theological-loveBY STEVE DUNN

One of the great scandals of contemporary Christianity is what Craig Groeschel calls “Christian Atheism.” This is where we say we believe something and then live like we do not believe it. The lawyer of Luke 10:25-28 stands up and asks the quintessential question of a seeker, “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” At the end of the chain of discussion Jesus leads the man to the answer. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ In fact, Jesus punctuates it with, “Do this and you shall live.”

Even non-Christians know, and many practice, the latter half of that commandment. We call it the Golden Rule.

But for many persons, including many Christians, there is more intellectual assent than real life application. We know we should practice it, and we do … up to a point.

Up to the point when….

Demonstrating that love requires us to sacrifice a significant amount of time.

Loving them requires us to wade into the mess in which they find themselves living where we might get messy, too.

Loving them calls us to sacrifice something precious rather than what is convenient or superfluous.

Loving them demands us to see them as persons for whom Christ died rather than simply objects of our good works.

Loving them is met with rejection or contempt.

I am reminded that God loved a world where people were His enemies.

He loved a world that killed his prophets and dishonored His holiness.

He loved a world where people keep asking, no, demanding His help and then squandering the blessing.

He loved a world that He knew would crucify Jesus.

Love, genuine God-inspired and empowered love is unconditional and incarnational and sacrificial.

Any less is not really love. It is a counterfeit.

 

(C) 2014 by Stephen L Dunn

BY STEVE DUNN

Phil and Lindsay Schiavoni–new parents June 12, 2014

Two dear friends became parents yesterday – for the first time. Kaylee Joy, 7 lbs., 19 3/4 inches came into the world of Phil and Lindsay Schiavoni. I cannot imagine two better persons to be parents. Kaylee will be truly blessed.

Sunday will be Phil’s first Father’s Day and as his pastor and friend, I am going to presume to give him some counsel. I am sure he won’t mind you over-hearing.

“Phil, I suspect this is an awesome morning for you. Kaylee and Lindsay probably came home yesterday and I suspect you didn’t get much sleep. (Keeping up with Facebook greetings kept you busy before that). I imagine Lindsay already misses the nursing staff of the hospital. It’s on you now, brother. Actually, a whole lot will be on you for at least the next 20 years. If Kaylee is as creative and crazy as you can be, you may be gray by then–but it’ll be good gray.

You don’t know enough yet to be a success at this new gig–but you know the One Who does. Keep close to God and pray for wisdom every day. Pray for the love you need for Kaylee, but that’ll come easy. Pray for your daughter that she will grow into the person God created her to be. Pray for you and Lindsay both that you will be guided by God’s vision. That really is at the heart of Solomon’s counsel in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way (she) should go.” It is founded on God’s values and vision, but the scriptures are equally clear that we are unique individuals with different giftings and callings. Don’t just teach her morals and good behaviors–teach her how to discover the masterpiece God is making of her. And even when she seems to be different from you, be more concerned that she is like her Heavenly Father.

Love Kaylee–but love Lindsay more. Do I need to say more?

Always see her as God’s child entrusted into your care so that she can learn of God’s love. Model for her the values that she needs to be a Christ follower. Be ready to answer, “Why?” It’s not rebellion, it’s just her way of learning. And make sure Jesus is no stranger in your home.

You have the prayers and support of Dianne and I, your church, your family, and your friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

That’s enough. God will show you the rest in His time.

Your brother and friend,
STEVE

Heidi Mikulkin is a young wife and mother from western Pennsylvania — and a seminary student.  In fact, it is my privilege to be one of her professors.  She is passionate about Jesus and passionate about helping other people meet.  She is what I call one of “Christ’s respectful ambassadors.”  She posted this story a few days ago on her Facebook page:

“Two young men walked by my front porch today. It was not the first time I had seen them, and I knew the mission they were on. After pleasantries, they asked if I was used to the weather here in PA. These two boys were from out of town, and they were not accustomed to the changes in weather. I asked them what God was inviting them to do today. They began talking about their mission, how they were missionaries away from home to spread news. I asked them to sit and chat with me for a while. The three of us read the Bible. I questioned them, and they asked me questions. As we talked, I shared my Good News. They couldn’t understand the difference in our beliefs, so I asked them to share their testimony. When they had finished sharing with me, I told them my testimony. I got to introduce them to my Jesus, and how He changed my life because He is who He says He is, and He did what He said He did. I prayed with them before they left. Funny, I had expected to have a Bible study on my front porch today, but I could have never guessed who it would be with.”

