Wednesday 11 December 2013

Offended by Jesus

I teach World Religion.  I"ve taught high school students about how one becomes, and the nature of being, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Sikh, and a Jew.  Next up was Christianity.  I put in the time and really prepped some good materials to explain the Gospel Message, and how believing it, and forming a relationship with Jesus is what makes a person a Christian.

The class become very heated.  Quite a few students, who usually don't say much, had a lot of criticisms of the theology I was teaching.  I was ready for the lesson, but less than ready to defend this unexpected emotional reaction.

I was naive.  They class took in, and accepted with out question, such concepts as: non-linear time, enlightenment, and reincarnation.  However, when it came to the Gospel the class erupted.  I calmed the class down, and pushed on through.  I told them the course didn't demand that they accept the Gospel, just that they know what defines a Christian.

I spoke with French afterwards and he saw that I was a bit rattled.  He said: "Brother the Gospel is offensive.  We murdered God over it".

Friday 1 November 2013



French slipped into my classroom the other day.  I teach Comm Tech so the students have pretty cool projects on the go.  I nodded g'day and let him wander around and check out what was going down.  I saw him distract one girl, and, slick as can be, tip a book off her computer into his bag.  She didn't notice at all.  I've actually seen him use this move effectively to shoplift back in "the old days".

I asked him later what that was all about.  Turns out it was a novel about two girls having a competition to see who could lose the most weight; the winner would be the thinnest girl.  He said that he saw the book and that it was bad.  To him there was no debate; it was just bad.  He actually took it down to our school librarian, tore it half, and then handed him twenty bucks.  French told the librarian to buy something more redemptive.


French has another temp job after teaching all day.  There is the usual big rush for people to get their "snows on".  So he is working at a garage swapping out tires.  He was telling me about the people who work there: a family man, an alcoholic, an ex-cop, two ex-cons, and a stripper who works the cash.

The stripper is a single mother of two who works all day, and then a couple of nights a week down the street at a strip-club.  French found this out when she asked him for a lift to her night job.  French went back to work and flipped more tires, then he went back to the club and picked her up after her shift, and dropped her off at home.


I asked him about how he navigates the seemingly endless complexities of his life.  His only response was: "just keep working".

Monday 30 September 2013

Lockers, Girls and Whiskey

That old high school locker is where a lot stuff went down.  French's locker was right beside mine, so there was always a lot of action.  He kept a bottle of rye tucked into a ski-doo boot, and he'd warm up your coffee if the coast was clear.  I also liked that locker because there was a pretty good chance some girls would swing by to see French.

There was this one girl that hung out a bit too much.  French had an on-again off-again relationship with her.  French would be after some new girl, and his old flame had a way of popping up, and even being at school early waiting by our lockers.  She had this uncanny ability to show up when French was hanging with some new girl.  He'd often make me his scout and look down the hall to see if she was sitting by our lockers.  I thought it was a good problem to have, but French was creeped-out by her persistence.

Maybe the coolest thing about his locker was that he rarely had a lock on it.  The door had this message written on it with a marker: "touch and pay the piper".  Needless to say: nothing ever went missing.

Monday 23 September 2013

French Wears a Tie

French got called into a tough supply gig recently.  A grade 9 class had already driven off one teacher, so the board gave French a crack at it.  They were a really rowdy bunch the first day, but French came up with a plan for day two to settle them down.

He was inspired when he was standing near his window.  There was a wild cross breeze and his tie kept flapping in the wind.  French came into my room and asked me if  I had any cardboard.  We broke down a yearbook box and he stuffed it down his shirt, buttoned it back up, and straightened his tie.

During class his tie, once again, started flapping in the wind.  He brushed it aside, and kept acting more, and more, annoyed every time it happened.  He finally just snapped, grabbed a stapler, and fired a few staples into his tie.

The kids were quiet the rest of the class.

I just wish I hadn't lent him my tie.

Tuesday 16 July 2013


I volunteered up at Camp IAWAH last week, and as usual, French found a way to drop in as well.  It seems to be a somewhat common occurrence to be drawn back to summer camp.  People just seem to get nostalgic for that youthful feeling.  It makes sense; one thing I noticed was just now many people were smiling, and how often they smiled.  The cynic will jump all over this and say all of us people up at a Christian summer camp are deluded, but it is authentic.

French showed up mid-week and quickly volunteer to spend the day cutting lawn.  The grass was so lush, especially in comparison to last year's drought.  One morning, before another day of lawn cutting, French slipped into Primetime (an hour of praise, worship, teaching and prayer).  It was good to see him even jump and dance around a bit during one of the songs.

He'll hate me for this, but he stopped at one point and his eyes looked a bit wet.  I asked him later in the day about that, and he said that he was struck during the singing about how many blessing have flowed out to him via his relationships from Camp IAWAH.

Blessings do abound.

Here is some rough Primetime footage from my iPhone.

Monday 29 April 2013

French...a choir boy?

I was sitting in church yesterday, and French slipped in and sat down beside me.  I found this odd because he usually only attends when we are on duty for worship team.  A group had just come back from a mission trip, so there were a lot of presentations, and there seemed to be more singing than usual. It was a short service.

French stood up after the benediction and was about to slip out the back (as per usual), but an older lady turned around and grabbed French's arm.  She told him that he had "a beautiful singing voice."  She also added that "he should really join the choir."

French looked for a way out of this situation.  He has always disliked being in choirs since we were in elementary school.  When we had mandatory choir he'd cause a scene and get kicked out.  French told her that "he played guitar on the worship team, and he'd be on next week."  The lady tried to convince him to be miked up when he played guitar.  French gave a noncommittal answer and tried to get away.

This lady was tenacious.  She somehow caught up with him in the church lobby and said: "God put you behind me today as a blessing.  I don't know why he did that, but you need to figure that out; share your blessing".  French thanked her, and darted past the pastor and out the door.

Outside, as he jumped on his motorcycle, he said: "I didn't even know I was singing".

This post was also featured here at Worship Links: check them out.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Rose's Fight

Rose Fish got into a fight.  Shocking right?  Well "fight" might not be the right word, but she was involved in a heated disagreement; in a rural church parking lot, no less.  A friend wanted Rose to put a marriage equality sticker on the bumper of her mini-van.  Something like this:

Rose refused.

The friend responded that, "she didn't think she needed to talk about marriage equality with her friends, she had just assumed that she was preaching to the choir."  She then called Rose "intolerant".

Rose responded to this accusations as best she could.  She told the angry, yet tolerant, lady that Jesus did not call us to be tolerant, but to love, and that her friend needed to learn the difference.  Rose also told her adversary that the sticker was an idol, and she would have no part with it.

At that point the argument got really heated, and much more emotional.  Bruce Fish managed to bundle up his wife and kids, and drive home.

French told me all of this on the phone last night.   I'll be seeing Rose this weekend.  Her and Bruce Fish usually come back to town to visit his mother.  So I'm trying to gather some wise counsel on this issue.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Worship Team

My church worship leader said that she was "stuck"; as she had no guitarists for the service.  She asked me if I could help out.  I agreed, but she wanted to know if I knew anyone else.  I said, "that I knew a guy, but he likely wouldn't play."  I was wrong. French said yes. Well his exact answer was: "sure whatever".

So French and I led the music team.  French and I did some brief prep and then we just jumped into it.  I've heard him play plenty of Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin, but never Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United.  He did great.  He said his goal was to hit 80% of the notes and chords (he did better than that).  I even heard him belt out the lyrics; especially in the choruses.

French is a really organic and kinetic player.  So his foot was tapping, head bobbing, and body swaying.  He plays like this even when he is alone. This is how he keeps time, and he just tends to really get into music.  French asked me if he looked too weird bopping around.  I told him it was "all good".

