Saturday, April 28, 2007

Walk the Talk

There once was a time,
When I trusted you,
Took you at your word.

But that was before,
Circumstances and trials revealed,
That this time you didn’t walk the talk.

Respect was once earned,
Your character seemed proven and true,
Then a whirlwind disrupted my faith.

Did I expect too much?
Did I measure this man…
Against an impossible standard?

How do I move beyond doubt?
Once again trust,
One not perfect, but oh so very good?

How do I work my way back?
How do I restore my trust,
In a man that is very human…flawed?

Forgiveness is the order of the day,
My first step,
Walking in the path of Christ’s love.


by Susan Bunts 4/28/07

Thursday, April 26, 2007

4/25/07 At the End of the Day…Supernatural Living

There is something quite powerful when we do good and pray for our enemies. That transformation in our character bears witness to the person of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit working within us.

By prayer…I’m not talking about prayers that God might smite them for their wrongdoing…or bring justice. But instead actually praying for them. There is nothing that will turn your heart around quicker…and strengthen you in difficult situations than praying for your enemies.

Absolutely…first and foremost is praying for their salvation. In doing so…you may take an enemy and end up with a brother or sister in Christ. If they know Christ…but their walk is a little wobbly…and they aren’t exactly displaying the fruits of the spirit…pray that God will draw them close and that their relationship will Christ Jesus will grow deeper and that He will do a tremendous work in their lives.

I’ve experienced first hand the power and work that God does in relationships when we pray for our enemies. Transforming one whom I once despised into a friend. When we care for another by carrying their burdens in prayer to the Lord…we are being transformed. When we are transformed by a work of God in our lives…relationships will be changed.

Who do I dread seeing because I find them difficult, demanding and draining? Who do I avoid seeing or talking to because of an offense that left wounds that are still mending? Do I feel satisfaction…when someone gets their comeuppance?

Whom do I need to pray for today?

I am ever so glad that God didn’t give me the justice I deserved for my wrongdoing. I’m grateful for God’s mercy and grace? How can I extend that to another and whom?

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Time to Grieve


I can scarcely take in and process all of the events from last week’s shooting at Virginia Tech. I was on the phone with Robert and he asked if I had heard about the shootings. I had not since I leave for work early in the morning. While Robert was describing the story I clicked over to Fox News and was greeted with a photo of a young man’s bloodied and broken body being carried across school grounds by police.

Later when I arrived home…I turned on the news and tried to comprehend how one psychopath could murder 32 people in such a cold blooded, vicious manner. I was stunned by the murders and shocked at how the media in such a few short hours was already going down a path of blame. Not blaming the murderer…but the police because they didn’t correctly identify that the first two murders was the work of a psychopath bent on killing many more people within a couple of hours.

Front and center was Geraldo Rivera in his belligerent manner leading the pack of finger pointers. Not taking the time to think through what the police encountered on the first murder scene and what the appropriate actions should have been. Think of it…Virginia Tech has over 25,000 people. For them shut down the campus on what first appeared to the murder of 2 people in a possible domestic situation…that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Would a small town come to a stand still in that situation? No…the murder scene would be secured and police would follow up on leads and try to apprehend the murderer. This is exactly what they did in this instance.

I’m sure for the rest of their lives the police and college officials will think “if only”. They will regret their actions, with the clarity that only hindsight provides.

Something that struck me as particularly odd was when the school announced just hours after the shootings that they would have a ceremony the next day to start the healing process. The bodies weren’t even cold, some remained in the rooms where they died, and parents hadn’t yet been notified on the death of their child. And here people were talking about healing. These students and professors are dead…and we wanted to rush past our grief and heal.

One person was interviewed and made the comment that he wanted to forget about this day and go on with his life. Little did he know…he will never forget that day…till the day he dies it will be forever etched in his mind. I’d be willing to bet there will not be a day that goes by that he doesn’t remember it. You know what…that’s not a bad thing. It’s important to remember good people. Especially when those people’s lives where tragically cut short. Not by a natural disaster, nor an accident, but a purposeful, deliberate, taking of an innocent human life.

