Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where is Thy Sweet Savor?

Oh Christian…where is thy sweet savor,
Of a life…holy, consecrated, acceptable unto Me?

I have called you from darkness to light,
To live a life, holy devoted unto Me.

Set apart for good works,
That I ordained for you before the foundations of the world.

You have been called to be My ambassador,
Yet I see you entwined in the cares of this world.

Sin entangles you,
Rendering you no longer effective to a world lost in sin.

The sinner examines your life and concludes,
No different than I, so I must be a Christian too.

Thy words, thy deeds,
Do they reflect Me?

Satan will clamor and shout with glee,
He’ll utter hypocrite, liar and sinner too!

Do you hunger for the meat of My word,
Is it hidden within your heart?

Will you choose to be conformed by this world,
Or receive My promise…be ye transformed and renewed in Me?

Does your heart break…even ache,
For that which breaks My heart?

Will you run the race,
Strive towards the upward calling?

Finish strong…
I beckon you "Come…live a life of no regrets!"

By Susan Bunts
July 27, 2007

This poem is dedicated to my precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who called me from darkness to light and death unto life; and to my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…who uncompromisingly taught us the Word of God so that our hearts and minds would be transformed and renewed in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dear Dissension

Dear Dissension,

It is with great eagerness that I commend you,
For your effective division,
Of the body of Christ.

As you know,
It is my deepest desire to see,
Those once on fire for Christ no longer a threat to my kingdom of darkness.

Good work…job well done
Your methods ever so clever,
Stealth…undetected…quite easily they follow your lead.

An effective mix,
Of genuine issues blended with personal opinion,
Lead them down the primrose path and soon we’ll see a critical spirit in full bloom.

Tread lightly,
Careful you must be…so as not to alert them,
Of our true mission to bring dishonor to their King.

May they not see their transgression,
Nor be repentant…and seek forgiveness of their sin,
Press onward…what’s a little gossip and slander…when carefully hidden as constructive criticism.

Dissension…be sure to blind them,
Veil their eyes, so they may not see,
May they not grow stronger by the reading God’s Word.

May they forget about prayer,
Or battling this war upon on their knees,
Calling upon their God will only bring our much hated foe…to battle by their side.

Throw out the bait,
Hook them with dissatisfaction,
Reel them in with discontent.

Divide them, conquer them,
Big or small, young or old…it matters not,
Use music, or style or even their precious translations to divide.

May they not be like their God,
Who looks upon the heart,
Instead may they only dwell upon that which their flesh can see and hear.

Divide them,
Scatter them,
Send them to the four winds.

My deepest desire,
To see that beacon…that bright and shining light upon the hill,
Extinguished…so I can take countless more souls to hell!

Insincerely yours…the enemy of their souls!

By Susan Bunts - July 17, 2007

A Valuable Lesson

One might ask…what good can come out of being around negative, critical and condemning people? In fact there have been times I asked myself that question. But after being in that position for a time or even a season of my life…I’ve walked away saying “Thank You Lord for that valuable lesson”.

There is nothing like being around people who are continually negative to make you see the positive. Nothing like hearing constant complaining to make you want to praise God and offer thanksgiving. Nothing like regularly having a negative picture painted…to instead make you see the bright side of things.

It’s the lazy man or woman who is continually negative. That takes no effort whatsoever. It’s just going with the flow. If you are not moving and swimming against the current of circumstances and negativity…then you might as well be dead in the water…because the consequences will be the same…or worse.

It’s bad enough when I experience negativity with unbelievers. But it pales in comparison to when I encounter a negative, critical, condemning spirit in a Christian…it is particularly unlovely. Mix it together with a little gossip…and that Christian is now an instrument in the hands of Satan. An instrument who will bring dishonor to Christ Jesus. Not only does the world see them as someone whose life is no different than their own…but now they can accurately toss out the word hypocrite. Guess what…they are right!

It causes division in the body of Christ. As a Christian…it’s being downright lazy. It’s easy and takes zero effort for me to have a negative, critical, condemning spirit. That spirit is usually exercised when I’m looking at others and not myself. When I spend time looking at others and criticizing them…I don’t have to look at myself. If instead I actually take the time to look at myself and examine myself in light of the Word of God…I might start seeing that there are things that I need to jettison…or bring under control in obedience to the mighty hand of Christ. The question is…will I do so?

To do so can be painful. It means that there will be some days ahead filled with repentance. It means I may have to examine some painful memories, hurts, disappointments. I’ll have to ask myself…why am I like that? Why am I always critical…negative…condemning? Or why do I think its okay to gossip about so and so…and stand in judgment of them?

It’s a whole lot easier to be negative, critical and condemning than it is to examine myself and see some ugly stuff buried deep. But when I see the damaging effects on the body of Christ, of the bad reputation it brings to Christians and of the chilling effect it brings to an unbelieving world that has already rejected Christ…do I have any choice other than to fall on my knees before Christ Jesus? Confess my grievous sins, repent, grieve over the damage I’ve done, receive forgiveness and most importantly…go and sin no more.

Lord help us please…help me please! When I’m walking in that critical, negative, condemning, gossipy spirit…I’m blinded to the truth in the Word of God. If I’m doing that…how can I say I’m walking in love. Can I accurately state that walking in such a manner comports with the wisdom and godly counsel of the word of God…such as the book of James? Is my tongue bridled? Isn’t my mouth…just a reflection of my heart? If I’m negative and critical all the time…bottom line…isn’t that being critical of God too?

Isn’t a negative, critical, condemning spirit…essentially walking in pride and arrogance? In Proverb 16…God clearly tells me that there are six things that He hates:

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

It’s not a mystery what’s detestable to God…He reveals it quite clearly . He also reveals His will on how we should act. The question is…will I choose to listen and obey?

God further warns me in is His word…that gossip separates friends. If gossip does that to friends…what praytell does it do to the body of Christ?

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,
and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28

God provides a better way and a better answer. He tells us that we are to Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”– 1 Peter 5:6

What might that humbling look like? After confession and repentance…how about bringing that person before the throne of God in prayer…instead of gossiping or sharing a negative report…praying for them? But that requires choosing to yield myself to God. It requires choosing restraint, thought and making an effort…instead of going with the flow of pride and arrogance and choosing to undercut and undermine someone…someone for whom Christ died.

Recently visiting Pastor Kent Kraning invited us to instead of asking the question “What would Jesus do?”…to ask “What did Jesus do?”

When I put my thinking cap on…or better yet…open my Bible…I don’t see stories about Jesus going around being critical and negative…or always complaining. Does that mean he never got angry? Does that mean he was a Harvey Milktoast when it came to confronting people? Not by a long shot. Jesus was very direct with people…and usually reserved His sharpest criticism for the religious folks. Calling them white washed tombstones and overturning the money changers table in the temple.

Can you imagine Jesus gossiping about people? “Hey John…did you see what Peter did? Talk about opening mouth inserting foot. Wait till you hear what he did!”

No…instead our Lord’s confrontation was very direct, deliberate and personal. It was directed to those who needed it. But it was done one on one…not behind their back. And Jesus stood up for the defenseless…for those whom the religious looked down upon. When the Pharisees criticized the woman who worshiped Jesus by pouring the jar of expensive perfumed nard over His feet…Jesus declared her sins were forgiven…and that her actions would be talked about wherever the Word of God was preached. Praise God!

When I think about those Christians whom I find lovely in spirit…not one of them has a negative, critical, condemning spirit. Instead they walk in love…and are open and embrace people around them. With a hug or in lifting someone in prayer before our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

Who you’ll likely see reaching out to the negative and critical people is one of those who are lovely in spirit. Those who radiate the Spirit of Christ within them. Because they know who needs love more than the unlovely? Who more than they needs prayers? Who more than they need friends? The lovely in spirit try to walk as Christ did…Christ who said a friend sticks closer than a brother.

So when I see that negative person…that critical person…the one who is ready to offer a word of condemnation…ought I not to reach out to them in friendship? Keep them prayer…knowing full well of the power of God’s word to transform lives. Even lives that seem stuck in the muck and mire of the ugliness of life.

Negative, critical, condemning and gossip...those traits just don’t sound like the fruit of the spirit that the Bible mentions. Instead those sound more like the fruit of my sinful, fallen, fleshly, rebellious spirit. The sins that Christ died for on the cross. Because He bore my sins…I don’t have to bear them any longer. So why would I choose to walk in that manner any longer. If I’m a Christian…I’ve been freed. Freed to walk in the Spirit of Christ. Free to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit…from He Who transforms my life from within.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Thank You Jesus that I am no longer bound by those sins which once entangled me. Thank You Jesus…that I am freed…that my sins were nailed to the cross. Whether I am young or old…I am a new creation in Christ. Because You died and rose again…I’m free to leave those sins at the foot of the cross. I am freed to put off the old…and put on the new man in Christ. Amen…so be it!

