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    Part comedian, part teacher, and part pastor, Dugan is a traveling speaker who loves to speak at a variety of events. If you're interested in finding someone to speak at your next retreat, conference, ministry night or leader training, you're at the right place! Dugan has experience speaking to students, adults, men, kids, and more! Whether you're looking for something powerful and moving, or light and comedic, Dugan offers both (as well as everything in between)! Check out Dugan's newest book "Never Alone" and shoot him an email 72,69,82,69,46.EREH

It Was the Sled. You’re Welcome

When I was in high school, a friend of mine decided that he was going to attempt to watch every single movie on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all time, which, if I remember correctly, he succeeded in doing.

There are some on the list that I’ve never heard of, some that I’m surprised to see on the list, and some I’m surprised aren’t on the list at all (The Matrix, Braveheart, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, just to name a few).

And many of the movies on the list are ones you would think of. The Godfather (#3), Schindler’s List (#9), Star Wars (#15), E.T. (#25), Jaws (#48), The Sound of Music (#55), The Silence of the Lambs (#65), Forest Gump (#71), and Rocky (#78) are just some of the highlights.

But the most surprising thing about the list, by far, is what movie they have listed as #1.

According to the AFI, the #1 movie of all time, is: Citizen Kane.

Now, in case you are reading this and haven’t seen this movie, let me give you an idea of what it’s like. But first you need to do a little prep:

1). Go get a bucket of paint and a large brush (a roller will also do).

2). Find a large wall in your home or office that you would like a different color.

3). Paint the wall.

4). Find something to sit on.

5). Sit on it.

6). And then, to get the full Citizen Kane experience, watch the paint dry.

I’m serious. It is one of the slowest, dullest, most boring experiences I’ve ever had. It was long, it was in black-and-white, it draaaaaagged on forever, and in the end, the “shocking” “twist” was so anticlimactic, I believe I actually laughed-out-loud for real. Here I was, all geared up to watch the greatest movie of all time and all it did was leave me sleepy and bored.

 

So, of course my next logical question (and what you’re probably wondering right now) was: Why in the world is this the #1 movie of all time?!?!?!

I mean, there are no incredible computer generated special effects, no soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer, no intense mystery to solve, no famous movie stars, no award-winning make-up artist, no best-selling book it was based off of, and no clever dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin!

How did this happen?!?!

And the answer to this question lies in a single word: Context.

Citizen Kane is believed by the American Film Institute and many others to be the greatest film of all time for one simple reason: Context.

Context is defined as: The interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs.

A perfect illustration of context would be humor. There is a certain context in which certain humor is accepted and appropriate…and a context in which it is not.

A joke about finances might be funny to accountants or stock brokers, but not to a 5 year old. In the same way, a joke about farting might be funny to a 5 year old, but not…actually farting is pretty much hilarious no matter what your age. But you get the idea.

Another example would be clothing. Shorts worn to a job interview would be considered “out-of-context”, white at a wedding is not appropriate, and a tux at McDonalds isn’t wrong or bad…but people would definitely consider it not in the right context.

 

Citizen Kane came out in 1941. At that time, there had never been a movie of its caliber. It had ground-breaking, never-before done cinematography, completely original music, and one of the first unexpected, emotional plot twists ever done in film up to that time. And there were numerous inventions of technology that were created for the movie that had never been done before: It was the first movie ever to use “deep focus” which meant everything in each shot was in focus (not just one object or character), it was also the first movie ever to use “low angle shots” which showed the ceiling, it was one of the first movies to use flashbacks throughout the film to tell the story, and it was the first movie ever to start the movie with the final (chronological) scene and then come back to it at the end. It also had special effects, makeup, and soundtracks elements that had never been done before. Finally, it was written and directed by the same man, Orson Welles, who also acted in the film as the main character. It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won for Best Original Screenplay.

So, every good movie that you and I have enjoyed since then, and many other movies we’ve never heard of, have been made possible and significantly influenced by this one movie.

And suddenly, the reason that it is considered the greatest movie of all time makes sense. Regardless of its comparison to the special effects in The Dark Knight or the screen play of The Social Network or the cast of Oceans 11, Citizen Kane has arguably had the most impact on film as a whole than any other motion picture.

But it is still super boring so if you’re going to watch it, I recommend having a lot of Red Bull in your system and some sort of game on your smart phone cued up.

 

The truth about context is: Context is vital to understanding.

Understanding the context of someone’s childhood or home-life can do wonders for understanding them as a person. If you find out someone at school is violently mistreated at home, you can find yourself giving them extra grace and love when they’re attitude is edgy. If you find out your friend’s mom has cancer, you’re going to be extra sensitive about how they’re doing and your language around subjects of terminal illness.

Context gives us understanding.

And it’s the same with Scripture.

The Bible has context.

Here’s an example:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. – Matthew 6:19-24 (TNIV)

So this passage starts with talking about treasures in heaven, and ends with a somewhat famous phrase about how you cannot serve two masters: you have to pick between God and money.

But then in the middle of these two passages, Jesus starts talking about healthy and unhealthy eyes. Many translations use the terms having a “good eye” and having a “bad/evil eye.”

Why would Jesus give a random anatomy lesson in the middle of talking about money?

Now generally this middle verse is interpreted as being about what we view with our eyes. What we watch will influence our hearts, which is true.

But when we seek to understand the context, the truth of this passage gains some depth.

You know how we have modern day slang sayings like: “He totally killed it.” “She’s hot.” or “That’s the bomb.”? (if you’re a child of the 90’s, as I am). And we all know what these mean because we’re a part of the culture where they are spoken.

But think what it would be like for people who are not from our language culture and how they might not get exactly what we’re talking about if they heard us say that, unless they understood the subtleties of our ‘sayings.’ They would be worried somebody was killing something or an attractive person had a fever or some random object was going to blow up. Why? Because they don’t understand the context.

Well, just like we have sayings like these, so did people 2000 years ago. In Jesus’ time there were slang sayings that people would use just like today.

And one of these phrases or sayings was about a “good eye” and a “bad eye.” Having a “good” or “healthy” eye was a slang term that meant you were generous. In the same way, having a “bad” or “evil” eye meant that you were selfish and possessive about your wealth, money, and possessions.

Context.

So all of a sudden, understanding this opens up the meaning of all that Jesus is talking about. He starts by saying don’t worry about worldly possessions, and instead build up for yourself treasures in heaven. Then He uses some modern slang to help people understand that generosity and giving does great things for our heart and soul and spirit. And selfishness does great harm and damage.

 

By understanding the context, the deeper truth of this passage comes to life!

And there are numerous examples of this throughout Scripture.

This post is already too long so I’ll just talk about one more:

In the book of Jeremiah, a conversation between God and Jeremiah is recorded:

The WORD of the Lord came to me, saying,

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;

I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.

The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watchingto see that my word is fulfilled.” – Jeremiah 1:4-12 (TNIV)

This one’s a little like: What?! Where’d the almond comment come from?

I mean, this passage starts out with God talking to Jeremiah about how He’s chosen him and gifted him and blessed him and called him for this amazing purpose to speak to His people, then he talks about almonds, and then concluding with telling Jeremiah that He will be watching.

I’m confused…

Well here’s the context:

The Hebrew word for ‘almond’ is the word: shaqed (pronounced: shock-aid). And very similarly, the Hebrew word for ‘to keep watch’ is: shaqad  (pronounced: shock-add).

So through a play-on-words, God is having a little fun with this passage to let Jeremiah know that even though He’s called him to a very difficult mission, He will be with Him.

God basically said: “Hey, Jeremiah, every time you see or think of shaqued (shock-aid), remember that I am shaqad (shock-add) over you.  

How cool is that?!

It’s totally going to change the way you snack at parties now, isn’t it?

 

And all of this because of one thing: Context.

Context brings understanding.

And through digging into God’s Word deeper and deeper, we can more get to know our Lord, His teaching, the truth, and His love.

 

And now, my gift to you (*SPOILER ALERT*): Here’s the twist to Citizen Kane: It’s the sled.

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Bullies

One of the most unfortunate things about my life is that I’m a Chicago sports fan.

Sure there are other unfortunate things like the fact that I sunburn under harsh lamp light or that I don’t like onions or tomatoes. But this one rules them all.

Cubs. Bears. Bulls.

