Blog Archive

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Freelance: GOD IN 4-D

In Michigan, few people define direction north-south-east-west. Everything is right-left. 2-dimensional.

Growing up in Denver, life was 3-D. West-east-sideways. Toward the mountains, away from the mountains, or along the mountains.

To go into the mountains is to feel one has entered a new sphere of the universe. Direction is no longer just length-width-height, but now also depth. The earth somehow transcends the ordinary and becomes 4-D.

I recently read a novel which begins with the words, "Real life does not look like a television screen, or the pictures printed on baseball cards." The baseball star a woman has seen from afar steps into her life and she gets to know him. He becomes 3-D. And then she sees him from the inside. She discovers him in 4-D. She falls in love. And life becomes exquisitely painful.

Many people see God in one dimension. God is not a person who speaks to man, but a force which permeates the universe. A power with which man must contend. Maybe even a higher being. They say "He does not see nor understand" mankind (Psalm 94:7). He is the Hebrew El, a name applied to any god, even false gods of demonic powers.

Countless others acknowledge God as a real Person, the Supreme Creator who loves and blesses people, of whom "even the demons believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). For them He is 2-D. Elohim.

There are those of us privileged to know God, in 3-D. We understand God became flesh in the person of Jesus. Divinity again enters humanity when we invite His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. We are transformed into a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). And then we are invited to enter His tabernacle. Some go only as far as the outer court; some enter the Holy place; and some pursue God all the way into the Holy of Holies, where His presence dwells. Here He is YHWH—I AM.

For some, 3-D is not enough. They linger in the Holy of Holies, unwilling to depart. They are those who may receive a glimpse into the ark itself. God presses down against them, and they are enveloped in Him. They know God in 4-D, from the inside. They see what He sees, feel what He feels. He is known as Yah.

The joy is indescribable. The agony unbearable. The experience absolutely addicting.

Or so I've heard.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14,17-19 NKJV)

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

I Will Not Be Afraid

In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?...
I will render praises to You,
For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God In the light of the living?
(Psalms 56:10-13 NKJV)

"Therefore do not worry ... your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
(Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV)

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD....
Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.
(Lamentations 3:25-26,32-33 NKJV)

What is that one fear that strikes true terror in the pit of your stomach? Most likely, we each have one prayer that goes something like, "Oh Lord, please let me never face ..." The bad news is that being a Christian does not provide exemption from severe trial.

"Do not be afraid." "Do not be anxious." "Let not your heart be troubled." "In God we trust." Such reassurances have become platitudes we fail to remember in the hour when we need them most.

The good news? These are indeed reassurances. They appear in Scripture with great frequency because God not only proved them to be true over and over in past millennia, but He also waits to prove them true here and now.

The Bible often admonishes, "Wait upon the Lord." Surely our waiting is often prolonged while He waits upon us to look to Him in faith and say, "I will not be afraid."

O LORD, Your mercy and faithfulness reach the clouds. Your rightness is like the great mountains. How precious is Your grace, O God! With You is the fountain of life. In Your light we see light, even in our darkest hours. We do believe in You, Lord. Please increase our faith!

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not Willing to Come

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
(Psalms 55:12-13 NKJV)

"The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.... But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them." (Matthew 22:2-6 NKJV)

"As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!" (Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV)

Even when King David had to flee for his life from his son Absalom—who attempted to hunt down and kill his father, who violated his father's wives as a sign of his utmost contempt—David could not bear to see Absalom destroyed, so great was the love of a father for his son.

Many argue that if God is truly loving, there cannot be a hell, for He would condemn no one there whom He loves. God's Word assures us that He takes no pleasure in condemnation, but simply gives a person over to what they themselves have chosen: existence apart from God.

God loves even the wicked enough that He does not force those not willing to come to Him to love Him or live with Him. No one shall be dragged into heaven. Heaven could not be heaven if filled with those who are enemies of God.

Heavenly Father, how great Your pain must be for all those You've loved who would have nothing to do with You. Please work in our hearts to make our love all the greater for You. Let our love and praise be pleasing to You. Show us how to pray for those who do not love You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In the Name of the Lord

Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
(Psalms 54:1 NKJV)

Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
(1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV)

Thus says the Lord [YHWH]: It is not for your sake ... that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name ... And the nations will know that I am [YHWH].
(Ezekiel 36:22-23 ESV)

The name "Christ" means "anointed." To be called "Christian" is both acknowledgment of our anointing with the Holy Spirit, and to walk in the name of the Lord—no small matter when one considers the power of His name and how much He cares about the reputation of His name.

