Friday, December 23, 2016

The Story of Christmas

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9: 6 NASB)

The story of Christmas  is about a God who came not to conquer us, but to win our hearts.

Soren Kierkegaard, pastor, and Christian philosopher, often told this story to his congregation during the Christmas season. There once was a king who had great power and wealth who fell in love with a pauper maiden. He knew he should not love her, him being of royalty and her living in poverty, but nonetheless, he did.  He wondered how he could capture her love.  Being the sovereign monarch, maybe he should just send his soldiers and whisk her away and declare her Queen.  But would she just be acquiescing to his power rather than responding to his love?  He thought about showering her with gifts up to half his kingdom, but would she love him for his wealth and not for himself?  He pondered his dilemma and decided that he only had one choice. He must give up his kingdom and all his royal possessions and power and become a pauper and live like the one he loved. In the end, sacrificial love found a way and triumphed over, wealth, power, and position; winning the affection of the one he loved.

Jesus could have declared us righteous without dying, but it would not have fulfilled the will or the law of God.  He could have forced our obedience to His wishes, but like the King in our story, He wanted to win our love and not usurp it.  Deity met humanity, and win it, He did.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

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

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