To be fair, the Bulls were amazing in the 90’s and I have many fond memories of dragging my mattress down the stairs from my room to lie down in the living room with my family to stay up late and watch Michael Jordan lead the Bulls in playoff games.

The Bears had their year in 1985…but I was only a year old.

The Hawks won the Stanley Cup a few years ago, but Hockey is kind of like street cleaning to me: I can appreciate that it happens, but I don’t really care about watching it.

The White Sox won the World Series in 2005, but I’m a Cubs fan (something that is distinctly different than simply being a ‘Chicago’ fan, which is simply what people say when they don’t want to choose a side).

And the Cubs were good back when Adam and Eve were their only fans…I think.

Of course, Jesus is a Cubs fan. He said something about it right after saying “the last shall be first” or something.

But overall, it’s a painful experience to be a Chicago sports fan. It’s kind of like being in an unhealthy relationship. Broken promises, year-after-year heartbreak, good intentions starting to make you think things will be different…only to end with a crushing blow back to reality.

But despite all this, I’ll raise my kids to be Chicago fans, I’ll go to and watch games, and I’ll be a Chicago fan until I die (a resentful, bitter death, I might add).

 

Well, a coping mechanism that I’ve discovered through all this is enjoying rooting for other teams once Chicago is out of the running. I enjoy sports as a whole so watching and even cheering for other teams (the underdog, the team a close friend is a fan of, etc) is fun for me.

However, there is one thing that constantly frustrates me about modern sports across the board, and that is this: Unsportsmanlike players.

It gets my blood boiling when an NBA player deliberately steps over a fallen opponent while giving them a dirty look after a good play. Or an NFL player makes sure to mouth off something obnoxious as they pass by an opponent who they just grappled with. Or a baseball pitcher shouts something towards the other bench as they make their way back to the dugout that any amateur lip-reader can see loud and clear.

You might think this is an acceptable part of sports but I hate it!

These are men who are paid an astronomical amount of money to play a game, on a team, facing other teams of men, who are also paid a ton, and when it comes to intense moments of competition, their default attitude is one of a 7th grade sore-loser.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love good competition. My wife or any of my friends or family members will tell you that I frequently need to lower my competitive intensity when playing a game of bag-toss or full-contact Monopoly.

And I love watching good competition. But I don’t think good competition means needing being a jerk to your opponents.

 

All this to say, something happened a few weeks ago that inspired me to write this post.

A number of weeks ago, the Chicago Bears faced the Houston Texans in a Sunday night football game. At one point in the game, Danieal Manning of the Texans intercepted a pass from Jay Cutler, giving Houston the ball. As the Bears defense made their way onto the field, Brian Urlacher, linebacker for the Bears, reached over to give Manning a hand slap. He did this because he and Manning previously played on the same team together for 5 years in the NFL and are still good friends.

Well, the Texans went on to defeat the Bears 13-6 but after the game and the next day, Chicago Bear fans were in an uproar! Not about the loss, but at Brian for congratulating an opposing player on his interception.

In his response, Urlacher basically (and colorfully) said that he didn’t care what people thought, that him and Manning were friends, and that he was going to say hey to his friends on or off the field regardless of the game in play.

Not only did I totally agree with Urlacher, but I was embarrassed as a Chicago fan. The fact that people would be so incredibly upset with a player on their team for having the “gall” to be remotely friendly towards an opponent in a game was ridiculous to me!

Since when does sport-team affiliation take priority over being a decent human being?!?!

 

This is in stark contrast to what happened only a few weeks before this in the NBA when Kevin Garnett snubbed a former teammate of numerous seasons during the pre-game warm up because he had been traded to another team. In fact, in a previous interview, Garnett and other teammates of his used the word “enemy” to describe any player who doesn’t play on their team, regardless of the history they share.

And this is seen all across sports!

Adult men from any and every professional sport go out of their way to make sure they give off an attitude of disrespect towards opponents that, in any other social circle, would be unacceptable and best if not downright cruel.

Then they head to the post-game press conference in an argyle sweater vest and Steve Urkel glasses and act like it was all in the name of competition.

