Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This Sunday we renew our sermon series, "Surviving Tough Times-Developing a Tough Faith." This week's message is "Slow Down and Listen." It talks about the twin enemies of an effective faith in tough times - haste and busyness. Join us at either 8.15 or 10.45 this Sunday at the Church of God of Landisville, 171 Church Street in Landisville PA.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I confess I am a fan of stained glass windows. When I first walked into the sanctuary of my church and saw the three large magnificent windows portraying Jesus Christ, I was captivated by their beauty and silently promised they would always remain a part of the architecture.

Not everyone shares my love of stained glass. In the culture, "stained glass" is sometimes used a perjorative regarding the church. In this context it means stale ritual, empty past, irrelevance to real life in the real world. They refer to a dominant piece of church architecture that they believe hides the meaningless faith practiced inside the building.

I'd hate to start tearing out stained glass windows, but as a thoughtful and concerned Christian--I would prefer that the stained glass referred to the beauty of my faith. Most traditional churches need to ask themselves the question, "Do we practice a faith that is real and that provides real life answers for people in the real world today?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Recently I have begun thinning out my library. I have always been a book lover and my shelves are filled with books about Christianity, church leadership, spiritual formation, the church in society, evangelism and apologetics, preaching, etc. The shelves in my study are filled. I have read almost all of these in part or the whole. The chances of my reading them a second time are slim, so now I am placing them in other libraries and giving them away.

The key now is what books should I keep? If you were to keep just 5-10 books out of your personal library, what would they be?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I was traveling with a mission team last week. Our final evening we pampered ourselves with a night at the Hampton Inn at the Albuquerque Airport. Comfortable beds, air-conditioning, cable TV, hot showers were among the things we longed for--particularly cable TV. My roommate Ethan and I switched on the tube and were greeted with the image of the magnificent lighthouse at the golf course at Turnberry, England.

The British Open was underway. Long before we arrived at Albuquerque we learned that Tiger had missed the cut and had already rushed back to Florida. Who would be in the lead? Perhaps local central Pennsylvania favorite Jim Furyk or Ethan's favorite, Sergio Garcia. Imagine our surprise when we found Dr. Tom Watson at the top of the leader board.

At age 59, Watson was a highly unlikely candidate for this position. In fact, when our plane landed in Houston for a three-hour lay-over, we learned that Watson was still on top at the end of 54 holes. He was the oldest man to be in this spot since World War II. Watson had become the darling of the media and the sentimental favorite to the British fans and Americans alike. Even the other golfers found themselves quietly rooting for a man who continues to have the passion and dedication to golf where he still aspires to win on the PGA Tour when many of his colleagues have moved on to the Senior Tour.

I relate to Watson because I am only a year behind in life. My golf on its best days and in my wildest dreams will only share a fairway with him as an act of mercy.But in my calling as a pastor, I have no desire to retire--my desire to see people reconciled to God and my church to be a congregation of irresistable influence for Christ only grows with each passing year.

Passion plus dedication equals excellence.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Last week I took an 18-person mission team to conduct a Vacation Bible School at our Navajo sister church in Tsaile AZ. This is the third team I've taken since becoming the Lead (Senior) Pastor at the church. The teams always fly into Albuquerque NM where we rent vans and SUVs and then travel the final 4 1/2 hours to Tsaile, which is located in the Lukachukai Mountains of southeast Arizona.

Our journey ALWAYS takes us through Gallup, New Mexico and our vehicles ALWAYS stop (both going to Tsaile and returning from) at Earl's. The attraction isn't specifically the food, although the food is very good and moderately priced. It's not the service, although this is one of the friendlier and more accomodating serving staff I have encountered.

No, for our team - it is the Navajo jewelry and pottery. Earl's is surrounded on two sides tables of items created by Navajo artists - sand paintings, beautiful pottery, necklaces, bracelets, rings. All lovingly crafted and priced in affordable ways - so affordable that after several years I have a nice collection of Navajo pottery.

But inside, there's more - craftspersons, that is. As you eat, Navajos come up and display their creations. You barter right at the table, after you have had a chance to look at things closely and talk with the artist themselves. Most of the "indoor" craftpersons seem to be persons just trying to make a modest living off of the shopping habits of tourists. The outdoor artists are more small business owners, complete with descriptions of the provenance of each item and a credit card reader to expedite the transaction.

My teams love the place - from its Navajo tacos to its ice cream to its pottery and necklaces. Earl's is one of those places, you just want to come back to.

Do you have a favorite place(s)? Feel free to post a response.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Walter Cronkite died last Friday. As I was growing up in the late 50s and 60s, he was the anchor man for the CBS Evening News. Rarely a night went by that we didn't turn on the television to hear his familiar, bass voice resonating with great dignity as he reported the mementous events of the day.

Cronkite earned the title "The Most Trusted Man in America." It was well-deserved. He reported the news without bias and without fear. Walter was unintimidated by presidents and power brokers. He was concerned with the common man and extremely sensitive to the conditions and concerns with which they lived.

When Walter went into the field, he would find the front lines. He shared more than one difficult moment with soldiers in the field, protesters in the streets, families in the aftermath of great disaster.

His voice was indeed respected and heeded. Walter stirred great controversy when he became the first prominent commentator to call for an end to Vietnam War. President Johnson said at the time, "If I have lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." Whether you agreed with him or not--it was one more example of his integrity and his courage.

When he left the news desk over two decades ago, a void was created. Few newsmen have since earned the same level of respect and trust. But then, few public leaders have been held in such high esteem. In the weeks to come we will learn more of why he was "The Most Trusted Man in America." Maybe a few more of us need to aspire to such a reputation.

