Thursday, February 28, 2013


I’m a mutt. My great grandmother was half Choctaw. We believe one of my grandmothers may be of Jewish decent somewhere down the line. One of my grandparents was English and prohibitionist. And another part of my family tree was convicts sent from England to settle a colony in the states. So, there you have it. I’m a mutt. So often we exclude others because of their differences, but if we look at our own selves, we have enough differences in our own heritages to start a diversity group just by ourselves. Who needs multiple personalities when you know some of the characters you are related to?!

The company that employees me is big into DIVERSITY, but they aren’t the ones who wrote the book on diversity. In Acts 13:1 says there was a group of teachers and prophets. There were five in all. Being the curious person I am I want to know why these five or at least find out a little more about them.

• First was Barnabas (the encourager) and Paul’s traveling companion in missions. He’s also the one who introduced Saul/Paul to the apostles, so this tells us that Barnabas is an open and discerning person.

• Next listed is Simeon that was called Niger. The Bible does not use that term in a derogatory note by the way. Since Simeon was part of this group of teachers and prophets he was obviously a godly leader of the early church. In Latin, niger means black. Simeon was most likely from Africa from one of the Roman provinces (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary page 1190).

• The next on the list is Lucius the Cyrene. Cyrene is in Libya and was a great distance away from Antioch where this little meeting was being held.

• And then there is the man who has peaked my interest the most, Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. Herod the tetrarch from what I’ve read is the one who had the babies in Bethlehem put to death after Jesus was born. According to Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Manaen’s name means Comforter and is described as one who eats with the king or at the king’s table. So, Manaen is brought up with Herod (vs 1). His background could not be more against Christ, and here he sits among teachers and prophets of God praying and fasting. I wonder what caused him to convert. Did he see Peter go before Herod and be taking away only to find out Peter had escaped? Did he see Stephen stoned? I can’t help but think something drastic happened in front of him to turn to Christianity, but we don’t know. What this tells me is that the person that seems least likely to become a Christian can because nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
• And then there is Saul. The one who took great delight and felt success when he persecuted the early Christians. The one who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. Another atypical person in this group of five that God chose to use in the building of his kingdom.

What does this group say about God? What does this group and their actions say to you?

For me, it tells me diversity of backgrounds in a group can be used mightily by God. Not only is there a diversity in backgrounds but a diversity in gifts: Barnabas the encourager, Manaen a comforter, teachers and prophets. It also tells me that this group of men effected change through prayer. Their prayers reached the ear of God, and they communed with God receiving instruction from him. In whatever group you find yourself a part of, look at the individuals within it. Celebrate their diversity and be mindful of how God will use each one differently. There was no animosity or jealousy because Saul and Barnabas were selected to be missionaries. As a matter of fact it shows there was great maturity in the group because the others laid hands on them and prayed over them before sending them out to do God’s will and God’s work. Personally, I think the church needs more diversity in their groups.

If you find yourself getting your feelings hurt in a group setting, then you need to take your focus off yourself and focus on God. See how he wants you to serve within that group. Maybe you shouldn’t be part of that group and God wants you to move on. But if you are supposed to be part of that group then you got some growing up to do. Put your big girl panties on and deal with it. Your immaturity could be what is preventing that group from reaching its maximum effectiveness. Is that how you want to be known? I don’t.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Best Way to Get Revenge? MOVE ON

We have a troublemaker in our neighborhood. He tried to stir up trouble for us, and now he’s trying to stir up trouble for someone else. There ain’t nothing like a troublemaker who tries to keep things stirred up. The best way to handle a troublemaker is to NIP HIM IN THE BUDgoing all Barney Fife on you. So my husband made the necessary call and nipped it in the bud. My son loves to stir up trouble with his sister, and he’s very good at it. He will do everything in his power to get her worked up and then walk away. Needless to say, Erin has yet to learn to ignore him, but she has on a couple of occasions nipped him in the bud. Erin doesn’t know her own strength, and the idea of hurting anyone just breaks her heart, but when she gets her fill of Pearce, she lets him have it. And I let it happen. One of these days he’ll learn when to stop. In the meantime…LOL.

Troublemakers are nothing new. As a matter of fact, in Acts 13:50 there was a group of Jews who did not like the fact that Paul was teaching that Gentiles could be saved. So this group of Jews went to devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas (NASB). Bunch of troublemakers! Bunch of manipulators! And check out who they manipulated into doing their dirty work? DEVOUT women! Leading men! Ladies, if your feathers are getting ruffled by what someone else is telling you, you better check out their motivation. What is possessing that person to get your wound up? What is in it for them if you get upset enough to act? If you don’t do your own homework, do your own thinking, do your own seeking of God’s wisdom, then you are going to look like a fool, an idiot. Just sayin’ it like it is. These so-called devout women helped to chase out the prophet/disciples of God. OOOH WEEEE! What a reputation to go down with! Chasing off the man of God who God has called to lead your church? Chasing off a leader that God has placed in your life for a reason? You are walking on dangerous grounds, sisters. Dangerous grounds. You better back yourself up.

And if you are the one who is being chased out, take a class from Paul and Barnabas. Verse 51, But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. Shake the dust off your feet – that means leave it. Lay it all down and leave it! Don’t hold onto anger or resentment. Be done with them, and let God deal with them. Move on with your ministry, and let God bless you. Keep your heart pure and holy. Keep your focus on Jesus Christ and be full of the Holy Spirit. So don’t let a little dirt throwing, dust flying get all up in your crawl. It’s time to move on. Because the last verse in that chapter says, And the disciples were continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. What is the best way to get revenge? Move on being filled with the Spirit and full of joy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Worldwide Epidemic -- Do You Qualify for the Vaccine

There is a terminal illness that is spreading. It knows no boundaries and affects every race and creed and gender. It is not discriminate of age. There is a cure for this deadly affliction, but up until now, only one race of the populace of earth can take the necessary, life-saving medicine. You are part of that race. A location has been set for you and your family to go and receive this vaccine, and while you are elated, you have to drive by people who are just as sick as you. There are families with small children. There are single moms. There are elderly. They all need this life-saving vaccine that you are about to receive. You know without the vaccine you will die. You feel incredible guilt, gratitude, relief. You go into the clinic for the sick where you see others like you. Some are sicker than others, but all have the same fate. You get your vaccine and begin living your life again knowing you are safe. The doctor who gave you the vaccine and yourself become friends. He begins by telling you not to eat some of the infected food as well as giving you some other rules to follow. The death sentence has been lifted. Everyone who receives this vaccine has access to this one specific physician. He wants to monitor how you are doing. In the course of his monitoring, your friendship deepens, but at some point you begin to resent him butting into your personal business. Your race begins to feel entitled as this epidemic continues. As a matter of fact, there are places that only your race can go because you are not infected. Your neighbors may be infected. Your coworkers may be infected. Your friends may be infected. Their worries and their problems mount and escalate. People in your race just make more rules and laws on how to deal with those outside your race.

