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The Good, The Beautiful, and the True

The Good, The Beautiful, and the True

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The Good, The Beautiful, and the True

Length:
270 pages
3 hours
Released:
Aug 23, 2019
ISBN:
9781393512219
Format:
Book

Description

Written with passion, conviction, and a good dose of humor, this second volume of devotional essays from the author seeks to address some of the challenges facing the Church in the west and more particularly, in America. 

The rise of secularism and scientific naturalism in our nation, along with a strident, politically correct orthodoxy, has not only set the Church at odds with much of the culture, but it has also in some cases made her public enemy number one. 

The Church must regain her voice to a nation adrift, detached from the standard of God's Word that she might reveal that which is good and beautiful and true.

Released:
Aug 23, 2019
ISBN:
9781393512219
Format:
Book

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The Good, The Beautiful, and the True - Randy Lane Bunch

THE GOOD, THE BEAUTIFUL,

AND THE TRUE

A COLLECTION OF

DEVOTIONAL ESSAYS,

VOLUME 2

BY

RANDY LANE BUNCH

CONNECTING POINT

COMMUNICATIONS

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. publishers. Used by Permission.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Holy Bible, Amplified Bible. Old Testament copyright, © 1965, 1987 by the Zondervan Corporation. The Amplified New Testament © 1954, 1958, 1987, by the Lockman Foundation. Used by Permission.

Scripture quotations marked CSB are taken from the Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission.

Scripture quotations marked CEB are taken from the Common English Bible © Copyright 2011 Common English Bible. Used by Permission.

Scripture quotations marked MEV are taken from the Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NCV are taken from the Holy Bible, New Century Version®, NCV®, © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission."

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®, © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION

INTRODUCTION

WEEK ONE SPECKS AND CRUMBS

WEEK TWO THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH

WEEK THREE BUILDERS

WEEK FOUR WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

WEEK FIVE FAITHFUL MERCIES

WEEK SIX DOER OF WONDERS

WEEK SEVEN WHEN GOD SHUTS THE DOOR

WEEK EIGHT FAULTY FOUNDATIONS

WEEK NINE THE GOOD, THE BEAUTIFUL, AND THE TRUE

WEEK TEN GROWING

WEEK ELEVEN WHEN SHADOWS FLEE

WEEK TWELVE OUR COVENANT OF PEACE

WEEK THIRTEEN RACE TO THE BOTTOM

WEEK FOURTEEN SHADES OF GREY

WEEK FIFTEEN THE BLAME GAME

WEEK SIXTEEN PROCESS

WEEK SEVENTEEN IN HIM

WEEK EIGHTEEN NON-NEGOTIABLES

WEEK NINETEEN THE WORLD IN YOUR BACKYARD

WEEK TWENTY MORE THAN A MATCH FOR THE MOMENT

WEEK TWENTY-ONE THE FIELD ON WHICH I DIED

WEEK TWENTY-TWO INSIDE

WEEK TWENTY-THREE TO UNDO

WEEK TWENTY-FOUR WHEN FEELINGS UNDERMINE FAITH

WEEK TWENTY-FIVE IN THE BONDS OF OUR BROTHERS

WEEK TWENTY-SIX THE FIRES OF FREEDOM

WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN JULY 4

WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT FRUITFUL

WEEK TWENTY-NINE SURE STEPS

WEEK THIRTY A MATTER OF THE HEART

WEEK THIRTY-ONE MAKE BELIEVERS

WEEK THIRTY-TWO GOD OF ALL COMFORT

WEEK THRITY-THREE EVIDENCE

WEEK THRITY-FOUR OUR BRAVE NEW WORLD

WEEK THIRTY-FIVE THE TEMPLE OF THE HEART

WEEK THIRTY-SIX SUDDEN SEASONS OF CHANGE

WEEK THRITY-SEVEN FEARFULLY, WONDERFULLY

WEEK THIRTY-EIGHT INTO ALL THE WORLD

WEEK THIRTY-NINE HOPE

WEEK FORTY ICONOCLAST

WEEK FORTY-ONE STANDING OR FALLING

WEEK FORTY-TWO BOUNDARIES

WEEK FORTY-THREE DANGEROUS COMPARISONS

WEEK FORTY-FOUR BALANCE IN GRACE, FAITH, AND WORKS

WEEK FORTY-FIVE YOUR CREATIVE BEST

WEEK FORTY-SIX EVER AFTER

WEEK FORTY-SEVEN THE ETHICS OF MURDER AND DECEIT

WEEK FORTY-EIGHT STICKS, STONES, AND SWORDS

WEEK FORTY-NINE A WORLD OF PURE IMAGINATION

WEEK FIFTY DEAD OR ALIVE

WEEK FIFTY-ONE FILLED

WEEK FIFTY-TWO HOMESICK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

END NOTES

DEDICATION

To our children: Charissa, Christian, Chloe, Cameron, Blaine, Landon, and your families. My God’s richest blessings be upon you as you seek to be a light to your generation.

INTRODUCTION

Compiling a book of essays one has written over several years is not unlike going to a reunion and reconnecting with old acquaintances. Some you remember well and fondly, while others you remember with some measure of reservation – or not at all. On the whole, the general feeling is that it was nice to reconnect. So it has been with my labors in putting this book together.

With my first book of devotional essays, Immutable: Changeless Truth For A Changing World, the challenge was different. I had many essays to choose from but limited space, lest the size of the book should present an impediment to the reader. This book is less in volume and almost all my available essays were used since the recent work of Connecting Point Communications has occupied my time in other directions than writing. However, in light of some new developments, we hope to return to writing and publishing more works. It was due to my fondness for essay writing and my commitment to this second devotional work that I determined to get this book done first so that others of a different nature might follow.

In preparing this volume and revisiting the essays once again, I was struck by how much my writing focused on the need for our nation to rediscover a biblical morality based on objective moral truth. I agree with a prominent apologist of our times who said that while he enjoys the cosmological argument for God’s existence the most, he feels the moral argument to be the strongest. I have to concur, even though I share his passion and preference for both the cosmological and, in my case, the teleological arguments.

We are in the midst of a cultural revolution which is threatening to divorce us from reality on many fronts. The fixed reference point of immutable, transcendent truth, which has to a large degree shaped the moral foundations of western civilization, is being traded in for a more convenient model of morality based on feelings. Truth, reason, and even scientific fact are trumped by preference in many segments of our society, leading to incoherence and even untenable public policy. As the reader goes through the essays, it will be obvious that many themes are revisited often. My only excuse is that these essays were often written in reaction to the events of our times as they unfolded, based on my reflections and reading. In that sense, this book serves as a kind of time capsule that will show later generations which issues the Church was grappling with during the time of its writing.

I have also structured this book differently than the first volume, with one essay designated for each week of the year, should one want to move slowly and more thoughtfully through the material. It may, in this way, make the repetition of themes less monotonous and help the reader digest the material better. There is no real order to the essays, save that we endeavored to have two that dealt with our nation's Independence fall on or close to the week of July fourth. Otherwise, the essays can be read in any order the reader desires.

I do not doubt that in our more sensitive times, when many are careful to not stray beyond the bounds of politically correct rules and rhetoric, that this book might, on occasion, come across like a hammer on an anvil. This is not done to be offensive in any way, and while we site a number of the postmodern challenges facing biblical morality in our day, our intention is never to denigrate or devalue any segment of society, regardless of how much their views stand in opposition to our own. Rather, if we have used plainness of speech in some of these essays, it is so that the lines of truth may fall where they should, as they should, to the best of our knowledge and the best of our ability. I am not pretending to be an expert on any subject covered. I’m not an academic, though I do take great pains to be informed and to learn. I am a preacher, a church planter, an author, and, occasionally, a professor who loves God, loves his nation, and loves people. I happen to believe the best way to do that – to love people – is by telling them the truth.

God is the creator of our universe; the uncreated first cause of all that is good and beautiful and true. All that has corrupted His original creation and brought misery to mankind cannot be laid to His charge but to ours. Rather, He is the redeemer and savior of all who have the good sense to recognize their brokenness and fall unreservedly into His waiting arms of grace. No sin is too great that His grace and love cannot redeem and restore the willing and contrite soul who comes to Him. He is, as we say in one of the essays, love and altogether lovely. We hope His truth, so far as we have been able to convey it, will help steer your course, that His love will encourage your heart, that His mirth will gladden your soul, and that His light will guide you home.

Randy Lane Bunch

Taft, California

September 2019

WEEK ONE

SPECKS AND CRUMBS

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

H ey! My wife calls me from the other room to the kitchen. Do you see this? I don’t. I step up closer, put on my glasses and bend down to examine the evidence. There is a crumb there on the kitchen counter. It’s a bread crumb. It was left by me, evidence of my careless sandwich-making efforts from earlier in the day. Bending low I can see it. She saw it from ten feet away while passing quickly by the kitchen. How does she do that?

Did you make a sandwich here? she asks. I mumble something about never having touched bread in my life and brush it into the sink. I have several reasons (excuses if you insist on calling them such) as to why I allowed such an obvious mess to remain on our counter. My first excuse has to do with the camouflaged nature of the counter tile. It was obviously designed by a housewife who laughed and laughed while creating it, knowing husbands just like me would be unable to detect their sandwich-making transgressions and pay a heavy price. If that one doesn’t work, I have a more elaborate story of being kidnapped at birth by a tribe of New Guinea tribesmen who were notoriously lax about leaving crumbs everywhere in the hut in which I was raised. Fortunately, she is distracted, and my creative, crumb-excusing comments are unnecessary.

Thinking of my fallen crumbs, however, makes me think of a common fault of which many of us are guilty today. While my messes are usually more than a single crumb and my wife is justified in keeping me accountable for cleaning them up, there are others, both in the Church and outside, who are excellent crumb cops when it comes to the lives of others. This is never more apparent than in an election cycle where every crumb of a candidate’s life is examined and scrutinized under the ultimate microscope: the eyes of others.

Let me be quick to admit that I am no less guilty of this than others. I have shaken my head at the faults of someone else when I was no less guilty of the same trespass. It was just easier to see when it was their sin or character fault rather than one in my own life. How is it that we have 20/20 vision and can see the problem from half a mile away when it comes to others’ faults, but we have to get our glasses on and look closely before we’ll admit the same fault in ourselves? We know why! Seeing the faults in others distracts us from having to take responsibility for our own shortcomings. Not only does it divert our attention away from our own crumbs, but we can somehow feel as though we are doing the world a service by pointing out someone else’s failings.

Going back to the election, this is not to say that we shouldn’t expect much from our leaders or that the American people don’t have the right to rigorously vet the candidates who are asking for our vote for the highest office in the land. We should and we do. My point is that it would make the world a better place if we would use the same laser-like precision in identifying our own misdeeds and faults as we do the faults of others. In reality, there are no points for seeing in others what we’ve failed (or refused) to see in ourselves. We all have crumbs. The point is not to attack others for theirs while denying our own.

Hey! My wife says while moving toward the coffee pot. I freeze like a deer in the woods, hoping I’ll blend into my surroundings and be undetectable. She’s found the grounds I left on the counter. I’m remembering how the Keurig has been mysteriously spewing grounds all over the place for no reason despite my best attempts to keep the area spotless! In my desperation, it sounds plausible! In reality, it’s not that big of a deal. I will take responsibility for my spilled grounds, clean up my mess, and life will go on. In fact, life will be good. It’s not the spilled grounds that are the issue anyway. The more serious problem comes when we deny our own mess, willing only to see the crumbs others have left behind.

