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).

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

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.

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

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!!!