31 December 2010

Happy New Year!



"Question of the Week" will return next Friday, with a look at this query:

"Is it true that Christians 'can't' sin?"

May your 2011 have a solid foundation upon Jesus Christ, the Rock.

Image source:
billycoffey.blogspot.com

24 December 2010

Question of the Week:
What is The Christ?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Some of the [Christmas] words have been worn out. Can you put “glory,” “joy,” “Messiah / Christ,” etc. in today’s vernacular?
~ Don Kimrey

A wonderful Q&A theme for the Advent season is to revisit biblical definitions of these words. We'll insert the quintessential Christmas word “peace” for "etc.," and spread the answer out over four posts:

December 3:
Glory
December 10: Joy / Rejoice
December 17: Peace
December 24: Messiah / Christ


: : :


"Annunciation" by Henry Ossawa Tanner
Image source:
canvasreplicas.com


The Greek word "christ" and Hebrew word "messiah" both mean "anointed one."

The biblical word "anoint" refers to the pouring oil on a person. Olive oil was used as fuel for light. It was also poured on people as a cosmetic, to give skin and face the shine of health. Various herbs and spices in oil were used for food enhancement, for perfume, and for healing.

Anointing with oil was also a ritual, signifying that a person was set apart to serve God as His king, priest, or prophet, and often empowered by the Lord’s Holy Spirit. Persons were occasionally called "anointed" without ritual pouring of oil, when God appointed them for a special purpose.

Thus "anointed" also indicates the Holy Spirit and His power being poured out upon a person.

Long before the birth of Jesus, God promised He would send His Christ—THE Anointed One, God Himself in human flesh—to fill the three roles of King, Priest, Prophet. The great significance of Jesus’ mother Mary being a virgin is that Jesus' biological Father is God. The Holy Spirit did not simply empower Jesus as a Man, but impregnated His mother with a Person already divine:


The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin ... "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS... The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God..." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."
~ Luke 1:26,31,35,38 (NKJV; also see Matthew 1:18-23)


By consenting for the Holy Spirit to come upon her, Mary accepted God's Word and thereby received His seed—"seed" meaning both offspring and God's Word. Jesus grew within her until the day she birthed Him and He became manifest to others.

This wonder celebrated at Christmas—Almighty God dwelling upon the earth by His Spirit having union with a human to reproduce the life of His Son—is an everyday miracle. Because the Lord's Anointed One came as conquering King to defeat death, came as Priest to offer Himself as sacrifice for sin, and came as Prophet with God's Word for us (His seed), we receive the same invitation that Mary did.


Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
~ Acts 2:38 (NKJV)


We can accept God's Word and humbly offer ourselves as servants to God, yield to the power of Most High God entering our human flesh, and then reproduce the life of Jesus so that God might be manifest to the world.

Christians are not merely Christ-followers. We are Christ-bearers and anointed ones, set apart to God and empowered by His poured out Holy Spirit, so that we might burn as the light of Christ, shine with spiritual health, heal and be healed, and be the perfume of Christ.


For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
~ 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NKJV)


: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

17 December 2010

Question of the Week:
What is Peace?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Some of the [Christmas] words have been worn out. Can you put “glory,” “joy,” “Messiah / Christ,” etc. in today’s vernacular?
~ Don Kimrey


A wonderful Q&A theme for the Advent season is to revisit biblical definitions of these words. We'll insert the quintessential Christmas word “peace” for "etc.," and spread the answer out over four posts:

December 3: Glory
December 10: Joy / Rejoice
December 17: Peace
December 24: Messiah / Christ


: : :



Here is one Hebrew word easily translated: shâlôm.

Peace.

This Hebrew masculine noun is rooted in a verb that means to be safe and well; to make complete or to be completed.

True peace is holistic; that is, it takes in the whole person. Anyone who otherwise lives in health and ease, yet experiences gnawing hunger pangs in body, mind, heart, or soul, is not at peace.

If we look to the Bible for how to find peace, we discover that not only does peace affect the whole person, it is obtained in a Person:

You will keep in perfect peace,
The one fixed upon You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in YHWH forever,
For YAH—YHWH—is the Rock of Ages [everlasting strength].
~ Isaiah 26:3-4 (author)

We see here why peace eludes us. We think we can find peace in prosperity, in vigor of health, in relationship with another human. These things can bring a measure of peace, especially when we recognize them as gifts from God.

But they are all temporal. Prosperity is maintained by no small effort. Health and vigor are under constant attack from lifestyle, environment, and age. Every human relationship will eventually fail us, since every other human is as flawed as ourselves.

YHWH (also Yahweh, Jehovah, the LORD) is the Rock of Ages—eternal, everlasting strength. He does not change. His love never fails.

The more we are fixed on temporal things, the more ways we experience disappointment in their failing us. The more we are fixed upon YHWH, and establish Him as the solid foundation of our lives, the more peace we find amid the failures of all that is temporal.


Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
~ Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)


A closing thought about peace is this: just as lack of peace in one part of the body affects the whole person, lack of peace in one part of Christ’s body of believers affects the whole. Indeed, lack of peace in one part of humanity affects the whole.

2010 draws to a close on a world without peace. While each of us might work toward peace in our corner of the globe, we remember—in this expectant season of Christmas—that peace cannot be complete until The Prince of Peace again walks the earth, as He promised He would.

: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source:
flickr.com

14 December 2010

Rejoice


"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

It is only after I realized that I could not solve my own problems that I started to look outside myself for answers. Turning to the world and its empty promises only complicated my life, nearly destroyed my family, and made life worse. I had made myself hostage and the chains that bound me I put there myself. And, then love rescued me.

Tired of the world, Christmas has become holy to me. The birth of Christ means hope and mercy to a person who deserves neither. I sit in the quietness of my home, pray for my boys, pray for my wife, look at the Christmas tree, and rejoice like a man nearly drowned might rejoice, plucked from the sea and resting face down on the deck of a ship as he waits for strength to return to his body. Thank you, Father.


The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5


... I praise our heavenly Father for you. I raise my hands and cry out to Him that you are blessed this Christmas, in Jesus name ...



10 December 2010

Question of the Week:
What is Joy / Rejoicing?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Some of the [Christmas] words have been worn out. Can you put “glory,” “joy,” “Messiah / Christ,” etc. in today’s vernacular?
~ Don Kimrey


A wonderful Q&A theme for the Advent season is to revisit biblical definitions of these words. We'll insert the quintessential Christmas word “peace” for "etc.," and spread the answer out over four posts:

December 3: Glory
December 10: Joy / Rejoice
December 17: Peace
December 24: Messiah / Christ


: : :


Image source: denverbroncos.com

The Finnish language has three dozen different words for snow. Some of us understand the difference between Colorado champagne powder, Michigan sleet, and springtime mashed potato snow—any of which may be a foreign concept to the Floridian.

The Bible has over two dozen Hebrew words and about a dozen Greek words used in 69 different ways to express joy and rejoicing, with an astounding variety of concepts. Three basic points that the Bible makes about joy and rejoicing are these:
rejoicing actively shares unrestrained joy
• joy is commonly connected to labor or
sorrow
• lasting joy springs from the
Lord’s goodness

Some Hebrew & Greek words used to describe rejoicing include ideas of exult, cheer, make merry, gush, burst out, laugh, congratulate, celebrate, gleam, be bright, skip, jump, leap, dance, twirl, spin, spring, stomp, shout, boast, sing, scream, clamor, toss the head, enjoin, hurry eagerly.

Perhaps the clearest example of biblical-style rejoicing in our culture is watching sports fans, particularly at season’s finale. Otherwise staid and placid humans go into fanatical frenzy and embrace strangers when their team overcomes all others. I well remember being in the Denver crowd which threw a parade for the Broncos in 1978. After a thirteen losing seasons, we didn’t seem to mind that our team returned from Super Bowl XII as the NFL’s Number Two.

The Bible often describes the most intense joy following the most intense sorrow. Among Jesus’ last words before His cruel death were these:


"Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
~ John 16:20-22 (NKJV)


I have never known a time when so many Christians are struggling through so many intense difficulties. Amid affliction, how do we produce the spiritual fruit of joy (Greek chara—delight, cheerfulness)?

We keep our hearts mindful of the blessings we do have by continually expressing
thanks to God. We express love, because we know God's love. We remind ourselves often that of all the good things we might ask from God, He already offers us His greatest gift: His Son Jesus.

Now when [the shepherds] had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child... Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
~ Luke 2:17,20 (NKJV)


If you're able, picture the shepherds high-fiving and hugging one another, then jamming cell phone lines and putting Twitter & Facebook "over capacity" in the excitement to share their joy.

: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

06 December 2010

The Science of Faith


Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5

One of my favorite places in Berlin is the Natural History Museum. My wife grew up in communist East Berlin and has happy memories of going to the museum as a little girl.

Whenever we go back we love to watch Lucas and Tristan get excited about the exhibits. Their eyes pop open as they run around the old hardwood floors in the museum. The family favorite is the largest assembled dinosaur skeleton in the world, a Brachiosaurus. It is impossible to take a photograph of the entire skeleton without a wide-angle camera lens.

Some Christians shy away from museums like Berlin’s Natural History Museum because the museums strongly promote the theory of evolution. I encourage my boys to probe and ask the hard questions. Truth in science will always point us back to God, we need not fear.


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2


In science a law is something that is verifiable and inarguable. For example, no one argues against the law of gravity, at least not at the user level here on planet Earth. A theory on the other hand is something that cannot be verified using scientific method.

Good scientific theories are built upon evidence to be fair, but what separates a theory from a law is that a theory cannot be proven. In order to fully embrace a theory some degree of faith is required.

Contemporary scientists like Stephen Hawking and Jared Diamond, who attack the possibility of a divine Creator, seem to lean upon their own presuppositions that God does not exist. Their logic is often circular. They have decided in advance that God does not exist and then text proof nature to support their own ideas. But the theory of evolution begs a question to the modern scientist: Why is evolution a theory and not a law?


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1


We cannot decide God into existence, but others cannot decide Him out of existence either. God exists, or does not exist, despite what we think.

Based upon my own experiences I believe that God exists and that Jesus Christ is His son. I do so as a matter of faith. Those who choose not to believe in God do so as an exercise of faith, too.


... Father thank You for life, thank You for creation. Father please help us to better understand the world You have created for us, this precious space You have given us to let our lives unfold. We pray to You in Jesus name ...

03 December 2010

Question of the Week:
What is Glory?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Some of the [Christmas] words have been worn out. Can you put "glory," "joy," "Messiah / Christ," etc. in today’s vernacular?
~ Don Kimrey


A wonderful Q&A theme for the Advent season is to revisit biblical definitions of these words. We'll insert the quintessential Christmas word "peace" for "etc.," and spread the answers out over four posts:

December 3:
Glory
December 10: Joy / Rejoice
December 17: Peace
December 24: Messiah / Christ


: : :


Photo courtesy of Sandra Heska King


Glory

The Bible uses no fewer than nine Hebrew and four Greek words which are translated "glory" in English. Both noun and verb forms of those words include familiar concepts such as splendor, majesty, grandeur, and especially dazzling light. But they also take in much more than the inherent beauty we commonly associate with glory.

The Bible's words for glory include praise, or boasting, as in the phrase "give glory." Some of the original language words' literal meanings include "ample" or "swell up"—because glory is always something huge. When we give glory, we are boasting in a showy way; we are magnifying God, or making Him bigger in the eyes of others.

Yet glory is even more than size. We think of it as abstract, but it has substance. The most common word for glory (Hebrew kâbôd) literally means "weight." However else we think of dazzling light and glory, we do not think of it as heavy. On the contrary, we attribute heaviness to the burden of suffering and affliction.

But the two usually go together. The greater the weight of affliction borne with faith, the greater the glory we give to God—and the greater the glory we lay up for ourselves. This is the concept described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17:


For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Jesus exemplified this principle on behalf of us all. Yet He sought glory for only His Father, rather than for Himself, trusting that the Father would one day share that glory with His Son. It is this weight of glory—bound up in the weight of suffering—which we shall one day share with God.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
~ Hebrews 2:9-10 (NKJV)


In the Old Testament, the presence of God was occasionally visible in His shekinah glory, or His visible glory. At Jesus birth, the glory of the Lord again became visible: God became man to manifest the dazzling light of His love; His shekinah glory shone around the angels who heralded His presence; and their message carried the weight of the cross and all its suffering, bound up in the name "Savior."

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
~ Luke 2:11 (NKJV)


: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

19 November 2010

Question of the Week:
Can Marital Sex be Sinful?
Part III

by Anne Lang Bundy

Is pornography adultery?
~ Anonymous
Am I obligated to sleep with a spouse who I do not think loves me anymore and is just using me for sex?
~ Anonymous



These were submitted as two separate questions. Both might receive a simple 'yes' based on Matthew 5:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. But addressing sin in context of marital sex deserves far more depth, and three posts are planned to offer some answers:

Part I: Sexual Immorality, Unique Sin
Part II: Sex Drive, Unique Motivation
Part III: Sexual Contrasts, Unique Solution

: : :

SEXUAL CONTRASTS, UNIQUE SOLUTION

"In a relationship conflict,
crying is often a woman's response to feeling unloved,
and anger is often a man's response to feeling disrespected."
~ Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Love and Respect Ministries, Inc.

Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
~ Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)


The same contrasts between a man and woman which cause differences also have potential to bring distinction to their relationship.

The entire fifth chapter of Ephesians weaves back and forth in discussion of union between the believer with the Spirit, between a man and wife, between Christ and His bride. Paul blurs the lines throughout the section, so that all he says may be applied to marriages both spiritual and human. He ends on the emphatic point of love and respect—Greek agapaō and phobeō.

This verb phobeō (from which we derive the noun "phobia") is translated "fear" every other time it appears in the Bible. There is only one reason to justify the deviation of most translations, which render this verb as "respect" rather than "fear" in this exceptional verse.

Here, phobeō is coupled with love.

Men must be respected by their wives, or they will not feel loved. If a man thinks his wife does not convey respect—whether in her assessment of his judgments and capabilities, or by her words spoken to him and about him—he will not feel loved, and he will have difficulty conveying love to her. She may even think she intends respect, but what will matter to him is what he perceives.

Likewise, regardless of how a man actually feels about his wife, a woman who feels unloved will not only be utterly crushed, but will also have some difficulty showing her husband respect in a way which is meaningful to him.

Few things are as vulnerable as a man’s ego and a woman's heart.

The bedroom has more potential than anywhere else as a place for love and respect to be displayed or denied. Here, where a man and woman are most vulnerable and exposed, a marriage may be bonded or broken.

The man who wants a wife to respect his judgment and capabilities anywhere else will first demonstrate them here. When he unlocks her emotions with his love and tenderness, he finds the key to her passions and responsiveness.

If a woman struggles to show respect to a husband she feels unworthy of it, even that must be communicated with respect. If she would invite him to love her unconditionally, she will respect him unconditionally.

The soul of a man's ego and a woman's heart are where they are most easily injured—or where they find most exquisite delight.

When sin and immorality and injury persist via sex, without repentance, marriage breaks down.

When love and respect flourish via marital sex, they will likely bloom throughout the marriage—with her as his most passionate champion, him as her most devoted lover.

: : :

For more on love and respect, see "For Guys Only."

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

12 November 2010

Question of the Week:
Can Marital Sex be Sinful?
Part II

by Anne Lang Bundy

Is pornography adultery?
~ Anonymous
Am I obligated to sleep with a spouse who I do not think loves me anymore and is just using me for sex?
~ Anonymous



These were submitted as two separate questions. Both might receive a simple 'yes' based on Matthew 5:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. But addressing sin in context of marital sex deserves far more depth, and three posts are planned to offer some answers:

Part I: Sexual Immorality, Unique Sin
Part II: Sex Drive, Unique Motivation
Part III: Sexual Contrasts, Unique Solution

: : :

PART II: SEX DRIVE, UNIQUE MOTIVATION

"In real love you want the other person's good.
In romantic love, you want the other person."
~ Margaret Chase Smith


Once upon a time, in a world without sin, the Creator gave woman to man as a companion. In all creation, she alone was like him, and yet she was wholly different. Their ideal lives had nothing to challenge unconditional love for each other.

Then sin came into the picture. Agonizing toil and labor would now consume both the man and woman in their respective occupations, and newfound self-centeredness would forevermore put their relationship in continual jeopardy.

Little might compel a man and woman to unite if the Creator did not also give the man a fight-to-the-death sex drive and the woman a drive for relationship ("your desire shall be for your husband"—Genesis 3:16). While there is no doubt that men were also created for relationship, and women were also created to enjoy sex, it's generally understood that most men are more driven toward physical satisfaction and most women are more driven toward emotional satisfaction. *

Ideally, each partner prompts the other to find both kinds of satisfaction in sexual intimacy—the Creator's super glue to permanently bond together two otherwise ill-fitting creatures in the institution of marriage.

Super glue is interesting stuff. It is reputed to create a bond stronger than the materials it unites. It forms that bond with incredible speed. And if not used with sufficient care, it will bond things not meant to be bonded, or otherwise cause damage.

The same is true of sexual intimacy. Blog host Russell Holloway noted in his comment last week that sex has recreational and procreational components, but is most importantly a form of communication. Sexual intimacy creates a unique vulnerability and opens channels of communication in marriage which can strengthen it as nothing else. If intimacy includes immorality, sexual intimacy can also injure a marriage as nothing else.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 (NKJV)


It’s been said that women learn to fake pleasure and men learn to fake relationship.

Dishonesty and vulnerability are a dangerous mix.

Faking might seem preferable to facing how weak the marriage is. Indulgence of sexual immorality might look like a way to revive the sexual bond of marriage. But sin can never deliver on what it promises. What it does always deliver is consequences greater than its fleeting pleasure.

Not-faking might seem an adequate excuse to avoid sexual intimacy. But frustrated desire—whether a man's physical desire or a woman's emotional desire—makes a person vulnerable to seeking some manner of satisfaction outside of marriage, and is a recipe for marriage failure.

God’s Spirit provides another, better option, to be examined next week.


~ ~ ~

* Paul mentions that for the sake of God's kingdom, the Holy Spirit gives some people a gift to appreciate celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:7-9;32-34).

: : :

For more on the consequences of sexual immorality, see "For Beauty, If She is Listening."

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source: homepages.ius.edu

05 November 2010

Question of the Week:
Can Marital Sex be Sinful?
Part I

by Anne Lang Bundy


1. Is pornography adultery?
~ Anonymous
2. Am I obligated to sleep with a spouse who I do not think loves me anymore and is just using me for sex?
~ Anonymous


These were submitted as two separate questions. Both might receive a simple 'yes' based on Matthew 5:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. But addressing sin in context of marital sex deserves far more depth, and three posts are planned to offer some answers:

Part I: Sexual Immorality, Unique Sin
Part II: Sex Drive, Unique Motivation
Part III: Sexual Contrasts, Unique Solution

: : :

PART I: SEXUAL IMMORALITY, UNIQUE SIN

"What makes pornography so addictive
is that more than anything else in a lost man's life,
it makes him feel like a man
without ever requiring a thing of him."
~ John Eldredge, from Wild at Heart

(To provide full explanations, today's post includes full biblical texts rather than the usual links.)

Jesus unequivocally defined lust as the sin of adultery. Perhaps He anticipated an argument that lust is inescapable—a person can’t help where the eye looks and what is then compelled of the hand—because He went on to address such rationale. Here is the complete text:

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."
~ Matthew 5:27-30 (NKJV)


The context of sexual immorality continues into the verses which immediately follow:

"Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."
~ Matthew 5:31-32 (NKJV)

Thoroughly despicable to the Jews, adultery carried the death penalty. Jesus pointed out that a divorced woman was compelled to seek another man for support, and He declared a man who commits divorce as guilty of complicity to resulting adultery—unless his wife gave him sufficient grounds for divorce. Jesus didn’t specify grounds for divorce as adultery (Greek moicheia). He instead spoke of sexual immorality (Greek porneia), a broader sin which includes adultery. Jesus affirms permanency of marriage—and how intolerable sexual immorality in marriage is.

Paul describes sexual immorality as a unique sin because of the way sex unites one person, body and soul, to another. He uses this principle to point out that God's Spirit unites Himself to our bodies, and our bodies are to honor that Spirit:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "The two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (NKJV)


We generally think of pornography as a visual temptation which indulges men to lust. But pornography can include images, audio, or text, whether explicit or evocative. It may tempt a man or a woman, married or single. It may tempt indulgence of physical lust or emotional lust. Pornography sabotages marriage, both present and future, and cannot be separated from the lust which violates the commandment, "You shall not commit adultery."

Such lust is only one aspect of sexual immorality, which violates a higher commandment. Because it degrades our bodies, which serve as dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, sexual immorality sabotages efforts to love the Lord our God with all our soul, heart, mind, body.

: : :

For more on defining sin, see "Is It Wrong?"

For more on divorce and the sanctity of marriage, see "What is Marriage?"

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

29 October 2010

Question of the Week:
What About Job?

by Anne Lang Bundy

I wonder about the whole showdown with Job ...
~ Wendy Paine Miller


Set in the post-flood era, the book of Job evokes a picture of chess game between God and the devil, in which humans are pawns with wills of their own.

This book offers fascinating depictions of our God's personality, the devil, heavenly sparring, human suffering, philosophy, creationism, and far more—fodder for an entire book series. We'll peek at just three points.


RESPONSE TO SUFFERING

Job represents epitome of suffering in every area of life, regardless of doing what's right.

Job holds the honor of Billy Graham and the riches of Bill Gates. Then he loses all—family, wealth, health, reputation. What he has left brings him only grief—an embittered wife's nagging, three accusatory "friends," and a despised life.

Job sowed goodness and reaps adversity.

Though he will be rebuked for calling God to account and complaining "not fair," Job's response to suffering itself has inspired humanity throughout the ages:


...[Job] fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD."
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
~ Job 1:20-22 (NKJV)



RESPONSE TO THE DEVIL

Job's wife provokes her husband using the exact words spoken in Heaven by God and the devil. (Compare Job 2:3 and 2:5 with Job 2:9.) We may deduce that her share in Job's losses has brought bitterness, making her vulnerable to accepting the devil's suggestions, which in turn enables the devil to use her as his mouthpiece.

God desires to be praised. The devil desires to see God cursed.

Job will curse his life. He will question God. He will complain at length, which is dangerously close to cursing God. Yet Job sets an example of rebuking the devil's words:


[Job] said to [his wife], "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
~ Job 2:10 (NKJV)



RESPONSE TO GOD

Job curses his birth, cries "not fair," and seeks and audience with God to question Him. God gives Job an audience, but turns the questions on him with a reference to "children of pride."

Job is treated to a raw display of the Lord's power in lightning storm, tornado, and the possibly present behemoth and leviathan (likely a dinosaur and dragon).

Job already feared God. Now he is terrified. Realizing Whom he attempted to call into account, Job recants, calls himself vile, and repents. He thought he wanted God to justify His actions. But now Job justifies having trust in Almighty God's purposes, though we cannot comprehend them:


"I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You...
I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful [incomprehensible] for me, which I did not know."
~ Job 42:1-3 (NKJV)


What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source:
armchairtravelogue.blogspot.com

22 October 2010

Question of the Week:
Why Not Skip the Old Covenant?

by Anne Lang Bundy


Why did God make an Old Covenant if He knew He was going to make a better Covenant?
~ Michaelle B., Michigan

There’s a joke which says God made Adam first as a rough draft, and Eve was perfection.

That implies that God was only warming up the first time around, and didn’t get it quite right until the second time.

God made male and female different, each one for a different purpose, and neither of them inferior to the other.

His covenants are also different, each one for a different purpose. However, the Bible clearly admits that the Old Covenant had problems:


For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
~ Hebrews 8:7 (NKJV)


The book of Hebrews elaborates about many problems with the Old Covenant. Among them are that it commanded sacrifices of animals be offered for sins, but ongoing sins meant the need for more sacrifices. Furthermore, the Old Covenant did nothing to fix the problem of sin by changing the sinner. And a person could not live solely by faith, because the Old covenant required them to live by rituals and sacrifices and laws.

Because Jesus (and only Jesus) fulfilled the requirements of the Old Covenant, He was able to make the New Covenant of grace. His sacrifice for sin was the final one, for all sins of all time. His covenant gives His Holy Spirit to His followers, so that we not only have a righteous standing before God (which permits us access to Him), but are also being changed to stop sinning. We are no longer required to live by law*, but can live by faith in God through His grace.

"Grace is when God gives you what you don't deserve and
mercy is when God doesn't give you what you do deserve."
~ Unknown


The problem with grace is that a person who receives grace doesn't recognize it unless that person has been without grace and knew the need for it.

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
~ Galatians 3:23-25 (NKJV)


The law of the Old Covenant establishes that we are sinners because we inevitably break the law. Because of the Old Covenant, we understand our need for mercy. And only after we've understood what it is to live under law can we understand the freedom of grace.

*For more on what it means to live in freedom from law, see Question of the Week "Is it Wrong?"

For more on the continuing relevance of the Old Testament, see "
Value of the Old Testament?"

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source:
mrpotatomash.com

15 October 2010

Question of the Week:
Why Do Christians Lie?

by Anne Lang Bundy


Why Do Christians Lie?
~ Anonymous


Rather than the lies for specific situations, this question implies general and ongoing deceit, most likely one of the following complaints:

1. Why do Christians contradict one another?
2. Why do Christians pretend to have all the answers?
3. Why are Christians hypocrites?
4. Why do Christians assert what obviously can't be true?

These questions are more easily answered if restated with less bias.

1. Why do Christians hold different perspectives?

We're each speaking the truth we understand, like the blindfolded group describing an elephant as a snake, a tree, a wall, etc. How important for us to work for unity and share information to obtain a whole picture!

2. Why do Christians sometimes share the wrong answers?

We hold all the truth we need in the Bible and in the Holy Spirit. But we're still learning to understand and apply it, and will continue to do so throughout our lifetime because it is so immense. We tend to fill in the gaps in our understanding with what we think is the truth but later learn to be off the mark. It is important to first ascertain the accuracy of foundational truths, remain teachable about all we have yet to learn, and remember that everyone else is also still learning.

That especially applies to teachers, (as well as people bold enough to attempt Q&A on Christianity and the Bible). James 3:1-2 (NKJV) says this: "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things."

3. Why don't Christians live up to what they preach?

Christians can become so excited about how salvation has changed us that we make it sound as if we've been made complete. We can start sharing a message implying perfect people rather than invoking the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ. Although our redemption from sin's death penalty is complete, learning to live like Jesus is a lifelong process. If we uphold Jesus Who lives inside of us as the Author of eternal Life, we'll be safely speaking truth. If we uphold our incomplete selves as "Life," the world may only see a crumbling bit of dying flesh and call it "Lie."

4. Why do Christians believe the impossible?

Perhaps the harshest physical reality of this world is that the dead don't come back to life. The definition of a Christian is a Christ-follower anointed with His Holy Spirit, who used to be spiritually dead but has been spiritually resurrected. Once death has been overcome, nothing else God asks of the Christian is "impossible."

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below. Anonymous questions are welcome.

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source:
inside.isb.ac.th

10 October 2010

Chip Ministry

I can see me continuing to make the best music I can, and let the chips fall where they may. - Lee Ann Womack

About one year ago we and some friends started hosting a Bible study in our home. The idea was to invite people from different denominations to the study. General Patton is known to have said, "If everyone is thinking the same then no one is thinking."

We have Roman Catholics attend, several Methodists, a few Evangelicals, and friends from The Church of Christ study scripture with us, too.

It is definitely one Bible study where people are never accused of thinking the same. And, most nights we have a great after party, too.

My wife sets out chips for people to snack on while we read and discuss scripture. Mike Ellis, probably my best friend, calls it her chip ministry. We all laugh, but it is the simple acts of service that sometimes mean the most.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. - Jesus Christ

I am constantly telling clients that what we do is not nearly as important as why we do what we do. Motive is so important.

A man might be the founder of a mega Church, but if his motive is to massage his own ego, is he serving Jesus Christ? Yet even the smallest act, like a chip ministry, done selflessly in Jesus' name and out of love, brings glory to our Father.

Remember that Jesus works through us. We are his hands, arms, feet, and body. Serve each other in love, in Jesus name, and you will find the love you are looking for.

08 October 2010

Question of the Week:
Who Compiled the Bible?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the word of God, because you have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty."
~ Woodrow Wilson


Who decided which books would be in the Bible? I understand others were considered, but not added.
~ Andrew Garber, Port Orange, Florida


The Bible boldly declares itself to be the Word of God, that Jesus is the Word of God personified, and that Jesus is God—squarely placing the Bible as equivalent to God in authority.

The wise person is willing to question why any authority should be recognized as such.

The Bible requires reliable testimony be established by two or three witnesses. (Two witnesses are sufficient, but if doubt remains let there be a third witness.) Who are the witnesses to determine the difference between a simple writing (Greek gramma) and Scripture (graphē)?

When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments, He took the extraordinary step of speaking directly to the Israelites (Exodus 18:19-22), giving miraculous signs as a second testimony. There was no question of the commandments being God's Word. Because Moses was God's spokesman, likewise performing miraculous signs as confirming testimony, the first five books of the Bible (Torah) were accepted as Scripture without question (about 1450–1400 BC).

The remainder of the Old Testament (OT) was written by various prophets, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Torah instructed that a prophet of the Lord would be confirmed by accurately foretelling what would come to pass. The Jews preserved the writings of these men as Scripture. In the third century BC, when the Greeks sought to establish a common language throughout their empire, the OT was translated into Greek as the Septuagint. Additional historical and philosophical writings of the time were included, and are contained in some Bibles to this day. But those additional writings were not recognized as Scripture by the Jews of the time, and are therefore referred to as apocryphal writings to distinguish them from the writings unquestionable as Scripture.

And that is the same standard used by compilers of the New Testament (NT). Early church leaders determined which writings to include as the authoritative Word of God by consensus. This was not a matter of voting, with majority rule. Only those writings judged as above reproach to be God’s Word were copied and handed down as Scripture. (See the "Criteria for Canonicity" below for further specifics.)

The most prominent criteria was if writings which recorded the Word of God came from Jesus' apostles—men with authority confirmed by miraculous signs and power of God. While they wrote many letters (or epistles), only some of those writings were held up as as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16.)

In our days, we still have witnesses to confirm the Word of God's authority. Church teachers who speak audibly are known as reliable by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-17)—by consistently displaying the fruit of the Spirit in revering Jesus Christ as Lord and God.

And when we seek God in truth, the Holy Spirit testifies truth to our heart.

Related post, from February: Who Wrote the Bible?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Criteria for Canonicity * [inclusion in the canon of Scripture]:
• Apostolic Origin — attributed to and based upon the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).
• Universal Acceptance — acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century) as well as accepted canon by Jewish authorities (for the Old Testament).
• Liturgical Use — read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord's Supper (their weekly worship services).
• Consistent Message — containing a theological outlook similar to or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below. Anonymous questions are welcome.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy.
Image source unavailable.
* Source, "Criteria for Canonicity": justasiamchristian.com (original author unknown)

05 October 2010

A past rewritten

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. ~William Stafford

Children are much better at forgiveness than their parents. We talk about a parent’s innate love for a child like it is a given, but counselors know that is not always true.

Many parents, maybe most parents at one point or another, are willing to sacrifice their children on the altar of self-interest, often in seemingly small ways, sometimes in ways that make us ashamed to be human.

This weekend the pastor of Beachside Church, in Ormond Beach, Florida, Robbie O’Brien, proposed that forgiveness essentially rewrites history. Forgiveness, bundled up with the mystery of grace, can transcend time, and heal.

Young children know this intuitively. Children continue to love those who take their love for granted.

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Jesus the Messiah

The human capacity for cruelty stopped surprising me a long time ago. What still catches me off guard now and then is the power of forgiveness and those who offer forgiveness.

Just one example among many, I know of a girl who went to her dying father’s bedside in a hospital to forgive him for molesting her. Where does that kind of strength come from? How could I dare withhold forgiveness from people who have hurt me after hearing a story like that? What does a story like that say about the power of love?

Forgiveness is without a doubt a process. A process we need a loving God to guide us through.

Prayer, and tears, and anger, and more prayers, and more tears, mark our steps as we move toward forgiveness. But, the end effect is peace and healing, and maybe a past rewritten.


... Father, You are our God, and we praise you for being a God of love and mercy. Father, teach us to forgive. We cry out to You in Jesus name ...

01 October 2010

Question of the Week:
Is Self-Defense Biblical?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797),
Irish statesman who supported American revolutionaries

: : :

"Is self-defense biblical?"
~ Abbey S., Michigan



The question implies use of deadly weapons. The Bible provides interesting contrasts about "the sword." Consider two directives from Jesus on the night He was arrested:

"But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22:36 NKJV)

"Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:52-53 NKJV)


Contrast brings balanced perspective. Context is critical.

In the second passage, Jesus asserts the adequacy of defense from God and the peril of living with reliance on weaponry.

Yet weapons can serve godly purposes. In the first passage, Jesus gives new marching orders for going out into the world with the Gospel, instructing self-sufficiency which prepares for hazards. One way to avert violence—whether on a personal or national level—is to display strength and ability of defense with refusal to use it offensively.

Weapons serve other purposes of God's will. Governing authorities are called ministers of God, entrusted with use of force to suppress evil (Romans 13:1-4). Soldiers who accepted the Gospel were instructed to not intimidate others rather than to shun use of force altogether (Luke 3:14).

God also employs human weaponry as His own sword (Deuteronomy 32:39-42; Isaiah 34:5; Ezekiel 30:25). This same principle is evident throughout the book of Revelation.

"You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."
~ Matthew 5:38-39 (NKJV)


These words of Jesus are sometimes used to argue against self-defense. The context is examples of how to bless others. Jesus observes that a directive for equity in payment of damages had become justification for retaliation. Scripture condemns vengeance and exhorts tolerance of insult, teaching there is blessing in suffering for the sake of righteousness (Matthew 5:10; 1 Peter 3:14). The early church set an example of enduring violence, but they also took measures to avoid being victims of violence.

Every person must apply these passages as faith and conscience dictate. There is room in Christianity for both pacifists and warriors. I'll share my personal application.

As a former police officer, and now the wife of a police officer, I know anarchy would result if government did not provide civilian and military defense. I also know the danger of displaying a firearm unless one is prepared to use it. Bluffing is more dangerous than being unarmed.

As a student of history, I know that oppression results when citizenry's ownership of arms is abolished by government. I support the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If I were in a position to defend the lives of others from criminal violence, my preferred weapon is a pump action shotgun, which unequivocally communicates strength of defense so it might not be necessary to use deadly force.

But if my life alone was threatened, I'd guess my offender is less prepared than me to meet our Maker. As my King's ambassador, I'm less inclined to use a weapon of steel as I am to take up the sword of the Spirit for my defense.

: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below. Anonymous questions are welcome.


© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source:
hubpages.com

26 September 2010

Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll

As our love for Jesus grows, so will our obedience. - Ray Kelley

When I was an adolescent, I believed that to follow Jesus, to join God’s Kingdom today, was a kind of death sentence.

If I gave up everything the world had to offer: sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, and all the other fun stuff, in the end I could go to Heaven, or at least avoid that place where Barry Manilow songs are played in perpetual loop for all eternity, Hell.

I tried the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. It was fun for a while, but in the end there was just pain.

If I have learned anything, a life without our Father is a life empty. When we look for our own answers, and when we consult the world to do the same, the outcome is never, ever, good. If you don't believe me, pick up the newspaper.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. Jesus of Nazareth

To obey that world revolutionary Jesus is to embrace love. To follow Jesus is to practice forgiveness. To accept His assurances and to repent is to turn away from the empty promises of the world and to rap your arms around peace.

To follow Jesus is in fact a death sentence … it is the death of yesterday’s lies, and the birth of a new day.


... Father, thank You for being a God of grace and love. Father thank You for Your son Jesus. Father we ask that You open our eyes to the lies of the world, and we pray that You cover us in the forgiving blood of Your son. In Jesus name we pray ...


24 September 2010

Question of the Week:
How to Forgive Self?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"What does the Bible say about forgiving yourself?
What does it say about our faith
when we still experience guilt after being forgiven?"
~ Anonymous


Last year I spoke to a group of ladies gathered for a church rummage swap. I compared sin and guilt to the trash discovered during spring cleaning. The drastically condensed version below is a bit longer than my usual answer, but it makes the point "cleanly." ;D

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There are three kinds of trash in our lives.

The FIRST is trash that has always been trash and always will be trash. Until we clean it out, it will sit around and make the house dirty.

The ugly little critter above is trash.

Let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which so easily ensnares us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

Until we go looking for dust bunnies in all the places they like to hide, they just keep getting bigger.

Sin is like a hidden dust bunny. We need God's Spirit to show us what sin is hiding in our hearts. Until we clean sin out of our lives, it will make our souls sick and dirty and just plain ugly.

The SECOND kind of trash is stuff that used to be good and useful, but isn't anymore.


Guilt is good when it makes us feel bad for sin so that we'll want to ask forgiveness.

If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV)


The first Person we need forgiveness from is God. God sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we could say to God (in our own words), "Father God, since Your Son Jesus took my punishment for sin, would You please forgive me and give me peace with You and be Lord of my life?"

When we say we’re “saved,” we mean that because we have God’s forgiveness, we’re saved from any punishment for sin after we die.

But even if we’re saved, there are at least three reasons we might experience guilt:

1) we still sin, and we still need to confess that sin to God so He can clean it out of our lives;
2) if we haven't done it yet and if it's possible, we have guilt until we ask forgiveness from the people who have been hurt by our sin;
3) if we've asked forgiveness from God and others, (even if they refuse forgiveness), and we still have guilt, then we're allowing someone to remind us of our sin in a way that steals the joy and the peace of forgiveness.

There is therefore now no condemnation
to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

When guilt compels us to confess sin and ask forgiveness, it's from God’s Spirit and is a good thing called conviction. But when guilt stops being conviction from God and it starts being condemnation—whether from the devil, from others, or from ourselves—it has become trash which must be thrown away and replaced with the truth of Scriptures like the one above.

The LAST kind of trash started out as trash, but is no longer trash.


These tiny cheeses each come wrapped in wax to stay fresh.


You peel open and eat the cheese, then throw away the wax—unless you're my daughter Elizabeth, who found a way to make treasure out of trash.

Elizabeth shaped this rose using only her fingers.


God can do the same thing.

The story of Joseph and the brothers who sold him into slavery 22 years earlier comes to a climax when they voice fear that he will now retaliate. Joseph responds:

"Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:19-20)

God used something as ugly as his brothers’ hatred to put Joseph where God could use him to save the lives of his family during a famine.

Every person here has been hurt by sin, and sin is always trash. But we have a God so good and so powerful that He can shape the leftovers of sin and hurt into something good, whether it is our own sin or someone else sinned against us.

God wants to heal our hearts from the hurt that sin causes. The first step is obtaining forgiveness from God, and then asking it of others. It’s just as important for us to forgive, even if we haven't been asked for forgiveness.

If Joseph hadn’t forgiven his brothers before they even knew who he was, he would have killed them or put them in prison instead of saving their lives. But because he forgave them, something bad became something good.

When we forgive the sins of others, we begin to turn evil into good. We begin to be free in our own hearts from the hurt they've caused us.

And in the practice of forgiving others, we also learn to forgive ourselves.

: : :

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below or here, with your name or as Anonymous.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.