30 April 2010

Question of the Week:
Who’s to Pray, How to Pray

by Anne Lang Bundy

“Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing
God’s gift of Himself.”
~ Mother Theresa

I was raised Catholic and was wondering if it is okay for non-priests to lead public prayer? ~ @SeeJaneSell

Am I supposed to close my eyes when I pray? ~ @ChristineBlake

One cannot help but appreciate the reverence for prayer implied in these questions.

Christians often take for granted the privilege of prayer. We call prayer “just talking to God”—as if it was no more than that.

True, we are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV). But we should remember that the only reason for such boldness is because our access was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Most Holy Place of the Jerusalem temple was the place of God’s presence. It was closed off by a great curtain (or “veil”), reported by the historian Josephus to be four inches thick. The curtain was probably almost as high as the temple—about sixty feet.

When Jesus died on the cross, that veil was torn into two pieces, starting from the top. No human could have performed such a feat, which was clearly a miracle of God. Hebrews 10:19-22 explains that this showed God giving access to His presence through Jesus’ death.

Direct access to the holy throne of God is still a place for God’s anointed priests. But whether a congregation’s consecrated minister is called a priest, or another title such as bishop, elder, reverend, or pastor, the New Testament definition of a priest now includes all who belong to Jesus Christ, who are anointed with the Holy Spirit:

You also ... are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ... you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people ...
~ 1 Peter 2:5,9 (NKJV)

What about the prayers of non-Christians, who are not God’s priests?

Christians have direct access to God the Father because we are restored to Him through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18). But Acts 2:21 says, “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” Before the time of Jesus, in the Old Testament, examples abound of God hearing the prayers of those who demonstrated faith and fear. In the New Testament, the prayer of Cornelius was heard because of he feared God and demonstrated faith, though he did not yet know of Jesus Christ.

What was most important about these people is that their hearts were humble before God, seeking His righteousness, understanding that they had no righteousness of their own merit. It is this posture of the heart, rather than position of eyes or knees which was most important to the Lord. Getting on our knees or closing our eyes is simply one way to express that humility.

Even the prayers of Christians can be hindered by such things as “vain repetitions,” failing to honor one's wife, and regarding sin in the heart. We all should be careful to follow leaders who prove themselves faithful to God and the Bible, so we are not led astray. Christians who lead others in practice of faith, including public prayer, should do so with godly fear and humility.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
~ 1 Peter 3:12 (NKJV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image: Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," Sistine Chapel

27 April 2010

Killing was easy

"You should have died when I killed you." - John LeCarre

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared. - Psalm 130:3-4

During the course of a conversation last week, I told a client that everyone has secrets. The idea was to help the client feel less isolated. And, it is true. We have all witnessed or participated in events we do not want to share with others. Events we do not care to whisper to ourselves.

The client, who was overcome with guilt, looked up for the first time and asked, “What are your secrets?”

After a thick silence I deflected the question, but the question stayed in the room, long after the counseling session was over.


Last year Warrior’s Rage was published by Navel Institute Press. I fought along side the author, Col. Douglas Macgregor. When the book was being written, I told Doug I did not want my name in the book, mostly because I did not want to be reminded of my own secrets.

After a flurry of phone calls from other soldiers in our unit, I relented and gave consent.

Doug retells a story from our first day of contact with the Iraqi army. He was concerned with an infantry unit that was opening fire as we approached their position …

So I called Cougar Forward and said: “Shoot that son of a b---- on the ridge before he hurts someone.”

Sergeant Rusty Holloway, the gunner for Cougar Forward, obliged with one round from the 25-mm chain gun, killing the Iraqi soldier, who was firing his AK47, taking his head and upper body off at about 1,100 meters with a 25-mm sabot round. After that, the rest of the Iraqi company surrendered, and the shooting subsided.

This was the first time I had seen a man killed in combat. The experience had an electrifying effect on me and on the troops who watched the event, but not the way most people would expect. The accuracy and lethality of the 25-mm chain gun was both terrifying and reassuring. Now we knew our guns worked.

Killing was easy.

We moved north and ran into other Iraqi units; then we engaged the Tawakana Division; then Andy was killed during a Republican Guard counter attack; and then things got ugly for the Iraqis … secrets.

There is something about wanting to stay alive, and keeping your friends alive, that makes killing easy, indeed. Later, after the fact, ending another's life is not so easy … secrets.

For a few hours, after Andy was killed, I completely turned myself over to evil. It was more than just survival reflex.

Later, after the fighting, I experienced depression for the first time in my life. My illusions about humanity, governments, human answers to problems, crumbled like a house of cards. For the first time I experienced how evil people could be, and that included myself.


There are many victims of trauma who find their way to our counseling center. I do not identify with the victims; I identify with the perpetrators of violence. That is my secret.

When I talk about forgiveness, I talk about it in the context of someone who needs to be forgiven, not just to make it to the next life, but in order to make it through this one.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. - Ephesians 1:7

... Father, thank You for being a God of second chances. Thank You for looking past our sins. Father, touch the hearts of those who do not yet know the power of Your redemptive love. We cry out to you in Jesus name ...

23 April 2010

Question of the Week:
Is Worry a Sin?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Is worry a sin? ... I feel bad for having such emotions that I really cannot control.
from Anonymous

Three issues are here: worry, control of emotions, feeling bad for failure.

Let’s start with emotions.

It’s been argued that feelings aren’t right or wrong—they’re just feelings. But Jesus said that to lust is to commit adultery in the heart. He addressed hatred with the commandment against murder. He called covetousness evil.

Feelings and thoughts can definitely be sinful.

The adage says you can’t prevent birds from flying overhead, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair. Likewise, when wrong thoughts of the mind and wrong feelings of the heart come, we have a choice to entertain or dismiss them.

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)

Simply pushing away wrong thoughts and feelings is far less effective than filling ourselves with things to build up our souls.

Whatever things tear down the soul are contrary to the Lord’s will and can therefore be defined as sin. Sin should feel bad, because its defiance against God separates us from Him.

God’s solution to sin is threefold. He removes eternal Penalty of sin for whomever receives Jesus Christ as Lord and repents of sin. The day is coming when those who belong to Christ will live with Him, removed from the Presence of sin, with its pain and suffering. Until then, God’s Holy Spirit delivers us from the Power of sin by increasing our spiritual strength.

We increase spiritual strength by cooperating with the Holy Spirit—taking in the Bible, communicating with God in prayer, and making godly choices to avoid sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
~ Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

The devil condemns us for sin and tempt us to hide from God. The Holy Spirit instead convicts us of sin, prompting us to draw near to God. Those in Christ are forgiven and never condemned by God, not even when we fail—or worry.

Back to the question of worry. Yes, bad things happen, even to those who are God’s. But worrisome circumstances are opportunities to be childlike and enter the kingdom.

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
~ Matthew 18:3 (NKJV)

Little ones don’t worry about checkbooks. When they are hurting, they run to the loving parent who offers comfort and aid. In scary situations, a child clings closely to parent for reassurance.

To have childlike trust does not mean childish disregard for responsibilities. It simply understands who God is. He proves Himself more powerful than all adversity, wiser than the most confounding problem, more loving than our greatest failure.

So He says, “Fear not.” He asks us to trust that regardless of circumstances, He has a plan in it for good and will walk us through it. And His great compassion does not condemn us for worry, but says gently, “Look at Me instead.”

2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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22 April 2010

Earth Day 2010: ship of fools

This song was released the year I graduated from High School. I loved the band World Party back then. In honor of Earth Day I thought I would play the video below, give it a listen, I think there is a message embedded in the lyrics ... not from outer space or anything like that ... tell me what you think.

... Father, thank You for proving a place for us to live. We ask that You guide us and teach us Your ways. Even the Earth in its current form will not exist forever, but long after the pain of this life has subsided, You will still be loving us. Send Your son quickly Father, In Jesus name we pray ...

20 April 2010

If God had a name

This post is part of Bridget Chumbley's one word at a time blog carnival. The word today is Self-Control. Please go check out the other posts.

The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many for love. - Margeret Atwood

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. - Psalm 9:10

Last week I was in the middle of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, standing on a grassy hill with my oldest son Lucas. We were watching a cohort of about fifteen drummers at the foot of the hill pound away on their drums. They were talented, there is no doubt about that. The one lonely saxophone that joined them played drawn-out minor cords that added urgency to the music.

In the middle of the pack of drummers, a young woman danced unrestrained, almost unaware of onlookers, something between a 1960s hippy dance and a Turkish belly dance. You could believe that she was Herodias' daughter herself. Everyone on the hill, all the drummers, too, were mesmerized by the woman. No one could take their eyes off of her.

How did she get there and what is her name?

Counselors know everyone has battle scars. What stories do her scars tell?

What does she want?


The need for love is the great engine that drives the human experience. Humans, all of us, start out wanting nothing more than to be loved. Many of us are hurt along the way and abandon the pursuit of love for a time; we think it protects us from being hurt again. But, love, in one way or another, informs everything we do.

The young woman in Golden Gate Park just wants to be loved, like you, like me.

Test everything. Hold on to the good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Over time I have experimented with a lot of different behaviors to gain love. The only love that has lasted is the love that emanates from the creator of love.

God is love. If it does not look and feel like love, if it does not withstand hardship, if it does not stand the test of time, it is not from God.

I will likely never know the dancing woman's name ... but, God's name I know. His name is mercy, and love, and forgiveness, and peace. He has other names I am still learning. Eventually all of His names will be seared onto my heart.

My prayer is that you find love that lasts. And, I pray that the woman dancing in Golden Gate Park finds love that lasts, too. I thank God for you, for her, I thank God for teaching us what love is … in Jesus name I pray.

16 April 2010

Question of the Week:
What are Emerging Churches?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
~ Alexander Hamilton."
What is the emergent church movement? And how does it differ, or not, from biblical principles?
T. Anne

A distinction should be made between the particular group called the Emergent Church (associated with Brian McLaren), and churches simply labeled “emerging.” The one characteristic common to both groups is thorough dissatisfaction with traditional church practices.

Last week’s Q&A addressed how the Christian church evolved into so many
denominations. Generally, each time a new denomination evolves, it breaks away from an existing church due to conflicts over specific doctrines, practices, or authority. The new church is largely similar to the church from which it divides itself.

Emerging churches criticize the Christian church as a whole strongly enough to take a more drastic stance, reshaping themselves from scratch, purposefully attempting to be as dissimilar as possible from traditional churches.

Too many established churches certainly have put unreasonable emphasis on tradition, human theology, politics (of both church and government), control, and their individual purpose from God. They’ve made church increasingly about religion at the expense of love for God and neighbor. As a whole, western churches are long overdue for make-over and revival.

But several dangerous tendencies exist in the start-over-from-scratch-philosophy. Hyper-criticism breaks down cooperation and unity in the worldwide Church, between both congregations and individuals. Efforts to be dissimilar from traditional churches may undermine key truths central to faith. In the effort to be non-religious, unbiblical attitudes and beliefs become common. Sensitivity to the needs of individuals creates a religion of social activism. The desire to be non-offensive censors out mention of sin, Christ’s blood, and the judgment of God to come. More emphasis is put on humanist philosophy than on God.

This is not an exhaustive list of problems. It’s not possible to examine and evaluate all the practices and beliefs of emerging churches in this short space. It should be noted that some emerging churches seem to establish a solid base of faith and practice.

Churches which designate themselves as “emerging” deserve a close and cautious study. The best way to know what might be wrong with them is to know what should be right about any church. I offer my own definition of the core beliefs for faith in Jesus Christ, titled “Foundations,” and invite you to click on the link for more information.

A last note about the emergent church movement associated with Brian McLaren. Its key principles are in direct conflict with the Bible, such as: salvation is taught to be a gift of Jesus which does not require informed faith; Jesus is rejected as the exclusive way to God; the second coming of Christ and future judgment are rejected; personal experience is emphasized above biblical truth.

Because my field of expertise is the Bible and I’ve not studied emerging churches at length, comments of clarification (preferably with citations) are welcome.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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13 April 2010

Make love not porn (Revisited)

Today is the one year anniversary of the Port Orange Counseling Prayer Circle as well as Bullets & Butterflies. This is the last re-post of 2009 favorites. Thank you everyone. We need your prayers. People in the community need your prayers ... and we are praying for you.

Make love not porn

Although I enjoy folk-rock duos like the Indigo Girls, I saw them on a hot summer day at Nashville River Stages back in 1998, there are about twelve good reasons why I would make a poor feminist.

One feminist campaign I do agree with is the Make Love Not Porn effort that exists to draw attention to some of the unintended consequences of pornography.

Apparently Christians are not the only group concerned with the unreasonable expectations pornography puts on intimate relationships.

Therapists are usually desensitized to talking about sex. If anyone here decides to google Make Love Not Porn, know that campaign material is explicit, even vulgar by some standards, so foretold is forewarned. It is the message I agree with, not always the delivery.


There is abundant literature on the subject, but it boils down to this: The regular use of pornography often erodes a persons enjoyment of real sex, it also erodes a persons ability to be emotionally intimate with their spouse during lovemaking, and not surprisingly porn use can progress to full-blown addiction.

Why is emotional intimacy so important?

One Christian writer, Philip Yancey I think, speculated that emotional intimacy is sacred because it is a peek into what all relationships will be like in the next life.

In Heaven we will be secure enough to make ourselves emotionally vulnerable to each other and, “pass through each others souls.” We will utterly and completely know each other.


Is that why sexual intimacy is sacred? Because the emotional intimacy that can be experienced during lovemaking foreshadows the emotional intimacy we will experience with each other in our second lives?

Something to think about.

Porn is the theft of intimacy. Lovemaking, in the way God intended, is real.

Love is real. Porn is fake.

08 April 2010

Question of the Week:
Why So Many Denominations?

by Anne Lang Bundy

(Note: “Question of the Week” now moves to Fridays on both “Bullets and Butterflies” and “Building His Body.”)

“I take as my guide the hope of a saint:
in crucial things, unity;
in important things, diversity;
in all things, generosity.”
~ George Bush

Why are there so many Protestant denominations?
From Jerry Ruffino (Roman Catholic), Rochester, NY

Last month addressed general Infighting among Christians. Today’s post will address official separations within the Church of Jesus Christ.

Why the mind-boggling number of church denominations? The short answer is that followers of Jesus forget that there is only one catholic Church.

A better answer begins with a definition of “catholic” (no capitalization). The word originates with the Greek katholikos, meaning “universal.” The Roman Catholic Church (often called the Roman church) has adopted the designation for itself. There is nonetheless only one universal Church of Jesus Christ, which the Bible calls His “body.”

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
~ Romans 12:4-8 (NKJV)

The early Christians developed two seats of authority, in Rome and Constantinople. A power struggle for primacy in 1054 AD brought The Great Scism into Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. The 16th Century Reformation resulted in more groups splitting from the Roman church, who were called “Protestants” because they protested Roman authority, doctrine and practices. (A variety of designations also exist within the Roman church.)

The innumerable denominations within Christ’s one Church still exist because of doctrinal differences, over conflicts in practice, and when leaders jockey for authority and control. For what it’s worth, I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and have studied it at length. I presently attend an independent Bible church. My perspective is that while denominational designations might be helpful in defining generalities about congregations, followers of Jesus should be characterized by unity rather than divisions.

God composed the body ... that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:24-25 (NKJV)

Unity requires agreement on core beliefs—but not on everything else. The United States of America is defined by a foundational constitution and heritage, while states have individual laws and practices. Likewise, Christ’s Church can be defined by foundational beliefs, while individual congregations freely live out faith differently.

The heritage of Christians is grace and love. It should define us, characterize us, and unify us.

