What her message to me said and why I needed to hear it

1 john 3

I surveyed the possible outfits and an empty suitcase.

I hovered a hand over the teal scarf, pulled it away and then reached for my favorite top and jacket…pulled my hand away again and flopped back onto my bed in defeat.

I was heading to my first writer’s conference where there’d be thousands of women, most of whom I was sure would be perfectly coiffed and fashionably dressed in matching high heels and handbags.

They’d probably have cute haircuts with tons of highlights.

They’d have dangly earrings and other bling.

They’d wear lipstick.  Lipstick!!!  And probably even eyeshadow.

I was in way over my head and I had outfit-picking paralysis.

It was a crisis moment for me.  Yes, a crisis over scarves and skirts.  Suddenly I wasn’t worrying about fashion.

I was stressing over not belonging.  I was worrying about the expense and the time and whether it was worth it. What if I was just fooling myself about this whole writing thing and this was a complete waste?!

I feared failure and laid out the question again and again to God, “What is it you want me to do?”

And then….the follow-up questions, “Does it have to be this hard?  Can’t we take the easy way?  The one where I get to stay home in jeans and sneakers?”

I opened up Facebook to avoid making decisions about what to pack in that suitcase.

That’s when I opened up the message.

A writer I’d never met, but who was also going to the conference, wrote me a note.

She told me not to worry about my outfits.  How I could just be myself.  I didn’t need highlights in my hair or lipstick or high-heeled shoes.

She told me Satan attacks before the conference so be ready and stand strong in the Lord.

She told me not to fret over my calling, not to feel like I have to fight or make things happen and not to feel for a moment that it all depends on me.  God could do the work.  All I needed to do was show up in obedience.

She obeyed God’s prompting, and she blessed me because she was obedient, speaking words of encouragement to me just when I needed them.

I read in Acts a powerful story of the church’s impact:

 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20 ESV).

It’s a two-verse miracle.  A little encounter, barely noticeable in the book of Acts, but a miracle nonetheless.

Paul is stoned, dragged outside the city and left for dead–not just seriously injured or barely alive.

They thought he was already a corpse.

But then….the disciples gathered about him, and Paul stood up, walked back into the city, and went on another journey the very next day.

He didn’t even need a week to fully recover.

Maybe the disciples prayed for him.  Perhaps they gathered so they could plan how to bury him. The Bible doesn’t fill us in on the details.

All it says is that in the moment he was broken, they gathered around him and he had new strength.

They could have left Paul there as a hopeless case.

They could have been busy, forgetful or too focused on their own problems to care.

They could have feared being stoned themselves.

No, they gathered around the wounded one, and God performed a miracle.

God works miracles of healing through His people when we choose to love another.

I feel the challenge.

If Paul were stoned today, would I choose to gather around him?

Or am I too busy, too self-protective, too self-focused, too self-indulgent, too self-seeking, too prideful, too forgetful…..to minister to one in need?

To write an email….to send a note…to share a meal…..to make a phone call….to invite a friend….to pray for the hurting…to take the time.

And what if it hadn’t been Paul, a leader in the church?  What if it was the smallest of the small who’d been stoned and left for dead?

Would I still take the time?

We love others with Christ’s love when we choose compassion over comfort.

We love like Jesus when we reach out instead of draw in.

That day as I flopped back in my bed in frustrated annoyance and insecurity, a  woman I didn’t know ‘gathered’ around me.

She had her own bags to pack.  Her own plans to finalize.  Her own life to manage.

But she reached out to me with kindness, and God moved.

How can we show someone that love today?

(Just a note that Luke wrote about this miracle in the book of Acts, and as a physician he seems very careful to say that Paul appeared dead or seemed dead.  He does not claim that Paul actually was raised from the dead, only that he seemed dead for a moment and then got up, walked into the city, and was recovered enough for a journey the next day.  Still a miracle–but a miracle of healing, not resurrection.)

A.D. The Bible Continues | Book Review

A.D.:The Bible Continues
with notes and insights by Dr. David Jeremiah

This companion book to the NBC Miniseries, A.D.:The Bible Continues, traces the origins of the early church, starting with the crucifixion of Christ and continuing through the resurrection, the persecution of Peter, the conversion of Saul, and the missionary journeys of Paul.  The bulk of the text itself is the book of Acts in the New Living Translation, without the verse numbers and chapter divisions that you see in a standard Bible.  It feels more like reading a regular book, allowing you to get caught up in the story—the opposition, the enemies, the persecution, the miracles, the passion of those first followers of Jesus.

Dr. David Jeremiah shares insights about the historicity of the church, the veracity of Scripture, and the context of the events in his notes and insights in the book.  He includes biographies on the major players, making the people in Scripture ‘come alive.’

The book reads easily and seamlessly, making this a solid and engaging introduction to the Bible.  Key word there is ‘introduction.’  Those who love reading the Bible already aren’t going to find much here that is new or enlightening.  If you have a Bible with study notes, you probably aren’t going to buy this book.  However, the target audience is likely those with little or no Biblical background.  Or, for those who have tried to read the Bible before but struggled because they feel it is ‘dry,’ this might be a great way to start fresh.  It could also make a great gift for others (especially teens and young adults) and might work well for family devotions (read the book/watch the show and discuss).

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I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #1, Barnabas

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

We have the world’s largest dress-up collection.

Our closet holds two Rubbermaid containers full of tiaras, fairy wands and wings, long flowing dresses, and clickety-clacky high-heeled shoes.

But after my daughters choose their perfect outfits, they find themselves missing a piece in most of their fairy-tale games.

They can play Sleeping Beauty, but there’s no prince to wake her up.

They can play Cinderella, but there’s not much point in going to a ball if you have no dance partner.

They can play Snow White, but once she eats the poisoned apple, she’s a goner without a prince to rescue her.

With three girls in the family, we’ve got the princess roles pretty well covered, but we’re always missing the prince.  My oldest daughter always suggests what seems like the perfect solution, “Mom, if you just had a boy than he could play with us.”

Never mind that he won’t pop out of the womb and instantly be ready to ride over the hill and wake sleeping princesses.  Or that even if they waited until he was five years old, he might prefer playing Legos to wearing tights and a feather cap and dancing at balls.

My girls are missing a role.

It’s made me think about the roles we are sometimes missing in our own lives and ministries.  Maybe we all could do some recruiting for some open positions in our circle of friends.

Job posting #1: Barnabas

  • Must be willing to believe in you when no one else does.
  • Must always “have your back” and stand up for you against opposition.
  • Must know exactly the right encouraging words to say when you need it most.
  • Must be willing to work alongside you and give you friendship and practical help in whatever God calls you to do.

All applications will be considered.  Deadline for applying is as soon as you can! Equal opportunity employer.

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to put their arms around you and say, “You’re great.  You’re beautiful.  I believe in you.  What you do matters.  Don’t quit.  I’m with you all the way.”?

You need a Barnabas.

We all do, I suppose.

It’s hard for any of us to be strong and confident on the tough days when our hair doesn’t look right in the mirror and the ten outfits we try on make us look frumpy.  Oh, and of course a runway model stands next to us in line just to accentuate our plainness.

We tend all day to needs that seem so vital to the little people at our feet, but don’t ever seem to make it on the news.

We pour ourselves daily into ministries that don’t make a bestseller list or pack arenas and at times seem to make so little difference, no one would care if you quit.

We make ourselves vulnerable and put ourselves out there in obedience to God’s call and others come trampling all over our dreams with massive steel-toed boots of apathy or even outright opposition.

Yes, we surely need a Barnabas.

Paul certainly did.

Paul didn’t start out as a massively famous and successful missionary who penned the bulk of the New Testament.  He began as a devout Jewish man named Saul who was famous for his brutal persecution of the early church.

When he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and dramatically converted to Christianity, the disciples didn’t welcome him into the Christian fold with welcome arms either.

They were terrified of him, “not believing that he was a real disciple” (Acts 9:26).

The church thought Saul was a faker with a capital “F.”   Everyone except Barnabas, that is.

Luke writes, “But Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord” (Acts 9:27).

This was Barnabas’s great spiritual gift, encouraging others in their faith and bolstering their ministry.  In fact, his real name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, “which means ‘son of encouragement'” (Acts 4:36).

It makes sense then that Barnabas would believe in Saul when no one else did.

He wasn’t just a source of encouragement for Saul.  In the early days of the church, the Gospel message was spreading, but only to Jews at first.  When some people crossed the line and started telling Gentiles about Jesus, the church leaders weren’t too sure that this was acceptable.

So, who did they send to visit with the Greek believers in Antioch?

Barnabas, of course.  Just like he did with Saul, he put aside prejudice and “he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24).

Barnabas was forever encouraging others, telling them “Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  I see God at work in you.”

Even when others counted people out, he had the faith to see what God was doing in their lives.  Not only that, he put himself on the line in order to give the ministry of others a boost.

He didn’t just affirm God’s call on Saul’s life, he said, “I’ll come alongside and join you in your work.  I’ll travel with you.  I’ll endure hardship and persecution because I believe in the call God has placed on your heart.”

Without Barnabas, would we have Paul?  Would the Gospel have spread to Gentiles everywhere?  Would Paul’s New Testament epistles be written?

Maybe not.  It took someone with the gift of encouragement to help Saul reach the full potential of the Paul we know.

We all need a Barnabas.

And we all need to be a Barnabas for others.  Someone today needs you to be a Barnabas for them.  How will you be the encouragement they need?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.