Tuesday, April 30, 2013



This week I am attending the annual sessions of my ecclesiastical home, the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God. No time to write but I am posting these random thoughts inviting your reflection and response.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


From the ever hilarious Christian comedian Tim Hawkins comes a video that Dianne and I laughed and laughed at.

Monday, April 22, 2013



This was the most awesome picture that I saw on the web this week. This was taken during the lockdown in Watertown MA as police were tracking down the terrorists who appear to have been the perpetrators of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  A family with two young children confined in the manhunt cordon ran out of milk.  I am sure that these young children had no real sense of the history going on around them nor the gravity of the situation.  In the midst of all of this, a police officer took the time to make a milk delivery.  He helped a family manage a small crisis being played against the backdrop of a community crisis. Hero!

I don't know about you, but I for one needed this story. I have already sifted through the first stories about the Chechen brothers who are accused of this crime.  Lots of time has already been spent sifting out the tragic details.  The perpetrators will get more air time and head line space than the many public persons, good neighbors and sorrowing families in Boston.

But neither psychological analysis nor heightened security can avert these human tragedies.  It is the nature of our fallen world, where we live daily in the presence of sin, that evil occurs.  And until we let God have a place in a world and allow Him transform us into the people of peace that He created us to be, there will be more lost souls perpetrating crimes against their neighbors, creating collateral damage that horrifies us for a time and stirs politicians; but does not help us live more confidently.

What we need first is a little hope.  And news organizations and  politicians need to lift up the hope that is brought to the surface by the people who quietly go about being instruments of peace and agents of hope even when all hell is breaking loose.

The Christian faith reminds of the vital nature of hope.  These verses come to mind:

 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." - Romans 5.5

" ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40.31

The first verse speaks to the hope that we have because we know nothing can separate us from the love of God.  That love sustains and strengthens and helps us keep on keeping on in a world such as ours.

The second verse reminds us that armed with this hope we will be able to rise above everything that comes our way and still be the people of dignity and integrity and grace that God created us to be.  We need not sink in the mire when we have God working in and through us.

It reminds of the story Corrie ten Boom told after the hell that was a concentration camp,.  Her sister Betsy was dying, a victim of that brutality.  But Betsy was a woman of hope who knew that this world was not all there was.  She told her sister, "You must survive.  You  must survive and tell them that there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper."

In this time, we need the hope of God--not to deliver us from every tragedy, but to help us rise above the tragedy that inhabits life in a fallen world and thrive in Christ.

Friday, April 19, 2013



It's Friday, about six o'clock.  It's raining.  The sun is still shining. about two hours ago darker clouds rolled across the mountains into our part of the Cumberland Valley.  First sun showers, but now a steady, cool rain.  My land lady and her father mowed earlier in the afternoon so already God is setting us up for next week's mowing, which I will be doing. 

Enjoyed a late lunch this afternoon at my house with my father and sister.  My Dad has been rehabbing in a nursing home for more than five weeks, getting stir crazy and a little ouchy.  My sister busted him out and Di and I threw together a celebratory lunch.

Except for a couple of errands and some picking up around the house, I didn't do much at all today.  Oh yes, swept the leaves and tree buds out of our carport.  That carport seems to be at the end of a wind tunnel that starts across the street in the neighborhood common area and ends directly against the back wall.

Sound boring.  Since my land lady mowed the lawn, I did nothing that was necessary.

That's really what makes it a Sabbath.  "And on the seventh day He rested from all His labors."

You know who I am talking about - the I AM, the Lord of all the Universe, it's Creator.  My Father God.

If anyone's work was necessary, it was His.  Yet He set aside a day to rest.  He did all that was necessary on the first six.  The only necessity on the seventh was to rest and enjoy the fruit of His labors.

 Really enjoying the rain.  Just listening to it fall.  Feeling its cold splashes carried by the breeze onto my face.  Not in a hurry for it to end.

Sometimes I get busier than any human being was ever intended to be.  I get on that tread mill and run, Steve, run.  When I am so engaged I sometimes miss the cool rain that blesses an afternoon--or at best, I see it as a nuisance.

Not so today.  It's Sabbath.  Thank You, Lord.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013



Our hearts are deeply troubled by the tragic events perpetrated yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Three people dead and 141 injured by a person or group who has yet to claim responsibility.  Police did search the home of a potential lead this morning but there is already speculation that this attack was motivated by Middle Eastern terrorist as was the attacks of September 11, 2001. Read more ...  This is a grim reminder that people in a free society cannot be totally protected from those who carry their hatred to such extremes.

I had been preparing a post about the beginning of the Major League Baseball season  That became quite unimportant when this news broke.  Instead I shared these observations with my congregation here in Shippensburg:

"We are reminded this morning of the evil that persists in this country.  The bombings in Boston brought tragedy into what is generally a celebration of the best of the human spirit.  But the haters of this world have little regard for the collateral damage they create and reveal by their actions that human life is worthless.  But we profess that life matters—and that life matters to God.  People are not to be cast off and destroyed simply because we have a cause or an issue.  We are called first to love our God with every ounce of our being and to express that love by loving our neighbor.  Pray for the victims and their families in Boston, and pray that the haters of this world will repent."

Some would consider my prayer for the haters to be naive.  Most would pray that such persons simply rot in hell after being blown away by a Seal Team.  But we must pray.  Unless there is a transformation of the human heart from the darkness that so often defines it to the love of neighhbor that God is calling all of us to embody, the haters will still keeping hating and producing more haters and more of our neighbors will have their lives ripped apart.

Life matters and life matters to God and only transformation through Christ can end the madness of hatred and violence that sin harvests from our unchanged human hearts.

(C) 2013 by STEPHEN L DUNN

Monday, April 8, 2013



Rick and Kay Warren have suffered a terrible tragedy in their life.  Friday their 27-year old son Matthew took his life "in a momentary wave of despair."  Matthew had struggled with deep depression, suicidal thoughts, and mental illness most of his life.  It had not been overcome by counseling, medication, consultation with top doctors, and mountains of prayer.  Warren wrote to his Saddleback congregation: ""this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life ...I'll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said 'Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?' "

The Warrens are not the only family including Christian families who have seen a battle lost with mental illness in such a troubling way.  Even people who proclaim hope and live by hope know that in this fallen world despair can gain a foothold and in a moment of desperation destroy a precious life.

Rick and Kay have lived a high profile life as Christian leaders and along the way have gained some incredible "haters."  From persons who have been incensed by their opposition to gay marriage, to Christians who have been offended by their willingness to show compassion even when it required rubbing elbows with persons of the Islamic faith, to other Christians who considered Rick's teaching in THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE to be heretical--Rick and Kay have been buffeted over and over for their faith and ministry.

And in the midst of this tragedy, it did not take long for their "haters" to grab the airwaves and  hit the digital highways to pour contempt upon them.  Atheists who see this as a triumph against people who believe in God, gay rights supporters who see this an occasion to attack their moral character; and worst of all, so-called Christians who among other things have taken the opportunity to pronounce that suicidal Matthew is now enduring the flames of hell.

USA TODAY   has published a report on this vitriol that describes in some part what I cannot dignify in this blog with repeating.  But for those Christians who have chosen to beat the "digital tom-toms" to pronounce judgment on the Warrens, I must agree with blogger Todd Rhoades: "There are many people that I don’t agree with.  Especially theologically.But to go after them, personally, at such a time as this is overtly unchristian. This heartless, vitriolic, self-righteous rhetoric is about as far from Christlikeness as you can get."

Better the words of Christian evangelist Greg Laurie: "At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word. There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel."

Today I offer this prayer for Rick and Kay and their family and church:  "Lord, you walk with us in all times and especially in the valley of the shadow of death.  Nothing separates us from that love and we are sure that You share the heartbreak of the Warren family.  Comfort them with the knowledge that You will never leave them nor forsake them. Remind them that the voices of hate speak for Satan, not for You. And Your voice is the only One that matters.  And we would dare to pray, Lord, You know the heart of Matthew and we pray that You have seen a heart of one who tried to do your work even as he struggled with his own illness and inner demons. Hold him close in Your love.  In Jesus name. Amen."