The late Johnny Hart was a brilliant cartoonist who created some of my all-time favorites B.C. and The Wizard of Id.  It didn’t take long to realize that he was a thoughtful and creative Christian who taught biblical truth in wonderful ways, especially through B.C.  Easter was one of his favorite platforms and here are some of things he drew. – STEVE

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BY STEVE DUNN

Sunday began the holiest season of the year for Christians.  Beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the observance will take us to the Temple, where Jesus will confront the money changers and other religious leaders who had corrupted the faith of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  It will move into an Upper Room on the night in which Jesus was betrayed as he attempts to prepare his disciples for what will come next.  We will enter the chambers of the Sanhedrin where Jesus would find himself in a kangaroo court at the hands of men who had long planned to kill him.  We will pass through the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, who could find no fault with Jesus but would ultimate wash his hands of Jesus in an act of callous political expediency.  We will climb the hill called Golgotha, the place of the skull, where Jesus would suffer the the cruelest of all deaths as he took on the sins of the world.  We will find ourselves at an borrowed empty tomb where the bars of death were torn away once and for all in the Resurrection.

As popular and as warmly fuzzy as Christmas is to our culture and to many Christians, it is but a prelude to the event that would change history forever.  An event now called Easter when a cross shaped hole was blasted through the stone that covered the door and changed the eternal destiny of all humanity both backwards into history and forward into the future.  As it has been said, the nativity was not Jesus’ destiny.  The Cross was. And because of the Cross and the Resurrection, God declared in no uncertain words what a disciple named John would confess. “For God so loved the world, that h

He gave His one and only Son.  That whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but through Him to save the world.”

This truth, the central story line of Holy Week, is why Christian everywhere called Good Friday “good” and celebrate a day we call Easter.

God's love to people

© 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

Posted by LIFE MATTERS at 5:00 AM

 

 

 

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BY STEVE DUNN

I have been a Christian for 60 years.  I am one of those who was carried into the church as a baby, and when I was eight years old, at the invitation of my Sunday School teacher, Marcile Krick, I made the choice to become a follower of Jesus.

One of the most difficult things for me to grasp is the reality that many fellow Christ-followers rationalize away the need to engage in concrete action with the expression “you are in my thoughts and prayers.”

I am not belittling prayer or its power.

What I am troubled by is Christians who have time to go to worship, attend Sunday School, participate in a bake sale, and linger a long time in the coffee hour but are reluctant or even negligent in giving time and attention to a neighbor in need.

Maybe it’s because our schedules are too crowded and lives filled with too many things that we embrace only that which is easy, commit only to that which is convenient.  Maybe it is because we are so fearful of others or desire to have so much control that we do not want to get too close or too involved with people in the messy times in their lives.

Maybe it’s because we think church activities are equal in value to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and to serve one another in love.

Maybe it’s because our Bibles seem to have deleted Matthew 25 which ends with the words, “when you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me (Jesus).”

Maybe it’s time to stop “passing by on the other side.”

© 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

BY STEVE DUNN

Almost eight years ago I published a story on one of my other blogs about a lady who I was privileged to be her pastor for 14 years.  As I have been reflecting on the state of our nation lately and what ordinary people can do to return reason and grace to the discussion, my mind went back to this lady and I am reposting to share her story with you. – Steve
Emma Kreger was a school teacher.  Emma taught school in the days of one-room schoolhouses, a phenomenon in Indiana where we lived that survived well into the 20th century.  Her classroom was young people from first through eighth grade.  Emma was so dedicated to her profession that she did not marry until well into her fifties, inheriting a family of adult children who absolutely adored her.

When I met Emma she was a widow, well into her 90s. She was the oldest member of the church that I was serving.  A gentle, unassuming, sincere and slightly ornery little gal.  Still dressed with the dignity and the audacity of a life-long teacher.

One Christmas I was visiting her in her little two room apartment at St. Anne’s Home.  By that time she had been a resident for several years, not really venturing into the outside world-but riding her little motorized scooter to meals and bingo. As I attempted to make conversation, I commented on her collection of Christmas cards, noting a particularly colorful one.

