Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sharp Tongues and Deadly Arrows

They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear. (Psalms 64: 3-4 NIV)


As Christians, it does sometimes feel as if we have a bull’s-eye on our backs.   We seem to be often dodging cruel words like deadly arrows.  Their motive may be malice, but there may be a more foundational reason.  They misjudge the character of God.

As believers, it is sometimes true that we receive criticism as a consequence of our wrong actions.  For most Christians, though, the reproach we get is not because we are guilty, but because we are innocent.  The commentator Matthew once wrote, “The better people are, the more they are envied by those who are evil, and the more evil is said about them.”  Yes, the evil intentions of peoples’ hearts motivate them to attack righteousness, but there may be a deeper reason for these verbal assaults.  Verse 5 says, They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?”  They exhibit a disbelief in an all-seeing and all-knowing God.  Believing God does not see their evil deeds and therefore will take no action deceives them into assuming they will have no responsibility for their actions.   The wicked believe they can, therefore, say whatever they want.

Never forget that God is not mocked, in spite of tongue of the unrighteous.   The very words they have spoken will be turned against them (Psalms 64: 8-9).   Though God tarries, he has not forgotten you.  Christ always has the last word.  Though you feel the sting of sharp tongues and deadly arrows, the Lord will plead your case in heaven and earth.

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
                http://gleaningspodcast.blogspot.com



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gentleness and Respect

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3:15 NIV).
 
We must always be ready to defend the Gospel of Christ, but that does not give us the right to be harsh or disrespectful of people with different beliefs than ours.

He is another one of those Moonies I said to myself with disdain.  An Asian looking man had approached me in a parking lot and started to tell me what he believed.  His literature indicated that he was a follower of Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church whose beliefs were inconsistent with orthodox Christian doctrine.  Most Christians considered this group cultist.  I impatiently waited for him to finish his spiel and then I let him have it.  I told him in no uncertain terms that he was a part of a cult and I used scriptural proofs to validate my case.  I walked away thinking, I guess I got him told.  I was pretty sure I had defended the Gospel, but for some reason, I had a sense of unrest in my spirit. I pondered as to why I was troubled.  It became apparent that I had not even come close to dealing with this man with gentleness and respect.

I knew what I had to do.  I searched the parking lot for this man.  As I approached him, he must have been thinking, not this guy again.  I simply told him that I had talked to him in a way that Jesus would never have spoken to him.  I asked him to forgive me for my attitude. In our first encounter, it is interesting that all my theological arguments were like water off of a duck’s back. They are trained to counter to these kinds of responses.  In our second interaction, he was visibly shaken. He had no comeback to a little bit of humility.  We should share the truth with people, but our theological truths need to be validated by the love and respect we show to those to whom we speak.

As the poet, Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”  That just may have been true with that Moony that day.

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
                http://gleaningspodcast.blogspot.com




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.