Pastor’s Blog

Praying for B.O.B. Daily!

Yesterday in the service we spoke of our “simple duty” to share the truth with others that God loves them and gave His son to prove that love. We talked about sharing the good news with the world and fulfilling the “great commission” of our King Jesus. We should do all we can to prepare ourselves to witness to others as often as possible.
 
There is an evangelist, speaker, and disciple trainer named Mark Cahill and he helps equip Christians to share their faith with the world. One thing I heard him say made a lot of since to me and I believe we should put it into practice. He said before he leaves his house he always prays for BOB! When someone asked who is Bob, he responded “it is not a person it is an acronym ”. Mark explained it is a prayer to God for what I need to be an effective witness each day based out of 3 things Paul, the greatest missionary in history, said to the early church.
 
B = A Burden for all people. We must remember every person who has not confessed to be a sinner, repented of sin, and placed belief or trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ is still dead in their transgressions and the wrath of God is upon them. This should burden our hearts, so ask God daily to give you a burden for the lost. Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
 
O = An Opportunity for witnessing. Colossians 4:2-6 Paul is asking the people to pray for open doors for the message, so they can proclaim the message of Jesus clearly with others. He also tells them to be wise and make the most of every opportunity they have to witness. So ask for opportunities for yourself and others before your day starts.
 
B = A Boldness to seize the opportunities given. Ephesians 6:18-20 Twice Paul asks the people of Ephesus to pray for him to be able to proclaim the truth of God’s Word boldly as he should. We too should be bold in proclaiming the truth so always remember to ask God to help you stay bold.
 
So I hope this little acronym helps you as a witness for Jesus Christ. Be sure each morning when you rise, thank God for your blessings but then pray for B.O.B. = a burden for the lost, an opportunity to witness, and a boldness to match that opportunity. Tell someone about God’s love for them this week.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


What’s in it for Me?

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him. But also to suffer for Him.
(Phil. 1:29)
 
“What’s in it for me?” You may not actually say these words but we all have asked them from time to time. In our human nature this actually can drive or alter our decisions. It’s just part of our sinful nature. We want to know what we stand to gain before we commit to something. While it is a common part of the way we think, it is not the right way to go about decision making.
 
What if ‘what was in it for you’ was suffering? Would you still decide to follow or serve Christ? Philippians is one of the letters recorded in the Bible from Paul to the church. Paul was writing from prison near the end of his life. He had a close relationship with the church in Philippi, and he wanted to encourage these friends in the midst of the persecution they were experiencing because of their faith in Jesus. His message of encouragement was, you are suffering because of being a faithful follower– keep up the good work.
 
Think of a time you needed encouragement in a tough time. You felt like you were following God and doing right and things were just tough. What if a friend sent you this verse above (Phil. 1:29). At first it doesn’t seem encouraging however, at longer look, we realize our belief can’t be based on all good times, victories, and easy going (everyone would or could believe). Only when we are tested in life, when hardship comes and we still trust– that is when our life really becomes a witness. Our faith is seen by others as real and worth having when we hold on tight to it in suffering and struggles. So God has not only granted the faith to believe but he also allows the testing ground for that faith to be seen as real and true.
 
So next time you are living right, just serving your king, and trials come your way remember you have not only been granted the ability to believe but also the ability to believe through suffering. So hang in there, this is just another witnessing opportunity allowed by God for His greater glory, for your growth, and for the advancement of His Kingdom. Soldier On!!!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


A Masterpiece in Progress

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
 
When your heart of stone is taken out and a heart of flesh is put in you and you walk in obedience, you are the type of calling card the Lord wants to send out into the lives of many others. (2 Corinthians 5:17) says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When the things of the world grow very dim in your eyes and your focus is on the Lord and what matters to Him, you are a new creation that He wants to speak through and use in many people’s lives.
 
By the way do you hate your sin and wickedness in all forms? If you do not, you might be in a very bad state. When you walk closely with a holy God, you understand that evil and wickedness have nothing to do with Him. There are people who claim the name of Christ who continue to walk in sin. All Christians still sin, however, the real giveaways is if that sin bothers you or not when you commit it. Let me tell you something, if you sin and it doesn’t bother you, you have big problems. Those sins are what put Jesus on the cross. How can I enjoy the things that sent my Savior to His death? I need to hate wickedness and evil all the days of my life just like Jesus did. We need to loath the abominations in our lives and in the world, then we need to do something about it.
 
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
 
True repentance of your sins, a changing of your heart, the renewing of your mind that leads to a changing of actions, is what the Lord desires of His followers. It is time to make sure you fall into that category and that wickedness and evil cannot be named amongst you.
 
Many times people say that they are a work in progress. They believe they are a new creation in Jesus, but a work in progress through sanctification as God molds them into the people they are supposed to be. All this is true however, we are not really a work in progress, but a masterpiece in progress! When your life is put into the hands of Almighty God, there is no telling what He can do with a life that is lived wholly for Him. Turn every area of your life over to Him and let Him shape a beautiful masterpiece of you that He can use for many years to come.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Behold, the Virgin Shall Conceive!

Behold, the virgin shall conceive! (Isaiah 7:14)
 
It is funny how I’ve been asked the same question, three times already, about out Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Nativity scene on stage. The question is “Why is Jesus a baby and Joseph and Mary box people, shouldn’t Jesus be a box person too?” My “smart mouth” answer is always the same, “Don’t you know anything? Jesus wasn’t from Mary and Joseph, He was from God. He is different from any human who ever lived. We humans all have split characters. We inherit from our parents features that come from two divergent and often contradictory lines. Jesus, however, was One: His heritage comes from a single line. Most then respond by laughing and saying “Wow! I guess you’re right– makes sense.”
 
However, this only makes sense if you believe in the virgin birth of Christ. It made me think how in many circles it is contested whether Isaiah really prophesied the virgin birth. The argument is that in his words (7:14), “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive,” the Hebrew expression almah does not necessarily mean “virgin.” It could also mean “young maid.” Like other nouns in Hebrew, the word “virgin” has two forms. Elem, the male form, is always used for a very young boy who could not have known a woman yet, like in 1 Samuel 20:35 in reference to “a little lad” who accompanied Jonathan.
 
Since elem in the male form surely indicates a virginal boy, why then should the female form, almah, not also have the inference? Surely Matthew, the Spirit inspired gospel writer, knew better Hebrew than the modern professors of theology, and his translation of Isaiah’s prophecy was “a virgin shall be with child” (1:23).
 
You can rely on the Bible. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. He is different than any other in history, born pure with out the sin nature of man. The One who, by His grace, used a virgin womb to conceive the pure Son of God, the Lord and Savior, will also, by His grace, see that you appear before Him pure and spotless for eternity. As you pack your shoeboxes, ponder the amazing power and wonders of God’s great grace to the world through Christ.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


A Move to Greater Faith

“According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29
 
This verse is both discomforting and liberating. It is discomforting because we don’t want so much to depend on us. We want God to intervene on our behalf regardless of how much faith we have, because we know how weak our faith is. But it can be liberating when we realize that sometimes the only hindrance to our prayers and actions is our faith.
 
All we must do is grow in faith, and then God will act. The problem we face with this is the order. We say we will have greater faith when we see more of God. God says we will see more of Him when we have greater faith. The belief comes first. This causes us great trouble. We wish we could have more faith; we really want to, and we try to muster it up. But we need something to base that faith on, and when our own experience is lacking in the miraculous, our faith finds no footing. We know there is a satisfying level of the faith life if only we can get there. We’ve heard others tell of it, and we believe them. We just don’t think we have the means to get there.
Our three-fold solution is simple.
 
1. We must ask God to increase our faith. This is how a father appealed to Jesus when his son was suffering (Mark 9:24), and Jesus honored his request.
 
2. We must base our faith in God on something other than our own experience, at least until our mind’s beliefs become our heart’s realities. The Bible is the answer. Meditate on the psalms and praises of the Word.
 
3. Worship Him for His goodness, His love, His power, His protection, and more. Saturate your life in His praise, and God will grow huge in your own eyes. And when He is huge, huge things happen—according to your faith.
 
Jesus first made the blind men acknowledge His ability (Matt. 9:28). Only then did He answer. Faith is nothing in itself. It’s the object of our faith that matters. You want big faith? Worship a big God. The rest comes naturally.
 
(I read this devotion years ago in the “One Year at His Feet” Devotional Bible. I keep this devotion in my desk and read it occasionally to remind me how important the process of faith is in the Christian walk. I hope it helps you also
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The Gift of Giving

…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35
 
As we kick-off our Operation Christmas Child ministry season we need to thank God for the ability to give. He supplies us so that we may supply to others.
 
We are asking our whole church family to consider helping with this outreach ministry. God has planted within each of us a heart that desires to give to others in need. As we become more like Christ we desire the same things He does – we began to think of others before ourselves. We begin to look out for the weak and care for the hurting. We desire others to know the love of Christ. Our greatest want is that others may know and experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
 
This ministry meets all those desires and it is something all people can be a part of. Also, as we read in Acts 20:35, this provides us as givers the experience of great blessing. We can experience the blessing of obeying God, submitting to His Lordship, displaying His heart, trusting His provision, and helping advance His Kingdom.
 
Please consider helping us reach 1000 children this year with the gift of God’s love. If you have any questions in the process please feel free to call the church office. Remember, whatever Sunday you want to, you can bring your boxes to the alter. Thanks for your help, hope to see you and your boxes this Sunday!
 
In His Service, Eric Barnes


Jesus’ Full Impact

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (Jn. 21:25)
 
The full impact of Jesus on the world may never be known in this life. However, we do know and understand the importance of His spiritual impact on man. Truly He is the only way, the only real truth, and the only life there is offered to man by God. But what about all the other ways Jesus’ life has affected society and influenced the world. Pastor John Ortberg in “Surprising Ways Jesus Influenced the World” once summarized some ways Jesus’ life in and through others has impacted the world.
 
1.Humanitarian Reform = Children, Woman, and Slaves lives have been changed by Jesus and His followers. In the ancient world children were to be seen not heard and woman were truly second class citizens, slaves were owned objects to be used. Jesus’ treatment and teaching about them led to great reforms and the establishment of truly seeing the worth in all people. Woman and slaves flocked to Christianity in disproportionate numbers because for the first time “all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)
 
2.Education = the love of learning more about God led to monasteries, which in tern became cradle of academic guilds. Universities all began as Jesus-inspired efforts to love and get to know God with one’s mind. The notion that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for education for all.
 
3.Compassion = Jesus had a universal concern for the suffering that transcended the rules of the ancient world. His followers’ compassion for poor and sick led to institutions for lepers, which are the beginning of the modern hospital. They were the fore runners for all other charitable, volunteer run organizations and institutions.
 
4.Service and humility = the ancient world honored courage, strength, and wisdom- not humility. “Rank must be preserved”, said Cicero. Jesus’ life as a foot washing servant led to the adoption of humility as a widely admired virtue. “it is unlikely that any of us would aspire to this virtue were it not for the impact of the crucifixion” wrote Historian John Dickerson.
 
5.Forgiveness = The thought of forgiveness in the ancient world was weakness. Genghis Khan answered “what is best in life?” by saying “To crush your enemies, drive them from you, and hear the lamenting of their women.” Jesus displayed and taught an alternative idea: “love your enemies and reconcile them unto you”
 
In what ways is your life impacting the world in the name of Christ? What area of brokenness in the world moves you to act?
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Equipped for Good Work

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
 
Sunday morning, as part of our conclusion to the sermon, we looked at the above verse to remind ourselves that it is God’s Word that can help us guard our hearts from sin. In Sunday School we continued this discussion and we talked seriously about the power of God’s Word alive in our lives. Ultimately we talked about the different powers God makes available to us in the reading of, the hearing of, and the memorization of God’s Word.
 
I believe our “equipping” comes from memorizing or hiding the Word in our hearts. It can be used for ministry with others, to encourage or speak into our own life circumstances as encouragement and strength as well as being useful for decision making. So we know the importance of our scripture memory however we don’t practice it enough. Many say they just can’t remember things, or it is too hard for them– we all doubt our ability to memorize scripture but we can do it if we really try (It is God’s will for you that you hide His Word in your heart so He will allow you to be able to memorize His Word).
 
Here are some tips!
1. Write it on a card or paper and carry it with you or place it where you will see it often. (car, bathroom mirror)
 
2. Say it out loud. There is something important about seeing it, thinking it, and hearing it,even from your own mouth.
 
3. Say it the same way each time. Repeating the same act over the same way helps you remember. Try it by saying the reference, the verse, and the reference again. This will help fix the passage firmly in your mind.
 
4. Say it one phrase at a time. If it is a longer verse, memorize it one phrase at a time, adding each phrase in order till you have it all. (Example: Jn 10:10 / The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (repeat) / I have come that you may have life abundantly./ Jn 10:10(repeat)
 
5. Say it again and again until you have it. The real secret is review, review, review. Quote it often, tell someone else or try to put it to use, think about the verses meaning and ask God to help you understand and apply it.
 
6. Move on to a new verse! Never stop learning until you are home (heaven). Start today, use the verse at the top of the page. Do your best and remember God desires you know His Word, He gave you a great mind and the Holy Spirit to help—- He won’t let you fail.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The Devil’s Resume

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31
 
Yesterday we talked about Job and how the devil tested his faith. That same devil is at work today coming against you. The same way he desired to have Peter he also desires to have and….So I think it would be smart to look at his resume.
 
He is an adversary, your personal antagonist, a fierce and strong opponent, a lion who looks to devour (1 Pet. 5:8) No matter what pleasures Satan offer you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is highest priority.
 
He is aggressive on the hunt for the unsuspecting, the unprepared, or the overconfident. He aggressively pursues the damnation of your soul. He annihilates. There is no playing around, he plays for keeps- to destroy.
 
He is an accuser. He is the one who tempts but as soon as we bite he is the one who will violently accuse. He doesn’t just want you to do bad, he wants you to feel bad. Satan cannot possess the Christian but he can oppress the Christian. The devil teaches that he can defeat, discourage, and devour a child of God by using temptation and guilt to ruin you. (2 Cor. 11:3)
 
He is a killer and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) All lying originated with the devil himself. He lies about God, he twists God’s Word, he lies about what God thinks of you and he lies about what sinful pleasures will bring.
 
He is a counterfeit of the real thing. “The prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2.2)- Remember a prince is not greater than a king, but Satan tries to present himself as a true rival to God’s glory. He acts as if he is king and what he has to offer is better than God’s best. The Bible says he transforms himself into an angel of light to pedal his false counterfeit of the truth. All the false religions of the world are his deception, he fools us into “a good life” while leading us to hell.
 
This is the resume of the enemy who wants to have you. He will try and deceive you into swallowing the bait so he can reel you into sure destruction. Remember, you have an almighty advocate who prays for you and strengthens you. His truth is the key, stay close to Him, grounded and walking in His Word. His desire is just the opposite of “the liar”. He desires that you have life to the fullest. (Jn 10:10) Keep fighting the good fight!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Suffering Stinks!

“fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and partaker also of the Glory that is to be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1)
 
The verse above is how Peter describes himself while writing to fellow elders and believers just before the persecutions they would suffer under Nero. He goes on in this chapter to state the fact that part of the walk with Christ, part of our service to God will be suffering for his name and for your church family. He makes it clear in verse 1 that Christ suffered (he witnessed it) and later in verse 9 he stated that the brethren will suffer and in verse 10 he states you will suffer.
 
Suffering stinks! It is so horrible to go through and it definitely is nothing we look forward to in our lives. Peter knew it was part of the life of Christ and it will be a part of following Jesus. He could since the tension and see the writing on the wall in the near future for all Christians under the Roman reign of Nero so He wanted to prepare their hearts for service. He is telling the leaders to keep shepherding the flock. He is reminding them it is all worth it.
 
You also will ultimately face forms of suffering in your walk with the Lord. It may not be in the form of being burnt alive or fed to lions as sport, but none the less you will face sufferings of many kinds in faithfully serving God and His people. Peter informs us on how to approach it, with humility for only then will God’s grace-filled mighty hand exalt you. He also tells us to keep our head up and stay alert through faith, cast your anxieties on Him, and remember you are not the only one going through these sufferings. Lastly he is reminding us these sufferings will only last for a little while… so stay faithful.
 
Peter finally reminds us that the God of all grace, the one who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who suffer for His sake. (v.10)
 
Today remember you will at times suffer, it will stink, but stay faithful for God is working and you will be graced and strengthened. He will use your sufferings to bring Himself glory, to grow you, and to multiply His Kingdom… It is never in vain.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes