Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I am a "fan" so-to-speak of political cartoons.  An image with a brief text is often prophetic, if not certainly articulate.  Here are some cartoons that lately have spoken my mind quite.  Thank you to USA's stable of political cartoonist for their collective wisdom and artistic talent.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Andy Rooney died earlier this month. It had not even been a month since he announced retirement.  Sixty Minutes presented a delightful tribute to Andy, his life and his passion to write.  I, for one, delighted at Andy's brief appearance each week--wrapping up what had often been a heavy show with a little whit and whimsy that refreshed the soul. Andy prepared his segment from 1978-2011, his final presentation was his 1,097th.   Memorable quotes galore. Here are a few I connected with:

"People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."

"The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong."

"Vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter. "

"Nothing in fine print is ever good news."
"Death is a distant rumor to the young.I didn't get old on purpose, it just happened. If you're lucky, it could happen to you."

"Happiness depends more on how life strikes you than on what happens."

As a wordsmith, I would never presume to be in Andy Rooney's league; but I will miss him. Whether it was an eloquent ode to dust or a pithy analysis of the Democrats and Republicans, Andy never failed to stimulate my mind and occasionally open it a little bit more.  And unlike the talk-show pundits, he never took himself too seriously and treated his listeners like they were intelligent beings.

The United Negro College Fund used to have a slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."  Andy wasted nary a cell.

Joe Pa's saga continues.  Now we read that he directed the university's academic enforcement officer to let the athletic department police the football team.  That's just the kind of "football is bigger than the university" thinking that cost Jim Tressell his job at The Ohio State University.  When we allow college athletes to see themselves as a privileged class we plant seeds in their psyche that will be a hindrance to the leaders many of them will have the opportunity to become (unless, of course, they become Senators and Congressmen).

The pullout from Iraq is slowly underway. Our nation in general and our military families in particular have made tremendous sacrifice so that Iraq would be free and to plant seeds of democracy. Unfortunately, I think this cartoon reflects the attitude of the current Iraqi leadership.

On a personal note: A brother of one of my best friends after several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan ready to resume normal life.  He discovered about a month ago that he has a brain tumor and underwent surgery to remove a part of it.  Keep Marvin in your prayers.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent, the season in the Christian year that we begin preparing our hearts for the message of Christmas. During this month I am posting items on my devotional blog called THRIVING IN CHRIST.  The first post is "The Day Peace was Declared" and you can click HERE to access it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When Tim Tebow was in college he was a sports media darling, but now that he has become an NFL quarterback, the media has spent a lot time and energy beating up on Tebow. Not so much for his somewhat un-NFL-like quarterbacking skills; but for his very obvious devotion to Jesus Christ. Last week Jake Plummer grabbed some headlines with his critiquing of the level of Tim's expressing of his faith.

Former Bronco quarterback Jake Plummer (2003-2006) thinks Tebow should make some changes: "...regardless of whether I wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates, I think he’s a winner and I respect that about him,” said Plummer. “I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him a little better. I don’t hate him because of that, I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff."

When I read Plummers' comments I think that Jake just doesn't get Tebow.  (Nor does John Elway nor much of the sporting world.) His faith goes far deeper than painting scripture on his eyeblack in college.  His whole worldview is rooted in a genuine love for Jesus Christ. It is also grounded in a worldview that says faith is not a private matter and that football is not a matter of eternal significance.  This video (which the poster inaccurately titled "Tebow SLAMS  Plummer") gives us a clear answer as to who Tim Tebow believes himself to be and how that impacts he as an NFL quarterback.

Personally, I hope that Tim maintains his spiritual integrity and lives by the perspecive described on tbe video. It would probably be a good career move to do otherwise, but we the NFL and our nation would profit from aquaterback that accepts his role model role and tries to model a faith with integrity. So what do you think?

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Earlier this year popular preacher and teacher Rob Bell stirred considerable controversy with a new book called Love Wins. (Just for clarification, I have purchased the book but not yet read it. I believe no one should comment on a book if they have not read it thoroughly and reflected upon it honestly. I intend to read it in the next month.

I have unfortunately or fortunately read an avalanche of comments about the book and its supposed premise. I have noted that very few commentators have actually yet to read Love Wins either, just what other commentators have said about it. To those who have charged Rob with universalism, others have responded with a question, "How does belief in free will (which Rob believes) co-exist with universalism (everyone will come to God)?"  One of my Facebook friends wrote in response to some of my questions, "It seemed more a calling out of Calvism that anything." (He, by the way, had read the book.)

My purpose in all of this is not to comment on Rob's book. I still have not read it.  And because many of his writings and videos have been extremely helpful to me as a biblical Christian, I intend to give him the respect of reading and reflecting upon it with honesty.  My intent is to note something far more at issue here.