“You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:20-32

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hand It Over

Hand it over…Preacher boy,
Step away from the Gospel.

That’s good…now make them believe,
It’s their character,
Their righteousness that saves them,
Not the righteousness of Christ.

Never let them know the truth,
That there is no one righteous, no not one,
That their salvation was bought and paid for,
Through the blood of Jesus when He died on the cross.

Make them believe,
The wisdom of men,
Which speaks of works righteousness,
Not the holy, perfect, acceptable sacrifice of Christ Jesus alone.

Let them hear stories,
Instead be inspired by heroes and stories of men,
Hush…they needn’t know the truth,
That the Word of God alone can heal their broken lives.

Perhaps there is one not yet saved,
Who does not yet know the power of the Holy Spirit,
Of One who convicts men of sin,
Or the One who can transform their lives…by His power within.

Let them rest comfortably,
Seeking integrity in the eyes of men,
Share not the Gospel message, no nary a word,
Lest they be saved…a new creation in Christ

Good work,
Job well done…
Christ was not mentioned,
Not a whisper of promised assurance…forgiveness of their sin.

Preacher man…do not loose heart,
Nor feel you’ve betrayed,
The Gospel of Christ,
To a world not yet saved.

Insincerely yours,
The enemy!

By Susan Bunts
July 1, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Crossing That Line

When does valid concern and criticism about an important issue become a critical spirit? At what point does it cross a line? Even when the matter being addressed is something of importance and close to the heart of God?

I’m not sure I know the exact answer to that question. But I do know that God had reined me in this week in the area pertaining to my church.

God in His world counsels us that we are united in the body of Christ not divided.

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

“God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Our church, Kindred Community Church, has been going through a time of transition for some time now…since our beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski went home to be with our Lord. That was back on September 18, 2005…almost two years now.

In that intervening time…Kindred began the search for a new Sr. Pastor who will be our Pastor, teacher, spiritual leader and friend. God has used the time since Chuck’s death to prepare us for the man whom He has called. At times I’ve been anxious to see who that man is. At times…I’ve been very much at peace knowing that God is in control…and that in His perfect timing God will raise up our new Pastor.

Since we don’t have a Sr. Pastor…we have had a number of men...pastors, teachers and leaders in the Christian community preaching on Sundays. Like the well known disagreements that churches can get in to over music styles…there has been differing opinions on those who have preached over these almost two years.

But I guess whether we favor the speaker that week or have someone else that we resonate with the one thing we can all give thanks for is God’s provision. We can also give Jesus Christ…praise, honor and glory for how He has kept the body of Christ at Kindred knit together. That’s not to say that some have not left to attend other churches in the intervening time. The truth be told…some have. But for the most part…we remain in tact and committed to Jesus Christ, each other and sharing the Gospel message with a lost and dying world.

Another thanksgiving and praise should go to God who has raised up committed members of Kindred’s Pastoral Search Committee. Because of their dedication and sacrifice and commitment to finding the man whom God has called…I am confident that one day (hopefully soon) we will have our Pastor. A thank you must go to also to our Elders for their commitment to finding the man of God who is committed to deep, uncompromised teaching of God’s word. Someone who will teach us the meat of the Word…not baby food that will not nourish the body of Christ.

No where was that more evident than recently when the search looked like it might be coming to an end…but for reasons that remain confidential…a decision was not made regarding those candidates. While disappointed…I was somewhat relieved to know that they were not going to settle just because we are desperate. That they weren’t going to go with the next pretty face or with the one who would weave stories that would tickle our ears and makes us feel good…but in the end leave us empty and without hope.

Would the Search Committee and the Elders like this to be over? You beta ya! Are they tired of bearing a heavy responsibility…that has not yet ended? You beta ya! Are they undergoing spiritual warfare and attacks from the enemy? You beta ya! Do they feel the burden when our congregations speaks up and shares concerns about it taking so long…or if a speaker is not everyone’s cup of tea…or if they see members starting to go elsewhere? You beta ya they do! But more than that…these godly men and women are committed to finding the man whom God has called to be our new Sr. Pastor.

