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Oscar Barnes, Jr – November 24, 1931 – October 30, 2016

Jim less than one year with DadA little over two years ago it became necessary that I work with my Dad to manage his affairs.  The affects of dementia caused him to make dangerous decisions about his daily life.  Taking medications, preparing meals and buying groceries became tasks he once managed precisely, but could no longer manage without difficulty.

Dad has a propensity to write his thoughts down on pieces of scratch paper. He almost always stores them away in an important book like a Bible or a devotional. He’ll be occupied with a thought about his life or something of significance in a day’s walk. This is one he wrote on Sunday, March 25, 2007.

I shared this with my brothers before.  Now, though, Dad has passed and I’d like to share his thoughts with all who care to read them.

Before I Go Home

–Thoughts concerning how I may best be God’s messenger to His children to maximize the size of His family:

I. It’s a “we” deal;

Let’s share our love of/for our God by strengthening our knowledge of His sacrifices that we may spend eternity together with Him.

Minimize (eliminate) “I”, “you”

Go with “us”; brothers and sisters, His children, learn together, we, our family, our Father, etc.

II. His Story and sacrifice(s);

Opinions just will not “compute’ with our Christian family. “It’s in the book!”

III. Search for and concentrate our love and His mercy on the “lost” or “straying” person; not on the choir.

IV. My “close”

should always contain the message “there’s room for you” and the plea “will you come now.”

V. Preach

“The Gospel: (Our congregation knows what body or denomination they’re a part of.)

Never compete with different believers.

Invite them to worship with us.

I must perform my function of spreading love and the Gospel of abundant joy and eternity with God and inviting every human being I can reach to join us there via repenting and redemption of our sins and acceptance of Him, as our Savior.


My Dad was a good man when he died.  He is saved by grace.  He believed that God’s mercy is limitless.  He confessed his sins and readily acknowledged the pain he caused.  He knew he would not be able to make amends to many of the folks he hurt, but he also knew he could “pay it forward.”

Romans 11:32
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

1 Corinthians 15:28
When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Thank You, Father for my Dad.  Thank You for letting me love him.  Thank You for changing his heart and bringing him into Your loving arms.  Thank You Father for Your “grace upon grace.”

A Prayer

Lord, God Almighty, King and Sovereign of my heart. King and Sovereign over all men. Lord, Creator of all things. To You and to You alone I give all honor, glory and praise.

You sit on Your throne with Your Son at Your right hand. Your Spirit reigns in the hearts of Your creations. Forgive us Father for finding ways to dampen Your Spirit, rather than basking in the Light You give.

We have much to be grateful for, yet we seek more. Many have little and You have assured us that they will be given much. You have declared the least will be greatest, the last will be first. Oh, Father we pray for those with little. Teach us to share our much.

We pray for those who do not have shelter. We pray for those who do not have food. We pray that You will straighten our paths and lead us to be a part of making those who are the least to be the greatest. Show us where the need is and do not let us look away from it, but charge to that place. Lead us to want to help move the last into the first. Show us what service is and then do not let us forsake what You have shown us.

You alone are real. You are love. In Your Grand Plan You will reconcile Your creation to Yourself. You have shown us that is not reason to sit on our laurels and await the fulfillment of Your Plan. Our race is not yet finished. Show each of us our role in Your Work. Show us where the need is that You want each of us to serve. Then, we ask Father for Your strength to carry out the task You have given each.

You alone are real. You are merciful and patient. Give us the strength and the zeal to be as forgiving as You are forgiving. Let us see in Christ Jesus the example of forgiveness and then bless us with Your strength to be as forgiving has He is; as You are. Show us ways to set aside anger and bitter envy. Give us the determination to love as completely as You love us. Draw us near to You so that others will be drawn to You, too.

You alone are real. You are Truth. Many people from many lands have tried to explain You. Traditions have replaced Your Truth. We kneel and humble ourselves before You seeking only Your wisdom. When we know a spiritual thing let us shout it out for all to here. When our traditions push us to demand adherence remind us that only You are Truth. Do not let us spread fear when love covers all.

We have much to pray for Father. People in every corner of the world are sick and hurting. They need a Deliverer. They need Your grace upon grace. They need, we all need, Your mercy.

We know, Father, a time will come when You will restore all things. You will be recognized as All In All.

Bless the messengers Lord.
Bless the hearers more.
Bless the doers of Your Word.
Bless the lost more.

Let the sheep hear
Their Master’s voice.
Lead Your people
To rejoice.

