Sunday, December 30, 2018

Love In Them - Devotional #7 (John 17:25-26)

By Bunni Pounds

"O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26 

As believers in Jesus we have experienced and tasted something that the world doesn't understand. We have experienced the love of God. 

Here, Jesus was praying to the Father before He went to the cross, acknowledging that He knew the Father, and that He had revealed Him to His disciples to the point where they could say that they too knew the Father. Then He prayed for one more thing: "that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Here is God (in the form of Jesus), speaking to God (the Father), by God (the Holy Spirit), concerning the love of God being given to us. Powerful!

He wants us to know the love that is in the heart of the Trinity for one another. Imagine how strong the love of the Father is for the Son. Imagine the love of the Son of God for the Father. God wants us to have that kind of love. He wants us to know it deep in our souls. 

The beauty of this is that Jesus was actually praying for the Holy Spirit to come to the people of God, and to shed that love abroad in our hearts

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." John 14:16-18

The Holy Spirit is so critical to have in our lives because it is through Him that we have communion with the Godhead. He is our Helper. He is the one who communicates the love of God to us. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit regenerates our spirit. However, there is also an empowerment—a "coming upon" of the Holy Spirit—like on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It is this baptism that enables us to pray by the Spirit and commune with the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit wants to have a relationship with us and make that LOVE really clear in our hearts. He wants to reveal the love of the Father to us and release a dynamic love in our hearts for the Son of God. He wants to create a “love fest” on the inside of us with explosions of the love of God.

In this day and hour, we must engage with the Holy Spirit – talking to Him, praying with Him, and seeking His comfort and guidance. We need to pull from the treasure chest on the inside of us and the fire within to live out the call of God for our lives. This does not happen by accident – we must be intentional - engaging with Holy Spirit.

The love of God is deep. It is beyond words or understanding. Only the Spirit of God can show us the depths of the love of God for us and the world around us. Communing with the Holy Spirit is essential to the revelation of the love of God in our lives. 

God is after voluntary lovers. He won't force us into anything. Knowing Jesus and walking in, and with, the Holy Spirit is life eternal.

It is what we will be doing for all eternity. What is keeping us from starting on that journey now?

Download the full 7 day devotional book in pdf form here to print off and study.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Father, I Desire - Devotional #6 (John 17:24)

By Bunni Pounds

"Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24 

Do we ever take any time to think about the desires of God? What does God desire for our lives, families, nation, and our world?

What is in Jesus' heart for us?

This verse—John 17:24—rocked my world a few years ago because I finally got it. I really got it! And it has held me through persecutions, sufferings, loneliness, and fears.

Jesus, right before He goes to the cross, tells His Father God about His deepest desire. He tells Him, in essence - Father, I am willing to give up My life. I am willing to die, but this is what I really want. This is My heart’s cry. This is MY DESIRE—I want the ones that You have given Me as My inheritance to be WITH ME WHERE I AM. I want them to BEHOLD MY GLORY. I want them to see the LOVE that You have given Me and the love We share with each other. I want them to be surrounded in the circle of our love.

The desire of Jesus is pounding in His chest until He sweats drops of blood. BLOOD! Luke 22:44 says, "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

I finally got it on my couch one day poring over this chapter of the Bible.

It wasn't fear that was causing the agony of Jesus in those final moments in the Garden. It wasn’t that He was afraid of suffering, of being beaten and crucified. He knew what was ahead, but it was not the pain in front of Him causing Him this agony, it was His DESIRE. His desire was so strong that it was causing Him agony because He knew what He had to do. He knew His desire was worth it all—His suffering, His torment, and His death. The desire of His heart would win over the day and it was almost here. This desire was about to be met and He couldn’t wait. The heart of this intercessor knew that what He had been praying for was about to come to pass.

I can just see Jesus crying out in prayer to the person He loves to talk to most—the Father. He was not going to let Him go until He gave Him his ultimate desire—a bride that would willingly love Him and would want to see His glory.

Psalm 2 is a prophetic psalm of the Messiah's triumph and kingdom.

God says, "I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession."
Psalm 2:7-8

Right there, in His final moments, Jesus is crying out, "I am asking,
Father, I am asking for My inheritance. I am asking for My bride from the nations. Here I am giving You everything to fulfill Your Word so I can have what is rightfully mine and what we dreamed up from the beginning together at creation. Now is the time for My desire to be manifest on the earth."

