Tell Tale Signs

The body of Christ

Suffered another assault today

By one who calls himself Christian

By outward appearances

The signs were all there

Indeed he put on a good show

In church each Sunday

With Bible in hand

He even shared Christ with those not yet saved

A fish symbol strategically placed on his car

A bumper sticker proclaiming

Know Jesus, Know Peace

But closer examination

By the One who looks upon the heart

Revealed a wolf in sheep’s clothing

Sacred vows made to love his wife

As Christ so loved the church

Were set aside and trampled underfoot

His children

Once beloved were now forgotten

In his quest for personal happiness

The Lord whom he proclaimed to love

With all his heart, mind, soul and strength

Was long forgotten as he raised himself in God’s place

Destruction and devastation lay in the wake

From the vehicles of lies and deceit

No concern is demonstrated for those he once claimed to love

Those who once admired the Lord’s blessings to this man

Stand with their mouth gapping

Poised and ready to utter the words hypocrite and liar

The witness for Christ

He so carefully sought to build and protect

Now lies in the heap covered by selfishness and pride

Oh Lord, even now we lift up this one so deceived

Like a lamb led to slaughter

So willingly he followed the father of lies

We pray for his salvation

Forgiveness for his sins

That without Jesus he will have no peace

Like the prodigal son

May he come to his senses

And return to the Father whom he once he loved

By Susan Bunts

September 26, 2008

Dissention…Reporting for Duty

Here I am boss

Reporting for duty

Have I got a good report for you

The assignment you gave

I executed with ease

As I got those tongues wagging

That place which seeks to be a beacon on a hill

Reflecting the Light of the world

Instead grew a little dimmer today

I started with those who are idle

Who have the time to talk

In no time at all…the seed of gossip blossomed

The trick is

When they are talking about others

They don’t have time to read the word of God

When they are negative and brooding

Completely lacking the joy of the Lord

They are not taking every thought captive

When they spend time

Debating about which songs should be sung

They don’t have the time to worship their Lord

When they set aside the diligent study of the Bible

How can they hold it up

To examine themselves in light of God’s word

When the rest on their laurels

Feel comfortable in their accomplishments

They won’t desire a fresh work of God in their life

When they fail to trust and respect

The leaders whom God raised up

A negative critical spirit takes its place

When they attempt to love on their own power

They will be unable to bear all things, nor hope and believe

Their love will never endure on its own

Some I will lure into exhaustion

Through pressing needs, good works and few helping hands

It’s there I will stir up resentment

May they bow their knee to their Lord

But never their will

There they can rest in a false sense of piety

Oh hater of their soul

The fruits of our labor

Are plentiful and abundant

May they never see it

Or recognize the handwriting of our work

It’s there we can turn them against one another

Render ineffective their witness

When they are focused on one another

They won’t remember to take the gospel to the lost and dying world

by Susan Bunts

September 23, 2008

Privileged to Serve

This evening I was reminded at what a privilege it is to serve in the body Christ. That it is His church…and His alone. He calls us…from death to life…and then allows us to participate as we minister to the body of Christ and share the Gospel message with an unsaved world.

There is nothing good in me…and nothing deserving of that salvation. Nor can I bring anything to the table other than what He has equipped me to do.

I ought never to take granted that it is a privilege…and a calling. I shouldn’t get too comfortable or set in my ways…assuming that I will always be doing what He has called me to do. Those marching orders may change…in a moments notice. While it might take me by surprise…it doesn’t take the Lord by surprise…for He knows all. Its part of His predetermined will, purpose and plan.

It’s a reminder that wherever I serve…I must rely upon Him. For His strength, guidance and direction. I’m must be in daily prayer…relying upon Him. I must continue to grow in the knowledge of Him…through the reading of His word.

That I must be consecrated to serve. I serve a holy and righteous God. That He requires His servants to be holy and consecrated unto Him. If I choose to sin…and disobey God…I will loose that privilege of serving Him where He has called me.

I should regularly ask myself…as I serve, am I giving out His message in keeping with the Word of God…uncompromised? Or am I bringing my agenda to the table and perverting what He would have me to do and say?

It’s so easy to take things for granted…and be set in my ways. But God…doesn’t allow for that.

It’s important that I be mindful that God must be first and preeminent in my life. That while I may be grateful to work with fellow Christians in serving God…that I must never put my dependence and security in them.

Lastly…that God is not dependent upon my service. That anytime, any place He can call another and raise them up to serve and take my place.