The place that had the best news and commentary on these horrible murders was the Hugh Hewitt show. He had the proper mix of focusing on the people who were murdered, examining the murderer and the media’s actions. He didn’t let the nut case, wacko conspiracy people talk. Hugh didn’t avoid talking about the murderer, but sought to bring understanding on what drove the young man to such heinous actions. Hugh struck a perfect pitch.

As ramped up as the media was from the get go…it paled in comparison to the circus that ensued after NBC released photos, videos and audio of the ranting and raving psychopath. His hatred that he used to justify his unconscionable actions was broadcast across TV and radio all over America and the world.

What in the world? Why would you ever, ever grant the last wishes of a murderer? NBC gave this sick soul the fame and voice that he wanted. The same network that fired Don Imus the prior week for his verbal assault on a girl’s college basketball team. But this time they didn’t bat an eye when they chose to assault the American public with hatred from the murderer. I can assure you…NBC will not be part of my TV viewing habits…now or in the future.

Instead of giving a murderer what he desires…how about we don’t give his name out. No video or pictures go over the airwaves. Hugh put forth the idea that instead…NBC should have typed up his statements and released it to the media. Not quite as melodramatic as watching the murderer put forth his manifesto…in person, after the fact. The video seemed strikingly familiar…and bore a resemblance to the videos made by Muslim terrorists left to be viewed after an act of terrorism in which they die.

Not only was the murderer unconscionable…but NBC was as well when they unleashed his verbal and emotional assault on the victims, parents, family, friends and the American public.

Tell me…do you think the next psychopath will be more likely to act after seeing the success of this murderer? Do you think he will want to outdo this act with something ever more horrific and spectacular?

So where exactly should our focus be? It should be on the victims. Those who were murdered and those who survived. We need to be telling tales of heroism in the midst of terror. Contrast the good, decent lives of those who were lost to the pathetic and horrific choices and life of the murderer.

The one story that takes my breath away and brings a tear to my eye is Professor Librescu who without a thought for his own safety blocked the doorway so his students could escape. He was shot five times…and died a hero. This man understood true evil from early on as he escaped the Nazi Holocaust. He didn’t hesitate to stand up in the face of evil even when it cost him his life. As a caller stated on Hugh’s show…contrast Mr. Librescu’s life with that of the murderer. Bless you Mr. Librescu…may your story be told again and again. That’s the kind of stories we need to hear about.

The New York Times…has set up a wonderful memorial to the victims at Virginia Tech. Please take the time to learn a bit about these precious souls whose lives were cut short.

We shouldn’t rush on without allowing time for grieving and even angry. Both can be healthy. Hugh read a post from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader…a comment in response to an article “Best Advice on How to Comfort a Grieving Parent”. I encourage you to read the post and this most eloquent advice from a parent who has suffered the unimaginable loss of a child. I can assure you…you will be richer for the reading. At some point in our lives…we are all in the position of having to offer comfort or receive it on the loss of a loved one.

So what do we do with this murderer? Yes we should study his life and learn what went wrong. Examine to see is there anything that could have changed the course of this young man’s life. It’s odd...but when you look at his high school picture…he looks like a sweet kid. But inside was a seething murderer in the making.

Lastly…I can’t even imagine what his parents must be feeling. How would you ever begin to cope with the knowledge that your child was responsible for the intentional and vicious murder of 32 people.

As such times we may ask why would God allow such evil? Where was God when these people were murdered? Why didn’t He do anything to stop it? The truth is we’ll never know those answers this side of heaven. To get through such times…we need to take our grief, anger, hurt and pain…pain that goes to the depths of our soul…over to God. Give it over to Him, let the Lord carry our burdens…even when we don’t understand why. Secondly…we can pray. Pray, pray, pray for the dear families who lost their child and now bear unimaginable pain. Pray that Jesus will comfort them, sustain them, uphold them and pour out His love upon them.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fading Away

When I brought Daisy home from the Animal Shelter I just thought I was bringing home my newest pet. Little did I know what surprise God had in store.

I thought Daisy was like the malnourished children in Africa with big bellies. Within a couple of weeks…I suspected that Daisy’s tummy was getting bigger…not from food…but from babies growing within. Each night I would hold her in my lap and rub her tummy and feel the babies moving.