Heidi’s actions remind me powerful of the instructions the Apostle Peter gave to the Early Church:

Thank you, Heidi, for this reminder to Christians everywhere of how we can continue to proclaim the Good News in a world that is often hostile to our faith.

Starting a new periodic series of my favorite blog posts.  This one was first published in Life Matters December 1, 2011.  And by the way, I still love breakfast. – STEVE

BY STEVE DUNN

I love breakfast!

No apologies, no hesitation, no nuances – just a straightforward love of breakfast.
A cup of coffee, a simple bowl of Cheerios, a slice of toast – that’s breakfast at its most minimal.  Although my diabetes now requires me to tone down breakfast, there are some things that I particularly love with breakfast.
Start with a cup of fresh, hot coffee.  It requires no doctoring, just its rich flavor wafting aromatic out of the cup into your nostrils. A quality cup of coffee is the “first love” of a good breakfast.   And please, please, please — do not ruin the experience by serving me decaf.  I’d rather have a warm glass of diet Pepsi that’s been sitting on the counter for three days.

I can begin to embrace breakfast with a gusto by a cold glass of tomato juice served while the meal itself is being prepared.  Many places add a slice of lemon,but for me such “decoration” is totally unnecessary.  If I have lemon at all at breakfast, let it be lemonade.  Occasionally, when I am not too worried about my blood sugar, a glass of Florida’s best orange juice is a pleasant addition – but it has to have lots of pulp or the whole OJ thing loses substance.  OJ is the first place where I might want to chew my breakfast,  When the price on either is too high or none is available, there’s much breakfast refreshment from a glass of ice water with that slice of lemon that people erroneously want to insert into my tomato juice.

Now the main courses begin to arrive–generally on multiple plates balanced artfully on the forearm of your waitress.  How do they do that?  I have trouble carrying my keys in my hands let alone do the balancing act required by breakfast waitresses.  And they do it without velcro.

So what comes first?  Two eggs sunnyside up/  Please do not let them get cold in the kitchen before they reach me.  And if you break the yolks, I’ll send them back.  Never mind that I am about the plunge my fork into their shimmering yellow surface.  Part of the blessing is savoring the plunging of the fork into those two yellow faces staring back at you and watching the yolk run into the whites.  And don’t burn the whites. A runny yoke loses its culinary satisfaction when it is eaten with the rest of the egg that has begun to take on the texture of burnt toast.

Of course – toast.  My preference, four half slices of raisin toast, slightly crispy with a pat of butter melting into its surface.  My diabetes has turned breakfast potatoes into unwelcome carbs.

At my home restaurant, the Silver Spring Family Restaurant has offered me fresh, sliced tomatoes as an alternative. (Unfortunately with an upcharge).  That’s the “fruit: with my breakfast.  I cannot quite explain it, but those tomatoes are a perfect taste counterpart to the eggs and toast, and they don’t compete with the coffee. (By now I should be on my second cup).

If i want to have a more filling breakfast, old-fashioned Southern grits with a huge dollop of butter melting into their hot, fluid surface has me salivating before I even get that first taste (which is usually ten minutes after they get to the table and have finally cooled enough to eat without cauterizing your epiglottis.  Unfortunately too many people are introduced to grits through a box or in the North where they never seem to make grits the right way (except in Cracker Barrel).  But give grits a chance.  You won’t be sorry and they are probably better for you than a double order of toast.

And for “dessert,” (yes, breakfast has a dessert along with your third cup of coffee) be sure and tie the whole experience together with a few danish, preferably something with cinnamon (unless you need more fruit, then get apple danish).  But don’t tell my health coach about the danish.
I love breakfast!

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

BY STEVE DUNN

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BY STEVE DUNN

In just a short time, my granddaughter Natalie will graduate from high school. I could not be prouder of her nor happier for her. I can remember her when she was very young and very strong-willed and her strong-willed father called me for advice. “What worked with you, Michael?” “Nothing” was his response. “Good luck,” was mine.

A voracious reader as a youngster and a gung ho Girl Scout. She was enamored with House, and ga-ga over Les Mis. Much to our joy, Natalie loved God early. And then, of course, later she loved Dakota but not in the same way. An artist’s eye with a camera and a perceptive writer, over and over she gave me reasons for joy. First she wanted to be a Park Ranger, but now a journalist. But since she was president of her high school student council as a freshman–who knows. She’d certainly be an improvement over the current occupant–even now.

