Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Lord is MY Shepherd (Enduring to the End - Part 3)


By Bunni Pounds

We skip right over Psalm 23 in our Bibles because we have read it so many times that we don’t even think about the words anymore.

Regardless of the many pastors and spiritual leaders in our lives, there is really only one ultimate GOOD and perfect Shepherd of our lives.

If anyone tries to take that place in our hearts then we have to ask - why? Why are they trying to be the ultimate leader in our lives? Are they thirsty for control? Do they think we should serve them ultimately?

I led worship for over twenty years in multiple churches that we were placed in - always as a volunteer, never taking a paycheck for it.

One Sunday I told a pastor I served with that my mom was coming in from Indiana for just three days and that I would like the next Sunday off to spend some quality time with her. We lived in Dallas.

Instead of thanking me for everything I did as a worship leader and telling me that he wanted me to spend good time with my family and get some rest, he went in the opposite direction.  Going into a story about Jesus  when he was approached by the man who wanted to bury his father, but Jesus said something like - Who is your family? Let the dead bury the dead. Follow me. Your family are those who do the will of God.

He asked me what was more important to me - God or my physical family?

In that moment, he thought I should put him and his church in the ultimate place in my heart.

WRONG! 


When we talk about "spiritual abuse", this is a perfect example of it.  I hate to even use that term but unfortunately if you have been around the church for any length of time, you know it is real. It makes me sick that people would twist scripture or allow themselves to think that they can be the ultimate Shepherd in people's lives. 

"The Lord is MY Shepherd - I shall not want."

My husband, Tim, as a young believer had a pastor tell him that serving at his church was more important on a Saturday night then going to his high school reunion. Tim doesn’t remember for one moment what happened that night at church, but he does remember that he missed his 10 year high school reunion and he regrets it.

Don’t ever let any leader, any church, or any movement take a place in your heart as an idol or you will be easily manipulated or swayed in the wrong direction. 

We, as believers in Christ, are to honor our leaders and pastors and move together in unity in the churches and organizations that God places us in, but we cannot let even the best of leaders take the ultimate leadership over our hearts. Only Jesus should have that place. Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

If we keep the first place the first place, then when leaders disappoint us or go astray, we just keep moving forward because we are shepherded by the faithful and true Shepherd.

Our heavenly Father is the one who makes us “to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:2-3)

Jesus is the one who “anoints our heads with oil.” He is the one who “prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.”

He is the Good Shepherd! 

Read Psalm 23 again and ask God to give you fresh eyes to see His beautiful leadership in your life.

The pastor that I am referring to in this first story ultimately destroyed his church. He took on all the elders, wanting supreme control, causing them to resign. He become so full of anger and pride to a point where no one could work with him. He was a great preacher and a good worship leader but he tried to take the ultimate lead Shepherd place in people’s hearts and it destroyed a very good church.


There is much spiritual abuse going on in the church even now where people get sideswiped and their souls get bruised with disappointments and moral failings by their leaders.

We are looking for strong fathers and mothers in the faith, real discipleship, true community and unconditional love, and we get shocked when the leaders we love and trust fall into lust, immortality or get so full of arrogance and pride that they won’t listen to anyone else.


What do we do when that happens in our lives? How do we go on in the Body of Christ?

It is not easy. As I look back over my life in the church, I see a whole bunch of wreckage - people's lives destroyed by spiritual leaders. 

When we started our house church that lasted over a decade, we started by inviting those wanderers, those people that had been sideswiped by the church over to our home. That mission lasted for ten years and many hearts were restored and healed, but the work is not over. 

What do we do when we get knocked off the path by spiritual leaders - when we get so hurt and full of pain that we can't see the road ahead of us and we just want to get off the road? 

The answer is in Psalm 23. The Lord is MY Shepherd. 

We have to put our eyes back on Jesus - the true and faithful Shepherd of our souls. We have to cry out to Him for Him to heal our hearts and our souls and allow us to trust again.

The teacher-pastor in the second story about my husband’s high school reunion turned out to be a closet homosexual who died of pneumonia via AIDS a year after he married us. No one knew and saw it. We had no idea and it destroyed our church when people found out. 

As young believers that could have easily taken Tim and I out for the count. We could have stopped right there when right after our wedding, our church breaks up over this revelation. A spiritual teacher in our life who meant so much to us had a secret life. 

What do we do in moments like those? We were 21 and 28.

Do we drop out of church forever? How do we ever trust again?

Do we then discount all of the amazing Biblical and sound teaching that we had just been given (for my husband it was three years of his life)?

Was all the words of affirmation that he spoke over our lives all lies too?

How did we not have discernment? How stupid could we be? Maybe we don’t know God ourselves?

All of these are questions that go through your head when you experience something so traumatic. 


When I look back over our life during that season now, I think about all the amazing Bible truths I learned about our connection to the people of Israel, praise and worship, the depths of Passover and the biblical feasts, and so much more. 

We named our first son ISRAEL because we had been taught so much by this man concerning our connection as believers to the Jewish people that we loved the people of Israel. 

In the end, we had to move forward - throwing out the bad and keeping the good of what we had been taught in that season. God's Word will not return void even when it comes through imperfect vessels. 

In reality, all of us are imperfect as leaders and have blind spots somewhere. We shouldn't be in leadership if we have moral compromise, but even a leader who is trying to live out the Bible with a pure heart still will disappoint us at some point. No one is perfect because no one is the ultimate good and perfect Shepherd. 

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:4-6)

Remember this is a promise today. If you have been sideswiped by leadership in your life. 

Don't stop. 

Don't quit. 

Take this promise - Goodness and mercy is following you and you WILL DWELL in the house of the Lord FOREVER. 

Run back to Jesus to heal your heart and tell Him all your disappointments and hurts. I can see Him pouring oil over your heart even now. 

I have found that He is faithful to my heart. The Lord is MY Shepherd. 

Read Part 1 of this series - Did Ministry Prepare me for Politics? or Part 2 - Looking Unto Jesus.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Current Biography - Bunni Pounds

With over twelve years of experience in Republican fundraising and campaign management, Bunni Pounds has raised over $12 million dollars for Congressional candidates and other political clients gaining a reputation around Texas as a visionary, a strategic campaign consultant, and a motivational public speaker. 
She started her career as the campaign manager for U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling then launched her own firm, Bunni Pounds & Associates, in 2015. In just over two years, she built a consulting firm with nine associates, thirty-one clients, and a revenue stream of a half million dollars.
When Congressman Hensarling announced his retirement from Congress (TX-05) at the end of 2017, Bunni desperately tried to find a qualified and principled conservative leader to fill his shoes. Coming up short – she felt a call to run herself and plunged herself into a Congressional race that she never saw coming. In the end – she made it through a field of eight primary candidates into the Republican Primary runoff, but came up slightly short in the runoff.  During the race, she gained the respect of national and conservative leaders for her hard work effort and principled campaign. She raised more money than any GOP open seat candidate in the State of Texas during the 2018 primary season, gained the endorsement of Vice President Mike Pence, became the only Republican woman Congressional candidate in the state to make the runoff election, and built a grassroots army of conservatives throughout all seven counties of the 5th District. 
Bunni’s experience doesn’t just stop at politics. She has thirteen years managing her own three small businesses with her husband, Tim and eight years in nonprofit management. 
Tim and Bunni have been bi-vocational and active in Christian ministry for over twenty years. Bunni is a Bible teacher and public speaker who has authored two discipleship books, led worship for years, and written songs for the Church. 


She has a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences degree in Political Science from Dallas Baptist University and an Associate’s degree in Theology from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas.

Married for twenty-three years to Tim Pounds, they have two sons, Israel (age 22) and Ben (age 20), and now two new daughter-in-laws - Teodora and Giulia.  

Bunni loves to motivate people to pray, vote, and engage their hearts to impact America and the world around them. She believes that people are called to walk in intimacy with Jesus and be salt and light to a dying world.  

To book her to speak at your church, political club, or community group, contact her at bunni@bunnipounds.com or 972-922-0022

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Looking Unto Jesus (Enduring to the End - Part 2)



By Bunni Pounds 

(This is the second part of a seven part series called Enduring to the End - Overcoming Offenses, Bitterness and Unforgiveness)

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:1-3


Consider Him.

The Friday night at the end of early voting of my Congressional primary runoff election, I knew I was losing. I was the only person endorsed by the Vice President in the United States during the primary season (that is another story that I will share later in this series), I had raised more money than open seat candidate in the State of Texas, and I was the only woman on the Republican side that had made it to the runoff ballot in the state, but yet I was still losing.

My opponent was a sitting state representative in two counties where he had the greatest name ID and those two counties were coming out to vote in much greater numbers than the other five counties. There was a race to replace him for State Representative that had ended up in a runoff as well and that was pushing people to the polls. Our race for Congress seemed to be an afterthought in most people's minds.

I had looked at the early voting numbers coming in all week and even though we didn’t know exactly how the people were voting till Election Day, I was a political consultant and I knew the numbers were not good.

On the Friday night before the Tuesday election day, I went to a worship night with our church family and while people were worshipping, I let it all wash over me - over $750,000 of negative advertising against me from my opponent’s campaign calling me a liar and a superPAC who wanted people to believe that I was a Washington insider swamp creature who just moved to the district from Washington DC. I had been suppressing all of it.

In that moment that hour, I let it all wash over me - everything I had not felt till that moment, everything I had taken my family through, every fear of losing my identity, every emotion of anger and I wept and wept. It was an ugly cry, waves and waves of tears.

Had I missed God? Had I done the wrong thing getting into this race? What had I done to my business? What had I taken my family through?

All the self-doubt hit me like a ton of bricks, but then I looked at Him. I saw Jesus again with all His love for me and I saw that my identity was not tied to whether I was a Congresswoman, my identity was in that I could walk with God everyday. I was still on an adventure with Him whether I was going to DC or not.

When I got up off the floor that night, I knew I was going to lose my race, but I also knew that I would survive.

Jesus is the author - the writer, the beginning of our faith. He writes His faith on our hearts and then He holds our hearts in His hands when we go through trials, tribulations, and persecutions and carries us to the other side - He finishes our faith.

I have seen many many people who started out well in their journey but didn’t end well. Members of Congress who started out as principled public servants but who let their identity become wrapped up into their job, their power, and their influence and lost their way. We are seeing that even today. 

Pastors and ministers who honored women and pushed their wives forward, but then turned around and had an affair destroying their families. Starting so well, but not finishing well. 



How do we keep moving forward when people let us down?

How do we endure and let God restore us when we feel like we just got sideswiped by our circumstances?

How do we let our hearts heal from betrayals, suffering, or spiritual abuses?

We consider Him - Jesus. We look to Him. The one who hasn’t forgotten about us.

If you feel like you are that place right now, LOOK to Him. If you feel weary and discouraged in your souls, don’t stop. Cry out for Him to infuse you with new faith for the next season to keep moving forward.

He is the author and finisher of our faith. Consider JESUS!


Catch up with Part 1 of this series and then subscribe to this blog on the right hand side via email so you don't miss the next five coming before the end of 2019. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Did Ministry Prepare me for Politics? (Enduring to the End - Part 1)

By Bunni Pounds

(This is the beginning of a seven part series called Enduring to the End - Overcoming Offenses, Bitterness and Unforgiveness)

“I don’t think you have lived until you have had almost a million dollars in negative advertising thrown against you,” I heard myself tell a friend a few days right before the Texas Republican Primary Runoff in 2018.

I was raw. I was vulnerable.

It had been over six months since my former boss, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, had announced his retirement from the 5th District of Texas. I had gone from trying to desperately find a candidate to run for his seat to sacrificing my own life, my career, my company, and my home and running myself in an eight person primary. Yes, I had run myself for CONGRESS!

There were days I felt incredibly brave and then others that I felt maybe I was a little bit stupid, but I can say honestly, I was never without peace and joy. It was supernatural.

I call it "supernatural" because I knew in my own strength that there was no way I could be doing this successfully. Studying policy papers, listening to people’s detailed problems with the federal government, dealing with the media, and raising so much more money then I had ever raised before for any of my clients in the shortest amount of time, and in the midst of it all, I still have deep deep peace.

As someone who has been in politics as a career for twelve years and been involved for fifteen years, I always get asked this question.

Bunni, how do you handle politics?

Isn’t it such a mean sport?

Why would anyone want to get involved in something where they are going to get persecuted mostly by people of their own party or even those they consider friends?

It is a good question and one I think about many days in this business.

Yes, I ran for Congress in 2018. I ran in a Republican Primary of eight people and was the only woman in Texas in an open seat on the GOP side to make it to the Republican Primary Runoff - which is a fight of two people to determine the nominee of the party. It was a long hard fight with over 1.2 million spent on each side. It got ugly, but I felt called to run. 

In the end, I lost by 2593 votes (out of 33,279) and that season of my life, as quickly as it had begun was over.

I quickly found out that just because the race was over, the wounds were not over. 



The race ended in May of 2018.  I had worked all fall till the general election, even after my race was over, to get a few of my friends elected to Congress. It was now November and I was getting ready to leave for Romania to teach at a few churches and minister for a week at our Bible school that we support.  I finally stopped and had time to breathe. The year was catching up with me.

I was sitting with a ministry friend reliving the story of my last year and she said, “You need to write a book on how to get over offenses. You have gotten through this so well.” 

I laughed and thought - That is a crazy idea. 

I didn’t feel completely over it, but it stuck with me. That thought. I knew I had been faithful to deal with my heart. I knew I was being obedient to pray for my previous opponent, his family, and even his volunteers who had been so vicious to me at times. I knew I was in a lot better place than most people would have been after an experience like this.

