It’s that time – Finishing my Doctorate!

Gaz07The caption on this cartoon originally read, "drop and give me 20 pages".  Well, that’s the feeling I get as I start to wade into dissertation land.  It has finally arrived after months of waiting until the "right moment"…some may call that procrastination…but it wasn’t…er, well it was in some respect.  Oh well…I’m jumping in!  I would love to get this behind me and to proudly hang myself…er, hang the degree right next to my Trace Bundy posters and Yambar partoons in my music room.  I’m working on the intro and chapter one this weekend.  So help me God!

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The Shack – Book reflections

ShackA few days ago, I finished reading a wonderfully creative and challenging "novel", The Shack.  The fact that the author claims that this is more of a real life experience than a fictional tale is provocative.  Many who know me understand that I have not only "charismatic" roots but also "charismatic" leanings.  I know that the Power and Presence of God can astound us.  I know that God can act in ways that confound and surprise us.  To say that these things actually took place is NOT what is the most challenging.  I can buy that…in fact, there were times I was envious of the premise of the book…an actual "face to face" discussion with the Triune God.  I am not going to review the book in this post…this is one that needs to be read, period, not because someone you trust says to read it…rather because it is a book that can give you some new ideas, perspectives and a story that is compellingly interesting.  Fact is, I am going to read the book again next week because I simply rushed parts of it.  I was that pulled into the story.  I am giving you a couple of links to be able to see some reviews.  Check out "Subversive Influence" and the Facebook’s Group on the book.   Also the Internet Monk has a good review on the book.  That should keep you busy…in the meantime, the book is now available on Amazon…you might want to check it out!  Click on the book to get the exact link!

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A good “opinion” in USA today – “Offsets” – what a great idea!

 

As Rome would say, "the multi-colored fishwrap" posted a good "forum" (opinion) article today.  I think you should give it a read…I laughed outloud at it…especially the "Adultery" offset.  I can think of numerous other potential offsets…how about you?  In fact, maybe we should all read this and come up with some of our own "offset" ideas?  What do you think?  Enjoy!

Offset away our guilt
– If we can buy ‘carbon offsets’ for our environmental missteps, why not for our other sins? By Peter Schweizer

Some environmentalists are pushing a nifty idea to get people out of
the moral quandary of being alarmed by CO2 emissions but not wanting to
change their lifestyles. They are called "carbon offsets," and everyone from Al Gore to the Presbyterian Church is pushing them.

The idea provides a simple way to absolve you of your guilt.

Say you are wealthy and fly on a Gulfstream G400 jet. The plane will emit 1 ton of CO2 per passenger per hour.
Flying commercial on a Boeing 777 will emit only .06 tons per passenger
per hour. Wealthy environmentalists feel guilt about this, so they buy
a carbon offset to supposedly reduce carbon emissions by an equal
amount. The "offset" comes in the form of paying for solar panels or
planting trees that "offset" the damage you have done. Buy an offset
and — voilà— you are "carbon neutral."

Americans are snapping up these offsets, according to Time magazine, and public figures such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., buy them regularly. In endorsing the practice, Time says the practice provides an opportunity to "pay for your carbon sins."

Offsets are a brilliant idea: They allow people to carry on with
their current behavior, buy their way out of their obligations, and
along the way declare their moral cleanliness. As The Seattle Times put it, offsets are basically an "eraser."

We all have areas of our life that we feel guilty about. So why
limit offsets simply to the carbon we produce? Why not expand offsets
to erase our other sins? After all, why should environmentalists have
all the fun?

Here are some suggestions:

* The Adultery Offset. People who are caught in
compromising positions could purchase an offset from a pro-marriage
organization such as Focus on the Family. By buying the Adultery
Offset, the guilty party would counterbalance their adultery footprint
with a monogamous couple trained by this organization. Like the
carbon-emitter absolved of carbon sin, this would allow an individual
to be declared "adultery neutral" instantly. As with carbon offsets,
the guilty parties would not actually have to stop engaging in
adultery; he or she would simply need to write a check after every
occurrence. Two enterprising Britons have even set up a satirical
website called cheatneutral.com demonstrating how this could be done.

During the last Oscar ceremony, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science gave each Oscar presenter a carbon offset of
100,000 pounds of CO2, roughly double the average American’s annual
output. The Adultery Offset might prove to be even more popular in
Hollywood.

