Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Broken Vessel

I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel. (Psalms 31:12 NASB)

The concept of a man being a broken vessel is hard for the human mind to comprehend.  Two messages revealed by the Cross of Christ help us grasp this spiritual state. Namely, that life follows death, and that joy always comes after mourning

As recorded in Matthew 27:46b (NASB), when Jesus hung on the Cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  God the Father, because Jesus took on our sins, had to turn away from His beloved Son.  Brokenness happens when spiritually we find ourselves all alone and seemingly abandoned, even by God.  Brokenness is never brought about by something that we do, but what God does.  No amount of self-degradation can affect this spiritual condition.  No extent of pain or self-sacrifice we inflict on ourselves can bring about a broken spirit.  We just end up being proud of our humility. It reeks of the ugliness of self-righteousness.

So what do we do, just hang out and expect God to do it?  I think there is something we can do.  It called obedience.  When God brings circumstances or people into our lives that test us seemingly beyond our ability to endure, do we run or remain where God has called us. Often our human abilities are overcome by life’s perplexities; a spiritual death transpires and a vessel is broken. Only then are God’s grace and strength released. 

It is difficult for me to write on this topic as one who understands how unbroken I am, but that may be how it works.  You are probably not broken if you think you are.  Someone once said, “Humility without grace, is pride in disguise.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Childlike Faith

Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I assure you, anyone who does not have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.
(Mark 10: 14b-15 NLT)

 My young grandson, Noah, once asked me the “T” question.  “Granddad, what is the trinity?”  This inquiry taught me a lot about childlike faith.

When Noah was a little guy, I often kept him while his Mother worked.  He loved to put together jigsaw puzzles.  While completing these puzzles, I talked to him about God. I must have used the word trinity in one conversation.  His inquisitive little mind went into action, and he asked that dreaded question.  I took a deep breath and started to explain the essence of God to a child.  After I had finished my explanation, he said, “So you are saying that God is one person, but he is also three persons.”  I said, yes.  He paused to ponder only momentarily and then said. “OK” and proceeded to put the next piece in the puzzle.  His demeanor said; the question was answered, no need to talk further, let’s get on with the puzzle.

What made it so easy for Noah to accept this truth that adults have labored to understand for centuries?  I think there might be a very simple answer to this question.  He did not believe that his granddad would lie to him.  Of course, he did not understand how this could be true, but he trusted the one that told him.  Is it much different for us adults and our heavenly Father? The integrity of the one making a promise validates its legitimacy.  The character of God is the basis of every word spoken in the Bible.  God is good; he is kind, and just, and trustworthy.  God does not lie to us.

Many have desired to enter into the Kingdom of God, but the door to enter into this realm is and has always been childlike faith.  Great minds have sought to understand the unsearchable riches of Christ, but without this simple faith, their intellect has proven to be a hindrance.  A little child taught me what Jesus meant when he said, “For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's All One Story

Only the living can praise you as I do today.
Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
(Isaiah 38:19 NLT)

God is painting a vast mosaic, which depicts a magnificent story.  You and I are a part of this picture.  Though a tiny scene on this canvas, or a brief paragraph in the story, without them the narrative is incomplete.  Those of my generation, the Baby Boomers, need to run the last leg of the race and pass off the baton in a fashion that tells the story of God’s faithfulness to the emerging generation.

Why is it that we hear of rather prominent Christian leaders towards their lives losing their zeal?  They become apathetic and sometimes even cynical.  Is it because they have lost sight of the fact that their own little corner of the world is not the beginning or the end?  The story of redemption runs through the pages of the Bible from the start to the finish.  Each part of God’s revelation builds on the previous one; it’s all one story.   Jesus told us in John 4: 36-38 that those who sow and those who reap must rejoice together because we get the same reward.  Many in my generation may be transitioning to a consulting or supportive role. It may feel like that you have gone from a reaping back to a sowing mode.  Can we get behind the next generation with the same zeal and enthusiasm, which we pursued our ministries?  The answer to this question will reveal whether it was all about our plans rather than God’s eternal purposes.

My dear brothers and sisters, before we start to feel sorry for ourselves, consider this. You could be more productive in a collaborative role, though it may be behind the scenes.  Remember, the Apostle Paul spent a lot of time in prison or house arrest, which resulted in the writing of a significant part of the New Testament. Add to this that the greatest fulfillment does not come from the utilization of our gifts and callings, but hearing God say well done at the judgment seat of Christ. Then both those who sow and those who reap will get the same size trophy.  Let’s run to the finish line, rejoicing that God is going to do even greater things for those taking our place.  Remember, it’s all one story. 

Images used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing