Thursday, December 13, 2018

Dross

You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver(Psalms 66:10 NLT)
The Refiners Fire

For every Christian, there is a testing process. Similar to the purification of silver the process involves fire, expressed in our lives as trials.  Though the process is never pleasant, in the end, it produces the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

Silver is a beautiful mineral, but in its natural form, comes full of dross.  Dross is foreign material that is considered worthless.  In the smelting process, when heat is applied the impurities rise to the surface.  They are then removed, increasing the beauty and value of the silver.  Something very similar happens in the lives of all true believers.  God allows pressure and heat to be applied to our lives in the form of accusations or other unfair treatment. Most Christians, including myself, don’t recognize or want to admit that we have imperfections in our lives.  When fiery trials come, they bring to the surface areas in our lives hidden from us.  The accusations may even be false, but they bring to the surface other areas that do need our attention.  We can be so concerned with the injustice of the allegations, we miss seeing the impurities and allowing God to deal with them. Therefore, we never shine as God intends. 

How do I know so much about this subject, because I have spent too much time dwelling with what others have done, and not enough on my own faults?  As Pogo said in the comic strip with the same name, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We can dwell on the surface, who is right, or who is wrong, and miss the underlying purpose of our circumstances: eliminating the dross and bringing about the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 8, 2018

God Is Still on the Throne

 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Psalms 33:10-11 NASB)

Many things happen in this life that seems to be incomprehensible. Christian die seemingly too young in what appears to be in the midst of their usefulness. Occurrences transpire that do not look to fulfill God’s purposes, yet God is still on the throne.

I once heard a story about a Pastor in Hawaii. The Pastor’s wife fell ill and went into a coma.  After some time, she was confined to a nursing facility.  The Pastor, before he went to his church in the morning, would go by and visit with his wife.  He would comb her hair and talk to her, with no response.  In the evening after work, he sat and spoke to her, without ever even a slight reaction from her.  This went on for an extended period of time.  Suddenly, one day she regained consciousness.  It was only for a few moments.  One of the few things that his wife said in those brief seconds was, “God is still on the throne.”  God wanted this Pastor to know that he was still in control.
Things happen in this life that we may never be able to comprehend.  It is in these times that we trust in the character of God.  God is just in all his ways and kind in all his doings (Psalms 145:17). Bible tells us that the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38).  It is in times of immense loss that by faith we remember that God is still on the throne, and at his return will restore all things.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Fear of Death

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had[a] the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT)
Many of us live in bondage to many things in this life.  Ultimately, there is one great fear owned and propagated by the devil.  There is no greater slavery than the fear of death.

The Bible instructs us that it is appointed for men to die once (Hebrews 9:27). Unless Jesus returns first, all men will experience death.  It is the one great equalizer.  Whether you are rich or poor, famous or not, we will all go the way of the flesh.  The devil is referred to as one who has the power of death.  Satan was the first sinner and the one who first tempted us to sin.  He was the one who brought death into God’s creation, yet by Christ’s death, he defeated the power of the enemy.  Jesus conquered sin by his work on the Cross, and death was overcome by his resurrection, and so will you and I rise with him (Matthew 27:52). As Matthew Henry once said, “Death is not only a conquered enemy but even a reconciled friend. It is not now in the hands of Satan but in the hands of Christ.”

If you are a Christian and still enslaved by the fear of death, you don’t understand the implications of your salvation.  If you cannot approach death well, you will never live well.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Chief of All Sinners

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief(1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul
The great evangelist, the Apostle Paul, viewed himself as the chief of all sinners.  Identification with the transgressor will lead many to Christ.

In my days as a school teacher, I had a colleague who had a moral failure.   He had gotten sexually involved with a female student.  He was tried and convicted of the crime.  We were told by our supervisor that we should dissociate ourselves from this teacher.  In my earlier years, I had learned a great deal from him concerning integrating technology into the curriculum. I ignored my supervisor’s warning. He had helped me, should I not reach out to him in his time of need.  I visited him before his trial and after he was incarcerated. One day as I spoke to him over a phone through a glass partition, I thought to myself, but by the grace of God there go I.  Maybe not his sin, but many others.  That day I realized, spiritually speaking, I should have been on the other side of the glass.  God in his goodness, not mine, had freely pardoned me.  I had reached out to my teacher friend because God had previously extended forgiveness to me.

My supervisor did not think this teacher deserved forgiveness, and she was right, just like you and I did not merit our salvation.  Paul, the chief of all sinners, became the greatest of all evangelists.  Identification with the transgressor is more effective in reaching them than just pointing out their sins.  On which side of the glass do you deserve to be?

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Got Any Beer? A Thanksgiving Message

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Samoset at Plymouth Colony
 (2 Corinthians 4:15 NASB)

God often helps his people in unexpected ways.  The first Thanksgiving may never have happened if the Pilgrims had not received help from an unanticipated source.

Samoset was the first Native American to contact the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony.  On March16,1621 he startled the colonist by walking into their compound unannounced and greeted them in English and asked for beer.  Samoset had some dealings with English fishermen in Maine and had acquired a taste for their English brew.  Believe it or not, the colonist did bring some beer with them, but it was long gone.  They were a bit hesitant about Samoset’s visit as they viewed Indians as savages, as the literature of that day indicates. Yet, they gave him food and let him stay overnight.  He returned a few days later with some other Indians, one of which was the famous, Squanto. He taught the Pilgrims how to grow Indian corn, fertilize it with fish, and was a liaison between the Massasoit, the Chief in that area.  Without Squanto’s help, Plymouth Colony may not have survived.

God goes before us to help us accomplish his will, yet because of theological, cultural, or racial differences, we can miss God’s provision.  At times, God offers us help from people who look, think, or act differently from us. God looks at the heart, not outward appearances.  What cookie-cutter mentality of how God works has limited God providing for you.  Gratefulness for God’s help, no matter how it is packaged, may facilitate the unity of spirit they had at the first Thanksgiving.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Monday, November 19, 2018

Hearing God's Voice

 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.(John 10:3-4 NASB)

In the world today, followers of Christ are deemed somewhat strange when they say that they have heard God’s voice.  Even other believers in Christ can be skeptical. In the Bible, it is unusual when godly people do not hear his voice.

Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, once said, “If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.”  I am not sure if Szasz was being sarcastic, but this is how people many people think.  Communication is always a two-way street.  This is an accepted norm except concerning God.  

Of course, at times Christians think they hear weird things from God.  Sometimes we misunderstand what God is saying.  I say things that sometimes people do not understand.  We do not stop speaking with each other, we clarify to understand each other better. Such is the communication process. From Abraham to Moses, to David, and Paul and the Apostles, it is a given that they spoke to God, and God to them.  God’s Word is the primary way we hear his voice, but not the only way.  It is the yardstick by which we judge what we hear from God.  God never contradicts his Word.

How can you have a relationship with someone where the conversation is a monologue rather than a dialogue?  If you are not hearing from God, maybe it is because you are not listening.  And possibly, you are not paying attention because you believe God is not speaking.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Justice and Mercy

The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. (Psalm 145:17 RSV)
Justice and Mercy

Have you ever tried to be just and yet kind and merciful at the same time?  Humanly speaking, it is a tall task. In the Cross of Christ, God has found a way of being just and merciful at the same time.


If you have ever been a parent, you have most likely grappled with this balance between justice and mercy.  When your children disobeyed, and you disciplined them, you still felt a little guilty because you felt sorry for them.  The saying, this is going hurt me more than you, is sort of true.  On the other side, when you overlooked a transgression to show them mercy, you still felt guilty because you were afraid that you were teaching them that it is ok to break the rules.  Oh wretched parent that I am, no matter what I do I am wrong. Jokingly, I have often said, parenting is like trying to be a cross between Mother Theresa and Attila the Hun.

God is a good Father, and he instructs us through Cross.  The penalty for our sin was paid, yet it was given to us freely.  Justice and mercy were both parts of the transaction. Justice without mercy teaches us that we can do nothing right, the opposite leads us to believe we can do nothing wrong.  Neither path alone will make us a true disciple of Christ. Justice and mercy are attributes of God.  Skew them one direction or the other, and you have distorted the character of God.  Our redemption being free to us but costly to God reminds us that God is kind and just simultaneously.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com