Monday, October 31, 2011


In 1975, I received a Bad Conduct Discharge from the U. S. Marines because of some crimes that I had committed. As a result, I was not eligible to receive any government benefits. In 1991, I gave my life to Jesus Christ, walked away from my criminal lifestyle, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Although I was trying to do what was right, my discharge was hurting me. I couldn’t apply for certain jobs. I couldn’t afford to go back to school. I didn’t have health insurance and I didn’t meet the qualifications for buying a house. All because I didn’t have any benefits.

After I wrote my first book, The Hoodlum Preacher, some Hollywood producers talked to me about making it into a movie. But, to avoid future embarrassment, they wanted me to verify the things that I had written. So I got copies of my criminal records from Illinois and Missouri. I was even able to get a copy of one of my mug shots. But when I received a copy of my military records, I got the shock of my life. Although it listed my many court-martials and convictions, it listed my discharge as, “Honorable Conditions.”

I found out that the Appellate Court had overturned my major convictions and upgraded my discharge in 1979. I never received the letter that they sent informing me of the outcome. Therefore, for more than thirty years, I thought I had a Bad Conduct Discharge. More importantly, for more than thirty years, I had benefits that I was not aware of.

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He became our lawyer in the court of appeals. And because of what He accomplished on Calvary, the sins that we committed and were convicted of were overturned. But some of us are still beating ourselves up because of things that we did in the past. Some of us are not aware of the benefits that we have been given. We don’t have to wait until we die to have joy. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Serving God has benefits.

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011


When I was a child, we had a family dog named Rex. Although Rex was kind of temperamental, I loved playing with him. There were two things that Rex did not allow anyone to do, no matter who they were. First of all, he didn’t let anyone stick his or her hand in his doghouse while he was in there. The other thing was, he didn’t want anyone to touch his food while he was eating. Everyone in our family knew this, and my parents constantly warned my little brother, Ralph, and me not to go near Rex’s house or his food.

One day, Ralph and I were playing with a stick on our back porch and we accidentally dropped it. It fell off of the porch and landed in the middle of some food that Rex was eating. Ralph thought he could grab the stick before Rex could grab his hand. Bad move. Rex had Ralph’s hand before he even got close to the stick.

Ralph ran away crying, so I tried to comfort him. I told him that he went at it the wrong way. I told him to stand back and watch me get the stick. I knew better than to put my hand near Rex’s food, so I decided to kick the stick away and then pick it up. Another bad move. Rex had my foot before it got close to the stick. Both of us went in the house, crying, while Rex finished his meal.

We sometimes do things that we know we shouldn’t. Maybe we think we can get away with it or it might be to impress someone. If we do what God told us to and stay away from the things we should avoid, it could spare us a lot of pain in the end.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

The Cave

Because of his age, a lion was unable to provide food for himself like he had done in the pass. Therefore, he decided to resort to trickery. He stayed in his cave, day after day, pretending to be sick. One by one, other animals went to his cave to express their sorrow. When they did, the lion quickly devoured them.

One day, a fox went to the lion’s cave, but refused to go inside. Standing at a respectful distance, the fox asked the lion how he was doing. “I’m feeling a little weak today, “replied the lion. “But why are you standing out there? Come on in and let’s talk for a while,” he said. “No, thank you,” said the fox. “I see a lot of foot prints going into your cave. But I don’t see any coming out”

A lot of people have done things that ruined their lives, damaged their health or destroyed their careers. They saw what drugs, alcohol, gang activity and reckless living did to others, but they still tried it. In other words, they saw the footprints that led to the cave of misery and pain, but they walked in anyway. They thought they could handle it. But before they knew it, they were trapped.

Everyone has been trapped in one cave or another. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is like quicksand. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink. There is only one way out. His name is Jesus.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Jim Crow

“Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises - the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life.

“Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”

Those are the opening paragraphs of Michelle Alexander’s new book, “The New Jim Crow.” 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.

Many of our ancestors lost their lives, fighting for the right to vote. But today, more than one million African Americans cannot vote because they are in prison and another three million have lost their right to vote because they have felony records. African Americans are 12% of this nation’s population, but we are more than 50% of the prison population. In St. Louis, Missouri, almost 97% of the population in the Youth Detention Center is African American children.

Is Michelle Alexander right? Is the criminal justice system, The New Jim Crow?

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Monday, September 12, 2011


A man had two 50-yard line tickets for the Super Bowl. As the game progressed, a gentleman came down and asked the man if anyone was sitting next to him. “No,” he said, “the seat is empty.” The gentleman was shocked. He said, “This is incredible. Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sports event in the world, and not use it?”

Somberly, the man said, “Well, the seat actually belongs to me. I was supposed to come here with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl that we have not attended together since we got married more than 40 years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” replied the gentleman. “That is terrible. But couldn’t you find someone else to take the seat? Wasn’t there a friend, a relative or even a neighbor who could have come to the game with you?” The man shook his head and said, “No. All of them are at the funeral.”

This year’s football season has just begun. Therefore, many of the seats in our churches will be vacant. Some of us will be at the various games. Others will be parked in our favorite chairs in front of our television sets. Although we live in a world of advanced technology, many of us feel that we have to witness the actual kick-off rather than record the game and watch it later. Others feel that they cannot miss one second of the action.

For those of us that feel that way, I am glad that Jesus had His priorities straight when He hung on the cross and died for our sins. I’m sure He had other things that He could have been doing.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011


On a very cold evening, a young lady was walking through the woods on her way home. While she was walking she came across a snake that was lying by the side of the road. As she came closer she could see that the snake had been injured and was nearly frozen to death.

The woman felt compassion for the snake, so she picked him up, wrapped her coat around him and took him home with her. When she got home she fed the snake, placed him in front of the fireplace and nursed him all night long. The next morning, before she left for work, she changed his bandages, set plenty of food out for him and made sure the heat was left on high.

That evening, when she got home, she was surprised to see that the snake’s wounds were healing and his condition was no longer critical. He was even crawling around on the floor, laughing and playing. The woman was so happy that the snake was feeling better, she ran over to him, picked him up, and started hugging and kissing him. But while she was hugging him, the snake hauled off and gave her a vicious bite on her neck.

The woman dropped the snake and fell back in a state of shock. She grabbed her neck, and with tears in her eyes she said, “How could you do this to me after all I have done for you. You know that your bite is poisonous and now I am going to die. How could you do this to me?” The snake just looked at her and said, “Shut up, silly woman. You got just what you deserved. You knew I was a snake before you took me in.”

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Do You See?

Brian Cavanaugh told the story of a wise old archer that was training two young warriors. Across the meadow was a small target hanging from a tree. The first warrior took an arrow from his quiver, readied it in his bow, and took aim. The teacher asked him to describe everything he saw. He answered, “I see the sky. I see the clouds. I see the trees with their leaves and branches. And I see the target.” “Put your bow down,” said the teacher. “You are not ready yet.”

The second warrior stepped up and readied his bow with an arrow. The teacher told him to describe everything he saw. “I only see the target,” was his reply. “Then shoot,” said the teacher. The arrow flew straight and hit the target. “Very good,” said the teacher. “When you only see the target, your aim will be true, and your arrow will fly according to your wish.”

When you are traveling through the streets of your city or community, what do you see? Do you see alcoholics? Do you see drug addicts? Do you see prostitutes or gang members? Do you see beggars or undesirables? If that is what you see, you are not ready for the work that Jesus commissioned us to do. You will know when you are ready, because when you look around, all you will see are souls.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Rich Man And Lazarus

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus told the story of two men. One of them is a rich man, usually called Dives, which is Latin, for rich. The other man is a beggar named Lazarus.

There are different views on the historicity and origin of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Most theologians believe that this is not a parable that Jesus is telling, but it is a historical account. Supporters of this view point to the amount of detail that is in the story. For example, in no other parable does Jesus use a character’s name, but refers to them as, “a certain man”, “a sower”, etc.

Let us compare the lifestyles of these two individuals. First of all, the Bible says that Dives dressed in purple and fine linen. Wearing purple was associated with kingship. He lived in luxury, enjoying himself by eating sumptuously, meaning he dined on exotic and costly dishes everyday. In most Bible stories, when they mention a gate, they are usually talking about the gate to a city. But Dives was rich enough to have a gate to his house.