Now, let’s look at that same scenario but from a different angle. There is a deadly epidemic, and there is a vaccine, but the vaccine is only going to be given to one race. That race isn’t your race. You and your family watch car after car drive into the clinic knowing they are going into see a doctor to receive a life-saving vaccine. You have a child. You’d be happy if you could just get your child the vaccine, but you can’t. You try to go on with your life, but there is heaviness, a darkness ever present. You go on with your life watching the chosen race get privileges and special treatment because they aren’t infected. Some of your friends don’t even realize they are infected, but you know because you have friends and coworkers that are in the chosen race. The chosen doctor is seen around town, and the afflicted flock to him begging him for the vaccine. Have you ever begged for anything in your life before? You are begging for the life and health of your spouse, of your parents, of your children. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. Thoughts begin to form in your mind against those who have received the vaccine, and you are not alone. After all, if that race wasn’t around, maybe you wouldn’t feel as bad.

Then there’s a news bulletin that comes out. A nurse from the chosen doctor’s office makes a formal statement. The vaccine has been changed. We’ve added a compound that makes the vaccine available to all races. They tested the vaccine and found it to be pure without bad side effects, and it is available to any who will come and ask the doctor for it.

The chosen race on one hand is excited because their coworkers and friends can now receive the life-saving vaccine, but they are also very skeptical because they had been told it was only for them. The nurse meets with them to explain how the old vaccine required certain standards and certain requirements in order for it to be effective, but this new vaccine was designed so that no one would perish. What’s so amazing is there is no shortage of this vaccine. The news travels quickly as you can imagine. People are receiving this life saving cure without personal cost. You see, the chosen doctor had been so burdened for those who were dying that he gave everything he had in this new vaccine to save those who were dying. Can you imagine the gratitude on the faces of those who find out that they are able to be saved? Can you imagine the relief and the joy? Can you feel the burdens being lifted off of you knowing that all of those you love can get this vaccine? Tears flow down your face as you stand in line to meet the doctor, to ask him for the vaccine and to receive it at no cost. There isn’t anything you could possibly have or give that could begin paying this debt. You meet the doctor, and he is the most gracious person you have ever met. How can you not just love him?! As you leave, he tells you to be sure to tell your friends, coworkers, family and neighbors about what has happened. Please bring them in. I’d love to save them as well. That’s what he says as you reluctantly turn to leave.

As you know if you’ve been reading my prior blogs, God has been leading me through the book of Acts. Peter receives a vision from God who tells him that salvation isn’t just for the Jews. God tells Peter that all can be made clean and holy. God tells Peter that everyone can repent and be saved. In the scenario I presented the first time you were the Jew in the Acts 10 and 11. In the second, you are a Gentile. What have you done with the news about the life-saving treatment your friends and family can receive from the Great Physician? Have you lost that sense of gratitude for your salvation or are you telling everyone you know?

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The best defense is a good offense. Have you ever heard that quote? To be completely honest, I had to look up the quote because I am notorious for messing up quotes. What it means is if your offensive team (the team in possession of the ball) can control the ball in order to score, it limits the amount of time the other team will get the ball. The less time the other team has the ball, the less time your team has to defend itself. Is that clear as mud?

When attorneys take a civil case to trial, the plaintiff gets to present their case first. The attorney presents witnesses and documents to support the claims made in the suit. Sometimes attorneys will pay for whistleblowers to testify against the defendant. Often times, they use these whistleblowers thinking they have the golden ticket to a verdict in their favor. You see, if you are a whistleblower, it means you have an intricate knowledge of how the plaintiff acted or how decisions were made. The attorney is paying the whistleblower tell what they know. People tend to believe the whistleblower until they are cross-examined. That is when the plaintiff attorney attacks the whistleblower – work ethic, how much they’re being paid, work product, reason for them being fired, etc. If you are a whistleblower, it is a very uncomfortable situation.

Saul now Paul in Acts was a whistleblower. Why do you think God chose him? When Paul was Saul, he was one of the most educated Jews there was. If God made a believer of Saul about salvation through Jesus Christ then he had a warrior in the fight to save Jews. He was able to point out the prophesy that was read every Sabbath and how it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He pointed out how the Jews put to death Jesus Christ the one whom the prophets foretold. Needless to say, the Jews didn’t take to kind to Paul telling them they had killed the Savior, the Savior their Yahweh had promised. While some repented, many continued to reject Paul’s words. What’s funny though is that the Jewish leaders would offer him the opportunity to speak on the Sabbath. What did they possibly think he would say?

In Acts 13 in Paul’s sermon he sticks with the facts. The facts they have studied and heard every Sabbath of their entire lives. The next Sunday there was a revival and almost the whole city showed up, that’s when Paul got to the part that now God was offering this salvation to the God-fearing Gentiles. Don’t you know there were some Gentiles rejoicing in the house of God that day!

Monday, February 18, 2013

LOVE Is a Fruit...Not Puppy Love

A lesson on love.

If you have ever met my daughter, you know that she is a warm, affectionate, goofy and funny girl. For the longest time, she has wanted a cat, but I’m not a fan of them and Pearce is allergic. So then we were on the lookout for a dog just for Erin. She wanted a laptop. We have Sunni who is a Heelie (Heeler/Collie mix), and she thinks she is a lapdog. She even tries to be a lapdog, but it doesn’t really work all that well. We thought about getting a puppy for Erin, but the thing with puppies is that the fat, lazy ones don’t always stay fat and lazy. So while Patrick was working on a house he saw the owner had six dogs. He started talking to the owner about all the dogs, and she lamented that she was going to have to send Bella to Pet Savers. She was the smallest, and the big dogs picked on her a lot. Bella was just as sweet and affectionate and loving as Erin, and Bella is a Yorkie. We had found the lapdog Erin had wanted. When Patrick brought Bella home it was under the guise that we were puppy sitting, so Erin could raise money for her Student Ambassador trip. Then she read the instructions the second day into the puppy sitting and saw where the owner had said to give Bella a good home. When Erin is here, this poor dog’s feet rarely hit the floor. She’s carried everywhere. Bella sits in Erin’s lap, and against my better judgment, Bella sleeps under the covers near Erin’s feet only because that is where this four, year-old Yorkie was used to sleeping.

Bella has had a few accidents. She wasn’t kennel trained, and when I put her in the kennel for any length of time Bella becomes stressed, destructive and poops. Erin did her drama about having to clean it up, but she did gagging all the way. Yesterday afternoon, Erin stayed in the bed because she was just exhausted. This meant that Bella slept most of the day, and just like a baby that sleeps all day it means Bella didn’t want to sleep last night. Needless to say, last night was a wee bit stressful in my house, and Erin didn’t get to sleep to 10 PM. Patrick slept on the couch and finally, Bella slept in my bed at the foot. This morning we are all walking around in a daze, even Pearce. But as I explained to Erin, Bella has gotten her days and nights confused, and I told her how we were going to remedy that. Erin didn’t get upset. She got dressed, picked up the dog and finished getting ready for school. Erin loves this dog. And I’m just thankful I can see humor or laugh when I’m exhausted.

The greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

I’ve saved that first fruit of the Spirit for the last. In the Galatians 5:22 it says the fruit of the Spirit IS love. The structure of this sentence is a bit off. Fruit is singular, and the verb is reflects a singular subject. But after the verb comes a list of fruits, so shouldn’t the verse read, the fruits of the Spirit are? No, and I’ll explain. I have a New American Standard Bible the Open Edition that I’ve had since Christmas of 1985, and on page 1127 it gives a wonderful explanation. Since it does such a great job, I’m just going to quote it:

Only as we live in love can we fulfill the will of God in our lives. The believer must become love-inspired, love-mastered, and love-driven (2 Cor 5:14). Without the fruit of the Spirit (love), we are just a religious noise (1Cor 13:1). “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and it is manifested in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control:

(1) Joy is love’s strength

(2) Peace is love’s security

(3) Patience is love’s endurance

(4) Kindness is love’s conduct

(5) Goodness is love’s character

(6) Faithfulness is love’s confidence

(7) Gentleness is love’s humility

(8) Self-control is love’s victory.

“Against such there is no law.”

1 John 4:18 -19, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

In our imperfection, we cannot love the way Christ loves because inevitably there are strings attached. We can only handle being heart-broken so many times until we have to separate ourselves from the one who is hurting us and doesn’t love us back. God has loved his wayward children since the moment he created them, and he has pursued them with an everlasting love that knows no boundaries. John 15:13 says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. That is the measuring unit of love, isn’t it. Ephesians 3:16-20 says,

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in love,

May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth

And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us

This kind of love isn’t puppy love. It doesn’t depend on your feeling or a whim. This kind of love is agape. It is only when we allow Christ to work in us and through us that we can show the love of Christ to others. It is only through the love of Christ that we can continually serve those He has called us to serve whether it be the poor, the widows, the orphans, the addicted, the afflicted, the weak, those enslaved, and the unlovely. Being filled with the love of God is the only way to be able to reach out and love on those who may not be able to love you back. This is why the fruit of the Spirit is love. It is the greatest gift God has given us, and it is the greatest gift we can freely give to another human being.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Self - Control Does Not Equal Door Mat

I have had the dubious honor or malady of testifying in all levels of courts in the Shreveport area in the course of my job. None of it was a barrel of monkeys. As a matter of fact, testifying is my least favorite thing about my job. The worst though is when the insured is suing my company for bad faith on a case I investigated. Bad Faith means I maliciously went after them, and while I really enjoy my job, maliciousness is not in my heart, but that doesn’t stop them from asserting it in their lawsuits. There is one particular case that comes to mind. It was in the summer of 2003, and I had a lot of things going on in my personal life. My Pappaw was on life support, and I was going to the hospital before work and at lunch. This consumed most of my thoughts…not the arson I had investigated the fall before. But work doesn’t wait.

The prior fall my boss had assigned me a homeowner arson. It was my first one, and it was text book. By the time I was assigned the case, Bo Roberts had already been assigned to determine the cause of the fire. Here is the scenario given to me by our insured. He and his wife had locked all the doors and were positive all the windows were locked as well. They had left the house that morning to take their kids to school and run some errands. When they return, they said they saw smoke and called the fire department. This is where I started picking apart their story. The fire report said there was no smoke found externally, and they didn’t have to extinguish anything because the fire had put itself out. Yes, fires can self-extinguish when there isn’t enough oxygen to fuel it. The insured told us that he had been having difficulties with his heating unit and had someone called to come and look at it the next day. When Bo (our origin and cause expert) entered the house, he discovered a pour pattern as clear as day leading away from the heating unit and in some of the bedrooms. There were many inconsistencies in the statements given by the insureds and the documentations they provided. We denied their claim, and they filed suit as was expected. Prior to a suit going to trial, depositions are taken, and my deposition took half a day. For half a day I was grilled about what I did on the claim, why I did it, what certain words and phrases meant, and why we had denied the claim. It was grueling. The plaintiff attorney looks for anyway to twist your words or use your words against you. I did my best to stay in my box…meaning only testifying to what I knew first hand.

