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August 2007

July 2007 entries

Harmony Still Exists at the Duggan Ranch after Christmas in July

Present After reading the first few lines of the last edition of "Out of the Box" my lovely wife Marilyn asked that she be able to write a rebuttal at the beginning of the next entry. Well this is the next entry and I'm afraid that she is not here to state her case. So, I'm going to speak for her. After all, I speak for a living.

The 28 hours of QVC's Christmas in July passed and we are still on speaking terms. It seems the buyers at the TV network were aiming for a slightly different demographic this year. Ninety-nine percent of the lucky buyers who also were selected to talk to the hosts were elderly grandmothers buying off-brand toys for their grandchildren and great grandchildren. The beautiful, but stepford like Valerie Par-Hill, was pushing battery powered garland and snowman topped soy candles. Neither of which floated the boat of my wife who has impeccable tastes. Even the perpetually sweatband adorned Quacker factory lady failed to unleash my wife's QVC card from her purse.

The effervescent hosts of QVC kept reminding us that there would be many more goodies to share with the eager buyers come September when they start Christmas selling in earnest. (They sold out of everything this time usually before the allotted time was up for the product.) So once again we will be tempted with plastic penguin families sustained by an extension cord and a cheap plastic fan to delight those who pass by our festive front yards this Christmas. Please note I did say "Christmas". Only a few times did they refer to it simply as the holidays. It was almost always called Christmas. I am not suggesting that the items for sale were not almost entirely secular in nature, because they were. But, for 28 hours this week, whether intentionally or not, the on-air personalities were giving attention to the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Not a bad deal at all. My checkbook escaped the marathon unscathed and my Lord got plenty of free publicity. So instead of crying "Bah Humbug" I say, "God bless us, everyone."   

See ya around the throne - Pastor Ken         

How Big Is This Tent?

It's Saturday evening and I have just finished reviewing my notes for tomorrow morning. Pretty good if I do say so myself. It has been beautiful all day after a rainy and gloomy Friday. The front that moved through was dry and cool so the humidity was way down. As Marilyn likes to say, "It feels like a Fall day." (To chase a wayward rabbit for just a moment, I would ask for you to pray for me in the next couple of days. Tuesday is July 24th and that doesn't mean much to most people unless that just happens to be their birthday. To my wife it means Christmas shopping begins. Yes QVC has their Christmas in July shopping bonanza beginning Tuesday evening. Do you know what it is like to have the spending habits of Eb Scrooge before his conversion  while my wife begins to buy gifts in July? Please pray for marital harmony in the Duggan household.)

So back to the beautiful day at hand. I took my usual Saturday morning motorcycle ride to breakfast. This morning I rode for the first time to the "Blue Plate Diner" on the riverfront. I took a table outside in the warm mid-summer morning sun. Very nice! While I was consuming my eight dollar biscuit/gravy/sausage and coffee combo, I overheard a conversation just behind me at the next occupied table. Their was this lady speaking to her three friends. Evidently they had not spoken in some time. This one lady had a lot of catching up to do. Seems she had felt a call by God to enter the ministry at the Autumn time of her years. I was intrigued. I am always eager to hear someone else's call to ministry. So I suppose that excuses me for eavesdropping in the divine scheme of things. She was a member of another, shall we say, more liberal Christian tradition. That's OK with me. God's tent is big enough to cover people who don't "theologize" like I do. But I hadn't even finished my second bite of my first gravy laden biscuit when I heard something that caused me to stop chewing. She was liberally using the word she in her testimony. That was good with me too until I realized she was talking about God. So I suppose she was speaking of God with a capital "S" as in "She". I don't know if I paid much attention to the rest of her story from then on.

How big is this tent anyway? Can you be called by God to service by Someone other than "Our Father Who art in heaven"? Was Jesus just being influenced by His male dominated patriarchal culture when He taught His disciples to pray? Could He have just as easily said "our Mother Who art in heaven" if He were teaching us to pray today in our gender neutral society? Was He mistaken when He said that we could cry out "Abba Father"? (Abba is the familial and affectionate name for father.) You see how long I could debate this subject using gender specific verses throughout the Bible for the Almighty. I don't doubt that this fine lady felt like she was called by some higher power to serve humanity. She spoke of counseling abused children and traveling to foreign lands to do missionary work. All good things in themselves. I just wonder how she would feel if I had approached her and asked, "Excuse me sir, would you please repeat that part where you changed the gender of the first part of the Trinity." For those of you who believe I would do such a thing....well it seems you know you me better than I thought. How did you spend your Saturday?

Pastor Ken            

Back from the Beach

I just got back from the sandy white beaches of Panama City Beach, Florida with the middle school kids. They were a lot of fun. I didn't know even 1/3 of them and so it was good to get acquainted with the next generation. The week was devoid of incidents until the day before we left. No child was lost, abducted or injured. It was Jason (student minister) who initiated the drama. There was a competitive game of beach soccer under way when Jason lunged toward the sandy and rapidly moving sphere. Missing the ball he did manage to connect with a teens lower leg. The young and resilient teenage girl suffered only a minor abrasion caused by the student minister's toe. The foot of the aforementioned student minister, however, was broken. Later, after a trip to the medical center and a good dose of pain medicine another incident occurred. While observing his students playing a game of "blind volleyball" another sandy sphere flew at near speed of sound and landed directly on Jason's broken toe. I am happy to report that our student minister is truly born again. No profanity was uttered. Although I am sure that God in all of His mercy would have quickly expunged any such four letter word from his record.

Because we really had more people than the facility would adequately accommodate yours truly was forced to reside in a nearby motel. It was truly an experience. I had never really appreciated the term "red neck Riviera" until this trip. I stayed in the nearest motel to the camp we could find. I also asked for an inexpensive room so as not to tax our youth budget. I didn't know what I was asking for. I would return each evening from the camp to find huddled groups of teens and adults around the parking lot drinking beer and inhaling various forms of smoking devices. Do these people ever sleep? Do these people ever wear clothes? I guess if you work that hard on a beer belly you want to proudly display your accomplishment to the world. The ladies, I'm using that term to distinguish from the men not as a description of their behavior, like to show their colorful tattoos as well. The age of many of the tattoos became evident by their positioning. One lady had her allegiance to a former boyfriend engraved just above the belt line. The scary thing was it originally was placed just above her ummmmmm.... bathing suit top. (Sorry, I just felt a little nauseous. I'm alright now.) The same people who were gathered around the parking lot were standing just outside of their rooms when I left for the camp the next morning. I began to wonder if they had gone to bed sometime during the night and rose before dawn or they were out all night and only made it back as far as the front door. My money is on the latter.

Well let me get spiritual for just a moment. While driving home I began to think about the events of the week. It suddenly occurred to me that the parking lot dwellers just outside my motel room had started out with just as much promise as the middle schoolers less than a mile down the road. The middle schoolers were learning about teamwork, kindness and encouragement. They were spending their days in worship and quiet time. Several came to know Christ over the week and many more rededicated their life to Him. While .7 miles up the beach the only time God's name was used was in vain. The kids are no better nor more loved by God than the untidy bunch at the cheap motel. Where would their lives be today if a church like Dallas Bay had spent the time and the considerable money to care for them and share the love of Christ when they were just children?  Chances are not where they are today. My few attempts at a "good morning" or "how are you" fell on suspicious ears. Not one parking lot dweller ever returned my greeting. Instead, they would quickly turn away and not make eye contact . I looked at the two camps of people and became convinced that prevention and education is more effective than intervention. We have to reach this generation with the gospel and real faith. To do so will take commitment to creativity and integrity. We cannot look back. We have to keep moving forward.

Well, I'm through preaching for now. It's good to be back. I'll see you soon. --Pastor Ken

Summertime Blahs

Is there anytime I love more as a human being and less as a pastor than summer. I like the long days and the warm weather. I even enjoy the occasional evening thunderstorm. That's the human being part of me talking. As a pastor I don't like everybody gone, the inactivity at church and the inability to get anyone excited about anything. It's just like marking time until the fun starts this fall. Up until April we were averaging 10 new members per week. Since then the numbers have dropped to 3. We were baptizing almost weekly and now it's almost monthly. So just pray for me until school starts again. I'm not good at relaxing.

These thoughts were bothering me badly enough to wake me from my afternoon nap. So it's back to the couch for me. I hate these summertime blahs. They really cut into my nap-time.

I'm off in a couple of days to Florida to spend the week with our middle school campers. I cook for them and in return they let me go for free. I know, I know, I'm suffering for the Lord, but somethings got to get me through the summer. I'll talk with you when I return. God bless and don't forget the sunscreen.

In His Shadow,

Pastor Ken