Today with the advent of social media sites and smartphones, there is a phenomenon occurring with which our society has not yet learned to cope. Now, if someone has a conflict, acts like an idiot cursing out a checker at Walmart or is pulled over by the police for drunk driving (just to name a few), it is likely to be posted on social media for all the world to see. Sins which may have been a momentary hiccup in someone’s life before can be replayed and viewed millions of times over while the masses laugh, forward it to their friends, and make derisive comments. To me, this is emblematic of the problem to which I am referring. We have only to ask how we would like own transgressions broadcasted for all the world to see to understand how painful it can be for others to have to relive their worst moments again and again.

In the end, it would be best if we would be harder on ourselves than we are on others, realizing that our criticisms are often just our attempt to excuse ourselves from dealing with similar issues in our own lives. Jesus said that we should remove the plank out of our own eye before looking to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. This would be a good standard for all of us to use in this regard. If we would see our faults as the larger, more immediate issue to deal with and our brother’s as smaller and incidental by comparison, the world would be a better place. And, practically speaking, when I have genuinely dealt with an issue in my own life, I usually have more compassion and am better able to truly help someone who is struggling in the same area. This, I believe, is in keeping with the spirit of Christ. It’s not that we should ignore the crumbs, but we should be mindful of the messes we’ve left behind in our own lives before pointing out the same in others.

WEEK TWO

THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

One might assume that people who are deceived are merely innocent victims. Someone might say, They just didn’t know any better and were duped by the conniving and deceitful. However, the scriptures indicate that this is often not the case. No one will ever be able to say to God, We just didn’t know any better. God has revealed Himself to man in numerous ways. Indeed, the scriptures tell us that the very creation bears testimony to His existence (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20). Beyond that, God’s objective moral truth is written upon the tablet of man’s conscience, inciting him to justify himself whenever external behavior crosses internal boundaries (Romans 2:14-15).

Today, we see a moral revolution going on right before our eyes. Standards that were once universally accepted as good and true are being supplanted by a post-truth culture that insists that subjective feelings trump objective truth. In fact, truth has been relativized and personalized to suit the preference of the individual, like license plates and nail color. This, of course, conveniently removes moral accountability by simply changing the rules of reality. Simply put, we believe what we want to believe, recreating right and wrong in our own image. Critical thinking and logic are no longer sufficient to settle matters of morality when one’s subjective opinion is enough to swing the vote.

We see this in the gender identity crisis in our nation as well as a thousand and one other areas of cultural confusion. The hook-up culture has slapped a label of sanction on behavior that would have once been viewed by all good society as reprehensible. Today, however, many dismiss such moral objections as an out of date anachronism with a laugh and a wave. A thousand walls of restraint have crumbled in our society, and yet this is supposed to be without cost? Despite this apparent freedom to choose one’s own truth, many still find plenty to be offended by when others disagree with their point of view. Perhaps nothing demonstrates the incoherence of our present cultural moment more than the tendency for so many to claim to be offended and outraged at the views of others when we’re all supposed to be free to define right and wrong for ourselves. If morality is truly subjective, what empowers anyone to call anything bad or offensive?

If people will believe what they want to believe about something as fundamental as right and wrong, they will certainly listen to someone who will tell them what they want to hear, regardless of its dubious connection with the truth. Paul warned of a day when men would heap to themselves preachers and prophets who would tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3). He said, ...they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:4). This is not deception in the way we often think of it. This is an intentional turning from the truth to hear something less demanding and exacting. Who wants to hear the truth when the lie will allow me to live as I please?

The prophets in the Old Testament often lost their lives standing up for the law of God and calling the sinful nation to repent, but today our society is creating its own prophets. They have always been among us, but today they are proliferating at an alarming rate. They can be heard in the media and entertainment industries, on late-night talk shows and infomercials. They speak a morality that has uncoupled itself from the burdensome values of biblical truth and instead defends a man or woman’s right to live on their

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