27 June 2011

REST


Bullets & Butterflies made its first post in April of 2009. Wow! It kind of started off as an experiment and eventually became something that changed my worldview. One-hundred-forty-five posts later it is now time to take a break and move on to other things ...

If you would like to go back and read Anne Bundy's Question Of The Week posts, please do. I learned so much from her.

If you would like to go back and read my Prayer Circle, posts, you are invited to do the same.

My prayer is that you know how much that God loves you. I pray that with all my heart in Jesus name.

03 June 2011

Question of the Week:
How do I Recognize the Kingdom of God?

by Anne Lang Bundy



Image source: Salvation Army



What is the Kingdom of God, how do I get there, and how do I know it when I see it?
Russell Holloway, blog host


The last two weeks described what God's kingdom is and how to enter it now. This week's conclusion examines how we recognize the presence of God's kingdom.

Now when [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
~ Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)


There are modern day Pharisees who attempt to create a kingdom defined by culture—certain ways of speaking, dressing, behaving. There are modern day Sadducees who would make a kingdom of this world by using God's name as excuse to pursue connections, pleasure, and control.

There is a kingdom to come on a future day when we will look upon the face of Jesus, find delight to bow before Him in worship and lift Him up in praise, enjoy fellowship and perfect unity with His people, and are free from the sorrows of this world.

There is another kingdom Jesus says is within His people.

When we give Jesus dominion of our lives and receive His Holy Spirit within us to guide us in every way, we become people of a different place. We see the face of Jesus in the people around us. We find delight amid the sorrows of this world when we bow before Jesus in worship and lift Him up in praise. We enjoy fellowship with His people and desire unity with them.

This kingdom is within us who are within the world. It is neither an invisible kingdom, nor is it made visible through the things of this world. It is a kingdom clearly manifest wherever Jesus reigns and has dominion.

We recognize the presence of the kingdom wherever –
• sacrificial love overcomes apathy and hatred
• joy brings strength amid affliction
• perfect peace prevails amid turmoil
• patient longsuffering meets irritation and trial
• active kindness is antidote to condemnation and bitterness
• obedient goodness challenges evil
• trusting faithfulness confronts doubt
• meek gentleness faces pride
• temperate self-control overcomes lust for immediate gratification

Jesus warned that His kingdom within would provoke others; we will be odious at best, and at worst we will be persecuted to the point of bloodshed, finding enemies even within our family.

The kingdom may be recognized by consistent growth. Whether we take two steps forward and one step back, or ten steps forward and nine steps back, we will grow. We cannot help but become more like Jesus if He has dominion over us.

When we discover that we are more like Jesus, and we treat others as if they were Jesus—when we recognize the Spirit of Jesus prevailing in one of His followers—we know we have found the presence of the Kingdom of God.

: : :

Question of the Week and Anne will take a break for several weeks. In the meantime, you can find answers to plenty of Bible questions at the site Bible.com. You're also welcome to email Anne anytime and say hello at buildingHisbody [plus] @gmail.com


© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

27 May 2011

Question of the Week:
How do I Enter the Kingdom of God?

by Anne Lang Bundy



What is the Kingdom of God, how do I get there, and how do I know it when I see it?
Russell Holloway, blog host


Last week described what God's kingdom is. This week will address how to enter His eternal kingdom—now.

Jesus provides an answer that is both specific and an apparent mystery.


"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again ... unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
~ John 3:3-6 (NKJV)


To be born again is to become a new creation, born by repentance into God's Holy Spirit as a place for Him to reside. God separates Himself from evil. Therefore we must repent of sin and be cleansed of sin by confessing Jesus as our risen-from-the-dead Lord—our Sovereign—so that He also becomes our Savior from sin.

God's will for His anointed kings is that they do battle to protect their people. King David is the paradigm for King Jesus. David began to save his people after he was anointed king, long before he received the throne. The most visible foe of Israel was Goliath, whose head David took, just as Jesus came to crush the head of Satan. King David went on to deliver Israel from the Philistines and all other enemies, just as King Jesus goes on to deliver us from all sin wherever He is invited to reign.

When we repent of sin and make Jesus our Lord, water baptism is the outward expression of having made this spiritual transaction with God. As we then yield to the Holy Spirit, He enters us and reproduces the Person of Jesus in us.

This might be seen in Jesus' birth, in the invitation Mary accepted. (See Luke 1:35.) When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, He creates a new life in us—the life of Christ—which grows and is eventually manifest to the world. We are then able to enter the kingdom of God because we belong to it. We are no longer citizens of Earth but of Heaven. We are adopted as sons and daughters of the Father Who is King.

Worldly subjects of our king are ruled by law. The heirs of God's kingdom, to whom it belongs, receive grace and are not subject to law. However, the King holds His own children to a higher standard than law, because we represent Him, His name, and the kingdom.