This brings us to the second character in the story, Lazarus, because that was where he was laid each day, at the rich man’s gate. The Bible says that Lazarus was happy, just to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, literary meaning, what he threw away. In Biblical days, there were no napkins or paper towels. Therefore, the rich would use pieces of bread to wipe their hands and fingers, and toss them out of windows along with bones and scraps of food for the dogs. When the parable speaks of dogs, we should not imagine well-groomed, affectionate pedigree dogs. These were semi-wild dogs that roamed the villages and towns eating rubbish and fending for themselves.

Before the age of the welfare state, the diseased and disabled of society were considered to be a burden on others. They were often left sitting or lying at the roadside and in public places asking for charity from passers-by. The description of the dogs licking Lazarus’ sores suggests that he may have been severely disabled, therefore, was unable to protect himself.

Now the story takes a dramatic turn. The Bible says that Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died but “in hell he lifted up his eyes”(v23a). I used to wonder why Dives went to hell. Just what had he done that was so terrible? After all, he had not ordered Lazarus to be removed from his gate. He made no objections to his receiving the bread that was flung from his table. And he was never deliberately cruel to Lazarus. So why did Dives go to hell?

The sin of Dives was he accepted him as part of the landscape and thought it was perfectly natural and inevitable that Lazarus should lie in pain and hunger while he wallowed in luxury. So it was not what Dives did that landed him in hell, but what he did not do. The sin of Dives was that he could look on the world’s suffering and need, and feel no grief or pity in his heart. He looked at a fellow human being, hungry and in pain, and did nothing about it. His was the punishment of the man who did nothing.

This parable illustrates a theme that is common to several of Jesus’ parables. The treatment of the least of society is the true measure of piety. We cannot be indifferent to the needs of the poor. External virtue and legal satisfaction cannot compensate for this neglect. Jesus taught repeatedly that the Kingdom of God is within the soul, not in the law.
The parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus makes an important point. It is a warning to the rich and the rest of society about the danger of neglecting the poor.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stay In Your Lane

I love watching judge shows on television. Some of my favorites are: Judge Mathis, Judge Judy and Judge Alex. But the show that I like the best is Judge Karen. One of her most popular sayings is, “Stay in your lane.” Sometimes, one of the litigants will get overzealous while presenting his or her case and try to do the judge’s job. When that happens, Judge Karen says, “Stay in your lane. I know what I’m doing.” Judge Karen has a book with the same title, “Stay in your lane.”

Many of us have been guilty of trying to do someone else’s job. It not only happens in the secular world, it happens in many of our churches as well. We try to tell the pastor how to lead his flock. We want to tell the deacons how to minister to the congregation. We attempt to tell the minister of music which songs the choir should sing. We even have the audacity to try to tell God how to get us out of the mess that we have gotten ourselves into.

Our problem is, we want to be in charge of everything. We think we have all of the answers. We don’t want to relinquish control of our lives to anyone. Not even to God. When things don’t go the way we would like, we want to question God. I have seen people blame God for everything from the loss of a loved one, to the loss of a job.

God loves us and He knows what is best for us. We all go through difficult situations sometimes. But we cannot blame God every time things don’t go our way. I must admit, there were times when I was guilty of doing this.

The next time you want to tell God how to do His job, I suggest you read what God said in Job 38:4. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” In other words, “Stay in your lane.”

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Sunday, June 19, 2011


When I was in the Marines, we formed touch football teams and played during our lunch breaks. The different platoons played against each other. On my team, the quarterback’s name was Freeman. I was the number one receiver. I was a good player and a fast runner. But I had two problems. I dropped the ball a lot, and I didn’t follow my blockers.

Both of those problems stemmed from an incident that happened during one of the games. I had caught a pass and turned to run down the field when I was hit by a player that I did not see coming. I had never been in that much pain in my life. I wanted to cry. But I was a man, a football player and a Marine. After that, whenever a pass was thrown to me, I looked down field to see if I was going to be hit. In other words, I took my eyes off of the ball.
Some of us have been hurt by people or circumstances that we did not expect. As a result, instead of focusing on the task at hand, we took our eyes off of ball. We dropped out of school. We quit our job. We left our spouse. We stopped going to church.

