Apr 13 2010

Church Update

Jamie Barrows

It has been a while since I updated this blog and I thought I should post a note giving a status. Especially in light of the Church Hunting post that was my last post.
My wife and I have found a wonderful church that is the perfect combination of not too big and not too small. And more importantly, it has solid biblical preaching without all the “extra” stuff that isn’t really biblical but rather preference. Grace Community Church seems to be what we were looking for. It was a long and frustrating search, but it was worth it.

Nov 17 2009

Church Hunting

Jamie Barrows

(This is a bit of a rant, but I’m frustrated.)

What is wrong with churches these days? Why is it so hard to find a church where the word of God is preached? Has it always been this hard?

Lately I’ve been doing some church shopping with my wife. The reason being that my church isn’t a good fit for both of us. Not because of it’s doctrine or beliefs, but rather because the culture of the church doesn’t quite fit with me and my wife. So we have been shopping around for a church that would be a better fit for both of us. And you would think that the Pensacola area would be a good place to look. It seems like there is a church on every corner.

As we have been searching around I’ve been struck by how little of the Bible is actually preached in most of these churches. It seems like the majority of time preachers are pushing tradition, the latest semi-Christian psychology, or random political hobby horses. Some preachers use the Bible kind of like a good luck charm attached to the message. They read a verse at the beginning and one at the end. Maybe blessing is a better term than “Good Luck Charm,” but the usage is the same. Other preachers barely use the Bible at all. They all use the term “the Bible says” a lot, but they rarely show you where it says it.

I am so frustrated with the whole thing. How can I trust a pastor who preaches that going against church traditions (that is American church traditions) is sin? How can I trust a pastor who preaches that using a non KJV bible is sin? How can I trust a pastor who preaches that a particular music style is sin? There may be good reasons to avoid certain musicians, or to use certain Bible translations. There even are good arguments for preserving certain church traditions. The problem is that most of those arguments are based on opinion. Not on the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t single out any particular translation as being required. How could it single out a specific English translation when English didn’t even exist at the time the Bible was written? And it is totally silent on the issue of music styles. So you can’t make a case for a particular style being sinful if all you are using is the Bible. And when it comes to American church traditions, such as the Altar Call, they were all established within the last 200 years and none of them are commanded in the Bible. So any pastor that preaches these issues, without making it very clear that they are his opinion only, loses all credibility in my eyes.

But it goes even farther than that. Why don’t pastors use the Bible in their messages to back up the sermon points? How can I trust a Pastor who doesn’t? If he doesn’t use the Bible to back up each and every one of his points, how do I know for sure they are true?

I know a lot about the Bible. I grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian college, and regularly read the Bible. But I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything. So if a Pastor slips something into his message that isn’t in the Bible, I may not catch it. It’s not enough for him to say “the Bible says.” He needs to show me where in the text the content comes from. So that I can see the truth for myself in the context it was written in. Otherwise, the Pastor’s message is no better than that of a motivational speaker at a conference.

And I don’t mean read a verse at the beginning and preach for a half an hour on that one verse. If you can preach for a half hour without using the Bible more than once, then you are NOT preaching from the Bible.

I guess what I’m saying is that I am very frustrated and upset by the way so many churches simply let this stuff slide by. It’s like they don’t care about truth as long as the pastor is an entertaining speaker, or as long as he backs the traditions they like, or as long as the church has all of the programs they want.

So let me tell you what I want.
I want a church that preaches and teaches from the Bible.
I want a pastor that backs up every point using verses from the Bible and takes the time to actually read them. That way I can see them for myself.
I want a pastor that reads the context of the verse so I don’t have to guess or try to quickly skim the passage to know if the verse is being taken out of context.
If the pastor is an entertaining and engaging speaker, that is a bonus, but not strictly necessary. And if the church has a lot of programs, that is also nice. But again, not strictly necessary.

Really, how hard can it be to find a church and other Christians who care about this stuff?

Aug 14 2009

Dependencies – A new one

Jamie Barrows

New iPhone
A few years ago I wrote a post on here about modern dependencies. In that post, I was referring to Internet access and how dependent I had become. And now I have yet another dependency that crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. And annoyingly it is one I should have seen coming. Especially since it is related to my previously mentioned Internet dependency.

I’m talking about my iPhone. Specifically the always on internet connectivity and email it gives me. So I guess the dependency is really a mobile internet dependency. The actual phone is not really the issue. Most likely any halfway decent smartphone would fill my new need. It just happens to be that the smartphone I have is an iPhone.

As with the Internet dependency, I feel cut off when I can’t get a decent connection. And old non-smartphones, that I previously would have been perfectly satisfied with, now feel excessively limited. All of the information and communication advantages of the Internet are now with me 24/7. And I’ve become used to having them around me all the time.

What brought this realization on, was buying a new phone for my wife. We went to the store and picked out a phone that was well rated and had a great looking design. It wasn’t a smartphone, but it was a highly advanced text messaging phone with a full keyboard and a touch screen. Just a few years ago I would have loved the phone. But my standards have changed since then, and what I expect from a phone is very different from what I expected then. So when we got it home, and started actually using it, we found it to be frustratingly limited. It had all the technical specs of a smartphone, and yet it had a crippled non-smartphone OS. Email was clunky, web browsing was limited, and there were no applications except the standard ones that were built into the phone. It just felt too limited. And that is when I realized that I could never go back to a “normal” phone.

The end result was that after keeping the phone for a week, we took it back and got a smartphone. And we are much happier than we ever were with the other phone.

Aug 7 2009

Married life

Jamie Barrows

Wedding Rings
Well, its been about a month since I got married. And you know what? I highly recommend it.

While the wedding part was a bit of a pain, I can tell you with great certainty, that being married is the best thing that could have happened to me.
It has involved a few adjustments to my lifestyle, and I’m sure that I’ll have to make a few more. But they are all worth it.

The past month has been wonderful and I’m really looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my beautiful wife Kierra.

Jul 30 2009

Beers at the White House

Jamie Barrows

So today President Obama and the two people involved in the unfortunate arrest of the Harvard University Professor (Gates and Crowley) are going to sit down and have a beer together. The idea being that if they can spend a little time getting to know each other, they can put the whole incident behind them.

Now I’m not a huge supporter of our President, and I didn’t vote for him. The truth is, that I think many of his plans for our country are disasters in the making. And I haven’t seen a lot of the promised transparency that he promised during his campaign. But in this case, I think his plan is a really good idea. And I have to give him credit for it.

In my experience, a lot of the racial problems that people have are not caused by hate or true racism. Most of the time they are caused by a lack of knowledge about a person who is different. By a stereotyping of an entire group of people, because the person has limited or no contact with that people group. That isn’t to say that there are not true racists who are going hate no matter what. Those people exist and are a serious concern. But a lot of people have generally good intentions about others. And when they are confronted with the reality of their prejudices (in a real person rather than just on paper or by being told by others), will usually change their outlook and beliefs about that people group.

It was clear from the start, that the whole incident was a big mistake. A mistake caused by prejudices and resulting anger on both sides that quickly escalated. Which resulted in the poor actions on the part of the police officer. Both sides colored the confrontation with their own prejudices and expectations. The police officer saw a belligerent black man who refused to follow simple instructions during an investigation. And the professor saw a white overbearing police officer who was flaunting his authority and making demands of the professor in his own home. Both sides were wrong (though I tend to side a little more with the professor on this one). And yet neither side had bad intentions. The officer was investigating a possible break in, and the professor was just trying to enter his home.

And because of their good intentions, I think that Obama’s plan of getting them to sit down together will actually work. Not sure that beer was the best choice of drinks (alcohol and good judgement don’t usually mix), but the concept is still good. When they can both see and interact with each other in a casual atmosphere, then they can both realize that this whole thing was just a mistake that got out of hand. And maybe they will even become friends.

Jun 17 2009

The power of the social web

Jamie Barrows

I already posted this video in my twitter feed, but in light of the current happenings in Iran, I thought I would post it here as well. That way if you missed it in my twitter feed or if you don’t follow me on twitter you will still see it.
Watch this and you should get a better understanding of how powerful and revolutionary the social web (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.) actually is.

This video really highlights why the social web is so disruptive and game changing for both governments and traditional news. The amazing thing is that you can see it happening right now with the Iran situation. If you really want to know what is going on in Iran, your best source for news is Twitter. And that news isn’t being generated by governments or by news organizations. It’s being generated by individuals who are directly involved.

Jun 11 2009

Upgraded Site

Jamie Barrows

Wordpress Graphic

WordPress just released a new version of their CMS software. So I just upgraded this site to the new version. Enjoy.

If you want to see a quick video of the changes, follow this link. Introducing WordPress 2.8 Baker

May 26 2009

Work vs Vacation

Jamie Barrows


The problem some of us have when it comes to leaving work at the office.

May 19 2009

Thinking Critically

Jamie Barrows


Read this quote today and just had to repost it.

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
Terry Pratchett

May 18 2009

Me Before Coffee in the morning

Jamie Barrows