The Sons of Thunder is a Christian band and part of a larger, growing group of average guys who have decided to take a stand for Christ and work on becoming better husbands and fathers - yes, even sons.

The Sons of Thunder was hatched about 5 years ago. This group often leads/joins a larger group of men in study and prayer and seeks to serve the wider community.

Based in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, SOT has been known to tackle a range of projects - everything from home maintenance chores to helping move immigrant families. In 2008, the group did some missions work in NYC serving, playing and singing at the Bowery Mission. As is often the case, those who went to 'minister' were 'ministered to'. When the praises go up...the blessings come down!

If you live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, look us up at Bridgewater Baptist Church. And feel free to invite us to lead or participate in your event. We love road trips! Rock on!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

David's Testimony

I would love it if each one of us took a month over the next year and each month we would post our personal testimony.  I think it would be a very powerful example and may reach people in a way we simply can't in regular conversation.  I am willing to go first and post mine here now.
Some of you have heard this before but here goes.

I was born and raised in Toronto, an only child to two working parents.  We went to Church most Sundays.  We were Anglican and went to the "short service" early in the morning that was only 30 minutes long.  Every week we would open the Bible in the pew to page 67 and go through the same motions as the week before.  Despite this boring ritual I did believe in God as did my family.  What I'll mention later is how there is a difference in simply believing there is a God, and having Faith in God.

Anyway my childhood was nothing overly exciting.  I wasn't the easiest child and my parents were older then most when I was born so I think I tired them out rather quickly.  
My father was an alcoholic and I still remember nights being woken up by my mother and placed in the front seat of our old VW beetle, being told we were going to a motel and waiting for her to come back out of the house.  We never made it to any motel as every time this happened, she would come back out and hour or so later, put me in my bed and life went on.
Eventually we moved out, for almost a year.  This was not so much my Mom leaving my Dad but her way of us getting out of his way while he found help.  He did and I am very proud of him.  He has saved a lot of people over his 25+ years of sobriety by sharing his story of recovery and in that way, is a little bit of a hero to me.

I was a very hyperactive child and my parents, on the advice of teachers, put me on Ritalin.  This didn't help and as my dosage was upped on a regular basis they started to run out of ways to deal with me.
As a teenager I was very hard to deal with and although I never got into trouble with the law, never touched drugs or even alcohol, we couldn't seem to find a way to exist together without fighting.  Looking back on it, and again, I will touch on it later, there was never a point where we, as a family turned to God for help.  We believed but had no Faith.
When I had just turned 17 my parents kicked me out of the house having had enough of me and really, me of them.  I lived with friends and eventually moved two hours north of Toronto, in a tent, to be closer to my then girlfriend, now wife, Trina.
The separation of over 6 months from my parents did wonders with how my Mom, Dad and I interacted and after that time, I came back home.  It was still far from perfect but at least it was civil.  Now almost 18 and still none of us was looking upward for help or guidance.

As time moved on Trina and I got married, bought a home in Toronto and had two boys.  We then decided, from what I thought was out of the blue, to move.  To move to Nova Scotia, to a town we had never been to before in a Province where we didn't know anyone.
Trina took the bull by the horns and decided that the Baptist Church was where we should go that Sunday.  Well, I didn't know what to do, we hadn't been to Church more then four times in ten years and I wasn't Baptist I was Anglican.  Not really caring enough to argue, I went along not knowing what lay ahead for me or our family.
That Sunday, I'll never forget it.  Fire prevention week in 2002 and Tom Harvey was preaching.  We sat down and just as we were getting ready for the service, these people turn around and introduce themselves to us, then stand up and introduce us to the entire Church.  Those Rands!!  Needless to say I didn't like Tom's message that day (sorry Tom) and the Church was too full with all the firefighters that were there and I didn't want to go back.  Funny thing is, we felt we had to because the Rands had introduced us and then invited us to Thanksgiving dinner to boot.  The funny thing is, I owe Paul and Janice my life.  If they hadn't done what they did, I may never have gone back to Church.  I may never had gone down the path they helped put me on that would lead me to Christ.  I am saved because two people thought to turn around and say hi, welcome.  I love you both for that and I will never ever forget what you did.
So we went back the following Sunday and Tom's message was a little better.  The Sunday after that better again and then a few months later his message just seemed like it was meant for me.  He was talking to me and things were starting to become clear.  Why we were in a Town where we had no reason to move to in the first place.  Why we were at a Baptist Church when we weren't Baptist.  Why everything that had happened, had unfolded the way it did.  God.  So simple.  We were here for no other reason then God wanted us in this place at this time.  I wept that day in Church and every Sunday after that as Tom spoke.  Every message was for me from God through Tom.  I was filled with a purpose.  Then Tom left, and I felt empty.  I was lost for almost a year, wondering where God was, not understanding how it all stopped so suddenly.  

