Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Kem Meyer works for the highly innovative Granger Church near South Bend IN.  She writes a blog called Less Clutter, Less Noise.  Recently she posted something I found very helpful about life management, especially for those of us who have leadership roles.  KenM wrote:

A few weeks ago I blogged about reducing the static to engage with others. I got a few comments and even more DMs and emails from people asking me how to “change an internal M.O.”
There is no “one-size-fits-all” or “five quick steps” to answer that question. A person’s M.O. is about emotional intelligence and spiritual health. The key to breaking out of our own ruts and changing our internal M.O. is self-awareness. But, our ruts are highly personal, aren’t they?
So, instead of just answering “get a therapist” (which isn’t a bad place to start), I thought I’d point to ten posts where I’ve talked about this before (trust me, there’s a ton more where these came from). Hope this helps.
10. Get feedback.
9. Remember, everybody doesn't hate you.
8. Learn from your mistakes.  
7. Quit trying to get it all done.
6. Get a preventative maintenance plan.
5. Create social social impact.
4. Know the difference between drawing, crossing & blurring the lines of communication.
3. Guard your heart.
2. Cultivate success.
1. Get over yourself.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Several weeks ago our student ministry shared the movie To Save a Life.  Recently I read a commentary on the movie by Jeffrey Meyer: Meyer is a pastor in Madison WI and writes a blog called  livelifetogeher

Jeffrey writes:
Here are 3 quick observations I have been reflecting on today as I continue to process what I experienced last night:

1) Every single person matters!
How many times do I walk past people and not take the time to look into their eyes? Many times, I choose who I will hang out with, who I will spend time with, who I will invest in. In spite of this ugly tendency, every single person is precious to God. They should also be precious to me! "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus!" Ephesians 2:10

2) One person can make an eternal difference!
How often do we underestimate our contribution? How many times have we said, "I can't make a difference?" Overwhelmed by the scope of the challenge in front of us, we are petrified into inactivity. what if we just obeyed the promptings that God nudges us with, one prompting at a time, and left the results up to God? "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Eph. 2:10

3) Every moment is ripe with eternal significance.
No "good thing that God has planned for us to do" is insignificant. There are no little things from a Kingdom of God perspective! A warm smile, an invitation, eye contact, taking time to listen, dropping someone a note, turning off the TV and really giving attention....none of these are small.....each could Save a Life." We just never know what moments are ripe with opportunity. All I know is that if God prepared it for me to do, then I ought to do it!

All three of these thoughts require change in us. And change is never easy or without consequences. But, as Jake said in my favorite quote, "What's the point of all of this if we don't let it change us?"

Great question, don't you think?

Monday, September 27, 2010


Late Friday evening I paused and turned on the television to ESPN. The ESPN Bottom Line was carrying an item called "Pennant Races", highlighting the teams still in the pennant races of their league and identifying the magic number that would eliminate them or clinch a place in the playoffs.  I always thought "magic number" was a misnomer.  There's nothing magic about it.  It describes a mathematical certainty. Based on a fixed number of 162 games in a season and how far a team may be ahead or behind, if the team in front of them gets a certain number of wins and they get a certain number of losses combined, they cannot get into the playoffs because there is no 163rd game (unless, of course, as the Twins and the Tigers can tell you, two teams end those 162 games in a dead tie).  With a sweep of the Braves this past week, I would be betting on the Phillies to be one of the four playoff teams (except I'm not a betting man--I have easier ways to achieve poverty). By the way, at this point I really think my four projections for the American League will stand - Twins, Yankees, Rangers and Rays.  I suspect, however, the Rockies might not be the wild card team in the NL. I think now the Padres will join the Phillies, Reds, and Giants in the NL Playoffs.

The television season (the new fall season as opposed to the new summer season as opposed to ...) began this past week and Dianne rejoiced as her favorite shows NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Bones, Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist joined Rizzoli and Isles and The Closer.  The problem for her is that most of these shows occur on three evenings and so there are several nights, particularly the weekends, when she has to say "there's nothing on television."  I can satisfy myself with the never-ending baseball season and college football that now airs prime time three nights a week.  But if I want to spend time with my wife, I have to settle for NCIS reruns or the Hallmark Channel on those nights when her favorites are chased away by reality shows, NASCAR, and all manner of baseball games.  Too bad the television industry, both broadcast and cable, haven't figured out that they'd all have more viewers if they managed not to schedule so many great shows on top of each other.

