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 July 2013

The story of the only person I've ever punched in the face

This is the story of the only person I've ever punched in the face. Baltimore. 1991. Old Memorial Stadium.  After a weekend of Jays vs Orioles baseball, following the team around a mall (see John Olerud), and getting my 90's home white hat fully signed... we took our seats in row 1... right field.  

The Jays were winning substantially over the historically bad O's. Each time Toronto did something good we'd stand, wave our hats in the air and taunt the angry east-coasters.  Then the Baltimore Orioles mascot came to visit.  He grabbed my freshly autographed hat and dangled it over the fence.  I was less than impressed.

I looked deep into his vacuous black bird eyes and said, "You give me my hat back right (expletive) now or I'll punch you right in the face."  He continued the mascot dance.  I, however, was not in the mood to dance.  I slugged him right in his large, over-sized, novelty beak much to the chagrin of the crab-cake eating crowds. The mascot took the high road at left as I danced around like Ali.

Two innings later, the mascot was riding an ATV behind the outfield wall throwing baseballs to kids.  I waved at him and beckoned for a ball.  What I did NOT get was a ball.  What I DID get the knowledge that mascots CAN use their fingers for more than high fives.

And THAT was the only person I've ever punched in the face. 

26 July 2013

The Circus: "It takes all kinds of kinds"

Last night we went to the Shrine Circus in Oakville.  In my minds eye, the circus still looks like Dumbo's "Casey Junior" engine chugging into a small town carrying oddities, intricacies and marvels from far off lands.  I see a picture of a tent with hand-stitched patches that could either play host a revival meeting or traveling show depending on whose cart it was in.

The circus is a time honored craft and it's really quite a beautiful dance to watch.  What we saw at the circus last night... my wife had seen in different places and times before.  Elephants on their hind legs, clowns in full out schtick, daring young men on the flying trapeze.  It was an entirely new sensory experience for my kids... and they were literally wide-eyed and jaw-dropped. But for us, it was like remembering our childhoods before entertainment was "on demand." 

We were treated to the backstage experience with a group of bloggers, tasked with telling the "Our family went to the circus" story.  When I dig into experiences... the points that stick out to me are rarely the event itself.  So while the show was top rate, and the chance for my kids to feed elephants was amazing... the story of the CIRCUS family was most intriguing to me.

We spent about an hour with the ringleader whose name is Richard Curtis (pictured lower right).  Richard is a decorated American Iraq War veteran.  After the war, he hard a time making a lifestyle fit... like many who see combat.  His daughter was born with a terminal disease and his marriage failed.  He was "spinning his wheels" as he described it. But he found a home with the Zebini's and their family business.  He married Kimberly (an animal trainer and acrobat), the daughter of Tarzan, whose family have been running circuses since 1763. It became home. He told us an incredible tale of Tarzan traveling across the Sahara Dessert with his show.

After taking a number of years off to give his kids the public school and "normal" life.... Richard and Kimberly returned to take their rightful place in family history at the circus.  I listened to Richard talk about this seemingly odd life.  But he spoke very honestly and fondly about how the circus kids thrive in virtual school while learning a skill and developing deep relationships with family and others with deep passions for the craft of circus.

And I GOT it.

I have great respect for those who work hard at their craft... and the Zerbini family works hard.  They are good at what they do.  The finale of the night had someone walking on the outside of a massive spinning wheel, hundreds of feet in the air... blindfolded.  My son looked at me and in shock said, "that man is RISKING HIS LIFE for this!  He should get down!"  But he didn't get down.  Instead he walked blindfolded on a narrow wheel hundreds of feet in the air.  At one point he actually ALMOST DID stumble off and seemed genuinely rattled.  But he kept going... because that's what he does. It's his job.

We stood and clapped with appreciation.  Sadly... at the moment the grand finale finished (and few before), the crowd streamed out into the parking lot before the curtain call. Those who had just worked very hard, and in some cases risked their life for our awe, came out to take a bow to a smaller crowd than they should have.  "Gotta beat the traffic" I'm sure was the logic.  But that is rude and selfish logic.  I know how it feels to put on a show and an event.  It's work, and sometimes you hear more selfishly motivated complaints that you should have to. 

Those I had the chance to meet yesterday... I truly liked.  I would have loved the chance to sit and have a drink or two with Richard Curtis to hear him tell of the war... being Dad on the road... and the pull between family responsibilities, destiny and freedom.  Everyone involved were complex and unique folks... but the distinctly different and slightly obscure flavor of the night was delectable.

Miranda Lambert just released a great new song called, "All Kind of Kinds". The first verse says:

Ilsa was an acrobat who went and fell in love with that Horatio the human cannonball.
A weddin' 'neath the big top tent with barkers clowns and elephants, sideshow family oddities and all.
The dog-faced boy howled out with joy As the tattooed lady was crying.
Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning... .... It takes all kinds of kinds.

 I was honored to meet one of those "kinds" last night and I hope to meet them again.

The Shrine Circus is in the GTA until August 5th. Click here to get tickets and if you use the codeword FUN through my blog link, you can get tickets 2 for 1.

23 July 2013

Bruce Springsteen, the "Everyman" and me

It was 1985 and I was in the 3rd Grade.  A friend of mine invited me to his cottage and I drove north with
his Mom to spend a week with their family on a Friday night.  In her car, she had two cassette tapes and she gave me the option of which one I wanted to listen to.  Both were artists that I'd never heard of but sounded very similar.  One was "Tao" by Rick Springfield.  He seemed like a bit of a strange 80's dude with quiff of black hair and a trench coat on the cover.  The other was by some guy named Bruce Springsteen called, "Born in the USA."  It was just the backside of a guy with faded jeans and a baseball cap in his back pocket.   Seemed more like my kinda guy so I went with SpringSTEEN.

Destiny has a funny way of playing itself out.

She popped it in the tape player and what I heard... was something that I haven't been able to get out of my head for nearly 30 years.  The album begins with the vocally balls-to-the-wall title track tale of neglect, systematically heaped a heroic protagonist living in the shadow of a great dream.  I was only 9, but GOT it.  I came alive a little more that day. When we hit "No Surrender" I related with the guy who "bursted out of class" because he had to "get away from those fools."  He "learned more from a 3 minute record than he ever learned in school."
"That's what is happening to me RIGHT NOW" I thought!

Then came "Glory Days."  To this day it remains at the very top of rock and roll heap for me.  As I've eeked past the hump of my 30's, the sentiment has only germinated in my maturing soul and aging body.  It's kickass AND wistful. Lamenting AND celebratory. It's dirty and real.  Today, a Born in The USA record adorns my office right there with my Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal... and my favorite old bottle of Dr. Pepper. I measure music by Bruce Springsteen and find that most of it just looks like a faded photocopy next to a Renoir by comparison.

I could write reams about why.  But I think the experience I had last night depicts it as good as any.

My wife and I went out for dinner to celebrate her 36th birthday followed by a screening of the new documentary called "Springsteen and I."  We went to a very quiet Thai restaurant.  Uncomfortably kinda quiet.  Seated behind us were two fancied-up socialite girls in their early 20's cackling and caterwauling about the excruciatingly, self-absorbed minutia of their lives.  At one point the lady in red,who had recently moved to New York, blurted, "I was at the hospital today, and those people are idiots!  And then one 'THOSE' scooter people rode up, had to park it, and walked in.  And they had bare feet!  Can you believe that?  Who ARE these people? Unbelievable.  I can't wait to get back to civilization."

Well I wanted to jump out of my chair at her and tell her exactly WHO that person was and about the situations that exist that can lead to such a scenario... likely not in a way that would reflect that well Captain Kindness.  My wife was equally appalled but kept me cool.  We left quickly, as not to create a scene during the birthday date, and went to the movie.

"Springsteen and I" is basically a crowd-sourced film consisting of everyday people telling their "what Bruce Springsteen means to me" stories, interspersed with The Boss's legendary concert footage.  My favorite was a young lady named Kitty Liang, originally from China, who became an American citizen in 2007.  Kitty is now a trucker who told the story about how Springsteen's tales of the everyman had become the soundtrack and encouragement to live her real life with conviction.  I'm paraphrasing, but she said something to this extent:

"There was a time where my job was to get up at 3am, and ride a bike to my job at Jamba Juice to make oatmeal, so people would have oatmeal when they woke up to go to work.  Bruce's stories and songs always made me feel like what I was doing was being the backbone of the country. That the country was built on people like me.  Like it was an important role."

And Kitty is RIGHT.  Societies do run because of those who work damn hard at real jobs responsibly, day in and day out.   These are stories are not often not told.... and rarely honored.   Bruce tells those stories... and esteems those who live them.  And there is not a performer who does it more genuinely, with more passion than him.  At 63, his shows still last three and a half hours and you feel like you've BEEN somewhere together at it's conclusion.

I believe that WORK... IS worship when its done as unto the Lord. I don't find there to much of a differentiation between the sacred and the secular... if any.   When you're doing your JOB each day with all you have, it's pleasing to God and that makes it sacred. But it's even more than that.  One of my ministry role models is Ed Silvoso. It's been his life's work to see genuine holistic transformation in cities. He has a few (what he calls) "Pivotal Paradigms."  Three of them are:

  • The Marketplace, which is the heart of the nation, has been redeemed and now needs to be reclaimed.  
  • Every Christian is a minister, and labor is worship. 
  • Nation transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty. 

This means putting divine value on what we do with each day.  It means working at real jobs.  It means taking care of "daily bread" needs for the marginalized AND systematized macro reformation leading to prosperity... for all.  People caring for People.

I love Bruce Springsteen's music because when I hear it, I see characters without any glossy idyllic gobbledygook. Just real people feeling real things... trying to make it. And it resonates because they are painted by a real fella just doing his part with the imperfect but marvelous gift he's been given.

It's about all of us going to the promised land TOGETHER... and not leaving anyone behind.

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'
This Train
Carries broken-hearted
This Train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train
Carries fools and kings
This Train
All aboard



18 July 2013

Go and go and go and go some more

"I just don't sleep enough. But I have never met someone very successful who, at the end of their life, says 'I wish I slept more.'"
Robert Herjavec

"Nothing of any consequence was ever achieved without enormous passion and total dedication"
Robert Herjavec

There are moments in life where I wish  I didn't want out of life what I want out of it.  Those moments sometimes creep in during times where I have 2 weeks of evenings booked solidly, 4 project deadlines looming, and a growing collection of flagged emails to return.... none of which even pertain to my paid profession.  I look at think, "I've voluntarily done this to myself?? Ha!"  But those moments melt away as quick as an ice cube in yesterday's 40 degree sun... because of the reason why.

Recently someone actually asked me the question, "How's your soul?" simply because of how much I seemingly am doing.  My answer... is THRIVING.  My body gets tired.  My brain gets frazzled.  But my soul is rockin'.  This week I canceled a baseball trip that I wanted to go on... for a meeting.  The guys I was planning on going with said, "just ditch it" but the truth is that I would rather take the meeting.  Because it feeds the ravenous beast inside me that wants something tastier than a few innings and crappy nachos.

In 2003 I spent two weeks in The Philippines in, and around, Manilla.  During that time I met a man named Pastor Nonoy (pictured top left) who was our local escort from engagement to engagement. He was one of the most incredible people I'd ever met.  His ministry position within a denomination was to be the "trouble-shooting" pastor for churches that were going through tough times.  Essentially Nonoy was leading about 25 churches at once.  He would go and go and go and go and go some more AND be a good husband AND be a good father AND make time to guide Canadian missionaries around.  He CARED about all of it and gave ALL of himself to ALL of it.  It's a character trait I've seen in all of the men I truly respect in ministry.

One night I was preaching at a youth service in Valenzuela City which is just outside of Manilla.  I was bothered that night by the "What am I really doing here?" question. My trip was an act of obedience... doing something that wasn't on my list of productive things if I was honest.  We had JUST opened the doors of Freedom House, my newborn first son was about to crawl and we had no money!  But I got on a plane and went anyway... because God said to.

Pastor Nonoy looked at me during the worship practice and said, "David... I need to ask you a question.  What do you really want to see happen with your life?"  It was kinda out of the blue but I EXPLODED the answer back on him.  I said,

"I want to see a city transformed.  A whole city.  Transformed by the love of God.  I want to see businesses revived.  Churches full.  Streets paved.  Schools prospering. The sick healed. Poverty ended.  A FULL city transformed.  THAT'S what I want!"

I'd known this in my head for a few years, but that day... it EXPLODED into life. Pastor Nonoy wept with me and prayed with me at the evident breakthrough that had just happened.  I preached my guts out that night.  The beast was loosed. I don't think we get to pick what our beast is SUPPOSED to be be.  We are the gatekeepers of the beast however. We are the final word on what GETS to be our beast. We can decide whether it's a good beast or a bad beast. We can stoke the fire of whatever beast we choose...  BUT what we were ideally designed to have inside us... is not ours to decide. Callings are God's doing.  It's our job to dig until we find it, unearth it, unleash it and then LIVE it. 

I want to encourage you to dig up your beast. Find out what you really care about and go HARD at it realizing that it can, and likely will, cost you everything.  BUT in doing that, you'll find the real and full life that too many willingly forgo... because we like sleeping too much.

"Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it."
Luke 17:33

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