Blog Archive

Friday, April 30, 2010

Question of the Week:
Who's to Pray, How to Pray?

“Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing
God’s gift of Himself.”
~ Mother Theresa

I was raised Catholic and was wondering if it is okay for non-priests to lead public prayer? ~ @SeeJaneSell

Am I supposed to close my eyes when I pray? ~ @ChristineBlake

One cannot help but appreciate the reverence for prayer implied in these questions.

Christians often take for granted the privilege of prayer. We call prayer “just talking to God”—as if it was no more than that.

True, we are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV). But we should remember that the only reason for such boldness is because our access was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Most Holy Place of the Jerusalem temple was the place of God’s presence. It was closed off by a great curtain (or “veil”), reported by the historian Josephus to be four inches thick. The curtain was probably almost as high as the temple—about sixty feet.

When Jesus died on the cross, that veil was torn into two pieces, starting from the top. No human could have performed such a feat, which was clearly a miracle of God. Hebrews 10:19-22 explains that this showed God giving access to His presence through Jesus’ death.

Direct access to the holy throne of God is still a place for God’s anointed priests. But whether a congregation’s consecrated minister is called a priest, or another title such as bishop, elder, reverend, or pastor, the New Testament definition of a priest now includes all who belong to Jesus Christ, who are anointed with the Holy Spirit:

You also ... are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ... you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people ...
~ 1 Peter 2:5,9 (NKJV)

What about the prayers of non-Christians, who are not God’s priests?

Christians have direct access to God the Father because we are restored to Him through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18). But Acts 2:21 says, “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” Before the time of Jesus, in the Old Testament, examples abound of God hearing the prayers of those who demonstrated faith and fear. In the New Testament, the prayer of Cornelius was heard because of he feared God and demonstrated faith, though he did not yet know of Jesus Christ.

What was most important about these people is that their hearts were humble before God, seeking His righteousness, understanding that they had no righteousness of their own merit. It is this posture of the heart, rather than position of eyes or knees which was most important to the Lord. Getting on our knees or closing our eyes is simply one way to express that humility.

Even the prayers of Christians can be hindered by such things as “vain repetitions,” failing to honor one's wife, and regarding sin in the heart. We all should be careful to follow leaders who prove themselves faithful to God and the Bible, so we are not led astray. Christians who lead others in practice of faith, including public prayer, should do so with godly fear and humility.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
~ 1 Peter 3:12 (NKJV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image: Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," Sistine Chapel

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Learning to be Unloved

Note: This week’s three posts are an extended response to a comment from Russell Holloway (who consistently makes me think hard) on Foundations Part II, in which Russell asserts that love for God and love for man cannot exist apart from one another.

“Loving means to love that which is unlovable—
or it is no virtue at all.”
~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Learning to be Unloved

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
~ Matthew 5:46 (NKJV)

It feels good to be loved. I daresay the need to be loved is greater than the need to sleep and eat and breathe.

Learning to love can be difficult, especially when it is love which requires selflessness and sacrifice. But there is the expectation that if we express love, we are loved in return, or at the very least get a good feeling from being selfless and sacrificial. The expectation is understood.

God operates on different principles. He asks us to do things like

• love your enemies
• do good to those who hate you
• bless those who curse you
• pray for those who spitefully use you
• to him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also
• from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic
• give to everyone who asks of you
• from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back
(Luke 6:27-30 NKJV)

This is learning to be unloved.

There is a place within Christian relationships to confront those who sin against you, to honor God and preserve the relationships. Several places in Scripture speak of sin and specifically puts it in the context of “if your brother ...”

Jesus’ words of Luke 6 are not one of those contexts. We seem to therefore draw the conclusion that they’re meant for the way we treat people of the world. We might argue a while before we finally break down and do good to those who hate us when a stranger is involved. We can reason that a non-Christian doesn’t know better.

But when bad behavior come from a brother or sister in Christ, there’s something about the expectation of good from a Christian that makes us bristle when they fail us. When we’ve invested ourselves in another person and sacrificed and there has been love shared, we don’t expect to see the day when love becomes apathy or betrayal or outright malice.

We expect love to feel good. No matter how many times we are hurt, no matter how many people sin against us, do we ever reach the point where we accept love as painful?

