Blog Archive

Monday, December 31, 2012

Testimony of Grace

All the paths of YHWH are grace and truth
To those keeping His covenant and His testimonies.
Psalm 25:10

"Why me, God?"

The question was thrust heavenward countless times throughout my younger years. As a child, as a youth, as I entered adulthood, life piled distress upon insult upon injury, over and over. And though I resolved to ever avoid causing pain to others, I nonetheless failed on countless occasions. And I wondered why I'd been cursed, oblivious to the curse upon every one of us—oblivious to the Grace available.

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
~ John 1:16-17 (NKJV)

Truth rushed into my life when the Bible I'd only known as "The Good Book" was personally introduced to me as the Word of God. I knew at once, in the deepest core of my soul, that no Truth I'd ever heard was truer. Grace became visible a few years later, when I surrendered myself to the Lord and His Holy Spirit entered my life in a big way.

"There, but for the grace of God, go I."
~ Unknown

"Why me, God?"

When the Lord got a hold of me twenty-four years ago, I started asking the same question with a completely different perspective. Why did He reach out to me? Why did He enable me to know Him? Why was The Way revealed off the path of destruction and onto the path of life?

"He who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger."
~ Japanese Proverb

The world is filled with the injured and the injurers, none of us wholly escaping being both. Seasons of distress and insult and injury return. What makes the difference between the abused who becomes abuser, and the abused who becomes healer? How does any person choose between taking all they can get, and giving all they are? Where is the path to the place that the deed intended for evil is transformed into good?

Grace is the only answer; Grace provides the response to all that has gone by, and the assurance of hope through all that is yet to come.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:14 (NKJV)

By New Year's Day, Christmas gifts have been folded into the ordinary fabric of our lives. But The Gift celebrated by Christmas—the fullness of Grace and Truth that is God Himself become a Man of flesh so He might dwell among us—becomes ordinary in the new year only if I fail to worship, only if I fail to give testimony of Grace.

Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to Earth, and for keeping Him here through Your Spirit. For Your name's sake, my Lord, please keep Him most extraordinary in our lives, worthy of all worship and testimony.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fortress of Grace

When the offices and stores and restaurants have finally quieted on Christmas Eve …

Amid the gifts and feast-laden tables …

Will we manage to lay aside all the trappings of Christmas and perhaps encounter Christ?

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:14 (NKJV)

Matthew tells of Joseph and Magi, Luke tells of Mary and angels, and we receive images of another time and place. John shares the most fundamental Nativity truth in a single sentence—God laying aside one form of glory for another so He might become Man—and we receive Grace and Truth.

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
~ John 18:37-38 (NKJV)

Truth—cause of the Christ Child’s birth—is a rare commodity these days.

Statisticians and politicians shape facts. Educators and businessmen barter in information. Sages and philosophers ply abstracts.

God alone supplies Truth solid enough to build one's life upon. Truth is found in His Word. His Word is named Jesus, both the Babe in a manger and the King on a cross.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
~ Psalm 84:11

Grace is simply having favor with God, the Father Who provides and protects His precious children. Grace holds us up and encompasses us and covers us, a sun and shield, blessing and buttress. This fortress of Grace, built upon Truth, is our storehouse of blessing and security in an uncertain world.

“I am not worthy of the least of all the grace and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant.”
~ Genesis 32:10

When other gifts are unwrapped this week, in celebration of God’s ultimate Gift, remember that a fortress of Grace may also be yours, wrapped up in Jesus.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
~ Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Thank You, Father, for matchless, amazing grace. Thank You for sending us Truth, wrapped up in a Baby, unveiled by our King.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Façade of Grace

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
~ John 1:17 (NKJV)

To live under the moral law is to live under an intolerable burden of fear and guilt, inequity and judgment, condemnation of self and neighbor. One who lives by this law sees unrighteousness everywhere and is miserable at the sight.

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
~ Matthew 5:17 (NKJV)

To make an exchange of my life for the life of Jesus Christ is to live under moral law fulfilled, in the freedom under the law of the Spirit of life …

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
~ Romans 8:2 (NKJV)

… in the freedom of being an eternal debtor to grace.

