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BY STEVE DUNN

      Have you ever felt like Calvin?  Our lives have grown so complicated filling with so many things that we “must” be doing; that when we try doing something unnecessary, it is easily spoiled by a sense of guilt.  Or worse, by the recriminations of those who consider our choices frivolous and self-indulgent. Some of us have lives so filled with responsibilities that we feel compelled to take our work with us on vacation. I know that at times I definitely resemble that last comment.

Solomon once wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” He follows that with a wonderful list of examples.  I often wish he had included “a time to work and a time to goof off.”

Actually, God Himself did say it.  In the Creation account found in Genesis 1-2, we read: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” – Genesis 2:1-2 NIV

Christians and Jews call that seventh day “Sabbath.”  Before we became so compulsive about work (even working at our play), the seventh day was intended for rest.  Mark Buchanan says that the test of activity on Sabbath is “Is it necessary?”  If it is necessary, do it in the first six days.  If it’s not necessary, then enjoy it … and don’t feel guilty about it.

Tim Hansel in his excellent book When I Relax I Feel Guilty suggests that we need to find a pace on those other six where we can even take “minute vacations” (short breaks) where the purpose is to do the “nothing” that refreshes us.

The nothing you want to do has a place in your life.  If it does not then maybe you need to start simplifying your life.  I know I’m working on it.

© 2018  by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to http://www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

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Barbara Bush will be celebrating her 90th birthday
BY STEVE DUNN

Saturday morning in St. Martin’s Episcopal Cathedral in Houston, America celebrated the life of Barbara Bush. I was amused by a news reporter’s comment that her faith and friends were very important to her, but most important to her was her family.  Mrs. Bush’s quote on the subject earlier in her life was in a different order saying the most important things were faith, family and friends.  In a 2013 interview for a C-Span series on First Ladies, she made that clear: “I’m a huge believer in a loving God,” she said. “And I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself because I know that there is a great God.”  A lady of great Christian dignity, Cleve R. Wootson, Jr. of the Washington Post added.Even in the 2013 interview she took pains not to sound too sanctimonious. ‘That sounds so arrogant,” she said, turning away from the interviewer. I’m a big shot. I have a faith in God. I do have a faith in God. And I don’t question it. I have no fear of death. And I think that’s very comforting.”  SOURCE: The Oklahoman -News OK website-April 18th, 2018.Cleve R. Wootson Jr. The Washington Post

Her values informed her ideas and thoughts and words.  Here are some of those definitely worth remembering.

To the Wellesley College graduating class: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a children, or a parent.”

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people — your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”

“I hate the fact that people think ‘compromise’ is a dirty word.”

“Don’t cry over things that were or things that aren’t. Enjoy what you have now to the fullest.”

“Bias has to be taught. If you hear your parents downgrading women or people of different backgrounds, why, you are going to do that.”

 “You have to love your children unselfishly. That is hard. But it is the only way.”

“You have two choices in life; you can either like what you do or dislike what you do. I have chosen to like what I do.”

“Libraries have always seemed like the richest places in the world to me, and I’ve done some of my best learning and thinking thanks to them.”

“Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”

“I’m a liberal when it comes to human rights, the poor; so’s George Bush. . . . But Liberal and Conservative don’t mean much to me anymore. Does that mean we care about people and are interested and want to help? And if that makes you a Liberal, so be it.”

” If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.”

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BY STEVE DUNN

We live in a time of cultural warfare. The radical left often seems bent on eradicating Christian witness from the public square and detaching the nation from biblical values. The “church” is perceived as the enemy of politically correct definition of tolerance. Many in the church, especially the fundamentalist right, are vehemently attacking those efforts-and at times demonizing those who choose to even be moderates or to voice the idea that there is some element of truth outside the Christian faith. Both extremes tragically are not serving our nation, simply throwing gasoline on a fire that further damages the well-being of the American people.

I cannot speak for the radical left—nor would even consider doing so. The contempt for even basic Judaeo-Christian values and the worship of every man’s right to do what their heart desires without accountability for its impact are antithetical to my faith and values.

But I can speak to my fellow Christians. The political rhetoric, the judgmental intransigence over every issue facing us as a free people defy the words of the Lord through Isaiah—words not spoken to society in general but to the people of God:

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1.16-18

We need to take the plank out of our own eyes. We need to remember the words and example of Jesus.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:44-48

We have become very adept at turning over the tables. But I wonder greatly if tactics that so much resemble the world’s way of doing things don’t deaden us to the vital truth that the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ must guide our opinions and actions towards others—especially those who we perceive or who declare themselves to be enemies.

The New Testament records only ONE incident of Jesus overturning the tables—and countless examples of the love and graciousness and forgiveness of Jesus.

Please think about this—prayerfully, honestly and apolitically.

© 2018 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to http://www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

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BY STEVE DUNN

Sunday began the holiest season of the year for Christians.  Beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the observance will take us to the Temple, where Jesus will confront the money changers and other religious leaders who had corrupted the faith of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  It will move into an Upper Room on the night in which Jesus was betrayed as he attempts to prepare his disciples for what will come next.  We will enter the chambers of the Sanhedrin where Jesus would find himself in a kangaroo court at the hands of men who had long planned to kill him.  We will pass through the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, who could find no fault with Jesus but would ultimate wash his hands of Jesus in an act of callous political expediency.  We will climb the hill called Golgotha, the place of the skull, where Jesus would suffer the the cruelest of all deaths as he took on the sins of the world.  We will find ourselves at an borrowed empty tomb where the bars of death were torn away once and for all in the Resurrection.

As popular and as warmly fuzzy as Christmas is to our culture and to many Christians, it is but a prelude to the event that would change history forever.  An event now called Easter when a cross shaped hole was blasted through the stone that covered the door and changed the eternal destiny of all humanity both backwards into history and forward into the future.  As it has been said, the nativity was not Jesus’ destiny.  The Cross was. And because of the Cross and the Resurrection, God declared in no uncertain words what a disciple named John would confess. “For God so loved the world, that h

He gave His one and only Son.  That whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but through Him to save the world.”

This truth, the central story line of Holy Week, is why Christian everywhere called Good Friday “good” and celebrate a day we call Easter.

God's love to people

© 2018 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

Posted by LIFE MATTERS at 5:00 AM

 

 

 

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BY STEVE DUNN

I have been a Christian for 60 years.  I am one of those who was carried into the church as a baby, and when I was eight years old, at the invitation of my Sunday School teacher, Marcile Krick, I made the choice to become a follower of Jesus.

One of the most difficult things for me to grasp is the reality that many fellow Christ-followers rationalize away the need to engage in concrete action with the expression “you are in my thoughts and prayers.”

I am not belittling prayer or its power.

What I am troubled by is Christians who have time to go to worship, attend Sunday School, participate in a bake sale, and linger a long time in the coffee hour but are reluctant or even negligent in giving time and attention to a neighbor in need.

Maybe it’s because our schedules are too crowded and lives filled with too many things that we embrace only that which is easy, commit only to that which is convenient.  Maybe it is because we are so fearful of others or desire to have so much control that we do not want to get too close or too involved with people in the messy times in their lives.

Maybe it’s because we think church activities are equal in value to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and to serve one another in love.

Maybe it’s because our Bibles seem to have deleted Matthew 25 which ends with the words, “when you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me (Jesus).”

Maybe it’s time to stop “passing by on the other side.”

© 2018 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

BY STEVE DUNN

Almost eight years ago I published a story on one of my other blogs about a lady who I was privileged to be her pastor for 14 years.  As I have been reflecting on the state of our nation lately and what ordinary people can do to return reason and grace to the discussion, my mind went back to this lady and I am reposting to share her story with you. – Steve
Emma Kreger was a school teacher.  Emma taught school in the days of one-room schoolhouses, a phenomenon in Indiana where we lived that survived well into the 20th century.  Her classroom was young people from first through eighth grade.  Emma was so dedicated to her profession that she did not marry until well into her fifties, inheriting a family of adult children who absolutely adored her.

When I met Emma she was a widow, well into her 90s. She was the oldest member of the church that I was serving.  A gentle, unassuming, sincere and slightly ornery little gal.  Still dressed with the dignity and the audacity of a life-long teacher.

One Christmas I was visiting her in her little two room apartment at St. Anne’s Home.  By that time she had been a resident for several years, not really venturing into the outside world-but riding her little motorized scooter to meals and bingo. As I attempted to make conversation, I commented on her collection of Christmas cards, noting a particularly colorful one.

“Oh, that’s from Lyle.  He’s an inmate at Pendleton,” was her response.

I was completely taken aback. Pendleton was one of the maximum state prisons in Indiana at the time, a lot of hard core criminals residing within its walls. The look of shock on my face must of been obvious.  “Emma, how do you know someone in Pendleton.”

“Oh,” she answered matter-of-factly, “he killed a friend of mine.”

Emma proceeded to tell me about Tammy, a troubled young lady who had rented the upstairs apartment in Emma’s home  many years ago.  “I learned quickly that Tammy had a drug problem.  Instead of throwing her out, I tried to help her.”

As I caught my breath in awe, she continued. “Tammy finally gave her heart to Jesus Christ and gave up her drugs.  The first thing she did was to go and turn in her pusher. His name was Lyle.”
“But you know how it goes.  He got out on bail right away. He was furious. He came right over to the apartment and shot Tammy dead right there. The police arrived quickly and arrested him and soon he was sentenced to life in prison in Pendleton.”

It was an incredible story, but then Emma said something amazingly grace-filled.  “Pastor, that man was crazy ! He had to be crazy to come so boldly and kill her, knowing he would be caught and convicted.”
I nodded my head in agreement and she concluded, “I decided a crazy man needed Jesus.“  Emma proceeded to tell me how she had been writing to Lyle for several years and praying for him. And then one day, through the work of Prison Fellowship, Lyle became a Christian.  Now he was being allowed to go to high schools to tell kids what would happen to them when they got caught in drugs.

What a life change. All because of a grace-filled, insistent little school teacher, who decided that craziness should not separate someone from the love of God.

© 2010, 2018 by Stephen L. Dunn. All rights reserved. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com