* The Pilates Offset. Spending more time in the gym
might be the best way to combat America’s growing obesity crisis, but
if you can’t make it, don’t worry. A Pilates Offset purchased from a
local gym would absolve you of any of the weighty responsibility for
obesity in America. With the offset, you would be paying for other
people to become physically fit. Their increased buffness would
neutralize your expanding waistline, and you would be "fat neutral."

Carbon offset companies offer decals
that guilty Americans with large SUVs can put on their cars to declare
that they are "carbon neutral." Obese Americans who purchased a Pilates
Offset would receive a T-shirt declaring them physically fit, or at
least "fat neutral." A Time article last October said you could buy carbon offsets as part of a "Low Carbon Diet." Why not offer them for real diets?

* The Tofu Offset. Do you want to tell your hip
friends that you are vegan, but you just can’t give up cheeseburgers? A
simple solution would be to purchase a Tofu Offset from your local
health foods store. With a TofuPass, you could maintain your status as
a strict vegetarian without actually giving up the double-cheeseburger
with bacon.

TerraPass,
a carbon-offset company, calculates that if you drive 12,000 miles per
year, you can offset your automobile’s annual 20,000 pounds of carbon
output with a $79.95 "Road Tripper" package.

To counteract that bacon double-cheeseburger, we could offer the
"Whopper" package, which would allow you to indulge in your carnivorous
habits but help fund vegan food stores. You could slap a sticker on
your car that says "Eat Vegan" and still go through the McDonald’s
drive-through in good conscience.

* The Pamela Anderson Offset. If you are concerned
about the humane treatment of animals but just love fur coats or veal
piccata, this is the offset for you. By purchasing offsets from People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, you would stay in the good graces
of PETA activists without giving up these luxuries. Perhaps PETA could
do the same for small mammals, too. Attend an animal rights rally in
your fur coat. It will be OK when you show them your PETA offset.

If these offsets don’t sound quite so appealing, don’t be alarmed.
True, you might be outsourcing your moral responsibilities for
something you care about and paying off your obligations without
changing your behavior. But if we do this right, offsets will give us
all a chance to be morally clean, concerned citizens without actually
making any changes in our life. What could be better than that?

Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and co-editor of a new book, Landmark Speeches of the American Conservative Movement.

When Adjectives Mess us up

BlogrevolutionAdjective – any member of a class of words that in many
languages are distinguished in form, as partly in English by having
comparative and superlative endings, or by functioning as modifiers of
nouns, as good, wise, perfect.  The part of speech that modifies a noun or other substantive by
limiting, qualifying, or specifying and distinguished in English
morphologically by one of several suffixes, such as -able, -ous, -er, and -est, or syntactically by position directly preceding a noun or nominal phrase.

Adjectives, generally speaking, screw us up in the pursuit of faithfulness to Kingdom purposes.  The problem with adjectives is that"by limiting, qualifying, or specifying" types of Christ-followers…in other words, in attempting to describe something unique about a movement, person, or community of people, once an adjective is added, usually harm is done.  You see, adjectives were never meant to become NOUNS…they are mostly words that are used subjectively by the speaker/writer.  But the problem is once an adjective is used, it easily transforms into a noun and it used in an abusive manner.  Try this on for size:

  • When it appears that a person is TOO literalistic in their interpretation/use of scripture, we are tempted to describe them as a "fundamentalist" and then marginalize them
  • When a person lives the flow of their life in the context of a denominational church body, they are morphed into whatever that denomination is…they are a "Lutheran", "Pentecostal", "Baptist", "Anglican", etc.  Then they are pigeon-holed based upon our subjective ideas of the reality of that denomination.
  • When it appears that a person has blown it in some way, instead of focusing on the behavior, calling it what it is as "broken behavior" of a person who is called a saint within biblical texts, we have a tendency to move sin from its place as a descriptor of actions to a labeling of a person as a "sinner".
  • When a person is performing a specific function within the Body of Christ that is, according to the biblical witness itself, simply one of numerous "callings" from the Spirit of God…that person is "pastoring" people effectively as an equally vital part of the overall economy of the work of God.  The problem comes when the "pastor" becomes not a descriptor of action but a noun describing a person…suddenly that descriptor takes on power and separateness…and thus can and has been abused.