Weeks later on Father Day 2001, Daisy gave birth. She had four kittens, Joseph Hoke, Nathan, Moss, and Laura Kitten. Little Joseph Hoke only lived a day or two. But his brothers and sister grew and thrived.

I knew I couldn’t keep all of the kittens…so my mom agreed to take Laura Kitten. I anticipated at some point giving Nathan and Moss away. But before long….I couldn’t part with them. Laura Kitten was at tortishell tabby. But Nathan and Moss were mostly black…with a little white. I held each of the kittens…seconds after they were born and treasured each day watching them grow.

There was always something special about Nathan…Nathaniel. His right hand looks like it has a glove on it…white covered by black. Daisy loved both of the kittens…but she wasn’t the most maternal of mothers. Nathan and Moss nursed long after they should have been weaned. But something changed in Daisy after I had her spade. She couldn’t stand to have those boys near her. She had what I referred to as permanent PMS.

I took the boys in together to have the “snip, snip” operation. Mossy was a fraidy-cat and terrified when we went to the vet’s office. When Nathan and Moss were ready to come home after the big operation…my friend Dawn went to pick them up. Both were so small that they were able to share a carrier. Dawn wanting to make sure they were okay opened the box and peeked in. It scared Moss to death and Moss proceeded to pee all over his brother Nathan.

From the moment they came home…Daisy hated them. Any time one of them would pass by they would be met with growling and a swipe of the claws. Nathan was protective of his brother Moss. If Daisy got too out of hand with Moss…Nate would go and swat her right upside the head.

Nathan is as smart as a whip. He had this simple little toy called the “Cat Dancer” that was his very favorite toy. He would run himself ragged in pursuit of this toy. I would have to hide it on the top shelf of the linen closet. Nathan kept a watchful eye on this toy…and found a way to get it. He would open the bottom closet doors and jump on the top shelf. From there he would lean out and open the top closet doors with this nose. From there he would maneuver his way shelf upon shelf until he reached his toy in triumph.

Nate loved to play. Even something mundane like putting away groceries became an adventure. Nate would love to dive from the dinning room table into an empty shopping that I held below. I would then swing the bag with Nate in tow. We played that game until he got too big for the grocery bags to hold him.

Nathan and Moss have always been indoor kitties. But that didn’t stop them from wanting to be outdoors…even if that meant sitting on the patio. That is…until the balcony incident.

One day as I was relaxing on the patio…Nathan came tearing through the house and onto the patio. He went to leap on the ledge…but overshot it. I think both Nathan and I realized he was going down. It was like one of those slow mo cartoons…Nathan and I were face to face…I tried to reach out and grab Nate…but down he went.

Before he reached the ground…I was out the door and down to the patio area below to rescue Nate. Now keep in mind…Nate had been an indoor kitty and dirt had never touched his body. But here he was…dazed, dirty and hurting from his fall. I picked him up and gave him the biggest hug…and Nate peed all over me. That was one accident that I didn’t mind…nothing that a little bath wouldn’t take care of.

Well here we are almost sixteen years later…and my precious Nathan is fading away. But I’m grateful for each day.

In October on the last day of the GodBlogCon I stopped by PetSmart to do my regular shopping. When I walked in the door…they were having a pet adoption day. For sometime now…I’ve wanted to get an orange kitten. Don’t ask me why…I wanted him to be orange. In the first cage I found a little orange kitten about 9 weeks old. A boy. I asked to hold him. From the first second I held him…he won my heart. The boy purrs up a storm…and quit loudly I might add. I named him Rudy…and we were on our way home to meet Nathan and Moss.

As I brought Rudy home and opened the door to the carrier…Nathan and Moss ran for the hills. They thought Satan incarnate had entered our home. They hid from Rudy for a couple of days….and when they finally realized that Rudy was here to stay…the made peace with him.

Shortly thereafter Nathan got very, very sick. He was in the hospital for over a week. He wouldn’t eat and couldn’t keep anything down. I prayed that Nathan would be well again…but realized that I may have to have him put to sleep. I set a date certain when I would make that tough decision. But miracle of miracles…Nathan made a turn around. The day I was going to have him put to sleep was the day I was able to bring him home.

Nathan came home with thyroid medicine which I have to give him twice a day. It’s bought me more time with my precious friend…and I’m grateful for each day. Yet…I find him fading away…and one day soon will have to have Nate put to sleep. He has not only lost weight…but muscle mass too. My once 15 pound plus pound kitty…is very small these days.

For a while…I wasn’t sure if I should have brought Rudy home. But one night I realized that yes…it was a good decision. Nathan and Rudy were sitting on the end of the bed…and Rudy gave Nathan a bath. Nathan was content and purring. He raised his head so Rudy could lick his neck and chin. Nathan hadn’t had that kind of love since he was a kitten, cared for by his mama.

In the mean time…little Rudy…who is not so little anymore…gives Nathan and Moss a run for the money. Talk about trying your patience. These almost 16 year old cats…are not always amused by the antics of a 7 month old kitten. But all in all…they are doing quite well.

I’m not sure if he’ll make his 16th birthday. But I am most grateful for each day I have with my precious Nathan.

He Is Risen...He Is Risen Indeed



Low in the Grave He Arose


Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,

Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!


Refrain

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!


Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


Refrain

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!


Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;

He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


Refrain

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!



Words and Music by Robert Lowry

Thursday, April 05, 2007

At the End of the Day…Convicted


As I was driving to Bible study tonight…little did I know that God had prepared a message for me. As Dave Dunn was teaching out of the book of Revelation, chapter 2…I found myself very aware that this message was directed to me. I felt that good old conviction of the Holy Spirit…tugging at my heart and saying, “Listen up girl…time to remember and repent.”

1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” – Revelation 2:1-7

If you were to watch my life from afar…you probably wouldn’t think that I had forsaken my love for Jesus. After all I'm in church every Sunday and attend Bible studies each week. With the number of years in Bible study…I’m pretty well grounded in the Bible. I can spot false doctrine and can usually mount a defense or offence when I feel it necessary. My car stereo usually has a sermon coming from the speakers as I work my way though CD albums. If not a sermon…then you’ll likely hear worship music cranked up loudly…as I drive by. If you were to examine my book purchases and DVD’s you would find material that is in keeping with my Christian faith. Sermons, music, books and movies meant to build me up in the faith. Keep me rooted and ground in the word of God. And indeed it does.

However…as Dave taught tonight…I found I have forsaken my love for my Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of all my pursuits. Without Jesus…it’s all for naught…whether it looks good or not.

The church of Ephesus had a solid background…with great leaders and solid teaching. With the likes of Paul, John, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquilla, Apollos, Onesiphorus and Tychius…how could they go wrong? I guess they struggled with the same things that I do today. They left their first love and exchanged it for a theology that became mechanical. Church was routine…and they stopped walking in love. They lost sight of the person of Jesus Christ. They opted to be purpose driven, not Person driven. Jesus became secondary to them. And I’m afraid to admit…He has to me too.

But thankfully my Savior is the Good Shepherd…and He walks among His flocks…tending them and protecting them. He is holding out His staff and stopping this little lamb from straying in thicket where untold danger lurks. He calls me and tells me that I need to remember. Remember where I came from and that I’m only here because He chose me. Not out of my worth or good works. I must call out to my Savior and confess that I have forsaken my first love. I must repent…and indeed I do.

Coming from a household where the words of “I love you” were not uttered and hugs and kisses were few and far between…if not non existent…I struggle with that thing called love. At times…I wonder if I truly know what it means. That struggle…impacts my ability to know or feel the love of God. Recently I posted some scripture verses talking about the love of God for each us. I think I need to read that daily.

Jesus knows my frame…He knows I am but dust and weak. I cry out to Him and ask Him to “Take me back, take me back to where I first believed.”…as the Andrae Crouch song says.

The Bible tells us that nothing is impossible with God. So that gap that seems impossible for me to bridge is not only possible for God…but it is certain. For He is faithful.

So it is my prayer…that God will do whatever He has to do…to help me know the heights and depths of His love for me…and that I might love Him in return. That I might walk in love toward others.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bless those that curse you?

It’s a darn good thing that I’m involved with Bible study…in more ways than one. One grand benefit that studying scripture affords me is the opportunity to measure my life, my words, my thoughts and deeds according to God’s word.