We don’t expect that learning to love will graduate to learning to be unloved while continuing to love. By ourselves, it is thoroughly impossible. With God, it is more than possible. It is our mandate. It is what our Lord asks of us and empowers in us, because it is the love He has given us.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

Our precious Lord, we are thoroughly unworthy of You. Thank You for the great love You pour out upon us. Thank You for enduring the pain it cost You. Please enable us to love in the face of pain, of hatred, of apathy, of sin. Please teach us to be unloved and yet love, as You do.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning to Love

Note: This week’s three posts are an extended response to a comment from Russell Holloway (who consistently makes me think hard) on Foundations Part II, in which Russell asserts that love for God and love for man cannot exist apart from one another.

“Love cannot be forced, love cannot be coaxed and teased.
It comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.”
~ Pearl Buck

Learning to Love

We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
~ 1 John 4:19-21 (NKJV)

If we must first learn to be loved before we can love, then does it follow that we learn to love those whom we see before we learn to love Him Who is unseen?

Yes. And no.

We first learn to love those we see, but it is a selfish love. We love them for who they are to us, what they are to us, and what they do for us.

Yesterday’s example was an infant, learning love the Greek language calls storge, or natural, family love. Today’s example is a wife, who receives a husband’s eros love. While eros is often defined for its physically sensual dimension, it is far more. It involves a passion which appreciates the beauty within a person. The philosopher Plato (from whom the term “platonic” love comes) said that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to understanding of spiritual truth.

A husband might love his wife with eros love because she belongs to him and he to her in a unique and lifelong relationship of unity. He may love her because she is his companion and advisor with phila (brotherly love, or friendship love). He may love her with storge love for the physical sustenance she provides by bearing his children, feeding his stomach and keeping his house.

But until any one of us comes to know the agape love of God, our incomplete love for another—including love for God—will always be no greater than our appreciation for how that person relates to me, myself and I. Whatever love we learn for others and express to them, we cannot love others simply for who they are apart from us until we know God’s unconditional, sacrificial, unlimited agape love. In experiencing God’s love and learning to love Him, we learn how to truly love others.

And in loving others with such agape love, we are making more complete our love for God. Apart from loving others with agape love, the Bible says we do not truly love God. The two are fully dependent upon each another.

As beautiful as eros love is, it cannot rise to agape love in its fullness.

Lord Jesus, please use the storge, eros and philia love we understand to teach us the agape love which is known only through You. Please fill our hearts with Your agape love until it spills over back to You and to others.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Pictured: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor from the movie "Taming of the Shrew" © 1967 Sony Pictures

Monday, April 26, 2010

Learning to be Loved

Note: This week’s three posts are an extended response to a comment from Russell Holloway (who consistently makes me think hard) on Foundations Part II, in which Russell asserts that love for God and love for man cannot exist apart from one another.

“We learn to love before we learn anything else.”
~ Unknown

Learning to be Loved

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?”
~ Isaiah 49:15 (NKJV)

The Greek language has four words for love: agape, philia, eros, and storge. Storge is the only one which doesn’t appear in the New Testament. It refers to natural affection, such as the love of parents—especially mothers—for their children.

There are certainly mothers who do not love their children, but it is wholly unnatural. Even the animal kingdom displays unusual protectiveness of mothers for their young. Completely tame animals will attack if their babes are threatened. If males will fight to the death for the right to procreate their offspring, then females will fight to the death to preserve their offspring.

My expertise on motherly love was learned by bearing, birthing and nursing five children. At birth their only consciousness was of themselves, their hunger, and separation from the mother under whose heartbeat they’d lived for nine months. Their dependence on my breast was supplemented by their dependence on my presence and familiar voice. By around six months of age, their love for me became disdain for strangers, sometimes even for Daddy.

Isaiah quotes the Lord asking if a mother can forget a nursing babe. I never could. Even leaving them home with Daddy for me to go grocery shopping was stressful. What would happen if anything prevented or delayed my return and we remained separated, since my little ones never had bottles? I didn’t have a moment’s peace until we were safely reunited. (Nursing mothers would understand. The rest of you will think me a little crazy. So be it.)

From the time they were conceived, I was transferring to my children not only the nutrients I was so conscious to take into my body, but my soul’s fierce love for them and for God. Even from within my womb, they came to know love in my prayers, in my songs of praise, from the love of God I was fed from the Bible. It was a love they later learned in my eyes and touch and language as I taught them of their Creator. ("Look! It’s the moon! God made the moon for you because He loves you.")

Being loved is the very first thing we have opportunity to learn.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Great Thou Art

I can hardly wait for Heaven, when I can sing with all my strength in a way I am unskilled to worship with on the earth.

(And thanks to Bud Ezekiel, who features many praise songs on his blog, by whom I was introduced to this fantastic rendition of a timeless hymn.)

NOTE (added Sunday evening, 9pm): My apologies that this video is a format which does not display properly in Blogger. If you'd like to watch this in the wide screen format, please click this YouTube link: How Great Thou Art

Oh Lord my God, How very great You are.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Question of the Week:
Is Worry a Sin?

Is worry a sin? ... I feel bad for having such emotions that I really cannot control.
from Anonymous

Three issues are here: worry, control of emotions, feeling bad for failure.

Let’s start with emotions.

It’s been argued that feelings aren’t right or wrong—they’re just feelings. But Jesus said that to lust is to commit adultery in the heart. He addressed hatred with the commandment against murder. He called covetousness evil.

Feelings and thoughts can definitely be sinful.

The adage says you can’t prevent birds from flying overhead, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair. Likewise, when wrong thoughts of the mind and wrong feelings of the heart come, we have a choice to entertain or dismiss them.

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
~ Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Simply pushing away wrong thoughts and feelings is far less effective than filling ourselves with things to build up our souls.

Whatever things tear down the soul are contrary to the Lord’s will and can therefore be defined as sin. Sin should feel bad, because its defiance against God separates us from Him.

God’s solution to sin is threefold. He removes eternal Penalty of sin for whomever receives Jesus Christ as Lord and repents of sin. The day is coming when those who belong to Christ will live with Him, removed from the Presence of sin, with its pain and suffering. Until then, God’s Holy Spirit delivers us from the Power of sin by increasing our spiritual strength.

We increase spiritual strength by cooperating with the Holy Spirit—taking in the Bible, communicating with God in prayer, and making godly choices to avoid sin.

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.
~ Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

The devil condemns us for sin and tempt us to hide from God. The Holy Spirit instead convicts us of sin, prompting us to draw near to God. Those in Christ are forgiven and never condemned by God, not even when we fail—or worry.

Back to the question of worry. Yes, bad things happen, even to those who are God’s. But worrisome circumstances are opportunities to be childlike and enter the kingdom.

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

Little ones don’t worry about checkbooks. When they are hurting, they run to the loving parent who offers comfort and aid. In scary situations, a child clings closely to parent for reassurance.

To have childlike trust does not mean childish disregard for responsibilities. It simply understands who God is. He proves Himself more powerful than all adversity, wiser than the most confounding problem, more loving than our greatest failure.

So He says, “Fear not.” He asks us to trust that regardless of circumstances, He has a plan in it for good and will walk us through it. And His great compassion does not condemn us for worry, but says gently, “Look at Me instead.”

2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source:

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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see comments, click here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Obligation to be Happy

"Folks are about as happy as they make up a mind to be."
~ Abraham Lincoln

Obligation to be Happy

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
~ 1 Timothy 6:6 (NKJV)

As part of an ebook project he is compiling, I’ve been asked by Marshall Jones ( to answer this question:

"In 150 words, what’s your best practical suggestion for serving others?"

My answer:

Dennis Prager says, "Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us—it provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves."

Emotional trauma will occur and bring times of mourning. This is not about that.

This is about daily choices to adopt a perspective of either curse or challenge, disturbance or opportunity, season of loss or season of change. Because our lives are bound up in the lives of those around us—because our perspective shapes our attitude—we serve others and glorify God by purposefully seeing life through rose-colored spectacles to clearly make out the Lord’s blessings and pass them along.

Such perspective is possible for those covered with the blood of Jesus, who look through that veil of red and live as citizens of Heaven.

Lord, our lives are filled with pain. This world is awash with suffering. You are yet good. You bless at every turn. Your love shall not fail. Please enable us to see You as greater and mightier and more enduring then whatever might make us falter at contentment in You.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Poopy Pants

Today's post is for the blog carnival hosted by Bridget Trumbley. Click the link to visit her for more posts on Self-Control.

Poopy Pants

“I gotta go potty.”

The words came from my then four-year-old child, some years back at church camp. We were traversing the complex for tent meeting. The beginning strains of music could already be heard. With me towing a baby in stroller, family Bibles, and coloring books for young ones, I was determined to reach our destination and leave the entire entourage with Daddy before turning back for the errand. I sighed.

“We’ll go in a minute.”

“I gotta go now. I can go by myself.”

Children love church camp and permission to roam among trusted companions over several acres rather than several rooms. Potty was about the only reason the four-year-old was permitted out of my sight. Another sigh escaped me.

“Okay. Go straight to the bathroom and come right back.”

My youngster dashed off. I completed my trek to the tent, explained a child’s absence to my husband, and settled in for the evening. About the time I began to wonder about the four-year-old’s whereabouts, a friend advised that my little one was by the pavilion.

Annoyance at such loitering fueled my hasty steps back. I soon caught a glimpse of my child, sitting with chin in hand. I drew close and noticed the look of abject misery.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Young eyes staring at dirt did not move. But my nose detected the explanation my child could not manage to articulate. A glance toward the bathrooms was met with the “CLOSED FOR CLEANING” sign which explained everything.

I felt horrible. I’d not been there to explain to someone that we needed admission. Or to give my little one encouragement with “you can hold on for a few minutes.” Or to locate alternate facilities.

My fingertips pulled a small face upward until shame-filled eyes looked at me. “You couldn’t get in the bathroom and pooped your pants?”

Chin quivered. Tears began. Disgrace forced the face back toward dirt.

I pulled that face into my bosom—way better than a tissue for drying tears—and spoke softly with my lips against fine hair. “It’s okay, honey. These things happen sometimes. We’ll clean you up.”

I didn’t really want to clean up both of us. But some things are more important than staying clean. So I picked up a smelly body against myself, pulled a head onto my shoulder, and offered gentle words as we returned to our camper, visited the shower, then finally slipped into our seats.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
~ 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

Like an infant with no cognizance of poopy pants, we do not realize our sin at first.

Once little ones understand that poop doesn’t belong on people, they want to be shed of poopy pants. Our sin also becomes a stench when we gain God’s perspective of it. Whether we are slow or quick to gain self-control, we gain desire to be free of sin altogether rather than have to clean it up afterwards.

Pride does several things. It sees Self as smelling good and quite accomplished. It points one finger at the baby in poopy pants and uses the other to plug the nose. It uses words like “now” and “by myself.”

And sometimes, a situation overwhelms us when we lose self-control. We are ashamed to wear the stench of sin. We don’t want to face our Father and may isolate ourselves. Yet we have no ability to deal with sin apart from Him.

He’ll find us. He’ll not fail to love us and hold us close, though holy God abhors the stench of sin. If we accept it, He’ll cleanse us.

And if we stick close to the Lord, He knows an alternative or gives the strength to have self-control in unexpected situations.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

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

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Hello from the Festival of Faith and Writing Conference at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. As I depart the conference to head home, I present a writing assignment for which I chose to forsake prose.


stark and White
canopy of cloud
blanket of flakes
relic of straw

rich and Brown
sponge of earth
fragrance of soil
promise of seed

drab and Gray
sheets of rain
mirror of puddles
exposure of pebble

pastel and Green
roll of land
scattering of buds
wink of leaf

sharp and Orange
scorch of ray
flame of flora
tickle of pollen

cool and Blue
sweep of sky
feathers of shade
sustenance of spray

mute and Amber
recline of Sol
wave of stalk
flight of dust

ripe and Red
procession of dusk
tribute of leaf
reward of fruit

Glory of Gold
visible shadowing Faith
received obscuring Hope
knowledge fulfilling Love

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy

Friday, April 16, 2010

Question of the Week:
What are Emerging Churches?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
~ Alexander Hamilton."
What is the emergent church movement? And how does it differ, or not, from biblical principles?
T. Anne

A distinction should be made between the particular group called the Emergent Church (associated with Brian McLaren), and churches simply labeled “emerging.” The one characteristic common to both groups is thorough dissatisfaction with traditional church practices.

Last week’s Q&A addressed how the Christian church evolved into so many
denominations. Generally, each time a new denomination evolves, it breaks away from an existing church due to conflicts over specific doctrines, practices, or authority. The new church is largely similar to the church from which it divides itself.

Emerging churches criticize the Christian church as a whole strongly enough to take a more drastic stance, reshaping themselves from scratch, purposefully attempting to be as dissimilar as possible from traditional churches.

Too many established churches certainly have put unreasonable emphasis on tradition, human theology, politics (of both church and government), control, and their individual purpose from God. They’ve made church increasingly about religion at the expense of love for God and neighbor. As a whole, western churches are long overdue for make-over and revival.

But several dangerous tendencies exist in the start-over-from-scratch-philosophy. Hyper-criticism breaks down cooperation and unity in the worldwide Church, between both congregations and individuals. Efforts to be dissimilar from traditional churches may undermine key truths central to faith. In the effort to be non-religious, unbiblical attitudes and beliefs become common. Sensitivity to the needs of individuals creates a religion of social activism. The desire to be non-offensive censors out mention of sin, Christ’s blood, and the judgment of God to come. More emphasis is put on humanist philosophy than on God.

This is not an exhaustive list of problems. It’s not possible to examine and evaluate all the practices and beliefs of emerging churches in this short space. It should be noted that some emerging churches seem to establish a solid base of faith and practice.

Churches which designate themselves as “emerging” deserve a close and cautious study. The best way to know what might be wrong with them is to know what should be right about any church. I offer my own definition of the core beliefs for faith in Jesus Christ, titled “Foundations,” and invite you to click on the link for more information.

A last note about the emergent church movement associated with Brian McLaren. Its key principles are in direct conflict with the Bible, such as: salvation is taught to be a gift of Jesus which does not require informed faith; Jesus is rejected as the exclusive way to God; the second coming of Christ and future judgment are rejected; personal experience is emphasized above biblical truth.

Because my field of expertise is the Bible and I’ve not studied emerging churches at length, comments of clarification (preferably with citations) are welcome.

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Foundations, Part II

This is a revision of a post from a year ago. I pray you will consider carefully your own apologetic. ~ Love, Anne

(My Bible—click to enlarge)

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
~ 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

Foundations, Part II

Christians face dangerous attacks to truth, some of which will be addressed on Friday. The best way to recognize a lie is to be certain of the truth. I present here what I consider to be non-negotiable truths foundational to Christian faith.

The Apostle's Creed affirms:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; on the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

The Five Solas of the Reformation were five non-negotiable principles of believers who obtained access to the Scriptures and came to be known as Protestants when they separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church (not the same as *catholic, or one universal church). Those principles are:

Sola Scriptura — Authority of Scripture Alone:
The Scriptures are the infallible Word of God, revealing His Person, precepts, and promises to mankind. They are the first and the final authority for matters of faith—and all truth.

Soli Deo Gloria! — For God's Glory Alone:
God is sovereign over every aspect of a believer's life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism declares, "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." The believer lives under the Lordship of Christ, for God’s glory and mankind's delight.

Solo Christo! — By Christ Alone:
Christ is fully God and fully man, and is the sole Mediator between God and man. Salvation is by Christ's work alone, through His shed blood, finished at Calvary.

Sola Gratia — Salvation by Grace Alone:
Salvation is by grace through faith. Our righteous standing before God is imputed by grace as God's gift to us, who are without self-merit.

Sola Fide — Justification by Faith Alone:
Our justification is by faith alone, apart from human works, though our faith is not without works. Faith is our cooperative role in God's work.

I affirm these beliefs as definitive of Christianity. I also believe:

• Each person is made in the image of God, able to discern between moral right and wrong, and is separated from God by both the sin of Adam as well as by the individual’s own sin.

• Those reconciled to God through Christ's blood are born into eternal life, and as members of Christ's Church comprise His physical Body on earth of which He is Head. Believers celebrate this relationship in the Lord’s Table. Jesus also instructs believers to bear witness of their faith in Him through public baptism. Both ordinances are of great importance, but neither is necessary for salvation.

• God's divine Holy Spirit lives within Christians and empowers God’s work in and through them. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is evidence of His saving presence in a believer's life, and is distinct from the gifts of the Holy Spirit, each of which is given to individuals differently—and therefore not requisite testimony to salvation. The primary component of the Spirit’s fruit is love, which is necessary to the Christian life, and is expressed first toward God and then toward fellow man.

There is infinitely more to faith. This is my collection of the truths which should define and unite Christians.

Would you add or subtract anything?

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Foundations, Part I

Those of you who've long followed this blog may this week recognize two reruns from a year ago. They're being published while I prepare for and attend a writers conference. I hope I've picked worthy ones to repeat.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it ..."
~ United States Declaration of Independence

When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
~ Proverbs 10:25 (NKJV)

Foundations, Part I

With the above words the United States of America became a sovereign nation, a few years before the Constitution and Bill of Rights established her government.

The hallowed documents preserved as history's relics could not comprise our country's foundation except for the blood which engraved into antiquity the words recorded upon those fragile bits of parchment. Without bloodshed such words might have become lofty philosophy whose time came and went.

The Bill of Rights' first lines declare: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Our founders clearly understood that they could not assert for themselves any rights with which their Creator had not already blessed them, and they established our foremost right as the free exercise of faith.

Our faith is likewise founded on a collection of the Lord's words, recorded on fragile bits of parchment and secured with blood. The power of words secured in blood lies at the core of the inextricable connection between American Judeo-Christian faith and U.S. sovereignty—and the alarming decline in the health of both.

President George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Revolutionary patriot Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” John Adams said, “If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.”

