M. Craig Barnes

Barnes on the Myth of Wholeness

Hope arises out of the hard truth of how things are. Christians will always live carrying in one hand the promise of how it will be and in the other the hard reality of how it is. To deny either is to hold only half of the gospel... What we find in the scripture is the incredible promise that God has broken into our brokenness to find us there. There is no promise that, having found us, he will paste our fractured lives back together. This doesn't mean that all of life doesn't have to be brought under the healing of God. It does. But God's healing doesn't fit exactly with our yearnings to have the pain taken away. As a church member with cancer once told me, "There is a big difference between healing and avoiding death." God's healing has more to do with learning to worship than it does with getting life fixed. What God is eager to heal is the sickness of the soul and the blindness of the heart that takes us down a painful road away from his love. Worship is the means by which our eyes are opened. In worshiping God we realize we were never created to be whole. God will not restore what we were never intended to have. What we were created to enjoy is fellowship with God, who alone is whole and complete. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that God wants to give us wholeness. What God wants to give us is himself. If we really believed that, it would be enough. In fact, it would be more than enough. It would overwhelm us. The effect of our fascination with wholeness is that it embarks us on a journey for which there is no end, a journey that takes us further away from God. He invites us to journey in a different direction.

Taken from the first chapter of M. Craig Barnes' Yearning: Living Between How It Is & How It Ought to Be. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Barnes on the Silence of God

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK is a reminder of the important truth that God is God and we are not. "It is He that has made us and not we ourselves." (Psalm 100)

God is often silent when we prefer that he speak, and he interrupts us when we prefer that he stay silent. His ways are not our ways. To live with the sacred God of creation means that we conduct our lives with a God who does not explain himself to us. It means that we worship a God who is often mysterious-too mysterious to fit our formulas for better living. It means that God is not our best friend, our secret lover or our good-luck charm. He is God.


Our relationship with God often seems to be a balance or tension between God's clear voice and his silence, his closeness and his awesome holiness, his sweet and comforting imminence and his magnificent and mysterious transcendence.

Have a great week.

(Originally posted on 6/16/1998)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Barnes on Being Thankful

Hustling God
By M. Craig Barnes

. . . . Until you become thankful, you will never find joy.

Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is
not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery
ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in
your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God's love. The
real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to
the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. Churches are filled
with widows who can explain this to you. We are not ultimately grateful that
we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God
even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers.

Only when we see this are we able to be truly joyful, because then we have
made God our joy. We still cherish the blessings, but not because we have to
have them. We cherish them because they are our windows into heaven.

Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no
matter what else greets us in the course of the day. 

GIVE, Zondervan, 1999, page 155.


Well, that's enough to help fine-tune my Thanksgiving prayers. May the Lord
allow each of us to know the incredible magnitude of his love and blessing in
our lives. "Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for
today and bright hope for tomorrow. Great is thy faithfulness." AMEN!

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.