The Barnabas Encouragement Connection

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"Why are we called The Barnabas Connection? In the book of Acts 4:36‭-‬37 the name Barnabas was given to a man named Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus who was a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys. The apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, meaning “son of consolation,” or “son of exhortation/encouragement.” This ministry's goal is to be a source of encouragement to our communities by connecting them with resources that uplift and empower them on their journeys."

From The Pastors Heart

Berean Bible Fellowship Church

A Message from the Pastor’s Heart

“Washing Feet in the Midst of Trials”

In the beautiful and helpful sermon Deacon Williams preached last Sunday from John 14:1-4 concerning “A Prepared Place for a Prepared People” we were reminded to look to the future with the hope of our savior’s present ministry to prepare for us an eternal future.  As I reflected on the message, I thought how appropriate it is to look at the upcoming year in the same way especially as it concerns allowing our “hearts not to be troubled.” With our Presidents bills being sabotaged/stalled, our voting rights challenged, democracy being eroded, history being “canceled” and suppressed, and a possible change in political power, not to mention Covid, we can approach the new year with a little fear, anxiety, apathy, and even anger.  I must confess I feel these things sometimes along with a little frustration and despair. But what about my actions, my heart, my thoughts, and more importantly my spiritual foundation.  Well, that’s why I thought Deacon William's sermon was so helpful - it put things in perspective.  As I prepared the scripture reading slide for the service I thought about the context for the exchange between Jesus and Thomas, i.e., “Where was Jesus going?” and read John 13 and the prep story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  It reads:

John 13
The Lord’s Supper
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet. 
5 Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. 20 “Truly, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

What strikes me afresh about Jesus is his humility in the face of abundant persecution. He continues to focus on “service to others rather than focus on self.” What a challenge to the thought “Deny yourself take up your cross and follow him.”  In light of what we face in today’s America, it may be a little hard to keep that attitude in light of the present political, social and spiritual context.  As Bereans, we pride ourselves on studying the Scriptures and we do right by doing so, but what about our “service to others and to each other.” Are we able to wash the feet of those around us with the heart attitude of Christ the Savior? I don’t know about you, but I’m not going into this year with the posture of being “upon myself” but rather being “below myself.” I wanna go even lower below the limbo pole to be more like Christ to join him in his sufferings - although reluctant I might add. I have no doubt that people, situations, and systems will help me do that. But as for me, I will continue to serve to the best of my ability to wash the feet of the institutions that I serve, the people that I love, the opponents that I fear, and the Lord that I serve. Meet you at the foot of the cross and bring a bucket with water and a towel.  He left us an example.


October 2022 Study Challenge

“The 5 Stages of Discipleship: What They Are & Why They Matter”

Being a disciple is another way of saying follower, or student of Jesus. Discipleship is helping people grow in their walk with God.

These stages can act as a guide for Christians when beginning their walk with God. They are not set in stone. Discipleship stages are stepping stones in process of furthering one’s walk with God. As people are discipled, they grow in their maturity and relationship with God.

These 5 stages should give you a better understanding of how to go about coming to Jesus and living a life glorifying to God.

Stage 1: Becoming a Follower of Jesus

God desires that none should perish, and the Bible says whoever calls on him will be saved. It is an open invitation to the Jews and Gentiles (which is everyone – they don’t have to be a Jew) to be a part of God’s family.

"Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

Coming to Jesus is repenting of your sin and your own way, and letting God take over.

Once we have repented of our own ways and have faith in God’s grace, then the process of the other stages can begin. We can be in the continual presence of the Lord because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and we can be seen as righteous before God because our sin is forgiven.

Stage 2: Building a Solid Foundation

Our foundation – for what we believe, how we behave, and how we think, should be built on the gospel and what the Bible says as applicable to our lives.

"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Where should we start when building a foundation? We should look to the Scriptures to see how Jesus lived his life on earth. He is our example, and his words and actions we should examine and take to heart.

We can know the truth, and how he wants us to live our lives. The more we know God, and understand who he is, the more we can desire him and obey what he says.

Stage 3: Desiring Christ & Obeying God’s Commandments

Once we are confident in who God is and who he says we are, we respect how God made us be, desire, and rely on Jesus, and begin to grow as a Christian, enabling us to love others well.

Once we are saved, we are dead to sin and alive to God. We must remember that and remind ourselves of that every day. Sin no longer has a hold on us, we must remember this, know the truth, and let it manifest in our lives.

We can keep his commandments because Christ is in us.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome". (1 John 1:3)

Stage 4: Building Godly Friendships

God’s greatest commandment is to love him before anything else, then we are to love others as ourselves.

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:12-13)

We are to be in communion with other people, and other believers. To love people.

The Bible says that iron sharpens iron, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We have friendships to learn how to love well and build each other up.

Stage 5: Discipling Others

God’s purpose for the church is to fulfill his mission of making disciples in all places. This begins with the body of believers already in the church. Look for people who you can come alongside and be an encouragement to.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)

How to begin discipling others? Pray for the Lord to bring opportunities to you. Look around you, at people who are already in your life who may be struggling or may just need a listening ear, and encouragement.

Or maybe they do need help with guidance, discernment, or practical steps to strengthen their relationship with God. Maybe they are in need of help in a situation they are dealing with, or don’t know where to start when diving into Scripture.

Why Discipleship Stages are Important

It is important to view these stages (specifically the first stage) in order because we must become a follower of Jesus before we can do anything else. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and that is the call of a Christian, to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

We can’t build a foundation if we don’t first choose to follow God, and we can’t obey his commandments if we don’t first desire Christ. It is hard to desire Christ if we don’t know who he is, and what he says, and actually wants for us.

Once we learn the basics of who God is, his nature and his character, how the gospel affects who we are, and understand God’s purpose and plan for humanity, then we can love others the way God wants us to, and then we can disciple others and effectively serve the church, ultimately serving the Lord.

Start these steps today. Figure out what step you are in and continue to grow. Maybe find a mentor to help you continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord. Keep pressing into Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith.

(Reference: Excerpts from JustDisciple -

Bexar County Behavioral Health Resource Directory