I was stunned that day as I realized the depth of the love of Jesus for me and for His bride all over the earth.

If John 17:24 doesn't make us want to know Jesus in a deeper way, I don't know what will. Pray for revelation of this beautiful passage and ask God to show you His deep desire and longing for you to be with Him.

Jesus is after us with His desire; He gave up His life to redeem us. His blood continues to cry out, "I WANT YOU. I need you. You are mine."

It is time for us to accept His gift and mercy, not only for eternal salvation, but His gift of grace empowerment into His presence, so we can walk with Him intimately each day.

This last year I did the hardest thing I have ever done, I ran for Congress. It was SO hard – constantly speaking, working, asking for money to fund the campaign, and running around seven counties nonstop while on my phone trying to earn people’s support. I felt the weight of the pressure of expectations. So many people were supporting me, my former boss and the incumbent endorsed me, and even the Vice President of the United States tweeted out His endorsement of me.

The experience of running for a national position was incredibly deep in the natural, but I had so much peace and joy walking through the journey. It is impossible to explain. I felt like I was walking on air most of the time and living my purpose.

Every morning, I would whisper to Jesus and remember that the Holy Spirit lived on the inside of me. I would reflect on Jesus walking with me through this adventure, and I would remember His desire and His thoughts toward me. I would keep moving - believing for His favor, believing for His best for me and my family, and carrying - as an intercessor - His love for the people of America. I was “with Him where He was” fulfilling Jesus’ prayer in that moment.

I made it to through an eight-person primary into a two-person runoff and I kept walking in peace. When I lost by 2,600 votes at the end of this intense process, guess what? I was still with Jesus. The deepest part of my life was not gone. I might not be a Congresswoman serving the people that I love in the 5th District of Texas, but I can walk into the next adventure still knowing Him. I cannot underestimate the power of this revelation that our ultimate mission in life is to KNOW GOD in the secret place. This is real ETERNAL LIFE lived out here and now on earth. This secret place is where every success or failure that we experience on this planet does not cause us to be swayed by its importance or disenfranchised by its impact, either positively or negatively on our hearts. JESUS IS OUR GREAT REWARD!

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
 John 17:3-5


Download the full 7 day devotional book in pdf form here to print off and study.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Oneness - Devotional #5 (John 17:20-23)

By Bunni Pounds

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." 

John 17:20-23

First off, I love it that Jesus was not only praying for His followers and disciples there with Him on earth, but also "for those who will believe in Me through their word." He was praying for us. He continued to spell out His prayers for us: we were in His heart and His thoughts as the "joy set before Him" as He went to His death. This allowed Him to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

What is the true oneness that Jesus was talking about in this passage? Jesus had the same heart and motivations as His Father. As He spent time with the Father in the scriptures and in prayer while here on earth, more vision regarding His life was revealed to Him. Jesus was in human form showing us how to walk with the Father. 

If we want the world to know about Jesus and His greatness, it isn't enough for us to just believe in Him. The Bible says that "even the demons believe and tremble" James 2:19. Belief alone can start the process of transformation, but it isn't enough to convince the world of the glory of God. Only people who find and know His heart and then walk in it displaying their oneness with God to the world will actually reveal the glory of God. If we want to make Jesus famous, we have to KNOW Him and walk with Him on a daily basis. We have to be ONE with Him, not just in theory, but in practice.

The amazing reality is that God doesn’t call us to do anything that His grace and power doesn’t enable us to do and He has demonstrated in His own life lived out.

Here, in this prayer, Jesus said, "…the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one." God gave us all that we need for the journey. We are seated together with Him in heavenly places. We have access to His GLORY. 
It is in that glory that we see what is really important for eternity. It is where our lives come into focus as we see the importance of God's heart and His desire for His people. In the glory, all the stupid, trivial things don't seem to matter so much; we just want to be together with Him in His glory. 

Now let’s talk about oneness in the context of our relationship with the Body of Christ.

