Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Religion of Environmentalism

The environment was made for man, not man for the environment.

Often we take good things and make them into absolutes.  When we take a legitimate issue and make into an ultimate one, we are practicing idolatry.  In this country and around the world we are dangerously close to bowing down to the idol of environmentalism.

Of course, taking care of our environment is a good thing.  God’s creation should be taken care of well and preserved as best we can.  We should be working to reduce our carbon footprint by all reasonable means.  What becomes reasonable in this discussion is defined by whether environmentalism is a means to an end or an end in itself.  If our environment is the ultimate thing, then all extreme measures are necessary.  Anyone who questions in any way our reaction to the earth warming is considered a bad person.  We should remember that history teaches us that until recently truth has always been determined through both scientific and theological/philosophical means.  St. Augustine said, “the book of nature and the book of Scripture were both written by the same author, and will not be in conflict when properly read and understood.”  Pope John Paul II, said in 1987: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”  Only time will tell which one of these correctives are needed most today concerning the global warming debate.

The disparaging of a sacred cow can only explain the reaction to President Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.  The dishonoring of Jesus and Muhammad brought the same response.  A disagreement over a policy does invoke this kind of invective.  Everyone has a God.  It is what we value the most or the thing to which we give our greatest allegiance.  Unfortunately, mankind started to worship the creation rather than the God who created it.  In effect, we exchanged good for the best.  The argument today about global warming should not be about good and evil but about reasonable and unreasonable. God has given man dominion over the earth to enjoy and to care for lovingly, but never to worship.  When we move away from sound reason and follow a false God, it always leads us away from the truth.

Image source--

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The DNA of King David

....“Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17 NLT).
Ruth and Boaz

The story of Ruth and her husband Boaz is an excellent lesson in self-sacrifice.  They were both consistent in their unselfishness.  Though they chose to prefer others through their selflessness, God sovereignly turned their loss into gain.  The union of Ruth and Boaz formed the spiritual lineage of King David, of whom God said, “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22 NLT)

“Your God will be my God.”
Ruth, Chapter 1 tells the story of the love and commitment of a daughter-in-law, Ruth, for her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Naomi had lost her husband and both her sons in Moab.  One of her sons was married to Ruth, a Moabite woman.   Naomi planned to return to her native land in seeking to survive.  She described the cost of following her back to her homeland to both of her daughters-in-law.  Naomi was too old to marry again, and even if she did, her daughters-in-law would have to wait for her sons to grow up to marry them? (Ruth 1:11-13 NLT)  Obviously, this was an impossible scenario.  Ruth responds with one of the most beautiful responses in all the Bible, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  Impossible circumstances often test love and commitment.

In Chapter 2 there is a little-recognized event that reveals much about the character of Ruth.  One day Boaz provided lunch for Ruth while she worked in his barley field.  Ruth did not eat all she was provided but set aside part of it to take back to Naomi (Ruth 2:18 NKJV). Ruth was not just looking out for herself but also for provision for her mother-in-law.  It wasn’t all about Ruth.  Have you had ever been among a group of Christians at a dinner? When helping themselves to food from common serving plates, how they prefer each other by the portions that they take, speaks volumes about the hearts of those dining at that event.  We often reveal our character through our stomachs.

The Kinsman Redeemer
The other person in this love story is Boaz, a wealthy landowner.  I am sure that Boaz was physically attracted to Ruth, but there was something far more enticing to him that just her outward beauty.  It was the content of her character.  Boaz said, “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence (Ruth 3: 11NASB).  What catches a man’s eye is a commentary on the righteousness of that man.

Naomi realizes that Boaz is a close relative and can buy the land that had been owned by Naomi’s husband and would have been passed down to his sons.  He could marry Ruth and provide heirs for her dead son to carry on their family line.  She initiates an ingenious plan to ensure security of her daughter-in-law (Ruth 3: 1-3 NLT). But there is one problem.  There was another relative who has first right to purchase this land.  Boaz engages that relative and tells him of his right to redeem the inheritance. (Ruth 4: 1-4 NLT).  At first, the relative agrees to redeem it until he learns he must also marry Ruth and carry on her husband’s inheritance.  He declines because it would endanger his estate (Ruth 4: 6 NLT).  The close relative chose opportunistically.  As long as it only benefited him, he would do it, but when he learned it would cost him something, he was out.  In our major decisions in life, if we chose only what serves us, we will never understand or embrace commitment.  Without it, we will never fulfill our destiny.

A Marriage Made in Heaven
Boaz chose unselfishly (Ruth 4:10 NASB). He bought the land and married Ruth and provided a son to carry on the family line (Ruth 4: 13NLT).  This is a true love story if you define love as willing the highest possible good for all concerned.  Ruth thought about the good of her mother-in-law above all.  Naomi sought security for Ruth.  Boaz chose the best for all concerned, not just him.  This was the spiritual DNA of King David, the man after God’s own heart.  Ruth and Boaz were committed to doing the right thing, no matter what it cost them.  In dong so, they changed the destiny of a family, which was instrumental in fulfilling the destiny of a nation.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

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


Monday, May 1, 2017

The Death of Unbelief

"Give me the hill country"

 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.” (Joshua 14:12 NLT)

Caleb was eighty-five years old and still has not received his promised inheritance.  He asked for the land of the descendants of Anak, the giants, who had put fear and unbelief in the hearts of all Israel, save Joshua and himself.   The fulfillment of the promise of God would not be complete if he did not conquer this part of the land and unbelief would remain in Israel.

The hill country more than any other area was the place that caused the ten spies to give their bad report.  All the spies except Joshua and Caleb said, “We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next, to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (Numbers 13:33 NLT) Unbelief had made them small in their own eyes. This negative mental state was disastrous for all Israel who died in the wilderness except for two.  Remember they were spies; they probably did not know what the giants were thinking.  You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are. What you believe others think about you is dependent on how you feel about yourself.  But the strange thing is that neither one of them may be true. Only what God says about you is true.  Caleb believed he would drive out the giants, “just as the Lord said.” (v.12)

Joshua had already captured the city of Hebron (Joshua 10-36-37 NLT) except the mountainous area within it.  It was considered unconquerable, too fortified for any man to take, but not so for God. Caleb could have taken the lowland and lived securely off of the fruits of someone else’s conquests, but he said, “give me the hill country” (v. 12).  If Caleb could not take what God wanted to give him, he would take nothing at all. Why? It was all about the integrity of the promises of God. Caleb knew that what God had promised, he would do.  If God had said it was his, then that settled it, whether he was forty or eighty-five years old.

Has God promised you your hill country?  Are you getting older or is there an immovable object in your way.  Over and over God told his people that he was giving them the land, now go in and fight for it. We like to think about receiving the land, but not so much about having to fight for it.  In taking your inheritance, the battle is between faith and unbelief and the battleground is mainly in your mind.  If God has spoken to you, take the inheritance that God is giving you, and put to death unbelief.  If the Lord is with you, you cannot fail.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

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