After the service a lady came up to him, smiled and said that "he rocked it today".

I think the Redeemer Worship Team may have a new member, or two.

Tuesday 19 February 2013


John was my grandfather, well at least for the last 25 years or so.  My grandmother married John when they were in their fifties; both of them had lost their spouses earlier on in life.  My grandmother was actually a widow since my mother was 13, so gaining a grandfather for the first time in my teens was a real joy.

John was cool.  He let me drive his snowmobile, he let me snag a beer from his sacred garage fridge, and he taught me the art of finding a TV with Hockey Night in Canada, (or in a pinch: another sport) at many family events.  Once when we were hanging out when I was 15, and he told me to hop in his truck and drive him into Perth.  I'd never driven before, so he taught me the basics and we hit the road.  I was pretty stressed, but it was pretty fun and exciting too.  I was a miserable driver, but I always remember what he said when we got back to my grandparent's house: "You sure got better at centering the truck on the way back.  You'll be a fine driver".  That simple compliment resonated, and sure helped me be confident when I went for my licence a few months later.

He died with far too little warning, but I'll sure miss him.

Monday 11 February 2013

A Prayer for Rose

My phone rang on Sunday; it was Bruce Fish.  I think that is the 2nd time that he has called in three years, so I was pretty surprised.  He beat around the bush for a bit chatting about wrestling, his truck, and his dog.  Abruptly, he said: "Rose wants you to pray for her".  I said, "certainly".  He launched into his explanation.  Then said that he had to call French, and hung up.

Turns out Rose thought she was pregnant.  Her and Bruce Fish have one child, so far, but she really wants one more.  She envisions a little playmate for her baby.  Rose is approaching 40, (Bruce is older still) and she feels that time is running out.  Rose was so convinced that she was expecting that she had named the baby, and she was "talking" to it in her womb. Sadly, she was just uncharacteristically late.  Bruce almost hung up when he got to this part of his story.

Children are such a blessing, may Rose, and Bruce Fish, be blessed.

Thursday 31 January 2013


French is saving for a new guitar.  He had a supped up Epiphone Les Paul; with upgraded pick-ups and tuners.  French was carrying it out to a buddy's garage for a jam, when he slipped on a patch of ice.  He tried to save it, but the neck snapped right in half.  Currently, he is playing my old Stratocaster, but he wants his own.

Saying that he wants a new one is poor wording.  He really wants the one that is pictured above: 1963 era Silvertone Amp in Case Electric Guitar.  French is struggling a bit financially, yet he is pretty positive about a recent interview.

In the meantime, he's been playing open mics to make money.  At these free shows his favourite expression is: "Nothing says request like twenty bucks."

He'll have his "new to him" old guitar soon.

Monday 7 January 2013

Rose's Bible Challenge

Rose has been pushing Bible studies on us guys for years.  She actually has a box of Bibles at the ready at her house; she buys them in bulk.  She is gifting them constantly.  This past  year she used our competitive nature to see who could read the the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in one year.  We all took on Rose's challenge.

Bruce Fish dropped out early.  He says he gets plenty enough Bible just living with Rose.  Pancake says he lost his Bible in church at Easter.  Sweaty gave it up once summer started.  By mid summer I was about 30 days behind in the reading plan.  I mentioned this to French.  I was shocked to hear that he was still on pace in mid August, so I caught up.

Once work started I fell way behind again; this time by 40 days.  I saw French sitting in his truck in late November.  He was reading his tattered Good News Bible he'd gotten when he was confirmed.  He was smoking a cigarette.  French exhaled and said:  "I'm on pace buddy. You?"  There was only a month to go, and I still had to reread the New Testament and a some of the Psalms.  I just couldn't let French beat me.

I finished just a bit late: Jan. 6th.  French beat me by a week, but Rose is so proud.

A creative way to get a coupla louts to read the Bible eh?