He is most jealous about the integrity of His Son's bride, whom we are.

More on that next week, in describing how we know the kingdom when we see it.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

20 May 2011

Question of the Week:
What is the Kingdom of God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: turnbacktoGod.com


What is the Kingdom of God, how do I get there, and how do I know it when I see it?
Russell Holloway, blog host


The work 'kingdom' designates a realm under the domain of its sovereign.

This week will outline the Bible's description of the Lord's dominion, which might be divided into five phases.

I'll call the first Creation. To this day, we clearly witness testimony of the divine Designer's original creation, as well as the re-creation He accomplished through the flood of Noah. People living in those first two thousand years also had the testimony of ancients who knew God firsthand. Adam and Enoch literally walked with God, and lived well into the days of Noah's father Lamech. Noah lived to see the days of Abraham, and both of them appear to be contemporaries of Job. These men knew God as Elohim and Shaddai, Creator and Almighty, the One with dominion over all life, to give it or to destroy it.

The kingdom's second phase could be called Commandment. It was a time of YHWH—covenant God of deliverance—establishing dominion over one specific people (the Israelites) through their obedience to His laws. Circumcision, shunning worship of idols to worship an invisible God, and observance of the Sabbath all demonstrated the Israelites as clearly set apart from other nations in willing subjection to YHWH, despite Israel's many failures. During this two millennia, a monarchy existed for approximately 460 years as model of a divine King who protects His people, appropriates and directs use of His dominion's resources, and receives their tribute.

The third phase is Church. For the last two thousand years, God has established His dominion in the human heart through His Holy Spirit. He rules wherever people willingly accept His sovereignty. This period in history establishes God's spiritual Kingdom throughout the earth. (More on this in the next two weeks.)


And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them... And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
~ Revelation 20:4-6 (NKJV)


The seventh millennium is the time when Christ (Messiah, King Jesus) reigns on the earth. The parables and prophecies of Jesus and the Old Testament describe a time when His resurrected saints rule with Him, with our own sphere of dominion awarded according to how we have proven ourselves during the Church phase. It is a peaceful time of restoration, when swords are beaten into plowshares, when carnivores become tame and again eat grass. It ends with in a final contest between Good and Evil, when the devil and death see ultimate defeat.

The Culmination phase is when the existing heavens and earth pass away, and an eternal kingdom is established. It is described in the last two chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21-22.

: : :

Next week: How to enter the Kingdom now.

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

13 May 2011

Question of the Week:
What Purpose Earth?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Artwork: "Stairway to Heaven" by Jonathan Allen Cummings


Once we are saved from Hell and know about the joy waiting in Heaven, why would we want to remain on Earth?
~ follow up to last two posts on how a Christian never dies and what happens to us after death (April 29 and May 6)


To those with relatively trouble-free lives here on Earth, the above question may sound ridiculous—the knowledge that Heaven awaits is no reason to hasten our departure. Young people seem particularly un-impatient for the rapture, hoping to first experience this life's promise.

But those who have seen trouble aplenty are more likely to struggle with a reason to engage in this world's life rather than endure it. The Bible has numerous examples of suffering saints who questioned a reason to live.

The answer comes by asking a more difficult question, of whether we are self-centered or God-centered in defining our purpose. It's not a question of whether or not we love God, but if we love Him enough to live for Him rather than for ourselves—both now and in the next life.


For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
~ Romans 14:7-8 (NKJV)


This world is our proving ground for Heaven. We cannot obtain eternal life by any good works, but only by faith. Our works then prove our faith to be genuine and establish the place we'll have in God's kingdom.

The unbeliever will one day stand before God's judgment seat to be condemned for sinful rejection of God, as proven by their unrighteous works.

The Christian who has already proven their faith by works will face a different judgment seat, at which God evaluates our works.


Each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
~ 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 (NKJV)


Whatever has seemed unfair here on Earth is to be taken into account—each of us will be judged in the measure of what we were given to work with, whether our talents (gifts), time, or treasures of this world.

The irony is that works performed for the sake of reward are inherently selfish and won't count as works of faith. Faith instead cooperates with God's Holy Spirit to do His work through us, especially His work of love for others. Knowledge of a reward isn't our motivation and purpose, but it can serve as a reminder if we grow weary in our motivation to love or in our purpose to glorify God.

How we life for the Lord in this life determines the manner in which we enjoy living for Him later.


"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
~ Jesus (Matthew 6:20-21 NKJV)


: : :

Beginning next week: What is the Kingdom of God, how do I get there, and how do I know it when I see it?

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

06 May 2011

Question of the Week:
Where Do We Go After Death?

by Anne Lang Bundy



Photo credit: Oscar Burriel


How can we have eternal life and die? (I know some believe that when they die they go into the ground until Christ's return.)
~ Anonymous


Last week's post described that the Bible speaks of the body housing the soul as a "tent." When we die, the soul enters spiritual realms while the body remains behind. On a day in the future, the bodies of both righteous and condemned are resurrected and reunited with the soul for judgment. (John 5:28-29)

Innumerable people have reported credible experiences of dying and leaving their bodies, briefly glimpsing the spiritual world, and then being revived. Among the common elements many people describe is visiting a place of inexplicable beauty and profound peace, where they meet angels and / or loved ones who have already died.

A few people report a place not of beauty and loved ones, but of great torment. Jesus likewise describes such a place when He tells of Lazarus and the rich man. (Unlike other stories Jesus told, this account in Luke 16:19-31 is not called a parable, and appears to be an actual event.)

For the condemned soul, the Bible mentions the following places of torment in spiritual realms:

• Hades (Greek name; called Sheol in Hebrew) –
the place of torment before final judgment; the OT sometimes speaks euphemistically of suffering with the word Sheol, in the same way we might describe our circumstances as "going through Hell"

• Gehenna (possibly the same as the "lake of fire" mentioned in Revelation and the Hebrew Abaddon) –
the place of everlasting fire and punishment for the condemned, in their resurrected bodies after the judgment, where "their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-48)

• Tartarus (Greek tartaroō); appears to be the same as "the abyss" (Greek abussos, also called "bottomless pit") –
deepest abyss of Hades; a place for demons

• Great Chasm (Greek megas chasma) –
impassable gulf separating Hades and Paradise mentioned in Luke 16:26

These places are only spoken of as a destination for the condemned. Those souls who trust in the Lord and obtain forgiveness of sins through Christ's blood experience no torment after the body dies.

The dying thief on the cross expressed faith in Jesus, and Jesus assured the man he would be in Paradise the same day. Paul was among those who glimpsed Paradise (perhaps after he was stoned and left for dead). He explained that after Christians die, "we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

The soul given to Jesus does not experience death (John 11:25-26).

The soul given to Jesus knows no separation from God's love:


For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)


Next week: Pursue this world or the next?

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

29 April 2011

Question of the Week:
Who are the 'Dead in Christ'?

by Anne Lang Bundy


"Don't be afraid that your life will end;
be afraid that it will never begin."

~ Unknown




Artist of unnamed work: David Morin


Who is 'the dead in Christ'? How can we have eternal life and die, period? (I know some believe that when they die they go into the ground until Christ's return.)
~ Anonymous


These questions refer to the following Scripture concerning the rapture of Christians, from the post "Left Behind":

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV)


Although Christians whose bodies have died are called "dead in Christ," Jesus said that when we are spiritually "born again" by faith—before the death of our physical bodies—we receive eternal life:

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life ..."
~ John 3:36 (NKJV)


Before spiritual rebirth, the body houses the soul as a "tent." With spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit enters the physical body, which then becomes a "tabernacle" for the Holy Spirit as well.

Although our bodies are still in bondage to physical death (as is all creation), our souls have been set free from death. The death of our bodies is referred to as both death and sleep. Just before the above 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 passage, death is called sleep three times (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15), as in other Scriptures (especially 1 Corinthians 15:35-55).

To be "in Christ" is to receive a new life. Though our souls continue to be housed in a body that is dying, Jesus promises that our souls will not experience death when our body does (John 11:23-27). Peter calmly referred to his death as "putting off his tent."

Even if our attention is on a dying body, the kingdom of God is not something we wait until Heaven to see, but something vibrantly alive within us:


Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
~ Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)


Next week: What happens to the soul after the body dies?

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

23 April 2011

Blueberries & Scrambled Eggs

Scripture teaches us that the prayer for wisdom is always answered. What is more often missing is the faith and courage to follow through with the instruction God gives us. My prayer for you today is that you gain wisdom and courage, and that you grow closer to our Father in heaven, who loves you, in Jesus name ...


15 April 2011

Question of the Week:
Why War from God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: Battles of the Bible
by Chaim Herzog & Mordechai Gichon
Fall River Press ©1978, 1997


"How can Christians say that God is loving if He ordered war ... and even the killing of children?"~ Anonymous

There's no single or simple answer, but at least one basic principle applies.

God sees the end from the beginning. Where evil has taken root, He does not need to allow it to grow to maturity before He knows what kind of fruit will come of it.

War is depicted as the sword of God throughout the Old Testament. The above question is asked most often about wars God directed between the time of Moses and David. At that time, the Lord established specific borders for Israel, and then gave instructions concerning both the nations which infiltrated those borders and the less proximate nations.

