Pastor’s Blog

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


Shark Week

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
 
This week is the 30 yr. anniversary of “Shark Week” on Discovery channel so I thought I’d share a story that Lee Strobel once told. He told a story about a group on a boat in the ocean a little over a mile from the shoreline, they anchored down and started diving and swimming in the ocean. A short time later one of the young men standing on the deck threw a line and a preserver overboard and told friends to grab it and get back to the boat saying “I’m concerned for your safety”. His friends responded by saying “lighten up, the water is great, jump in and join us”. So this time he tried again with a different approach “guys get out of the water there are three sharks encircling the boat—I didn’t want you to panic!” In hearing the added news his friends all took him up on the offer to be pulled in and get back on the boat.
 
Isn’t it true that lifelines become much more relevant when we realize that our lives are actually in jeopardy. People don’t get cancer killing radiation unless they know they have the disease. Nobody gets heart surgery until they find out they have a heart problem. We don’t cry for help until we know we are helpless. 
 
The apostle Paul understood this principle well. He laid out the bad news first. He spelled it out for almost the entire first three chapters for Romans coming to a head in Rom. 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul explained that morally speaking we are in serious trouble. We are in deep water and the sharks are encircling and death is our future. Once we grasp this we will be ready to hear about a lifeline.
 
Paul made the lifeline clear in the next verse, Rom. 3:24 “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” To those who know the sharks are real so is the lifeline. I’m here to tell you spiritually speaking the sharks are real and death is certain for everyone. This is why Paul explains that the lifeline is for all in Rom. 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In His Service, Eric Barnes


Flee from Idolatry

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).
 
Webster’s Dictionary defines idolatry as, “blind or excessive adoration or devotion.” Interesting words, blind or excessive? The enemy does not want you to see that moment when your adoration evolves into idolatry.
 
I recently purchased a new-old car, one of less prestige than the high class sedan I had driven for three years. I traded down because I wanted to free up finances, but what I discovered through hindsight was one of the many dents in my character. I realized that driving my nicer car produced an inconsistency in my person. I thought I simply loved to drive that car, but when I drove it, I constantly fought the temptation of pride. When I would stop in traffic or pull into a parking lot, I would notice the inferior car next to me. Because my car was nicer, the temptation to think more highly of myself would sink it’s teeth into my conscience. It was messed up, I would observe another car and feel both a praise of thankfulness for God’s wonderful provision as well as an underlying smugness inside me at the same time…. it was hypocrisy.
 
Pride is always there in each of us; pride doesn’t enter from the outside. It preexists in our sinful nature. The capacity for pride (and other sins) always simmers just below the surface and Satan’s desire is to bring sin to full boil in us. Our task is to cool things down. The most effective way to cool things down is to flee altogether from the temptation. I now drive my new car in total peace, free from the temptation to wrongful pride yet thankful for a nice reliable vehicle that gets me where I need to be.
 
Now here’s the big idea. While I drove the expensive car to which I was excessively devoted, I was blind to how consuming pride’s cycle of temptation and sin was in my life. I did not see how deep the idolatry ran. Only after the temptation was removed, did I understand how dominating its rule over my thought life had been. I did not comprehend pride’s grip when I lived so close to it, but when I got away from it I saw it clearly.
 
What is the thing that tempts you to pride? The thing which Satan employs to bring your pride to a boil. Here is the rule: No matter what level of material life you enjoy, if what you have or how you look tempts you to think more highly of yourself than you ought, it has become your idol. So be careful, the thing you adore can become your temptation. Your devotion can become blind. Today, even now, remove the temptation from your life and live in the peace of His love and provision free from sins grasp.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Temporal Benefits of Prosperity

Your kingdom come, your will be done.” Matthew 6:10

I have been doing a lot of funerals lately, which really keeps my focus on eternal things. One day while studying I came across a story I think is important for us to remember in this material focused world in which we live.

Goodyear. Rockefeller. Pulitzer. Vanderbilt. Morgan. Macy. Gould. Crane. Astor. These celebrated millionaires represented only the most highly visible names from the membership rolls of the powerful Jekyll Island Club. In 1886 some of the East Coast’s most prominent millionaires purchased a coastal island near Georgia for a hunting preserve and winter family retreat. By the early 1900s, members had informally linked together to form one of the most powerful, wealthy, and influential earthly kingdoms ever known.

Members of the exclusive, Jekyll Island Club controlled one-sixth of the world’s wealth, forging together an alliance that virtually controlled America’s corporations and government—the railroads, the banks, the industrial complex, the significant inventions. The concentration of power at the Jekyll Island Club represented the zenith to which men can orchestrate temporal kingdoms.

Today however, the Jekyll Island Club is history. Curious visitors wander among a half -dozen restored buildings scattered around the grounds. The overgrowth of weeds, the peeling paint, the shattered glass—all symbols of the futility of man-made kingdoms. The once posh winter “cottages” lay in ruin, illustrating the brief standing given to the temporal kingdoms of man. Though they once commanded one-sixth of the world’s wealth, these power brokers have two things in common with every other man of their era: All their plans have come and gone, and they are all dead.

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). All the benefits of prosperity are temporal. No matter how affluent and influential we become we will not find eternal profit from temporal kingdoms. Despite all our prosperity, we must still come daily to the foot of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ to inherit an eternal kingdom. Tread lightly in your temporal kingdoms, all your plans will come to an end, and then you die. The only profit that matters is an eternal one. Invest today in the eternal not the temporal.

In His Service,
Eric Barnes



Climb on Board

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I have played a lot of sports and worked with a lot of kids in sports over the years and one thing I have figured out…..there is a great difference between those who believe they can play and those who trust in their skills. Let me explain! Some people believe they are good and can play the game, they practice, and they play but when push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road (game time) they cower and hide their talent or run from the spotlight revealing what they really believe about themselves. Others believe they are good, they practice and become so confident in their skill set that they thrive and never back down from the spotlight. You see, the one who is willing to trust in their skill set is the one who really believes they can play.

The same is true with many people and Jesus. They have a belief that Jesus is the son of God, the Lord, and the Savior; however they don’t believe in Him as Lord and Savior! They never really get past the intellectual “belief that” level. Jesus is saying “whoever believes in Him”. When Jesus says this it means “to place confidence in…. to trust on”. It is not credence but a reliance upon. It is the same difference between a person who believes a plane can fly and the one who boards the plane proving his belief in the ability of a plane to fly.

God desires that we “climb on board” in faith. We all need to go beyond merely believing that Jesus is the Son of God who died, rose, and reigns as Lord. We must take the further step of faith and trust “in him” for forgiveness as Savior, as well as trusting “in him” as Lord who is capable to lead our life. Jesus says these are the ones who shall not perish but have everlasting life. It is game time show the world your confidence “in him”.

In His Service,
Eric Barnes