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.

29 December 2012

My Christmas gift that "came around"


During the month of the December, "Captain Kindness" and I got to partner with a number of Christmas kindness events.  At one dinner thrown for the families of a Children's Aid project, there was one young guy who reacted... umm... differently than anyone ever had to my big red presence.

He screamed.  AND SCREAMED.

See there is an art to being a debatabley-sane adult male who dresses like a superhero.  When I first started this gig, I burst into every situation cape a flappin' and big voice a boomin'. But kids would often be a little freaked. Then a friend who's one of  those "psychology types" told me that I was fanning out like a peacock who uses his size to intimidate.

So now when I'm around little folk, I get down real low and talk in a soft, warm "hey there darlin'" voice and ask for a small and simple high five.   It almost always works.  Except for this young guy.  Marky was his name.  I tried everything. I gave him a toy and even took my mask off to show him I wasn't actually scary (again debatable).  No dice.

I eventually had to hide in the hallway while the Mom put a jacket over his head to get him into the room long enough to sit on Santa's knee.  PS he screamed at Santa too so it wasn't JUST me :)

Funny thing is... I found out that when Marky got home, he wouldn't stop talking about how much he loved Captain Kindness.  He made a cape.   Got a mask.  Even acted... KINDLY!  His Mom was blown away.

Before Christmas, my wife was hearing the story from the Mom and she mentioned that they had just returned from Marky's appointment at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.  During the visit, the Toronto Maple Leafs popped in to sign autographs and she mentioned, "some guy named Wendel Clark" was there.  My wife casually said, "Oh that's Dave/Captain Kindness's favorite player" and before she knew it, an autographed Wendel Clark picture was headed my way as a thank you.

I loved the picture... but I loved the story more.   Seemed to be one of those "what goes around comes around" things.  Kindness is like that.    You don't do it to GET something. But it's hilariously awesome to see how people take note of the little things that would light up your day when you're a giver.

I saw the Mom and Marky while tobogganing day.  She pointed me out and we had a cool non-screaming exchange and I got to thank them for my very cool Christmas gift that... came around.



27 December 2012

Best... Christmas Eve... Ever

This was one of my favorite Christmas Eve's I've ever had.  And I hope that it's foreshadowing of more in 2013.

Maybe it's the big red leotard factor, but I often get emails from people in town that essentially say, "I want to give xyz but don't know WHERE or even HOW give."  It's exciting because one of the major long term goals of our Kindness Project is to be able to facilitate this very thing.

"The Kindness Project is about changing cities BY good INTO good through multi-level, coordinated, intentional, strategic KINDNESS. There is an untapped level of synergy and interconnectedness between business, government, social agencies, the church, education... along with regular families ALL working TOGETHER. The Kindness Project will facilitate change on a city-wide scale, towards ordinary people taking care of each other through coordinated kindness."  

On Christmas Eve I got a message from a local Brantford non-profit organization saying, "We have TOO MANY Christmas gifts and need to find homes that need encouragement and a boost... and we need to do in the next few hours!"  Good problem to have, but it's a real problem.  Distribution systems are a real issue... even with kindness. 

Thankfully... I believe the culture of the city of Brantford has begun it's transformation towards the "People caring for People" that, while many feel it is utopian in modern society, is actually quite achievable with intentionality and wise work.  So I asked my social media network, "Who would like to be Kindness Superhero today?"  One of my primary messages as Captain Kindness is that kindness is super-power.  Putting someone else first and thinking of them before ourselves can be such a cultural anomaly that when it happens, it's fundamentally transformational for the giver and the receiver (and in the case of this story) the one who gives the "seed to the sower (2Cor9:10)"

I had MANY responders!  I simply got to play laptop-point-person gathering information & stories to pass on to the organization for them to put together gift packages. Kindness Superheros across the city drove to HQ, armed themselves with toys and headed into the city loaded to the hilt with GOOD. Real people caring for real people, knocking on a real doors with real things to try and dissolve real burdens.

  • There was the story of a home where a lady on disability had lost her husband and job in November. She was really struggling and someone who had been Christmas-tapped-out was able to meet a need and breathe encouragement! 

  • There was another story of a plucky Christian family of 6 with one income who had a lot go wrong in the past few months financially. They had been struggling with their faith and my friend reported that they had "lost their Christmas spirit this year." Boom.  Kindness changed the narrative of the story.  

  • There was another story of a local pastor who was in the middle of putting together his Christmas Eve sermon and was able to include giving gifts to the lower income kids who would be attending in a few short hours.

