No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Tag Archives: evangelism

Persecution has begun here in America…And it starts with our Armed Forces!


Good efternoon everyone.  It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

Persecution of Christianity has officially begun here in the Unitied States and it begins in the Department of Defense.  This would include ALL armed forces that report up through the DOD.   See the article… So here is the deal… According to the report the gentleman who is responsible for drafting the verbiage that would actually imprison a service member for sharing his faith has stated this “Christians–including chaplains–sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”

To see what he really thinks of Christians CLICK HERE

It appears that the official verbiage, as confirmed by the Pentagon states the following:  “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense…Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis”

And so it goes.  The government has now made it illegal to evangelize in the Armed Services.  This puts our Christian brothers and sisters in the armed services on another front line for Christ, as they risk imprisonment and dishonarable discharge for simply caring enough about their fellow soldiers to offer Christ to them.

The Great Commission is our single charge directly from Jesus.  Because we love Jesus we obey His command, which is to go forth and to make disciples.  We cannot go forth and make disciples without proselytization.  Because we love our brothers and sisters we tell them about the salvation that awaits them.  To ask a Christian to not evanglize is to simply ask them to not be a Christian, and to disobey an order from God Himself.

We are no longer protected, and are now officially a persecuted group from our US Government.  It is time to be prepared mentally for the sacrifice that we are going to be asked to make here in the very near future.

Beginning a Legacy…


“This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…” This is probably the only time you’ll ever see “The Fresh Prince” (a.k.a. Will Smith) quoted in this blog, but a little over 3 ½ years ago that’s exactly what happened. Robert has written in the blog about this event on several occasions – it was the time he and I were both laid-off from our long-standing jobs in downtown Kansas City. That time was one of those defining moments in both of our lives… For Robert, it marked the beginning of a time of unprecedented spiritual growth in his life – and he’s still growing. For me, it was God indicating that it was time for me to dive in to full-time pastoral ministry and He very quickly blessed me with a wonderful ministry as the youth pastor at Heaston Church in El Reno, Oklahoma… Looking back, I remember thinking, “Wow! This is an amazing journey that God is taking Robert on”, but thinking that He had sent me to a destination rather than on a journey. I was SO wrong!

I loved Heaston Church, El Reno, and pretty much the whole state of Oklahoma; I still do… Being called to Heaston was such a blessing and very much a homecoming to me and I believed with all my heart that it was very likely we’d be there until I retired. You see, the senior pastor there was planning on retiring in a few years and I thought that it would be awesome to prove myself to the elder board and the pastor as the youth pastor, finish my seminary and then be named as the successor. My wife and kids LOVED El Reno… Andrea had a job she cherished and was running the local MOPS ministry. Church was great. Sure, there were some ministry ups and downs, but there always are. We were settled – comfortable. But I’ve come to realize that God HATES comfortable and He couldn’t let us stay that way… He was about to turn up the heat.

I’m not sure how to describe the transformation that started to take place in my heart… and it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific catalyst because there were several… I guess the first spark was that I started realizing that while I knew I’ve been called to pastoral ministry for the rest of my life, I definitely wasn’t called to be a youth pastor for the same duration! My seminary classes were also stirring in me a passion for seeing God’s Kingdom built, but also stoking dissatisfaction with how this is only marginally attempted by many churches.

All this caused me to start asking the question: “what’s next”… I posed that question to one of my mentors, Michael Porter, who suggested we face to face the next time I was back in Kansas City so that we could talk through it. So, when I was back in KC for Christmas 2010, Andrea and I had breakfast with him and his wife. I expected a lot of back and forth and some kind of fatherly advice from him… I got no such thing… Michael had founded Fellowship of Grace in the Kansas City Northland in 2006 – and he is PASSIONATE about church planting. So instead of the types of advice I was expecting, all I got was the gentle suggestion that I should consider church planting when I decided God was done with me in youth ministry.

I don’t remember if I laughed in his face out loud or not… but I definitely did at least on the inside! Andrea just looked at him dumbfounded and said: “There are already so many churches… why would we need another one?” That is absolutely the wrong question to ask Michael if you are hoping for a short or easy-going conversation with him. He shared with us the fact that there were so many people who do not know Jesus in the KC Northland and that the population keeps skyrocketing, but the number of churches has remained stagnant and church attendance in many faltering… In other words, we are losing the battle for God’s Kingdom… But that more people come to Christ exponentially quicker through new churches than they do through established ones. I could tell he was broken hearted over it – something had changed in my heart too… In retrospect, I believe that I walked away from that breakfast knowing deep down that someday I was going to be involved in a church plant, somehow, someway… but not yet (or so I thought).

From that day I began thinking and praying about church planting consistently… in actuality it became a full-time obsession for me… I thought about it several times a day, every day, for hours at a time. The classes I was taking in seminary only fueled the fire more and more! I became massively discontented with how many established churches naturally become more and more inwardly focused, lose their passion to reach people who are far from God and therefore become less and less effective at fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) – don’t get me wrong… this is not a blanket statement saying ALL established churches are poor at reaching people for Jesus, but if they are going to be successful at it, they will have to fight the natural tendency to focus inwardly. I knew that I didn’t want to spin my wheels trying to fight to get a church to bust out of a rut that had been established for who knows how long – that kind of change tends to step on a lot of toes and I don’t naturally gravitate toward the type of confrontation that would require… I realized God shaped me more to begin something new. We kept praying and keeping in touch with Michael, who did a lot of listening and questioning without pushing…

God was working on Andrea too… and by mid-summer we were both on the same page – God was definitely calling us to plant a church… sometime… somewhere… but we didn’t have a clue where or when. We weren’t sure if He wanted me to first pastor somewhere at an established church to “get my feet wet”… All along I was getting more and more restless about getting going on what I sensed deeply God had called me to… But where and how? We knew nothing about planting a new church. Michael said that when we decided to make the move he’d love to help us in any way he could – including allowing me to serve in his church as a church planting intern so that he could take me under his wing and show me the ropes.

About that same time, I started getting more and more home-sick for Kansas City. We had had several opportunities to visit back there and each time it still felt homey… Remember, we still LOVED Oklahoma, but there was definitely a tugging in our hearts over Kansas City. However, we couldn’t imagine going there to plant a new work because we didn’t want to “compete” with Glenwood or Fellowship of Grace. I expressed this to Michael and he chuckled a little… He said that we ARE in a competition, not with any other church, but with everything that distracts people from connecting with God in the fellowship of a local church. Furthermore, he said he wouldn’t care if I planted a church right across the street from his church because he knew that there are people our church would reach that he wouldn’t be able to and vice versa.

It was settled… we were going to KC and we were going to intern with Michael, but we still believed that would be a few years down the road. Then, around September of 2011, Michael dropped a bomb on us… He said that he was planning on leading his church to begin being a church that planted other churches and trained pastors to be planters and… he would very much like it if God would see fit for us to be the first couple that they trained, and by the way… they’d like to get started January 1, 2012!

That rocked our world and started us in a praying frenzy… My ministry was going really well… Andrea loved her job… the kids were doing awesome in school and we had really close friends in El Reno that we didn’t want to leave… The housing market stank and the job market in Kansas City was horrible (I know several folk who have been out of work for years)… If it was going to be it was going to have to be God.

In early October, we communicated to Burge, Heaston’s pastor, that this was what God was calling us to and he was overwhelmingly supportive assuring us that the church would allow us to search for work and housing in KC while maintaining our ministries at Heaston – it didn’t take long for God to move. I found a job within a couple of weeks of looking (I actually had a choice between two jobs) and we sold our house without ever putting it on the market. We also found new housing in KC where the mortgage was over $200/month less than we were paying in Oklahoma! Also, Heaston (and several families therein) caught the vision for the need for a new church plant in Kansas City and are helping support us as domestic missionaries as we lay the ground work for a new church and get it up and running.

All of the Barnes family relocated from Oklahoma to Kansas City and attended Fellowship of Grace for the first time on January 1, 2012. We have been interning with Michael since then laying the practical and philosophical ground work necessary for the plant to be a success… But now the time has come where we are ready to go public. We are trusting God to help us establish a new church in the Kansas City Northland that focuses on ministering to families.

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To that end, we are actively seeking partners to participate in our launch in one of 4 ways: 1) Prayer support; 2) Financial support; 3) Joining the Launch Team; 4) Joining as a short-term missionary… Please check us out at www.LegacyChurchKC.org and contact us at https://www.facebook.com/#!/legacychurchkc to hear our vision for reaching Kansas City for Jesus!

Dead Birds, Dead Fish…is there a meaning behind this?


So, if you haven’t seen the news…over the new years about 5,000 birds and 100,000 fish died in Arkansas.  The birds appeared to have died from internal injuries from a blunt force trauma, and there is no news on the fish.  The official explanation is that fireworks stunned the birds, and caused them to fall.  The unofficial explanation can span any number of theories.  Many are wondering if there are any biblical prophecies that would predict this.  Some want to tie it into the end of the world.  I however, think that is the wrong way to look at it.

*UPDATE**  Here is a map of the mass animal death’s. There are now reports of hundreds of birds dead in Texas, thousands of fish dead in Florida, and 40,000 dead crabs in England.

Sure it is a little creepy that 5,000 birds fell from the sky.  I was telling my aunt last night to imagine the shock of driving while that happened.  I thought about what my reaction would be.  I would probably just put the car into park, put the seat back and think….this is really happening.  That being said, I don’t believe that this has anything to do with the end of the world.  I could be wrong, because nobody knows, but there’s no biblical prophecy about it…  I can tell you though that there is a lesson to be learned.

Probably what is the most shocking of this story is the suddenness that all of this has happened.  Thousands of birds dead for no apparent reason…  Hundreds of thousands of fish dead…  How many times have we thought about something like this?  One moment these birds are roosting…the next dead.  One minute these fish are swimming, the next dead.

All life operates in this manner… including yours.

Take Luke 12:19-21.  In this passage Christ is teaching on the parable of the Rich Fool.  Here a Rich man had acquired all kinds of wealth.  So much that he ran out of room to store it.  He finally came to the conclusion that he needed to tear down a couple of buildings and build bigger ones where he could store more wealth.  Look at God’s response “‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (Luke 12:20).

Also look at James 4:13-15:  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

So what does all of this mean?  You have no idea what will happen tomorrow.  One moment you could be driving to work, the next dead.  Nothing brings God’s Word close to home better than reality.

The point of Luke 12 and James 4 is not to say “live for today” or “Just Do It”.  To the contrary, Luke 12:20-21 provides you the key to all of this: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’   21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Get rich with God today…. Not with just your money, but with you whole life.  Commit your life to Christ – Live for Him. It is the only way that you can be rich with God.  Tomorrow may never come.

If you need help or have questions please feel free to contact us.

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2011 Challenge


Another new year is here.  And like every New Year I began thinking about goals for the upcoming year.  Most call this New Year’s resolutions.  Some would balk at the idea of using that phrase because of the lackadaisical approach that it might apply.  I however look at it as simply goals for next year.  2010 will be the year of incredible spiritual growth for me.   I want this process to continue. This challenge will be a stretch for Christian’s of all ages and growth levels.  Without furtherer due…

1.       Read a non-fiction Christian book(s)

It can only help to get another view.  When I read books like this, I immediately think of the movie Dead Poet’s Society – Specifically the scene where Robin Williams tells his students to stand on their desks to get a different perspective on things.  The room just looks different when you see it from a different angle.  Another person’s perspective may help change yours.  A quick word of caution, be careful of the book you choose.  For obvious reasons, we would not recommend books written by certain pastors that may have been mentioned previously in the “Are you a God” series.  We would, however, recommend any of the following books:

  1. Servant Leadership
  2. More than a Carpenter
  3. Victory over the Darkness
  4. Families Where Grace is in Place
  5. The Unexpected Journey
  6. Dare2Share

We’d be happy to recommend other books/authors… just drop us a line!

2.       Deeply study three books of the Bible.

Have you ever read something in the Bible, looked over at someone and said…”HAVE YOU READ THIS!  IT IS INCREADIBLE!”, only to have them say “I have read the whole Bible”.  There is a huge difference between reading, and digesting the Word of God.  I would suggest that of the group of people that have read the Bible, that probably only 25% – 50% of the Bible was actually digested.  By digested I mean, knowing the context of the books, why they were written, historicity behind them, spiritual impact of certain passages, etc…  The point here is to understand and internalize these books. 

3.       Have a 90% attendance rate at church.

This should be probably number 1.  If you are of the thought that you can have an effective relationship with God without attending a church you are wrong.  The truth of the matter is that the church is critical for your personal development.  Imagine learning how to become a computer programmer without going to school or doing programming work.  The exact same thing applies here.  You limit your growth potential in the body of Christ, by not attending church.

4.       Volunteer for an event/function/job at church.

Now that you are attending church on a regular basis, it is time to volunteer.  Serving is critical to our spiritual growth as well.  Remember James 2:14-26.  Faith without works is dead.  This is the works part of the challenge. 

5.       Invite at least 12 people to your church.

Inviting people to church can open the door to being able to share your testimony.  Your invite can include other functions such as church picnic’s, or small group.  See number 3.

6.       Have spiritual conversations that lead to you sharing your testimony and/or the Gospel with at least 6 people

Evangelism is a central part to being a Christian.  There are a number of biblical passages that demonstrate that evangelism is asked but is required of all Christians…REQUIRED.  That doesn’t mean maybe, or I’ll get to it later or it’s not my temperament.  REQUIRED.

7.       Sacrificially give to your local church.

We know that the economy is tough – it has been for your church too!  Needless to say there is a biblical foundation for tithing (giving at least 10% of your gross income).  God’s got a plan for your church that takes money to implement, and you should be a part of it.  If you’ve never tithed before start small and grow throughout the year – Dave Ramsey calls it a giving snowball.

8.       Pray for at least 2 minutes a day.

What do you do when you have problems?  Pray.  Anxiety? Pray. Need Help? Pray.  Need guidance, wisdom, truth, or WHATEVER?  PRAY!  2 minutes a day seems small in the amount of time you should devote to speaking with the Lord.  I make it a point to talk to him as I would my father or wife.  While he is God, he is still my Father.  If you think that you shouldn’t talk to him in a normal way…read Psalms.  That was the point of that book.

This is a yearlong challenge.  And it should be just that…a challenge.  No Apologizing will have your back though with posts about various biblical books, commentary on the books we have read, commentary on the spiritual conversations we’ve had, etc.  If you have feedback that you want to share regarding the challenge you will be able to.  A new page will be created on the blog specifically for this challenge.  In the mean time, get those books ready.  Have a great year.  Be focused.  Make no excuses!  Remember only one person is in charge of their relationship with God…YOU!  No one else can do it for you.

Erkle-like Witnessing moments: “Did I do that?!”


Hey, Robert and I have intermittantly been encouraging everyone to share their faith… Greg Stier has put together a pretty good list of ways we DON’T advocate (Check it out):
 
What kind of awkward witnessing moments have you had?

Funny Thing About History… It Repeats


Have you ever wondered why Israel failed at their job to evangelize the world (Scripture calls it being a priest nation) and why they missed Jesus as their Messiah? And, are we falling into the same trappings in the US, now?!?!?! I think so…

I posed these questions to one of my classmates and this is what she said (I think she’s right):

I believe Israel looked inward partially because they were an “obstinate people”, as God declared through Isaiah (Isaiah 65:2), but also because they walked the fine line of not mingling with the Canaanites and other peoples they encountered during the Exodus and as they conquered the Holy Land, yet living life as the apple of God’s eye and slated to be a kingdom of priests. It can be hard to understand how to follow God without becoming legalistic. The same holds true today in the US today. One need not look far to find Christian groups that have separated so far from the rest of the world that they cannot possibly be a witness to those around them that don’t know Christ. Even just by spending almost exclusively time in our Christian circles, we can easily get caught up in a separate world.

Personally, I think that they focused in on the tangible aspect of the covenant – the land – without thinking about the purpose of the covenant (or rather they mistook the purpose of the covenant). I think they thought that they were so cool with God that He just loved blessing them for their own prosperity and enjoyment rather than the prosperity being a sign/proof to glorify God and make it possible for Israel to engage in the ministry of reconciliation.

I think we do the same here and now… We get so caught up in the tangible (the physical/material prosperity God has allowed this nation to have) and we get so comfortable in our own exclusive Christian circles that we become useless for the Kingdom (I say “we” on purpose, because I’m including me). I heard a quote somewhere that, “money (blessings) is (are) like manuer… it’s no good unless you spread it all around (like fertalizer)”… What God blessed Israel with and what He has blessed us with (corporately and individually) wasn’t just for our enjoyment and ease (why would there be so much about suffering in the NT if that were the case)… Instead it is for us to be a blessing to others in order to share God’s message of Love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc… You know, the ministry of reconciliation (spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5).

Like I said, I’ve been thining about ancient Israel’s failures for several years and somewhat paralelling that to the US. But, the stats Dr. Wheeler shared in my personal evangelism class were so shocking (i.e. some 90% + of Christians don’t actively share their faith AT ALL) that it shook me out of my stupor… I think now way more than ever that personal evangelism and world missions is not just an important aspect of the Christian life, but it is THE most important aspect of it… Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries calls it “THE Cause.” I just hope we, as the Body of Christ, take our calling in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 5 so much more seriously and that we get on board with God’s program so that we do not continue to flounder away in the same old rut that ancient Israel did.

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