Jeremy Moyer speaks to the kids of BURN
My church has a powerful student ministry called BURN.  It is aptly named. Since late August, as it began its second year, the kids seemed to connect with God in a powerful way. First there was a lock-in with a great new movie called To Save a Life.  Then there were the challenges to step it up for God and become people who "save a life" among their high school friends. They looked at their own needs but also their gifts and saw how they could give something to their community that was desperately needed. And now they are dreaminf dreams, "What if God is who He really claims to be" and "what if you really let God work through you" and "what if you began to pray for your friends".  These more than 100 kids are coming alive. They are kids on fire. I didn't say fanatics but young people passion about God and passionate about God's love (did I tell you there were only twelve of them a year ago?) our church and our school and our community is beginning to feel the heat - good heat that warms our lives and light that points the way. I rejoice for the Burn student ministry at the Church of God of Landisville.

Scott Zimmerman leads worship at BURN

Blogger tells me that one of my most popular posts this year was one I wrote on March 29, 2010 called "Fantasy Baseball." For those of you who are curious, only one of my five teams made it to the playoffs (the other finished 4th or worse in the their five-team divisions.)  The best team was called Steve's Stars. Its 17-7 regular season record made it the champs of the East Division of its MLB Fantasy League and number one seed in the playoffs. I eliminated the no. 4 seed Cracker Jack Jingle (15-9, second in the West Division) in the semi-final round 226-121, Next up, Dominican Pride, which at 15-9 finished two games behind Steve's Stars in the East Division during the regular season.  Again for the curious, my pitching staff was the Phillies and my top producing players were: Martin Prado (Braves) Ryan Braun and Cory Hart (Brewers) Troy Tulowiski (Rockies) Billy Butler (Royals) Bbby Abreu (Angels). Magglio Ordonez (Tigers) was doing a great job for me until he went on the DL and had season ending surgery. This was the second year in a row that my wining team had Prado, Tulowiski and Abreu. Last year my pitching staff on the winner was the Tigers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


 This one has no other purpose than a little comic relief.  No actual fish were harmed in this filming?

This one might give you nightmares. Don't let your kids see this.

John Cleese explains the brain. Reminds me of a systematic theology class I had in seminary, or was it a philosophy of religion class in college?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In the previous post I spoke of the man who taught me grace. He made me aware of its meaning and its impact. But as a Christian I know there is one Person in history who made grace a reality for me - and for all humankind.  This video from The Passion of Christ is graphic, but life is often graphic. One of my favorite musical artists, Todd Agnew, wrote and sang the song that accompanied it.  This is one of the fundamentals of my faith.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My grandfather was a  man of of strength and strong will. Born in Kentucky to a Baptist circuit rider and his wife, Thomas Henry Arvin Dunn, came to northeast Indiana where he married a dark-eyed farmer’s daughter named Mary Ruth Pritchard. Factory and dairy work, hard work in general, was how he made his living until he turned to a successful career as a house painter, (where he still worked hard).  Passionate and masculine, T.A. Dunn won a battle with alcohol and moved on to raise a family and become an elder in his church. One son and two grandchildren entered the ministry.

On back two rows starting from the left STEVE, KERRY DEAN, and DENNY in the middle THOMAS HENRY ARVIN DUNN
My grandfather loved his God, his church, his wife and his family.  And my grandfather loved his garden.  He had turned the side yard at his home on Swihart Street in Columbia City, Indiana into a beautiful display of flowers and landscaping.  He spent many hours there caring for his plants and enjoying quiet time with the Lord.  After a long day of painting, my grandfather would come home and park his panel truck along the street, walk directly into his garden and savor ten minutes before turning towards the house and becoming the family patriarch.

My grandmother frequently babysat for her grandchildren. One day all three of her older grandsons – my older cousin Denny, my younger cousin Kerry Dean, and I were her only charges.  By the time she had raised her family and settled into the grandmother role, my Grandma had a pretty easy life (which was one of my Grandpa’s desires for her).  After breakfast and a little light house work she would often settle in for the morning game shows, make lunch, and then settle in for her “shows.” (That’s what she called those soap operas like As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and some other things that I can’t remember.) Her grandchildren were expected to entertain themselves and behave themselves. We knew the rules and we also knew that Grandpa’s razor strap still hung on the bathroom wall. (He had never to our knowledge used it on a grandchild, but his kids had had an encounter or two with its justice.)

On this fateful day, we had been breakfasted by nine and were sent to the yard to play while Grandma finished the laundry before Queen for a Day aired.  We went out front of the house, a football in hand.  Soon we were running, tackling, rolling, kicking and passing the ball.

“Go out for a pass!” ordered Denny and pointed towards the side yard (any other route would have carried us into the street).  Without thinking we took off.  Denny’s throw was a little long but one of us dashed forward, eyes upward and turned behind us to see the pass. That person (Kerry Dean said it was me) caught the ball but not before running right through one of Grandpa’s preciously perfect flower beds – although it wasn’t perfect anymore.

