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 December 2013

How Dave met Krissy. It all started in Grade 6...

Like most men, understanding woman has always been an illusive skill for me. I was always been someone caught between being a guy guy, and the guy who girls just want to be friends with. So that wound up meaning was that I didn't have many dates growing up. In fact, I couldn't tell you of an outing with a girl that I could substantially quantify as a “date” until the end of my time in high school. I blame this on two people. My Dad and Dana Carvey. When I was in Grade 6, my Dad and I would play chess nearly every night while watching sports. For weeks I had been biding my time, looking for the right way to ask his permission to ask out a girl in my class that I'd had a crush on for years. At that time McDonald's was running “Mac Tonight” Big Mac ads on TV to the tune of “Mac the knife”. Fred Astaire types in hats and tails danced around fry boxes as Grace Kelly's gave them those "oh you" gooey smiles back in a Happy Meal induced haze. It all seemed like a wonderful evening to me. And quite doable too. Big Macs and babes. At 5 bucks a combo, I was in. But how to get from the chess game to the golden arches was my dilemma. I couldn't ask her and come back the next day and tell her that “my Dad wouldn't let me”.

So one night during the first intermission of the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game between having my queen taken and my nightly "Spassky Bishop Block" joke, I sputtered what must have been the lamest case for 6th Grade dating of all time. As a 6th Grade teacher himself, my Dad knew all-to-well the train wrecks that are 6th Grade relationships. He wisely told me no in about same amount it time it took for us to have the sex talk a couple of weeks before. In fact the two conversations held striking similarities. Only my mumbled “Big Macs”, “love” and “drive me in the station wagon” were replaced with equally as awkward “vagina”, “penis” and a truly uncomfortable sperm-swimming mime performance. It was a funny era of life. Because both my Dad and I (as guys) knew that I wanted girls. He knew it because he's a guy and knew what my man-brain was thinking about. What it came down to was that I had no idea had to get girls. I just knew that couldn't eat Big Mac's or have sex with them yet, even though that's all I really wanted to do.

 Dana Carvey's role in my dateless life kicked in soon after. Long before I was allowed to stay up to watch Saturday Night Live, I would listen to it on the radio as everyone slept, none the wiser. Once I knew that I wouldn't be able to take anyone ballroom dancing at fast food restaurants, I played the only card I figured I had in my hand. Making people laugh. If I could make a 6th Grade girl in a training bra pee her pants... she'd surely mop up and go out with me. Or so I figured using all the circumstantial data I could muster at the time. So l'd listen to Dana Carvey doing impressions of people I'd never heard of before. I'd show up at school doing Johnny Carson bits and full American political satire routines. I barely knew what I was talking about... my audience knew even less...but I was killing out there. Turns out I was good at it! My Dad was a classic comedy and vaudeville fanatic so we'd rent Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton films from the library and analyze why they were so funny. I ate up Bob Newhart routines and even created my own characters. The laughs were great, but let's face it, I was doing it for the reason guys do most things. To get girls.

As it turns out, even though every list in every woman's magazine ever published says that what girls are most looking for in a husband is “a sense of humor”... apparently those magazines are published by people like me hoping that doing George Bush “wouldn't be prudent” impressions is going to get them dates. I saw evidence of no such beast. Being funny was all I had in my tool shed so I swung that axe for all it was worth. What happened instead was a whole lot of, “aha ha... you're so funny Dave, now you go over there and dance the monkey dance while I eat Big Mac's and ballroom dance with your best friend OK?”. Yes. Perfect. I'll do that m'lady.

Well things changed in my SIXTH... yes SIXTH year of high school.  After driving myself (and everyone around me) crazy for many moons, I was at the end of my rope.  Then one day I snapped in history class.... in Grade 14.  You read that right. 

She was wearing blue sweat pants and a big woolly sweater. In fact, she always wore big woolly sweaters. She looked silently with a bit of a pregnant pause, as if deciding whether or not to jump off a tall cliff into unknown waters. Then she said asked me something that I didn't recall anyone every asking me. She whispered the words, "do you wanna talk?" I had no good reason to say yes. That summer, I had seen this very girl act in an evangelistic play that my brother had invited me to in an attempt to "save me". She was carried off stage left by the "Light Brigade". I went home that night, more sure than ever that my brother was firmly in the grips of a cult. But that day in history class, I didn't think about that. I did need to talk. So I said yes.