Where is all this coming from?  Well, in recent months, I have again felt the sting of being marginalized by a descriptor that was supposed to simply describe something from my past NOT become the basis for a subjective judgment of my character/etc.  Somebody referred to me as a "Lutheran"…now, I have no problem with that descriptor/adjective if it is simply one way of referring to something that has been a part of my life.  In other words, I have been involved in a Lutheran expression of Christianity.  But, as mentioned above, Lutheran is an adjective NOT a noun.  It describes a certain theological and liturgical heritage within the flow of Christendom.  It helps someone who doesn’t know me understand a bit about my background IF they understand what is special about a "Lutheran" understanding of Christ-following.  The problem comes when the person using the adjective uses it as a noun…when their subjectivity (usually negative stereotypes and misunderstandings) becomes more than opinion but something that gives them an opportunity to disconnect from community.  Remember, when adjectives become nouns, they mess us up.  We have all felt the sting of broad generalizations of our lives…"oh, they are only an artist"…"that person is a flake"…"she’s an idiot".  You see, all those descriptors are adjectives describing something that is meant to be seen as transitory, situational and circumstantial.  Can we try to let the adjectives be just what they are meant to be?  Can we put aside the temptation to make a descriptor into a label that gives rise to marginalization and rejection?  You tell me…what do you think?

Ok – we’re back and hopefully back to blogging

AvatarJust returned from our fabulous anniversary cruise to Alaska…all I can say is "WOW".  This is the cruise/vacation for someone who LOVES incredible scenery…mountains…vistas…what a great trip!  Vicky and I had a great time together renewing our marriage.  If you want to check out some pics, go to http://www.renewministry.com and you can view about 100 of the best photos via a small video that I produced.  Click over to the events page…you can see the 6.5 minute video there!  I think I will try to get back to a blogging regimen later today…I’ve got a few thoughts brewing!

Suffering for Jesus on an Alaskan Cruise

GrandprinOK – I am a romantic!  I sold some of my musical equipment this year to be able to surprise my wife Vicky with an Alaskan Cruise for our 15th anniversary.  Don’t feel completely sorry for me because I have a serious GAS problem…so I have equipment to spare.  GAS, by the way, is a serious psychological disease…"Gear Aquisition Syndrome".  Fact is, it runs in the family…at least with all the male musicians in our family…we have to have MORE pedals, MORE effects, MORE guitars, BIGGER amps…the situation is serious.  So, as a spiritual discipline AND as a completely self-sacrificial move, I sold some stuff and Vicky and I are heading to Alaska this Sunday for a week.  Really, we go to British Columbia and board one of the "Love Boats" and head up the coast.  Besides how cool a cruise is (we did a Mexican cruise for our 10th anniversary), we are also doing ONE fun excursion…helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier and then mushing a dog sled team ON the glacier.  How fun does that sound?   So, if you don’t see any posts for a few days, think and pray for me.  Frankly, I can’t wait.  Fifteen years with my wonderful wife, Vicky, is just too fun to celebrate.  It was fun to surprise her…it will be even more fun to go and spend these moments together!  See ya when I get back in a week…Dscn1931

A Quote that took my breath away!

Emptytreessm_2"I can see further from my office window when there are no leaves on the trees"

Yesterday, in a chance meeting with my friend, Rickard, he shared with me a very moving statement that he read in a book that was written by an old Swedish Bishop.  I heard the quote and it has stuck in my mind and heart throughout the day…this is about perspective…it is about the power of barrenness and what happens when changes take hold of our lives.  I wish this book was available in english…if it was, we would all be hearing about it.  Nonetheless, this is a quote to ponder…to think about your life and the struggles, changes, pain, hardships, and barrenness that you encounter and what they really do in life.  I’ve often said in some of my own messages and teachings that pain is not something to always find an escape from as much as it is where we discover meaning within.   We need to more and more not seek immediate delivery FROM struggles as much as we discover the presence of God WITHIN the walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Hey, when I find out more about this author and book, you’ll be the first to know about it!

Smokey should have talked a bit louder!

SmokeythebearVicky and I just returned from a long weekend if McCall, Idaho…it is an incredibly beautiful spot to hang out and it is only two hours away.  We took our RV and "camped" in one of our favorite spots…the only problem was that there are two HUGE fires close to McCall.  It was so smokey @ our campsite that it felt like we were smoking packs of cigarettes just to make it through the day.  Oh well…it was still fun.  Watched a couple of movies…played some games…sampled some wine and had some great conversation and relational time.  And, isn’t that what it is all about anyway?  So, for all of us, it is time again to listen to Smokey – only YOU can prevent forest fires!