Then Eric came to give his "job interview" message to the congregation to see if we thought he was a good fit.  I cried in Church that day (not sure Eric if you'll remember that or not), for the first time since Tom had left for the South.  The void had been filled and I felt God was back in my life.  I know now he had never left, but sometimes we can't see that so clearly.

There have been a few moments in my life where God has spoken to me clearly enough that I know it is Him.  Springforth 2007 He spoke to me and I took action (which we don't always do).  Our recent trip to NYC, well actually since being back from NYC, He is talking and I am listening and I am taking action.  I am no longer willing to cover my ears and pretend that I didn't hear anything.  

I have Faith in God.  It is much more then believing.  It is more then simply knowing He is out there, it is knowing He is in here, in us, for us without fail.  How many people do you know that you can talk to at any hour of the day, never have them tell you they are unavailable or too busy to listen?  How many people do you know would lay down their life for you without question?  How many people do you know, accept you no matter how you look, where you're from or how much money you have?  How many people do you know, made a way for you to live forever with your Father?  I know one.  Jesus Christ.  I have Faith now that I never had growing up.  I have Christ in my life and it is awesome.

I hope that others will share their Testimony here and as we grow, we learn from each other, how to see, how to hear and most importantly, how to take action when God speaks to us.
Rock On!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Something I once thought I needed to say...

Robb, you've got a big job on your plate as chair of the Capital Campaign (not that it's up to you alone, we're all in this together). Ideas may be powerful tools in this work, so I think we should share ideas with you. Before Christmas, I was disturbed by the slow pace of progress with the land and the new building plans and also by some of the comments from the congregation I heard directly or through the grapevine. This and ALL the sermons week after week and the lessons in youth group and sudden insights that seemed to come directly from God all piled up to the point where I was compelled to get them out of my head and onto paper. This was an outside-the-box experience for me; I'm not a writer, I don't keep journals, this is my first blog activity. Once it was written, I felt released. My vision at the time was to make it part of the building committee presentation of the new design concept. Between the time of writing and now, though, the atmosphere has changed and, so far, the opposition I was expecting is not happening. God is at work here. It seems unnecessary to beat people about the head now. There may be some ideas you can use in it, though, so I'll add the text at the bottom of this post. Read it, forget it, use it, whatever. It's all yours.

For some years, now, we’ve been looking toward expanding the capacity of our church, whether through renovation or new construction. Setbacks and delays seem to have dampened the spirit of enthusiasm we once had, and this is bothering me. Lately I’ve been hit with a number of convictions about the way we’re approaching the project. I’ve also felt the need to share these convictions, so here we go.

I want to start by telling you about my first car. It was a 1977 Mustang, 2.8 litre, V6, 4-speed. It was blue. My dad discovered it and thought of me. He even bankrolled me until I found a job to pay for it. Although it wasn’t new, this was the car I’d always wanted. I’ve never since been closer to loving a car. It was peppy enough to suit me. The wheels would chirp in second gear just from putting my foot down and it sounded like a V8, not noisy and irritating, but throaty, like it had intentions. I looked good in it and it felt good on me.

