Monday, April 4, 2016

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - PLAY BALL, FINALLY

BY STEVE DUNN


It was 36 degrees in Pittsburgh when the 2016 MLB season officially began Sunday afternoon.  If I had been closer, I would have welcomed the opportunity to be a semi-popsicle in the sunshine at Three Rivers.  As it was, I watched it from the warm comfort of my living room on my computer screen. Like millions of Americans, joy had returned to Mudville.  The baseball season was underway.

I have LOVED baseball since a child, a love that was multiplied when my Great Uncle Ernie Watkins would take us to the nosebleed seats of old Crosley Field to watch the Cincinnati Reds in play.  Playing it as a kid and coaching added to my love of the game.  And when living in northwest Ohio I discovered WJR in Detroit and Ernie Harwell, I was hooked on the Detroit Tigers  for life.  In high school, I still remember teachers who "cancelled" classes to allow us to watch the World Series.  

And I remember the joy of watching my Tigers take down the vaunted Bob Gibson and the St. Louis for the World Series.  That joy was repeated in 1983 when The Tigers led their division wire-to-wire, from opening day and every day thereafter, culminating in the World Series championship against San Diego. This had not been done in the major leagues since the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers.  With that win Sparky Anderson became the first manager to win the World Series in both leagues.

I started playing Fantasy Baseball in 2007 and have had a few winners along the way.  In 2012, the house I was renting was connected  with Direct TV and MLB Baseball, a service I have kept since as my daily thirst for baseball is fed by a plethora of baseball shows and games--and the sleepless nights redeemed by  Quick Pitch. Heidi Whatney and her crew.

My Tigers collapsed last year, a collapse hastened when the general manager sold or traded the heart of the pitching staff and the explosive Yolando Cespedes.

But already MLB is predicting that my Tigers have a chance to reclaim the AL Central and some have suggested that will represent the AL in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.  

I am ready,  Play Ball Already!



Sunday, March 27, 2016

GOOD RISING

 I first published this post on LIFE MATTERS Easter 2011. It remains one of my favorites to this day.-STEVE

 BY STEVE DUNN

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.”

(C) 2011 by Stephen L. Dunn

Sunday, March 20, 2016

AS WE ENTER HOLY WEEK

As we begin Holy Week, I simply want to share a piece of worship music from this morning's service at the Chambersburg First Church of God that anchors my heart. - Steve


Saturday, February 6, 2016

SUPER BOWL

BY STEVE DUNN


It's 6.16 Saturday night in southcentral Pennsylvania where I live.  24 hours and 14 minutes until the big game begins--the 50th Super Bowl.  From my perspective, two nicer teams couldn't be representing their respective conferences.  I have long been a fan of Peyton Manning since his Indianapolis Colt days.  Not only for is legendary on-field accomplishments but his equally admirable legacy as a man of benevolence towards the children of his community.  But Cam Newton has brought a delightful spirit to what has long been a struggling Carolina Panthers and his reputation of generosity to the fans, especially young ones. (It also helped the Cam made my fantasy football team a winner this year.)  Two class acts as far as I am concerned.

 With Manning injured much of the season, Denver struggled this season. Reeling off seven straight win, the Broncos lost four of their next seven.  But two victories at the end of the regular season, they held onto home field advantage and knocked off perennial playoff opponents-Pittsburgh and New England.

Newton and the Panthers ran off an incredible 15 straight wins before stumbling to the Atlanta Falcons in week 16, but regaining the momentum--winning their final regular season game against Tampa Bay.  Then they breezed throughout the NFC championships including a decisive win against he Arizona Cardinals.

Friday the kids in my history class (Koreans studying in the US) asked who would win.  I hedged.  The Broncos had the no. 1 team defense in the NFL and the Panthers no. 1 in NFL
in points scored per game.

Lately, like many I have watched the Super Bowl as much for the commercials as anything (and they have been very disappointing lately).  But this year, I am definitely it for THE GAME.

My unscientific, sentimental prediction - BRONCOS by 3.  (I really want to see Peyton appear again at the post-game pres conference with his son.)  But Cam WILL be a lot of fun to watch.



Monday, January 25, 2016

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - WE DESERVE BETTER

BY STEVE DUNN

Just a day until the Iowa caucases.  The rhetoric is ratcheting up as two close races see the front-runners either feeling the heat and/or sensing blood in the water. The lies, innuendos, half truths, etc. crowd even sensible debate to the back pages.  My heart is heavy lately as I watch the nominating process unfold here in my country.  Even more than in previous years there is a de-volution in the quality and character of the candidates that Americans seem drawn to.  

Donald Trump has once again made shocking comments on his campaign trail, this time alleging that his supporters are so devoted to him that they would still vote for him even if he were to shoot someone.


“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa. “It’s, like, incredible.”

“My people are so smart,” he says in the clip. “They say I have the most loyal people.”

Trump’s comment is being labeled highly insensitive in light of the heated nationwide arguments over gun control. He also referred to fellow Republican candidates as “soft,” criticizing their small numbers of supporters.

He has ridiculed Muslims, women, even the fact that President Obama was watching Star Wars. {By the way, I went to see the latest movie and it was simply Space Cowboy fun.)
So often he campaigns by insult, dismissive opinions, and outrageous remarks that make normal insensitivity appear tame.



Two weeks ago, a young pastor friend of mine whose church is making a significant difference in a community that has been buffeted by the waves of crime, economic distress, and racial biases, posted this on Facebook.  Andrew Thomas Draper wrote:

"Over the past few months, I have watched Donald Trump publicly mock a person with disabilities, call Mexican immigrants "rapists," propose that an entire religion of 1.6 billion people be kept out of this country, have a campaign opener of young girls in skimpy USA dresses singing about destroying people with our military, say that two non-white politicians aren't natural born citizens, call black people in Baltimore "thugs," and refer to women by their body parts. 

I haven't made public comments about this because I thought this was all a joke and that it would blow over soon. I thought that certainly no reasonable person would ever take this man seriously. Now he is up 13 points in the polls with 3 weeks until the primaries.
Let me make this clear: I honestly believe that most of Trump's appeal is that many who have been holding their racist thoughts inside now think it's OK to let it all out. I do not think that everyone who supports Trump is motivated by racist ideology. I think there can be good reasons to be conservative. However, I have read countless accounts of racist rhetoric down through the years (my PhD dissertation was a historical theological study of race issues) and what Trump and his supporters are saying is mean and hurtful. Trump is not a hero standing up to political correctness; he is fanning the flames of hatred for his own political gain. 

I am deeply saddened tonight. I thought we as a nation had healed from a lot of these wounds. Please, this is not a joke anymore.



A friend of mine, Don Dennison, posted this observation of the popularity of men like Donald Trump.

"People want good leadership--an ability to work with others and get things done in the most efficient and effective manner. It is interesting during this current presidential campaign cycle that the leading voices have been "outsiders." Neither Trump, Cruz, nor Sanders are the darlings of their party leadership. So why have these outspoken outsiders gained so much traction? It appears that FRUSTRATION and FEAR have pushed the electorate to give up on the established politician who has demonstrated either an unwillingness or inability to get things done.


People are frustrated...that problems are not getting fixed. Out-of-control spending continues and escalates the national debt despite which party is in charge. Current laws are not being enforced. Campaign promises are soon forgotten once past the election. People are tired of trusting only to be betrayed again.

People are fearful...that their government is not adequately protecting their rights or their borders. Violent crime is growing unabated, and terrorism is an existential threat to our survival. The economic outlook is bleak--unless you're a politician or lobbyist.

It's no wonder that "outsiders" have appeared more attractive to potential voters this season. If the rationale is: "what have we got to lose?", the possible answer is "plenty!"

For me, most Presidential election choices comes down to "the lesser of two evils." That option has become even more apparent this year. But I do not want to make my selection on the basis of such negatives as "frustration" and "fear." We deserve better!"

I do not consider Hilary Clinton a good choice for America.


With the Iowa caucuses now just a few days away, I have this reflection—coming from one who has been a registered Republican for 43 years.  The Republicans can surely do better.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - THE TYRANNY OF THE TRIVIAL

BY STEVE DUNN

I am a person who generally shuns New Year's Resolutions.  They tend to be more exercises in wishful thinking than commitments to life change.  Long lists of resolutions are the worst because they clutter our minds and overwhelm us in options that quickly reduce us to inaction.

If I were going to make a resolution, however, this would be it: that I never get so consumed with the trivial that I miss the beautiful and that which is eternal.  As I enter the year of my 65th birthday, I find myself too often consumed with the trivial.  My time, energy and attention can be exhausted so much with that which does not bear fruit--like one more TV show or playing more game on my Kindle or checking the morning weather report or deciding what to take out of the refrigerator to snack on or worrying over that which I cannot control of asking why about questions that really have no answer.

I wonder how many sunsets I miss or God-sightings I do not see.  I wonder how many opportunities to love my neighbor that are never spotted on my radar.  I wonder how many times I experience love that I simply take for granted.  

I wonder how often I get angry over anthills instead of helping move mountains.  I wonder how much of my prayers are about what I want instead of thanking God for what He has done for me.

I wonder.

In 2016 my prayer is that I will break free of the tyranny of the trivial and enjoy the beauty of the eternal.

" Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4.8-9


© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com 


Friday, January 1, 2016

CELEBRATING TWO PEOPLE I LOVE

BY STEVE DUNN

My mother was a beautiful woman - both physically and spiritually.  If she was still living, today would be the 66th wedding anniversary of Marilyn Reames and A. Gail Dunn.  My mother died in 2000 of cancer, just a few months past their 50th wedding anniversary.

They were married on New Year's Day in the just completed chapel of the new College First of God by their pastor, Dr. Darrell Linder.  Both were students at my denomination's school Findlay College.  Gail, a native of Columbia City IN was a history major and a cheerleader, a year younger than Marilyn.  He also sang in a quartet called The Gospel Five and was preparing for the ministry.  Marilyn was ultimately training to become a medical technician.  A high school beauty and a member of the College Choir, she came from Zanesfield, Ohio-the daughter of a nominally Christian family that was attending a Friends Meeting when she enrolled in college.  The first time Dad saw Mom, the very first time, he said, "I am going to marry her."

My paternal grandparents, TA and Mary Ruth Dunn, were very excited about their beautiful new daughter-in-law; especially she since was a warm, outgoing, and mature Christian.  Her parents did not attend the wedding.  My maternal grandmother, Wynona Reames thought her daughter could have done better than being married to a preacher.  I suspect her husband Robert, who came from a staunchly Methodist family didn't share her opinion, but Grandma won most arguments in their family.  For the record, a few weeks later, she changed her mind and they showed up at the newlyweds humble lodgings (remember they were both college students) with wedding presents and kisses.  Over the years she came to love my Dad, especially since he loved her only daughter.  (My strong-willed grandmother, however, always insisted on picking up the check.)

A year later Mom dropped out of college to have me.  Dad graduated and was ordained to the ministry of the then Churches of God in North America.  My mother was a stay-at-home Mom
as they had three more children.  After the youngest, Mark, was born. she went back to college earning her degree in medical technology and enduring the trampoline in gym class, graduating 17 years later as the oldest member of  her class.

Mom and Dad always went to lunch on their anniversary, a tough task since it was New Year's Day and many restaurants were closed.  Their favorite was the Embers in Carlisle PA.   The first anniversary that Dianne and I enjoyed we went to the Embers, a high class place for college students. Yes, we got married in college, too but Dianne managed to graduate 10 days before our first child was born.

Gail and Marilyn were devoted to one another.  And they passed that devotion to one another in marriage--and a devotion to Jesus Christ, that inspired many.  Later, when Dad became the conference superintendent, they made a ministry of inviting clergy couples to their home for dinner, fellowship and encouragement.  To this day, I continue to meet pastoral couples who consider the ministry Marilyn and Gail provided to them one of the best blessings God had bestowed on them.

I thought celebrating them, especially because of their New Year's Day wedding, would be my most appropriate first blog post of the New Year.  Better them than the celebs and pols and villains that will occupy center stage in the broader world.



© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com