  • There was another story of something very unique and special.  I have a friend who works rehabilitating federal offenders who rarely get work... and certainly couldn't afford gifts for their kids.  Rehab of relationships is a tricky process.  My friend got the gifts, put them under the tree and wrote, "From Santa" on them anonymously.  She said that it brought the men to literal tears.  She wrote me after, "This year has been all about giving for me.  This facilitated GIVING in this situation.  These guys DO care and DO have a heart but just made bad decisions."  

I love that story. That's all of us isn't it?  We humans can carry a lot of heaviness with us through our daily walk of life.  And more often than not, it's unnecessary.  But something as simply as this attitude can thwart our very destiny.  It steals from us.  But it's not a hopeless situation. Oh no it ain't.

In each of these situations there was a practical need met... yes.  But it's is rarely if ever REALLY about that.  Acting generously and kindly opens OUR own hearts to see the world differently.  Giving "seed to the sower" opens that door for others freedom.  And the recipient is reminded that they aren't alone. The impact of kindness is EXPONENTIAL!

In our city, there is more than enough to care for each other.  We lack nothing except sustained human intention towards each other instead of ourselves.  This was a marvelous Christmas Eve because I believe I caught a glimpse of what the future could look like. 



19 December 2012

Raptors, Leafs, Jays; What are the top moments of "Sports Hope?"

There are 3 Toronto teams I follow.  3 teams who have had a tough....  decade or so.  Blue Jays are now currently one of the favorites to be in the World Series (believe it or not) according to odds-makers. It's been interesting watching the fans deal with the feeling of "Sports Hope" again.  It's been so very.... very long. As a 36 year old who has watched sports since 1985 or so, I've been lucky enough to taste 2 World Series wins as a fan and the feeling is a great one.  But before the victories... there is always a moment of "Sports Hope" that might be even better than the big win itself.

These are, in my opinion, the top Toronto-team moments of Sports Hope in my lifetime. 

THE TORONTO RAPTORS

It was 2000.  We'd all survived the Y2K scare so our pantries were full of dented cans. For the first time since they'd been baby-dinos, there was a sniff of hope for the Raptors.  His name was Vince.  It's often even tough for me to remember how electric Vincanity was.  Kids had posters in their lockers and there were schoolyard fights over who got to be VC on the court.  They would make the playoffs in 2000 and have their only ever real "run" in 2001.  But Raptor "Sports Hope" peaked during the Slam Dunk competition with two words, "It's Over"



I was with a group of guys who EXPLODED.  We literally had to pick pieces of one guy off the roof.  Since "Sports Hope"  is a fleeting fickle friend, it wasn't many years later when Vince choose his NC grad over the playoffs and admittedly quit on the team. But we should never forget that slam dunk day.

THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

There is only one moment that really cuts the mustard in this discussion.  There were other events during the 92-93 run that were huge.  Memorable and magic ones.  But "Sports Hope" piqued in the opener of the Conference semifinal with St. Louis at Maple Leaf Gardens. I was supposed to be doing a school project while watching the game... but that wasn't happening this spring night. The Leafs threw everything in the arena at Curtis Joseph, outshooting them 64-34! But this... this.... Cujo character was saving EVERYTHING!  Then, at 3:16 of double OT, "Sports Hope" happened via Dougie Gilmour.




I was beside myself. I jumped so high I actually cracked my head on the basement ceiling fan.  My Leafs were playing the hockey of their lives and were clearly DESTINED to finally win the cup. Nothing would ever stop them now.  Nothing except a slow motion Jamie Macoun and a terrible non-call on Wayne Gretzky.  "Sports Hope" doesn't guarantee anything, but the rush lasts for the rest of your life.

THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS

It's not the Joe Carter homerun.  That was the end of "THE Era".  It wasn't even the '92 win.  That was another culmination.  The payoff ain't the hope.

It was Game Four of the '92 ALCS.  Dennis Eckersley on the mound.  He was the unbeatable one with a menacing mustache and a fowl scowl.  He was nasty side-arm vicious.  Roberto Alomar was "that showboat" to the haters.  He was "the one with the punch" to the marketers.  But he was the greatest baseball player I've ever watched play day in and day out to me. 

I was in the den at my Grandmother's house; a house that is now mine.  My Sunday-dinnering extended family were all gathered around the little TV because baseball fever had enveloped the nation.  If you weren't there... you wouldn't believe it.  But I was and it did.  With nobody out and a 2-2 count, Roberto Alomar went down to get the pitch from Eckersley and lofted it into stands tying the game at sixes. 



Sports Hope.  I still feel it when I watch it.
Sports isn't the most important thing in life... but it's a really good thing in life.  

17 December 2012

Take me home... because I don't remember

 I was howling at the moon a few nights ago to Phil Collin's masterpiece of music "Take me Home"   The choral refrain of echoed a bit in my recesses: 

"Take me home... because I don't remember"

Sometimes I feel like this.  Often really.
 
