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Be a Barnabas: Son of the Power of the Paraclete

May, 2003

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

Some months back, we began working to establish the Barnabas Project: Blessing others through encouragement and h.o.p.e. We felt the Holy Spiritís leading to work out passages like Matthew 25, Luke 14, Romans 12, and 2 Timothy 2.2. We knew that God wanted us to begin to "break the strongholds of the curse" and would help us develop a strategy to do that.

We began by asking, "Who is Barnabas?" We thought of Hebrews 13.7, which says, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith." Itís good to learn from the truth of the gospel, the doctrine aspect, but sometimes it really helps us to consider the examples/portraits of men and women living out the truth of the Word.

Barnabas. His original name was Joses, or Joseph. A Jew of the tribe of Levi, he was a Jewish Hellenist from Cyprus or from a Cyprist family. We know he was a landowner, because in Acts 4 we read of him selling his property and giving away the proceeds. Later he toiled at a trade while preaching the gospel free of charge and supporting himself on his missionary journeys.

The apostles called him Barnabas because it means "son of encouragement." (Acts 4.36) The name indicates a person great in the gifts of prophecy, a son of prophecy, son of encouragement, exhortation, consolation, a son of comfort, and son of the power of the Paraclete. Barnabas demonstrated a tender heart, generosity, strength, a forgiving attitude, long-suffering, an open hand, a nobility, and consideration of others. He wielded social influence and was revered by the saints as one they loved and trusted. He was dignified. His faith sought the fullness of the Spirit and Godís goodness.

Barnabas first appears in the setting up of the Christian community in Jerusalem, post Pentecost. He was considered to be the most important early Christian apostle to the Gentiles prior to Paul. At Antioch believers were first called Christians to convey the impression of the likeness of Barnabas and his companions to the Master they preached. The church in Jerusalem had chosen Barnabas to go to Antioch to encourage and establish the new Gentile church there. (Acts 11.22) His effect on Lystra was that the people called him Jupiter (emperor of the gods in Greek mythology). (Acts 14.12)

Barnabas encouraged others, especially outsiders. Barnabas looked and found evidence of the grace of God and was glad, encouraging new converts to remain true to the Lord. "He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord." (Acts 11.24)

The goodness of empathy in Barnabas likewise helped Saul as he came to be Paul. Barnabas offered Saul Christian friendship after the Damascus Road encounter. As a man of influence and responsibility, his open heart and hand to Saul was a risk he was willing to take when Jerusalem was still casting stones at Saul. (Acts 9.20-31) He took Saul under wing, befriended him, and out they went together. In Antioch, Barnabas sent for Saul to have him join in the teaching endeavor. Paul eclipsed Barnabas because of his greater intellect and force of character, yet Barnabas is placed first, for the Lord remembers. (Acts 11.25, 15.25, 26; Galatians 2.1-10) Barnabas risked his life for the name of the Lord.

Barnabas yielded to the call of God, going where God directed and submitting to authority, as submitting to one another under the supreme authority of Christ. He looked beyond imperfections and saw the grace of God operating in peopleís lives and hearts. With his faith tuned to the frequency of grace, he could rejoice and encourage instead of taking offense. He focused on what people could become in Christ more than on their immediate imperfections, exhorting them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose. Thus he exerted himself for the perseverance of the saints.

Barnabas exemplifies generosity in Acts 4.36-37 and is also named first in Acts 11.29, 30 together with Saul as being chosen to be trusted with the collection for the Judeans. He was trustworthy with other peopleís money.

Barnabas saw persecution as an opportunity to preach Jesus. He saw the grace of God as God took shattered dreams and scattered souls and turned devastating suffering into stepping stones leading to Himself. He learned to live in the joy of the grace of God.

Very much the paraclete, Barnabas came alongside Saul. Nevertheless, a serious conflict occurred over John Mark. (Acts 15.36-41). Barnabas was Markís uncle (Acts 13.1-5), and Mark was also a close companion of Peter (1 Peter 5.13). Apparently, Mark "deserted" the mission team. (Acts 13.13; 15.38) Paul had no use for him, but Barnabas is used by the Holy Spirit to restore Mark, for he took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. He stayed alongside Mark. And look at God! Markís emblem is the lion. Mark came to manifest Christís power in service. He even wrote a short, simple gospel of the power of God to overcome. Perhaps Mark needed more than doctrine. Perhaps he needed a Barnabas to live out the truth of Godís grace in his life!

We donít see Barnabas pointing out defects, but Paul indicates Barnabasí weakness to be a lack of firmness that caused him to be carried away with the Jewsí dissimulation in Galatians 2.13. To dissemble means to conceal or disguise by false outward show, to conceal the real fact under some pretense, to conceal real thoughts or feelings, to appear other than reality, to hide under a false manner or appearance, to feign. Paul opposed Peter to his face in this incident, rebuking him to exemplify the doctrine of grace that both Peter and Barnabas seem to accept graciously.

Barnabas handled imperfections in people, occurrences of offense, the exposing of weakness and imperfection in himself, public humiliation, the recording of his wrong, the reproof and rebuke of error. How did he do this? And how do we continue to hold out the gospel of grace to people who are imperfect, will offend us, and will be offended by us?

I think this. Barnabas did not seek his own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10.33) He understood the authority of Jesus Christ and so submitted to authorities as under Christ. (1 Peter 2.12-20) He took Christís example, speaking truth, not reviling in return, uttering no threats, entrusting himself to God who judges righteously. He did not take offense. He bore the offense, seeing the grace of God in suffering as sanctifying him. (1 Peter 2.21-25) He blessed others through encouragement and hope. (1 Peter 3.8, 9)

And this is the purpose of our Barnabas Project: Blessing Others Through Encouragement and H.O.P.E. We endeavor to glorify God by displaying His goodness and graciousness to all; to advance the Christian faith through representation and recommendation; to minister to Jesus by serving His people; and to be in a position of being blessed by God by being a blessing to others.

Our goal is to break the strongholds of the curse and remove barriers to the blessing of God by serving as a "paraclete" to those in need of a Barnabas through symbolic, strategic, and specific acts of good done in Jesusí Name and for His glory. Our objectives?

      1. Help recipients in achieving their potential in the Christian life and faith by sharing God-given resources and investing in their life potential
      2. Offer appropriate encouragement, consolation, and means of edification to targeted people groups as led by the Holy Spirit.
      3. Provide recipients with Barnabas boxes containing assistance suitable to them and their situation
      4. Empower recipients by inspiring them with courage or confidence and by giving assistance or approval in order to stimulate love and good works and aid them in fulfilling their God-given purpose.

Through "Barnabas boxes," visitation, communication, research, offering the means of grace, prayer, education, discipling and counseling, MCM will seek to bless the individuals, families, and/or communities the Barnabas committee targets under the leading of the Holy Spirit. After much prayer and seeking, our first targeted community is the migrant farm workers of South Florida.

This means we will be interceding for the migrant farm workers, seeking to identify with their condition, and considering what one thing or things would break a barrier, help jump a hurdle, or remove resistance to wholeness. For example, shoes and vaccinations are required for the children of migrant workers to attend public schools. Food helps. Learning English and being able to read government forms is essential. Migrant workers get robbed easily because they tend to cash their paychecks and walk home. Many are kept in debt because, though working very hard, they are paid little. This is for starters!

I encourage you to be a Barnabas to others, to someone this week. Iíll give you an example. Marcy, our secretary here at MCM, wanted to help a man that was doing some work for her. She noticed that though he also needed food and some kind words, a new saw blade would enable him to work. He wanted to work. He wasnít looking for entitlements. That new saw blade was the one thing that helped him jump the hurdle, break a barrier, etc. Around here, we call it "the saw blade connection." Be a Barnabas. Turn someoneís sorrow into a story of gospel grace.

To the honor of Christís glory,

Mary Craig

And they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.
Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God,
he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain
true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith.
And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11.22b-24)

Copyright © 2003 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.

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