From our survey of admirable, successful and model-able Bible characters in the February eTouch (click here to read that one), I mentioned that my two choices were Ruth (loyalty, faithfulness and more), and the bi-cultural Joseph of Cyprus, better known as Barnabas. For the purpose of this little summary of his life, I’m going to take the liberty of calling him ‘Barney.’ The name just seems to fit.
Barney had some amazing qualities—he was generous, strong in faith, humble, and a mentor; he recognized the limit of his abilities and then made way for others. He was an encourager—thus his Bible nickname, ‘The Son of Encouragement.’ Boy! Don’t we all need that kind of person around us?
Barney’s story begins in Jerusalem, just as the fledgling church was forming—along with the start of persecution. And that persecution came from the established religious authorities. All the needs of the thousands of brand new believers were looked after, because people like Barney, sold property and brought the money to the elders to be shared among those who didn’t have enough to get by on.
So Barney was a generous man.
Persecution of this new and rapidly growing church increased and was becoming really intense. Soon, a leader named Stephen, who was not shy about sharing his faith, was stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus, a young religious leader who was a brutal one-man wrecking crew, and who was trying to savage the new church, stood by and encouraged Stephen’s stoners.
Saul, breathing fire, headed for Damascus to harass the new Believers there, but God arrested him on the way by knocking him off his horse, blinding him and confronting him; and after three days giving him back his sight.
Amazingly, Saul soon started teaching and preaching the Good News of Jesus right there in Damascus! But things got a bit too hot for him (his former buddies were plotting to kill him), so he escaped, and showed up in Jerusalem. With Barney’s intercession, the church elders accepted him, but his life there was in danger too, so he was secretly whisked away to his hometown of Tarsus, where he stayed for a number of years.
The city of Antioch in Syria became a big center for Christians, so Barney went and found Saul and brought him there, where they ministered together. From Antioch, they were commissioned for the first ever missionary journey, which took them back to Barney’s island home of Cyprus. Ever the mentor and discipler, Barney took along his young cousin John Mark as their helper. (Many believe that John Mark, later on wrote the Gospel of Mark.)
However Mark, still an immature young man, got fed up with the hardships of outreach—like sleeping on hard benches with a diet of PBJs (or their equivalent), so he bailed out and went back to his mother’s home cooking in Jerusalem. He probably had a hard time with re-entry!
Meanwhile, Saul dropped the ‘S’ from his name, becoming Paul, and he and Barney moved on from Cyprus to what we today call Turkey, and an interesting change took place in their relationship. Barney must have recognized the emerging spiritual authority in Paul, and quietly stepped aside, allowing his friend and co-worker to assume the leadership of their team.
Barney was a truly wise and humble man.
To summarize their time in Turkey, the two missionaries boldly preached the gospel right in the synagogues of the Jews, winning many converts, and also preaching to, and leading Gentiles to the Lord. At the same time, they were kindling the anger of others. It got so that they were almost worshiped by some and just about killed by others. Finally, they returned to their home church in Antioch to report on what God did through them during their year-and-a-half outreach.
After some time with the church, they felt the urging of the Spirit to sail away on another outreach. But there was stormy weather ahead and their departure did not happen smoothly.
(Tune in next time to find out which way the wind blew and how things panned out.)
When sickness or other needs are obvious, there are at least three responses that show the depth of a servant heart:
1. “Let me know if I can be of help with anything.”
2. “Just ask me and I’ll be right over.”
3. “I’m on my way over to do your laundry.”
Life is like a can of paint. Its value lies in its application.
"We’re as sick as the secrets we keep." William Paul Young
"Trust is the fruit of knowing you’re loved." William Paul Young
I’ve been asking the Lord what He wanted me to write this month, and here’s the scripture that kept coming to me:
"Let us ENCOURAGE one another daily, as long as it is called Today so that none of you will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” [Hebrews 3:13]
Sin’s deceitfulness. Our consciences are becoming seared because of the world we live in; we no longer have the fear of God, hating what He hates and loving what He loves. It’s so subtle. It can be through what we look at, what we listen to and the attitudes of our hearts; but let’s encourage one another to walk in the fear of the Lord, not the fear of man. Live to please Him—not to please our own fleshly desires.
I was teaching a DTS recently and they said, “You’re like a grandmother. You come and go, speaking the truth with love, correct and encourage us through ‘words’ that are prophetic—and with hugs."
God’s love brings people to repentance. Last week in a DTS, a young man said, “This is the first time I’ve felt like ‘family’"; and he repented of sins of immorality and was set free. He felt safe.
"Everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort." [1Cor.14:3] and then in verse 31, "For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged." I teach "sons and daughters” of Father God—how to listen to Him, and part of the teaching is how to hear by the Holy Spirit and to hear for each other, so they can encourage one another when I’m no longer with them. "For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” [2 Peter 1:21]
"And . . . let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Heb 10:25] Many are leaving the 'organized church’; but remember, in the book of Acts how they would gather for fellowship and meals together in their homes. with glad and sincere hearts, praising God. I’m sure they encouraged one another to be strong and courageous, praying for each other. Whether you go to church on Sundays or meet together during the week, please do not stop. We need each other, to encourage one another.
Timothy tells us, "Correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction . . .” [2 Tim 4:2], because my friends, we are in the days when people aren’t putting up with sound doctrine; instead they listen to teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear, and then they turn away from truth. Thousands of young people are turning away from the truth when they go to university, truths they were taught as children. The good news is the prodigals are returning to ‘family,' not to organized religion.
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” [Rom 15:4] God gives us encouragement so we can give others encouragement through the Word and by the Spirit.
Our lives and our words of faith, are to encourage one another. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” [Prov 18:21]
Let us be a people who encourage and strengthen one another, whether it is through our spoken word or our written word, (Facebook, etc.) Affirmation is spiritual warfare. The enemy accuses, criticizes, lies and loves it when people gossip; but as we encourage and affirm one another, the truth will go deep into our spirits and we will build one another up.
Ask God who you can encourage today and every day—and how to do it. Words, messages, gifts, acts of kindness and prayer are some ways. Let’s live our lives with an eternal perspective. Only what we do for Him will last.
Let’s encourage each other to finish the race well.
Love and Blessings,
May 26-29: London, UK (Harpenden), ENGAGE2017
Focusing on equipping and encouraging people to pursue God's purposes wherever he has called them. Led by Quintin & Angela Lake
July 9-15: Restenäs, Sweden
July 16-22: Prod, Romania
July 29-Aug 4: Champagne, France
The speaker at all Camps will be Stefaan Hugo, YWAM Facilitator for Southern Africa.
Check here for updates and more information!
I have some special needs. Do you? Well, I guess we all do, one way or another.
Just to be clear on this, I’m not thinking so much about physical, financial and practical needs. I’m thinking more of spiritual, mental and emotional needs.
Spiritually, as Believers, we have all come to a place of acknowledging our special need of Jesus Christ—not only a prayer of repentance and acceptance—but the need to continue and grow in that relationship.
Mentally, some are born deficient in some area of brain use, while others, due to various stresses in a difficult life, may succumb to some sort of breakdown.
Emotionally, it’s a bit more complicated. If we come from a loving and secure family, mothered and fathered and brothered and sistered by caring kinfolk, we’re much more likely to live a healthy emotional life. We’ll be more likely to know how to give and receive love.
Sooner or later, most of us face financial and practical needs. It’s part of life. What about others who have mental needs—or disabilities? We ‘normal’ people too often avoid, despise or abort these human beings. Our daughter Laurie, years before she was married, believed the Lord was leading her to adopt an Asian baby girl—with Down Syndrome! Her efforts were rebuffed. But the desire was still there.
Then, in her mid-forties, Laurie married Pete Worrall, and together they started the adoption process again. After several miracles, they finally brought one year-old Ruth Pei Li home from her birthplace in Taiwan. She is the darling of our extended family—indeed she wins the hearts of anyone she encounters. One day, we discovered she had SQ.
We understood the concept of IQ, but what in the world is SQ?
A few years ago, several of our family were dinner guests of Loren & Darlene Cunningham in Hawai’i. After Loren watched little Ruthie interacting so well with others, displaying her love and acceptance of everyone, he proclaimed, “She has SQ!” What’s that? “Spiritual Quotient,” Loren said.
It’s sad, but many look at people with disabilities—both physical and mental—with embarrassment, or a shudder; or even with outright rejection. What they are missing! And what the disabled one is missing by this lack of acceptance! These are living and breathing, love-giving and love-needing human beings, who when they are embraced by others, can usually function at a higher level than we give them credit for. Are we missing out on their ‘Spiritual Quotient’?
God wants to do as much—or more—in each one of us so-called ‘normal’ people, through interaction and relationship with the disabled. Perhaps He wants you to take ‘one of these’ into your heart and even into your home. Adoption should be more than an option for God’s people!
Little Ruthie has full measure of "SQ". . . I also think of "SQ" as Sunshine Quotient, rays of which she freely scatters whereever she goes.
A US Medical study points to the following:
99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives.
97% of people with Down syndrome like who they are.
96% of people with Down syndrome like how they look.
IN ICELAND 100% OF BABIES DIAGNOSED WITH DOWN SYNDROME ARE ABORTED.
Till next time,
The Small Print
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