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 July 2011

Gen X saves the world

WARNING: This blog post is written with a decidedly generational bias. It's somewhat tongue in cheek. I like you all. Take everything with a grain of salt :)

"Generation X is a generation that can sneakily trump Boomer narcissism and Millennial entitlement."
Jeff Gordinier

I'm a Gen Xer... and proud of it. Those of us born between the mid 60's and late 70's were called some pretty ridiculous things by The Boomers, desperate to affix a giant visible black mark on the generation who were rebelling against their big, loud booming.

Yesterday I received YET ANOTHER facebook invitation to YET ANOTHER pyramid scheme that is becoming nauseatingly common these days. It must be the fertile ponzi breeding ground of social media, toxically combined with Gen Y and Boomer "go getterness" It's not necessarily that there is anything WRONG with them, it's just so... so... so... You only get to have a few messages in life people will listen to. Magic bean evangelism maybe shouldn't be one of them? I tweeted the other day:

A few years ago, Jeff Gordinier wrote a book called "X Saves the World. How Generation X Got the shaft but can still keep everything from sucking." He began the project as a bit of a "where are they now" piece (commissioned by a Boomer) about the failure of Generation X to accomplish as much as the Boomers and how Generation Y/Millennials where showing them up, thus proving their existence to be just as gloomy as Boomer-predicted. I'm paraphrasing :)

His conclusion was substantially different. Gordinier sees a generation of people doing the quiet work of keeping North America from sucking. Generation X really doesn't much care about limelight and are sick of the kitschy mythology of the Boomers and the sometimes shameless greed and entitlement of the Millennials/Yers. There is an excellent book called "Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How To Manage Generation Y" that's title is very telling.

Gen X doesn't want the trophy anyway. It's unimportant. Gen X (now aged 48-33ish) are people who according to Gordinier have "internalized our in betweenness with middle child sensibility" between Y and The Boom. Gen X is still detached, skeptical and questioning but are more concerned with improving the REAL world of real life. We're FAR less interested in the mass acquisition at any cost. X'er rebellion to the Macro Boomers was with rediscovery of the way to make a difference without having to hold a parade about it.

"There isn't anything Generation X hates more than everything"
Dave Carrol

I make no mistake that it DID start with us as jaded teens rebelling against our previous generation. But so what? That's EVERY generation. What has happened is that we grew up and stepped up... because that's what happens to grown up. Now Gen X plays an important role. We don't buy things that are crap. Our BS meter is very sensitive and when it's used in a balanced, under control way, it keep our society from being too big for our britches or getting too big a head.

"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment..."
Romans 12:3

I drove to work yesterday thinking about my 13 years of marriage. We've never had a ton of money and don't buy much in the way of luxury because we've rarely (if ever) both worked at the same time. It's not been by design but we both have had things we care about doing that doesn't always pay us money to do. I've had the chance to innovate and explore in media and ministry and Krissy has been able to be at home with our kids, not because of a Normal Rockwell idyllic magazine cover, but because it's quietly very important to her.

We just don't play the game. Actually there is no game. Too often people get fooled into believing there is one. I realized how proud I am of us for being Gen X'ers who don't care... about everything. We care intensely about the things that are important. But not at all about lots of trappings that I watch other fall into.

OK I get it that Gen X isn't "saving the world" but it's far from the deep dark chasm that many predicted it to be. In fact, there are many admirable attributes we have developed and now play an important societal role.

15 July 2011

The best baseball players by position I'VE ever seen play

I wasn't lucky enough to see Ruth, Robinson or Hank play baseball with my own two eyes. But these eyes have been soaking in every inning of baseball they can since 1985. I got to thinking about what the lineup would look like of the best ball players I'VE PERSONALLY ever seen play. After much thought... I think this is how it rolls out:

1B - Albert Pujols (runner up Mark McGwire)

Pujols simply RAKES. Average, power, and he's slick with the glove. Other first basemen can be described that way too... but when you see Pujols swing, it's another level of sheer power and beauty.

2B - Roberto Alomar (runner up Ryne Sandberg)

All you had to do was see him play to know why. He left your jaw on the ground. He also had a way of TAKING a baseball game over and GRABBING wins using every facet of the game. Likely the best there has ever been at 2B.

SS - Cal Ripken (runner up Alex Rodriquez)

Shortstops can be volatile and burn out quickly. Cal was the opposite. He did the same thing every day. Hit hit hit. He'd go into the hole, stop and plant, and DRILL balls on a line to get runners. What a ballplayer should be.

3B - George Brett (runner up Wade Boggs)

This was tough. Boggs, Schmidt and Brett are all very similar. But George Brett was my favorite because he was a real down and dirty ballplayer. Covered in pine tar, he'd lead like a general with that bat.

C - Ivan Rodriquez

I can't bring myself to name a runner up in this category because I've never watched someone even close to as good as Pudge. Vicious bat... but it went hand in hand with his violent arm. He'd throw out runners like they were trying to steal from his Mama.

OF - Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr. (runners up Kirby Puckett, Vlad Guerrero, Tony Gwynn, Ichiro Suzuki)

I don't care that Bonds took enough steroids to inflate his head to double size... he was the best ballplayer around for many years. In fact he would have been a Hall of Famer even if he didn't become a 73 HR in a year guy. BUT HE STILL DID HIT 762 Home Runs! Henderson changed every game he played in. No one was comfortable around him. It was a lot better cheering for him in '93 than against him for those other years. And Ken Griffey may be the most pleasant ball player to watch I've ever seen. He smiled, he dove for balls, he hit home runs (MANY OF THEM) and enjoyed every moment of it.

SP - Nolan Ryan (Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay)

If I needed ONE game won, I'd want Nolan Ryan on the mound. He'd get that deep Texan scowl on and throw GAS. His 7 No-Hitters are proof that there were times where (like the greats in other sports) he decided that NO ONE would get past him that day.

RP - Dennis Eckersley (Mariano Rivera)

The overall numbers favor Rivera and I disliked the 90's A's as much as the 'Whenever Yankees'... but I'll take "The Eck". The guy was a starter for most of his career but found a zone as a closer that gave opposing batters a look of defeatist-dread. Coming from the side with his hairy snarl, made him everything a closer should be.

What's your list?

13 July 2011

How to fail at UNITY as a Christian

From "The Naked Pastor":

My friend Daria from 24/7 Prayer Canada has been driving across Canada, stopping in the pockets where we've connected with groups committed to praying for our nation and it's cities. Every leader she meets, she asks "How can we pray for your city?" Nearly EVERY person includes "Unity" in their top 3 needs.

About 10 years ago when we started down the road to actively be an instigator of city unity, we learned that we'd need to go ahead and make a bridge so others could come too. But we also learned to be a bridge, you have to expect to be walked on and used for others benefit.

I hope The Church steps up and acts as that bridge... someone has to for us all to get there. Who better than those charged to represent the incarnation of the word LOVE.

12 July 2011

What I'm left thinking about the day after U2 in Toronto

I've been a U2 fan since the moment I slow danced with my crush-of-the-month to "With our Without You" at my first elementary school dance. We didn't much understand the depth of the lyrics we were dancing to at the time but we knew we loved it. Over the years my understanding of who the band is, but maybe more importantly WHY the band is, has made me deeply appreciate their music. But last night was the first time I had seen them live.

The day after the show was the part I was most looking forward to. U2 is a legendary live band that acknowledges the need for a relationship with the same God I do. They often even break into worship of this God during their show. So I was curious what would stand out the day after "The Claw" spaceship took off out of The Big Smoke with my 200 bucks for 2 nosebleed seats?

After a day of walking around downtown Toronto and lounging on the urban oasis beaches on Queens Quay, we went to grab a beverage before settling into our seats. We met a woman named Kelly who was volunteering for Bono's ONE campaign. She was getting signatures in support of international action to help curtail death via preventable disease. As we were signing the petition on the fancy Ipad, she place a hip wrist band on me stating that I was ONE of the people would commit to making a difference with my one voice. Krissy and I began to ask her her story.

Kelly is a refugee single mother from Capetown South Africa would chooses to care because she's lived most of her life looking over her should because of the violence and oppression that surrounded her. Kelly told us all about her former life in South Africa and how her heart breaks for many friends and family, but also about the marvelous freedoms and beautiful spirit of the people she's found in Canada. Later in the night, Bono would agree by complimenting Canada's national idealism as well as the pursuit of the freedoms of others. But Kelly is scheduled to be sent back to Capetown with her daughter on Wednesday. With only a few days to go, she spent tonight's show on the street and in the tunnels contending for others prosperity. We told Kelly we'd be praying for God favor on Wednesday at noon so she can stay. Take a minute and pray for this wonderful lady would you?

This encounter speaks volumes about what I love about U2. They are ABOUT something and BASED on something. It goes without saying that technically, musically, economically ... U2 Live is impressive by all accounts. But twice I got "those"chills that I've come to recognize as God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "I'm here. Look and Listen. I want to show you something about me."

Once was an expected moment. When The Edge begins to play the guitar for "Where the streets have no name" I've heard the band talk about how realize that they've tapped into something a little deeper and a spiritual event is happening. It's almost like a manifestation of the Leonard Cohen lyric: "I've heard there was a secret chord. That David played and it pleased the Lord." It happens at every show, where people's 'beings' jump up to another level. It happened last night and it was a wonderful rush to sing this beautiful song with 60,000 others.

The second "chills" moment wasn't as expected. Bono began sing the terrific song "Beautiful Day". It's a very simple song set to a hooky rock landscape. It says pretty things like:

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

I realized that the message of this band is ... "Life is Beautiful. Find it. Love it. And where it doesn't exist yet... make it so"

What they can do is create music. They have used it to stir MILLIONS of souls to consider GOOD things and it's opened powerful doors of influence to give their "God's-Love" motivated hands to serve at a high level.

Music that means something to people is connected to something else. It evokes an emotion because you remember a time where the guitar chords resonated with a date you were on. A song spoke the words about justice and freedom that you were attempting to express and it made you come alive a little more. It stays with you because it defines a time, place, moment. It may have even made you think about a concept you'd never considered before. But music that lasts ... MEANS something MORE. Something true and purely pretty.

What sticks with me about last night's show, is the reminder of something that I already believe. That there is more to do and it's our job to press on excellently.

"I have spoke with the tongue of angels but I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

7 July 2011

Conan O'Brien failed... and SO WILL YOU!

A couple of years ago, Conan O'Brien went through a VERY public failure. He was the heir apparent to the throne of comedy... host of The Tonight Show. Then he learned a lesson that many dreamy-eyed job seekers have learned lately:

"Aging Baby Boomers won't leave their job... trust me on this"

There is a new documentary called "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" that follows our quirky TV friend during the days between his Tonight Show ousting and him being legally allowed back on 'The Tele". It was a tough period to wrap his mind around because he had to deal with the fact that where he was headed (and even felt somewhat destined to go) was suddenly taken away by someone else.

"I did not get what I wanted, and I left a system that had nurtured and helped define me for the better part of 17 years. I went from being in the center of the grid to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table supporting the grid."

This spring, Conan gave a FABULOUSLY funny and very insightful commencement address to the graduating class at Dartmouth University. The whole clip is worth watching but his genuine advice based on this season of life starts at about the 16 minute mark or so.

He says:

"It's our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention."

Is failing a tough pill to swallow? It certainly can be. But I think where failure can slaughter a man is in the term "perceived ideal". There is no achievable "ideal". It's a mirage. There are no "good old days"... just days. You can only be you, left to deal with a constantly changing set of variables that can't be predicted!

I can relate to Conan O'Brien in the fact that I ALSO wanted to be David Letterman. For my 8th Grade graduation I bought a double-breasted suit jacket when others were rented tuxes so that I could do that thing Dave does during the monologue with his jacket. Wore white socks too :) I ALSO didn't become Dave Letterman and some days it still bugs me.

"Nietzsche famously said 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you."

Who I did become was Dave Carrol. And I'm a Dave Carrol now that I likely wouldn't (and couldn't) have seen coming because you can NEVER see the whole picture and in life, regardless of what peppy 'you can do it' or 'Tom Vu get rich quick' people on TV will tell you. You fail in life more than you succeed... it sucks for all of us ... and IT'S OK because;

"...whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."

This is the refining process. It's a way that God uses to MAKE us peel back our own layers of self that are often incidentally obtained with false pretense. And when it happens, it reveals a golden base of truth and uniqueness that is totally DESIGNED by a God and hardwired for your CHOSEN here and now.

This is part of the search for immovable truth that our lives MUST be based on. What you are DOING practically today is quite disposable really. Matthew Barnett wrote today:

"The pinnacle of the Christian life is when you are more passionate about your character then even your wildest dreams."

As Conan O'Brien learned, what you're doing TODAY doesn't define you. But when you "Work hard, be kind and amazing things will happen."

6 July 2011

My wife has been married to 5 men...

... every one of them has been me.

That's what Lewis B. Smedes wrote as an older man in 1983's "Controlling the Unpredictable-The Power of Promising" and it's a VITAL concept to remember when building a lasting, meaningful marriage. When Krissy and I heard this line recently, we sat out on the porch one night and began to identify how many people we've been together. We'll be celebrating our 13th Anniversary in August and I think we've each been about 3 distinct people since we met and fell in love in high school.

  • Unsettled, rebellious loose-lipped, anti-establishment Dave
  • Dogmatic 20's intense, frustrated at my own youth, stumbling fighting through figuring out what it means to live as a Christian, husband and father Dave
  • Today Dave... who I likely won't fully be able to identify until Dave #4 comes along

Each of those Dave's have come with their own "Being-Dave" challenges and their own "Being in a relationship with Dave" challenges... but the call to covenant, commitment-based marriage remains. A while back, John Piper, Don Carson, Tim Keller sat down together and combined their 116 years of martial wisdom into this wonderful 5 minutes.

As Piper references, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to a young married couple,

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

Before we got married I gave my wife an engraved bracelet with the words, "I choose to love you" on it. At the time it even seemed to me to be less than romantic... but it did seem right. Through variables xyz, culture has attempted to dilute many of the DEEP DEEP truths that reside in marriage. The very truths that make marriage WORK. One of the largest post modern destructive concepts we've been conned into believing is that the feeling of romantic love is foundational. As Piper says in the video,

"Promise is the soil in which the flower grows"

Tim Keller references Stanley Hauerwas's (Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School) profound statement that compliments the idea that we're constantly changing :

"You always marry the wrong person"

In fact he calls it Hauerwas’s Law. In further writings he follows it with this further explanation:

It is as important to note, of course that the reverse of the law is also true: namely, that you also always marry the right person. The point of the law is to suggest the inadequacy of the current assumption that the success or failure of a marriage can be determined by marrying the “right person.” Even if you have married the “right person,” there is no guarantee that he or she will remain such, for people have a disturbing tendency to change.

This is why the promise MUST be the foundation. The term "Kindred Spirits" sometimes makes me gag a little as it's often used in a very Seinfeldian "Shmoopy" context. But Piper points out that "your spirits will go in and out of being kindred spirits" and it's kind of a relief to hear someone who's been through more "people" than me affirm the amount of change that DOES happen and the subsequent feelings that change as well.

The last thing that is SO important to understand is that "We're made by God for God. We're saying something about Christ and the church by the way we act". Hauerwas says:

The requirement of love in marriage is not correlative to the intrinsic nature of marriage but is based on the admonition for Christians to love one another. We do not love because we are married, but because we are Christian. We may, however, learn what such love is like within the context of marriage.

I want to have a legendary marriage. It's on my very short bucket list. I don't care about seeing Europe. The amount of money I acquire is of minimal value to me. But having a legendary marriage that people tells stories about is of the UTMOST importance to me. And that requires analytical/philosophical thinking combined with acting on those principles. But it all starts with THE PROMISE of "Together Forever". It's not a fleeting concept. It's a choice.

5 July 2011

I was the Lion

I have become quite enamored with the 1954 CS Lewis "The Horse and His Boy". It's led to some wonderful moments with my son talking about the Aslan-embodied God who Lewis describes as "not safe but good". He's a God drives us forward onto seeming miraculous feats while viciously protecting us. He loves us enough never to leave us where we are. He uses our life stories to write His story of redemption.

In Chapter 10, we meet the delightful " Hermit of the Southern March"‎ who grants refuge to a weary mission group who had just been pushed to their limit by what they assumed was a vicious Lion. Shasta, the protagonist, has just been told that he needs to continue on to finish his task alone without his friends. He complains briefly about the unfairness and difficulty of this challenge, assuming his reward for a partial journey success should be rest and congratulation. The Hermit however says:

"If you do one good deed, your reward is usually to be set to do another and harder and better one"

In Chapter 11, The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler, Shasta now on his journey finds himself lost, left behind and feeling a great degree of self pity because of sheer number of obstacles he's had to fight through on his journey when he notices something or someone beside him in the thick fog. This is a marvelous picture of God:

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. "There," it said, "that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows."

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chasesd by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how ever so long it was since he had had anything to eat.

"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.

"There was only one lion," said the Voice.

"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"

"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."

"How do you know?"

"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

"Then it was you who wounded Aravis?"

"It was I"

"But what for?"

"Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."

"Who are you?" asked Shasta.

"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself", loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself", whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.

The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the Thing he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining whiteness; his eyes began to blink. Somewhere ahead he could hear birds singing. He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite easily now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun.

He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.

Luckily Shasta had lived all his life too far south in Calormen to have heard the tales that were whispered in Tashbaan about a dreadful Narnian demon that appeared in the form of a lion. And of course he knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion's face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn't say anything but then he didn't want to say anything, and he knew he needn't say anything.

The High King above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all round him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing.

This is our God who drives us forward onto seeming miraculous feats while viciously protecting us.
This is our God who loves us enough not to leave us where we are.
This is our God who uses our life stories to write His story of redemption.

If this were merely a story, it would be a beautiful story. But this is real life and we are the protagonist forced to feel, move, fall and then succeed. It's a marvelous wonderful thing to live alongside our God.

1 July 2011

The League of Super Kindness

UPDATE: July 21, we'll be performing this show on the Harmony Square stage 8-9pm before the movie in the square

Today is Canada Day and I celebrated it again today the way I've done it for 4 years now... dressed in a cape, a leotard and a giant black underpant as Captain Kindness. Today we preformed another piece of original theater that we conceived, wrote, and had produced by the pros at I Am Studios. And I believe it was an important conceptual step in how a city can be changed BY good INTO good.

You can listen to the whole show here (but we'll be preforming it live again this summer if you missed it)

Up until now, our storyline has featured one superhero (well... two with Kid kindness) on a kindness crusade of sorts, spurring individuals to think about how they can change their city BY good INTO good. But just as a concept often needs flesh on it to be ingested by the public, we decided that in order to further break it down, the details needed faces too. Super faces. So we invented 3 new superheros.

The first is "Philanthro". He starts off as Dr. Phil Anthropy who is confronted about his stingy attitude toward his money. He becomes a super-philanthropreneur who uses resources & business savvy to change the city. This is vital to the prosperity of a city. Everyday philanthropreneurs, businesses and well-off professionals need to rise up and invest in their community as the citizens of the city commit to spending their money with those committed to generosity.

The second is "Infinity". She starts off as the inward focused "Tyme Daily" who believes that her time belongs to HER. She learns that she can change the lives of real people by spending her time as a currency on OTHERS, putting herself second. We MUST change our mindsets that we ourselves are of paramount importance and our time belongs to US. It leads to nothing but misery (ironically for ourselves) but also leads to many easily meetable-needs being unmet. A city doesn't prosper if only YOU prosper.

The third is "Guynormous". Guy is an ordinary guy with an ordinary tool in his hand. A broom, a mop, a shovel... whatever. He steps in to help with a bullying situation and grows both mentally and physically into a hero because he learns the lesson that we all have a part to play. We all can use whatever we have in our hands or our talents/gifts to make legitimate change.


Allowing our hearts to be changed enough to move into kind action with these 3 things will take The Kindness Project's goal of strategically transforming a city to a whole new place. It's more than a one man crusade via a cape and a crazy voice. It's just a moving picture to get us thinking. This is all designed to awaken our insides to BELIEVE that a better city is our own inspired action away.

UPDATE: July 21, we'll be performing this show on the Harmony Square stage 8-9pm before the movie in the square

(Oh yeah... we even turned it into a comic book. Check it out!)

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