Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wages of Sin

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

Wages of Sin

"If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering."
~ Leviticus 5:17-18 (NKJV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
~ Romans 12:1 (NIV)

The first five books of Leviticus detail the sacrifices to be made for a multitude of reasons, sin being primary. The section concludes with the offering required when a person sinned and didn't know it.

Despite good intentions, sin is still sin, and sin must be dealt with.

Sin was very, very expensive under the old covenant. Using the best animals of the flock or herd in sacrifice for sin would be like us sacrificing something important to making a living—computer, tools, work clothing. If committing a sin meant forfeiting your cell phone, how long would it take to get your attention?

Yet more was lost than the monetary value of an animal. To demonstrate clearly that the wages of sin is
death, an animal's life was snuffed out. "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22 ESV) In the course of 1500 years of sacrifice, millions of animals were slaughtered to point to the ultimate blood sacrifice Jesus paid at Calvary.

Because sin's eternal cost has been paid, we can sometimes forget sin's ongoing cost here in temporal realms of this life. Not only does each sin bring its related consequences, it robs us of spiritual life and closeness to God.

The wages of sin is still death.

Ironically, the way to avoid sin is also death—death of self. It is when we daily offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, laying down our own will, that we truly live.

Father in Heaven, we belong to You. You have purchased us with the precious blood of Your Son, the Lamb of God. Please help us to freely give to You whatever we hold dear. Please help us believe that You always offer us something greater.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Question of the Week:
Value of the Old Testament?

"Those who cannot learn from history
are doomed to repeat it."
~ George Santayana

Since we have the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, how pertinent is the Old Testament to us now? from John B.

The Old Testament is sometimes considered either irrelevant or outright offensive. It portrays a God of wrath and judgment who directs war and destruction. The New Testament is filled with teachings of grace, and seems to portray a completely different God of love and mercy.

Human history was remarkably changed by Jesus and His followers, who presented teachings which challenged religious traditions and introduced an entirely different way of seeing God. To many people, the Old Testament is "good riddance."

Yet upon closer examination, there is nothing in the New Testament which contradicts the law of the Old Testament, nor has God Himself changed. The change is how we relate to God, because the death of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness for sins which completely alters our ability to have peace with God.

The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ,
that we might be justified by faith.
But after faith has come,
we are no longer under a tutor.
~ Galatians 3:24-25 (NKJV)

The Old Testament's 39 books comprise 78 percent of the Bible and cover some 3600 years of history. 27 New Testament books, written over a period of less than 40 years, depict less than a century of history.

The New Testament is the tip of the iceberg. To ignore the Old Testament is to miss most of the Bible's treasure. Not only is it a wealth of history, poetry and prophecy, the Old Testament:

• Accurately defines the holy, merciful, and unchanging character of God;

• Establishes a solid foundation for faith;

• Presents God's laws, which are for humanity's benefit;

• Explains the world's need for the Lord's Messiah;

• Prophesies the ministry of Jesus, giving us a solid testimony of God's plan and His ability to fulfill that plan;

• Evaluates the furious war between good and evil which still rages today;

• Provides vivid object lessons which the Lord authored to give us a graphic depiction of how Christians should live out their faith.

Here is an example of that last point. When the Israelites reached the Promised Land, they were commanded to be unrelenting and uncompromising in eliminating the pagan nations, lest wickedness pollute the people set apart to the Lord—and therefore defame His name. Allowing pagans to coexist led to immorality, brought the Lord's discipline, and the Israelites missed out on God's fullest blessings.

Believers in Jesus Christ are now citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are commanded to be unrelenting and uncompromising in eliminating the sin for which we have been forgiven, lest wickedness pollute people set apart to the Lord—and defame His name. Allowing sin to coexist leads to immorality, brings our Father's discipline, and we miss out on His fullest blessing.

And incidentally, while the New Testament puts new emphasis on God's grace, it likewise depicts His wrath.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on March 27. To see the comments, click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sharing Rest with God

"Rest has cured more people than all the medicine in the world."
~ Harold J. Reilly

Sharing Rest with God

" '... the seventh [day] is the Sabbath of rest ... a sign between Me and [My people]; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.' "
~ Exodus 31:15-17 (NKJV)

"Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that ... [you] may be refreshed."
~ Exodus 23:12 (NKJV)

" 'Well done, good and faithful servant ... Enter into the joy of your lord.' "
~ Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)

How intriguing that on the seventh day of creation, the Lord "rested and was refreshed." The Hebrew word translated "refreshed" is naphash, and refers to breathing. Even in contemporary conversation, we recognize the need to put life on hold and "take time to breathe."

The idea is that we have worked with excellence for six days, and now take time to simply appreciate what we've accomplished with a satisfied sigh, just as God did. Even repetitive tasks without apparent achievement prove our faithfulness in building lives of value. Regardless of how content we are with ourselves, a day spent resting with Him offers opportunity to enter the joy of the Lord's satisfaction with His "good and faithful servant."

Surely even after six thousand years since creation, God continues to finds refreshment in the mutual satisfaction of shared rest.

Lord, thank You for creating the Sabbath for us. Please teach us to use it for its fullest blessing to You and to ourselves. Please help us connect with You in new ways.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Praying for a Miracle

"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

Praying for a Miracle

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son... 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 14:13; 15:7 (NKJV)

"... because your heart was tender ... and you humbled yourself before Me ... I also have heard you," says the LORD.
~ 2 Chronicles 34:27 (NKJV)

Webster's defines a miracle as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs."

Miracles are everywhere. Some of the best fun in life is glimpsing God perform them. I like to pray in such a way that the Lord is most likely to work a miracle. I don't believe our Lord is manipulated, nor that He acts according to ritual or formula. But He does act according to certain principles. Among them are His will, the Father's glory, and the condition of our hearts.

When praying, a primary consideration is what the Bible reveals about God's nature, and to what request He is most likely to say 'yes' because it is consistent with His character—that is, consistent with His name. To pray "in His name" is not to tack those words to the end of prayer, but to consider how prayer might honor His name and will.

Jesus' will is to glorify His Father. Another consideration for prayer is how a request might be presented so that the answer will be attributed directly to God, and He might be thanked. When Jesus performed miracles, people recognized healing as a gift from divinity and frequently responded with worship. When prayers are so generic that we're unlikely to attribute an answer to the Lord, how likely are we to give thanks? When prayer is specific, the answer is more easily recognized as "divine intervention in human affairs"—and more likely to result in worship.

One cliché says, "Good morning, this is God—I do not need your help today." Phooey on that! The Father delights to include us in His work! Loving service and obedience cooperate with Him. So does no more than our willingness to humbly and persistently engage Him in prayer. As Tom Wright says, "I pray because God always intended to bring humans in on the act without letting them get proud in the process."

Fellowship with divinity is one reason I'm hooked on prayer. Witnessing miracles is another.

Are there any miracles you'd like to see in your life?

Lord Jesus, please draw us to abide in You that our hearts might know the Father through Your Word. Holy Spirit, please help us to pray as we ought. Father God, please engage us in Your work, that we might bring You the glory of which You are so very worthy.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faithfulness, in Forty Words

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
~ Lamentations 3:21-23 (NKJV)

Faithfulness, in Forty Words

Faithfulness is character's choice, not a feeling.

Faithfulness is slogging through slough until one sloughs off the slough.

Faithfulness is clinging to the Lord—amid comfort, amid affliction—because He first proves Himself faithful in the face of our infidelity.

If forty words wasn't enough, you'll find more great words at the blog carnival hosted today by Bridget Chumbley on Faithfulness.

And here is God my Father's faithfulness, painted in song.

Great is Thy Faithfulness *

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast bee Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
* Lyrics, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" by Thomas O. Chisholm, © 1923

Monday, March 22, 2010

Question of the Week:
How Much is Too Much?

"God in His goodness sent the grape
To cheer both great and small;
Little fools will drink too much
And great fools none at all."
~ Unknown

Is gluttony a less serious sin than others? From @nicolewick
At what point does patriotism become an idol? From
Russell Holloway

How much of a good thing is bad?

The same could be asked of alcohol, sex, weapons—things not commonly called “good.” Yet the Bible speaks favorably of wine as God’s blessing, of physical intimacy between a man and his wife as cause for rejoicing, of the sword as God’s instrument. Problems arise when such things are used apart from God’s intent for them.

The righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God...
Go, eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:1,7 (NKJV)

When we are “wise and righteous”—when God is first in our lives, when we learn the Bible’s truths, when we operate in love of God, neighbor and self—food strengthens bodies used in God’s service, and even for feasting to celebrate His blessings. But gluttony destroys our bodies, and therefore violates the commandment “You shall not murder.”

