when i was hungry…you lectured me about my work ethic
January 27, 2010, 8:52 pm
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isn’t that how that verse goes?

i’m reading a devotional right now. i’m not much of a devotional guy. most of them just try to re-affirm that we are right in what we believe so we can go to sleep with a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing we are right. i’ve been wondering about that idea lately, about being right, and how important it is, or whether its all that important. because you can be right…yet so wrong at the same time.

the devotional i’m reading is about a guy and his friend who decided to live homeless for 5 months as a social experiment to see how it felt to live that way and to have people treat you that way. and for the most part, they were treated like dirt. kicked off property and out of buildings. they write about their experience, and try to encourage christians to actually live out the teachings of scripture. what a novel idea…to follow with our heart the things we know in our head. i have no idea what it means to be homeless. the closest experience i’ve ever had would be when i went on tour with MEANS in the summer of 2005. none of us had lots of money. we were a small band, so there were no contracts or money guarantees at each show. so most of our money was poured into food and gas. we depended on the kindness of teenagers at shows who would call their parents and ask if some strangers could sleep at their house. we depended on the kindness of friends of friends, who often took us in with little to no questions asked and treated us like gold. there were a few nights we slept in the van. one memorable night, matty g. decided to sleep outside in the grass with his sleeping bag. we were in some random parking lot, and were too tired to check our surroundings. i woke up early and went to Tim Hortons. i came back to see a policeman pulling up to the van. he asked questions, like “why is that guy sleeping next to a dumpster beside a daycare?” it was then i realized our surroundings, and thought maybe it would be a little scary for a toddler to see homeless guys sleeping in a van next to a dumpster. there was about a week out of that month where we either drove through the night, or simply slept in the van. it was hard. you don’t sleep well. you get grumpy. at least i did. the kindness of strangers means the world to you. but i don’t mean to compare ourselves to those fighting homelessness. because we were far from it. at any time, we could have called our parents, and they could have rescued us. not to mention our thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments in our possession. we were still rich even when we were poor.

the most memorable night came about halfway through our time on the road. i remember being fed up. i was tired, we had no place to go, no shows for a few days, and it felt like i would never be home. it was a sunday night, so i decided to seek out a church. so i walked until i found one that was open. i went and sat down. it was just any old church. nothing too exciting. but having not been to church in a while, and being someone that was hoping to find a place to sleep, i thought it would be a good place to be. i went and got the guys and we went back. matt and i sat in the service. it ended soon after we arrived. we just sat for a bit, unsure of who to approach. at this point, we looked pretty homeless, even though we weren’t. a lack of showers/clean clothes/long greasy hair can make you look that way. few people talked to us. finally, a guy in front of us acknowledged our presence and asked what we were about. we told him our story. a christian band from out west looking for a place to sleep. i hoped we had hit the jackpot. i hoped we would have someplace to sleep for at least a night or if we were lucky, two. he smiled at us, and made small talk for a bit, almost as if he dodged the obvious. when it came up again with another person who had joined us, the awkwardness really set in. the first gentleman was at least honest with us. maybe a little too honest with us, but at least he was honest. apparently, the building next to the church was theirs also. it was full of couches, as they were in the process of setting up a youth center. but (that word that always comes after those too good to be true sentences) they didn’t know us, so they couldn’t trust us to stay there. i would have been less angry had they not mentioned the empty building full of couches next door…i could have understood them not wanting us to stay at their homes…but it felt like a slap in the face. they gave us $20, prayed over us, and walked away. we walked away with our $20 unsure what to do. a few moments later, we got a phone call from a friend of a friend who said he called his friends mom, and she said we could stay there. she was a sweet lady. she set out bedding for us. made us breakfast in the morning. matt and i played in the slip n’ slide with her granddaughter. she was a saint.

i’m sure you can all (and by all, i mean the 2 people who read my blog) see where i’m going with this. the people who should have helped us kept us at a distance. the hospitality of a complete stranger showed Jesus more clearly than the church had. i was thinking about this experience this morning, and felt ashamed. because at the time, i was full of self-righteous indignation. i knew that i would have done better if the roles were reversed. but it’s 5 years later…and i’m not any better. i still go through my days being afraid of the uncomfortable. i still often drive past that person digging through the trash partly because i am in a hurry, but mostly because i am afraid. because to live the things we believe requires us to abandon our plans and fall in line with God’s. to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner and to shelter the homeless. i refuse to believe those were only suggestions. i believe they are commands. why is it that we see so few homeless people walk through the church’s doors? that is a rarity, unless of course the church is set up specifically to serve them, like the Good News Chapel and the amazing people who run it in Regina. those places are amazing, but why isn’t every church that open to serve those who are different? why are we afraid to welcome people into our buildings that aren’t like us? the problem is we must love God and love others enough that we aren’t doing it as a simple obligation. if our love is real, it will naturally flow out of us. i am working on that today. and i hope i can do better starting right now. because i like my life comfortable. but that’s not good enough if we are following God.


i li-i-i-ike my bi-i-i-ike
January 26, 2010, 8:34 pm
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it’s not like other other bikes. ghotihook reference for all you old school punk rockers out there.

i’ve had a conflicted relationship with my bikes over the years. you might wonder how one would have a conflicted relationship with 2 wheel and a frame, but it’s true. i simultaneously love and hate bikes. the film “RAD” had played non-stop on our television for weeks. a movie made in 1986 about BMX racing, and i was obsessed. i don’t remember much, except for him doing jumps in a lumber yard. and his name was ‘Cru Jones’. how tough is that? heads up, Cru Jones coming through. that, combined with the intense 80’s inspirational rock tunes, was enough to get me hooked. i asked mom and dad if i could change my name to ‘Cru Jones’, but they said no for some reason. so i settled for a BMX. someone in our church gave my parents one for us, and i fell in love. it was too tall for me, and i rode it awkwardly up and down the street again and again, nearly falling off because i was a small chap. i was sure i would be the next movie star because of my sweet BMX skills. i’m not sure what they were at the time, but i knew that i had them. a BMX god. i remember racing my brother peter through the neighborhood. i turned around to see how much i was beating him by, but didn’t see him. i was ticked, because i thought he had chickened out and left me along. i rode home thinking of the nasty things i would say to him, but got there to find out he had wiped out behind me and hit his head on the pavement. a nice gentleman gave him a ride home. i felt bad, but still insisted i had won the race, and he couldn’t use a concussion and stitches as an excuse. but then we had to move, and my parents had to sell it for $5 at our moving sale because there was no room to take it with us. i remember looking out my bedroom window at my dad in the driveway, talking to a father who was there with his kid, not much older than me. i saw them wheel the bike away, and felt as if my life had ended. and it was no small feet for me to like bikes. because before i had that one, my first experience with a bike was wiping out and spraining my ankle. i hadn’t rode a bike very much, and my oldest brother, mark, had a brilliant idea to sit on the handlebars while i pedaled. never mind the fact that i couldn’t reach the pedals. never mind the fact that i couldn’t see around his body. never mind the fact we were heading down hill, and had to make a left turn into a gravel driveway going the opposite direction. it seemed like a good idea at the time. but i wept in the driveway, and i remember my dad running outside in his underwear, trying to get my leg untangled from the spokes. ah, the memories. i recovered from that first brush with death and loved my BMX. but now it was gone.

we moved and i got another BMX, but it wasn’t quite as good. i still loved it, though. i rode to school every day and would leave it locked up in the bike rack until the final bell would sound. but one day i got sick, and mom came and picked me up. the next day, when i went to school, my bike was gone. i searched frantically, but only found the destroyed lock. a few days later, my cousin jeff was delivering papers, and he had seen my bike in the front porch of someone on his route. it was a bullies house. i remember because i was too scared to go and get it back. so i called my mom, and she took me. i was proud to be my mom’s son that day. i always am, but she tore a strip out of them. they said they just found it, but i knew they were lying. the seat had been taken off for some reason, and they insisted they didn’t have it. so i had a bike back, but no seat. my grandpa called me and said to come over, that he had an extra bike seat i could use. the problem was that it was a bike seat from an old man bicycle. the kind that i would ride now if i still rode a bicycle. in all honesty, it was way more comfortable, but it was huge, dark green, and did not suit the BMX style at all. kids made fun of me. i didn’t like my bike as much then. and one day it got stolen. i found it years later at the police station where they kept old stolen bikes. i wasn’t looking for it, but went there with a friend who had had his bike stolen as well. it just happened to be there. but it was destroyed. looked like it had been thrown off a cliff. i told them they could keep it. i didn’t care about my bike anymore.