Nations which kept their distance and were willing to make peace were permitted to do so (Deuteronomy 20:10-15). But for the seven evil nations within Israel's borders—and for the Amalekites, whose immediate proximity and hostility threatened the Israel—God commanded complete annihilation, including children and animals. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Judges 21:10; 1 Samuel 15:3)

Many people find it difficult to reconcile such a God with the message of John 3:16—with a message of love and forgiveness, grace and salvation. But the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. He doesn't change—nor does evil, sin and Hell.

The proof that sin and Hell are real is visible when we look upon the manner of death God required from His Son Jesus to save us from them—crucifixion.

The proof that evil is intolerable to God is visible when we look upon the manner of war He requires (present tense) to extinguish it—crucifixion.


Now the works of the flesh are evident ... And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
~ from Galatians 5:19-24 (NKJV)


It is noteworthy that God did not commission the Israelites to go out into all the world to destroy evil, but only when evil threatened infiltration. Though there are times when evil comes to our doorstep, when we are compelled to do battle, Christians are likewise not commissioned to root out the pervasive evil in the world. When we go into the world, it is to make disciples. We wage a war of annihilation against evil within our own borders—against its infiltration of our hearts.

Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
~ Jude 1:7 (NKJV)


Jude preaches to Christians that the same evil immorality which existed in the ancient world and brought about their destruction would continue to threaten us. We are to be as ruthless with ourselves as we root out the sin within our own borders as ancient Israelites were commanded to root out the pagan nations within their borders.

"Most of God's people are content to be saved from the hell without; they are not so anxious to be saved from the hell within."
~Robert M. McCheyne


: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

08 April 2011

Question of the Week:
How Long Does Temptation Knock?


Photo credit: Preston Bezant


How long were Adam and Eve in the garden before she took that fatal bite? Was the serpent whispering in her ear a long time?
~ Lori


Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day of creation, and God rested on the seventh day, so the earliest day for the "fatal bite" is day eight. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, after the death of Abel, whom we can infer lived to adulthood. So the latest date is about 100 years after creation.

The key question here, which applies to all of us, is how long might temptation knock?


Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~ James 4:7 (NKJV)


Scripture records the temptation of Jesus by the devil. (Luke 4:1-13) After 40 days of temptation (which isn't described), the devil presented three specific temptations. When Jesus responded with absolute rejection to a temptation (using Scripture), that temptation ceased.

Consider that an invitation to sin isn't a true temptation unless it appeals to something already desired (whether the desire is a good or bad one). Temptation offers to fulfill desire in a manner contrary to God's will. Here are three different scenarios of what might be expected.

• Temptation's invitation to fulfill desire in a sinful way is given no consideration and categorically rejected. The door is immediately slammed on this temptation. It has no reason to linger.

• Temptation receives some amount of consideration before it hears "no thanks" and has a door shut on it. Temptation has found its mark and is likely to knock again. One shouldn't expect temptation to stay away before it is rejected on sight without consideration.

• Temptation gets a "yes," either immediately or after repeat visits. Once the door is flung open to temptation's invitation, sin establishes its foothold. The door can't be shut on temptation before sin is driven out. If repeated sin establishes a stronghold in a person's life (sin moves in with all its baggage), it may take a long time to want to drive out sin. Even if sin is kicked out, temptation remembers where its sin was sampled and enjoyed. Expect temptation to come knocking as long as its invitations receive consideration before refusal. A person will need to slam the door hard and slam it immediately on temptation for a long time to come before temptation will believe it's not welcome.


So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.
~ Genesis 3:6 (NKJV)


The Bible doesn't say how many days the serpent came knocking and received consideration of its invitation. It's usually depicted as all one incident. Temptation may have come knocking over a long period of time, or been welcomed on the first visit.

But this much is certain: one can never open the door to sin and assume to understand all the consequences to follow.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

04 April 2011

Friends With Benefits




"If love is the treasure, laughter is the key." -Yakov Smirnoff


By Russell Holloway

This weekend I was sitting on the beach with my family, enjoying the Florida sunshine and waves, and it crossed my mind that if I ever write a book about marriage I'll title it: Friends With Benefits: Five Steps To A Happy Marriage.

As a counselor I come into contact with unhappy couples a lot and I've noticed that what marriage researcher John Gottman says is true. Couples who focus on and foster friendship tend to be happy.

Although important, sex does not hold faltering relationships together. I talk to couples all the time who report great sex (with each other no less) but otherwise cannot stand to be in the same room. Far more important than bedroom delectation is the ability to do life together.

+++

Four hundred years ago, when marriage was more or less a property contract, people were too busy trying to stay alive to be burdened with emotions like romantic love. Romantic love existed for sure, Shakespeare assures us of that, but in a purer form. Love was first something one did. It was defined by behavior. Now, if couples don’t feel like giddy teenagers into the third year of marriage they often start a slow downward spiral and divorce somewhere down the road. Sad and unnecessary.

If we cannot rely on duty, the antidote for the modern couple is friendship. It works, it is fun, and best of all it usually includes sex. Cool. Thus the title of the book, Friends With Benefits.

+++

At the end of our day on the beach we packed up our towels and sunscreen, and walked back to the truck, side by side. Friendship, and love, and commitment have gotten our marriage through some difficult times. I’m lucky. My wife truly is my best friend. And there is more than one benefit to that.


Father, thank You for life. Thank You for the gift of friendship, that we can be friends with the one we love intimately. Father we ask for Your blessing and that You bless the marriages of those who read this. In Jesus name we cry out to You.

01 April 2011

Question of the Week:
What Motivates God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"The Kiss"
V-J Day, August 14, 1945, Times Square
photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt, Life Magazine

"We measure the worth of a treasure
by what we will gladly give up in order to have it."
~ John Piper


"Why did God create things the way He did, knowing what we'd turn into?"
~ Wendy Paine Miller


This could also be asked as, "Why did God put both Himself and us through all this grief?" Behind the above question, might we even infer The Question:

"Why does a good God allow suffering?"

An answer to that was offered in the post "Why Suffering?" So let's take another angle and answer, "Can we understand what motivates God?"

The Bible says over and over that God desires to be given glory (magnified, or made bigger, in worship, praise, thanksgiving, and testimony). He seeks to bring honor to His name, and therefore acts "for His name's sake." Even His expression of love for us goes toward the purpose of making known His holiness, goodness, grace, mercy, justice, majesty, and power.

Couldn't all that happen without sin and suffering and major mess-ups?

It could happen—nothing is impossible with God. But how good would it be?


But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
~ Romans 5:20 (NKJV)


Any story teller (or fiction writer) knows that the greater the conflict, the greater the satisfaction in resolved conflict. The greater the suffering and obstacles overcome through God, the greater the grace He shows, and the greater the glory He receives.

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJV)


Does it seem selfish of God to let us suffer so that He gets the glory? That's only half the picture. He bears far greater suffering for our sin than we do, yet He shares the glory with us.

It's called love.


What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory ...?
~ Romans 9:22-23 (NKJV, emphasis mine)


God doesn't simply want us to know His love and enjoy Heaven after a quiet rest on Earth. The Author of our salvation wants us to experience abundant, exceeding, higher-than-our-highest-imagination love and joy and peace—and created a conflict to create the ultimate triumph.

The resulting celebration is like the difference between the everyday kiss exchanged between a long married couple as they slide into the breakfast nook with coffee after a quiet night's sleep, and the triumphant reunion kiss of V-J Day when a sailor returns home after he's spent years away from home cheating death.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

25 March 2011

Question of the Week:
Curiosity

by Anne Lang Bundy


I'm calling in sick this week, and guess what would make me feel great?

Send more questions! My pile is getting low, and hearing about your curiosity in Christianity and the Bible is sure to provide a pick-me-up.

I plan to be back next week.

~ Anne

18 March 2011

Question of the Week:
What is Biblical Reconciliation?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Reconciliation"
Sculpted by Josefina de Vasconcellos
(image source: trinityfellowship.net)

What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, (in the sense of being available for further abuse)?
~ Anonymous


Last week's post provided some contrasts from the Bible about forgiveness, separation and accountability. This week offers some examples of how enmity, forgiveness and reconciliation might play out.

Three important notes in preface:

• if a Christian experiences enmity, relationship with Christ will bring the desire to eliminate it;

• the below examples of forgiveness and reconciliation are biblical ideals toward which God's Holy Spirit enables us to work, whether or not we reach them;

• the person who has been wronged should not only be ready to forgive and reconcile, but also ask God if there is anything for which he or she should repent and ask forgiveness.



"Love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the [heathen] do the same?"
~ Jesus (Matthew 5:44-46)


EXAMPLES OF ENMITY:

You hurt me and I hope you suffer for it.

I want to hurt you back, whether I do it openly or secretly, with or without restraint.

I want you out of my life. Your death wouldn't bother me. Killing you myself isn't out of the question.


EXAMPLES OF FORGIVENESS:

If I hate you, it will hurt me more than it will hurt you, so I release my enmity. God's forgiveness and love enable me to forgive and love you, and I choose to do so.

I am willing to hold you accountable for your wrongdoing with the hope that your repentance will enable full reconciliation between you and God, between you and me.

I ask God to do good things for you. I seek opportunity to be an agent of His blessing. I wait for God to heal the injury you have done to me. I hope God will move you to become an agent of that healing by your right response to Him, expressed to me.


