“The plain truth can be extremely harsh, to the point, and blinding, so be kind, considerate, and gentle when you deliver God’s Mercy, Grace, and Loving Message.” ~ Jon Barnes
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“You should feel relieved and confident that God will reward your good faith and work ethics by following His examples, understanding the biblical stories, sharing the Gospel, and applying your faith in your daily routines.” ~ Jon Barnes
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“God allows us to go through tough experiences to share with others.”~TB
Last week, I came across an article written by a fellow freelance writer. She had a catchy title, so curiously, I clicked. The first sentence began, “After 3 weeks of freelancing, I’ve come to learn… and I’m here to teach you…”
Three.Weeks. I was incredulous. How someone can believe they have the authority, understanding, or mastery of anything let alone running a freelance business is beyond me. It reminded me of the passage in 1 Timothy about why new believers shouldn’t be leaders and how the Devil would cause them to fall. It made me chuckle as I remembered a conversation I had with my father some years ago.
A few years back, God downloaded the Truth into my brain and I arrogantly shared with my Dad the “secret” to Christianity and following God. My father— who is ever patient and long-suffering with me— nodded and listened carefully to my “all knowing theories and agreed that what I said had made Biblical sense. He was kind enough to let life’s teachable moments fill in the gaps of my arrogant ways. The thing is, it’s easy to understand God’s truth, at least the “mechanics” of it. But, to hold onto that truth while you are tested, while you endure hardship, while you suffer persecution, now that’s a whole other animal. See, I knew the Truth, but had no experience applying it. As fate would have it, not too long after our conversation, I went through some of the toughest years of my life.
I was broken down, pruned, fired in the kiln, spiritually crushed, and eventually put back together. In that time I had to make a choice: either press on or give up God altogether. For me, though at times I wanted to quit, I knew too much and I couldn’t go back to my old selfish ways. At the time, I didn’t understand why I went through such an oppressive period, but a random conversation with a woman in Tennessee made me understand why God’s children have to go through a foundation building process.
I talked about this a month or so ago, but while I was traveling, I stayed at an Airbnb in Tennessee with a hospitable lady. She had a free spirit “all gods are the same” type of mentality, which I didn’t push back on. At the time I was travel-worn and just wanted to catch my breath. What was interesting was that she kept asking me what I believed and why. And as I mentioned earlier, I was in no mood to have that conversation, but I could feel God prodding me to answer this woman, and so I did. At the time, I was more concerned with sharing about God’s Truth and not necessarily my subject matter expertise. To be honest, I didn’t know why me of all people would be the one share Biblical information. I certainly didn’t feel (And still don’t) qualified to know or share anything after the crazy past few years. However, after reading that freelance writer’s blog, remembering the conversation with my dad, and recalling the conversation in Tennessee, I finally got my answer why. Experience. It’s easy to know the Truth untested, but to believe it after a hard life exam, you’ve gotten some subject matter experience under your belt.
No, I’m not some wise person who has unique God-given experiences (at least I don’t think, I do have grey hair, however). I believe that those who have been through the refiner’s fire have something to share with those who are in the process. We can encourage those going through tough times because we’ve had to endure struggles of our own and have lived to tell the tale. The woman in Tennessee was asking some legitimate theological questions and had I not gone through such a crappy few years having to rely solely on God, I would not have been able to give meaningful answers. I say all of this to say that if you have gone through the process, have gone through the fire, and can still choose God above yourself, you too have answers to share with those seeking Him. It’s a team effort.
What’s your experience to share?
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“God will send you to unexpected places not to punish you, but to remind you of your purpose and who made you.”~TB
I made an unexpected trip to Tennessee about 2 weeks ago. I had plans to go to Virginia, but things happened to deter that plan. The woman that was hosting me was a kind and gregarious lady, very interested in spirits, practicing all faiths, witchcraft, and ‘healing’. Now, I’m not one to be shy about telling people when they’re wrong, but for the sake of getting along, I politely nodded and moved on the subject. Interestingly enough, she kept prompting me to share what I believed.
During our chat, I was annoyed because I didn’t really feel like having this conversation. Days prior, I was in Charlotte NC on a hike and someone had smashed my driver side window and stole my wallet, laptop, guitar, and a few meaningful items that I cannot replicate. It was a very deflating experience, especially being so far from home. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood for sharing the Good News. But something in this woman’s eyes made me realize that she wasn’t looking for a debate, but rather the Truth. I felt the gentle nudge to do my part. So I shared it with her.
I found out that my host wasn’t always into witchcraft and multiple faiths. She was a believer that fell through hard times and walked away. During this conversation, I was reminded that we all get weary, and the opposition will always push us to the brink to get us to walk away from the Truth. I also realized that me running into this woman was not only for her benefit, but for my own. As Christ followers know, it can be tough during times and some battles can seem unfair and punitive. I say all this to say, that whenever you’re going through an intense struggle or bouts of depressing lows, in those moments, look for the reminders of who you are and who you belong to. He’s with you in all things and is there to guide you if you choose to seek Him.
Are you checking your reminders?
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“So you’re spiritually mature, great! Now, step aside and let others pass theirs instead of trying to do the work for them.”~TB
The longer you spend with God, the more you understand how complex yet simple His love and teachings are. Like a game of chess, it takes a lifetime to study God’s ways. Even still, the wisest of us all will never truly and fully understand the miraculousness that is God. Depending on where you are on the spectrum, God will use you for His purpose, but friends, do your job and nothing more, as we all learn at a different pace.
Everyone goes through trials and tests at their own pace. Some learn faster than others. And some need to retake certain tests before they ace the exam. No person’s journey is superior to another’s, no matter how quickly they learn. If you are a quick learner, be a help and not a hindrance.
Helping others is part of the journey that is being a Christ-follower. This means encouraging the downtrodden, aiding those enduring hard times, and giving mercy to one another. It’s great to help, but when helping turns into servitude, you’re doing too much.
Yes, it’s natural to want to step in so that loved ones do not endure pain. However, everyone needs to go through their own tests so that they can learn the lessons and grow closer to God in the process. When you overstep in “helping” you’re actually hinder the person’s growth and maturity. Assist when necessary and let others develop accordingly.
Is your help a hindrance?
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“When you’re operating in your Holy position, it’s easier for you to assist a teammate in need.”~TB
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are on one team, which means it’s in our best interest to help one another succeed. Operating in this mindset, you’re able to lay down the offenses of your teammates to help with the assist so that they can shoot and score. When they score a point, so do you! So friends, don’t ball hog, just because you may be a better scorer. Instead, look to the Bible to understand the playbook so you can hook your teammates up with a stellar pass. God sees who is helping their teammates. He also sees who are holding each other back. Make sure you’re being a good teammate!
Even the best teammates need a break. When a star player is tired and weak, they are more susceptible to injury. If you see a teammate in need, call a timeout, sub in, and make the play on their behalf! Friends, we all grow tired and weary, which is why we need one another to achieve victory. No one Christian is capable of scoring all of the shots, which is why our Coach in Heaven gives drills, practices, and games to all of His players. When you understand that everyone is able to make the winning shot, sharing, caring, and assisting becomes the most important part of the game.
Are you assisting your teammates or are you ball hogging?
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“Motivating people into seeing the truth is a mindset that ministers to your family, friends, and enemies from your heart, as they are forced to see and hear the truth from your lifestyle; not just your words.” ~ Jon Barnes
“No good thing can come out a bad attitude with a stubborn, thankless, think-less, mindset void of God’s Spirit.” ~ Jon Barnes
“It is hard to care, give, and share when you have nothing to show for your hard work and efforts.” ~ Jon Barnes
“Each day brings a plethora of teachable moments to shine the love of God onto your home, workplace, and life, but you cannot make people love you or God!” ~ Jon Barnes