Monday, May 31, 2010

The Door

When I decided to leave the streets and give my life to Jesus Christ, I thought all of my problems were going to magically go away and everything was going to be great. I thought my drug habit would just disappear. I thought the police would leave me alone. I thought I would be able to get any job that I wanted and all of my financial problems would be solved. I thought everybody was going to love me and I would be welcome everywhere. Well, things didn’t quite happen that way.
Last week I told you about a friend of mine that I grew up with named, Chucky. He lived across the street from me, and he had a crazy little dog named, Champ. None of us liked that dog. He was a sneaky, little, black, cocker spaniel.
Sometimes my friends and I would get together at someone’s house and play cards, listen to music or just hang out. Whenever we went to Chucky’s house, Champ acted like he was the nicest dog in the world. He would greet us at the door and sit around, acting like a well-mannered little dog. He would even let us pet him and play with him while we were there.
Sometimes Champ would lie under a table or sit in a corner and we would forget that he was in the house. We could go anywhere in the house that we wanted, and Champ wouldn’t even bark at us. We had a lot of fun when we were there. The problem was trying to get out of the door.
When one of us tried to leave, Champ became an entirely different dog. He would attack anyone that tried to walk out of the door. We could not understand how a dog could be so playful and friendly while we were in his house, and then attack us so viciously when we tried to leave.
That’s how Satan is. As long as you are in his house, he will do his best to make you feel comfortable. He wants you to feel welcome. He will let you think you are having fun while you are there. Sometimes he will lie under a table or hide in a corner so you won’t know that he is there.
He is just like Champ. You are welcome in his house. You can do whatever you want. You can drink all of the liquor, smoke all of the dope, or sleep with anybody you want. Just don’t try to leave. That’s when he will attack you with everything that he has. He does not want you to get to the door. Jesus is the door.
All of your problems won’t disappear, but He will help you face them. You don’t have to take my word. Just open the door.

AUDIO: "The Door"

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

To Sign Up for our email list, visit:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The Wild Mouse" Chapter 4 of "Amazing Grace: The Storm Is Passing Over" by Rev. Burton Barr Jr. & KOBALT BOOKS

When we were children, my father used to take my little brother, Ralph, and me to an amusement park named, "Riverview." It was located on the North Side of Chicago. We really enjoyed all of the games and the rides that we went on, but there was one ride that I would never get on. It was a huge roller coaster was named, The Bobs.

There was always a long line of people that were waiting to get on The Bobs, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why. That was the biggest, scariest looking thing that I had ever seen. People would be yelling, screaming and crying while they were riding on it, but after the ride was over, those crazy people would get back in line so they could ride on that thing again.

Some of my friends tried to talk me into riding on The Bobs. They called me chicken and scare-de-cat, but I didn’t care. There was no way that I was going to get on anything that went that high off of the ground. Period. Ralph and I rode on the safe, sensible rides like The Merry-Go-Round or The Ferris Wheel. One day, we found a ride that we had never been on before. It was called, The Wild Mouse. It had the same kind of seating that The Bobs had but it just rolled around the park on level ground and into a tunnel. There was a long line there too, but it looked like it was a nice, safe ride.

Ralph and I got on The Wild Mouse and took the seat that was in the front. We rode along, waving to people until we entered the tunnel. The farther we got into the tunnel the darker things became. We couldn’t see anything, not even each other. Although the tunnel was a little scary, it was fun. The train moved along very slowly, almost like The Tunnel of Love. We were laughing and talking and enjoying the ride.

Finally, after the long ride through the tunnel, we saw daylight ahead. We thought we were coming to the end of the ride, but when we came out of the tunnel we found out that we were no longer on the ground. When I looked down I couldn’t even see the ground. I think I saw The Bobs down there. I looked ahead and it looked like the tracks were coming to an end. I looked at Ralph and said, “Uh oh.”