Sometimes Freeman would call a play that was designed for me to get the ball and run to the right. But if I didn’t like the way things looked, I ran to the left instead. The problem was, my blockers, who were my protection, were going to the right. But I thought I was fast enough to make it on my own. So I went in the other direction.
Sometimes God sets up “blockers” to protect us and pave the way for us. The blockers might be our parents, our pastors, or our teachers. But sometimes we don’t like the way things look or what they tell us. So instead of following them, we go it the other direction, thinking we are smart enough to make it on our own.

God has a plan for our lives. We just have to follow His direction, keep our eyes on Him and don’t quit.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Line

When I was a teenager, I ran with a Chicago street gang named, “The Roman Saints.” One day, some of us were hanging out on the corner when we spotted several members of a rival gang named, “The Vice Lords.” We started chasing them down Roosevelt Road. I had always been a fast runner. As a matter of fact, I prided myself in being able to outrun most people.

At the time, I was new to the gang and I wanted to impress the guys that I was with. So, while we were chasing the Vice Lords, I decided to show them my speed and ability. Naturally, I was ahead of everyone else. After several blocks, the Vice Lords stopped running. I said to myself, “We got them now.” Then I noticed that they had not only stopped running. They were just standing there, looking at me as if they were waiting for me. When I turned to see where the rest of my gang members were, I got the shock of my life. They were standing on one of the corners, about a block and a half behind me, yelling for me to come back. All of a sudden, the Vice Lords that I had been chasing were chasing me. More of them joined in the chase, cutting off my escape route. I ended up getting one of the worse beat downs in my life. I found out that there was a street that the Saints did not cross. That street was the dividing line between our turf and theirs. If we crossed that line, we were no longer under the cover of the rest of our gang.

Some of the saints of God have crossed the line as well. Some of them were trying to impress other people. Some of them wanted to engage in activities that were ungodly. Some of them just yielded to temptation. Whatever their reasons were, they were no longer under the cover of God’s anointing. Now, some of them are experiencing one of the worse beat downs in their lives. Some of them are in prison. Some of them are strung out on substances. Some of them are in abusive or dangerous relationships. All the while, the rest of the saints are yelling for them to come back.

Have you crossed the line? Are you getting close to it? It’s not too late. Just come back.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why We Can’t Wait

“It is the beginning of the year of our Lord, 1963. I see a young Negro boy. He is sitting on a stoop in front of a vermin-infested apartment house in Harlem. The stench of garbage is in the halls. The drunks, the jobless, the junkies are shadow figures of his everyday world. The boy goes to a school attended mostly by Negro students with a scattering of Puerto Ricans. His father is one of the jobless. His mother is a sleep-in domestic, working for a family on Long Island.

“I see a young Negro girl. She is sitting on the stoop of a rickety, wooden one-family house in Birmingham. Some visitors would call it a shack. It needs paint badly and the patched-up roof appears in danger of caving in. Half a dozen small children, in various stages of undress, are scampering about the house. The girl is forced to play the role of their mother. She can no longer attend the all-Negro school in her neighborhood because her mother died recently after a car accident. Neighbors say if the ambulance hadn’t come so late to take her to the all-Negro hospital, the mother might still be alive. The girl’s father is a porter in a downtown department store. He will always be a porter, for there are no promotions for the Negro in this store, where every counter serves him except the one that sells hot dogs and orange juice.”

Those are the opening words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his best-selling book, “Why We Can’t Wait.” He was describing the living conditions of a race of people in 1963. He was trying to tell a group of passive, Christian ministers why it was important to stand up for what was right without delay. A lot of things have changed since then. Unfortunately, too many things remain the same. Children are being murdered on the streets of our cities. War has been declared on our nation’s poor. Hatred is prevalent all across this country. Prisons are bursting at the seams. And all the while, many of our pastors are preaching sermons about, “Bye-and-bye, when the morning comes.”

Jesus told us to “Go.” Not “Wait.” What are we waiting for? This country is full of people who are lost and hurting. Drugs have taken over our communities. Unemployment is at an all time high. Food pantries cannot keep up with the demand. Thousands of families are without gas and electricity because they cannot afford to pay their utility bills. Many of our seniors have to choose between buying food and buying the medicines they need. Children are suffering from sicknesses and diseases, and their families can do nothing about it because they don’t have healthcare. Our boys are being exposed to first-class jails and second-class schools, and if we are not very careful, there will soon be more jails and prisons in this country than there are colleges and universities.

