Meet Culture Rebels

Jesus and Eminem said the same thing

When I think about a culture-rebel, I instantly think of Jesus.  He said things that shocked people, challenged people to live in ways they never thought.   Forget religion and check out Jesus.  Forget “christianity” and find the Jesus who may blow your mind…. He may just move you to lose yourself.


They both said to “lose yourself” …… just in a different context.


Eminem said his palms were sweaty.   Jesus’s palms were pierced


Eminem’s knees were weak and arms were heavy from nervousness from a cypher.  Jesus’s knees and arms were weak from carrying a cross.


Eminem has been chewed up and spit up and booed off stage.  Jesus has been chewed up and spit on and mocked for not “having the power” to get down from the cross.


Eminem won’t quit because he knows he’s dope, but he’s broke.   Jesus didn’t quit, not because He’s dope but because He ain’t broke.  He’s got a whole kingdom.


Eminem says “Make me king as we head to a new world order”.  The world is his for the taking.   Jesus is king and said; “Mine IS the kingdom”


Eminem walked the lonely road as a globetrotter, away from home for stardom.  Jesus walked the lonely road away from home for you and I.


Eminem is caught up between being a father and a prima donna.  Jesus was caught up from being the Son of the Father and being a man with no status.


Eminem asks: “Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you do it or let it slip?”    Jesus asks, “Will you deny everything you ever wanted and seize the opportunity to take up your cross and follow Me?”


Eminem said: “Lose yourself in the music, the moment”


Jesus said: “Lose yourself for Me and the sake of the kingdom….. and you will find yourself”.


If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. (Luke 17:33)

“Salvation costs you nothing. Discipleship costs you everything.”


Making the abnormal, “normal”…. how Paul Burke is doing just that

I was privileged to have one of the most amazing mentors when I was in my teen years.

Paul Burke and his wife, Vicky, took me under their wing and they blew me away with the life and passion they lived.  I remember when I was seventeen, they broke the news they were moving to Toronto to work with the homeless in the downtown core.   A couple of years later I went to visit them and the work they were doing among the homeless.   Paul took me down Younge Street at night to show me around.  I was amazed at how many people he knew!  We would pass by and I’d hear; “Hey Paul!”.   Paul didn’t just say “hi” back, he knew these people’s NAMES!   He had no fear.  He took me into what looked like a dark back alley they could use on a movie set.  He proceeded to break up a fight between some seriously mean looking guys.  I almost peed my pants, but I didn’t because Paul would have teased me for the rest of my life….


After chatting with Paul a week ago he said something that gripped me; “We who call ourselves Christians have made what should be normal abnormal”.   I instantly recalled a time I happened to see Paul on the news because he stopped to help someone who looked like they were going to jump off the bridge he was driving on.   While others drove by stressed about their next appointment, Paul lived out what normal Jesus following looks like.  I mean, this is the guy who’s kids grew up with drug dealers around…. drug dealers who Paul knew the names of, and cared about.  Most people would freak out at that concept, but you know what?  Paul and Vicky’s kids are all grown up now and living out the same compassion seen in their parents.  You could say they’re living “normal” too.


Paul’s life and speech are pretty to-the-point.  I asked him what he’s presently doing with all his outreach.   Here is how he replied; “Convincing people they can do stuff”.  Pretty humble response coming from a guy who’s got two missions downtown Toronto (or maybe there’s more now), a 12 step church set up for recovering addicts,  missions  happening with the gypsies in Spain and France, starting a mission in the University, restoring lives, discipling people to reproduce compassion into others, keeping a feeding program for the homeless running, creating outreach in a public school to equip and empower teachers….  no wonder he calls himself a “chaos creator”.  I like to call him a Culture Rebel.


None of it makes sense to Paul. He calls himself the “least likely”.  An accident several years ago has left him with brain damage, yet there he is keeping on despite any aftermath, such as loss of energy or ability to focus.  He still presses on to bring the “normal” back to Christianity.


Some have asked me: “So is this what a Culture Rebel is??  Someone who gives to the poor?  Is that your point?”.  Not exactly.   A Culture Rebel is someone who makes culture, rather than follows it.  Paul isn’t following culture.  He’s not even following normal church culture….. he’s making the abnormal, normal.  THAT’S what being a Culture Rebel is all about.


That’s our challenge for this week: how can you make what seems to be “abnormal” by society and even within the church, normal again?   I’d love to hear your thoughts!


And Paul, thanks for forever being who I want to be when I grow up.


ps: Erin is the winner of the book draw!!

Meet a University Culture Rebel using brown bags to make a difference

Meet Melissa Wilson, a 20 year old math major chemistry minor at the University of Calgary.  Last year, she was introduced to a program in Calgary called; “Brown Baggin’ it” through her mom who delivered lunches to kids at R.T. Alderman Junior High. That was when she learned that if someone didn’t take over the program, it would end. Melissa describes after meeting a couple of the kids; “That was pretty much it for me, I just kind of knew I’d have to find a way to make it work”.


Even with her busy University and work schedule, Melissa meets once a week at the school with a group of four students to make the lunches. These lunches include a sandwich, a treat (ex. granola bar), a fruit, yogurt, and a juice box.


When I asked Melissa why she’s sacrificing time and energy to make sure kids get a lunch at school she replied; “Not every family can make ends meet like many of us are privileged enough to be able to do. There are students who come to school without food not because they forget their lunch, but because their families can’t afford to feed them that extra meal every day. These are the students we provide for.  I just think that a lot of people hear about the starving children in Africa, but nobody thinks to look close to home. As a university student, I don’t have the money to donate to children thousands of kilometres away, but I can make time in my life (barely haha) to help kids in my city”.


Wow.  She’s got my attention.   I don’t know about you, but I am so inspired and filled with hope when I hear of young people like her doing something to impact others.  She’s making time when many make excuses.   Imagine we all did that?…


The Brown Baggin’ it program is a great way to help kids right in your own community.   They believe that the problem of child hunger can be solved.  They believe that families and communities can care for their children and ensure that no child goes hungry. “We are here to walk alongside communities, schools and families as we all work to ensure that no child is missed and that all are cared for in a meaningful way.  We believe in creating opportunities for the community to make a difference.  We believe that, given the opportunity, communities and individuals will “make this their problem”.


A Culture-rebel like Melissa has made this her problem along with other volunteers who work with her such as Ms Ballantine at the school who organizes students to help.   It takes a team to make it happen.


Melissa’s mom, Nancy, is still involved too by organizing drivers to deliver the lunches.  She freely donates food and money to be sure kids don’t go hungry.


You can check out the Brown Baggin’ It website at


On their website they say:


We believe that all children should be loved and cared for by
family, community and society.


If your brother’s child was hungry, what would you do?…


That’s a good question isn’t it?  Maybe its time we make children who are hungry our problem.

You’ll be amazed at what this woman simply did to impact her community…

The Chapacisers will shape you up…. and shape a little culture while they’re at it!

I am so excited to introduce you to Karin Henderson. She’s vibrant, energetic, bubbly,  and she’s not just a culture rebel… she’s a culture-maker.   And she’s just a normal person like you and I doing some great things.

Karin had a goal to run a half marathon and noticed that there was always people running in her Calgary community of Chapparal.  She decided to start seeing if people in her community wanted to start running and training together.   What has resulted is something bigger than she expected, and is impacting her entire community.

No one left behind

The birth of the Chapacisers happened through a bad experience Karin had a with a running group who left her behind in the dark, alone at night in an area she wasn’t comfortable in.   She determined she wouldn’t let this happen to others.  She got some ladies in her community together to train for a half marathon.  The rule was; no one gets left behind.  When it came time for the half marathon, due to an injury, Karin struggled through the race only to finish last at 3 hours and 10 minutes.  Guess who was there at the finish line despite the freezing cold winter day?  Her running buddies cheering her on!  No one left behind.  Karin had created herself some culture!  Soon, her running group had gone from 5 to 30.

Creating a community 

The group was gaining interest and momentum.  They had a naming contest and “Chapacisers” became official.   They began getting community sponsors and increasing the various programs they would provide for the community in regards to health and fitness.  They now not only have running groups but walking groups, bootcamps, and ladies nights out.  Just recently, they had 50 women head out as a team to run the RMS women’s run in Canmore.  Not to mention just this past October, another 50 women running in the CIBC Run for the Cure and winning the Top Women’s Fundraising Team Award!


They not only exercise, but they sponsor families and organize food hampers at Christmas.  Karin’s idea has turned into a place for women of all ages to find friendships in a lonely world, achieve health-based goals, AND be able to find the joy of giving to the community.  That’s some powerful stuff.


Mommy!  There are your friends!

The cool thing about Chapacisers is that its not an exclusive group of yummy mommies concerned with gravitating towards those who are the same.   Their group is made up of women from all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.  There are working moms, retired moms and moms to be.  There are sisters, cousins, mothers and daughters.  They laugh, share ideas and get fit together!   The coolest thing I heard Karin say is that their children will see people out being active and say; “Mommy! There are your friends!”.   How amazing is it that a community is getting to know one another  rather than retreating from the car to the front door.


Their group is now over 100 members!  100 people who have been brought out of isolation to experience the beauty of community…. something our culture longs for, but runs from.


Weight has been lost and confidence has been gained. People’s lives have been impacted. The ladies in the community have met new friends, come out of their shells and some have found a new outlook on life!


Does it take a bit of work? Yes

Does it take a time commitment? Yes


But Karin and the Chapacisers are making a huge impact on their community and creating a wonderful place for their kids to grow up.  They’re taking back the role of supermodel for others and their children by modeling health, acceptance and the power of living in community.


The Culture Rebel Challenge: 

When I asked Karin, “Why did you start this group?”, she replied “It wasn’t so much about ‘why’, but ‘why not’!”

How about you?  Are you living in isolation?  Afraid of the world around you?  Lonely?  Not liking the community you live in?  Have you ever thought that you, too, could spark hope in the community you live in?  We always assume those who do these things are heroic and different, but I can guarantee you, Karin is just like you and I.  The difference is, she stepped out.

Will you?  What are some interests  you have that could bring people together around you?  It’s really that simple.

Why not?….

The number one thing you need to know about poverty in North America…. and how it can be solved.

I had a meeting with Jeff Dyer, the Chief Operating Officer at the Mustard Seed, a ministry to the homeless in Calgary.  The Mustard Seed provides basic services, housing, and employment to the homeless,  quickly transitioning them from shelter to a place they can call home.


I was there because I’m ignorant about homelessness.   I’m tired of my comfortable bubble and wanted to at least seek to understand something, anything, about homelessness.  What he downloaded left me moved beyond words.    Here are Jeff’s words in the best way I can represent them.   Are we willing to hear?


If homelessness was a movie, loneliness would be the villain, and the hero would be community.  The power of community can solve homelessness and poverty.  Read that again.  And again.  And one more time until it sinks in; that means you and I have what it takes to end poverty.  All it takes is generosity, understanding, and an awareness that they are more like us than we think!


The problem isn’t homelessness; the problem is isolation and loneliness.  When Jeff said this to me, I was puzzled.  I was expecting an answer such as “addictions”, “lack of self-respect”, “laziness”, not loneliness.   If the problem of homelessness is rooted in isolation, then I have more in common as a mom of young kids who’s home a lot, with the one who finds themselves without shelter.


Imagine for a moment what it would be like to go from living in a temporary shelter  in community with 300 or so other people to living in an apartment all by yourself.  You can’t afford cable,  just four walls to look at with your addictions eating at every ounce of your self control.  You don’t know how to cook or where to find the nearest grocery store.  You wouldn’t even know what to do in a grocery store, as your normal grocery shop was usually done at the local garbage dump…..   it wouldn’t be long before living on the street in community looks better than the living hell of loneliness faced day in and day out.   Mom’s, we understand this, don’t we?