Next Monday and Wednesday, "Building His Body" will feature articles on foundational and unifying beliefs. Next Friday’s Question of the Week will then address a question about the emergent church.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: Image source: watchinggravity.blogspot.com

06 April 2010

Move toward trust (revisited)

Next week is the one year anniversary of the Port Orange Counseling Prayer Circle and Bullets & Butterflies. Bullets & Butterflies is re-posting a few of the posts from 2009, over the next few weeks, to commemorate that anniversary.

Move toward trust

Sitting on the green couch in my office a client told me, “It might seem harsh that I don’t trust you, but you know what? I don’t trust myself either. It’s prudent to distrust people.” I sat silent for several seconds, reflecting on what he said.

The man on the green couch had a point. As a counselor I get the feeling that the world is far more messed up than most people suspect. There is beauty in our world for sure, but these are islands and occasional subcontinents in a vast ocean of human pain. Humanity drives a hard bargain.


Near the beginning of this summer I was coming back from lunch, driving across the Intracostal Waterway with my friend and colleague, Leigh de Armas. An afternoon shower was drenching the vehicle we were in. It was a cleansing rain.

I told Leigh that I am a follower of Jesus Christ by default. I don’t have anything left to believe in, certainly not humanity. When I was broken I turned to Jesus Christ and His story of redemption. The healing I received when I put my faith in Jesus is real. Jesus is the only thing that has ever worked.


Like the man on the green couch, I struggle with mistrust. The last time I put my trust in a system designed by men, I participated in events that still wake me up at night. If I were brutally honest I would have to say that I often feel ashamed to be who I am, what I am, human.

However, now I have Jesus in my life. He loves me. I am certain of that. He forgives me. I am certain of that, too.

The most beautiful gift Jesus has given me here on earth is to reconcile me with humanity.

He tells me, “These are my children, too. I want you to care for them. I want you to show them that there is a better way. If you cannot completely trust them, if you cannot completely trust yourself, then trust me ... I want you to have faith in me and to love them.”

That is where I am. I see amazing beauty, compassion, even mercy in the lives of many people I know.

People, not only Christians, are capable of breath taking acts of self-sacrifice and love. I believe this is God using us, moving through us, healing us.

God has shown me that although I am moving toward trust, in reality I do not have to trust you or any other person. But for my own sanity I need to allow myself to love you. He knows my heart yearns to love you.

And, from the bottom of my heart, I do.

Thank you, Jesus...

... Father, you are our God and we praise You. Thank you for being a God of second chances. Bless us, our friends, our families, and those who consider us their enemy. Soften all of our hearts in Jesus name ...

03 April 2010

Question of the Week: Why Earth?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache
carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
~ Napoleon Hill

"Why didn't God create people and just put them in Heaven instead of making them live on Earth first?"
from Michaelle

It does seem that God put both Himself and humans through an awful lot of unnecessary heartache and adversity that could be avoided if we skipped our life-long visit to Earth. At least three reasons come to mind for us to be here.

Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment."
~ Mark 12:29-30 (NKJV)

With the greatest commandment comes the choice to love or not love the Lord. We are not placed in Heaven as pets trained to show affection. We are created with free will and placed on Earth's testing ground to demonstrate that our love is freely given.

"But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
~ Exodus 9:16 (NKJV)

Though the Lord spoke these words of an evil Pharaoh, this is the purpose of all people. God's power is best demonstrated on Earth, where weakness exists. We most desire His goodness and love where evil and hatred exist. And declaring His name in praise comes with higher value under pressure than amid pleasure because it costs us more. Which brings up the third point.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
~ Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

Those things handed to us without cost are never valued as highly as those things which come with a high cost; the goals for which we stretch and struggle and suffer are the ones worth attaining. We are placed on Earth where we fall into sin and are in need of deliverance. The great cost to God for our deliverance from sin was the death of His Son Jesus. It proves to us our great worth to Him. The great cost to follow Jesus likewise makes Him of great worth to us.

Today, nestled between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we stand between the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Nothing has more value to God than His precious Son. He sold His Son to Death so that He could buy us back from Death. By giving Him our lives in return, both He and we will enjoy Heaven with far greater triumph and delight than if we had not first visited Earth.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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