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FAITH JOURNEY

BY STEVE DUNN
 
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5.1-2
 
It is the time of the year when people focus on the future.  The focus might be fleeting as the struggles of every day living draw us into a very destructive kind of focusing – fear over the future with all of its uncertainties.  And because there is so much we cannot control, we begin to worry.
 
We worry over what might go wrong in our lives and in our world.  That worry draws our attention to the mountains that we need to move or it makes molehills grow into insurmountable mountains.  It makes us believe the lie that we must be in control–although such control is futile.
 
It takes our eyes off a vital reality.  We are products of God’s grace.  It is by His power that we live.
The future, which includes ours, belongs to God.  He knows the way from the present to the future and He will shepherd us safely through today into tomorrow.  And tomorrow holds His glory in which we will share.
 
 Never second-guess the Shepherd.

  BY STEVE DUNN

A whole lot of people think that “good” Christians are people who do good things.  In fact, a whole lot of Christians believe that, too.  Usually, though, the measure of that in people’s minds includes keeping the 10 commandments, being a “church goer,” knowing the Bible, keeping Christ in Christmas, not working on Sundays, etc., choosing wholesome activities over “worldly” ones.  Doing typically “religious” things.  This list makes for comfortable people who can call themselves “Christians.”

Ironically, except for the “church-going” part, that is also a description of “good people” who would not call themselves Christians.

The Bible actually teaches something different about this. Christians desire to be righteous (another word for holy).  Not righteous in a prideful or self-serving sense.  Righteous meaning “having the right relationship with God.”  In other words, we desire to have hearts like God’s heart, to live by the values that God intends for us, and behave towards our world as God wants the world treated.

In case you don’t know what the answer to that last statement, you need only read John 3:16 and 17:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Genuine Christians aspire to be the person God desires them to be.  How do they know what looks like?

It looks like Jesus.  


God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.

Amen

Resposted from THE JESUIT POST   I believe James Martin, SJ is the author;

BY STEVE DUNN
It’s Thursday. I should have written this on Monday.  After, it’s my regular feature,
Monday Morning Reflections.”  I’d like to think the days went by in a blaze of useful activity but they really disappeared in a haze of “whatever.”  If I think hard enough I can account for the passage of time, but I am not sure if how I passed it was worth the consumption of those minutes, hours and days.  In fact, I have this frustrating sense that I have wasted those days.
I didn’t know until today that Lewis Carroll is the author of this quote, but right now I am feeling that “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
So is my problem the lack of focus or the speed at which I live?
It seems that our culture is enamored with speed–and its partners: immediate, just do it, keep on trucking,  seize the moment–and their little sister, “whatever you do, don’t fall behind.”
At least once lately I have nearly been in accident.  Another driver (often with a cell phone in hand) does something unpredictable.  I have had to decide what to do in a split second;  I have been fortunate but if we had needed to split the second even more, the outcome might have been a disaster.
It’s times like these that I am grateful that my life is in someone else’s hands instead of mine.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.a

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
“Because heb loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”  Psalm 91.1-2,14-16
 
This doesn’t mean I just let life carry me along in its currents, trusting in God to send a rescue party when I start to drown–but it does mean that in the rapid, often-unfocused days in this world; I better sure that I am hanging close to God.

1545775_561246304009108_6999568843495661321_nBY STEVE DUNN

This is my youngest grandson, Caleb Jay Huther.  His mother is my youngest daughter, Katie; and her husband, Jason–a high school principal.  Today Katie recorded this conversation on her Facebook Page.

Caleb: Daddy, can I type letters on your computer?
Jason: Sorry buddy it’s charging
Caleb: It’s charging?
Jason: Yep and we can’t touch it while it’s charging
Caleb: but Daddy … How can it be charging if there is no cord plugged in?
Jason: (moment of silence) … Well buddy … I didn’t realize you were smart enough to figure that out

Katie added:  … Hah! My educator husband with a million degrees was just outsmarted by our three year old!

I wonder how often I approached my children with the same attitude.

In the Bible, we read of a young pastor, Timothy.  A young pastor/apostle who was given authority far beyond his years.  Yet he had wisdom, passion, and a mature faith.  He received this counsel from an older Christian leader, Paul.  And this was Paul’s guidance:

 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NLT

The church is often guilty of discounting its young.  Oh yes, they want their church to attract youth because “they are the church of the future.  But how much time and energy is spent on actually discipling them? Or bridging the gap between worship that is often very adult-focused and worship that draws children and youth into the presence of God?

And although they lack experience, God often gives children and youth discernment and wisdom beyond their years.  In what way do we try to answer their questions honestly?  In what way do we give them leadership opportunities that allow them to learn how to be leaders?

Just thinking today …..

© 2015 by Stephen L Dunn

Permission is given to reprint this post as long as it is not included in material that is for sale, that it is reproduced in its entirety including the copyright notice, and that a link is provided to this blog.

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

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.