“Oh, that’s from Lyle.  He’s an inmate at Pendleton,” was her response.

I was completely taken aback. Pendleton was one of the maximum state prisons in Indiana at the time, a lot of hard core criminals residing within its walls. The look of shock on my face must of been obvious.  “Emma, how do you know someone in Pendleton.”

“Oh,” she answered matter-of-factly, “he killed a friend of mine.”

Emma proceeded to tell me about Tammy, a troubled young lady who had rented the upstairs apartment in Emma’s home  many years ago.  “I learned quickly that Tammy had a drug problem.  Instead of throwing her out, I tried to help her.”

As I caught my breath in awe, she continued. “Tammy finally gave her heart to Jesus Christ and gave up her drugs.  The first thing she did was to go and turn in her pusher. His name was Lyle.”
“But you know how it goes.  He got out on bail right away. He was furious. He came right over to the apartment and shot Tammy dead right there. The police arrived quickly and arrested him and soon he was sentenced to life in prison in Pendleton.”

It was an incredible story, but then Emma said something amazingly grace-filled.  “Pastor, that man was crazy ! He had to be crazy to come so boldly and kill her, knowing he would be caught and convicted.”
I nodded my head in agreement and she concluded, “I decided a crazy man needed Jesus.“  Emma proceeded to tell me how she had been writing to Lyle for several years and praying for him. And then one day, through the work of Prison Fellowship, Lyle became a Christian.  Now he was being allowed to go to high schools to tell kids what would happen to them when they got caught in drugs.

What a life change. All because of a grace-filled, insistent little school teacher, who decided that craziness should not separate someone from the love of God.

© 2010, 2018 by Stephen L. Dunn. All rights reserved. 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

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” – Billy Graham

Early last Wednesday we received word that one of the most significant and influential Christians of the last 100 years, Dr. Billy Graham, had gone home to be with the Lord.  He was the face and the voice of evangelical Christianity.  Not the highly politicized, culturally conservative Christian so often misrepresented by the media as evangelical today; but the simple biblical Christian; intelligent and informed, compassionate,respectful, and focused on one main thing–introducing people to the person of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.

We miss him already.  We also celebrate that he is now receiving the only accolade to which he ever aspired–the “well done good and faithful servant” from the lips of his Lord.

My first encounter with Dr. Graham was as a young teenager attending a crusade in Columbus OH–listening to his very simple message (his message was always very simple and straightforward) and the invitation “Come now to Jesus and give him your heart,:

Later as a young adult, attending an Urbana Conference on World Missions as a reporter for my denominational magazine, I sat in on a press conference, a room of men and women who met with him for more than an hour asking probing questions and receiving straightforward and respectful answers even to the more impertinent questioners.  The clarity and dignity I saw that day spoke volumes to me about dealing with others as a leader.

As a middle aged pastor, I was blessed to attend one of his Schools of Evangelism in Lake Louise Alberta Canada.  I went on a scholarship from his association, my only real expense was $55 Canadian per night and meals at a five-star hotel.  He was not there personally–but the speakers assembled gave some of the most helpful and culturally relevant teaching I had ever received on the topic of evangelism, locking down my own passion to help make disciples for Jesus Christ.

His simple wisdom can be found in several quotes now circulating social media:

“I will be a friend to men of both parties, but I would never say that I was, even indicated that I was, for one or the other. I am for God. I don’t think there’s any hope for the world except in God.”

“We are a society poised on the brink of self-destruction. But what is the real cause? What is the problem? The problem is within ourselves.”

“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”

“We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”

  “I have never known anyone to accept Christ’s redemption and later regret it.”
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
 “Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.”
“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”
 “Someone asked me recently if I didn’t think God was unfair, allowing me to have Parkinson’s and other medical problems when I have tried to serve him faithfully. I replied that I did not see it that way at all. Suffering is part of the human condition, and it comes to us all. The key is how we react to it, either turning away from God in anger and bitterness or growing closer to him in trust and confidence.”
“Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.”

 

“The cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for he took them upon himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. From the cross God declares, ‘I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel. But I love you.’
“The most prominent place in hell is reserved for those who are neutral on the great issues of life.”
 “Courage is contagious. When a courageous man takes a stand. the spines of others are stiffened.”
“Suppose you gained everything in the whole world, and lost your soul.  Was it worth it?”
Do you have a favorite Billy Graham quote?

 

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BY STEVE DUNN

   Valentine’s Day saw another horrific event in our nation.  Seventeen people were killed in a high school in Florida by a gunman with an alarmingly troubled past.  After that the debate over gun control was once again pushed to the forefront, the cries for better mental health were amped up, and predictably the recriminations and accusations over responsibility began to flow.  All the responses were predictable (including some of mine).  Unfortunately, more and more people are throwing up their hands, saying that there is nothing we can do.

Dear Church, throwing up our hands is not an option.  If we do so, the spiral of violence will continue and the collateral damage inflicted on innocent human beings will multiply.  Someone posted this week on Facebook that expecting Washington to do something is lunacy. Actually, I pray Washington WILL do something, but I suspect given the division in this nation and its extremes, what Washington will do will not begin to be enough.

More and more I am convicted that only Jesus is the answer. Not the politicized or trivialized Jesus that too many embrace; but the real Jesus.  The Jesus that transforms peoples’ hearts and minds.  The Jesus that challenges the church to stop its inward focus where it is only concerned with maintenance of its traditions and satisfying its own members consumeristic desires.  The Jesus that bids us to look to our own hearts and see where the culture of violence has infected us, the followers of the Prince of Peace.  To honestly and courageously be willing to change the things in our lives that contribute to this culture.

The Jesus who commands, “Go!” being salt and light and making disciples.  The Jesus who calls us to welcome the least, the last, and the lost into our midst where they can find the love of Christ that can heal hearts and minds.

I truly wish we would stop being so automatically demanding of our rights that we are not prepared to do the right thing as God reveals it to us.

For God calls us to DO SOMETHING.  And it starts with prayer for the wisdom to know what that something is.

© 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

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, a special day for many Christians around the world. It marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance as we prepare to remember Christ’s death on the Cross to free us from sin and death’s sting.  It will be followed by Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection and the beginning of life as God intended as we are restored to a right relationship with Him and empowered to live that new life to the full.

This Ash Wednesday was marred by the fatal shooting of 17 persons in a high school in Florida.  It was the 29th instance of gun-related violence in our schools in the first 45 days of the new year.  I am sure that there are some of my readers, especially those who believe in their unfettered right to possess weapons, who will consider the picture I have posted as emotionalism.

There indeed is some emotion in it.  My heart breaks for the innocent victims of such violence.  My soul grieves that so many in our society have allowed themselves to be detached from the suffering and loss of their fellow citizens.  My spirit is aroused by the reality that our nation’s leadership can spend so much time and energy and attention on wiretaps and walls and shutdowns and scandals but do not see as a priority the need for intelligent and decisive action to deal constructively with the issue of growing gun violence–a problem that is as dangerous to the moral fabric of this nation as any we have faced.

Christians believe that we have been delivered from the power and the penalty of sin because of what Christ has done on the Cross.  But we still live in the presence of sin.  That reality does not excuse us from dealing with the present effects of that sin and doing our best to combat sin where we see it.  It does not absolve our doing what truly loves and protects our neighbor, sitting on our hands,waiting for Jesus to come with our tickets punched for heaven.

It begins with prayer-prayer for the victims, prayer for the perpetrators, prayer for our leaders,and prayer for the callousness of our own hearts.

And then prayer needs to be matched with action, to work with the mind of Christ and the heart of Christ to help bring about the changes at all levels–our homes, our neighborhood, and our nation that will combat this violence and its effects on our society and its people.

© 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