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.


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)


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)


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.
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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.
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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.
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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?

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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.
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* 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

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"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.

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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
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