EXAMPLES OF RECONCILIATION:

Whether you and I associate peaceably or have no contact, your lack of repentance has prevented reconciliation between us. But my forgiveness prevents enmity toward you—even if circumstances prevent me from escaping further injury. Though I desire reconciliation with you, I instead reconcile myself to knowing I have done as much as I can. I am at peace.

Or:
You have repented—you have acknowledged your wrong against me, you have expressed remorse and apology, and you may have reconciled yourself to God through Jesus. Forgiveness and repentance enables you and I to experience reconciliation. But until your cooperation with God enables you to overcome the behavior which led you to hurt me, we cannot share the level of relationship I still hope for, which I pray God brings to pass. I am at peace.

Or:
Your thorough repentance and my thorough forgiveness have enabled our reconciliation to God and to each other. We are brother(s) and sister(s) through Jesus Christ and are free to enjoy that relationship in love. I am at peace.



Now all things are of God,
who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation ...
and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NKJV)
Photo credit: Ed Gardener, Flickr.com

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

11 March 2011

Question of the Week:
Forgiveness or Reconciliation?


by Anne Lang Bundy

What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation (in the context of being vulnerable to further abuse)?
~ Anonymous


Once again, a question is posed which defies adequate explanation on a lone page. This week, five contrasts from the Bible will be presented. Next week will look at how biblical truth plays out in relationships.

Accountability & Forgiveness:


"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more ... if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen ..." (Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV)

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV)


Holding someone accountable for doing wrong to you, with a goal of reconciliation, is separate from the unrelenting forgiveness of heart that Jesus teaches.

Non-resistance & Escape:


"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 5:39 NKJV)

And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" ... Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him. (Acts 22:25,29 NKJV; other examples of escape are Acts 5:17-20; 9:23-25;12:7-10)


Jesus both taught and set the example of accepting abuse without retaliation. But we should avoid injury when possible.

Marriage, Separation, Divorce:


A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife... If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And [likewise] a woman ... if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:10-15 NKJV)

God hates divorce. If separation is necessary, Christians are instructed to remain unmarried and work for reconciliation. Only if the non-believing spouse divorces is the believer released from the marriage. (An exception is divorce for sexual immorality—see "Can Marital Sex be Sinful?")

Willing Suffering:


But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:20-21 NKJV)

There really are some circumstances when suffering is preferable to quitting a situation or quitting a person. God's will and guidance are necessary for discernment.

Peace With Others & Peace Within:


Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:17-18 NKJV)

Reconciliation doesn't always happen after we offer forgiveness. As much as depends on us, we must offer peace—and then be at peace.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source: "Reconciliation in Sri Lanka"

06 March 2011

Nice is Overrated

By Russell Holloway


Last week my oldest son told me while we were standing around in the kitchen, “You are a pretty good dad, but I wish you were a little nicer.”

This made me laugh. Lucas is a talented and tough negotiator. There is little doubt in my mind that he could represent the International Brotherhood of Teamsters some day. And, I am sure he was being honest when he said that I am not always nice.

I admit that I have a temper that gets away from me now and then, but his comment had more to do with recent disappointment in not getting what he wanted than it did with me not being nice.

You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

In any case, being nice is not my job as a parent. Friendship destroys the parent/child relationship. Friends are equals. When a parent and child start behaving as equals chaos and misery, for everyone, soon follow.

My job as a parent is to love my children. Love is teaching my children. Love is being patient with my children. Love is listening to my children and showing them affection.

Love is often saying no to my children and disciplining them, sometimes at the risk of making them angry with me or causing great disappointment in their lives. When this happens in our home I sometimes think my heart will stop, literally, but what my children learn is more important than what they temporarily think about me.

God has blessed me with two amazing boys. In the kitchen Lucas wrapped his arms around me, shut his eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” I know he does. And, I love him and his brother more than life.

... Father, thank You for Your son. Thank You for the gift of children. Let us never take them for granted. Father, we cannot raise them without Your love and help. Give us the courage to be good parents. In Jesus name ...

04 March 2011

Question of the Week:
Worldly Fear or Godly Fear?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: science.howstuffworks


What is the difference between worldly fear and godly fear?
~ Russell Holloway, Blog Host
from the post Love is greater than fear


The short answer might be that worldly fear is motivated by self-protective pride and lust (a wide variety of self-indulgences), while godly fear is motivated by godly love. The Bible says that even Jesus experienced godly fear:

... in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
~ Hebrews 5:7-8 (NKJV)


If my love for another is self-centered, I recognize their potential to hurt me and am likely to limit myself to "safe" expressions of love which cater to the other person and still protect myself.

When my love is other-centered, I see the potential of my weaknesses to do injury to the one I love and have genuine fear of doing so. I am willing, if necessary, to both experience and cause pain if I am assured that doing so gives my loved one what is truly needed. The other-centered love—agape love—which accompanies godly fear values the relationship built up by reciprocal love and seeks to receive it. But agape love is stronger than my desire to experience temporal comfort or pleasure.

Godly fear only begins with the self-protective recognition that my heavenly Father's necessary discipline involves the training and correction which can be painful, and therefore attempts behavior to avoid discipline. (What athlete expects to excel without disciplined training that involves pain and correction?)

Godly fear holds a love for God that understands the injury to Him my sin has caused. Godly fear calls to mind the sufferings of Jesus on my behalf and has a heart which desires to cause Him no more pain.


For all that is in the world—
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life
—is not of the Father but is of the world.
~ 1 John 2:16 (NKJV)


The worldly fear which does not come from God also involves love—disproportionate love for self above love for God and others. Pride wishes self to be built up rather than use the power of God to edify others and exalt God. Lust for personal and temporal gratification does not possess the sound mind which sees the broader perspective of what provides lasting and unified peace among self, God, and others.

You may recall the verse about God offering not worldly fear, but rather power, love and a sound mind. The next verse explains what's also included:


For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

28 February 2011

Love is greater than fear

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

- 1 John 2:17

A colleague told me over a cup of coffee that all human behavior is motivated by either fear or love. Maybe. I agree that behavior tends to be purposeful, even negative behavior. But, I need more time to decide if I completely agree with my friend. There might be other factors in play.

This weekend I was in Washington, D.C. to spend time with men from my old Army unit. We were in D.C. to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the 73 Easting. We gathered in the morning at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath in honor of a friend who did not make it back from Iraq. His mother and father were with us. They quietly set the wreath on the tomb, which added solemn weight to the ceremony.

It was exciting and emotional to see people I never thought I would see again. We were slapping each other’s backs, hugging, and trying not to talk too loud before the ceremony began.

As the day unfolded I reacquainted myself with old comrades. Some with lives motivated by fear in the guise of ambition. Some with lives motivated by love, evidenced by their desire to attend to the needs of others. All of us motivated by the wish to be reconnected with our past, which is fueled, I think, by the mixture of both fear and love.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

- Joshua 24:15

Even if love is winning, fear still has a small foothold on my life. Scripture teaches us that we cannot faithfully serve two masters, so I constantly redirect myself toward love. In the words of Thomas Cahill, we have a choice: we can be burned up by the fire of fear, or be refined by the fire of God’s love. I choose love.


... Father, thank You for being a God of love, thank You for being the very definition of love. Father guide us away from our worldly fears, strengthen us and give us courage to grow closer to you. In Jesus name. ...

25 February 2011

Question of the Week:
Elaborate on the Whys

by Anne Lang Bundy


Elaborate on the why's? Why did Jacob place striped and not striped branches in the trough? Why did Moses hold the staff above his head during war? (I love that the Lord asks us to act with faith in His miracle.)
~ Tana Adams

The question partially answers itself. The Lord provides His people with unexpected directions, asking us to act in faith for His purposes, whether or not He immediately reveals the "why."

But with the Lord—in both Bible stories and our personal story—there is certain to also be a bigger picture.


And with many such parables [Jesus] spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.
~ Mark 4:33-34 (NKJV)


Children aren't the only ones who benefit from object lessons. The Bible is filled with stories and parables that teach something much bigger than an apparent moral of the story. Biblical commentators (including yours truly) usually offer differing insights on the various levels of applications for any given story.

The biblical answers provided in this blog's articles are based on a comprehensive familiarity with Scripture, supplemented by a wide variety of biblical reference materials, and by extra-biblical sources as needed.

The above question's example is a story of Jacob breeding his sheep to his own benefit, and includes curious details about the diet of ewes when they conceived (Genesis 30:28-43). For this question, I prayerfully reviewed the passage describing Jacob's actions. No immediate answer became apparent. I went on to search my library, and then the internet about sheep breeding, without obtaining relevant details. But I later found an answer in another portion of Scripture—where I should have known to look in the first place:


"And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted."
~ Genesis 31:10 (NKJV)


It appears that God simply gave directions to 91-year-old Jacob, a lifelong caretaker of sheep, that wasn't even evident to the sheep owner Laban. Because God chose to reveal an otherwise inexplicable course of action to one of His people, and that man responded in faith (as noted in the original question), God rewarded him.

There are certainly additional why's to be answered about this and thousands of other object lessons in the Bible. Especially in the Old Testament, the physical and natural world is used to explain spiritual realities to us.


... there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things ...
~ Hebrews 8:4-5 (NKJV)


When studying the Bible, we can be quickly satisfied with an answer about the immediate lesson. But God has ever deepening spiritual applications for us. If we are disciples of Jesus and spend time seeking and heeding His directives—accepting that we won't understand everything at once—then He will give us needed understanding in the hour we are able to hear.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source:
chakpak.com

18 February 2011

Question of the Week:
Balance in Marital Submission

by Anne Lang Bundy


"I can't promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind."
~ Lt. Col. Hal Moore,
from the movie We Were Soldiers
(© 2002 Paramount Pictures)


A biblical look at "Submission to Authority" was planned as one post but is being stretched into three:

February 4: Submit to Bad Government?
February 11: Obedience or Submission?
February 18: Balance in Marital Submission?

: : :

Last week's post ended with these words:

The principle of love acts not according to mere duty, but according to what is in the best interest of both [neighbor] and myself, in light of eternity and God's truth... Where marriage is concerned, the Bible teaches that balance comes not only in understanding the distinction between obedience and submission, but in understanding how both husband and wife submit to each other.

Jesus epitomizes a principle which God stressed most emphatically throughout the entire Bible: the greater the power a person has, the greater the responsibility to use it for good to serve others.

No human has greater power or has served others as sacrificially as Jesus Christ. He is the standard for servant leadership.

The headship of a husband above his wife is not about exercising power and authority, but about leadership and order among equals. The principle is perhaps seen most clearly in the military, where good leadership values and relies upon lower ranking officers, while exercising decisive leadership for the best of all. Good leadership would not think of asking from a subordinate what one would not be willing to do, as seen in the example pictured above.

I have observed two extremes purported to be marital submission.

One extreme says the husband speaks for God, and is therefore heeded without question, perhaps without a wife even thinking to offer input. This approach 1) makes an idol of the husband; 2) denies a husband the value of his wife as a helpmeet; 3) makes a woman a subservient pet at best, a doormat at worst.

The other extreme embraces the "forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission" mantra, with a wife doing her own will unless expressly forbidden by a husband. Such an approach 1) disregards the high price of forgiveness; 2) is blind to the high cost of lost trust in a relationship; 3) undermines the true spirit of submission.


Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is...
submitting to one another in the fear of God.
~ Ephesians 5:17,21 (NKJV)


In a balanced, biblical approach to submission, husband and wife both submit personal will to God first, and each other second. The husband exercises responsible, sacrificial servant leadership, taking the lead in laying down personal desires, and seeking a wife's unique perspective to make informed decisions. The wife follows her husband's lead with a submissive spirit, recognizing that the Lord appoints her husband as a minister for her good, respectfully sharing her relevant knowledge and supporting his final decision unless he chooses a clearly immoral path. Both accept that they're mutually fallible and actively seek God's guidance.


"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
~ Lord Acton

The above principles of servant leadership, trust, and fallibility also apply to government authority. Esteem the exceptional official who, regardless of political affiliation, behaves as a public servant rather than as a totalitarian prig feeding at the trough of public monies.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

11 February 2011

Question of the Week:
Obedience or Submission?

by Anne Lang Bundy

A biblical look at "Submission to Authority" was planned as one post but is being stretched into three:

February 4: Submit to Bad Government?
February 11: Obedience or Submission?
February 18: Balance in Marital Submission?

: : :


"Duty does not have to be dull.
Love can make it beautiful and fill it with life."
~ Thomas Merton

Photo from "The Notebook"
© 2004 New Line Cinema
image source:
rottentomatoes.com


The question planned for this week was How is submission in marriage different than submission to government? Before answering that, it might be helpful to correct an oversight in last week's answer, and distinguish subtle differences between obedience and submission.

The dictionary says that to obey is "to carry out or comply with command, authority, or instruction." To submit is "to surrender or yield oneself to the will or authority of another."

Obedience is more about action. Submission is more about attitude. It is possible to obey the letter of the law without submitting to the spirit of the law.

While God's grace is abundant in the Old Testament, emphasis is that obedience results in blessing, while disobedience leads to consequences. The New Testament in Jesus teaches that more important than strict compliance with the letter of God's law is the higher standard of submission to the spirit of His law, which is love.

The key New Testament passage about submission to governing authorities is Romans 13. The spirit of submission is described in the same chapter as follows:

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
~ Romans 13:7-10 (NIV)


Last week's post made this statement:
There are three areas of authority mentioned in Scripture—government, church, and family. The same principle generally applies to all three—obey authorities unless they command what God forbids or they forbid what God commands.

The principle of love acts not according to mere duty, but according to what is in the best interest of both authority (neighbor) and myself, in light of eternity and God's truth. It is possible to be both disobedient in action and submissive in spirit.

Where marriage is concerned, the Bible teaches that balance comes not only in understanding the distinction between obedience and submission, but in understanding how both husband and wife submit to each other.

More on that next week.

: : :

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.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.