My name is Brent Barnett, and I love Jesus because He loved me first. I have an incredible wife and two wonderful kids, and I am exceedingly grateful for these good and perfect gifts. Let me share some of my testimony with you so that you can best understand what defines me and why I do what I do.
I was raised in a Christian home, and my mother shared the gospel with me from very early on. I remember to this day at age four recognizing the fear of hell and asking Jesus to forgive my sins and come to live in my heart so I could go to heaven. I am very grateful for this early start to life in Christ. As I grew older, I remember praying the salvation prayer or something like it over and over again just to be sure I was saved. I also remember wondering from time to time if this Jesus and Bible stuff was for real and if there was another religion or belief system that was actually the real story. These were passing thoughts only, but it did reveal a lack of confidence that needed to be reinforced over time.
During my high school and college years, I struggled with a nagging feeling of internal self-sufficiency. It was this weird mix between feeling like I needed to impress God because of self-doubt and insecurity in His love combined with a sense of pride in a life of service and church activity. What I was missing was an understanding of the depth of God's love, the power of His grace, and the surety of His sufficient Word. I believed the Bible, but I didn't understand just how real and relevant it was. I needed to get to a point where I was willing to anchor my entire life around it with total confidence. I needed to ask the hard questions and figure out why I believed what I believed so that I could make it my own and stake my future on it. I needed to love it like I needed my next breath, and I needed to search it out like my life depended on it. The Lord needed to bring me to a place where He was the only hope that I had and where His Word was the only way that I could make sense of what was happening in my life.
As I finished college and tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life, health issues that had only surfaced in college gradually became overwhelming. At one point, I was a regular at the emergency room with intense abdominal pain, my eyesight had degenerated into chronic double vision due to a congenital defect that doctors still can't really explain, and my knees were breaking down such that I needed braces just to walk. It was a traumatic time in my life. At this point and two eye surgeries later, I am disabled in many ways due to the eye problems that bring frequent headaches, nausea, and difficulty doing just about everything. The official diagnosis is incurable double vision, and, believe me, it is not fun. The knees are functionally better but still misaligned, and the stomach has benefitted by somewhat less eye strain and uncovering several extremely severe food allergies. I praise God that I have been able to make it to this point and for how He has helped me learn to function within my limitations. The fact is that I probably wouldn't be writing if none of this had happened, and if God had not taken drastic measures to jolt my heart awake, I probably wouldn't have anything worth writing about anyway. I knew my soul was hungry, and through great trials and distress He showed me just how His strength is perfected in weakness. He showed me what a great boast I have in Him, and He taught me about His sufficiency and the power of His Word.
But the best part of the story is falling in love with my wife Sarah. We met at a Bible study as I was going through the depth of my physical ailments. She had gone through some hard times herself, and she was a great encouragement to me from the moment we met. As we started spending time together and learning what we were both passionate about, it didn't take long for me to know that she was the one for me. Seven years of marriage and two kids later, I am more grateful for her than I have ever been. We have both learned much from each other, but most of all we have just basked in the goodness of God for His provision of bringing us together.
Being a dad has taught me a lot about how God thinks of me. I think of how much I adore my kids, and it helps me recognize just how even more perfectly God delights in His children. Life has in many ways been exceedingly difficult, and many days have significant physical pain. But God continues to reveal just how good and merciful He is, and I am so grateful for the patience that He has with me. God never stops working on us, and we should rejoice in that because it is always for our good (Romans 8:28). His ongoing kindness keeps leading to further growth, repentance, and change (Romans 2:4). Humility is a constant necessity, but being dependent on God is ultimate freedom once we learn that it is safe and desirable to lean on Him fully.
I want my children to know that God is good, that He is always faithful, and that His Word is sufficient because He is sufficient. We can embrace our weakness because He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When we hurt in our bodies and when circumstances are tough, He renews us inside day after day (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). I want them to know that the Bible is not just alive, active, and able to dissect the needs of our hearts but that it actually has the ability to speak to all of the issues that we will grapple with in life. Its relevance is further evidence of God's wisdom and compassion in that He has given us all that we need to know in His Word. I hope that they have a hunger for it and a desire to keep reading and studying it. One of my favorite things to do is to open up the Bible and tell them a "Jesus story."
Relevant Bible Teaching is my open door to share what I am learning as I journey through life in Christ (1 Corinthians 16:9). By His grace, I strive to teach His Word with accuracy, urgency, and fervency. I am a non-denominational Christian which means that I can say what I think without having to worry about fitting into some denominational box. There is great freedom, joy, and life in being able to take God's Word at face value and apply it for what it is.
I have great joy to be able to look back and see the faithfulness of God in my life. I hope that I can encourage you to believe with all of your heart that your God is not afar off (Jeremiah 23:23) but that He is near to you, even holding your hand (Psalm 37:24). I hope you will draw near to Him, knowing that He promises to draw near to you in return (James 4:8). He is already near to you if He is in your heart. It is just a matter of embracing His closeness and letting Him have full control to change you and total freedom to love you. He knocks on the door of our hearts with a message of love, grace, and sanctification, but we still must open it (Revelation 3:20). Open it wide, feast on His Word, and take the divine adventure to its fullest end. I hope that when it is all said and done that that will be my testimony. I trust that it will be yours as well.