The job I got required me to travel over most of the province carrying lots of gear. Cargo space was not a strong point in my Mustang, but I managed, by making more frequent trips to the office and spreading into the back seat when the trunk was full. Lots of business miles on an already old car led to a breakdown now and then, and eventually my boss told me I needed a more dependable vehicle with more cargo space. What was I to do? I loved my car, but my work required that I let it go. I traded it in on a new Capri hatchback that had much more cargo space and better reliability. I soon wore the Capri out and upgraded again, this time to a Mazda truck with a cap. It wasn’t long before the box was loaded to capacity. This need for change was driven by the requirements of the job.

Let’s look further back in history. The Baptists in and around this town purchased “The Lord’s Barn” in 1849. After five years and a lot of hard work, the “Baptist Meeting House” was opened. Over the years, through times of struggle and victory, the congregation grew. Improvements were made to the building; a new baptistery was added, the pulpit was lowered from its elevated position to be nearer to the people, a 12’ X 15’ extension was built behind the pulpit to allow the choir to leave the elevated gallery behind the assembly and face the people from the front, new pews were installed, a 28’ X 35’ vestry was built at the back of the church, new windows were installed. In the early 1900’s, the church body was thriving and they had outgrown the previously expanded ‘Baptist Meeting House’. Take a moment right now and imagine we are there wrestling with many of the same problems we have right now… You, your family and your friends have been saved, baptized, nurtured, married and buried in the Baptist Meeting House. There is a great deal of sentiment, nostalgia, intrigue and history attached to this old town landmark. Do we find a way to continue to renovate? Do we need a new structure? What will we do…? What did they do? Well, sometime between 1912 and the start of WW1, a building fund was established. At the annual meeting in January of 1920, the building committee was authorized to proceed with the erection of a new church; this building we’re in now. Work began that year and the grand opening was held on Jan 30, ’21.

This structure has harboured us for almost 90 years, but now, I believe, our boss is telling us our Mustang doesn’t have enough cargo space and we need something more reliable, metaphorically speaking. Why doesn’t this structure meet our requirements any more?
We don’t have enough room for the people we have attending now. At times, people have had to leave because there was no place to sit. We have a full house even when many regulars are away. The ‘overflow’ seating has become regular and even preferred seating.
Stairs are everywhere we need to go. This causes difficulties for some seniors and others with mobility difficulties.
The aisles are narrow and crooked creating difficulties for weddings and funerals.
We don’t have adequate or convenient parking.
There are three old buildings, each with high maintenance and heating costs.
There is no A/C.
Platform and front floor space are too small.
We have to prohibit jumping in the sanctuary because there is not enough structural integrity in the floor to support it.
Poor sight lines from overflow and choir.
The lighting is insufficient to allow us to air our services on local cable.
Inadequate, poorly positioned washroom facilities.
Offices and annex meeting room are far removed from main building.
There is no reliable Internet access in the main building.
The gym is small, noisy, and inadequate.
There is a woeful lack of storage space.
I suspect each of you can add to this list.

Through surveys, interviews and discussions, church workers have told two building committees what was needed to support our present and expected future needs. The solutions are in the new plan, which addresses and fulfills all the identified needs.

Many reasons are given to argue that we stay here.
We can’t afford our current bills. How can we build a new church?
It’s such a nice old building.
I grew up here. It holds a lot of meaning for me.
What about the organ and the stained glass windows; we don’t want to lose those, do we?

These are all nuts-and-bolts issues; important to consider, but, I believe, not of paramount significance in the matter. Let me talk about them for just a bit. In the end, though, it’s important to remember that we must be obedient to God’s call and leading.

