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.

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

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.

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

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?”

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