Barnabas showed the unforgettable characteristics of a leader.

Linn Winters
Jul 15, 2018    44m
In the first sermon of the series Unforgettable, Pastor Winters introduces us to a lesser known person from the bible. He tells the story of Barnabas, and how his great love for Jesus, his unbelievable generosity and his outstanding characteristics of a leader, helped him to save the brand new, baby, Christian church. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn Winters: 00:40 Hey Cornerstone, how are you guys doing? I'm really glad that you're here today. I think this has a chance to be a really, really fun series where you and I learn a whole ton about our bibles. It's called Unforgettables, but we're actually going to be looking at people in the Bible that you may never have heard about before. The interesting thing about their lives is that the impact their lives have is unforgettable. Uh, many times they've actually affected you and me by how they live their lives. But there are people who have lived most of their lives kind of in the background kind of unnoticed. And my hope is that when we get done, you're going to remember their names because God used them to do unforgettable things in their lives, in their time. Let's just be honest. Most of us, most of us are average.

Linn Winters: 01:30 I know it's taken you a while to get there. I'm not going to mention that that means some of us are less than average. We're average. We're average, which then you know, if we're not careful, kind of discourages us when we go, well, you know, what do I do? Do I just go to work, show up, take care of my family, get old and die? I mean, is that what you do if you're average?

Linn Winters: 01:54 I hope this series is highly, highly encouraging for you because I'm convinced (you ready for this?) that God actually leans toward using average people to do exceptional things. Because, because because, if you're amazingly talented, if you have skills that everybody sees and you do something that's out of the box, everybody goes, "Wow, they're just talented." But when God uses somebody average to do the exceptional, then everybody goes, "Oh, that had to be God."

Linn Winters: 02:28 It's why He takes a little shepherd boy to slay a giant and not a warrior. It's why He takes an ex con who's been thrown out of his own family to be the second ruling person in all of Egypt because God delights in taking ordinary people like you and me and doing the extraordinary. But in order to do that, you and I have to be available you. You and I've got to say, "God, would you take this ordinary me and do something exceptional?"

Linn Winters: 02:56 Now, if you're one of those people that we all hate and who is highly talented and has unbelievable skills and crazy, crazy stuff, then let me just remind you, every one of those skills, every one of those capacities is God given, which I think makes you even more responsible to leverage them for the glory of God. Okay? But for all the rest of us that fall, somewhere in that other category of average (you and I), I think will have a blast realizing that God has a heart for the ordinary and delights in using us to do the extraordinary.

Linn Winters: 03:26 Today we're going to talk about a guy and here's the deal. He is the very definition of average. Chances are, even if you've been in church all your life, you may have brushed across his name and went, "blah, blah, blah", and went on. You had no idea that this guy has changed the lives of every single person in this room. He doesn't have pedigree. He doesn't have exceptional talent, but here's what he had: in the moments that were most critical he stepped in. Because he was a man of character, because he had a sense of doing the right thing in the right moment, he literally changes history. His name is Barnabas. Okay. How many of you know or are probably familiar with Barnabas? Okay, about six of us. Good. Okay. All right. So here we go. You're going to be delighted with this. Uh, his story is in the book of Acts.

Linn Winters: 04:21 So grab your Bibles. If you're not familiar, go to the back of your Bible, and start working to the left. You're going to find this book of Acts is right after the gospel. So here's what you need to know. The reason that Acts is right after the gospel is because Jesus just went to Heaven. Jesus has just finished his ministry. He's, left this earth, and now the book of Acts chronicles the early church. I mean the churches, baby, baby, baby, baby. Matter of fact, in this first passage that we jump into, there's probably only one Christian congregation in the entire world, and that congregation is in trouble.

Linn Winters: 04:55 See, here's what's happened. Uh, that congregation is set in Jerusalem. The Jews living there see their fellow Jews leaving Judaism and now becoming Christ followers, and they look at this little new group of Christians and they go, "It's a cult. This is actually something that is hemorrhaging our Jewish faith. We've got to put this down."

Linn Winters: 05:19 So, it becomes common practice to go, "Look, don't hire a Christian. Don't give a Christian a job. We'll pressure them into coming back to Judaism. If a Christian owns a shop, don't buy anything from a Christian. When the economy gets tough enough, when their finances start to run out, they'll come back to their Jewish roots."

Linn Winters: 05:43 And so this baby church, this small little huddle of early Christians is immediately cast into crisis because of the financial plight that they find themselves in. And then, and then a guy named Barnabas knows what to do.

Linn Winters: 05:58 Okay, here we go. It's Acts 4:34, and here's what it says, "that there were no needy people among them." How's that possible? How is it possible that this church (where Christians can't be hired, and people won't buy from them) has their financial needs met? And then it goes on from time to time.

Linn Winters: 06:22 Those who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money from the sales. So think about this. There are people who are so committed to the idea of the church going forward that they're willing to sell land (and you've got to remember early, early agrarian land is everything) and yet these early Christians are taking the most valuable thing in their lives, their homes and their land, and they're saying, "Look, I'm in," and they're selling them and they're bringing it to the church and they're allowing the church to distribute them to the families that are in need, which is basically all of us. Okay?

Linn Winters: 06:58 They put them at the apostles feet and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called (and so they're changing Joseph's name), they're calling him Barnabas, which means son of encouragement.

Linn Winters: 07:19 What this guy does, this monument so radical. It's so different even from what everyone else in this church is doing that they look and go, dude, seeing you're sacrificing what you're doing, I just can't help but be encouraged that you would have that much faith in Jesus, that you'd be that sacrificial in your life. That's amazing. From now on, we're going to call you son of encouragement Barnabas.

Linn Winters: 07:46 He sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles feet. Now you wait, wait, wait, wait, Linn. The passage said that a whole bunch of people were doing that. Yeah, but here's the deal. Chances are by the fact that scripture took the time to say, "and Barnabas did this," whatever piece of land he sold, man, that must have been a remarkable piece of land. Whatever sacrifice it cost Barnabas to do this somehow exceeded the sacrifice of everybody else who was selling pieces of land and even some of their houses. When they saw Barnabas be that generous, they look and they go wow, wow, wow. In the moment....

Linn Winters: 08:31 Now here's what you've got to get. Barnabas has already tithed, right? You get that. What Barnabas is doing right now is just so beyond the 10 percent conversation and yet here he is being radically generous to this baby baby baby church that has every potential to fail. Think about this: you don't think that he's probably got 100 excuses why he shouldn't sell that really, really precious piece of land? I mean, I guarantee you, he looked to the congregation and said, hey, that guy over there, he's got payments on the new donkey he just bought. Why doesn't he get rid of that donkey? That guy's house is bigger than my house. He's got his kids in private school. Why am I doing this?

Linn Winters: 09:18 He's got every excuse why not to be generous and yet there's something that compels Barnabas, son of encouragement to be generous even when everybody around him is not matching what he's doing. Okay? So, let's figure out what he knows that you and I maybe you don't know.

Linn Winters: 09:33 So all of us, all of us have to manage money, right? So, you know, part of what we do is, uh, you know, we've got to pay for our house payment, which usually takes a pretty significant chunk of whatever you're and my income is. And then anybody got kids? Have you figured kids are way more expensive than you thought, right? You thought, hey, just give them a little formula and they poop in some diapers and we're good. No. There's college funding and clothes and school supplies and then they break things. Kids are expensive and then, you know, we all have probably have car payments that, you know, we're doing and that's part of what comes out of our stuff.

Linn Winters: 10:08 And then there's just the whole utilities and repairs around the house and keeping all that going. And then you've got to have a vacation, right? I mean, sometime you've got to be able to go and hit San Diego and just have some time to yourselves. And then if you're actually halfway wise you probably have some money you're trying to put away into savings and do that. And, and then you get to that and you go, man. I mean, before I even look up a ton of money, I mean it's gone. It's already spoken for every single month. And then, you know, there's some other in here and you go, well, you've got to do Starbucks, right? Starbucks gets right in on that and there's a couple, you know, portions of our pile that we're not even sure where that money goes, but let's just be honest, we apparently really need it because we get to the end of every single month and it's gone. It's gone. So we would have been in real, real trouble if we hadn't had that room in that margin. So you and I do our best to manage this pile.

Linn Winters: 11:17 Now, here's what you need to know. There's nothing wrong with this pile. Okay? I got a pretty decent house. I've got an okay car. There's nothing wrong with this pile. But, here's what I'm convinced that Barnabas understands: there are two piles.

Linn Winters: 11:38 There's two piles. Matter of fact, 1 Corinthians says this: hey, there's one pile that's wood, hay and stubble. It's just stuff. It's just stuff. And what you need to know is that when your life is over, everything in the wood and hay and stubble pile, it burns up. This pile is a zero sum pile. When you die, whatever is in this pile goes away. Your kids get it and they waste it. It's a zero sum pile. Okay?

Linn Winters: 12:18 But there's a second pile. First Corinthians says, there's a pile of gold and silver and precious stones. There's a pile where I take from this pile and I invest in things that are eternal; things that really, really matter to God and have eternity on them. And I believe what you and I just saw Barnabas do was he said "Okay, I took my 10th. I took 1/10 of that pile. I put it there, but I still saw the opportunity to grow this pile." And so he goes and sells his land. And as best we can tell this is a moment of just wild generosity. And he brings this sum and invests heavily in this pile because, you ready? Because this pile lasts. This pile is eternal. There's a second thing I think he understands. How I build my piles says something about my heart.

Linn Winters: 13:26 Remember Jesus said this, "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also." Isn't that interesting? How I built my piles says something about my heart. Ready for this? You know something about Barnabas and you've never met him. Because of where he invested, where he put his piles, you know that Barnabas loves God more than he loves his stuff. You know that Barnabas loved the early church and those fellow believers he was with, more than he loved dirt. And you've never met him because where I build my piles says an awful lot about my heart.

Linn Winters: 14:16 Some of you guys have heard my pastor George stories. You know that he was a mentor in my life. You may have even actually heard this story. It works. We're going to do it again. I'm a young, young, young guy in ministry. I'm just barely starting out. Lisa and I have barely gotten married. I'm serving at a church and they offer me (you ready for this?) $18,000 a year, and you just need to know I'm not so old that $18,000 a year was a good salary. It wasn't. It was a horrifyingly bad salary. But, Lisa and I were just so anxious to do ministry. We decide, I don't care what you pay me, I just want in.

Linn Winters: 14:51 So I began to serve in the church. The youth group is growing. Things are all up and to the right. Pastor George sits me down one day and says, "Hey, I'm hearing that you don't have insurance."

Linn Winters: 14:51 I said, “No, I don't."

Linn Winters: 14:51 And he goes, "How's that possible?"

Linn Winters: 14:51 I said, "Well, they offered me 18,000. I took it, and here I am."

Linn Winters: 15:08 He goes to the elder board and he says to the elder board, "Guys, we've got a young couple on staff. They're working their heads off. Everything they touch is doing really, really well. They don't have insurance. We can't leave these two young people vulnerable, and what would happen if something happened? I mean it would be cataclysmic for their lives. We've got to give them insurance"

Linn Winters: 15:29 To which the elder board said, Hey, that's the salary he negotiated on his way in. Tough luck."

Linn Winters: 15:44 George, the next day, walked into the business office at the church, said to the accountant, "You take the payment for Linn's insurance out of my paycheck." [unintelligible] He didn't have to do that, right?

Linn Winters: 15:56 He could have said, "Hey, this isn't my responsibility. This is all about a mean grumpy church that won't take care of someone." He didn't care about the excuses.

Linn Winters: 16:05 He said, You take that money out of my paycheck. You make sure he has insurance." Now here's the thing, you've never met pastor George. Well, some of us have because he served here for a while, but most of us haven't met Pastor George. Here's what you know about pastor George. You know that Pastor George loved me. If he did that, he loved me. See that went beyond right and wrong. You've never met that elder board, and you know what none of us knows? We don't know whether that elder board cared about me or not. Maybe, maybe, maybe but I sure couldn't prove it by how they behaved. Because you ready for this? Because, because because where you put your piles says a whole lot about your heart. That's what Jesus said.

Linn Winters: 16:57 I think Barnabas understood this. Guys, where you put your piles, say heck of a lot about your heart. When you give generously, you're saying, "I love the teenagers over in that other building. I know they're at a vulnerable point in their life. I know that the world is bearing down on them big time, and I'm going to pay for their pastors. I'm going to pay for them to go on [inaudible]. I'm going to do whatever I can to stand between them and the world and make them strong in their faith and be okay."

Linn Winters: 17:21 When you give generously, you're saying, "I care about our children. I want to get to them before they make all the mistakes I made and live with the regrets that I live with and I want them to be so solid in their faith that nothing can shake them."

Linn Winters: 17:34 You're saying that you care about other people sitting in this room. Hey, I want to make sure there's lights turned on and air conditioning and pastors that minister so that everyone in this room can grow up and become stronger in Christ, and our marriages can get better and our homes, can be strong. I just want us to all to be grateful. I care about someone besides myself. That's why I'm generous. I care about people who don't know my [inaudible]. Guys. Guys, you ready? Because where your treasure is and how you manage your piles says a whole lot about where your heart is.