After a gulp of embarrassment we began to laugh and then return to our pass patterns.  It was not long before we sent some more flowers home to be with Jesus. In fact, it looked a little bit like we had carpet-bombed the flower garden before Grandma appeared at the door.  Her abrupt arrival brought us immediately back to a troubling reality.

“Just wait til your grandfather gets home,” were her ominous words. (Grandma never disciplined a grandchild in her life.)  She returned to the house and her television. We sat down on the front porch to await our fate. It was about 9:30 in the morning, but we pretty much stayed there until 4:30 when Grandpa’s car pulled up out front.  We were doomed.

Grandpa paused just a moment to eye the curiosity of his three young hellions sitting like rocks on his front step, eyes averted from his stare. Then he stepped into his garden and our eyes followed him.  He stood there for about a minute. He did not really move. He did not say a word. Then he turned and walked purposefully towards the front porch and three guilty parties awaiting their punishment.

He looked us over, watching us squirm and then he said, “Did you have fun?” We were thunderstruck, But then, the boy in us came out and we admitted sheepishly, “Yes.”

Without changing expression, he said “Don’t do it again” and then walked past us into the house to ponder what had just happened.

We had surely sinned and fallen short of the glory of Grandpa. We were miserable sinners, deserving of our fate and praying we wouldn’t be the first grandchildren to meet the razor strap.  But Thomas Henry Arvin Dunn, out of the goodness of his love extended us a most precious gift – the gift of grace.

And trust me, we never disappointed him again.
(C) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I'm taking the day off. How about a little fun with Tim Hawkins.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I lead an on-line Bible study called Biblical Joy.  It’s for persons who desire the discipline of an inductive and interactive learning experience but don’t have time for a small group.  (Too view this blog site go to JOY) Right now we are studying The Book of Acts and the experience of the disciples at Pentecost. Those rough, backwater Galileans were amazing the citizens of Jerusalem with their insight, power and passion as the Holy Spirit poured out God’s message through them. But some discounted them, deciding that they were not spirit-filled, but drunk.  Our mutual observation in the Biblical Joy group was that we often discount any messenger or mentor who does not fit our pre-determined idea of who is qualified.

This is often the case in some circles of the Church.  I now have a B.A. magna cum laude in religion, an M.Div. summa cum laude and a D. Min. with a 400 page dissertation on transformational leadership to back in up. Generally, I no longer fight the battle of legitimacy or authority.  But in my profession, many make educational experience and academic titles a litmus test. Or the professional rank of licensed vs ordained.  And many church people, especially among the over 40 crowd and people with professional or business backgrounds give me credence that they would not extend others who lack my credentials.

One of the most profound influences in my life was a Louisiana preacher with an ill-fitting suit, who had only obtained a third grade education, served a little church in the bayou country, and whose ordination was considered by some to be an impulse by a country church instead of the product of intense doctrinal scrutiny and readiness for ministry testing.

His name was G.B. Miller.

I first met G.B. I took a youth camp team to work in Mississippi and Louisianna. He and his diminutive wife, Edith served the Bethel Church of God near Bethel LA. It was a country church, almost impossible to find unless you knew where you were going. It was the days before Mapquest and personal GPS’s but I think Bethel would have stymied both tools.  Bethel was a lively, old-fashioned, intergenerational church that loved to sing gospel music, thrived on passionate lengthy sermons, and embraced the church pot luck dinner as if it were a spiritual gift.  Later I returned with my family to preach a set of southern revival services. It was a tall order for a young seminary-trained pastor still not thirty and certainly wet behind the ears. It was during my people-pleaser years and I was going in part to represent my largely “Yankee” denomination that had entered into a partnership with Bethel and its sister churches in the Mid South.

Sinners rarely came to southern revivals, but a whole lot of saints packed them out. My first evening there were well over 100 people packed into that little church, many from sister congregations come to hear the Word preached by that young Yankee.  It had the air of a family reunion and I felt more like a new suitor seeking the hand of their daughter than a person who was a part.  My anxiety level was high.

Just before the service, someone came to Brother G.B. with the word that their sister, a stranger to me known only as Sister Smith from North Carolina, had been critically injured in a traffic accident. When it came time to pray, Brother Miller asked me to offer the intercessory prayer for her healing, which I dutifully accomplished in my best praying preacher personna. Then I went about the nervous business of delivering that sermon intended not to save anyone’s souls; but to impress them with my denomination’s spirituality.  It came off pretty well because God was at workj and preaching is one of my gifts.

The next night I actually was eager to get to the pulpit, basking in the warm reception of people who had welcomed me as one of their own.  Then something unexpected happened, returning to my state of pastoral and professional anxiety.  “Sister Smith died,” Brother GB told me just as the service began.
As the service began, my thoughts raced with that insecurity. “Boy, they are really gonna question my spirituality tonite.  I prayed and the lady died. Guess he has no “in” with God.

