BY STEVE DUNN
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.
BY STEVE DUNN
His name is Donald Trump and this Friday, he will become the 45th President of the United States. Polls already show that come Inauguration Day he will be the least popular President in history. I did not vote for Mr. Trump–his “tweeted campaign,” his denigration of so many people groups, his playing on our fears of Isis to badmouth Muslims, his obviously abysmal moral character and his cavalier handling of the Christian faith that I hold dear made it impossible for me to vote for him. His opponent was really no better–her pandering to special interest groups and almost total ignoring of the needs of the working class and middle class, her hostility towards traditional Christianity and her pledge to wipe out any conservative presence on the Supreme Court made her equally unpalatable to be me as well. (I registered a protest vote for a third party candidate).
His antics and attitudes during the transition have done nothing to increase my confidence in him or change my opinion.
Nonetheless, we live in a participatory democracy and the primary attributes of that are free elections, civilized and unifying acceptance of the results, and a peaceful transfer of power. On January 20th those things should happen and we will have a new President.
I believe my job as a Christian is to respect his office and the man in that office, to pray for him, and to do my best to contribute to the betterment of my nation. That means that sometimes I will simply give Mr. Trump and his policies a chance, I will not engage in the hate-mongering that some extended to Mr. Obama and are not unleashing on Mr. Trump. I will respectfully disagree with him on other things and try to peacefully and intelligently and prayerfully encourage my senators and Congressmen to do the right thing instead of blindly following the party line or the President.
Mr. prayer is that Mr. Trump will be a great President because my great nation needs a great leader.
BY STEVE DUNN
BY STEVE DUNN
I have been in the ministry for 45 years–starting as a youth pastor back in 1971. Since 2008, I have added teaching graduate students in a seminary to my resume. Since last January I have added teaching history to high school students from Korea to my professional mix. I am about to do both again. Monday Morning Reflections this week is late because I am busy completing syllabi, lesson plans and initial lessons for high schools kids (9th, 10th and 11th graders) and seminarians (only God knows some of their ages and it would be ecclesiastically/politically incorrect to ask). High school starts next Monday, seminary two weeks later.
At this moment I am firmly reminded of the words of Solomon, an ancient wise man of centuries ago:
As they say in my profession: “That’ll preach.” And so far that is true just for the instructor. It will soon be the lament of my students and their compatriots.
Yet as I wade through all the paperwork and other preparations, it is a labor of love. It is also a critical endeavor. Knowledge is the beginning of power and ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous.
Education provides knowledge, but more than that–the discipline of learning and the accountability needed not only to get a good grade but to live life with competence, confidence, and significance.
Knowing the details of early American politics may not come into daily usefulness for all of my high schoolers, any more than the nuances of biblical interpretation for my seminarians. But the process of learning with its requirement to live by standards of excellence and to use that learning with integrity are survival values for society and the Church.
I love my students too much to let them be wallow in ignorance, shackled by laziness, and handicapped by an uninformed life. And I love our nation, our world, and the Kingdom of God not to do my part in educating.
So now–back to the preparations. May they bear much fruit which will last.
© 2016 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 email@example.com
BY STEVE DUNN
Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but forgot to post it. Summertime. – STEVE
Summer officially began a week ago. Cool mornings and sunshine. Later in the day, hot breezes and the sound of lawn mowers and children at play. At night, fairs and festivals and baseball games. And sometimes thunderstorms rolling in to rock the night and mess up your satellite TV reception. Dips in the pool and Dairy Queen runs. The smell of backyard barbecues and colorful boom of fireworks.
Although I don’t like the dryness and heat that accompany summertime, I love the season. If I allow myself to shift gears mentally, summer often brings more freedom and spontaneity to my days. If I have some money left over after all the bills, I might even manage a vacation somewhere.
This summer I have only a part-time job working for my seminary (to read more about my seminary click WINEBRENNER) Half-time means 20-25 hours, basically three days a week. Although it will be tight this summer financially, I never had a summer when I had four days a week off. A day to do household things and pay the bills–but still with three more days at my discretion and Gods’ prompting.
I am. however, a planner. I make lists, and keep a paper planner. I enjoy the thrill of checking things off those lists because I take energy from knowing that I have done something useful, even if half the list or more is yet to be done.
There is a danger in overplanning. It’s called overdoing. And overdoing is antithetical to resting, relaxing and refreshing. So my plans this summer are simply–more aimed at enjoying and stretching my boundaries. Here is my short list.
* Finish unpacking and hanging the last of the pictures on the wall. We have only loved in this house for eight months, but there are still boxes in the garage to be unpacked. We have some great pictures that bless no one in a box.
* Spend more time with Dianne, being in one another’s presence and enjoying one another’s company. It helps that see in willing to watch the Mlb Channel with me.
* Work on that mystery novel that has lain dormant on legal pads for too many years.
* Spend more time alone with God and His Word.
Do you have a list? Summertime has a way of disappearing for those forget that “to everything there is a season …” So ENJOY your summer.
© 2016 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
A horrible tragedy occurred this past weekend in Orlando. At a night club popular with gays and lesbians,an attack was unleashed by a man with suspected ties of Islamic terrorism. At least 50 people were killed and 53 more injured in what is the worst mass shooting in US history.
A year ago another group of people were shocked and saddened as a young man murdered people in a Bible study in Charleston SC. 9 people including the senior pastor and the gunman died when the young man opened fire in a Bible study at the Emmanuel AME Church.
In between those two of high profile events there have been hundreds of such incidents–often unexpected, mostly inexplicable, filled with fatality and tragedy. Sadly, such events are almost daily in this country.
I could launch here into an emotional plea for gun control (which I do support) or some theologically judgemental pronouncement about the lifestyle of the victims in Orlando. I could rail against terrorists-Islamic and otherwise. There are a wealth of responses and comments that can be made and will be made.
But my immediate and daily response was articulated quite well by Southern Baptist ethicist Russell who following the Orlando incident, tweeted “Christian, your gay or lesbian neighbor is probably really scared right now. Whatever our genuine disagreements, let’s love and pray.”
Why do I say this? Because this is what the Bible tells me is the appropriate fist response: