Monday, April 25, 2011


I have a very good friend who is Greek Orthodox.  Last week he offered me some words of blessing.  He said it in Greek, but I won't attempt to write in Greek.  Roughly translated it means, "Good Rising." Throughout Holy Week, Greek Orthodox people greet one another or bid each other good bye with these words, "Good rising." They are words that anticipate the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  They remind people to live in eager expectation for that occur.

On Easter the words change.  "He is risen."

For Christians, Easter is the most important day of the year.  The Apostle Paul makes it very clear as to why:

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.' - 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 

The resurrection is the foundational event for the entire Christian experience.  An empty cross reminds us that all of our sins have been forgiven. An empty tomb reminds us that nothing every again will separate us from God. Empty grave clothes in that tomb remind us that death no longer has the last word.

It is a reminder that there is Truth sets men from, that Truth is a person named Jesus Christ,  I love this quote from Clarence Hall: 

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there."
I love this cartoon by the late Johnny Hart:

This is the heart of my reflection for you on this Easter Monday.  Christ has risen!  May you know "good rising."

Friday, April 22, 2011


Today is Good Friday. Where I live in central Pennsylvania the day has not begun in a promising way. Dawn brought cold, gray skies more suitable for winter than spring. The temperature was 38 degrees. Even now, two hours later the thermometer remains stuck in the low forties. I am cold.

Despite my own personal desires, what I have is really more suitable to the events of Good Friday two millenia ago. It was a day of heartbreak, brutality, and death. An earthquake and darkened skies punctuated the early afternoon. It was the day Jesus died on the cross.

I come from the stream of Christianity that observes an ordinance called Feet Washing. This practice is based on John 13 and that disciple's account of the Last Supper. It is a remembrance of the sacrificial servanthood by which our faith is founded and in which it is grounded. It is also a symbol of Christ's humiliation. For he bore the penalty for sins he did not commit. He placed himself squarely in the center of God's judgment upon humanity's rebellion and sin.

He died that we might live.

At the service, the elder who led the feet washing gave each of us fresh roses. The instruction was to tear off the petals and drop them in the basin of water where our feet would be washed. Discard the stem on a pile in the middle of the room.

The purpose was not to freshen water that would soon hold dirty, maybe even smelly feet. The purpose was to symbolize the price for our forgiveness. Something beautiful and filled with life had to die so that we might be born anew.  Something that embodied the full measure of love had to be poured out to wash away the stain of our lovelessness.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of this long before Jesus did this.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

It was a terrible price; but then sin is a terrible, deadly thing.  We live in a generation with no real sense of personal sin, just perhaps, shame for our failings.  As such we do not take sin seriously--especially our own. The apostle Paul taught, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord." - Romans 6:23

Sin always collects its due.

But love found a way.  For it was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross on that first "good" Friday.  It was his love for us.

 (c) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


As a Christian, I am now three days deep into the holiest of seasons – Holy Week and Easter. Much of the world, Christian and non-Christian, celebrates Christmas. The latter is a Christian’s celebration of the Incarnation, when God came in the flesh and to borrow Eugene Peterson’s rendition, “took up residence in the neighborhood.” But this season has deeper meaning for Christians because it celebrates His ultimate purpose, to reconcile us to God through his death on the Cross and to usher us into new life as He emerges from the Tomb on Easter morning.

The planet He had created was in a self-destructive mess,its inhabitants having chosen to essentially be their own god. Those inhabitants were destined for a death that would eternally separate them from His love, for a hell far more hopeless than the hell they were making for themselves here on earth. Christ’s incarnation was ultimately the divine intervention when God chose mercy over judgment, trading his righteousness for our depravity. He died so that we might live.

I cannot go through Holy Week mindlessly humming songs of happiness like so many ubiquitous Christmas carols sung by secularized choirs that barely have a clue. In one sense, I find it hard to sing anything except John Newton’s haunting words of liberation, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

Holy Week is really about the gift of God, the gift of grace undeserved and often unappreciated. A second chance for men and women like me who admit our brokenness and confess our need for God’s forgiveness. It is a gift that God does not idly disperse like some happy benevolence promotion on Oprah. It is a gift that cost the price of His Son’s life. He died so that we might live.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dun

Friday, April 15, 2011


I found this comment posted by Karen Spears Zacharias on her blog. It was written to Karen by one of her readers following a blog post about the anniversary of the war in Iraq. - Steve

