Blog Archive

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

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, 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.

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 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.

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, 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)

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 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)

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 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.

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.

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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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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You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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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.

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 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.