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 May 2013

The Theology of Mike on Bike

As seen in the June edition of The Brant Advocate and included in select editions of The Brant News

“How ya doin.  How ya been?”
Mike on a Bike

As in many summers gone by, I will spend every Thursday night in Harmony Square decked in my Captain Kindness suit, helping to provide family flavor to the movie nights.  And every week, Mike on a Bike is there.  Of course he is you say.  Because Mike is everywhere PEOPLE are. He cruises Brantford’s most famous bike, pedaled by it’s most famous Mike through the crowd, waving like its the arrival of the Queen of England on a tour of the colonies. By the end of the night, Mike On a Bike will have shaken 200 hands, inquired of the well-being of 200 more, danced to the delight of the masses, eaten a free sausage from the Freedom House tent and pedaled off into the night to rest up... so as to repeat the process.   

I marvel at what he does.  He has the crowd-handling skills of a seasoned politician without the selfish ambition. He has the charm of a casanova without the pretension.  He invokes crowd joy en masse and the “Hey there’s a celebrity!” rush of adrenaline that I remember getting when I’d spot Wayne Gretzky shopping for last minute Christmas gifts in the Lynden Park Mall on Christmas Eve.  Dude is one smooth customer... in a  crisp white Mike Foligno esc helmet.   

I hypothesized to  the Brantford Facebook and Twitter braintrust a while back that Mike on a Bike was EASILY one of the top five most recognized people in Brantford.  I  found few arguments that held water.  So I brainstormed and asked “Why is Mike on a Bike” this popular? How does he do it?  How did this local man of mystery seemingly accidentally become somebody people love? Here were a few crowd-sourced answers.

He's friendly to everyone no matter who they are. He isn't afraid to be nice!
Brayden Beattie

I can't say I have ever seen Mike in a bad mood....nor have I seen him treat anyone differently. He always says hi to everyone regardless of size, image, race...it really doesn't matter.
Paul Moore

He doesn't seem to have much fear of what people think; He is consistent with his presence all throughout the city, for YEARS with that jolly-good attitude. A consistent presence changes the atmosphere, and he seems to make Brantford just a tad bit happier!
Rebecca Frank

Mike on a Bike has the innocence of a child. Kids happily smile, wave and say hi to strangers, until their parents tell them of the evil of the world. It's like he conveys that childlike faith in people and his friendly smiles seem to be quite contagious. Who can see him and not laugh or smile and say "Hi! I'm good Mike, how YOU doin?"

It is rare these days that people will greet you with more than a nod or look, much less introduce themselves and show genuine interest in your response. Mike has skills that most of us don't have but secretly wish we did
Bonnie Carnahan

When I put on my shoes I think of Mike because I know he'd like them!
Jessalyn Milford

Mike and Walter Gretzky are known in all age demographics. My children, who are 9 & 10 could identify both, as could my grandparents, who are 89 & 84.
Kelly Szczur

I just know this. My daughter asked who he was and I said "That's Mike, he's kind of a celebrity" and he said "yup yup I'm a celebrity" and proceeded to pretend to start his bike up like a motorcycle "gotta kick it into gear" at Dairee Delite one night. There's something about him that brings us all together. He compliments everyone's shoes. Says hi to everyone, he's always got a smile and really, he's funny. What more could we want?
Sarah McClelland

We are so used to not engaging with the people around us in our society that when someone goes out of their way to greet you it is off-putting, and really great at the same time. Its the power of "hey how you doing". The fact that Mike has a handicap allows him access to places that normally would not be socially acceptable to go. And it works because deep down we all crave human contact but normally we would be suspicious of a stranger talking to us or our children but in Mike's case he has the ability to break down those walls because our his genuine cheerfulness.
Martin Chiarot

I think Mike is loved because he’s in your life FIRST.  Mike makes the first move.  There are stories of Mike simply walking into the backyard barbeques of complete strangers and grabbing a burger off the grill with a simple, “How ya doin? How ya been?” as his ticket to the party.  And he’s welcomed and embraced.

Mike in many ways is a personification of a powerful principle.  John, one of Jesus’s best friends, described the amazing act of Christ’s socially disruptive, revolutionary and historically pure love this way:

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood”.
John 1:14 (The Message)

A written conceptual principal coming to life. I think we rally around Mike, because we crave the knowledge that someone cares enough to “move into our neighborhood” and invite us to a barbeque and ask how we are.  Mike is a very ordinary … yet absolutely EXTRAORDINARY … man who makes Brantford a better place through his kindness.  And what Mike does... you can do too.  

