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Leaving My Mark

posted May 22, 2017, 4:24 PM by Lee Barnett


“How will I leave my mark on the world?” I was brought up with this idea ingrained in my head. I had a need to be remembered for doing something great. “What will I be famous for? How will I display my power or fortune?” These are not biblical questions.

Fortune, or wealth, is not to be my legacy. (It is a good thing since I am not wealthy by American standards.) What does money prove? A few people are remembered for being wealthy but that is about all that we remember about them. What is wealthy anyway? God owns it all—all creation submits to Him and glorifies Him for His great works. Wealth is so unimportant that God even uses gold to pave the streets of Heaven—what I struggle so hard to get He uses as asphalt. This is one reason that scripture states that God is “more precious than silver”.

Fame and glory are not to be my gifts to the world either. This is a tough one to swallow. We all want to stand out and be noticed—our obsession with celebrity reality TV proves my point. I used to look for opportunities to be seen and heard. Jesus warned us about seeking the “best seats at the banquet” and losing our perspectives in the pursuit of recognition. King David said, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” What makes me think I am so important? God is the one who deserves the glory. Yahweh is the Famous One—not me.

I will not likely be remembered for my personal power. My original life plan (not God’s) was to enter the military then politics and walk the halls of power. We all want some amount of control over the world around us. The problem is that human power is at best fleeting and at worst an illusion. “Man plans his ways but God directs his steps.” I must be willing to give over control of my world to God—let Him deal with the mess and trust Him to make things right according to His will. My only power is that of Christ living in and working through me. I am weak but His strength is perfect.

I want to be more than a name on a plaque, an inherited bank account, or a “do you remember”. My life goal is to make Jesus known through my life. I can make a mark by pointing others to Jesus. Let my legacy be the impact that I can have on others for Christ—others who will do much greater things than I. Let me be remembered for my faith and the way I treat people.

O' Come All Ye Hateful

posted Dec 24, 2016, 7:41 AM by Lee Barnett

O’ Come All Ye Hateful

A Warped Carol Showing the Messed up/ Stressed out Attitude Around Christmas that distract us from the true meaning of the Christ Mass.

 

O’ come all ye hateful,

angry and indignant.

O’ complain, o’ complain to everyone.

Come and ignore Him,

Born the King of Angels;

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

Christ the Lord.

           

O Scream, crowds of shoppers,

Scream in exasperation,

Scream all that do not get their way in everything.

Give to our Father glory in the slightest;

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

Christ the Lord.

 

All Hail! Don’t be mean to me,

on this happy morning,

O Jesus! Help me deal with these people.

Word of the Father, love just is not flowing;

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

O come, let us ignore Him,

Christ the Lord.

Ministry with Youth in Crisis textbook

posted Nov 21, 2016, 11:16 AM by Lee Barnett   [ updated May 22, 2017, 4:30 PM ]

The long-awaited youth ministry textbook by veteran youth pastors turned professors has finally arrived.
Ministry with Youth in Crisis rev. by Dr. Harley Atkinson, Dr. Lee Barnett and Dr. Mike Severe.






Blessed are those who Mourn, Beatitudes Part 2

posted Sep 13, 2016, 11:09 AM by Lee Barnett

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Again Jesus hits us with something that simply does not compute—how are we blessed by mourning? Mourning evokes feelings of pain and sadness rather than happiness. As I said in part one of this series, being blessed is not about happiness but rather about being spiritually joyful and a state of ultimate well-being. This well-being is often misunderstood during times of pain.

Those who mourn are blessed because God Himself comforts them. In a world filled with pain and sadness true loving comfort is a unique and compelling show of love. God reaches out to us in times of pain and loss—though not always alleviating but always loving us through it and proving that He cares for us.

There will be times of mourning and loss (Ecclesiastes 3:4); pain will always exist in this life. God can and will turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11)—joy is the idea here.  The recognition of God as our loving comforter brings joy to our spirits; “may Your (God’s) unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76). Jesus presents the Holy Spirit as both Counselor and Comforter (John 14:16) and promises the transition from grief to joy that comes from our salvation.

This does not mean that we do not mourn or that we should tell people to get over it! We will mourn and we are called to comfort those who mourn as representatives of God’s presence and love (Romans 12:15).

What are you mourning? How can God turn it into joy—even dancing? His love is the only promise that will stand. God is faithful to a thousand generations of those who love Him so He can and will heal your heart.

Lee

Beatitudes: Blessings of Humility

posted Aug 25, 2016, 11:47 AM by Lee Barnett

   As I addressed in the last post, being blessed does not necessarily equate to being happy or having great circumstances. It is more about being in right standing with God.  Matthew 5:3 continues this by saying, "blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." I don't typically connect being blessed with feeling poor about anything (just saying).  How can being poor in spirit lead to a place of spiritual joy and ultimate well-being?

   Poor in spirit is not about lacking spiritual joy, depth or power; it is more like spiritual humility. Our tendency is to consider ourselves to be in control of life to have the power to make things better but this is a false consideration. God states clearly that His ways are higher and the Psalmist cried out "what is man?" Still, we like to feel powerful and important.  Jesus was addressing the average Jew at that time; a person with little control over anything.

 Jesus was constantly butting heads with the religious leaders for making God seem like a distant task-master and promoting themselves.  This is what I call spiritual arrogance. Unfortunately, we still see this behavior in some Christian circles.  Before we throw stones we need to do a little self-examination.  I (and probably you) like to feel self-sufficient.  I like to be seen as "godly" or an authority on spiritual matters. Jesus addressed this issue in chapter 6. This issue is my motivation--am I teaching/preaching/praying/etc. for God's glory or my own? Do I look down on those with less knowledge or experience? Our desire to be holy can get out of control and lead us to this place of arrogance before God and man.

  When we are able to acknowledge and accept that only God can meet our needs, that only He is worthy of praise then we can receive His joy and contentment just being a part of His family and kingdom. The rewards of humility include confidence in our position as children of God, a sense of God's power working in and around us and freedom from a need to prove anything. Blessings come from standing in reverential awe of God which leads to a healthy view of myself and in turn to a place of true worship and fulfillment.

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God," (Michal 6:8 HCSB).

Blessings,

Lee

Society of Professors of Christian Education

posted Aug 8, 2016, 5:50 AM by Lee Barnett   [ updated May 22, 2017, 4:31 PM ]

Lee was recently highlighted on the Society of Professors of Christian Education website. 

The Great Restoration

posted Aug 4, 2016, 7:28 AM by Lee Barnett

The Great Restoration

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is that of the leper who asks if Jesus is willing to heal him (Luke 5:12-14).  At first take it almost seems silly—why would Jesus not want to heal someone?  Here was a guy with an incurable terminal disease that caused him to be separated from friends, family and even church and all he wanted was to be restored.  I’m sure that he longed to be reunited with loved ones and accepted in society.  He probably also wanted to know that he was valued and loved by God.

While most of us in the modern world will not contract leprosy we do have things in our lives that separate us from others—and from God.  Sometimes we think that these issues, or sins, are simply too big for God to forgive. We sometimes think that we are too far gone for God to restore so why would He bother.  Over the years I have heard many people say that they have done “too many terrible things” for God to love them.  “If you knew what I have done” is a common theme for many.  Some feel that they must “straighten out” their lives before God would love them but this story demonstrates something entirely different.

Jesus was moved with compassion by the leprous man’s request for healing and stated His willingness.  We see this repeated in various stories where Jesus forgave sins openly.  You see, we can’t be clean until God cleanses us.  We can’t get past our sins until we let Jesus willingly forgive and restore us.

We all have hurts.  We all want healing and restoration—physical, emotional and spiritual.  Jesus is our loving and compassionate savior and healer.  He is willing to heal us and forgive us of even the most undesirable sins.  He is compassionate and willing to love on us if we simply ask and believe.  Are you willing to believe?  If so, just ask and will be faithful and just to forgive (I John 1:9).

Dr. Lee Barnett

President, Rocket City Student Ministries

 

This is adapted from the article “Want to Know God” published in the Alabama Baptist 2015 by Dr. Lee Barnett

On Being Blessed

posted Jul 25, 2016, 1:19 PM by Lee Barnett

Beatitudes & Blessings

What does it mean to be blessed? It cannot mean happiness because that is circumstantial. It does not mean that the situation or condition itself is a blessing because that would have no future hope attached to it. It must mean a state of deeper joy related to hope and faith. It seems to lend itself to the idea of spiritual contentment or security. It also leans toward the idea of receiving a reward in the future. It does not mean that we will receive good things on earth or that we will have whatever we want—as many false teachers profess.

Can you be happy but not blessed? Yes, many people who do not have a relationship with God or live a life without spiritual purpose would claim to be happy because their current circumstances are pleasing. The problem is that this happiness can change instantly with the situation.

Can you be blessed but not happy? I would say “yes.” We simply need to look at the situations that Jesus highlights in Matthew 5:3-12 to see this principle.

Poor in spirit: This does not sound happy but depicts some amount of low spiritual self-esteem. Humility is good but feeling poor and lacking is not. Much of this is linked to personal comparisons. We often make unrealistic, and uninformed, comparisons of ourselves against those who seem to have it all together spiritually. There are even times (like the religious system in Jesus’ day) when self-righteous religious “leaders” promote the comparison. This beats us down and causes us to think that maybe God feels less than excited about us.

Mourning: Dealing with loss or pain is the focus here. Often when we mourn, we lose hope or perspective. Too often, we bottle up our pain because we fear that no one will comfort us or be there for us. This is a state of sadness not happiness.

Meekness: Gentleness and humility are the keys to this word—not weakness. Being meek takes work and opens you to a lot of junk when dealing with others. It also displays a person’s attitude toward God. Being humble toward God is hard sometimes too because we want what we want and we feel important. Meekness is about putting ourselves second. This does not always connect to happiness.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: This one requires us to take a deeper look. To hunger and thirst is to be in need, almost life or death. To hunger and thirst for righteousness could address two things. First, it could mean a need for justice or fairness. This could be a person who is mistreated and wants (possibly needs) things to be made right. Second, it could refer to a deep desire to live righteously (according to God’s ways) but still struggling with sin issues. We all struggle with sin but this person wants to overcome it. To feel either of those emotions is not to be happy. The very idea of being hungry or thirsty is not pleasant either.

Merciful: Being merciful brings to mind the idea of not killing your enemy, of not repaying wrong for wrong, of giving up vengeance. This is hard and there is a true struggle to letting go of our desires for revenge and restitution. Another perspective is to extend help to those in need. We show mercy when we help the less fortunate, hurting and alone. This is what Christians are called to do so there is a sense of joy in showing this kind of mercy. There is also the issue that showing mercy takes a lot out of you; it can be draining physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Pure in heart: The idea here is that a person’s deep desires are to love and obey God. Purity involves focusing on God and avoiding sin. This is not so much a state of perfection but a desire for it. God called King David of Israel a “man after my own heart” but he was a murderer and adulterer. Again, purity is not the absence of sin or struggle but the desire to be close to God and to be like Jesus. This can be a difficult struggle as we set aside sinful desires—sometimes sin makes us “happy” so avoiding it can be a real challenge. Does challenge or struggle equate to happiness?

Peacemakers: The main idea relates to making peace with people rather than fighting. Making peace usually means giving up something that you want in order to get peace. It can also be related to mercy and meekness. Another idea that occurs to me is how the Apostle Paul speaks of being called to reconcile (make peace between) men to God. Being a part of this evangelistic ministry can lead to the next topic—persecution.

Persecuted: This is the longest section of the passage. Jesus spends some time on persecution because when we sell out to following Jesus we will be mistreated. The audience He was directly addressing knew that they could be disowned or humiliated for following Him. Some of His disciples were executed for their faith. There are still places today where you can be executed/murdered for being a follower of Jesus. This is no surprise because Jesus said that He would cause division among people. Sometimes persecution is being abandoned by friends or family. Sometimes it is being made fun of for your beliefs and stances. Whatever the type, being persecuted is definitely not a happy thing.

If being blessed is not about being happy, what is it about? To be blessed is to receive a word or act of favor or goodness. Blessings can be physical rewards, verbal encouragement or spiritual grace. Blessings can be immediate or waiting for future fulfillment. In the case of the Beatitudes, we see a combination of these. All of these blessings are centered on spiritual grace and the promise of future fulfillment. Some do carry an implication of blessing and a better life while on earth but it is not the focus of the passage.

This teaching is delivered to people who feel let down or disappointed by religion. They (we?) feel that they do not measure up and are not worthy of God’s love and acceptance. Some were probably trying their best to live out God’s commands but wondered if it even mattered. This message was, and is, addressed to the disconnected, the disappointed and the despairing. It is to encourage us when we feel like life is too hard or that our life of faith might simply be too hard. It is a message that says that God loves us all and will not leave any of those who love Him hanging out to dry spiritually.

Those who think that they will never measure up or have no worth to God are given a place in God’s kingdom. Those who hurt and morn will be comforted. The gentle and humble will have a place in God’s rule. Those who experience injustice will be validated. Those who fight for right will see that dream fulfilled. Those who show mercy will receive mercy for their needs and forgiveness for their wrongs. Those who seek to please God and have a pure heart will get to see God, the object of their love. Those who make peace with others will be received as God’s children. Those who are persecuted will find that it was all worth it—that following Jesus was worth it.