Is that a “serious” enough sin?

In latter times some will depart from the faith ... speaking lies in hypocrisy ... forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For ... nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
~ 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (NKJV)

There are reasons to abstain from sex (being unmarried, being called by God to a life of celibacy). There are reasons to abstain from alcohol (history of alcohol abuse, or to respect those who might have difficulty around alcohol). Even abstinence from food is good in times of fasting. In situations where love comes first, a Christian might refuse otherwise good things.

But when religious legalists disregard love and Christian liberty, commanding what God does not or forbidding what God does not, they depart from the faith and speak lies. When patriotism or pacifism or any other -ism becomes our guiding principle rather than God’s Word, it is an idol.

Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
~ Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV)

Love God. Love neighbor and self without indulging neighbor and self.

Avoid extremes of either legalism or license to sin.

And remember to give thanks before meals. It’s hard to thank God for junk food with a straight face.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on March 20. To see additional comments, click here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Forgotten Not, Part III

“Learning: discovering that the impossible is merely the improbable.”
~ @daffynitions

Forgotten Not, Part III

"When they had pasture, they were filled;
They were filled and their heart was exalted;
Therefore they forgot Me."
~ Hosea 13:6 (NKJV)

Throughout history, a cycle repeats itself. God's people are distressed, they cry out to Him, then He has compassion and blesses them. Filled once again, their attention turns to the blessing, they see themselves as exalted, and the Blessor is forgotten. Before long, a proud people who forgets the Lord is no longer blessed by Him, and cries out to Him, and He has compassion ...

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
~ 2 Peter 1:9 (NKJV)

Christians are woefully susceptible to a similar cycle. We find joy in salvation from the guilt of sin. We discover new blessings in being a child of the King. We become exalted and expect to have no hardship, forgetting that our God did not say we would be without tribulation in this world, but to take courage in tribulation, because with Him, we overcome it. We again recognize the sin of pride, are again humble before Him, discover new strength and blessing, become exalted ...

Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.
~ Jeremiah 2:32 (NKJV)

What do little girls dream about? Being a beautiful, beloved bride. Once engaged, a woman is likely to obsessively think of the wedding day and what she will wear for her bridegroom. So how is it that a Christian now betrothed to Christ should not be obsessively thinking of Him, and of the clothing of righteousness with which He attires us?

"This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
~ Luke 22:19 (NKJV)
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
~ John 13:35 (NKJV)

Among the things Jesus asked of us in His final hours were these: let Him be forgotten not, let our brethren in Christ be forgotten not. Jesus deemed our unity with one another so important that He instructed us to be reconciled to one another before coming to offer Him worship.

"If you ... remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
~ Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV)

We are asked by our Lord to do difficult things. Return love for hatred. Forgive. Bless those who curse us. The impossible is merely the improbable when God is forgotten not. And in our remembering to love others in His name, He promises yet once again that we are forgotten not.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
~ Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV)

To recap "Forgotten Not" ~
Part I: Israel is forgotten not, for the Lord fulfills all He has promised her
Part II: We are forgotten not, for the Lord has engraved on His hands with nails
Part III: The Lord ask of us that He be forgotten not, in our love for one another

Lord, perform the improbable in us. Amid blessing, let us remember You, remember others. Teach us to love as You do.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Forgotten Not, Part II

"Tattoo: an expensive and painful way to guarantee
the police can make a positive identification."

Forgotten Not, Part II

A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
~ Psalms 13:1 (NKJV)

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands."
~ Isaiah 49:15-16 (NKJV)

David's cry to the Lord is one readily understood. Which one of us has not been in a place of waiting on God with the thought, "How long, O Lord?" Though the mind knows God does not forget us, the heart sobs, "how long will You hide?"

Isaiah depicts a tender picture, of a woman and nursing babe. The Lord says even if a mother puts a baby from her mind—perhaps while he sleeps and she is about other things—we are forgotten not. He puts us where we are ever before Him, where He cannot forget us even momentarily, on His hands. We are not merely held there, we are permanently inscribed, as a tattoo might be.

Or as scars might be engraved with nails.

The wounds of Jesus were still evident in His resurrection body. Since our resurrection bodies are restored, they will be surely healed of the traumas inflicted. Martyrs burned and mutilated for their testimony will again be whole. Yet I think perhaps they may still bear scars of wounds willingly accepted in their love for God—just as Jesus kept upon His hands the graven reminder of His love for us, though they identified Him as a crucified criminal.

A tattoo is a means of permantent and positive identification for a person's cause on earth, considered beautiful by its owner. I cannot think that our scars would be anything less than beauty marks in Heaven.

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
~ Galatians 6:17 (NKJV)

Lord Jesus, we bear many kinds of wounds and scars for righteousness, if not upon our bodies then upon our hearts. Please keep us mindful of Your willful action to engrave us upon Your hands. Please make us willing to suffer without resentment.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forgotten Not, Part I

Note: The numerous links of this post are for the historical passages of Scripture referenced.

"Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself."
~ Golda Meir

Forgotten Not, Part I

Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house." And the name of the second he called Ephraim: "For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction."
~ Genesis 41:51-52 (NKJV)

"I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!"
~ Isaiah 44:21 (NKJV)

The northern ten tribes of Israel—which seceded from the southern kingdom of Judah after the time of Solomon—were sometimes called "Ephraim" by the Lord. The name's favoritism is first evident in about 1830 B.C., when Jacob (Israel) lay on his deathbed and prophesied of the future for his sons. He gave the firstborn son's double inheritance not to Reuben (who had violated one of his father's wives), but to Joseph, and specifically to Joseph's younger son Ephraim.

Because of gross idolatry, the northern kingdom ("Ephraim") fell to Assyria in 722 B.C. The southern kingdom ("Judah," from which the name "Jews" is derived) would fall to Babylon in 586 B.C. for the same reason, with her people made Babylonian captives before returning to the land of Israel seventy-plus years later. But Ephraim was not made Assyrian captives. Instead, her people were "scattered among the nations," and did not officially return to Israel ("aliyah") until the nation's modern rebirth in 1948.

2,700 years is an impossibly long time to be away from home. Any other people would be long forgotten by the land, their existence preserved only by the annals of history.

Jacob once placed Ephraim, which means "abundantly fruitful," before Manasseh, which means "causing to forget." God's people were later spoken of as fruitful rather than as forgotten. Their survival, despite attempted annihilation by numerous persecutors throughout the millennia, testifies to the Lord's faithfulness.

He has made Israel fruitful and forgotten not, her restoration fulfilled in these, the latter days.

When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.
~ Deuteronomy 4:30-31 (NKJV)

Lord YHWH, thank You for Your love and mercy, new each morning, lasting throughout the ages. Please give us patience for the few hours we are upon the earth.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Question of the Week: Why Infighting?

"Love, friendship and respect do not unite people
as much as a common hatred for something."
~ Anton P Chekhov

Why do Christians fight amongst themselves?
... insult and condemn each other with such hatred?
from Susan Isaacs

Every four years, vicious infighting occurs within Republicans and Democratic parties during the presidential primaries. The moment their respective candidates are chosen, parties band together against a new "enemy." As soon as a president is elected, he'll call for unity against the nation's true enemies: foreign attack, domestic trouble, federal bureaucracy.

Divisions exist unless individuals lay down personal agenda for the sake of the common good.

In time of crisis, people band together for survival. Throughout history, leaders have rallied people to unite in working for a common goal, especially when people feel oppressed by circumstance. But in time of relative comfort and security, people are less motivated toward the self sacrifice required for singleness of mind and purpose.

Around the globe, those who serve, love, and live for Jesus Christ suffer various degrees of persecution. In nations where they are targeted most violently, they closely unite for survival. In places like the United States, we can afford the luxury of disagreement—and we indulge in it.

Unity requires active self-sacrifice and purposeful relationship-building. Human nature desires indulgence not sacrifice. To overcome division is to overcome human nature, and requires powerful motivation. As Chekhov observes, hatred is a powerful motivation.

Christians have far greater power and motivation in Jesus Christ.

Once we are reconciled to God through His Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us enough power to vanquish division for the sake of God's Gospel and glory. He doesn't give us enough power to stand alone, because that would work against the Gospel's message of love. Ironically, the more we learn about being a Christian, the more sufficient we may start to feel, and the less we may think we need one another.

But each individual is a treasure, with unique talents, skills and perspectives to benefit us all. Every single person is valuable and needed. Those the world might write off as dead weight actually give us strength.

Unless Christians narrowly define core beliefs which unite us and broadly define all else as peripheral, we become as divisive and impotent as politicians.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body ... Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be... Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable ... There should be no division in the body, but ... equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:13-27 (NIV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on March 13. To see additional comments, click here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shared Rejection

Today’s post is a response to the invitation of faith barista Bonnie Gray to write about Rejection.

Shared Rejection

When we are hurt by another person, it is inevitably a form of rejection.

Rejection may be for our what we are on the outside, who we are on the inside, or of our love ...

Rejection may be expressed as withdrawal of time, respect, love ...

Rejection may cause injury maliciously, thoughtlessly, unintentionally ...

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it...
But it was you ... My companion.
~ Psalms 55:12-13 (NKJV)

Those for whom we care most have the ability to reject and hurt us most powerfully.

"Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "
~ Matthew 25:44-45 (NKJV)

When we reject others and hurt them, we hurt Jesus. Whatever pain we inflict on another, we also inflict on the God Who took all sin and rejection upon His shoulders and bore it to Calvary.

"He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."
~ Luke 10:16 (NKJV)

Just as the pain we inflict on others is also inflicted upon their Creator, He shares the pain of rejection we suffer. If we are rejected for sharing Him or displaying His righteousness, He is also rejected.

God joins us in our suffering whether we acknowledge Him or not.

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
~ Isaiah 53:3 (NKJV)

Jesus suffered the consummate rejection. He understands our pain firsthand.

"How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?”
~ Numbers 14:11 (NKJV)

The rejection and hurt God suffered at Calvary began at the Garden of Eden, and has continued throughout history until now. The Israelites rejected Him in the desert, unbelievers reject Him when they refuse the Gospel—and His children reject Him when we fail to yield to the promptings of His Holy Spirit. The grief of Calvary has continued unabated for our God.

... that I may know Him ... and the fellowship of His sufferings.
~ Philippians 3:10 (NKJV)

When we are rejected, despised, hurt, we have opportunity to feel the pain of God and share His suffering. God joins us in our suffering whether we acknowledge Him or not.

And at such a time we have opportunity to comfort the grief of God Almighty with no more than our fellowship.

"A friend is someone who helps you up when you're down, and if they can't they lie down beside you and listen." ~ Unknown

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
"Thumbs Down" Image source
"Rejection" Image source
Image of Jesus from the movie "
The Passion of the Christ" © 2004 NewMarket Films

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dear John

Today's post is an open letter to my husband John.

"Love never asks how much must I do, but how much can I do."
~ Frederick A. Agar

Rejoice with the wife of your youth...
And always be enraptured with her love.
~ Proverbs 5:18-19 (NKJV)

Speak the things which are proper ... the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
~ Titus 2:1-5 (NKJV)

Dear John ~

Though your birthday's a month away, I've never been good at holding on to gifts. You see me always shopping for birthday and Christmas gifts at the very last minute, because whatever I buy in advance finds another reason for me to present it. So I'm writing to you now, since there's no way I can hold these words a whole month.

First of all, thanks for the flowers, babe. It's a lovely thing for a woman to receive flowers on her birthday or Valentine's Day or wedding anniversary. But when you simply see the flowers next to me and can't resist buying them, that means even more than when you do it because you have an excuse. The roses are a beautiful reminder that you love me in spite of myself.

Thanks for reading my blog. I'll have a smile plastered all over my face when you wake up this morning, wondering what your reaction will be at that opening line and your photo. I'm truly blessed that despite you having about as much love for writing as I have for guns (though each of us values them both), you support me and let me keep the crazy hours I do to nourish my soul this way.

I could go on and on thanking you. Thanks for being so loving with our kids, even when they make you crazy. Thanks for being committed to the homeschooling that I love us doing. Thanks for having a reputation at work for being faithful to your wife, and for being the kind of guy to earn the nickname "Saint John." Thanks for putting in all the hours at a horrible job with ... ornery people, to care so well for our family. Thanks for letting us spend the money on all the kids' lessons instead of the bigger house we woefully need or the vacation you'd like.

Most of all, thanks for putting up with someone as not normal as me and figuring out how to love me.

I hope I've respected you, both to your face and to others. Though things got pretty rough for us a couple of months back, you were great at respecting me enough to not object when I felt it necessary to explain my absence from blogging. I can tell that you're proud of me posting over on Bullets & Butterflies. I'm not able to do any of this without your support.

As much as I write here about the Lord, I thought it only fitting that I devote at least one post to you. People should know that I'm here because of you. I know you loathe public attention as much as I'm trying to obtain it, so I promise not to do this again anytime soon. (This much I know I can get away with. :D)

I'm blessed that I married someone man enough to push through the hard times.

I love you, John—yesterday, today, forever.

~ Anne

P.S. I almost forgot—I also like those texts ...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Question of the Week: Is It Wrong ...?

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking."
~ J.C. Watts

Q: "Is it wrong for a male and female to live together as roommates if there are no romantic intentions?" From Kim Botdorf, South Carolina

The answer applies to anything we might call "wrong" as violation of God's law or commandment.

Let's first establish if we're bound by the letter of the law, or if we have the freedom to live by the spirit of the law.

The Bible gives God's Ten Commandments for humanity. If closely examined, people quickly discover inability to live by the those ten basic laws: we appropriate what belongs to others (stealing); we deceive (however overtly or covertly); we covet.

We don't begin to satisfy commandment number one: "I am the LORD your God ... you shall have no other gods before Me." Our first god is Self. How many times is what we want placed ahead of what God wants?

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10 NKJV)

We are hopeless lawbreakers. Inherently self-centered, we are unable to give God His rightful place in our lives. Snubbing God on earth is a decision to forego living with Him in Heaven. Though we want to see ourselves as mostly "good," even a little bit of "bad" poisons our souls.

God imposed a spiritual death penalty for sinful people who break His commandments and don't put Him first. Such people don't live in His kingdom.

Under the law, whether the question is about roommates or anything else, the liberalist finds a way to judge it okay, the legalist finds a way to condemn. But a person is a lawbreaker subject to an eternal death penalty anyway, so the question has little more significance than an embezzler of millions worrying about pilfering paper clips.

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)

God loves us and makes available a payment of the death penalty, a covering for our sin, and a cleansing which makes us fit for God's presence. That is all accomplished by the blood which Jesus shed when He died on the cross.

Those who admit to God they're sinners, then ask Him to forgive their sin and cleanse them from it through Jesus are now "in Christ." Among other things, we now have His Holy Spirit to guide how we live. We are set free from the letter of the law to live by the spirit of the law.

"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV)

For those in Christ, who are to live by the spirit of the law, the roommates question is not a matter of right or wrong, but does it honor God? Is it beneficial to all involved? Does the situation enslave anyone? (An example of the latter would be to live in continual battle against emotions and hormones which have a tendency to get the better of the best intentions.)

Finally, has God provided a reason to do in faith what might be questioned? (An example for roommates would be as caretaker for someone.)

If we ask questions to either justify or condemn a situation, there are no satisfactory answers.

If we ask questions with a pure desire to live rightly in Christ—without personal motive—God's Spirit can guide us to do what honors Him and is most beneficial to all involved.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy

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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on March 5. To see additional comments, click here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hard Answers

“Warriors of light hold inside them both the light and the dark,
weaving them together, embracing all as is.”
~ Maura Casey

Hard Answers

[Jesus said to them,] "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
~ Luke 14:26-27 (NKJV)

Even those who have wives should be as though they had none ... I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife... this I say ... not that I may put a leash on you, but ... that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:29-35 (NKJV)

Jesus’ words from Luke 14 are often interpreted as Jesus meaning that our love for God should be so great that our love for others is like hatred in comparison.

I happen to think Jesus really did mean that love for God would bring us to hate the people closest to us, and even ourselves.

I love my husband and pray to outlive him, to spare him going through losing me. I love my children and am driven to see them through to adulthood. I have close ties to my beloved siblings and hope to live long on the earth with them to finish what we’ve all started.

Things in the world are mighty difficult these days, and they’re going to get significantly worse as the Great Tribulation and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble approach. My desire to live is strong, so that I might deliver to the world desperately needed words of hope and faith. I’ve sometimes asked the Lord if I could be the last one to go before the Rapture for exactly that reason.

Weird prayers are birthed of irrational love. Deepest love is not rational, and makes me desire the opposite of that for which I’ve earnestly prayed.

The same love for God which compels my great love for people can make me hate them. My yearning to live like Jesus can make me hate the relationships which bring me to sin. Desire to please people in a healthy way is despised for its interference with ability to please the Lord.

My last post spoke of moments when longing for the Lord overwhelms me. In such moments I hate the people who keep me from Him by their existence. That is, I wish the people who are my reason for living ceased to be so that my purpose might be fulfilled and I could be done with this world.

I love myself enough to live this life to its fullest. I love God enough to hate the very best people of my life—even as my love for them does not diminish.

Lord, help me to love you perfectly, with all that I am, and to love others perfectly, with Your light.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hard Questions

"Judge a person by their questions, rather than their answers."
~ Voltaire

Hard Questions

"Now, O LORD my God ... I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in."
~ 1 Kings 3:7 (NKJV)

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. And now, little children, abide in Him ...
~ 1 John 2:27-28 (NKJV)

Back in January, Russell Holloway invited me to do Q&A for his blog Bullets and Butterflies. For years I've answered Bible questions from students, family, friends, friends of friends, and now, blog readers. I've long wanted to do something more formal, but didn't feel qualified to offer myself without a sponsor.

I'll admit to knowing the Bible quite well. I've read it since I was a child. Since 1985 I've prayerfully read it over and over, cover to cover and inside out, studying the original languages in Bible dictionaries. I've researched biblical culture, archeology, history. I even peruse the commentaries, though I don't like to give them more attention than the Holy Spirit, Whom I believe to be our first and final Teacher.

But I also can't call myself a Bible expert. As one critic adeptly pointed out, "Anne, you've never been to Bible college like I have. You only read the Bible."

Russell startled me when he issued his invitation to bring on the questions with, "... the harder the question the better ..." I wanted to cry out, "Wait! I don't have all the answers!" I consoled myself with the knowledge that I know the One Who does, and plunged in.

I feel like a little child facing a doctorate exam.

Not because of the four questions I've handled so far—which have been plenty challenging—but because I'm painfully aware of how much I don't know, how much I'm learning, and how difficult my own questions for God are lately becoming. Questions like:

How do I give my kids a sense of how bad sin is without letting them wallow in it the way I did?

Since joy is the fruit of the Spirit like love is, am I doing something wrong if I lose my hold on joy for a time, the way I would be if I hated someone for a time?

I know what it is to release something to God, and have rest in not worrying about the outcome. How do I not do that too much, before lack of worry starts to become unhealthy apathy?

My hardest question is one I've asked it many times over the years. It is not altogether unlike Philippians 1:21-24. God never answers it. He simply wraps me in His love and wipes away my tears, because it comes out something like this:

Dear God, the more time I spend with You, the more I love You, and the more homesick I get to be with You. But I want to come with my arms filled with treasures I've laid up in heaven while on earth, so I guess You better keep me here a while. Is it possible to be a little less homesick?

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.Image source:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Question of the Week:
Who Wrote the Bible?

Q: How much of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) comes from God, and how much comes from man?
(from Harvey Averne, NYC)

Consider that a baby is 100% from its parents, and is shaped by the parents' environment and personalities, yet is also 100% from the Creator of life.

The Bible (also called Scripture or the Word of God) is 100% from God, and 100% from man. God spoke His Word to prophets, who recorded it with their own words and personality.

The Bible says this about itself—from the Old Testament:

"The LORD said to me [Moses]: '... I will speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them ...' "
(Deuteronomy 5:28,31 NKJV)

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets...
The Lord GOD has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?
(Amos 3:7-8 NKJV)

And from the New Testament:

No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God's direction.
(2 Peter 1:20-21 GW)

"... this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David ..."
(Acts 1:16 NKJV)

Scripture is prophecy. Prophecy can be the foretelling of future events, which God has revealed through a human. But that occurs within the far broader purpose of prophecy, which is "the acting as an ambassador of God and the interpreter of His mind and will ... the prophet spoke not his own thoughts but what he received from God, retaining, however, his own consciousness and self-possession." *

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."
~ Augustine

It might be argued that the Bible alone cannot testify on its own behalf. The Bible's uncanny truth is also proven by science, archeology, and history—and none of the Bible has been disproven. Scripture's power to reveal God, make His love known, and change lives argues for divine origins as well.

But ultimately, the proof of the Bible's origin as God's Word is a matter of faith, verified by the testimony in our hearts of the Holy Spirit, of Whom both the Old and New Testaments speak.

The Holy Spirit is given by God to those who ask, by faith in Jesus Christ.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
~ Jesus, Luke 11:13 (NKJV)

For more information on how the Bible was put together,
All About Truth.

More verses of interest on:
Holy Spirit
God's Word

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
* Definitions of prophecy and prophet are quoted from The Complete Word Study Dictionary, General Editor: Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., © 1992 by AMG International, Inc., Revised edition, 1993
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on February 27. To see the comments, click here.