Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A lesson from the life of Barnabas: Avoid becoming bitter in a doctrinal dispute.

A lesson from the life of Barnabas. We never read of him after his bitter dispute.

Acts 15. 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
He did not survive this spiritual/personal conflict. Even though he was in the right!
Perhaps he became bitter (later he chose Peter's wrong doctrine over Paul's correct and "was led astray").
Paul was unaffected.

Barnabas handled it well externally, but poorly internally; Paul was the opposite.

Perhaps he also felt that Paul had himself received great grace and now was not repaying the same - like the servant in Jesus' parable who had a great debt (here murder) but after he was forgiven, would not forgive a tiny debt that he himself was owed (here, desertion).

It is certain that Barnabas may have had brothers and sisters in christ if not actual family who were killed through Saul.

A quarrel stunted his great spiritual potential. He could not achieve further spiritual greatness after this parting.

We must keep our hearts from bitterness even in our doctrinal disputes.

(Galatians 9:13)

Barnabas was a disciple before Paul. When he was distrusted and shunned by the suspicious disciples, he verified Saul's Damascus road experience so that they accepted him.

(Acts 9:27)
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas nurtured Paul for one year. He searched for and discipled Paul so he flourished; did not ignore him and let his gift die out. Deliberate, conscious steps.

The church gave prophetically sending their gift through Paul and Barnabas.

Barnabas recognised the move of God before others did. This was when he saw the new gentile believers and also earlier when he affirmed Saul's vision.

Barnabas was not jealous of other's spiritual prosperity. "He was glad and encouraged them to remain true to the Lord".

"He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith"

(Acts 11:22-30)
22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My reasons not to carry a cell phone

When they first came out, my father mislabelled them as 'cellophones'. I gave mine to my wife and refused to carry one for 9 years. I recently caved in and bought two for myself (I really need to write an Android program on the device). Before I become too assimilated and forget Why, here are my reasons for resisting thus far:

  • Avoid Group Think and brainwashing. Have you noticed that people's views are congealing into just two or three viewpoints? It is not coincidence. These electronic connecting devices are the neurons of our collective consciousness. But even so, this connectedness hammers away at your individuality. and makes you think more like the group you chatter away with - be it friends, employer or social group. It is far easier now to be brainwashed by the media. Going to Yahoo to check my email (to remain connected!), I can't help but stop by to read their often biased articles.
  • Cut the Electronic Leash. You can be reached at any time. Your freedom is gone.  When people call you on your cellphone, they have the expectation of being able to talk to you immediately and at any time of the day or night. Disappoint this expectation more than a few times, and you will irritate the relationship. for example, how long can you refuse to take the call or not immediately call back your spouse, employer, important client even when they call at uncivilized hours?
  • The Contract. Phones are so expensive, that you have to agree to a 2 year contract to get one. So you spend - at a minimum, $50 a month for two years. Now what happens if you lose your job? You pay a big penalty and return your phone. Furthermore, as long as you are in a contract, customer service treats you poorly.
  • Another valuable bauble not to lose. A $400 piece of jewelry that you cannot afford to lose; it sits on your mind - as if you did not have enough to worry about! "where is my phone, did I leave it at the gym... did I drop it while walking the dog...".
I can think of only one reason to carry one. When you are away from a landline - to reach a loved one, or call for help in an emergency.

Why is this World Cup different?

It is. At least to an observer in the USA. There is almost as much enthusiasm, fervor as in the follow up to the Super Bowl!
My reasons:
  • team USA performed the classic inspirational comeback win, and more than a few times, to reach the top of their group and the round of 16.
  • broadband is in 65% of homes. One can watch the action free if you have AT&T DSL, on the internet.
  • mobile has become to us now, what ball point pens were to us during the 80s. An accompanying suite of applications to keep us all "connected" has helped unify our interests and emotions. These applications Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail need no mention.
  • Consumerism and the global middle class sector has compelled advertisers and sponsors to join with FIFA and bring this revenue-generating spectacle to us. TV networks including ABC in the USA show it for free.
  • Time zones fit well. 9 am, 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm in the USA especially on weekends - though not prime time - is convenient.
  • Wars are tucked away and forgotten. American troops are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this succession of presidents, Obama and Bush have ensured that their pro-Islam stance has led the American people to become confused and deceived over what we are fighting, and why we are fighting. As a columnist wrote in the Washington Times, people paid more attention to whether the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would kill sea life, and ignored the fact that 7 troops died in Afghanistan on that same day.