Saturday, April 15, 2017

Loving Much

 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
 (Luke 7: 47 NASB)

A sinful woman can teach us a lot about the Kingdom of God.  The recognition of our need is the first step toward our entrance into Heaven.  If we perceive we need to be forgiven little, we will love little.

 A Pharisee invited Jesus to his house for dinner.  A woman of ill repute started to weep and wipe his feet with her tears.  She anointed him with expensive perfume.  The Pharisee was upset that Jesus would let such a sinful woman touch him.  In response to this Pharisee, Jesus told him this story.

A man lent money to two men, five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty to another.  When they both were not able to repay him, the man kindly forgave them both.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisee, (v.42b) “So which of them will love him more?”  The Pharisee answered, (v.43) “I suppose the one who he forgave more.”  Jesus replied, “You have judged correctly.”  The woman saw her need and was broken by her sin.  The Pharisee only saw the woman’s sin and not his own.  If we never grasp the depth of our sinful nature, we will never understand the enormity of God’s grace in forgiving us.  Whoever sees no need for the cross of Christ, will never embrace it. Recognition of our need for forgiveness is the evidence of a repentant heart. By his attitude, it is apparent that the Pharisee is trying to maintain his right standing with God through his self-righteousness.  Pride blinded him to his sin.  The woman’s actions indicated she realized that only Jesus could save her.  Her reasonable response to this revelation was to love him.  And love him, she did.

The woman in our story was closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than the Pharisee in all his religious regalia.  In this tale, Jesus was homing in on authentic faith, rather than the external trappings of religion.  He paints a word picture of the contrast between a legalistic religious pursuit and a love relationship with our Savior.  One of the players in this parable was motivated by love of self and other by the love of God. Fulfilling the law of love through faith saved the woman.  The Pharisee met the letter of the law but was far from righteousness. The next time we are tempted to judge someone without first looking at our sin, we should remember, but for the grace of God there go I.  Whoever has been forgiven much, loves much. 

Images used with permission by Microsoft.

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Fright of Missions

Vanilla Wafers
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
 (John 10: 27 NASB)

I coordinated a recruiting tour for Youth With A Mission in the late 1980s and early 1900s, called Night of Missions.   We held meetings in thirty-five cities east of the Mississippi River around a nice dessert format.  I once learned that by not listening to God, a Night of Missions could become a “Fright of Missions.”

In an exasperated voice I said, Lord, who is in charge here?  Several weeks earlier we had to cancel part of our tour for logistical reasons.  I had sent letters of explanation to all of the affected city directors notifying them of the cancelation.  One day in my office in central Virginia I got a phone call from the Director from Virginia Beach, Virginia, one of the canceled cities.  He said, “We are looking forward to you coming.  We have just sent out four to five hundred invitations.”  My heart fell from my chest into my stomach.  I explained to the Director the missed communication.  He seemed very disappointed.  Due to the disenchantment of the Director, and the lingering image of a huge crowd of people being challenged to reach the world, I made a snap decision.  I said, we’ll make it happen.  It was a couple of days before the scheduled event, and I had no team, and the multimedia equipment we used was on the west coast.

I begged and borrowed a makeshift team of missionaries from our staff.  I rented the media equipment, at no small cost, thinking with a crowd of several hundred people we would recoup the expense.  We arrived at Virginia Beach for the meeting, and there was no one to meet us at the church.  The atmosphere was strangely quiet.  Not long before the meeting was scheduled to start, the Director arrived with his son.  The boy plopped a partly eaten box of vanilla wafers on the otherwise empty dessert table.  I thought to myself; this is not good.  A few people straggled into the hall, maybe ten or so.  We had almost as many on the platform as in the audience.  If we had raised the volume of the media equipment to its capacity, we would have the blown the small group of people out of the back of the auditorium.

With a stiff upper lip, we did the presentation.  That night we went to bed a little discouraged.  The next morning I got up and was greeted by a flat tire on our van.  I said, Lord, who is in charge here?  It is funny how we try to blame our mistakes on God.  It was not long that morning before I realized the error of my ways.  I had violated a foundational value of the mission with which I worked, hearing the voice of Lord and obeying in detail.  My hasty decision upon receiving the phone call from the Director was partly due to the fear of man, and partially due to the lure of a successful meeting. 

One day the next week back at our training center I found a box of vanilla wafers on my office desk.  One of my staff had put it there to gently remind me, seek God first, Ken.  And to this day I still do not eat vanilla wafers.

PS -A few months later I met a young lady who was working with our mission.  She told me that she was called to missions that night.  God can even use our blunders for His glory.

Images used with permission by Microsoft. 

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


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Coffee Police

Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him....... (Luke 24:31 NLT)

They looked at me like I was from the Moon.  Have you ever tried to communicate something to a child or a student, or even an adult, and you get that blank look? The expression, which said, what language are you speaking?  God truths are not always meant to be understood the moment they are spoken.

I was a public school teacher.  I had a third-period study hall where I would brew a cup of coffee to enjoy while the students studied. The students would often comment how they loved the aroma of the brewing coffee.  One day we got a memorandum from the school Principal.  The memo stated that individual coffeemakers were no longer permitted in the classroom due to safety and cost issues. I, maybe a little grudgingly, complied with the request.  Shortly afterward, a student came into the room and commented, “Mr. Barnes, why did you stop making coffee?”  My reply was, “the coffee police got me.”  I went on to explain the memo from our Principal.  The student quickly responded, “That’s OK Mr. Barnes, we won’t tell.

I knew that I had a teachable moment.  I waited until the rest of the class arrived and then initiated a discussion about the absent coffeemaker.  I told students that it was not about getting caught; it was about doing the right thing.  Yes, our Principal would probably never come to my classroom to check for contraband, but I would know that I had done the wrong thing.  The students looked at me like I was from the backside of the Moon.  The expressions on their faces spoke volumes.  If you don’t get caught what is the difference?  I then asked them a question that furthered puzzled them.  I said; if I am not willing to follow the rules that our Principal gives to me, why should you be expected to adhere to my classroom guidelines?  At this point I got that blank stare that communicated; what is he trying to say?  I knew that I was not getting any further with these students at this time and date.

One day in the future, I believe, some of these students will find themselves in a situation that involves submission and authority and doing the right thing. God will upload this incident from study hall out of their spiritual memory band.  A light will come on in their minds, and they will say, “That is what old Mr. Barnes meant that day.”  Information does not change us, but revelation does.  God waits for his teachable moment when our hearts are ready, and the Holy Spirit quickens the information we already have.  It opens our spiritual eyes to comprehend revealed truth.

Many of the things the Lord told his disciples before his death, were only made known to them in their fullness after his resurrection.  A case in point, being our scriptural reference, revealed to them on the road to Emmaus. In verse 32 the disciples said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  The Word of God always accomplishes its purpose (Isaiah 55: 11), head knowledge becoming heart revelation. Be encouraged dear parents, teachers, or just concerned friends, in due season you will see the fruit of your efforts.  One day the students in my story may realize what F.B. Meyer once said is true, “Do right because it is right to do right.”

Image used with permission by Google.

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