And any player that doesn’t act this way stands out like a sore thumb…in a good way! In addition to Brian Urlacher a few weeks ago, I’ve frequently noticed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder take a moment to help up an opposing player off the floor, which is borderline unheard of in the NBA. More often, players go out of their way to not help someone up off the floor unless they have the same colored jersey on. And there’s other players like Aaron Rodgers or Josh Hamilton who seem to have a genuine respect for opponent players that is seen through a quick tap to the butt or a tip of the hat after a good catch.

 

I just don’t understand how we can be a society so against things like bullying and so for things like good team sportsmanship amongst young people …but glorify professional athletes who seem to give up a piece of healthy morality and mutual respect for the sake of a game.

We tell kids and students not to pick on others who are different or in other friendship groups, only to turn on the game later that day where grown men are doing just that…and getting paid for it.

Like it or not, professional athletes are placed on a pedestal, especially in the eyes of young people. All of them are in the ‘celebrity’ category of fame, meaning they are looked up to and an example to children (and adults!).

And when there are players like the ones I’ve mentioned such as Brian Urlacher or Kevin Durant (and many others who I didn’t have time to mention), I hope we are pointing to them as how athletes should behave, despite the numbers on the scoreboard.

 

Some of you will disagree with me and that’s okay and I get it. America thrives on sports competitions and good rivalries, which I know in general is all in good fun. But next time your kid is bullied during a game, my recommendation would be to write an angry letter to all the pro sport commissioners (who won’t read it) and then watch Rudy.

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He is Not a Tame Blonde

There’s this certain shirt I wear that my 1 year old loves. Every time I wake her up in the morning, she ignores me, points at my shirt and says: “Ooooo!!!”

From the very first time she saw it, she locked in on it and can’t look away from it when I’m wearing it, always pointing at it and exclaiming her glee.

I think generally children are embarrassed by their parents. Even if their parents are the coolest people in the world, there’s something about the growing up process that needs to be embarrassed by parents in order to more fully establish a child’s individuality or independence or something along those lines.

And I, like any normal child, have been embarrassed by my parents. Not all the time and not with everything about them, but there were definitely some things that any normal child would have joined me in rolling my eyes at. One thing in particular was the clothes my dad wore. They weren’t horrible like some 1920’s plaid golfing pants and a cowboy hat or something (my sympathy to those whose parents did wear those things…), but more things like cut-off jean shorts and fanny packs…and that’s all…#noshirtnoshoesnoservice

Ironically, of course, nowadays, Urban Outfitters sells shirts and clothing that’s incredibly similar to things my dad wore for $70 a piece so, maybe he was on to something all along.

But there is one particular item of clothing that used to belong to my dad that, for some reason, I currently own and will often times wear to sleep in.

The shirt is tan in color, with a few minor holes, and it is very well worn (or loved). It’s only a few steps above “vapor” on the substance scale, which is both typical of men and makes it very, very comfortable. And yes, it’s sleeveless, in case you were wondering…or you know my dad.

But despite all these elements that would make Ragstock employees do a double-take, the most prominent feature of the shirt is the image on the front.

On the front of the shirt is the vibrant, stern face of a lion. A powerful lion. Its golden mane flowing and perfectly accompanying the tan shirt, it’s bold, black eyes staring straight ahead, its jaw set in solid conviction.

And just below its face, read the words: “He is Not a Tame Lion.”

I have no idea where my dad got the shirt or who made it, but this is a direct quote from the book “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis and used to describe Aslan, the lion. It is mentioned more than once in the seven-book series and also accompanied with: “No, but he is good.”

For anyone that has read The Chronicles of Narnia (which I did a few years ago and was thoroughly sobbing by the end of the final book), you are aware that the character of Aslan is a direct parallel to Jesus.

In “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe”, He acts as the savior to the four main characters by sacrificing himself and then resurrecting. He also appears and is referenced in the other books as the good and powerful ruler of the land.

Now, granted, this is a fictional book, but this parallel to Jesus is one that I find very interesting for one main reason: The general way I hear Jesus talked about seems pretty darn tame to me.

Most often, Jesus is seen as a Swedish-looking hippie who just calmly smiles at people he passes. It’s so common to read or hear about Jesus and how He never got emotional, how He was always very stoic and reserved, and how He always was safe and calm.

But according to the Bible (and C.S. Lewis), Jesus seems much more interesting or even ‘wild’ than that.

He tosses tables like an old western movie when He gets passionate about the disrespect people in the church show towards God! He plays with and stands up for kids! He draws pictures in the dirt during life-or-death situations! He surfs without a board! He goes to weddings and causes water to be turned into alcohol! He raises people from the dead!

When we picture Jesus, I think it’s a mistake to picture someone like Ned Flanders. We should picture someone with grit and conviction like Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator or someone with passion like Robin William’s character in Dead Poets Society or someone with an ability to be irresistibly personable like George Clooney’s character in Ocean’s 11.

Jesus was a little bad-to-the-bone, He was funny, sincere, loving, personable man (and also God) who affected every single person He interacted with. He was passionate, fiery, and dynamic. He was anything but tame.

So, why do we make Him out to be so passive?

Because that’s safer?

If Jesus is simply a calm, passive guy who strolls around in sandals, maybe He won’t be so demanding of a God for us to follow. If Jesus simply lived a quiet, comfortable life and loved a person here and there, maybe that’s all we’ll have to do.

But if Jesus was risky and lived an uncomfortable life, if He was authentic and gritty, if He spoke truth and defended people without fear or thought of what others thought or consequences, then maybe we’d rather say we’re Christians, but still be able to live our comfortable, familiar lives and still go to church and feel good about ourselves.

Jesus is good. But He is not a tame God. He is not a tame savior. He is not a tame lion.

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Axe Too

Maybe this is just something that people who have been a Christian the majority of their lives can understand, or something that Jon Acuff makes fun of and people laugh about, but when it comes to churches, I’ve always heard the phrase (or something similar to the phrase): “We want to be an Acts 2 church!”

And I think that’s great.

I know there are a bunch of verses in Acts that talk about the origin of the Church and so modern churches have taken that to heart and sought after how to make that true of their church as well, which is awesome.

But then I did this incredibly profound thing the other day: I read it for myself!

I know! Genius, right?!

And as I read through this truly incredibly chapter from Scripture, there were a few things that I noticed.

Granted, I’m no scholar and I’m sure this isn’t even close to all the things someone could interpret from Acts 2, but the following is a list of things I noticed about “The Acts 2 Church” from Acts, Chapter 2:

– There was unity among the people (vs. 1)

– They spoke in tongues (vs. 3)

– People were amazed at God’s power (vs. 12)

– Followers of Jesus were falsely accused of sinning (vs. 13)

– There was teaching (vs. 14-39)

– The reading of scripture (vs. 17-21/25-28/34-35)

– The Gospel was presented (vs. 22-24/36)

– The group experienced growth (vs. 41/47)

– They experienced fear (vs. 43)

– The miraculous happened (vs. 43)

– The people were generous (vs. 45)

Again, I’m not a Bible theologian and I’m not looking to offend any specific church or any type of church, but it’s so fascinating to me that all these characteristics are a part of the first church ever! The most evangelistic church ever, that started with the fewest people, with a message that radically offended people, and miracles that were beyond belief, all while the first members experienced intense persecution!

And THAT’S the kind of church we want?!

I don’t think so.

I mean, yes, I totally do want that church.

But when it comes to the way we sling “Acts 2 Church” around, I don’t think we really know what we’re asking for.

We might want the way they shared resources and experienced unity and were generous in their community. But do we also want verbal persecution, the uncontrollable power of God, fear, and being falsely accused of sinning along with that?

I don’t think so.

And the truth is, I don’t see too many of these churches around.

At least not ones that experience all of the above.

Are individual churches called to specific elements (reaching seekers, the charismatic, teaching, etc.) to build up the Church as a whole? Or are churches boxing themselves in by doing that?

If Acts 2 is one of (if not the) best barometer we have from the Bible of how Jesus intends the church (being a group of people following Him) to operate, then maybe those of us who work at and lead at a church have some thinking and praying to do.

Maybe church is a lot less about meetings and the order of songs and mid-week Bible studies, and maybe it’s much more about watching the power of God move in ways we can’t explain, teaching the Gospel without apology, and being less-than-comfortable and even afraid by the way God moves and the persecution from the world.

Or maybe not, and I’m way off base and everything is supposed to stay exactly the same.

Or maybe it’s somewhere in the middle.

Or maybe I should find a theologian and ask them.

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