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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Problem with Optimism

image source: No Mas

2011 has been one of the best years of my life. Our five children have each achieved remarkable accomplishments. My husband has finally moved on from a job of incredible pressures. We've received new material blessings that are enriching our lives. The Lord has proven His faithfulness and love for me in innumerable ways, and I love Him more than ever.

2011 has also been one of the worst years of my life, personally, emotionally, and physically. Amid numerous trials, I've been forced to learn the problem with optimism.

optimism : noun 1 hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something. 2 [Philosophy] the doctrine that this world is the best of all possible worlds.

The first part of that definition lines up perfectly with the way Scripture paints hope:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
~ Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

"For I know the purposes which I am weaving for you," says YHWH, "purposes of peace, and not for evil—to give you a future and a hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11 (author)

But optimism tends to go beyond the first definition—beyond the hope provided by faith. Optimism wants to go on to define success in terms which are clearly seen, and seen sooner rather than later. While optimism doesn't deny God's promise that the next world will be the far better one, it nonetheless expects life in this world to come close.

God operates on a timetable that defies any schedule. He specializes not in successes the world recognizes, but of the unseen, in realms of the human heart. The effects of His work cannot be hidden, and will bear testimony of His presence at some point. Yet like the tip of an iceberg, what is seen is but a hint of what lies beneath the surface.

If optimism goes far enough to become presumptuous about either the goal of God's work, the method of God's work, or which person achieves God's work (Him or me), optimism may encounter that iceberg with a horrific crash.

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)

Though the French roots of 'optimism' stem from the Latin 'optimum,' the two should never be confused.

optimum : adjective most likely to lead to a favorable outcome. : noun the most favorable conditions for growth, reproduction, or success.

The Lord creates optimum conditions for His goals to be achieved, His methods to be successful, and His glory to be seen. The Bible describes God's "optimum conditions" with words like:

I think maybe optimism can be a presumptuous and worldly substitute for true faith in the unseen and true hope in God's sure promises. Maybe. I'm not sure yet.

What I do know is that my lifelong optimism has been shaken to its core, while my hope is strong and my faith is undiminished.

And faith tells me that it may be a good thing to let go of optimism and simply stick with hope.

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
~ John 16:33 (NKJV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why God Really Sent Jesus

At some point this Christmas season, you're likely to be reminded that Jesus was born for Crucifixion.

While we shouldn't avoid the messy yet necessary message of the cross, we also cannot point so emphatically at the cross that we lose the full circle truth of why God really sent Jesus. Obtaining our salvation wasn't the end that Jesus was born to achieve, but only the means to a far greater end.

God desires relationship with us.

Self-centered, prideful, fearful human nature frustrates relationship. We often have difficulty coming to the cross, either believing salvation from sin is unnecessary because we're good enough, or we think our sin too great to make us worthy of saving. Once we bring our sin to the cross and receive God's forgiveness and salvation, we tend to gravitate toward a new set of extremes—legalism or license. Whether or not we achieve a measure of balance there, we may become so enamored with Christianity that we drift away from abiding with the Christ:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
~ Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

These words are spoken to people who are already part of the church—not to the unsaved nonbelievers, but to the lukewarm believers who've forgotten to keep on inviting Jesus into their lives for relationship. The Great Commission isn't to simply get people to the cross. Our Master asks His disciples—those who have walked with Him, who have shared His death and His life—to bring others into the same relationship.

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love... These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
~ Jesus, John 15:7,9 (NKJV)

God did not merely step into flesh so that He might one day be crucified. God actually became a Man. He lived with us as One of us. He suffered and wept with us, ate and laughed and had fellowship with us. He even died—with us and for us—so that we might experience His resurrection and live with Him, every single day of our lives.

God didn't save us from our sin for only our own sake, nor for only His sake. He saved us for each other, that He might have intimate, loving, "
exceeding joy" relationship with us.

Our Father, please don't let us settle for too little of You. Please use Your Spirit and Your Word and Your people to fulfill in each of us Your purpose of relationship with us, that our "joy may be full," every single day of the year. Please grant us the pleasure and privilege of bringing You joy.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Paradox: The Good God of Suffering

And no one laid hands on Jesus, for His hour had not yet come.
~ John 8:20 (NKJV)

Jesus—God made Man—was both Man of Sorrows during many hours, and faced an hour in which He was allowed to experience consummate suffering.

Perhaps the greatest of all life's paradoxes is the inescapable question of why a good God allows suffering. In searching out the full circle of truth to this paradox, we find an even greater paradox—that suffering is a primary medium in which God works:

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

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

But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
~ 1 Peter 4:13 (NKJV)

Exceeding joy. This is the masterpiece God is at work to create in us.

The more that fire refines gold, the greater the glory of the gold. The more that suffering refines us, the greater the glory of our joy.

We reach the culmination of joy only through death, the gateway with potential for greatest suffering. Perfected joy is found not so much in leaving this world behind as it is in experiencing the fullness of God's presence, without the distractions of this world.

But even in current days, during this temporal era of suffering and darkness and death, we find exceeding joy when we choose to place ourselves in the presence of God amid the distractions—and through the suffering—of this world.

Exceeding joy. This is the masterpiece God is at work to create in us, through the medium of suffering, even as He created it in His Son, in His hour:

... Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ... for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
~ Hebrews 12:1-3 (NKJV)

Next time: bringing the paradox of Christmas and Crucifixion full circle.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paradox: The Mark of Truth

The defining mark of postmodernism is also its greatest weakness. The assertion of "no absolutes" is not only an absolute which affirms their existence, but also a feeble attempt to rationalize the paradoxical nature of truth.

Truth is accurate and absolute only when its paradoxes are reconciled. To ignore the contrasts of truth which appear contradictory is to have incomplete and therefore inaccurate truth.