Living as a debtor to the moral law—the law of sin and death—is torment. Living as a debtor to the law of grace is to comprehend the price paid for freedom from the former law, to revel in new-found worth and gratitude, to indulge in lavishing grace and love upon others.

"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
~ Matthew 24:11-12 (NKJV)

The lawless person refuses to acknowledge a debt to any law. If knowledgeable enough to hear that forgiveness of sins is available through Jesus, but unwilling to conduct the transaction of life for life with God, such a person is compelled to build for himself a façade of grace. He will assert—indeed, he may demand—an entitlement to grace from God and fellow man alike.

Such a one is unacquainted with grace and has rejected truth. He would be better off as a slave to the moral law, that he might hunger for freedom.

"Then Jesus said to those 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)

Father, thank You for sending Truth to us. Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the price of freedom. Holy Spirit, thank You for unfathomable grace.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What I Learned about God, the First Fifty Years

For my birthday last week, I shared a handful of the things I've learned about life. (Thank you to my readers for all the nice comments and tweets.) More important, this week, are just a few of the things I've learned about God, in roughly the order He revealed them to me.

Jesus is living God, to be worshiped for Who He is.

The more you look closely at nature, the more certain you are there's a Creator.

If you reach out for God when you're really scared, He reaches back.

You can only believe what other people tell you about God if it's backed up by what God says about Himself.

You cannot know God apart from truth. Pure truth has a quality that facts alone can never touch.

Hell is horrific and I belong there. Jesus loves me and He died so I can stay with Him instead.

You can't have all of God until you give Him all of you.

When God's Spirit moves in, sin needs to move out.

God can play a fierce game of Hide & Seek, but He loves to be found.

God is God, and He must be met on His terms, not ours.

When you seek God first, you receive blessings you'd given up on.

My best ideas are garbage unless they're part of God's plan.

God never intended for any of us to go it alone. We really do need one another.

God cares passionately about what we think of His Son.

God has a tender spot for the people who love His Son.

God's not particularly interested in making us comfortable.

Be very careful about what you pray for. God has an outrageous sense of humor.

Always pray for others what you'd want them to pray for you.

God repays good for good generously and bad for bad mercifully.

When we think we're waiting for God to move, He's probably waiting for us to move.

Don't ask God for new instructions until you've followed the last ones He gave.

God does not change and His feet do not move. But prayer can move the arm of God, the face of God, and the heart of God.

God has great compassion for the sorrowful heart turned toward Him.

God has little tolerance for whining when He's been so good to us.

Sometimes, God is only waiting for us to ask.

God can and does speak to those who know His voice.

God has no condemnation for His children, only discipline.

When we think we can't endure another moment of pain, God knows how far to stretch us.

If you seek blessings before seeking Blessor, you're sure to be disappointed.

God is seriously in love with His people.

God is too great to ever be understood by mortals.

God loves us too much to let us understand too little of Him.

We won't get tired of an eternity with God.

No matter what else or who else you think you need, God really is enough.

God never gives up on those in whom He's taken up residence.

Thus says the LORD:
"Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,"
Says the LORD.
"But this one will I regard:
The one who is afflicted and of a smitten spirit,
And who trembles at My word."
~ Isaiah 66:1-2

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I've Learned, the First Fifty Years

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
~ Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

Today I complete fifty years of drawing breath. I don't feel fifty years old unless I look back at all I've lived through or look forward to all I wait for, so I simply try to live in the present—to "seize the day" while remembering to plan for the future and see the past as no more than my schooling in life.

Here is a handful of some random things I've learned in my first fifty years.

The more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am of all there is to know, and the less I want to say.

The less you speak, the more likely people are to listen to what you have to say.

Strive for excellence and leave perfection to God.

Kindness is more important than efficiency.

Unkindness is never justified, however necessary or difficult the truth.

Force, even painful force, is necessary to authority and most effective with absence of anger or malice.

Neither debtor nor the one owed a debt is truly free. Forgiveness means living free of debts.

A good physician facilitates cures, but healing comes only from God.

(Likewise …) Any one of us can be an agent of rescue, but deliverance comes only from God.

There's no better place to be than the center of God's will.

Comfort can sometimes be purchased, but peace is a gift of God.

Joy is the product of expressed gratitude.