When we are perceived negatively, and especially if the perception is false, we want someone to vindicate us, and redeem our reputation. How much more shouldn't the Lord, who is all goodness, wish His name and reputation to be unsullied by the way we represent Him?

Do not only our actions but our words testify to a good God? Or do we complain about our circumstances (they are ordained by God), express anxiety (showing lack of trust in God), and speak badly of others (scorning people God loves)?

The world is watching, judging us and Him.

Lord, I am not worthy to bear Your name. Thank You for Your grace, for covering my sin with Your blood that You might look upon me with favor. Please make me more like You every day. Make Your light in me so shine before others that they would give glory to You.

"The desire of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You." — Isaiah

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spirit and Truth

God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
(Psalms 53:2 NKJV)

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth [Greek pneuma and aletheia: breath and reality pertaining to an appearance]." (John 4:23-24 NKJV amplified)

"The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT)

relationship > noun 1 : the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected 2 : the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other (Oxford Dictionary)

Each Christian is adopted as a child of God, and obtains privilege of relationship unique to sons and daughters. We begin as babes, then grow in strength and maturity. Our relationship with our Father grows from seeking His hand to seeking His face and hearing His voice.

Any relationship takes a big step forward when we pass "what can you do for me?" and reach "what can I be for you?" We probably begin by guessing what that is. As the relationship deepens, we begin to understand and respond to what another really seeks in us.

God's desires relationship with us that seeks to know and understand Him as He truly is. He seeks worshipers of fully committed hearts, who live the reality of the appearance we present.

God wants us close enough to feel our breath upon Him, and to respond to His breath upon us.

Lord, Your love is amazing. It is incredible that You love us as You do, and desire the inadequate love we offer. Thank You for Your patience with us, Your inexhaustible pursuit of us. Please give us the ability to respond to You as You wish—as You deserve—in spirit and truth.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Evil Rulers

A maskil [understanding] of David.
When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him:
"David has gone to the house of Ahimelech."
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
Your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit....
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
I will praise you forever for what you have done;
in your name I will hope [wait], for your name is good.
I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
(Psalms 52:1-2,8-9 NIV, amplified)

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
(Psalms 37:7-9 NKJV)

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.... For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.... [The authority] is God's minister to you for good. (Romans 13:1,3-4 NKJV)

Election Day is a week away. The leadership of elected officials influences everything from crisis management of the entire planet to which corner of the planet we choose to inhabit, from health and wealth to life and death. The agenda of some rulers can indeed make their authority seem like a reign of terror.

The corruption of power is not a new threat. Doeg the Edomite used authority from King Saul to slay seven dozen of YHWH's priests and annihilate their families. King Saul employed the full power allocated to him by God in attempt to murder David. Even righteous David used the power of the monarchy to murder Uriah, one of his most loyal and valuable military leaders.

How does one respond to evil rulers? Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret. Trust God's unfailing love. Praise Him for what He has done. Wait upon the Lord. Hope in His name.

King of kings and Lord of lords, all power is of You, through You, and to You. How deep are the riches of Your wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are Your judgments and Your ways past finding out! Give us assured faith of what is unseen and patient hope for what is to come.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Despised God

A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him,
After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba....
My sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight ...
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me....
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
(Psalms 51:1,10-11,17 NKJV)

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: '... you have despised Me ..." (2 Samuel 12:10 NKJV)

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord ... So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. (Luke 22:60-63 NKJV)

Which hurt the Lord more, the words and blows of His captors or Peter's denial? How did Peter feel when he denied Jesus and then felt the eyes of Jesus upon him? How did David feel when the Lord said, "You have despised Me"?

The musician who drove away King Saul's evil spirit with the music of the Holy Spirit knew well the consequences of despising God: "The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul." (1 Samuel 16:14 NKJV) When confronted with his sin, David did not attempt to avoid its penalty by justifying himself as Saul did, but immediately repented and sought reconciliation with God.

Both Peter and David understood their breach of relationship with the Lord. Both wept bitterly for their sin. Whatever else its consequences or who is injured by it, sin not only expresses contempt against God, it breaks down precious fellowship with the One who loves us most.

Oh God, you are my God. Please forgive the many ways I fail You. Please let me not shrink back from fully acknowledging my sin, nor from experiencing the pain of the damage to our relationship. Please fill me with Your Spirit and make me love You more—enough to choose You over every alternative.

"Sin would have fewer takers if the consequences were immediate." — Unknown

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Live In Peace

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)

A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 (NLT)

The Hebrew shalom means more than simply "peace." The Brown-Driver-Briggs dictionary defines shalom with words such as "completeness, soundness, health, prosperity, contentment; friendship of human relationships; friendship with God, especially in covenant relationship."

Psalm 23 does not include the word shalom in the Hebrew text, nor the word "peace" in English translations. Yet does any other passage of Scripture so adequately capture the essence of shalom? At the Psalm's very center lie the words, "I will fear no evil, for You are with me."

The Hebrew for "with" ('immad) can be amplified to, "You are close beside me, You are in company with me, You make Your presence known to me." Amid dark valleys, anxiety, or chaos, shalom is found in the company of God. Where His presence is known, we live in peace.

Our Father in heaven, the world presses in so urgently. It is difficult to find the time and place to truly be still and know that You are God, know You as exalted in the earth, know Your peace. Please draw us irresistibly into Your company, to know Your presence.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." — Jesus

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday’s Freelance: ACCREDITATION

So what accredits Anne Lang Bundy to minister the Word of God, anyway? As someone once challenged, "I’ve been to Bible college, Anne. You only read the Bible."

Fair enough. False prophets abound. What distinguishes a true minister?

"By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." (2 Corinthians 13:1, NKJV; More References)

The entirety of God’s Word and His Spirit must bear testimony to every message. If a ministry is not supported by divine witness, it lacks validity.

"Beware of false prophets ... You will know them by their fruits.... Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:15-17 NKJV; More References)

If a minister consistently exhibits the fruit of God’s Spirit in word and deed, God is exalted. If a minister exalts self, it is idolatry.

God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 NKJV; More References)

The Gospel preaches the death and resurrection of both Jesus Christ and the believer. If a ministry is built upon a doctrine, rather than upon the foundation of Christ and His blood, it is at best religion, at worst blasphemy.

Judge every ministry by its foundation. Evaluate every minister by fruit. Weigh every message against the testimony of God’s Word and Spirit.

A home-schooled Bible student, I do read authors presented in colleges, use the reference works of scholars, and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide my diligent study. But in the end, any human accreditation is you:

"Do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." (2 Corinthians 3:1-3 NKJV)

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Wholly Spent

And I will very gladly spend and be [wholly] spent for your souls.
(2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJV, amplified)

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13 NKJV)

Then Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you." (1 Samuel 23:16-17 NKJV)

A good parent would not hesitate to save a child even at the cost of one’s own life. Most of us would willingly forfeit our lives for loved ones if necessary to save theirs. Yet how often do we in fact lay down our lives, day to day, as Jonathan willingly forfeited his future crown to David?

Are we willing to lay down our lives and wills—be wholly spent—for the sake of another? Will we lay down pet peeves for the sake of harmony? Will we lay down ego for the sake of restored relationship? Do we fancy ourselves noble enough for the heroic but too highly value trifles?

Jesus laid down His life for us, and calls us to do likewise. Martyrdom is alive and well in the 21st century, and we must stand ready to shed our blood in affirmation of trust in Jesus. In the meantime, will we this day shed personal will in affirmation of trust in His will?

Lord Jesus, we are spoiled, used to picking and choosing as suits us. Please help us to so value Your will that we have no will of our own. Please use us as suits You and brings You glory. Please enable us to love neighbor as self by valuing will of neighbor as much as our own.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Charm is Deceitful

For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15 NKJV)

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18 NKJV)

... And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17-18 NKJV)

Sinister-looking demons do not "lurk under every bush." They brazenly stride alongside us, disguised as angels of light whose smooth words entice us with delectable morsels. How tempting is a gargoyle shrieking out an offer of putrid fodder?

Most Bible students count only six pieces of armor cataloged by Ephesians 6:13-18. While prayer receives no seventh metaphor (as do truth, righteousness, preparation, faith, salvation, God's Word), it is no less vital to victory in spiritual warfare. The well-armed and well-trained warrior is of little use if he is not alert.

Deception overtakes us when we drift from truth. Being watchful in prayer keeps us alert to the voice of the Commander of the LORD's army, and to dependence on His guidance.

Lord Jesus, You are glorious, and if not for the distractions of this world and our flesh, how could we ever take our eyes from You? You have not made the battle easy, but You place victory within our reach. Keep us mindful of You our Captain, who has already won the war.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weapons of Our Warfare

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV)

Then [the Lord Jesus] said to them, "... he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22:36 NKJV)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.... And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:11-12,17 NKJV)

Whatever else the modern day warrior carries (either civil police officer or military soldier), he is equipped with insignia and weapon. Whether bearing badge and gun, or national emblem and rifle, he is identified by his authority and the deadly force to back it up.

Each believer faces war with a very real enemy and his hierarchy of demons, who have no regard for unarmed status. We may choose pacifism and refuse to engage in earth's wars, but spiritual war will engage us in battle whether or not we bear the weapons provided us.

Our authority is the seal of the Holy Spirit obtained with Christ's blood. Our sole offensive weapon is the sword of God's Word—the same weapon wielded by Jesus when He faced the devil as a Man. It is our weapon as we battle to bring every thought into captivity, to the obedience of the Word made flesh.

Lord Jesus, thank You for high price You paid for the weapons of our warfare. Please do not allow the enemy to disarm us before attack. Holy Spirit, please draw us to pick up Your sword, practice with Your sword, and battle mightily with Your sword, the Word of God.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reap Bountifully

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NKJV)

A thorn in the flesh was given to me ... Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!
(Psalms 68:19 NKJV)

God's very first command (even before the one about the fruit) was "Be fruitful and multiply." Everywhere in His creation, God provides abundance to sow and reap bountifully—in the seed of plants, in the seed of man, in the seed of the Word of God sown by the parable's Sower.

The God who daily loads us with benefits does so not merely as blessing because He loves us, but so that the abundance He provides may be used to sow and reap bountifully for Him and His glory. He instructs us to be fruitful, and gives us the means to do so.

His provision is not only the material blessings and talents (spiritual gifts) we receive from Him, but especially in the afflictions He allows. It is in our weakness, infirmity, and affliction that the power of Christ may rest upon us with greatest strength, with potential for greatest gain.

Father, You are the Potter, we are the clay. Your refining fire both purifies us and makes us useful vessels for You. Please enable us to shrink back from neither the fire nor from the pain of affliction, but to give thanks for Your supply of what enables us to reap most bountifully.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Offering's Value

In spite of a terrible ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy, along with their deep poverty, has resulted in the abundance of their generosity. I can testify that by their own free will they have given to the utmost of their ability, yes, even beyond their ability. They begged us earnestly for the privilege of participating in this ministry to the saints.
(2 Corinthians 8:2-4 ISV)

"Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12:43-44 NKJV)

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
(Psalms 51:15-17 NKJV)

Most Sundays at our church, a gentle woman of limited mental faculties presents a spontaneous offering of praise. She stands just behind and below the director and "conducts" the choir and orchestra.

An offering may or may not require sacrificing many hidden hours of preparation to polish it. Everyone in the Sunday auditorium has opportunity to bring from a humble heart of love offerings of praise, thanksgiving, worship, tithes, prayers, repentance.

Most offerings are made another day of the week. Many are altogether unseen. Some require financial sacrifice. Some cost many hours. Some cost tears. The most precious offering is when a soul puts everything on the altar.

God alone knows the value of each offering. How fitting, since He and not man is the recipient.

Almighty God, You are worthy of all we are, all we do, all we have. No offering—no sacrifice—is too costly to bring before you. We are nothing without You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spiritual Germophobes

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV)

For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
(1 Thessalonians 4:7 NKJV)

"I am Yahweh your God. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:44 WEB)

Holiness gets a bad rap. The word "holy" often brings to mind religious snobs. The admonition to "be holy" strikes fear of being sent away to a monastery or convent, forsaking every comfort of life for isolation and fasting. A holy God is viewed as gratefully unapproachable.

To be holy is simply to be pure. To have extreme goodness, free of all badness. To be sanctified and set apart, like sterilized medical equipment separated from the red trash bin. We are spiritually cleansed from the icky stuff in our souls with the washing of the water of the Word and the living water of the Holy Spirit.

Our holy God is completely set apart from evil. He can be trusted as a Source of only good. He wants us to be not "holier than thou" snobs, but spiritual germaphobes who go running to Him for washing as soon as we become aware of icky stuff that could spread in us or infect others.

Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord God Almighty! You are perfect in power, love, and purity. Spiritual darkness cannot prevail to hide the purity of Your light. Hatred cannot abide in the face of Your love. Your power is perfected in the weakness of our flesh. Please make us holy indeed, like You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sons and Daughters

You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.... Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? ... Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? ... Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord.... "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters." (2 Corinthians 6:12,14-15,17-18 NKJV)

Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
(1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV)

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'Set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'A man's enemies will be those of his own household.' " (Matthew 10:34-36 NKJV)

We do not choose our family members. And relationships with siblings are unique. With whom else do we share as much of work and play, food and clothes, house and even bed? Who else knows us like a sibling? In whom else does the same heritage, DNA and blood run?

Those born again in Christ’s blood enter a new family. Among the most difficult Scriptures to apply are directions to distinguish between believing brother and sister in the Lord and unbelieving neighbor—who may be a natural relative, and who Christ may make an enemy.

Yet the blood of Christ unites God’s children in common experience and fellowship unknown to an unbeliever. We certainly continue to associate with unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:9-10). But the close communion which makes us part of one another is reserved for family.

Father in heaven, surely one of the greatest agonies of this world is to be separated by Your blood from a member of natural family. Surely one of the greatest joys is the communion of the saints. Thank You for replacing our losses not thirty nor sixty but hundredfold. Thank You for the blood of Your Lamb.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday's Freelance: FREE FALL, Part Two

A month ago, Britney Spears was no more to me than a provocative image my eyes might have passed over while I perused magazine covers. I neither knew nor cared about her record-breaking sales, or heart-breaking story of titillating exhibitionism, substance abuse, and custody battle.

Then I read Through the Storm by Lynne Spears, Britney’s mom, and wandered around the internet to look at Britney.

Now I know. And now I care.

The public awes an star’s meteoric rise. A mother sees a precious baby in free fall. Lynne’s book revealed a mother not unlike myself. Her agony? Watching promoters and paparazzi prey on her naive child. Personal endeavor sacrificed for her daughter’s persona. Powerlessly watching her baby suffer the consequences of recklessness. Lingering shame for poor choices and numerous indiscretions.

Her story shames me with its reminder that though I’ve learned to exercise restraint in judging parents, words I’ve long forgotten still pain those they’ve pierced.

I discovered that though I’ll show compassion when I encounter my neighbor in the face of a vagrant, the image of God also lies in the face of a icon I’ve disdained rather than loved as myself.

I am freshly aware that as we hold doors open for our little birds to test their wings, we must continue to faithfully cultivate their trust even while we transfer more decisions into inexperienced hands.

Any control we exercise in the lives of ourselves or our children is control shared with us by our Creator. If we fail to trust in Him with all our hearts, lean not our own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all our ways, there is not one of us who does not risk plunging into free fall, whether named Britney Spears, King David, or Anne Lang Bundy.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Extreme Makeover

For we walk by faith, not by sight.... Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.... Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ....
For the love of Christ compels us.

(2 Corinthians 5:7,17,20,14 NKJV)

[Jesus] said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3 NKJV)

Love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:22-23 NKJV)

The radical outward conversion performed on television cannot compete with the Extreme Makeover the Holy Spirit performs. Tucked away in 2 Corinthians 5, a single chapter of the Bible presents no less than fourteen before-and-after pictures of the born again conversion of our hearts.

It is impossible to enter the kingdom without being born again (John 3:3). It is equally impossible to be truly born again and remain unchanged.

Little children love without question, trust without assessing motive, accept gifts without hesitation. Their limitless, fearless curiosity wonders over that which grown-ups' eyes have no time for. They accept kisses for injuries soon forgotten. They eagerly share uninhibited affection with one they love. They do not comprehend patience for what they've been promised.

My testimony is that conversion to the heart of a little child is delightful. The first childhood has nothing on this second one.

My Father, Abba, Papa, I love being Your child. You are so good. You give me so much more than I could imagine to ask for. My only complaint is my limited ability to express my love for You from this body, in this world, at this time. I'm waiting at the window, watching for Your return.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Earthen Vessels

God ... has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed ... always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:6-8,10 NKJV)

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.... Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:30,36 NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NKJV)

God used clay of the earth to form Adam, an earthen vessel to hold His breath of life. The same clay forms lamps to hold oil and produce light. When God anoints earthen vessels with the oil of His Spirit, the ignited oil produces light.

Gethsemane means "oil press." The Mount of Olives garden was likely the place where weights pressed flesh of olives to extract oil for light and anointing. In Gethsemane Jesus yielded His flesh—His will—to be crushed in death. That price purchased us for the Holy Spirit's anointing.

We too are pressed. "Hard-pressed." But we are not crushed, for Jesus was crushed on our behalf. To carry the dying of the Lord Jesus in our earthen vessels is to carry His glorious light and life. The Gethsemane we each face is a place to lay down will without losing heart. Its light affliction lasts but a moment. The weight of glory is eternal.

Lord Jesus, we do not comprehend the full weight placed upon You in Gethsemane. Thank You for bearing a crushing load we will never know. Thank You that we do not face death's separation from the Father. Thank You for the anointing of Your own precious Spirit, Your seal upon us until Your return.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Law of the Spirit

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV)

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. (Titus 1:15 NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 NKJV)

Two Hebrew nouns for salvation (yesha, masculine, and yeshua, feminine) are rooted in the verb yasha, which Strong's defines as "to be open, wide or free ... to be safe." Salvation is not confining, but gloriously liberating. The law of the Spirit confines us as the earth confines the wind (John 3:8).

To receive salvation from sin means more than deliverance from an eternal death penalty. If truly free we no longer desire to give sin a place in our lives. We are no longer captive to the sin with which we still live. We have liberty from sin because we no longer take liberty with sin.

Temptation will come. Like birds, temptation may fly overhead and perhaps even land on us, but we are no longer in bonds so that it builds a nest in our hair. If we are bound to God's Spirit, He will "lead us not into temptation," but on wings of liberty around, through, beyond temptation.

Lord YHWH, You are my Rock and my Deliverer and my God in whom I trust. The strength of my salvation is in You alone. Keep me securely in the shadow of Your wings, where I find freedom beyond my imagination. You are my Delight. Thank You for granting the desires of my heart.

I have seen the consummation of all perfection,
But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
(Psalms 119:96-97 NKJV)

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Forgive Anything

Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NKJV)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness ... looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble. (Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV)

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26 NKJV)

No one wants to be taken advantage of—preyed upon, played for a fool, used—least of all by the devil. To withhold forgiveness is to open a door for the devil to take advantage of us.

Worse, failing to forgive the debts and trespasses of others holds us captive to the consequences of our own sin, whether temporary or eternal ones.

Whatever the cost to forgive anything, the cost to not forgive is much higher. However difficult, it is possible, and necessary. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Lord God, You are our Deliverer, who sets us free from death. Grant to us the full life and freedom found in Your forgiveness. Please open our eyes to where we have failed to forgive. Please give us the strength to release debts which belong to You our Master alone. Set us in pursuit of peace.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going Out and Coming In

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV)

"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " (Acts 20:35 NKJV)

The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
(Psalms 121:8 NKJV)

Our purpose as a vessel of the Holy Spirit is not as a holding tank but a conduit of living Water. What we receive is to be passed on to others, bearing fruit thirty-fold, sixty-fold, or hundred-fold. However great our blessing to receive from God, we find greater blessing in giving it away.

A conduit both comes in to the source of water and goes out to the recipient of water. If we fail to receive light, life and love from our God, we will give not of God but of Self, in which no good thing dwells. If we fail to minister light, life and love to others, we'll be self-centered and bloated.

Blessing is found in the ministry of giving, and the greatest blessing is found in ministry to God. He delights in the time we pour out upon Him our love, share with Him our heart, and listen to His voice in quiet stillness and His Word. In such ministry to Him, we are refilled to overflowing.

Oh God, You are my God! How I wish I was adequate to return to You all you have given to me. Truly, my cup overflows. Let me be poured out as a drink offering for You. Please do in me whatever it takes to keep me abiding in You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Copies of the True

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "... You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and wash them with water. You shall ... clothe them with tunics. You shall anoint them ... that they may minister to Me as priests; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations."
(Exodus 40:1,12-15 NKJV)

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24 NKJV)

"Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen ... However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands." (Acts 7:44,48 NKJV)

The tabernacle Moses erected—according to the pattern of the tabernacle in heaven—had an altar of sacrifice, a laver of water, altar of showbread, seven-branch lamp, altar of incense, and ark containing the words of the covenant. That tabernacle no longer exists, nor does the temple which followed it.

Yet the everlasting priesthood has not ceased. Christ's people are His royal priests, who offer living sacrifice of our lives, dip ourselves in living Water, share bread of fellowship with One who calls us "friend," are lights of the world who reflect the true Light, offer incense of sweet-smelling prayer, and possess in our souls—our innermost, sacred place—the precious Word of life.

We, now, are both priests and copies of the true tabernacle in heaven: cleansed with blood, anointed with the Holy Spirit, clothed in garments of righteousness—dwelling place of Almighty God.

Lord God Almighty, no matter how many times we hear of it, how can we not be astounded that You make us Your dwelling place on earth? How can we not tremble at Your presence? How can we ever know pride? May we show ourselves fully set apart to You—holy as You are.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mirror Effect

He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. (Exodus 38:8 NKJV)

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1:22-24 NKJV)

Israelite women forfeited mirrors, once used to view themselves, for creation of a laver to cleanse the priests, for ministry to their holy God. Those instruments of polished bronze offered a reflection to affect their users' actions, but as mirrors they did not effect change.

The Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ's gift to those who are His, and enables us to behold His glory in His Word. We see only a dim reflection of His glory, but the image is powerful enough to effect great change in us. Human nature is to become what one beholds.

The water of the Word can both cleanse us and offer us that reflection. But if we merely glance at the Word without immersing ourselves in it (in whatever manner), its effect may be to briefly affect our mind, not effect lasting change to our hearts and actions.

Lord Jesus, You are truly glorious to behold. Thank You for the precious words You have gifted to us. Amid the many distractions and distortions of this world, please enable us to make time for Your Word and see You clearly. Let us behold the glory to which You are conforming us.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday's Freelance: FREE FALL, Part I

Even a dispassionate observer has to wonder what the end of the stock market's free fall will look like.