I think it’s also time to give thanks to fellow members of Kindred for remaining committed to Christ Jesus and each other. It makes a big difference when we are involved with one another and connected. That became clear to me recently when I thought on Sunday…I might like to go and hear a preacher at a church that I’ve heard is a great Bible study teacher. But I realized…that gee wiz…I couldn’t because it was my week to serve in this area or that area.

That interconnectedness is also apparent when someone is on vacation or out of town…and their presence is greatly missed. Someone not being there is noticed. The love for other believers is made clear when people will come up and ask how you are doing if there has been a recent prayer request on your behalf or that of a family member or friend.

One of the things I love best about my church…is that it’s multigenerational. We have grandparents, parents and children of the same family that attend. Yet…there room for that person who doesn’t have any family…or if it’s just them or their spouse. Everyone is loved and welcomed in.

So this week…when I had a concern…and it was clear that God was reining me in to not necessarily speak my mind…I thought that perhaps He has another message instead.

Is God testing out hearts? Does He desire for us to cry out to Him? To go to Him in confident desperation…knowing He is able in His perfect timing to bring our new Pastor? To seek God and His will for our church? To draw close to Him…to have a listening ear for Him? Is He testing our hearts? Will we remain steadfast in studying the word of God? We will go to midweek studies? Will we study God’s word...only when it’s convenient? Or will we put in that extra push? Will we be committed to one another? Will we be divisive and back biting or grateful and committed?

I guess it’s a fine line to walk. There may be a time to speak up and share concerns with the Elders. There may also a time humble myself under their leadership…because I know of their commitment to finding God’s man. To trust God’s call on their lives as our leaders. Ultimately to trust God and His sovereignty and leadership during this time of transition.

In the mean time…I am grateful for God’s care and provision for our church. I must say…I’m prejudice…because I love the teaching of some of the men from Kindred…be it Dave Dunn…my favorite Bible study teacher…or Jack Grogger and Joe Rispoli godly leaders who work with the youth of our church. No matter if it’s one of our homegrown men…or a visiting Pastor…Kindred’s pulpit has never been empty.

Perhaps it’s also a reminder that we as body of Christ need to be praying for the man who will be teaching us from God’s word that week. Knowing that He is able to equip them each week. Knowing that God is also at work in their lives. They may just be passing through for a week or two…and we have a chance to show them the love of Christ.

Not only does God call us to be united, not divided. But He also counsels us that the most important thing is love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13

So to answer my opening question…when and where does a valid concern become a critical spirit? I think that when I stop walking in love. When I make it about me…and not about God. When I’m walking in pride…not walking humbly with my God. When I fail to be grateful for God's provisions.

A fine line to walk…but I know of One who will walk it with me. All praise, honor and glory be to Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen!

Now if I may be so bold…if I could ask any Christians reading this post to lift up Kindred Community Church and say a prayer for our church that God in His perfect timing will raise up the man of God whom He has called. That we will have ears to hear…and a heart to obey God each step of the way. Thank you so much for your much coveted prayers for my beloved church.

Monday, July 02, 2007

GOP…Perhaps It’s…

Perhaps it’s because I’m tired of being screamed at while stopped at a signal waiting for the light to turn green…called every name in the book by some peacenik that purports to want peace…but ain’t exactly giving an effective testimony.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t understand why President Bush has supported a failed amnesty bill that would only serve to make matters worse, nor does it contain any realistic way address or correct the issues connected with illegal immigration.

Perhaps it’s because President Bush is about as far away from being a great communicator that Reagan was…and still speak the English language.

Perhaps its Bush’s resolute silence and failure to speak loudly and resoundingly of our successes in Iraq. Seemingly sitting there in silence with a confidence that one day…he will be proved right about Iraq and then the whole world will know…all the while his supporters regularly get verbally attacked. They are trying to fight the good fight…while President Bush remains silent. There are times…I feel like Charlie Brown…and President Bush is Lucy yanking the football just as I go to kick it. What worked 40 or 50 years ago, doesn’t work today’s fast paced, media savvy world. A lie undisputed is believed and must, truly must be refuted with the truth.

Or perhaps it’s because President Bush can’t seem to get 700 plus miles of fence built…as promised…in a country that put man on the moon almost 40 years ago. Or can’t follow the lead of then Governor Pete Wilson who said damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead as he successfully had the 10 Freeway overpass rebuilt following it’s destruction in 1994’s earthquake. Perhaps we need to put Pete in charge of building the fence. What our President and Senators fail to take into account…is not so much the cost of building the fence…but the cost that increases exponentially every day that we delay. Costs that will only continue to mount in the future.

