Blog Archive

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fruit of the Word

[Jesus] cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?" And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables ... Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God."
~ Luke 8:8-11 (NKJV)

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit."
~ John 15:7-8 (NKJV)

In my Bible I have the following sermon notes on the parable of the seed and soil of Luke chapter 8. I apologize that I don't have the name of the pastor to whom they should be credited.

There are four requirements for growing fruit in a believer's life:
  1. Seed (the Word of God, Luke 8:11) planted deeply in good soil of a heart softened by water of the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27) to establish strong roots;
  2. Eliminate weeds and thorns (worries, riches, pleasures of this world) which compromise strong plants (Luke 8:14);
  3. Cut off (prune) whatever bears little or no fruit (John 15:2);
  4. Allow time for maturity (James 1:4).
There are four kinds of spiritual fruit:
  1. Repentance of sin (Matthew 3:8);
  2. The Spirit's fruit of love, joy, peace, patient longsuffering, kindness, goodness (God-ness, holiness), faithfulness, gentle meekness, temperate self-control (Galatians 5:22-23);
  3. New shoots (used by God to bring spiritual growth in the lives of others, 1 Corinthians 3:6);
  4. Service to others (Mark 10:43).
Living Word of God, thank You for entering our souls through Your precious Spirit. Please give us desire to produce fruit for You, enable us to cooperate with Your work to make us fruitful, and encourage us with the privilege of seeing that fruit.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who is Forgiven Little?

"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more? ... Do you see this woman? Her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But the one who is forgiven little loves little." ... Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; be going on in peace."
~ Luke 7:41-50 (author)

"Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof."
~ Luke 7:6 (ESV)

These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
~ Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)

Chapter 7 of Luke begins with the story of a wealthy Roman—a Gentile—who loved Israel and called her Messiah "Lord." He saw himself as utterly unworthy to even approach Jesus, let alone let Jesus enter his abode. Jesus identified his faith as greater than any He'd found in Israel.

The chapter concludes with the story of a woman called only "a sinful woman." Whatever her sin, it was obvious enough to be her identifying trait. Humbled by her many sins, her tears were sufficient to wash Jesus' feet, her love sufficient to kiss His feet before those who despised her.

Who is forgiven little? Only that person able to say, "I've never had a proud look or a lying tongue. My hands never caused the bloodshed of an innocent Man. I run from evil when I view it, and I sow only peace in my family."

Everyone is forgiven much. It's simply a matter of how little we perceive our sins to be that limits our capacity to love our Lord and Savior.

Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, You are my Lord and my God. You are Adonai and YHWH. My hands are stained with Your blood, and I gratefully accept You fully covering me with Your blood, under the shadow of Your wings, set under Your authority. I love You with as much strength as You provide.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Will of God

But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day ... He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:
~ Luke 6:11-13 (NKJV)

And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.
~ 1 Samuel 15:11 (NKJV)

... present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service ... that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
~ Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Can we agree that God's love and wisdom qualifies the will of God as both sovereign to and more beneficial than our own? It then seems prudent for us to know the will of God—but knowing the mind of the Lord comes with a cost.

The cost is ultimately our lives. The sacrifice of a martyr, whose earthly life is quenched for God's sake, is of inestimable worth. So is the sacrifice of the disciple who lays down one's life and will for God every day. And a living sacrifice doesn't stay on the altar for comfort.

That Samuel spent an entire night in prayer hints that understanding God's heart sustained him more than sleep did. Jesus Himself—God in the flesh submitting Himself to the necessity of sleep!—forfeited a night's rest for body to have rest of soul when choosing the men who would first experience hostility for the sake of the Gospel.

Sleep is good and necessary. So is rising early to seek the will of God for the day.

Heavenly Father, Your goodness gives us rest of body in sleep, and rest of soul in being alert to Your good and acceptable and perfect will. Please give us strength of body in sacrifice to You, wisdom to care for the body which is Your temple, and victory to awaken early and seek Your face and will.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Greater Works

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken ... And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
~ Luke 5:8-11 (NKJV)

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."
~ John 14:12 (NKJV)

Simon Peter thought fishing and the power of God he saw in Jesus didn't belong together. (Had he been more religious Peter might have offered to build a big fishing business and finance the ministry.) But Jesus intended to use the power of God to accomplish greater works of fishing than Peter might have ever envisioned.

God puts in each human soul the gifts and passions which may find a degree of satisfaction in worldly pursuits. If religious, we'll try to use our gifts in God's service. If we are acknowledge our worthlessness and walk away from everything but Him, He is poised to empower us in ways we cannot begin to grasp.

I'm embarrassed at some of the ways I've tried to anticipate how the Lord could use me or my talents. Our God is utterly unpredictable and thoroughly capable. We need only walk with Him, and He will lead us to do "greater works" with everything He's put in us.

Almighty Creator, how fearfully and wonderfully You have made us! Loving Father, how much You long to satisfy our souls! Please draw us into greater dependence on You, so that with Jesus now our Advocate, You might use us to do greater works than even Jesus did—to magnify Your name, not ours.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

John Philip Lang

And the devil said to Him, "... Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "
~ Luke 4:6-8 (NKJV)

"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)

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
~ Psalms 133:1 (NKJV)

Satan is the father of lies. He tried one of his most successful lies on Jesus: "If You will worship before me, all will be yours." Every single human believes that lie at the point of sin, for sin is rebellion against God and forming and alliance with hell (1 Samuel 15:23) committed for the sake of personal desire.

Alliances both unite and divide people. Today I will stand with my congregation to celebrate and declare alliance with Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God. Today is also the birthday of my brother, John Philip Lang. I have already wept and will certainly shed a good many more tears that we are separated by our alliances and do not together celebrate his birthday today.

Wherever you are, Johnny, please know that in my love for God I have never stopped loving you. I miss you more than my heart can bear. I pray that God will grant to me the joy of again dwelling with you in unity.

Father in heaven, Thank You for the impenetrable joy I have in You. You granted me a brother—my own blood and flesh—who once brought me great joy in his smile and charm and feisty mischief. You've allowed me to share Your sorrow in seeing divisions among Your children. Please unite all Your children, everywhere. Please unite me again to my brother.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anywhere, Any Time

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins ... Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you." Likewise the soldiers asked him ...
~ Luke 3:3,12-14 (NKJV)

Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:20 (NKJV)

I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere ... any time, I am content ... I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.
~ Philippians 4:11-13 (GNB)

Talk about a diverse audience! It seems everyone came to hear John the Baptist, and many took his words to heart asking, "What shall we do?" He gave them all instructions to live godly lives, exactly where they were. Not even tax collectors were told to look for another job.

I'm too often guilty of, "God, if You'd send me there, I could better serve You." God may send His servants somewhere else, but He intends to use them wherever they are. More important than circumstances is an attitude which says, "Okay Lord, anywhere, any time."

It's not enough to just submit our wills. If we want strength, we need to be satisfied. Content. Even happy. Anywhere, any time, our contentment is found in God, not what we do for Him. Anywhere, any time, we have strength for our circumstances because Christ is enough.

Sovereign Lord, You know our impatient hearts. You know how hard it is to be content where we are, and not say "if only." You are in control. Your will is perfect. Please help us know when to stay and when to go. Please give us contentment and strength in all places and times.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Freelance: FULL Part I

In the "old days," one took an oath in court with one hand on a Bible and the words, "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help me God."

These days it suffices to state, "I affirm that the testimony I give shall be the truth." My kids also think this is enough when I become their interrogator, judge, and executioner. They do avoid fibbing. They may also withhold truth to distort it, or offer details which distract and divert my attention from the truth. My mission is to get the full truth and nothing but the truth.

My Christian walk has been a lifelong quest for truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth. It began in the Roman Catholic church, which imparted three vital truths I've always believed: Jesus Christ is God; the Creator of earth's wonders is the God of the Bible; and truth is found in the Bible. Regrettably, the Catholic church buried truth under fallacies which not only distorted truth, but also distracted and diverted me from full truth. I grew up knowing just enough of God to awaken my hunger for truth, yet never received enough to be satisfied.

So I abandoned church and looked for contentment in men and truth in other religions, where the world told me such could be found. I became an adulteress in body and soul. If anything's worse than being hungry, it's being fed with poison. My life looked pretty good on the outside. On the inside, I felt dead and wanted to be dead.

God kept alive my hunger for truth. I returned to Catholic church for crumbs of God and the Bible. Then one autumn day in 1985 I visited a forbidden Protestant church and came face to face with the Word of God made flesh. I found not truth, but Truth. I fell in love with the Bible, began searching it, and have never been the same.

That first Bible church taught me salvation from sin but not surrender to the Savior. I rejoiced in early days of knowing Jesus' blood had paid my debt for sin. But my soul remained empty for three agonizing years, until I heard Acts 2:38 and God's Spirit breathed upon it. I was baptized and gave my life to God. In surrendering my life, I received His life and was born again.

Hunger for contentment became a hunger to live for God. I read my beloved Bible in search of Him, then cover to cover seven times over seven years. I saw that God's great love does not leave me the way it finds me, and I became hungry for discipleship. My second Bible church was teaching mercy through missions and ministry—but not through making disciples.

Hunger and thirst for righteousness led me to a third Bible church. It emphasized biblical righteousness, yet only nodded at relationship with God, who enables right living in knowing Him rather than mere knowledge of truth. I grew in truth, but also dwelt with a spirit of self-righteousness. It did not allow God to be worshiped in spirit and truth. I remained hungry.

Four previous churches each fed me precious truths, and I love them for it. Hunger for unhindered love of God and mankind has now led me to my present church. We're not perfect. But our stated purpose is to "love, learn and live God's Word." God is worshiped in spirit and truth. Love of God and His people and neighbor abounds.

I am full.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Glory of Your People Israel

"My eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel."
~ Luke 2:30-32 (NKJV)

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! ... But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles... Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear... Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.
~ Romans 11:1,11,20,25-26 (NKJV)

O seed of Abraham His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
He is the LORD our God ...
He remembers His covenant forever.
~ Psalms 105:6-8 (NKJV)

In my opinion, Israel's past glory climaxed when God's glory so filled Solomon's newly dedicated temple that the priests could not minister there. David had conquered her enemies and the nation was at peace. Solomon had yet to fall into the idolatry that would become rampant.

Israel shall yet reach the pinnacle of her glory. The children of Jacob wait for the Son of David they rejected at His first coming. Some argue there is no such thing as Jews of faith unless they believe in Jesus. I contend that Jews who call upon the name of the Lord live by the faith of the Old Testament covenant which YHWH did not break. Paul calls their blindness partial.

The day is at hand when the fullness of the Gentiles has entered the kingdom and Jesus returns. Even now, many eyes in Israel are being opened to see their Messiah.

Israel! Behold Your God! His name is Yeshua Ha-Mashiach (Jesus Christ). He brings glory to His people Israel. You need only say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, have mercy on Your chosen people! Open their eyes and hearts to fully receive You. We gentiles do not deserve the grace You've shown us at their expense. Please come and establish the glory of Your people Israel. Please put in their mouths the words to herald Your return.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Know the Lord

"Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John... he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
~ Luke 1:13,16-17 (NKJV)

And they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, "No; he shall be called John."
Luke 1:59-60 (NKJV)

"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
~ Jeremiah 31:34 (NKJV)

Zacharias (Zechariah) means "YHWH remembers." John (Yochanan) means "YHWH is gracious / shows favor." John the Baptist's ministry of turning hearts toward the Lord to prepare people for the Gospel is often characterized as preaching fiery condemnation of sin. Though he was martyred for that part of his message, his calling was as herald for the Gospel of grace.