Thank You for saving me Jesus…and giving me the most wonderful church family I could imagine at Kindred Community Church. That You Jesus…for allowing me to serve You and the body of Christ. I am most grateful. To the team I serve with…thank you…and I love you. You are the best…I am humbled and grateful to serve with you.

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.

Reach Out Anyway

Dearest Julie,

Oh I can relate and understand so much of what you’ve said. I too am alone this New Years Eve. I wish I could say it’s the first time…but instead I pray it’s the last time.

But I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you are even old…and I pray that I might have some words that God will use to comfort you and help keep you going and growing in Him. Never, never give up…put your hope in Jesus alone.

I wish you lived near me…I know that you would love our church…and would feel at home. In turn…the body of Christ at Kindred Community Church would reach out to you. So if you are ever in southern California…you have an official invitation.

When I didn’t receive the invitation that I had hoped for to spend Christmas with friends…I didn’t wait to see if I would be alone. Instead I reached out to a loving Christian family that I am blessed by God to know. For several years the Apple family had invited me to Christmas and Thanksgiving. But I had always declined…because I felt guilty about not seeing my mom on a holiday. She has Alzheimer’s and only a couple of people see her…and it’s important to be there with her.

But this year I couldn’t bear to be alone at Christmas. Even though I felt hurt…the pain of spending Christmas alone motivated me to reach out and ask, “Could I spend Christmas with you?”. I knew the answer before I even asked…because this family embodies walking in the love of Christ like few I know. The warm and loving answer was, “We’d love to have you”.

I’m so glad I asked…because it was lovely day…and I really enjoyed the people and time I spent with them. Be it a drive to see Krista Beth’s horse…or meeting Carrie, a friend of the Apple’s I had heard so much about…to having the most delicious dinner prepared by Vicki…or watching Fredo the cat try his best to capture the helicopter flying around the room…the day was wonderful. My favorite time of the day was in the evening sitting on the sofa by the Christmas tree…and chatting with Doreen. We just talked about stuff…God stuff and people stuff. I even asked Doreen to be in prayer for me regarding my single status…to which she agreed. And yes…I did go and spend the morning with my mom on Christmas day too.

I guess the point is that I reached out and asked. Doreen likely would have extended an invitation even if I hadn’t asked. But rather than be depressed to think I would be alone at Christmas I made sure I asked.

This same family, the Apple family, I can remember a day almost three years ago when I didn’t know them. For two years we had officially been a church…but met at the Elk’s Lodge in Santa Ana, until such time as God provided a church home for us. When we finally moved into our church property…this is when we grew even more as a church family. Ministry opportunities and needs where there…and I felt God pushing me, “Susan…you need to get involved and serve in one of the ministries.”

So when sign up time came…I signed up to work the coffee ministry one Sunday a month. I didn’t know any of the people I would be working with so I felt pretty uncomfortable. But you know what I told myself? “Susan, right now you don’t know these people, but before long you’ll know them and they’ll be your friends.” Little did I know how right I was. That Sunday I began working with Doreen and Charles…under the command of Coffee Captain Mike. People that I didn’t know…before long became most precious to me…and I thank God for them daily. Now each year when it comes time for sign up…we do so under the specification that we must work as a team. That experience helped to work in other areas too.

Because I took that step even though I knew I would feel uncomfortable for time…I got to know Charles and Doreen’s adopted daughters Ramona and Lisa. One of my favorite things to do each Sunday morning is to go and give Ramona and Lisa a hug and kiss and remind them that they are my “favorite Kindred girls”. When I ask them…“Have I ever told you I love you?”…I get a resounding yes! There is nothing as sweet as sitting there early on Sunday morning…before everyone arrives…with my arms around these precious girls as we listen to the worship team and sing along. Ramona gives some of the best hugs…and I would have missed out on that…if I hadn’t risked feeling uncomfortable for a season.

Julie…reach out and take some risks. You’ll feel uncomfortable for a while…and that’s okay. Don’t wait till the last minute and hope that you might be invited or included. Reach out to others. I can guarantee you that there others that feel like you do…and you can reach out to them.

Recently I attended a Christmas concert at church on a Sunday night. I didn’t want to sit alone…so I sat with some friends. Maybe it was because it was Christmas time that I was feeling particularly lonely. I just wanted to have someone put their arms around me and hold me close. But no one was reaching out to me and I felt all the more lonely. I looked over and sitting next me was a lady whose husband had been out of town for the week. I figured she was probably a little bit lonely too…so I reached over and put my arm around her as we sang the last Christmas hymn. Later she came and told me thank you. She had been alone all week…and just needed a hug. So God use my hurt and loneliness to reach out to someone else.

Let Him use you Julie to reach out to others who are hurting and lonely and just need a little love. You know what it’s like when it’s missing. Never forget that feeling and make sure that you are reaching out to others. People don’t always wear their hurt on their sleeves…and likely won’t share with you “Gee wiz…I’m lonely”. God has given you this experience so you can know what it’s like to be lonely and hurting. Don’t turn inward…instead you need to reach out to others.

I’m sure that you are well aware of God’s admonition that we are not to forsake the assembling of one another. We need that interaction with one another and time of corporate worship. We need to be serving the needs of those in the body of Christ. If you are part of a church body…you are able to contribute and help meet other’s needs. Remember…God has specially gifted you…and he has a place where he wants you to be a part of. If you can’t get to church because you are snowed in or too sick…that’s one thing. But if you are healthy and able…you need to find a place where you fit in, in the body of Christ. Julie…maybe you are a hand or an arm in the body Christ…but whatever you are…if you are not where God has called you…that body is missing that hand or arm.

Julie…I must confess I would rather die than to go through another year alone. It’s so very, very hard. But unless the Lord calls me home…or He returns that may be a reality next year as well.

But I ain’t going to let Satan win. He wants to keep me discouraged, lonely and depressed…and thus render me ineffective in the body of Christ. He wants to make me doubt God’s goodness, love and care for me. Instead of having me say…“God…I don’t like this…but please don’t waste what I’m going through…at least use it to help others…and please answer my prayers for a husband.” It’s a choice that I have to make daily.

Satan knows that being single and lonely is my biggest area of vulnerability. He likes use it to make me doubt God…and sometimes I believed his lies. But I don’t want to waste anymore time. I don’t want the lessons I’ve learned in the pain to be lost and wasted when I instead I can take steps and reach out to others.

Sometimes you will be rejected when you reach out. You’ll act out of love for others…and it may be rejected or you will be used and it won’t be reciprocated. But keep reaching out. You’ll be amazed at what God will bring into your life just from obeying and taking some risks.

As far being alone…recently I spent some time with someone who doesn’t exactly hold me high esteem and it was reflected in their actions toward me. That’s when I discovered there ain’t no loneliness like be with someone who doesn’t care. That loneliness is worse than being alone. I’d rather wait a little while longer for the man whom God will bring. Someone who will love and treasure me for who I am.

Julie that’s my prayer for both you and me. That next New Year’s Eve…instead of writing pieces about being alone and lonely on New Year’s Eve…we’ll be writing a praise report on how faithful God was. That He heard our cries…and that according to His perfect timing and plan…He brought each of us the husband whom He perfectly fit for us. That we will be filled with joy and gratitude for His mercy and grace poured out upon us. But I also pray that we will never, ever forget what it feels like to be alone, lonely and unloved. That it will motivate us as we reach out to other in our lives.

There are some things that I want to leave behind this year Julie…and not take with me to 2008. One of those things is unforgiveness. If I think I’ve forgiven someone an offense…but I keenly remember it every time I see them and feel that wound again…I haven’t forgiven them in full. I’m the one being tortured…not them. But if I was the one that offended and caused hurt…wouldn’t I be most grateful for forgiveness. To know that person doesn’t hold it against me any longer. That when I talk to them we are in the present…in the here and now…and they are not thinking back to a time when I hurt them. Wouldn’t I want that?

Sometimes forgiveness must be given to people who should know better and act better because of who they are. Just because you forgave them…doesn’t mean that what they did is now okay. It’s just saying I’m letting it go and not going to hold it against you any longer. As I write this…I’m speaking to myself as much as you.

Can you imagine Jesus paying the penalty for our sins and forgiving us…but then when we meet him face to face…Him being cold or wanting to avoid us and not be with us because we hurt Him? No…Jesus has forgiven us in full. He asks us to do the same. It’s hard to do…but don’t do it on your own strength…do it by the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

So Julie…I’m praying for God to heal up any emotional wounds you bear…that you will be able to let them go and start lighter because you released of your burdens…and are starting fresh in 2008.

Blessings to you dear one…and praying that God will answer both our prayer for a husband in 2008.

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