But what if community was found outside the streets and in the land of suburbia?  What if that person had invitations over for dinner from your normal, typical family who treated them like a person made to be valued;  who didn’t view them as a family charity-project, but as a friend?   What if they were shown the ropes of living on their own; like how Superstore is probably their best bet for cheaper groceries, and some helpful time-saving cooking tips?….. this happens in community.   This is something my family CAN participate in.


It will take us coming out of our ignorance of where these people are really coming from.  It will take a rebellion towards the mindset that says “You stay over there”.  It’s rebelling against all the myths about homelessness we’ve bought into.


Jeff said that each year the Mustard Seed has around 10,000 volunteers engaged in their ministry to some degree.  He’s grateful, yet has a greater dream of seeing that same number using their energies to help create a place for the one homeless to be welcomed back into society…. an invitation to be in community.


Ending homelessness is DOABLE!  If every faith community in Calgary adopted ONE homeless family, that would end it.  Serious?  That’s all it would take?  But you know what that means don’t you?  Church goers would have to be willing to make room for people they consider “odd”.  Even further, they would need to be willing to engage and welcome them into their lives.


According to Jeff, getting a homeless person a place to live “isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of the end” (taken from Winston Churchill)


Can we create space in our lives for the forgotten? The vulnerable and broken?  Can they be invited back into life?  The church was once the astonishing ones, the culture revolutionaries first on the social crisis scene.  Can we be a rebellious church that says NO THANKS to the lures of building kingdoms to brag about at conferences and YES to ministry Jesus, Himself was engaged fully in?  It’s not an evangelism program, it’s a compassionate response.  Will we be the first community to say; “you’re ok”?


What’s the difference between someone homeless and us?  A greater credit limit?  Segregation?  Circumstance?  The family we’re born into?…. nothing?   Are any of these an excuse to allow the poor to sink poorer while the rich get richer?  In an unstable economy, is it really far off to think that we could be in their shoes?    Jesus message was living AMONG the poor.  We need a society of rebels that wake up and pay attention.


The 20th century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing – John Berger


Are you a culture rebel?  Are you up to seek to understand how to be an answer to poverty and homelessness? Will  you go that far?

Find out what the first Culture-rebel challenge is… and if you can handle it

I will be telling the stories of people who are living like culture rebels from time to time on the blog.  Stories inspire and so I couldn’t think of a better start to our “meet culture rebels” section than to introduce you to a whole group of culture-rebels I’m proud to know; the Redbud Writers Guild.


They are a “new breed” of women. Women who are no longer bound by jealousy and competition. Women who are able to cheer for and promote one another without agenda. Women who know that their voice matters, and the ladies around them have voices that matter as well. Women who are coming out of isolation and fear and creating culture…. culture that is welcoming, inclusive, giving and empowering. This “new breed” is quite the rebel to what’s been the norm among women, yet alone authors! That’s why I love the buds: their a tad bit rebellious to the old woman of being guarded and aloof. They’ve created a whole new game that will give momentum.  A radical new expression making way for God’s girls.

 (this isn’t all of them, there’s many more!)


It goes beyond survival and expands to enrich the lives of others. “If there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.” (Matthew Arnold, nineteenth century poet and philosopher)


Besides, “well behaved women rarely make history” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)


Imagine women all over began to put aside competition and status and started to unselfishly cheer for one another?  What would that do inside of you?


THIS is the Rebel Challenge for the week: can you put aside your first reaction of jealousy or comparison and cheer for even those who threaten you most?  Who is one person this week you can swallow your pride and cheer for them… despite what YOU think.  Takes guts, it involves taking the harder path.  Are you up for it?  I believe inside of you lies a dangerous rebel who can change the very atmosphere you carry around you.


I’d love to hear your stories of working this challenge for 1 week!  feel free to tell them in the comments or send me a message at


It’s time to stand up and be a rebel.

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