Know the Lord. Know His grace. He does condemn sin. And He sets us free, from both sin's penalty and sin's power. The two go together. One cannot sincerely say "be my Savior and set me free from sin's penalty" without "be my Lord and keep on setting me free from sin power."

God's grace does not forget sin, but rather chooses to not remember sin because we know relationship with God. To know the Lord is to be united to Him. To know the Lord is to share His hatred for sin, to trust Him and His will, to believe He uses all for good and glorify Him for it.

To know the Lord, read the Bible more. Then some more. Then lots more.

Lord, You are good. Your ways bring peace. You give light to us in the shadow of death which occupies this world. You allow mortal man to know You—to be united with You through Your Spirit within us. To know You is to love You. Draw us to Yourself and fill us with more of You.

On a personal note: Today begins a walk through Luke, the Gospel with the stated intent "that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." Chapter 1 has 80 (!) verses I could write a dozen posts on. It is rich. You'll be blessed if you take time to read it all.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing...
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
~ Psalm 100 (NKJV)

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Thoughts on thanksgiving (or if you prefer, on giving thanks).

If we come before God's presence with singing, thanksgiving and praise, we're in a better position to talk to Him about all the other stuff we want, and are less likely to think we need it.

Expressing complaints cancels thanks.
Expressing thanks cancels complaints.

Christians have a custom of blessing food to give thanks. Jews have a custom of blessing the God who provides it to give thanks. [Thank you, Randy Ingermanson, for pointing this out in your book Double Vision.]

If people are truly grateful their gratitude should have a recipient (or Recipient).

Every November some people will say Thanksgiving should be every day, then forget to thank God more than a few times before the next November.

If we're able to receive everything (Paul's word above, not mine) that enters our lives, we'll more readily see God's will to use it for good.

If God denied us every other blessing, the gift of eternal life at the cost of His Son's blood is sufficient for our constant gratitude.

Father in heaven, Your goodness to us far exceeds our mortal ability to comprehend it. Please move us to thank You in everything. Please remind us to continually bless Your name as You continually bless us.

"Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! ...
Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise."
~ Robert Robinson,

from the traditional hymn Come Thou Fount [of Every Blessing]

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Let the Earth be Moved!

The LORD reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be moved!
~ Psalms 99:1 (NKJV)

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
~ Matthew 24:35 (NKJV)

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
~ Luke 3:4-6 (KJV)

We think of the earth as rock solid. God's Word says He established it upon the waters. We think of the earth as permanent. God's Word says the earth shall pass away. We think of the earth as fixed in its orbit. God's Word says, "Let the earth be moved!"

We are made of the same terra firma we walk upon. Our will and selfish lusts can be as unyielding as rock. And the human heart is the soil which needs to be broken up over sin, softened with the Spirit of living waters, and sowed with the seed of God's Word to bear fruit.

The Lord's kingdom on earth is coming soon. Both earth and heavens will be shaken, valleys will be filled, mountains laid low. God levels the very earth to make the way smooth before His coming. If we desire His Spirit to inhabit us more fully, our will must crumble before His.

Our Lord and King, You have shown us favor beyond measure to purchase us with Your blood. You deserve to reign in our hearts without being challenged by our flesh made of earth. Whatever we will that is less than Your will, please shake us and level us and move us to yield.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Heaven on Earth

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The LORD has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations...
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises...
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD.
~ Psalm 98 (NKJV)

"Dance like nobody's watching,
love like you've never been hurt,
sing like nobody's listening,
live like it's Heaven on Earth." — Mark Twain

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
~ Luke 17:20-21 (NIV)

Rejoice always.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NKJV)

The praise party that heaven will be occurs every Sunday morning at my church. Orchestra and choir are led to start the celebration with worhip in spirit and truth, God's Word is spoken faithfully, love among the saints is shared and expressed. It's a taste of heaven on earth I look forward to all week.

Psalm 98 says YHWH has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness (past tense). Jesus said the kingdom isn't something to wait for, but something that exists within us already.

Though we wait for the day Jesus will reign visibly on earth, the kingdom He has established in our hearts is also to be perceivable—manifest in the fruit of the Spirit, and visible to the nations because we rejoice always.

Sunday morning is just the practice session for eternity and a warm-up for the other six days.

Father in Heaven, the Majesty on High and Ancient of Days, we fall before Your throne to worship in spirit and truth. Jesus, our King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Beloved Bridegroom, we praise You and say, "Come quickly!" Spirit who is our Counselor, Comforter and Keeper, fill us with the light which reveals heaven on earth.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

His Holy Name

For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! ...
Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
~ Psalms 97:9-12 (NKJV)

[Satan said to the LORD,] "Stretch out Your hand and touch all that [Job] has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" ... And [Job] said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
~ Job 1:11,21 (NKJV)

I will bless YHWH at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in YHWH;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify YHWH with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
~ Psalms 34:1-3 (author)

No matter how many times I hear "Oh my God!" I don't get used to hearing the Lord spoken of as an exclamation which pays Him no heed. Even substitutes such as "oh my gosh" or "Jeez" (for Jesus) make me wince.

I've been guilty of having a potty mouth and have no room to condemn anyone. But I now desire to bless His name at all times. My Lord's given me great love for His name and the hunger to have His praise continually in my mouth, boasting of Him before others that they might likewise exalt His holy name.

In the story of Job, Satan's ultimate goal was that Job curse God. It had been said of Job that he made offerings on behalf of his children, lest they had even cursed God IN THEIR HEARTS. Job rebuked his wife's suggestion to "Curse God and die!" so he could be put out of his intense misery.

The greater misery would be the inability to bless the Lord in all circumstances.

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu Melach ha Olam! Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe! May we bless Your name when You give and when You take away. May we bless You when we rise and when we sleep and every moment in between. With the last breath You lend us, may we bless Your holy name!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Freelance: FACES

Since our family switched to hi-speed internet, I've begun regularly using Facebook. A couple or three times a day I check in to see the faces of people I know and love.

I like the ability to stay in close touch with people I dearly love but otherwise see and hear from infrequently. I like re-connecting to friends from the past and watching their lives from the sidelines. I love all the random praises cast out to God in a public forum.

But there's something disquieting in the pseudo dialogue that may satisfy a need for fellowship without ever connecting. More disturbing is the idea that Facebook—along with e-mail, internet chats, Twitter, the blogsphere, texting, and cell phones—provides the primary social connection for so many people to the exclusion of the real faces in our lives. These days, I begin to respond to a person who speaks, then realize their conversation is with a bluetooth.

I want to connect with as many real faces as possible. Each person who happens across my path—even strangers who face me as we pass through a doorway—is a human being I can connect with. I'll make eye contact and smile. My hidden agenda is to elicit a return smile.

I often slip in a friendly "Hi!" (and even a hostile face may soften). Many faces will remain next to mine long enough for light conversation. Some faces respond with a smile after a single cheerful remark. Some faces take a little more banter before offering a smile. Some faces need an work over of gentle empathy and subtle suggestion that today holds something good in it. Some faces carry the light of the Lord, and we easily share a praise. If at all possible, I'm determined to obtain a smile from every face.

Some faces carry a weight too heavy to offer any hint of a smile. Gentle empathy invites more serious conversation. Whether friend or stranger, I occasionally feel led by God's Spirit to ask, "Is there anything I can pray about for you?" The burdens are never light for the one who carries them. I am often stunned by what even a stranger is desperate to share. "My brother committed suicide." "My finances are a problem." "I'm very confused by life right now." "My father just died." When possible, I pray on the spot. A select few strangers are still on my prayer list from years ago, though I'll never know this side of heaven what's become of them.

I carry no illusions that I am God, prepared to solve the problems of the world. I am not exhorting personalities less outgoing than this uber-extrovert to do likewise.

I do suggest that we who are in Christ have a light to shine in a very dark world. God gives opportunities, and His Spirit enables us. If our eyes are open and hearts are willing, His light will reach others.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beauty of Holiness

Give to the LORD the glory due His name ...
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
~ Psalms 96:8-9 (NKJV)

And one cried to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!"
~ Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

And they do not rest day or night, saying:
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!"
~ Revelation 4:8 (NKJV)

When the Bible reveals His throne, God's glory is exalted in His beauty of holiness. Unlike the "holier than thou" human trait (which when visible is hideous), the true beauty of God's holiness is in His absolute love and goodness, utterly pure of malice and evil.

If we would become like Christ—asking "what would Jesus do?"—we will be holy like Him. May I suggest that the beauty of holiness is so inextricably tied to love that it looks like this?

Holiness is patiently longsuffering.
Holiness shows kindness.
Holiness does not envy.
Holiness does not parade itself.
Holiness is not proud.
Holiness does not behave rudely.
Holiness looks after others before itself.
Holiness is not readily irritated.
Holiness forgives offenses without keeping a record.
Holiness takes no pleasure in wrongdoing,
but delights in the truth.
Holiness puts up with all things,
keeps faith through all things,
maintains hope in all things,
endures all things.
Holiness never falls, fails, or ends.

Lord Jesus, Your beauty of holiness and goodness and love is glorious. We long to look upon it. Please draw our hearts to Your Word, that You would wash us with it, that we would be holy and beautiful and irresistible in Your eyes—that we would make following You inviting to others.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Praise and Worship, Hot and Cold

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving ...
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God.
~ Psalms 95:1-2,6-7 (NKJV)

"To the ... church at Laodicea write: '... You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. Therefore, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of My mouth.' "
~ Revelation 3:15-16 (author)

O put my tears into Your bottle ...
~ Psalms 56:8 (MKJV)

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You.
~ Psalms 63:1 (NKJV)

Laodicea had no water source. Its aqueducts brought warming water from the Hierapolis 95-degree hot springs, and refreshing water from the Colossae snow runoff. Otherwise-satisfying hot and cold waters were a distasteful lukewarm by the time they reached Laodicea.

Jesus expressed a desire for either hot or cold. It is commonly thought "cold" refers to the heart frigid to God, and such is desirable because it makes for a more needy convert. But because Jesus addresses those of His church, some think "cold" means something good in believers.

The Lord is no doubt warmed by zealous praise and thanksgiving filled with songs, joyful shouts, and uplifted hearts and hands. Perhaps the cool waters He finds refreshing are tears shed by a heart broken by that which breaks God's heart, by sweet communion with His Word and Spirit in early morning's chill, or by His child bowed low upon cold ground in worship.

Rock of our salvation, no fire of mortal praise is sufficient for You. YHWH our Maker, we cannot bow low enough before Your exalted throne. Teach our hearts to make both praise and worship which is pleasing to You.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stoop Down

O YHWH, You are God of Vengeance.
God to Whom vengeance belongs,
Shine forth and be seen!
Rise up, O Judge of the Earth,
Pay back to the proud a deserved compensation....
O the bliss of the one
To whom You teach discipline, YAH,
And train from Your law.
~ Psalm 94:1-3,12 (author)

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens.
Galatians 6:1-4 (The Message)

Why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.... Each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
~ Romans 14:10,12-13 (NKJV)

If there's anything Christians are hated for, it's recognizing sin—perhaps because we so often recognize and condemn sin in others, especially those who are not Christ's. In condemning their sin we judge and condemn them, whether intentionally or inadvertently.

Christ allowed that one without sin may "throw stones" at the sinner. We should by no means give sin a nod. But we are not appointed to judge sinners, and we must be careful before we even judge sin. The pride that cries "sin" may too quickly condemn what God does not.

Our approach needs to be cloaked in the humility and compassion which sees another staggering and stumbling under an unbearable load, and will stoop down to offer relief. If we are unwilling to stoop down, we ourselves may stumble and be compensated for our pride.

Judge of the earth, condemnation and vengeance are Yours alone. Jesus, thank You for shedding Your blood to set us free from sin. Holy Spirit, thank You for moving us to hate sin. Father, please manifest in us Your light and love to expose sin and relieve its oppressive weight.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Everlasting God

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty ...
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting....
The floods have lifted up their voice ...
The LORD on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.
Your testimonies are very sure.
~ Psalm 93 (NKJV)

All things are full of weariness ...
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:8-9 (ESV)

The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations.
~ 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (NIV)

In his book Tribes, marketing guru Seth Godin asserts, "Leadership ... is about creating change.... Life's too short to fight the forces of change.... The marketplace (every marketplace) rewards innovation: things that are fresh, stylish, remarkable, and new."

The sea of people is fickle. They lift up their voice and ever clamor for something new. The noise of many waters, like mighty waves, compels leadership to esteem the inventive above the established. We crave innovation in "every marketplace," and ears itch for new teachings.

We serve the Everlasting God. Unlike enticing fads which come and go, His Word and His way are very sure. Our solid Rock is established from of old. Yet He is never wearisome, continually offering life-giving bread and water.

The LORD need not be new. He makes everything else new.

Everlasting God, You are clothed with majesty. You will not faint. You don't grow weary. Before Your throne alone shall we bow. Please forgive us when we ask You to conform to our new ideas. Your mercies are new every morning, and they are more than sufficient.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Behold Your Enemies

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High....
I will triumph in the works of Your hands....
You, LORD, are on high forevermore.
For behold, Your enemies, O LORD,
For behold, Your enemies shall perish....
My eye also has seen my desire on my enemies.
~ Psalms 92:1-11 (NKJV)

If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.... And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! ... If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead ... in Christ all shall be made alive.... He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:14-26 (NKJV)

"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?" ...
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 (NKJV)

Because of the resurrection, everything Christ said and did—especially His death—is vindicated. We have confidence in His every Word.

Because of the resurrection, Christ lives. We serve a living God.

Because of the resurrection, we are victorious over Death, the greatest enemy. We shall not fear lesser enemies. We shall fear only He who is greater, Death's Conqueror.

Behold your enemies: Death, Sin, Flesh, World, Satan. All are defeated in the new life that is ours in the resurrection. Today, and every day, is our celebration of victory.

The Lord is on high forevermore!

Lord Jesus Christ, You are God and Ruler of all! You are Death's Conqueror! You are our King! We behold Your enemies who are our enemies, and we behold them defeated. Please move us to yield to Your Spirit and live in that victory. Please conform us to the life of Your Word.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Under His Wings

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD,
"He is my refuge ...
My God, in Him I will trust." ...
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge.

~ Psalms 91:1-2,4 (NKJV)

"I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative."
~ Ruth 3:9 (NKJV)

"I spread My wing over you ... Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord GOD.
~ Ezekiel 16:8 (NKJV)

Various accounts tell the story of a man who walks through the site of a recent fire and finds the remains of a charred bird, still fixed in a position with partially outstretched wings. The curious man prods the remains with his foot, and three live baby birds scamper out. The mother had instinctively gathered her own under her wings to protect them, even at the cost of her life.

The well-known image of a hen gathering chicks under her wing finds tender expression between man and wife, between God and His people. The psalmist knows that whatever threatens—danger, disease, death, despair—we have relationship with our God in which we find protection and provision when we abide close to Him, under His wings.

Never did a more clear picture exist of that protection and provision than when Jesus stretched out His arms upon a cross to shield us from the fire of hell, and to shield us from death by dying Himself.

Lord, thank You for including us in the people You call, "Mine." Thank You for the abundance and security we find in the bosom of Your Word and under the wings of Your Spirit. Thank You for the shelter of Your blood, under which death cannot touch us. Thank You for eternal life.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Freelance: FORSAKEN

For Good Friday I ask your indulgence for a longer than usual post.

I came to understand the meaning of forsaken on a spring day in 1999. That most difficult day of my life was not a Friday, but I can now call it Good.

The day starts with scarce overnight sleep. I'm one of those "natural" moms who gives breastfed babes access to mother's milk more or less at will during the night. This night, however, precedes a 6:30 a.m. hospital admittance for my seven-month-old son Joshua. He nurses at midnight, then protests when I withhold milk sometime around 3 a.m., per hospital protocol for an empty stomach. Shortly thereafter, our five-year-old awakens us with stomach flu. Once she resettles at 4:30, I shut off the alarm set for 4:45. The day has begun.

My son's rare congenital glaucoma requires a specialist at Ann Arbor, and careful examination inside an infant's eye can only be done under general anesthesia. I expect many trips to the specialist, because I'm familiar with treatment for the hereditary eye affliction. My mother was born completely blind, and surgery restored her ability to see light and color. My brother was born sighted. Despite numerous surgeries, complications took his eyesight as an adult.

Joshua mercifully sleeps for the long pre-dawn drive. But arrival at the bustling and unfamiliar hospital fully rouses him, his hunger, and his anger. Prodding nurses and a long wait aggravate my confused baby, who clutches at me and desperately wails for nourishment. The calm I project to him and to the staff betrays my inner agony.

