Sunday, February 24, 2008

Encore, Encore

I have an encore performance from the honorable Mike Paddison. Mike first made his debut acting as defense attorney for my kitty Rudy. Rudy had been caught in the act of absconding with Christmas tree ornaments. He was entirely unrepentant and continued in his wayward actions. Mike successfully cast aspersions on the camera operator…namely me…and all charges were dropped on little Rudy’s pending case. Since Christmas has concluded…you will be pleased to know that Rudy has not swiped any more ornaments.

Mike wears many hats…husband…father…friend…CBS Core Leader…audio ministry CD guy…chief trouble maker and more. Mike has skills I recently discovered out of the blue. Mr. Paddison…likes to stay up late working on the computer. That’s usually about the time I’m finishing up an article. No matter how many times I proof something…a boo, boo or two will slip through. But now I have the unofficial editor of Susan’s Blog. When I’m finishing up an article…I’ll check to see if the night owl is up. If he is…I shoot him over an article for proofing.

Last night I did that…and my editor had closed shop for the day. But this afternoon he got back to me with corrections and a recommendation. Mike was concerned that on most recent piece, “Costly Sin”, that I left the impression that I am currently engaged in a sinful lifestyle…as I outlined the perils and cost of sin in a Christian’s life.

I did make some changes per Mike’s recommendation…but find that when I write…it’s more effective when I personalize it. When I observe a friend, co-worker or family member’s life, behavior or words…that sparks an idea for an article…I try to personalize it. It’s all too easy for me to write articles that are “you” focused.

I can write: “Christian friend…when you are walking in sin you are saying Jesus Christ saves you…but can’t deliver you from your sins.”

Or I can say: “When I’m walking in sin…I’m saying Jesus Christ saves me...but can’t deliver me from my sins.”

It’s probably a matter of style…but I think…and it’s my prayer that people hear things more easily when I don’t point my finger I their face…and say “you”. It’s also important that I apply the lessons I see in other people’s lives. I don’t need to make the same mistakes to learn from them.

So while I’m not actively living in a sinful lifestyle…may I be ever mindful…there but for the grace of God, there go I.

Below are some comments from Mike Paddison that I found quite compelling. Thank you Mike…for taking on the unofficial role of editor. I am most grateful. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

"You don't do any of those things as a pattern of your life style. You, or any of us, may not be the most perfect witnesses. We may not tell everyone we meet about Jesus. In fact, we may not even tell those who we see all the time about Jesus. But, like Philip De Courcy said today, we do have to live it in front of them. We are called to STUDY God's Word, LIVE God's Word, and then TEACH God's Word. So, how do we, those of us who are not pastors, teach God's Word. We do it by how we live our lives. There's that old saying, "Be a witness for Christ, and if necessary, use words." Live it in front of the world, and if God opens up the opportunity to talk to someone about Him."

Costly Sin

It has been my privilege to participate in Bible Study Fellowship for nearly nine years. I thank God for BSF because it provides me the study and discipline that I would not achieve on my own.

I learn from the answers the other ladies on our group share. I learn from our Teaching Leader Terri de la Vega…who has a real heart for God and people. She is uncompromising in teaching the word of God and doesn’t duck when it comes to sharing hard truths.

I also learn when answering the question for our study each week. Some questions are straight forward and direct. Some cause me to think and mull over the question. In this week’s lesson we are studying Matthew 18 and the questions that really got me to thinking were about sin in the life of a Christian and how it effects the church. How sin reflects on Christ and the Gospel message.

Be it me or another Christian…sin infects the body of Christ and the church.

It’s all too easy to laugh at sin…especially as portrayed on sitcoms and movies. Shows that make sin and doing what God has declared sinful, the norm and common place. Thing like sex outside of marriage…both for singles and married people. What about homosexuality. Most shows depict homosexuals in a humorous way. To lie, cheat and steal is normal…and fails to shock people these days. Even when it comes from a respected leader.

The church in America today has become so influenced by our godless culture that we fail to see sin as sin…and declare it as such. When that happens…we are not effective instruments to share the Gospel. When I take it in stride when my friend is living with someone outside of marriage I will fail to confront them. There will be no reason to let them know that what they are doing is against God’s word…after all, “They aren’t hurting anyone, are they?”. Wrong! In fact they are. They are lost in their sin…perishing and will go to hell if they don’t accept God’s one and only acceptable sin offering…Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross. Part of accepting Christ is recognizing that I’m a sinner, repenting and turning away from my sin.

When a Christian steps across that line…when a Christian sins…we fail to be a useful and effective instrument in the hands of God. We buy into the lies of the enemy…who will later condemn us as a hypocrite.

As Pastor Philip De Courcy warned a couple of weeks ago, yes it is, “Once saved, always saved”. But he admonished… “Once saved, always saved…if you are truly saved.” If I say I’m a Christian, but can walk in sin, make excuses for it and not repent…I need to ask myself if I’m truly saved.

Below are some thoughts about the cost of sin to a Christian, the body of Christ and Christ Jesus my Lord.

  • I’m saying Jesus Christ saves me...but can’t deliver me from my sins.
  • That Jesus Christ is my Savior…but not my Lord and Master.
  • I put myself above God as I seek which pleases me, even when God has strictly prohibited it in scripture.
  • I don’t care that I give the body of Christ a black eye and bad reputation…and that my tainted sin casts a pall over every Christian.
  • I want my cake…and eat it too. To sin and enjoy it for a season…but not pay the price and consequences for my sin.
  • I don’t care if my sin causes another one to stumble, sin and go to destruction.
  • I’m saying to hell with you unbeliever who rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you see me as just another hypocrite professing Christ but not walking in obedience.
  • I’m saying Jesus…let me let me drive another nail in Your hand. Let me add more of my sin upon You. Sin that You willingly, in obedience to the Father, took upon Yourself.
  • I’m believing the one who was a liar from the beginning. Taking him at his word and doubting God and His word.
  • I’m saying I want to belong to God…but not serve Him.
  • I stop seeing what God has declared wrong as sinful.
  • When I don’t see someone without Christ as dead in their sins…I won’t share the Gospel message.
  • When I’m sinning…I will be less likely to confront another Christian who is in sin. I feel guilty and don’t want to be confronted about my own sin.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Not Promised Tomorrow

I go along content,
So certain of tomorrow,
Making plans of what I will do…one day.

Oh there’s that call I’ll make,
To a long lost friend,
Make amends, mend fences and restore.

I promise…I’ll finally get to that letter,
Write of my love,
Tell you what you’ve meant to me.

It all seems so sure,
Each day dawns and the sun still sets right on time,
Every day seems to go on…just as I’d planned.

Then one day…news,
An accident, disease, a sudden death,
My plans unalterably changed.

Words of forgiveness will go unspoken,
The words “I love you”,
Will not be heard by the one I love.

I will not know this side of eternity,
Did you know I had forgiven…so long ago?
Did you feel the love deep in my heart…but never uttered from my lips?

Oh Lord forgive me,
For I have presumed…I did not know,
We are not promised tomorrow.

By Susan Bunts
February 23, 2008

It seems with the passing of each day…there is news someone’s grave illness or death. Sometimes drawn out over time…sometimes in the blink of an eye they are gone. I can only pray that during that time…they reach out make amends, say I love you, and leave nothing unspoken.

I know full well the peril in not taking the time to ask questions and work through issues. My mom has Alzheimer’s…and the answers to questions I might have asked are securely locked up in her mind and will remain a mystery this side of heaven.

More importantly is the choice that each of us must make. Will I confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…will I bend my knee this side of heaven? The Bible assures us that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord…to the glory of God forever.

One of the concerns I have is the uncertainty of my mother’s salvation. She went to church…and lived a decent and good life. Not perfect…but good. She didn’t talk of spiritual matters too often. Bible reading and prayer were not something that were part of our daily life. Her church going was in her youth…and after my father died. When she remarried we went to church weekly. She was in church…but I can’t tell you for sure if she is in Christ. That is why I talk to her about Jesus…and how to be saved. But because she can’t clearly express herself anymore I don’t know if she was saved at moment in time. I don’t know if she has the ability to make that choice now.

If I am hard hearted, willful, refuse to obey God’s leading, unkind, uncaring and stingy in my grace…then I will live a life of regrets. If I think I’m getting into heaven because I go to church, say a prayer, or live a life that’s better than the average guy…then I will be shocked when I hear Jesus say, “Away from me, I never knew you.” I will be protesting all the way to hell.