Friday, July 17, 2009


10. "You used to be really smart, what happened?"
9. "Why do you suck in your gut when the babysitter arrives?"
8. "Was your Dad a nag, too?"
7. "Grandma says you were a problem child."
6. "Stop hogging the Nintendo!!!!!!!"
5. "Why did you stick out your tongue at Mom?"
4. "I'm going to drop at of school and tatoo my face."
3. "Why should I get a job, are you out of money?"
2. "Dad, we don't have enough money. You need to get another job."
1. "Dad, can I borrow your credit card?"

Thursday, July 16, 2009


A few months back I had a unique and original experience. For the first time in over 35 years of ministry, I performed a wedding ceremony at a band rehearsal. Carl and Carol (pictured here) made their promises to God, shared their vows with one another, and exchanged rings on a Tuesday night in the sanctuary of the Church of God of Landisville. Carl is the drummer for our church's Worship Band. Carol has been attending church with him since last fall.

They were scheduled for a "big wedding" in June, but a dilemma arose. Carol's lease expired before the wedding and they did not want to live together before they were actually married. You need to know that this is an increasingly unusual attitude. We have grown so casual about commitment, that "living together" is almost a commonplace occurrence even in the most traditional of communities. Carl and Carol have some differences. He is a Republican, she was an Obama delegate. Carl was married before and has children. Carol has waited for marriage into her forties. Carl is in sales, Carol is in media and marketing.

But the one thing they had in common was a commitment to Christ and a belief that they wanted to start their marriage solidly. And they wanted to send no mixed messages to Carl's children, or to anyone else. In many ways, Carl and Carol aren't "hard core" as some people might try to pigeonhole their faith. And like the pastor who united them, you could find some times when their is inconsistency in their walk with Christ. But on this issue, they chose the high ground, the harder ground.

That's how a life of maturity in Christ begins. Choose the high ground. Understand that all of your choices have impact and consequences. Choose the high ground.

So in front of the band, and Carol's parents, they tied the night. Later they threw a big bash for the world and repeated their vows. What I believe will be a good and godly marriage has begun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I love this picture. On the left is my father, 79-year old Dr. A. Gail Dunn. On the right is my youngest grandchild, Jake, who was one year old at Easter. Bookends of precious life. My Dad was a pastor and a church conference superintendent before he retired. The first years of his retirement he devoted to caring for my mother, Marilyn, who was in a final lengthy battle with cancer. He is a sacred life and he still devotes himself to helping others experience the blessing of life. Dad walks with a cane since a stroke but is a vibrant, caring Christian.

Jake is still young - just now starting to walk. In his first months he suffered from seizures that caused us great concern that he might have a handicap. Those have long sense cleared up and except for his own determined schedule of doing certain things parents are eager to "oohh and ahh", Jake is fine. He has not developed any list of credentials, he has no real history -- he is still more opportunity than experience. Jake, too, is a sacred life.

In many cultures people on both ends of this picture are considered expendable. We euthanize the one and abort the latter at the first sign of trouble. We pontificate about things like "quality of life," generally measuring that from some detached and arbitrary standard instead of looking at what is precious in each life.

Would my Dad still be a sacred life if he were in the throws of Alzheimers, totally dependent on others? Would Jake still be a sacred life if he would never be able to walk, and had a mind that was slow to grasp things?

YES !!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


The Church of God of Landisville where I serve as one of the pastors has been including cross-cultural mission and work experiences each year as part of its ministry. We believe this is an important part of making a kingdom-focus part of our DNA as a congregation. This week 18 of our people are doing vacation Bible school for our Navajo sister congregation in Tsaile AZ. You can read a daily update on my blog THINKING OUT LOUD ABOUT LANDISVILLE (web address www.landisvillechurchofgod.blogspot.com. Pictures on our web site at www.coglandisville.org.

This is our third trip to Tsaile. In 2008 we sent a work team to Gulfport MS to help rebuild homes. People from our church have worked in Haiti, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other locations.

Over 20% of our people have been to a cross cultural mission not to mention those who help feed the homeless, and other functions that strengthen our visibility and witness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Michael Jackson died last week. So did Farrah Fawcett, Dave (the television sales guy), Steve McNair, and a whole lot of less famous people. By the media attention, you would clearly think that Michael's passing was the most significant. Not everyone, though. We took a group of kids from the church to a professional baseball game and when Michael Jackson's image was flashed on the big screen on the scoreboard, a 10-year old girl asked, "Who is Michael Jackson?"

Michael Jackson was part of my youth. I still remember when this diminutive singing and dancing dynamo burst on the stage belting out, "I Want You Back!" while his older (and much taller) siblings sang back up. Michael's heartfelt, "I'll Be There" stayed on my personal top 40 for a very long time.

I confess that when he began trying new musical styles and entered his androgynous stage, I pretty much lost interest in him. The one time I paid attention was when he moonwalked his way through "Thriller." But then he descended into the narcissism and self-indulgence that many with too much money and too few boundaries claim. And when he turned Wonderland into a disturbing testimony to "child love", I was through with him. I am still bewildered by the adulation heaped upon him. There are MANY wonderful African-American artists who pioneered minority acceptance in a white music world. And his resistance to a responsible moral compass sent many an inappropriate message to young people of all races.

Michael's passing, however, reminds me that I should not dwell on an assessment of him. The final verdict on his life has already been decided by his Maker and Judge.
As a Christian, I need to remember that I have an obligation to be judging myself. I am responsible for being faithful to the values and will of my Heavenly Father. And I am responsible to live in such a way that my influence is clear and correct about what a life transformed by God truly means. For I, too, will someday stand before my Maker and Judge.