HOME is maddeningly fleeting.  It is a mirage, like all mirages, that you wish you could run to grab and hold but winds up as a specter's vapor when you try to handle it.  If only we could get more of it in our pocket. 

One of my favorite fictional literary "Homes" is The Last Homely House from The Fellowship of the Ring.

"Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, 'a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all'. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness. Evil things did not come into the secret valley of Rivendell."

The Last Homely House was in the Elvish land of Rivendell found just beyond the Misty Mountains.  It was a mythical land of refuge and safety based upon the Lauterbrunnental in Switzerland, where J. R. R. Tolkien had hiked in 1911. It was a myth and a wish of a place where people wanted to (and could) STAY not leave. 

In Field of Dreams, Doc Graham insists on STAYING not LEAVING Chisholm Minnesota even though protagonist Ray Kinsella insists that leaving would make his dreams come true.  Doc calmly says with a smile,

This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child. I can't leave Chisholm. 

I've always wanted a Chisholm.   A Rivendell.  A perfect house with a Churchill Room and a fire, lots of maps and leather.  I've always wanted HOME to STAY in.  But it's a vapor.  The home I remember as a boy isn't even there anymore.  My friends who shared my Shire are lawyers, teachers and men of industry in far away cities.   My room is labeled "spare"  and a long-haired cat that makes me wheeze with allergies sleeps where my dog used to. 

I think it's what makes me love OLD.  I live in the small century home of my Grandparents.  Today I found an old coat-hanger that my long-gone Grandfather had written his name on. It's possible that his Sunday Church suit may have hung upon it.  It's a vapor but somehow even the mirage reminds me of the me that I have to howl sometimes to remember.

We become adults, grasping at history, hoping that in our scramble for air, space and legacy... we're somehow creating HOME for our kids to frolic in during their gestation season.  We're neither lost nor alone.  We're aware enough to realize that the home we knew, only lives in our memory and we'll only ever get glimpses and gasps from here on out until we arrive in our heavenly home... which I'm going to assume is quite spectacular. I must believe it will be worth the wait for REAL home.  



14 December 2012

My night at "The Joysey Lights" at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery


Tonight I took my family to Brantford's Glenhyrst Art Gallery for the first time.  I'd been there for events but the rest of my young family hadn't. Circumstance... and who knows maybe fate... landed this popular light show on the beautiful Glenhyrst grounds.  It's a jewel in the city that many don't even know about. When we drove up, it was like the end scene of Field of Dreams when the cars began showing up out of the blue.  I spoke with Glenhyst's Stan Gorecki tonight in the gallery and he was telling me that 60-70% of the visitors this week had never been there.  What a gift.

We all toured the art gallery. There was a wonderful soapstone carving called, "Last looked out."  I'm betting it's a reference to one of my favorite Christmas songs "Good King Wenceslas" As the kids admired it, with their limited attention spans, I told them the song-story of Czech Saint Wenceslaus the 1st, who was known for his generosity.

They tigger-bounced over to a photograph of a contemplative soldier with an accompanying scripture:

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way  is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
Jer 6:16

We briefly talked about what she might be thinking this way.

Then our kids ran... awed... and enjoyed the lights together.

At the end of the night, we made our donation to Community Resource Services (The Brant Food Bank) because the night was free of charge.  It was one of those "Everybody Wins" nights.  I think there are more "Everyone Wins" partnerships waiting to be discovered in communities.

 I want to encourage you to get into your city.  Meet new people.  Go and taste-test a new area that comprises your city that you've never tried before. You'll gain a better appreciation and maybe it will spawn new partnership idea that will create a "Everyone Wins" situation for something YOU care about.  Be it church, arts, small business, social outreach, historical probing or community volunteering. Brantford is already culturally rich but becomes richer when we all participate and contribute.

4 December 2012

The Christmas Carrol Sleigh of Love


"But more than these miracles above, good people, we need love"
Eddie Hinton

This weekend, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs named Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend.  Then he got in his car and drove to his football stadium. He sought out his coach to tell him thanks for the chance he'd been given... and then he shot himself.  Right in front of the coach. 

It's a sick-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach story from every imaginable angle.  I have no grand stand or social commentary aside from to say that I hate that horrible things lurk in the hearts of man. 

I know that many (many who you know and come in contact with each day) FEEL an overcoming bleakness to life.  I don't pretend to know what provoked Jovan Belcher this weekend.... but I know it was something, "Not Good".  I over-simplistically ache that there needed to be love to triumph over... horrible.  The kind of horrible that might have been dissolved by love.

This is our world.  It is not a scary place though.  It was created in love by a loving God for man who He lovingly created in His image to mirror His character of love to each other by showing love actively.  THIS is our world.  And the actualization of this Holy paradigm is as simple as showing love.

All of the "Let's not give gifts at Christmas" AND the "Mindlessly giving expensive demanded gifts" AND the "Let's just give to the poor instead of each other" movements feel incomplete philosophically to me.  We have a culture where our neighbors (whom we're MANDATED to love) are starved to know that another human actually cares about their well-being. Although all these movements are well-meaning, they each somehow find a way to even remove thoughtfully considering each other from Christmas. Christ was a gift TO the world that the world "Didn't think it needed" either. But the gift was lavish, costly and thoughtful. Gifts aren't about the amount of money. They are about the intentionality of the giving.  Truthfully I don't even like getting gifts, but when someone goes out of their way do something they know will make me smile... it's like infusing me with a booster shot of love.  And love is fuel to breed MORE love.

Begin to council grown North American adult people and you'll find MANY walk through life feeling unappreciated, unthoughtof and lonely. What a tragedy that on Christmas we all too often say, "I'm ALSO not thinking about you today." 

If tangible gifts, or "acts of kindness", or meeting a "felt need" isn't impactful... then our Kindness Project would be a pointless endeavor.  I've seen the offer of a burger (and not even a GOOD burger) reduce a grown man to tears because another human was just THERE thinking about him tangibly in some small way.

I asked God to speak to me this year about how I could practically show my family how much I love them.  I want them to know... desperately. I pray that my busy schedule and fleshly imperfect attitudes aren't being used to rob them of the assurance of their father's (and husband's) love and stability... OFTEN.    

God said, "The Christmas Carrol Sleigh of Love" Dave.  I found the perfect decorative sleigh and even used power tools and paint (not an oft-said phrase for me) to make a sign for the back.  Every morning there is an individualized Christmas card waiting for each of Krissy, Jared, Aislin and Brianna.  Inside I tell them one reason why I love them.  By Christmas morning, they will each have a collection of 25 reasons why I love them.  Aislin, my mushy-hearted daughter, has told me that this is her favorite gift she's ever gotten and I've already caught her reading her love-stack on her bed.  I can almost physically see the words filling her self-worth, confidence and increasing her capacity to reciprocally share love with others.  

Today's blog is overly-simplistic, entirely idealistic and will sound like a schmaltz cliche to some.  But love someone today.  Be generous and thoughtful to each other this Christmas. You have no idea what showing another person out-of-your-way love might do in their life.  It might just save their life. 
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne Frank

2 December 2012

Santa and the human meat pies of death

As seen in the December 2012 version of the Brant Advocate in stores and homes this week. 


There were a few years where I was a rabid Anti-Santite. While not exactly affected by rabies... I meant it. I was a Christian dern it! That jolly old elf was one of the great deceptors of our time. A filthy mix of greedy consumerism and nearly OPRAH-like nicey nicey feel-good pablum that was conceived by the Devil himself to make us forget to do Living Nativities in town squares and light advent candles.

My wife and I once ACTUALLY declined to receive a Santa-related gift as not allow “the enemy” to infiltrate our jingle-belled haven. Deep sigh. I know. But don't judge until you've tried earnestly center your life around genuine service and devotion to a deity.  Youthful fervor sometimes has social shrapnel.  Have a little grace. It does a body good to analyze our culture instead of just lapping up what we're being handed.  

It’s not just me.  A friend of mine was once pastoring a church that was doing a Christmas play that include a painted Santa Claus character as a small part of the set.  One Sunday morning service during a quiet portion, a voice began shouting from the back, “There is a messenger of Satan in our midst.  He lurks behind you.  It’s SANTA!”  There’s no going back from that. It’s a “Good Night everybody” moment.  

Can Jesus and Santa, these two Christmas superpowers, get along? Even the carol “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a funny mix of Jesus and Santa. This stanza has always fascinated me:

Santa knows that we're God's children,
That makes everything right
Fill your hearts with Christmas cheer,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight

It's like Santa's doing his thing while respecting God's turf. You DO know the story about Santa and the human meat pies of death right?  And the other one about Santa and 3 hookers right? Oh Santa was hard core.

Legend has it that the 4th Century Saint Nicholas once came across poor man who had three daughters whom he couldn’t afford marriage dowry for. These were bleak times and likely meant that these girls would become prostitutes. So one night Santa, eschewing public laud in place of modestly saving face for the father, went to their home and left three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold.  The overwhelmed father caught Santa in the act, only to have the jolly old saint reply, “Don’t thank me...but God alone."

In another legend, Santa (aka Saint Nicholas) becomes a stinkin’ faith healer! During a time of terrible famine, a desperate but malicious butcher lured three little children into his house.  Few good stories start that way.  The butcher...butchered the kids in order to turn them into meat pies, placing their remains in a barrel to cure. Thankfully... Super Santa was nearby caring for the poor of the stricken region. He not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also prayed and resurrected the three boys.  