G.B. took the podium to introduce me, but just before he did that he said. “Last night, Brother Dunn led us in prayer for Sister Smith who had been critically injured in an auto accident. Well, God answered Brother Dunn’s prayer and healed her, healed her perfectly, by taking her home to be with Him in heaven.
Up until that day I had possessed a fairly utilitarian view of prayer. We want, we ask, God provides. And most of my answers had to do with solutions confined to temporal circumstances and immediate physical needs.  Brother G.B. opened my prayer vista into a whole new realm where my prayer life and my confidence in prayer could grow. And where my understanding of the purpose of prayer could mature.

(c) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Monday, September 20, 2010


 Monday Morning Reflections has become one of the most read posts on this blog. Normally it is a combination of personal reflections on current events, sports, trends and some thoughts on what matters in my life as a Christian living in the 21st century. Normally it appears on Mondays. Unfortunately Monday got lost when I lost my way on Sunday trying to make up for lost sleep last week. Although I am writing this post on Monday evening, it will probably be Tuesday before you read it.

...Not that it matters. Life matters more than time schedules and sometimes we have been known to suck all the joy out of living by being a slave to a deadline.  Many decades ago a remote tribe in the Philippines was told that some Americans were nearby. One wise man responded, "Oh yes, Americans. People with God on their wrists."  Time is never as important as what you do with the time and lost time may be just that - lost. Instead of getting lost in lamenting, just move forward and make the best of the time you now have.

Part of my lost time has had to do with lost sleep.  Because of some funny things going on inside me that the doctors are still trying to understand, I have rarely slept more than 5-6 hours without being awake for a whole day.  Three times in the last two weeks I have slept 1-2 hours and then been awake for the next 18.  That has meant that my body, my brain, and a whole lot else has suffered from sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation rearranges everything. I am normally a hyper-productive person--doing more in an hour than many people do in five.  Lately it has taken me three hours to accomplish what would have only required one. And the end product hasn't always been of the best quality. For someone committed to excellence in all I do, that tears at the fabric of your self-esteem as well.  Early last week I was meeting with a staff member at the church. About 25 minutes into the session she said, "Pastor, you need to go home and get some sleep."  "No," I protested, "I'm okay."  "Pastor, you just fell asleep while you were talking."  It was time to go home and sleep.

I have been awake enough to watch some baseball. The regular season is almost over (less than 16 games).  My beloved Tigers have been eliminated; but not before they swept the White Sox.  Since a boy, I have also rooted for the Cincinnati Reds, who have lost quite a few games lately but the the Cardinals have lost more, so they cling to a lead.  All three National League races are still close, but Philadelphia can pretty much settle it by how they play the Braves this week. Here's my prediction.  In the AL it will be the Twins, Rangers, Yankees, and Rays. Everyone else is out of it.  I am rooting for Tampa Bay to win the East, but I suspect they will have to settle for the wild card.  In the NL it will be the Phillies, Red, Giants and Rockies.  At this point it the Phils and Red should win their divisions. The Giants and the Rockies will be like the Yankees and Rays. I'm rooting for the Giants.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It's still Sunday!
Some of these are very funny!
Some would make you wonder about Christians


I am blessed with a pastoral partner in ministry. His name is Barry Sellers.  Barry is a second career pastor. Before joining me on the staff of the Church of God of Landisville, he spent 25 years teaching business and serving as the head of his department at an area high school.  His journey to ministry took form while he served as an elder at another congregation.  That journey brought him to serve with me.

Barry serves as Associate Pastor. In our church that means he fills many of the roles of traditional pastoring: visitation, teaching, counseling, leading worship, and at times preaching.  He spends a lot of time filling the role of shepherd, especially to the more senior members of our congregation.

Barry absolutely loves the pastoral ministry. Not only was he called to it out of the public schools but he was made for it.  When God put together his SHAPE (as Rick Warren calls it) that "shape" was spelled P-A-S-T--O-R.  The persons of my church, especially those raised in more traditional settings where they had a personal, intimate, daily relationship with their pastor find him a constant anchor and encouragement.  In doing his job, he frees me to do work of leading the church, being its chief preacher and vision-caster, guiding its evangelistic mission, coaching its leaders, spending serious time in prayer, helping the church impact its larger mission field.

Barry thrives as a pastor. The church thrives as well because of his work.

Barry and I share a common love of golf. The difference between the two of us is that he is good at it. I just play the game.  If our links prowess defined our roles - he would be the Lead Pastor (and I'd probably be his caddy.)  One Friday we were playing with several men from the church. I had just come back from Disney World and was wearing a hat that read "A Bad Day at Golf is Better Than a Good Day the Office."

Spying my hat and its message, he said, "Not true.  Nothing is better than a good day the church."

Wow! Talk about a rebuke (although it wasn't intended as one).  My hat was just a piece of fun; but Barry didn't want it to belittle the truth.  He loved the pastoral ministry and he loved being a pastor.  He was in his sweet spot, the spot the Spirit had created him for. That didn't mean he was naive or insensitive to its burdens, its stresses, its hurts and failures.  But it did mean that none of that could separate him for the joy of knowing that he was doing what God had called him to do.

"Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel," declared Paul.  My life is out of God's will and my joy is gone if I abandon that to which Christ Jesus has called me.

My prayer each day is that I do not let my circumstances or my sheep take my eyes off of what God is calling me to do.

Friday, September 17, 2010


This next week I am focusing on apologetics, the explanation or defense of one's faith.  Here is an excellent video that begins to answer one of the many good questions that honest seekers ask.


Recently via Facebook a young man for whom I was pastor when he was a very young teen contacted me with questions that he had developed in his spiritual journey. There were five of them and he prefaced them with this statement:   "I have a few questions that you might be able to answer. To preface a little, I was watching the History channel's documentary on the Bible stories and in particular, the overlaps between religions."  The questions ranged from "Lilith-was there a woman of sand? Or just Eve?" to "Do you think we could learn more about the history of the world by communicating between religions, to fill in the gaps, instead of trying to figure out which one is right? The arrogance that Faith instills in mankind is powerful and has caused many wars over many years, but would it not be more beneficial to cross-reference?"

My response initially is these are good questions.

Depending on who you are as a reader of this blog, you may find these questions strange or right on target,  I am an apologist by way of passion and profession.  An apologist in religious terms is one who "explains the faith" generally to persons who are not yet persuaded to be a part of that faith -- or who are simply trying to find some focus in the plethora of religious ideas.  An apologist is not a disinterested person, but more an intellectual ambassador for the truth that religion represents.  A true apologist actually lives by the faith he attempts to make sensible or accessible to others by answering (to the best of their ability) the questions that the seeker poses.

Later, with Brian's permission, I will share my answers with you via this blog.  For now I want to address one foundational issue.  For much of history, particularly in what is called "the common era" (ironically dated around the birth of Christ), truth has been considered to have an objective character.  Truth was revealed.
Even that which is now relegated to myth by contemporary scholars began in the hearts of humanity as something that was "black and white," a description of reality.

Roughly beginning with the Enlightenment and the so-called Age of Reason, human thinking began to shift. With its increasing emphasis on the material nature of things and the belief that reality can always be observed, measured, described without any particular outside assistance - two things occurred.  The belief in the supernatural was set aside because everything about it could not be tested objectively by the human mind. Thus, even Bible scholars began to dismiss any references to the miracles in the Bible because "who can demonstrate how the Red Sea can be parted or a virgin have a child without a male human partner?"

The second, more a product of postmodernism in the last sixty years, was the truth was defined by human experience. It wasn't truth until it was validated by experience.  But more narrowly, truth for me might be different from truth for you because we have a different experience.  Even with the admission of the spiritual nature of humanity and the possibility of the supernatural - truth moved into the subjective spectrum. Truth is found within ourselves. It is not really revealed, it is self-revealed as a part of the self-actualism of my personal encounter with life and the world.  Objective truth may be possible, says the postmodern, but they seriously doubt if it can be found or adequately described.

Basically with these developments - truth is defined by the person(s) with power or position. The higher the credential - academic or experiential - the more likely is to be presented as  truth as a description of reality. The very popular cable channels like The History Channel or National Geographic Channel or The Discovery Channel were formed by persons trained by persons trained in the Modern Era - hence, holdovers from the Age of Enlightenment with many of the assumptions that still debunk any sense of revelation or supernatural or even a spiritual dimension. Everything is a creation by humanity using its intellect to advance humanity.

The more postmodern purveyors of religious scholarship (I haven't figured out their channels yet), have been fascinated by the alternative religious ideas - often discounted by religions in power, They do not always need a belief in the ultimate triumph and power of human reason. They are just describing "what is experienced" or "what may possibly be experienced."

For biblical Christianity, the authority which establishes truth is a God who reveals that truth.
For religions including Christianity steeped in Enlightenment assumptions, the authority for truth is what can ultimately understood and described by the human mind.
For general postmodern spirituality, the authority for truth is what can be experienced (and that's all that really

My answers to Brian will come from the first position - which as a biblical Christian means that the revelation found in God's Word is the ultimate source of truth.

It is not as simple to answer a good question as people might like think, because if you don't want to accept the response as the real truth based on your personal biases, you can always find a reason to disagree and/or reject.  Ultimately, an apologist never depends simply upon the force of human logic or argument, but the conviction and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in the process to break down the barriers to (Real) Truth.

