".

I only had 6 and a half minutes to talk about how social media can communicate a big idea and help build a community so that was a challenge (one that I failed... going over 10). But I narrowed it down to a few major points.

I realized that over the last couple of weeks, in all the things I've posted online, my 2 most responded to comments had one thing in common. Balls. Yeah. Balls balls. Or in Spanish, "los testículos"


Inspiring eh? My grandiose, flowery sweeping insight seemed to go unnoticed while... ball jokes hit big. Seems like an argument AGAINST social media. But the reality is that I've seen again and again that people ARE seeing what I'm sharing and responding to it. So what's the connection?

The reality is that people make jokes about balls. Real people. People who have big ideas like me often forget that "macro ideas by themselves... often stand alone". Letting others into your own personal story puts a human set of Micro clothes on your macro ideas making them both understandable, acceptable and influential to others. It's how Jesus did it! He had the greatest CONCEPT ever to communicate, and he did it using analogies about fishing & seeds along with a FABULOUS life story that he let EVERYONE into.

The Yiddish have a wonderful word... "FARGINEN". It means “to open space, to share with others”. This is what being honest and open with our real lives and using it to tell the full and flawed story our our big ideas, passions and concepts is. It's Farginen. It invites people into a story. YOUR story.

My dream is to see a city transformed BY good INTO good and it's going to be our collective stories coming together that is going to see it happen. Open up your real life to others. Create the wide open space for them to let your ideas go from a passive "Hmm" to an active "Mmm" and let kindness breed kindness :)

13 June 2011

Every Baseball Glove tells a story

The sun was shining Easter morning of 1987. As a 10 year old, I faked my way through being surprised by where that darn Easter Bunny had hidden the same cracked plastic eggs for my sibling's sake. When it was over, my parents sat my brother and I down and told us there was something else they'd like to give us. They presented us with 2 objects that would change our lives. Matching, tan, Rawlings baseball gloves brandishing the bold "The Finest in the field" statement. Rawlings was the glove we saw our favorite Toronto Blue Jays using, and now it was right there... in our living room. Putting the mitt on my left hand was a spiritual experience. It made my spirit leap and breathed hope into my major league dreams.

I became a Blue Jays fan in the fall of 1985 as George Bell dropped to his knees celebrating their first ever pennant. In '86, Jesse Barfield took the majors by storm, not only by hitting 40 Home runs, but by his cannon-arm reaching it's pinnacle. I began examining my brand new highly-treasured object. I saw HIS name on MY glove. The man who made diving catches then threw out those damn fools who dared to take an extra base... Jesse Barfield. George Bell would hit 47 homeruns that season and become my favorite player. But Jesse's name was forever on my weapon.

We played baseball daily. We played it as soon as the sun came up, before the heat of the day in our schoolyard tennis court. We played it in backyards. We played it in city leagues. We played it in the sun and we played it in the rain. My parents would holler at us about getting our leather wet, but it was no use. There were so many benefits of the rain! It worked it in better, it made our hands smell like leather so we could continue smelling like the game we loved later, and hey... why stop playing baseball just because of a little water. The ball was just a bit heavier. Today, the insides are torn and worn from those rain games but it still fits like a glove.

In 1991, I took a baseball road trip to watch the Blue Jays at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium with my good friend. We followed the Jays around malls and tracked them down in hotels to get autographs on our home white hats. We waved those hats around tauntingly, much to the chagrin of the O's fans whose team was HORRID in the long summer of '91 before they moved to Camden Yards the next year. My hat was ink-loaded, but I held out my glove autograph for one man. Kelly Gruber. I was playing 3rd base that year and I loved how that chiseled Texan attacked balls... sprung to life like a fox terrier... and launched the sphere to John Olerud as if it was shot from a bazooka. After game 2 of 3, we waited outside of the visitors gate until was saw his blond locks dancing out of the tunnel. He said nothing, barely looking at us on his way to the waiting bus, but he DID sign my glove. That season, I looked down at his name before every pitch. It reminded me to get down low in my crouch and have my glove touching the dirt. The felt blue marker is still VERY faintly visible to the eye, but I don't have to SEE it to know what it looks like.

In 2000, as a young married man, I traveled to Ghana with visions of becoming to West African Baseball what "Cool Runnings" was to Jamaican Bobsledding. I had the amazing opportunity to combine sharing God's love for mankind... with being a part of the National spark of what is now active Ghanaian baseball program. During one of my rural baseball exhibitions, my then 13-year-old glove's leather laces broke for the first time. No other glove would do for me, so I asked some of the ex-professional Japanese ballplayers that were being paid handsomely to coach baseball in the wealthier Accra schools what to do. One, who was a friend of Hideo Nomo (who had become the first Japanese player to reach the major leagues 5 years prior) took my glove and me off to the busy market and bought some local leather. He cut it into small strips, and fixed my worn Rawlings up. It wasn't perfect surgery, but each time I pull the African leather additions tight, I remember the purpose and passion of my equatorial adventures.

My baseball glove is now 24 years old. Tonight I played catch with my son, using the only glove I've called mine in a quarter century. It hangs in my den near my desk. When I need to escape from the world for a minute... I'll put it over my face, lay on the couch and inhale history.

10 June 2011

I'm about to wear high heels and make up!

A couple of days ago I was asked to be a part of an EXCELLENT initiative in our community. It's a fund raiser for Nova Vita, an organization in Brantford that is working to stop the cycle of domestic abuse. One of the units at Freedom House's low rental housing unit Freedom Gate is actually designated for Nova Vita.

On June 18th, along with other men in Brantford, I'll be walking around the downtown in high heels. I threw out the challenge online that if I raised 200$ I'd let my daughters make up my face (they are very excited) and if I raised 250$ I'll finish the ensemble with a lovely dress.

Well I'm now at 209.81$ thanks to the generosity of my friends (Lots of Freedom House people too) and then tonight, the youth group at Freedom House raised 74.81$ in one night. Teens! Why? Because one of the youth sent out this email:

Hey everyone have you seen Dave's status today? Well go look.....he is going to be in the men in heels to support women in nova vita to take a stand against domestic violence. He is wanting to raise more than $100?... Depending on how much he raises he will even do his makeup! Let's support him! Bring in as much loose change as you having lying around....bring it with you tomorrow at youth.

Help support him!
I'll expect you all to be at youth tomorrow and be sure to bring the monnneyyyy!

I couldn't be prouder of these guys. I've had the privilege of helping lead these guys for years and to see them care enough about people to back their faith with their action makes me a happy Dave tonight.

Please let me know if you'd like to contribute to help stop domestic violence. Either let me know personally and get the money to me by next weekend if you know me personally... or you can give online here (but write my name in the supplied box and email me dave@freedomhouse.ca to let me know you did and how much so I can track the totals!)

Only another 20 bucks and I'm in a dress AND makeup AND heels!

6 June 2011

Why it's OUR job to take care of our neighbors... not JUST the government

Yesterday Rick Warren tweeted:

It got me thinking about how we think about governments, cities, The Church and how we should structure "care" for each other. Here's what my Facebook page shows about my "Philosophy" in life.

I think that BOTH faith and political structures are important factors in how nations are constructed... and HOPE (as well as trust as Psalms 146:3 says) needs to be reserved for higher places than the political realm. But it's in the political and economic realm where tangible, pragmatic management systems are created and played out. And HOW they are constructed either controls us or frees us.

One of the reasons I believe it's OUR job to take care of each other (not the government's) is the reason why Jesus didn't heal and feed everyone. He could have but Jesus knew that we NEEDED to be MOVED by compassion to meet the needs of our own neighbors. When we're moved by compassion into generous action... OUR hearts are changed. It's then change and an action that will be repeated over time... taking care of MANY needs.

The changing of OUR hearts to meet needs is as important if not more important than the need being met.

When we grudgingly or forcefully "give" through taxation, it's motivationally wrong and creates an unsustainable mindset and scenario that leads to continued poverty and national debt. You might say, "Well we HAVE to take care of the poor! We need programs! We NEED high taxes so the government can set up programs you heartless bastard!" I've been called that before and I'm sure I will again. It's all good. It's far from the truth. I believe in giving BEYOND our means. I've had accountants and financial planners tell me that I'm crazy how I structure my giving. But HOW and WHERE I give is VERY important to me. As Winston Churchill said:

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. -Churchill

But when you look at the life of Jesus, (who's NAME and FAME are my primary motivation for movement in life) he was more concerned with God being honored, and HIS Kingdom structure coming so that ALL could be free (rich and poor) than he was about taking care of every little need along his path throwing structural-caution to the wind. HOW things were done and motivated took precedence over "gettin' 'er done". In fact Matthew 26 tells this little beauty that includes some words that it's almost hard to believe that our often-skewed modern version of Jesus would say:

When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. "That's criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor." When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. "Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me."

He's not saying DON'T take care of the poor. He's saying that HIS way and HIM being worshiped by where we put our money and passion is MORE important than meeting an immediate need. In fact it's in US meeting people's felt needs in HIS name as an act of worship that HIS love is communicated. Our bodies & lives are about more than food and clothes.

I'm not anti-tax or an extremist. In fact, I think we should LIKE and PRAYERFULLY pay our taxes as an act of intentional benevolence and service to one's country. It's Biblical to give (even taxes) with a right heart and sow seed intentionally and cheerfully! It can be done! It would change our attitude of blessing our government and leaders for the better as they work hard at doing GOOD in our nation.

I also believe very much in taking care of the needy. I even take heat from some for supporting government social programs. My wife was, and likely will again be, a social service worker. The sad part is that the programs are often very flawed. Some programs are so bogged down by red tape, lack of funds and politics that they have a structural inability to actually lead their "clients" to freedom. The workers are passionate, talented people who often burn out (I've seen it over and over) and quit because of how handcuffed they are. So they give up hope in
  1. The system (Bad)
  2. Helping people altogether (Worse)

Philosophically...there is a better way. Is the public mindset at the point yet where it could carry the burden? Nope... but that's OUR job as Christians. It is. The Church IS a missing factor in the equation. When The Church rises up and acts GENEROUSLY as it was designed to... it's a structural game changer. It's happened in cities around the world and it can happen here.

A micro scaled example in Brantford are organizations like Why Not City Missions, Crisis Pregnancy Center and the City's Out of the Cold Program. They do more to impact the marginalized in our city that almost anything. They do it on VERY little aside from donations. They do it in Jesus name for His fame. They impact GREATLY... and it's done with often volunteers who are being released into a legit ministry. Not to mention the sheer number of needs that are being met, real life relationships formed and Jesus (who we CAN Hope and Trust in) is involved.

The changing of OUR hearts to meet needs is as important if not more important than the need being met.

The government needs to create the scenario where our nation is strong and free so it's people can thrive... NOT play the savior. "Christ in ME is the hope of glory"

There is EXPONENTIAL power in the hearts of equipped, passionate men being moved into action. DC

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