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.

26 February 2014

My first Bible

I got  my first real Bible during Christmas of 1984.  It's a New King James classic and is nothing visually to write home about.  Many of the Bibles I've owned since, I've actually given away to others doing street ministry.  And truth be told, I now use biblegateway.com as my working Bible about 90% of the time now. But my history is found in this unremarkable book.  It's not leather, it doesn't have bells and whistles and I don't actually remember getting it.  But I do remember the wars we went through together.

I remember trying to read it as a kid.  I remember enjoying the old English even though NKJ was once pretty cutting edge.   I remember opening it late at night after ignoring the tales told by others, looking for God to come alive for ME.  I also remember the years where I shut it, for what I assumed would be permanently, calling the writings fairy tales.  I couldn't find evidence of it playing out around me so deductive reasoning would point towards it's contents being empty promises.

But when I ignored my first Bible, my Mom kept it company.  For many years, while I ran and rebelled... she hunkered down in my bedroom.  She read my Bible aloud, claiming what she wrote in it, quoting something our minister at the time had spoken over me,

"David, may God's blessing be upon you this day and always"  

It worked.  His blessing was on me then and it still is today. In the first few years of walking with Jesus, I returned to my first Bible.  I scribbled and documented the early days of adult faith excitedly as the old old stories became living entities, burning holes through doubts and laying groundwork for the rest of my life.

Many important names... words... encouragements.... admonishments... people... teachings... found their way into the first three blank pages surrounding the declaration of blessing that I still hold to.

I have a number of Bibles on my bookshelf.  But this one is my favorite.  It reminds me that what I teach; the story of God showing his love to the world, is still being written.  And it's being written through ordinary people like you.... and me.

18 February 2014

What women want

Like most men, understanding women has always been an elusive skill for me. I was always 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 request 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-too-well the train wrecks that are 6th Grade relationships. He wisely told me no.

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 with them yet.

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. 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 I'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. My Dad was a classic comedy and vaudeville fanatic so we'd rent Laurel and Hardy films from the library and analyze why they were so funny. 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 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.

Things went on this way until my sixth (yes sixth) year of high school when one day in history class I felt a mountain of “I’m going nowhere fast” fall squarely onto my shoulders.  She could read it on my face.  She was wearing blue sweat pants and a big woolly sweater. In fact, she always wore big woolly sweaters. She looked silently at me with a bit of a pregnant pause, as if deciding whether or not to jump off a tall cliff into unknown waters. Then she asked me something that I didn't recall anyone ever asking me. She whispered the words, "do you wanna talk?" I had no good reason to say yes. 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 destructive 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. 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.

One Saturday night I picked up Miss Wooly 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 final oboe had played. This was not the first time my lips had touched another's, but this was my first... KISS.  3 years later we stood at the altar. 18 years later we have 3 kids.  

What do women want?  It’s never been about fancy dinners or being entertained.  They just want the real, true, honest you. 

9 February 2014

Walls are great... but don't stay in them

A few months ago, something pretty unheard-of happened.   Our church was named the Downtown Champion of the Year by the BIA (Expositor story here) (Brant News story here).  If you don't know, a BIA is a "Business Improvement Association."  I woke up thinking about how amazing this was today.  Imagine... a CHURCH being the entity that most positively effected a thriving business environment.

This morning at church one of the worship songs had the refrain, "You are Lord of All."  It struck me again just how true this is... and how little credence we seem to give it sometimes.  The Church can sometimes struggle with vanity.  I'm am the biggest proponent of regular gathering for worship that there is and, as Louie Giglio said earlier this week,
But sometimes we get caught gazing at ourselves in the mirror, making sure we're a "glorious church, without spot or wrinkle" ... but then, like Elizabeth Taylor in her later years, become paralyzed to go outside and show our real faces without a false idyllic front of mythical perfection.  When we have the courage to remember that, as David wrote in Psalm 24,

"The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" 

... we will begin to have more confidence to take this GOOD NEWS outside of our walls.  I mean... I dig walls.  They've got their place.  You're gonna get hit with a roof if you don't have walls. But we forget that most of our lives ARE (and need to be) lived outside of those walls. Think about how buggy we ALL get if we don't go outside even for a few days.  We QUICKLY lose perspective... and we get... weird. 

We're very excited to welcome Ed Silvoso, one of my ministry heroes, and his Transformation team
to Brantford this summer (June 26-28 Register Here) for their North American Conference.  A couple of Ed's "Pivotal Paradigms" are very important shifts of thinking. They are the kind of statements that make the difference between seeing The Church be impactful in its surrounding community... or not.

One of them is:

"The marketplace (the heart of the nation) has already been redeemed by Jesus and now needs to be reclaimed by His followers"

Luke 19:10 says “ For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Jesus came to save that which was lost. In this sentence, the word “that” points to something beyond people or souls. Jesus did not come only save souls, but also to seek, find and recover EVERYTHING that was lost.

Colossians 1:19-20 says, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

When we get criticism that we should be like a good little church and stay inside our walls (and we do both from inside and outside the Church) we smile politely, exercise grace, and continue on acting like we're stewarding God's REDEEMED "everything." We're simply acting out our calling to see "His Kingdom Come and will be done on earth as it is heaven."  This statement and teaching by Jesus MUST be more than just a wish and a prayer.  This is no longer a grappling battle with the earth that too many seem bent upon.  Jesus already won that battle.  We get to reclaim it in his name.

The other paradigm that I wanted to highlight is:

Labor is the premier expression of worship on earth; and every believer is a minister. 

Many don't want this to be true. In the only perfect God/Man interactive scenario we've ever had... whatever labor Adam did every day, he related it to worship because that is exactly what it was. Worship in the marketplace has to do with us both being IN His presence and realizing that He is in OUR presence right in the midst of our daily on-goings. If we leave labor out of the equation, worship on Earth is reduced to a limited activity with very little impact on the horizontal day-to-day's that we ALL live in!

Some take issue with the word, "Premier" but when you consider the challenge we're given in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "Pray without ceasing"  we MUST conclude that what we often throw away as banal and mundane are in fact DIVINE and HOLY.... and constitute a great deal of our time.  What a tragic waste to not appropriate this principle and simply wait for our "in walls" time.

If you ever stop to ask yourself the question, "Is this whole thing about me or is it about others?" The answer is:

It's always about others... but it's always THROUGH YOU

I'm thankful for Sunday morning worship and teaching.  I would recommend you find a house to hang with.  It's vital and Biblical.   But BEING the church in the community and seeing God transform a business culture (or arts culture, or education culture, or governmental culture, or or or) simply by acting kindly is what we were designed to do. 

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