Our Journey – My comment

My comments on the previous post “Our Journey:”

Thank you all for the kind words. She did well to describe this ride we’re on and I love her for her honesty and faith. We can’t wait to see how God is going to use what we’ve learned.

JESUS RULES!!!

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Our Journey

Guest blogger:  Dana Barnes

About 14 months ago, our family experienced an event in our lives that we never imagined would take us on the journey we have faced.   We served in our church at that time for 4 ½ years, and due to some very unfortunate circumstances, we felt God prompting us to leave and for Eric to resign from his position in the church.  The weeks following that day in July when Eric resigned were full of sadness, hurt, disappointment and sometimes even anger.  I remember crying often during that time.  During those days of uncertainty, I often asked God why we had to experience such hurt and pain.  Little did I realize that this was only the beginning of a learning experience that God would use to change my life. 

 

Just weeks after Eric’s resignation, our economy began to slip.  And as a result of these difficult times, and much to our surprise, Eric has had a hard time finding full-time, permanent employment.  I often wonder… would we have chosen a different path had we known what we were going to face???  I surely hope not, because I would never want to miss out on the blessings I have experienced as a result of this trial. 

 

Eric has applied for many jobs during this past year.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to land a few temporary opportunities.  We consider each job a blessing from God.   Each one gave us a little income, certainly not what we were accustomed to bringing in, but every dime was precious.  Eric has hung blinds with a good friend who worked so hard to help us.  He worked in a warehouse at a neighbor’s business.  He substituted at our son’s high school.  And this summer, he got a temporary opportunity when a friend of a friend needed a little help with a new business adventure.  While working this job, Eric has traveled all across the metro area.  He has visited many places that we often avoid because of crime and the lack of security.  This temporary job that was only to last a few weeks, has turned out to last a few months…again despite the sometimes uncomfortable places Eric has visited, we are thankful.  Eric is working full-time hours right now, but this opportunity is scheduled to end September 30th

 

During this past year, despite the opportunities that have come and gone, God has been faithful.  He has provided for our needs in so many ways.  He has given Eric temporary jobs.  He has blessed my work.  He has put family members and friends in our lives who are in a position where they are able to help us financially.  We have received gifts from people we don’t know.  We have received groceries and gift cards.  We have been given furniture and home accessories (thanks family!).   We have been able to cut some of our utilities and other expenses.  We’ve received discounts, coupons, rebates……the list goes on and on.  So many wonderful people have ministered to us during this time……to all of you, thank you.  What a humbling experience this has been, and…..we are grateful! 

 

A couple of months ago, we began to feel an urgency to get plugged into a local church.  We were beginning to feel disconnected, and just didn’t know where we belonged.   We knew we needed to get settled again in a place where we could grow and serve.  During this time away from ministry, God has given us several opportunities to worship in two of the best churches in our country.  First, at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, under one of the greatest leaders I know, Andy Stanley.  North Point was a wonderful place for us when we needed to hide and heal.  Secondly, our home, Hebron Church in Dacula, under the leadership of Larry Wynn and my brother-in-law, Kevin Miller.  We are so grateful for Hebron.  It was here that we grew up, accepted Christ and served.   We were at Hebron when we accepted God’s call to serve in full-time ministry.  Being at Hebron for several months was comforting, but God would not allow us to get comfortable.  After attending Hebron this summer for several weeks, we realized that God had another plan for our family.  He led us to a young, but growing church just down the road from our home.  We have been attending Graystone Church for a couple of months and know that this is the place where God wants us to serve.  The boys are getting involved in the student ministry.  I will begin working in the children’s ministry this Sunday.  Eric is plugging in wherever needed.  We found a small group and attended it for the first time last Sunday night.  We know that God has equipped us through our experiences to help make a difference through the ministries at Graystone.  The leadership has a vision for the communities that surround us and we are excited about the opportunities God will give us to serve through our new church.  Our mission is “to know God and make God known.” 

 

You may be asking why I shared all of this with you.  Well……I don’t want you to miss out on God’s teaching experiences in your life.  You see, despite the sad days, the many tears, the moments I didn’t know how we would pay our bills, the times when I didn’t know where we belonged….God was there.  He was teaching me to trust Him.  He has taken me to a new level of dependence and faith that I’ve never known.  I can truly say that I am thankful for my circumstances, I am grateful.   If you are facing a sickness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, a family crisis…..trust Him.  Realize that He has brought you to this place so that you will learn to depend on Him.  These trials are opportunities.  They are opportunities for God to teach you.  They are opportunities where God can use you to make a difference for Him in the lives of those that surround you, even when you’re sitting right in the middle of adversity. 