When it comes to God and our desire to understand His truth, are there no "off limits" questions? This is no small question for those of us engaged in apologetics with persons who have no Christian roots and no biblical reference points in their life experience.  More often than not, the very fact that I am willing to say, "There are no off limits questions, just questions for which you do not yet have answer" has been the springboard to genuine dialogue that God used to reconcile people to Him.  Actually, the questioning usually begins with, "This is probably a stupid question ..." meaning a whole lot of their self-esteem is about to be invested in this investigation of the truth and they want to be sure that their quest will be respected by those who claim to know the Way.

I find it hard to believe that God, Who is Truth in Person, is offended by questions since it is He who embedded in us a hunger for the Truth when He created us in His image.  And God does not cease to God simply because we are rebellious in our motives for asking questions.  God can handle the Truth because He is Truth.  And in the end it is not reason that convicts of our inescapable need for God, it is the Holy Spirit who is more than human answers and theologies and systems.

There are too many Christians that are offended by any questions, except softball ones.  Perhaps they are offended because they don't have all the answers and secretly believe that their salvation is dependent upon being able to pass some kind of biblical intelligence test.  That still smells of salvation by works, and for that we have the Apostle Paul's clear admonition, "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power" (Colossians 2:4) and " "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2.8-9)

Questions are the way that truth is revealed and appropriated.  Asking questions was at the heart of Jesus' teaching method.  God is not someone Who needs protected from the skeptics and defended against the atheists.  He is the One who through open hearts grants us new minds which are ultimately what is required to understand the truth and live the truth.

Every time we launch an assault on someone who asks questions we say that Truth is fragile.  God, Who moves the mountains and holds the universe in His hands is anything but.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Have fun. I did when I came across these.  Hope your Thanksgiving dinner was enjoyable, your family time a blessing and that the Detroit Lions won.

And then very serious thought .......................................

Monday, November 21, 2011


I live in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania, less than two hours from State College and Happy Valley.  This is bedrock Penn State territory, so much so that this Buckeye fan takes considerable harassment and disrespect.  It is also Joe Paterno country.  Joe Pa is a larger than life icon of hard work, persistence, and generosity.  But Happy Valley is not happy these days and Joe Pa has become a pariah to many.  By now you are more than familiar with (and perhaps have had your fill of) the moral meltdown in Happy Valley.  It is like a dark cloud that has descended upon our Commonwealth and blackened our souls as surely as an explosion of coal dust might darken our persons.

The official jury has yet to hear the case of Jerry Sandusky, but the tangled web of cover-up, feigned ignorance, and all around lack of moral courage to confront this problem many years ago has led to the firing of a university president, two other administrators, and the coach.  And I need to say, that had to be.  Football, institutional reputation, saving face and/or avoiding conflict are no excuse for the perpetuation of an outrage against these young victims.  From my perspective, there is no more heinous crime that the sexual abuse of a child and every decent adult has an absolute moral obligation to go after and challenge any hint of such a crime.  No one is exempt, including iconic coaches, powerful presidents, no one.

My perspective comes from one of the most powerful commands of God's Word. "Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Ps.82:3-4).  It us reinforced by Jesus' special concern for children: "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:2)

I commend those students and faculty of the Penn State community who have not let sympathy for a coach, or embarrassment to their school to deter them from the main point - these young people have been victims of something unspeakable at the most, something reprehensible in the least.  These victims will carry the scars for their lives.  It is a reality that no child should ever have to encounter.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


From one of my favorite bloggers, Karen Spears Zacharias, comes this great lesson regarding prayer.

A Lesson in Praying

Upon my waking this was the dream:
We were in a room with a youth group of some sort. High school, college. Maybe 50-75 in numbers. One gal was speaking. It was not someone I recognized. 

She had an eraser in her hand and she was speaking about the power of prayer. To prove her point about how effective prayer can be, she let go of the eraser and it shot like a bullet toward the opposing wall. Scared the dickens out of everyone in that room, me included. Mostly because I had only halfway been paying attention, which is how I spend too much of my life, only halfway paying attention to it. 

But once that eraser went speeding like a bullet across the room, that got my attention. 

Try it, she said. You try it. Hold out your hands and pray for the eraser to come to you. Everyone ready? 

We were. All throughout the room people were praying, hands held out, ready to receive something miraculous from God. She held up the eraser again and as we prayed, she released it. We held our breath and waited to see who was God’s chosen in that moment. Each one hoping, of course, that it would be them. 

The eraser fell to the floor.  Dropped just like that. It didn’t speed off toward anyone. 

Ahhh, we sighed, dropping our hands and thinking, why of course. See how God does me? Always doing the miraculous for others and nothing for me. I looked at the faces around the room. All were crestfallen. So many unanswered prayers. So much disappointment. So much discouragement.
Then it came to me. 