Money is a problem if you have too little or too much. If you have adequate food and clothing, you don't have too little.

Jesus died to save sinners, of whom I am chief, and there is no cause to look down on anyone.

The most important thing I will do today is express my great love for God in my love of neighbor.

Love doesn't eliminate sin, but it does cover a multitude of sins, and that's enough for mortals.

The Lord's Prayer covers everything. Pray it often and slowly.

There' s nothing in this world truly new—
That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NKJV)

God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), every day—
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
~ Lamentations 3:21-23 (NKJV)

God is good. ALL. THE. TIME.

Gracious Father, if I have found favor in Your sight, please grant to me:
humility without defeat,
joy without pride,
peace without complacency,
faith without presumption,
hope without expectation,
passion without impatience,
and love without constraint,
for Your glory alone.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Third Thanksgiving Payback: Purpose

The turkey has been eaten or frozen for later. The mammoth sales are over. The game's glow of victory or shadow of defeat has faded.

The Thanksgiving weekend has ended.

Let us hear the end of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep His commands,
For this is the whole of man.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

"Fear God, and keep His commands" might accurately sum up human purpose. But it comes at the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon's long lament about the "whole" of life as "meaningless," "vanity," "pointless," or "useless" (depending on your Bible's translation). How do we reconcile the wisdom of Solomon simultaneously viewing the whole of life as meaningless and the whole of man as "Fear God, and keep His commands"?

And further, from these, my son, be warned;
The making of many books has no end,
And much study is a weariness of the flesh.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon possessed greater luxury, peace, and wisdom than all before or since. Yet he wearied himself searching for his "whole" in many women, much study, and a multitude of writings. He rightly concluded that the whole of man is found in fear of God and obedience to Him, but evidently found no satisfaction in the conclusion.

Solomon's descent came not in the loss of any blessing, but in failure to be content. His father David lived much of his life in exile and want, enduring hostility and war, yet he expressed continual gratitude to God through it all. Solomon's two psalms, volumes of proverbs, and Ecclesiastes elegy fail to speak of gratitude at all despite his enormity of blessings and peace.

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
~ John 4:34 (NKJV)

Jesus knew His purpose and it was food to Him, body and soul. Gethsemane revealed that although human will and purpose are quite distinct, they find harmony in acceptance of God's will as blessing. We see in Scripture that Jesus, God the Son, always gave thanks to God the Father for His food, including the food of God's will, for He gave thanks for the covenant cup (Matthew 26.27-28)—a cup made available only because Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, also accepted the cup of God's wrath (Isaiah 51:17, Matthew 26:39,42).

This grace was given me: to proclaim goodness … the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make visible to everyone our share of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things … according to the eternal purpose which God accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Ephesians 3:8-11

In the giving of thanks, we make invisible God visible. We have highest purpose.

The Thanksgiving weekend may be over. The giving of thanks has no end.

Gracious Father, reveal to us Your will and our purpose. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your glorious example. Holy Spirit, empower us to live up to all we are to be, to our Father's delight.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Second Thanksgiving Payback: Protection

Most humans think that our greatest source of suffering and our number one enemy is named Death. We fear its process if not its outcome. We avoid discussion of it, as if to disallow it in conversation is to relegate it into nonexistence. We fight it at any cost.

But I assert that Death is merely a portal, and our number one enemy is named Sin. Whether or not Suffering travels with Death, Suffering never leaves the company of Sin. Suffering and Sin both, like cancer, grow wherever they find a foothold. Sin assaults soul, hurts neighbor, weakens every community in which we have a part, and affronts God. The Suffering which enters with Sin can be neither measured or called back.

You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask bad, that you may expend it on your desires.
~ James 4:2-3

… lust … covet … desire … Here is where sin originates.

"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
~ Luke 12:15 (NKJV)

Here too is the difference between the hungry third-world child, happy to play in the dirt with his companions, sticks, and rocks, and the round first-world child who cannot content himself in a house filled with luxuries.

"And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
~ Matthew 19:24 (NKJV)

And here is the difference between two men of equal means—one who looks upon what he has, and one upon what he has not, whether material wealth, health, or relationship.

"Wealth consists not in the abundance of our possessions, but in the fewness of our wants."
~ Unknown

In the practice of thankfulness, gratefully focused upon all we have, we become increasingly oblivious to the desires which invite sin and lead to suffering.

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.… O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
~ Romans 7:19, 24-25 (NKJV)

If Sin is greatest enemy, giving thanks to God is perhaps the most effective protection we can employ against the tyrant.

Next time: Third Thanksgiving Payback – Purpose

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

First Thanksgiving Payback: Peace

For many people, next week will be four days off of work for gorging on food, football, and frenzied shopping.

For others, the celebration of giving thanks is an opportunity to indulge in blessings remembered and to renew thanksgiving as a way of life.

As a way of life, thanksgiving offers paybacks exponentially higher than 5% cash back on a credit card. Whatever else we do in pursuit of health in body and mind, heart and soul, the exercise of giving thanks returns a plethora of rewards for a person's well being, and peace is first on the list.

Peace with Life
"A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves." So said Henry Ward Beecher, and so I have observed to be true, foremost of myself. When I believe I should have more than I do—more wealth, more health, more esteem—I am not at peace with life. But when I see myself as a worm who is unworthy to live in a free country amid plenty, or as a sinner undeserving of God's mercy grace and forgiveness, I am then utterly amazed that my Creator has blessed me as He has. In such a condition, I am at peace with life and know contentment in the midst of trial.

Peace with People
The same humble spirit necessary to heartfelt gratitude enables peace with even the most contentious scoundrels. God's Word directs, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18, NKJV) If some scoundrel will not be at peace with me, I will yet be at peace with him (wherever possible), ready to see the opportunity to return thanks to him (whenever possible), channeling to him the abundant grace poured out upon me (however possible). And, perchance, he (or she) will come to know peace with me in the process.

Peace with God
Truth be told, this is hardly different than peace with life. For God is Giver of life and all its complements. No circumstance of life arrives absent the permission of Almighty God. I would believe that my complaint about circumstance benignly evaporates, the thin air into which it was breathed dissipating its substance. Yet is complaint not a plaintiff's testimony against God's goodness, carried into the world and heavenly realms alike, summoning the Lord as Defendant and declaring my opposition to His sovereignty? On the other hand, the plea to receive strength and wisdom for a test is to invite His grace. And to offer testimony of thanks is to proclaim God wise and good and righteous and loving, declaring myself at peace with Him.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.
~ Psalm 107:1-2 (NKJV)

Next time: Second Thanksgiving Payback – Protection

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Biblical Purgatory

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
~ Winston Churchill

If the Bible repeatedly speaks of Hell as an actual locale of the afterlife, it just as assuredly tells of another hell involuntarily frequented by mortals in this life. If afterlife Hell is defined by horrific and unending torment and flame (Luke 16:19-31), the hell of this life is defined by such intense human agony as to beg the question: why does a good God allow suffering?

Theology follows a progression from free will to sin to suffering, rationalizing the equation for affliction. But it proffers no pact to regulate pain. An athlete amiably shrugs, "No pain, no gain" and halts at the finish line. But the victim of dire straits becomes a quarry which gave no consent to the contest and may perceive an abyss of no return.

Meet biblical Purgatory, the place of purging.

Purgatory: The souls of those who have died in the state of grace suffer for a time of purging that prepares them to enter heaven and appear in the presence of the beatific vision [visible God].… It is an intermediate state in which the departed souls can atone for unforgiven sins before receiving their final reward.
~ From The Catholic Encyclopedia

This view of Purgatory has no foundation in Scripture. Its only connection to biblical truth is that the Holy Spirit indeed works continual purging of sin from our lives—a work that begins with the atonement of sins rather than completes atonement. The Bible contrasts the above definition with clear affirmations that Jesus completed, with His death, the work of atonement for all of our sins (Hebrews 10:10-14; John 19:30; Romans 5:8-11; 1 John 1:7). Chapters 9 and 10 of the book of Hebrews are particularly emphatic on this point.

Note that 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 refers not to Purgatory but to the testing by fire of our faith and works. A sure and strong faith is attested by works which are purified by fire and receive rewards in both this lifetime and the next. Faith that is just barely sufficient for salvation receives that salvation, but is accompanied by vain works that are shown worthless by fire, with the soul alone escaping the flames.

