Thursday, November 20, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING

BY STEVE DUNN

Seven days from now we will gather with loved ones or friends or strangers at the local soup kitchen to share a Thanksgiving meal.  Some will have to go over the river and through the woods, others will have to fight their way through airport terminals, some will simply go their church, and some, perhaps the wisest and (most generous?) will rearrange the furniture, bring in some folding chairs, and invite people into their dining room to share in this meal.

I am thankful that I live in a nation that has included in its calendar a day for us as a people to express our thanks for the blessings and bounty that we enjoy. Typically, we have spiced it with a binge of football to go along with the binging we will do at the table.  And now we have shortened it with shopping sprees that rival the military operations that overthrow petty dictators.  At least we still begin the day with parades.

All joking aside, thankfulness is the mark of a healthy person.  So much of the time our activities border on self-serving or self-aggrandizement, it is an important balance to be thankful for what you have and what you have received. And living in America, even those of us without much have a bounty of blessings compared to much of the rest of the world.

Those of us who  are Christians recognize that we are not self-made men. All that we have really comes from a God of grace who owns it all because He has created it all.  And it is His good pleasure to provide for those He has created and those He has redeemed --those that He loves.

So I hope that this Thanksgiving we will all pause and thank the One that blesses us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS: NO MORE

BY STEVE DUNN

 Football is working hard to combat a "bad boy" image. The recent highly publicized assault of Baltimore Ravens star, Ray Rice, has led to NFL players joining "NO MORE" Campaign giving the serious problem of domestic violence a platform.   Although we have a tendency at times to elevate athletes to a celebrity status that excuses bad behavior and encourages immature athletes to have a foolish sense of self-entitlement, it is always great when we see our athletes to use their celebrity to combat dangerous trends in our culture. This video is worth sharing again and again. Way to go NFL. Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry and Pop Warner would be proud.

Monday, November 17, 2014

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTION- MUSLIMS IN THE CATHEDRAL

BY STEVE DUNN

What I am about to say will cause some to pronounce me to be intolerant, a religious bigot. That would be untrue, but I feel I must speak a truth, nonetheless.

The National Cathedral in Washington last Friday was the site of an event that betrays its Christian purpose and identity. It sends a deeply confusing message that is already confused about anything "holy."


Let me note this report from the Associated Press:

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said the Muslim prayer service on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal church established under a charter granted by Congress more than 100 years ago, is “sad to see”  because the church should only open its door for  worship of “the One True God of the Bible.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Nov. 13, Rev. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said, “Tomorrow, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. -- one of the most prominent Episcopal churches in America -- will host a Muslim prayer service to Allah.”
graham
Facebook post by Rev. Franklin Graham, Nov. 13, 2014.

“It’s sad to see a church open its doors to the worship of anything other than the One True God of the Bible who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth to save us from our sins,” said Graham.  “Jesus was clear when He said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).”

Muslim prayer carpets will be laid out inside the cathedral facing east, towards Mecca,  for the prayer service. They will also be “to the side of the sanctuary,” reported Voice of America, so that worshippers will not see the crosses or Christian icons, because “Muslims are not supposed to pray in view of sacred symbols alien to their faith.”

According to Pew Research, Muslims represent about 0.6% of the U.S. adult population.

I cannot agree with Mr. Graham more.  Although it is a church that received a charter from Congress, it is still an Episcopal Church--and the last time I looked Episcopalians were still proudly proclaiming that "Jesus Christ is Lord."  The "rearrangement" of the sanctuary dedicated to the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to make it inoffensive to Muslim worshippers dishonors the One True God that Christians worship.

I cannot imagine a Grand Mosque in any city in the world allowing a pastor or a priest to celebrate the Lord's Supper within its walls, nonetheless proclaim "Jesus as our Savior and Lord."

There. Now I've said it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

THE SIGNS ARE THERE - BUT DO THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE SAYING?

It's time for SUNDAY AFTERNOON FUNNIES and a fresh batch of Church Signs - STEVE




Friday, November 14, 2014

WEBSIGHTINGS - GOSPEL CHIVALRY

Emma Scrivner is one of my favorite bloggers. A British Christian, her insights are international. Read below and you will see why.- STEVE

By  
female warrior
Ladies.  (How do you feel about being called ‘ladies?’ Would ‘women’ be better? Gosh, this is a minefield and I’m only on the first sentence…)

You’re standing on the bus.  A man taps you on the shoulder and offers you his seat.  Do you:

a.) kick him in the groin. How dare he patronise you – and in a public place?
b.) Politely decline.  You’re just as capable of him as standing.
c.) Say ‘thank-you’ and sit.  You feel a bit guilty, but it’s rude not to after he’s offered.
d.) Demand to know why he didn’t offer earlier.  Can’t he see that you’re a LADY?

Chivalry. Good – or bad?  Patronising – or inspirational? A remnant of a bygone era?  Or exactly what our culture needs?

I don’t have an answer.  But as with most things, I reckon it’s a question of definition. An excuse to keep us within limiting gender roles? Or something deeper? A way of loving – and protecting each other?
 
I’m torn.

I don’t need you to open the door for me, or spread your coat across a puddle.  But when you do, I quite like it. It makes me feel special.  But – uncomfortable too.

Are you putting me on a pedestal?  Do you expect me to be fragrant and gentle and burp roses?

Leaving aside the fact that I am actually half your size and carrying some extremely heavy cases – are you looking down on me?  Do you think I’m weaker or inferior to you?

Here’s something I’m beginning to suspect. Maybe my instinctive dislike of chivalry is less about how men see women. Maybe it’s about how see myself. Because actually, I don’t see myself either as an exquisite flower or as an amazonian warrior. I dislike both caricatures and would rather deflect the attention any way I can. It may be that my love-hate relationship with chivalry has less to do with misogyny and a whole lot more to do with masochism. So how should I handle that?

When we look at Jesus, we see the perfect Man: not just laying down His coat for his bride, but laying down His life. He shows us a gentleness and strength that goes beyond mere courtesy; a rejection of social norms for a deeper reality, where each person is valued – independent of their own worthiness. This is wonderful- but quite honestly, it’s something that I also find difficult to accept.
Jesus loves me more than I love myself.  He acts like I’m a princess, when I feel like a tramp.

Everything that He has He gives to me: because, in His eyes, I am unutterably lovely. I don’t understand it and I don’t deserve it. It breaks me and brings me to my knees. But it – He – brings me life.  And from the ruins of myself, I am remade into the woman I long to be.

What has this to do with giving up your seat on the bus? Nothing: but everything too.  A willing surrender of my rights.  A grateful acceptance of grace. A fragment of the gospel in the everyday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS EXTENDED: ELECTION ANALYSIS

USA Today continues to provide some of the best political commentary via its cartoons. - Steve