Barnabas, Son of Encouragement

I love Barnabas. We first meet him, he’s selling his field and giving it to the disciples for use in their ministry. Our first introduction to him is an act of giving. And it just gets better from there.

Barnabas is the first disciple to come beside Paul when nobody else would touch him. Paul’s history as a persecutor of Christians made the believers understandably fearful, but, Barnabas’ perfect love for his new brother drove out that fear.

Not only does Barnabas take Paul in, but he also takes the man with him on his important gospel missions. Pretty soon, he takes a step back and lets Paul do all the preaching, paving the way for Paul the Evangelist, who would take the Gospel to the Gentiles like no other disciple ever had before. Barnabas’ selfless love empowers Paul to become not just a part of the family, but a fully realized individual as well.

Barnabas’ journey takes an interest turn from there. You see, Paul wants to take a return trip to all the places he and Barnabas visited together. Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them, but Paul is having none of it. Apparently, Mark had ditched them on a previous mission and now Paul sees him a liability. Barnabas remains Barnabas though. So, Paul heads off alone.

It just goes to show ya: we are often far too quick to forget that the same God that called us out exclusion calls others too. But God never forgets. He continues to extend the olive branch, sometimes in spite of us.

The story has a happy ending, though. At the end of his live Paul summons Mark to his side (2 Timothy 4:11). That Barnabas love finally got through.

Strength is a Process

There’s a rumor going around. It’s the “get (fill the blank) quick” ghost. It sounds great. Eat this thing for a week, chant this mantra, do this exercise, and *bang* you’re healed.

Yes, maybe over time it will make a difference. And yes, sometimes there are stories of instant success. But for the most part it takes a while.

Think about growing up. It takes time to walk and talk and chew your food and pretty much everything else. You may skip a step, but it still takes time.

This goes the same for strength building of any kind. People say it’s a no-brainer. Do this thing, change this factor, and everything will just work out. I say, it takes time.

You want to get to point B, even Z. You have to start with A. You start with nothing. You’re broken and you’re scared. Then it’s on to damage control, picking up pieces and seeing if the ground will hold me. Then, once things begin to get okay, you start to get comfortable. When you start getting comfortable, then you can start taking risks, because there is the notion that there is some semblance of net to catch you if you fall. It’s not a chronological process. You’ll go back and forth all the time. Maybe you’ll skip lots of steps and then something happens and you’ll sail back even behind where you started. It happens. Trust the process. Keep going.

Allow others the same grace. Oftentimes, we forget how far we’ve come and how long it took us to get here. To us, it’s overnight. But remember that it wasn’t. Be gracious and encouraging. Let others know your story. A realistic view of life helps more than you know.

Together, we can build a stronger, more beautiful world, except you gotta be in it for the long haul to make it happen.

 

Sméagol’s Dilemma

Remember Sméagol from The Lord of the Rings trilogy?

He had that special ring that gave him great power, but in return for that power he invited Gollum into his life, an evil presence reeking havoc upon Sméagol’s soul. *Spoiler alert* His addiction to the ring ended up destroying him.

It’s easy to look at this poor, sad creature and write him off a pure fantasy, but the truth of the matter is we all have our rings, things that made us feel empowered or important, helped us survive, but in the end will end up destroying us.

Be mindful of these things. Each person has a different one. Often you can find it when it is taken away, so be mindful and aware. We are called to live an abundant life in Christ. Beware the roadblocks and thrive!

I Was Born with a Primal Glory

You can take what you want from me

for I was born with a primal glory

so even if everything I have is gone

I still have that

always did, always do, always will

it is a God-given gift

the seal of the incarnate Divine

placed upon my skin like stigmata,

letting the Earth know I am His

and He is mine and we are ours together.

If You’ve Made it This Far

If you’ve made it this far,

You’ve made it this far

It’s not easy

I’m sure there were times

Maybe you wanted out

to give up to give in to say it’s not worth it

I’m better off gone

but you’re not gone, you’re here

Thank God for you!

You are wonderful!

There’s no time like the present

Start making a difference

You are the pebble in the pond the endless ripple

Go out and touch the lives of many

who will benefit from your light

Expel the darkness

It’s a new day

Live it to the full

Mark of the Maker

I think it’s funny: we believe our deficiencies disqualify us from official ministry. Yet, God is not interested in our lack. Sometimes musicians will make intentional “mistakes” in their tracks just to prove it wasn’t a pre-recorded track. Some of the most valuable collectors items are the ones with a flaw in the casting.

Yes, we are called to remove impurities from our souls; but, many of the things that distinguish us, that make us unique, are the things we most often want to hide. God knows who we are. Our task, as humans, is to find the same, to celebrate it, and to toast to  the Maker who crafted us this way.

Limits Are Limits

Your limits are your limits

don’t be embarrassed

Feel free to test them,

very often they are just a glass ceiling

beyond which is your true reality,

but even still limits exist,

they are your body, mind, and soul saying,

“not now, and maybe even not ever”

Stand  and celebrate them,

our weakness is just as much a part of us

as our strengths,

in fact, embracing what we are not

is just as beautiful and healthy and good

as embracing what we are.

So, be honest with yourself,

let the critics have their say,

but rejoice in knowing who you are