Sunday, May 26, 2013


by Steve Dunn

There are almost no words adequate to express what I am about to share.  About 3:00 pm local time on May 20th, a massive tornado that reached E4 status struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore OK.  It actually reached E5 status when it ripped through the Plaza Towers Elementary School nearing the end of its school day. Seven children, ages 8 and 9, died at that school as the dark column of destruction moved across Moore for a horrendous 41 minutes.  A second elementary school was struck but all of the children survived. In all 24 persons lost their lives in this community of 57,000 people.

Principal Amy Simpson walked the halls trying to get the children ready for the tornado's arrival with the intercom finally announcing, "It's here." And it was.  What came next was pure heroism.  "The teachers covered themselves in debris while they were covering their babies. And I believe that is why so many of us survived that day, because the teachers were able to act quickly, stay calm and take literally the weight of a wall onto their bodies to save those that were under them," said Simpson.

Then there's the story of Jennifer Doan, a third grade teacher. Later stories emerged of day care workers who stood by their charges as the storm struck--and who like those teachers, shielded their children from debris and calmed their fearful hearts until frantic parents could be reunited with them. This a great tragedy but once again we are reminded of people of character and commitment--this time teachers and daycare works, in the one case often much-maligned as they are blamed for the inadequacy of our youth and others, grossly underpaid for taking care of the nation's most precious treasure--it's children. I must echo the sentiment of a long time friend of mine, Kay Royer Cocklin, who posted this on Facebook: Asking you to say a special prayer for all teachers today. Teachers haven't gotten very good press over the last few years. But, in the words of one of the Oklahoma teachers that survived the Moore tornado, "Your child, is my child." That was always my feeling as a teacher, and it was also the feeling of 99% of those I have taught with throughout my 35 years in the classroom. Thank your child's teacher. They deserve it!!!" This story deserves more, and I will be writing further.

Saturday, May 25, 2013



One of the greatest joys of my life is writing.  If you follow this blog, you will know this is not my only joy; but it is one that creates an overflow of blessing for my life and through my life.  I do not write primarily because I think I have world-transforming profundity that society desperately needs to get its act straight or stave off moral annihilation.  (That is, however, the danger of blogging, editorializing, or occupying the desk of a talk radio guru.)  This quote probably describes best the reason that I write: 
'Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." -  Isaac Asimov

I write because God gave me a mind and I was taught literally from the time I could walk that it was necessary to use it.  My mother, God rest her soul, probably coined the phrase, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." (Not really, but she could have.) 

While still in early elementary school I was writing stories and comic books, along with some plays that our neighborhood theater troupe would perform before a crowd of one, a favorite teacher.  Later, of course, I would write academically; an absolute necessity for any college bound young person.

But even before I had graduated from college, I was writing a column for The Dickinsonian, my school's newspaper and articles for two church denominational publications, The Gem and The Church Advocate.  In the latter area, Dr. J.A. Parthemore, affectionately known as "Jack" was constantly fanning into flame what he believed was a gift--writing.

There's  a lot more to my writing resume, but that's not the point of this piece.  I write because I think. I firmly believe in the words of the Apostle Paul that life-transformation comes through the renewing of your  mind (Romans 12:1-2).  The ability to think in depth, reflectively, creatively, and consistently is part of what it means to be created in the image of God.

This does not mean that every thing I think is worth writing about.  Some thoughts are better left unshared and some thoughts are really thoughtless.  But for me, not to observe, not to reflect, not to process, and not to share - i.e., not to think -- is a dishonoring of one of the most precious gifts that God gives humanity.

A friend of mine, Doug Nolt, while a campus minister, kept a sign on his door: ""Jesus came to take away your sins, not your mind."  I believe that in part, my salvation comes from knowing the Truth that sets us free.  Knowing it and growing by an ever deepening understanding and application of it in  my life.

I now write primarily by computer--a blessing to me because my fingers type faster than I write.  And a blessing to my administrative assistants who declare I took handwriting from a medical school and probably graduated summa cum obscura.  But more importantly, I write because I think--and to be honest, what I learn, I love (and yes, at times, feel compelled) to share.  And when I write, I often write with this prayer in mind:

"Lord, help me to be the blessing I am blessed to be." (I learned that one from a profound Christian writer and teacher, Jill Briscoe).

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn

Reprint permission: You have permission to reprint for your ministry or repost as long as you do not alter the post and give credit to its author. An email note from you would be appreciated by the author and a link back to this blog is always appreciated

Friday, May 24, 2013



This morning at 1:07 am, the newest member of my family entered the world.  Her name is Abigail Marie Dunn and she was born to my son Chris and his wife Megan.  She is entering a high-powered family.  My son is one of the foremost web designers in the world today and my daughter-in-law, Doctor Megan Dunn is a professor of microbiology.  

My wife Dianne is poised to head to Indiana to help with new born as soon as Megan's mother finishes the first shift as grandmother-in-residence. When that happens, given the distance from Pennsylvania, I will not see Dianne for about three weeks unless I manage a trip that direction before an anticipated one in July.  This will be the third grandchild in the last five years for which she has provided this service, so I'm getting used to it.  Even at a distance of more than five hundred miles, Dianne has a very special place in all five of our grandchildren's hearts and lives.

I am eagerly awaiting newborn photos.  When Dianne travels, I will send my customary Tigger as a symbol of their grandpa's intention to encourage their joyful side of life.  I will leave the sterner stuff to Chris.

The best thing for Abby is that she is born into a family who  loves God, loves each other, and desires to make a difference of character in their world.  For this I am particularly thankful this day.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Jim Stanley is a long-time friend of mine, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, former news director, owner of a business that sells Civil War artifacts, the man who introduced me to Brennan Manning, and who is now studying for the Episcopal priesthood. He is also a gifted writer and a passionate baseball fan. A number of years ago he posted this note on Facebook and gave me permission to circulate it. In the height of baseball season, it's time to do so again. - STEVE
by Jim Stanley

   I'm a pretty loyal fan. Some friends consider me a diehard. A few offer sympathy to my wife as baseball season rolls around. They know I love my Chicago White Sox. And on those rare occasions when my first baseball love -- the Pittsburgh Pirates -- are playing the Cubs, you will inevitably find me watching WGN or Chicago Sports Net. I am the one guy cheering for Pittsburgh. The last dozen or so years, that's been like cheering for the lightly armed Belgians against Hitler's mighty war machine. Or like rooting for me, Jim Stanley, as I try to guard Michael Jordan or LeBron James in a game of one-on-one. But I remain loyal. I love the Pirates and I have since I was about three or four. It helped to grow up in Pittsburgh when they were actually good.

  And it was there, in that horrendously boring soup-bowl of a stadium, where I preached my first sermon. I don't recall the date. Must have been 1974 or 75. Dad had purchased three tickets to see the Pirates play the San Francisco Giants. We got to our seats and they were occupied. The usher looked at our tickets, then studied the squatter's tickets. Our tickets were valid. Their tickets were valid. We each had a right to them and they got there first. And then the usher made the foolish mistake of using a phrase my Father simply could not -- would not -- tolerate. "Sorry sir, but you're going to have to..."
Dad was a remarkably patient man when dealing with strangers and people in the service industry. But the phrase "you're going to have to" was just one he would not accept. (I am the same way!) He emphatically informed the usher that he wasn't going to have to do anything. Except maybe speak to someone in charge. And so down to the Pirate offices we went, deep in the bowels of Three Rivers Stadium. There, my father politely but very firmly stated his case. A rain check would not suffice. Whatever potentate Dad dealt with took pity on us and gave us other seats. Better seats. Right on the third base line, within earshot of the Giants' dugout and third base!

  As a Pirate fan, I would have preferred first base. But beggars can't be choosers. Besides, I reasoned, the Buccos would have plenty of runners on third for me to cheer on. And cheer, I did. Eight or nine years old, maybe ten, I screamed my melon off the whole game. My poor sister, about 23 or 24 at the time, must have been mortified. Particularly when I informed the Pirate third baseman, Richie Hebner, that my sister was single. Yes, I admit it. I was ready to pimp my sister out for a chance to meet Willie Stargell. (Richie smiled at her, I swear it. But nothing ever came of it.)

  Dad might have been embarassed or self-conscious. But I remember, years later, he told me "a stadium is one place where a kid ought to be able to scream at the top of his lungs." I have tried to remember that when I now get annoyed at ball games!

  As the game wore on, I noticed something that angered me. Pirate fans -- people with the caps and the jerseys and the big, foam fingers -- were boo'ing certain Pirate players. Richie Zisk and Al Oliver, to be specific. That made no sense to me. If the guy's in a slump, and they both were, wouldn't it be logical to cheer for them all the more? "He's a bum!" "Send him back to the minors!" It was sermon time. And I preached a two-parter at the top of my little lungs.

   The first time, (I can't remember which of the two was up. We'll say it was Zisk.) I stood up on my seat, turned around to the fans in our section and gave them what-for. I told them that REAL fans never boo their own team or their own players. TRUE fans cheer even harder when someone's having a hard time. And then, I prophesied. (An eight year old televangelist. Who knew?) "Just you watch", I said. "Just you wait! Zisk is gonna hit a homer." The other fans were amused. But hardly receptive.

  Guess what?

  Yep. Out of the park.

  As Zisk rounded third, I was screaming loud enough to wake the dead and scare away the walking undead. And fans around me were patting me on the back, saying, "Nice call, kid." "Way to go." Meanwhile, a surly-looking older man in a San Francisco Giants uniform stuck his head out of the dugout and looked into the stands.

  A couple innings later, it was Al Oliver's turn up. And, as he too was slumping, Al got treated to a chorus of raspberries and catcalls. "The guy's a retread!" "Whiffer!" I went straight into what I call "Moses coming down from Mount Sinai" mode. If had been more familiar with Biblical syntax, I might well have thundered, "You are a stiff-necked and rebellious people!" Instead, I repeated my earlier sermon about loyalty and fandom. This was Pittsburgh, after all. City of champions. Once again, I predicted a round-tripper. And yes, Mr. Oliver delivered a towering homerun. It was one that wound up making the difference in the game. I am certain I have never yelled quite so loudly since.
This time, the fans were buying beers for my Dad. Offering, anyway. They were talking about hoisting me on their shoulders and getting me season tickets. (I thought that was a swell idea. Dad seemed to feel attending school should take precedence.)

  And then, that crabby-looking old man from the Giants dugout climbed out of the dugout and scanned the crowd again. He looked, and looked, and finally...he identified me. (It wasn't hard.)
Now, I don't know about you. But I have always wondered if the players on the field can hear the fans. Particularly those of us in the first few rows. You never really know from watching on television. Evidently, they hear quite well. The "old man" was the Giants third base coach. I don't remember his name, sorry to say. But I remember his steely stare. He pointed at me. "Hey kid! Yeah, you! Get over here!!!" I wasn't terrified. I knew my Dad (to say nothing of an army of now-quite-happy Pirate fans) had my back.

  Dad gave me the nod and I padded down a couple steps to the rail. The coach handed me a baseball, one that (I was certain!) had just been fouled into the dugout by none other than the great Willie Stargell. He looked at me, smiled broadly, and said, "Here kid. Now SHUT UP. You're killin' us!" He winked at my Dad and went back into the dugout. I still have the ball. (And sorry, but I didn't shut up. Though I am sure you're hardly surprised.)

  For years, I remembered the story because it made me smile. A big shot noticed me, a little kid. And he gave me something special. But as I have aged, something else has become real to me about the story. I've been in more than my share of slumps. Like Al Oliver. Or Richie Zisk. Nothing has picked me up more, given me greater strength or helped me back onto the field like those of you who are in my cheering section. Especially those of you who cheer loudest when I am slumping most profoundly.

  I hope I cheer for you, too. At least as loudly as for Al Oliver and Richie Zisk. Because I know it. I just know it in my bones. You're going to knock one out of the park. I believe in you. And if you ever need a reminder, you know where to find me. I'm the kid in the Pirate jersey, who smells of peanuts and is yelling at the top of his lungs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Watching American Idol this evening and who should appear?--an American idol before there was an Idol.  Frankie Valli.  Have a  little fun with me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


This video was shown today at the Southpoint Church in Miamisburg OH. One of my accountability partners from earlier in my life shared this on Facebook. It contains a powerful message to anyone who believes that our lives matter to God. - STEVE

Saturday, May 11, 2013


  This post comes from a blogger that I read regularly-Michael K. Reynolds REAL LIFE.REAL GOD.  I thought I'd share it with you in honor of all mothers. - STEVE

With Mothers Day here and Fathers Day approaching it’s time to bring up the age-old question: Does God love Moms more?

I am the son of an inspiring Mom, the husband of another, and the father of three daughters–not to mention the owner of one female yellow lab. So you couldn’t be faulted for worrying that this post is merely a prepared statement read by a man in a hostage situation.

But after careful and prayerful consideration, I am telling you the truth: God loves Moms more.

While us ol’ boys are out there attempting to slay paper dragons, climbing ladders to nowhere and bringing home the Bacon Bits, Mom was busy storing her treasures in Heaven.

Let’s face it, if Jesus would have driven a car, it would have been a minivan smelling of soccer socks and sour milk, with squashed Fruit Loops on the carpet and a bumper sticker saying, “My Kids Are Redeemed.”

Don’t believe me?

When God explains the greatness of his comforting touch, he uses Mom as the role model:
12 For this is what the Lord says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
   and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
   and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
   so will I comfort you;
   and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 66:12-13

He also compares motherhood to purity:
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:1-3

Our world seems to devalue the contribution of baby stroller pushers in our society, but not so with the Lord of the Universe. Instead, you could say He is rather defensive about the importance of Mom’s duties.
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10: 13-16

He goes on to assert the similarities between childbirth and salvation:
21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
John 16:21

And what greater love is there for a woman to lay her life down for another…and another. Have you ever considered the profound miracle of motherhood? The moment that child arrives, its life becomes more important to a mother than her own.

Yet, the days of labor have only begun. Just like Jesus, she becomes Rabbi to her children.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31: 26

When necessary, she isn’t shy about laying down some Godly wrath. Armed with her wooden spoon and pointed finger, she takes the upbringing of her children with utmost responsibility.
15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
    but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
Proverbs 29:15

Despite bad hair days, barf towels on her shoulder and an apron around her waist, Mom is always at the pinnacle of haute couture:
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
Proverbs 31:25

Her love is everlasting and endures, even when Mom’s teenagers make her park a block away when dropping them off at school. She loves their beautiful eyes, even when they are rolling at her, and doesn’t get offended when her brilliant speeches are always responded to with a  ”Whatever”. Mom’s steadfast with her older boys even though they never call. And when they finally do, she forgives them immediately and says, “I was just thinking about you.”

What does God think about Mom? He thinks she is royalty:
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31: 27-29

The world’s greatest evangelists? Paul knows who to thank for the faith of his protégé Timothy:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5

Courageous? While the great Apostle Peter was cowering in the crowd, Jesus’s Mom stood faithfully at His side, while they beat him and tore his clothes. And when He was about to die on the cross, the Son of God’s great concern was making sure Mom was in good hands:
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
John 19:25-27

Who is the greatest of all? When his disciples wanted to know who among them was the most important here was Jesus’s response:
36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:36

Raising children? It’s a divine task and no one does it better than Moms.
Of course, God did say David was a “man after His own heart” and he was awfully fond of Father Abraham. So can we really say God loves Moms more?

Yes. There. I did it.

Because I’m positive that when we arrive in Heaven, the streets of gold will be filled with Soccer Moms.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. (Your card is in the mail.)