(C) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Thursday, September 16, 2010


One of our church members at Landisville and a young woman I deeply respect, Lynn Byers, is on a short(er) term mission assignment in Haiti.  Her second trip in a year.  Her blog is worth reading and I encourage you to subscribe. LYNN'S BLOG

Here is one of her posts to give you a flavor of her life there and the ministry opportunities.

9/13/10 (2141)

     What a delight to be alive another day! I have been so spoiled here- salmon for breakfast & steak for dinner. The food really is good. Haitians know how to season well. And they have a laundry service here. This is crazy- I don't have to cook or do my laundry for 6 months. I'm not going to know what to do with myself when I get back.
     We had our first clinic today in the mountain. I've been pondering how some of the most beautiful places in the world has the most poverty-striken people. but I also wondered how beautiful it would look if they lived like us in America. I dunno, just a thought.
      The clinic was in Grande Connova (not sure how to spell it) in a church that also serves as a school (as most churches do in Haiti I was told). School starts back up October 4th. We saw 72 patients in 5 hours with only one doctor! There were 2 nurses doing triage (vital signs, patient's reason for visit), one doctor to asses & diagnose, and 2 nurses to be the pharmacy & discharge instructions. The Haitian doctor was moving faster than me lol! He is an OB/GYN MD that just finished residency but he is good! Not arrogant though but caring. He told us about his 4-story house collapsing in the earthquake and that he made it out a second before it collapsed. He said he knows that is a miracle and God has a purpose for him- God sure does! Haitian doctors & nurses are needed greatly!
     We each had a translator. My translator's name is Charles. He lived in America for awhile so his English and creole was great. He has been working in the pharmacy for months so he was good. Able to teach me how to do things and translate. He me some phrases too. I just have to learn by repetition. "Bondye Beniw" (God Bless You)- I really have a hard time with this one!
     The children were fun to be around during our break. They were teaching us creole & we were teaching them english words by pointing out objects. I love their smiles and enthusiasm to help me learn creole. Someone said they would be the best teachers because they will practice it over and over without getting sick of it.
     In the clinic, we saw lots of infections (stomach worms, malaria, scabies, H. Pyloi, and fungal infections); a girl with asthma; lots of high blood pressure; fevers, pain, & coughs. It was interesting! The people are very patient- some waited 5 hours to be seen. There was a 2-year old with Left side flaccid. He had it for 1 year after an infection, but he was never taken to the doctor. His parents died in the earthquake, so now his grandma takes care of him. They were not sure if he had polio or a stroke, so we drove him to handicap international. The doctor there thought he had a cerebral hemiplasia and that with physical therapy, his left arm & legs could return to normal function. Keep him in your prayers!
     I'm so thankful that God provided me calmness and willingness to learn today. May we bring people to Christ though our medical care. There was a Pastor there to pray with each patient before they left.
     Side note, it is so amazing to shower in a stall without a roof to gaze into the sky. Our compound is a hotel ground that collapsed in the earthquake, so SP (Samaritan's Purse) is leasing it. It is right along the ocean. So wonderful to see the ocean & mountains together.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Last week I published a post called Dishonoring 9-11, focusing on the fundamentalist pastor who was going to burn a copy of the Qu'ran on September 11th as a protest against Islamic extremism.  One of my readers sent me a tweet from Ed Stetzer, who said, "I am glad a live in a country where I can burn a copy of the Qu'ran but wish we had the discernment not to do so." Kudos to Stetzer on this reminder of the responsibility of our Freedom of Speech.

The college football season began last week.  My beloved Buckeyes, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful Terrell
Heisman Trophy hopeful Kellen Moore
Pryor defeated Marshall. And Rich Rodriguez finally managed an opening game win for Michigan against U Conn.
But the game that captured our imagination was no. 3 Boise State against no. 10 Virginia Tech.  Boise State has its own legitimate Heisman candidate in Kellen Moore, whose touchdown pass at the 1:14 mark to Austin Pettis cemented a final victory for the Bisons, 33-30. I almost said Blue Bisons because who can ever forget the sight of their blue and white uniforms on the blue astroturf of their human stadium back in Idaho.  When that stadium first began appearing on television screens, many a person associated the Bisons more with the Smurfs than major power football. But last week's convincing victory against a tough, tough Virgina Tech squad has made their no.3 pre-season ranking seem quite legitimate. I'm hoping Coach Tressel and his boys don't have to face them for the BCS Championship. It would be a tough contest and at this point in the season, not an assured outcome for either side.

Baseball's pennant races are nearing their conclusion as most teams now have less than 20 games to play.
At this point it looks like the Reds in the NL Central (as long as they don't have to play Colorado again). The other NL races still seem too close to call. My predictions at this point are the Braves, Phils, and Giants. In the American League I think Texas is locking down the West and the Twins the Central (thanks in part to the Tigers taking down the White Sox ... finally).  The Yankees and Rays should have the remaining two spots.