Whatever that “perhaps” is that’s tipped the scale…it’s what caused me to remove the Bush Cheney 2004 bumper stickers from my car. It’s the same thing that caused me to delight in not only declaring “No…I would not send the Republican National Committee or the National Republican Senators Committee” any money…when they called for support to stand up against the Democrats. It’s the reason why I got into a debate with some kid doing fund raising for the NRSC…and was grateful when he finally understood that well was dry. No amount of pressure or persuasion was going to make a difference. The answer was “No” and this girl was sticking to it and my “No” would be respected.

It’s funny because I remember a day…when I was bummed out when I was in a car accident few years back. Not because of the accident…but because my back bumper would no longer hold the original 2000 Bush bumper sticker. It’s ironic…because I know of the successes we are having in Iraq because I’m plugged into some of the most respected and responsible conservative talk radio…with the likes of Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt.

I consider myself pretty realistic…and while I hate the idea of people cutting in line and getting away with wrong doing…I do understand that we will likely have some form of amnesty for the illegal aliens from south of the boarder. Make no mistake…cutting in line and being rewarded for it is wrong. Pushing your way in front of people who want to come to this country…but do so legally and respect our laws and sovereignty…just ain’t right.

But until such time that we stop the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the country…we can’t even debate what will be done with those already here. Amnesty without enforcement? How is it that I understand the importance of building the fence…when it seems to eludes the understanding of our President and conservative Republican Senators? What about employer sanctions for those who hire illegal aliens? There isn’t an abundance of people who come to this country illegally who want to be US citizens…instead they are coming for the financial benefits.

Can you tell me why the likes of Trent Lott wants to resort to the 20 year old liberal policy of the “Fairness Doctrine”…just because his constituents hold his feet to the fire when he’s going down the wrong road in supporting a ridiculous amnesty bill. “Trent…would you like any cheese with that whine?” Trent I think you’ve lost touch with who your supporters are…you are biting the proverbial hand that feeds you.

What in the world is happening to the conservative party of mine? Just who the heck am I going to be supporting come election time? Well it ain’t going to be the “liberal”, “progressive”, Democratic Party…even though Ted Kennedy and John McCain seem to be getting along swimmingly.

I ain’t voting for some person who supports abortion rights of the women, conception to up to the point of delivery. The person who thinks it’s okay to stab a baby that’s still in the womb…in the head and suck out their brains. That a baby in the womb is only valuable and deserves life if it’s mother deems it so. I ain’t supporting a person who thinks that murderers ought to live out their natural lives in jail…when their innocent victims lay in their grave. Or worse yet…think that murderers and pedophiles can be released from prison after some therapy “cures them” and after they’ve paid their debt to society. Just how is it that you pay for murdering someone? How can you ever repay society for having sex with countless children just for your sick perverted satisfaction? Or those that think teenage girls should be able to have abortions without their parent’s knowledge and consent? But by golly…if you take an Advil while at school…consider yourself signed up for detention and education on drug use. You know the ones I mean…the same ones that won’t let your daughter have an aspirin for cramps while she’s at school…but will protest and give their support of her right to light up a joint.

We live in a pretty mixed up world….one that is entirely upside down.

But like I told the poor guy that called for Republican fund raising…I’d rather the conservative Republicans fight with all they’ve got and do the right thing and loose then to give in and knuckle under like wimps. It’s pathetic. I now belong to the pathetic party...thats lost it's way.

What party it will be voting with next election? What candidate? I haven’t a clue. But I’ll tell you this…it won’t be persons who hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” with Ted Kennedy.

I use to belong to the Grand Old Party…now I belong to the Gutless Old Party. Or as Dennis Prager refers to it…the Stupid Party. If things keep going that way…I won’t be part of the GOP at all.

Soon it will be “Hasta la bye, bye as I mark my ballot for persons and a party that represents my values and those who uphold the Constitution and laws of this great nation…the United States of America…the greatest country on God’s green earth (to borrow a quote from Michael Medved).

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard – Too Many Twists and Turns, Not Believable

Deadly Target is Elizabeth Goddard’s second book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series .   I looked forward to reading it because I’ve enjo...