Oneness is not sameness. It doesn't mean that we believe every tenet of what someone else believes. It doesn't mean that we line up, precept by precept, with our brothers and sisters next to us. Think of it this way: even when we are WITH God in His holy presence, do we really believe everything that He believes? He would love us to have complete understanding of His ways and His character, but NO, we are being conformed into the image of His Son. We are gaining revelation and knowledge of who He really is, but we are still not the SAME as God.

It is the same with our brothers and sisters in Christ from all walks of life. We are the most ALIKE when we are in the glory of God covered by LOVE, but we are still created with different gifts and expressions. We are all being conformed to the image of Christ at different stages, but we can still be ONE in love.

Oneness is not sameness, yet it is powerful because it is love in the Spirit. It is this LOVE that draws people to this faith called Christianity.

John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Currently, there is a stirring for churches, ministers, and leaders to come together more and work together for the sake of the harvest. This is the oneness that Jesus was talking about here in this passage.

To be clear, He is not talking about us coming “together” as if we are brothers or sisters with Muslims or other religions that deny Jesus as the Christ or “churches” that deny the basic doctrines of Christianity. Those movements demonstrate the spirit of the antichrist laid out in 2 Peter or the book of Revelation. That is not what Jesus was talking about here. Christian ministries - where we have more to pull us together than what divides us – must find unity around prayer, worship, evangelism, and missions to see God’s plan revealed on the earth in these last days. This was the unity that Jesus was praying and interceding for in this chapter.

In April 2017, we had an incredible move of God in the Dallas-FortWorth Metroplex called ReviveTX, where over 360 churches, small and large, Baptists and Charismatics, Pentecostals and Episcopalians, traditional and modern worship styles, came together for the sake of sharing the gospel for 50 targeted days. We prayed together every morning, pastors met together, we worshipped together at night, and we shared the gospel together all throughout each day. Notice the keyword is TOGETHER. It was POWERFUL as almost 3,000 people came to Jesus through our unity and perseverance.

ReviveTX swept up the hungry believers of the city into a vision of how the Church should look and act and changed us forever as we saw God move beyond the four walls of our individual churches. Initially, it was hard for us as leaders to lay down our pride, the competition, our fears; but in the end, those of us who did saw the fruit in our own hearts, the health of our churches, and the city at large. We are still seeing the fruit of this movement - almost a year and a half later.

As we walk increasingly in oneness with God both individually and corporately in our individual churches and the Body of Christ at large, the world will see more of Jesus and His glory. We answer Jesus’ prayer by our obedience to choose love over strife. 

This was Jesus' prayer for us and it will come to pass. 

Download the full 7 day devotional book in pdf form here to print off and study.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Not of This World - Devotional #4 (John 17:13-19)

By Bunni Pounds

But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." John 17:13-19

We live in the world as believers, but we are not supposed to be OF the world. I am not just talking about being cross-cultural, weird, or "different," but walking in a level of holiness (separation) unto God.

Ephesians 1:4 - "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."

1 Peter 1:15 – "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,"

Ephesians 5:27"That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

1 Peter 1:16 – “Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

I love that Jesus prays for us that we would be kept from the evil one. He is not praying that God would "rapture" us out of the world or that we would live in communes away from society. Rather, He prays that we could live in the middle of our culture as a sanctified people.

God has called me into a career field that many people don’t understand and they especially don’t understand how we can be Christians in the political world. It can get nasty and ugly, but there is a way to be honest, full of integrity, and kind, but at the same time stand up for truth, be bold, and support good people who believe deeply in policies that protect our freedoms.

In politics oftentimes, pride wants to raise up its ugly head in our hearts, but we must battle it by being intentional to humble ourselves, to prefer others, and to pray that our hearts are softened.

My cry is for God to make me holy so that the world will see the glory of God through my life. This is also Jesus’ prayer for me.

Jesus says something like this - They are going to hate you because you don't operate in the same system that they do. You are different like I am different. I am praying for you that you will not fall, that the devil won't be able to take you down, and that you will not only be justified by faith in Me, but that my Spirit will change you from the inside out. I am praying that you are sanctified by My truth.

The fact that Jesus is praying for the disciples (and US) in this passage means that He truly desires it for us. It is HIS WILL for us to walk in sanctification and holiness. He has set us apart to know Him, and when we “know Him” His character rubs off on us. We should be different when we walk away from a meeting with Jesus, or else we should wonder: what are we doing? Did we not just meet with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Did it not change us?

I love it that God has called me to live in the midst of a nation (America), in the midst of a political field, and in the midst of a city (Dallas), yet has called me to walk with Him as set apart unto Him.

Are you set apart? Have you made Him Lord, King, and Master of your life? It is hard to claim His name if you haven't.

1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

Remember, He is praying for us. He is praying for YOU. For "our sakes" He lived a sanctified life. Jesus showed us the way forward. He is faithful to walk with us day by day into His holiness and sanctification. 

Download the full 7 day devotional book in pdf form here to print off and study.

Monday, December 17, 2018

His Keeping Prayers - Devotional #3 (John 17:9-12)

By Bunni Pounds

 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."  John 17:9-12

One of the descriptions of Jesus in the Bible is that He is our Great Intercessor. If you have ever met a person who is called to be an intercessor, you know the power of that calling. The true intercessors that I have met are single-focused, steadfast, loyal, faith-filled, and zealous with a ton of tenacity to keep going in prayer, even when everyone else around them couldn’t care less about prayer.

Jesus is the ultimate Intercessor for us. Here, in His last minutes before His death, He was thinking about His disciples. He was praying for God the Father to keep them steadfast. He was praying that they would not be moved. He was declaring over them that He was going to KEEP them through His name.

His prayer continues even today as He stands on the right-hand side of the Father. 

Hebrews says, "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens..." Hebrews 7:24-26

These verses give me so much comfort because I know He has me. He won't let me fall too far that He can't reach me. He is praying for ME day and night, all the time interceding to the Father that I will be kept in Him. He will not lose me! He will not let me go!

Jesus—the Great Intercessor—has supernatural keeping power. 

We elevate sin and the devil in our minds many times and think about the power that we are fighting against – the darkness. We all have struggles and we all feel the power of evil waging war within us, but Jesus is bigger than our flesh and our selfishness. His keeping power is greater than the power of the enemy. When we feel weak, He is strong.

I love this picture of Jesus standing up, doing warfare for us – telling the devil “Get away from my kids that I have redeemed. I have them! I bought them with my blood. They are mine.” He is the Almighty God.

If Jesus is continually praying for me, why wouldn't I want to join in with Him in those prayer meetings?  Every moment, of every day, I have the opportunity to hear His heart and His prayers and pray alongside Him for myself, my family, and others.  

Jesus is constantly praying for His Church—His Body.  As I get closer to His heart, my heart cries out more and more for His Church to come into the fullness of everything that Jesus wants us to walk in. His heart is beating for us. He is praying for us. 

Jesus is also forever praying for the lost, hurting humanity. The closer I get to Jesus and pray His prayers, the more I hurt for humanity and the lost sheep. I feel His heart and His love more for people.

Do we trust that the Great Intercessor can keep us in His love?

Do we trust Him enough to spend some of our time joining with Him in prayer for the Church and the harvest of people still yet to be found?

He is PRAYING. He is keeping and holding you and me steady through His prayers.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Glory of Believing – Devotional #2 (John 17:4-8)

By Bunni Pounds

"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.  For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me."  John 17:4-8

So often we discount the miracle of believing.

Have we thought recently about how amazing it is that we believe in Jesus? That we believe in His Word? 

It is a miracle that we believe. It is a miracle that the disciples or the “men whom You have given Me out the world” that Jesus is praying for in John 17, believed that Jesus was sent from the Father and they received His words.

We believe because God manifested Himself to us and we have been given to Him. That is a miracle! We wouldn't know the Father or be able to have a relationship with Him if Jesus hadn't come to this earth as a man and laid down His life.

I remember as a young girl, sitting in the woods by our home in Tennessee and thinking about God. I would think big thoughts about how I wanted Him to talk to me. I would contemplate nature and how things were created, and I would always be thinking about my purpose in life. I didn’t know how to reach God completely as a child, but when I was thirteen years old at a concert, the gospel was shared in its pure form and I believed. It was a miracle of faith as tears flowed down my face and I knew I was a sinner, I knew I needed to be saved, and I knew Jesus was real, alive, and able to save me.

We owe everything to this GOD-MAN, Christ Jesus. Without His obedience to love us, we wouldn't be able to trust in Him or love Him.

Jesus laid down His glory that He had with the Father to do the work that He was supposed to do on the earth—to show us the character of God in a way that could not be discounted or denied. Jesus was faithful to do that, and His glory was restored to Him. He truly was God and man. He now sits at the right hand of the Father, and one day everything and everyone will worship Jesus forever. That is the story of God, and what gives us hope every day that we believe.

Out of the world Jesus pulled His disciples, and out of the world He has pulled us to Himself. We are His! We have been given to Him. This woman who once was a little girl in the woods was bought with His blood and purchased by His love. It is this revelation that compels us to keep His word, obey Him, and be faithful to His call on our lives.

There is so much for us to know about God. It is limitless! Jesus wants to take us on a journey of discovery of Himself.

As we receive His words and they abide in us, we come to know His heart, His character, and His love even more. We cannot be denied. He wants to give us all things in Him. (John 15, Romans 8:32)

It is a miracle that we believe, and it is a miracle every time we receive His words. It is a holy thing that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Jesus came, died, and gave up His glory to show us His glory and love of the Father.

Every time we acknowledge Him, read His Word, and believe in His promises, thankfulness should spring out of our hearts toward Jesus. We have been given to Him!

We are part of His inheritance and His great reward. 

"There's this Man that I see dimly 
but it's enough to give Him everything." 

"You desire us to be where You are. You've pulled us out of this world. So know us, pray through us, make us One in You." 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

His One Motivation: Devotional #1 (John 17:1-3)

By Bunni Pounds

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."  John 17:1-3

Everything throughout the Word of God is about to climax here with this one phrase – Glorify Your Son. From the time of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, God had a plan to redeem the earth. The plan was called JESUS. The end of the story in the book of Revelation centers around the angels, the Redeemed, and the four living creatures worshipping one person – JESUS.

The hour had come for Jesus. This was the moment that history had been waiting on.

With all of history converging on the final hours of Jesus' life; the revelation that He was about to suffer and give up His life for the world was hitting Him. And yet, He had only one motivation that pulsated through His mind: "It is all worth it if these people get to know Me. If I can have My bride, then all My suffering and all the pain will be so worth it. I will get to know them, and they will get to know Me."

Jesus knew the hour had come. He felt the authority of the Father being given to Him. It was time for the Son to be glorified.

In Matthew 28:18 (after the resurrection), He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth..." This was His moment of glorification after His death, burial, and resurrection.

Here in John 17:2, Jesus prays, "You have given Him (meaning Himself) authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him."

Jesus had laid aside His power and authority to come to the earth in the form of a baby, to walk this humble earth as a man, and to
show us how to function in human flesh, yet by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was now time for the ultimate lesson on His WHY. What would compel Him to give up all His power and authority for this simple life in human flesh?

Jesus’ reason was simple. He wanted His creation, His people, to know His Father and to know Himself. This sacrifice was birthed out of LOVE.

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

It wasn't just about living forever. Jesus wanted His people to live eternally, but He also wanted His people to live forever WITH HIM.

He had a personal motive—the same motive that caused the ELOHIM (the Godhead) to create man in the first place, as seen in Genesis 1:26, "Let US make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..."

The motivation behind everything was for us to be WITH Him, for us to KNOW Him.

So, at the beginning of everything it was about His love for you and me, and at the end of everything it was about His love for you and me.

When I sit and think about the reality of Jesus' love for me, how He came to the earth and went to the cross for one reason—to KNOW ME—that revelation brings me to my knees. It makes the world stop. My human and natural life doesn't seem as important as it once was.

When I really meditate on that truth, it makes me want to stop and listen. It makes me want to turn the TV off and spend time consuming His words. It makes thirty minutes in worship seem like nothing, and two hours in His presence seem like a short time.

When I really GET it, my life slows down, and I find peace resting in the only thing that really matters: fulfilling the real motivation of His heart to KNOW me. 

In our modern world, life is busy. We feel like we must accomplish a million things. We must be the best in our career track. We must make sure our kids get the best education and have the best sports programs in town. We must have the best Instagram posts or best YouTube channel. We want our lives to matter someway somehow. We want a legacy and a reason for living. We want to make sure we are noticed.

Then these words hit us “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (Jesus is praying here but speaking about himself).

In my latest season (running for Congress), I watched God hold my heart in His big, mighty hands and keep it from falling apart during suffering, persecution, slander, lies, incredible pressure, and fears. I learned to rest in His presence, and when it was all over, and it didn’t turn out like I thought it would; He reminded me again that the joy and peace I was experiencing in the journey was “knowing Him” in the midst of it all.

In the end, walking with him day by day and learning about Him during this great adventure was the greatest gift of the whole experience. Life can be filled with so much more joy and peace when we realize that ultimately the REASON we exist is to KNOW JESUS every day. If we don’t walk with Him in the here and now, we will miss the whole purpose for which we were created, and the purpose of His death, burial and resurrection.

I want to live my life every day thanking Jesus for giving up everything to redeem me and giving me eternal life. I don’t want eternal life to just start when I see Him face to face in heaven, but to start now, here in my office, my home, and my heart. 

We were His ONE motivation for giving it all. I pray that we know His love today – deep in our souls – and return it to Him through our simple cries and our affections. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Waiting for Taxis: A Call to Move beyond Weeping to Standing with our Jewish friends

By Bunni Pounds

Yesterday, we experienced the "deadliest single attack on the Jewish community in the history of the U.S." when a madman shouted anti-Jewish slurs while storming into a synagogue in Pittsburgh with three pistols and a semiautomatic rifle.

Today, the police released the names of the fathers, the mothers, the grandfathers, and the grandmothers who will be missed by their families and their friends. We are mourning the victims and we are reflecting on antisemitism in our nation that most people didn't believe existed anymore.

How can this be after the Holocaust? How can this be in the 21st century?

Several years ago I was asked to speak on a panel at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC about our families’ love for the Jewish people and our activism to make sure the relationship between America and the nation of Israel remained strong. Speaking as a Christian leader leading a congregation with my husband and also as a political activist working in politics, it was a life-changing event for me being in DC with over 14,000 pro-Israel community leaders that year from all over the United States - most of them, Jewish. It is an experience that I have repeated many years since, but something happened in my heart on that first trip that has never left me and in a roundabout way I felt I needed to share it today.
Speaking at the AIPAC policy conference in 2015

My husband and I were standing outside in the taxi line, surrounded with hundreds of Jews, Orthodox Jews from New York, some reformed Jews from Dallas or California and Jewish young people from campuses all over the US.

Security is always really heavy for these conferences because AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, invites the Prime Minister of Israel, the President or Vice President of the United States, Senators and Members of Congress, and key policy leaders on the subject of Israel. It is the largest gathering of the Pro-Israel community in our nation every year.

Unfortunately, and this was where my eyes were open in 2015, the most important reason for high security are the people who stand outside the convention center yelling and screaming about the “Occupiers”, “the hateful Israelis”, and those “horrible Jews who want to destroy the Middle East".

I know we don’t believe these people still exist in our world, but they do and they are loud, disrespectful, and outright wrong. I have witnessed them with my own eyes and ears and I have had them track me on Twitter or Facebook posting nasty things about me after I simply post a picture with a caption #IstandwithIsrael.

Before I go on with my story, this is what you need to know about our family's history.

Our firstborn son who is almost 22 now is named ISRAEL because we love the Jewish people. It was a choice on our part to name our firstborn son after the people who protected the scriptures for us, the nation who was the light to the nations, and the people who Jesus, our Messiah, chose to come to in the form of a baby and then a man.

When we were a young couple, Tim and I had a love for the Jewish roots of our faith, my husband studied Hebrew, and we even had a “Jewish-style" wedding under a Chuppah - the traditional beautiful cloth covering held up by four poles symbolizing the Jewish home and its hospitality to the world around them. I was fascinated with the richness of Jewish culture and how it opened up the Bible to me in a whole new way.

Tim, my husband, went to Israel twice before we were married and I wanted to go as well, but every time we planned a tentative trip, I got pregnant. I never made it to Israel during the years of raising our young family or growing our small businesses, but from the moment I got involved in politics, pro-Israel politics was something very important in my life.

Surprised in 2014, I received an invitation because of my political activism, to the nation that I had loved for so long. I never stopped crying on those nine days as we went from one border to another.
In Independence Hall in Tel Aviv where Israel became a nation in 1948

Now back to the taxi line story......

I had just shared on this panel of Christian leaders at the Policy Conference about our family's understanding and love for the Jewish people as Christians. During the Q&A segment, an Orthodox rabbi told me in front of everyone that he came into the session with a lot of doubts about us Christians, but that “he saw love in my eyes” and that he was deeply moved. Of course, tears ran down my face.

Then came the impactful moment waiting for our taxis, when these crazy people outside the convention center were yelling and protesting the “Occupiers” and “the Jews who were destroying the world". They were looking at Tim and I and screaming at us as well. We were part of the crowd. We were part of the Pro-Israel community. They didn't know we were Gentiles. They didn't see us as any different than the people we were standing next to.

Tim turned to me and said this statement that I will never forget: “This is one of the proudest moments of my life. This is a privilege to experience this together with them.”

What he was referring to in the word “this” was persecution. We were standing side by side next to our Jewish brothers and sisters and no one knew the difference. In that moment waiting for our taxis together, we were ONE.

Meeting a mother on the border of Gaza who always had to worry about rockets coming down on their town and their children. A month after we left in 2014 - attacks started happening again. 

In our family for years, we talked to our sons about prejudice, cultural fears, and history. We have read the stories of Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Boenhoffer. We have asked our teenagers the hard questions like - What if the Jewish people were persecuted again like they were in World War II and they were running, hiding, and knocking on our front door? Would you open the door for them knowing that you might be endangering your own life? Do you have the courage to be a “Righteous Gentile”?

Some days I felt a little crazy talking about these things with our kids growing up. Surely this would never be a problem again in our modern world?

But then there are days like yesterday when our worst collective nightmare happens. A crazy anti-Semitic man goes into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and starts shooting people leaving 11 people dead and many more wounded.

My people, my friends were hurt yesterday. God’s people were hurt yesterday. I weep with them today and will weep with them into the future.

We should all weep as Americans and as citizens of the world, but our responsibility doesn’t stop with weeping. Our responsibility in America is to "experience THIS together" as my husband said in that taxi line. The experience we need is to stand arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brethren until the haters can’t tell the difference between us and them.

In reality, we are all Americans and anyone who wants to get through to them with hate and anger should have to go through us first. We must be ONE people. We must be Americans.

My prayer for my own life and my family today is that the Jewish people will always see love in our eyes, because that is how it should be. I look forward to many more years of waiting in taxi lines together with them till no one sees the difference between us.

You cannot imagine what these simple words unleash on social media. Please copy and share. Let's be bold!

To read more about AIPAC and how you can get involved politically with the Jewish people to make sure America stands firm beside our great democratic ally in the Middle East, read here and pray about coming to Policy Conference in March 2019. You will never be the same as you stand beside our Jewish brothers and sisters in a cause that matters for the world. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ted vs. Beto - Why people who love America should vote CRUZ

By Bunni Pounds

In politics -  we have to move past the smoke screen and look at the issues. The people who don’t look at the issues and vote on personalities, charisma, and charm, do that to their own detriment and the detriment of America. When we arrive at the polls, we are not voting for a fashion model, a rock star, or the coolest guy that we want to have a beer with. (Side note-  if I drank beer, I would want to have a beer with Justice Brett Kavanaugh after the last couple of weeks.) We are voting for the person who will protect our rights and defend our values. 

Elections have consequences and our individual choices on November 6th could give the Majority in the House of Representatives to a political party that will elect Nancy Pelosi to Speaker again, or could keep the Senate from confirming pro-life justices because we lose the votes.

We are not electing the man here in Texas with the coolest hair, the one who likes Whataburger the most, or a man who speaks with much elegance without saying anything of substance.  We are electing a statesman who will protect TEXAS in the U.S. Senate and I believe that man is Senator Ted Cruz. 

Whether you love or hate Senator Cruz, let’s be really clear on what we are electing on November 6th. 

As a Bible-believing Christian, I am also a strong Republican because of our national GOP platform and our Texas GOP platform. Candidates represent parties and parties represent platforms. The platform is what we say we believe and the Democrat platform nationally or in Texas is not anything I can support. 

Here are my top 5 reasons why I am voting for Senator Ted Cruz and not Beto O’Rourke on November 6th. I hope they educate you and can be something you can share with your friends and family. 

#1 Ted Cruz has always stood up for the life of the unborn 

Beto O’Rourke made it extremely clear that he is for abortion on demand and protecting a woman’s “health decisons”. This is not a healthcare choice. Abortion is killing the next generation of Texans and Americans. In October 2017, the U.S. House voted 237-189 for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It would, for the most part, ban abortion after 20 weeks. Beto O'Rourke voted against that bill. I applaud Senator Ted Cruz for always being passionate for LIFE and defending it. 

#2 Only one candidate here is Pro-Israel

The anti-Israel group JStreetPAC is supporting Congressman O’Rourke big time to the tune of $160,000 because he has a record of not standing up for the Jewish state. As a Christian, I have an issue with this because I not only believe we need to stand up for God's people, but I think natural Israel is the best defender of our democratic values in the Middle East. Senator Ted Cruz has always stood up for Israel, applauded the President when he moved the Embassy to Jerusalem, always backed our military working with them, and made sure Israel had the tools they needed to defend themselves against the terrorists and enemy states surrounding them. Beto - not so much. Vote Pro-Israel. 

Senator Ted Cruz and Bunni Pounds

#3 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

With the lowest unemployment in 49 years at 3.7%, Cruz is right - Republican policies work and we are on the right path. Let’s not choose leadership that wants to take us into socialism one step at a time. If you really listen to Beto, he is not for the free enterprise system and real economic growth. He was against the latest Tax Reform and Jobs Act which is putting more money in the wallets of the average American. A single individual earning the median wage of $50,000 a year is seeing $35 to $45 more in each of their paychecks - that is $1,100 in take-home income per year. That is significant for most working Americans including myself and my family. Let's keep someone who will fight for good jobs in office. 

#4 Border security is national security

Beto doesn’t believe that statement or he would do something about it. Instead he talks about the "community" of immigrants that live in El Paso where he lives who have come across the border. He never really tells us if they are legal or illegal. What do you think? We, as Americans, are all compassionate toward Dreamers who didn't have any choice when their parents brought them here. They are now having to deal with the consequences of their parents' actions overstaying their travel visas or whatever they did to get here, but LISTEN, lawlessness is still lawlessness. We need someone who will make the federal government do their job. No one has been more vocal on this issue than Senator Ted Cruz. We don't want Beto who will defend sanctuary cities and illegal immigrants. As President Trump says - "Americans are Dreamers, too."

#5 Free healthcare is not really free 

Senator Cruz hit Beto really hard in the debate last night on who is going to pay for this “Medicare for all” (Bernie Sanders' plan to expand Medicare to cover everyone). Someone will have to pay and consumers will eventually lose out, if the government legislates everyone’s healthcare choices. Ask any older American who has to deal with Medicare and takes out supplemental insurance policies as well to make sure they get the healthcare they need. 

Senator Ted Cruz's championing of conservative policy solutions is one of the reasons that the individual mandate for Obamacare was repealed within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Our nation should not dictate to any American that they have to buy insurance. That is NOT the role of our federal government. Can we stand up and cheer for Senator Cruz? We should. 

Yes -  we might have all at one time or another over the last six years been a little frustrated with Ted Cruz or something he has done; but nothing that we can think of compares to the agenda of this EXTREME liberal policy pusher called Beto O'Rourke that wants to be the first statewide Democrat elected in 24 years. NOT ON MY WATCH!

I might not be running for Congress in this general election but I am working hard for all of our candidates up and down the ballot and I am standing up for Senator Ted Cruz. 

Let's say it out loud together! I am voting for Ted Cruz for Senate! 

Now don't forget to show up. Take it seriously and vote for every REPUBLICAN on the ballot. 

Early Voting: October 22- November 2

Election Day: Tuesday, November 6

Addition on 10/19, 8:56 am - Another reason to never vote for Beto - he wants to impeach President Trump. Here he is in his own words. 

#cruzcrew2018 #RepublicanValues #GOPplatformsmatter