We pray in His Name seeking His intercession. Please hear this prayer. Amen.

Thoughts On Psalms: Tearful, Sorrowful Prayers

Psalm 6:6,7 I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

My friends, David is reaching the depths of despair. He moans and groans in his misery. His condition, perhaps an emotional exhaustion, is taking from him any semblance of joy. He has no peace. His sorrows are so great that he is burdened to the degree he has become weak.

Have you ever cried to the degree David does? I have. At the time I really believed death would be better than what I was living. Like David my pillow was drenched in tears.

Have you cried with wrenching pain? Has the sorrow been so deep that your pillow was soaked in tears? Have you been so despondent that getting out of bed or off the chair was a challenge too great?

David’s sorrow is likely the result of the rebellious acts of Absalom, his son. David’s family was torn to many pieces because of Absalom’s sin. Recall Absalom’s sister. Tamar, was raped by their half-brother, Amnon. Absalom cautioned Tamar to keep quiet about the rape, but inwardly Absalom seethed with anger. Two years later Absalom exacted revenge upon Amnon by having him killed during shearing season. (2 Samuel 13).

David was not blind to the ways of his sons. He knew Amnon had done this terrible thing, yet he did nothing to Amnon. Now the consequences of that act were laid at his feet. His family was tearing apart before his eyes.

David’s vision is failing. His eyes are sunken. There is so much going on in his life; enemies chasing him into the hills, his king wanting him dead, no place to rest, a debilitating sickness. He is overwhelmed!

Are we different than David? Have we allowed the world and the devil the opening to attack us and to overwhelm us? We know folks, perhaps some of us in this group, who are drenching their pillows at night. It would be my blessing from God to pray with you about those things that are troubling you.

Let’s all be a blessing today. Pray for those you know who are so troubled. Lift them up to God.

Psalm 6:8-10 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. May all my enemies be ashamed and dismayed; may they turn back in sudden disgrace.

Think about what has transpired here. In the previous verses David was in such agony that he screamed out to God for mercy. His despair was so overwhelming he “drenched” his bed with tears. But, now the Lord has heard his prayer!

David demands his enemies depart from him immediately. Why? “The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.”

Scripture teaches the Holy Spirit knows our hearts; He knows what we should pray for and how. The Spirit takes our innermost, heartfelt desires to God. The Spirit shares those with God.

My sorrowful, weeping prayers have been answered in this same way. David received an assurance that God heard him and that He would act. I have received the same kind of assurance from God. He heard my prayers and He gave me assurance that all would be well.

God knows the hearts of evil men, too.

David is encouraged by God’s answer and orders his enemies to disengage; to disperse! David realizes that God’s hand will cause them shame and confusion. God will disgrace them in battle. The Victory is surely His.

Don’t we spend a great deal of time wallowing in our defeats and sicknesses? Isn’t there a better answer than to pity ourselves? There is!

Praise be to God. Honor Him with your prayers of thanksgiving. Bless Him with your supplication. Pray for those who hate you. May they be “ashamed and dismayed” and turn to God in repentance. Do not harbor resentment. Give an offering to God that He will find fragrant and pleasing. Be conscious of your place in Heaven where treasures are already stored. (Ephesians 1)

Be a blessing to someone today. Pray for them.

Thoughts On: A Human Being Vs. A Christian Doing

Proverbs 12:11
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

Visions for a spirit filled future are blessings from the LORD. He chooses each of us for specific tasks in this life. He gives training, strength and courage to fulfill the ministries He ordains.

A spirit filled vision may be as basic as service to people. Feeding the hungry, bringing water to the thirsty, or giving counsel to the lost.

The inspired vision to serve is a gift. However, the gift is useless if we do not take the necessary steps to move from worldly pursuit to heavenly wisdom. Seeing a hungry man, but not feeding him is to be a human being. Seeing a thirsty man and not giving him water is to be a human being. Sharing sorrows with loved ones, but failing to pray for them with them is to be a human being.

Heavenly wisdom moves His child from being only a human being to being a Christian doing.

The Father plants in us a desire to serve His creation; even those who hate us. He does not give us the desire to leave it fallow in our hearts. He has an expectation that we will nurture His gift. He has an expectation that we will act on His gift.

A farmer’s crops do not grow because the farmer wishes they will. The Father gives the land, the seed and the rain. The farmer uses all of these to bring from the land crops ripe for harvest.

Matthew 21:28-32
28“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

In this parable Jesus gave praise to the son who was the Doer. He goes on to say that people of low reputation understood the Gospel and they believed. The elite did not see and rejected the Truth.

I pray you have big plans. It is my hope you have grand expectations. More importantly I pray you will make the LORD the preeminent Adviser in your plans.

Is the LORD your High Counselor?

James 4:13-17
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Be blessed today in this knowledge; the Father knows your heart. He knows your weakness. He gives you the power to overcome. Make your plans with His leading. Follow His growth chart. Act on His gift and strive to please Him.

(Adapted from “Walk With God: One Year Devotional.” Tyndale House; 2004)

Thoughts On… Happiness Or Joy

Happiness is an emotion we experience every so often. It’s a powerful emotion. It’s the kind of emotion we find ourselves pursuing.

Happiness is like a powerful drug. Once we have tasted it we want to taste more of it. Our bodies; our minds want to experience more of it. We deliberately seek happiness.

Happiness is envisioned in opening gifts at Christmas morning. Happiness is the anticipation of receiving something. For most of us we find happiness in watching our children and grandchildren express their happiness at their good fortune on Christmas morning.

Happiness is the emotion we feel when walking hand-in-hand with out beloved mate or your baby no matter how old your baby may be. Your baby is happy and secure in the knowledge you are close-by. Your protection is near.

Happiness is being surprised by your friends on your birthday. They remembered your birthday. They thought enough of you to remember your birthday.   Happiness is laughing at a good joke.

We all want happiness. We pursue it in our jobs and try to bank happiness. Happiness is an ideal that we chase and reach for.

Happiness is dependent on circumstances and circumstances change. My friends, happiness passes away. The toys that brought happiness rust. The loved ones we count on disappoint us. Those we put so much stock in for our happiness die; our parents, loved ones, friends.

Happiness deteriorates. One day; inevitably that thing that brought happiness is gone.


Joy’s root is in Christ where happiness is rooted in a happening. Christ is permanent and the joy in Him is forever. Happiness is fleeting.

Joy is the confident assurance that Christ Jesus is at the center of life and of living. Joy is the knowledge that God, The Father, has taken away our sins through the everlasting love of Christ Jesus. Joy is the knowledge and understanding that God is at work in our hearts.

Rom 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Joy is knowing that God will be there for us no matter what!

Philippians has been called “Paul’s Joy Letter.” It is an epistle full of love and expressions of grace to a church in Macedonia that has supported Paul and encouraged him. It’s an epistle full of love and expressions of grace through the Holy Spirit written directly to you and to me. It’s a letter written to encourage us. It is a letter reminding us of God’s affection for us.

There is real joy in Christian living and this letter points that joy out to us.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Paul has suffered more for his Christian walk than many men could bear. He was flogged and beaten multiple times. He was run out of town on a number of occasions. He was penniless and he was hungry. He was ill without cure.

 Philippians 4:11, 12

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul’s joy rests in the strength he prayed for. He was enabled by God “…to rejoice in the Lord always.”

Paul’s purpose was to walk as Christ in Him led him to walk. Everything in Paul’s life was joy in his relationship with Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-11

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Even in times of need our hearts as Christians are filled with joy.  When our lives are full as Christians we share our joy.  This year reach out to the Lord.  Ask Him for the strength and power to hold and know the righteousness of Christ is in you.  Share His love.  And, as always thank Him for His grace.  Amen

More Thoughts On… Our Blessed Assurance In His Keep….

I am beyond just grateful for the knowledge that I am secure in Christ Jesus. Describing the assurance of salvation seems impossible. In Scripture, however, Christ Jesus explains how His obedience to His Father brings to those of us who believe a place in God’s “Keep.” Remember a “keep” is a safe place where treasures are made safe from any outside threats. In God’s “Keep” no marauder, neither spiritual nor physical can separate us from the love of our Father.

We Are Kept In His Name…

John 17:12

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Only one of Christ’s Disciples was lost. Every other Disciple was kept safe by Christ’s presence by His love. Christ’s ability to protect His own comes not from a power intrinsic to Himself. Rather, His power comes from His Father. “I kept them in your Name….”

We don’t have the ability within us to comprehend the extent of God’s love and the lengths only He can take to protect us from the world.

His power is so complete that He allows us free will to reject Him. He had the power to create people who would fall to their knees in worship at the simple mention of His Name. But, that is not our God’s way. He blesses us with freedom to choose Him. He blesses us with the freedom to build a relationship with Him.

We are in His “keep” because we seek to be. Once there He protects us from all evil.

We Are Kept In Joyfulness…

John 17:13

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Our lives are fulfilled in Christ’s joy.

Jesus told His Disciples of His death, His time on the cross and of His resurrection. The things He told them must have been very difficult to process. In fact, Peter said he would never turn away from his Lord. We know from Scripture that all Christ’s Disciples abandoned Him that fateful night in Gethsemane.

Jesus also told them of His Resurrection. On the day Christ Jesus was accused through the time He was hung on the cross I imagine the followers of The Way to have been very frightened men and women. Their Lord was being accused and abused by the rabbinical leaders of their synagogues. He was being marched from palace to palace to be spat upon, mocked, and beaten. Eventually, Christ Jesus was marched to Calvary.

We all know this testimony of our Lord. He was hung on the cross and there He died. His lifeless body was taken down before the end of the day and buried in a rich man’s tomb. After three days He rose again.

His Disciples had his “…joy fulfilled in themselves.” Can any of us imagine the elation in Peter or John as they raced to the tomb? Were they breathless when they entered and found His Body gone?

We Are Kept From The Evil One….Kept From The Ways Of The World…

John 17:14, 15

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

Christians are hated across the world. In some places the hatred for what we believe is so profound that murder rests in the hearts of evil men. The evil one causes one man to hate another man. Christ causes one man to love the man who hates him.

The ways of the world are bound in flesh and in the desire for sinful things; for worldly pleasure. Our Christ asks His Father to protect us from the evil one; to protect us from the desires of the world; to lead us to joy that is ever lasting.

The “world” listens to the evil one. Christians hear the Spirit of Christ in their hearts.

The evil one hates Christ and will do anything He can to keep us from Him.

Remember, Christ Jesus is praying for His Disciples and He is praying to God for us. His Words will not be returned to Him void. Our Father honors the Son and His prayer for our keeping is a blessed assurance.

We are not of the world….

John 17:16

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Our belief in Christ Jesus and The Father’s mercy; His grace, separates us. He begins the new work in our hearts. He takes us from fleshly to spiritual. He takes us from desiring our own way to seeking His Way.

We are witnesses of God’s mercy and grace. Our testimony is our freedom from sin in the world.

We praise Him, honor Him, and bring glory to Him. We are “kept” in His presence.

Thoughts On… A Believer’s Assurance In God’s Keep

We have many blessings in Christ Jesus; blessings promised to us from God, The Father. We have chiefly salvation that comes only from our respective belief in Him as our Savior. But, there is so much more given to us. Many of these blessings we take for granted.

Num 6:22-27

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

I once sat under a Pastor who preached about “God’s Keep” and the message was impacting on my life. It is a message that first opened my heart to understanding that it is God Who protects His treasure in His “Keep.”

A “Keep” is a safe place. In medieval times the “keep” was a centrally placed fortress within the castle walls. It was a place kings placed their treasure keeping it protected from attackers. The “keep” was often the place the king and his family would take their last refuge before marauders claimed victory in battle.

The Pastor’s message is this; God considers me His treasure. He considers all who believe in, on, by and through Christ Jesus to be His treasure. God protects His treasure in His “keep.” There is not an attacker, human or spiritual, that can penetrate His “keep.” There is no enemy strong enough to claim victory over Him. He, our Father, is our refuge against a marauding world.

John 17:11

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Christ Jesus is declaring to His beloved Disciples that He is soon to be in the Father’s presence. Christ’s time on earth is fast concluding. Jesus is praying in the knowledge that He will be leaving His Disciples behind “in the world.”

“Keep them in Your Name….” Jesus would not be present to protect them. In this prayer He seeks the Father’s protective embrace of those men whom God entrusted to Christ Jesus. His prayer is for an eternal security for those who believe in Him. Our belief in Christ Jesus is in His “keep.” We are His treasure. We have refuge in Him.

Jesus commits those who are His to His Father; to our Father. There is not a more secure “keep” than to be protected and under the Father’s wings.

John 17:12

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Christ kept all His children safe from the world; all but Judas Iscariot. He was lost to the world and eventually to death by his own hand.

Christ kept His Disciples safe not by His power, but by the power of His Father in heaven. Christ was the Father’s Servant and now His time on earth was fast closing. He reaches out with the declaration, “I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them….”

Believers are forever in God’s “keep.” Rejoice that our Father’s love is so merciful that He embraces us in spite of ourselves.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. I pray we all see a fresh meaning in those words.