A lesson in praying. 

What do you expect me to do? There you all sit, hands outstretched, each one’s prayer opposing another’s. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. You’re a mother, how would you choose? Which child’s prayer would you honor if you knew honoring that prayer would slight your other children? Be angry all you like but the truth is I cannot honor prayers that are selfish in nature and designed to exalt one of you over another.

I love each one too much. 

That’s why I instructed you to pray in concert with each other. To come together as two or more and seek the same thing. 

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
You might reconsider those Gimme prayers. 

And then I woke.

Monday, November 7, 2011


A few days ago you received a post with this same title.  It had, however, only one sentence. Now if you clicked on it they would say this post does not exist. I took it down.  It was accidentally published when I clicked a wrong button while writing a first draft.  I actually did not discover the error until my Facebook Page informed that I had published a new post on LIFE MATTERS called "Breakfast."

Are you confused yet?

For the record, here is the opening line which WILL reappear when I finally publish that post: "My favorite meal of the day is breakfast.  That's no secret to people who know me very well."

Not all that profound, but that's because I "spoke" (published) before I was ready.

How often have you spoken before you were ready.  I sometimes refer to this as having "your mouth in motion before your mind is in gear."  Very dangerous.  In real life we cannot always "unpublish."  It's out there.  It's attached to you.  People form opinions on what you have said and this is sometimes damning evidence that we spend a long time recovering from.

Jesus has some very disturbing words recorded in Matthew 12:36. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."


In an age of email, tweet, sound byte, talk shows, etc. a whole lot of things are said in the heat of the moment.  Too much of it should not have been spoken.  (I tell the kids, "Don't upchuck on Facebook" and we have developed an expression for such unhelpful "shares."  It's called Facechucking.)

Are all of your words worth being spoken?  

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Friday, November 4, 2011


PROCRASTINATE It is a big word representing a concept that most of us know intimately.  One dictionary defines it in this way:

   [proh-kras-tuh-neyt, pruh-] Show IPA verb, -nat·ed, -nat·ing.

verb (used without object)
 1. to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.

verb (used with object)
2. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

Many of us have embraced procrastination so deeply that we have even developed favorite ways to procrastinate.  These are not in any order, but they are effective.

1) Make a list of things I have to do … tomorrow and beyond
There’s nothing wrong with planning and organizing, but a whole lot of us spend a whole lot of time preparing to do things later instead of tackling the most important task at hand.

2) Go shopping at Ollie’s
This is a regional retailer that claims to have “good stuff cheap” and they do. They especially have aisles upon aisles of books at bargain prices.  I barely have the time to read the books piled next to my desk, so I really don’t need a new book.  Browzing Ollie’s treasures (I even go into the hardware aisles) is a wonderful way of putting off today what really needs to be done today.

3) Watching the ESPN “bottom line” for the game scores
It is slow and tedious, and I often let my mind drift and thereby miss the score I have been watching for. Besides, there are web sites that actually share the game in slightly delayed real time … pitch-by-pitch.  But you can consume of lot of time when you are trying to avoid something on the priority list that you find unpleasant or burdensome.

4) Retelling a life experience detail by detail to anyone who gives me a reason
This is my version of the popular TV show 24.  I can make the most trivial thing sound complicated and earth-shattering.  Generally this retelling is not a form of education or problem-solving but in “analyzing life” you think you’ve done something significant.  What you have done is delayed the inevitable or the essential to an even less opportune time.
5) Start reorganizing my office
This starts with sorting the papers piled on my desk, then repacking the boxes in which I store things, and then putting the things I don’t have a clue what to do with into a box that I have spent time emptying so I can put the new stuff into a box.  What do with I do with the stuff I just took out of the box? Waste more time figuring out what to do with it.

Others that I know have their own unique ways of procrastinate – some imaginative, some sort of dull; but all quite effective at putting off onerous obligations,  Here’s just a few:

1) Tweet every belch, observation, emotion, and brainless thought that comes into their mind
Unless, of course, it’s reading someone else’s tweets about the same topics.  You know there’s also a Facebook version of this procrastination technique.

2) Sleep
Need I say more?

3) Putter in their garden
Even if there’s nothing growing or it has already received a level of attention worthy of the Manhattan project
4) Emailing to all our friends every political comment ever made
With the upcoming primary  season no useful activity may get completed on time until after the November 2012 Election

(C) 2011 by Stephen Dunn

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This is a re-posting of my blog from February 28, 2010.  Jake is a little older now but suspect the observations are accurate.  This was one of the top 5 posts visited last week on LIFE MATTERS.