Even the absolutes of math contain paradox:
42 = 16, but √16 ≠ 4.
The correct answer is √16 = ±4.
+4 and -4 are opposite—yet the answer to √16 is inaccurate and incomplete without including both.

"... for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world." (John 12:47)
"As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous ..." (John 5:30)

Jesus is the ultimate paradox. He is ...
Judgment and Mercy
Joy and Sorrow
Freedom and Ownership
Law and Liberty
Fellowship (Communion) and Holiness (Separation)
Life and Death
Mighty Lion and Gentle Lamb
First and Last
God and Man

The list would go on and on. But for any given contrast, Jesus is not two natures balanced against each other on opposite sides of a fulcrum, as √16 = +4 OR -4. Jesus is wholly and simultaneously both sides of His paradoxes, centered in love.

Both truth and Jesus are best seen when brought full circle.

More next time on the full circle paradoxes of Christmas and Crucifixion, current days and culmination day.

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."
~ John 12:46-48 (NKJV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Work in Progress

Image source: Been Thinking

Last week, our family had a marathon of three EXTRA rehearsals, five performances, three parties, three doctor appointments—and life in general.

This week also brings a few more extra items to our routine, including me orchestrating three Christmas parties on one day for each of three shifts at my husband's office.

Oh, and God's working on me, too. I'd like to take the above sign off my life, but I know it won't come down anytime soon.

No promises on when the next post will be. I'm asking the Lord to make it worth the wait.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see an incredible testimony of what it means to be a new creation in Christ, you are sure to appreciate this post from Makala Doulos (who has the nice habit of using a lower case "i" when speaking of himself): Phase Shift

Friday, December 9, 2011

Light, Part III: Truth & Blindness

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness."
~ John 12:46 (NKJV)

My mother has been blind since birth, with the ability to only see light, distinguish colors, and visually detect movement. She has sometimes expressed the desire to see an object or activity, particularly when a sighted person describes something to her. But my mother hasn't considered blindness a particular burden in life—it is all she's ever known. She's always said that she feels worse for people who once had sight and then lost it.

Several years ago, my mother collided with a sharp object she didn't detect and lost her remaining vision. She now lives in an unfamiliar and colorless world of perpetual darkness. She laments often that losing the sight she once had is far more difficult than it was to never see at all.

She remains grateful that she is only physically blind. She loves the Bible's truth, and has good spiritual vision.

"There is no truth or mercy
Or knowledge of God in the land...
Therefore you shall stumble in the day ...
My people perish for lack of knowledge."
~ Hosea 4:1,5-6

To live without truth and mercy is the result of not knowing God—of being spiritually blind. Spiritual blindness doesn't start out as complete, for the Bible says there's no such thing as a atheist (Romans 1:18-20). Truth and God's existence are known through (among other things) conscience, creation, and the place in every human soul that only God can satisfy.

When we don't know God, we grope about as spiritually blind. We feel around in the darkness for something to fill the God-shaped void in our lives. We expect to be soothed and satisfied by things like:

Food, Caffeine, Tobacco
Alcohol, Drugs (whether illegal or prescription)
Career, Achievement, Status
Sports, Hobbies, Recreation
Entertainment, Amusement, Media
Sex, Relationships
Money, Power
Justice, Revenge

Some of these things are plain evil. Many are only bad if used in excess or the wrong context. Every one of them is bad on the occasions when they displace God.

Therefore He says:
"Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light."
~ Ephesians 5:6-14 (NKJV)

I don't know a single person (including yours truly) who never falls back on one of God's provisions in a moment when they instead need only Him. Any one of us can have those moments, come to ourselves, and turn back to God—in prayer, in reading His Word, in seeking out His Light in others. (Woe to us if we do not!)

But the person who is spiritually blind, to whom Light is unfamiliar, knows nothing else. They continue to grope in the Darkness. They may even become so accustomed to Darkness, and embrace it so fully, that they deny the existence of Light—and lose the little Light they have.

"For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away."
~ Matthew 25:29 (NKJV)

We are children of Light. When we encounter a child of Darkness, we may be inclined to condemn their spiritual blindness and abandon them. (Woe to us if we do so!)

We also have the opportunity to shine upon them with truth and draw them into the Light. They may choose to come with us, and be healed of their blindness. Or they may cling to Darkness, their blindness growing.

Their decision cannot be excuse for Light in us to dim. To be a Christian is to be a little Christ, anointed with His Light, and bring it to every person around us.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
~ Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Light, Part II: Good vs. Evil

Seventy years ago today, a foreign country attacked our homeland and decisively engaged the U.S. in World War II—no longer permitting us to watch "them vs. them" from a distance. When war became "us vs. them" (no pun intended), one of the measures our nation took was incarcerating U.S. citizens of Japanese descent, lest we be infiltrated by our enemy.

War brings us to redefine whom we call good and whom we call evil, in order to separate ourselves from the "them" we must battle.

So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
~ Exodus 14:20 (NKJV)

The Lord YHWH would soon call and train His people to cooperate with Him in waging war against the various enemies of YHWH and His people. But in this passage, He chooses to instead segregate the Israelites from the Egyptians, while YHWH wages a battle reserved to Himself. At the Red Sea, YHWH delivers His people in parting the waters to permit escape, and seals that escape in the returning waters which destroy their enemies.

The Red Sea incident is the Lord's vivid picture of spiritual deliverance and destruction accomplished some 1475 years later at Calvary, a battle God reserves to Himself. In Jesus' blood sacrifice and death, He destroys mankind's greatest enemy of Death, sealing our escape penalty for sin.

Having been delivered from our greatest enemy, we are now called and trained to cooperate with the Lord in waging war against the various powers that would cause us harm. Our enmity is not with people, but with sin and its influence. Just as the Israelites of old were instructed to be ruthless in destroying their surrounding enemies, in order to escape the infiltration and influence of other nations, we are to be ruthless in fighting against sin's strongholds in our lives, to escape the infiltration and power of sin.