So we talked. For nearly a month, this very patient girl who seemingly had a new wool sweater every day, let me spew every sort of venomous thought that rolled through my mind (and a few extras just to see how she'd react). It was messy but she didn't stop letting me talk. It was weird quite frankly. Christian AND Cute AND Normal??? We had gone to school together for 5 years and had never noticed each other. We were from very different social circles and had very little in common... but the more we talked... the more we noticed the sparks flying. Something was up.

The first Saturday after turning 19 and being legally able to drink, I bought my friends their beer for our regular Saturday night party... then ditched them. I picked up Miss Wool Sweater in my bus-like Ford Econoline Van and brought her over my house to watch Field of Dreams. Understand this. To guys who are now almost 40, Field of Dreams is not just a movie. It's THE movie. It's got big dreams, fantasy baseball, playing catch with your Dad. Field of Dreams... hallowed by thy name. When the line of cars "coming to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom", faded to black and James Horner's haunting score cued... she leaned in a kissed me. It lasted the whole credits long until the last oboe had played. This was not the first time my lips had touched another's... but this... was my first KISS. What was happening was a different beast altogether. We talked after and decided that we could never be together if we believed different things, no matter what was going between us. We knew how that story ended and neither was prepared to go down that road. Being with the girl I actually wanted, after all these years, had a giant Mr. Omnipotent standing squarely between us, asking me what I was going to choose.

One day the talking stopped. Miss Woolly Sweaters decided that enough was enough. She saw Mr. Omnipotent just as clearly as I did and He was asking her some serious questions too. After listening to my venom for about 10 minutes over the phone one night she said, "Dave... it's time for you to either choose God or choose to go to hell." OK. So this was how it was going to be. And she was right. I wanted her, but I wanted Him more. Two weeks later, I said yes to Mr. Omnipotent. Jesus smiled and hugged me back. Miss Woolly Sweaters was sitting right beside me crying unrestricted tears along with me. Without having to say a word, we knew that we were "together" forever. We went home from the church that night with red puffy eyes and each others snot on our shoulders. 3 years later we stood at the altar. 18 years later we have 3 kids.

One of my favorite scenes in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is when George and Mary really come together for the first time. It's not the puppy love "lasso the moon" phase that I like. Or the wedding night where Bert and Ernie sing "I Love you truly" in the rain while Mary cooks a rotisserie chicken in their drafty old dream house. Those are the postcard relationship moments. They're nice enough... but are fleeting, infatuation-laced, teenage-romp Matthew Mcconaughey movie moment that little girls swoon over, sure that they've found true love that will last forever. Little boys just unsuccessfully try to recreate those moment to try and get girls. We use whatever we can think of eh.

Personally, I like the scene where Sam Wainwright calls Mary to let her in on the ground floor of a big business deal manufacturing plastics. Such a charmer that Sam. Hee Haw. A Bailey Building-and-loan weary, grumpy,dejected George has just come calling on the girl who doesn't seem to fit into what he sees as "HIS plan." She's not a world traveler. She doesn't seem to have big aspirations. She's even a little bit ordinary. But he just can't get her out of his heart and she's loved him since he was a child.

Mary (who for some reason has cross-stitched a pillow in honor of their "lasso the moon" date) tries to recapture the old magic by playing "Buffalo Girls" on the Gramophone, but George will have none of it and starts kicking things. Nice house guest. When Sam calls, George and Mary on on the verge of a "well fine then!" walk out the door and never come back moment. But then Sam calls George over to huddle with Mary around the old two piece telephone. They can hear Sam talking, but their souls begin to lock and load. With half anger and half insatiable attraction, George drops the phone and shakes Mary. He says, in a "damn it woman" kinda way,

"Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do. And you're... and you're..."

