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 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"

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. 

11 October 2012

2012 so far; as told by Instagram

I love Instagram (search me out... I'm dkcarrol).  I was looking back over the 200ish shots I've Ipod-faked into an aged blip of time, and realized what great year 2012 has been.  I don't think Instagram captures action.  I think it tells stories.

The Meat 

Jared's first Big Mac

Grill fulla gorgeous New York Strips

Mr Pig... mid-roast... rotating... delicious

 The Church

Beautiful horses drawing the trolly around downtown Brantford during Frosty Fest

Our young adults burger-wranglin' during Flippin' Friday at 1am

The first blow through the wall before renovations for the promo video (see the finished video here

My favorite Instagram of my friend Katie during our en masse public baptism  

The Fam

Kid Kindness attempting to fly

Aislin on Fathers Day 

Brianna beaming at her first pet... Beauty the fish.  
It ain't the fish that's beautiful

Ballet dancers in awe

Late Spring fire snuggle

First Day of School

Grand River walk regular stop.  
Don't tell Parks and Rec... but we picked one of the pink ones

My son has a wonderful heart and loves a lot. 

Stray Pirates

The Papers 

I had a dream of a newspaper ad (full story here) and it came to life

My favorite Brant Advocate Article of the year;
complete with an artist interpretation of me the first time I heard Graceland

I framed this newspaper and hung it in my living room.
Most amazing day of Ministry I've ever experienced. 

The most people who have been downtown at once in my lifetime

The Rest 

Margret is a very special lady we've gotten to know doing street ministry but couldn't find for months.  Then I tracked her down in the hospital... and it was wonderful.

 Still hard to believe that I won a medal (whole story here)

Two minutes before we opened the doors for thousands to enjoy Hockey Night in Brantford (whole story here

The funniest five words my boy has ever written.

7 October 2012

The Medal, The Wife and The Life

I've never experienced a day like Saturday October 6th 2012.  And for a guy who likes to be able to extrapolate life both in word and on page, I've found myself quite without the proper words to describe what it felt like to receive a medal... bearing the name of the Queen of England.  Last month I blogged about my personal journey with our monarchy that I am now proud to represent by the bearing of this "Honor."  I honestly don't know where I'll be able to wear this medal but my "Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Information and Wearing Guide" seems to indicate that there are "With Decoration" parties that I now qualify to attend.  Not sure what we'll do there... but I'll bet it will be awesome!

I was the youngest person on the stage by about 20 years, which was an incredible honor.   My brother, who joined my family and close friends in the Sanderson Centre crowd, joked that I've always wanted to be much older than I am so my dream has finally come true.  "You're with your people Dave" he joked.  But to be honest... I DID love that part! I loved it because I was sitting with war veterans, philanthropists and international-impact missionary heroes of mine. These were respectable men and women of distinction who have guided millions in non-profit funding, carved out minor sports pathways, and are fatherly cultural prophets. 

One verse in the Bible that I've always wanted to BE is found in the middle of the description of the vaunted Proverbs 31 woman. It's a one-off about the husband, in this description of the "Nobel" wifely character. It says:

"Her husband is respected at the city gate,where he takes his seat among the elders of the land."
Proverbs 31:23

From the first time I read it, I knew I wanted to BE that.  But it's interesting that it's found in the middle of the description of what a WIFE should be.  And that speaks to something that both medal presenters MP Phil McColeman and MPP Dave Levac refereed directly to.  The fact that the men and woman sitting on the stage couldn't be there without the support of their families and friends.   This is not just lip service.

If my wife didn't release me to go to countless meetings, sit on porches until the middle of the night plotting and write and write and write... I COULDN'T be who I am.  Actually I COULD do those things.  I just WOULDN'T because my marriage and family are more important than any of it.  So I'd choose to honor her.  But because she knows that she and my kids are the first priority... and because she WANTS me to live Proverbs 31:23, she empowers me to give it my all with my life as I empower/release her to do the same with hers.  But the great part is, that serving the community is not a solo act.  I LOVE that my wife, son and daughters care passionately about serving our community too.  I pray that this medal will be a reminder of it's importance for generations of my family.

More than any other thing, my preeminent thought about this is medal is that it is "as unto the Lord".  Remember in Forrest Gump when Forrest gave Jenny his medal and said that he only got it because he was doing what Jenny told him to do when he left for Vietnam?  That's what this feels like to me.  I'm extraordinarily flattered about it all, but I'm just doing what I fundamentally believe a Christian is supposed to be doing.  I haven't always been like this.  I was a jaded, verbal bully, selfish, Gen Xer who didn't want any part of our society.  Really Really. The difference was because of nothing less than a spiritual rebirth through Christ.  Really Really.  I wouldn't BS you about something this important for the sake of propagating someone else's agenda. When I made that decision, I knew that life HAD to be about OTHERS and anything less than that would be selling the mandate of the Christian short. I'll have no part of such a self-centered and ultimately empty charade. And you shouldn't either. As my fellow recipient and great man of God Cal Bombay wrote after reflecting on the day:

"One day I will receive my reward in the Courts of our Lord, Jesus Christ"

There is so much life to live and to share. 
Cheers my brothers.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
Matthew 10:39

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