Regardless of my feelings, after the general election, I placed myself in a prayer room in Dallas for two weeks and let the calluses melt from my heart. I went from being hard to finally feeling again and working through a process of forgiveness and laying down my bitterness.

During my trip to Romania in December, I was praying over messages and what I needed to impart to these young Bible school students. Usually I come really prepared, but that year I knew there was a wealth of experience and emotions that I wanted to share with them about my great adventure even though I didn’t know exactly what that was.

This thought kept coming to me- teach them how to walk out of bitterness, anger, and offenses. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks and I saw my whole life flash before me - so to speak. 


I had a thought that didn't go away- I was able to walk through one of the hardest years of my life because of all God had walking me through in 20 years of ministry within the Body of Christ- rejections, spiritual abuses, leaders who had slandered us, and all the other wounds and pains that our family has walked through year after year after year.

That night, as I shared my full spiritual story with these young 18 to 25 year olds, I said out of the blue, “this might be the most important message you will ever hear in your life.” I didn’t say that because I thought my story was so great or I said anything so profound, I just felt God’s heart for them to continue on and to not get sideswiped by offenses, rejections, and disappointments with people through their lives. 


I was just being transparent and sharing my hurts on how I had kept moving forward through all of my "tribulations" and wounds inflicted on Tim and I and what I believe every believer experiences within this family called the Church of Jesus Christ. 

This was the key point of grace in my life - I just kept seeking Jesus through it all. 


It then hit me, this could be so important for them because they have to learn to endure and look only to Jesus in the midst of people’s failures, pains that leaders would bring in their lives, or persecutions by the people closest to them. I wanted them to know how to protect their hearts and keep moving forward. 

Key questions for us in the church today: 

What do we do when we have a pastor or leader who has moral failings or such character issues that they have to be removed from leadership?

What do we do when we are rejected by leadership because we are the wrong gender, we are seen as too young, or we are just looked over for no other reason than we are invisible - regardless of our gifts or our submission to authority?

What do we do when leaders try to control us, manipulate us, or use us for their own glory and advancement?

What do we do when leaders are threatened by us because of their own insecurities and rejections and can’t see that we are truly trying to serve and bless?

What do we do when our Christian leaders don’t act like Jesus?

That is an important question because it will happen in our lives, if it hasn’t already. 


Leaders are people and they fail. Spiritual leaders are people and they fail as well.

How do we endure to the end and keep following Jesus when all of His people are so messed up?

I am praying that I can give us some insights here over several small chapters/blogs that we can cling to as we continue on this journey of life.

I don’t know everything about getting over offenses, but having almost a million dollars of negative advertising spent against me has given me a whole other viewpoint on suffering and persecution.

I know when I shared my story that night in Romania, I was set free even more and hopefully it will give us all the courage to share, to release others, to forgive (yes, I said that seven letter word), and be able to keep walking with the only person who is perfect- JESUS. 

We are free when we keep our hearts free from bitterness and rejection. It is called a “walk with God” on purpose, because there is nothing like imperfect people to make us run even harder toward the perfect God. He is the One who always holds our hearts in His big hands. He is the Great Shepherd.

What I want to share in a few articles is this very personal journey that I have had through many years - all are stories from my life, some from politics, some from ministry, some from family and friends, and some from just being a Christian walking with other imperfect Christians. I will change the names to protect people but the message will be the same every time - we have to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep moving forward.

We need to learn to forgive quickly, stay in the place of prayer regardless of every enemy that wants to take you out of that place, and learn to walk in constant praise and thanksgiving.

God wants to humble our hearts and we need to yield sometimes in extreme ways so our hearts are impacted. God is ready to teach us through our lives how to love deeply and walk in compassion toward others. It is a journey of faith and it is not for the faint of heart.  


The alternative is not what I want for my life. 

The alternative is a life of anger, bitterness, re-occurring hurt that never gets healed, unforgiveness oozing out of our pores, and a hardened heart that is unmovable toward people. That is a very unhappy life and one where God is unable to move in our lives because we harden our hearts toward Him and each other. 

The journey to walk free from offenses is one of joy, peace, patience, and love. It is a journey that causes our hearts to be light and free and moving forward to the next great adventure. It is the adventure that we all want to have. Let’s move forward and look at the Word of God concerning offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

As I said to those Romanian Bible school students last year- “this might be the most important message you will ever hear in your life.”


Let’s ask God to teach us the beauty in this verse.

“He who endures to the end will be saved.” - Matthew 24:13


To read the rest of the upcoming series - Enduring to the End - and get notifications as they are published - subscribe to this blog by email to the right of this article. Thank you for letting me share my life with you.