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Natalie loved to play the Geek, but she was a stunner come prom time. She was her Dad’s golf partner since he had no sons, his chief marketer for Mikey’s Burgers and Fries, and a great confidante to mom Melonie. And a patient older sister with her younger sibling Ashley who kept beating her for a time at minigolf.

Because we lived so far apart (she in Michigan and I in Pennsylvania), most of our communication was by Facebook. I remember one night when she got in trouble for having a late night conversation with Grandpa, which I innocently mentioned to her Dad – who had banned her from Facebook for one of the usual teenage violations.1620975_794671487223396_4968315604694787685_n

As she heads off into the more adult world, I just want to say,”Natalie, I love you. I am proud of you and happen to really like the you that you have become. I will pray for your regularly. And who knows, maybe some day you will become the fourth Dr. Dunn in this family.

 

BY STEVE DUNN

My wife and I were driving home from a doctor’s appointment. I had developed a painful rash in some very private places and was hoping to pick up the prescription for its treatment as soon as we got to our home, about on hour from the doctor’s office. I also suffer from restless legs and they were already torturing me.

Then we saw it, the slowed and slowing traffic on I-81 south as we arrived on the north side of Carlisle. I had seen it before, and it was clear that soon after the oncoming exit was a parking lot in the making. I had been through this before so we exited the interstate so we could follow the highway that ran through the town’s center (and parallel to the interstate). It might take 20-25 minutes to cover the eight miles but it would be better than the progress (or lack of it) on an interstate shutdown by an accident.

Then we hit it. The gridlock in the city itself, multiplied by many exits from the stricken interstate depositing traffic into the city. Even with traffic cops at every intersection, the city’s interior street became crazy–and hot–and aggravating. It took us more than 90 minutes to make that eight mile journey. Emerging on the other side (south side) hoping to return to the interstate, we saw more vehicles seeking to escape and the state route we were on heading south, bumper to bumper northbound. In the end, the whole trip of 22 miles took three hours.

Twitter and Facebook, not to mention texts and cell phones were alive with the inconvenience created by this situation. I confess, I was among those verbalizing my frustration. It was a wall of vitriol.

Only a handful of people bothered to ask about what was going on upon the interstate, just a couple of miles removed. While we were griping and moaning, two persons–a truck driver and the driver of the SUV that had crossed the median and hit the trucker head-on–died.

We don’t know yet what caused the driver to cross into the northbound traffic. Some have suggesyed a high speed that caused the SUV to go out of control. It doesn’t matter. Now to people are dead. At least two families are in shock and grieving of this sudden death.

Thousands of us were inconvenienced.

In our self-centered world, I suspect the latter fact is considered the greater sin. I for one, have asked God’s forgiveness for my pique and offered a prayer of condolence for the dead. To not do this latter would have been the greater sin.

8458358BY STEVE DUNN

The sun came out in central Pennsylvania (as it did across much of the US). It was a good thing, for it was Opening Day for baseball. Finally !!! My day was helped immeasurably by Alex Gonzales’
walk-off single in the bottom 9th to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory over Kansas City. It was tough to lose the ALCS to the Red Sox last year and I for one, have been waiting less and less patiently for this season to begin.

I think the NCAA is reaching its Final Four (but my brackets there were busted the first week) and the NBA is heading to its play offs (to which I say, “Ho hum!:) Football is trying to gear things up with the college draft–but that will meaning nothing until after baseball passes its All Star Break.

I understand that this year the highest ticket and beer prices are in Fenway Park. I don’t drink beer and I’m not planning any pilgrimage to Boston, so I’ll live. Feeling for the Texas Rangers whose pitching staff seem to have made a mass exit onto the DL, but not too much since they now own one of my favorite ex-Tigers, Prince Fielder.

I managed to trade a twelve year old in my fantasy league to get the Tigers pitching staff, but I suspect Elijah will bounce back. He is still aggressively trading and mines that free agent waiver wire daily. My really loaded team in another league barely got a hit on opening day. That would make for a long season.

Today I am going to make my preseason picks: AL EAST-Red Sox AL CENTRAL-Tigers AL WEST-Angels WILD CARDS – Royals, Rays NL EAST – Nationals NL CENTRAL -Cardinals NL WEST – Dodgers WILD CARDS – Reds, Pirates AL – Tigers NL -Pirates WORLD CHAMPS-Tigers

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