Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hope Deferred

From my lips,
“Hope deferred makes my heart sick.”

Seemingly incongruent,
Yet both hope and despair fill my heart.

I’m so small,
Incapable when seen through my own eyes.

In the delay,
You promise a purpose.

You pause,
Seeking to grow my faith.

My difficulties,
You delight to handling with ease.

Your word assures,
Nothing is impossible with You.

My burdens unbearable,
They are all small to my God.

An answer forthcoming,
Much greater than I can ask or imagine.

by Susan Bunts 9/23/07

As I walked to my car on Wednesday after Bible study I ended my conversation Mike quoting the verse, “Hope deferred makes a heart sick.” - Proverbs 13:12

My heavy is heart and grows weary as prayers seemingly go unanswered. But God had planned a message of hope in Pastor Philip De Courcy’s first sermon at Kindred Community Church.

Many tears were shed as we saw God’s faithful answer to our many prayers for a man of God, faithful to preach His Word. A man who speaks with authority because he speaks the Word of God. Yet humble…ever mindful but there for the grace of God, there go I.

I still wait for an answer to my prayers…and was reminded that there is no better person to put my hope in…Christ Jesus my Lord. To Him who is able to do more than I can even ask or imagine. Nothing, no nothing is impossible with my God. I wait expectantly upon my Lord.

Praise You in This Storm

words by Mark Hall
music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

I was sure by now
God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as You mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will life my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Praise You in This Storm

by Casting Crowns

A Fresh Work

As Bible Study Fellowship was about to begin this fall…I found myself quite ready to begin our study in Matthew. Only this time…I desire and look forward to a fresh work that God will do in my life as I study His word.

Last year I really struggled to get through the year…for numerous reasons. But this year...I wanted to start clean.

My friend Jo shared that recently she threw away many years of her Bible studies from Community Bible Study. Like me…she found herself just plain running out of space. Not only was space an issue…but I realized that I never go back and reference them again. If I looked back at old lessons and notes that would be one thing…but instead they sit on the shelf and collect dust. Are there times when I let my relationship with God sit on the shelf and collect dust?

So that’s why I bite the bullet and pitched out all my years of Bible Study Fellowship lessons. As I did so…I realized that I didn’t want to rest on my laurels…and take God for granted. I don’t want my relationship with God to sit on the shelf and collect duct. I fear I will be prideful and think well gee wiz I’ve been doing BSF for 8 or 9 years now…I’ve got my relationship with God dialed. When in fact…nothing could be further from the truth.

At times my faith walk…hits the perfect stride. But I can be sure that won’t last. At times…my walk slows down a bit and I get my eyes off the path. Other times…I’m stumble, get lazy or sit by the wayside.

I can’t afford to take God for granted and in all honesty…at times I think I do just that. He’s there for when I need Him…but if things are going good I develop the attitude that “I’ll get back to you later God…have a nice day.” Or worse when things are bit turbulent I find myself angry with God because I know He could intervene if He so chose to do so. I want to make God my “big genie in the sky” and snap his fingers at my command…rather than to humbly submit to God and His plan for me. To obey the very God who created me. To put God first…over and above me. To have a high view of Him and a low view of me.

Good gracious…how can I have been a Christian for all these years and have studied the Bible and yet find myself getting so far afield? Like Paul…I find my sin nature if very much alive and well this side of eternity.

That’s why I don’t want this all too important relationship getting dusty or to take it for granted. I want to start fresh and see God do a new and present work in my life. What does He have to say to me today? What does He want to do in me and my life today? When I’m focused on the past…both the good and bad…I’ll miss God’s work today.

The past doesn’t mean anything in so far as God is a now and present God. I can have a whole lifetime and resume of accomplishments that will amount to nothing if God is not active, alive and at work in me today.

Now I’m trying to focus on what is God trying to show me through this lesson…this week. What is He saying to me today…as I study His word?

