Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Two icons died this week.  One was an icon of rock, the other an icon of repentance. Dick Clark died on April 18th and Chuck Colson three days later on April 21st.  Those of us growing up in the 50s and 60s were children of American Band Stand.  Rock music was coming of age. There was an innocence and joyous spirit to the music that captivated many a teenager and energized with a vigor for living.  Dick Clark was its originator and emcee and he became a wholesome and trusted friend. The Sixties were also the age of great political turmoil and disaffection.  Chuck Colson was a political operative for the Nixon White House. Colson's crimes and others in that administration gave America some of its darkest and most cynical political days. But while in prison Colson found both Christ and a moral compass.  After his release he became a voice for integrity in American culture, but more importantly helped found Prison Fellowship which continue to be an awesome effectively force for the rehabilitation of so much of our population that has inhabited our prisons.

Clark did more than make rock music a household word.  In emceeing American Bandstand for 30 years, Dick helped make it the music of adult generations.  In a world where acid rock and gangsta', Clark championed quality and positive, character-affirming music.  He helped shape a youth culture that had many good points in a troubled world. Dick was often called "America's Oldest Teenager." A quiet and unapologetic advocate of racial reconciliation, shortly after taking over American Bandstand, Clark also ended the show's all-white policy by featuring black artists such as Chuck Barry. In time blacks and whites performed on the same stage and studio seating was desegregated.

And then there was just plain fun. For many of us even now, he has made "watching the ball drop in Time Square a major cultural event."  I still switch to New Year's Rockin' Eve at 11:30 pm on December 31st.  We will miss you, Dick.

Chuck Colson made his fame by having all the wrong values and living out the worst of American political attitudes and behaviors.  He was sentenced along with the rest of the Watergate Seven to prison for obstruction of justice.  After his release from prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship which today is the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Colson worked to promote prisoner rehabilitation and reform of the prison system in the United States, citing his disdain for what he called the "lock 'em and leave 'em" warehousing approach to criminal justice. He helped to create prisons whose populations come from inmates who choose to participate in faith-based programs.  Colson became known for his bipartisan efforts to reform the American judicial system.

Sometimes vilified for his conservative religious, political, and cultural positions; no one can deny the hope brought to families of offenders through Project Angel Tree, through faith-based adoption of prisoners being released and then assisted to avoid the recidivism that continues to be rampant in our criminal justice system.

Having pastored churches affiliated with Prison Fellowship and taught social justice by our children being involved with offenders children through Angel Tree, I for one am thankful for who Colson became on this side of repentance.  We will miss you, too, Chuck.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Pat Summitt as stepped down as head coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team after 38 years.  To call her a "giant" is insignificant.  When she arrived at Tennesee women's basketball was barely in the back water of the sports world. She has won more NCAA title's (eight) than any woman, and more NCAA basketball games than any coach in history. But perhaps more significant is that 74 former players, coaches, team assistants, and student managers are now coaching from the NBA down to high school.  Her legacy is greater than that of Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski in this category.  Summitt was diagnosed last year with early onset Alzheimer's and coached one more season. Her strength, her courage, her focus were an inspiration to all.

Peyton Manning, perhaps the University of Tennessee's most famous son, issued this statement:

“Through the dedication and selflessness Pat Summitt has shown at the University of Tennessee, she has made an immeasurable impact both on and off the basketball court during her Hall of Fame career. The strength and perseverance that have defined her as a coach, mentor and role model were never more visible than through the incredible courage she displayed this past season. Without question, Pat is one of the strongest people I know. It is no surprise that she has not backed down from a challenge.

“I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Pat, and I am truly honored to call her a friend. I look forward to watching her continue to inspire others in her new role at the University of Tennessee.”

For more details read ... 

At 49 years, 151 days of age Jamie Moyer (once of the Phillies, now of the Colorado Rockies) became the oldest pitcher in modern history to win a baseball game.  Way to go Jamie. Us old guys still have hope.  I should have drafted you for my fantasy team.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



One of my great challenges as a pastor is to teach people how to make wise decisions.  Andy Stanley says the best question ever in terms of decision-making is the question, "Is it wise?"  Wisdom comes from God's Word and Stanley is telling us to ask, "Is my decision consist with what the Word of God tells on how to live?"

I find that people who even know what God says still have trouble embracing wisdom because it is not what they want to do. When I point out that there are moral laws that cannot be violated without consequences, they begin looking for a loophole.  Quite often they point to the laws of nature and what we have learned about human nature.  There they can sometimes point out to something that does not always work out the way you think.  So then they use that as an excuse to go ahead and do what they want.

"See, Pastor, there are exceptions."

