Pastor’s Blog

Mad for Jesus!

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. (Mark 3:20-21)
 
Most people in this world are a little crazy. But most of the time we are not really believed to be crazy. However, Jesus’ family had great cause to think that He really was out of His mind. His claims about Himself were unbelievable. He called Himself the “Son of Man.” He claimed to forgive sins and to be the fulfillment of the Scriptures (see Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 2:10-11).
 
If our friends declared they were God, we would have a right to believe they were crazy. His claims about Himself eliminate the option that He is a good teacher or a great prophet. He is either nuts, or He is who He claims to be: the Son of God.
 
The real question we must answer is, have we ever had anyone believe or call us “mad” or “crazy” because of Jesus? Are we living so radically for Christ that we get called “insane” or “out of our minds” as Paul did in Acts 26:24? As we live our faith, our personal beliefs and our choices do we reveal a mindset that is radically different from that of the general society? Does our love for God extend to the castoffs in life? Are we insane enough to use our time and gifts taking the Gospel as Jesus did to the lepers, Samaritans, tax collectors, and prostitutes? Let us live in such a way that if the world will call us mad or crazy let it be about Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus. Let God be your sanity and your madness— live only in Him and for Him.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


He who has the Son has life!

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does
not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
 
Today I just wanted to share a great illustration story, you may have heard it before but it is still a great reminder of how God works. Many years ago a devoted father and his son traveled together and collected fine art. As years passed they collected many priceless treasures. However it was the many years together and the late night conversations with His son the father enjoyed most– the son was the priceless work of the father.
 
The day came when the son had to leave the father to go fight for his country in war. One day the horrible news came to the father, that his only son whom he loved so much had been killed in war while helping save another soldier. The father was devastated. Years passed and one day the father heard a knock at the door, it was the saved soldier, he spent much time telling the father of all his son’s valiant acts in war. He also had a gift for the man in the trunk of his car. He gifted to the man a portrait that he had commissioned of the man’s son. This portrait became the father’s most prized work of art.
 
When the father was sick and dying he arranged an auction of all of his collected art pieces. When the auction began the first item up for bid was the portrait of His son starting at $100. No one bid, only murmurs about this not being a recognized piece. Finally one elderly man, who knew the family, wanted the picture but didn’t have enough for the starting bid. He offered all he could and at the closing of that piece the auctioneer said “this concludes our auction”. The people became agitated and asked when the good stuff would be auctioned. The auctioneer cleared the confusion by stating “According to the owner, whoever takes his son gets all he has.”
 
This father was like God. He desires to make all the riches of His inheritance available to you, but you must first accept His Son.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Double Vision

[Jesus and the disciples] came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
(Mark 8:22-25)
 
Why did He do that? This is an interesting story in that Jesus did not heal the man all at once. He did it in two stages. Was Jesus not powerful enough to heal the man the first time?
 
This story has two levels of meaning: one involves the man’s physical blindness, and one involves a deeper message about spiritual blindness. Jesus wanted to teach us about the deeper healing of spiritual blindness.
 
Many events in our lives have both a physical (visible) level and a spiritual (invisible) level. Our physical eyes allow us to see what is visible. Our spiritual eyes allow us to see the invisible things—things like love, grace, truth, mercy, holiness. If we are spiritually blind, we see only half of reality, like trying to see through a window that has a film of dirt on it. We don’t see the full picture, the full truth.
 
Spiritual blindness prevents us from seeing God’s love for us, His acceptance of us, or His forgiveness. If we are blind to those realities, we end up feeling hopeless and worthless. If we are blind to God’s protection over us, we live in fear. If we are blind to His understanding, we live without his direction and leadership. Like the man in the story, we need to come to Jesus and allow Him to open our eyes so that we may have full vision, to see everything clearly both physically and spiritually.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Belief is the Starting Line

Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them. John 14:21
 
While God wants our belief, He wants us to move beyond belief to obedience. We who accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord must dig deeper and expand our understanding of who He is and then act on those beliefs. If I really believe being fit is important I will watch what I eat and exercise consistently.
 
What about our belief in Jesus? Can it move from simply acknowledging the existence of a supreme being to real faith in a God who knows our names and the number of hairs on our heads? Are we willing to study God’s Word and see it as the “owner’s manual” for our lives? Are we willing to surrender our lives to Him as our Lord, our Master? Are we willing to desire His will and obey what He wants us to do with our lives? Now we are getting down to it! So what does it mean to receive Christ as the Lord of our lives? It means He is in charge. He’s the boss. God says of Himself, “Believe in me and understand that I alone am God. . . . I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11).
 
We work in partnership and trust with the Lord, but our role is to joyfully obey. For those of us who have problems with authority figures, we need to remember that Jesus is a loving Lord, not a self centered, power-hungry master. We can trust Him with our lives. Belief is the starting line, trust and obedience are the next two legs of the race.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


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