in my first year of college, my dad got this crazy idea to do the MS bike ride. he wanted me to go, and i told him he was crazy, and he said “i know, remember that time i ran out to help you in my underwear?” but i wanted to go for my dad. i hadn’t set foot on a bike in 7 years, and i didn’t train at all. i just raised a few bucks for the MS Society and pedaled away with about 100 other people. i thought i would be fine. we were biking 67 km’s, so i don’t know what possessed me to think i would be okay. because i definitely wasn’t. i think i tore every leg muscle i had those two days, going there and back. i came back and tried to play soccer, but there would be none of that. i had fun with my dad, but i would never set foot or bum on another bike as long as i lived if i could help it.

about a year ago, i remembered my love affair i had with my BMX when i was a kid. so i went and got a new one. it lasted about a day. i rode around for 20 minutes, and took it back to the store. i couldn’t re-create the passion i had once had. the hatred was burned deep in my soul from the stolen bike, the ugly green seat and my torn quadriceps. i still look fondly at others who ride bikes and wish i had the passion. but i’m too lazy. plus, it’s winter. why am i writing about riding bikes? i’m going to go watch RAD now.

a happy man.
January 14, 2010, 2:53 pm
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i went to drop off some paperwork at a city office the other day, and the guy working there was listening to “Face to Face”. it made my day. some old suit, working for the man, listening to punk rock. we sang “blind” together for a minute. we chatted punk rock shows for a bit, and i left a happy man. the world would be a better place if everyone listened to “Face to Face”. just thought i’d let you know.

eh oh, canada go…to the store and buy coke products
January 6, 2010, 10:32 pm
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the pure devastation of this year of sporting events in my life has left me in ruins. i’m not sure if i can make it another day for fear of not being able to feel the sweet satisfaction course through my veins when i pretend i have as much to do with the victory as the person which was actually victorious. i’m pretty sure i just failed grade 12 english with that last sentence. living vicariously through those much greater than me. that’s what sports is all about.

when eberle scored twice to send the game to overtime, a tear went down my cheek. this is not exaggerating for the sake of dramatic effect. i was quite literally emotional. and when my hopes were dashed minutes later by the ruthless americans (congrats by the way, America, for destroying my life), i sat in shock not sure whether to laugh, cry or move into a monastery and devote my life to silence. most of you probably would have preferred i do the latter. and to have to endure this merely 2 months after the notorious 13th man incident that we in saskatchewan dare not speak of…not to mention the sad state my Montreal Canadiens have been in the past couple years. it’s been a tough year. my manhood and bragging rights have all but left me. all that has to happen now is the canadian olympic hockey team losing to kazakhstan in the Gold medal game next month by being disqualified in the final seconds when they realize canadian hockey players are actually robots programmed by the government. you’d think they would have figured it out sooner by the way they give interviews. and i quote, “we gave it 100% but just fell a bit short and it’s a team game and we’ll just keep working hard and follow our game plan.” robotic cliches are second nature in the sport of hockey. at least the NBA has people pulling guns on each other. even golf has john daly shirtless. sports…why do i bother?

i remember playing hockey as a kid. our team was in the 3rd place game, and it was being televised nationally (in dauphin, mb on the local channel) for the world (dauphin) to see. i remember being so proud. me and benji husband would get the call to play in the big leagues, i was sure of it. it never occurred to me back then that 3rd place was for losers, and i shouldn’t be proud. i’m from canada, dagnabit, and if it isn’t first place in hockey, it’s nothing. i’m exaggerating of course. but i come by this sick passion for sports honestly. my family is ridiculously in love with sports. i would literally marry sidney crosby’s old hockey skates if i could. and my family would welcome those hockey skates as one of their own.

what drives this insane obsession? some would say testosterone. others would say passion. still others would say God was a sports fan and created us this way. i’m not sure who they are, but i’m sure they are out there. after all, on the 7th day he rested because it was the stanley cup final and he cheers for detroit. i think it says that somewhere in revelazekiah…job. i know, that sounds crazy. i did make that last part up. as if God would cheer for detroit.

since Jesus did not come for healthy, but the sick…he must cheer for the same teams i do. because i am sick.

true story. i typed “coke”, “hockey” and “God” into google images and this came up.