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
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
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
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
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.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Complete Coverage, Part II
The Shadow

I first heard of DriveCam when my nephew got his driver's license a few years back, and his mom's insurance company offered reduced rates for its use. This camera is installed on a vehicle's rearview mirror and records both interior and exterior activity whenever the engine is on. If triggered by a sudden or extreme movement, the camera forwards video of the preceding and following ten seconds to the DriveCam center for evaluation. Parents and teens then receive an email report, with recommendations for improved driving habits (and the occasional commendation for an accident avoided).

But those reports aren't needed as often as expected. Testimonials from novice drivers say that simply being shadowed by the camera helped them develop better driving habits, more than email reports did. Statistical data shows that use of DriveCam reduces accidents so significantly that some parents were inclined to buy nicer cars and cover cost of insurance for teens using a DriveCam. What's more, teens not at fault for an accident were absolved by the camera in situations where their word alone might not have stood against that of a more mature, at-fault driver.

There's no doubt that few teens initially welcomed such complete coverage of their driving. But in the long term, that camera's shadow provided more blessing than correction.

"[The inhabitants of this land] have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night."
~ Numbers 14:14 (NKJV)

After 430 years in Egypt, the children of Israel walked out into the desert toward the Promised Land under a visible shadow (Exodus 40:34-38). In those initial forty years of walking with God, the Lord's clear presence assured His people of His provision, protection, and oversight. Disobedience received immediate rebuke, and one might surmise that few Israelites welcomed being shadowed at such times. But blessing far and away outweighed correction. In moments of greatest danger, that shadow of Light stood over them, covering them from harm.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
~ Matthew 23:37 (NKJV)

When we first realize, as Adam and Eve did, that our sin makes us naked before God, our shame compels us to cover ourselves—and our attempts are as futile as fig leaves. God alone provides complete coverage for sin, through the blood of His Son. When we allow Him to clothe us (as Adam and Eve did), only then are we safe from exposure (Isaiah 61:10).

The shadow of God's presence does not merely throw a veil over sin and pass on, without truly covering us. This shadow of Light, rather, draws in ever more closely, "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings."

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.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Complete Coverage Part I:
No Exclusions

I'm old enough to remember the days when health insurance was more like car insurance, and simply covered the losses too big for the average budget to absorb. Minor problems came out of the insured's pocket rather than insurer's.

I also remember, about a generation ago, being introduced to an HMO (health maintenance organization), which proposed that the way to prevent major problems was to cover regular check-ups and health maintenance, which would ultimately keep medical costs lower.

At least that's how it was supposed to work.

Instead, we developed the prevalent attitude is that complete access to all medical services is an American entitlement. Rather than taking better care of ourselves, as health insurers anticipated, Americans became less fit than ever before. We pretty much expect every affliction to be treatable for a minimal cost to ourselves, and anticipate that someone else, somewhere, will pick up the tab for any medical treatment or prescription available, no exclusions.

We certainly understand that this method wouldn't work for car insurance. Can you imagine being a business owner and being required to pay car insurance premiums for workers? And if "co-pays" were $25 per accident and $10 for repairs, could people be expected to more faithfully perform preventative maintenance and develop safer driving habits?

On the other hand, what if costs for health insurance and medical services were handled more like we deal with our cars? Would we find a way to take better care of ourselves if insurance premiums were adjusted according to how we take care of ourselves, increasing in proportion to our bad habits? What if coverage was cancelled for smoking? What if injuries due to high-risk activities were exclusions to coverage? What if deductibles went up, so that we absorbed more of the responsibility for our own health care?

Mind you, I'm not pointing fingers. I've slid into the entitlement mentality. In the last couple of years, I've gained unnecessary weight. In recent months, I've gone along with all the expensive, cardiologist-recommended diagnostic procedures to poke around my heart for the problem. I didn't make a fuss last week when an x-ray and doctor visit had to be repeated because of a poorly managed urgent care clinic.

And I just found out that all these procedures are now out-of-pocket, to the tune of a $4,000 deductible—effective July 1. Guess who just absorbed more responsibility for my health care?

I don't want to sweat that figure, though. I know that God provides …

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

We Christians affirm our reliance such truth when financial stress occurs. And He does, indeed, provide complete coverage for our needs—no exclusions.


Our God is also most interested in providing for our spiritual and eternal needs before material and temporal needs—with some significant deductibles and co-pays.

More on this in days to come.

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 3, 2012


Image source: Victorian Funfair

And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
~ Genesis 1:2 (ASV)

"Waste and void" (or "formless and void") translate the Hebrew tohu v' bohu. Tohu (TO-hoo) denotes chaos, confusion, and disorder. (Think of the ruins left in the wake of a disaster so destructive that the rubble leaves no distinguishable form of what it once was.) Bohu (BO-hoo) denotes the void of utter emptiness, not unlike a vacuum.

If Genesis 1:1 describes God creating the raw ingredients with which He is about to form something good, Genesis 1:2 gives us an idea of what those ingredients look like before He speaks life into them. One might surmise that God’s Word uses "tohu bohu" in a manner similar to English reduplication, when a wordplay is coined for a singsong and often disparaging effect.

Consider the low class, even trashy nature that "riff-raff" conveys about a person. "Mumbo-jumbo" devalues words as gibberish, while "boob tube" rightly describes a proliferation of nonsense. And when the character of our actions is less than intelligent and careful, we use the phrases "pell-mell," "willy-nilly," "topsy-turvy,"—or perhaps the more sinister "helter-skelter."

Whatever the expression's pre-1600 origin, or its use to name the British spiraling slide, "Helter Skelter" is best known as the raucous, violent Beatles song produced in Paul McCartney's deliberate effort to create a sound as dirty and raw as possible. Little wonder that mass-murderer Charles Manson saw in the song a prophecy of an apocalyptic racial war which he attempted to trigger—that he and his followers might emerge as rulers of a postwar world.

Interestingly, the Bible also uses the "tohu bohu" wordplay to describe a postwar landscape. If waste and emptiness precede God's creative intervention, they likewise trail the His retributory intervention.

For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
a year of recompense …
He shall stretch the line of confusion over it,
and the plumb line of emptiness.
~ Isaiah 34:8,11 (ESV; also see Jeremiah 4:23-26)

Except for the intervention of God, each of us is riff-raff, our words are mumbo-jumbo, and our lives are "topsy-turvy" at best or "helter-skelter" at worst.

This is particularly true of that confused void before Christ, before we received His words of life. If we become distracted by this world, and find ourselves on another helter-skelter, downward-spiral slide, we can trust that He longs to once again speak life into the empty chaos.

Gracious Father, apart from You, we are worse than nothing. In You, we have all that is good. Please draw us, every day, to abide more closely with You.

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.