Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Past the Past

For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.…
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
~ Psalms 66:10-12 (NKJV)

My prayer list is long enough to divide into days, to keep it more manageable. (Monday for Missionaries, THursday for auTHorities, Friday for Family, etc.) Additionally, a priority list is reserved for people in my life who are presently going through such intense trial that I wish to pray for them every day.

That priority list defies attempts to keep it short enough to give it due attention. More Christians seem to be going through increasingly intense trials. And numerous post-trial people experience significant struggle with getting past the past.

When does trial become post-trial? When crisis has passed, shouldn't we be able to draw from grace, buck up via the Spirit's strength, and get on with life? Just how does one emulate the psalmist, and transition from "affliction on our backs" into "rich fulfillment"?

Or does it even matter when the present is re-labeled as the past?

"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
~ Acts 14:22 (NKJV)

As I counsel others and am counseled, I am assured that certain perspectives and expectations make all the difference, regardless of whether we are entering, enduring, or exiting trial.

1. Sovereign God is in control. Trial may or may not occur as a direct result of my own decisions and actions (free will), but it is always allowed and used by the Almighty to make me more like Jesus and draw me closer into relationship with Himself.

2. Because trial enters my life via the Lord's permission, the agent of the trial (whether person or situation) is therefore agent of the Lord's hand and subject to Him. If I harbor anger (or bitterness—anger grown putrid) toward the agent of trial, I may be resisting the Lord's hand.**

3. If I profess Jesus is Lord, I acknowledge God as Master. Wherever He sends, whatever He asks, I can trust my most benevolent Master to use it for my enrichment. Also, any recompense for a wrong done to the servant is owed to the Master, and should little concern His servant.

"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "
~ Luke 17:10 (NKJV)

"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

Lord, You are good. You are only good. You are powerful enough to use even what is intended for evil as good. Please empower Your servants as we work on getting past the past, getting through the present, and getting ready for the future. Please let us feel You drawing us close—at ALL times.

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, August 22, 2012

Mathematics and the God Factor

Homeschooling means I get review of simple arithmetic principles on a regular basis. There is, in mathematics, a beauty in the blend of infinite variety with measured reliability that testifies to God as its Author (a fact of which I am anxious to remind my students, should they dare speak ill of the subject).

Addition and subtraction seem to be principles of this world. We humans understand from an early age what it is to add or take away. But we are slow to grasp negative numbers, thinking we can continually take away without giving back and keep things positive. Too late we realize that how easy it is to slip into the red, how hard it is to climb out.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
~ Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)

Multiplication and division hint of the spiritual. God is Creator of life and desires to multiply it. This is first of all His commands to us, to cooperate with Him as co-creators of life, to multiply blessing as He does. Division is likewise His work in creation, whether dividing light from darkness, dividing waters above and below or seas, dividing the earth and her seas of peoples.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ Romans 12:21 (NKJV)

We have an enemy who works in death as his medium. He speaks in negatives and would have us believe that evil is overcome by evil—that a negative times a negative equals a positive. But he is of this world, where a negative plus a negative will always equal a greater negative. Evil can only take away, and never add anything.

"Comfort, yes, comfort My people!"
Says your God.
"Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the LORD's hand
Double for all her sins."
~ Isaiah 40:1-2 (NKJV)

As the Author of mathematics, God also stands outside of its principles. If a negative times a positive equals a negative in our world, God is the positive Who cancels out all negatives, working all things for His good will. Who but our God could bring comfort via weighing out retribution in the measure of sin times two?

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
~ Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

My very favorite math principle? The God factor defies the zero factor.

Look, child. Here are some containers. Each one has zero. What is three times zero? Ten times zero? No matter how many times you multiply nothing, you still have nothing.

Now calculate this.

0 x Δ = ∞
(Nothing times God equals infinity.)

Think about it.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do … He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
~ John 14:12; 15:5 (NKJV)

I love You, God! You're WAY cool. :D

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Access to God's Power

Jesus visits Simon, and the fisherman is astonished by the biggest catch of his life. Jesus visits a deserted place, and He feeds an imposing crowd to the full with bread, fish and truth. And when Jesus visits Nain, Jairus, and Bethany, Death is compelled to release an only son, a young daughter, a beloved brother.

Doesn't everyone long to have Jesus visit us with His power?

It seems likely that others may have asked Jesus to raise their deceased loved ones, desiring restored life and love, greatest among God's blessings. People certainly returned looking for more after Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. And though Simon Peter cowered before the might of God and asked Jesus to leave him rather than empower him as a fisherman, (for he knew himself to be a sinful man), Judas is at least one man who thought to improve his status by capitalizing on his connection to Jesus.

Are we guilty of the same?

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "
~ Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)

We are given a few temporal treasures here on Earth for the briefest of time, as a test of our hearts. We are ever inclined to pray with our sights on temporal blessings—success in business, comfort, fulfilling relationships. These are indeed blessings, to be sought in good conscience. But they are merely the means to many greater ends. We set our sights far too low.

Simon was a good fisherman. Peter was a greater evangelist. Bread comforts our hunger for a few hours. The Bread of Life nourishes our souls for a lifetime. Even if our loved ones are raised from the dead, death will separate us again on another day. Those born again shall never die (
John 11:26), destined to spend eternity together.

God challenges me today: "What is your life?" Will I ask to appropriate His power for the good and lesser things that I see? Or do I ask Him to work in me the greater things that He sees?

Have Your way, Lord—with my time, my treasure, my talents. Have Your way in my life. Please reveal enough to me that I might cooperate with You.

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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ain't Dead Yet

Please allow me to preface this post with an apology to readers for my unaccounted absence. By God's grace, I'm up and running again.

: : :

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium … stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However … he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And … [Paul and Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
~ Acts 14:19-22 (NKJV)

Is Paul a madman or a masochist? What provokes a man to return so soon to the same place where he was stoned? And wouldn't his physical condition—so badly pounded that he was believed dead—demand that he rest and recover?

These are the kinds of questions I've been asking myself lately. I've felt clobbered by life during recent seasons and am working to regain my footing. I cringe to think of how my frailty might show up in the posts here (besides reduced quantity). I repeatedly ask myself if it would be better for me to rest and return in a more calm season of life.

But like Paul, I am driven by a Force that defies reason. If I publish this blog in my own strength—in any season—it cannot be fruitful.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
~ John 15:5 (NKJV; emphasis mine)

To be perfectly candid, I don't look at the spiritual fruit in my life at the moment and see the markings of a bumper crop. I don't even feel like exuding love, joy, peace, longsuffering / patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control just now. What's more, an inner voice says I don't want to put on a false face and fake them.


I need to rebuke that voice. I don't have to feel such emotions to genuinely produce them. It's a whole lot easier that way, to be sure. Yet true spiritual fruit is the produce of the Holy Spirit living in me, not my emotions.

Warm fuzzy feelings may help propel my love, but the Source of the love flowing through me is Another. Joy is the blossom which crowns grateful contentment on the inside, not exhilaration expressed in response to circumstance. Peace is not strength of health, empty calendar & full checkbook, and serene relationships, but the shalom of God which brings wholeness of mind and heart, body and soul.

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.
~ Philippians 1:22 (NIV)

Suffice to say, I ain't dead yet. And if I continue to draw breath, then I shall, by the grace of God and with Paul as my example, continue to work toward "strengthening the souls of the disciples."

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
~ William Penn

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.