 

You may find yourself in a holding pattern for quite some time, just as we have.  Perhaps there is something in your life causing you to question God.  Do you find yourself saying, “I do not understand why……?” You do not have to understand all of God’s ways.  He does not expect us to understand them.  He simply wants you to trust Him.  Waiting is difficult.  Waiting requires patience.  God has a purpose for all of His delays.  Pray, and pray often.  Wait, be faithful to His leading, and you will find strength.  We can find victory in our trials when we stand still and quietly wait.  Realize that where you are, is where God wants you to be.  Look for the comfort He has for you in the things that surround you.  Accept what God is doing in your life as a gift….an opportunity for you to grow closer to the one who loves you the most.  And if things are going well in your life today, remember the trials will likely someday come your way.   Always hold on to the ONE who carries you through the good times and the bad. 

 

As for my family, we continue to trust and wait.  We don’t know what will happen after September 30th, but what we do know is that our God is faithful.  He will continue to provide for us, walk with us and amaze us with His many blessings. 

 

Lots of love to you……..

 

 

You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand….” John 13:7

“We were under great pressure…..so that we despaired……  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) 

 “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”  (Exodus 14:13)

 “I will trust in your word.” (Psalm 119:42)

Living Hope

Sunday, Pastor John Thomas, the Chairperson of Living Hope Community Centre and Pastor of Fish Hoek Baptist Church of Capetown, South Africa spoke at Graystone Church.

Using Philipians 2: 1-11, Pastor Thomas challenged us as a church to be servants and to WORK ON (I liked his choice of words, “work on” with a emphasis on continuing) unity, humbleness, caring for others and not to be selfish.  He was genuine and simple in his approach and I would say most were captivated by his talk (British accent as well)

The Living Hope Centre  is a ministry that was established to help children and families specifically who are victims of HIV and AIDS.  The idea being that if you can stop the cycle of behavior, there might be a chance of saving lives for the future.

John and President BushThe previous administration of the United States of America supported this  program and it was having a growing impact.  The current administration has decided to put more of an emphasis on treating the adults related or victimized by HIV and AIDS, so Living Hope is now depending greatly on individuals for support.  If you would like to make a difference in this arena please check out the following website:

http://www.livinghopeusa.org/

Small Groups = Life Change

Small%20Group%20Art%202Tonight is the first night of our new small group.  We are jacked about it!  Gonna learn some new names, faces and needs.  Can’t wait.

I believe small groups are glue for any church.  They are where we live, learn and love.  Three points for somebody to use for a small groups promo.   Hey,  maybe I’ll use them in a small group teaching session one day.

May Jesus be glorified through this new small group.

Sanctus Real – cool stuff!

You can watch this on youtube.com.  Cool group and song. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06AgY5Xoavw

Bring Down the Rain

Well, it seemed appropriate seeing we got over five inches of rain in about an hour this morning.

I wanted to share the lyrics to this song.  Jed Mercadante and I wrote it about a year and a half ago.  Jed is a worship leader as well and always very encouraging about song writing.  The words to this one ring real life to me more now than they did the night we wrote it.  The idea being that the GRACE of Jesus is like healing rain falling over our brokenness.  Without further adieu:

Bring Down The Rain

Words and music by Jed Mercadante and Eric Barnes

 You hear me and I know You’re there

Even when I’m in despair

Your love heals, it’s tried and true

No other love can see me through

 

I trust You now, I trust You always

You’ve been faithful all of my days

Rescue me, break the chains

Pour down Your love and let it rain

 

Chorus:

Bring down the rain

Your healing rain

My heart is broken

I need You today

Reaching to heaven

I call out your name

O Jesus, O Jesus

Bring down the rain

 

My heart and soul are thirsty

For Your grace and Your mercy

Bring it down, O bring it down

(chorus)

Are You Part of a Small Group?

“I believe I will have more kingdom impact with the 10 people that meet in my home on Monday night than I will with the thousands whom I preach before on Sundays.”   -Andy Stanley

Wow!  A pretty powerful statement coming from Andy Stanley.  For what it’s worth, I totally  agree with him.

I have been involved in small groups a little over three years and I think it is a great way to actually DO LIFE with other believers.  Small groups to me, so resembles the way Jesus did life with His disciples.  

Small groups are considerably more than a class or just a Bible Study.  Don’t get me wrong…I am for Bible studies and classes are fine, but living out the life of a Christ follower with a small group of believers is so ALIVE IN CHRIST to me!

In a small group, just like the disciples,  members begin to grow and depend on each other, serve each other and LOVE each other.  This just can’t happen sitting in rows.  Once we get in a circle and everyone in that circle becomes interactive and an interesting bonding takes place.  Often times the group becomes like family. 

I will say, it can get messy.  Going to a class or Bible study doesn’t often bring the messiness of life with it because often you listen and leave .  Trust in relationships and interaction is rare in a Bible study or class.  Let’s face it, humans dealing with life is MESSY.  But, when we are together as a small group of believers there is accountability, care and interaction that often times we (even believers) avoid.

Are you part of a small group?