Archive

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Dan Masshardt is a young pastor in Pennsylvania and a good friend.  He writes an excellent blog called CHOOSE TODAY.  This post is well worth reading.

Is Your Church Like Planet Fitness?

Many of us live in a land of many choices.

If you want to exercise, you probably have quite a few options.  One popular option is Planet Fitness.  This gym is inexpensive, open all the time, and constantly advertises a ‘judgement free zone.’    Those are all good things or can be.

Planet Fitness seems to be driven by the idea that you won’t be intimidated there.  They won’t allow it and will remove anybody deemed intimidating – a lunk.

While there are certainly people in Planet Fitness that are in great shape and word hard, if you went there and just filled up your time doing the bear minimum, you’d likely never know that you were falling short of what you really should be doing.

Some churches seem to be a bit like planet fitness.   They are just happy if someone shows up.  That person is included in the attendance and membership numbers.  They have a few dollars coming in.   People aren’t ever told or challenged to thing that what they are doing is falling short of what they currently are.

And while a church like that might have some really serious and dedicated disciples of Jesus in their midst, the church doesn’t expect people to become all in, sold out, go anywhere and do anything God calls us to do kind of Christians.

I’ve been in some serious gyms.  Filled with powerlifters, bodybuilders and strongman.  Crossfit gyms are like this too.   And I can tell you that in my personal experience, Plant Fitness is mostly dead wrong about the attitude of these serious trainers.  They are glad to be together with older people, newer people just getting started.

People should never be judged for getting started.  They should be wholeheartedly encouraged for getting started.  It’s perhaps the biggest step.

But they should know that the journey is the beginning of being the best you can be.  That may be different for different people when it comes to fitness.  But a serious gym will take people where they are at and encourage them, motive them and challenge them to grow.

 

READ MORE

Advertisements

By Steve Dunn

Watching the news lately, I have grown tired, very tired. I am tired of ….

Politicians who demonize people and political positions with which they disagree.

Politicians who spin or even ignore the truth that is inconvenient to them but who insist on

accountability and even punishment for others who do the same.

Politicians who believe that they are above the need for civility and respect towards others.

Politicians who demand absolute conformity and support from people who work for them even

when they are wrong.

Politicians who put their mouth in motion before their mind is in gear.

Politicians who don’t know when to simply keep their thoughts to themselves

Politicians who worship political correctness but who believe people who do not agree with

their definition should ostracized.

Politicians who believe that character is a private matter.

Politicians who do not know how to choose their battles.

Politicians who believe people should never question their motives or integrity.

Politicians who believe they are always right.

Political supporters who support these “leaders” unquestioningly and pounce on those who dare to question their pet politician.

Political supporters who always assume the other side is lying.

Political supporters who justify these actions by saying the other side does it, too.

Neither these political leaders nor their uncritical supporters do our nation a service.

BY STEVE DUNN

The news was ugly today.  A little three year old boy shot in a road rage incident.  He died.  In what is suspected to be an Isis terrorist attack, a large truck plows into an open air Christmas market in Berlin killing nine and injuring many others.  The Russian ambassador to Turkey gunned down as he gave a speech by a militant proclaiming retaliation for his country’s participation in Syria’s crushing of rebels in Aleppo, and the utter destruction city at the same time.  Putin’s dark response about retaliation of its own as the Middle East increasingly is feeling the presence of Russia siding with a decidedly antidemocratic Syrian regime.  Double-digit deaths on American highways as a winter storm slams our nation.  Bitter and angry protests as the Electoral College confirms the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  Parents going into school to stop their son from launching an atack on his fellow students.

The list goes on and I haven’t even gotten to the local scene of poverty, violence, abuse, financial scams targeting the aged and unsuspecting, racism and more.

On this Monday before Christmas our world desperately needs peace.

But not the peace that comes from Christmas truces, or politics and diplomacy; but a peace which will last.  A peace only God can give.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14.27

A peace that comes when people finally acknowledge the One who is the only true Prince Peace- Jesus Christ.  And we need Him now.

Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly.

 

STATUE OF LIBERTY

In this June 2, 2009 photo, the Statue of Liberty is seen in New York harbor. The crown is set to open July 4 after being closed since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BY STEVE DUNN

In New York harbor sits one of the most famous landmarks in the world–the Statue of Liberty.  Engraved on “Miss LIberty” are these words–a poem called “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

When I was but a schoolboy in western Ohio, I was taught these words, then marked as a symbol of the incredible core values that drove my nation’s actions.

