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.

27 August 2011

The Churches, Cathedrals and Oratories of Montreal (and where God really lives)

My wife Krissy and I spent this week in Montreal visiting family & friends, discovering new parts of our beautiful country and eating local delicacies (Schwartz's Smoked Meat... oh mama). But the highlight of the week was walking through a relatively small Anglican church called St. Phillips in Montreal West.

Krissy was born in Montreal, and while she only lived in this diverse city for 6 years... she returned often to visit her father. Privately, we knew our trip was mostly ABOUT my wife's attempts to colour in a part of her life story that has always seemed quite gray. Every time Krissy tells her story of how she accepted Jesus into her life, it includes her saying something like "I remember sitting in this little Anglican Church with my Dad feeling what I've come to recognize as presence of God. I didn't understand what it was at the time... but I knew it was good." So we were anxious to see this place that was a divine setting in my wife's God story.

We walked into the offices of this church built in 1891, and we met Helen who told us that she's worked there for 17 years and one day. She knew it because she had just begun her final year. Helen walked us through the sanctuary, pointing out EVERY crack in the floor, chunk of roof ready to fall and water damaged coat room. Helen became increasingly discouraged as we walked and talked. She told us an increasingly familiar traditional church story of a congregation that has dwindled from 500 to 30 with no hope in sight. "I know we're supposed to believe in miracles," Helen sighed, "but it's hard to believe there is a future for St. Phillips."

We prayed together for that miracle and thanked Jesus for depositing his presence in that place for a hundred years, but as we left Helen just continued to bemoan the her perceived demise of our faith system. I'm not sure if Helen felt it or not... but Jesus was there. I could feel Him. In fact, she should have noticed because there was sign right beside us reminding those who came in that he was INDEED in our midst like the Bible promises.

We then drove to the world famous Saint Joseph's Oratory. A spunky little servant of God, Saint (as of 2010) André Bessette had a dream of a place to worship God on the side of a mountain overlooking Montreal that has become the largest church in Canada by size. The whole thing is incredibly impressive. The most impressive part however is not the size of the Jesus statue around the sea of candles.

There is a wall in the basilica FILLED with these...

Canes and crutches. Thousands and thousands and thousands of canes and crutches that used to belong to people that Catholic priest André Bessette prayed for. This is how Wikipedia describes him.

"His great confidence in Saint Joseph inspired him to recommend this saint's devotion to all those who were afflicted in various ways. On his many visits to the sick in their homes, he would recommend them in prayer to St. Joseph, and would anoint them lightly with oil from the lamp in the college chapel which always burned before the St. Joseph altar. People claimed that they had been cured through the prayers of the good Brother and Saint Joseph, and they were grateful their prayers had been heard. Brother André steadfastly refused to take any credit for these cures, and, although usually a gentle man, he was known to become enraged at those who suggested that he possessed any healing powers. Because he wanted St. Joseph to be honored"

As a protestant on the charismatic side of the spectrum, my brain wants to be theologically conflicted... but it's not truthfully. I don't get praying to saints, nor do I understand the rationale of putting a 5 dollar collection tin under the canes, saying that common people can pray too for healing for the low low price of one Sir Wilfred Laurier brandished bill. It felt somewhat like a scene in the movie "Luther" where Martin goes Money-Nuts. But I'm learning something. God DESPERATELY wants to move powerfully on this earth and the grace he grants us is at an unspeakably amazing level. When we pray and act in love and faith God DOES change lives through, as they say in the King James... "whosoever"

I was a bit bummed that all the canes and crutches were old ones however. Montreal is FILLED with lavish monuments to an era that God moved combined with sad demographics saying that churches are more often museums than not.


God is still moving in Montreal. We had dinner with an amazing couple named Mike and Sue Nardozza (parents of our friends) who cooked us Indian food and breathed life into our hearts (as people who wholeheartedly live their lives for Christ tend to do). They told us about their powerful Bearers of Love ministry to the Ukraine, funded by the generosity of those actively serving God in Montreal along with MANY other ways these ordinary people are being used by God to see transformation in their world.

There aren't many kind of evenings I enjoy more than lingering at a dinner table with people who WORK hard for God, sharing stories of how God interacts with man. I cherish nights like that.

This is what Helen seems to have forgotten. God doesn't live in buildings. He's not as concerned about the cracks in the wall as the dimmed flame of passion. He's ACHING to move in the lives of people. Any one of us who will say a simple "Yes" He'll eagerly launch into a meaningful adventure that can lead to nothing short of nation-shaping.

"Or didn't you realize your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me."
Col 1:25-29

10 August 2011

Hillybilly Heaven Radio Spot

This is my favorite radio spot I've done in a while. I wrote/voiced/produced this one. It's for the best BBQ spot around called Hillbilly Heaven in Hamilton.

Hillbilly Heaven Radio Ad (mp3)

As advertised... they really do serve GIANT PILES OF MEAT. The owner is a fantastic personality who will lay some serious smack talk down to the meat eaters in the house. Love it.

If you're interested in contracting my creative services... you can email me bigearcreations@gmail.com

9 August 2011

A Grander Vision of the Political Right: PART 1

In the first few episode's of "The West Wing", the character of Josh Lyman (fictional deputy chief of White House staff) has a brilliant conversation with his assistant Donna that quickly shows the differences between the fundamental Left and Right. It's called, "I want my money back." They are, in an exaggerated tongue-in-cheek manor, discussing what the Democratic government should do with a budget surplus.

Donna Moss: What's wrong with me getting my money back?
Josh Lyman: You won't spend it right.
Donna Moss: What do you mean?
Josh Lyman: Let's say your cut of the surplus is $700. I want to take your money, combine it with everybody else's money and use it to pay down the debt and further endow Social Security. What do you want to do with it?
Donna Moss: Buy a DVD player.
Josh Lyman: See?
Donna Moss: But my $700 is helping employ the people who manufacture and sell DVD players, not to mention the people who manufacture and sell DVDs. It's the natural evolution of a market economy.
Josh Lyman: The problem is the DVD player you buy might be made in Japan.
Donna Moss: I'll buy an American one.
Josh Lyman: We don't trust you.
Donna Moss: Why not?
Josh Lyman: We're Democrats.
Donna Moss: I want my money back.
Josh Lyman: You shouldn't have voted for us.

A few thoughts:
  1. I'm glad DVD players don't cost 700 bucks anymore
  2. Good luck finding a DVD player made in America
  3. I want my money back too... but not to buy a DVD player with

I want to blog a bit in an effort to dispel some myths about the political right, while agreeing with some of it's criticisms too in an effort to communicate a grander vision of the right and pose some action steps to national freedom and prosperity.

I grew up reading every newspaper I could get my hands on. When our family would go away on vacation I'd sneak away up to the front desk or make up an excuse to go into town to find a newspaper and catch up on what was happening in the world. When I got home, the first thing I'd do was read the local papers I'd missed cover to cover before I felt it was OK to continue on pretending to enjoy adolescence. One of my favorite books growing up was Pierre Berton's "The Last Spike." I hate the term political junkie, but growing up I knew the important role government played in the prosperity of my nation. As a Gen Xer many of the political games were, and still are, detestable to me... but the process, characters and results were extraordinarily exciting.

John Diefenbaker is the political figure who most inspired me as a teenager. He said:

"I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."

... and during his nomination speech at the 1956 PC leadership convention said:

"I have one love - Canada; one purpose - Canada's greatness; one aim - Canadian unity from the Atlantic to the Pacific."

I turned 18 in 1994. It was the age I had been anxiously awaiting. Driving at 16 was OK but I had been "borrowing" my the Carrol Toyota Camry unbeknownst to my parents long before 16. Drinking at 19 seemed exciting at one point, but by the time I had reached my actual birthday... my worldview had changed drastically and I had already come through my era of excessive drinking and began a decade of complete abstinence shortly after I was "legally" allowed to buy a case of beer. No... voting at 18 was the only one that really mattered because it was the only age milestone I wasn't able to usurp and it was the one that would MEAN something more.

On a Federal and Provincial level, I've only not voted Conservative (or a form of it) once when I just couldn't bring myself to vote for a candidate for whom I couldn't muster enough respect to vote for. It has ALWAYS resonated in me as principally the best way to govern a country or province; even though I could see holes of humanity in the story.

The shortcomings are just as vast as other systems, so I reserve my HOPE for higher places. But I recently have openly and actively pursued working with and for Conservative representatives in my city. I GLADLY honor and serve those who are my elected leaders from every party and philosophy and I believe it's my job as a Christian and citizen to help them succeed and pray fervently for their prosperity. But I'm now on the EDA Board for the Conservative Party in Brantford and have decided to allocate a chunk of my time, effort and voice to the political realm.

Over the next little while, I want lay out some of the reason's why I think there is a grander vision of the political right that some miss and others need to be inspired again to rally behind. There is a missing voice in the story that needs telling.

2 August 2011

In the Garden by Van Morrison

This is one of the most beautiful songs I'm afraid people have forgotten. Van Morrison's "In the Garden". Listening to it makes me remember falling in love with my wife. The mixture of embraced ignorance, physical passion and encountering the divine. Marvelous.

"And I turned to you and I said No Guru, no method, no teacher. Just you and I and nature and the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in the garden wet with rain"

The streets are always wet with rain
After a summer shower when I saw you standin'
In the garden in the garden wet with rain

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow
As we watched the petals fall down to the ground
And as I sat beside you I felt the
Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home
You were a creature all in rapture
You had the key to your soul
And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face
The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine
And you were a violet colour as you
Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells inside the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden wet with rain
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature and the holy ghost
In the garden, in the garden, wet with rain
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden

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