Pastor’s Blog

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you…

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)
Taking our faith in Jesus to the world is an intimidating thing. We are considered weak for believing in Jesus, and we get confronted with tough questions. People want to know why a “loving” God allows starvation or massive earthquakes in poor countries or a gunman killing six-year-old kids at school. They consider us arrogant and intolerant for believing that Christianity is the only way to God. We can validate their questions and exhibit Jesus’ sympathetic and understanding heart, but we must avoid the devil’s trap of allowing those questions to intimidate us and prevent us from proclaiming the truth. Peter tells us this in (1 Peter 3:14-16) So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.
So how do we avoid that fear and share our faith? Point them to Jesus! Jesus is not a religion—He’s a person. That makes all the difference. He is the foundational cornerstone of salvation that must be addressed before any other
issues are talked about. As any builder knows, the foundation is the most important thing to get right. It does no good to discuss finishing features in a home until the foundation is squared away.
People must decide who Jesus is. They must be given the chance to examine His life and ministry so that they can decide if He is C.S. Lewis put it “a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of the universe”. If other people reject the claims of Jesus,
then discussing God or anything spiritual with them is a waste of time. If they come to accept Jesus as Lord, then the tough issues are put into context of a loving Lord who gave His life for us. If the hub of a wheel is true to form, the whole wheel performs correctly. When we take our faith to the streets, we must take our searching world to meet the risen Lord. Everything else will fall into place once they get the cornerstone in the right place!
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Creatures of Habit! (Phil. 4:6-8)

We are definitely creatures of habit. Maybe you have heard the saying “The habits you develop, develop you.” Knowing this is true then the right kind of habits will enable you to start each day right, stop you from worry, help you from being critical and make you a blessing to self and others. So what should I put into practice this year to make positive changes. We can gather good insight from Phil.4:6-8.
1. Don’t worry instead pray! Start each day telling God what you need, trusting God and giving thanks for all He has
and will do. Focus on the blessing and power of God in your life through prayer and then you will have God’s peace to guard your heart and mind.
2. Don’t fix eyes and thoughts on world but on things of God! Get into God’s Word early and often this year, this is how we fix our thoughts to what is right, pure, lovely, admirable and true. Then your life will know what is excellent and worthy of praise.
3. Don’t practice what the world does, put into practice everything you learn and see in God! Only then will you
have God’s presence, peace and protection.
Since “the habits we develop, develop us” lets try to grow spiritually this year by developing good Godly habits.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Taking Away Reproach

Luke 1:24-25
Have you ever been accused of something? It Feels horrible doesn’t it? If you did something wrong that is bad enough but if you are innocent it is so much worse.
Luke 1:24-25 tells us after a child was conceived in Elizabeth she went off by herself for five months to relish her pregnancy. That is a little different, why would she do this? Because she had lived her life under so much reproach (an expression of disapproval or disappointment). She even says in vs. 25 “The Lord has dealt kindly with me, He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace from among people”
In Elizabeth’s culture, when a woman was unable to have a child, it was seen to be a sign of judgment from God. A person must be living in such a way that God was displeased, so people than looked on you with disappointment. Elizabeth had lived her life under the judgment of others. In her case, accused of something she didn’t do. So not only was she overjoyed that she would be having a son, but she had to be amazingly relieved that God was clearing her name, freeing her from the undeserved judgment and shame of others.
Did you get that? Freedom from judgment, freedom from guilt or shame, this is what Elizabeth felt and this would be the purpose of her son John– prepare hearts to meet the Messiah. The purpose of Messiah is to set us free from reproach, our deserved judgment and guilt, and to set us free from sins power. Elizabeth is part of the Christmas story to help us understand what the Christmas story is all about freedom from judgment. Thank God we no longer have to live in reproach!
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Surprise! (Luke 1:8-23)

Sometimes surprises are good. And sometimes they are not so good. When your boss tells you you’re getting a raise—good surprise. When your professor announces you’re having a pop quiz– not so good.
The key of understanding behind a surprise is it is nothing more than being caught unprepared. When reading the Bible you sure get the impression that God loves surprises. Isn’t every miracle a surprise? When we read the Bible we also come to know God loves preparation. In scripture we see how both are woven into the Christmas story.
In Luke 1:8-23, we see Zechariah going about his priestly duties when God chose to surprise him. Zechariah met and angel who had an important announcement (surprise): Zechariah and Elizabeth would be parents to a special child in their old age. Not just any child, but John the Baptist.
What is interesting about this surprise is it is a prophecy about their son’s special ministry— to get people prepared for messiah’s coming. Did you get that, surprise you’re having a son whose job is to prepare people so they won’t be surprised when God comes to them. There is a powerful truth for us in this story.
In our current society we make Christmas all about surprises, and we even get prepared to be surprised with gifts (usually temporal meaningless gifts). How ever we don’t prepare our hearts to meet Jesus the Messiah and in turn we forfeit all the wonderful gifts/ surprises God can bring to our existence bot here and eternally! We sure are good at missing the point.
God knew that preparation was important for 1st century people and it should come as no surprise it is still just as important for people today! Get prepared and help others get prepared to meet Jesus this Christmas– who knows what surprises might lie ahead!
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

The Importance of Showing God Gratitude.

(Read 1 Peter 1:3-9)
We must learn to approach God with a thankful heart. We should reflect and praise Him for His faithfulness. When we do praise Him in thankfulness it immediately helps dispel all manner of fear and replenishes the heart with His peace.
We must learn to be thankful in every circumstance, even in hardship. This is vital truth to grasp. Only when we can find reason for thanking Him in our trials can we fully understand how He is working in the midst of them. He desires us not to look at our current circumstances. Instead like Peter, He says fix our gaze on God. God is calling out to you in the midst of the storm, and He will make possible the impossible. This will glorify God, because we are demonstrating a heart of faith while reflecting on His faithfulness.
God’s hand is always operating around us. He is an invisible force, so His work is not readily seen. We must be intentional about this. We must consider what He may be doing in our life and then learn to just walk in sync with His steps believing wherever He leads.
Thankfulness will help us in this process. Not only will it guide our heart with the right attitude, but it will also open our eyes to His workmanship. In the midst of our trial, we will see how He is already hard at work behind the scenes, working everything together for good –even if we are not yet experiencing that good.
Let’s learn how to show our faith or trust in His ability by being grateful even when we’ve yet to see the results. By this we also testify to the world that we have a living hope.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Repent of any sin and call on the Lord to restore your Joy– there is nothing like it.

“Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32)
Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. (Psalm 51:8)
After David sinned, he lost his communion with God. He discovered what many of us do: the pleasure of sin is short lived and deceiving, it brings a flood of emotion for the moment but leaves us empty and sick at heart. When the initial excitement wears off, we often feel isolated and numb.
After David faced the truth of his sin, he no doubt fell into despair. As we all do, he faced negative thought like; “After what I did, how can I ever face my family again? How can I lead other people when I can’t be trusted with myself? God, I don’t deserve your love, grace, or blessing.” Many of us can identify with his anguish. David was broken but he believed God could restore him. So what does he ask God for? Joy– Why?
Joy is more than being happy again. Happiness is based on our surrounding circumstances. Joy is more than feeling optimistic about life. Joy goes much deeper it is a spiritual emotion, it is that deep sense of delight and satisfaction that comes from knowing and being in right relationship with God. (it can’t be experienced any other way)
It is the solid place where we know God is in control, that He is good, and that He is close/present.
David knew that his life was not complete without God this is why he spoke of Joy 70 times in the Psalms. What about you? Repent of any sin and call on the Lord to restore your Joy– there is nothing like it.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

When hard times come!

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1 Pet. 1:6-7)
God knows when we face tough times. He hears our cries. We know this but even the most faithful of us sometimes feel despair and hopelessness.
Many times God allows us to face these circumstances to strengthen our faith; it forces us to seek after God to find strength and refreshment. He knows our emotions, our needs and our desires. He also knows exactly what it will take to get you into an intimate relationship with Him. Remember this is God’s great goal for us to be in an intimate relationship with Him, if this is what we desire as well He will use all means to bring us to that place of intimacy—even hardship or trial.
The early church faced great trial and God used Peter to address them in their time of hardship. Peter explained that they could rejoice even in times of trial because of Jesus Christ, the living hope within them- their risen Savior and Lord (1 Pet. 1:3). Jesus protects them by the power of God (v.5). With Jesus no situation is hopeless.
Even if you find yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation, know that God has an entirely different view of the details. He can take your life, no matter how broken and make it beautiful. This is what hope is all about, beauty for ashes, gladness instead of sorrow, and a coat of praise instead of fainting (Isa. 61:1-3). This is the ongoing ministry of Christ in our afflictions. So take him your sorrows, and He will restore your hope.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” 2 Samuel 12:13

