BY STEVE DUNN

miguel-cabrera-mlb-detroit-tigers-baltimore-orioles

I just finished watching the Baltimore Orioles sweep my beloved Detroit Tigers and eliminate their World Series dreams. I really still cannot get my mind wrapped around a team with Cy Young pitchers and the powerful bats of that of venerable law firm of Cabrera, Martinez and Martinez succumbing to anyone. Yet it has happened. In recent weeks the general diagnosis is that the Tigers suffered a fatal infection of “bullpen meltdown syndrome.” I know I was frustrated along with 40,000+ fans in Tiger Stadium each time those guys could not get anyone out as lead after lead slipped away. I am probably not as frustrated as the likes of Max Sherzer, David Price and Brad Ausmus; but the exasperation borders on the homicidal.

Yet I am not giving up on baseball and for the next few weeks will shift my loyalty to the Orioles as they seek to win a World Series that has long eluded them. The 2014 season was incredibly entertaining and the expanded Wild Card kept that excitement alive until game 162 for many teams. With the Tigers and Royals still alive in the AL (I am pretty sure that the latter will ultimately put the Angels away); I will watch it through until last World Series out.

For a true baseball lover, it is the game–not just a player or a team. It is the tradition, the strategy, the skill and the surprise that occupy that diamond each day from April through October that compels us most. It’s called “the love of the game..”

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BY STEVE DUNN

Reading: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:8

Many years ago Dianne and I had the great privilege of attending the Billy Graham School of Evangelism in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. The School itself was housed at the Chateau Lake Louise, a magnificent five-star hotel next to pristine Moraine Lake, fed by a glacier.One afternoon, the two of us and our friend George Reser decided to hike out to the glacier.  This was November. The path, which was quite narrow and snow-covered was not easy-going.  On one side of the path was a fairly steep drop into the icy waters of the lake.  The other side, a mountain side with more ice, a little brush, snow, and nothing to invite anything but a veteran climber to tackle it.  I was the epitome of the word novice.

That region was inhabited by some magnificent creatures, the Rocky Mountain Goat.  Bigger than a man, strong, somewhat gruff-looking, agile and sure-footed.  They really are an awesome part of God’s animal kingdom.

As I reached midpoint on the trail, now as narrow as two feet placed sided-by-side and even more perilously close the the frigid lake waters, I saw one of these creatures heading straight down the path towards me.  I quickly began to assess my situation and had no desire to meet the goat head-on.  Between us perched next to the path was a large boulder.  I moved to it, stepped off the path (on the upward slope) and hid behind it.  I figured I’d let him pass before I continued on.

I waited, and waited, and waited.  No animal passed by. Finally I crept towards the front of the boulder and stuck my head out to see what had happened.  And my face greeted the goat’s face on the other side of the rock looking at me, engaged in the same investigation.  Sizing m up, the goat perked up, then turned and went straight up the steep hillside to higher ground.

The goat saw no reason to challenge me on the path, or maybe just took pity on this two-legged mountain novice.

In a world of confrontation, demanding of our rights, asserting ourselves, and just plain belligerence; we are reminded that such attitudes and the actions that result are often in conflict with God’s purposes and inflict unnecessary pain on the persons we cross paths with crossly.

Maybe it’s time for us to re-embrace Paul’s counsel and find God-honoring ways to live at peace with people.

(c) 2012 BY STEPHEN L DUNN   This post originally appeared on my devotional blog THRIVING IN CHRIST

BY STEVE DUNN

 

I have long been a fan of Bill Watterson and his comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. His is not as overtly theological as was Charles Schulz in Peanuts, but every once in a while (I suspect inadvertently) Calvin makes a profound statement that triggers a scriptural truth. Here are two that I find in this particular strip.

The first is from James 4:17: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” New International Version

Then Galatians 5:6.” The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” New Living Translation.

An authentic disciple understands that omission can be every bit as significant as commission when it comes to sin. Too many of us have changed the focus from loving our neighbor as ourselves to love myself and then give my neighbor the leftovers. Or be careful of loving my neighbor too much lest I not have enough for me. Or this one – love myself spontaneously but be sure and schedule how much I will do for my neighbor in need.

Maybe we need to walk through life with eyes wide open to opportunities to be a blessing to others, praying that our love will find greater expression than merely intellectual assent or carefully orchestrated projects.

BY STEVE DUNN

Meet two very important people – my son Michael, the oldest of my son’s and my second child (pictured here with his family-wife Melonie, daughters Natalie and Ashley.

The other is my daughter Katherine Marie, a.k.a. Katie (now Huther). She is pictured here with her son Caleb (husband Jason is probably taking the picture).

Katie is the “baby” of the family-the one her other three siblings were convinced was spoiled rotten by her Daddy.  (Katie winks and says with a wry smile, “You’re right.”) Besides being children of a brilliant father, they have two things in common.  Both are two of the most conscientious parents you will ever meet.

The second is that they have the same birthday. (Actually they were both born in the same hospital as that brilliant dad of theirs).   Seven years after Michael boldly entered the world, his younger sister was born–July 1st.  Michael, when discovering that Katie’s impending arrival was about to rain on his birthday parade actually asked his Mom to stay in labor so that this little intruder would be born July 2nd.

But they are different as well.  Yes, it’s obvious from the photo that Katie is a brunette and Michael a blond.  What I mean is they are different persons with different skills, experiences, and dreams.  Michael is an entrepreneur, Katie the quintessential penny pincher.  Katie has always been a great administrator and resource manger.  She worked in the cash office of a Walmart at age 16 and until son Caleb came along, was in demand in banking.  Michael is a master of managing people, especially people whose lives are struggling and out of focus.

Dianne and I did not raise these two the same–nor treat them the same.  We sought to foster their dreams and empower their passions.  We tried to see them as God saw them and challenge them to aspire to the same.

“Train up a child in his way to go and when he is old he will not depart from it,” says Solomon in Proverbs 22:6.  His way as God designed him is another translation.  Good parents don’t treat their children equally – except to love then equally.  Good parents do not cookie cut kids into their own image but help them be shaped by their callings from God.

I hope my children considered me a good parent.

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.

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