Our son is no longer serving in Iraq.  He was in the Army for 4 years.  In Iraq as a medic for 13 months.  He has always lived on edge.  He seemed to embrace the Army.  I don’t think I have ever seen him as happy as the day he graduated from Basic.  He was tan and he was fit. I was proud.
After the 13 months in Iraq, our son came back.  Or at least he said he was our son.  But I only see fleeting moments of him.  I am not sure what happened to him over there, but I don’t think he came back.  I know that someplace in Iraq, he is still there. Or his soul is. He is receiving 100% disability from the VA for PTSD.  This, coupled with a already existing problem with alcohol, has changed him into a unrecognizable person.
I know that there are many walking around with physical wounds, but his wounds are so deep I don’t know if he will ever heal. I believe the thing he loved (the Army) wounded him.  The love that he had to serve his country betrayed him. I don’t think this war was like any other.  These young men grew up in the time of 911.  They saw buildings fall and people die.  Many just wanted to do what they could to help America, but America shot them in the heart.
PTSD is a life sentence for the attempt to do better.
I am not bitter. I am proud of what he gave to his country, but I ask myself: Was it worth it? Many people have lost their sons to the war. They came home in flag-draped coffins. They are buried under headstones of honor.
But don’t forget the walking dead.  The ones with no flags and no honorable headstones.  The ones walking our streets with the 100 yard stares. The ones with PTSD. - M.B.
More from Steve ...
It is realities like the one described in M.B.'s post that remind me of the collateral damage that always accompanies armed conflict between men of ill will and malice.  It is also why the headline-grabbing tactics of the Westboro Baptist Church are such an abomination to those of us who are serious about being the disciples of Jesus Christ in such dark times.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding is one of the most informed and insightful observers of youth culture today. He posted this video on his most recent blog "When the Market Trumps Common Sense"" on his blog learning my lines. Click the video and then what Walt has to say. Read more

Kenneth Kemp has a great post on Vi Higginson, a true inspiration to all who care about education and more. It's called "The Gift of Voice" and appears on his LEADERfocus weblog.

"Vy Higginson grew up on the mean streets of Harlem in the turbulent sixties, the daughter of a fiery preacher, a Barbados immigrant who died before she was old enough to know him. Her home and church was a block away from the Apollo Theater. Her ambitions took her a long way away from those Harlem streets. She became a popular prime time radio voice in New York City on giant WBLS and then she broke ground as the first female African American morning show host on WWRL. Her gregarious style and big voice opened new doors. She developed talent in the arts and wrote a stage play that became “the longest running Off-Broadway production in American Theater” – Mama I Want To Sing.

As her career matured and the success accumulated, she developed a conviction about music and the arts. She believed that the Gospel music she learned as a little girl prepared her in ways that most people miss. She discovered her own voice in those early years. In worship and praise, she developed a hopeful, energetic, soulful, steadfast belief that she had a place in a world that could be cruel. She had a name. The God of the Universe knew that name. Nothing could stand in the way of her purpose. She knew what joy felt like. She understood the value of harmony. She learned to love the company of a troop of like-minded musicians who could rattle the windows and shake the foundations and fill a room with jubilation. It all spilled over onto her professional career, like showers of blessing. ..."

I especially like Ken's closing:

"The last couple of weeks, I’ve listened in as teachers lament a perspective on education that is all about test scores and documenting progress. It seems to permeate our schools these days. The very program that is designed to produce results is doing the exact opposite. Rather than enhance the joy of discovery, it robs our kids of motivation to learn. Music and the arts have gone the way of slashed budgets. Something really important is missing.

But not in Harlem."

Read the entire post ...

Sunday, April 10, 2011


It really wasn’t all that funny. The prospect of our nations leaders once more in gridlock, governing in a way that added to the crises of our times instead of moving towards healthy lock-term resolution. The threatened shut down of the federal government was averted by some last minute (almost midnight hour) compromises. But for now we are still operating. The mounting crisis prompted all sorts of political humor. Here, courtesy of The Washington Post is a bipartisan sampling of my favorites.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


For those of you who have been following the controversy over Rob Bell's new book Love Wins, a controversy with conservative theologians and pastors - and a whole lot of people who have not read the book, just "heard" about what's in it, I thought I'd add this clip.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Found this in the archives of Scot McKnight's JESUS CREED BLOG. And it came from all people, Steve Martin .....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Sunday, April 3, 2011