God’s word tells us that “Today is the day of salvation”. Today…I can make that choice. To refuse to do so…is presuming upon tomorrow. God may not give me tomorrow. When I lay my head on the pillow tonight…I don’t know if I will draw my last breath. The question is…when I awake in eternity…will I be in heaven or hell?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hold on to Jesus

If you had told me this morning, that tonight I’d be reaching to someone whom I hadn’t talked to in over two years…I would have told you, “You’re just plain wrong!” But in fact, it is I who would have been wrong.

You know how God has a habit of chipping away at things in our lives. Sometimes…He does it in one fell swoop…and a whole big chunk is gone. Other times…He does it bit by bit…until finally I’m being conformed into the image and likeness of His Son. That chipping away can be painful…especially when the chip that falls away feels more like a piece of my body as He works on my heart and mind…or even a wrong attitude.

Did I have a wrong attitude regarding this person? Maybe? Perhaps a little pride…and a whole lot of hurt thrown into the mix.

The last two years of my life were very difficult. A time…where God whacked off big whole chunks all at once. Chunks…that when I found them missing made me feel quite unstable, uncertain and unhappy.

Of the pieces that were missing…one was my friend. One in whom I took much delight. But as circumstances would have it…just when I needed him the most…he pulled back. That pulling back caused a boat load of hurt in the middle of some very turbulent seas. But God has a way…doesn’t He? He likes to get me in a place…where I have no place to turn but to Him. He had a plan and purpose for allowing what happened.

When I’m the middle of circumstances that seem so uncertain…there is no way I can have perspective and understand what God is doing. I’m not sure I fully understand even now. But at least now I have some distance…and perspective and can see God’s hand in the middle of my mess.

Even with that perspective…I wasn’t overly receptive when God first prompted me to call…to reach out to this friend who has been MIA from my life. I rationalize with God, “I’m sure he would have taken my call…if I called him. But God, he hasn’t called me in over two years…doesn’t that tell me everything I need to know?”

I should have known the answer to that…because in God’s economy…what someone else does or doesn’t do…isn’t an excuse for not obeying God’s direction. But God was gentle…and gave me more time to “work it through”.

But today was the day for obedience when He gave me a couple of promptings…that were too hard even for me to miss. When I heard what was going on in my wayward friend’s life I thought…I really should call or send an email. Reach out. But then I dismissed that prompting. That is…until I got home this evening.

In my in-basket was an email from my friend and author Krista Beth Driver. She had sent an email updating people about what had happened to one of her beloved horses, Misty. Tragically Misty had colic…something quite deadly to horses. This poor horse that had once been abandoned by her owner was rescued by Krista Beth. Once deserted, now greatly loved and well cared for…she was now gone. At her passing the other horses Bo, a blind gelding, and Grace were missing their friend Misty. As Krista told of events from the past week…she applied the lesson learned…from her own emotions and watching these beautiful animals…to friendship. She asked some penetrating questions about what kind of friends we are. Do we come alongside, encourage or challenge our friends?

“Okay God…I get it. You want me to reach out. Alright…I’ll send an email. As I wrote it…I discovered that God had mended…and healed some hurt that remained in my heart. I found that more than wanting to be justified in my hurt…I valued our friendship more. “That indeed it is water under the bridge. Today is a new today…and I value you and miss you. I miss your sparkling blue eyes…and the way you make me laugh. I miss your passion for people and for doing the right thing.”

After re-reading and proofing my letter several times…I hit the send button.

I don’t know how it will be responded to…if at all? I might come away disappointed and a little bit hurt. Or I could have my socks knocked off and have a friendship restored. I don’t know. But I do know this…God called me to obey His direction and reach out. To say I love you and care about you…and miss you. And indeed I do. If I get no response…or find the friendship is just dead…well I guest that’s something I need to take to Jesus.

More and more…with so much of life…I’m find that the looser I cling…and the less expectations I bring to the table…the better. I love the Steve Curtis Chapman song, “Hold on to Jesus”. There is one lyric that holds a truth I need to keep reminding myself about. “Cling loosely to things that are fleeting and hold on to Jesus for life.”

Sometimes the things that are fleeting are people. When that happens…my grip on Jesus must grow tighter.

So is there anyone God is prompting you to reach out to? In reading this…does their face come to your mind? Obedience to God’s direction is always the right answer. What will it take to bring you to the point of obedience?

To learn more about Krista Beth Driver’s work with children and neglected and abused horses please go to the Serenity Center for Change.

Hold on to Jesus
by Steven Curtis Chapman

I have come to this ocean
And the waves of fear are starting to grow
The doubts and questions are rising with the tide
So I'm clinging to the one sure thing I know

I will hold on to the hand of my Savior
And I will hold on with all my might
I will hold loosely to things that are fleeting
And hold on to Jesus
I will hold on to Jesus for life

I've tried to hold many treasures
They just keep slipping through my fingers like sand
But there's one treasure that means more than breath itself
So I'm clinging to it with everything I am

Like a child holding on to a promise
I will cling to His word and believe
As I press on to take hold of that
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me

Hold on for life

Monday, February 18, 2008


Am I broken,
Over churches who compromise,
Fail to teach the Word of God?

Am I grieved,
When churches aim to please seekers,
Instead of feeding the flock?

Do I cry,
When my Savior,
Has been made a mockery to an unbelieving world?

Do I sorrow,
Over pastors who seek to entertain,
With feel good messages?

Do I question,
Pastors who desire to grow numbers,
Rather than grow character?

Do I turn off,
Not even listen,
To pastors who dare not utter the word “sinner”?

Am I appalled,
When a pastor changes a hymn,
From “wretch”, to “saved a soul like me”?

Do I tolerate,
The pastor who embraces a Muslim,
And proclaims we that worship the same God?

Do I confront heresy,
When those in the pulpit,
Deny the trinity, the virgin birth, even Jesus Christ our Lord?

Am I embarrassed,
By those who claim to be a “man of God”,
Yet are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Or do I diligently seek,
Listen attentively,
For the Bible, the inerrant Word of God?

Is the Bible my measure,
To discern,
If one is truly in the faith?

Do I thank God,
Fall upon my knees,
For the uncompromised preaching of the Word of God?

Do I allow,
The full counsel of His Word,
To rebuke, correct, instruct me in righteousness?

Am I overcome,
With gratitude…do I loudly proclaim,
I am a sinner, saved by grace, not of works, least I boast?

By Susan Bunts
February 17, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Though He Slay Me

The problem with corresponding with a blogger is that you may be inspiring another post. Indeed your questions are thought provoking and something I’m well acquainted with.

You say that you’ve never met anyone else who has struggled with being angry or mad at God. Dare I say…I’d be willing to bet you have. It’s just that most folks aren’t too keen on admitting or acknowledging that they have ever been mad at God. People love to share that they love God and are seeking to know Him better and to read His word…but not too many folks are willing to raise their hand and say, “I’m angry at God”.

I pray my response can offer you some hope as you work through your anger and draw close to the Lord.

For so long I was angry at God because my life has not turned out at all like I wanted it to. I wasn’t asking for great wealth or to be famous. I was asking for love…to be married…and once upon a time I even dreamed about having children.

God’s word assures us that nothing is too hard for God. That He is more than able to handle all that concerns us…with ease. The Bible tells us that God is good and that He has compassion upon those whom He loves. So I prayed and prayed and prayed for years. I can’t tell you dark times and tears I’ve struggled with. Yet God remained silent on this.

I think I finally came to a breaking point. A crisis in my faith. Was I going to believe God and who He says He is…despite my circumstances? Or was I going to be at the mercy of my circumstances and let them dictate how I feel? Feel about God...and people and me?

That’s when the Holy Spirit started to challenge me. He brought scripture to mind. Was I going to really believe what I said I believed? If so…would that change how I act, think and feel?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

If a human being has the ability to do good…to help someone but fails to do so…that would reflect poorly on their character. Especially if they had the ability to bring relief from great suffering and pain but refused to do so. More than uncaring, such a person would considered wicked or evil. To see hurt and have the ability to help…but refuse to. That’s hard to understand how someone can do that, isn’t it.

But God…is not like man. God is not so much interested in our happiness or comfort as much as He’s interested in our character…in our heart. In bringing us to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Into growing into the image and likeness of Christ. His interests are in the eternal…not so much the temporary.

He’s all knowing. He knows that good can come from bad circumstances, pain and suffering. If you’ve ever had a painful time in your life but come out of it growing closer to the Lord or wiser or kinder and more caring…you know first hand that good can come out of bad. Now multiple times infinity and you have God…who knows all things. He sees our past, present and future all at once. He knows the eventual outcome of what we are going through. He knows it’s impact on us and others.

His aim, His focus is on eternity…not this brief time we have here on earth. In the scheme of eternity…time here on earth is a flash.

What we will gain in eternity…so outweighs what we go through here on earth. It doesn’t seem like that now…because this is all we’ve experienced. It can seem like everything. But it’s not.

One of the best illustrations that I’ve ever heard on us not understanding why God allows pain in our lives was a story told by Dr. James Dobson. He told of his son Ryan having an ear infection. He wife Shirley had taken Ryan to the doctor. But Shirley came to get Dr. Dobson because the doctor asked the impossible…to hold little Ryan down while he dug in his ear to get the infection out. Shirley couldn’t do it. But Dr. Dobson did. He held him in place for the doctor to go in and remove that infection. Ryan was in excruciating pain and he didn’t understand why his daddy, not only wouldn’t help him…but held him down while someone else caused him great pain. He said he hardest part was Ryan looking into his eyes from a mirror…pleading with him to help him. Dr. Dobson was helping him…but Ryan didn’t have the ability to understand it at the time.

That description by Dr. Dobson…was so apt…perfectly descriptive on what it feels like to be going through pain that God will not stop, nor will He explain.

It doesn’t make any sense to me…in my finite knowledge and understanding. I don’t like it…but I have a choice. I can choose to believe God and trust Him to be working out for good what I’m going through. For a lasting gain.

Or I can choose to be angry at God. Disappointed. Not trust Him. Fight Him and His plan.

It’s not easy to say, “Thy will be done.” Especially when we don’t know what will happen or what God will do in our circumstances. When we see others prosper or get away with evil with no consequences. But it’s helpful and encouraging to remind myself that their gain is temporary. My gain is simply delayed. Their gain is for the here and now…mine is in eternity. Even if I live to be 100 years old and suffer…what’ s 100 years compared to eternity?

To say, “Thy will be done”, requires trust. To trust someone, I must know His character, His intent, His purposes and His plan. To know God…I must read His word…where He has plainly revealed Himself. But at the same it’s so rich we can spend a lifetime studying the Bible, never be board or come the end.

So bottom line…how did I get over being angry at God? I had to decide….will I believe God and His word…or will I believe my circumstances and feelings?

I would encourage you to deal with your anger and let it go now. Don’t let pain and circumstances take the joy out of your life today and hope from tomorrow.

God is good…but He does allow bad and pain and hurt to go on in our lives. Sometimes He reveals why…sometimes we have to wait for heaven to understand.

Most importantly when I was angry…when I did not trust God…when I chose to be bitter and resentful…I was believing the lies of the enemy. He’s so subtle…that it’s easy to miss who is behind those feelings. It’s Satan up to his old tricks…casting doubt on God and His word. Just as he said to Eve, he says to us, “Did God really say…?”

Pray and don’t fall prey to the schemes of the enemy.

Lord’s blessings to you. I pray that God will help you to give up or work through your anger…and learn to fully trust Him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fighting Faith

The enemy seeks division,
Between me and my God,
He prods me to ask why,
Instead of trust and obey.

This trial will tell,
My faith, is it genuine and true?
Solid…unwavering…standing firm,
On the holy Word of God?

Will I permit circumstances to be my focus?
Give in…fall prey?
Believe him who was declared a liar from the beginning?
Or rise up…put on…the full armor of God?

The weapon supplied by my Father above,
When my mind is steeped in Scripture,
It’s then I might effectively wield,
The mighty Sword of the Spirit.

By Susan Bunts
February 11, 2008

Seeds of Doubt

Seeds of doubt,
So skillfully sown,
In the fertile ground.
Of a wound heart.

Forgiveness the healing balm,
To recondition the soil of my heart,
Then no weeds, thorns or thistles can grow,
From seeds of hurt, anger and bitterness.

By Susan Bunts
February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Sanctified Tongue

Oh dear one,
Your testimony tells me,
You were saved,
Oh so many years ago.

But you cause me to wonder,
Has that salvation,
Worked it way,
To your tongue?

Gossip and slander,
So easily uttered,
About a fellow believer,
One considered a brother or sister in Christ.

Then tell me, please do,
What difference is there,
Between us and the unbeliever?
Dear Lord, what must they think?

Most certainly,
We are not perfect,
And will never be,
This side of eternity,

Yet, are we not washed,
In the same blood of the Lamb?
Did the nails not pierce His hands,
For your sin and mine?

We have been saved,
To the uttermost,
Through and through,
Dear Lord, now please sanctify our lips.

May our salvation,
Work its way,
From our heart to our tongue,
And now bring for praise for Christ Jesus our Lord.

by Susan Bunts
February 3, 2008

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...