Jake is my grandson and is nearing his second birthday. We are quickly learning that he is quickly learning. He can clearly tell you when he wants you to leave and/or leave him alone. Jake already is an avid football fan.He has learned how to get his Daddy in trouble with his Mommy (or at least to try). He has a clearly defined taste in movies (Up and Wallee) He has mastered the speed dial on a cell phone (the 911 dispatcher can attest to that.) Jake even decided independently the other day that his Mom should call Grandma (He didn’t yet know the number. He’s brilliant but he hasn’t learned to read a phone book — yet.)

Jake has many good influences on his life. Christi and Tim are great parents. But Jake has got it all wired because he has a mentor – Talking Elmo. Elmo is a toddler’s equivalent to Yoda – full of simple, yet pithy thoughts – intended to shape a life.

The other day Jake did something that earned the ire of his mother. (He has also learned to be a nuisance.) When Christi reprimanded him somewhat sharply, Jake was nonplussed. He simply responded with something Elmo had taught him, “Mommy – BE NICE!”)

Never underestimate the power of a mentor.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011



I don't generally re-post on this particular blog but Andy .... has shared some timely thoughts on his blog The Journey because LIFE MATTERS and a Christian worldview is need to deal with real life.-Steve
A Revolution is beginning!  It's just like the mid-east revolutions we saw in the Spring of 2011.

Of Course, no one knows how long the revolution will last, or if in the end it will wind up like the hippies of the 60's or the students of Tienanmen Square.  We just don't know.  But I am confident this generation is ready for something like 'Occupy Wall Street.'

I've been working with teenagers and young adults for over 15 years now, and I've been watching as a generation slowly drift into the abyss of dis-connect.  They've been marginalized, told their work doesn't matter, and get in line and someday you'll get your due. 

They don't want to stand in line.
They don't want to pay their dues. 
They want to graduate college and start making $100K, because that's the lifestyle they're used to while living under the Boomer house.
This generation is different.
They think different.
They want to be taken serious for who they are.
They long for something; anything to belong to.
They want to connect.
They want real community.

They want a cause, ANY CAUSE.  Whether Tom's Shoes, or RED product, they want to contribute.
They know, after watching their parents succeed in business and be able to have comforts in life, they know it doesn't amount to happiness, but they don't want to do without the lifestyle they've had.

I've watched Harvard M.D.'s give their lives to the mission field, because they want their life to matter.

I've seen Cornell Ph.D's teach kindergarten, because they felt there was a plce for them to make a difference.

So many graduate students aren't climbing the corporate ladder because they see how long it takes to get to a place where you can actually put your fingerprint on the world.

The issue the media doesn't get, this isn't just 99% of homeless college students trying to make make a new system in America.  They could care less about a system.  This is a movement of people who see a chance to develop community around emotional needs of significance, somewhere they can say "I was there when," but they don't really know where there is.  They're not really concerned with the money, they want a place where they're lives can contribute to injustice they see in the world, whatever injustice looks like to them.

And this is where it gets dangerous.

I've heard so many pundits give their 2 cents about how they need a leader, they need a message, they need...they need...they need....It's all BULL.  They don't need any of that stuff.  They're participating in the end game.  They're living their purpose.  They're connecting with like minded people.  They feel the synergy of purpose.  They have a cause individually that doesn't really need to coincide with the needs of the group.  They don't need a finish line, the finish line IS IN the occupation.

Now, as the movement begins to grow, the charisma of a few will begin to drive the mass.  They'll have someone stand up and say, "Let's go march to Murdoch's house" and you'll hear a collective, "YEA...LETS DO THAT!"  Soon, it will be a common case of 'group think' and those of you who are living in the bulls eye, right in the sites, better get out of town.

When the town folk come to burn your house down, there's little you can do to stop them.  The Mob mentality is a real deal, and as the OWS movement gains steam, you don't have to think very far back in history to find....The French Revolution, The Bolshivic (sic) Revolution, or the Berlin Wall coming down.  I mean, come on, we watched 30 year dictators be thrown from the throne this last spring in Egypt.  You don't think that can't happen in America?  Watch.

High number of unemployment.
No sense of significance.
Dismall projections for the future.
A need to connect.
A purposeless generation longing for purpose.
Broken Government, unwilling to fix the problem for personal gain.
Economic bombs going off everyday from Greece to France to right on Main Street America.

It's like ingredients for an afternoon upside down cake....PERFECT STORM!

We've seen these kinds of revolutions throughout history, but none have had the systemic understanding of post modern truth.  I know that's not a very popular phrase among my secular friends, but when there's nothing at the center of a movement, and everyone accepts you being there for whatever reason you're there, it only takes a spark...and the fires will rage. 

After all, we were created for movement. The human race has always longed to be on the changing side of history.  I feel like the lack of moral true north, and the selfish entitlement of this one, might be a game changer.

Let's keep our eyes on this, and see how we can look at this movement through the lens of a Christian Worldview.  If we believe in God's sovereignty, something's going on here...
In anticipation...