Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Superman Don’t Wear No Coat" Chapter 2 of "Amazing Grace: The Storm Is Passing Over" by Rev. Burton Barr Jr. & KOBALT BOOKS

When I was a child, my favorite television program was Superman. I would race home from school everyday and plop down on the couch next to my grandfather just in time to hear the announcer’s opening words. “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Then the scene would shift to one of the street corners in Metropolis, and all of a sudden, you would hear somebody say, “Look. Up in the sky. It’s a bird.” Someone else would say, “It’s a plane.” Finally someone else would shout, “It’s Superman.” Then you would see Superman flying across the sky with his cape flapping in the wind.

After the program was over, I would go into my bedroom and pretend to be Superman. I had a t-shirt that I had drawn a big “S” on with a red crayon. I would put it on and tie one of my mother’s bath towels around my neck and try to fly across my bed. Although I was just a child, I wasn’t crazy enough to jump out of the window and try to fly across the street. We lived on the second floor. Even if I had been successful in flying across the street I still would have been in trouble because I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself. So I restricted my flying to my bedroom.

There were so many people that were caught up in the Superman frenzy; they came out with super everything, Superboy, Supergirl and Superdog. They even came out with a mouse that was flying around and beating up all of the cats in the neighborhood. They call him Mighty Mouse.

I loved Superman. He was my hero. I loved to see him beat up the bad guys and crush their guns with his bare hands. I loved to see him crash through concrete walls, but most of all, I loved the way that he stood for “Truth, Justice and the American way”.

One day, during the Halloween season, my mother took my brother, Ralph, and me to Sears to pick out our costumes. When I saw the Superman costumes I didn’t have to look any further. I knew exactly what I wanted. I was going to be Superman.

I didn’t need that t-shirt with the “S” drawn on it anymore. I had a real “S” for my chest. I didn’t need the bath towels anymore, because I had a real cape. Although Halloween was almost two weeks away, every evening I would put on my costume and become Superman. I couldn’t wait until Halloween came so I could finally wear my costume outside for everyone to see.

However, when the big day had finally arrived, the weather had turned cold, but I didn’t care. I put on my costume and headed for the door. My mother stopped me and said, “Wait a minute, boy. Go in there and put your coat on.” I looked at her and said, “Superman don’t wear no coat.” She said, “I said go in there and put your coat on”. I said, “But Superman don’t wear no coat.”

Mother gave me one of those looks, and then she said, “Either you put your coat on or you keep your tail in the house.” I went to my bedroom and started mumbling to myself. “Superman don’t wear no coat. Superman don’t wear no coat.” Then I put my coat on and went outside.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one whose parents insisted that their children wear a coat, but that didn’t make me feel any better, because no one could see the “S” on my chest or the cape on my back. Therefore, no one could tell that I was Superman. I just looked like everybody else. I just looked like another little kid with a coat on, but everybody knows that Superman don’t wear no coat.

Some people think of Christians as super humans and the church as a place where the perfect people meet. That is why some people think that they are not good enough to go to church. They will say, “As soon as I get myself together, I will go to church.” They think they have to stop drinking, stop drugging, or stop running the streets first; but that makes about as much sense as a sick person saying, “As soon as I get myself well, I will go to the hospital.” Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are. Then He will change us into who and what He wants us to be.

In reality, the church is a hospital for sinners. None of us are perfect. None of us have “arrived”. We all struggle with some things, but we strive toward perfection. That is why we come together as a church family to worship God and to encourage and strengthen one another.

One day, a little boy went to his father and said, “Dad. What is a Christian?” His father, being one of the leaders in the church, was proud to tell his son what a Christian is, but after he had finished giving his explanation, the boy looked puzzled. Then he looked at his father and said, “Dad. Have I ever seen one?”

Unfortunately, some of us don’t always look and act like Christians after we leave the church house. When we get out into the mean, cold world, sometimes we put our coats on. We look like everybody else because we have our coats on. We talk like everybody else because we have our coats on. We act like everybody else because we have our coats on. Therefore, people cannot see the Christ in us because we have our coats on.

Bench members are not the only ones that put their coats on when they are not in church. There are some deacons, ushers, choir members and even preachers who have been known to put their coats on after the benediction as well. Some of them are well known televangelists, while others are unknown pastors of storefront churches.
Those of you who read “The Hoodlum Preacher”, know that I left the ministry and the church when I was 20 years old. I was a dope fiend for most of twenty-two years, from 1969 to 1991, and an alcoholic until 1993. In 1994 I went back to church and back to preaching the Gospel, and I was doing quite well, for a while.

I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina to go into business with a friend of mine. One day, I attended a birthday party in his backyard and drank a glass of wine along with the other guest. There is nothing wrong with having a little glass of wine, is there? Maybe not for most people, but I had been an alcoholic for almost 25 years. That innocent little glass of wine woke something up in me. Before I knew it, I was in the kitchen with the wine bottle turned up. After that, it was like I had never quit drinking.

The business failed and I returned to St. Louis. When I got back, I became a “closet drinker.” I was too ashamed to let anybody know that I had a problem and needed help. I had too much pride. After all, I was Rev. Barr. I was in charge of the substance abuse ministry. I couldn’t let people know that I was drinking again. So, after church was over and I wanted to go to the liquor store, I would change my clothes so I didn’t look like a preacher. In other words, I put my coat on.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world. However, we cannot light up this dark world if we have our coats on. It is very important for the church of God to remember that we all need help sometimes, and when we do, we can call on Him who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24). Just remember, Superman don’t wear no coat, and Christians shouldn’t either.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Words Hurt" + AUDIO

There is an old saying that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That is an untrue statement. Words do hurt. People have lost their jobs, their reputation, even their lives because of things that were said about them.

Gossiping has been around forever. All of us, including myself, have been guilty of it at one time or another. We love to hear stories about someone that has fallen or messed up, especially if we don’t like them. If the story is juicy enough, we can’t wait to pass it on via telephone, email, text or some other form of communication. Sometimes we don’t even bother to verify the rumors before passing them on.

A man went to his pastor one day with a question. He said, “Pastor, I understand almost everything that is in the Bible. I understand the commandment not to kill. I understand the commandment not to steal. What I don’t understand is the command against slandering my neighbor. After all, they are just words.”

The pastor said, “I will answer your question. But first I have a task for you. I want you to get a bag of feathers and place one feather in front of every house in your neighborhood. When you have finished, come back and I will give you the answer.”
The man did as he was told. When he had finished, he went back to the church. He said, “Pastor, I have done what you have asked. Now tell me why does God hate slander so much?”
The pastor said, “I want you to do one more thing. Go back and get every feather that you placed in front of each house. Bring them to me and I will answer your question.” The man said, “That’s impossible. The wind has blown them all over town.” The pastor smiled and said, “The same thing happens with the lies that we tell about our neighbors. They can never be retrieved. They are like feathers in the wind.”

Before you say something to, or about, someone, ask yourself how will it affect his or her life? Remember, words hurt.

AUDIO: "Words Hurt"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"The Appointment" + AUDIO

Life is short. It doesn’t matter if you live one year or one hundred years, compared to eternity, it is just a drop in the bucket. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense if we were more concerned about where we are going to spend eternity instead of how much stuff we can accumulate?
Don’t get me wrong; God doesn’t have anything against money or success, as long as our priorities are straight. But He does care about how we live and how we treat others.

At one point in my life, I thought I was invincible. I lived recklessly with no regard for myself or for anyone else. I didn’t think about the consequences that I would have to face because of my actions.

The Bible speaks of an appointment that has been made for everyone of us. “It is appointed for men to die once…” (Hebrews 9:27a). It doesn’t matter how rich, how smart or how slick you are, this is one appointment that you will keep.
The story was told of a young man that lived in New York City. One day, he went to the market for his mother. While he was there, he noticed a strange looking man that was staring at him and following him around the store. When he looked closer, he realized that it was the angel of death.

It frightened him so badly that he ran out of the store, leaving all of his groceries behind. When he got home, he told mother what had happened. She immediately took him to the airport and put him on a flight to Los Angeles. Then she went to the market and confronted the death angel.
She asked him why he was following her son around the store and scaring him. The death angel replied, “ I’m sorry Ma’am. I didn’t mean to frighten him. I was just surprised to see him here in New York. I have an appointment with him tonight in Los Angeles.”

The writer of Hebrews talks about another appointment at the end of the scripture that I quoted earlier. This one is with the Almighty God. “…but after this, the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27b). All of us will stand before God one day.
I cannot assume that everyone that read my blogs are Christians. Therefore, I would be remiss if I failed to ask you something. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you repented of your sins and given your life to Christ? Don’t wait until it’s too late. You don’t know the day or the time of your appointment.

AUDIO: "The Appointment"

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

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Time waits for no one. In the third chapter of book of Ecclesiastes, the preacher said, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Then he gives us a few examples such as: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to search, and a time to give up; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.

We have all been guilty of putting off things that we wanted to do or needed to do. Some things never got done because we ran out of time. We may have gotten too old or too sick; too busy or too tired; too content or too broke. The bottom line is, you kept waiting and the clock kept ticking. I received a phone call a few hours ago from Chicago. I was informed that my cousin, Rose, had just passed away.

Rose was more like a big sister to me than a cousin. We were raised in the same house. She taught me many things, from how to play hopscotch to how to treat women. When I was in trouble, she helped me get a lawyer. When I was on drugs, she helped me get into treatment.

I had been thinking about Rose over the last few weeks. I had thought about calling her, but I kept putting it off. Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking. I was planning on seeing her in Chicago this summer, but the clock kept ticking. I was thinking about all of the fun that we were going to have, but the clock kept ticking.

There are so many things that I wish I would have done over the years, but now it is too late. I wish I had spent more time with my children while they were young. I wish I had told my parents how much I loved and appreciated them before they passed away. I wish I had been a stronger witness for Jesus Christ.

What about you? Are there some things that you want to do before it’s too late? The clock is ticking. Do you have a friend or family member that you have not seen or talked to for a while? Tick---Tick---Tick. Are you putting off doing something that is very important? Tick---Tick---Tick. Do you know someone that needs to hear about the love and saving power of Jesus Christ? Tick---Tick---Tick.
I’m sorry, but there will be no audio for this week’s blog. I’m just not feeling up to it. Please keep my family in your prayers.

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