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little HEROES of the faith (part 2)
Stacey and I had an incredible opportunity recently to attend a taping of a collection of "fathers" of the faith including Jack Hayford, Lloyd Ogilvie, Loren Cunningham, Robert Shuler Sr., John Perkins and Winkie Prattney (the self-proclaimed purple tele-tubby). But as great as it was to be able to listen to and rub shoulders with these men, we were there as much to spend time with the one who put the event together, our friend Dave Buehring.
We have known Dave for over 10 years and we always look forward to spending time with him. He is a mentor and a friend and an invaluable encourager. He is the type of person who leaves you feeling refreshed when you have been with him. In the words of the commercial... he's priceless.
How many of you have this type of person in your life? Sadly, these people are lacking in today's world.
But we have a great example of this type of person in the Bible. He gets little press and actually winds up decreasing in stature over the course of the story. But his contribution to the faith is immense. His name is Barnabas.
Here is some context on our passage that we begin with. We've been looking at the book of Acts in our series called "Follow the Leader." We pick it up in chapter 11 (reading Acts 11:19-26). Stephen's martyrdom caused an explosion of growth of the gospel. Which isn't surprising because the good news always thrives under persecution and suffering. But the word wasn't getting out to the Gentiles, except for a couple of people who went to Antioch where something seemed to be happening. And Antioch was an extremely important city to the faith. It was a city of half a million people with a reputation of being both sophisticated and decadent. It eventually becomes the birthplace of foreign missions and the Bible tells us that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. And the apostles sent Barnabas to investigate.
When we are first introduced to Barnabas in chapter 4 of Acts, we find out that his name is Joseph. The apostles gave him a nickname since there were quite a few Josephs around, including one other pretty important man by the same name. So they gave him a nickname. Now if an apostle is going to give you a nickname that will still for thousands of years in scripture, you'd better hope it is a good one. There are examples of not-so-good ones, like "Simon the Leper". And while the nicknames were not very creative, the were pinpoint accurate for their description. And Joseph got a good one, one that fits him like spandex- Barnabas which means "Son of Encouragement".
-in my next post on this sermon, i'll list 5 "Barnabas characteristics" that the church needs today.