Saturday, June 30, 2012

Water and Fire Enough

My family topped off a trip to the Washington DC area with a visit to Virginia Beach this week. Our children had never seen the ocean (I've only set foot in the Pacific briefly myself), and we could hardly be so close to the Atlantic and not let them taste it.

Perhaps our many visits to Great Lakes beaches lulled me into thinking I understood waves and tides. Perhaps we simply met Madame Atlantic in one of her more tempestuous moods. In any case, she introduced herself with less than genteel hospitality.

I planned to simply wade into a comfortable depth with my seven-year-old Daniel, since we're both very marginal swimmers. We were no more than thigh-deep when we suddenly found our feet pulled out from under us and salt water filling our mouths and noses. Before we could find our footing, another wave tossed us about and then merrily ran off. We sputtered and scrambled beachward as the older kids swam on in.

Daniel and I stuck to the shoreline in knee-deep water. Daniel leapt up into each wave with delight, I braced myself in the sand and hung onto him, and the Atlantic rolled us under every few minutes.

The day wasn't quite hot enough for us to enjoy the breeze which chilled us between waves. About the time Daniel's shivering was starting to concern me, I noticed the red flag on the lifeguard stand warning "DANGEROUS OCEAN."

I think the two of us could have handled any one of the numerous challenges we faced. But I finally decided that we simply faced too many, and that we'd experienced enough ocean for the day.

A person has to know how to say "enough" before becoming overwhelmed.

There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, "Enough!":
The grave,
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, "Enough!"
~ Proverbs 30:15-16 (NKJV)

I've learned how to say "no" when a situation isn't for me. Nonetheless, I've lately found myself in several situations that each has numerous challenges. Any one fire might not be too much. For a while now, I've been wrestling with knowing when to say "enough."

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
~ Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV)

It's good to experience the gifts God puts in our paths. I'd rather look at a challenge as a stepping stone than as an obstacle. I don't like to admit defeat. I trust God to accompany me through the waters and fire in my life.

But sometimes, when I ask Him, He also grants me the option to say "Enough!"

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Enough Grace

This post is for a series on the theme "Enough!" The series will continue in about a week, after some offline time with family.

Grace may be either a noun ("unmerited or unearned favor or good will") or a verb ("to lend honor to by one's presence").

We might be inclined to think of our all-present, all-loving God as infinite in grace. But the Bible defines clear limits to both His favor and the manifestation of His presence. Numerous passages refer to either God hiding His presence, or His face (Deuteronomy 31:17-18; Micah 3:4; Psalm 104:29). The Bible also describes situations when God, in His displeasure, does not heed prayer (1 Peter 3:7; Deuteronomy 3:26; Psalm 66:18). Sometimes God disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:5-11), and His grace merely seems ungracious.

And sometimes, the Lord has simply had enough and withdraws His grace.

"And now, because you have done all these works," says the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer … I will cast you out of My sight …"
~ Jeremiah 7:13,15 (NKJV)

We know Hell is real, for Jesus both spoke of it and paid the ultimate price in order to release us from its claim upon us. Hell is the ultimate and final removal of grace, the residence of those who have cared nothing for the Lord's presence and found no joy or gratitude in His abundant favor.

O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
~ Psalm 30:3-5 (NKJV)

How often do God's own people fail to find joy or express gratitude for His grace because we become preoccupied with trials? Faith is proved not only in our response to blessings but especially as we go through the trials which reveal what we count most important.

A closing thought: If we think we've reached the place of "Enough grace!" with one another, we can draw upon grace received for grace to give. God alone can make such a call, because He alone pours out more grace than He receives.

Lord God, please forgive me for thinking I've reached the end of grace to supply. Thank you for making me Yours, toward whom Your "favor is for life." Please remind me that Your anger and my weeping are a fleeting moment. You have kept me alive—forever shall I praise You!

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement). Comments to this post will receive a reply next week.
You may also contact author via e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Enough Pain

This post is for the current series on the theme "Enough!"

If any aspect of obsession with the Bible one day drives me over the brink of sanity, it's sure to be my identification with biblical characters and their angst. Did any novel ever crafted draw a person more deeply into the point of view of another human more than the psalms? Does any modern devotional book bring the face and heart of God closer than the books of the prophets?

The more I read and study about the beloved people of Scripture, the more my heart is moved with empathy and love for these brothers and sisters of mine, with whom I will spend eternity.

In reading through the Bible again this year, I just started Jeremiah. Never before did reading Scripture impart more dread. Because I know what's coming. I can't bear to enumerate this man's afflictions. At least Job had a happy ending. The book of Jeremiah concludes with the book of Lamentations, as if he hadn't already recorded enough pain.

However high a threshold for pain one develops, a certain point pleads "enough pain"—that place where the soul begs a person to close eyes and ears and call in sick-of-heart.

Then said I:
"Ah, Adonai YHWH!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth."
But YHWH said to me:
"Do not say, 'I am a youth,'
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you," says YHWH.
~ Jeremiah 1:6-8

Though prophets are seen resisting His commission, YHWH always prevails. The occupation of speaking the Lord's mind comes with an irrevocable calling, a prohibition on personal agenda, and no upper limit on the potential to suffer humiliation, contempt, and pain.

Then Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country."
~ Luke 4:24 (NKJV)

Jesus lived the life and died the death of the Prophet extraordinaire. His consummate act was to open wide His hands and offer Himself to God and to us without restraint.

The very least I can do is plunge ahead and suffer again with Jeremiah. The very best I can do is daily offer myself as a living sacrifice for Jesus and declare, "Never too much for You!"

"Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain …
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You "
~ Lyrics from "Lifesong"
written by Mark Hall and recorded by Casting Crowns

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Damages Enough

Image copyright 2012, Marvel & Subs.

This post is another in the current series here on the theme "Enough!" It is also 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 Justice.

: : :

Samson presents the real life image of an incredible hulk who regularly lapses into fits of wrathful vengeance.

And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city [Gaza] and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
~ Judges 16:3 (NKJV)

The gates and frame which bar an entire city against all intruders might well weigh a ton. The distance from Gaza to Hebron is nearly forty miles as the crow flies—much farther as one winds an uphill path through the mountains, from sea level to 3,000 feet above it.

Whatever the physical feat involved, this story is more noteworthy as the only incident in which Samson doesn't singlehandedly kill a crowd in his quest for vengeance. Although the Lord's plan was to deliver His people from Philistine oppression and dominion through Samson (Judges 13:5), Samson's motives appear to be rather self-serving; he paid back offense and injury without restraint, leaving destruction in his wake.

If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.
~ Leviticus 24:19-20 (NKJV)

The intent of this Old Testament law was never to justify revenge, but instead—in the interest of justice—to limit damages to the extent of the injury suffered. Pure justice loves truth that it may bring accountability and fair compensation. Malice seeks technicality that it may vilify and retaliate.

Far too often, human nature isn't satisfied with "damages enough." Many an offense or injury finds recompense only in a form of destruction greater than itself.

Such "victory" rings hollow. Cruel irony befalls the corrupted soul which wins revenge, for there is no smile from Grace upon one who steals what belongs to the Lord.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ Romans 12:19, 21 (NKJV)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Enough War

This post is for the current series on the theme "Enough!"

People of every era long for peace. Pure reason seems to demand that all sides simply lay down arms and declare, "Enough war!"

The Israelites of 3,400 years ago surely reached that point. Once they crossed into the Promised Land and defeated the enemies who harassed and opposed them, they had surely wearied of war and saw no reason to keep fighting against the people willing to make peace with them.

"I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, '…you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land ….' But you have not obeyed My voice. Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be bait on a hook to you.' "
~ Judges 2:1-3

Judges is one of the most difficult portions of Scripture to understand. Why did God command such annihilation? If it was reasonable then, why is it unreasonable now?

To chronicle the atrocities and evil of an ancient pagan people who God called wicked could just as easily describe the world's current state of affairs. Too little distinction would be made in an effort to understand their destruction and our continued existence.

But if one looks at Old Testament events as physical pictures which depict spiritual realities of the New Testament, then the nations to be destroyed in the era of Judges may be seen as a picture of the sins a Christian is told to attack without mercy; the conflicts from which the Israelites obtained no rest may be seen as the conflict we are to expect in a world hostile to Jesus Christ.

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."
~ Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

Yes, we grow weary of spiritual warfare. Yes, we long to live in peace.


The Israelites paid a high price for laying down arms before the Lord Himself declared "Enough War!" Willingness to make peace with evil people became peace with evil itself. However weary of warfare they may have become, it was not their place to decide when enough was enough.

Shall we choose to make peace with evil because we grow weary of fighting sin?

Lord God Almighty, You alone own the right to say when enough is enough. Please give us the encouragement and perseverance to remain faithful as spiritual warriors until that Day in the near future when You bring us true peace.

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

Monday, June 4, 2012


This is the first in a series of posts planned on the theme "Enough!"

Throughout my five arduous decades, I've consistently been more of a fighter than a quitter. But sometimes a situation just wears a person out, provoking a declaration of "Enough!"

There's no doubt that the Lord can sustain a person through the most discouraging or exasperating situation. But of course, one must actually go to the Lord to obtain that sustenance.

"And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' "
~ Jesus, from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-13

Many heroes and heroines of the faith before us have reached the place of feeling they've run out of light. Their examples teach us not only that there is only one place to obtain spiritual oil (John 6:68), but also that our anointing has a supply of sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The Lord said we would be tested. Trials make known those who are truly His, and those who only appropriate His name and His gifts. The Bible warns of the peril for those who merely "taste" of God's spiritual gifts—those content to partake in the Holy Spirit and Word of God to the extent that pleases themselves—whose "end is to be burned" (Hebrews 6:4-8).

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
~ Jesus, from the Parable of Two Builders, Matthew 7:21-27

Some churches preach that a person needs only speak a sinner's prayer to obtain eternal salvation, and then "once saved, always saved."

Some churches preach a person can sin and lose one's salvation, but can always repent to regain it—"revolving door salvation."

Jesus assures that no one snatches His sheep out of His hand. He also identifies His sheep as those who know His voice and follow Him. (John 10:1-15)

To know Jesus is to identify with not only His name but His entire character. To declare Jesus "Lord" is to accept His spiritual life in displacement of a life lived for Self.

If I accept Jesus, I refuse to deny Jesus when He allows suffering to show up at my door and prove whether or not I'm really His.

"Blessed is any weight, however overwhelming,
that God has been so good as to fasten
with His own hand upon our shoulders."
~ Frederick W. Faber

Good and loving Shepherd, we are but weak sheep. For Your name's sake, help us not grow weary in doing good.

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