Friday, July 24, 2015

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - TRADING DEADLINE

BY STEVE DUNN

People who follow my blogs, but especially my FACEBOOK page know that I am a diehard Detroit Tigers fan; as well as a lover of baseball in general.  It IS America's game no matter what the NFL and NASCAR try to proclaim.

There is one aspect of the "game" in America that I do not like.  Major League Baseball is a business.  I do understand that it needs to be a business and businesses must be profitable to survive' but the "fan" in me hates the reality of many baseball business decisions.

July 31st is the Major League trading deadline and between now and then, teams will begin to sell off or trade away "assets" (i.e., players) in order to to build for the future. That means they are basically writing off this season as a loss.  And teams who still believe they have a solid chance of winning are opening their pocketbooks and the doors of their minor league system (whose prospects reflect their long term future) to win today.

Last year my beloved Tigers were buyers--trading for 2013 Cy Young winner David Price--to win the "arms" race with their frequent post season opponent, the Oakland A's (who got Boston's John Lester on a one-year deal to match Detroit).  The Tigers didn't count on the Kansas City Royals, playing .500 ball at the Allstar Break going into overdrive to win the American League Championship.

 But as the Tigers, still awaiting the return of Miguel Cabrera from the DL, lost yet another game; it looks like Price may be gone (leaving only Sanchez as a starter who can win consistently).



In addition, Yoenes Cespedes (who the A's traded to Boston to get Lester), who had come to the Tigers to beef up what appeared to be a killer batting lineup, may also be gone-leaving only suddenly resurgent Ian Kinsler and home run king, JD Martinez (and Victor Martinez, if he can stop hitting into double plays) to hold the fort until Cabrera is back.



If these two go, even this diehard Tiger fan, may have to find someone else to root for unto October.

Arghhhh!!!!!!



Monday, July 13, 2015

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - ADRIFT WITHOUT A MORAL COMPASS

BY STEVE DUNN
It's the evening of the Fourth of July.  My wife and I have just finished watching A Capital Fourth a semi-tradition for us. Now we are watching a live fireworks show via another channel--a magnificent display over New York Harbor.  I have just heard the words sung of what is my favorite "patriotic" hymn by Samuel Frederick Smith.

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim's pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom's song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Our father's God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

I am glad to be an American . Besides it's sheer beauty, no nation on this earth has done more to proclaim the cause in the world nor sacrificed more to obtain or preserve the freedom of other peoples.  It has afforded me a place to live that allows me to worship and serve God in magnificent ways.  It has been a beacon of hope to the persecuted, oppressed, and disadvantaged of the world.
But I am concerned for my nation as well.  We have become a nation without a moral compass--and we are adrift in the seas of the dangerous times in which we live.

I am tolerant person but I have always understood tolerance as meaning respecting the right of another to be the person they believe their conscience requires them to be. Now tolerance means acceptance of who that is as being right, i.e. agreeing that there is nothing wrong with what they do or what they believe.

Our common social contract has come to be defined not by an objective standard of right and wrong to which we are all accountable. It is now defined by what political correctness declares to be the right thing today. And that standard of political correctness does not respect anyone's right to respectfully disagree.

There is much debate over whether or not we are a Christian nation or if we have ever been one. If you define Christian by the peculiar wedding of biblical morality with cultural convenience, then I would say we have had more of a civil religion than a biblical one. The Bible clearly stands against the materialistic greed that has been characterized as success, the enslavement of people of other races, the use of power that clearly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ, racial prejudice that spawned Jim Crow and the Klan. That list goes on.

Not all of our founding Fathers were Christians, but not all of them were the cynical secularists that the modern day secular liberal likes to claim. And it is clear from history that wherever they stood on the religious spectrum, they believed that those "inalienable rights" were to be grounded in the basic moral teachings of our Judeao-Christian roots,

William Penn wrote these words in the formative years of our nation: "Those who will not be governed by God, will be ruled by tyrants. "

But his are not the only words from our beginnings as a nation. From George Washington:
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
--The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

From John Adams, who signed the Declaration of Independence and served 2nd President of the US:
2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."
--Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.


John Hancock, the first of sign the Declaration of Independence:
"Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."
--History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

FOR MORE GO TO MARY FAIRCHILD

I pray that my nation, our nation, would once again claim its moral foundations so that we could truly insure the common good.
© 2015 by Stephen L Dunn
Permission is given to reprint this post as long as it is not included in material that is for sale, that it is reproduced in its entirety including the copyright notice, and that a link is provided to this blog.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - SAME SEX MARRIAGE - ONE MAN'S THOUGHTS




BY STEVE DUNN

On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court made a decision that is the equivalent of a moral earthquake.  They declared by a 5-4 vote that same sex marriage was a right protected by the Constitution of the United States.  It is an event that to many is a disastrous event for which our nation will further erode the already tenuous moral fabric of America.  But to many it is a moral victory affirming a way of life that they consider both healthy and desirable. I stand on the side of those who consider this decision to be a sign of our moral failure. The fact that the decision had the slimmest of majorities should give us a clue as to how unwise and potentially dangerous this decision may prove to be.

Most of us who pay careful attention to the moral character of our nation saw this one coming.  We also knew that there was nothing that we could do to stop it.  We are already praying for the impact of what we believe will be ultimately prove to be unwise.  Marriage, already an endangered institution, will not be strengthened.  I believe that many people and families and our nation itself will be hurt by this decision. I agree with Russell Moore, writing in The Washington Post: "The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep."  

I will not elaborate on all my reasons.  I suspect they would simply fuel what will become an even more nasty cultural debate.  For now it is the law of the land.  As a minister, nothing in the decision compels me to unite same sex couples.  Marriage in the US is still a civil matter as the law goes, and I would give up my professional right to preside over those unions rather to participate in a legal process that deprived me of the right to act in a manner consistent with my biblically-informed conscience.

In the meantime, I will continue to love my neighbor regardless of their sexual orientation.  I will treat them with gentleness and respect--which God commands me to do.  But I will continue to affirm that I believe that marriage is intended to be between a man and a  woman--and that to be healthy we must live by God's design for this institution.  And I will continue to teach that marriage is so sacred that it should involve the mutual submission under the love of Christ that makes such things as spousal abuse or abandonment or no-fault divorce something to be rejected in all ideas of marriage.

I will not engage in the falsehood of affirming a lifestyle that I believe to be contrary to God's design because loving and respecting someone does not mean that I agree and approve with everyone's personal decisions and values.  That's a destructive lie that political correctness would impose on all of us--a lie that often proves destructive to anyone that the guardians of political correctness deems to have less rights than the rest of the citizenry.

But let me repeat--I will not treat a lost battle in the culture war as an excuse to stop showing the unconditional love of the One who loves me conditionally to any person--straight or otherwise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

THERE IS HOPE ON THE HORIZON

Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park
BY STEVE DUNN

Christians are sometimes criticized as negative, judgmental, and living in the past.  They are often labeled as Bad News instead of the Good News they profess to be.  It is, as they say, a bum rap.

Christians do not casually nor naively see everything that is new or emerging as progress.  They readily recognize the shallowness and self-aggrandizement that accompanies many cultural fads and trends.  They do not support the narcissism that causes much of the world to withdraw from meaningful participation in the human community.

As such they are often voices crying in the wilderness--with others simply shouting back "shut up and don't disturb us."  And as Christianity becomes more and more a counter-cultural faith, that distinctiveness (and disturbance) will grow.

What too many people within our culture miss is that its heart, Christians are carrying a message of hope.  Consider these words from the Bible:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5.17)

 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

"...so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." -Titus 3:7

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."  - 2 Corinthians 4.16-18

And then, perhaps the most well-known and hope-filled: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3.16-17

I know that are some Christians that get it wrong--that believe judgment and condemnation are the message; but trust me, those of us who take the Bible seriously are not in the judgment business but the hope proclamation one.

Give us a chance to share.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A NEW SERENITY PRAYER

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.

Amen

Resposted from THE JESUIT POST   I believe James Martin, SJ is the author;

Monday, June 8, 2015

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS: AMAZING GRACE-WORDS TO LIVE BY

BY STEVE DUNN

In our performance-based, in your face, never let them see you sweat world--too often our both our position and success life depends on where you live, or Tex Sample says, "The wisdom in which you chose your parents."

Although I am not an irresponsible,"everyone owes me something" person that hides behind a victim status; I am grateful that my ultimate worth does not depend on me.  I depend on the One whose death and life and resurrection makes me worthy.

I resonate with and rest in the truth that the Apostle Paul spoke to the Church at Ephesus: "…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, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." - Ephesians 2.8-10

One of my favorite singing groups testifies to it as well:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS ON THURSDAY: THE HURRIEDER I GO






BY STEVE DUNN

It's Thursday. I should have written this on Monday.  After, it's my regular feature,
Monday Morning Reflections."  I'd like to think the days went by in a blaze of useful activity but they really disappeared in a haze of "whatever."  If I think hard enough I can account for the passage of time, but I am not sure if how I passed it was worth the consumption of those minutes, hours and days.  In fact, I have this frustrating sense that I have wasted those days.

I didn't know until today that Lewis Carroll is the author of this quote, but right now I am feeling that "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

So is my problem the lack of focus or the speed at which I live?

It seems that our culture is enamored with speed--and its partners: immediate, just do it, keep on trucking,  seize the moment--and their little sister, "whatever you do, don't fall behind."

At least once lately I have nearly been in accident.  Another driver (often with a cell phone in hand) does something unpredictable.  I have had to decide what to do in a split second;  I have been fortunate but if we had needed to split the second even more, the outcome might have been a disaster.

It's times like these that I am grateful that my life is in someone else's hands instead of mine.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.a
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

“Because heb loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”  Psalm 91.1-2,14-16

This doesn't mean I just let life carry me along in its currents, trusting in God to send a rescue party when I start to drown--but it does mean that in the rapid, often-unfocused days in this world; I better sure that I am hanging close to God.