It’s not unexpected that people would develop attachments to this place. They’ve laboured long and hard to build this body of believers into the family we are today. That work must be respected and honoured, but the honour and respect must come from the rest of us who follow their example, not from the structure. The building housed us, but it was the communion of believers within the walls that created those fond memories and the comfortable feelings of security and peace. It was not the pews and organ and pulpit and stained glass. This is a building where we have come together to worship God. It must not be that which we worship. I don’t know of any place in Scripture where we are commanded to maintain buildings because of their historical or architectural significance or character. The building we use is a tool in the work, but the tool itself sends a message. I think we should want that message to speak to today’s, and tomorrow’s, cultures with relevance and authority. Today’s culture is one of media bombardment, using steadily evolving technology in more ways every day. How long can we expect constantly changing culture to find post WW1 form and function appealing and compelling?

The issue of finances is always a thorny one. I’m not going to take the time to preach to you about how you should use the money God has placed in your hands. I will, though, quickly relate the high points of a Bible study I recently led for the senior youth. It was part of a series on social justice and our responsibility in the fight against oppression. The lesson was called “God’s Vision Brings God’s Provision.” The scripture text was the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. The theme was, “If YOU show up, GOD will show up.” Jesus asked Phillip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed these people?” They were in an unpopulated countryside with no grocery stores and even if there had been stores, eight month’s wages couldn’t have fed the crowd, according to Phillip. He saw the problem as one of economics. Another disciple saw the problem as an opportunity. He had found the only food there, a boy’s lunch, and brought it to Jesus. This was a ridiculously small amount of food compared to the number of hungry mouths, but the boy gave it willingly, without holding anything back for himself, without telling Jesus that he was nuts for thinking it would be enough. You know what happened. Jesus blessed it and started passing it out. Everyone ate until they were full and there were 12 baskets full of leftovers. The message is this; if YOU show up at the picnic with your lunch and whatever meager resources you have and bring a willing, obedient heart, GOD will show up with his limitless resources, use your lunch to feed 5000 people and have leftovers for the food bank. That same Jesus is the one who is telling us our Mustang is too small.

Please take a moment, right now, to think back to the time of your conversion, or another significant time that you and God had together… In every case I’m sure you had the realization that God was there to meet you exactly where you were. He was totally relevant to your situation in that moment. To have a continuing, effective outreach to the people of this community, which is our primary goal and an element of the Great Commission, we must be prepared to meet them where they are so they can know that God wants to meet them there, too. Our society is constantly morphing, being shaped and reshaped faster than most of us can keep up, but it’s our job to show that God remains relevant in all this change, that he’s not an old-fashioned concept that is no longer of any use or interest in our present society. We must make our message current. The building we use is one tool that gets used in our presentation of the good news and that tool becomes part of our message. It needs to be as current as our message for the message to have teeth.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song that I think could be our anthem throughout this process.

Burn the Ships

In the spring of 1519, a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors, ‘This mission must not fail.’
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world made them restless and weak
Quietly they whispered, ‘Let’s sail back to the life we knew.’
But the one who led them there was saying,

‘Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.’

In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that will not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill and destroy
Quietly he whispers, ‘Go back to the life you know.’
But the one who led us here is saying,

‘Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.’

Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone

Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.

I want you to know that I’m not suggesting that we set fire to our buildings. That would be dangerous and irresponsible, but I think it would be more dangerous to place our affection for this present location ahead the opportunity for growth that God has presented to us. Do we dare to limit God’s work through us in this town to the size of the four walls of this old tool that he’s already filled? I don’t. This building has been in use for close to 90 years. Do you dare tell the people of the next 90 years that their vision of God’s work for them in this town has to fit in this building? I don’t. Are you prepared to deny future generations the joy of seeing God fill a larger, more functional, socially relevant, albeit unfamiliar structure? I’m not. Where in scripture are we told to get comfortable and bask in the glory of previous spiritual victories? Can we say, “I’m sorry God, but I don’t believe you have the skills and resources to be able to afford a project this big?”

