BARNES on the Bay


What’s It All About?

This inaugural edition of "BARNES on the Bay" is the beginning of a free, weekly Christian newsletter for subscribers. There will be weekly devotionals, articles on Christian themes, and also perspectives on varying interests. There'll even be a little humor along the way.

The newsletter is called "BARNES on the Bay" because our last name is Barnes, and my wife and I live on the Chesapeake Bay at Westminster-Canterbury. Okay, at least you will know who's doing the writing and the context of the personal picture above.

I am Bruce, and my wife is Debbie. We have served in Christian ministries over the past fifty years. I have ministered as a pastor, evangelist, Christian college professor, college president, and director of ministries for Free Will Baptists in Virginia. Debbie has also served as a financial office and administrative assistant in Christian colleges, and as a pastor's assistant at a local church.

I enjoy writing—thus this newsletter, articles, and books. It is my sincerest desire to be a blessing to others by encouragement through God's Word. I also enjoy playing my nylon-string guitar and writing music. Debbie loves reading and walking on the beach.

Pray for Ukraine and the believers there!

This Week’s Devotion


"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, ... noble, ... just, ... pure, ... lovely, ...of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8; NKJV).


My mother told me many years ago that she had quit watching the news because it was so depressing. I thought such was a big mistake. How could she not want to keep up with the times? I really could not sympathize.

Yet, the older I’ve gotten to witness the ever-expanding influence of spiritual darkness, the more disturbed I become. These feelings make me realize that I can waste too much time concerned over things I can do little to change. Instead, I should spend more time positively affecting practical change where I can.

So, I have followed in Mother’s footsteps for some years now! I make myself aware of the important headlines of the day, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m not burying my head in the sand; instead, I’m keeping my spirit from submerging within the sinking sand of a world intent on evil. I have come to realize that to battle the darkness around me, my spirit has to be one of encouraging light.

That’s why Philippians 4:8 is such a great verse to help one keep perspective. We need to be thinking about good, holy, and encouraging things. And when we think differently, we will respond differently.


I encourage you this week to see the world in anticipation of what the light of Christ will do for those trapped in darkness. Don’t allow evil to overtake you or your thoughts. Think about the good things that will encourage you and help others.


“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." - Martin Luther

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Sadly, many of us face situations where we don't know quite what to do. Even beyond our life experiences, circumstances can throw us for a loop! We sometimes receive well-intentioned advice from others; however, when we are later alone, the sense of uncertainty again shows itself. The help we long for needs to be more secure and settling. So, what can you do when you don't know what to do?

FIRST: KNOW THE LORD. Is it that important? Yes! God shows that He loves the world by having sent His Son to bring salvation to all who call upon Him (John 3:16). And those who know and follow Him can have confidence in His promised care. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). Surety in life now and the future will escape those who build their lives on a shaky foundation. Christ's promise of rest and comfort, however, is to those who come to Him, not to those who refuse Him. In the midst of uncertainty, your Heavenly Father, through Christ, is ready to calm your concerns and provide you rest in the things ahead.

SECOND: OBEY THE WORD. And that means a commitment to God's ways. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trusting the Lord in this manner is a heartfelt dedication to what God says. In truth, the way we think about things might lead us astray. But we must dismiss our plans in favor or God's. If you expect God to lead you down the right path, you must acknowledge that His direction for you is best, even it appears difficult! That pathway includes a commitment to God's way expressed in His Word.

THIRD: PRAY FOR GUIDANCE. You might be doing that already. But once the first two steps are complete (knowing the Lord and following His ways), prayer takes its proper place in gaining insight to God's direction on matters. The Lord will never lead you contrary to what He says in the Scriptures. But faithfully following His direction there, you can be more confident in discerning the Holy Spirit's leadership in what you pray and finding His peace provided through it.

FOURTH: SEEK GOD’S PEACE. This is the time to look for God's peace in His direction for your decision. Seeking God's peace in a decision is an important step, but not to be placed previous to the others. Some choices are without doubt difficult to make. However, the one who knows the Lord, who is dedicated to following His written directions, and who asks for His help can gain God's peace in doing what is right and best.

This is not to suggest that this process will always be easy or fast; however, the means of discerning the Lord's direction is best realized through this approach. God's will in all matters is not what you think or want to believe. It is what He says is best, and it will always align itself and agree perfectly with His Word.

What do you do when you don't know what to do? It's best not to move forward until you have gone through this process of knowing and feeling secure in God's direction through obedience, prayer, and peace.