il_570xN.904032963_99zwBy Steve Dunn

I love this little photo. I have posted it before on my Facebook page and in my church’s newsletter. It is clear that our fascination with our cell phones and texting while driving has developed some seriously deadly implications. Although I use the hands-free Bluetooth feature of my Toyota Camry from time to time, I do not use it in traffic but only when I am alone on the high (i.e., no other cars nearby). Doing anything but driving can be a dangerous distraction—to you if to no one else.

Now look at this cartoon.

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One of the phenomenon of worship in churches today is the texting during worship. Except for those churches that encourage tweeting with the preach mid-sermon, texting is a distraction from the most important activity—worshiping the Lord. It often keeps people from giving their attention and their hearts fully to God and what He wants to communicate to them. A steady diet of this can have some dangerous eternal consequences.

But it’s not just texting. People who inspect other worshipers for what they are wearing, doing or not doing are not giving themselves fully to worship. And I tell my parishioners, “If you can tell me how many mistakes there were in worship or in the bulletin, you are permitting those distractions from truly worshiping.

Take these words to heart from I Samuel.

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© 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

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New Born Baby Wallpapers 4

BY STEVE DUNN

Today, if all goes well, one of the young couples in the church in which I serve will become first-time parents.   The doctors are going to induce labor and if everything goes smoothly and quickly, they may even be parents by the time that you read this post.  We had special prayer for them and their new daughter in church yesterday and they are at the top of my prayer list today.

Dianne and I have been parents four times and in November will become grandparents for the eighth time.  I can think few greater joys than the birth of a new baby.  They are indeed gifts of God to us who have the privilege of being parents. It is my firm belief that they had been people since the day of their conception.  The Psalmist David declares,

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139.13-16 NIV

The life of a baby, as with all human life, is sacred.  No laws of any land, nor preferences of a mother or father, can change that reality.  The act of conception is not merely a sexual act, it is partnership with our Creator.  Even if our intention is not so noble does not make it simply a choice.  And even if that life will be a special needs life does not diminish that it is human life and therefore sacred indeed.

I pray that my young couple will indeed treat the life of their daughter as sacred and see their role in parenting is a sacred partnership with God.  If so, their daughter will be blessed beyond measure.

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© 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

happy-independence-day-1000x617by Steve Dunn

Today is July 4th, the day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence separating us from the rule of England and its mad King George.  Never mind that John Adams that July 2nd would be Independence Day and that declaration was not actually signed until July xx.  July 4th was the Day we formally declared our independence.

Never mind the historical proof-texting because far more important is the principle. The Declaration reads:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This was a momentous action—and its core values—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have shaped our people and inspired other peoples and nations.  We have sometimes had trouble defining those three words and have certainly made mistakes along the ways—but the end product is so powerful that for more than two centuries people have immigrated to our shores seeking to find those truths to be a reality in their lives.

Compared to so much of the rest of the world, we have rich and meaningful lives, paralleled freedom, and countless opportunities to choose happiness.  Today is a day to get past the debates over walls and immigration, athletes who stand or kneel, trade agreements and foreign influence in our politics.  For just today, can we pause, reflect our blessings, celebrate our freedom, and give thanks to our Maker.

© 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 

 

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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

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