Another American revolution is already well underway. Like the covert terrorists of 9/11, its proponents are utterly convinced of a greater good masterminded behind the scenes. Once all elements are in place we may be caught off-guard by their attack, regardless of well-known rumors of its imminence.

While the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are no equals to the Bible, some parallels are unmistakable. Security of both faith and U.S. sovereignty lies in reliance upon words sealed in blood which establishes their foundations, no matter how far others go to render revered writings as irrelevant for a new millennium.

By too lightly esteeming such words, we demolish the foundations upon which we stand or fall.

For look! The wicked bend their bow ...
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do? ...
The LORD's throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
~ Psalms 11:2-4 (NKJV)

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Shall We Sing?

“After silence, that which comes nearest
to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

How Shall We Sing?

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth,
Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land?
~ Psalms 137:1-5 (NKJV)

Observe the pain here. The Babylonians have ransacked Jerusalem (Mt. Zion), burned the temple, and taken surviving Jews captive to a foreign land. The people of song have no song left in themselves and have hung their harps upon the willows to weep with deepest mourning. Their captors now taunt them: “Go ahead, sing us one of your famous songs. None of those sad songs, either. Sing us one of the happy songs about Zion—your pride and joy.”

Sunday morning is our time of song. All across the globe, we come before the Lord with praise and worship and testimony set to music of every kind. But some of us may not feel like singing. Earth is a foreign land to citizens of the heavenly Zion. With heavy hearts we wonder how shall we sing of home when we are captives in enemy territory?

What was the psalmist’s answer to tormentors?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, "Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!"
O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
~ Psalms 137:5-8 (NKJV)

And so we also look our tormentor the devil squarely in the eye, pick up our music and say, “You taunt us by reminding us where we are and where we long to be. So we will indeed sing of our home, and we will throw your derision back in your face with song of your fate. For the Lord has promised good to us and damnation to you. We shall call to mind our home and our God,

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Question of the Week:
Why So Many Denominations?

(Note: “Question of the Week” now moves to Fridays on both “Bullets and Butterflies” and “Building His Body.”)

“I take as my guide the hope of a saint:
in crucial things, unity;
in important things, diversity;
in all things, generosity.”
~ George Bush

Why are there so many Protestant denominations?
From Jerry Ruffino (Roman Catholic), Rochester, NY

Last month addressed general Infighting among Christians. Today’s post will address official separations within the Church of Jesus Christ.

Why the mind-boggling number of church denominations? The short answer is that followers of Jesus forget that there is only one catholic Church.

A better answer begins with a definition of “catholic” (no capitalization). The word originates with the Greek katholikos, meaning “universal.” The Roman Catholic Church (often called the Roman church) has adopted the designation for itself. There is nonetheless only one universal Church of Jesus Christ, which the Bible calls His “body.”

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
~ Romans 12:4-8 (NKJV)

The early Christians developed two seats of authority, in Rome and Constantinople. A power struggle for primacy in 1054 AD brought The Great Scism into Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. The 16th Century Reformation resulted in more groups splitting from the Roman church, who were called “Protestants” because they protested Roman authority, doctrine and practices. (A variety of designations also exist within the Roman church.)

The innumerable denominations within Christ’s one Church still exist because of doctrinal differences, over conflicts in practice, and when leaders jockey for authority and control. For what it’s worth, I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and have studied it at length. I presently attend an independent Bible church. My perspective is that while denominational designations might be helpful in defining generalities about congregations, followers of Jesus should be characterized by unity rather than divisions.

God composed the body ... that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:24-25 (NKJV)

Unity requires agreement on core beliefs—but not on everything else. The United States of America is defined by a foundational constitution and heritage, while states have individual laws and practices. Likewise, Christ’s Church can be defined by foundational beliefs, while individual congregations freely live out faith differently.

The heritage of Christians is grace and love. It should define us, characterize us, and unify us.

Next Monday and Wednesday, "Building His Body" will feature articles on foundational and unifying beliefs. Next Friday’s Question of the Week will then address a question about the emergent church.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on April 8. To see additional comments, click here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wrestling With God

“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.”
~ Edith Hamilton

Wrestling With God

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And [the Man] said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But [Jacob] said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"
~ Genesis 32:24-26 (NKJV)

For about the last year, the above image has hung before my writing desk, directly above the monitor. I placed next to it a card with the single word ENDURANCE.

I put it there because ministry is difficult work. When I question if I’m effective, if I’m doing what God wants me to do, if I’m wasting my time, God is faithful to affirm me, direct me, rebuke me. And undergirding everything, I feel Him gently prodding me on and encouraging me to stay the course. This picture of my Lord has provided encouragement for me to do so.

I thought “endurance” a good thing. It accepts and trusts that the Lord works all things for good without resisting Him.

But recently, the Lord made me aware that He does not ask me to endure, He asks me to persevere. Endurance is too passive. Perseverance is active. Endurance tolerates. Perseverance engages. Endurance is dropping anchor and waiting out the storm. Perseverance is to batten down the hatches and ride into the storm.

Jacob did not simply endure the Lord pushing him. Jacob locked himself into an embrace with the Lord and refused to lie down until he’d been blessed.

Jacob’s blessing was a new name: Israel. It means “prevails with God.”

I want to prevail. I want to do it with God. I’m willing to persevere.

Above my desk, I have replaced the word "ENDURANCE" with the word "Perseverance."

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
~ James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

On a personal note, to my precious friend
Dear one, I am thinking of you as I write this.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Artwork: “
Road to the Cross” by Brian Jekel, © 2007 DaySpring Cards, MasterPeace Collection

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Strength of Gentleness

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness;
nothing is so gentle as real strength."
~ Ralph W. Sockman

The Strength of Gentleness

"Gentleness" is the translation of the Greek word praótēs. I thought its definition so lovely and sufficient a description of the Holy Spirit's fruit that I offer it here for the blog carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley. (Be sure to visit her site for more on gentleness.)

praótēs (fem. noun from práos, meek): Meekness, mildness, forbearance. Primarily it does not denote outward expression of feeling, but an inward grace of the soul, calmness toward God in particular. It is the acceptance of God's dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him... Meekness does not blame God for the persecutions and evil doings of men. It is not the result of weakness ... According to Aristotle, praótēs is that virtue [which] stands between two extremes: uncontrolled and unjustified anger; and not becoming angry at all no matter what [evil] takes place around you.*

* Definition from The Complete Word Study Dictionary, General Editor: Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., © 1992 By AMG International, Inc.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Because He Lives

"It's amazing to think: God can use us dead or alive
—because He lives."
~ Katy Pent (@DiscoveryHouse)

Because He Lives

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.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:17,19 (NKJV)

Because Jesus came to this world as God in the flesh, I know my Creator and His love.

Because Christ died and was raised from the dead, I have been set free from the powers of death and the devil through faith in my living Lord.

Because He lives, and He dwells in me through His Holy Spirit, the power of His eternal life is at work in me now and will endure beyond the time of my fleeting years on the earth.

All praise to God our Father, to our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and to their divine Holy Spirit!

Hallelu YAH!

Father, thank You. Lord Jesus, thank You. Holy Spirit, thank You. Let us never hesitate to embrace the life you offer in all You ask of us.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Question of the Week: Why Earth?

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache
carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
~ Napoleon Hill

"Why didn't God create people and just put them in Heaven instead of making them live on Earth first?" from Michaelle

It does seem that God put both Himself and humans through an awful lot of unnecessary heartache and adversity that could be avoided if we skipped our life-long visit to Earth. At least three reasons come to mind for us to be here.

Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment."
~ Mark 12:29-30 (NKJV)

With the greatest commandment comes the choice to love or not love the Lord. We are not placed in Heaven as pets trained to show affection. We are created with free will and placed on Earth's testing ground to demonstrate that our love is freely given.

"But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
~ Exodus 9:16 (NKJV)

Though the Lord spoke these words of an evil Pharaoh, this is the purpose of all people. God's power is best demonstrated on Earth, where weakness exists. We most desire His goodness and love where evil and hatred exist. And declaring His name in praise comes with higher value under pressure than amid pleasure because it costs us more. Which brings up the third point.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
~ Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

Those things handed to us without cost are never valued as highly as those things which come with a high cost; the goals for which we stretch and struggle and suffer are the ones worth attaining. We are placed on Earth where we fall into sin and are in need of deliverance. The great cost to God for our deliverance from sin was the death of His Son Jesus. It proves to us our great worth to Him. The great cost to follow Jesus likewise makes Him of great worth to us.

Today, nestled between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we stand between the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Nothing has more value to God than His precious Son. He sold His Son to Death so that He could buy us back from Death. By giving Him our lives in return, both He and we will enjoy Heaven with far greater triumph and delight than if we had not first visited Earth.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies on April 3. To see additional comments, click here.

Friday, April 2, 2010



And He began to be troubled and deeply distressed... [He] fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."
~ Mark 14:33-36 (NKJV)

Jesus presented broken bread in token of fellowship and covenant, calling it His body. Hours later He showed what it is to allow oneself to be broken in submission to the Father’s will.

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
~ Luke 22:43-44 (NKJV)

History records exceptionally few instances of a person under the most extreme duress sweating blood—the result of broken blood vessels releasing blood through the sweat glands. In Jesus' case, He was strengthened by an angel to persevere to that point.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother ...
~ John 19:25 (NKJV)

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
~ Matthew 27:46 (NKJV)

Consider the agony of suffering any one of these: betrayal, ridicule, false accusation, denial, condemnation as vilest criminal, humiliation of public nudity, inconceivable torture, shame and guilt for overwhelming sin. Just one of these would devastate one of us. Jesus endures them all, takes on the weight of all sin for all time, then faces His mother in her moment of greatest agony while His Father's face is turned away. What excruciating pain of heart accompanied the physical torment?

Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him... And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice ... [Then] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
~ Mark 15:25,34,37 (NKJV)

Joseph of Arimathea ... coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead.
~ Mark 15:43-44 (NKJV)

Crucifixion is not quick death by impalement, but death by slow suffocation taking days. Jesus' severely weakened condition is evidenced by the need to have Simon of Cyrene carry His cross. Yet Jesus' ability to twice cry out with a loud voice immediately before dying indicates He still had the ability to draw a strong breath. Pilate saw Jesus just hours earlier and obviously expected a protracted death. The testimony suggests cause of death was not suffocation.

One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
~ John 19:34 (NKJV)

There are records of strong emotions causing people to literally die of a broken heart. If one of the heart chambers or large blood vessels near the heart bursts from such psychosomatic stress, blood flooding into the pericardium (sac around the heart) can rapidly separate in to clotted blood cells and watery plasma.

Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.
~ Psalms 69:20 (NKJV)

In this passage which prophesies of Jesus' bitter crucifixion, the Hebrew verb for "broken" is shabar. Its most literal meaning is "to burst." Scripture strongly suggests that while Jesus' demise was aggravated by multiple and severe physical injuries, His cause of death was a broken heart due to the most extreme emotional trauma ever known.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things ... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
~ Philippians 3:8-11 (NKJV)

Today is Good Friday, with its recollection of suffering and death.

Sunday is coming—and with it, the power of the resurrection.

Fellowship with Jesus means receiving only a taste of His suffering and death, yet sharing fully in His resurrection and life.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Hour

this is what it means to be held how it feels
when the sacred is torn from your life
and you survive

this is what it is to be loved and to know
that the promise was when everything fell
we'd be held.

if hope is born of suffering—
if this is only the beginning—
can we not wait for one hour
watching for our Savior? *

One Hour

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
~ James 1:2-3 (NKJV)

"When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed... the end is still to come... There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains."
~ Mark 13:7-8 (NIV)

Then He came and found them sleeping, and said "... Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
~ Mark 14:37-38 (NKJV)

My memory does not recall a time before now with so many urgent prayer needs to bring before the Lord on behalf of loved ones tried to the limits of their endurance. They've usually seen something solid crumble or something sacred lost—health, marital or financial stability, the life of someone close. In such trials, a person can either declare God cruel and turn from Him, or cling to Him desperately in prayer and ask for others to pray.

I believe that when Jesus spoke of a season of birth pains occurring in end times, He spoke of birth pains to come upon not only the world as a whole but also individuals. As great pressure seizes a woman's body until a baby arrives, unprecedented pressures will seize the world until Jesus arrives. They will try us and thereby prove where our faith lies.

Jesus faced such pressure. On the night before His ultimate trials, He drew upon His Father's strength in prayer, and asked His loved ones to pray with Him. I wonder—had they known all that lay at the door, would they have slept? Or would they have prayed in earnest and held Jesus tightly, imparting to Him love and comfort and the strength of their own lives?

In time of trial, we may feel like Paul, who said, "We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life." Like Paul, we must cling to the Lord in prayer to persevere, asking others to strengthen us with their own prayers. His promise is not to give us relief from trial, but to uphold us in the midst of trial.

The trials last but one hour. Our God's hold will last for an eternity.

Lord, You are all-sufficient for our every need. We are feeble children of dust, with willing spirit and weak flesh. Please draw us to Your side. Please hold us tightly, and impart Your strength to us until our hour passes. Thank You for promising to not leave us nor forsake us.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
*Lyrics from "Held" by Christa Wells © 2001 Weimarhymes Publishing Inc.
Artwork: "I Will Not Fail Thee," by Derek Hegsted,