Fire testing, or fire baptism, is the purging—the biblical Purgatory—that we rightly call "going through hell."

"Why did I not die at birth? …
Then I would have been at rest …"
~ Job 3:11-13 (NKJV)

"Have I sinned? What have I done to You? …
Why have You set me as Your target … ?"
~ Job 7:20 (NKJV)

"Oh, that the Almighty would answer me!"
~ Job 31:35 (NKJV)

The "patience of Job" had its limits. Like so many people going through hell, Job also begged to question why a good God would allow suffering, with an edge of demand in his voice which the traveler through biblical Purgatory understands.

The Lord often answers our queries with His own, and Job received four chapters of them. The Lord concluded His lengthy interrogatories with none-too-casual observation about children of pride. And Job, purged of his pride, repented of his query with his face on the ground.

Job received not an answer but a purging. No mere pawn in a contest between God and devil, Job held a status as beloved of God. What the devil meant for evil, God used for good, adding multiplied blessings to Job's intense but brief suffering.

So it shall be for us, as the Holy Spirit continues His work of preparing a pure and glorious bride for her Bridegroom.

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
~ Winston Churchill

Faithful Father, whatever the fire, please carry us through it, beyond it, to the place of blessing.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No Shame

This post is seventh and final in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:56 (NKJV)

With sin comes death and shame.

God said of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Worse than the slow physical death which began on that day they tasted sin, Adam and Eve experienced an immediate spiritual death and its accompanying spiritual barrenness. Fig leaves became a pitiful substitute for the clothing of righteousness.

So like the barren tree which also attempted to cover itself with fig leaves (Matthew 21:19), mortals came under God's curse. The labor to bring forth fruit from earth and womb are trivial next to our struggle for the soul's spiritual fruit. And as if the consummate penalty—God's face being hidden from us—were not sufficient, we also have an accuser who day and night recounts the details of our sins (Revelation 12:10), making a case for our condemnation before God.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
~ Romans 8:31 (NKJV)

The Ten Commandments were kept inside the Ark of the [Old] Covenant, beneath the mercy seat of God, covered with atonement blood and glory of YHWH—all of it merely representative of the true mercy seat in Heaven's court, where the law which condemns is covered with the atonement blood of Jesus Christ's New Covenant.


There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
~ Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV)

The accuser —(both "satan" [from the Hebrew śâṭân] and "devil" [from the Greek diabolos] mean "accuser")—must make his case based on the law. Once we are adopted as children of our Father in Heaven, we become subject to His paternal discipline for our sinful words, actions, thoughts, and feelings, but we are no longer subjects to the law, its demands, or its penalties (Matthew 17:25-26).

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
~ Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

During every mortal's sojourn in this world under curse, a case is now being built: our lives compile evidence and give testimony in a case for condemnation under law, or a case for faith under the blood of Jesus.

Our spiritual fruit is evidence of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:22-23). Our word of testimony to the blood of Jesus overcomes testimony of the accuser. (Revelation 12:11) Our spiritual clothing, clean and bright, is our righteous acts (Revelation 19:8).

They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
~ Psalm 127:5 (NKJV)

Though we experience the consequences of sin during our sojourn, we who are Christ's can live like royalty, secure in the knowledge that we stand in the gates of God, accused by our enemy's words and yet bearing no shame.

Right now.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for covering our shame with royal garments of righteousness. Please give us courage to cooperate with all that You work on the inside.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Feast Like a King

This post is sixth in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (NKJV)

Each of us has a different idea of what location, type of food, and music makes for the perfect party. But no matter what feast is celebrated, we'd all agree that an essential component is plenty of people.

For most of us, family is first on that list.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
~ Psalm 127:3-4 (NKJV)

In ancient times, people comprised an important element of strength and wealth, whether the warriors and loyal subjects of a king, or the workers and children of any man.

Children not only enable a man to build up his possessions with their labor and stewardship, but also extend their parents' influence and legacy to the children of another generation. Whatever other comfort one may attain in old age, loving children are a treasure above all others. As our children produce more children, riches become exponential.

The presence of children is not only important for a festive celebration. Children are cause for celebration.