He then gives her the hottest cheek to 1940's cheek-smash that I've ever seen. Moments later, in movie time, they're married. It was a messy melange of passion, tears, selfishness, ambition, honesty, lies, control, love, fighting and destiny. That makes for quite a stew, but it's potent, and very real. Both of the fronts that George and Mary had put on to impress and hide were completely gone. Their best laid plans lay in ruins as their lips joined. Being together may have made little sense (relationships rarely do)... but they couldn't deny what was going on. They were just THEM. Together. Two bare souls submitting to what was happening "in the spirit".

"You're not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that's the only way you'll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End."
Jesus in John 4:44-45 (The Message)

I'm more committed and in love with Kristina Carrol than I've ever been 18 years later. She grows more beautiful each day.  God PUT us together. As our vows said:

"What God has joined together let no man put asunder" 

16 December 2013

There is power when you DO ANYTHING that's true

Groucho Marx once said:

"I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."  

Sometimes, as tongue in cheek as it was originally quipped, I think of this when it comes to my Christian faith.  Good Lord if they only knew what a spaz I ACTUALLY am.

This has been a wild few weeks publicity wise.

  • I have an article in Enrich Magazine, a leadership magazine for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada about how a small church can make a big impact. 
  • The Brantford Story is featured at great length in the year end report by Ed Silvoso... teeing up the North American Conference being held in Brantford this summer that we hope you'll come to.
  • I also found out that international philanthropy rock stars Craig and Marc Kielburger wrote about me and Captain Kindness in Canadian Living Magazine!
I didn't even know about the Kielburger article until somebody told me about it.  I have no idea how it happened... although I'd love to know!

But we should never believe our press clippings.  Putting much weight on what other people say about you, good OR bad, leaves you still at the helm of the ship without a compass.  The question is... what is TRUE. And truth doesn't come from man. We're all bias about so many things.  It's not our fault.  We're only human.

This very weekend for our Living Nativity in Downtown Brantford, we were on the front page of the local
paper one day... and the next someone was calling us a cult in the comment section!  If we're a cult, we're the WORST cult around! 

In all honesty... of this is disproportionate favor compared to what we ACTUALLY do.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm BEYOND proud of the church that Freedom House is and the extraordinary things that average people are doing in/for The Kingdom.  But that's all we are.  Painfully ordinary people doing our best and working HARD to display the character of God in our city. We fail a lot too.  But we're trying. 

Why has our "Kindness Project" caught on?  Because we've physically done tangible actions based on something TRUE. Some will argue the existence of truth altogether.  I don't have time in life to waste on this debate... verbally.  This is because I've seen what happens when you act on things that some see as theoretical but are actually truth. It comes ALIVE and is supercharged! 

When you act kindly... kindness comes ALIVE!  The theoretical, sociological, cultural debates dissolve into a bright light of GOOD! I've watched business owners have their faith restored in their city and become transformation agents themselves... over a HOT DOG.  This is an equation that does not logically equate; because is there is the variable of supernatural power behind it. Truth is like a river of lighting.  Acting on truth EVEN IN the most base, obtuse or absurd ways (that are common to the commoners like ourselves) is like accessing a superpower.

PLEASE don't lose heart.  Reject the temptation to be ambivalent about truth. 

"Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!"
Psalm 86:11

But understand this.  When we do act on truth and see the superpower come... it's NEVER about us.  Because WE are not the source of truth. It does not come from within us. 

[Jesus said] "I was born and come into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true."
John 18:37

We must recognize the power of acting on truth. But more so we need to ACT ON IT. Don't worry if you don't think you're good enough to do it.  You're not... in yourself.  But through knowing who you are in Christ, you can do ANYTHING.

7 December 2013

"So...talk to me about The Kingdom"

Every couple weeks I gather my Young Adult ministry leaders around my dinner table.  We eat together with my family and laugh, but then I just TALK to them about... The Kingdom.  The first time I tried this, it felt a little odd to be honest. In ministry, we get very used to talking about schedules, events and practical things that ARE all very important.  But I've been watching Jesus lately.  And Jesus loves to tell ABOUT The Kingdom... even when people wanted Him to be more specific.

"Talk to me about the Kingdom" is one of my favorite things to say to older, wiser Christians.  You really never know what they'll say to a question like that.  But they'll say SOMETHING.  And if they're really wise... it will likely start with, "Well David. The Kingdom of God is like this...."  When that happens, I know I'm in for a treat.  When that happens, it enriches my soul.  I wish I had more of this.

That's how Jesus did it.  Even though He simply could have laid it all bare, called a spade a spade and closed opened ends by saying, "Just do it this way and don't think any more about it" ... He didn't.  Instead he talked about The Kingdom in tales, stories, analogies and metaphors.  To some, this must have been maddening.

In all the gospels Jesus mentions "Salvation" or "Saved" 13 times in both the NIV and KJV combined. The term "Born Again" only twice. However Jesus mentions "The Kingdom" 109 times in the NIV alone.  That's a significant disparity. This is not to devalue Salvation or being Born-Again, but I think it shows that it's a PART of The Kingdom. It wasn't short-sighted madness either. See... Jesus knew at the time what Isaiah had once prophesied about him.  He knew that,

 "... of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom..."  

Jesus knew his Kingdom was increasing even as he was speaking and would ALWAYS BE increasing.  If he'd simply have said, "This is the final word," man's finite mind wouldn't have been able to appropriate it anyway. Nor would the nuts and bolts of The Kingdom be practically the same throughout the ages.  So Jesus told stories. He made people SEEK The Kingdom of God.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... and all these things [what to eat, drink, wear and DO] shall be added to you"
Jesus (with Dave interpretations in brackets) 

Shane Claiborne wrote in his wonderful 2009 Esquire Magazine article "What if Jesus meant all that Stuff"

"The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination."

It's not that Jesus doesn't care about the practical items of our everyday life.  He cares very much.  But He knows that all of it will make progressively more and more sense as we seek after His Kingdom... through following what we know it's LIKE. In the seeking, we begin to have our own adventures.  We are given our own obstacles of faith to overcome. These would never happen if we had all the answers at the start of the journey.

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."
1 Cor 13:12

So sit down with someone who's been in it for longer than you and say them, "So... talk to me about The Kingdom."  Then find someone who hasn't been in it for as long, sit down with them and say, "So... let me tell you about The Kingdom." We are given the gift of expanding hearts that get to embrace this "Ever increasing Kingdom."  It's a gift because as we go... we actually begin to GET what it's LIKE.

1 December 2013

Could a whole city be prayed for?


If you could be an agent of positive change on your street TODAY… would you?  Allow me to propose a seemingly over-simplistic undertaking that is actually profoundly doable and effective.

I want you to think about the kind of city you’d like to live in.  It would likely be a city where the crime rate was low.  It would likely be a city where people had jobs.  It surely would be a city where everyone was prayed for… and cared for.  That would be a pretty amazing city wouldn’t it?

Now I want you to think about the city we have. Brantford.  Believe it or not, there are about 1000 streets in Brantford.  A thousand roads, courts, boulevards and parkways that are home to over 93,000 people.  People who have families. People own businesses and have jobs.   People like you.  

You’ve heard the talk over the years.  You’ve heard words like “Worst Downtown in Canada.” Words like “Crime Capital of Ontario.”  And you’ve likely noticed some of your neighbors and friends who can’t find work.  But you I’m sure you’ve also noticed a few OTHER things.  Like the fact that Brantford is a transforming city.  The Downtown is beginning to thrive again.  New business is returning.  People around town just seem happier than they used to be.  

So how do we fully see the city we DO live in transformed into the city we WANT TO live in?  One important step… is prayer. Prayer has an unfounded mirage of complexity.  It’s truly as simple as man talking to God from where we are… as we are. It’s something that we all CAN do and SHOULD do. It does a soul good.  But it does a community even BETTER when we pray as Jesus taught us to, asking that,   

“Your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

Wouldn’t that be great?  A city where we ALL had a place to thrive.   Most of us know personally what happens when we’ve been prayed for.  Few refuse prayer because… there’s just something about it. Well what if EVERYONE was prayed for?  Could a whole city be prayed for?  

Let’s crunch some numbers. There are roughly 60,000 people who statistically identify themselves as Christians in Brantford and roughly 1000 streets. So if only one and a half percent of those who identify themselves as Christians prayed daily for their street... 100% of the city would be prayed for every day.  One and a half percent of us?  I think we can do that.  Can you pray if you’re not a Christian?  OF COURSE!  God loves to chat... day or night.

