Thursday, December 26, 2019

Forgive Quickly (Enduring to the End - Part 5)

By Bunni Pounds

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

Forgiveness is a command. 

No if's, and's, or but's about it. We all know it is hard to make that choice - but it is a choice.

Mark 11:25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."

Do you see anything in that passage that makes you think we can wait for a special feeling or tap on the shoulder by God? 

What about this one in the Lord’s prayer?

 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

Any part where the prayer stops for a feeling? 


Forgiveness is a command. We don’t have to feel it, we just have to be obedient. 

Just like the story in Part 4 of this series where I prayed over my previous Congressional race opponent’s Christmas card picturing his family for almost a year before I felt a thing; sometimes it takes a long time for feelings to follow. Many times, feelings will never follow, but we are still commanded to forgive. 

If we don’t choose forgiveness quickly, we will become an internally ugly person full of bitterness, anger, and a hardened heart. This is really not about the other person who has wronged us or the circumstances that have hurt us, this is really about us. 

Hebrews 12:14-15 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

I promised stories of our spiritual journey here and I won’t disappoint. I don't share these to cause pain to anyone involved, but only because I believe young people in this generation need to hear that many of us have walked through pain and hurts in church that they might also be experiencing right now. They need to know they can walk through disappointments, moral failings by leaders, and differences in opinions (even extreme cases) and still walk in love.

The church where my husband and I met is still pastored by a pastor we dearly love. This pastor and his wife have taught us so much about life, marriage, grace, freedom, and even were instrumental in me getting involved in politics. I say all that to say, even men and women of God are not perfect. We have to remember that and know only God is perfect. 

When Ben was a baby, this pastor and his team planted a church in Dallas, and I was asked by them to be the first worship leader. I had just spent a few years learning guitar and writing songs, so it was a great honor and a great learning opportunity that I took. 

We had a very rewarding first year. People were getting blessed and I was really learning and thriving as a worship leader.

One day about a year and a half after the church had started, the associate pastor called Tim and I and wanted to meet. He informed us that a man had joined the church who had the ability to lead worship and since he was a MAN - the head pastor had decided that he wanted me to step down and let the man take over. He held the philosophy that women were fine to do ministry until a man was raised up, but a man in all roles of ministry was God’s ultimate desire. 

I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

I remember telling the associate pastor who was a dear friend, what about Miriam who led worship before the people of Israel after they crossed the Red Sea on dry land? 

What about Esther leading her people out of death and destruction? What about Deborah- she was a prophet and a judge? 

What about Priscilla and Aquila who were co-laborers with the Apostle Paul, training up the churches in the early churches? 

This decision made no sense to any of us, but he just shook his head. The decision had been made. 

When I look back at this moment, it was one of many in my past where my gender tried to define me and keep me down - but I had a choice in that moment. Would I forgive? Would I forgive quickly? Would I let this decision that I strongly disagreed with define my relationship with these spiritual leaders for the rest of my life?

A root of bitterness starts as a seed. It starts small, but then grows into a giant plant and can soon take over your entire life as a tree. It is deadly. We have to watch for it in our own hearts and guard against offenses and bitterness taking root. 

It can take you out and cause you to not be able to endure to the end. Don't let it. Forgive quickly. 

In this case - I don't think it was more than a year later that I was recording an album and I asked this associate pastor to sing backup with me. I had to move on regardless of how painful it was. 

After I got into politics - I specifically went and thanked that senior pastor for his investment in my life - teaching me about history, about government, and about the Kingdom of God. His value in my life was not defined by this one decision that he made. I forgave....

Even though Tim and I knew in that moment - when I was asked to step down from leading worship - that it was our time to exit that specific church - over a decade later that associate pastor and his wife, our dear friends, stood with us at our ordination service as BOTH Tim and I were ordained and released to pastor a church that we had planted out of the overflow of our lives. It meant the world to us that they were there and that they signed our ordination papers as witnesses.

Forgive quickly! You don’t know what God will do through that act of obedience. He can bring redemption, blessing, and promotion, out of the ACT and decision to forgive. 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Stay in the Place of Prayer (Enduring to the End - Part 4)

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

By Bunni Pounds

There is much opposition to us staying in the place of prayer - time that we cannot seem to prioritize to sit before God, our flesh that wants to run and do anything else, and our own pride that thinks we can live without God. 

At the end of 2018, after my loss for Congress in May and then quickly going back to work to make sure our 13 political clients left made it over the finish line for the general election, I collapsed in a chair in a prayer room in Dallas. It was the second week of November and I had to leave for Romania is less than three weeks to teach at the Bible School that our family supports. I sat there knowing that I was completely messed up and wanting to run from two hours at a time in a prayer room, but I knew I had to be there. 

I had walked with God intimately through 2018, it was one of the greatest adventures of my life, but it had also been the hardest battles of my life- raising almost a million dollars, the wounds from the campaign trail, my multiple opponents, and people that I knocked on their doors - but then shut it in my face. 

I had then gone straight into several other major battles and dramatic stories helping some of my friends get their seats in Congress during the fall. 

I was wounded and I was a mess. My heart was hard and I felt like I had nothing to give. As I prayed about what amazing messages I needed to share in Romania, Jesus invited me to sit with Him and let Him heal my heart. 

I wish I could tell you that I cried, felt the presence of God in that room and forgave everyone instantly. I did not. 

I instead paced along the wall - praying. I sat with my Bible in my lap starring at the words with a fog over my eyes. I felt lost and felt so full of anger and may I say it, even hate. 

As I showed up day after day, morning after morning from 6 am to 8 am in that prayer room, I fought through, I finally looked at all the ugliness in my heart and I whispered prayers for God to expose it and rip it out of my soul. 

Psalm 63:1- 3
“God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.”

Psalm 26:8 - Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells."

I was still busy, I still wanted to run, and my pride kept screaming - “you don’t need this....just keep moving forward.”

But I knew- I needed to feel again. I needed to weep. I needed to forgive.

We don’t have a choice on the injustices that come against our lives. I wish we did. Life happens and we get sideswiped.

For me, it was rumors being passed around cellphones about my family in East Texas and TV ads calling me a liar, but for many of you reading this, it is MUCH worse - it is abuse, betrayal, injustices, and wounds so deep just reading this is causing you to want to run. 

There is ONLY one path to healing. It is simple. Run to Jesus. Cry out! 

Look your pain straight in the face and run to the place of prayer. 

My friend Corey Russell says it so eloquently (maybe not eloquently but powerfully)  “What this generation needs is to put their butts in seats in the place of prayer and fight against everything that screams at them to get up.” 

Healing is only found in the presence of God and you can find that in your car, your closet, a prayer room, or in the woods beside your house, but you have to find HIM. 

In that place, we can see the eternal perspective on our circumstances and see His glory fully.

There is nothing like imperfect people that causes us to run even harder after a perfect God. 

Matthew 6:6  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

After two weeks showing up five days a week, here was my answer to my heart problem - I had to let the pain go. 

For two weeks, I was praying for my previous runoff opponent, his family, the people who had said horrible things against me and my husband. I prayed for them. I interceded for their needs - not with a feeling but by a command. I laid down my pride, my anger, and my own thoughts of injustice and I prayed. 

About two weeks into this, my heart cracked open and I could feel again. I wept tears of healing and I went to Romania with a heart of love rebuilt by the only one who could reach me. 

In December when I got back from that trip, I had a Christmas card from my previous opponent in my mailbox. It was just a general card sent to all the voters in the district but I placed it on my desk and took this precious family before the Lord day in and day out. Most days I didn’t feel anything but I kept on keeping on till love filled my heart for them and I could move forward. 

When it comes to prayer, we just have to show up with our hearts in tow. We have to force our flesh to sit down.

We just need to prioritize the place of prayer in our lives against ALL of the opposition in our own hearts because it is in this place before the Lord that we are changed. 

I am living proof - Letting God show us His eternal perspective changes everything. 

Love is produced in the place of prayer. 

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series as well.