I can see three responses to the challenge God has placed before us;
God, we can’t afford to grow any more. Could you please stop working through us and, instead, use some of the other churches around us that still have room to grow?
God, thank you for using us to grow this body to the capacity of the building. Please keep bring us new people, but just a few at a time, so we can get them started in a new life with you. Then we’ll pass them on to another nearby church that still has empty pews.
God, thank you for blessing us with each other and using us to create a body that cares for each of its members and the lost of the community around us. What You’re doing here shows, and people are coming to see what it’s all about. We prayed that you would increase your flock and you answered with a ‘Yes.’ Now we’re full and we ask that you give us a new prayer. Lord, please make it possible for us to pay for what we need to continue your work. And give us the faith to start now with the assurance that you’ll do it.

To me, the proper response is clear. Our work in this mission field isn’t ended just because we’ve filled this vessel. Thank you faithful Mustang. It’s been a sweet ride, but now it’s time to burn the ships!

Well Robb, there it is. At this point in time, some of it sounds a bit like a rant, considering the change in mood. I still think that there are some important points, though.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

That Burning feeling ain't hemoroids....

I asked myself what I thought was a simple question today and from that came a whole bunch of other stuff that could fill 10 posts on this Blog but lets just start with the one.

Do I want my boys to be just like me?

Not in a stay-at-home dad, David Jr. kind of way but as a husband, father, Christian man kind of way.  The answer to the first couple was easy.  Yes I think I am a good husband and a decent father so that wouldn't be a bad thing if they were like me.  What about the Christian man part though?  What kind of Christian man am I?  Do I set an example, any example to them in that regard or do I blend in.  Am I lost in the crowd of people where you cannot tell one man from another, a non-believer from a follower of Christ?  This goes back to the Clark Kent vs. Superman thing that Tom talked about and I have had on my heart since NYC but I want to take that a few more rungs up the ladder.
Do I set an example, as a Christian man for anyone?  Is there anyone I know, scratch that, is there anyone I don't know, that can see me, hear me,watch me and say, that is a good man, a leader, a Christian.  Certainly up until a few weeks ago I think the answer would be nope. 

 I feel that today, God placed on my heart, told me in a way that only God can, that it is time for not just me but us, the Sons of Thunder, to stand up as Christian men in our Church, take off the Clark Kent glasses and suit and show others that we are in fact Supermen.  That we are to take the fire that is burning in each one of us now, the fire that started to burn the minute we got back from NYC (yes Robb you've got it too brother), and use it to bring together the men of our Church.  Some of us have had a number of men come up to us and ask how they can get on this ride that we're on.  What do we say to them, New York City 2009 here we come?  I hope we go next year but that's next year.  What do we say to these men now?  The fire is burning and I don't want it to go out.  I feel like God wants us to take these men and make them a part of the Sons of Thunder.  Let us be 20, 30 ,40 strong and just watch what we can do.  I want to stand up with my brothers, be the leaders that we are supposed to be in our homes, our community and our Church.  Then I'll be able to say, yes, I would love it if my boys were just like me.

More Brothers?

During practice a few weeks ago David made the comment, “wouldn’t it be cool if the choir could join us on this song”. I can’t remember which song he was talking about…probably one of those swelling MercyMe tunes.

Why not add a few of the guys who do not play – and form a male chorus to ‘sing it out’ for that song. Why don’t we see if we can sing and play on Mother’s Day…or Father’s Day?
Which song is it anyway? David?

I floated the idea by my brother Ron and he is willing. Honest! What about John S, Mike, Pat, Greg L… – I have heard that there are a bunch of guys chomping at the bit to STAND with us boys. Come on, think of the men you know. Paul C? Carl S? Vic, Robin…

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get every man to STAND with us as Sons of Thunder. Let’s make it happen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Brothers

Bowery Mission - "Here By The Water"

Bowery Mission - "Bring The Rain"

Sons Of Thunder - NYC 2008 Behind The Scenes II

Sons Of Thunder - NYC 2008 Behind The Scenes I

"Victory In Jesus"

Robin captured this video of Sons of Thunder working through a spontaneous rendition of "Victory In Jesus". This old hymn is the theme song at the Bowery Mission.