The Bible defines our war not in the sometimes nebulous terms of good & evil, but instead uses definitions such as Spirit & flesh (or sinful nature [NIV]), truth and lies, light and darkness. Because of the kind of influence they both have, the Bible also calls us to have separate kinds of relationships with people of light than with people of Darkness:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NIV)

The above passage is usually applied to marriage. While marriage is the most important relationship to apply this principle, it is not the only one. The context of these verses is recognizing that we have become a completely new person, and should no longer rely upon the world's definitions for segregation.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NIV)

In being reconciled to God and His Light of life, we also recognize that while we keep company with people of Darkness, we need to remain separate from close relationship with them—even as we, who are God's light, minister His reconciliation to them (the very next verse):

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:18 (NIV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Light, Part I: Choose Life

My current Bible study on light is certainly the proverbial drink from a fire hydrant. If just one thing stands out, it is God's use of light for separation.

Whenever I teach or speak, working in threes has consistently proven to make things more manageable. Posts for today, Wednesday, and Friday will cover the three most prominent separations evident to me between light and darkness:

Life & Death
Good & Evil
Understanding of Truth & Spiritual Blindness

☼ ~ ☼ ~ ☼

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
~ Genesis 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Genesis tells of God first creating the heavens and the earth as waters, and then describes six days of giving them separation, definition, and life by the power of His Word. Days one and two separate light from darkness and heavens from the earth. Day three defines the earth with terrestrial land (and botanical life) before the heavens are defined by their celestial bodies on day four. Day five fills the waters of sky and sea with animal life, while God's last workday is spent filling the land with creatures. God finally presents to creation His magnum opus—humans made in His image.

If Genesis gives a creation account from Earth's perspective, perhaps John's Gospel provides the creation account from Heaven's perspective.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [apprehend, seize, take] it... That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
~ John 1:1-5; 9-10 (NKJV)

God is Spirit (see Genesis 1:2; John 1:18; John 4:24). Note that John says of Jesus, God's Word:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Also note that before God separated light from darkness, He first created light. It seems to me that light didn't originally coexist with God, until God's Word (Jesus) spoke light into existence.

John's Gospel makes clear that life is inherent to God, and his words equate that life to light.

If—(HUGE "if" here)—God was invisible as Spirit and Word, perhaps He chose to make Himself visible as light as the means to impart life.

I'm no biologist, but my understanding is that in the physical world, there is no life apart from light. Even those life forms which exist in darkness are dependent upon light for the photosynthesis and other chemical reactions which provide their food. In simpler terms, mold might be growing in the utter darkness of my refrigerator, but it was the light of the sun that first enabled the food to grow that feeds the mold.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
~ 1 John 1:5 (NKJV)

In the spiritual world, there is no life apart from God's light.

Wherever God is absent, our souls are either dead or dying in the spiritual darkness. If we would choose life for our souls, we must cling to God and turn our faces toward His light.

"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life ..."
~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NKJV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go Toward the Light

Here are some random observations and verses from my study of light.

The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
~ Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)

Of the Bible's ~370 references to light (contrasting 220+ mentions of darkness), 13 are in the very first chapter.

Light is the Creator's first work.

Light drives back darkness with no more than light's existence.

"The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness."
~ Luke 11:34 (NKJV)

The oil used by lamps for light is also used for healing, anointing, and to show favor.

The Oxford Dictionary's entry for "light" includes this sub-entry:
SEE THE LIGHT : 2 undergo religious conversion

"Light" is a word stemming from Old English leōght, while "delight" has its origin in the Latin delectare for "to charm." Despite the lack of an etymological connection, I can't help but see a strong connection between the two.

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

In the above verse, the Greek word translated "marvelous" ("wonderful" in the NIV) is thaumastos, rooted in a verb describing the act of looking at something deliberately, intently, carefully, contemplatively, attentively—with admiration—in the effort to interpret it.

Another post on light is planned for Monday.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
~ John 8:12 (NKJV)

We humans become well-acquainted with darkness before we come to know light. Even our conception is wrapped in months of darkness before we are thrust into the world of light.

And so it seems fitting to peek at Darkness before examining Light—even if doing to discloses more than one might prefer to know.

But when I looked for good, evil came to me;
And when I waited for light, then came darkness.
~ Job 30:26 (NKJV)

My personal experience with Darkness began during 23 years of wandering through a spiritual haze, in search of the God Who hovered just outside my reach. My meeting with the Word of God was love at first sight, but three more years of flirting with Darkness prevented me from really knowing Light. The Lord does not tolerate divided allegiances, and waited to reveal Himself until He had all of me.

Since my surrender to God, His Light has dominated my life. I've remained well aware of the presence of Darkness in this world, and have made every effort to fearlessly be the Light of Jesus to everyone around me. In my lack of trepidation, I even prayed to better understand the Darkness against which we battle.

Be very careful of what you pray for.

God granted my prayer. My single, face-to-face encounter with the power of Darkness remains the most horrifying experience of my life. Though I emerged the victor, I'd swear that Darkness still nibbles at my heels, hungry for a rematch.

Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
~ Revelation 16:10 (NKJV)

In the last couple of days, I've studied the 220+ references to darkness in Scripture. Here are some notes.

Several verses make clear that God separates light from darkness on various physical and spiritual levels. God has even veiled Himself in darkness when separating Himself from unholiness. The phrase "shadow of death" occurs 19 times, usually accompanied by references to the dark.

The plague of darkness in Egypt is described as "darkness which may even be felt" (Exodus 10:21). When Revelation describes darkness descending and people gnawing their tongues in pain (above passage), I can imagine a deep darkness so horrific as to cause pain all by itself. The line which divides physical darkness and the power of Darkness is a fine one indeed.

Lastly, here are words and phrases associated with darkness in the Bible.

void, vanity, futile, foolish
gloom, blackness, silent
forsaken, alienated, desolate, wilderness
blindness, obscurity, hide, cover
wander, grope, stagger, bow down
stumble, slippery, unstable
scattered, forgetfulness, unfruitful
woe, sorrow, trouble, anguish, tribulation
sickness, pestilence, lays waste
disaster, destruction, curses, calamity
tempest, overflowing flood, utter end
hatred, persecuted, wrestle, bound in affliction
anger, thief, evil, way of the wicked
beasts creep about, consume
chased, overtake, pursue
captivity, prison, chains of darkness
crushed my life, long dead, cut off, grave
lowest pit, in the depths
bottomless pit, hell, smoke of the pit
outer darkness, weeping, "gnashing of teeth"
haunts of cruelty, power of Satan
horror, terrify, terrible

Next time: Light.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blame Game

"Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act..."
~ John 8:4 (NKJV)

Perhaps being a woman makes me both less inclined to draw attention to the power femininity holds over men, and more sensitive to how often the blame for sin is laid at the feet of vulnerable women.

Consider the Bible's many examples of the latter:

• Judah demands that Tamar be burned for pregnancy by harlotry, though he is the man guilty of hiring her (Genesis 38)
• The numerous warnings against the "evil / immoral / adulterous woman," "seductress," and "harlot" contained in Proverbs, a book largely composed by Solomon, the son of a man who committed adultery with Solomon's mother
• The above example from John, when Pharisees present to Jesus the woman caught in the very act of adultery, though the man they also caught is mysteriously absent
• Paul's observation that "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (1 Timothy 2:14)

Do you detect the irony in that last verse? There is no honor in lack of discernment which permits any person to be deceived. But if Adam was not deceived, how much greater is his dishonor for sinning with full knowledge?

"But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."
~ Matthew 5:32 (NKJV)

Jesus turns the tables on the Pharisees who drag the adulterous woman to Him for stoning. He does so again in the above passage from Matthew, when He points out a reality of patriarchal culture: a woman divorced by her husband remained largely dependent on men for support, and had little choice but adultery or harlotry. Jesus says men cause such adultery with their divorce.

The pendulum has now swung the other way in a society that pounces on the shortcomings and outright abuses of men, and gives an understanding nod to the sins of women. The fundamental church counters with its generally pharisaical or patriarchal view.

Except in a court of law, the blame game doesn't produce a winner.

... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ...
~ Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

God doesn't play the blame game. He merely convicts each of us of sin where we have yet to see it.

And then He points to the cross and to His Son, offering His Holy Spirit's power to overcome.

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)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Prayer Request?

"... I was in prison and you came to Me ... "
~ Matthew 25:36

You will likely read this post after your celebration of Thanksgiving. Regardless of when you see this, it's not too late for you to breathe a prayer.

Our family had turkey dinner yesterday. Today I'll help lead a team of people going to the local county jail. Our church has a team of people who make Thanksgiving dinner for all the prisoners, and another group who meets with the prisoners for just a few moments to explain why we've done so. During those few moments we share a song or two, our love & encouragement, and the Gospel.

Would you be willing to take just a moment and ask the Lord to use our imperfect words in a lasting way in the lives of these people?

Thank you. May God bless you with the joy that flows from a heart full of gratitude.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great Day of the Feast

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
~ John 7:37-39 (NKJV)

Even those believers privileged to see and hear Jesus did not have what we have.

We have been set free from our sins by His blood.
We have the Lord God living within us by His Holy Spirit.
We have the entirety of Scripture at our fingertips.

Yet all too often, gratitude for such divine treasure is diminished by attention to some lesser thing we lack, or with impatience because we wait for something we believe will be better than what we have today.

And we then miss the fullness of blessing in today.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, our country's "great day of The Feast." We will celebrate our abundance and, perhaps, express more gratitude to God than on other days.

We might also have a great day of the feast every day of the year, for the Lord daily offers us Bread of Life and Living Waters.

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul;
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.
~ Seth Sykes

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Much Can You Know?

Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."
~ John 7:16-17 (NKJV)

The Christian who shuns teachers or purposefully abstains from Christian fellowship runs a high risk of walking in error without check, and such pride can only lead to destruction and fall.


Jesus also says that the disciple who wills to do the will of the Father need not be hindered where instruction is lacking. Our Lord promises discernment of truth and doctrine to those who have a humble heart like a child's ...

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."
~ Luke 10:21 (NKJV)

... who remain immersed in the Bible:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
~ John 8:31-32 (NKJV)

I would love the opportunity to attend Bible college and gain the valuable knowledge offered by formal training. The day may yet come when I do so. The Holy Spirit has proven wholly adequate as the perfect Bible Teacher in the meantime.

To any reader who has ever felt limited in spiritual understanding, or who has experienced disdain from another believer with formal theological training, I offer to you these passages of Scripture.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things ..."
~ John 14:26 (NKJV)

"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!"
~ Luke 11:13 (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.
~ 1 John 2:27 (NKJV)

I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.
~ Psalms 119:99 (NKJV)

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
~ Jeremiah 31:33 (NKJV)

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD.
~ Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Consider the power and promise of our God in this verse!

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty [unattainable, inaccessible] things, which you do not know."
~ Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV, amplified)


For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NKJV)

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Anatomy of an Epiphany

Follow me as I chronicle my recent discovery of hidden treasure ...

I read John 7 and make it all the way to verse 31. I've missed something here. I can feel it. I read it again. Then I pray and ask God to please show me what I need to see. I start over yet again and stop at John 7:15 (NKJV):

And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"
I suspect that "letters" means "books," and look up the original Greek. The word used here is grámma, which can also be translated "writings." The definition* includes this contrast between the letter [of the law] and the spirit [of the law]:
"In the letters of Paul we have the antithesis between grámma, letter, and pneúma, spirit (Rom 2:29; Rom 7:6; 2Co 3:6). This antithesis may be explained thus: grámma denotes the law in its written form whereby the relation of the law to the man whom it concerns is the more inviolably established (Rom 2:27; 2Co 3:7). It is the external, fixed, and governing law; whereas the pneúma, the spirit, is the inner, effective, energizing, and divine principle of life (Rom 7:6)."
... the inner, effective, energizing, and divine principle of life ...

Other than time, the one resource I greatly covet is energy. My eyes blink and stick on one word.

... energizing ...

While I'm fixated on this distinction between letter and spirit, a quote comes to mind:

"Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else."
~ George Halas

And then a passage of the Bible I've long wanted to better understand suddenly becomes crystal clear.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
Hebrews 4:1-9 (NKJV)
Too often I sigh and think, "I'd love a rest, yet I'll push on; eternal rest is coming someday." But God wants me to rest now. And it's as easy as merely embracing the spirit of His law.

The spirit of God's law could not be simpler—"love God, love thy neighbor." I'm willing to do that. If I'd rather be doing something else, this is work. But on the other hand, if I find pleasure in doing this, it's no work at all, and I'll have rest in it.

And therein lies "the inner, effective, energizing, and divine principle of life."

Maybe there was a shortcut for conveyance of that epiphany to you. This time, I thought I'd let you share the trip with me.

: : :

For more on this thought, see "Never Work Again."

* From The Complete Word Study Dictionary, © 1992 By AMG International, Inc., General Editor: Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D

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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Man of Sorrows, Conclusion
Intimate With Anguish

He is scorned and given no heed by men;
A Man of sorrows and intimate with anguish.
And as one from whom we avert our faces,
He was despised—and we regarded Him as nothing.
~ Isaiah 53:3 (author)

Some Bibles render Isaiah's description of Jesus as "a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief."

"Grief" doesn't fully capture the essence of the Hebrew chŏlîy, which literally means "sickness." It can mean a disease, an infirmity or weakness of health, or sickness of heart because of anguish.

The translation "acquainted" doesn't work for me at all. The original Hebrew word, yâda', occurs nearly a thousand times in the Old Testament. While it can include the meanings of "to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience," yâda' is most often translated "know," and never requires the translation "acquaint." Yâda' is the word used to describe the most intimate knowledge possible among humans, of sexual intimacy between a man and woman.

To say that Jesus was "acquainted" with grief or anguish implies a passing encounter. The Bible is filled with references to Jesus' intimate experiences with suffering, in both body and soul. He weeps more often than the noted instance at the grave of Lazarus. His anguish in Gethsemane is more intense than the Bible describes anywhere else. And a strong case can be made for Jesus' death resulting not from crucifixion, but from a broken heart. (See the post "Broken"; also see Wikipedia's article on "Takotsubo cardiomyopathy" ['broken heart syndrome'])

And when He had sent the multitudes away, [Jesus] went up on the mountain by Himself to pray... Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
~ Matthew 14:23-25 (NKJV)

At the end of that very long day, after Jesus fed the 5,000, He finally obtained solitude. He surely had much anguish to discuss with His Father that night, between the news of His cousin John's beheading and the widespread conflict and rejection He would face the next day. As long day of people became long night of prayer, I imagine a weary and grief-stricken grief Jesus making the pre-dawn walk of nearly four miles across the sea to His disciples.

If my heart is broken, may it be to hear the good God—Who is both love personified and Man of Sorrows—depicted as indifferent to human misery; may my heart bleed to think of how my Savior suffered at Calvary and is grieved even this day for my sin; may the greatest ache in my soul be for the scorn and rejection our precious Lord has suffered throughout all of human history, by even His own.

May I never draw back from fellowship with Jesus in suffering.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Man of Sorrows, Part III
Land of the Shadow of Death

A Psalm of David.
(1) The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
(2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
(3) He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
(4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(5) Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
for ever.
~ Psalm 23 (KJV)

In the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus fulfills Psalm 23 as prophecy.

The Good Shepherd directs the crowd to sit down in the green pastures of plentiful grass—having already brought rest and restoration and righteousness with His words—and then prepares a plentiful table before them.

This writer notes that Psalm 23 begins in the third person, shifts to the second person for the two verses which speak of the Lord's protection and provision, and then returns to the third person in conclusion.

One might almost imagine Jesus speaking those two middle verses as He partakes of a meal provided by His Father while He sits among His enemies, during His walk here in the land of the shadow of death.

"Christ's miracles drew many after him that were not effectually drawn to him."
~ Matthew Henry, commentary on John 6:2 (emphasis in original)

The crowd Jesus feeds is not entirely friendly. People have sought out Jesus because of the miracles He does (John 6:2), and not necessarily to give Him their ears. After eating their fill, some intend to take Him by force and make Him King. (verse 15). We see the next day that they do not believe in Him (v. 30), but would appropriate His power to continue receiving food from Him (v. 34).

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life ...

We take our every step in the land of the shadow of death, surrounded by enemies, for the devil and his minions prowl about seeking to devour us. We shall have no fear, for the Man of Sorrows has tread upon the same sod.

We take our every breath seated with the Good Shepherd, a table set before us offering abundance of spiritual food—of overflowing goodness and mercy—even here in the shadow of death.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Man of Sorrows, Part II
The Shepherds

And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
~ Mark 6:34 (NKJV)

When Babylonia sacked and burned Jerusalem in 587-586 BC, God's people received decisive punishment for centuries of idolatry.

