BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

Published January 26, 2014 by sdunnpastor

1509758_195621363963931_11133830_nBY STEVE DUNN

“… be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18a

      We often make statements that to others appear as self-deluding.  When I was growing up, such statements were greeted with the comment, “You are full of it.” (We will have to stop there because the etymology of that expression refers to something very nasty that you are full of.) But for Christians, being full of something refers to being filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

     Some Christian groups use this command as a code word for a specific kind of religious experience or as a litmus test of a certain type of Christianity that they believe to be superior to all other forms of Christianity.  I tend to disagree with both usages but that is a theological issue beyond the scope of what I want to say today

     We fill our lives with many things — jobs, family, and even religion.  All in pursuit of happiness or fulfillment or meaning.  But those things are often delusions because they are expressions of a delusional belief that say, “It’s all about me.”  For too many our highest aim is self-satisfaction not significance.  We believe our lives have meaning when we get to be who we want to be.

     Such an attitude ultimately requires us  to ignore our neighbor, be indifferent to our community, and abandon any true responsibility for our world.

      The one true antidote to this outcome is not saturate our lives with self but to let the Spirit indwell us shaping us and empowering us to be people whose lives are immeasurably and whose impact brings God’s wholeness to all.

(C) 2014 by Stephen L Dunn

GOD DOESN’T WANT RESOLUTIONS–HE WANTS RENEWAL

Published December 30, 2013 by sdunnpastor

This post first appeared in my blog LIFE MATTERS January xx 200,  I thought it bore reposting. – STEVE

GOD DOESN’T WANT RESOLUTIONS-HE WANTS RENEWAL

 



Henry and Richard Blackaby have written:
“Jesus does not need your resolutions, your recommitments, or your promises to try harder … if you really love Him, your service for Him in the new year will
be of the quality He desires.”

My “my new year” began around 3:30 this morning. I wasn’t up particularly late New Year’s Eve and normally this is when I awaken and begin my day. Not too many others are up at that hour and I try not to make too much noise lest I disturb my wife, who sleeps until at least 8:30-9:00 am if she can help it. So I went to Facebook to get caught up on friends around the country.

Typically, New Year’s Resolutions was the theme for the first day of the year. There were a number of offerings, but none more extensive nor more creative than that of my brother-in-law Bosie Martin of Columbia, South Carolina. Among his resolutions:

HEALTH —-
* Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
* Make time to pray.

PERSONALITY —-
* Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
* Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
* Dream more while you’re awake.

SOCIETY —-
* Each day give something good to others.
* Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Keep in touch.

LIFE —-
* Do the right thing!
* Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
* When you wake alive in the morning, thank God for it!

A lot of wisdom there and I suspect, a good pattern by which to live in 2010. But in my morning quiet time, I came across the above comment from the Blackabys based on Jesus’ question to Simon Peter, following Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Having basically blown it, Peter was given a chance to start over (sort of like a new year) and Jesus asked “Do you love me?” Actually it became three questions boiling down to essentially this, “Do you love me more than anything else?” In each case Peter answered in the affirmative, and in each case Jesus said “Care for my people, take care of those I love and care for.”

We all make resolutions–and most of us break them or forget them within weeks of making them. Usually the more complicated, the more likely they are to fail. So perhaps the best way to sum up our strategy for the new opportunities of a new year is simply “to serve one another out of the love of Christ” and see what results.

 

AS WE PREPARE FOR THE NATIVITY

Published December 3, 2013 by sdunnpastor

This Sunday I am continuing the series, ‘Voices of the First Christmas” with a message about Joseph and Mary, “Servants of the Most High.”  This poem provides some reflection as you prepare.

A CHRISTMAS POEM

by Thom Tapp

While Mary lay watching her newborn child,
Holding her baby so tender and mild,
As Joseph stood watch by the manger that night,
And shepherds were awed by the wondrous sight,
A Heavenly Father looked down with pride,
And angels in glory rejoiced at His side.

She tended the needs of her Son as He grew
And Joseph provided the best that he knew,
The message still lingered in Mary’s dear heart,
The words that would never depart,
This Child would be to His people some day,
The price they could never repay.

The words of the Father nurtured the Son,
And had since his journey begun,
He was carried to the manger by Mary that day,
With Joseph beside them guiding the way,
But the Father imparted His perfect will,
As He walked with Jesus up Golgotha’s Hill.

His Father announced His birth with a star,
He summoned the wisest men from afar,
His glory shone brightly when Jesus was born,
The Father delivered the gift of His Son.

A TETHERED MIND

Published September 18, 2013 by sdunnpastor
  1. BY EMILY FULKER
    Check out her blog FILLING THE EARTH
    Mumford & Sons is the perfect soundtrack for these days when summer is turning to fall and a few leaves drop onto the pavement as I drive from class to home to class to work. One of the reasons I love Mumford & Sons is that I am always finding something new in their lyrics. Something honest and raw yet hopeful. This past week, one line in particular stood out to me. A tethered mind freed from the lies (I Will Wait). 

    The beginning of school always makes me feel stressed and anxious, like I’m not going to be able to handle everything to the standard that I think everyone expects me to. I get caught up in my thoughts, and it goes downhill from there. And I will believe every lie I tell myself. 

    A tethered mind freed from the lies. 

    It’s certainly a paradox–tethering something to set it free. Life is so full of these beautiful paradoxes that make us think and help us to understand something about ourselves. I want my mind to be tethered on Truth. On love. On hope. Tied around them so I can’t fall away. I want my mind to be loosed from resentment. From self-judgement. From expectations. I want to be freed from the lies that I’m disappointing you. That I’m crazy. That I’m not doing enough. That I’m not enough. I want to believe that I am loved. That I am going somewhere. That I am beautiful. That I am enough. 

    I hope that your mind will also be tethered on the things that are good and full of truth and love. I hope that your mind will be loosed from the things that drag you down. I hope that you are freed from the lies that tell you that you are not worth it. I pray that you believe that you are loved. That you are enough. 

    Because you are. 

     
     
    Mumford & Sons is the perfect soundtrack for these days when summer is turning to fall and a few leaves drop onto the pavement as I drive from class to home to class to work. One of the reasons I love Mumford & Sons is that I am always finding something new in their lyrics. Something honest and raw yet hopeful. This past week, one line in particular stood out to me. A tethered mind freed from the lies (I Will Wait). 

    The beginning of school always makes me feel stressed and anxious, like I’m not going to be able to handle everything to the standard that I think everyone expects me to. I get caught up in my thoughts, and it goes downhill from there. And I will believe every lie I tell myself. 

    A tethered mind freed from the lies. 

    It’s certainly a paradox–tethering something to set it free. Life is so full of these beautiful paradoxes that make us think and help us to understand something about ourselves. I want my mind to be tethered on Truth. On love. On hope. Tied around them so I can’t fall away. I want my mind to be loosed from resentment. From self-judgement. From expectations. I want to be freed from the lies that I’m disappointing you. That I’m crazy. That I’m not doing enough. That I’m not enough. I want to believe that I am loved. That I am going somewhere. That I am beautiful. That I am enough. 

    I hope that your mind will also be tethered on the things that are good and full of truth and love. I hope that your mind will be loosed from the things that drag you down. I hope that you are freed from the lies that tell you that you are not worth it. I pray that you believe that you are loved. That you are enough. 

    Because you are.

“NOT THE JESUS I BELIEVE”

Published September 12, 2013 by sdunnpastor

PC Walker has a blog that I read regularly which often has some brief but potent thoughts about the Christian life.  For those of you who are actively engaged in sharing your faith, this is wise counsel. – STEVE

NOT MY JESUS

by PC Walker

There is common reminder that Jesus was not the messiah they expected to see, but not much has changed in history. So many people have an idea of what they think a king, a god, a messiah should look like and do.

Even while Jesus hung on the cross in Matthew 27, people passed by “hurling abuse at HIm, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So when Jesus is doing all those things in a different way than they think He should, they deny Him as king and true God.

IT is still the same today. They mock and ridicule Jesus for not being what they assume He should be. We do not get to define what Jesus should be or do. Yet, this is what believers and non-believers alike will consistently do. We need only accept Christ as He has presented himself to us in Scripture.

A POEM FOR DIFFICULT DAYS

Published September 7, 2013 by sdunnpastor

Received this from another blogger who was reposting from  FAMILY, FUN AND FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

A Poem for Difficult Days

3053Lord, Just today I read
That Paul and Silas were
Stripped and beaten
With wooden whips.
“Again and again the rods
Slashed across their bared backs”
But in their desolate dungeon
Their feet clamped in stocks
They prayed.
They sang.
They praised.
In this musty midnight of my life
Imprisoned in the dungeon of confusion
Bound by chains of anguish
Help me, please help me
To pray
To sing
To praise
Until the foundation shakes
Until the gates fling open
Until the chains fall off
Until I am free
To share the Good News
With other chain-bound prisoners.

—Ruth Harms Calkin,
Tell Me Again, Lord, I Forget