What should we pray when we’re praying for our street?  Let’s pray for practical, down n’dirty, on the steet transformation.  Right now our jobless rate sits at a perspectively good 4.8%.  But this number is a very nuanced number that doesn’t include those who have given up participation in the job market. Those numbers mean real people.  They mean some your neighbours… out of work.  Pray about that.  Pray to see that number come down and for jobs to return to our city.

Brantford sits at #21 on McLeans “Most Dangerous Cities in Canada” list.  BUT we are no longer #1 in Ontario and our Crime Severity Index has dropped 16% since 2005.  Pray that we continue to see these numbers come down.

Just prayer?  The thing is that when we pray for people, it turns into caring for people. Just TRY to pray for someone and not begin to care about them!  But we’re all so different… how can we all pray together?  Saint Augustine said, “In Essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love"  

The Adopt your Street initiative was launched in November through “One Church Brantford.”  It’s the coming together of THE church.  That means all of us. St. Augustine wrote: 

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity"
Prayer is universal, regardless of style. When we make it a team effort we’ll, TOGETHER in unity, participate in the transformation of the city.  

There are currently 400 streets that have been “Adopted” using the web hub of www.transformourworld.org. That’s 400 streets that now have someone praying daily for them. 400 streets that are on the road to having that same person, genuinely caring for them.  

Can I invite you into the party?  There are 600 more streets in Brantford that need a momma or a pappa. The dream of a whole city prayed for, is within our reach.  Adopt your street today at www.transformourworld.org and follow One Church Brantford on Facebook for updates.

28 November 2013

Communicating for a "bigger reality"

I’m a Gen Xer.  In my stand up comedy routine I often say, “there isn’t anything that a Gen Xer hates more than everything.”  And while I was on the tail end of this demographic, I embodied it.  I didn’t care much for systems that seemed to eschew reality in place of pablum niceties.  And where I sensed it, as a youth, I attacked.  I was a prank phone caller.  Not your run-of-the-mill, “Is your refrigerator running” pranks either.  In fact, prank didn’t describe it whatsoever.

I would develop characters who pretended to be drug addicted immigrants on the street in attempts manipulate and gain the sympathies and help of the call recipient.  There were characters designed to get neighbours car’s towed or trees chopped down... successfully. There were real life classmates who I’d study the speech patterns of and call others I knew.  These calls were “long cons” designed to extract deep information that I’d be able to use at opportune times.  And I could do it… each time.  I could pull whatever I wanted from others.  

I would chart and graph demographics.  By the end of a character’s run, I’d be able to manipulate each conversation based on an analysis of who I was speaking to. I was confident in my ability to make others do or feel exactly what I’d want them to.  I knew what they needed to hear to feel safe and I knew how to pull out of them. This was in elementary school.  It increased in high school.  I would study people, their patterns and their weaknesses.  I would script language and analyse the flow of human life to be able to maximise my verbal deconstructions.  I would use language to destroy others… based on a deep insecurity.  It gave me power.

Obviously… this was HORRIBLY wrong and something that God has dealt with in my life.  But as long as I’ve been “Dave” I’ve had an acute awareness and understanding at how language, conversation and communication could change scenarios.  

In the book "Juice... the power of Conversation" Brady Wilson uses the 1+1 = 5 equation to show the superpower that analysed and strategic speech/conversations have. I would ALSO submit that 1+1 = -5 as well.  The point being that the result of interactions is based on the motivations, as well as the techniques, of the conversation.

In Juice, Wilson shares the stat that, “When North Americans are trying to get to understanding, 66% of them push, 23% acquiesce and only 10% pull”  This shows the reason why these pull techniques or learned conversation has power.  Because few THINK about why they speak, not only BEFORE they speak.  

It’s one of the reasons why, while I agree with much this book teaches, it itself needs to be qualified Because SOME “techniques” can simply be used to “dance around” the minds of the simplistic person.  And truthfully, I’ve seen conversation “techniques” often be used as parlour tricks and a verbal mask. Sometimes they are used as a cover for personal insecurities and a fear of simply sharing from the heart.  I’ve been there.  Sometimes I’ve found great freedom in forgoing these techniques and simply speaking to another human heart honestly without the exposed (and buried) motivation of extraction and moving another in your desired direction. They can feel like Jedi mind tricks and sometimes, just like Obi Wan Kenobi found out, those also strong in the force notice them and find it insulting.