When trial came, the insured fired his attorney and decided to represent himself. “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” During the trial, I had to sit outside the district courtroom and wait to be called to the stand. The judge in the case rocked. He told the insured that he would listen to matters of fact first. If he determined there was bad faith, then he would listen to matters of damages. The insured was not an attorney, and I really don’t think he had a clue what that meant. Bo was called to the stand, and Bo’s reputation is solid. The insured made the mistake of asking Bo what he thought happened in the fire. It was an open door that Bo walked through. Bo told the insured that he thought the insured had set the fire the night before, and the fire self-extinguished. If you’re the insured, this is not something you want the judge to hear. As the trial moved towards the end, I was called to the stand. Now, you have to remember I have to remain calm, not respond when provoked, and follow my attorney’s lead. The insured starts coming at me, pelting me with irrelevant questions. There are objections. The judge rules on the objections. The insured attacks again quoting my words and asking what I meant. The insured starts trying to walk me through the damages to his home and his personal property. I pause knowing either the judge will interject or my attorney would, and thankfully, the judge explained we were not addressing the damages at this point. I don’t know what my face revealed if anything. I remember sitting on the stand looking at the judge trying to look sweet like…Could you help this sister out? Other than that one look, I play my best poker face. I will tell you it takes a lot of self-restraint not to defend myself when I’m being peppered with questions and attacked personally. But that is the worst thing I could possibly do. I have to wait for the attorney to stand up for me. I have to wait for the attorney to plead my position to the judge.

I would have been very much interested in seeing the insured question himself on the stand. I’m sure that was a riot. The judge ruled against our insured.

I’m reminded of this story in my own life because I’ve been reading Acts and the story of Stephen. In Acts 6 Stephen who was filled with the Spirit was called to serve. They said Steven was a man full of God’s grace and power and did great signs and wonders (vs8). Those who went after him could not argue against Stephen’s wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke (vs9). So they conjured up some lying false witnesses to testify against him. In verse 15, they said Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel. I don’t know that my face looked like an angel that day in court, but I’ve wondered if when persecuted or ridiculed or disrespected what does the look on my face tell my attacker. Does it say, “You better back off because I’m about to rip off your head and spit down your throat?” or does it say, “I’m afraid just leave me alone.” Maybe it’s something in between. I’m sure I’ve worn all those faces and when I wear the one that says I’m about to rip your head off, the words usually come cascading out of my mouth hitting their mark between the eyes and on the heart. YIKES! And sometimes, I may even do that to the people I love. Sometimes I may do it in the earshot of someone who needs to see Christ in me…bomb! Fail.

You know what Stephen does in the face of persecution? He gives a history lesson. He stays factual. Trust me, the only way to be able to stay calm when being attacked is to be Spirit-filled. Stephen laid out God’s relationship through Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon. He shows how time after time God has given them messengers, prophets and outlined what they have said and how God’s people rejected him each and every time. OUCH! No one likes to hear how they have failed and disobeyed time after time after time. They took Stephen, and as they took Stephen out to be stoned Stephen saw Jesus on the right hand of God. Stephen’s reward was best said by Paul (who used to be Saul). Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Stephen being full of the Holy Spirit that day was a reflection of that speaking only the words that the Spirit gave him, and to see his reward waiting for him…WOW! And as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the rest of the story.” When Stephen was being led away to be stoned, his coat was given to a man whose name was Saul. This is our first introduction to Saul who later became Paul. Saul saw and heard Stephen. Don’t you know the way that Stephen handled himself, the way he spoke, the way he look, had to have haunted Saul at some point in time.

In Acts 5, after believers were beaten they rejoiced because they had been beaten on behalf of the Name (vs 41).

When someone gets all up in your grill, all up in your crawl, all in your face and business, how do you respond? How do you react? The fruit of the Spirit is love. Love’s victory is in self-control. Stephen was not a doormat. He spoke his mind clearly and effectively, but he only spoke the words that the Spirit gave him to speak. What does your speech say about you when you get angry, upset, confronted or attacked?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Faith -- Daddy Said I Wasn't a Beautiful Baby

My daddy tells this story about when I was first born. Mom was in labor 18 hours or so because I was 8 pounds 15 ½ ounces and her first, big, fat baby. Needless to say, I had a cone-head because I was in the birth canal so long. This was back in the day when the daddy would wait in the waiting room, and when he finally got to see me, he’ll tell you that I looked rough. After looking at me, he went to see my momma who asked, “Is she beautiful?” My daddy in his ignorance and belief that he had never lied to his wife before and wasn’t going to start now said, “No, she really isn’t.” Well that dam broke, and I’m pretty sure he regretted his statement. My mom proceeded to tell him that I was pretty and that she had carried me nine months and had been in labor 18 hours, and SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!

These past few weeks I’ve been supposed to be studying the fruits of the Spirit, but I just can’t get focused on it to save my life. I’m constantly being drawn to read Acts, and let’s face it, Acts is one of the most action-packed, fascinating books in the whole Bible. I love to put myself in the shoes of the different characters in this book in order to try to wrap my warped mind around what it must have been like to be there and experience it all. SO, I let my ADHD mind wander through Acts. I PROMISE THIS ALL TIES IN. Just hang in there with me.

In Acts 3, there was a beggar who was picked up by his friends day in and day out and taken to the gate of the temple called Beautiful. To have such faithful friends – what a blessing! The beggar was lame, and Beautiful was the most popular and well-populated gate going into the temple. It was on the east side of the temple getting the morning sun and had shade in the afternoon. And in this place called Beautiful, the lame begged. Sometimes people gave. Sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes people would look at him, but I bet most times they didn’t. We don’t like looking at the unlovely. When he begged, sometimes he would raise his eyes, but I bet most times he didn’t. Think about being in his position. Would you hold your head high? He was considered one of the least in the kingdom, and here he sits at a gate called Beautiful. This is a perfect example of antithesis. Gnarled up, bony, wasted legs attached to a body that can’t earn a respectable living or take care of himself. When I think of Beautiful, I don’t think of seeing beggars. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that God sees beauty in the gnarled up, bony and wasted. My heart has been in that condition more times than I care to confess. I’ve begged to be touched by him. I’ve had to rely on friends and family to stand in the gap for me when my faith was too weak on which for me to stand. And then God shows up.

