Titus Email April 2019

Volume 13, Number 4– APRIL, 2019

Greetings.  Thanks for your prayers as my time in Belize was very profitable and insightful.  Over the 9 days I was there, we taught in two churches (in two different parts of the country) and met a few men and women who are possible WILD team members.  Though Belize is English speaking, over half of the population speaks Spanish.  Thankfully WILD already had a Spanish version of the Spiritual Leadership material available, so we could leave both versions with the people!  In the next two months a few of the people I worked with in Belize are coming to the region where I live so we will be having some follow up discussions about WILD. 

Thanks.  Mike
          Behind the scenes influencers have a critical role to help those in up front perform their roles and responsibilities well.  People may know very little about those behind the scenes influencers but without them, people would not know of those who are upfront.  In the Bible we do learn about some leaders who were less in the “limelight” than others and this list includes Jethro and even Joshua for a season (Moses), the Thirty Mighty Men and Nathan (David), Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel), John the Baptist (Jesus) and Barnabas (Paul).
          Barnabas’ character was his name as his name means encourager.  When you encourage, you inspire with courage and confidence.  You console, comfort, exhort and admonish.  Barnabas was all that.  You are someone’s good friend but able to offer the truth with love and wanting the best for your friend.  Barnabas’ real name was Joseph but because of his character, the apostles called him Son of Encouragement or Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37)
          Inspite the Jesus’ movement being new and fledgling, Barnabas sold a field he owned and offered it as seed money to the apostles.  He risked his wealth for this movement with no strings attached.  He was all in and was not looking for any advantage with the apostles that could be given. 
          Obviously, Barnabas became a leader in the new movement in Jerusalem as his faith was grounded.  When Saul (Paul) escaped Damascus and headed to Jerusalem, he wanted to connect and work with the disciples but the disciples had heard of the persecution of Christians Saul was involved in, and they really wanted nothing to do with Saul (Acts 9:26-30).  But Barnabas stepped up and took a risk with this new convert.  The two of them spent time together so much so Barnabas told Saul’s story of conversion and spreading of the Gospel. 
His influence led him to be sent to Antioch (Acts 11:22-26) to check out what new thing God was doing outside of Jerusalem.  His strong, growing relationship with the Lord allowed him to see what the Holy Spirit was doing in Antioch and the Spirit used him to help grow that church.  His impact continued to increase as he headed to Tarsus to get Saul and brought him Saul back to Antioch where the two of them worked together for a year ministering to the people there. 
Barnabas invested his life and ministry into guys like Saul.  He discerned the Lord’s hand was upon Saul and was willing to develop and guide Saul when many others were very hesitant with their views on Saul.  Saul hung close to Barnabas because Barnabas was life giving and wanted the best for Saul.  Saul blossomed under Barnabas’ leadership.
The Antioch team included these two men (Acts 13:1-3).  The Holy Spirit had a special work for the two of them as they were sent off on a missionary journey to spread the Gospel.  The Spirit had a special work for them and Barnabas was not threatened with the special gifts Saul had, which included preaching.  It would be safe to assume that Saul received more stage time (being in front of audiences) than Barnabas, but that did not bother Barnabas. 

In Daniel 1:8-14, we are introduced to Daniel as a young man.  He was part of the group of handsome, smart and good looking guys that King Nebuchadnezzar took back to Babylon (Iraq) after he conquered Judah.  Along with Daniel, three of his friends also were taken, ending up at King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.  The whole bunch from Judah got new names, were taught the best subjects known to mankind at that time, learned a new language and had nothing but the finest foods offered day after day.  What a life.  Could you image how great that would be?
          Simply put, Nebuchadnezzar was brainwashing these young men because they would soon become leaders in his kingdom.  This strategy has continued down through the ages to modern day with Communist regimes and radical Muslim groups indoctrinating young people.  If you can form the thoughts of a person early in life, you have them to influence others for potentially many years because it is easier to mold a young mind.
          Daniel resolved that he would not eat food that went against what he had been taught in Hebrew tradition.  Would the food actually defile him?  It was more of a question of disobeying a standard God had given to the Israelites and if he lowered his standard in one area, soon other areas would follow and he would spiral downward in sin. 
Two insights to consider here about Daniel’s situation.  One is it is so easy to begin compromising standards God has that you have adapted into your life by allowing little things to slip.  Let’s say you have resolved to not get involved in sexual activity until you are married.  Where is the line you will not cross until marriage?  If you say you will not sexually go all the way but have no precautionary standards prior to going all the way, chances you will go all the way.  Precautionary standards could be we will not lay next to each other in private or we will always have a plan to where we are going and what we will be doing on a date prior to the date.  There are many precautionary standards you can put in place to keep you from going over the edge. 
          The second insight is Daniel did not simply pout, scream and holler when he told the official that he could not eat the food.  Rather he came with an alternative suggestion that he felt would still accomplish what the king wanted.  This gave the king’s official a way out because his own head was literally on the chopping block.  By offering an alternative, Daniel was still respecting his authorities while honoring the standards he had placed in his life. 
Too often when we do not want to do something for good or bad reasons, we create a scene because we have not really thought through the situation, taking the time to project possible results of actions we take.  Granted we might not be able to always offer an alternative or the situation will not allow us, but in many cases, providing alternatives to something we do not want to do show maturity and leadership qualities. 
          What Biblical standards have you placed in your life?  Are they non-negotiable?  Have you thought about when a standard is challenged, or you are put into a compromising situation, what will you do?  Think through how you will protect that standard so you do not get into a situation of a point of no return.  Let us all be like Daniel this way.