Juice talks about “pulling a bigger reality” out of conversation.  A while back I conducted an analysis of of the “bigger reality” purposes of communication written in the style of a scientific experiment. Because there must be a grander purpose of the communication conflict we are all tasked to work out in life.

Hypothesis: The ultimate purpose of communication is truth in peace.

The elements:
  • Communication- The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behaviour
  • Truth-Conformity to fact or actuality
  • Peace-Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations
  • Understanding- A reconciliation of differences; a state of agreement

Principally: In it's home... truth is absolute. On earth... truth can only be fully exposed, actualised and understood via the collective. Peace presupposes two or more unique parties and implies the intentional establishment of unity between them. Communication is the vehicle. Understanding truth is the equaliser. Peace is the result.

Biblically: Genesis 11 ushered us into the Era of the modern burden of communication. It began with man all speaking one language and being very powerful. Man was gettin’ somewhere so they built a tower to make sure everyone knew they were great. God said in verses 6-9

"One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they'll come up with next—they'll stop at nothing! Come, we'll go down and garble their speech so they won't understand each other." Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That's how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into "babble." From there God scattered them all over the world.

When communication was easy... it was so powerful that it corrupted us. We used it for selfish gain instead of the exposition of truth which, if collectively embraced, would have led to peace. Eventually when the New Testament church was being established, Paul explained how different we all are. Yet he still used "unity speak" in which he called us a house of living stones... called to live together in unity...functioning beautifully as one body. A pretty picture yes, but it does come with a God-ordained tension in it's outplaying, requiring us to communicate to achieve the goal.

On the streets: I disagree with Marshall McLuhan's assertion that "the medium is the message". Principally, it's an acceptance of the weak mind of man... and it's inability to discern between the pedestrian (Medium) and true authority (Message). It's true that communication DOES often play out this way... but "the medium is the message" is cynical, hopeless and gives undue weight to variables. The ultimate purpose of the communication is loftier.

The "greater-good" merits of the social media revolution are still very much in question, But never has how a society communicates with each other changed so rapidly and fundamentally... while being so reliant on the medium.

We've all seen it used to find truth and bring peace just as many times as we've seen a social revolution medium be a detrimental. What makes the difference is the intention... not the medium. When some ignorantly sits in a meeting (two or more unique parties who differ, coming together in an attempt come to a consensus) and texts someone else... communication IS happening... just not the optimal kind. The texter is saying, "I don't care about discovering the truth in this moment with you or coming to any consensus". It has nothing to do with their cell phone. It has to do with whether or not the 2 parties use what ever medium is required to make the message happen and communication WORK. It takes work, focus and intention to allow communication to be vehicle it was designed to be.

Conclusion: We are always communicating because we HAVE to, to find the truth and unity we need to be able to achieve maximally in life. We must intentionally choose to beneficially communicate with each other as it is the vehicle that leads to freedom and peace.

In Juice, Wilson says, “You may well be thinking, ‘My day is way too packed to do all this pull conversation stuff.  It takes too long. I have no choice but to push’” and he’s right.  Most likely are thinking that.  And most likely will continue to think that… because most (sadly) won’t think about it and will react viscerally to stimuli.  

But as for those who work to understand human function and the interaction of the species we need to:

  1. Use PULL conversations to open up space for “truth in peace”
  2. Master mediums to put pull principles into practise wherever (and HOWEVER) people are. We need to do it as a genuine person, not just a regurgitation of principles (to the Jew be the Jew, to Greek be a Greek)
  3. Be vigilant with our motivation for communication.  

Luke 6:45 (AMP)
The upright (honourable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honourable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

"But you're not invited"

I've been mesmerized by Field of Dreams since I first watched it in 1989.  I've chewed it through six ways from Sunday, made an analysis of it into a thesis and even bought a brown leather jacket because of Ray Kinsella. But most importantly it became my ground-floor for what living by faith and obedience looked like.  Even when it seems nuts to.  

One of it's deepest "interacting with a higher, wiser power" moments came near the end where Shoeless Joe Jackson invites Terrance Mann... out.  Out into the mysterious cornfield to experience the great beyond.  He eagerly accepts the offer while Ray starts asking why HE doesn't get to go.  I mean... it was HIS step of faith that created this WHOLE scenario in the first place.  Watch:

When Shoeless Joe tells Ray that he's not invited into what he assumes is HIS dream, he begins asking... why.  It's the same why that I remember my college roomate asking me about why I was engaged and he wasn't.  It didn't seem fair that I was invited to the party and he wasn't.  It's the same why that I know some friends ask about why they seemingly haven't found their "ministry" while others seemingly have. We all seem to want to know... why.  And the answer is RARELY plain to see. All Shoeless Joe says is , "I think you'd better stay here Ray" with a gleam in his eye.  Then this happens:

It's... perfect. Ray was not invited to go "out" because Shoeless Joe had something more... UNIQUELY RAY for him. I often think of God in this way.  He writes our stories and fleshes out our characters.  Sometimes He invites us into scenes, scenarios and situations.  Sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes He shapes us instead.  Sometimes he tells us to mow down a cornfield to build a baseball field and demands immediate action.  Sometimes he makes us stare out at it all winter... and wait in faith.  ACTIVELY waiting in faith.

We have a saying around Freedom House that "Obedience IS success."  We must remember that while asking why is an acceptable thing, we're not always going to get the answers we want... IF we get an answer at all.  But if we trust in the God who says...

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'"

... then we need to be confident that obedience, faith and trust today will lead to a perfectly designed "UNIQUELY RAY moment" ... only for you. 

11 November 2013

The Cadet who went BACK to the front line

Today was a cold, wet, miserable day in Brantford.  It was the kind of day that many a soldier would have endured many times, in many less appealing locales than a Southern Ontario park overlooking a river whilst soup cooked at the armory across the road.

In fact, "Honor Guards" stood watch at our local cenotaph throughout the night in preparation for today's "Act of Remembrance."  They stood cold and alone in the dark so nobody could try any funny business.  They were there to show honor... and ensure that maximum honor could be shown in the morning.  To honor, stay sharp and stand guard when you don't see any assailants takes faith.  But chosen honor does that in a man.

I love watching soldiers march as one like the bewitching syncretism of fine clockwork. But seeing them function as one is even more beautiful. In the lower right corner of the above picture, you'll see two members of Brantford's Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.  Before today's ceremony the young'un on the right, positioned in the front row, began to cry.  Watching my own daughter weep on my lap watching WWII clips on YouTube the day previous, followed by a funeral of a close friend who died tragically at the age of 31... I know that the possible reasons were plentiful.  But there was a job to do.

I observed from behind as the leader beckoned the young Cadet the back lines to stand beside her. The well-formed lines opened systematically and enveloped the emotional cadet backward.  They then reformed seamlessly without her. She was firmly but compassionately given a moment to regroup and regain breath.  Leaving the post was clearly not an option. I'm sure it was a temptation through. Even if it was just a ceremony in a cold, wet Brantford November... this soldier was not leaving the battle.  It was not long before the cadet was returned to the front line and bravely stood honorably.

Too few of us learn to stand with honor, chin up, upper lip vigilantly stiff through adversity.

There was a song called "Remembrance" sung that contained a lyric that's captured my imagination tonight. It said:

"Show us, O Father, how we best can serve
A world to live by faith and not by nerve" 

I'm not sure actually which way 'nerve' was meant to be taken, but there is a lesson in both.

  1. We should never serve our world via the thin, sensitive parts of ourselves where a minor exterior inconvenience can lead to involuntary human spasms. We'd never be able to stand guard through the night. And our cities NEED people who will stand strong on the cold days for others.
  2. We also should never trust completely in our own ability to stand courageously and definitely through the long nights.  Even the strongest of men need faith to fully empower them to know WHY they are standing and the reminder that they CAN keep it up.

I was thrilled to reacquaint myself with Brantford's Corporal Ken Galbraith, whom I went to elementary school with and today proudly SERVES with honor.  I salute him and our servicemen at home and abroad today.  Today... good men and women of Brantford... let us serve our city and neighbors with courage, fortitude, enduring consistency... and honor.