This week…He’s made it abundantly clear that I can do nothing…not a blessed thing without Him. I can’t even get through a normal day on my own power and strength. When I’m not reading and studying His word daily…I am not equipped for what I will encounter. When I am not in daily prayer with God…I’m not able to go to God and seek Him, His peace, His wisdom, power and strength. Life is just too plain hard to do it alone.

So Jesus…I desire for You to daily do a fresh, new work in both me and in my life. Keep me close to You Jesus…even if I go astray…draw me back to You.

Just like the dawning of a new day…I’m excited to see what You Lord will do in my life today. As You set the morning sky ablaze…may You set my heart on fire for You.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

“Don’t Tase Me?”

“Don’t tase me bro!” For Pete’s sake…instead of videotape…I think this kid needs tape a different sort…something along the lines of duct tape. Duct tape strategically placed across his mouth. What a twerp!

I vote for tasing and taping Andrew Meyer!

PS…it looks like Andrew could use a little duct tape to hold his pants in place too.

Good golly…I can’t believe I’m standing up for something that took place at a John Kerry event!

9/19/07 At the End of the Day…Reining In of the Holy Spirit

Today I experienced the unmistakable reining in of the Holy Spirit.

After a few days of inconvenience caused by someone who erred…I was tempted to dwell upon it and perhaps drop a well timed clever put down for the audience at hand. Thankfully that good old conviction of the Holy Spirit stopped me short of being mean spirited and speaking in a gossipy rude manner. Thank you Jesus!

Being that I fully understand when Paul said that “nothing good dwells in me”…the temptation to speak rudely did not go away entirely.

But when driving this morning…as my mind started to dwell on the situation…God reined me. Not only about not speaking poorly about someone…but He convicted me for even choosing think along those lines. He challenged me, “Susan…before you so easily complain, have you thought about praying for this person? Praying for the situation to be resolved? Offered to help make it better? What they did was not done intentionally and it went from bad to worse. Susan you’ve been there, done that…and you want to put this person down…for what? Don’t you think they are already getting hassled and snippy comments coming there way? I’d bank on it.”

With the Holy Spirit’s help…the desire to complain stopped and I knew that I had chosen what God would have me to do.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Complaining…while perhaps even justified or understandable…is very destructive, for both the hearer and the speaker. It’s lazy and prideful.

There is nothing good that comes out of that type of complaining. There is room to address genuine issues. However that really needs to be done in a one on one basis and in a straightforward manner. That’s a healthy way to address situations. But it requires thought, patience and restraint when it may feel better initially to verbally or emotionally hit back after being hurt.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest or may not feel the best…at that time. But in the end…when I choose to do the right thing…I have peace with God and with people. I’m not left feeling guilty for saying the wrong thing and I’m not being kept up late at night wishing I could take back what I have done.

Today the Holy Spirit reined me in. My question is…does Jesus Christ reign in me? If not, why? What will it take for me to surrender to His power, guidance and direction in my life?

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:3-12

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Reluctant Gospel

How easily I compromise,
When failing to share the only Cure,
With those lost in their sin...bound for hell.

Reluctant…I don’t want to offend,
The Gospel message seems so narrow a path,
So I don’t share, lest they think I’m judgmental.

How ironic…if they had cancer,
I would be so eager to share the good news,
Medicine that would spare their terminal prognosis.

Whether they believe in no God or many,
Create a god of their own making,
Or deceive themselves that they are god.

Do I lack confidence,
Because I fail to know the Truth,
Or do I study God’s Word so I might know?

Not my own words,
Nor my own wisdom,
But the Truth from the infallible Word of God.

We are lost in our sin,
Unable to save ourselves,
Our own works…will never bring righteousness.

There is only One Way,
He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life,
We can only come unto the Father by Him alone.

Instead I draw back…fail to share the truth,
After all I am no scholar or theologian,
I might not be able to answer all their questions or challenges.

So instead I stand back,
Let them go forth to eternity,
Lost…soon to share that which God created for Satan and his demons.

How pray tell is that walking in love?
Like letting one walk off a cliff,
Only to fall to their most certain death.

Those lost in their sin will pay the eternal price.
Will I choose to remain silent?
Or share the life giving message…salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone?

By Susan Bunts
September 16, 2007

The above poem was inspired by today’s sermon from guest speaker Kevin Lewis. Kevin addressed a concern, near and dear to his heart…the Christian church is influenced by today’s secular society and is weak and lacking in their Bible knowledge. So much so that we are ineffective in sharing the Gospel message with those who are perishing…lost in their sin. Kevin got down to basics as we started to delve into “Jesus Christ …the Only Way to Eternal Life”.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Word to the Wise...and Not So Wise!

You are not as anonymous as you think you are.

Fellow bloggers…do you ever get bothersome comments left on you blog?

Actually I haven’t had that happen too often…and not recently. The time I was slammed was when I wrote an article supporting the execution of Tookie Williams. But since then…not really. Occasionally I’ll get some jerk leave a comment that remains unpublished due to it’s offensive nature. But mostly…folks are kind and thoughtful…and I appreciate them taking the time to drop a quick note.

But I was surprised when I checked my comment area the other day to find a rather snippy comment that bordered on rude. This particularly article was not at all controversial. In fact the article focused on God in a praiseworthy manner.

That’s why I was taken aback by the comment. Now I don’t normally take the time to look up information when some jerk that leaves a comment…I figure it’s just a reflection on them and their character. But when that comment comes from someone who purports to be a Christian…lets just say…my detective interest were peaked.

That’s when I got a quick lesson that you are not as anonymous as you think you are. For example…by using Haloscan to document and publish comments left on my blog I can see the IP Address of the commenter. So even if they choose to speak their mind and remain anonymous…they aren’t.

With technology advancing at the rapid pace it is…you can find just about everything you want on the web. A lot of it is for free…and more detailed info for a fee.

I found a free website where I can pop in the IP Address and come up with a longitude and latitude. IP2Location

After getting my latitude and longitude…I then went to another website where I plugged in the long/lat info…and searched for the address. It may not be the exact address…especially if it’s an apartment. But it gives a small range of homes or businesses within those coordinates.

Next…I did a reverse address search were I plugged in the address to get me a list of possible names and addresses who fall into that address/long/lat/IP Address.

Now that’s just what’s available for free, on the web, and it just took a few minutes.

So a word of caution to the jerks that want to go out and speak their mind…you are not as anonymous as you think you are.

Just for the record…anonymous comments are really very ineffective. Why in the world should I put any stock in what you have to say…when you lack the courage to stand behind what you say by signing your name and fail to back up your opinion with facts?

I think it’s also a good reminder to me…that when I get in a huffy mood and want to leave a rude snippy comment…I’m truly not anonymous either.

Most importantly to the Christian…is what I say befitting a Christian? Whether I sign my name to it…or speak in presumed anonymity?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Far Away & Once Upon a Day

Once upon a day,
I was your mother.

Far away,
In a foreign land,
We adopted you, took you in,
Made you part of our family.

When your own mother,
Had left you, abandoned you,
To a precarious uncertain future,
I took you in.

I mothered you,
I loved you,
I supported you,
I encouraged you.

Once upon a day,
You visited,
You called,
You cared and were there…but that was before Alzheimer’s set in.

Today I forget,
Even who I am,
Thinking clearly,
A thing of the past.

I might not recognize you,
But I’ll know you,
These days I might not be able to do anything for you,
But I need you.

So far away,
Birthday, Mothers Day, even everyday,
Not a card, not a call, nor a visit,
You tell yourself it’s too hard to see me this way.

Where are you?
How long has it been?
What do you tell yourself, to ease your conscience?
Now that you’ve abandoned me!

Once upon a day,
You loved me too.

