Why would I post something like this? NOT what you think…

AimagesOk, I'm a guitar player!  In fact, there were many years that a Marshall Triple channel combo was my "weapon of choice."  In fact, when I rig up my Mesa amp (which has a 30 watt output) and turn it on, there are aspects of that classic Marshall sound that I'm missing.  Now, I must tell you…I'm no amp purist.  Truth be known, I play my acoustic guitar more these days than my electric rig.  Oh, I have pals on the internet that EXCLUSIVELY play their electric rigs…Karl and Tim, you know who you are!  And yes, there are times that I'm envious…but I have accepted my lot in life and find joy in restringing my Martin or Taylor because I've been beating them to death for weeks.  So, a refrigerator designed to look like a classic Marshall stack, got my attention!  AND NO…it has nothing with the young lady who is being shamelessly used to sell something that TRUE guitarists would have chosen on their own…for me, a cute bunny rabbit or puppy crawling over it would have been just fine for me!  But you know what I mean…it is the amp and it is the useability is unmistakable.  So, before you jump to a conclusion and accuse me of "whatever", here's my quick reassurance to you – I like the refrigerator.  Really!  That's all!  Need I say more???

We all avoid it…responsibility

I saw this video this morning…and thought of you and me.  When it comes to taking responsibility for our lives, we have a plethora of choices – TAKE responsibility, run and hide (that M.O. has a long and storied history), blame (that too, long and storied history), or look for someone to take responsibility for us (mmm, the current M.O. of many people in our society and culture).  So, enjoy the video…put yourself in that “dog’s paws” and then read an article I wrote a while back…isn’t it time that we find ways to encourage people (starting with ourselves) to “own” our lives?  

R.I.P. Human Responsibility

Born: Beginning of Time. Died: 2012

A Funeral Homily by Robin Dugall

Grace and Peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I have to admit, I haven’t known Human Responsibility (H.R.) in a personal and intimate way all of my life…but over the last number of years, we’ve built a very good relationship. It is my honor to be able to reflect with you over the next few moments as we talk about his legacy. For in one way or another, all of us have to confess honestly that HR has made at least a small impact on our lives. For many of us we would not be the people we are today without his illustrious influence…so, those of you who are here to honor his memory but you don’t know him that well, please forgive those of us who have known HR well as we become a bit indulgent with our recollections of someone who has made a life-altering impact on who we are today. H.R. had a bright beginning from the moment he was brought into existence. In other words, it was an illustrious start to a long life as HR was birthed as the twin sibling of H.F., Human Freedom. Both HR and his twin were born in a place called Eden. HR and HF started to grow and flourish as other creatures inhabited their world…a tender relationship was carved out between HR and HF and those who would become their close neighbors, human beings. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for these neighbors to start playing favorites when in came to the twins. It soon became more than obvious to HR that these humans much preferred HF…it was that relational damage that would go on to chart a specific and eventually destructive course in HR’s life as time went on. When his life journey began, the Creator put H.R. in charge of key decisions. He was a partner with human beings in taking care of the world and engaging in life-giving work that made life purposeful and enjoyable. HR gave these human beings a sense of value as they took him seriously and he taught them how the balance their relationship between the he and his brother. Then, in a pivotal moment that we all remember, two of HR and HF’s friends, did something that went on to test their relationship with the twins. As I briefly alluded to a moment ago, this moment in HR’s life would go on to be the defining moment for the rest of HR’s years on this planet. I don’t want to belabor a very trying and destructive time in HR’s life, but the decision that A and E made to actually start to abuse HR’s twin brother, HF, was the moment that forever hurt their relationship with HR forever. It would never be the same again…the moment HF was abused, A and E tried to avoid HR. They ran from him like he was an infection preferring rather new friends like Blame, Shame and Death. After a while, this story began to be tragically repeated over and over throughout HR’s life. He was the easy one to try to avoid…it was easy to pick on HF and get away with it because all anyone ever had to do was run away from HR and ridicule him. I don’t want to go and on about this – but let us suffice to say that HR’s life from that moment on became one of loneliness and desperation. All the years that HR was alive could have been best summarized by the word, “pain”. Every time his brother, HF was abused, which became an addiction for all of Creation’s creatures, HR was more and more isolated. Yes, he had some good friends…Confession and Repentance were close to HR but they too soon became the butt of jokes and appeared as “old school” or “old fashioned” to those who thought they knew better. Over the past years, Individualism, Excuse, and Relativism joined HR’s old nemeses Blame, Shame and Death as those who took precedence over the influence that HR desired to make on life. Apparently, they had slicker and more attractive personalities especially since H.R. was so old. Add that to the fact that HR was, frankly (we all know this) a bit forthright, cranky, and a bit of a pain to deal with, people slowly started to embrace new relationships. Over the last few years, HR experienced most of the debilitating effects of his loneliness. Governments with HUGE debts decided that they would be more popular to leave to that debt to future generations… famous people looked to their problems as addictions or psychological disorders which gave them permission to embrace Excuse rather than be HR’s friend…others would spend time with Blame looking to genetics, upbringing, the past, the color of their skin, ethnicity or place of birth rather than visiting HR. People learned from “Sponging off the System” and from “It’s your Responsibility not mine” and lastly from “You take care of Me” rather than give HR the time and attention he deserved. And friends, we all have to admit right here and now that we’ve taken advantage of him as well. Let’s face it, we all neglected HR and in so many ways, our lives are worse off because we didn’t spend more time paying attention to him and his message in our lives. For many of us, we’re stuck, dead on the inside and lifeless because new life always comes as a gift from God by way of a relationship with HR. HR passed away from a broken spirit over the last several years. His deteriorating influence and health finally caused him to succumb to deadly forces that sucked the life out of him and left him a lonely, broken, and empty shell. I must say, that I wish there were more like HR in our lives…we needed him and he was the first person we ignored. Heaven forgive us…and may we find some way to honor the legacy and memory of Human Responsibility at some time in our lives!

