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.

31 August 2012

Most of what we do... isn't very interesting

As printed in the Sept/12 one year anniversary edition of The Brant Advocate

Do you know what most people around the world had for lunch?


Plain ole rice. Maybe spiced to local taste. Maybe not. Most people right now are wandering around a market. Or nosing around in the dirt, tending to plants or animals. Or having a largely inane conversation with someone; one that they've likely had many times before... and will have many times again.

Most of what we do here on earth isn't very interesting.

Even those who think themselves rather important make a perspectively inconsequential impact on the lives of almost every single human on a daily basis. Yet we're very enamored by the notion of personally changing the world. Disproportionately likely. Most of life is what happens while we're waiting for "the big stuff" to go down. This is neither pessimistic or optimistic... just realistic.

Our Western Culture, ironically considering the amount of time we self-soothe and entertain ourselves into sugar-shock, often mistakes the daily routines of in-and-out life as "not enough." Or worse... an indication of failure. Smiley Charlatans are itching to con us with flowery speech and side-of-the-mouth testimonials into believing that a sufficient level of gumption and habitual Carpe Dieming will eliminate the daily blahs culminating with you grinning absurdly like Tom Vu on a yacht. Then they leave town with your monorail money. It's a fallacy. Most of us eat rice for lunch and most of us will eat it for dinner too.

"Ignorance is Bliss" is quite untrue but the root of the sentiment has bread crumbs to something very important. Contentment is an incredible place to live in, but for those of us who are no longer ignorant, it doesn't come without learning to seek it out. Few authors or leaders have made a larger impact on this world than the Apostle Paul. He wisely said this in his letter to the Philippians:

“Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Later, in love not rebuke, Paul encouraged the church in Rome to, "not think of yourself more highly than you ought". This is pretty healthy advice for us today too.

One of the criticisms that I’ve often heard of Brantford is that there is “nothing to do here.” Many, including myself, have made a concerted effort over the last number of years to ensure that those words hold little weight anymore. Our city has seen wide spectrum of brand new events and celebrations in the last 5 years that have greatly enhanced our local “Must do” list. Yet these words are still spoken. Where we’ve made the mistake is in believing that this is a criticism that is:

  1. Unique to Brantford
  2. Has ever held any actual legitimacy.

These are the words of a modern culture who have become habitually discontent, unsatisfied and ultimately perspectiveless.

Sometimes we even suffer unnecessarily because of what (while it might feel like well-meaning ambition) can actually be an ego-inflicted arrogance that our time "should" be spent carving out a great niche in eternity for OURSELVES to revel in. I am not unaffected by this societal ill.

Where things get muddy for me is in being able to go to sleep at night knowing that the fate of the world around me... is bigger than me and that playing MY role needs to be enough for me. It’s sometimes tough for me to accept that I solely am not responsible for making en masse change and that being content and patient is OK. Even in writing that last sentence, internally I want to defiantly stammer "but but but...I I ..."

"In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday I got a call from a woman in Germany. She said, "Cut it out"
-- Steven Wright

With age I'm learning that discontentment can come from overestimation of one’s own importance. We want change so badly that we're afraid to just let go, play our part and stop fiddling with Steven Wright's mystery light switch in a desperate attempt to MAKE something happen. We’re afraid to find peace in the day-to-day, afraid to trust enough to worship... pray... laugh... love. We're afraid we're "wasting valuable time" when ironically, this worry can rob us of the contentment and perspective we need to fuel our real-world change-making.

Contentment trickles down into love and honoring other people's passions instead of either coveting them or degrading them with insecure egotistical emotional lurkings. Most days for lunch... most of us eat rice. And if we're given rice to eat today, we SHOULD eat with a contented smile and say thank you.

"To youth, the end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged"
GK Chesterton

Pick up your copy of The Brant Advocate at over 400 locations throughout Brantford including Freedom House and congratulations to Marc, Andrew and Lucas for a succesful 1st year!

25 August 2012

I don't vacation well

"The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray"
Robert Burns

The Apostle Paul admitted to the Biblical types that "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" Hot Damn. If the stinkin' Apostle Paul didn't understand why he can't do what he wants, what chance do I have? I find Paul's words a contrary cocktail of disturbing and comfort.

I wanted to have a good vacation. I did. We planned it all out. My mother-in-law had my darling kids for the week and my ever-young wife and I had the week to ourselves. Our best laid plans were based around a solid foundation of pretending we were unrestricted, adventure-seeking young adults. We'd sleep when we wanted. We'd ride bikes. We'd pay no mind to traditional dining times. Wild wild times for parents of 3 younguns.

But I don't vacation well. I checked my email too often to escape. We fought too much to find much rest and connection. We didn't couldn't scrounge together nearly enough adventure to satisfy the deeper needs of neither mice nor men. We went astray. And there was no good reason why.

There is no moral or grandiose point at the end of my tale. Nor is there great lament or even a hint of whine. Because that's just life sometimes. Plans OFT go astray. And it's not the end of the world. It's truthfully barely a blip. It doesn't mean a marriage is in trouble. It doesn't mean it was a waste. Shoot... I rode my bike for the first time in a couple years (even though I hated almost all of that torturous hour and my damaged arm and non-meaty butt STILL ache). But we DID look at the young, trendy hipsters and say, "SEE... we're YOU today."

GK Chesterton says:

"To youth, the end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged"

... and he's right. We'll rejig holidays next time, and those plan might fail too.

7 August 2012

Dreamy Summer Days

Yesterday afternoon my family was sitting in a Pirate themed Georgian Bay-side fish and chips joint as I listened to my kids talk about their summer. It was a very expository and heartwarming lunch in Tobermory.

Over the last two months I've seen dreams I've worked at building for a decade come to pass. Dreams are sometimes bothersome little nagging things that can tease us. But I think they are actually DESIGNED to likely tug more than tease if we have the courage to follow their vapors.

This summer I've seen the church I was BLESSED to be able to help plant and lead... grow in numbers and physical size. By the fall when our students return we should break a barrier we've been at for a number of years. And my family has been a part of it. Shoot... Jared was the FIRST kid to ever use the 1st Freedom House nursery so he's grown up WITH the church!

This summer we held a mass public baptism. Our team baptized about 75 in our public outdoor square (newspaper story here) and while this astounding day deserves it's own blog... I'm not entirely I've fully processed the full significance of the day. But needless to say, this day was something many would have written off as not possible in our Canadian culture. But it happened... and my family was a part of it. It's THEIR foundational experience too.

This weekend I got preach in church that has caught the vision that our church has been living out. Then I led a team of our young adults and University Students who have come to Brantford (some to stay) from around the province in serving Lions Head's first Kindness Carnival. 500 in a town of 500 came to play on our inflatables, eat free hot dogs & candy floss... causing the mayor of the city to be shocked that the church cared that much about their community. As we've seen happen again and again, I believe people went home that night to reconsider what they thought of the church... and the God we are called to show in our time.

I also rode in a backhoe driven by a drunken Lions Club guy who tried to dump me to see if superheros can fly. Turns out they can't. That wasn't necessarily part of the dream. But that's the thing about dreams. When you follow God... there are LOTS of "extras" you weren't prepared for but happen when you walk in faith IN ORDER for God to execute HIS plans. And HIS plans are...

“... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you"

This weekend is the kind of weekend I dreamed that one day my church would be able to do. And it's now happening.

But before this weekend... I had been realizing that my time had been being stretched very thin. My kids were beginning to get that, "please stay home Dad" look in their eyes. And with more work on the horizon, God gave my family a gift of a ministry weekend away where we all had roles. But it was more than that.

We, again, were welcomed into a WARM family home where the spirit of generosity was tangible. The Myles family of Lions Head doted on our kids, enabled the fulfillment of dreams, and blessed us with memories that we now share with our kids in areas we CARE about. But God is funny... because they were even "tickle their heart" Carrol-specific things. I used to vacation with my family in Tobermory and is a place I have very fond memories of. But lack of money, lack of time and often my own strong-headed (or maybe wrong-headed) no-breaks mentality has meant family vacations are few and far between.

But God did what He does. I think he knew my family needed this weekend and we were getting weak... so Romans 8 came alive:

"... the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

What a marvelous God we serve.

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