My response, there appear to be exceptions (or variations) to the laws of nature and our knowledge of human nature; but the vast majority of the time it works the way those laws say they will.  Jump from a precipice and the law of gravity tells us we will plummet like a rock.  And if the fall is far enough, you'll break something or get killed.  The application, "Don't leap from a precipice. You will injure yourself.'

But because there have been a few people who survived falls without breaking anything, people say there is an exception which will then be their justification for leaping off a cliff.

My response, "Celebrate the exceptions, but live by the rules." 

But God's moral law gives us no loopholes. No exceptions.  For every transgression there is a consequence and unless God intervenes or picks up the pieces, we will suffer the consequences.

The wages of sin is death.  And death always collects its due.

(C) 2012 by Stephen L Dunn

Monday, April 9, 2012


This is my normal day to post Monday Morning Reflections.  It is generally my day to comment on our culture, political system, and the world.  That's not the direction that I want to travel.  In case you haven't read my profile, I am the pastor of a local church.  I have had plenty of opportunities and offers to do other things in ministry--some higher profile, some better paid; but many years I came to the understanding that God had called me to serve Him and help spread the Good News of the Kingdom leading a specific community of people to be the persons God created and redeemed them to be.

Last week was Holy Week and this year it was an unusually busy time, even for Holy Week. I taught two Bible studies and watched as men embraced God's Word and sought to make it real in their lives, (There was, of course, the chocolate peanut butter cake they consumed to celebrate Bubba Miller's birthday. Wednesday night I had the incomparable privilege of teaching our young people about Feetwashing, an ordinance of our church where we affirm humility and Christian servanthood.   It was a service that lasted more than 40 minutes because they were washing the feet of every person in the group who had blessed them and connected them to Jesus.

Traditional Maundy Thursday, a community Good Friday service; and, of course, the Easter Celebrations of the Resurrection.  I also had a fair amount of counseling and coaching people lead various ministries of the church.

Now it is over and most of the world shifts from Easter to the next holiday, which in the US means Memorial Day.  Today my staff and I are still celebrating Easter because our work is done and we can relax a bit and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10 ("I have come that they may have life to full.")

Easter Monday is not a holiday to just veg out and do something out of the ordinary.  For me it's a day for rest, to relax without feeling guilty, and to tell any parishioner who have already enjoyed their Easter to "make an appointment tomorrow. Call me if you are dying, but if you're dead, let it wait until Tuesday."
(Actually I wouldn't really say that, but I have thought it on more than one holiday or day off.)

My Easter Monday already has an agenda--getting my taxes read for filing before April 17th.  Trust me, there's been no time until now.  I had to render unto God before rending unto Caesar. There are some other things I could do, like putter around the yard, finish the novel I am reading. or take Dianne down to Havre de Grace to see the Bay.
(Unfortunately that would require money that Uncle Sam already has a claim upon.)

Nonetheless, I am going to enjoy the day because of one simple truth. He is alive and because He lives, I live also.  No longer slave to my sin, no longer afraid of death, but living with the peace that passes all understanding.  Fifty-three years ago at age eight I gave my life to Jesus Christ and as each Easter passes I live with an even deeper appreciation of what it means to let Christ live in and through me.
And I have a greater appreciation of that unconditional love  from which I shall never again be separated.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


This post was written by a friend of mine Tammie Gitt for her blog living3368. It is fitting post for Easter Sunday night - Steve

For the next 40 days, the risen Savior again walked with his disciples. He served them breakfast on the shores of Galilee. He talked with them as he had before the darkness of Calvary split their world and time itself in two.

Then, finally they came to the Mount of Olives – the place where the final journey began weeks ago when Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem to shouts of hosanna. Now, a much smaller group gathered around anxiously. Their questions lingered in the air as Jesus ascended into the clouds. Was it finally the time? Would Jesus now establish the kingdom of God on earth?
And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11 (ESV)
More than two thousand years later, the disciples’ question still lingers.


It screams above the roar of the hurricane.

It rumbles through the vibrations of the earthquake.

It flashes through the flames of the fire.

It crashes through the waves of the tsunami and howls above the wind of the tornado.

It whispers in the stillness of the intensive care unit and weeps at the graveside.

It waits in the darkness for the prodigal child.


Only the Father knows, and he has given this promise first to the disciples and now to us …
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 (ESV)
And, there’s the hope of a greater promise to come. No matter what happens in the fallen world there will be a day of no more tears, no more death, no more crying and no more pain. There will be a day when God is with us and we are with him. Because he has risen, we will rise.

In that day, those who once were heartbroken, the ones who were lame, the ones who were washed away in the tsunami’s flood and crushed in the earthquake’s rumble will gather around the throne of the Creator.