I finally meet our doctor, who explains that if his exam confirms the necessity of surgery, he'd like permission to go ahead with it rather than schedule it later. I anticipated surgery, just not today. I approve the unexpected but logical request.

Yet the staff denies my own request. I understand I can't accompany Joshua through surgery. I ask to be with him everywhere else, as long as he is conscious. His personality doesn't tolerate strangers in the best of moods. I can't imagine leaving him with strangers in this distress. I'm given no other option.

The moment of separation arrives. My baby boy is surrounded by masked faces, in unfamiliar hands. He looks to me—the constant, trusted presence in his life. I turn away and abandon him. His parting screams pierce my heart.

I go to the recovery area. I ask permission to be with my son the minute he exits surgery. —We'll bring you to the recovery room when he's alert. I explain I'd like to be holding him when he wakes up. —Seeing a patient emerge from anesthesia can be very disturbing. Many parents pass out. I explain that I'll be alright, I've worked in hospitals, witnessed emergency surgery, seen broken bodies, screaming, vomiting. —It's different when it's your own child. You'll have to wait until after we determine he's stable. I ask how long it will be between the time he becomes conscious and the time he becomes stable. I receive a longsuffering smile. —We'll call you.

I retreat to the waiting area. I phone home to inform my husband John about the surgery. He asks a few questions, affirms his trust in my judgment, and says good-bye. I pick up a magazine and glance at pages I can't read. I've had no breakfast and stand before a vending machine. It has nothing I want.

A nurse periodically enters and leads parents through the door that reunites them with their children. Other parents watch T.V., even laugh. Their laughter mocks the turmoil of separation raging within me and I step out into the hall. Within seconds I realize that out here I'll miss the nurse who calls for me and I rush back into the waiting area.

I go back to the phone and call John. He asks how surgery went. I tell him there's no news yet, I'm just waiting. He mentions the five-year-old cries for Mommy between bouts of vomiting, then hurries his good-bye. (Did I mention John will be engaged with the building inspector, carpet installers, and fill-dirt delivery that our remodeling schedule requires today?)

I think about my sister in Colorado. It's two hours earlier there and she's sleeping. I don't call.

I pull out my pocket Bible. I page through several passages but find no comfort. I turn to the Gospel of John, where life spills out everywhere. The words convey neither life nor even comprehension. The paper and ink in front of me are as empty as the magazine was. I stare in confusion at the tiny volume where I've always found solace. I put the Bible away.

Whenever I pray, God feels as if He's simply behind a curtain, unseen but receiving every word. So I try to pray. My soul is screaming inside. But today my words fall to the floor, as if the room is empty. As if a brick wall has been erected between me and God.

In this room full of strangers, I am utterly, agonizingly, unbearably alone.

—My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?

The minutes feel like hours. My name is called. I'm led through a door and recognize my son's distant, terrified screams. My insides are churning, but I refuse to show it, afraid that I'll be banished if the staff smells weakness. Mother's instinct demands I run to the screams, but I walk placidly.

We turn into a cubicle and I take in everything at once. A nurse is attempting to thrust a bottle of cold juice into a mouth that never drinks anything but milk from a mother's warm breast. My son's body wrestles against hers. His arms extend straight out at the sides, attached to boards which prevent him from touching his face. Bandages cover his eyes, plunging him into darkness.

I ask to hold my baby. I pull him into my arms, speak Mommy words, and sink down into the rocking chair. When he begins to calm I ask to feed him, allow him to finally nurse, and feel his sobs slowly subside. I don't let him out of my arms until I strap him in to drive home.

The grueling day drags on. Exhaustion begs me to drop, but I must first navigate the crawling construction traffic home. I must comfort the child with stomach flu. I must sort out construction at home. Tomorrow I will drive back to Ann Arbor for an 8 a.m. follow-up doctor visit.

Joshua nurses and sleeps. After two days I'm concerned that he doesn't stay awake. Our family doctor assures me anesthesia has worn off by now. I phone my brother and ask if the anesthesia was a problem after eye surgery, if he had difficulty staying awake. He tells me that the only way to escape the intense post-surgical eye pain was to sleep. —And those eye drops really sting too.

It didn't occur to me that the eye drops hurt. I just figured a baby doesn't like being held down and that's why he fights eye drops. If John's not home to hold Joshua still, my adult body must pin baby arms to the floor with my knees while I gently sit on his thrashing body and use two free hands to force the drops into his eyes. One prescription is twice a day, the other is four times. Now the routine comes with the knowledge that I'm inflicting pain on him.

For several days I'm too overwhelmed to know how to function. I pray constantly to know what to do. God does not fail to answer. —Feed the kids. —Throw in a load of laundry. —Time for eye drops. He gives me only the very next step.

When I can think again I pray with desperation. I tell my God I can accept whatever His will is. I can accept if my son is destined to be blind. But I hate inflicting this pain on him and sending him away from me when he doesn't understand why. I plead with God to heal my son. I beg everyone who prays to ask for healing.

Six weeks later I awaken at 4:45 a.m. and drive back to Ann Arbor. The doctor explains they'll do the same surgery. Future surgeries and ongoing treatment will depend on the level of eye pressure. I tell the doctor I will not wait in the recovery area this time. I will comply with any restriction they want to impose on me, but I will not allow my son to be alone in recovery. The doctor says something about hospital policy. I politely tell him I understand, but unless I wait outside the operating room we're leaving now.

The doctor shrugs okay. It's not a big deal to him. His assisting physician glares at me with contempt. I follow them to an operating room, and sit on a stool outside the door. Several minutes later, the doctor emerges with a puzzled look on his face. The glaucoma is gone. There will be no surgery. I grab him and hug him. I thank him for telling me that God has answered prayer. The assistant will not look at me.

I understand why God hid from me for a few moments in an Ann Arbor hospital. He did not forsake me, but He did give me a taste—a very small taste—of what it is to refuse the pleas of a beloved Son, to hand an only Son over to strangers, to inflict pain on One's Own Son, to forsake that Son so He knows death's full agony. My agony led to my son's divine healing. Greater yet, it gave me deeper appreciation for what Father and Son endured at Calvary.

Long after Ann Arbor I realized God had given me calm before the storm, even though the calm was forgotten amid the storm. In January 1999, as the Y2K scare warmed, I felt distress to think of what desperate scenario could emerge from a computer melt-down in the wake of earth's last days. I talked with God about the conflict between fear of separation from my children, and the knowledge I must trust Him and not fear.

The Lord did not answer in His Spirit's familiar, still small voice. On that extraordinary occasion, He spoke with an audible voice—a voice as clear as if I could see Him. His voice left neither question about who has spoken nor doubt about the words' truth.

God said to me, "You will not be tested beyond ability to stand. My grace is sufficient."

The words stilled anxiety in the moment they were spoken. They will carry me to His throne.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.

~ Psalms 90:15 (NKJV)

For the Lord will not cast off forever.
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 3:31-33 (NKJV)

At least one Builidng His Body follower is a fan of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). I again present Spurgeon as a "guest blogger," offering his commentary on Psalms 90:15.

None can gladden the heart as thou canst, O Lord, therefore as thou hast made us sad be pleased to make us glad. Fill the other scale. Proportion thy dispensations. Give us the lamb, since thou has sent us the bitter herbs. Make our days as long as our nights.

The prayer is original, childlike, and full of meaning; it is moreover based upon a great principle in providential goodness, by which, the Lord puts the good over against the evil in due measure. Great trial enables us to bear great joy, and may be regarded as the herald of extraordinary grace. God's dealings are according to scale; small lives are small throughout; and great histories are great both in sorrow and happiness. Where there are high hills there are also deep valleys....

If we have fierce afflictions we may look for overflowing delights, and our faith may boldly ask for them. God who is great in justice when he chastens will not be little in mercy when he blesses, he will be great all through; let us appeal to him with unstaggering faith.

Father, You know the weight of what You place upon our shoulders. Your love does not load us with more than You give us the grace to bear. Please increase our faith to trust You through great trials—and trivial annoyances. Let us not forget to thank You for the multitude of Your mercies.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Long, Lord?

A Contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite.
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever;
With my mouth will I make known
Your faithfulness to all generations....
How long, LORD?
Will You hide Yourself forever?
~ Psalms 89:1,46 (NKJV)

I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.
~ Psalms 143:6 (NKJV)

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.
~ Reginald Heber, Holy, Holy, Holy traditional hymn

Ethan the Ezrahite once waited for the Lord to show Himself. He is now in the Lord's blessed presence, where he will continue to sing of the mercies of the Lord, a delight begun on earth. Like people who love the Lord, music is one of the few things to follow us from earth to heaven.

Surely Ethan knew the pain and the pleasure—the agony and the ecstasy—which praise may evoke. When one praises the Lord with abandon one thirsts for ever more of Him. No matter how close one comes to the throne, the eye of sinful man may not see the glory. In deepest passion of praise, passion's pain can overwhelm.

Jesus' love for us knew the depths of passion's pain. He did not draw back at the point where His love for us pierced Him. We can do no less in our praise for Him.

Lord God Almighty, You are the great and powerful King of the universe, and You are Ruler of our hearts. You command us to love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then leave us spent, thirsting desperately for all of You. How long, Lord, until we see Your glory?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In the Dark

Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
~ Psalms 88:12 (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
~ 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

There's plenty in my past I regret. I used to ask God how He could let me sink so low. Now I thank Him that He let me sink no lower. I thank Him that He called me out of darkness—and that He leaves me with enough memory of it to have compassion for those still in the dark.

Though sin is never God's will, like everything else He can use it for good, and will use it for good in the lives of those who live Him. Those times we've spent living in the dark gives us a testimony that God reaches out to all people. We are able to be His light to those reluctant to come to God because they think they've passed the point where God cares about them.

If God can use darkness for good, how much more can He use the light? We must continually seek out His Word and Spirit and be filled with the light which drives all darkness away.

Amazing God of amazing grace, how sweet the sound and smell and taste and touch of Your light! Thank You for not leaving us in the dark. Thank You for the beauty of Your holiness. Thank You for filling us with light, that it might shine into the darkness and point to Your glory.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Gates of Zion

The LORD loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God! Selah
~ Psalms 87:2-3 (NKJV)

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
~ Psalms 24:7 (NKJV)

Thus says YHWH: "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? ...
Into this [place] I will look:
Into one who is poor and of a broken spirit,
Who trembles at My word."
~ Isaiah 66:1-2 (author)

There are various interpretations about the exact meaning of the name Jerusalem. I'm inclined to go with "headwaters of peace." Jerusalem represents Christ's bride, and her ultimate destiny is as the source of waters of complete peace where the Prince of Peace makes His throne.

The gates of Zion are as the gates of the human heart. Our King of Glory waits for us to fling open every door within and surrender to His full possession, that He may enter in as Lord. Though His throne is in heaven, the place He most desires to dwell is a humble heart filled with love.

King of Glory, Your majestic throne in heaven is holy and surpasses every place of earth. How is it that You desire to dwell within us? Please move us to yield to Your Spirit, who makes us holy and fills us with love for You, that You would find Yourself at home in our hearts.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009


A prayer of David.
Incline Your ear, O YHWH, and answer me,
For I am afflicted and needy.
Preserve my soul, for I am devoted to You.
You are my God—
Deliver Your servant who trusts in You....
Bring joy to the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O my Lord, I lift up my soul....
You, YHWH, have given me comfort and help.
~ Psalms 86:1-2,4,17 (author)

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."
~ John 6:63 (NKJV)

Blessed be the ... God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)

David faced numerous threats to his life. Yet many times David asked God for deliverance of his soul. Here he cries out in affliction of soul, affirms his devotion to God, and asks to be delivered to a place of joy. David calls upon YHWH as his God, whom he trusts for comfort and help.

We may call upon others for help, according to the role they have in our lives. "You are my husband / wife / pastor / doctor—please ..." Then there are deep places in our soul only God can reach, times when we can only say, "You are my God—set me free and bring me joy!"

There are hurting people in our lives for whom our words profit nothing. But when we ask God to speak through us, we may be able to comfort with the words of the Spirit, the words of life.

Oh God, You are my God, and I shall ever praise You. Thank You for inclining Your ear toward us and hearing our desperate cries. Thank You for the comfort and joy and deliverance from affliction You grant. Thank You for the privilege of being used by You to bring others comfort.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mercy Glories

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
~ Psalms 85:9-10 (NKJV)

Be speaking and be doing as those about to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Dispensation of mercy glories over dispensation of justice.
~ James 2:12-13 (author)

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes....
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
when mercy seasons justice.

~ William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

So a stimulus package has been approved. Justice lost this round. Taxpayers shall share the wealth—likely with D.C. as much as with the economically struggling.

Nonetheless, if our nation behaved itself in accordance with Christian principles, we would have never come to this. We might not have suffered the injustice of government's compulsion to redistribute non-existent dollars if we had voluntarily pulled together. We might have seen salvation from economic hardship in the first place if our nation still feared God.

We've not adequately shown mercy, and we shall thus suffer injustice. We can take consolation in the fact that mercy glories over justice. If compelled to bow to injustice for the sake of mercy, we can thank God that we shall likewise receive mercy rather than justice for our sins.

O Lord our God, King of the Universe, the earth and all its fullness are Yours, the world and those who dwell therein also. All we are and all we have belongs to You. Please give us hearts ever ready to show mercy. Please make us ever grateful that Your mercy glories.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Freelance: FINGERPRINTS

"There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle."
~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Last week I volunteered to drive for church group outing. I cleared the kid junk out of our family's 11-passenger van and it looked otherwise pretty clean—until an adult sat in the same spot usually occupied by my ten-year-old son. I suddenly noticed that fingerprints covered the window. We're talking write-in-the-fog-then-wipe-it-around leftovers.

I look over my right shoulder through that window all the time and never notice the fingerprints that have probably been there since before Christmas. That smear is as invisible to me as the kid noise circulating through our house like forced-air heat and the obstacle course clutter which has defined our decor since our fifteen-year-old was born.

How interesting that "adults on board" illuminates fingerprints, pillow talk amplifies kid murmurs, and guests render benign toys and laundry baskets impolite.

The evidence of five kids so thoroughly pervades my house that I take no note of it. Likewise, evidence of God's presence so thoroughly pervades our world that people fail to see it. His fingerprints nonetheless mark every part of our lives, invisible until we look at them rather than through them.

The magnificent grandeur and minute intricacy of creation only begin to testify to His presence. The universe by its size alone defies the evolutionary theory that it sprang forth unaided from a big bang. Its complex beauty evidences an Artist extraordinaire. Its order and seasons and symmetry are inextricably connected beyond the most sophisticated computer's capability.

The autonomy of life still astounds me. How are plants programmed to react to temperature and light, and distinguish which nutrients to draw from the soil? What tells animals how to survive and reproduce and raise young? Watching life emerge from my body (times five) only sharpens the impossibility that a microscopic seed grows into a human, who takes in invisible air and food made of dirt, who functions with rational thought and raw emotion, who survives the world's bitter adversities and climate—who is granted relationship with the Creator.

This relationship is the pinnacle of awe-filling testimony to God's presence. In a world filled with sin and pain and suffering and utter hopelessness, our God seems to take exceptional pleasure in taking what is most hideous and hateful and transforming it. Tragedy is made triumph. What is most devoid of potential becomes precious. From death, everywhere, springs life.

God uses all things for good. If we perceive a situation as a tomb's frigid chamber filled with fog, God uses the fog to draw a fleeting picture with His finger upon the window to something better, leaving behind His invisible yet unmistakable fingerprints.

If we fail to see God's fingerprints, it's because we don't look.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
~ Psalms 84:4-5 (NKJV)

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "
~ Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)

From 24-years-ago Colorado, vacations were 150-250 miles per day on two-lanes for a couple of leisurely weeks to enjoy vistas as far north and west as Jasper and Vancouver. From Michigan, vacation is now 1300 freeway miles in 24 hours before enjoying a lively two-week visit in Colorado—or a quick skip by plane or car for a whirlwind long-weekend.

Clich├ęs abound about life being a journey not a destination. Yet we still allow packed-to-the-brim days to deny us appreciation for the pilgrimage of life. Our eternal destination lies in one of two places. How we journey there is a test to determine eternal destiny.

Kingdom life will one day be a glorious and leisurely pleasure of praise amid people we love in a place to exceed any earthly locale. For now the kingdom is a pilgrimage, often to unexpected places. Wherever life takes us, before our eyes is a panorama of opportunities to seek God, love people, and appreciate the experience.

Good Shepherd, You lead us to green pasture and beside still waters. You carry us through the land that is plentiful and the desert place, and show us the beauty in each. Open our eyes to see the beauty and goodness You wait to reveal in even our lowest hours.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.