The Joy of Being Number 2

We all love a winner!

#1

We hold parades, parties, all kinds of celebrations when our team becomes state champion.  Coming in second in a state-wide contest leaves people feeling so dejected.  They seem to forget that being second means they have beat out many other teams.

#1 team

In the Olympics, athletics say they are going for the gold.  You don’t win silver, you lose gold.

This desire to be number 1 is not necessarily a bad thing.  To try to do your best, to succeed, to take pride in what you achieve, to have a healthy self-esteem are all good qualities.

But when that desire to be number 1 becomes so important that it leads us to step on others to reach the top, to despair when we do not achieve first place or to be overly prideful when we do, it has become a negative influence in our life.

For years I struggled with being number 2.  As a pastor’s wife, I worked right alongside my husband.  I visited women who were in the hospital, counseled those who were struggling with issues of life.  I taught Bible classes, played the piano and led the Christian Education department in the churches where my husband was pastor.  My youngest daughter and I went to the Philippines with my husband as missionaries.  While there we also taught classes and worked with churches.  Many Sundays, we each went to a different church to speak.  My daughter conducted a Kids Klub and the children in the neighborhood called her “Tita” or “aunt.”  I conducted a Bible class for a group of professional women and taught leadership classes to one church’s leadership board.

Yet when we returned to the states and visited the churches who had supported us to give a report of our work, they always introduced my husband and talked about the work he had done there.  It was usually

We are glad to have Pastor Paul and his family with us today.  Pastor Paul recently returned from the Philippines where he……..

A few times my daughter asked me “Were we there too?  Did we do anything?”

But slowly God helped me to see that my motive in working for God must always be to do His will and not to expect or even desire recognition for my efforts.

And it was through reading about Barnabas “the Encourager” in the Bible that I found  my role model for all I do.

We first meet Barnabas in Acts 4 where we are told his real name is Joses.  But the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas “Son of Encouragement.”

Barnabas

And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

I love that thought.  To be a person that so encourages others that he becomes known not by his real name but by the nickname of “The Encourager.”  That has been my prayer – that I would be someone who encourages, builds up, strengthens others.

The next time we meet Barnabas the gospel has been received in Antioch.  When news of the new group of Christians there reached the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to meet with the Christians there.  And there again he encouraged.

News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.   When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.   He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

We see Barnabas having success in the work at Antioch.  So what did he do?  He headed off to Tarsus to find Saul (who became known as Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament). 

Barnabas had been Saul’s friend when he first became a Christian.  The church at Jerusalem was afraid of Saul because they knew how he had persecuted the Christians.  But Barnabas, stepped in and told them Saul was a new man. 

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.  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 brought Paul back to Antioch where the two of them worked together sharing the gospel with the new church there.  As you read the story in the book of Acts, you see for quite a while it is “Barnabas and Paul.”  Later in the story it becomes “Paul and Barnabas.”

This is the joy of being willing to be number 2.  Barnabas brought Paul from basically exile in Tarsus and encouraged him to become a main leader in the early church.

Barnabas and Paul

The church writes, speaks, quotes Paul a lot.  There are churches all over the world named after him.

But it was Barnabas, “the Encourager” who no doubt encouraged Paul to follow the calling of God on his life.  We know God had called Paul to the work of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles so he would obviously do that because God is in control.  But I like to think that God used Barnabas to help Paul step up and fulfill the call of God on his life.

Finally we see the heart of Barnabas when later in his ministry with Paul, the young man John Mark wanted to go with them on their second missionary journey.  Paul refused to take John Mark with them because he had left them halfway through their first missionary journey.  Paul was not willing to give him a second chance.  But Barnabas’ heart was that of an encourager.  He insisted John Mark be given a second chance.

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,  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.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,  but Paul chose Silas and left,

Most Bible scholars believe this John Mark was the one who wrote the Gospel of Mark.  So again Barnabas was instrumental in helping another young man fulfill the work of God in his life.

That’s what I have asked God to help me be.  That one that encourages others to follow the call of God on their life.

barbabas

When we get to heaven, I imagine the lines will be long for those wanting to speak to Paul.  That’s okay.  But I’m going to look up Barnabas and tell him how he was my role model in life.

 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.          1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

Last Game of 2017 – Who Will Win?

 

scrabble

For those of you who follow my blog you know my husband and I are scrabble addicts.  In the summer we play several times a month, but when Old Man Winter comes we play almost every day.  We are very competitive keeping a record of our games now for 10 years.

In the ten years of playing super scrabble, I have won one more game than my husband.

This year I am currently ahead of him one game.

After church this morning we will play our final game of 2017.  If he wins, that will make us tied for the year and I will remain ahead overall one game.  If I win, I will not only be ahead for this year but will extend my overall lead to two games.

If he wins the game, that will conclude our 2017 games.  I have an idea if I win, we may be playing more than one game today because he does not want to end up a loser for 2017.

We could be up all night until he ties me.  Could be a long New Year’s Eve for these old folks.

Party on young people – but there’s no better party than two old folks playing scrabble.

scrabble6

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Scrabble Day

Scrabble

Now here’s a holiday to celebrate!

Today is National Scrabble Day and what better way to celebrate than to try to beat my husband in a game of Scrabble.  I have shared before that I am an addict.  Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!  There are groups for those trying to overcome addiction to drugs or alcohol but there is nothing to help those of us who cannot stop trying to make words out of every sign, every book title, every thing we see in writing.  So I guess I am stuck with my addiction.   My Addiction has Returned

Today lets me know I am not alone!

There are apparently many more out there who love Scrabble.  There is an International Scrabble Club created and run by the player known as Carol (real name Florin Gheorghe), who lives in Romania.  There is a World Scrabble Championship which is held every year with players from more than 30 countries.  This championship is the most prestigious title in competitive English language Scrabble.   Contestants come from more than 30 countries to compete.  The 2017 North American Scrabble Championship is scheduled to take place in New Orleans.

Serious Competition

While we will never make it to the national championship, we keep up a tough competition between us.   Many of our games are very close but last January was one for the books.  When the game ended I was one point ahead of my husband.  However, because I had one tile that I had not played, its point value had to be taken from me and added to my husband’s score.  That gave him the game with one point ahead of me.  Needless to say, I was NOT a happy camper.

We also compete to see who can get the highest score in a game.  So far, my husband holds that title with a game played back in May 2015 with 961 points.  Yes we do keep records of our scores.  I told you we are addicts.

Another area where we compete is to see who can play all seven tiles in one turn.  For years I was way behind my husband.  But slowly I have learned to do as he does and keep shuffling my tiles around to see what words I can make.  Of course, this takes time so we have to be patient with each other.  Some of the crazy words we have come up with over the years include unbonnet and yaupings.  He loves to keep reminding me that twice he has had a game where he played all seven tiles five different times.

We have become familiar with the Greek, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet as those words are allowed in Scrabble.  There are 105 playable two-letters words in a regulation Scrabble game, according to the Official Scrabble players’ dictionary and we have memorized most of those.

So for my fellow Scrabble lovers

Scrabble joke