Now THAT'S a Santa story. The real question as a parent is how to treat the Santa myth with our kids. It is a very legitimate argument to say, "How can I convince my kids of a mystical man at the North Pole they never see but who cares and brings gifts... then tell them that he doesn't exist.  THEN tell them that the other mystical man in the sky they never see but who loves them and gives them gifts DOES."  Santa has been tough logic for me and for every parent, push DOES come to shove at some point.

I was the last kid in my class to finally figure out that Santa wasn’t real.  While I took a youthful barrage of mockery and logic, I stood up to the doubters claiming that I had SEEN the real Santa... and he lived in Muskoka at Santa’s Village.  I didn’t want my kids to be “that kid” either. So we started off by not saying much at all about Santa.  We have never played up the veracity of Santa. There are no "From Santa" gifts under the tree. But our kids have grown up enjoying the myth. It’s a lovely myth.  

A couple of Christmas’s ago  my oldest son Jared, asked point blank for the first time if Santa was real. And I told him no. Was he crushed? Absolutely not. He was pumped that he figured it out himself!  We together identified what was the real Biblical Christmas story that he already knew and what was cultural myth. THEN I told him about the human meat pies of death, the power of prayer, and importance of defending the defenseless.  He thought it was awesome like an action movie.  I told him and how Saint Nicholas took care of the three daughters and cared tangibly for the poor. He made the connection between our Great-Grandma knit stockings today.  We watched Elf that night and Jared legitimately  winked at me as we kept the secret safe for his little sisters to find out one day.

My kids have learned about the Biblical origins of Christmas AND that it’s a way to incarnate love through gift giving today. Let’s tell the story of Jesus IN our culture. It’s ever-present, relevant and is the real meaning of Christmas. You’re welcomed to The Living Nativity in Harmony Square Dec 7-9 to experience it together as a community. But Santa knows that we're God's children. Be generous and help each other in Jesus name. And if you happen to see a bucket of people guts about to be turned into meat pies... think to yourself... "What would Santa do?"

21 November 2012

Poisen Pins between his toes

Making sense of North American Christianity was tough for me when I became serious about it at 19.   Then African Christianity was tough for me to make sense of when I lived there at 21.  THEN making sense of North American Christianity was EVEN TOUGHER when I got home!

This is a picture of Krissy preaching at the tiny rural Frafra church in Ashaiman where we ministered during our time there.  We saw and heard MANY things that were VERY uncommon to North American Christianity.

One story I remembered yesterday for the first time in many years, came from a time praying around the altars with a teenager from this church.  I've done youth ministry in many forms for many years, but no teenager I've ever known here has had to deal with anything CLOSE to this.  This is how I wrote it in my short journal entry May 28th 2000.

"I met Joseph today.  He's 15.  He was prayed for at the altar because he was at school this week and found a pin lodged between his toes. He took it out and then found another in the same spot later on that day.  Albert says that this is something that happens with tribal curses. Someone did something to Joseph. So he was prayed for. Amazing"

Indeed.

When I asked our teachers later, they told us that the local Juju Men (or Voodoo or Witchdoctor or Tribal Priest) will put poison on pins and pray over them to their Gods.  Then they will blow on them, and regardless of how far away the victim is... these pins will find their way into their feet and will make them sick.

After we prayed for Joseph, things changed.  He remained under attack but instead of the pins going INTO this feet, they couldn't enter his body and fell to the ground.  He'd look down in school and see a small pile of poison pins AROUND him... not IN him.  He was protected by the "Blood of Jesus" that we'd prayed over him.

This is not a "wild and crazy" story either.  These are some of the spiritual realities that Christians live with in culture where the spiritual warfare we only conceptually believe... is played out actively in sometimes life and death situations.

There were many lessons that Africa taught me.  But one of the biggest was that the spiritual world, and the struggle that rages for the lives of men, is a real one.  Both HERE and THERE.


12 November 2012

Ever been kicked in the face by Oswald Chambers?

Confrontational, bold, serious, convicting... and true.


After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord. 


I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy “world within the world,” and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being “frost-bitten.” 

November 10th
My Utmost For His Highest 

5 November 2012

Good sex comes from a good attitude


They say you should never talk about sex, politics or religion in good company.  You know what? If that's you, I probably wouldn't enjoy your company anyway.  Those are three of the most interesting things!

What's challenging this 36 year old in regards to sex these days is different than it was almost 15 years ago when I got married and began having sex.  When I was first married I used to be curious about how to make this whole process work functionally because even though we both WANTED it to... things didn't click NEARLY as often as we wished it did.  There were many frustrating nights where we couldn't get our emotions, relationship issues and physical desires in line.

Can I get a testify?


Now that I'm a somewhat older married person, we've figured many of the rudimentary bits and pieces out.  Sex is WAAAAAAY better than it's ever been. But, ironically/Murphy's Lawish, it's tougher to find time for it.  Kids, long late work hours & emotionally draining ministry can all push our thoughts FAR away from each other. And it's the same no matter how good it is when we DO make the time.

What to do?  

There isn't a study that's ever been done (either scientific or man-on-the-street) that doesn't overwhelming say that good sex helps make a good marriage and a good marriage leads to good sex.  It's as important as sound financial management, foundations of faith and good communication skills.

Don't buy it?  Start doing any kind of counseling ministry... and get ready.  In Youth and Young Adult ministries that I've run... I've done anonymous sex-question boxes where I've read out the student's embarrassing questions had frank discussion about them.  People in AND out of marriage are wanting to know more about marital sexuality and what it should look like... AS WELL as what are healthy sexual standards/thoughts during singlehood too.  It matters.  

 "The Marriage Bed" is one of the best Christian Sex resources I've ever found.  It has great articles, encouragement and even a huge database of active chats about EVERY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP TOPIC UNDER THE SUN where Christians sharpen each other and ask the embarrassing questions that they genuinely want to know more about but are afraid to admit. Facebook here and Twitter here.

Last week they tweeted this important nugget of wisdom:





There isn't a covenantal relationship participant that hasn't groaned at the thought of sex sometimes.  But it's rare that the end result of sex within marriage isn't some degree of connection.  Not all sex is GREAT.  Not every session is a memorable and an emotional experience. Sometimes it's a giant flop that we need to just learn to laugh about.

BUT....  

There isn't another thing under the sun that can (be it momentarily) shut EVERYTHING else out and simply connect two souls, spirits and bodies like sex.  Nothing.  It's YOURS and spouses alone.  Your covenantal contract has GIVEN you the Godly context to join together with another person in a divinely inspired way.

 A gift. 

What's challenging me these days?  Changing my attitude about God's gift on a more regular basis.  We're given moments and windows and time-frames within marriage where we can choose connection or choose the consuming outside world.  We don't HAVE TO have sex... we GET to. Lord knows we can't live in this place all the time... but if we're smart, we sure should visit as often as we can.





29 October 2012

Beer with Jesus

 
My 9-5 gig is in Country Radio.  My policy was once, "I'd rather be on fire than listen to country music." I had a tendency to be a bit extreme :)  But when I turned 30, nearly to the day, I was playing radio roulette and landed on a country station. For the first time in my life thought, "I don't mind this."

There is a song that is currently charting by a young guy named Thomas Rhett called "Beer with Jesus" that has stirred up controversy but fascinated me.  I've read some very negative, "You're being flippant" pieces about this song and also heard many online theoretical nonsensical "Yee Haw's" of support for combining two things country-folk CLEARLY both enjoy. 

 This is how he explains and sings it:





 Let's see if you find this to be a familiar story... because to me he is living out a Barna stat.

 Rhett was raised in a strict religious home.  He went away to college and “When I got to college some of my beliefs kind of changed." He was up late one night studying and the idea of needing to talk to Jesus about real life in a real way occurred to him but it wasn't a process that he could appropriate. The questions in the song are a broad version of the very personal questions he wished he could ask if they had Jesus's ear.  “Basically, the song is kind of me and Lance and Rick’s personal questions – obviously they are probably not as personal as we would talk about in a room, but we tried to make very broad questions about what we would ask Jesus and what we thought the general population would ask Jesus if they had 20 minutes just to sit down and talk to Him,

"If Jesus was here today walking in the flesh like He was back when He was here, I’d probably take him down to the Flying Saucer and order up a New Castle and just pick His brain about life, ask Him if I’m doing alright, ask Him how some of the people in my life that are close to me that have died, how they’re doing in Heaven. So, it’s just a really personal song to me.”
Thomas Rhett via Big Machine Label Group Promo Interview (audio here)

I've met many Thomas Rhett's.  Have you?  I hope you have, because if you haven't you're likely not very involved with those in the world you're called to serve, share life with and bless.  In his own way, he expresses his desire to BE with Jesus.  He'll even pay.  He'd talk and be willing to listen.  He'd ask about the whole turn the other cheek dealio, what happens during the prayer process and the agony of salvation. Because he wants to know. Like many, it sounds like he's grown weary of the current paradigm as it's become unrelatable to the world he's found himself in.  Without rebellion, he's saying, "Jesus... if you're real.... please come and find me here"  It's his expressed desire to be real, honest and exposed.  Jesus DIGS that.