I really don’t have much to say today…but while I’m typing…

Nothing-to-sayThis morning the sun is actually peeking its way through the clouds here in Monroe, Washington…it's Monday and my normal time to do some blogging.  As a person who reads like a ravenous wolf and who writes constantly, sometimes it is actually a difficult task to keep banging out new stuff.  Truthfully, my head and heart feel like they are on the "explosion" edge when days like this pop up and I take a quick scan of my inner resources and come up empty.  I shouldn't be hard on myself…but I find myself being so at times.  I remember a youth worker when I was young (very young, in fact) using that familiar cliche, "garbage in, garbage out."  Usually it was used as a phrase to help someone monitor and reign in the stuff they jam into their mind and hearts as well as serve as a warning that what you put INTO your heart comes out in some way.  Well, you would think that the plethora of bible passages, great theological works, and the massive amounts of blogs/news posts, etc. that I expose myself to on a daily basis would NET some sort of creative thought or at least some blog post that might interest a reader.  But today…alas, nothing!  Oh, I could talk about the fact that I watched a youtube video on Dinesh D'souza's new film coming up this summer on the President…or that I spend 30 minutes this morning playing Matt Redman's song, 10000 Reasons, over and over again in moments of worship…or that I need to spend some time today reflecting and contemplating the "status" of our faith community's journey now that it has been over a year and a half of Vicky and me "on the ground."  All those things are excellent fodder for a decent post…but nothing's coming.  I guess life, real life, daily life isn't always that noteworthy.  Considering the bombardment that we experience day by day…the texts, tweets, posts, blogs, radio and television blasts as well as phone calls that hammer away at our souls, you might expect one to implode.  Maybe that's the message for today…maybe that's the word that all of us need to wrestle with…peace.  I know a person who is fasting from most of the internet "input" into their lives this lenten season…doesn't sound like too bad of an idea.  Here's a gut check – disconnect for ONE day and monitor how you feel.  I know for me, I walk by my Iphone and I look…afraid to miss a text…anxious about forgetting an appointment…curious to look at one new video.  That's a problem…that's why the word might be, "be still, my soul be still."  

You know, maybe when you feel like you don't have much to say…maybe you should just stop…

Was I surprised and delighted…great new book by Steve Brown

AdelightedGreat quote from a wonderful, new book – "do-goodism watered my guilt only goes so far and lasts so long. Do-gooders grow weary and go home. After they leave, though, those who have been loved kept on loving. Those who have been forgiven keep on forgiving. Those who have been rescued stay around to rescue others." That is the reason the Christ-following journey isn't a "cause"…it is a transformational journey of living…pick up this delightful book.  

Steve Brown, Three Free Sins

This is my “usual” day to check on the blog…so, how about “the reality of freedom”

Arandom-thoughtsI usually check out this blog on Monday…I try to get through the weekend and sit down on the couch in my office and bang out whatever is crossing through my twisted mind.  Truthfully, mornings are not my "ideal" thinking times of the day that is usually reserved for late at night when I'm sorting through my thoughts and feelings about the day.  For example…

The other night I was thinking about freedom.  I don't want to necessarily wade into political waters…in fact, I'll stand back from them because "them waters" are filled with alligators but here is what was on my mind on Friday night.  Freedom and the reality of personal freedom is inherently dangerous.  Why?  Because we as free agents in the world can choose to respond or not respond to boundaries and laws; we can choose or not choose to make something of our lives; we can choose or not choose to use our personal gifts and talents to do something that can be productive to and add something to the world.   For a person of faith, in other words, for a person whose sole allegiance is to a King and a Kingdom (I'm talking here specifically about a Christocentric worldview and personal adherence that shapes lifestyle and praxis), we place our freedom under the direction and at the submission (freely, I might add) to someone we regard as LORD and Master (i.e. God, our ultimate allegiance and ultimate sense of reality from which we live and derive life's meaning).  In response, as one of the letters in the bible says, as we place ourselves in submission to God, by His unmerited favor we are given back freedom.  A guy by the name of Paul says, "for freedom's sake you've been set free (Galatians 5:1)."  That is intensely profound.  Freedom is a gift but one that comes in submission to the Lord of life.

Now, transfer some of that meaning onto our culture…as a government starts to "limit" freedom (most of the time motivated by its own sense that "it" knows better than we do how to make life work), it is one of many ways that it attempts to demonstrate who really is "god" in this world.  You see, the battle for personal and corporate freedom is not a cultural battle as much as it is a battle for the soul and heart of every person.  If you are forced to submit contrary to your free choice it is one of many ways where an outside entity is attempting to "deify" their own existence.  That is one of the many reasons why a society dependent upon entitlements gets to be just that – dependant upon some thing or some entity to provide for them…in that provision, freedom is lost and "idolatry" (that being, that need to be able to "worship" at the altar of that entity that provides) starts to become rampid.  Put it this way, in order for someone to take care of you and your needs, you have to "give up" some freedom.  Look at history – in the Roman Empire, Emperors entertained the masses and fed them with grants to grain…all to keep them submissive to the empire.  Another for example, a small child isn't totally free…they are dependent.  The process of personal maturation is the process dedicated to giving a child more responsibility from which they act as they emerge in the world as "adults" (freedom expressed responsibly).  Another "for example" – in order for the "broader society" (i.e. government) to give you something, you have to "give something" back in return. Although that usually that comes in the form of taxation, now we are flirting with the idea of having the government tell us that many of us have to submit our allegiance to a King/Kingdom in order to provide something to the society at large that is contrary to our conscience, commitments (and no, I'm NOT just talking about "that" issue – it is much broader than that).  

So, here's the deal – essentially a dependent society is a "child-ish" society…something where the collective numbers of people in society are in a place of restricted freedom in order to get the benefits to which they feel entitled.  Childishness is becoming a 21st century epidemic…and is becoming the "idolatry" of the century.  As more and more is given, more and more freedom is acquiesced in order to "get."  Remember, with freedom comes responsibility…that's why I think Jesus said that we would "always have the poor with us"…He knew that there would be that segment of society that would always be dependant.  NOW, don't misunderstand me here…there is a realm of reality where we must care for each other…that is speficially a covenant community-oriented "call" or challenge (at least in my understanding of the bible) that must be taken seriously.  But there are always potentialities in the exercising of freedom where there will be many who refuse to do anything but "worship" at the altars of those who would take their freedom in exchange for dependency.  And trust me, dependency EQUALS bondage…because dependency eventually neutralizes personal responsibility.  I wrote a "funeral homily" a couple of years ago on "Human Responsibility"…you can check it out here.

Download Human Responsibility RIP

So, those are my thoughts for the day…I know, I know…I have way too much time on my hands…I don't even have all this stuff completely thought through…but one thing I do know, is that the bible calls me and you to "put away childish things…"  It tells us that we have to embrace maturity and act responsibility within the realm of our freedom granted to us by God.  As we become men and women of freedom and responsibility, we stand NOT for societal idolatry but for the responsibility of exercising our freedom in a manner that is faithful NOT to government edicts that wish to draw us into dependency but to the will of the real King and Lord who, once we submit to Him, gives us more freedom in return.   

Being a Parent and simply “talking” with your kids…

AadytrampWhen I was growing up there weren't too many choices available to us in terms of conversation with our parents.  No video games…no cell phones…no television in the kitchen…not too many distractions.  SO a majority of us were stuck doing what should come as NATURAL among families – we simply opened up our mouths and started to talk.  I can't remember ONE THING that I talked about with my mom, dad and sisters when I was growing up – why?  Because the CONTENT of the conversation was not as important as the CONTEXT of the conversation…in other words, we were genuinely connecting in our relationships as a family.  Despite the fact that our family went through a number of huge issues including alcoholism and mental disorders, we had a "glue" that kept us together.  I believe that it was the conversations that provided the fabric of our relational connectedness even in the midst of hard times.  

I see many families now…and frankly, I hear the same "bemoaning" going on:

"We never have time to talk"; "we don't know what to talk about"; "my kids are strangers to me"…and the list goes on and on.

Here's a couple of practical suggestions…first of all, set aside some boundaries on talking as a family.  Yep, choices have to be made…television watching during meals, cell phone or Ipad addictions…they all will eventually obliterate your time together.  You have to choose to set aside time with the family…you have to choose to make that connection a priority OR the stuff of life will dominate and you will not be able to have daily, vital or fabric-weaving connection time.  So, here's the deal – turn off the tv, set aside the phones, etc. and have meals together.  Sounds simple but I hear stories, day after day, about how complex family life is in the 21st century and how so many families "just don't have time."  Well, MAKE TIME!  Parents rule…you set the boundaries…you make the times work…my rule of thumb would be a MINIMUM of five dinners together per week.  And in terms of conversation, I'm attaching a "family discussion guide" that I ripped off the internet for you to consider.  A lot of parents I know (really, this is true) tell me, "I don't even know what to say to my kids."  So, here's a downloadable guide for you!  Another thing to consider, are TableTopics.  They are available on Amazon and can really be helpful…

Anyway, I don't know what got me "off" on that topic today…but for what it is worth, I hope it is a helpful encouragement!  Now, Vicky and I are headed off to have some dinner together…mmm, I wonder what I'll say?

Download 100 Questions to Ask Your Kids