Dr. King ended his introduction with these words: “The boy in Harlem stood up. The girl in Birmingham arose. Separated by stretching miles, both of them squared their shoulders and lifted their eyes toward heaven. Across the miles, they joined hands and took a firm, forward step. It was a step that rocked the richest, most powerful nation to its foundations.”

What about the rest of us? Are we going to stand up and join hands with them? Or are we still waiting for, “That great getting up morning, bye-and-bye?”

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Game

In my book, The Hoodlum Preacher, I talked about a well-known pimp that operated on the West Side of Chicago. I met him one Saturday afternoon in a barbershop, called Freddy’s. Freddy’s was a place where many of the players got their hair done. It was the 1970s and most of the players were wearing “Super Fly” perms. While sitting in the chair, he talked about the flamboyant lifestyle of players. Because of his reputation and notoriety, everyone in the shop was hanging on his every word.

He said, “There are two kinds of people in this world, the players and the squares. The squares have to get up and go to work everyday because that’s the only way they can make any money. They don’t know how to play the game. They are too busy living their dull, boring lives and trying to stay out of trouble.

‘But us players, we know the game. We drive the baddest rides. We’ve got the prettiest women. We’ve got all the money. And we do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it.” Then he said, “I don’t know about y’all, but as long as I live, I’m gonna be a player.”

Players are people that live on the edge. They are the pimps, the hustlers, the con artists, the gang bangers, and the drug dealers. They are called players because they play games on people that are designed to separate them from their money and their possessions.

This might sound crazy to some people, but there is something about the danger of living on the edge that is intriguing to people in that lifestyle. Maybe that’s why they call it “The Game.” To the players, it is a game. A very serious one. If you win, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have outsmarted some of the most intelligent people in the world: doctors, lawyers, bankers, judges, policemen, merchants, and even other hustlers. But if you lose, you can lose more than just your money. You can lose your freedom, or even your life. But that’s the game. Everybody can’t play it. But if you chose to try, you’d better be prepared to face the consequences if you lose. And the consequences can be severe.

That lifestyle makes perfectly good sense when you are living outside of the will of God. We cannot see God’s truths because we are blinded by Satan’s lies and his promises of fame and fortune. But God wants us to live abundantly. However, some of us choose to listen to the one who has come to steal, to kill and to destroy. (John 10:10)

Some of players are tired of the way they are living. They are tired of drinking. They are tired of drugging. They are tired of prostituting. They are tired of going to jail. They are tired of playing the game. They want to quit, but they don’t know how. Sin is the game that Satan has tricked them into playing.

Some of our churches have built walls that separate us from the players. It is time to tear down those walls. We have to reach out to the players. They are the ones that Jesus died for. It is time for us to stop playing church, and start being the church.

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seek Wisdom

The Bible talks a lot about wisdom. Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, devoted an entire book on the matter. Living a Godly life in an ungodly world is no simple assignment. It takes prayer, faith, determination, and wisdom. Jesus told us to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

One day an old German Shepherd was chasing rabbits. Before long, he discovered that he was lost. Wandering about, he noticed a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The German Shepherd thought, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep trouble now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settled down and started chewing on them with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther was about to leap, the dog exclaimed loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder if there are any more around here?" Hearing this, the young panther halted his attack in mid-strike. A look of terror came over him and he slinked away into the trees. “Whew!" said the panther, "That was close! That old dog nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel that had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree figured he could put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he went. The squirrel soon caught up with the panther, spilled the beans and struck a deal for himself with the panther. The young panther was furious at being made a fool of and said, "Come on Squirrel. Hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

The German Shepherd saw the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thought, "What am I going to do now?" Instead of running, the dog sat down with his back to his attackers, pretending he didn't see them. When they got close enough to hear, the German Shepherd said, "Where is that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!" As you can imagine, the panther ate the squirrel. But he never bothered the wise, old German Shepherd again.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NIV).

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Stay On The Line

There is a commercial that comes on television that advertises investments or some other financial matter. In it, the advisor maps out a plan for the client. After the consultation, the advisor shows the client a line that is painted on the ground. She tells the client that all he has to do to be successful is stay on the line. Afterwards, we see the client walking down the street, being careful not to stray from the path that has been drawn for him. But after a while, something in a store window catches his attention. The man takes he eyes off of the line and heads toward the store. Just then, we see his financial advisor standing behind him, yelling, “Stay on the line.” The man steps back on the line and follows it to financial freedom.

After seeing that commercial, I thought about a park that is located in St. Louis, Missouri. It is named Forest Park. It is very large and there are a lot of roads, twists, turns and curves in it. One day I decided to take a short cut through Forest Park. When I got in there, I got lost and couldn’t find my way out. Every turn that I made was the wrong turn and every road that I took was the wrong road. Finally, I said, “Lord, if you will get me out of this park I will never set foot in here again.”

Some time later, I was driving down a street that was close to Forest Park. I started thinking that I had gotten lost in the park the last time because I had gone in too deep. I thought I could go back in there, and as long as I was careful and watched where I was going and could see the main road, I would be OK. Besides, a lot of people drive through there without getting lost. So I ventured back into Forest Park. Before long, the street that I was driving on turned into a one-way street, so I couldn’t turn around. I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the park. Before I knew it, I was lost again.

Satan tricks us that way sometimes. When God delivers us from things, instead of staying away from them, we think that we can flirt with them again. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can dibble and dabble as long as we don’t go too far or get in too deep. But we don’t realize how quickly that road can turn into a one-way street, and we cannot turn around. Before we know it, we are lost again.

Don’t let Satan fool you with the distractions of the world. Jesus has drawn a path for us to follow. All we have to do is stay on the line.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

A Good Soldier

Christians are often compared to soldiers and Christianity to warfare in both song and scripture. One songwriter said, “I’m a soldier in the army of the Lord.” Another one wrote, “I am on the battlefield for my Lord.” The Apostle Paul knew this is warfare that we are involved in. That is why he told the church at Ephesus to put on the whole armor of God. Four years later, he wrote a letter to Timothy, telling him to fight the good fight of faith. Three years after that, he was led by the Spirit to write another letter to young Timothy telling him to endure hardship like a good soldier.

What is a good soldier? Some people confuse being a good soldier with being a soldier who is good. There is a difference. I was in the United States Marines for five years. Almost half of those years were during the Viet Nam War. During that time I saw a lot of soldiers and marines who had received medals for being good. Being good simply meant showing up for roll call, being at their assigned post, doing a good job and not causing any trouble. For that, they received Good Conduct Medals because they were soldier that had been good. But that was the only medal that many of them received. They did not receive a medal for valor. They did not receive a medal for bravery above and beyond the call of duty. They did not receive the Medal of Honor or the Silver Cross.

We have some Good Conduct Soldiers in God’s Army as well. Our churches are full of them. They never miss roll call, meaning, they are in church every Sunday. They are always at their appointed post: the usher’s board, the mother’s board, the deacon’s board, the choir, the pulpit, or whatever their post may be. They do a good job and never cause any problems. If God were to give out Good Conduct medals, they would certainly receive one. But that is the only medal that many of them would receive. Because, when it is time to go onto the battlefield and minister to the people in the community, that is where they draw the line. They say, “That’s not my job.”

What about you? Are you a good soldier? Or are you just a soldier who is good?

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is Your House In Order?

I hate an unmade bed. I can’t stand it. It doesn’t matter how clean or neat a house is, if the beds are not made, the entire house seems messy to me. I got that from my parents and from spending five years in the marines. One of my father’s strictest rules was for us to make our beds as soon as we got up. That was instilled in me at an early age. When we got married, my wife got up to go to the bathroom one Saturday morning. When she returned, she was surprised to see the bed had been made. When I was in prison, my celly (cell-mate) and I had a fight one day. He would not make his bed, and I refused to live in a messy cell.

My mother was the same way. If my brother or I left our clothes in the living room or kitchen, she threw them in the trash. And we better not take them out. She said that she was our mother, not our maid. She did not believe in cleaning up or getting things in order when we were expecting company. She said the house should be in order all the time.

Keeping your house in order might be important to you too. No one wants to be surprised or caught off guard with a messy house if someone were to show up unexpectedly. But what about your spiritual house? Is it in order? No one knows the day or the hour when Jesus is coming. (Matt. 25:13) You don’t want to be surprised or caught off guard with a messy house (lifestyle) when He comes.

A few years ago, people were quoting a popular phrase, “What would Jesus do?” I think a more important question is, “Is your house in order?”

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!