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.

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