Papua New Guinea and their visit to our Humble, Monroe Faith Community

1Huli_wigmanLook at this image and realize that people in the highlands of Papua New Guinea still ceremonially dress like this…yes, for most of us, this is a completely different world.  It is a world separated from most of what we would know as "culture" not only here in the western world but what most people would encounter just about anywhere around the globe.

Our faith community had the HONOR of hosting a Missionary Conference (called a "bung") over the weekend for past, present, and future missionaries to PNG.  In addition, we hosted 18 native Papua New Guinea-ans (is that a word?).  What a HUGE blessing!  I can't even begin to share with you how blessed I was simply to listen to their stories and open MY heart to have these "missionaries" come into my life with THEIR message of salvation and the Jesus that has made Himself real in their lives and in their context.  At our worship celebration today, I challenged each person who attended to do three things:

1 – Acknowledge that it is a miracle that God has brought these brothers and sisters to Monroe and that we have an unprecedented opportunity to meet them…so personally meet one of our family members from PNG…

2 – To ask them three questions – what is God doing in your life?  What is God doing in your country? And would you have a word for me or us about what we can do to follow Jesus more faithfully?

3 – Lastly, to look for a blessing from these people before they leave our presence.  I reminded people that we had been talking about looking for a "person of peace" (based upon Jesus' words Luke 10) that would be welcoming them to build a relational bridge into our community SO THESE PNG missionaries are doing the same…they are looking for relational bridges, a person of peace to welcome them so that they could bring US their gospel!  

What a wonderful and blessed day we had!  Conversations lasted for a long time after worship and people were genuinely seeking a touch of the Spirit in a new and frest way as we celebrated being a Christ centered family of those gathered from around the globe.  Truly a taste of God's Kingdom…again! 

Friends, we don't OWN God…God is moving everywhere.  And to have some brothers and sisters come from other places in the world and have the opportunity for them to share THEIR experience of the Gospel has enriched my life and my journey with Jesus more than you can imagine.  These people live a different life – one of community, conversation and simplicity of time and space that I can not only envy but pray that I can experience.  I am SO glad that they were led by the Lord to my doorstep.  PNG Missionaries…wow!  I know that is NOT the prime reason they came to our community…but that's the way that I have experienced their presence.  


Comments on THIS great book soon!

1bookjesusislordcaesarisnot"Empire" in New Testament scholarship is NOT a buzz word but a reality as one looks to delve into the context faced by authors and early Jesus followers.  The actuality of how the Empire of Rome and how that Empire imposed itself on the growing Jesus movement cannot be underplayed or marginalized.  Although the concept of empire is not a new human experience, it is one that must be taken seriously for every student of the New Testament.  To not is to miss a critical hermeneutic factor.  I'm just now diving into the book and will have future comments for you to consider!  Come on back and visit soon…

Here's the AMAZON link and the IVP link!

Things Hidden – the challenge of newness

1Things Hidden,
Scripture as Spirituality,
Richard Rohr

“We need transformed people today, and not
just people with answers.”  Richard Rohr

Ok, I’m back
with a few more blog posts on Richard Rohr. 
I really can’t explain why Rohr’s writing has captured so much of my
imagination and spirit these days.  It
could be that it is the quote above that captures what I’m searching for in my life
in these moments.  I’m searching for
transformation, newness, revolution, and astonishment…in other words, something
different than what most of us are getting in spades. 

I picked up
Rohr’s earlier works, Things Hidden,
because of a few things I heard Rohr say when I was listening to one of his
lectures online.  So, after a few days of
impatient waiting for Amazon to do their job, I opened my smiley box and
removed the book yesterday anticipating exactly what I’ve received so far.  The opening page articulates precisely what
I’ve been feeling of late – that our culture and, yes, even and especially our
churches, are STILL fascinated with answers more so than experience.  Being right is more important than being like
Jesus.  Being doctrinally on the correct
side of the fence is more important than living as a person who’s the
contemporary incarnation of the power and presence of God.  

Rohr quotes
someone I hadn’t expected him to quote early on but this is a very helpful

“The world fears a new experience more than
anything.  Because a new experience
displaces so many old experiences.”  D.H.

I read that
and audibly yelled out, “YES!”  It was
one of those “eureka” moments when you see or experience something SO TRUE that
it catches you delightfully off guard.  
I would put that statement up against ANY of the issues I’ve faced in
many of the circles of life in which I live. 
Whether it be family, relationships, local church life, theological and
academic pursuits, even political debates, no one wants the new they ALWAYS
fall back and depend upon the “old” because it shields them from change.   Just
today, after weeks of being harassed by some of my “gym” friends, I finally
tried a different workout class.  Yes, it
was a Zumba class and, NO, I can’t dance. 
But I tried it anyway…I was uncomfortable but over time relaxed enough
to have fun with the music and get in a few good moments of cardio exercise.  I have to keep pushing myself for new
experiences…why?  Because I too am apt to
get stuck.  The last thing I’m going to
do is be a regular at Zumba classes but what I am going to be continually
dedicated to are new experiences and new learnings that challenge MY status
quo.  I know what I believe so new
experiences don’t threaten me.  I know
God is waiting for me with secure arms when I emerge from newness confused and
disoriented.  God’s in the new experience
and He urges me forward to explore aspects of His world and His presence that I
haven’t experienced before.  That’s a
good thing!  Rohr’s right…I don’t need
more answers but more transformation. 
That will only happen as God does NEW THINGS in me!  How about you?

And now it begins…

Leonardo VBS 2013 from Robin Dugall on Vimeo.

 Three years ago, our faith community felt the call of God to engage our neighborhood during the summer through a Vacation Bible School that was focused MORE on soccer and a simple expression of God's love and acceptance vs. a "traditional" "in classroom" type of experience for children. What initially started as an experiment has grown to the extent that we now (this next week) are hosting over two hundred children and 50 adults…by the way, we have a worship space that only holds about 125.  So, we start tomorrow…with prayer, excitement and humility!  We are praying for a fulfilling and blessed week!  Would you join us?

Our Top Dog and the Lessons we learned from God’s simple gift of Lexy (1996-2013)

Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times"

An Ode to our Life's companion, Lexy and reflections the gift of Life!

Yesterday, we lost a friend.   Yes, Lexy was just a dog but she was a dog that has been a companion, friend, family member and lover of our souls for almost 17 years.  I have a question for you this fine morning as we begin our day with the Lord, "What is it about animals that touches our hearts?"  When Vicky and I made the last trip to the Veterinarian yesterday to hold our "Top Dog" for the last time and usher her into the great Mystery that is life beyond life…as I cried deeply in a manner that does not happen often in my journey…as we sat together most of the night reflecting on how something so simply was so profound in the years our family has shared…I pondered that question. 

Lexy was a reminder of all that is good about the gift of life that we have received from God.  Consistency of love, something we all need, greeted me daily when I walked into my home.  There was no judgment, no "to dos" to have to perform, no apologies needed to be given, and no self-consciousness to which to be concerned.  Simple and life-changing acceptance shown through an energetic greeting, a wagging of the tail and a quick lick on the hand.  I took those simple things for granted over the years…until today.  You know as I do how some of the realities I just shared are absent from most of our lives.  Most of us face demands, complaints, performance expectations and bitterness most every day of our lives.  The world is that way in its broken state.  Even so, God has provided simple creatures to remind us what's best about the world He created and the call to relationship that to which we all pray we can aspire.  If only I lived and loved in such a simple way…just glad to see those who cross my path during the day.  As one bumper sticker that marks the back of my truck (proudly I might add), "wag more, bark less." 

Lexy was our "Top Dog."  We called her that once another pet entered our home three years ago.  She had walked with us through the early years of our marriage, the raising of most of our children through adolescence and has tromped through the sanctuaries and facilities of the four church facilities that we have called our spiritual home in three states.  Most everybody that we knew in our Kingdom journey knew her.  She traveled well so whether she hiked the trails of Glacier National Park or listened as the ocean waves on Southern California beaches told her of a bigger existence than simply what she knew as her own back yard, she was with us wherever we went.  She loved to bark outside for no reason except to be heard, be an "Alpha Dog" despite being small and apparently more fluff than stuff.  She was stubborn, addicted to pizza bones and always enthusiastic about a walk with me.  I counted them up yesterday…over 15,000 walks over the years.  At first, we would run some and then stop repeatedly for her to mark her territory.  As the years passed, her vitality shifted into more reflective walks as she cherished simple aromas.  Finally, over the past weeks, she sauntered her way for just a few hundred feet more content with just being in some different location and looking around to enjoy the green grass and cool breeze. She was a discriminating eater and a lover of treats of any kind.  As a new puppy entered our home three years ago, she became mentor and playmate allowing Emma to tease and chase her (though slowly) up until a week before she died.  No one knew about the inner suffering she experience until the last two days of her life.  She bore the weights of her deteriorating body bravely and without a whimper.  Even as I write this, my heart breaks for the simplicity and gift that was Lexy.

I want my life to be simple…I want to be a lover of souls without condition…I want to be more wag than bark…I want to savor simple things without complaining that I expect more…I want to walk through life enjoying the tall grass, the cool breeze and the warmth of a hug.  Why pets in our lives?  To teach us what the Lord can only teach us through other aspects of His creation…simplicity and grace.  Yes, as Proverbs points out "a friend loves at all times."  That's what I want to be known as…a lover who incarnates what Jesus incarnated, God's nature of love.  I want to be happy to see everyone I see without the burden of having to know them.  I want to extend acceptance wherever I travel and to whomever I meet.  That's why I will cherish my memories of our dog that was named after the car we were in when we bought her in Huntington Beach in 1996.  That's why tears will turn to joy and precious memories because I NEED to know that type of love and LIVE that kind of simplicity yet oft forget because of my need for self-indulgence and feeling of self-importance.  "A friend loves at all times"…yep, I can't think of a better legacy than our wonderful Lexy!  So long dear friend!  Prance the Kingdom's fields like a puppy, beg from Banquet Table as Jesus prepares the Great Feast, and do what you always did, wait for us to return home for only then will we feel that we have respite at last.

Lexy lexy