No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Liberty

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!

They’ll never take…OUR FREEDOM!


I know, I know….another post titled off of some obscure quote in a movie.  Maybe not so much in this case…but what can I say?  I like movies. 

All over the world freedom has been given a definition.  The freedom of press allows the press to write what they want when they want.  The freedom of speech allows us to say what we want when we want.  The freedom of religion ensures us that we can worship whomever we want without persecution.  We have the freedom to travel across these United States without hindrance.  Freedom to work where ever we like, go where ever we want.  One of the greatest expressions of freedom can be found here on the internet. 

Here in America we take advantage of this freedom because it is something we have always had.  Very few have worked to support that freedom.  There are a select few that have had the privilege to sacrifice for that freedom.    American freedom is something that is wanted many, and lamented by many.  It can be seen as a completely awesome right to which every American has, or it can be seen as the complete downfall of a civilization. 

What does the Bible say about freedom?  The Bible does have commentary on freedom.  There are some misconceptions though as to what freedom means in the Bible versus how freedom has been defined in a modern context.  Kevin’s last post gave us a context of how to respond to a government you are unhappy with.  He took a look at 1 Peter 2:13-17.  There is one verse in there that mentions the word freedom. 

16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

 

When you read the words “free men” and “freedom” does your mind begin to think about being free, as we are here in America?  I’ll be honest…mine always has.  But, is that what Peter means?  What are we free of?  What does freedom mean to God? 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.   

In John 8:34-36 Jesus tell us what we are free from.  We are free from sin.  This, in turn, means that we are free from death.  This freedom comes with faith in the Son.  He has set us free.  This is indicated in verse 36.  Paul reasserts what Jesus had said in Romans 6:22 when he says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” 

This is not some simple point that the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins has set us free.  This point is extremely deep and has a very important meaning when put into the context of 1 Peter 2:16.  John 8:34-36 and 1 Peter 2:16 answer the question that I posed above:  What does freedom mean to God?

Let me introduce a concept here that some of you might have never heard of…Christian freedom.  In the second paragraph I touch on worldly freedom.  These are freedom’s that man can give to us, and take away from us on a whim.  Christian freedom can never be taken from us once we have accepted Christ.  The price he paid on the cross was once and for all.  At that moment he set into motion a plan that would create a WORLD of free men and women.  Free from sin and death.  That is our inheritance from Jesus.  Freedom!

1 Peter 2:16 serves as a warning for Christians not to hide behind the freedom that Christ has given us.  When put into a modern context it is easy to see why the warning is so important.  Because we have accepted Christ we cannot continue to do the same things we have always done, namely live in sin.  The acceptance of Christ, doesn’t mean that we can do or act however we want!  Quite the contrary.  We cannot have two masters.  We are either a servant to God, or a servant to sin.  Peter tells us to be servants to God, rather than to sin.  1 Peter 2:16 tells us to live our lives responsibly.  We cannot be using the freedom that was purchased with Christ’s blood as an excuse to carry on as we did before we were saved!  This cannot work. 

Do you use your salvation as an excuse to do bad things?  Have you ever caught yourself saying…”well it’s okay to do this because God will forgive me”.   If you have…1 Peter 2:16 is the direct rebuttal to such a statement.  The next time you find yourself faced with a situation where you are using your freedom to hide behind some of the bad things you have done, think of 1 Peter 2:16.  Remember to be a servant to God.  Remember the price that was paid for your freedom.

For those of you reading this that are on the fence or don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God…know this.  Your freedoms here on earth can be gone in the blink of an eye.  The eternal freedom offered by God can never be taken away by politicians in Washington, or despots in North Korea, or mad men in Venezuela.  What God offers is eternal.  Not corruptible by men or government.  We have seen that men will lie, God will not.  Men will steal, God will not.  Men will take away from you what is rightfully yours, God will not.

If you are on the fence or have questions as to whether or not God exists, please look at these posts; The Historical Reliability of the Bible, Inerrancy of the Bible, and Why Would the Apostles Die for a Lie.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave an anonymous message.  We will be happy to answer any and all questions.

Remember, God has told us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Factual statements that are self contradictory…what does that mean!?


Kevin and I have been following the Ergun Caner controversy since it popped up.  We haven’t’ posted anything on it because we wanted to allow Liberty to do its job and make a decision.  The decision has been made and… Even now, we disagree on exactly how we should respond to this news… Kevin would prefer to leave it all alone and silently disassociate with the school, but I believe that we need to take a definitive stand on this issue.  While we applaud Liberty for taking some action and also in trying to do so with a measure of grace and forgiveness, I have to admit I am very disappointed by the statement offered up by Liberty. In fairness, this fiasco played a major role in Kevin and my decisions to not return to LBTS in the fall – The lack of a definitive statement in the official statement cemented the decision. 

Before I continue lets get everyone filled in.  Ergun Caner is the Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (through June 30, 2010).  He proclaims to have been a converted Muslim, and a staunch Apologist for Christ.  About a year ago someone started putting videos on YouTube claiming that Ergun Caner was lying about his past (Part 1 starts here).  So that we are up front about this… the YouTube videos are presented by a Muslim and, at some points, come off as being condescending, and sarcastic.  I watched all of these videos and there were some clear contradictions in some of the things that Ergun Caner was saying.  Without diving too far into it let’s just say that he had three or four different versions of his childhood, move to America, and his testimony.  Each different story was a contradiction to the other.  If you watch the video (and I suggest you do) you can see the clear contradiction.  As I watched them, I wondered… this either had to be intentional, or he has lost his mind.  I started to look into this because this is a story we have all seen too many times.  I found a press release from Caner.  Caner saw fit to call into question the sincerity of one’s Christian faith for challenging him and asking questions.  I immediately e-mailed Chancellor Falwell to ask for clarification.  I found it hard to believe that that the school would endorse such a thought.  I received a response from Falwell himself saying that they take these matters seriously.  We just found out how seriously they take it.

Ergun Caner’s contract will not be renewed on June 30.  He has been asked to stay on as a professor.  In Liberty’s announcement they make the following statement:  “After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Ergun Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory.”  Factual statements that are self contradictory?  What does that mean!?  That is incredible.  How can you make a factual statement that is self contradictory?  Can someone help me out here?  How can anything contradict truth? 

Caner was offered and has accepted a position as a staff professor at the university.  I wonder what he will be teaching? Truthfulness is critical when teaching anything, ESPECIALLY the Bible and even more so, for apologetics (which is what he has historically taught).  Is this what happens when Universities become too big?  Do they all become political in the way they handle their business?  I would have expected Liberty to have been the exception!  But it seems like they have fallen into the same trap as secular schools.  Rather than being completely up front and honest about the situation, we get a tap-dancing type statement… “factual statements that are self contradictory.” Liberty’s statement is reminiscent of political correctness, and an effort to sweep things under the rug.  Once this enters into a school it is hard to stop this type of secular thought.  Rather than facing the truth they have decided that a half truth would protect their image, and protect their pocket book.  Does this honor God?

Again, we are glad that Liberty is attempting to show some grace and mercy – that is to be commended… However, the statement they have released and the current lack of a public statement of contrition by Dr. Caner (this should probably have been required by LBTS for Caner to stay on staff) is  a little weak from a conservative Baptist Seminary.

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