20 October 2013

All I've ever really wanted to do

As of October 1st... I've made what some call a "career change." It's not, however, a totally accurate description of what I've done. The word career means: 
An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress. - Career
I have been "doing" broadcasting for 20 years while making it my family's primary source of income for 15 years.  I've been blessed to have hosted a nationally broadcasted live TV talk show, started a radio station from scratch, done darn near every job that exists in radio... spending the final 9 years specializing in creative writing. This advertising season culminated by winning the National 2013 Crystal Award for the 2nd best radio campaign across Canada.

This has certainly been an occupation that I've undertaken for a significant period of my life... but the "opportunities for progress" part is where I got stuck.  Allow me to clarify and further define.  The word progress means:

Forward or onward movement towards a destination. - Progress
"Progress" speaks to destiny.  And "forward movement" could no longer be found without change.
I found Jesus for real... for ME... as a 19 year old.   I was raised in the church and had dangled my toes in the waters of Christendom on a few occasions but I'd never taken the plunge.  Spiritual inertia doesn't do a man good.  My "conversion" was powerful.  I don't know what it feels like for everyone, but for me, it was like the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is all of a sudden enveloped by awe and Technicolor after living life simply seeing a whole lotta bland ole black and white Kansas all her life. I distinctively remember the moment where the trees looked greener and the sky (literally all of a sudden) looked a scalding bright blue.  It was as if a scrim had been lifted from my eyes, soul and spirit. It felt like I was flying. It was... REMARKABLE. 
Worthy of attention; striking. - Remarkable
I had no frame of reference for this. Nothing had ever happened even in the vicinity of comparably powerful. I knew that this God was the most worthy of places to invest my life into.  I went to my pastor and told him that, whatever it meant, I was IN.  Others HAD to know and experience what had just happened to me. It was too good to hoard to myself.  He suggested that I go away to Bible College and train to be a pastor.  I had many desirable qualities.  I could speak with authority. I had passion.  I was funny and engaging.  I thought it was a swimming idea.  

But the more I prayed about it... the more I felt uncomfortable with it.  The more I asked God, the clearer it was that He was leading me to Niagara College to learn about broadcasting.  I had been doing broadcasting my whole life.  I used to imitate Tom Cheek, calling 1986 Blue Jay games into my tape recorder.  I was a regular guest on a local talk show and had even shot a couple of half hour "Dave Carrol Show's."  So I was no stranger to broadcasting... and frankly... I'm good at it.  But I wondered if God knew what He was doing.  Maybe He hadn't heard me.  I WANTED to SERVE Him with my life and share Him with EVERYONE! 

18 years of broadcasting and 18 years of non-full-time ministry later... God has taught me many things.  He let me learn under great men from Africa, Canada, The Philippines and America too.  In 18 years of doing ministry, not even as my profession I feel like I've been beyond blessed to work with the people I have, seen some of the things I've seen... and have the dreams, friends and team I do around me to make the future bright.
God also has cultivated my desires and refined my "destination."  He gave me the dream of a seeing a CITY transformed.  It's what drives me onward. For 13 years, its he reason why I've done every single thing I've done.  My time in broadcasting facilitated it all.  It also facilitated my wife's dream of being a stay at home Mom while our kids were young. And I'm BEYOND thankful for it. For 10 years of doing Freedom House, I've been working basically two full time jobs... and it was simply TIME for a "career change" of sorts.  

Although... after I resigned, when my radio co-workers asked me when I started my "new job" I told them, "Ten years ago; before I started here." 

For my life, my ministry, my family and my church to progress towards it's destination.... things could not remain the same.  And so for the first time in many years, my days are also being spent developing Freedom House, The Kindness Project... and seeing Brantford transformed into a holistically prosperous city.

It's all I've ever really wanted to do.  But I'll say this.  Doing it as a paid profession, in itself, is not how its done.  It's done with obedience.  It happened for 18 years by NOT doing it with my days.  That was God's plan.  His PERFECT plan.  And if that had continued to be his plan, it would have been my responsibility to say yes with the same fervor that I did the day I went to my pastor as a 19 year old to offer my life to God.  

Obedience, in itself, IS success.

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