New Song NY

Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks

Jesus is the tangible revelation of God’s love. He did not reject anyone who came to Him by faith. Even long before He came as a man, the Prophet Isaiah revealed His loving and merciful nature – “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20).

Why did Isaiah use these two items to represent broken mankind?

Pens And Lights

In antiquity, the Middle-Eastern people used reeds to make into pens. This hollow plant allowed the ink to flow smoothly and thus made writing on papyrus papers possible. When a reed was bruised, the ink would leak and thus rendered it useless. In most instances, the ancient writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away.

Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged.

A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

The Destructive Force of Bitterness

A missionary, who returned to America after giving forty years of his life to serve in Africa, became very discouraged when he learned that some people did not think much about his sacrifice. The new denomination officials made some policy changes that greatly reduced his pension and retirement benefits. Soon this former missionary became a very bitter man and refused to talk about the ministry at all. He even stopped attending church all together. His son told me that his father did not fully recover and died a broken man. When I learned about that, my heart grieved. Even though the denomination officials were insensitive to this missionary’s needs, it was the missionary, himself, who had allowed that bitterness to take hold of his life. I told myself that whatever happened, I had to guard my heart against bitterness and unforgiveness. No matter how difficult the situation, Jesus is still the One who would not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick.

If God has blessed you to be in the position to help another person, please do so. God may show you some people who are bruised badly by sins or situations and you must always be ready to become God’s hands extended in love and charity. It does not take a lot of effort to judge another person but it takes tremendous grace to extend God’s love.

Let me share with you the story about a pastor who has made incredible impact in the lives of many by extending God’s love to those who are down-and-out or fallen.

Welcoming The Unwelcomed

Pastor Tommy Barnett of Phoenix First Assembly of God, shared about a time when his deacons did not appreciate the presence of “street people” in his church. He had just joined the church as the new pastor and some of the old deacons were already challenging his wisdom and authority. They wanted him to remove these “street people” from their “respectable family church” or else they would leave the church. Most of these deacons were the big tithers and to offend them would mean a loss of much income for the church. However, Barnett felt the need to make a stand for what was right. He believed that even the “street people”, dirty, as they were, still needed the opportunity to hear God’s Word. He decided that God’s love for these people superseded the unreasonable request of his deacons. The end result was that these deacons pulled their families out of the church.

Barnett was not perturbed by this group of self-righteous people and went on to build one of the largest churches in America. He established bus routes throughout the poor neighborhoods and brought thousands of these poorer people into the church. His Easter and Christmas pageants were among the best in the world. I was there to watch one of his illustrated sermons and came out very much impressed. It was he who convinced me to go back to Singapore and build a large congregation.

His Pastors School is also unrivaled because it does not teach mere theories but practical applications. Barnett said, “The success of the Pastors School has been a big surprise to me. I think it’s because we do stuff pastors can do. Not all pastors can be geniuses or great Bible scholars or orators, but they can all have character and do the work of the ministry”.

Restoring The Fallen

Barnett was instrumental in restoring disgraced preachers like Evangelist Jim Bakker and Pastor Jack Wallace. When Bakker was in prison, Barnett and Billy Graham were among the few ministers who were willing to visit him. After Bakker was released from prison, Barnett and his Los Angeles Dream Center provided an avenue for Bakker to return to Christian ministry.

Jack Wallace was Barnett’s right-hand man for ten years. After extensive orthopedic operations, Wallace became addicted to prescription painkillers. He confessed his addiction and as a result, he found himself being rejected by some church members and people from his denomination. Wallace said, “Some people ditched me because I’d fallen from grace… they stopped calling.”

However, throughout his ordeal, Barnett stayed close and helped him handled the rejection. Later, Wallace felt the call to pastor a church and it was Barnett who readily supported his decision and helped him. There were many humiliating rejections but with Barnett’s encouragement, he took on the pastorate of a dying church in Detroit.

Wallace changed the name of the church to “Detroit World Outreach” and worked with the six church members who came every Wednesday night. Today, eight years later, the church has grown to more than 10,000 worshippers every weekend. It is also the largest provider of free food to the poor in Michigan. It gives more than 5 million pounds of food annually and that works out to 2,300 container truckloads.  As Wallace had learned from Barnett about Bus Ministry, he also buses 1,500 children to church every Sunday.

Mother Teresa of Los Angeles

Barnett’s love for the people is genuine and he would go all the way to help them. At 57 years old, he establish another church, The Dream Center, in a tough area in Los Angeles. Even though there were other more lucrative offers to establish churches in up-class areas, he refused to accept. He said that he preferred to serve areas where few ministers wanted to go.

The Dream Center is reaching the poor people in every possible way. Within five years, it has worship services, feeding program, job training, children education and even a hospice for those dying of AIDS.

Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado said that Barnett was the “Mother Teresa of Los Angeles”. He was very impressed by Barnett’s Pastors School, “All the others talk about systems and program structures, but only Tommy’s school, exclusively, coaches people on how to love one another… Barnett’s name is synonymous with caring for people”.

Barnett loves to help the fallen and disgraced servants of God. He did not abandon his old friend, Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart even after the latter’s very public fall from grace. He explained why he rather stands by those who have fallen or disgraced, “It is worth it to trust people. Some will make it, and some won’t. But you never know who unless you give them all a chance. A lot of ministries at our church fail, but a lot of them rise up.”

Here is a brother who knows how to allow the love of God to flow through him and his ministry. Let’s pray that we will learn to be as magnanimous and loving as Pastor Barnett. His life and ministry have become effective because he has learned to be like Christ. We should do likewise – becoming like Christ – we should always make every effort to bring restoration and healing to bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.
overstock coupon codes

Thu, August 9 2012 » Self Improvement

Leave a Reply