Over the 65 years of my life I have met countless people drawn to this nation because of the twin promises of liberty and opportunity–people enriched by their coming and often enriching our nation because they came.

Post 9-11 America finds itself hard-pressed to live out these values.  Under the threat of Isis and other terrorists movements, we seem intent on closing that ‘golden door.”  Not completely.  People like us politically, whose religion does not threaten ours, whose economic goals do not undermine us, who will not compete for our resources, and who will embrace the prevailing secular individualism of the age–these people are still welcome.

I share our concerns about national security and obedience to the laws of the land; but sometimes I fear that the grace and compassion, the commitment to liberty for all peoples is being eroded or being replaced with a selfish inwardness that violates one of the most fundamental laws of the God I honor’ “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Is it possible to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this nation without quenching that lamp beside the Golden Door?

© 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 sdunnpastor@gmail.com 

 

BY STEVE DUNN

memorial-day-quotes
Memorial Day Weekend has arrived.  For the first time in years I have had no pastoral responsibilities during this time and basically unlimited freedom to relax, to follow my own agenda, and to refresh mind, body, and spirit.  An old friend of mine, Kenneth Hall referred to this as “freescence.”

Saturday morning when I arose (early as usual) I drove around hitting some garage sales and doing some grocery shopping.  I noticed how many of the homes had people out early diligently doing yard work or garage doors open to reveal people working on some home improvement project.  It seemed to me that they were getting things out of the way so they could enjoy Sunday and Monday more fully. I wondered how many barbecues or picnics were scheduled.  Or having lived in northwest Indiana for a long time, how many were headed to lake houses or lakes or parks or beaches for recreation and relaxation

But then I found my thoughts directed towards cemeteries or town squares that tomorrow will be the site of memorial observances for those who have fallen in the cause of freedom.  One of my strongest childhood memories growing up in a small town in Ohio where that morning began with a parade, a service in the park, prayers and a honor guard that would issue a 21-gun salute followed by the solemn playing of “Taps.”  The place would be full regardless of what would happen the rest of the day–and this would occur rain or shine.

I wonder how many people will take the time tomorrow morning to join such an observance, or even pause to say a prayer of thanksgiving for these honored dead and express words of encouragement to those who grieve on Memorial Day, not barbecue.

I plan on being one of those.  There are too many men and women who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom to not do so.

Memorialday
© 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 sdunnpastor@gmail.com

by Steve Dunn

I posted this on another blog last week before the Iowa caucuses.  It still is meaningful from my perspective. – STEVE

Just a day until the Iowa caucases.  The rhetoric is ratcheting up as two close races see the front-runners either feeling the heat and/or sensing blood in the water. The lies, innuendos, half truths, etc. crowd even sensible debate to the back pages.  My heart is heavy lately as I watch the nominating process unfold here in my country.  Even more than in previous years there is a de-volution in the quality and character of the candidates that Americans seem drawn to.

Donald Trump has once again made shocking comments on his campaign trail, this time alleging that his supporters are so devoted to him that they would still vote for him even if he were to shoot someone.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa. “It’s, like, incredible.”

“My people are so smart,” he says in the clip. “They say I have the most loyal people.”

Trump’s comment is being labeled highly insensitive in light of the heated nationwide arguments over gun control. He also referred to fellow Republican candidates as “soft,” criticizing their small numbers of supporters.

He has ridiculed Muslims, women, even the fact that President Obama was watching Star Wars. {By the way, I went to see the latest movie and it was simply Space Cowboy fun.)

So often he campaigns by insult, dismissive opinions, and outrageous remarks that make normal insensitivity appear tame.

Two weeks ago, a young pastor friend of mine whose church is making a significant difference in a community that has been buffeted by the waves of crime, economic distress, and racial biases, posted this on Facebook.  Andrew Thomas Draper wrote:

“Over the past few months, I have watched Donald Trump publicly mock a person with disabilities, call Mexican immigrants “rapists,” propose that an entire religion of 1.6 billion people be kept out of this country, have a campaign opener of young girls in skimpy USA dresses singing about destroying people with our military, say that two non-white politicians aren’t natural born citizens, call black people in Baltimore “thugs,” and refer to women by their body parts.

I haven’t made public comments about this because I thought this was all a joke and that it would blow over soon. I thought that certainly no reasonable person would ever take this man seriously. Now he is up 13 points in the polls with 3 weeks until the primaries.

Let me make this clear: I honestly believe that most of Trump’s appeal is that many who have been holding their racist thoughts inside now think it’s OK to let it all out. I do not think that everyone who supports Trump is motivated by racist ideology. I think there can be good reasons to be conservative. However, I have read countless accounts of racist rhetoric down through the years (my PhD dissertation was a historical theological study of race issues) and what Trump and his supporters are saying is mean and hurtful. Trump is not a hero standing up to political correctness; he is fanning the flames of hatred for his own political gain.

I am deeply saddened tonight. I thought we as a nation had healed from a lot of these wounds. Please, this is not a joke anymore.

A friend of mine, Don Dennison, posted this observation of the popularity of men like Donald Trump.

“People want good leadership–an ability to work with others and get things done in the most efficient and effective manner. It is interesting during this current presidential campaign cycle that the leading voices have been “outsiders.” Neither Trump, Cruz, nor Sanders are the darlings of their party leadership. So why have these outspoken outsiders gained so much traction? It appears that FRUSTRATION and FEAR have pushed the electorate to give up on the established politician who has demonstrated either an unwillingness or inability to get things done.

People are frustrated…that problems are not getting fixed. Out-of-control spending continues and escalates the national debt despite which party is in charge. Current laws are not being enforced. Campaign promises are soon forgotten once past the election. People are tired of trusting only to be betrayed again.

People are fearful…that their government is not adequately protecting their rights or their borders. Violent crime is growing unabated, and terrorism is an existential threat to our survival. The economic outlook is bleak–unless you’re a politician or lobbyist.

It’s no wonder that “outsiders” have appeared more attractive to potential voters this season. If the rationale is: “what have we got to lose?”, the possible answer is “plenty!”

For me, most Presidential election choices comes down to “the lesser of two evils.” That option has become even more apparent this year. But I do not want to make my selection on the basis of such negatives as “frustration” and “fear.” We deserve better!”

I do not consider Hilary Clinton a good choice for America.

With the Iowa caucuses now just a few days away, I have this reflection—coming from one who has been a registered Republican for 43 years.  The Republicans can surely do better.

BY STEVE DUNN
What I am about to say will cause some to pronounce me to be intolerant, a religious bigot. That would be untrue, but I feel I must speak a truth, nonetheless.
The National Cathedral in Washington last Friday was the site of an event that betrays its Christian purpose and identity. It sends a deeply confusing message that is already confused about anything “holy.”

Let me note this report from the Associated Press:

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said the Muslim prayer service on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal church established under a charter granted by Congress more than 100 years ago, is “sad to see”  because the church should only open its door for  worship of “the One True God of the Bible.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Nov. 13, Rev. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said, “Tomorrow, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. — one of the most prominent Episcopal churches in America — will host a Muslim prayer service to Allah.”

graham

Facebook post by Rev. Franklin Graham, Nov. 13, 2014.

“It’s sad to see a church open its doors to the worship of anything other than the One True God of the Bible who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth to save us from our sins,” said Graham.  “Jesus was clear when He said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).”

Muslim prayer carpets will be laid out inside the cathedral facing east, towards Mecca,  for the prayer service. They will also be “to the side of the sanctuary,” reported Voice of America, so that worshippers will not see the crosses or Christian icons, because “Muslims are not supposed to pray in view of sacred symbols alien to their faith.”

According to Pew Research, Muslims represent about 0.6% of the U.S. adult population.

I cannot agree with Mr. Graham more.  Although it is a church that received a charter from Congress, it is still an Episcopal Church–and the last time I looked Episcopalians were still proudly proclaiming that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  The “rearrangement” of the sanctuary dedicated to the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to make it inoffensive to Muslim worshippers dishonors the One True God that Christians worship.

I cannot imagine a Grand Mosque in any city in the world allowing a pastor or a priest to celebrate the Lord’s Supper within its walls, nonetheless proclaim “Jesus as our Savior and Lord.”

There. Now I’ve said it.