Sunday, March 17, 2019

Servant Leadership


 
But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 
 (Matthew 20:25-26 NLT)

Jesus taught his disciples that leadership in the Kingdom of God had a whole new set of requirements. There are two types of leaders. One who does it for him or herself, the other who leads to serve others.

Before the Disciples met Christ, the only model they had for leadership were the Pharisees. The Pharisees loved the best seating at the banquets and the front seats at the synagogues (Matthew 23:6).  They quite liked the respectful greetings bestowed upon them in the marketplace (Luke 11:43).  The Disciples had just been jockeying for leadership positions.  They must have been thinking about the day when their movement would gain acceptance, and they would have prestige like the Pharisees.  Jesus burst their bubble.  Jesus was trying to communicate to them that being a leader was not about what they could get, but what they could give.

Leaders often stand before us, and we think that it would be great to be like him or her.  What we do not understand is that for every hour leaders spend publically teaching, directing, or leading, they spend untold hours privately dealing with other peoples’ concerns or problems.  Servant leadership is actually a very unselfish task.  The needs of those who lead often become subservient to those who serve under them.  Sheep are pretty needy animals.  Servant leaders seek to give and not just get from their people.  In the Kingdom of God, the last will be first and the first last.

 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, March 14, 2019

Spiritual Inertia


And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17 NLT)

Good is always the worse enemy of God’s best.  How God has led us to do things in the past is not always the way he will lead us in the future.  When God is directing us to accomplish tasks differently, spiritual inertia will forever be present.

The definition of inertia is a tendency to do nothing or remained unchanged.  It is a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless that state is acted upon by an external force. 

Every new move of God has always been resisted by the previous one.  Truth never changes, but how God chooses to make it known does.  In the Church in the latter part of the last century, we experienced what was known as the charismatic movement or neo-Pentecostalism.  With a few differences, the theology of charismatics and Pentecostals were virtually the same, yet the push-back for the charismatics came through classical Pentecostals.  Our scriptural reference is an example of the first-century church dealing with spiritual inertia.

In the church, what is the external force that acts upon spiritual inertia?  It is the work of the Holy Spirit. When God starts to move, he often uses methods and people who seem foreign to us.  If God speaks to you about a new initiative, there will be resistance from both inside and outside the church.   The church often becomes the prisoner of a positive past, and we cannot get past good to get to the best. Are you trying to do God’s work today with yesterday’s methods?

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


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Broken-hearted God


 
For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me—for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?”  (Genesis 44:34 NASB)
 
It is the most grievous of all things to break the heart of a father.  Judah experienced the fear of piercing his father’s heart.  Sin breaks the heart of our heavenly Father, but not like it breaks our hearts.

Joseph has just told Judah and his brothers that they could not come back to Egypt for help unless they brought with them their youngest son Benjamin.  Joseph has been separated from his father, Jacob, and now if he loses his youngest son, he will go down to death in sorrow.  In a desire to protect his father, Judah commits to giving his life in exchange for Benjamin’s.  John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

The analogy between an earthly father and our Heavenly Father breaks down at some point, as all comparisons between the temporal and divine do.  Human beings are often sad about our sin because we lose. We lose our freedom, relationships, reputation, etc.  God is sad about our sin but not because he loses. He is totally complete and self-sufficient.  Our Lord has no needs.  He is sad because he knows we lose and this is what breaks his heart. God’s love is always others’ oriented.

We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19 NKJV).  Do we obey God just to escape the consequences for our sin, or to avoid bringing grief to a kind and merciful God?  The former way causes us to follow him out of compulsion, the latter out of love.

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, February 21, 2019

But God


My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning? But you are holy.
(Psalms 22:1, 3a NKJV)
 
There are times when all believers may feel like God has gone on vacation.  We should not be too surprised when we experience this feeling, as David and even Jesus on the Cross felt abandoned.  The key to dealing with these times is to say, as David did, but God is good.

In 1871 Christian businessman, Horatio Spafford lost everything in the great Chicago Fire.  He planned a trip for his wife and four daughters to Britain. They traveled ahead of him and their ship was rammed by another vessel. His wife survived, but his daughters perished. Spafford immediately left to meet his wife, and as his ocean liner approached the area where his daughters had drowned, he composed the song that has become a memorial to the sovereign goodness of God, “It is Well with My Soul.”  

It is not really easy to feel abandoned.  God knows your pain.  Jesus expressed his pain on the Cross and David often conveyed his grief without condemnation from God.  Yet, in David’s dialogue with God, most often there was a point where David said, but God is good.  In our sufferings, we must always have that “but God moment.”
At some point in our conversation with God, it is necessary to interject in good times and in bad, the sovereignty of God.  All things that happen to us may not be caused by God, but he at least allows them.  A very therapeutic thing for us is to realize that in all our trials and struggles, God is still in control, and for all who love him are for our ultimate good.  Remember Joseph, who told his brothers who had sold him into slavery, you meant it for evil “but God” meant it for good (Genesis 5:20).

 If we never come to the “but God” stage of our trials, we will devolve into the “why God” juncture and start to doubt the character of God.  Spafford eloquently wrote, “When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Stinking Thinking

But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?” (Exodus 6:30 NKJV)
 
Clearly, Moses did not view himself as up to the task that God had placed before him. Things can start out as an honest evaluation of your deficiencies, yet repeated over and over again, can devolve from humility to inferiority.  It is never wise to deny what God says you can do, it’s “stinking thinking.”

Moses declared to God that he had uncircumcised lips, or he was unskilled in speech.  We all realize that in ourselves we are all unable complete the tasks that God gives us to do, yet there is a point in time where we have to take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on God.  In Exodus 4: 14 the Lord became angry with Moses as he tried to persuade the Lord of his incompetence in speaking.  At this point, Moses was not walking in humility.  God never gets angry with humility.  The Lord responded to Moses, “So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?”  God was trying to get Moses’ eyes of himself and look to the Lord. Humility is not dwelling on our weaknesses but recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, and understanding that God can use both.  It believes that God’s grace is bigger than all our deficiencies.  

Even the best of us, like Moses, sometimes get into “stinking thinking.  Don’t bore the Lord, he is well acquainted with your inadequacies.  Don’t continually replay the narrative of unbelief. You are what God says you are.  It is never humility to say you can’t when God says you can.

 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

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Ultimate Question

Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing(Job 21:6 NLT)

Satan asked a question about Job that every believer must eventually answer.  The inquiry questioned Job’s motive.  Religious people down through the ages have dwelt on what they have done for God and ignored why.  
 
Love is always based on what we give and not receive.  Christ’s example of love for us is exemplified by his giving his very life for us. Inherent in Satan’s question to God, is the suggestion that Job loved what he got from the Lord more the God himself. The enemy was questioning Job’s motive. The implication was evil, but it still needed to be answered.  

I have observed that people who are serious about loving and serving God most always go through a period where God seems to take and not give.  People, like Job’s counselors, will be adept at pointing out your flaws as the reason for your trials.  They may be right about your faults, but wrong about their being the reason you are suffering.  Job teaches us that life is more than a cause and effect relationship.  Job was suffering not because he was unrighteous but righteous, and so might you be.

In this story, there are two high points of Job’s character.  When Job’s wife says to him, “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9) and he replies, “Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (v.10)   Also, when Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).  If God is not good all the time, he is not good at all.  God never causes evil, but he does sometimes allow it to touch us. Are you suffering my friend? God may be asking you the ultimate question.

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, January 31, 2019

Returning Good for Evil


And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 
 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
Joseph Sold into Slavery
 (Genesis 45:4b-5 NLT)

There is a natural tendency in the human heart to be treated fairly, yet Joseph marched to a different drummer.  He responded not just humanly, but divinely. He showed his brothers mercy instead of justice by returning good for evil.

At times in my life, I have reminded the Lord that it is tough to show grace to people when they are not showing much to you. After I made these reminders to the Lord, there would generally be a pregnant pause in the conversation. After a few moments, I would get the feeling that the Lord was saying to me, been there done that.  At that point, Christ was referring me back to the Cross where he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT). In this life, people will spitefully use you. Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:47 that if we are only kind to our friends, is this different than anyone else?  Even the non-believers do this.  What distinguished Joseph from his brothers was his willingness to return good for evil. As Christians, what sets us apart from the world, it’s our willingness show grace to those who don’t deserve it. Not doing so, contradicts who we are.

As believers, are you surprised in how you have been treated by the world?  Read the Book, it is part of the territory.  Take courage, people may have meant it for evil, but God intended it for good.

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