Monday, November 23, 2015

The Honor Of Humility

And before honor comes humility
(Proverbs 15: 33b NASB)

I wonder what they think about me now?
I worked for a mission’s organization called Youth With A Mission, referred to as YWAM.  I was a recruiter and I set up missions meetings in 35 cities east of the Mississippi River.   I had wonderful people in each city working with me. Knowing that missionaries were just ordinary people who had the privilege of working with an extraordinary God, I sometimes felt these people had a little higher view of missionaries then we deserved.
One weekend a couple that organized meetings for me in South Carolina came to the YWAM center in Virginia where I lived. This couple really loved missions and they appreciated the work of our mission.  But that weekend I was a little surprised when I found out why they really liked us so much.
Sunday morning we planned on having them over to our apartment for breakfast before going to church. That morning I was running between the dining area and the bedroom. I was trying to entertain my guests and also to help my youngest daughter get dressed for church.  I felt a little stressed. My little one who usually was the picture of submission was having a hard time listening to her Dad. I think she may have been influenced by the Sunday morning demon.  Finally, I lost it and let her have it verbally in a very unloving fashion. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew I was wrong and I apologized to her.  She forgave me as kids usually do. But we were in the room right next to where my guests we're waiting, and I thought to myself; did they hear what I said?  A little embarrassed terror hit my heart.  Again I thought, I wonder what they think about me now.  At the breakfast table I felt like a little child who didn't want to look into his parents eyes when he knows he's done something wrong. Needless to say it was a very awkward breakfast for me.
          After breakfast I realized that not making eye contact with them was not going to work all day. After church at a restaurant before we prayed for the food I decided to get this thing off my chest. It didn't matter whether they had heard me or not, I needed to be known in my weakness and ask them to pray that I would be better at handling stress. I told them the story and the husband got a huge smile on his face and said, “that's what we like about you YWAMERS, you have the rhema in this area of openness.”  Wow! I saw more clearly than ever that I had been believing a lie. I thought that if I let myself be known for who I really was I would lose their acceptance. What made me so susceptible to this deception?  It was my pride.  I cared more than I should about what my friends thought about me.  What I wanted to hide, when revealed, didn’t bring shame but respect   In God's Kingdom honor is always preceded by humility.

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

Image used with permission by Microsoft

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unless The Lord Builds The House

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. (Psalms 127: 2a NASB)
    Recently I had a day on my job that was an exercise in futility.  I executed a change in my work schedule that I thought would be productive. When the desired results were not forthcoming I pressed even harder.  I initiated subsequent strategies to try and make my plan work, but to no avail.  I worked longer and harder than usual but accomplished even less than I did on most days.  When God is not working with us we actually labor in vain.
    The next morning part of my daily reading was Psalms 127. God is always right on time.  As I read this passage I wondered why my efforts the previous day seemed so futile.  Then it dawned on me that I had been trying to “build the house”, so to speak, without God’s help. God had choreographed this little incident so I could read this portion of Scripture at just the right moment. What an amazing God.
           Sometimes there's a very fine line between diligence and striving.  Of course God wants his people to be diligent. But God exhorts us to not strive. “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NASB).  So the pertinent point is how do we distinguish between hard work and nervous effort?  It is simply the one that is accompanied with peace.  Looking back on that day, I had a restless spirit.  God gave me a sign but because I was not looking for it, I did not see it. Peace has been referred to as the barometer of the soul.  It’s the indicator of how well our efforts are aligning with God's will.  It is not the absence of struggle but the presence of calm or tranquilly in our daily battles. Our Heavenly Father is concerned about his children's daily life and peace is the compass that guides us.
       The pivotal question in this process is whether we believe that God wants to take care of us in the mundane aspects of our lives.  Sometimes as Christians we can act like deists who believe that God created the universe and then sort of let it play out on its own. As you know the Bible says,  “Faith without works is dead.”  But some of us practice that as work without faith.  Maybe I should have taken a few moments alone with God and asked him why I was so restless that day? He may well have revealed to me the source of my unrest. When we give way to the temptation of frenzied activity, it never lends itself to obedience to His will. When we feel that compulsion to work longer and longer days, sometimes we should just shorten our workday and retire early.  This may be the most diligent, obedient, and productive thing to do; “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (v. 2c).

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

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