Veteran police detectives are so good at getting people to confess to crimes because they know a simple truth: the human heart wants to confess. The human heart needs to confess. The old saying “Confession is good for the soul” is accurate. Confession frees the heart of the enormous burden of guilt. It lifts the weight of shame off our consciences and allows us to start fresh with the truth.
Nathan pinned David down with the truth when he surprised the king with the words, “You are that man” (2 Samuel 12:7). David heard the voice of God in those words, and he realized that his sin was found out. The king did what we all must learn to do: He confessed and took responsibility for his actions. He opened his heart to the power of the Holy Spirit and fully understood that he had killed Uriah and hurt Bathsheba. And in the process, a baby also died. David had created victims.
He had sinned against them. But more important, after Nathan confronted him, David recognized that he had sinned against God. David’s sin against God was open rebellion against the way God ordered him to live. When we sin, we also create victims. But we also sin against God. We rebel against His guidelines and go our own way.
When we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God that our sin is rebellion against Him. Our confession keeps us from rationalizing and explaining away our actions. It allows us to begin to repair our relationship with God so that we can walk in relationship with Him. Let us take account of our sins, confess them, and be restored to right relationship. Don’t make God come looking for you.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is the fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed. (2 Sam. 11:14-15)

Wow! That was so harsh of David. It was so deliberate, calculated, and premeditated. We need to understand the significance of premeditated sin and apply some truth to our lives.
We understand that premeditated means planned or thought out. It is not a crime of passion that just happens. It is thought out, designed, and carried out. That’s why the punishment for premeditated murder is greater than the sentence for manslaughter.
Premeditated sin is more harmful to our spiritual life and is a huge deal to God. Intentional sin reveals a heart that is in open rebellion against God! Rebellion denies our relationship with God and rejects His position of supremacy in our lives. We are taking the place of God at that moment.
When we intentionally sin against God, we are moving in the opposite direction at that point. No longer abiding with God but running away in relationship to Him. The further we willingly run in the wrong directions the longer and rougher our return will be. It’s like running fast down hill and trying to stop your momentum and turn around, the farther and faster you are moving the harder it is to stop.
Willful, calculated sin reveals our hearts have become calloused toward sin. The real problem then is the next time we sin it makes it much easier. Calloused hearts don’t feel the remorse and regret that soft hearts feel.
We must always try to avoid all sin at all cost. However we must be vigilante against deliberate and willful sin. Confess every sin and repent. Confess it not only to God but a Christian brother or sister who will hold you accountable. Let us do everything not to travel on the road that leads away from our relationship with God.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. . . . But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1

Remember one serious lesson in life: small seeds of sin lead to big sins. From the life of David we can see how his sin started and grew.
David was a successful king. From His position he brought God glory, and he provided security, power, and prosperity to the people of Israel. But he was human and he got tired. For fifteen years he had fought Israel’s enemies. Before that, he killed Goliath and went on the run from Saul for years. Living and sleeping in camps and caves took its toll on David.
When the time came for another war campaign, at this point in his life David decided to stay home. Instead of being a “hands-on” king, he determined that he needed a break. Instead of leading his troops, he sent someone else to do it. He ducked his duty.
In David’s defense, being king was an enormous responsibility. He made the tough decisions, dealt with the military egos, comforted families of fallen warriors, and still functioned as king over the kingdom. Maybe David felt he was entitled to perks others wouldn’t understand.
In His mind he could justify it, he was king! He deserved a break! No one had a clue what a tough thing it was to be king! What we often overlook is the fact that it is these kinds of thoughts that set people up for sin.
Do we do the same thing? Justify. Get lacks. Taking a break. Hear this! Taking a break is fine, but shirking our duty is not. As Christians, kingdom workers, do we ever blow off a Sunday, feeling we’ve done enough for a while? We think everyone else gets a break, I’ve paid my dues, now it is my turn– I’m not teaching this year, or serving on that board or leading that group– I need time for me. Are we coupling self-pity with laziness? Sin is never an only child. Sins are twins. Small sins of our attitude lead to larger sins of action. A little bit of wrong sinful attitude plants the seed for greater sins to grow. It’s only a short hop from God’s will to self-will and sin.
Beware of small sins that lead to bigger ones. What are the little seeds of sin in your heart? What will you do to keep the devil from nurturing them into even bigger sins? Pray about it and take action before it’s to late.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes