A Carnival It Is Not!


Recently, we have watched the news as the Carnival cruise ship Triumph lost power and floated aimlessly at sea. For days people were stranded in an unsustainable environment waiting for help to arrive. USA Today wrote, “They’re back on dry land, and they’re ready to talk about the good, the bad and, yes, the sewage-stained ugly”

Turns out that dry land is not a bad place to be at all!

Reminded me of a devotional thought I had on my first ever cruise (and yes it was a Carnival cruise ship).

Our cruise left out of L.A. and took a quick trip down to Catalina Island and then on to Mexico. On 6/2/09 after being at sea for a day and a half I was sitting on the Lido deck with a cup of coffee in hand when a striking sight rose up out of the sea – land! In the distance I could see Catalina Island.

Land must be a welcome sight for weary water travelers. An island! Land ahead!


When it comes to vacations we love to escape to the sea. Many of us love the thought of cruising on the high seas. But the sea = uncertainty, fluidity. It’s fun for a little while but you can’t stay there forever. The sea is a lot like sin. Uncertain, fluid, if you stay too long it will bring death.


Unlike the sea, the land is sustainable, a place for fruit, grain, sustenance. No floating decks just solid footing. A place where you can live your whole life.

Wow, as much as I think I love the sea I realize that I love to flirt with the sea, but what I really love and what I really trust in is dry land.


You see at times I think I might want the world and all of its delights, but I realize that the world is like the sea. My sin has a very sea-like nature to it. It’s uncertain, fluid, fun for a while, but stay too long and it results in death.

What I really love is the Lord. He is an island of hope. The Lord offers dry ground, firm footing, and ample sustenance.

I realize after a few days at sea that the Lord is the only legit place to live and find rest and peace.


“Lord you are an island welcoming weary, wet travelers. You are stability – you never change. You are the one I can build my life on and the lives of my children. Thanks for reminding me of this. Even the birds must find land sometime. So Lord in my life may I take a land-at-all-costs mentality.

And when I wonder into the sea of sin, Lord I am thankful for the tug-boat of your Holy Spirit that tugs on my heart and pulls this sea-sick, sin-sick soul back to the Land, back to the Lord, back to the Solid Rock!

May you remind me when I begin to lust after the world and it’s sin that a carnival it is not! “

A Preachers Prayer

Yesterday, I came across my prayer journal for the summer of 2009. Looking back this will go down as one of the most difficult times in my life. However, it was great to read some of my prayers in the midst of this difficulty  One such prayer centered on a passage that I read the morning of 5/22/09 while at Starbucks drinking a Cafe Verona blend.


I now offer this prayer not just for me but for all my preacher friends as well.

A Preachers Prayer

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21

I pray that my preaching would somehow take on this other-worldly feel. I would love to be “carried along” by the Spirit as I preach. Wow – what would it look like to speak while being carried by the Spirit? To speak like I have been sent from heaven.

I think that and only that is a worthy form of ministry. May people say, “Come hear the man who preaches with the force of the Spirit and the power of heaven. He hovers over the crowd as one carried by the Spirit of the Living God!” 


McDonald’s and Frank Barnes




I don’t really care for McDonald’s  There are lots of places I would rather grab something to eat, but on occasion I’m forced to stop in and get my grub on. Last Saturday was one of those occasions when on the way to my youngest daughters basketball game I stopped in for a quick bite. This morning I was accompanied by my wife and daughter and my wife’s parents.

Now the night before over dinner the conversation with the in-laws had turned to the topic of a couple of dishonest Pastors who had split nearby churches where they lived and in the process swindled the churches out of some money. (Typical sad stories of corrupt leaders that we hear way to often)

Well this morning at McDonald’s was my morning to set the record straight that all Pastors were not like the ones discussed last night – because sitting over in the corner of the restaurant (can you call McDonald’s a restaurant?) was a man that is a bit of a spiritual hero to me, Frank Barnes.

Now as far as I know Frank has not written any books and most likely will not speak any time soon on the stage of Catalyst, a Desiring God Conference, or our state convention conference – but he is a spiritual hero nonetheless.

Here’s what I know about Frank…

  • He is old. I’m not sure how old Frank is but I would guess he is pushing 90. Having said that he is active, sharp, and passionate about Jesus Christ and just a lot of fun to be around.


  • He is still serving as a Pastor! He calls it an interim position but he may be setting a record for the longest running interim of all time. I think it is going on seven years now! Each Sunday Frank drives out to this little country church, preaches on Sunday morning, then takes a nap on the pews, and then gets up and preaches again on Sunday night and then drives back home. You have to love that kind of dedication to the Gospel!


  • He spent much of his life serving churches in the Northwest part of the country. Long before there was a Driscoll in the Northwest there was a Barnes. He was the 2nd Baptist church planter in the state of Washington and has led and planted churches across the northwest. He served faithfully in a part of the country that was not easy to serve in, but he did it and did it well.


  • He still has a passion to preach. This morning at McDonald’s he was there with his old briefcase and had his Bible and note pad out furiously working on Sunday’s message. When I asked him what he was preaching on his eyes lit up and he dove into the topic, text, and key illustration that he had been working on. It was so refreshing to see someone of his age get as excited as a young school boy when talking about the message he was going to deliver the following day.

As we plant churches and grow existing ones we would do well to remember the examples of the Frank Barnes of the world who have stayed faithful for so many years and who are still excited about the opportunity to serve God and to proclaim His name.


Let’s face it most of the time our praise and kind words aren’t told until we are dead. That’s unfortunate.  So this is my personal shout out to Pastor Frank and the great work that he has done in serving the Lord. And this is my challenge to you to stay faithful and live a life worthy of your calling.