When this is posted on Monday, April 4, 2011 we will know which of the Final Four are the Final Two.  It will be VCU or Butler versus UConn or Kentucky.  I find that I am in agreement with Christine Brennan of USA who wrote last Thursday:

Back to the field of play. In the second men’s NCAA semifinal Saturday night, we get the uplifting opportunity to watch those two stalwarts of coaching integrity, Calhoun and Calipari, match wits and NCAA violations when Connecticut plays Kentucky. Can we have a show of hands for those wanting the NCAA to declare the winner of the Butler-VCU game the men’s national champion? Sadly, though, the fitting exclamation point on this renegade season would be for Calhoun or Calipari to be cutting down the net at the end. It would seem strange for a good guy to win in what just might be the NCAA’s worst year ever. You can read more ...

Big time sports has become synonymous with BIG MONEY. So much so that even coaches like Jim Tressel who have built a reputation around solid Christian character and character-building have surrendered to the temptation to cheating in order to preserve the possibility of winning football teams.  Now comes word that the most recently crowned champions of the BCS, the Auburn Tigers have very likely paid players.  On top of it, the Fiesta Bowl, a lynchpin in the BCS championships has been accused of behavior of the level of an out-control Washington lobbyist seducing another greedy politician.

It is a season of disgrace.

All sort of remedies are put forth – pay the players for one; but will that end the temptation to put checkbook above personal integrity?  I think not, not as long as there are boosters with no scruples and coaches with no moral courage and big time universities that believe that be number one gives them a license  for impunity.
Frankly, five games is an insufficient suspension for Mr Tressel and an NCAA death penalty disproportionately small for Auburn if the accusations prove true. Boosters need to face legal consequences for their undermining of public universities that are required to adhere to the law in every area of operation in order to receive tax dollars. And the Calhouns and Caliparis of the world should have been the first teams out of the NCAAs even if it means letting from VCUs into the tournament.

I love sports. I do believe it is healthy, its character-building.  I am troubled that professional sports has endangered its own reputation by becoming a battle between billionaires and multi-millionaires. We prosecute murderous soccer moms and ban out-of-control little league dads; — and so we should. But what makes a passion to grow rich more acceptable than a passion to win?  Neither are edifying cultural values and both carry in them the seeds of immorality that ultimately defiles our humanity.

It is a season of disgrace. It is now time (long overdue) for a season of honor.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I gladly confess it. I am a “fan” of fantasy baseball.  I am not enough a “fanatic” to participate in live drafts.  I choose auto-draft and then enjoy the process of trading players or watching the add/drop lists of free agents to snatch up someone for my roster.  Over the years I have coached many real teams in baseball and softball (as well as basketball and soccer).  I think there’s a sports managerial gene in my DNA that compels to do so.  Fantasy baseball, however, doesn’t require me to match schedules with a roster of real players with real jobs, or to endure the elements, or to endure parents of players who think their little darling deserves more playing time.

Fantasy baseball is really quite uncomplicated (once you master the system of managing by computer).  I make it complicated because after season one when I had one team–now in season three I have eight. MLB Fantasy Baseball is my provider of choice but I have a Yahoo Team in a league created by a friend at church. I am experimenting with an ESPN Fantasy Team in a league created by Detroit Tiger devotees and am trying out Facebook’s Salary Cap Baseball. (My foray into CBS Sports Fantasy Baseball last year was a confusing disappointment. Far too complicated.) The latter two teams won’t get a lot of management. The Yahoo team will get a little more.  My old stand-bye MLB Teams will get regular visits.

By the way, two days into the season 3 of my MLB Teams are winning, my Yahoo team has a slight edge, ESPN is winning, and Salary Cap is still calculating points.

The first year I endangered my marriage by spending hours watching the developing minutia of each game and then switching over the computer feed of the actual games to watch my players when at bat.  Last year I made sure I asked before going into my Fantasy Baseball cubbyhole.  This year I have a laptop so I don’t have to leave the family room (but I am still doing most of my “managing” in the early hours of the morning while my wife is still sleeping.)  A fanatic has been know to trash their marriage.  A fan remembers that their spouse is far more important than what happens on the field between men who will soon be on the disabled list or traded to another team. Evan Longoria is not going to cook my dinner. I have no interest in a hug from David Ortiz. And no one will ever pray for me like my beloved Dianne.

For now .. I am glad fantasy baseball is back and along the way this season I will try and wax more or less eloquently about America’s digital past time.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn