This past Sunday my pastors talked about encouragement at church. My senior pastor titled his sermon “They Call Me Barney” and the funny part was he had us sing the I Love You song from Barney. I’m talking about Barney the purple dinosaur. At first I wasn’t appreciating his humor since I had heard so much Barney when my kids were growing up that I could not stand Barney. So after we sang the song I thought to myself well that was pretty cool. Then after the service I turned to a hug from a dear friend who whispered to me “Thanks for being my Barney”. Really, me?? I would see it the other way around to be honest, she is my Barney! Actually I realized that I have several Barney’s in my life. Precious friends who encourage me all the time. People that God uses to get my attention and propel me into the things that He desires for me. I started writing this blog on Sunday afternoon but never finished it and today I get a text saying “Thank you so much Barney”. I just smiled and knew that I needed to finish this blog post.
What people don’t know is that I have prayed for years for God to use me and make me usable for His Kingdom. I’ve longed to be the one that people can come to for encouragement and support. I love helping people, it helps me so much too. So many times I have allowed the enemy to come in like a flood and bring discouragement and depression into my life. I refuse to do that anymore because I can’t be an encouragement to anyone if I am discouraged and depressed. Jesus has brought so much joy and freedom into my life and when I can share that with someone else it just blesses me so much. It’s like a beautiful wave that washes over me to know someone is encouraged by something I have said or done. So now just a little while ago I had another friend blow me away and actually made me cry. She said “You help bring my faith to center stage just by being you”. I had to hang up the phone because I was weeping and praising God. Yes I am a “Barney”.
So I just realized that I never even explained what “Barney” is all about. Its about Barnabas from the book of Acts in the Bible. The first mention of Barnabas is in Acts chapter 4:
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
So Barnabas was like a nickname for this Levite named Joseph. The apostles called him Barnabas in my opinion because they obviously saw him as a man who was very encouraging. So as we move further into Acts in chapter 9 a man named Saul is persecuting the church and he is on his way to kill the Christians in Damascus. While he was his way the Lord Jesus Christ nails him and he is converted and is now preaching Christ. I think you should just open your Bible right now and read the story because its a pretty amazing story. I will wait for you.
Alright, now when we get to verse 26 we see Saul has arrived in Jerusalem and he wants to hang out and get to know the original disciples of Christ. They are all afraid because they know that this man Saul was killing the Christians and they don’t believe that he is converted. Barnabas took hold of Saul and brought him to the disciples to let them know Saul was for real and he is a disciple now who speaks boldly in the name of Jesus. Let’s read verses 26-27:
When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
See Barnabas was an encouragement and support to Saul in that moment. Those of you know your Bibles know that Saul became the Apostle Paul and wrote much of the New Testament and his mission trips with Barnabas are all through the book of Acts. But lets suppose for a moment that Barnabas wasn’t there to help bring Saul to the disciples. Who knows what could have happened! Saul could have been discouraged and walked away from preaching Christ. Praise God that didn’t happen or half the New Testament would have been very different.
I hope all of that makes sense to you and you get the idea of how Barnabas was an encourager. My pastor’s message was probably much better than my explanation here but I think I’ve pulled it together to make the point. So in thinking of Barney again and me being a Barney to others I really wanted to wear purple and sing the I love You song but I was thinking that might just cause you to stop reading my blogs so I am sharing the real Barney singing his song. If you hate Barney just listen anyway and imagine that I am singing to you with my arm around you. Be encouraged! We all need encouragement! Bless you all!