Stand for Life – Sign the Petition

pro lifeNote: I don’t know what my title is but I am unapoligetically pro life. I whoeheartedly believe life begins at conception. If you are pro-choice, my intentions are not to shove this down your throat. There is a petition on Dave Severin’s website to stand for life if you are of that persuasion. The bill before the Illinois Legislature is explained sd.

Resolve (Isaiah 50:7) from SIFCA director Roger Lipe

fcaHave you ever known a competitor who seems to have an unbending will to win?  One he set his mind on his goal, he would not waiver from it for anything.  Perhaps you’re like that.  Many of the greatest competitors are.
In Isaiah’s book of prophecy at chapter 50 and verse 5 we read about such an attitude of resolve, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
Some of us are so committed to our goals that, on game day, our faces look like they’re carved out of stone.  Our resolve is so strong that we’re unfazed by outside noises or distractions.
Though he was exposed to possible disgrace and shame, Isaiah pressed on in the pursuit of his goals.  He did so because he had a profound trust in God and sensed His help day to day.
As you compete today and as you press toward the completion of this season, set your face like a flint.  Focus strongly on your team’s goals and let nothing deter you from their fulfillment.  Trust in your teammates, your coaching staff and ultimately in your God to help you in this marvelous pursuit.

We Must Stay on Guard

Franklin Graham at George W. Bush's innaguration

Franklin Graham at George W. Bush’s innaguration

In just a few weeks, Donald Trump will stand on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol, put his hand on the Bible, swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and become the 45th president of our great and storied nation. This extraordinary occasion certainly wasn’t anticipated by very many. Just a few months ago, even days before the Nov. 8 election, virtually every poll showed Hillary Clinton with what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. The mainstream media were clearly forecasting her triumph, even to the extent that Newsweek magazine had already put together and printed an election edition with a picture of Clinton and the title, “Madam President.” A social media image surfaced showing Clinton autographing a copy of the issue on her plane. Please read the rest from Franklin Graham from Decision Magazine

Muir’s Motivational Minute-1/3/17

jimmer‘No one can go back and make a brand new start, but everyone has the opportunity to start from this day — in fact this very minute — and make a brand new ending.’

I have a large desk calendar that I use to keep track of appointments, ballgames, etc. Its 24 X 30 inches and at the end of each month you tear off the top sheet, which by month’s end is covered with marks, doodles, phone numbers and notes and the outside edges are always frayed and ragged.

When I pull off the old month, underneath is a bright, white month with no marks and no ragged edges. I always like the feeling of seeing a new month in front of me.

But, the beauty of today’s quote is that we don’t have to wait until the end of the month to see a clean slate in front of us or the start of a New Year to make a resolution to change. We have the opportunity and the ability any second of any day to make a new ending. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that making Jesus Christ a priority in your life is a great start in making that new ending.

God’s blessings to you today and regardless of your ‘start’ my prayer is that you create a brand new, meaningful, hopeful ‘ending.’ Have a great Tuesday and a blessed day!

Muir’s Motivational Minute 1/2/17

‘It’s not what you are that is holding you back, it’s what you think you’re not.’

Today is the day for many when ‘resolutions’ turn into ‘reality.’ It’s the day when planning for life changes require us to either start a new action or end a harmful one.

jimmerThe biggest problem many people will face can be found in a familiar old saying that says: ‘The devil is in the details.’ How many times have you had a solid plan and positive thoughts about embarking on a new journey in life, a new direction and course and immediately doubt and fear took over and your ideas and dreams were tossed to the side? If you’re like most people, me included, this has happened often.

When I read today’s quote I thought of a phrase I heard recently that said: ‘Make sure your own worst enemy doesn’t live between your ears.’

Because it’s ‘that’ voice in your head that says you’re not good enough, smart enough, gifted enough, talented enough — you fill in the word in front of ‘enough’ – that keeps all of us from being the best person we can be. That voice keeps people from reaching out to God and it keeps people in dead-end jobs, harmful relationships and dozens of other life-traps. It’s the voice that has defeated countless New Year’s resolutions!

Be strong, don’t let doubt and fear set up residence between your ears … because just like today’s gem states: ‘It’s not what you are that is holding you back, it’s what you think you’re not.’

God’s blessings to you on this day and my prayer is that we stay strong, move forward and tell the voice that says ‘you can’t’ to be quiet. Have a fabulous Monday and a blessed day!

The Peace of Christmas

by Steve Dunford

One of the things that I love about Christmas the most is the peacefulness of it.  My wife, son and I used to go to my grandparents and then my mom and dad’s on Christmas eve.  Sometimes, we would go back on Christmas night.

We lived in Sesser at the time.  The twenty mile trip to Thompsonville was one of the highlights of my Christmas.

Some might see it strange, but seeing every business closed,  except a few convenience stores open going through Benton and West City, gave me a sense of peace.  The world seemed like it was standing still.

 The scene at any Walmart across the nation 364 days a year, a packed house. The empty parking lot was great to see, thinking of employees having a day with their friends and family.

The scene at any Walmart across the nation 364 days a year, a packed house. The empty parking lot was great to see, thinking of employees having a day with their friends and family.

The thoughts of how the town was bustling a few hours before, with people grabbing last minute gifts and goodies for their celebration, then all at once everything came to a screeching halt.  People were at gatherings spending time                         with their loved ones.

After opening gifts on Christmas morning, there is always such a quietness and calm like no other day in the year.  There is little traffic.  You walk outside to go to gatherings, and there is a stillness that does not exist on the other 364 days of the year.

Christmas is a magical and special time.  Nothing is more precious than seeing the face of a child light up on Christmas morning or the days leading up to it.

The reason Christmas is so special, is the birth of a savior who was born of a virgin, who died for a rotten sinner like me.  He died for you as well.  It is there for the asking.

The holidays are painful for some.  Losing someone special in ones life lives a hole.  A lot of people battle emptiness and loneliness.  Here are a couple verses to cling to during this time, if you feel sadness.  They will give you peace. (Phillipians 4:7) and (John 14:27)

If you heart is troubled reach out to him for the ultimate peace.  Jesus is reaching out to you.

The awareness that we need peace on this earth comes up during this season.  We all have the sin nature.  There might be times of peace and prosperity, but until Jesus rules and reigns on this earth, there will be no world peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.  There are a lot of people who differ on theology, but the main thing he is returning. Are you ready for his coming?

Lastly, I have had this thought running though my head.  This is during the days of shag carpet, and when I was the remote control back in the 1970’s  This is during the days when there was just three, six, and twelve.

NY Daily News file photo

NY Daily News file photo

There was a Coke commercial during that time that ran during that era.  It was a take from the folk song  I’d like to teach the world to sing.  I shared world peace was not inevitable, but keep in mind personal peace is through Jesus Christ.

As we go into the new year, I am going to put more focus on changing the world around me.  One thing the Lord has done a mighty work in me, is to have a positive outlook on things.  We are all a work in progress, and it is a lifetime of molding us into what we need to be.

If someone is grumpy, depressed, sad or lonely.  Give them a helping hand.  Smiles and kind words go along way.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.  It is a blessing to be able to sit behind this keyboard.  Thank you all for the positive words.  God bless you all.


The Decision Whether to Call Off

When you are in a position to call off an event, I have first hand experience that you have several scenarios going through you head. There are also several factors that need to be taken into consideration as well.

snow-dayJust to let everyone know, parking lots and untreated roads are very slick.  The first thing when I woke up this morning, I looked out the window and there was a dog running across the parking lot in the apartment complex I live in.  He slid about thirty feet, looked to see if something was around, and got back up and started running again.  It was my laugh for today.

Our church, Calvary Baptist Church in West Frankfort made the decision to cancel church services today at 11 pm last night.  I received notification of a handful of churches that called off at the last minute this morning.

I am going to take this from the perspective that I have learned from being a pastor, substitute teacher, basketball official, and now a sports writer.  One thing that is a guarantee, there will be someone will gripe about the decision.  This is not always the case, but it is the norm.  When it was circulating around on social media last night our church was canceling, everyone agreed with the decision and some said they were going to shut their alarm clock off.

Since it is a Sunday, I am going to talk about the experience in the decision of whether to call of church or not.  Two of the churches I pastored everyone was on the same page.  There were three of them; well there was one and always one person that griped about the decision one way or the other. They were the type of individuals, that if you gave them a $100 bill, they would find something wrong with the serial number.

There is the old cliché “the devil won” when you call off services.  In fact, one church I pastored, there was someone that would go to the church and put a 1 up on the Sunday School board for the devil being there that morning. This individual did this in the midst of a Heavy Snow Warning.  When he pointed it out the next Sunday to me, I had a good one liner back at them.  I bit my tongue though.

Here are the things that I always considered when throwing my two cents worth into the decision.  First the elderly in the conversation needs to be considered.  They are the ones that are usually are there every time the doors are open.  It is not worth them breaking a hip.

Second, is it worth someone getting in a fender bender or worse?  In my point of view, attending a worship service on mornings like this, it is not a necessity.  It would have killed me inside personally if someone was in a wreck on the way to church.

Third, I pastored small churches. The risk of heating an empty building was taken into consideration.  The last church I pastored was a small congregation in a huge building.  For the sanctuary to be warm enough on Sunday, the heat had to be turned up Friday.  If snow was in the forecast on Friday we made the decision then.  There were a couple times the snow missed us, but I have no regrets in the decision we all made.

Whether there will be school in Franklin County tomorrow your guess is as good as mine.  As of now, I say the odds are 50-50.   I know several school administrators personally and I have had the conversation before of the factors that go into the decision that has to be made whether to call off or not.

You can rest assured knowing that altering child care plans is taken into strong consideration.  Also, there is a concern that students might not get a hot meal, in which they can have two on each school day.  No matter what school your child attends, they are well loved by the administration, teachers, and support staff.  They do not replace you as a parent, but every child’s welfare that walks through the doors is the reason why they make every decision they do.

Administrators travel the country roads inside their district before the decision is made.  Several do not take into a consideration that we are mainly a rural county.  There is a huge difference than driving a school bus down a gravel road than driving a four wheel drive down Main Street.

When the decision that is made there are always some that will  not like it.  It seems like it is the same circle that will take to social media and gripe whether the decision made is yea or nay.  It is also usually the same individuals that posts the question, is this for me?  To avoid this question any post I will make, if all county schools are closed, each school will be in parentheses.

Last, there was one basketball game played in Southern Illinois last night.  Massac County beat A-J last night.  The rest were postponed. This Thursday night seems like a popular night to reschedule games across Southern Illinois.

There is an epidemic of an official shortage statewide.  In fact, Murphysboro had to call off their game with Herrin Friday night because the officiating crew could not make it from the Metro East because of slick roads, replacements could not be found.

When a game has to be rescheduled transportation, other events, and yes  officials have to be considered.  Most of the games on the docket last night were non conference games.  It would not surprise me if there are some that are cancelled, or only playing a varsity game only because officials could not be found.

If you like sports, I encourage you to call the IHSA or contact a veteran official.  The seven years I was one was a very rewarding experience for me.

I hope this did not appear as a negative rant, I just hope that I shed some light on the logistics of decisions that are made in regards to cancellations.  From being there first hand on some, it is not an easy one.

I am taking everyone’s word for it that it is cold outside.  Just make it a sweat pant day, and enjoy the time today if you choose to stay in.  What ever you do make it a great day.

Mt. Zion Church performing “A Savior is Born”

The Mt. Zion Free Will Baptist Church will be performing the play. “A Savior is Born” tonight at their annual Christmas play and program mt-zion-signat 6:30 P.M.

From attending previous programs in the past, it is your old school, traditional, Christmas program that country churches frequently had in years gone by.

There will be soup, supper, snacks and most of all a time of fellowship after the service.

The church is located on South Thompsonville Road, 2 1/2 miles south of Thompsonville.  Everyone is encouraged to attend.


….For unto us a son is given…


This is the second in a series of columns I am writing based on the verse Isaiah 9:6.  The verse below is the first verse most of us learned in Sunday School.  It is the gospel in a nut shell.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

cross-and-the-mangerI have one son.  I am sorry but he would be very hard to give up so that you can live.   God sent his son to this earth for one reason, to die on a cruel rugged cross for my sins as well as yours.  There is no greater love that can be expressed than God giving us his son Jesus.

The worse feeling in the world is having a sick child.  When they were babies, it was really frustrating because they would be fussy and cry.  I know people who have lost a child.  There is a pain that does not heal.  Just imagine how God felt.

Some theologians disagree with me on this.  I believe that God had to turn his back when Jesus was on the cross, because he could not stand to see the pain and suffering he was going through.  Some say that God could not stand to see the filth of our sin.  I believe that is partially true, but keep in mind that was his only son.

The babe was born in a manger, went to the cross and died for our sins.  He rose on the third day.  He is coming back again.  The Holy Spirit works in our life on a daily basis and is a guide in all things.

When I had this idea of writing this, the thoughts of the first verse of a classic song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither came to mind:

God sent his son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because i know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives


Just think of the best Christmas gift you have received. It was freely given by love.  Jesus came to give you the ultimate free gift.  Let his verse sink in.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with Jesus.  It does not matter what name you have on the door, If you know the Lord you are my brother or sister.

Grace is a free unmerited gift that can not be earned.  None of us deserve it.  Our heavenly father loves us so much that he made the gift of salvation available to all.  Good works does not get us to heaven.  Being a sinner saved by grace does.

Steve Dunford is a guest columnist for  He is a rotten sinner that has accepted the free gift of salvation, it is available to everyone.




For unto us a child is born….


I am going to share a series of columns based on the verse Isaiah 9:6 during the holiday season.  The first six words of this verse exactly is the true meaning of this season.

I am 46 years old and I still watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I actually used to have an authentic Charlie Brown Christmas Tree as a decoration.  The cartoon is in its 51st year.  It was about on the cutting floor of CBS, and came close to never airing.  Network

Peanuts character and theologian Linus VanPelt

Peanuts character and theologian Linus VanPelt

executives said it was too religious.

Charlie Brown was asking the true meaning of Christmas.  Linus VanPelt, the theologian of the comic, recited this verse:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  (Luke 2:10-12 KJV)

Linus followed up with “That is the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.”

This is a side note.  Anything I write of this nature, I will use the King James Version.  Use a version of God’s word that is easy for you to understand.  I use is for personal preference.  I just like the thunder of it.

I am going to share my opinion on a couple of things.  First Santa Claus is not the real meaning of Christmas, but I feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling your children about him.  Some of the greatest joys in my life was spent in a Santa suit.  I am going to share some of those before.

I feel there is nothing wrong with having a Christmas tree in your house.  The reason we use evergreens is to symbolize eternal life through Christ.  It is nothing to worship, but it is a decoration that is worth explaining the true meaning of others.

This time of year gets very busy.  There are parties, gatherings, in the heart of basketball season, and stress in trying to find the right present for someone. For others, it is a time of loneliness and sadness.  Whatever you lot is in life, keep in mind what the true meaning of Christmas is.  Jesus was born to die on the cross so that I and you could have eternal life.

At your holiday gatherings, make it a tradition to open the Bible and share the Christmas story with your friends and family before opening presents.  It will put everyone in the right mindset, and will make opening presents a lot more special.


This piece was written by Steve Dunford, a guest columnist of  He spent 20 years pastoring five small Southern Baptist Churches in Franklin and Jefferson counties.  He currently is a member of the Calvary Baptist Church in West Frankfort



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