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.

22 April 2015

Everything is (at first glance is not always) Awesome.... BUT

I spend a lot of time talking about and working towards seeing the continued transformation of my city... and specifically our Downtown. They even did a our documentary about it we talk so much! I live just outside the downtown, I work there, I worship there.  I give OODLES of my personal 3T's towards it.  That's time, talent, and treasure for the acronyminally and alliteratory challenged.

But, full disclosure, some days it just doesn't FEEL all that awesome.  The walk to my car leads me on a path through a daily pack of what must be some of the most unhappy humans you'd ever meet.  A walk to the burger joint for lunch includes a regular meet-up with a gentleman who years ago began a journey to freedom ... only to choose old, destructive habits.  A decade of decay has taken it's toll on his life. As for our relationship, it bottomed out when he came trick-or-treating in a Nixon mask to my house as a grown man and then I caught him lying about cancer-walk sponsorship for money.  It's heartbreaking.  I see these things every day. 

This week I found and shared a clip of me at 19, doing a comedy segment for my old "Dave Carrol Show" in the Eatons Market Square Mall during a bustling Christmas shopping season.

It sure looks different today.  In fact today the church I help Pastor is in this very mall, and while there are the re-beginnings of life-sparks around, it's also the home to many who just come in to sit for most of the day because....  well .... they need to sit somewhere for most of the day.   Even as I write this... my team who run "The Kindness Centre" is upstairs in our mall distributing clothing and food, free of charge to those struggling to make ends meet.  Last year we were able to meet the basic, practical needs of Brantford family's over 700 times representing about 2200 people. Many of these families are those who fall into the growing “working poor” demographic who work at low paying jobs but cannot make ends meet.

And if I chose to.... that's all I'd see TODAY on a dim, unusually chilly April day. 


That's not the full story!  Because 3 weeks ago during school season, there were thousands of University students in the downtown.  In the coming years, the mall will see more retail and campus life.  There are new festivals popping up each year.  Our Church and Ministry Centre is growing to the point where we're going to do renovations this summer to expand our space.  New businesses are establishing themselves Downtown at the time.  Initiatives like our Kindness Project continues to find creative ways to spark renewal!

And this is just the stuff that we CAN see.  As for the doom and gloom at the beginning... each Sunday we bring 200 people here to gather together. These people actively feel the hope rising inside them that the transformation is continuing.  It's not done by any stretch of the imagination.... but it's moving forward!  And where it's not yet happened, we have hope that it will and are willing to work hard to make it so.

The funny thing about hope is that you have to have hope to have hope.

1 Peter 3 says:

"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Those of us to have hope in Christ CAN have a true, undying hope for tangible transformation. But I honestly believe I wouldn't have hope... without hope. 

2 Corinthians 4 says:

"You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken."

There are times when Everything is, at first glance not always, awesome.  But look closer.  Activate the hope you have inside you and see your surroundings through the patient, hopeful, creative eyes of God.

Then worship and work until it changes.

"THY Kingdom come"

20 April 2015

I hope you dance

The girl on the right... is my wife Kristina at a "Worship Rave" that Freedom House hosted a couple of years back. 15 years ago, Lee Ann Womak wrote a lovely little country ditty that included this wish for others freedom,

"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance.... I hope you dance"

Krissy took it to heart and started cutting loose in the areas of life she'd always wished she could cut loose in.  The truth is that, in many ways, she left me sitting on the sidelines while she dove into new areas of life that we'd both rejected for many years.  And I love her for it.  My wife is a strong, bold, free, passionate, warrior-princess of the Kingdom of God.   But she didn't get there by just sitting back and watching others be free.

I'm not "dancey."  But do you know what?  It doesn't matter much how I self-identify myself when it comes to worship. Psalm 149:3 says,

"Let them praise his name with dancing"

The book of Samuel says this about David, the King of God's people, who has become known throughout modern history for his genuine worship:

"David danced before the Lord with all his might"

The truth is that when it comes to God... it's our job to learn what he digs on; and do that.  And God loves freedom nearly as our flesh loves to self-identify and "sit it out."   I'm a thinker.  And for a lot of years I couldn't find a good rationale to dance in my worship.

There used to be a song that we'd sing at church that offended me.  More on a literary basis than anything.  It was called, "Jesus we celebrate your victory." There were the much-maligned "worship actions" that went along with this song in my church.  People would actually REVOLVE when they sang the word REVEL.  I was offended.  "Revolving is NOT reveling.   That is a TOTALLY different thing!" I'd object and stand still, arms crossed, in my own rightness while others whooped it up in lingual ignorance. The truth is that God couldn't have cased less about my cause.  He just loved the reveling in his victory!

In 2 Samuel, the lauded prophet says this:

"I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." 

Undignified is a tough word. "Appearing foolish and unseemly" is what it means.  That's what the Man of God says that he will become... even more than he already is! 

Eventually I've come to realize what most in the world has already come to realize.  Dance is freeing and liberating.  I spent my day today digging through old video footage from fifteen years ago when my wife and I were young missionaries in Ghana.  This clip is from a conference in the city of Sunyani and is at the end of TWO HOURS of what might sound like technically-unproficient worship. But it was one tribe after another bringing traditional songs and dances for us all to join in on.... as onto Jesus.  This clip ends with a young, awkward, me dancing a totally uncomfortable dance in a very foreign context... and changing my arrogant mind about what "dance" was all about forever.

We can be very content where we are in life and our worship.  But my question to you tonight is... Do you want to go deeper?  When you get the choice to sit it out or dance.... I hope you dance!

1 April 2015

Randy Bachman comes to Brantford

Somehow, without knowing exactly how it happened, I got into the classic rock business. In the last two years we’ve been able to put together two sold out Rock n’ Roll shows featuring Canadian Music legends Lighthouse and Bruce Cockburn. And this June we’re well on our way to selling out the Sanderson Centre once again, as we have the good fortune of bringing Mr. Randy Bachman to town.

 I’m not a fan of the word surreal, but there certainly are elements of running these shows that are surreal. I grew up in the Classic Rock Revival era. Y95.3 in Hamilton was my daily radio home and they made it seem like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Bachman Turner Overdrive were the hot up-and-comers of my generation. And for me… they kinda were.

I remember being 16 when one of my big Rock n’ Roll guys, Randy Bachman, released the hit song “Prairie Town” with Neil Young. The video on MuchMusic was the best. It was nothing fancy … but that’s what I liked about it. It was these two old, cool, guys in cut off jean jackets were just lettener’ rip. Full on, no holds barred rock. He was singing about Canadian lore like the frigid intersection of Portage and Main Winnipeg being “50 below” and rocking out about learning to drive in the snow. I ate up every second.

And this summer I get to bring him to Brantford so we can all enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime talent. I’ll get to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen…. Randy Bachman.” And from what I hear, I’ll get to hear some of his rock road stories. In fact so will you.

How did this happen? To be honest, it’s simply because of the great people of Brantford coming together to serve one another. Maybe that’s what makes it so special. This concert series was the brainchild of Phil Gillies. In the summer of 2011 Phil, along with then political candidate Michael St Amant, began to join our Freedom House team on the street Friday Nights for our free street barbeques. We do it to both take care of needs, and to be an instigator of culture shift from 10pm until 2am… a time when the corner of Market and Dalhousie can sometimes use little kindness infusion.

Phil and Michael got hooked. They selflessly came back again and again to serve others, often those in the most vulnerable demographic of our community. We talked about everything from social development to Rock n’ Roll. One night Phil was telling us of how in the 70’s he lived out his music fantasies and, as a high school student, brought Lighthouse to Brantford. Then a lightbulb came on in his mind. “Let’s do it again! You in?” And that’s how a series of incredible concerts were born. It couldn’t happen without community sponsors and partners like some of you who I know are B-Scene readers. It’s been hard work for a whole committee of people passionate about Brantford... but it’s been the fun kinda work.

Show’s like June 10th’s Randy Bachman Concert are win, win, win, win endeavours. As for me, I will never forget driving in my parents big honkin Ford Econoline van with “Hey You” cranked on my BTO mixtape. But peeking out from backstage of our show while he sings it to full house … might be just a little bit more awesome. Tickets can be purchased at www.sandersoncentre.ca, at the box office, or by calling 519-758-8090.

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