Remember, Ralph and I was on the front row. I wanted to cry, but before I could get anything out we were flying down that long, steep track at about a million miles an hour. Everyone was screaming, “Awwwwwww”, but I was yelling, “Daddaaaaaaay”

I had never been so glad to get off of anything in my life. All 12 years of it. I had no idea that the ride that seemed so nice and peaceful was a roller coaster in disguise. I didn’t know that while we were enjoying that long, slow, uneventful ride through that long, dark tunnel that we were getting further and further off of the ground until it was too late. However, what surprised me was, as scary as The Wild Mouse was, a lot of the people got back in line to ride it all over again.

You might not know it, but Satan has a Wild Mouse too. It is called sin. We all have ridden on it at one time or another during our lifetime. Millions of people are still riding on it today. The Wild Mouse. Some of its riders are easy to recognize. They are drug dealers, drug addicts, alcoholics, Gang bangers, prostitutes, rapists, robbers, players and player haters just to name a few. However, there are a lot of respectable citizens that are taking the ride as well. The sad thing is they don’t even realize it.

All of their lives they have avoided the crazy, dangerous roller coasters like The Bobs. In other words, they stayed out of trouble, received a good education and they are pursuing the American dream. Some of them are doctors, lawyers, bankers, teachers, politicians, community leaders and hard working family people. They think they are traveling on nice, safe level ground as they cruise through, what they think is, the tunnel of love. However, when they reach the end of the tunnel they will realize that they are riding on The Wild Mouse and they are just as far from level ground as the people that are riding on The Bobs.

When I got off of The Wild Mouse that day I knew that I was never, ever going to ride that thing again. I didn’t like the ride, but there were others that loved the thrill and excitement, so they rode that thing over and over and over again. For the life of me, I just could not understand how they could do that. It is the same way in life. Some people accept Christ and walk away from the world of sin and ungodliness, but there are others that continue on that path because they love the thrill and excitement of it, or it could be that they just don’t know any better. However, it doesn’t matter whether you are riding on The Bobs, The Wild Mouse, or walking on level ground (living a Christian life) you are still a long way from perfection. We all are. As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10) Although none of us will ever be sinless, by the grace of God we will sin less each day that we live.

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

To Sign Up for our email list, visit:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chump Change

In many of my sermons, books and speeches I talk about some of the people that I grew up with. Over the years I have talked about Fuzzy, Red, Tadpole, and even my dog Rex.

When I was in Chicago last month for my cousin’s funeral, Tadpole and I were talking about some of our old friends. During our conversation, we started talking about Chucky. I’ve known Chucky all of my life. We went to the same school, played the on the same sports teams, and fought together when gangs tried to takeover our neighborhood.

There was something else that I remember about Chucky. He was cheap. When we were teenagers, my friends and I would sometimes put our money together and buy beer or wine. All of us would chip in a dollar. But when it came to Chucky, all he would ever put in was a quarter. We would get mad and tell him he had to come up with some more money. But he would always say, “Sorry y’all, but all I’ve got is some chump change.”

We knew that Chucky had some money. After all, he received an allowance just like the rest of us. But whenever we were putting our money together to buy anything, all Chucky would ever come up with was some chump change.

In case you don’t know what chump change is, it is money that you don’t need. It is money that you can afford to throw away. It is what you have left after you have bought everything you want. It is what you give to the men and women that are on the street corners begging for spare change so they can get something to eat. It is also what many of us give to God every Sunday morning. Chump Change.

Oh yeah, we give God our leftovers. We furnish our beautiful homes, drive our expensive cars, and wear our designer clothes with our finest jewelry. We buy the best of everything for our children and go to the malls and shop till we drop. Then we go to church on Sunday morning and give God our chump change.
It is not only with our finances that we short change God. We give Him our chump change in other areas as well: our time, our talents, our worship and our praise. God loves us too much to give us His chump change. He gave us His best.
Are you giving God your best? Or are you just giving Him your chump change?

AUDIO: "Chump Change"

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

To Sign Up for our email list, visit:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wasted Gifts

I hate shopping. Can’t stand it. I don’t like to shop for food, clothing, furniture, appliances or anything else. I probably hold a record for the fastest time getting in and out of stores. What’s so ironic is, before I was called to full time ministry, I worked in stores. Most of my “legal” jobs were in retail sales and management. My livelihood depended on my ability to get people into my store and separate them from their money.

In those days, my favorite holidays were the ones that people spent a lot of money buying gifts. But I don’t look forward to those days anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I still love holidays, and I love giving gifts to people. I just hate the shopping part, especially if the gifts are not appreciated.
I always spend a lot of time and energy trying to find the perfect gifts for people. Most of the time I am successful and people appreciate the gifts that I give them. But sometimes I give people gifts that they don’t really want. I know they don’t want them because they never use them.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever given a special gift to someone that you love and they never use it? They never wear that sweater. They never use that gadget. They never play with that toy. That painting is still sitting in the closet collecting dust. How does that make you feel? Are you hurt or disappointed because they are wasting a perfectly good gift by not using it?
How do you think God feels when He gives us gifts that we don’t use? Our churches are filled with gifted singers, but many of our choir stands are half empty. We have some of the finest educators in our congregations, but we don’t have enough Sunday school classes because we can’t get enough teachers. Our members have been blessed with all kinds of gifts and talents, but many of our ministries are suffering due to the lack of volunteers.

Pastors are begging their congregants to get off of the pews and get involved in some kind of ministry. But Sunday after Sunday, we just sit there wasting the gifts that God has given us. God gave you that gift for a reason. Are you using your gift to bless someone? Or are you just wasting it?

AUDIO: "Wasted Gifts"

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

To Sign Up for our email list, visit:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Shattered Dreams" by Rev. Burton Barr Jr. & KOBALT BOOKS

When I was a child, I was afraid to go down south. I saw the news reports on television about George Wallace, Bull Connors, and the Ku Klux Klan. I heard the stories of how they killed, lynched, and terrorized Black people.

I saw the magazine articles that described how they beat, shot, and gouged out the eyes of 14 year old Emmett Till before throwing him into the Tallahatchie River because he whistled at a white woman. I read about the bombing of The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama and how four little girls lost their lives because they went to Sunday school one morning.

I watched in horror as the police would sic vicious dogs on young black children because they wanted an education, and how black men and women were savagely beaten with nightsticks and sprayed with powerful water hoses because they wanted the right to vote.

The Klan did everything they could to shatter the dreams of an entire race of people. But there is a new kind of Klan in America. They don’t wear white sheets that hide their faces and they don’t carry burning torches. Instead, they wear baggy pants that expose their behinds and they carry AK47s. There is a new kind of Klan in America.

They don’t lynch our young boys for whistling at white women. They just drive down the street and shoot them down because they are standing on the wrong corner. There is a new kind of Klan in America.

They don’t kill our boys today because of the color of their skin. They kill them because of the color of their clothing. I’m telling you, there is a new kind of Klan in America today.

This new Klan does not terrorize our people by burning crosses in our front yards. They intimidate us by disfiguring our neighborhoods with gang graffiti. They don’t destroy our churches with bombs. They devastate them with burglaries. They disrespect our women by calling them B’s and H’s, and they disrespect the rest of us by calling us the N word.

In case you don’t know who the new Klan is, they are some of our young black men. They are destroying our communities and shattering the dreams of our people in ways that George Wallace, Bull Connors, or the original Klan never could.

In the days of the Civil Rights Movement, it was the church that stood up and fought for our people. But today, many of our churches have retreated to the safety of their sanctuaries. As a result, we are losing more and more of our young people to drugs, prison, or an early grave.

There was a time when our young people were filling the jails because they loved one another. Now they are filling the jails because they are killing one another. But African Americans are no more criminal than anyone else in this society. Yet, for as long as this country has existed, blacks have gone through this nation’s criminal justice system and have always been found wanting.

In St. Louis, Missouri, 97% of the population of the youth detention center is African American children. Our young men and young women feel that they have no stake in this society. They have become disenfranchised. They have no jobs and they see no future. Their dreams have been shattered.

I know that this week’s blog is a little longer than the others, but this is too important. We are losing too many of our children. We have to embrace our young people and teach them how to dream again.

AUDIO: "Shattered Dreams"