"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


One day I'll blog extensively about my journey with alcohol.  My views have changed drastically over the years and there is a long story to be told.  But this isn't that day.  This song isn't about beer.  In fact even most Biblical alcohol references aren't all that much about alcohol.  With Jesus, so much is about the state of our heart.  When Jesus turned water into wine, he filled the cups at a boozy party... because it was showing love to an embarrassed host.  He likely stayed and had a goblet as there is no evidence that Jesus was anything resembling a teetotaler.  This miracle revealed his glory and there is indication that it caused his close friends and fellow party-attenders to put their faith in Him.  Jesus was FAR less concerned with appearances. He could give or take any earthly thing, since they were his creation and, like the wind and the waves, at his disposal and command to communicate his message of love to man.

In bars across North America, there Thomas Rhett's willing and wanting to have a beer with Jesus.  Because they ARE having a beer one way or another that night.  And they'd be more than thrilled to sit down with someone called to be "Jesus with flesh on" like you or me and talk about deeper spiritual things.  If you believe that God can't or doesn't speak to those drinking a little... or a lot... you've likely never been drunk (which is not a state I think is best for the record.... drunkenness is not good). BUT neither are many of the other states that Jesus comes down to meet us in.  If you're simply ignorant of it, I will speak from personal experience that during my numerous years as an excessive drinker, NUMEROUS times God either spoke or had one of his people do it... and I KNEW it.   And not messages of condemnation either.  "I love you son" kind of messages.  Even philosophical reasoning that I'd been curious about... spoken to a drunk. I've been that guy on the other side of the equation while doing street ministry too.

Will we GO?  Or will we be proud, arrogant and legalistic?  Not really much of a choice.  I believe Rhett's hypothesis that Jesus would GO (and have us GO) to him if he's calling out from his favorite Nashville pub.   Thomas Rhett should also be ready for this to actually happen.  Beer... Coffee... Peanut Butter Sandwiches...  God has this funny way of responding to simple conversation invites for meeting any place and any time.




21 October 2012

The Moutain of Media

I had the chance to preach this morning at Freedom House about "The Mountain of Media" and how The Church should be thinking about it critically and creatively.   It's one of my favorite topics to speak about.  Here's my presentation and podcast if you'd like to process along with us





19 October 2012

My top 5 funniest individual TV sitcom episodes ever

 A coworker posed this question to the office this week.

"Without doubling up on shows, what are the Top 5 funniest individual episodes of a sitcom you've ever seen?" 

Because I'm a dork... I've thought about it extensively all week.  So here I go: 

5. TV Nation - Crackers The Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken.  1994

This was a short-lived Michael Moore show.  I don't like all of Moore's politics, but the man makes his points in very creative and funny ways that revel in "taking the piss" out foolishness scenarios.  I dig that.  "Crackers" was an intentionally goofy mascot that Moore kept having burst into boardroom's of companies who were committing corporate crime announcing, "I'm Crackers!"  I remember being ELATED watching the brilliance and craziness of this lamentably short-lived bit.  I'M CRACKERS!



4. The Office - Fun Run 2007

So many to choose from.  I was close to naming the infamous "Scott's Tots" as my Office entry.  But it's more mortifying than funny.  I was VERY close to naming Jim and Pam's Wedding but it's more charming and delightful than funny.  But when Michael runs over Merideth with his car and decides that the best course of action is to hold a run in support of rabies...  it becomes the quintessential "Michael" episode and a laugher the whole journey through

I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.
Michael Scott




3. Arrested Development - Righteous Brothers 2005

I couldn't have loved this show more.  Every episode brilliant moment by moment.  But there was one character that was so overboard that made me glow in his absurdity.  Franklin Delano Bluth. The sass talkin' racist puppet who, along with Gob, desired to "break down racial barriers" in this episode by recording his hit song on the "Franklin Sings" album."  I couldn't breathe I was laughing so hard when I saw it first. 1:10 in the clip.



This episode ALSO included the second best Franklin exchange:

Michael: We're brothers. We shouldn't be fighting. We cannot afford to lose each other. Gob: I can't. I already lost a brother today.
Michael: Franklin?
Gob: Well, I didn't lose him. But he's all puckered and white.
Michael: On the plus side, you can take him to lunch at the club now.
Gob: That's the kind of joke he would have loved!
 

2. The Simpsons - Homers Enemy 1997

So many Simpsons episodes to weed through.  But I've narrowed it down to one word... Grimey.  Frank Grimes.  Homer didn't stop being Homer to the maximum level of Homerosity the entire episode, even onto the death of Grimey.  It was a character driven, almost dark, comedic 22 minute masterpiece and remains my favorite tape to tape episode.