Video Slideshow of NYC Trip

My Brothers

This is a great way for us as the Sons of Thunder to share with our friends, family, Church and community.  I hope that we can all contribute to it.
I thought I would post the email I sent around after we got back from NYC.  I wanted to post it here so that I could tell you again how grateful I am that you are my "Brothers".

Well guys we are all home now safe and sound and back to our normal lives.  I want to thank all of you.  You all made an impact on me while I was there (for Robin it was the impact of his hand hitting me over and over)...just kidding.  Seriously though, you all played a very important part in the weekend for me and my spiritual growth and I am grateful to God that each one of you were there.  

Thank you Robin for leading us to NYC and leading us as men to a mission we may never have dreamed of if you weren't in our lives.  You are so strong and you set an incredible example of what faith in God and listening to the Lord can do in your life.  Halifax is far enough for you to be moving from us.  Thank you Rob for being a ball of energy and showing us just how much fun you can have serving the Lord and those men.  There was no stopping you brother and I hope there never is.  Has that smile come off your face yet?  I hope not.

Thank you Paul for your fearlessness with the guitar.  You use your gifts to their fullest and you are an inspiration to us all.  If you had not turned around that very first day we were in Church I don't know that any of this would have happened for me.  I truly believe that you a major part of the chain of events that led me to where I am right now.  Where would I be without you?  It doesn't matter because I am here, not there.  Thank you Paul.

Thank you Kerstin for wearing your faith on the outside for all to see.  If I can get half-way to where you are I will be a force for the Lord that cannot be stopped.  You are a Superman of God there is no doubt of that.  Jeff, without you we would not be able to unscramble the mish-mash of sound that we put out.  More then that Jeff, you listened to the call of God, stepped out with the Sons and we couldn't imagine the SOT without you.  You may not play with us (very often) but I will think of you every time we do.

Thank you Victor for your strength and your words.  You may be a man of few words (sometimes), but when you speak there is power there.  I meant it when I said I was moved by your words at the pulpit on Sunday.  Powerful man, very powerful.  I'm not sure you realize how important it was that you were with us this weekend but for me there could have been no other way.

Eric, there was a year before you came to Bridgewater that I felt lost.  I felt that everything that had built up, all that Tom had help me find in myself and in Christ had slipped away.  When you spoke for that first time in our Church it came back in a rush.  Your being in my life, in all our lives is a gift and a blessing.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be in a band let alone one with a Pastor in it.  It is an amazing feeling Eric to call you friend and it is God's hand in my life that lets me call you Brother.  Thank you for your blessings.  Thank you for your wisdom and your guidance.  

Robb, I wasn't sure if I should send this to you because I didn't want you to feel sad or upset but I feel like I need to say this to you. I want to thank you Robb because you are my brother.  God put you in my life right after we moved here there is a comfort I feel knowing that you are there.  We missed you so much but at the same time, you were with us.  For whatever reason, God wanted you to be home.  There is such comfort in knowing that it is part of his plan for you.  I thank you Robb for being the heartbeat of the SOT.  I thank you for standing up when God said "not this trip" and saying "yes Lord I hear you".  I'm not sure I could have done that.  Your eyes and ears are open to His voice and I am learning so much from you.  Thank God for you Robb.

Thank you all for just being the men that you are.  You are all so different but you are all pieces in the puzzle of my life.  I can't put it together if you are all not part of it.  I am a better man for knowing you.  I am a better man because of you.

Many Blessings


Remember, when the Praises go up.........

First Post

Boys, I've set you all up as 'authors' so you can contribute to this blog. David suggested it and I think it's a good way to share photos and thoughts, prayer requests, song ideas and challenges.

Give it a try. If you're not sure how to make it work - shoot me an email and I'll walk you through the process. Be brave!

Hey, I loved it last night. You guys really let the light shine and I love how the music really soared. The sharing time was excellent - I took so much away from that.

"When the praises go up..."