A Love-filled Fool (An Ode to ResonateAPC)

Plaid Night @ #InsideOut13 with Resonate (Agincourt Pent. Church's Post-High Group

I have just returned from a great time away with 30+ of the funnest, funniest, truest people I have the privilege of knowing. While tired in my body and weak in my mind, I have stopped many times to think over the blessing each of them are to me and to each other.

You see, this group is a family. Not in the way of how people say “I love coming to __________ because we’re like a family.” They are a family in that they don’t have to say it but people know it. They are all unique persons but they’re united in the main things (for starters, a deep rooted faith in God, through Jesus Christ, revealed by the Holy Spirit and grown in healthy community…sorry…HAD to preach there!!), which keeps them (and me to them/them to me) constantly connected. We laugh, cry, grow, learn, agree, disagree and serve together. And we’re all better for it.

And we’re a family that takes risks together.

For example…one night during our retreat, while taking a group picture, an idea was sprung up by one of younger brothers that then RESONATED through everyone. I, being the eldest, wasn’t the most excited for said idea. But I truly love these ones, and so I added my two cents to our creative potluck. The results are now being slowly viewed by friends of friends through various social media outlets, but what was captured in the room, can’t be defined by a 30 second clip.

In that room, a few hours prior, was laughter due to games, stories and pictures. Later on, tears, support, songs and prayers. And then following THAT?  A fun dance party. None were exclusive from each other but rather like a real family, they bled one into the next, a beautiful mosaic of stories, lives and excitement. And while I didn’t shed tears, I was moved. And here on my couch, retelling the stories to Wifey, looking a vast array of pictures, I still am.

And so, like the song Endless Love says, not only would I “…be a fool…” for them for dumb things (and for smart meaningful things too), I can’t think of a better group of people I’d be a love-filled fool for. I do love them a lot.

And as we move towards the #nextadventure we take together, like Max from “Where The Wild Things Are” proclaimed:

Let the wild rumpus start!

#plaidtobepentecostal

Vacuums, Santa, Clowns & Dread: These are a few of the scariest things (Letter To Ellie).

I think that once a child discovers fear, the slow burn to adulthood begins.

Once fear shows up, it is like “innocence” begins to pack up room after room until it is forced to move out.

Most kids first meet fear around a new person, or in moment of separation from their mom.

Not you, Ellie. You’re way too strong and independent to cry when you’re not near mom or dad.

Instead, you first met fear by way of a singing toy penguin. You cried, kicked and kicked and KICKED until it was far from you. I think it was the sound it produced that got you. You are petrified by loud noises. You can’t walk by the bathroom when mom is blow drying your hair and god-forbid we put the vacuum on in your royal presence! You hate that thing even though it keeps us clean. And unlike other kids, you hate Santa. Oh you love him from a far but once you’re two kids from him, the abyss of disturbance rocks you to the core. Like a hurricane…(too sooooooon?)

I hate that you know what fear is. I wish I could erase it from your mind. I wish you didn’t have to live in a world with fear. That being said, if you didn’t have fear at ALL, here’s what you’d be doing:

– Running in the middle of a busy road without looking both ways.
– Walking up to someone bigger (or smaller) than you and smacking them in the face.
– Putting your hand on the stove.
– Running away from home at age 15.
– Breaking the law without fear of consequence

Stuff like that.

So in that regard, fear is a good thing (maybe it’s fear that turns into wisdom…) but here’s what I don’t want you to be afraid of:

– Making friends as you go through the awkward preteen phase.
– Trying new things like a sport or instrument or simply dreaming big.
– Love. It’s work, it brings out the best in you while killing the worst. But it’s so worth it.
– God’s voice. As of now, I wouldn’t want you to do what I do. That being said, if God calls you, listen to him as the PRIMARY VOICE. I’m 2nd…maybe even 3rd.
– Being yourself. I never want you to be afraid of becoming you. Don’t try to be like the status quo. Start a new one.
– The Vacuum. Seriously, Eliana, it’s cleaning. I know it’s loud but it is helpful.

Kidlet, fear is always going to be around. It’ll get your adrenaline up, give you quicker problem solving skills and hopefully make you wiser. But don’t be a slave to fear. If you are, you’ll miss that job, that friendship, that love, that call. God is bigger than your fears. He’ll walk with you through your fears and help you get past them.

There’s a story in the Bible that you’ll probably hear forty times by the time you’re 10 but it fits well here. A bunch of guys are on a boat when they see Jesus (the same Jesus who lives in your heart) walking on the water. (P.S. Jesus is a G! You’ll hear me say that a lot…). One of them, Peter, asks Jesus to invite him to walk on the water too. Jesus does. And so the guy GETS OUT AND BEGINS TO WALK ON THE WATER.

No tricks. No graphics. Just walking.

After a few steps, he realizes what he’s doing, gets scared and starts to sink. But Jesus is right there to take his hand.

And when you feel like you’re sinking in fear, he’ll do the same for you. He promises.

Love you, kiddo.

Da-ddy

P.S. And I still deal with fear too. I fear clowns. And zombies. And the event decline of Kobe Bryant.

Laughing, Learning, Loving and Leading (Easter Monday Thoughts)

I’m currently sitting in our family room…

Ellie is in her pyjamas playing with Lego, strollers, ponies…still rocking her afro.

Becca is resting on the couch after a full week of singing her heart out during our easter presentation. Her rest (along with the other volunteers and staff who served) is MORE than deserved! Now her an Ellie are cuddling on the couch reading about God’s creation. It’s a beautiful scene. Later today we’re going to the park for Ellie’s first Easter Egg hunt. I love my family!

And I’m here with my coffee in a state of beautiful contemplation. This Easter has been so…moving.  Here are some of my thoughts, observations and experiences based on the Easter month, especially the last week.

  • Today is the day after the resurrection. It’s the first day of the work week but the 2nd day of the actual week. Jesus’ resurrection starts a new week for us. It signified that he was and is making all things new. We can move forward in a different direction from where we going. The playing field changed on Good Friday. The scope was borderline depressing on Saturday. The game was WIDE OPEN and winning on Sunday. And we live in that victory. I can be better.
  • I heart my church. I would hate to miss Good Friday service or Easter Sunday at APC. Pastor Keith says (and I agree) that our church has a great Christology. It’s true. Because of that, the Good Friday service is more than a memorial service with hymns and Easter Sunday is more than a party. They are, instead, true reflections of the redemptive work of Jesus through song, teaching and community among all ethnicities and generations. Every thing is so genuine…so when people have that moment of jubilant praise on Easter Sunday, you know it’s not a put on. It’s real, from the heart, from the soul. It’s a real THANK YOU JESUS moment. I wouldn’t want to celebrate it anywhere else.
  • We sang ‘Glorious’ by Paul Baloche at our Sunday Morning services. I only got through half of it at the 9 am and through the first line at the 11 AM before a wave of sincere emotion hit me. And in those moments, I learned this: I am a UGLY crier. Oh man…the joy of the resurrection hit me deeply and brought out tears of joy…that sounded like grossness wrapped in ‘oh man…’. I need to meet a good guy-crier and learn how to do it right:) It was a really powerful moment for me. Hearing close to 1300 people sing ‘Look beyond the tombstone/see the living God/see the resurrected/ruler of my heart’ in unison will always give me goosebumps.
  • Okay, enough weepy stuff! Something that was fun: I got to do a walk-on during our worship times to lead ‘Happy Day’. It went like this: Dr. Van Johnson led ‘You Have Saved Us’, then i walk out, lead Happy Day (and hit the high note), then leave. It was a lot of fun. The joy in the room was enough to make the most unhappy person do a two-step. I do know however, though it went unsaid, that I was asked to do the song cause my friend Dr. Van doesn’t like doing that high note, so I take it with a grain of salt:) It was still fun though and I appreciate the invite from my friend (and if you know me, you know HOW MUCH I love SNL-type walk-ons. I’m just trying to get to that Saj McKenley-status. Don’t worry, it’s all love!)!
  • Ellie is a doll. On the way home from our presentation on Friday night, her and Becca had a great chat about Jesus, where our daughter proclaimed that Jesus loved her, and mommy. apparently, He’s still on the fence about Daddy. On Sunday following our Easter Sunday service, she came home singing the Hallelujah chorus and Happy Day and saying Jesus is alive. I love that even at two, Jesus can impact a life! And I’m thankful for a church that mixes the traditional (The Hallelujah Chorus) with the older (My Redeemer Lives) and the new (You Have Saved Us)!  She is also really stinkin’ cute, rocking her afro and red (and or pink) Converse shoes and leading the annual Worship march.
  • I am so proud of our church staff and volunteers who put their lives on pause to be in our Easter presentation. After practicing for months, they literally took 7 days to pour into our church and share about Jesus in a creative way. I get to say, “I work with THEM!” I’d get specific with names but then I’d forget one person, they’d read it and then I’d be that guy who only remembers SOME and NOT all:) So to all of you, thank you for your tireless work, efforts and ministry. We’re all proud of you! And Muse is great.
  • Our Wednesday night Journey to The Cross XP was amazing. Over 200 people came through the interactive stations to walk through Jesus’ last week. Hearing the response let me know that we did something special.
  • My wife is amazing. Even with a bad cold, she killed her song (with Andre) every single time. I have known her for 10 years and have heard her sing enough for 20, yet I never heard her like that before. It was amazing each time, with something new added (a run, an ad-lid, etc.). Specific thanks go to my friends Kent and Maria for choosing her and being great support to her during her stay with the awesome chorale. The vocals were so tight!!! And in the midst of performing, she was still a great wife and mom, even making an amazing Easter Sunday roast!
  • The entire Easter week is a heart trip once you step into the actual narrative. 8 days filled with the following: praise, a parade, palm branches, psalm quotes, turning over tables, arguments, frustrations, goodbyes, betrayals, lies, fulfilled scriptural prophecies concerning Jesus, political intrigue, religious posturing, illegal trials, loneliness, pain, anguish, abuse, prayer, a cross, loss, death, victory-IN-death, doubt, questions, fear, surprise, life, change, strength and victory-IN-LIFE! And there is so much more to it…the story is so rich and deep, moving and strong, exclusive yet amazingly personal.
  • I love new friendships and strengthening old ones. Easter puts things in new perspective. If I have a ‘beef’ in light of the resurrection, I’m a dummy. I need to make things right and do right and honor what’s been given for me. Jesus didn’t die so I can ignore people. That’s a waste of the best life ever.
  • I got to lead a song with my daughter on my arm. And no one thought anything by it. I heart my church. Did I say that already?
  • Lastly, our Easter play (whose main theme is always redemption) is FILLED with people who have been REDEEMED! It’s awesome to see people who were in Alpha a year prior out of our presentation now acting and sharing in the story this year. Thank you God.

So that was Easter for me. But it’s not over! We live on this side of the Resurrection now! And Easter is like the church’s Happy New Year moment! It’s all summed up in this tweet I saw and then stole (while giving credit to its author):

“Easter isn’t a day we just go to church. It’s a picture of why we ARE the church every other day the year!”

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and spread the love by pressing one of the share buttons so more will tune it to read! Thanks & Happy Easter!

Epic Fail Blog Vol. 4

Well, it’s another addition of the Epic Fail Blog, where I open up the vault that is my embarasing life for you, the 10 to 12 who read this blog. If you’re newer to these posts, here the last blog

Well, this tale takes place in 2005, during my first view months at Agincourt Pentecostal Church. It was a simple time. I was learning the APC ropes, meeting people and hopefully developing as a young leader. Oh, and I also thought I knew everything about everything. Cause all 24-year-old do.

The setting was in our lunch room during lunch time. It was one of those days when there were a lot of people in there…and we were talking about certain singers in our church and how blessed we were t have them. In the midst of our convo, my good friend and fellow blogger Maria mentioned a lady who was a singer at our church who at the time had lost her voice. Before she could continue, he was my response to her ‘mention’:

“Well, the reason she lost her voice is because most black singers never learned how to sing properly from her diaphragm so she sings from her throats cause that’s what she learned.”

Or something ignorant like that.

You could imagine the room, right…

Maria, without hesitation simply replied,

“…actually, she is a trained singer. People simply lose their voices sometimes…”

Boom. No one even laughed but air smelled of ‘You dun got told, lil man.’

Fail. And not only was it a fail, it was a ‘Trust me it’s a race thing’ that wasn’t even a race thing FAIL.

Sad.