1. Seinfeld - The Contest 1992

I remember where I was when IT happened.  My friend's parents had recently divorced and I spend Thursday nights at his Mom's house with him watching Seinfeld.  Nobody missed Seinfeld in '92.  As the episode unfolded and it became clear that this was a primetime television episode about 4 people having a masturbation contest... I declared out loud... BRILLIANT!  I distinctly remembered my friend's Mom walking by asking, "Is this about what I think it's about?"  It was.  The four stars had that "cat that ate the canary" look on their faces for most of the episode knowing that then had done something risque, unheard of, and genuinely funny.



And that... for me... was the funniest single sitcom episode I've ever seen.
What's your list and why? 

18 October 2012

Playing Hide and Seek with God

Think about this Proverb for a minute: 

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing but the honor of kings is to search out a matter"
Proverbs 25:2

This has great implications on our daily faith.  Massive really.

Extrapolated, this says that:  Alpha God who wants to be known by man takes great pride or pleasure in avoiding disclosure about things that men want to know fully. But esteem and integrity is lauded on MANLY men who earnestly pursue God for the answer unabated by the chase. 

Why the tease?  Why the game of hide and seek?  It can be especially infuriating considering that we KNOW that God does speak.  He just isn't always as interested in talking about what we are. In his little known poem called "Mythopoeia" , famed author JRR Tolkien wrote the incredibly insightful phrase:

 "Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed"
Tolkien

It means we're being teased and drawn forward towards freedom.  Mythopoeia was written in September of 1931 WITH and TO his contempary and friend CS Lewis.  Yes... Lord of the Rings was the mentor of Narnia.

As the preface to the poem Tolkien wrote, "To one CS Lewis who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver'."

You see there was a friendly philosophical argument going on between the mentor and young firebrand.  Both followers of Christ writing to make sense of a life lived with God for themselves... and others too.   Tolkien used stories to communicate God, but initially Lewis didn't like it.  The scenarios weren't real he thought.  When truth was so PLAIN, why not just SAY IT!

But as he eventually found out... you can't take the "story" and unknown adventure part out of this faith of ours. Wikipedia's description of Lewis's later years talks about how he eventually came to process Christianity.

"The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. "Subsequently, his Chronicles of Narniais regarded as mythopoeia, with storylines referencing that Christian mythology, namely the narrative of a great king who is sacrificed to save his people and is resurrected. Lewis' mythopoeic intent is often confused with allegory, where the characters and world of Narnia would stand in direct equivalence with concepts and events from Christian theology and history, but Lewis repeatedly emphasized that an allegorical reading misses the point (the mythopoeia) of the Narnia stories."

Why not JUST SAY IT Tolkien, instead of messing around with mythical orcs and hobbits??  Why not JUST SAY IT Lewis, instead of scribing other worlds of rings and witches and valiant talking mice??   Why not JUST SAY IT God instead of making us walk and work in order to understand??

"We're an empty jar that is conscious of our emptiness and knows it should be full"
Alister McGrath


 I think the best way to "prove" God is not to try to prove Him at all. It's to point to Him. We should never make the mistake of seeing a sign... or miracle... or a piece of creation... or a wonder... and gaze too intently at it. We err by holding it tightly and turning it into our "precious."  We can get caught in thinking that it is "the end".  Beauty is not the end. It's a signpost designed to point BEYOND to God. 


There is a constant pull towards the beyond. The spirit is never completely satisfied until it reaches it's day when it gets to be with God.  I call it "The Ache of the Incomplete" We all have it since this world is not our home and we're not home yet. "The ache of Incomplete" is kind of like the Paul thorn in the flesh. I think of it as the lonely feeling that we all sometimes feel when we look up at the stars at night and miss long lost friends or family who have gone home first.  But this ache shouldn't discourage us. It should be a reminder to not grow weary in doing good. It should be a reminder that He's gone to prepare a place for us. It should motivate us to press on in faith.  The good and bad news is that there is more of us waiting for us around the corner too.

“The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything.”
CS Lewis


What is now one of my favorite songs ever written, U2's title lyric from "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" used to bother me somethin' awful.  "If you've found Jesus you HAVE found what you're looking for! Say it LOUD!", I'd say in my zealous 20's way that I've come to regret a little.

Looking now however, I think that there is a "pointing to God" factor in Bono's lyric that says he's spoken with the tongue of angels (like ME) and he STILL hasn't found what he's looking for (like me). I've seen and been a part of some pretty cool stuff but I'm still looking at the prospects of living in a broken world... with a broken life... being pulled and wooed by the Spirit of God onward over the hills to where there is something better. There has to be.  I know in my heart that there is.

Every night I get to make lovely campfire (like Frodo & the Pevensie children) and feel OK. I know that tomorrow I will pursue the answers to great questions through wild country for my own good.  The pursuit itself will make me a better man. The one beckoning the chase is a GOOD Savior leading to GREAT treasures; and one day we'll rest together. 

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