Category Archives: Bible

Doing Good in our City as a Family Promise support church

While it is not practiced as regularly as it should be, the Bible challenges us to do good in our community as a way to live worthy of the good news (the gospel).

Our church, City Church Lawrence (CCL) ,has been exploring ways we can grow in this area. Late last year, we signed up to be a Family Promise support church with Christmas week being our first experience in this role.

Family Promise (FP) is a ministry which works to help homeless families break out of homelessness.  Here in Lawrence, they typically have 3-5 families working through a 5-6-week initial transition process at any one time.  During the day, FP helps the families learn skills and find jobs so they can transition to functioning independently in our community. FP has a network of host churches which provide those going through the program with a weeks’ worth of lodging and meals at their church. The support church’s role is to assist the host church with providing evening meals. CCL is assisting Vintage Church.

My wife Cathy and I and another family provided the meal for Christmas Eve. Cathy and I brought over our traditional Christmas Eve supper: chili and cinnamon rolls, as well as some fruit and vegetables. Our other family brought spaghetti and more.

Family Promise has 4 families in the program’s “rotation” at the moment.  As it was Christmas Eve, we recognized that some of the group may have had other plans for the evening. Sure enough, this proved to be more true than we expected.

We ate and talked with one mom and her Dad, who was visiting from Hutchinson. Her husband and kids were seeing other family for the evening. She has 4 children, mostly teen agers. We did not see them as they were spending time with their father. Another mom came through briefly and a third mom and her children we saw only as we were preparing to leave at 8:00 with our meal and host duties done.

Despite this light duty with respect to providing meals to those in the program, we enjoyed not only time with our fellow CCL host family but the evening also provided two additional interactions.

First we got to spend some time with the pastor of Vintage Church Deacon Godsey and his wife and son who enjoyed the meal we brought between the conclusion of the church’s Christmas Evening service and another engagement of the evening that followed. Part of doing good in the City is partnering with others who are seeking to do the same.

Second we got to spend some time with a mom, Leila, who went through FP’s program two years ago when she was at a time of need in seeking to provide for herself and 4 children while between jobs. She is now on her feet, attending Vintage Church and a part of the church’s ministry with FP. Through our discussion we were able to learn a lot about the benefits of the program from one who has been through it. This included learning to not expect too much interaction during these meal times as those going through the program are often tired and needing to put their kids down for the night.  While Leila has gone through several jobs, she currently driving a concrete truck for nearly double the wages of her previous jobs and seems to have a good support network at Vintage Church.

We left most of the unconsumed food at the church for later in the week.

It was a good first experience and we look forward to next time. Due to the number of churches FP has in the program, Vintage Church and CCL will host another new set of families approx. four times a year.

A parent’s prayer from a favorite Christmas song of mine

Michael Card’s Joseph’s Song has been a favorite Christmas song of mine since I first heard it in 1991.

The heart of the lyrics are:

How could it be this baby in my arms,
sleeping now, so peacefully,
the Son of God, the angel said,
how could it be?

Lord I know He’s not my own,
not of my flesh, not of my bone.
Still Father let, this baby be,
the Son of my Love.

Father show me where I fit into this plan of Yours.
How can a man be father to the Son of God?
Lord for all my life I’ve been a simple carpenter.
How can I raise a King, how can I raise a King?

[listen to it at:]

At the time I first heard the song, my three daughters were ages 8, 6 and 2. While not called to raise the Son of God, I nevertheless empathized with Joseph’s questions and request – his plea to God to enable him to love the child, his request for guidance in that work, his feelings of inadequacy.

As I heard the song, I prayed the same prayer and I trusted God as Michale Card envisioned that Joseph did.

A few months ago, my youngest daughter turned 20. So now, instead of all under 10, they are all over 20. And yet even now as I hear the song, I continue to emphasize with Joseph’s prayer. My role is different to be sure. In some ways, our relationships are more complex than ever. But the desire is the same: to understand the role God has given me at this stage of their lives and love them in that way.

In my quest for advice on this stage of life, I came across Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica where he describes his treatment of them, likening himself to their father:

1 Thessalonians 2:10 “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

So I ask God for help and wisdom on how I can encourage and comfort and challenge these adult children to be all that God has made them to be.

Dear Father, let it be.

(A note from my experience: go heavy on the encouragement and comfort; light on the challenge.)

My Tribute to Chris Klicka, the greatest man I ever knew personally

Yesterday Cathy and Megan returned from a memorial service in Virginia where homeschool champion, Chris Klicka, was honored. I never want to forget this hero of mine. On this post, I summarize reflections from his memorial service, that I might not forget, and in not forgetting, live better.

For a brief summary of his life and some of the words of others, see:

This statement appeared in the memorial service program:  “Christopher J. Klicka was born on Resurrection Day, April 2, 1961 and died on Columbus Day, October 12, 2009. By earthly standards Chris (being a slightly premature baby) arrived early and departed early – at age forty-eight. Not limited by earthly standards, however, Chris packed more into life in those forty-eight years than many do into ninety, and is recognized as one of the foremost leaders of the homeschool movement. Chris completed his undergraduate studies at Grove City College, PA, where he met his wife, Tracy. Upon graduation from Grove City College, Chris attended O.W. Coburn School of Law, Tulsa, OK, from which he received is Juris Doctorate. Chris was then welcomed as the first full-time employee and attorney of Home School Legal Defense Association, and soon became HSLDA’s first executive director and later its senior counsel. During the twenty-four years of his employment with HSLDA Chris served tens of thousands of homeschooling families both directly and indirectly as a legal advocate, conference speaker, author, lobbyist, and loving husband and father.”

I wrote the following on my Facebook the day I learned of his death: “This morning, the greatest man I ever had a personal relationship with died. Chris Klicka was a tireless advocate for homeschooling over his exceptional legal career and a great example of a man who loved God, his family, the church.  I hope I never forget Chris’ extraordinary example, knowing him over his 15 year struggle with multiple sclerosis, and how he never let it defeat him or make him bitter but just kept on working. I am glad his struggle is over but mourning over the permanence of the loss in this life.”

I went to Virginia not due to any special relationship with him but to honor Christ via honoring his man, who honored Christ via his life of passion and persistence for Christ and His Kingdom.  As we heard at the memorial service, Chris favorite verse was Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I also went for myself. Chris is a hero of mine and I wanted to hear that more fully so that I might not soon forget him. Chris contributed much to the work of Christ’s kingdom. He also suffered much, yet never gave in. I need to never lose heart in doing good. And when I am tempted to give in, I want to remember his determination and tenacity and faith and love.  I want to remember his great accomplishments and yet he his time for family and friends and to enjoy life.

A reading of Chris’ life verse: Matthew 6:19-33, esp. verse 33:

Matt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

A favorite quote from C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you get nothing.”

From Gregg Harris – What distinguishes Chris? His passion.  Gregg told of a time when Chris was a young, nervous attorney and the two of them spoke at a Wisconsin state home school convention. Gregg shared the passage of Job 29:2-17 with Chris and how Chris had expressed a passionate desire to live out that passage, especially v. 17 (Job 29:16 “I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth”). Chris said, “I want to be like that guy!”, and he truly did become that, a person who would break the fangs of those who sought to attack the freedom of parents to educate their children at home.

Gregg also shared of Chris’ struggle with M.S. and Chris’ clinging to God’s promise to provide strength in that struggle and to show His power through it. Chris lived out what Paul spoke of in the following passage:

2 Cor 12:7 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.

From Michael Smith, President of HSLDAChris’ life was exemplified by:

  • His determination (he must have been a strong-willed child; yet he channeled his determination for good).
  • He was a tremendous lawyer.
  • He was interested in every person he met.
  • He was fearless due to his faith. He fell over 400 times, some times causing serious injuries,  and yet kept on getting up and serving.

There is no replacement for Chris. He will be missed. He is leaving a huge hole.

But he also leaves a great legacy for us to see and follow. We can live like him in that we too can be all that we were met to be.

From Joshua Harris

  • Chris sought to protect God’s people.
  • Chris’ favorite verse was from Matt 6 (see above). He passed away a wealthy man in all that truly mattered.

A scripture reading from Rick Boyer

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Chris’ family shared as well. I was impressed by not only their words but their composure. They spoke of:

  • his enthusiasm for life, his infectious joy,
  • his love of the word of God, and of the encouragement and confidence, it gave in his later life
  • his deep love of people.

His daughter Megan read from Philippians 3:7-14

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

She also shared of his hero, Eric Little, who said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Megan closed by stating, “Daddy felt God’s pleasure.”

His oldest daughter Bethany shared from Hebrews 12:1-2

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

She said that Chris ran not to finish the race but to win. She (and I) is convinced that when Chris went to heaven, the witnesses were giving him a standing ovation.

My closing thoughts

Bethany did not read it, but I cannot help but add verse 3 of the passage above:

Hebrews 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

We need to consider that likes of Chris, so that we may not grow weary in doing good.

Chris wore himself out, to hear the words, “Well Done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your master.” He has now entered into that joy.

Graduation thoughts for my niece

To my niece Bethany on her high school graduation

May 23, 2009

Bethany – congratulations on your graduation.  You are not a different person than you were yesterday, but your circumstances are changing in a significant way. You will not be going back to your high school; you will soon be moving from home; a great number of your friendships will change and others will come.

I think you have chosen well to serve in your church for the coming year.

You have been blessed as few have with loving and wise and discerning parents. God has also blessed you with a great big sister and great set of friends.  As you move on to the next part of life, do not fail to continue to benefit from them.

I want to briefly share a couple of verses that have meant much to me in my life journey. One is a verse with much encouragement; the other is a passage of challenge.

A verse of encouragement

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

My girls could write the script of what I am going to share here as they have heard it at their graduations. Here is what I find encouraging:

  • V 8-9 God has brought salvation, not dependent on our good works and therefore uncertain, but based on His grace and gift, we can freely receive.
  • For me as a Christian, who have accepted that gift, I find verse 10 very encouraging.  It should be encouraging to all who call Christ Savoir as I know you do.
  • You are not an accident: you have been made by God. You are His work of art. While you and I may be imperfect in many ways, God declares you as suitable for His purpose.
  • You were made for a purpose: for good works. God has specifically made you Bethany for a specific life work that it is your opportunity to find and do.
  • You are not alone: God goes ahead of you. Finding and doing that work is not always easy. God promises that you are not alone in it. He goes ahead of you and will help you at each turn.

So be encouraged Bethany.  God has saved you and made you to be a blessing to this world. Find it and do it.

A verse of challenge

As good as life is much of the time, seasons of life come that are a challenge. There are times when friends will leave or disappoint; when your work may not be particularly fulfilling; when you will be called to do hard things.  Despite all the good I have in my life in wife, kids, church, career and blessings of living in this free land, I have had difficult seasons of life.

The scriptures speak to this. In the books of Colossians, Paul writes to the slaves of that city and era. I cannot think of a situation where one would feel more trapped. But even in such circumstances, which is so much more difficult than I might have to experience, one can find the ability to live excellently, to do right, and to find reward.

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

The secret of contentment and progress in difficult seasons (really all seasons):

  • Do the work God has given you whole-heartedly. Even when parents, friends, employer or future spouse do not recognize you or praise you or reward you.  Do the work whole-heartedly.
  • Do it all to please Him, not people.  Three times in this passage we are told: we work for the Lord.
  • Realize God sees it all.
  • Realize God that will reward you for those labors to please Him even if no one around you does.

So when life is hard, do right anyway to please God. He will reward as parent, friend, employer, or spouse cannot.

In sum Bethany, do not forget the many, many blessings and benefits God has brought you. Chose and live well for many are distracted or stumble for lack of care of these things.

Uncle David

Balancing Work and Rest

Like many others, my life has been out-of-balance for many years, working too much. In taking the chief engineer position last year, I only complicated matters even more. When I volunteered to teach for my pastor during his Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to spend some time on a study of the Scripture’s perspective on balancing work and rest. Below is a summary of what I found and a link to the sermon on my church’s web site.


A summary of “Balancing Work and Rest”
A sermon for December 7, 2008
David Barfield, Community Bible Church, Lawrence, KS

  • To listen or download the sermon
  • Disclosure: The insights of Steve & Mary Farrar’s Overcoming Overload was helpful in my study. It is a good read if you want more on this topic.]

Introduction – This teaching was motivated my need to deal with my own imbalance. I love to do worthwhile work and have overfilled my life. So this sermon is for the overwhelmed. I believe it is also significant implications for the distracted, those who overfilled their life with other things.

We live in a unique day: “24/7; always on” society. A day that always offers “more”: more choices everywhere, more activities, endless entertainment, endless pursuits of whatever your interests.

The danger: squeezed out of our lives is time to rest and reflect, making it is easy Continue reading Balancing Work and Rest

Devotion – Not delaying in doing good

Last week I was reading a book called Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton of Crown Ministries. It is a good read..

Much of the material is familiar to me but I wanted to share one new concept that is challenged me. Below is the verse:

Pr 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you.

The verse is from a chapter of the book on debt. Their application is as follows: “Godly people should pay their debts and bills as promptly as they can. We have a policy of trying to pay each bill the same day we receive it to demonstrate to others that Continue reading Devotion – Not delaying in doing good