There are days…I’m feeling right fine about myself....but when I read the Word of God…well let’s just say the Holy Spirit is working overtime…doing some conviction. Not condemnation mind you…no that’s the work of Satan. But conviction…that’s something else.

It’s kind of like that internal pressure that nudges me to repentance and obedience.

This year I’m studying the book of Romans in BSF. I just love it…it’s my second time around and Romans is my very favorite book of the Bible. This last week we studied chapter 12:9-21. This passage talks a lot about love, walking in love and not seeking retribution on your enemies.

Not that I have an abundance of enemies…but I think it’s rather hard to get through this life without ruffling a few feather along the way. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.

I found this passage to be a most helpful reminder on how I am to act toward people whom I may not like. As a Christian…I’m called upon to die to self. That means laying down my grudge or rights and acting how God calls me to act towards them.

How should I act toward my enemies? God calls me to do good unto my enemies. Not only do good…but bless them too. He affirms that in His perfect timing, if He deems it necessary, He will avenge wrongs.

The question is…am I going to trust God and take Him at His word? What will be a sign that I’m trusting God? It will be my obedience to His commands.

So how might I bless my enemies? One of the first things that comes to mind is to pray for them. For their salvation and for God help them, guide them and direct them when they are having difficulties. Praying for someone’s salvation…even for your enemy is easy in comparison to blessing them. Sometimes that might mean acting in a kind way as you would towards a friend. It might be praying that God would bless them…and help them to get that promotion or find a husband or take a much needed restful vacation.

Trusting God…is what makes the difference. Having that eternal perspective instead of getting caught up with what’s happening down here on earth.

Perhaps as I do good to my enemies…God will work in each of our lives and make a friend out of an enemy. Friends are much easier to forgive…and I’m happy when God blesses my friends…and I don’t anxiously await their judgment.

Recently…God showed me the fruits of restraint. A while back…after walking though the door…an individual walked several feet away from me and proceeded to make a nasty remark about me. Not discretely or in whispered tones to a friend…but instead quite loudly to an audience. While flummoxed, hurt and angry inside…I chose to ignore it and move on. As I continued to interact with this person…I made sure that I treated them considerately. Little did I know how right that choice was. After the passing a beloved relative…God opened the door for me to interact with them. I was able to be genuinely caring and offer a kind word. Now if I had reacted like I had wanted to when originally offended…I would have destroyed any chance for peaceful interaction in the future.

Is that how I always act in dicey situations? No…but seeing the fruits a right choice…makes it easier to choose wisely in the future. Continually reading and studying the Bible…will help arm the Holy Spirit as He gently corrects me…and help grow me up.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rocky Balboa…30 Years Later


I remember when the movie “Rocky” debuted in 1976. I remember the night…I remember the theater and I remember the excitement. The movie captured not only the attention and imagination of the nation…but my heart too. I loved the movie from the get go. It touched me, encouraged me and gave me hope. It’s a feel good, comfort movie. One that I can watch anytime…especially when I’m feeling down and come away feeling uplifted and inspired.

While I couldn’t resist purchasing the DVD…it was with trepidation that I watched the new movie “Rocky Balboa”. After all I didn’t want to be disappointed with something that I had grown to love.

I found that Rocky has aged well. He still had the heart…and the spirit. The spirit to try and give it all he’s got. Life had kick him around, hit him hard and left a few bruises. But he didn’t let that keep him down or stop him from trying.

In the intervening years since the original “Rocky” life has been difficult at times and it’s certainly not turned out like I had hoped or dreamed. So I can related to Rocky 30 years later. I come away once again touched and encourage to get up and go out and face my own battles another day and the next, and the next, and the next.

As the credits rolled they showed scenes of everyday ordinary people…running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I swear I found myself dreaming about running up those famous steps and feeling my own moment of victory. If ever I get it Philadelphia I know where I’ll be stopping.

I can tell the measure of a movie…when I walk away and say I want to see that one again. Indeed…I’ll be watching “Rocky Balboa” again.

Picture a Day - Roses in Springtime

Shortly before we moved from California in 2014, my husband Chris took me to the Huntington Library.  I had never been there, but he had...