Michael and Kelly
Labor Day Weekend I had the privilege of uniting Kelly Kayser-Kellen and John Michael Gomes in marriage.
Kelly is my cousin and a school teacher in Garrett, Indiana. Michael is a truck driver from Ft Wayne and a member of a motorcycle club of people who used to be drug-users and foes by the name Friar Tuck.  I would encourage you to read my post on their marriage on my blog THRIVING IN CHRIST   Two more "in love" and beloved people you will not meet. Two more caring people who care for all kinds of people you will probably not meet either.  I love weddings when they involve making a new family out of two people who really understand what it means to love God and love each other.
Riding off as husband and wife

 School is back in session for most kids in America. In fact, this is probably the first full week. My wife is a substitute school teacher and has already been called to cover a vacancy yet to be filled in a classroom.


This is absolutely one of my favorite hymns. You will also want to read this back story on its origins by Ken Meyer on LEADER FOCUS.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


This week's SUNDAY FUNNIES post is in honor of Back to School and the "thoughts?" and humor associated with it.  These are some of the better cartoons and I hope you find one that you relate to. Schools have really become the centers of most communities. Pray for the classroom teachers, administrators, aides, support staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, school board members and of course, the kids. Pray that education in the best sense of the word will occur in our schools. Pray our schools will be safe.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I will never forget September 11, 2001.  I had just begun a new life and a new ministry at my church in Landisville, Pennsylvania.  Just two days before had been my first official Sunday as its pastor and my days were fresh with the excitement of new beginnings and comfortable September days.  I was living in the home of my council president, Dr Jerry Albright and his wife Val, and had walked early that morning the two blocks to the church.  Just a few minutes after my arrival at the office, a new friend Doug Sutton called and invited me to experience a Lancaster County treat, the Tuesday market at Roots.  Thinking it was too early in the job to blow off a morning to do some sight-seeing, I declined.

Within a few minutes the phone began to ring. Patty Baker, my Administrative Assistant, was speaking to her husband. Something terrible was going on in Manhattan.  "A plane has just hit the World Trade Center!" she announced, noting that rumors were already spreading. I quickly returned to the house, turning on the television just in time to see the second plane slam into the WTC.  It was horrifying, surreal - like watching a science fiction movie - and yet it was not fiction. Then came the word that Islamic terrorists had hijacked planes in Boston and elsewhere and were carrying on suicide attacks in New York and Washington. The Pentagon was hit! A  plane had crashed in western Pennsylvania when the passengers battled the terrorists for control of the aircraft--another plane destined for the nation's capital.

Returning to the office, I found my phone ringing as shocked and frightened parishioners began to call seeking to find comfort or some sense in the senseless.  We were glued to our sets, drawn by the unimagined horror of it all, watching ugly clouds of smoke billowing across the Manhattan skyline and then seeing desperate people leap from buildings.  One mother, homeschooling her children, called. "What do I do? My children are seeing these horrible things on tv. They are frightened and confused." "Turn off the set," I said. Later that day I would meet more than 75 of my people (many for the first time) in the sanctuary of the church as we gathered for prayer.

September 11, 2001 was the day America lost its innocence.  The War on Terror had arrived on our shores in an undeniable and life-altering way. No longer were we the happy, carefree citizens consuming, crowding the malls, playing, working, studying, raising families, rooting for our favorite teams, traveling wherever we desired when we desired.  Places of public gathering took on the stench of death.  Air travel became a dangerous risk. Strangers became enemies, especially if they were of Middle Eastern descent.  The bombings and everyday fears that defined life in so many other places in the world became a real possibility for people on this side of the Atlantic.

Stories of incredible sacrifice and heroism began to fill our front pages and nightly news reports. Having experienced a brutal sneak attack by persons bent on destroying our way of life, we saw the finest of spirits arise in everyday people. The decent side of our common humanity asserted itself and we pulled together working, praying, and caring.  Determination to meet this challenge and visit justice upon the evil doers united Americans of many walks of life and political persuasions.  The simple faith of our newly elected President, George W. Bush, was seen as a sign of hope.

For a time there was a reawakening of the spiritual hunger of our nation.  As is often the case in times of great crisis, Americans drew close to God and filled its houses of worship.  People seem unashamed to call upon
the Almighty for solace and for strength.  But as many a pastor
can tell you, that was only for a season.  Soon we were looking again to human strength and human solutions, at best seeking God's blessings on the plans we had made and intended to follow. Persons went about their daily business as if they didn't need God. The crisis was over. He was on the shelf until the next crisis that seemed beyond our control.  A nation at war seemed to push God once again out of sight and out of mind - except those persons in harm's way in places like Iraq and Afghanistan who continued to seek God's protection and strength. They knew daily as they walked through the valley of the shadow of death how fragile their lives were and how dependent those lives were upon God's providence.

Now, nine years later, I wonder what lessons we have learned as Americans.  I wonder how much our plans and pretensions have accomplished.  In particular I honor those men and women of the armed forces who have had their lives unalterably changed by going into battle to protect the freedom we so cherish and to push back against those who threaten us. But I wonder, as we use our freedom in America in ways so unchastened by events like September 11th, if those men and women are laboring in vain.  The threats within from the shallow self-serving and narcissistic culture we persist in perpetuating may not threaten us with same violence as Al Quaida or the Taliban, but can as surely destroy a healthy, wholesome, God-honoring way of life as those enemies from without.

"Do not use your freedom for license," the apostle Paul declared in a time long before America's founding. Will we ever learn that lesson?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Ten years old. Ten years old. Ten years old.

With all due respect to the other finalists, particularly the singers in the Ten Finalists ... not one of them sounded as good as Jackie Evancho when they were ten years old. They still don't. The prize in America's Got Talent is a million dollars and a Las Vegas Show. A lot is made of the latter fact by those who don't believe she is far and away the only Superstar of the bunch.

Bunk. I'd pay to go see her in Las Vegas in a heartbeat and any show she''s in would be awesome. I will buy her album when it comes out very soon.
The Final Four - (clockwise from the upper left) Jackie, Prince Poppycock, Michael, Fighting Gravity


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I am about to make some very conservative, Muslim-hating people angry.  But as a follower of Jesus Christ, I feel I have no choice in this matter. What prompts it is one more wrong-headed, hateful attempt by someone who is a part of the Christian community to fight a culture war instead of representing Jesus Christ, Son of God and Lord of our Lives.

In Gainesville FL there is a tiny church called Dove World Outreach Center. (It claims only a few dozen members). Its pastor, Larry Jones, has captured the attention of the media and Muslims throughout the world with his announcement that on September 11th he is going to burn a copy of the Qu’ran.  The Qu’ran is the most Holy Book of the Islamic faith.  It would easily be akin to someone burning a Bible or to some, burning a flag.

Jones’ so-called justification? “:We believe we cannot back off the truth of the dangers of Islam, of radical Islam, just because people are offended.” Jones is convinced the Islamists want to take over the American government and impose sha’ria, Islamic law, upon our nation. “I believe you are dealing with an element that you cannot talk to. We are dealing with an element that must be shown a certain amount of force.”
Around the world this has provoked outrage. Once again, it has given fuel to the popular belief that Christians are intolerant and hateful.  Once again, an entire faith is being sullied by a radical extreme out of step with authentic biblical Christianity.  (Sort of like every Muslim who is lumped in the same mix with Osama bin Laden and his hate-filled thugs.)

In Afghanistan it has provoked considerable concern among our generals. They worry about heightened violence that may be generated if the Gainesville Church goes through with its Qu’ran burning. Lt. General William Caldwell says, “We are over here defending the rights of American citizens and are not debating the First Amendment Rights people have. But I tell you, their very actions will, in fact, jeopardize the safety of young men and women who are serving over here and will undermine the very mission we are trying to accomplish.”  Jones’ response is that he hears the General’s message and is taking it very seriously but does not believe he dare back down.  “We’ll be praying” is the only comfort he gives those in harm’s way who will be put in greater harms way to make a political statement (in the guise of a religious one.)

I am deeply troubled by the “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” mentality of many American Christians angry about injustices done against Christians and insults to their faith. But the hatred and verbal violence they justify makes them no better than the radical Muslims who justify such tactics to defend their faith. How can they justify their words, their counter-attacks, their inciteful tactics with the clear command of Jesus Christ to love your enemies and do good to those who despitefully use you?

This is one more sad example of what happens when cultural values and personal politics supplant the values of God’s Word.  And no, few will criticize those of another religion as harshly they do us of the Christian faith? It may be fair. I even heard someone say it wasn’t fair the ACLU would defend flag-burners but not do the same for Qu’ran burners. (By the way, has anyone asked the ACLU about their position on this?) This, however, is not the point.

Christians, authentic Christians, are always held to highest standard – the values of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible, the Word of God.  Not held to different standards by the world (even though we are). but we are held to higher standards by Jesus Christ himself. And whenever sinful standards are the norm in the world, Christians will always be held to a different standard — and I pray that we are.
Hatred of other nations, attacks on people because of their religion, violence against the innocent, actually dishonor 9-11 because they say that only more bigotry can give value to the innocent victims of bigotry. If that is true, then our nation and our world are in deep trouble and Jesus better come back quickly, before we destroy one another or drive people away from the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jackie Evancho from America's Got Talent. Have a fabulous Tuesday! - Steve

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This little girl from Pittsburgh should win it all!