Archive

Uncategorized

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.

13254287_10154062703985609_2113181977083488792_n

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 sdunnpastor@gmail.com

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
People who follow my blogs, but especially my FACEBOOK page know that I am a diehard Detroit Tigers fan; as well as a lover of baseball in general.  It IS America’s game no matter what the NFL and NASCAR try to proclaim.
There is one aspect of the “game” in America that I do not like.  Major League Baseball is a business.  I do understand that it needs to be a business and businesses must be profitable to survive’ but the “fan” in me hates the reality of many baseball business decisions.
July 31st is the Major League trading deadline and between now and then, teams will begin to sell off or trade away “assets” (i.e., players) in order to to build for the future. That means they are basically writing off this season as a loss.  And teams who still believe they have a solid chance of winning are opening their pocketbooks and the doors of their minor league system (whose prospects reflect their long term future) to win today.
Last year my beloved Tigers were buyers–trading for 2013 Cy Young winner David Price–to win the “arms” race with their frequent post season opponent, the Oakland A’s (who got Boston’s John Lester on a one-year deal to match Detroit).  The Tigers didn’t count on the Kansas City Royals, playing .500 ball at the Allstar Break going into overdrive to win the American League Championship.
 But as the Tigers, still awaiting the return of Miguel Cabrera from the DL, lost yet another game; it looks like Price may be gone (leaving only Sanchez as a starter who can win consistently).
In addition, Yoenes Cespedes (who the A’s traded to Boston to get Lester), who had come to the Tigers to beef up what appeared to be a killer batting lineup, may also be gone-leaving only suddenly resurgent Ian Kinsler and home run king, JD Martinez (and Victor Martinez, if he can stop hitting into double plays) to hold the fort until Cabrera is back.

If these two go, even this diehard Tiger fan, may have to find someone else to root for unto October.

Arghhhh!!!!!!

BY STEVE DUNN

It’s the evening of the Fourth of July.  My wife and I have just finished watching A Capital Fourth a semi-tradition for us. Now we are watching a live fireworks show via another channel–a magnificent display over New York Harbor.  I have just heard the words sung of what is my favorite “patriotic” hymn by Samuel Frederick Smith.

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

I am glad to be an American . Besides it’s sheer beauty, no nation on this earth has done more to proclaim the cause in the world nor sacrificed more to obtain or preserve the freedom of other peoples.  It has afforded me a place to live that allows me to worship and serve God in magnificent ways.  It has been a beacon of hope to the persecuted, oppressed, and disadvantaged of the world.

But I am concerned for my nation as well.  We have become a nation without a moral compass–and we are adrift in the seas of the dangerous times in which we live.

I am tolerant person but I have always understood tolerance as meaning respecting the right of another to be the person they believe their conscience requires them to be. Now tolerance means acceptance of who that is as being right, i.e. agreeing that there is nothing wrong with what they do or what they believe.

Our common social contract has come to be defined not by an objective standard of right and wrong to which we are all accountable. It is now defined by what political correctness declares to be the right thing today. And that standard of political correctness does not respect anyone’s right to respectfully disagree.

There is much debate over whether or not we are a Christian nation or if we have ever been one. If you define Christian by the peculiar wedding of biblical morality with cultural convenience, then I would say we have had more of a civil religion than a biblical one. The Bible clearly stands against the materialistic greed that has been characterized as success, the enslavement of people of other races, the use of power that clearly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ, racial prejudice that spawned Jim Crow and the Klan. That list goes on.

Not all of our founding Fathers were Christians, but not all of them were the cynical secularists that the modern day secular liberal likes to claim. And it is clear from history that wherever they stood on the religious spectrum, they believed that those “inalienable rights” were to be grounded in the basic moral teachings of our Judeao-Christian roots,

William Penn wrote these words in the formative years of our nation: “Those who will not be governed by God, will be ruled by tyrants. ”

But his are not the only words from our beginnings as a nation. From George Washington:

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

From John Adams, who signed the Declaration of Independence and served 2nd President of the US:

2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God … What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.

John Hancock, the first of sign the Declaration of Independence:

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

FOR MORE GO TO MARY FAIRCHILD

I pray that my nation, our nation, would once again claim its moral foundations so that we could truly insure the common good.

© 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.

death-defeated-jesus-rises

BY STEVE DUNN

This morning, around the world, millions and millions of people went to a place of worship to affirm and celebrate the most significant event in human history. Just shy of 2000 years ago, a zealous rabbi bent on snuffing out the Christian movement; but whose life had been utterly changed by an encounter on the road to Damascus, wrote these words to a church planted in the midst of community suffering from moral chaos. And into a world where death held mastery over all things.

” For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” – 1 Corinthians 15.3-8, 17-19

There is no greater fear on this planet than that of death. Cryogenics can only slow it, the best medicine in the world cannot eradicate it, people are driven to all kinds of extremes to deny it, terrorists hold it over the globe as a fearsome threat, and the average person would rather not even talk about it.

Yet death is an often grim and inevitably inescapable reality – touching the lives of the rich and powerful and the least and the last. Death is the ultimate price paid in a fallen world for trying to life where man is his own God, the captain of his fate and master of his soul. Our sin simply multiplies it and fuels it. And in a world where God is already out of sight and of mind to much of the population, it carries the finality of ultimate separation from God.

But God would not let that state remain. His compassion for and love of the people He created was too great. He needed to give us away back from our relentless sinfulness and free of us from death’s clutches. For His desire was for His people to thrive in this life without fear or blame, and dwell with Him in inexpressible joy in the next.

I love the words of this Easter hymn, “Death could not keep its prey, Jesus,my Savior. He tore the bars away. Jesus’ my Lord.” He entered the grave as we must, but emerged from it three days later to be the first fruit of our living hope.

rapture_ezr

Because we still live in the presence of sin, we still live with death–but it no longer has the last word. For Christians who celebrate Easter believe in another historic event yet to be experienced. It is called The Second Coming of the Lord, when He shall put an end history as we know it and shall place everything once again under God’s loving and just authority.

This is illustrated in a true story by missionary writer, Gregory Fisher:

“What will he say when he shouts?” The question took me by surprise. I had already found that West African Bible College students can ask some of the most penetrating questions about minute details of Scripture.”Reverend, I Thess. 4:16 says that Christ will descend from heaven with a loud command. I would like to know what that command will be.”

I wanted to leave the question unanswered, to tell him that we must not go past what Scripture has revealed, but my mind wandered to an encounter I had earlier in the day with a refugee from the Liberian civil war. The man, a high school principal, told me how he was apprehended by a two-man death squad. After several hours of terror, as the men described how they would torture and kill him, he narrowly escaped. After hiding in the bush for two days, he was able to find his family and escape to a neighboring country. The escape cost him dearly: two of his children lost their lives. The stark cruelty unleashed on an unsuspecting, undeserving population had touched me deeply. I also saw flashbacks of the beggars that I pass each morning on my way to the office. Every day I see how poverty destroys dignity, robs men of the best of what it means to be human, and sometimes substitutes the worst of what it means to be an animal. I am haunted by the vacant eyes of people who have lost all hope.

“Reverend, you have not given me an answer. What will he say?” The question hadn’t gone away.

“Enough’” I said. “He will shout, ’Enough’ when he returns.”

A look of surprise opened the face of the student. “What do you mean, ’Enough’?”

“Enough suffering. Enough starvation. Enough terror. Enough death. Enough indignity. Enough lives trapped in hopelessness. Enough sickness and disease. Enough time. Enough”

This is why I celebrate Easter.