The present scenario might be likened to a flash flood, with torrential water pouring down a hill. The ground slowly erodes. Then perhaps a section of ground collapses which takes part of a house with it. Sometimes an entire house crashes into rubble swept away with the flood.

God already knows how bad this storm will be, and whether it will bring about erosion, collapse, or complete destruction. Jesus forewarned of the house built on sand, "great was its fall" when a storm beat upon it.

Jesus also pointed out that the house to weather the storm is the one built on rock. For those who have built their lives on the Rock of Christ, this storm may bring problems, but it will not cause a great fall. They rely not on the shifting market but on their solid Maker for security.

For those to whom Jesus Christ has been an attractive but distant monolith, this storm has all the markings of utter destruction. They can pull out of a 401K, try to sell what they can still find a buyer for, re-invest in gold. But until they show faith in Jesus by hearing His words and doing them, their security remains an illusion.

In the middle of a storm, help comes not in a voice crying out, "I told you so," but in directions to shelter, and perhaps an offer of assistance to rebuild. Prognosticators are speaking of recession and depression. People of Christ will speak of faith's profession and intercession.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

The Lord's Offering

Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD's offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting ... both men and women, as many as had a willing heart.... So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.... And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much. (Exodus 35:21-22; 36:3,6-7 NKJV)

Who says you are better than others? What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given to you, why do you brag as if you did not receive it as a gift? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NCV)

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. (Luke 10:27 KJV)

Surely any church would gladly face the problem of receiving so many offerings that the people must be restrained from bringing. Yet every church does face the problem of us bringing to church what is not necessary to the work of ministry.

Whether we're heard as extrovert voices or as introvert gazes, has any one of us not brought to church an attitude we thought pleasing to God and necessary to our brothers and sisters, which was actually puffing up ourselves?

Any truly good and perfect gift we might offer was first given to us from the Lord, for "in me is nothing good." The offering God desires—whether we put it in the collection plate, give it as a quiet look to brother or sister, or proclaim it boldly—is the gift of love.

Father of Lights, what can people of dust offer a King clothed in majesty? Your desire for our love is humbling. Please reveal Your love for us, that we might love others in kind. Please give us the ability to love as fully as You do, that we might return the gift to You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fragrance of Light

So [Moses] was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And ... when Moses came down from Mount Sinai ... Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.... And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. (Exodus 34:28-30,33 NKJV)

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV)

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NKJV)

What's the first thing you notice about a person? I look for Light in a person's face. Whether or not someone knows Jesus isn't always discerned at first sight. But Light (or Darkness) is unmistakable in some people.

I want to be like that. I want to eat and drink of the Lord enough to shine with Light. Some of the times partaking of with Him are on the mountain, alone. He is also present in every waking and sleeping moment if I will only be sensitive enough to YHWH-Shammah—the Lord is There.

Not everyone appreciates the fragrance of Light, for to some it is the stench of death, and their negative reaction may not be subtle. But for others, Light carries the aroma of life.

May Light not be veiled for the sake of those it offends or frightens.

Light of the world, in You alone is life. Your light and life and love draw us like a pleasing fragrance. Please help us make time to adequately partake of You. Please help us know Your enduring presence. Please put Your light in us, that others glorify You.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hot Pursuit

Then [Moses] said to [YHWH], "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?" So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And [Moses] said, "Please, show me Your glory." (Exodus 33:15-18 NKJV)

"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)

A Psalm of David ...
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness [chesed] is better than life,
My lips shall praise You....
My soul follows close behind You [follows hard after You];
Your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-2,8 NKJV, amplified)

It seems every story worth telling—whether the subtle romance of "Sense and Sensibility," the carnage-packed action of "Saving Private Ryan," or the silliness of "Emperor's New Groove"—has three elements: discovering an essential aspiration, relentlessly pursuing the objective, death in the pursuit.

That death may be loss of life, loss of ego, or loss of something which made one come alive and is now forfeited. If one turns back in selfless sacrifice, the tragedy is bittersweet. If one turns back for lack of courage, the tragedy is only tragic. But something inevitably dies.

Faith is a story of death, whatever the course of the pursuit, whatever the ending. To discover God is to discover life's only true essential. To relentlessly pursue Him is to face death. To turn back—whether for a moment, a season, or a lifetime—is life's greatest tragedy. We do not truly live until we know for what we are willing to die.

Oh God, You are my God. You have captured my attention and compelled my pursuit. Your grace is better than life itself. Please uphold me by Your hand, that I do nothing less than follow hard after You, as if glued to you, and do not turn back for even a moment, whatever must die in the chase.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Images of Idolatry

And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD [YHWH]." (Exodus 32:4-5 NKJV)

"Hear, O My people, and I will speak,
O Israel, and I will testify against you;
I am God, your God! ...
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you."
(Psalms 50:7,21 NKJV)

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)

Witnesses to the ten plagues and parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites thought they could not be comfortable with YHWH until they put an identifiable face on Him. The strength and vigor of a calf seemed a fitting idol, made with gold intended to enrich them and God's sanctuary.

Even in the 21st Century, and even for witnesses to God's deliverance, it's not difficult to make equally absurd attempts to shape God into an image we believe suits Him and us, whether we shape Him as lenient or legalistic. We then easily conform ourselves to the same image.

Likewise, we too easily take the blessings God has provided, with which we might enrich God's kingdom, and make idols of them. It's not wrong to possess gold—family and freedom, health and wealth—as long as it's used for God's glory and doesn't become an idol itself.

Lord, You are too magnificent to behold, too great to be fully understood in earthy terms. Please give us hearts to continually seek Your face, to better see You as You are, and to wholeheartedly love You in terms as simple as, "I AM."

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sweet Aroma

"You shall make an altar to burn incense on... And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat ... where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning ... [and] at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations." (Exodus 30:6-8 NKJV)

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8 NKJV)

"He shall bring it [offering] to Aaron's sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD." (Leviticus 2:2 NKJV)

The astonishing power of smell can prove difficult to resist. A fragrance from the past brings a flood of memories in an instant of time. The aroma of food stimulates hunger. The perfume of one's beloved begs one to draw close.

Even the Lord is moved by the sweet aroma in the incense of our prayers. Prayer does not move God outside His will. But prayer has the power to move His will and His hand. Not any prayer, not all prayer, but the prayers of His saints—His royal priesthood of His believers—as a perpetual (abiding) offering made by fire (passion, fully defined).

One of the Lord's most amazing promises in all of Scripture is this: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7 NKJV)

Oh Lord, how awesome a privilege it is to boldly come before your throne, our admission purchased with Your Son's blood. Beg us to draw close, to abide in You, to welcome Your Word's abiding in us. Fill us Your Spirit, that we may offer prayers with a sweet aroma You cannot resist.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gifted Artisans

"And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest." ... Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD's offering.
(Exodus 28:2-3; 35:21 NKJV)

Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.
Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place ...
Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let Your saints shout for joy.
(Psalms 132:7-9 NKJV)

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24 NKJV)

Someone once said something like, "The sciences teach us to sustain life; the arts teach us to make life worth sustaining." Yet the work of gifted artisans is sometimes seen as frivolous and unessential.

God's gifts are never intended to be used for the frivolous and unessential. The arts bring to worship—both corporate and private—a purposeful and vital ministry. Whoever else our ministry reaches, it ministers first to the Lord Himself. The Father seeks out true worshipers, who minister to Him and to those He loves.

Worshipers may be in the congregation, faithful preachers, or gifted artisans. All are ministers—priests—clothed with righteousness to proclaim the Word of God in spirit and truth. And ministry is a sacred offering of worship, whether presented in church on Sunday morning, or to someone else, somewhere else, some other time of the week.

Lord YHWH, thank You for Your calling to us who are Christ's. Thank You for making us a royal priesthood, privileged to minister to You. Good Father, we ask: please reveal to us Your truth and give to us Your Holy Spirit in greater fullness, that we may bring before You a worthy offering of worship.

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

Saturday, October 4, 2008

God's Favorite Place

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. ... And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:1-2,8 NKJV)

For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:16 NKJV)

Thus says the LORD:
"Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest? ...
On this one will I look [with favor]:
On him who is [desperately] poor and of a contrite [broken] spirit,
And who trembles at My word."
(Isaiah 66:1-2 NKJV, amplified)

Our God desires to dwell close to His people. Ever since God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He has worked toward again having the sweet fellowship of "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" with us.

The Old Testament tabernacle was designed according to the heavenly sanctuary, and is a picture of the New Testament reality: God's presence dwelling inside the temple of our bodies. "Inside" is definitely close.

How does one draw the favor of the Lord's attention, and experience the filling of the Holy Spirit? By having a humble attitude desperate for God, by being broken for sin, and by hearing His Word with a heart so attentive that it trembles at His voice.

O Lord our God, King of the Universe, how is it that You, whose throne is in heaven, should long to dwell within us? It would be enough to be near You. Please humble us, break us, shake us—and look upon us as Your favorite place to rest.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love." — God

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy