Aroma Of God . . .


A few weeks ago I started thinking about the
Aroma of God. Often it is hard for me to think of a smell being anything more than an odor, but this time it gave me comfort. After only being back in Bangkok for a week without Jana, I suddenly realized the uniqueness of Jana’s aroma on her pillow. Before going to sleep the first night back without Jana, I rolled over on her side of the bed, and grabbed her pillow.

The scent of Jana’s pillow filled my nostrils and gave me comfort; much in the way a child is comforted by the fragrance of a mother.  As I reflected on this concept, I started realizing the importance of aroma and our relationship with God.  I think about how often I cry out to God and just the hint of his aroma brings comfort to my soul.  The fragrance of God is everywhere, if we would only take time to smell it.

“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place”

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It has now been several days since Jana left and her pillow is starting to lose its fragrance. Unfortunately the pillow is losing its fragrance because she has been gone for so long. I think the same is true in regards to our relationship with God. I believe many of us no longer smell his presence because we are simply not spending time with him. I often miss God’s fragrance because I am not close enough to Him to smell it.

If we are too busy to “stop and smell God” then we should not be upset when his comforting fragrance is absent from our life. Jana’s pillow would be absent of her comforting fragrance if she never slept in the same bed as me. We cannot be upset when we cannot smell the aroma of God if we never have the time to spend with Him.

Take a few moments this week to seek God’s aroma. I truly believe if we invite the presence of God into our daily lives, then His aroma will always be with us throughout our struggles and victories . . .

Jack Barr is a award winning author of his debut book, “Failing At Fatherhood: a book for the imperfect father.”


(click book to buy on Amazon)

Living Life Together . .

Hello and Welcome Friends & Readers,

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Ten years ago we moved to Bangkok, Thailand for the first time. During that first year we found a church that was rooted in the concept of home church groups. Every week various groups would meet in homes and conduct their own church services. Unfortunately like most churches, as attendance grew, the leadership of the church decided to purchase a building and start traditional church services. This was disappointing because we loved the intimate atmosphere of a house church and the meaning relationships we could build though a closer community. So, last year when a family approached us about starting a house church together, we excitedly accepted.

Why? The main reason we are drawn to the house church setting is because you are forced to live life together. We start our service every Saturday night with a meal and fellowship. After that time we come together for a time of worship and teaching. We rotate leaders every week, but our main focus is life discussion. Last week before leaving, I shared a message about coveting other families. We talked, laughed, and cried about the question of, ”Why can’t my family enjoy the easy life of another family”? We even had a time of small group confession time in which we prayed for one another’s current struggles. Our church closed the time together by praying for our trip and laying their hands on us. Our church community of twenty-five, has made a commitment to live life together before God.

Jana and I often discuss the prominent church structure in comparison with our house church. The debate for me is not which format is more aligned with the scriptures, but instead, are we living life together as a group of believers? Do you live in a community that loves, cares, and prays for you? Do you openly share with your community or carry a false persona that everything is fine? Do you come together as a group of believers every week to truly focus on your creator? For us, a house church forces us to be genuine people living tarnished lives.

Jesus lived life with others through compassion and accountability. Our house church tries to emulate the same approach. We pray for each other continually, we support one another through difficult times, and we celebrate God’s blessings together. Regardless of what kind of church you attend, you need people living life with you. You need fellow believers that can truly invest in one another’s lives. Jesus called us to minster to the lost together, not as individuals. Surround yourselves with fellow believers that love you. For us, living life without our community is unimaginable. God has shown us that we need our house church community to love, care, and support us during the good and difficult times. If you are not living life together, then you are missing out on a great blessing that God’s gives us through community.. .. .

Please visit out website we advocate to give other children like Marley who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome a voice!
If They Had A Voice And you can purchase my book on Amazon below. Just Click book.

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Author, Jack Barr a Mom’s Choice Award Book Winner.

Everything Else is Second

Hello Readers and Welcome New Visitors,

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  Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

           This summer while traveling, we had the opportunity to share at Poplar Spring Church in King, NC. Poplar Springs was the church that I grew up in, and was the place that had ordained me into ministry.  It is always a pleasure to go back and share about the things that God has been teaching us while living in Bangkok.  This year, my message firstly focused on building a relationship with God, and then secondly, building relationships with others.  While I was preparing the message, Jana hit me with a question that I had not considered while looking at this passage.

Jana said, “I have never noticed that at the end of this passage that Jesus states, ‘the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these commandments.” As we continued discussing her insight, we quickly realized that Jesus was telling us that everything that we deem important is second to this great commandment.

The idea that everything came second opened my mind to the fact that no matter how passionate I might be about a particular issue or ritual, if I am not loving God and loving other people, nothing matters. This problem was considerably noticeable to us as we traveled and watched the news media while visiting family and friends. It appears as if we have become so passionate about certain issues we deem as “sin”, that we forget that God commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus did not say to love your friends, or love people who think like you, or love people who act like you, or even love people who live like you; He simply said to, “Love our neighbor.”

          As I was speaking at Poplar Springs, I was reminded that I am more receptive to input from people whom I have a relationship with.  If certain people who I cherish as personal friends speak truth into my life, then I listen. No matter what that truth might be, I am open to receiving it. But, we are not using the same practice with our neighbors because we are not building relationships with them. Instead of building a relationship first, we want to state our agenda, hammer a person with our Christian truth while exposing their sin, and then start building a relationship with that person.  Why are we shocked when people state that their impression of Christianity is judgmental?  I do not believe that is the prominent example Jesus gave us throughout the New Testament.

Let me close by saying that I believe in truth and the Bible as the Word of God.  I am also quick to judge others instead of focusing on relationships.  But, this approach is not the one we are shown in John 8.  Too often we want to ask who the sinner was, and what their consequence came to be.

Maybe instead, we should start focusing on Jesus’s answer to not be so concerned with pointing fingers at other people’s sin and instead let Jesus work in that person’s life:

John 8:2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said.” Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”   . . . .

Jack Barr, Author

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What Has God Taught Us? Let Me Tell You. . .

Hello Friends, Readers, and Welcome New Friends,

As many parents who care for a child with down syndrome or any disability, it can be a challenge.
But Jana and I keep close to our faith to help us through each day. So I thought today I would share with you what God has taught us so far on this journey we all call life. No matter what lies ahead for our future, we know when we keep our love and faith in God, we can make it through even the hardest storms that come our way. . .
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Nine years ago we made the decision to leave everything that was familiar to us and move to the other side of the world. One night while we were still living in Tennessee, Jana came home from teaching gymnastics, and asked whom I was talking with on the phone. I told her I was interviewing for a job at an International Christian School, in Bangkok Thailand.  She gave me a look that was intended to be profanity, but since we were good little Christians, she did not openly yell at me. I knew immediately it would not go well after I finished my phone conversation with ICS.  Once I hung up the phone, I quickly told her that I was offered a job, and the good news was they had an open elementary position.

What happened next was not the yelling attack I expected, but instead she smiled, and we started searching for Thailand on a map.  As I reflect back on this life changing decision, I think it would be good to share some things we have learned while serving in BKK.  I also want to encourage you this week to contemplate what God has taught you these past few years.  Too often in life, we don’t take the time to see what God has done in our lives.

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Jack – I have realized the true definition of depression.  I spent an entire year depressed after Marley was born.  I believe it was the hardest year of my life and I was worthless as a father during that time.  God taught me the value of a dedicated wife, and the healing we can receive through talking with people who have been there. The greatest part of that year was realizing my relationship with God was not where I thought it was, and my need for daily faith.

Jana – God’s creativity runs deep and wide. We have met so many different and interesting people while living in Thailand. Through each of these encounters and relationships, God has revealed Himself to us in different ways. It is through and because of these relationships that my relationship with the Creator has grown.

Jack – The enormous responsibility we have to mentor the next generation. God has opened my eyes to the struggles of our students at ICS.  The time we spend talking and caring for these students is a necessity.  Numerous young men and women have told us thank you for just taking the time to build a relationship with them outside of school.  We believe that is our greatest ministry at ICS.

Jana – God has been teaching me about humility for years and years. He has used so many of the years here in Bangkok to show me how little control I have in my own life, AND how much greater His plan is for me than what I have planned for myself.

Jack – There are days I love being a father and days I hate being a father.  I love the sweet smiles and hugs Marley gives me constantly throughout the day.  But I also hurt when I see people look at her differently, or when she struggles to complete tasks that are easier for others.  My own father dying at an early age inspired me to change my life, but I wish I could sit down with him now, and tell him I finally understand the love he had for me.

Jana – Unreached people groups are hiding within our own communities. We must pray for God to open our eyes to those people in need. We were never aware of the great need for families with special needs children until God made us aware. I think some of the raw emotions that we experienced as God showed/catapulted us into awareness is a taste of the deep love that God has for those who are hurting and lost.

Marley – I would say that she has learned that life is going to be fun sometimes and hard sometimes.  There will be times that Daddy/Mommy will let her splash in the rain puddles, eat a French fry, and wrestle the cat into submission.  Unfortunately, there will also be times that she will not get what she wants just because of who she is.  Pulling the cat’s ears, throwing her food, and biting will be followed by disciplinary actions.

Learn more about Jack and his book at http://www.iftheyhadavoice.org/
Follow Us on Twitter @jackjanamarley
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God Bless Friends,
~Jack, Jana and Marley~
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father/dp/B00OSSQDGA