20 May 2013

The Nest

I'm not terribly "naturey." It's creation and all (so that's impressive) but it's not the thing that typically captures my interest.  But this spring, a family of Robins have forcibly adopted the Carrol's.  At the risk of describing the excruciating minutia of life to you, I've found these Robins... fascinating.

A few weeks ago, I first noticed the nest over our back yard light.  Not wanting to have Robins in our yard being all "nesty" up in our business, I took the nest down.  That afternoon... the Robins retaliated.  Not once, but TWICE, we had Kamikaze-Robin attacks at our dining room window.  When the nest reappeared shortly after... it was message-received on my part.  She must have been great-with-egg because these four baby blues landed before we knew it.

The kids were excited.  It had been some time since we'd had new kids enter our domain. We checked day after day by sticking our ipod camera over the nest by sprawling out on the roof.  Then one day... this.

Ugly little things.  U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi ugly. But the kids were in awe. Babies in the house!  Well... outside of the house.  To see the parents go into parent-mode was where I got sucked into the story.  Mom and Dad working together.  Back and forth between our yard and the nest.  Worm after regurgitated worm.  These birds are working HARD.

One morning I was getting ready for work and I witnessed a squirrel try to make a sneak-attack at the nest to eat one of the babies.  Mom and Dad were PISSED. They chased and pecked that squirrel REPEATEDLY across the yard and continued up a neighbor's tree.  He would NOT return.

As of today, four bigger heads now poke their way out of the nest as they appear to be about to outgrow their first apartment in my yard.  I certainly hope to catch their flying lessons.

Bruce Cockburn's line, "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight" keeps coming to mind.  Life is a fight.  Growth is a fight.  Protection is a fight.  Survival is a fight.   And it's worth it. And it's a beautiful thing.

Life will only be hard if we expect ease. 


19 May 2013

Better out than in I always say

Our culture is not  a perfect culture. Some are sure we're headed down the "hell in a hand-basket" route while others are pleased with our progress.  But nobody is SATISFIED with where we are.

When something is wrong, we have choices about how to react.  My Grandmother used to hide in her closet during thunderstorms.  That was her choice.  It never stopped that storm, but it certainly did create a prevalent habit that leaked fear into her life.
The Church can be kinda like that. Closet hiders, just hoping that the storms of a less-than-ideal culture will just pass by. Sometimes we pray in the closet.  More often than not... we just worry.  Worry doesn't do anything.  Prayer does... if we do it.  But its only PART of the equation.

St Thomas More in his "Prayer for Fervor in Thinking of God" wrote this powerful prayer:

 "Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for." 

Work for the things we pray for. Interesting.  Work. The prophet Shrek's words won't stop wringing in my head these days.

"Better out than in I always say"

Sure he was talking about gas.  But I think of it in a churchly context.  On Friday Night, I was supposed to preach at a youth/young adult worship night. At the same time, not 200 meters away a candlelight vigil for Tim Bosma and his family was being held.   I couldn't stop thinking about how there would be 400 people, showing compassion and support for a grieving family a 1 minute walk away. I couldn't justify the idea that the manifested person of Jesus (The Church) would be best representing how Christ would have functioned... by being INSIDE the church building with each other, while others were displaying His love OUTSIDE it. So we went. And it was a GOOD thing.

I am the biggest proponent of The Church in town.  I believe in the regular gathering of believers.  I believe in the church family.  I believe in corporate worship together.  I'm IN.  But then... we need to WORK for the things we PRAY for.  We need to be OUT more than IN.  We need to be right in the middle of even the awkward parts of our less-than-perfect culture without condemning it (since our arrogant tongues combined with half-understandings get us into trouble). 

We need to walk in heels to help curb domestic violence.  Sponsor me HERE.  We need to sit on municipal committees and ask God for wisdom about real answers.  We need to invite widows and orphans into our families.... but with more than lip-service.  For REAL. 

We need to learn to pray without ceasing as we learn to serve without ceasing.   

But most of all... we need to GET OUT and stop hiding and throw yourself in the middle of a culture you'd like to see change in.   It'll be tough, political, messy, and cause you to incur criticism, attack and doubt.   Sounds fun eh?  It IS.   In fact, SO FUN because it's you who will get to be a change-maker while others are just hiding in the closet worrying.  Worship hard AND Work hard. 

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