But the idolatry which turned people away from YHWH played out in more than worship and sacrifice to carved images. The Lord God also expressed outrage over oppression of the weak, whether directly or in lack of mercy (see
Ezekiel 16:46-51). His greatest wrath was aroused by the religious leaders—shepherds entrusted with care for the people who used their positions to satisfy their own agenda (Ezekiel 34:1-6).

Fast forward six centuries. God still entrusts His shepherds with nurturing the souls of His people. The religious leaders are now obsessively fastidious about following the law, but are blind to the continuing idolatry which has no compassion for the oppressed and the vulnerable.

Indeed, no one shepherd can meet the needs of so many. But if everything worked the way it should, perhaps the people would all be cared for. Collectively, the shepherds might manage to minister to some while training others to share the work. Or did the Lord YHWH set up a system which could not succeed even if each person did his part?

The faithful shepherd is surely a frustrated one, desperately trying to do as much as he can, knowing he cannot do the work intended for many, understanding that God alone can meet all the needs.

"For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
~ Matthew 23:4 (NKJV)

In the feeding of 5,000, God stands among His people as their Good Shepherd, and His soul is grieved to see them neglected. He feeds the desperately hungry souls of His people with His words. Even cloaked Himself in the human flesh which limits Himself, God chooses in this instance to work a miracle and feed the people bread and fish.

Two millennia after the onetime feeding of 5,000, the Good Shepherd is still surely "moved with compassion" and grieved when the souls of His people go hungry.

2,600 years after Ezekiel, the Lord YHWH is surely angered when His shepherds are without compassion for the oppressed and the vulnerable.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Man of Sorrows, Part I
Trial Amid Stress

I ask readers to forgive the absence of posts this week. This series will be difficult to write—as it has been difficult to know where to begin.

: : :

Before moving on in a study of John's Gospel, let's slow down and take another look at the miracle of feeding 5,000.

As already mentioned, each of four Gospel accounts begins by highlighting a different aspect of the miracle's context. As is often the case in life, this trial came amid many other stresses.

And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
~ John 6:3 (NKJV)

The apostle John shows us the miracle in the context of conflict. It is a crucial point in Jesus' ministry, when His steadily growing popularity is bringing more distinct opposition. The immediately preceding scene is conflict with the Jews (November 4th post, "How Can You Believe"), and the next scene will show conflict between Jesus and His own disciples (November 10, "Failing a Miracle").

Matthew precedes the telling of this miracle with the story of Herod beheading John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus. We know that Jesus had four brothers who "did not believe in Him." If just one other person most closely empathized with Jesus and His ministry, it would have been his cousin John, who prepared the way for Jesus. Matthew underscores that Jesus sought out solitude when He received the news of John's death, which surely affected Jesus very deeply.

Luke shows that at the same time Jesus grieves His cousin's death, His disciples were returning from their first missions trip. They had been sent without supplies, instructed to trust in the hospitality of strangers, and "to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick ... [with] power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases." (Luke 9:1-5) Jesus surely took time to respond to their exciting reports with affirmation, answers to their questions, and clarification.

Mark's accounts consistently include the little details that paint a full picture. He not only depicts more elements of John's death, but also shows that as Jesus' disciples gave their reports, so many people were coming and going that there was no time to simply eat. Despite His own grief, Jesus evidences compassion in the touching words, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

It is at this point—when the grieving and very human Jesus most needs time to rest and regroup—that He is sought out by needy crowds.

: : :

My Lord Jesus, please help me accept the tests and demands Your Spirit allows, even as I think I most need time to rest and regroup from conflict, grieving, and ministry success.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Good Day

My plans for yesterday were to finish a couple of chores around the house during homeschool hours, stop by the bank, and rake leaves with the kids until dark.

Oh—and also respond to an email that had been sitting in my inbox for a couple of days.

I started off the day with that email, in between discussing and googling some USSR history with my fifteen-year-old daughter and husband, over a cup of coffee and random chitchat. She didn't actually have her history book open at the moment, but a homeschooling lifestyle seizes every teaching opportunity.

My day took a sudden turn with a phone call from a friend who's a single mom. Her four-year-old son has been sick and needed a trip to the doctor, but she was too incapacitated with the flu to drive.

No problem. I headed over, we piled into her van (to keep my kid-van quarantined from flu), and began a circuitous route between doctor's office, two pharmacies, health food store, back to her house for an insurance card, and then back to the first pharmacy. Her van had a recurring problem that I had fixed a month ago when it was still our van, so I also made a trip to the dealer to resolve that.

A day around flu and hugging close to me a child with strep throat had already brought me to actually purchase and use the hand sanitizer that I loathe. What I really wanted to do after being gone for five hours was take a nice hot shower and change clothes. Instead, I tackled the dishes that my daughters usually do, since they had spent the day at home covering for me.

I then managed one of my chores, forced myself to relax and watch a movie with my daughter, and finished off the day with a last-minute mending request and a
tweet of thanks to Jason Stasyzen before saying bedtime prayers.

Bedtime prayers are usually about thanks for today and hope for tomorrow. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all I didn't get done—with banks closed for Veteran's Day, I couldn't even stop in the bank I drove by three times! But something about prayer with the kids compels me to find that gratitude and hope, even when I'm not feeling it.

So I thanked the Lord for our family's health, and our ability to help someone else in need. I asked our Creator to bring health to loved friends and their van. I shared a thimbleful of my frustration, and asked the God Who holds my calendar in His hands to help me use my time wisely in the day to come.

Which is today. I begin it by affirming that yesterday did not go at all as I planned, but it was a good day—I allowed it to go as God planned.

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
~ Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Failing a Miracle

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
~ John 6:11 (NKJV)

This miracle—of Jesus multiplying five barley loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men—is one of the few events in Jesus' life which are depicted by all four Gospels.

Each account begins by highlighting a different aspect of the miracle's context. Matthew, Mark and Luke also depict the disciples pointing out to Jesus the problem of feeding a large crowd late in the day, in a deserted place where provisions are unavailable. John gives us a fuller perspective—the disciples were responding to a test:

Jesus said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
~ John 6:5-6 (NKJV)

As a demonstration of Jesus' power as Son of God, all four Gospels show the miracle as a huge success. But John also shows us that for many of Jesus' disciples—people who had indicated their commitment to follow in His footsteps—the miracle results in a dramatic "FAIL":

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
~ John 6:66 (NKJV)

Determining the measure of our belief or identity of His true disciples is never something God proves to Himself, since He already sees a person's heart (verse 64). God's tests serve to continually show us where we do not believe, and then asks if we will persist in unbelief, or will now choose to believe and follow.

Failure lies not in recognizing our lack of faith, but in what we do with that knowledge. Many disciples turn back. Others choose to take a new step of faith:

Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
~ John 6:67-69 (NKJV)

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tender Heart of Hearts

Into Your hand I commit myself
You my King Who is Life, Light and Love
Former treasure I have counted loss
Pure tender mercies are from above

Do to me whatever You deem best
Wash me, Word of God, You my Bridegroom
Former pleasure and kisses proved lies
Your tender mercies do not consume

Your soul short endures my misery
Faithful are the wounds of You my Friend
Former measure of peace is a shell
Sure tender mercies are without end

On Your palms You've inscribed me
Your compassions won't fail me
You rejoice and sing o'er me
Your tender heart beats near me

: : :

This poem is part of the "Warrior Poet Circle" hosted by Jason Stasyzen. You're invited to visit his site and view more poems for the theme Tenderhearted.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marvelous Light

Photo credit: Elizabeth Bundy

Honestly, I avoid whining or ranting, so I'll try to be good here today as I tell you that I am NO fan of Daylight Savings Time, which saves neither time nor daylight in my book.

I wish Michigan, like Arizona, gave DST the cold shoulder. Indiana had the good sense to stay on standard time until 2005, but they evidently grew tired of being asked why they were on Eastern time for winter months and not for summer. Michigan and Indiana are so far west that we ought to be in the Central Time zone anyway. And Michigan is also so far north that the last vestiges of summer daylight don't disappear from our sky until 11 p.m. EDT.

Although I'd prefer Michigan use CDT, what I'd really like is no 'D' at all. Give me more sunshine in the morning, please. Because regardless of what I'm doing in the evening, I'll keep on doing it after sundown, whether by electric light, firelight, or in the dark. Dark doesn't slow me down in the evening, but it can sure make it hard to get going in the morning.

I can think of liitle in creation more sacred than a sunrise. Watching the emergence of golden light push back the dark is worth losing sleep over. I am at peace with dark of night. But I also loathe Darkness.

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

I've spent way too much time in Darkness. I spent twenty-six years walking in Darkness before 1988, when I surrendered my life to Jesus and more fully experienced the "marvelous light" I'd discovered in 1985. Darkness obtained permission to attack again throughout 2010, and even now it licks at my heels and tries to bite. And of all the times I've engaged in spiritual warfare, there was just one occasion when I encountered Darkness face to face. I'm grateful that the blood of Jesus protects me from an eternity of that Hell.

Image source:

" 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "
~ Matthew 25:30 (NKJV)

In sunrises and the Son is marvelous light. That pesky DST makes me wait longer for a sunrise. The Lord tarries and delays the Sonrise of King Jesus reigning on the earth. But in all the other times that my soul is parched for marvelous light, I never fail to be satisfied by cracking open His Word.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
~ 1 John 1:5 (NKJV)

Image source: The Scriptorium

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How Can You Believe

"How can you believe—you who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?"
~ John 5:44

I'd guess I've read the Gospel of John a hundred times, no exaggeration. Yet this is the first time I remember seeing the above verse. It explains a whole lot.

How many times does faith struggle ...
... to maintain hope that God's plan really is working good—this side of Heaven?
... to accept that when God forgives my sin, I am no longer condemned for it?
... to believe the right response to those who injure me is love and prayer and blessing?

There are a million other ways faith stops short, and certainly other reasons. But today, I am struck by Jesus' words, and I am bolstered to think that how we can better believe is as simple as seeking the honor that comes from God rather than men.

Lord Jesus, let us be conscious of only Your eyes, only Your Father's eyes, that You may increase our faith.

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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hell's Unpardonable Sin

The fifth chapter of John presents a scene common in the Gospels—Jews (most likely religious leaders) in conflict with Jesus concerning His claim to be the Son of God.

Jewish law requires the testimony of two or three witnesses to establish a matter (as might common wisdom). Jesus acknowledges that His testimony of Himself isn't valid on its own. He goes on to enumerate the numerous witnesses to His identity:

The Holy Spirit (verse 32)
John the Baptist (verse 33)
The works [miracles] Jesus performs (verse 36)
"The Father Himself" (verse 37)
The whole of Scripture (verse 39)
The writings of Moses (verse 46)

"But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."
~ John 5:40 (NKJV)

Religious people seem to be the most difficult to convince about the Holy Spirit's testimony. The rules and standards and tenets of religion can be solidly defined. But the Holy Spirit is alternately called fire and water and wind—fluid elements that can sometimes be contained, but which defy assumption of any concrete shape when left to themselves.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
~ John 3:8 (NKJV)

The person who does not wish to enthrone Jesus as Lord and God, Messiah and Savior, Christ and King will listen to neither the internal whisperings of the Holy Spirit nor acknowledge the indisputable and miraculous signs of His presence.

Whatever other testimony is rejected, this final voice of authority must be heeded. The blood of Jesus Christ will cover all other sins with which Hell tempts—except Hell's unpardonable sin of calling the Spirit a liar, in the refusal to accept His testimony to the Person of Jesus Christ.

"Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation."
~ Mark 3:28-29 (NKJV)

Though most people reading this blog have accepted the Spirit's testimony about Jesus, we sometimes deny His voice about lesser things. Such denials are not the unpardonable sin of blasphemy, but we might at least consider how much weight Jesus puts on His Spirit's voice.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Success Strategy for Purgatory

"The purpose of purgatory is to cleanse one of imperfections ... souls suffer for a time of purging that prepares them to enter heaven ..."
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Broderick, ©1987

The Bible teaches that Jesus' death at Calvary paid in full the eternal death penalty of sin, but that there are still temporal penalties for sin before we get to heaven.

Sometimes, the consequences for sin have a clear cause and effect—showing up drunk and being fired, committing a crime and being arrested, having an affair and being divorced.

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
~ John 5:14 (NKJV)

A clear cause and effect is often less evident. When does God prevent the affair brewing by bringing a layoff? When is the person running from God halted in their tracks by a tragic accident? When does God allow the toxins bred in a bitter heart to run a physical course throughout a body?

And when, like Job, does sin have no direct role in the suffering designed for a higher purpose?

And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
~ John 9:2-3 (NKJV)

Whether we suffer for our own sin or humanity's collective sin, one of the purposes of our time on earth is to be cleansed of sin. We suffer, for a time, the purging that prepares us to enter heaven.

That might not line up perfectly with the full definition of purgatory in my Catholic Encyclopedia, which says purgatory is a place visited after death. But the above excerpt does line up with how I've come to view the hell we've made of the earth, this purgatory we visit before death.

The success strategy for life in purgatory is to remember:

• Our purpose in life isn't to be happy, but to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

• Jesus was our substitute on the cross, in payment of sin's death penalty, and we now live as His substitute, in living testimony to God, in the place even our Master grew weary of (Mark 9:19).

• For the soul sealed by Jesus' blood and Spirit, this world is the only hell or purgatory we will know. For the soul who wills not to know Him, this world is the only heaven.

Thursday: Hell's Unpardonable Sin

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This post is part of the "One Word at a Time" blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You're invited to visit his site and see what others are saying about today's one-word theme: Strategy.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Point of Death

When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, [the nobleman] went to Him [at Cana] and implored Him to come down [to Capernaum] and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
~ John 4:47 (NKJV)

The twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana was a long journey in the time of Jesus—evidently an overnight roundtrip.

Is there any situation in your life at the point of death? A job? Finances? Health? A relationship?

You might spend two days working on it. But would you spend two days to simply search out God's help for it? How about just one full day?

If there's such a situation in your life, the question is worth asking.

Our Father in Heaven, You hold our lives and everything touching them in Your hands. Please give us strength of heart to seek You out and humble ourselves before You when something vital is slipping away from us. Please enable us to trust You for the outcome, and for Your timing, however long we wait.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing for Points

My ten-year-old daughter loves to play Rummy, and often shows up at my elbow with a deck of cards. She's good enough to beat adults, and looks for any opportunity to do so.

I play for points—and take big risks for those points. I do crazy stuff like get a card that could be played different ways with other cards I'm holding, and discard that double-play card. That way, I've got more cards in my hand to score with, and a better chance of picking up the whole pile for even more scoring. I can rack up some huge points on a single hand.

The risk, of course, is that I get caught at the end with too many points in my hand. I watch carefully for game's end and try to meet it, while my daughter delights in catching me unprepared. If I lose a hand, I'm likely to lose big. But since we play for fun instead of for money or competitively, we're both happy no matter how the hand comes out, win or lose.

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
~ 1 Timothy 1:14-15 (NKJV)

My most consistent source of failure (after my pride) is my tendency to go too far. "Yield + Zeal" is a guaranteed combination for success. But when zeal breaks out of a strong stride and breaks into a headlong sprint—without watching for the Holy Spirit's signals—and then fails to yield, watch for a colossal crash.

I really do try to watch carefully and avoid falling. I kick myself when I discover, too late, that I've gone too far because I forgot to listen to the Lord's cues. I nurse my pride and resolve I'm never going to run with such zeal again, but will use a little more restraint next time.

And then, inevitably, I remember:
Oh to Grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.

I know I can't possibly pay my debt to Grace. I'm nonetheless determined to make as big a dent in it as possible. While I learn new ways to rely on the Holy Spirit, I'm still willing to take big risks, always hoping for a big win—hoping for great glory to God.

I can afford to do so, because I'm not playing for a personal win, I'm playing for His points. I'll be happy at the end, whatever my hand, securely in my Lord's hand.

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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Being Built Up

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman ... So when the Samaritans had come to Him ... many more believed because of His own word.
~ John 4:39-41 (NKJV)

With highly educated Jews, Jesus experienced conflict and rejection. He receives a warmer reception among Jewish common people (Mark 12:37). And when He comes to the Samaritans, who generally had even less knowledge of spiritual and religious matters than Jews, they accepted Jesus and His Gospel at once.

We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up ...
~ 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NKJV)

When one of my family members went through a "trying on Christianity" phase, he quoted the above verse and told me that he didn't read the Bible, because people who know the Bible are filled with pride. (He's now a committed Wiccan.)

Since any one of us might be inclined to take pride in our knowledge—and plenty of education (like plenty of money) can be a stumbling block to faith—can an argument be made for maintaining a certain level of ignorance?

By no means! The Bible encourages us to obtain knowledge. Here's how that verse from Corinthians continues:

We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
~ 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NKJV)

We might know our Bible and our theology and everything related inside out. But if our motive is to build ourselves up, either in our own eyes or the eyes of someone else (including God), we achieve the opposite spiritually.

On the other hand, if our motive in obtaining knowledge is to know God and become more Christlike—if we are motivated by love—the result for ourselves and others is edification, which means "being built up."

An interesting irony in experiencing the power of love.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.