The Beatitudes are a call to have hope—a hope that God will not abandon or forget about you. They are a call to persevere in right living and following God during hard times. They are a call to consider being His to be worth it above all things. They are a both an invitation to come to God and a promise of His love and personal attention. This invitation and promise is for everyone.

The Giving God

posted Dec 22, 2012, 11:21 PM by Staff Administrator   [ updated Jan 1, 2013, 8:42 PM ]

Everybody loves a giver. You know those people who never forget your birthday or always bring you a souvenir from their vacation.  We find ourselves wondering, “What will he give me this year?”  We especially love the selfless givers who would give a stranger the shirt of off their backs. I must admit that we don’t always understand that kind of giving but we love to hear stories about these people. What makes someone a great giver?

First, they possess a willingness or desire to give.  They don’t give because they have to but because they want to. Second, this person knows what to give. Compare this to that crazy person who always gives you socks or soap at Christmas—what’s up with that! Third, a great giver rejoices in seeing you happy. I’m not talking about some codependent need to make people happy but a genuine joy.  

God is a great giver.  OK, He doesn’t usually drop a new Porsche on us at Christmas but He does give us many things.  First, He gave us life.  I am truly thankful to be here.  Second, He gives us love.  God’s love is an amazing thing; it is laced with forgiveness, compassion, trust and hope. He doesn’t just give us love—He dumps it on us (see I John 3:1) over and over. Third, He gave us His Son.

This is the best Christmas gift of all because we can live eternally and have a better relationship with Him.  He gives because He loves us. The cool thing about God is that He has all of the characteristics of a great giver.  He gives to us because He wants to; nobody makes God do anything.  He knows what we need and when we need it (even if we don’t). Third, He rejoices over our happiness (see John 10:10).  What does God have for you? Ask Him and simply accept His gifts and be blessed.

Merry CHRISTmas,
Lee

A Theology of Hospitality

posted Dec 22, 2012, 11:09 PM by Staff Administrator   [ updated Jan 1, 2013, 8:48 PM ]

As I think about our church and its ministry, I think about the ministry of Jesus when He was here in the flesh.  What did He do? What was His focus?  How did He treat people, especially “outsiders”?  How can we be like Him and replicate His ministry? In exploring the gospel accounts, it becomes apparent that Jesus was a man of hospitality.  What I mean is that He welcomed everyone into His presence with loving acceptance.  He did not/does not condone sinful behavior but He did/does accept and love people in spite of their sin.  Jesus modeled for us that our ministry is to bring the lost to God.  His method was love.  His method was to welcome sinners into His presence so that they could experience His love and choose a relationship with Him.  He took that message to the social and religious outcasts of His day.  He hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, people who did not go to church and others that good religious people would avoid.  His invitation was, and is, to the hurting, the confused, the lost, the unloved and even the immoral—all of us at one time or another.  His welcome tells us to bring our hurts, our exhaustion, our struggles, our hopes and our fears to Him so that He can love on us.

In light of this, our ministry (both as a church and as individuals) is to reach out to the unreached.  We are to love the unloved and unlovable.  We are to accept the unacceptable.  We are to heal the hurting and guide the lost to Christ.  A lost person will not desire a relationship with Christ until they have seen His love through us. In student ministry, there is a lot of focus on accepting youth and kids as they are.  We have a “come as you are” perspective.  In order to reach them, we must overlook issues of hair color, clothing style, body piercing, music and even family and church backgrounds.  We have to love students regardless of their past mistakes (sin), self-inflicted pain and current struggles.  We must reach out to them where they are and how they are in order for them to become who God made them to be.  This is a perspective that the church as a whole must embrace in order to make an impact on the world and our community.

Friends, it is time to get radical.  It is time to think outside of the box.  It is time to engage our community and its culture.  It is time to sell out to Jesus’ model of ministry.  It is time to invite everyone we encounter to experience His love.  It is time to welcome everyone with open arms.  It is time to get personal and share our lives with each other as we reach out and grow in our ministry. I challenge you this week to put this into practice.  Invite someone to church (someone who does not go to church already).  Dress as they dress so that they will feel more comfortable.  Be bold in explaining the gospel and what God has done for you.  Meet someone at church that you do not know.  Invite someone new over for dinner.  Hug someone who looks like they need it.  This is a Theology of Hospitality.  This is the Ministry of Love.  This is our calling.

Blessings,

Lee

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