So Peter and John walk up to the beggar, tell him to look them in the face, and Peter speaks to the beggar. I wonder how many face-to-face conversations did this beggar have with people entering or leaving the temple on a daily basis. I bet not many. Peter told the beggar he didn’t have silver or gold to drop into his coffer, but what Peter did have, he’d give to him. Peter’s confidence, trust and FAITH in God’s ability to heal the beggar came out in a bold command, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Faith requires action in addition to trust or confidence. It’s one thing to say you believe something, but it is another to actually act upon it. Sometimes growing in our faith requires squelching the fear-talk in our head and disbelief in our heart. Sometimes you just gotta do it. People with ADHD really don’t have a problem in this area…just so you know. Thinking things through is not always our forte. But let’s face it, if God was leading you to start a new ministry or to step out in faith and leave your job and move away from your family, how strong is your faith?

Not only does Peter command the lame to walk, but Peter helps to raise the man to his feet.

You know, this man had to have claimed this spot at Beautiful for years. Why now can he walk but before he couldn’t? Had he not heard about the Savior and his ability to heal? If he had heard, what changed? James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This lame man had persevered under great hardship his whole life, and maybe he was just desperate enough to grab onto the hope that Peter was giving. Grabbing Peter’s strong arm, the lame is on his feet. His ankles strengthened immediately. His faith – action alongside trust – gave him his health.

Sometimes we have to get to a certain point in our walk, in our relationship with God that we have to lay down what we know and see and grab onto the thing for which we hope and dream. The lame could have said, “I’ve been this way since I was born, and nothing is going to change here today by your telling me to walk.” But he didn’t say that. When Peter extended his arm towards the lame, the lame man could have coward away and refused to take his arm. But he didn’t do that either.

Persevere through your doubt to act upon what God is calling you to do. He doesn’t want you to be in the same place you were last year. He wants to work in your life, growing your faith. Now that is a beautiful thing because Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it completion...”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Goodness -- Writing My Own Epitaph

Have you ever written your own epithet? I think I would like my epitaph to be, “She loved the Word of God and her family, served Him faithfully, and was fierce.” I know it’s morbid, but that is how I hope people will remember me.

There’s a woman in Acts who has a great epitaph. In Aramaic her name is Tabitha. In Greek her name is Dorcas, and her story can be found in Acts 9:36-42. Tabitha’s story is very reminiscent of the story of Jairus’ young daughter who died while Jesus was healing the woman with the bleeding condition. Peter witnessed Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter, and that may be one of the reasons he handled the situation the way he did…but I’m getting ahead of myself AGAIN.

Let me introduce you to Tabitha. She was a disciple. Yes, a female disciple in the early church. In verse 36, the Bible gives her epitaph, “She was always doing good works and acts of charity.” Have you ever written your own epitaph? I can’t remember if mom had us write one in high school or not. (I had my mom for a high school English teacher in high school at the private school I attended.) I may have had to write one in college. What I wrote, I don’t have a clue. Take a moment to write your obituary and epitaph. What would it say? How will people remember you? Tabitha had an amazing epitaph…always doing good works and acts of charity. So not only was she one who studied the Word of God, but she lived it. Reminds me of the verse in James that tells us to be DOERS of the Word and not HEARERS only (James 1:21-22). If this is stepping on your toes, I’m sure you aren’t alone.

So, Tabitha dies. The people who she has helped over the years come together to mourn her death. They lovingly wash her body ceremoniously and place it in the upstairs room. Some other disciples realized Peter wasn’t far off, and they sent two men to beg him to come to Joppa. Peter went, and when he arrived he was led upstairs to Tabitha’s body. According to verse 39, “All the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made…” Isn’t it amazing how the fruit of the Spirit actually produces tangible things to meet the needs of others? Patrick's mom loved to sew. She smocked and sewed outfits for my kids. We now have those beautiful outfits to pass on to their children, since G has passed away.

If you have the Spirit in you, the Spirit produces fruit. By practicing the fruit, there is tangible evidence of God working through you. Lives are changed. Souls are touched. Needs are met. And if other Christians are living in the Spirit, then you can count on them to stand in the gap. These widows were standing in the gap for Tabitha/Dorcas because she obviously couldn’t do it for herself. I remember when my mom got sick with cancer and how people she had taught or ministered to or had encouraged stood in the gap for her. That is how the body of Christ is supposed to work, people. ACTIONS! SERVICE!

Peter sent them all out of the room and prayed. When was the last time you got down on your knees and prayed? You don’t have to be on your knees with your eyes closed and head bowed to pray, but there is something about the position of praying on your knees. It’s intentional. It’s submissive. After praying, Peter told Tabitha to get up, and he went to present her as alive. What rejoicing there must have been! I bet they weren’t freaked out at all. They were expecting it. Otherwise, why would they have called for Peter after she had died? Do you expect God to do anything in your life?

Now, here’s the I wonder part. I wonder what Tabitha saw, heard, and felt after she died. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to come back here after seeing Glory. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to leave the presence of God. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened or what she experienced, but you know it had to be incredible. You know she had to have a renewed sense of purpose for her life on this earth. I wonder how the experience changed her ministry. You see, in verse 42 it says, “and many people believed in the Lord.” God expanded Tabitha’s tent (her circle of impact) (1 Chr 4:10). Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Often times when bad things happen to good people like Tabitha, it’s hard for us to comprehend why God would allow something like this to happen. God used Tabitha’s death as a tool to bring people together. He used her new life to bring those people whom she had been serving to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Don’t you know that Tabitha was delighted to be a vessel God could use to save those whom she had ministered to?

The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. Tabitha did good in her life. She did what she could with the talents and resources she had, and she ministered to the widows. In her new life, she may have been able to reach even more for the kingdom of God. What will your life, your actions, your choices, and your death say to those who are left behind?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

You Is Kind. Baby Pearce Learns a Lesson

I am raising a future leader, but what that means in the mean time is that I’m the mother of a strong-willed, choleric, active little boy who is fortunate to be 8 years old. Pearce has known what he has wanted in this world since before I gave him permission to make a choice on anything. Sometimes this has meant that he would have a meltdown or temper tantrum in public. It wasn’t because he was spoiled. It was because I was obstructing his success.

During fall fest when Pearce was a little over two, I had him dressed in the cutest cowboy outfit, and as I walked around with him he only wanted to be with his daddy who was passing out candy in the festival. The thing was Pearce would have been a hindrance requiring all of his daddy’s attention. Pearce has been a man-baby from the moment he was born. His happy place since he could sit in a buggy has been Home Depot and Lowes. If you think I’m kidding, ask Patrick or my parents. Since Pearce was not getting to see and be with his daddy at that exact moment, he threw one whollapalloza of a temper tantrum in front of God and everybody. I had no choice but to handle the situation in front of God and everybody. I sat down on the ground like an Indian, plopped Pearce in my lap, crossed his arms in front of him and grabbed his hands, and wedged his feet between my crossed legs. OH WAS HE ANGRY! He bucked, and he screamed. He knew the routine. This wasn't our first rodeo. The more he bucks, the tighter things become. The more he regains control, the more I can release my grip. It seemed like I was on the ground with him for 25 minutes, and really he still wasn’t done, but he was done enough for me to carry his tiny hiney out to the car where he was disciplined further. While I was on the ground holding him, parents with their kids in tow saw everything which made Pearce even madder, but I had no choice.

I do my best to praise him in public and correct him in private, but sometimes that just can’t happen. I let people know who work with my son, teach my son or spend time with my son that he requires an actual hands-on approach, and if they need to, they can call or text me and I’ll bring the spoon. Thankfully, those times are growing less frequent. Praise the Lord from a weary momma. I just keep telling myself these are wonderful qualities and traits and strengths God has given Pearce for later in life. It’s up to me not to kill him first (just kidding). It’s up to me to help to shape Pearce into the godly man God wants him to be.

Kindness is love’s conduct, according to my Open Bible Edition of the American Standard Bible. Kindness means treating others the way you want to be treated or treating them better than they deserve. It means praising in public and disciplining in private. It means investing in another person in a way that is meaningful to that person not yourself. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down in that field and restrain a two year old, but it is what was best for him.

In Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquilla hear Apollos teaching the only thing he knows to teach. He basically had one sermon (LOL). According to verse 24, He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. In verse 25 however it says, He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. It’s a sermon that can preach for sure, but it didn’t give a complete picture, and it showed a hole in his education. So what does Priscilla and Aquila do? They invited him into their home and teach him more thoroughly (verse 26). Once he was equipped, he went on to publicly debate the Jews about Jesus being the fulfillment of prophesy and being the Savior that God had promised. Priscilla and Aquila took time out of their schedule and their tent-making work to instruct and invest in another person, and they did so by welcoming him warmly into their inner sanctuary of life. That my friend is kindness…every letter of the word. Not only that, but when Apollos was ready to go, they encouraged him and wrote a letter on his behalf.

As a result of their kindness, verse 28 says, he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. They became an elemental building block in his kingdom work, and isn’t that the whole point?

Look for opportunities to be kind. Maybe exercise kindness to the checker at Walmart, the crossing guard, the mailman, your waiter or waitress. Exercise kindness in your own family – why should they see you being kind to someone outside your walls when you aren’t nice to them? And exercise kindness to fellow believers.

You is kind! From The Help.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Long-Suffering -- Bicycle, Roller Skates, and Pogo Sticks

When I was growing up, I was very active. My parents bought me a bicycle in the hopes that I would spend more time outside…catch the drift? I learned to ride with training wheels and then without. Then my parents gave me roller skates…more activity outside. Are you seeing a trend? I got so frustrated with trying to learn to roller skate. I hated falling with a passion. I hated looking stupid. I didn’t want skinned up knees and hands, but I persisted. I was one of those kids that wanted to know how to do it, but I wanted to know how to do it yesterday without having to struggle and go through the learning process. Then I got a pogo stick. Have I ever told you that my name isn’t “Grace” for two reasons? My left foot and my right foot? And now these two feet were supposed to stay on a pogo stick going up and down!? Needless to say, I didn’t catch onto the pogo stick immediately either. After some tumbles and kissing the pogo stick a few times, and several days passing, I finally got the hang of it. I persevered. I’m just glad they never gave me a hangglider!

The fruit of the Spirit is long-suffering. Some versions may say patience. How can you have long-suffering or patience if you have never had to persevere through difficulty, adversity, hard times or difficult people?

When I think of someone being long-suffering, I think about Paul on his first missionary trip. In the Bible it says that he usually went first to the synagogues to teach the Jews about Jesus Christ, and when they would reject his message he turned to the God-fearing Gentiles and extended the invitation to them. In more than one town, Paul and Barnabas were run out of town. Not only were they run out of town, but as soon as that town heard where Paul and Barnabas were spending time, they would go to that town and chase them out of there causing strife and contention wherever the mob showed up. Paul was stoned and dragged out of town and left for dead. But he wasn’t dead. After they left, some of the disciples took him back to town, and the next day he and Barnabas walked 60 miles in that condition to the next town. Time after time, the door was opened. Paul and Barnabas walked though. Paul preached. Many Jews and Gentiles were saved, but many Jews rejected Jesus. Then the non-believing Jews would stir up contention and strife and run the two out of town. Paul was able to stand his ground against the non-believing Jews because Paul knew everything they had been taught. When Paul began showing them how Christ fulfilled the prophecy, the Jews couldn’t accept they had put Christ to death. What an unpleasant thought.

You know what else I see in Paul? I see commitment. He was committed to the calling God placed on his life. Knowing that God had called him to teach the Jews and Gentiles gave him a purpose to fulfill. Knowing that he was doing this because God had called him to it must have helped him in his patience with these fickle people.

I also love the way that Paul was able to alter his message to fit his audience. In chapter 14, Paul heals a man who had been lame since birth, and when the town people started calling Barnabas and Paul, Zeus and Hermes (Greek gods), Paul quickly realized this city had no idea of who Yahweh really was. Instead of giving them a history the Jews were taught every time at the synagogue, Paul went back to creation. He made the message very basic and easy to understand. That’s how the Word of God is. It can be simple to understand at times, or you can dive in as deep as you want.

Long-suffering doesn’t mean you stop trying when faced with defeat or difficulty or difficult people. Long-suffering means you continue through adversity. You endure hardship and difficulty, but you continue on with what God has called you to do. Long-suffering means that you look for alternative ways to communicate and reach those whom you serve. Long-suffering means you don’t lose your cool when the crowd or an individual flip-flops or changes their minds. Long-suffering means you realize that God is in control and what you endure in this life is temporary in comparison to the big scheme of things. Long-suffering means you persevere, and you can only persevere in the work God has called you to do if the Holy Spirit is in you. Long-suffering means you keep your eyes on God and not on the drama around you…that is how you persevere into long-suffering. Focus on God, his purpose for you and live in the Spirit speaking and doing only what he leads you to do. (That right there is huge and easier said than done…at least for me it is.)

Long-suffering or patience may not be the most coveted fruit of the Spirit, but it is a fruit that we are to acquire. So get after it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

PEACE -- Some People Are Filled with the Spirit. Some Have to Be Slapped.

My first born was an atypical baby. She rarely fussed. She could sleep through the loudest of events. She wasn’t afraid of loud things which was good because we lived in Belton and from time to time we could hear artillery rounds being shot down in Killeen at the army base. Some were so loud it felt like the house vibrated. When she woke up, she was as happy as happy could be. She would fall asleep in her car seat and wake up some place new with different faces, and she was thrilled. I say these things not bragging because that was nothing of my doing. That’s just the way she came. She started sleeping 4 hours the first few days after birth and immediately went to six. Within the month, she was sleeping eight hours at night. That baby loved her sleep.

I love a really good sleep session. You know the kind when the alarm goes off and the moment right before it goes off you don’t even know the world exists – that kind of sleep. I love Sunday afternoon naps. I love to sleep on rainy and cold days. But I don’t always have the most restful slumber. You see, I have this husband, and as my youngest niece will tell you, he snores really loud. I also have a son that at the first collapse of thunder is under my covers. Plus, sometimes we have stressors that inhibit us from falling to sleep or staying asleep. I hate that.

Also, I’m light sensitive…if there is such a thing. If the sun breaks into my room or a light slips under the door, my eyes pop open. Patrick says I make him sleep in a bat cave. I have to have it completely dark. Weird, I know.

In Acts 12 is a story about Peter being arrested by King Herod. Peter’s thrown in prison chained to two guards one on each side and another set at the door to his cell. When I taught this before I encourage the ladies to put themselves in the shoes of Peter. There wasn’t electricity. No flushing toilets. The men didn’t get baths. It’s pitch dark. Men who have been beaten that day are moaning. There’s probably the smell of rotten flesh from the bodies of men who had been beaten previously. And if I were to go further, I bet there are rats. So with all the sounds, odors, and commotion, Peter falls asleep knowing the King Herod plans on putting him on trial and having him killed. Personally, when I put myself in Peter’s sandals, I see myself wiggin’ out, freaked out, stressed out. I can’t even begin to imagine sleeping much less sleeping soundly.

One more thing to consider, Peter had been imprisoned for part of week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He wasn’t there just overnight. He had been there several nights. People were praying for him all this time. Why didn’t God rescue Peter the first night? Why make him suffer longer? I promise you whatever God’s reasoning he used every bit of it to bring glory to himself, to mature believers in their walk, and to work it out for Peter’s good. Don’t you know that every set of soldiers who got chained up to him heard about Jesus? Don’t you know that every one of them was told to repent!? God has a reason and a purpose for every uncomfortable place he allows us to sit in, so figure out what it is! Just sayin’.

Not only was Peter able to fall asleep but when the angel of the Lord shows up all shining and bright, the angel has to strike Peter to wake him up. That my friend is a man who has the spiritual fruit of peace. Peter’s life was in a stressful, precarious situation, and he was at peace. Why was he at peace? Reminds me of the song with the lyrics, When I’m windswept and battered I will cling to the cross, and will find peace in the midst of the storm. There’s an anchor. There’s a rock to which I cling upon. For Jesus rides in my vessel so I fear no alarm. He gives me peace in the midst of the storm. Peter knew who had him. Philippians 4:7 says, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.

Peace. It’s a fruit that the Holy Spirit gives. People are watching you when you are going through the rockiest storms in your life. You don’t always know everyone who is watching, but they are. Do they see peace? Do they see you looking to God? With Peter in the jail were the two guards chained to him and the two standing guard at the door of his cell. Do you think they noticed the fact that Peter went fast asleep? I promise you those soldiers knew what was going to happen to Peter, and how could they not see Peter sleeping like a baby?

Acts 12 really is an amazing story. If you haven’t read it in a while, I encourage you to take the time to do so. Read it in several translations. Put yourself in Peter’s sandals, the guards’ shoes, and poor Rhoda’s slippers. The Word is alive. Read it as such.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can You Imagine Telling Your Doctor You Weren't Going to Push Anymore While You Were in Labor?

I never really wanted to give birth to my kids. I had several kidney stones in high school and college, and I was told it was comparable. I was not a fan of the kidney stones…at all. And the idea of having that kind of pain while pushing a baby out of a small hole, did not interest me in the least little bit…that may be TMI, but it is what it is. Can you imagine a woman in the middle of labor saying, Nope, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too painful, and I’m sweating. I’m sweating. I don’t look good doing this thing. I quit. This kid can just stay where right where he/she is. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But have you ever been in a difficult or painful situation where you just wanted to quit? The trial or storm was too painful. You didn’t look good struggling in your faith. In the movie A League of Their Own, Gena Davis’s character told Tom Hank’s character that baseball had just gotten too hard to which he responded, It’s the hard that makes it great! If not, everyone would be doing it.

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds…I am supposed to have joy when? Have you ever been on trial, gone through a trial in life, or had some type of adversity? If you are living, you have. We are supposed to consider it pure joy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I go through a trial, my fleshly side comes out and what comes out of my mouth shouldn’t. My daddy has been reminding his Sunday school class how Jesus led his disciples to get into a ship and sail across the Sea of Galilee at night, the most dangerous times for sailing. (Mark 4:35-41) First off, think about that. Jesus led them into what he knew was going to be a storm. Have you ever felt like God led you into the middle of a storm? Yes ma’am I have, and I’ve wondered, Why in the Sam Hill did he lead me here? I didn’t deserve this. This wasn’t my decision or by my choice. I’m following him and doing what he leads me to do, so then why would he lead me into a storm or a trial? And now I’m reading that I should consider it ALL PURE joy when I’m going through that hardship?

James 1:2-4 says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Trials and storms can definitely test a person’s faith. When fertility treatment after fertility treatment failed, when adoption plans failed, when my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, when I was concerned with losing my job, when my work office closed, when I’ve struggled with the calling God has put on my life, when I’ve had to endure hardships in key relationships in my life, these trials tested my faith and what I believed in and in whom I believed in. But in every trial or storm, God revealed some aspect of himself that he wanted to reveal to me at that point in time in our relationship. Trust me there were times I said, Could you not have done this another way? I can learn from watching someone else! I will also tell you that it wasn’t always pretty to work out my faith. It wasn’t always fun to persevere. But some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about God and my relationship with him has been during the struggle.

Here’s the key though…Verse 4 says, Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking any good thing. YOU. CANNOT. QUIT. You get knocked down. You get back up. You get knocked down. You get back up. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, The believer was expected faithfully to endure and to remain steadfast in the face of opposition, attack, and discouragement (definition of “perseverance” pg 1278).

Here’s the thing. You have a choice to make. You can consider it pure joy that God is walking with you through these trials, OR you can sit and pout, sulk and throw temper tantrums and stay depressed. God doesn’t make you be joyful, but unlike the lost, you have a hope in the middle of the trial. You know that God has gone before you and made the curved places straight. You know that God is turning the darkness into light, so you can see your way. You know God will never leave you nor forsake you (Is 42:16). For me, it’s the waiting on his timing…persevere till he moves. Persevere until he shows you the way. Persevere through the muck and the mire. Persevere till you get through the trial, till you get through the storm. PERSEVERE in pure Joy. He’s growing you up in your faith, sweet friends. He’s maturing your relationship with him. The reward is that in the end you will lack nothing in your relationship with him. You just have to persevere. Trust me. It’s worth it. You can do this (Phil 4:13). He’s got you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

JOY -- Pearce Doesn't Like My Cheering for Him -- Go BOOO!!!!

Have you ever been blessed with your own cheerleader? I was a cheerleader in elementary, middle school and high school. As a matter of fact, my base is now my doctor. I was a flyer because I was a rail! I had tons of energy as you can imagine. I bounced up and down the sidelines. I yelled my head off, and after the game, I still had energy to spare. I was cheering for my team. I couldn’t just turn it off after we won or loss. If we won there was the afterglow of victory. If we loss then there were players to encourage. But as I grew older, I stopped cheering. I mean I don’t walk around in a cheerleading uniform around my home. That would just be ridiculous…funny, but ridiculous. I didn’t think I’d ever cheer again, but I was wrong. When my three year old daughter stepped onto the soccer field for the first time to play the first game, I was on my feet cheering, and she was grinning. I mortify Pearce, but Erin loved it. I think Pearce is mortified because I sometimes yell out his pet name that I’ve been told is so uncool. I love cheering for my kids. I love to encourage them. Get out there and mix it up, girl! What does that mean, momma? Just do your best. Go Erin!

There’s a lady in my life who has been a constant source of encouragement. She not only encourages me, but she also encourages those who cross her path, her life and her heart. Mrs. Lavahn’s spiritual gift is encouragement, and what I’ve learned by watching her over the years is that she exercises her gift from a great source of joy. She loves encouraging others and cheering them on and cheering them up. Have you ever seen anyone try to give a pep talk or encourage someone else when they didn’t have joy themselves? In order to effectively encourage others there has to be a source of joy. Can you imagine Eeyore the down-trodden, sad little donkey from Winnie the Pooh trying to encourage someone?

Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

When I started studying the fruit of the Spirit in order to discuss it with my Bible study group, I sort of got disinterested. I told I God I really needed to study this material, but it just wasn’t holding my interest. I needed help in studying it. I needed God to show me a way to study the fruit of the Spirit that would keep my ADHD self interested. Y’all, I try to be as transparent and real as I can, and that’s the way it was. You know what’s good about God, He knows our hearts (and sometimes that's the bad thing about God – I’d like to keep the bad stuff hidden). He knew the intent of my heart. He knew the desire of my heart, so God blessed me. He led me to read Acts. I wasn’t really sure how the two fit together, but they fit together like a GLOVE! How cool is that?! As I started studying Acts, I saw the early Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit. Who gives the fruit? The Holy Spirit. As I weaved my way through history and through the characters in this book, God showed me how these early-Christians, full of the Holy Spirit, had the fruit, the good stuff. Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as others. I had to dig, but I’m not afraid to dig. Today’s fruit is joy, and I knew immediately which Christian would represent joy but wasn’t sure how, and that’s when God led me to the very last verse in Acts 13…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Barnabas’ given name was Joseph, but the early Christians changed his name to Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.” He is the son of a heavenly Father who is filled with the Holy Spirit who is brimming over with joy and encouragement. He didn’t cheer on a team at a time. Barnabas encouraged small groups through teaching or prophesying, and Barnabas encouraged individuals one at a time as they had need. His joy and encouragement helped to bring healing and restoration to relationships.

For example, after Saul was blinded, confronted by Jesus, healed and then converted to become a Christian, the Christians were reticent to accept him and with good reason. I mean this guy is the one who tortured Christians. He watched Stephen be stoned and approved it! Barnabas was the one who came on Saul’s behalf, and because of his willingness to encourage his brothers in Christ to accept Saul, Saul was able to receive much needed instruction into the occurrences of Jesus’ life and what Jesus had told the disciples. Another time in Acts, John Mark was traveling with Barnabas and Saul, and for some unknown reason, John called it quits and left. He went back home. When Barnabas and Saul left to go on another mission trip, Barnabas wanted to include John, but Paul said no. Later on in Paul’s writing he writes that John Mark’s ministry in the church was good. Somewhere along the way, there was reconciliation. This is the Spirit of Joy. Barnabas didn’t give up.

Then in Acts 13:52, And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost (KJV). In order to encourage another person it comes from a source of joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is different from happy. Joy comes from a source that never runs dry. Joy can be found in the most difficult of times and in the most difficult of situations. Joy is not dependent on what you have or don’t have. Joy doesn’t depend on who is or is not in your life. Joy is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit. Get you some joy today!