Countless voices will sing in countless languages to the one who brought healing from pain, life from death and peace from discord. Their voices will rise like the voices of angels to their deliverer, redeemer. Immanuel. God with us. Us with God. The lamb who was slain. The eternal one who stepped into time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The late Johnny Hart (1931-2007) was a brilliant cartoonist.  From his pen came B.C. and Hart was the co-creator of The Wizard of Id. Raised in a religiously-casual family, Hart became a committed Christian in 1977 while attending the Presbyterian Church in Nineveh NY. With a new found faith, Hart began to share that faith through his comic strip B.C., often arousing the ire of politically correct editors. His Easter strips in particular challenged the publishing world because of the accurate reflection of the truths of the Bible. Nonetheless, Hart's comic strip masterpieces have left an indelible mark of the "faith once delivered to the saints."  He is my all-time favorite artist and today, as we approach Easter, I want to share some of his memorable strips.

Friday, April 6, 2012


This post originally appeared in LIFE MATTERS Good Friday 2010

Reading: Mark 15:24

"and they crucified him ..."

Four words that bring us to a stark Judean hilltop called Golgotha.
Four words that bear a finality to the events of a week we now call holy.
Four words that only begin to describe the pain and the agony that was his death.
Four words that stab at our hearts ripping away any delusion of our righteousness.
Four words that describe full measure of God's love for a rebellious people.
Four words that haunt us with conviction whenever we belittle his amazing grace.
Four words ...

"and they crucified him ..."
Four words that change world history and our personal destiny.
Four words that build a bridge of reconciliation for people separated from God.
Four words that defy death to do its worst.
Four words that destroy the penalty or reigning sin.
Four words that cleanse the deepest sin in the darkest soul.
Four words that set the captive free.
Four words ...

(C) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I come from the stream of Christianity that continues to practice the service of Feetwashing.  This video explains in part why I believe it is a good expression of what Christianity is all about.


Major League Baseball begins today and I busy leading a church through Holy Week and getting my lineups ready for Fantasy Baseball so I thought I’d re-post something I first posted in August 2010.  Have fun. – STEVE

For years Christian publishers have been churning out books attempting to answer the question “What would Jesus do?”
The question has earned some barbs from comedians and scorn from non-Christians not because of the books but the marketing that piggy-backed on the question, marketing that runs the gamut from trivial to heretical (At the bottom of this blog post you will find one of those photos that has given me a good laugh; but I doubt entirely that God has a favorite team.)

Some humorist once said “Of course Jesus would play baseball. Haven’t you ever heard of Jesus Alou? (Jesus Alou was among many Hispanic players with this surname, a common practice in Latin countries. This Jesus played in the 60s and 70s for the Giants, Mets, Astros, and A’s).

The question is rooted in the fact that many people absolutely love baseball. It is a sport that gives them much joy. But it is also a sport that others disdain, or even consider a royal waste of time in a world where weighty matters need to be addressed. Who cares about the Cubs and their misfortunes when there is poverty in Haiti and terrorism in the Middle East?

Whenever I hear that, I just want to say “Lighten up.”

Of course, people are often far too hasty to invoke the reputation of Jesus to advance their prejudices or justify their petty hatreds. I have little doubt that what Jesus hates is little badges like this, or big causes that use His name for evil.

The truth is that the question is a valid one and for authentic Christians, an absolutely essential one. Not specifically “would Jesus play baseball” but the core value behind it. As Christians we are called to reflect the values of Jesus Christ in all the activities of our life and at all levels of our life. There are some things that clearly Jesus would not do – abuse a child, burn a cross in hatred, steal someone’s retirement fund, pass by on the other side when he saw a beggar in the street.

But there is a whole lot of life where the deeper question is, “would we do this as Jesus would do it?” Or “would Jesus even do this at all?” Would we do business in a manner inconsistent with the values of loving our neighbor? Would we support the porn industry? Would we abuse a fellow employee so we could get the job we wanted to have? Would we ignore our grandmother in the nursing home because we’d rather play golf?
Back to baseball, I doubt seriously that if Jesus were pitching that he’d throw a knockdown pitch in retaliation or use steroids to get an edge on every one else. He wouldn’t loaf up the line to first base either.

Christians understand that they are in the world to be salt and light, to influence and transform their world precisely by doing what Jesus would do. And for Christians there are no “time outs” when they can act like hell in a world that already knows enough hell.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16

There are probably enough books on the market answering the question “what would Jesus do?”, but the question never is trivial or irrelevant. Our world would be greatly blessed if we asked about our values, our activities, our professions, etc. “is this what Jesus would do?”

Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist.