Tuesday, October 3, 2017

BRINGING BACK AN OLDIE: IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

BY STEVE DUNN

I originally posted this in 2011 on this blog.  Reading through it the other day, I thought it was worth reposting.

 
People spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what is necessary to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Plans are developed. Whole books and workbooks are written.  How do we capture the essence of true discipleship to make sure we’ve got it right, and by implication, that God will be pleased with us?

They try to think of every situation that may arise and write a plan for it.  They pour themselves into many activities in order to build a spiritual resume–although their busyness does not always [produce lasting fruit.

I remember a college student I knew who had a schedule for every minute in the day of what he planned to do for Jesus.  He also had checklists to make sure that he had covered a broad range of discipleship activities from Bible study to outreach to mentoring to evangelism; at the same time having an elaborate prayer list which he was constantly checking to see if he covered everyone and writing a note of the results of those prayers.

I know of Christians who are so concerned that they do the right thing in the right way that they are reluctant to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I also know others who fear that if they plan anything they will interfere with the Spirit’s work. Persons who believe authentic faith is always connected to an emotional high and enthusiasm, and others who believe that you have to have an elaborate reason or proof text to any position or action.


For many of these people there is no joy to their salvation – only feelings of inadequacy or guilt when they don’t measure up. There is no peace because they live in fear that God will change the game plan.

The bottom line is this – love God with every ounce or your being and love God by loving your neighbor as God loves them (starting with yourself.) That is the bottom line.  It is that simple. It is not rocket science.

It living by grace in the power of God motivated by His unconditional love.

(c) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Monday, October 2, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFECTIONS - FREE SPEECH AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR

BY STEVE DUNN

I am thankful to be an American.  I live in perhaps the most prosperous nation on earth.  I enjoy freedom and security still unequaled around the globe.  My neighbors are by and large good people seeking to live at peace with one another.  I believe that my nation, despite its flaws and inconsistencies, has done more good for our world than most other countries and has often carried a load for the larger population of this planet far beyond our fair share—and have done so generously and sacrificially. I dislike when others bash our nation because we are a convenient whipping boy while at the same time aspiring to come to our land to find fulfillment, safety, and some measure of prosperity.

As a Christian, committed to living by the truth and facing the consequences of that truth. I am deeply troubled by fellow Americans who would deny the truth because it inconveniences or offends them.    And I am offended by fellow Americans who attack people who simply tell the truth because they do not do it in a politically correct way.  (Note: The Left does not have a monopoly on “political correctness.” The Right has its own version and just as resolutely promote and enforce it).

But more than anything, my heart grieves when Christians make earthly political positions and man-made symbols more important than Biblical integrity in their words and behaviors.  And I am sure that God is grieved when our words and actions, Facebook posts and Tweets, and other public pronouncements ignore the Second Commandment, “Love thy neighbor as Thyself.” Ignore is not too strong a word.

Although you may be offended by taking a knee during the national anthem, have you bothered to try and understand the motivation behind such exercises of free speech?  (Many of those athletes are devout evangelical Christians).  You may not agree with them, but have you sought to understand them?

And when several million of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico have had their lives devastated by two hurricanes, why is all of our attention on sports stadiums and what occurs there instead of getting help to our brothers and sisters in need?

For those who would honestly want to think about the current NFL and MLB protests, you might find this helpful reading.

© 2017 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 

IS YOUR CHURCH LIKE PLANET FITNESS?

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

THE ONE WHO SAVES THE WORLD ... IN REAL LIFE

BY STEVE DUNN


I came across this T-Shirt in a Facebook ad on my news feed.  (If you want to order click here.)  I love both the message and the presentation (although right now I don't have spare cash to buy one).

Superheroes are popular today in American culture.  It's not particularly a new phenomenon but we have certainly ramped up the interest--both in proliferation of heroes and the multiplying media forms which bring them into our world of entertainment. From the cartoon Mighty Mouse to the Marvel comics of Spiderman and Wonderwoman to the television renditions of Superman and Batman, superheroes were around in my childhood more than half a century ago.  Now I have simply lost count of how many of them are sought after, admired and marketed.

Invariably a superhero is called to save a city or a nation or the world from villains that have grown so powerful that humanity has no way to control them or defeat them.  Some superheroes are tragic people who have found purpose (like Spiderman) or children of Middle America (like Superman) who are finally accepting their destiny. (Yes, I know. Superman came from another planet but he was raised by a Norman Rockwell family.)

But here is what I want us to reflect on.  Superheroes are called upon because humanity cannot save itself. That, however, is not a device of literary fiction.  The Bible tells us "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?. Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 7:24-25a

But none of these superheroes can bring a salvation that endures.  Another mutation emerges from the dark side, another planet casts a maliced eye on Planet Earth, and even machines take on a life that seeks to smash all that is good and even normal into submission or oblivion. That, too, although embellished by fresh characters, also matches the Scriptural record: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6.12

In reality, however, there is One who gets it right.  His name is Jesus Christ.  His purpose was indeed to save the world. "For the Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and save the lost.." - Luke 19.10 "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst."- I Timothy 1:15 "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3:17

And the apostle Paul, reflecting on the work of the Savior of the World teaches this: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39

I still have enough kid in me to love stories of superheroes.  But in reality, there is only One upon Whom I (and we) can depend to save the world.  His name is Jesus.


© 2017 by Stephen L. Dunn. Permission is given to repost or quote provided this copyright notice is included and a link provided to this blogsite.  The courtesy of an email with a link to its reposting or a copy of the work it is quoted in would be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - PRAYER FOR AMERICA ON SEPTEMBDER 11TH

BY STEVE DUNN

A prayer for America on September 11th: Today is September 11th—16 years ago terror finally reached American shores and in many ways, life in this country began to change. We have yet to face the level and consistency of terror as it has been experienced in other places like western Europe, but terror still disrupts and even alters the lives of people living in this land. It easily has spotlighted the everyday terror we face—not from another nation or fanatical religious g...roup, but from our neighbors. And not because of a specific people group or religion but from the insidious toxic hatred for others that dwells deep in our hearts and is too easily fanned into flame by our fallen nature and minds that are not conformed to Christ. God have mercy on us and forgive us. And transform us into the people of peace you have redeemed us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.



Monday, August 14, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - I'VE GOTTEN POLITICAL

BY STEVE DUNN

It troubles me at time that so much I am writing these days is of a political nature. Hopefully from a Christian perspective, but political nonetheless.  But this troubling lessons when I consider how important having a political position is.  I do not always agree with Rachel Held Evans but what she has written recently on her Facebook page speaks eloquently to what is in my heart.  Again, I do not support every item she advocates, but her point is both well-taken and needful.  (You don't need to comment.  Just read and reflect and come to the answers God lays upon your heart.)


And now from Rachel ....
You don’t like that I’ve “gotten political,” huh?
If saying it’s wrong to mock people with disabilities makes me political, then so be it.
If rejecting the notion that demeaning, groping, insulting, and assaulting women is “just how men are” makes me political, then so be it.
If supporting a free press makes me political, then so be it.
If speaking out when religious and ethnic minorities are targeted with misinformation campaigns that have dramatically increased hate crimes against them makes me political, then so be it.
If believing the president of the United States is not above the rule of law, or the most basic ethical accountability, makes me political, then so be it.
If refusing to stand by as desperate refugee families, including many children, are turned away from safety based on misinformation and fear makes me political, then so be it.
If calling my senators to oppose a healthcare bill that would likely increase the abortion rate and definitely leave my friends with special needs kids bankrupt and desperate makes me political, then so be it.
If expecting the president of the United States to behave with some semblance of decorum and decency, even on Twitter, makes me political, then so be it.
If getting angry when Christian leaders shrug off sexual assault, lying, racism, bullying, cruelty to the vulnerable, and unapologetic greed and self-aggrandizement because it gets them the judge they want or the power they crave makes me political, then so be it.
If turning over tables when Christians sing hymns in honor of this administration's ethno-nationalist agenda makes me political, then so be it.
You don’t like that I’ve gotten political?
I don’t like that the future of the Republic and the integrity of the American Church has been so glibly handed over to a man who has no respect for either.
You’re damn right I’ve gotten political.
And even if you remain silent, you have too.