When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.
Psalm 128:2-4 (NKJV)

Whether by choice or by providence, plenty of people have no children. Some are grateful for that. Others ache for what might have been. And a good many parents also ache over less-than-loving and estranged children.

If such people fear the Lord and yet are somehow denied the joy of children, does the psalmist err to count children among their blessings?

Or is the psalm perhaps inclusive of prophecy concerning another family?

… Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD …

Paul evidently had no wife or children, yet spoke of Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus as his sons. Peter likewise spoke of Mark. All three of John's epistles lovingly address his recipients as "my children."

If we name Jesus as Lord and are adopted children of His Father, we are members of an eternal family, our spiritual blood tie more enduring than any natural or adoptive bond. As we mature and mentor others, we raise up a new generation of spiritual sons and daughters. As our children produce more children, riches become exponential.

This eternal family, these sons and daughters, are an important part of our spiritual strength and wealth. They extend our influence and legacy.

They are cause for celebration, and co-celebrants when we feast—both now and in the Father's kingdom.

Father, Your kingdom come. Please make us faithful as we raise up the next generation of saints, by Your power and grace.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Getting to Sleep

This post is fifth in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
~ Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)

Getting to sleep used to be a simple matter. Most nighttimes past, my head hit the pillow, sleep embraced me within moments, and my next conscious thought did not seep in until daylight.

During the last few years, sleep has become more of a tease. I'll play that game for up to an hour. Whether sleep eludes me when I go to bed, or a moment of wee-hour wakefulness grows into sixty, I refuse to stay in bed once an hour has elapsed.

Occasionally, I'll get up and attack a pressing task before taking another stab at logging some Z's. But I know in my heart that's not the way to go. So most often, I'll get up and read the Bible for an hour or two, then easily give myself to slumber. Without fail.

For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NKJV)

Wisdom and wealth—King Solomon possessed greater stores of them than any mortal before or since, gratuitously indulged in both, yet found no pleasure in his intemperance. As I've said before, Solomon carried Wisdom, but Wisdom did not carry Solomon.

So it is with me. And perhaps you. I forget or otherwise fail to consciously choose wisdom.

I have well learned that if I go to bed thinking about the Lord's goodness, getting to sleep comes as easily as breathing. But if thoughts prevail of those pressing tasks, or of the problems that seem to have me boxed in, my mind remains in this world rather than the world of sleep.

… for so He gives His beloved sleep …

Sure, I need to get the proper nutrition for the right hormones to bring on sleep. Though I'm one of those oddballs who can sleep about anywhere, an environment conducive to sleep is helpful when insomnia is a problem. But ultimately, getting to sleep by night is like getting productive by day.

Or, if you prefer Christian vernacular, getting to sleep is like getting fruitful.

When the focus is on me, when I indulge in cares about this world, when I rely on my own wisdom and knowledge to untangle a problem—all of them as the devil prefers—there is no peace.

When the focus is on my Lord, when I indulge in His Word, when I rely on the wisdom and guidance of the Spirit, there is perfect peace from the Prince of Peace.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
~ Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

It's all about You, Lord. It's all through You. Please remind us often. I love You. : )

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Buying Time

This post is fourth in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows.
~ Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)

For some years now, I've considered myself a pauper of time. Lack of time for loved ones truly grieves me. Whether the checkbook has required me to pinch pennies or allowed me to indulge, I've often spent dollars and sense in my attempts at buying time.

Like many people, buying time includes saying 'no' to some things, employing as much efficiency and simplicity as possible, multi-tasking, hurrying (a sickness, I've learned), and forfeiting sleep. And even when I should have time left over, unexpected circumstances seem to steal it back.

The race is not to the swift …
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and circumstance happen to them all.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:11

"Buying time" with mere sense is as possible as buying dollars with cents. If traveling at a-mile-a-minute-plus and owning labor-saving devices gains hours, shouldn't industrialized nations be more relaxed and third-world countries more pressed for time? Though a person can have more money by either working harder to earn it or spending less to save it, can more time be obtained except by spending less?


There are twenty-four hours in the day to be had. Sleep is not optional.



To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven …
[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

Not one of us is truly a pauper of time. God gives each of us enough. We simply spend it on the wrong things and have too little left over for the right things.

What's really sad is that I know well the way to have enough time. It's the same method to have enough money.

Give all of it away. To God. He owns it anyway. It's only when we think of time or money as our own that we waste it in the wrong places. Remembering that we are His stewards helps us make the right decisions with both.

I happen to believe in tithing. God's always been given the first tenth, and the other nine have always proven to be enough. Back in the days when I consistently gave God the first two or three hours of the day (at least 2.4 out of 24 was my intent), the remaining ninety percent of my time felt far less scanty.

Along the way of "doing for God," my firstfruits of time spent simply being with God got compromised. Nothing's been as right since.

"Wealth consists not in the abundance of our possessions but in the fewness of our wants."
~ Unknown *

True for a pauper. True for a king.

True of material wealth. True of time.

Lord, I love You so much. Time spent with You has never, ever been wasted. It's saved me untold squandered hours. Please help me—help all of us—to spend more hours with You and be rich in time.

: : :

* This is evidently a paraphrase of words by J. Brotherton:
"My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions but in the fewness of my wants."

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ultimate Security

This post is third in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
~ Psalm 127:1 (NKJV)

King Solomon knew peace and security as intimately as his father David knew war and homelessness. David surely wished to assure himself that his son's destiny would be different than his own, and likely took a census near the end of his life in order to assess military strength as the measure of security.

Coming from David, that census must have stung God. More than anyone, David understood that his ultimate security lay not in any might at his disposal, but in the name of YHWH (1 Samuel 17:45; Psalm 20:7).

Throughout Israel's history, this truth played out repeatedly: to turn away from the name of YHWH was to turn away from His protection; to call upon the name of YHWH was to call down His protection in every way. Israel's days of sovereignty opened with dramatic deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea. They drew to a close shortly after King Hezekiah's miraculous deliverance from Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem, when Hezekiah called upon YHWH and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers mysteriously died overnight.

Of everything else the name of YHWH (Jehovah, Yahweh, "LORD") represents, it especially embodies deliverance from our ever present God.

The same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
~ Romans 10:12-13 (NKJV; also see Psalm 91)

In every story, every book, every physical act of the Old Testament lies a spiritual principle taught in the New Testament. The physical protection given to Moses, David and Solomon, Hezekiah, and countless other OT champions came through their willingness to call upon the Lord. As children of the New Covenant, we wage war in spiritual realms. Empowered by the Holy Spirit—God Himself living within us!—we possess spiritual might greater than the whole of America's military strength or any other king's army in history.

We tend to look for physical security first, and may think we have much to fear. Violent crime, economic upheaval, and hostile nations threaten physical security. New diseases and drug-resistant bacteria, environmental deterioration, and sedentary lifestyles menace health. Gross moral decay and spiritual apathy manifest the peril of living in the last days.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
~ Franklin Roosevelt

If we put spiritual security first, we need not fear the above threats, we need not fear death, and we need not fear even fear itself. In contrast to FDR's words, Jesus says our ultimate security is found in fearing only God:

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
~ Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)

Most High God, Your wings are broad and secure. Please awaken us to Your presence.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Built to Endure

This post is second in the Psalm 127 series "Live Like a King."

~ ~ ~

Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it …
~ Psalm 127:1 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used here for "vain" (shâv') is not the same word that Solomon uses 35 times in Ecclesiastes for "vanity" (hăbêl). The latter refers to something merely empty or fleeting. But shâv' is worse than emptiness. Shâv' is desolate, destructive, deceitful.

So [Solomon] was seven years in building [the house of the LORD]. But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house.
~ 1 Kings 6:38-7:1 (NKJV)

The temple actually took more than seven years to build, because David spent his lifetime preparing for its construction—possibly since the day Goliath's sword was taken to the tabernacle. Solomon, on the other hand, having constructed the temple, apparently spent the remainder of his life erecting a king's palace and building his own house.

We spend our lives building many types of houses: a dream residence or healthy body is a physical house; a career, enterprise, business, or ministry is a vocational house; family and home are houses of legacy. Our intent is creation of something built to endure.

A house may be built to endure the passage of millennia, set upon solid foundations, and carefully laid out with sure cornerstones. Some still stand. Others are dust, having succumbed to neglect, war, or act of God, their creators' efforts now shâv'.

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV)

Jesus saves souls because He is building a kingdom. His eye detects the potential for beauty beneath rough, scarred surfaces, even when rotten to the core. He recovers outcasts destined for dust and restores them by going right to heart and re-building from the inside out. His rescued treasures become polished gemstones, gleaming lights in a house built to endure for eternity.

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock."
~ Jesus, Matthew 7:24 (ESV)

The Sermon on the Mount ends with an invitation to join Jesus in constructing a house built to endure for eternity. When we live by His words—when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when we turn the other cheek, when we love our enemies, when we do to others as we'd have done to us—we live like Jesus.

When we live like Jesus, we live like a King, with all the grace, honor, and dignity of the royalty we are.

Our Father in Heaven, please move us to keep Your name holy in our lives and on our tongues. Bring Your Kingdom of Heaven to Earth through us.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Live Like a King

If God ever set up a man to live like a king above all kings, King Solomon is that man. He took the throne as a young man in his prime, stepping into a position of prosperity, power, and peace. To this day, the kingdom of Solomon stands as the apex of wealth and luxurious living. And he possessed the humility before God that gained King Solomon greater wisdom than any other man to live, enabling him to rule his kingdom's supreme court with perfect justice.

The astounding wisdom passed on to us from God through Solomon is flawless, with only a fraction of it recorded in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalm 127.

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
~ Psalm 127, title (NKJV)

Although the praise and prophecy of Psalm 72 also bears Solomon's name, Psalm 127 reads more like the proverbs language which marks Solomon's other writings. Specifically, Psalm 127 provides a thumbnail blueprint for how to live like a king.

The next series of posts plan to examine that blueprint as follows:

Built to Endure
Ultimate Security
Buying Time
Getting to Sleep
Feast Like a King
No Shame

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Complete Coverage Part III:
More Than Bargained For

Then [Naomi] arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread.
~ Ruth 1:6 (NKJV)

Ten years earlier, Naomi no doubt favored flight from Israel's famine into Moab, that she might have food for her two sons Mahlon (meaning "sick") and Chilion (meaning "failing"). What good Jewish mother doesn't want to see her children well fed?

Moab's price for food was more than bargained for. Not only did her family lose their land inheritance, her sons died anyway, as did her husband. As often happens, the thing Naomi feared came upon her when she attempted to escape it. If famine signified the Lord's attempt to get His people's attention, then running from famine held little likelihood of prosperity.

The end of Israel's famine came as news that the Lord "visited" His people. The Hebrew word used here is pâqad," which carries the connotation of oversight. Naomi expressed keen awareness that she was under the Lord's oversight.

"Do not call me Naomi [good, pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
~ Ruth 1:20-21 (NKJV)

Whatever bitterness she carried, Naomi remained pleasant enough and retained enough faith to be a testimony of the Lord's goodness to her daughter-in-law Ruth. Ruth's impassioned plea to attach herself to Naomi, Naomi's people, and Naomi's God is among the Bible's most beautiful and oft quoted pieces of poetry (Ruth 1:16-17).

That attachment proved to be salvation for both women. Boaz, the godly man of faith who would redeem them from poverty, explains the means of salvation and blessing for all people of all time in his words to Ruth:

"The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge."
~ Ruth 2:12 (NKJV)

If Naomi received more than bargained for in leaving the shelter of God's Promised Land, then Ruth received more than bargained for in entering it; she received not only the home and prosperity she might have hoped for, but also the husband and son she might only have dreamed for.

Those who attach themselves to Christ are never outside His oversight. Our hearts may wander to the very fringe of the shadow of His wings, into the place where worldly concerns and their accompanying anxiety penetrate the edges of feathers that cover us. Our greatest fears may catch up with us.

And if we see ourselves as going out full and returning empty, then return we must—allowing ourselves to be gathered into the nearness of our Lord's heart, which beats love and prosperity for us, far away and above "more than bargained for."

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave You, God, whom I love. Most High God, I ask that You please, please work in our hearts so that we will give in to Your desire to gather us closely under Your wings, to the place of Your most complete coverage.

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.