Susan Bunts
September 3, 2007

Each Sunday after church I go over to see my mom Gayle who is in an assisted living place for Alzheimer’s patients. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. With the foresight of hindsight it was easy to see that she had this for sometime…it just wasn’t bad enough to interfere with her daily functioning to the point of having to take control of her care.

It seems so long ago now. These days I’m most curious as to know what’s going on in that mind of hers. As her disease has progressed she has her ability to have a conversation that makes sense has diminished. She has days where she is more with it than others…but it varies…and her ability to function continues to decline.

Recently the nurses told me that Gayle likes to write. To keep her occupied…they’ll give her a sheet of paper and pen and let her write to her heart’s content. Normally Gayle won’t let them see what she’s written. Instead she hides the paper and goes to her room, tears up the paper and throws it away. I asked if they would try to get some of those letters she writes…and they have been able to snag some of them for me. Her handwriting is at times difficult to read and her thoughts are like her conversation…some what gibberish and not always based on reality. On occasion…there will be something profound or gripping.

The above picture is from a letter I got from the nurses yesterday. Most of the letter rambles on about who knows what…but the last couple of paragraphs she kept writing “Write to me and I’ll write you back. Write to me. Write to me.”

While the person who once was my mother has all but disappeared…the above letter is all too telling.

I am most grateful that she has found favor with the nurses. She is usually rather chipper and funny. I also learned recently that Gayle likes to play Gin Rummy…and at night she plays cards with the nurses and frequently wins.

Now you have a little picture of why Gayle was kicked out of a Baptist College in her youth. Between the dancing, smoking and card playing…not to mention the boys…she wasn’t quite ready for a prim and proper existence at a Baptist College back in the 1930’s.

There are days…when Gayle is being difficult that I fully understand why my grandmother noted that Gayle got a number of spankings as a child. She still likes to push the envelope. Contrasted with her sister Joyce…Gayle was a bit of a rebel.

The above poem may express some of what Gayle feels and why at times I feel frustrated and perplexed.

So many folks don’t feel comfortable in nursing homes or assisted living places. To some extend when you enter these places you feel the pall of once vibrant healthy people…now waiting to die. Most folks that check in will die there. Honestly…I can’t say I feel comfortable there. But it’s like anything…the more you do it…the more familiar it gets.

It’s certainly not what Gayle signed up for…she is now living out her nightmare. It’s certainly not what I signed up for. But isn’t that kind of what life is like? I think we are most fortunate when we get the good stuff in addition to the stinky. Hopefully at the end of the day…the good will outweigh the bad. When the bad is overwhelming…that's when I’m aware that God is carrying me through.

The Desires of My Heart

Even as I reflect on the as yet unfulfilled desires of my heart to be married…I am reminded that God has placed that desire deep within my heart. He did not place that desire within me to be cruel and never see it come to fruition…but instead to fulfill it with a godly man who will be a suitable mate to a godly Christian woman.

In the past I allowed my desire for marriage to override anything remotely resembling commonsense much less obedience to God and His expressed will for a Christian woman to marry a godly Christian man.

Even though I regret the years I wasted seeking to fulfill those desires my own way…instead of God’s way…I do have a better idea of what characteristics and personality I would like in a husband.

In a discussion with my friend Ruth about my desire to marry she inquired if I would make sure when that time comes that I would allow her and my other Christian friends to meet and give their approval and blessing. I eagerly agreed that indeed I would be most grateful for that godly council from wise Christian friends. Because my own judgment in the past has a very poor track record I absolutely need and desire that double check…insuring that any man I marry is of God’s choosing.

When I look back…on those men that once caught my eye and made my heart go pitter patter…I know without a doubt that most wouldn’t even pass muster. They would be disqualified from the get go. Rather than a strong godly Christian man who would be the spiritual head of my home…I’ve sought men who at best darken the door of church on Christmas and Easter…and some not at all.

A man who seeks God through daily reading and study of His word, one who prays daily…without ceasing, one who seeks friendship with fellow Christian men so they can spur each other on to the high calling of Christ Jesus, one who is mature in the love of his wife and family…that is what I desire. One who aims for 1 Corinthian 13 kind of love. While not perfect…daily striving to be a man after God’s own heart.

As I’ve grown in my Christian walk…and have seen examples of what a good Christian marriage is…that is what I desire…and that is what God calls me to and desires for me. There is no room in the life a Christian woman for man who does not know Christ. A wise Christian woman does not seek marriage with a man that has a weak and ineffective Christian walk.

Seeing that godly example where the husband is truly the head of home…where he loves his wife as Christ loves the church…is now my standard. Not some settled for standard based out of desperation. Seeing the right example of what God meant for marriage has spoiled me for a lesser, cheaper imitation.

Now it may seem as if I can kiss any chance of getting married goodbye with those high standards…but to those who say that…I say…you don’t know my God. Ultimately…it will happen if it’s His will. If not…at least my desires are conformed to what He desires for me. There’s no better place to be than that now is there?

My God is a God of miracles. He created the world by merely speaking a word. He parted the Red Sea…protecting His people and killing those who sought to destroy them. My God held the sun still in the sky so His people might win the battle. My God pursues a relationship with those who love Him with all their heart, mind soul and strength. My God devised a plan to save all those that would believe in His Son who paid the price for their sin. My God is a God of mercy and grace poured out in abundance. My God takes a band of defeated discouraged disciples into men who would not back down and willingly go to their death in order to preach the Gospel to a lost an dying world. My God enables His people to walk on water…and soar on wings like eagles. Nothing, no nothing is impossible with my God. Amen…so be it…preach it sister!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Struggling Prayer

I wonder…are those times when I struggle with prayer indicative of my lack of commitment and surrender to God’s will.

When I fail to submit to God’s will…is that because I’ve failed to remember Who He is? Is it because I’ve forgotten or that I don’t trust His character and remember that He alone is worthy and trustworthy?

Is it me putting myself and my will before God and His plan?

Do I fail to trust Him because I don’t know Him?

When He calls do I answer…or do I tune Him out with the distraction of today?

Do I not know God because I have failed to diligently study the Word of God?

Is it because I’ve failed to apply the Word of God to my life, my choices, my actions and allow it to shape my will?

Do I pursue God as the big genie who is all knowing and all powerful and able to answer my prayers…because He can do anything?

Or do I pursue God Himself…and desire to know Him more and more?

Am I more focused on what I can do and how I should do it instead of humbly bowing before the throne of God…seeking His will, His knowledge, His wisdom, and His strength…the will to obey?

Do I seek to accomplish things on my own strengthen rather than fight the battle on my knees?

Last year…and earlier this year when I was still bent on having my life the way I wanted it…my relationship with God was blocked. I don’t even think I was aware of my lack of surrender. Once I surrendered to God and His will for my life…even when it was not to my liking or my choice…I had a peace with God that had been lacking.

Thankfully our relationship with God is one that grows. As we learn about Him, submit to Him and His will for us and our lives…we grow. Where I was 10 years ago is not where I’m at today. Most assuredly where I am today…will not be where I’m at 10 years from now.

Part of what will make heaven, heaven is that I will see God, Jesus Christ for Who He really is. I won’t get in the way. I will have a consistently proper high view of God and a realistic low view of me.

Just think…in heaven…there will be no whining, complaining or disagreements. There will be no gossip or slander. There will be no hatred. Everyone will be in agreement with God and what He says. What God declares good is good and what God declares sin…is sin. Truth will be declared…no lies permitted. Instead of struggling with my sinful human nature…it will be changed. I will no longer be ruled by the sinful desires of my flesh…and my heart will truly and fully pursue God.

Even so…come quickly Lord Jesus, Amen, Amen and so be it!

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...