Sunday, February 28, 2010

I See Dead People

There was a movie that came out a while back called, “The Sixth Sense.” Bruce Willis played the part of a child psychologist, named Dr. Malcolm Crowe.

One night, while he and his wife were celebrating an award that he had won, he was shot by one of his former patients that had broken into their home. In the very next scene, six months has gone by, and Dr. Crowe had another patient. He was a very strange eight-year-old boy, named Cole, who had a secret. He could see things that no one else could see. Cole was afraid to tell anyone his secret because he knew that no one would believe him. He knew that people would think he was crazy.
One day, Cole got to the point where he couldn’t keep it to himself anymore. He said, “Dr. Crowe. I’m ready to tell you my secret now.” He looked at the doctor, and in a voice that is just above a whisper, he said, “I see dead people.”

He said, “They are walking around like regular people.” Then he said something that messed me up. He said, “They don’t know they are dead.” Dr. Crowe asked him, “How often do you see them? Cole said, “All the time. They are everywhere.” Of course, Dr. Crowe thought Cole was crazy. But before the movie was over, Dr. Crowe realized that he was one of the dead people that Cole was able to see. He didn’t know that he was dead.

Like Cole, I also have a secret. I see dead people too. I’m not talking about the kind that Cole saw in the movie. I don’t see any ghosts. I see people who are dead in their sins. I see people who are lost and on their way to hell. I see people who are separated from The Almighty God. I see dead people.

When I’m driving down the street, I see dead people. When I’m walking through the mall, I see dead people. In my family, I see dead people. In the grocery store, I see dead people. In the jails and in the prisons, I see dead people. Everywhere I go, I see dead people. They don’t know that they are dead. That is why I try to tell everyone that I can about Jesus Christ, the only one who can give them life. Jesus said, “I come that you may have life”(Matthew 10:10).

What about you? Do you see dead people? If so, what are you doing about it? Are you trying to tell them about the only one who can give them life? Remember, before Jesus came into your life, you were dead too.


Love you all,
Rev. Burton Barr Jr. (Author of "The Hoodlum Preacher" and "Amazing Grace: The Storm Is Passing Over") & Cedric Mixon

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Listen To The Music

I love watching movies. Although I like a good comedy, my favorite movies are drama and suspense. I like movies that hold my attention and keep me on the edge of my seat.

There is one thing that I have noticed about most movies. When one of the characters is about to walk into a dangerous situation, we always hear some eerie music. Have you ever noticed that? When someone starts walking up a flight of stairs or heading toward a closed door, and that music starts playing, I know that they are walking into danger.

There have been times that I was so caught up in a movie, that when I heard that music, I would be shaking my head and hollering to the person, “Don’t go in there. Can’t you hear the music?”

I know it is just a movie and the music is there to add excitement to the scene. But sometimes I wonder what the person would do if he or she could hear the music? Would they stop what they are doing, or would they proceed recklessly? Would they head on into a dangerous situation, or would they act sensibly? In other words, would they listen to the music?

In our lives, we hear music everyday. I’m not talking about the sound of an orchestra or a band. I’m not referring to the melodies that come from our stereos, CDs or MP3s. I’m talking about the still, small voice of God that speaks to our hearts.

How many times have you said, “Something told me not to do that”? Could that “Something” be God talking to you? We often find ourselves in trouble because we do not listen to Him. Instead, we are like the characters in a movie. We go places that we have no business going. We get involved with people that we should stay away from. We eat and drink things that are harmful to us. I can imagine the angels in heaven shaking their heads and hollering to us, “Don’t do that. Can’t you hear the music?”

When God speaks to His people, it is smooth and comforting like soft, mellow music. The problem is, sometimes we don’t listen. We have our minds made up and we do what we want to do. Some Christians have lost their way because they didn’t listen to the music. Some women have gotten into abusive relationships because they didn’t listen to the music.

God knows what is best for us. The next time He speaks to you, open up your heart and listen to the music.

- Rev. Burton Barr Jr. (Author of "The Hoodlum Preacher" and "Amazing Grace: The Storm Is Passing Over")

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Bad Do You Want It?

Quitting is one of the easiest things in the world to do. I should know. I was a master of it. If universities gave degrees in quitting, I could have graduated summa cum laude. The problem is, I quit school.

School wasn’t the only thing that I quit. I left my first wife after one year of marriage. I quit preaching three years after being ordained. I was kicked out of the marines before my tour of duty was completed. During the first fifty years of my life, the only thing that I ever completed was a prison sentence. I would have quit that too if I could have.

There is a poem that my father always quoted when he saw I wasn’t doing my best. It was his philosophy of life. It says:
If a task is once begun
Never leave it till it’s done
Be the labor, great or small
Do it well or not at all

The reason that so many of us do not succeed is because we don’t want it bad enough. We don’t want that degree bad enough to put in the work that it takes to graduate. We don’t want to make the sports team bad enough to practice day in and day out. We don’t want to excel at our jobs bad enough to learn everything that we can about our chosen profession.

Unfortunately, mediocrity is not only thriving in the secular world. It is prevalent in many of our churches as well. Some of us are not interested in being the best Christians that we can be. We don’t go to Sunday school or Bible study. We don’t read our Bibles or pray. A little rain or the threat of snow will keep us from going to church.

When I was hooked on drugs, I was the best junkie that I could be. Nothing could keep me from getting the drugs that I craved. My drugs meant more to me than my family, my friends, or my freedom.

There was a snowstorm in Chicago one winter that was so bad that cars or buses could not move. So I walked three miles through almost two feet of snow to the dope house and then three miles back. That’s how bad I wanted to get high. If I was that committed to something that was killing me, shouldn’t I be even more committed to the one who gave me life?

Do you want to be the best Christian that you can possibly be? If so, how bad do you want it?

- Rev. Burton Barr Jr. (Author of "The Hoodlum Preacher" and "Amazing Grace: The Storm Is Passing Over")

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Be Thankful

I broke my foot a little over a week ago when I fell of off a loading dock. I was collecting donations for our food pantry and homeless ministry. When I went to the doctor, they put a cast on my foot that goes from my toes to my knee. Now I am confined to my house and the only way I can get around is by using crutches, a walker, or rolling around in an office chair.

I sat home yesterday having a pity party with myself. I started thinking about all of the things I could not do and the places I could not go. I was tired of those crutches. I was tired of that chair. I wanted to throw that walker off the back porch. I was getting depressed.

Then I came to myself. I broke my foot. So what. I should be thankful that I didn’t break my neck. I can’t get out of the house. So what. I should be thankful that I have a house. I can’t take my food downstairs and eat it in front of the big screen TV. So what. I should be thankful that I have food.

We have to stop complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves because of what we do not have and start thanking God for what we do have. There is always someone that is worse off than you.

When I was released from prison in 1986, I decided to go to church. But I didn’t have bus fare, so I had to walk. The church was about three miles away and it was extremely hot that day. While I was walking, I thought about my car that had been repossessed while I was in prison. I thought about all of the money that I used to have. I thought about how hot and sweaty I was getting. I was getting angry because I had to walk.

Then I heard someone coming up behind me. He was singing and whistling. When I turned around, I was shocked at what I saw. It was a man in a wheelchair with no legs. As he passes me, he smiled and said, "Beautiful day isn’t it?" Then he rolled along, singing and whistling.

I had two good legs and was complaining because I had to walk. There was a man that had no legs, but he was able to enjoy the beauty of life. All I am trying to say is be thankful for what you have.

- Rev. Burton Barr, Jr. Author of: THE HOODLUM PREACHER and AMAZING GRACE: The Storm Is Passing Over