Linn Winters: 18:09 Okay, so you're gonna forgive me right now. Okay? I just think it's interesting that the average Christian struggles to give a tenth of a tenth of a percent. The average Christian struggles, not to give a tithe of 10 percent, but to give a 10th of a tithe - to even give one percent, and that freaks us out. We're like, “Oh my goodness. Is God going to take care of me if I do that? Am I going to sink?" I'm not sure you and I understand piles. And, I'm not sure you and I understand what that says about our hearts. I wonder if you and I need to be just a little more like Barnabas. Barnabas steps into the moment at a church that is frail, a church that has really, really almost no prospect, and it begins to thrive based on the generosity of one man who says, I understand piles. It's Barnabas.

Linn Winters: 19:31 Next thing: Not only is Barnabas generous. Grab your Bibles and go with me to Acts chapter nine because that's where he pops up again. Acts Chapter Nine. It's so interesting at the most critical moments of the church when everyone is heading the wrong direction Barnabas is the guy who shows up and turns everything back the way that it ought to go. Acts Chapter Nine. Let me set this up for you real quick.

Linn Winters: 19:53 So the church has started to grow. It's a few years later now the Jews are even more concerned. So, there's a guy, he's a Pharisee, and his name is Saul. Some of you that are familiar know that in a little while his name is going to be changed to Paul. But Saul hates Christians. He's pretty sure that Christians are destroying Judaism and so he literally gets permission from the religious leaders of the day to seek out and find any Christian and literally put them to death without a trial, without a hearing.

Linn Winters: 19:53 It's just, "You believe in Jesus?"

Linn Winters: 19:53 "Yes." Lop off your head.

Linn Winters: 20:30 "If you believe in Jesus, we're burning down your home".

Linn Winters: 20:32 And Paul makes it. He believes he is serving God. His goal in life is to eradicate, and to stomp out all of Christians. So think about this a second.

Linn Winters: 20:43 If the church is still small and it's only in a few communities and Barnabas is dead center in the church, what do you think the chances are that Barnabas has had to live in fear of this guy named Saul? What do you think the chances are that some of Barnabas' friends are some of Saul's victims? It's even possible. Think about this. It's possible that some of Barnabas' relatives have been killed at the hand of this guy Saul.

Linn Winters: 21:18 Watch this. And yet Barnabas is going to be the guy who stands up and says, "Let's give this guy another chance." Of all people, he's the one that says, "I think I saw something in him. I think I see that Jesus has gotten a hold of his heart. Let's give him a second chance."

Linn Winters: 21:36 So here we go. It's Acts 9:26, and here's what it says. "When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples."

Linn Winters: 21:48 Now here's what you need to know. Saul is on his way to this town called Damascus. He's going there to kill Christians. If you know the story, Jesus meets him on the road. This is after the resurrection.

Linn Winters: 21:58 This is Jesus coming back after Heaven and saying, "Saul hey, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. Why are you persecuting me?"

Linn Winters: 21:58 And Saul says, "I don't know who you are."

Linn Winters: 21:58 And he says, I'm Jesus."

Linn Winters: 22:09 And on that road to Damascus, Saul believes in Christ for the very, very first time. He is radically changed. He is a radical disciple follower of Christ, but no one believes it. I mean, why would you believe the murderer is now supporting the very thing that he hated up until now.

Linn Winters: 22:09 So, now he comes to the disciples and says, Hey, I'm a Christian. What do I need to do next? What do I need to do next?"

Linn Winters: 21:46 Okay? And, when he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him not believing that he was really a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and he told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus, the very town he'd gone to destroy in Damascus, he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

Linn Winters: 23:01 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of Jesus all because Barnabas bought him a second chance. Well how interesting is it that this is the guy who may have been Barnabas' greatest enemy?
Linn Winters: 23:15 He quite possibly is the person who has brought the most pain by killing friends and relatives of Barnabas, yet Barnabas is the guy who stands up and says, "I think we give this guy a second chance."

Linn Winters: 23:28 Here's what you need to hear. This isn't 37 chances, right? This isn't chance after chance after chance, right? That's called enabling. Okay? That's not what this is. But Barnabas sees something in Saul. He says, "You know what? I see a changed heart. I mean everything about Saul going this way, and now I'm just telling you, I think I see evidence that he's sincere, and he wants to go this way and I'm just wondering what could happen in the life of this guy if somebody gave him a second chance."

Linn Winters: 24:01 Isn't it true that second chances are pretty hard to come by and they're pretty hard to give? Because isn't it reality that when somebody hurts us, especially if you hurt me deeply, that I just want to keep distance from you. See, I'm a Christian, so I'm not gonna kill you, but I don't want to be around you. I feel like it's very, very Christ like of me that if you walk out in front of me on the road, I don't speed up. That's my commitment to Jesus. Right? But I don't want to hang out with you. I don't want you in my ear. Right? I mean, I want distance between you and me. You're my enemy. Isn't it interesting that Barnabas moves toward the man who may have inflicted the most pain in his life? He moves toward him.

Linn Winters: 25:02 Years ago I'm youth pastoring, and I took a group of kids up to the mountains for a camp out. It just so happened I had a bunch of freshmen on this particular trip and the freshman boys had just discovered that girls were interesting. So here we get. We're camping overnight. We're in a common camp, you know, there's other people camping all around us. I mean, right up there. And then we've got our tents and we put all the boys in in a couple tents and all the girls in a couple of tents. It works better that way. Okay? That's just a parenting idea for us.

Linn Winters: 25:34 Anyway, we get to about 10:30, 11:00 at night, and the boys are yelling over to the girl's tents trying to say cool things, trying to say things that would impress the girls and it's 10:30, 11:00 at night.

Linn Winters: 25:42 So, I go over to the boys tent and I go, "Guys, I understand what's going on, but you got to cool it. It's 11:00 at night. There's families around us with little kids who are trying to sleep. You have to pick this up in the morning."

Linn Winters: 26:06 At 1:00 a.m. I am woken out of a dead sleep, and I go over to the guys' tent and I say, "Guys, you've got to stop it. I'm just telling you, you're being so rude to everybody else around you, and if I have to get up again, you don't want to know."

Linn Winters: 26:19 It's 3:00 a.m., and now I'm back at the guys' tent and I just said, "Guys, if I have to deal with you right now, I'm going to kill you. So, here's the deal. I'm going to wait until I get some sleep , and when we get back to the church and the trip is over, I'll tell you what the consequences are".

Linn Winters: 26:19 So, we get back to the church and I sit the guys that were all responsible down and I say to them, "Okay, here's what I came up with. You've proved that you don't know how to behave on a youth activity. You didn't take direction, you didn't listen, so you are uninvited from the next youth activity. Then, my hope is that you'll come to the one after that and you'll be ready to behave and do what you need to do."

Linn Winters: 27:30 Now, here's, here's what I didn't know. One of the boys on the trip, probably the ringleader of all the talking and yelling and all that was a little kid by the name of Joel. Joel's mother had been sewing his costume for two months. You see the next youth activity we were doing was a Halloween costume party. And for two months she'd been hand sewing his costume so that his costume would be the best costume. And of course, since he was a freshman boy and he wanted to get the interests of the girls, he wanted to wear his really, really cool costume. And, now I had told them you're not coming to the next youth activity, which meant I was Satan.

Linn Winters: 27:36 By the time Joel got home and told his mom about how innocent he was and he wasn't doing anything, and then the demon possessed youth pastor came and rah, rah, rah. I'm just telling you, by the time it was done, Joel hated my guts and his mother Ora Lee hated them even more every time she looked at her hand sewn costume.

Linn Winters: 28:00 It got so bad. You ready for this? I would be walking down the sidewalk at church. Ora Lee would be walking down the sidewalk towards me. She would see me. She would depart the sidewalk, walk across the grass 200 feet to another sidewalk and then journey down so she wouldn't have to cross paths with me.

Linn Winters: 28:18 Finally I went to my supervisor and said, "Hey, I just need you to know here's what happened. We had the trip. I told the kids, 'Hey, you don't know how to behave. You're not going to come the next thing,' and now they're mad at me for no good reason. And, I just want, you know, because I got a feeling they may quit the church or you know, never come back to youth group. I don't know what they're going to do."

Linn Winters: 28:39 Here's what my supervisor said. "Linn you better be careful. You better be careful not to cast your pearl before the swine." Sound familiar? "You, better be careful not to be so right, and Linn you're right. I mean you're right. You're right. But in your rightness, you're about to lose hearts. In your rightness you're about to throw away a young man and say it's okay if you never come to youth group because I'm right and you're wrong. It's okay to throw away his mom. She may never come back to church because you're right and they're wrong. And Linn if you're not careful, you're going to take what is precious to God and throw it in the trash heap being right, and maybe what they really need from you is a second chance. So Linn, here's what I'm asking you to do, I'm going to ask you to go love on them."

Linn Winters: 29:34 And my response was, "What? They haven't even apologized. They haven't even admitted how wrong they were. If they would simply come get down on their knees and say..."

Linn Winters: 29:50 He said, "Linn, I just want you to love on them."

Linn Winters: 29:51 Well here's the problem. They don't want to have anything to do with me. They see me walking down the sidewalk, they leave the sidewalk, they go to the other side. They avoid me. So do you know what I had to do? I had to sneak up on them. I had to wait behind the bushes. And you think I'm joking. I'm telling you the truth. I see Ora Lee coming and I'd step behind a bush, and then she'd come walking by and I reach out and hug her.

Linn Winters: 30:10 "Ora Lee, I love you and I love your son." And she's like (demonstrates). She just couldn't stand to have my arm on her.

Linn Winters: 30:16 I'd find Joel and Joel would be talking to a bunch of girls of course, and I'd sneak up behind Joel and I wrapped my arms around Joel and I'd go "Joel, man I love you buddy."

Linn Winters: 30:30 And, you ready for this? I did this for months, and finally I felt it kind of calm down. When I announced that I was leaving that church to go work at another church, when I told that to the youth group, one boy jumped out of his seat. He ran to the front of the room and threw his arms around my neck and wept. Joel.

Linn Winters: 30:58 Because sometimes you don't know what happens when you give someone a second chance. When we got ready to plant Cornerstone, a woman who made her living by taking care of invalids and shut ins, people who couldn't, so she's changing bed pans, she's rolling people over so they don't get bedsores. Her house is full of hospital beds. Every single room including the living room. That's how she had it, and barely made ends meet.

Linn Winters: 31:28 Her name was Ora Lee. She was the most generous supporter of Cornerstone. Because you never know what happens when you decide not to throw your pearls in front of this swine and give somebody that nobody else is giving, somebody who's hurt you personally and you move toward them, and you say, "You know, I'd like to give you another chance."

Linn Winters: 31:52 Guys, get this. Paul, this guy that nobody wanted anything to do with Paul becomes the most prolific missionary in the first century. He starts dozens and dozens and the church explodes because of this guy who needed a second chance. The majority of the New Testament that you read was written by Paul and humanly speaking, humanly speaking, you and I would have less Bible. The church would not have gone on a holy terror if it hadn't been for a guy named Barnabas who gave a guy that didn't deserve it a second chance.

Linn Winters: 32:33 So here's my question. Is there someone in your life who needs you to be a Barnabas? My heart is still wounded. If I'm honest, I'm still a little angry. I think I see something I'm willing to give a second chance. Third thing, here we go. Acts Chapter Eleven. Just a couple pages over. The third remarkable moment in the life of an ordinary average guy who changed our world. Acts Chapter Eleven. Okay. How many of you in here are not Jewish? I'm not Jewish. Okay, so most of us.

Linn Winters: 33:30 So, here's what you need to know. Barnabas is about to change your life because here's the deal. In the early church, the early church was composed exclusively of Jews and they were absolutely convinced that the Jewish Messiah had come for Jews only and that to be a Christian, you had to be a Jew first.

Linn Winters: 33:55 And, when they looked at Gentiles, which is what all of us non-Jewish people are, they said, "There's no way. There's no way that a Gentile goes to Heaven because you realize how different they are. Gentiles eat bacon."

Linn Winters: 34:10 Now, surely no one who eats bacon can go to Heaven. Now here's the deal. All of us know you can eat bacon and go to Heaven. As a matter of fact, if you eat bacon, you may go to Heaven a little quicker, right? It doesn't keep you out of Heaven. But, guys get this. This was part of the hang-up for Jewish people. It's why they were pretty sure you shouldn't be able to go to heaven.

Linn Winters: 34:29 Here's another one, you ready for this? Gentile men shave their faces. How can a man with a shaved face go to Heaven? Because, everybody knows it's holier to have a beard, and all Hebrew men had beards. Some of you guys have got beards are going, "See, I knew it. I knew it."

Linn Winters: 34:51 But, do you get it? They were hung up because we were different and so they said, "Surely God can't have anything to do.... They're different, and different can't possibly be Biblical."

Linn Winters: 35:08 And then, here we go. Acts 11:19, "Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed."

Linn Winters: 35:14 So Stephen is a preacher. He's in Jerusalem. They stoned him to death, and then they turn on the rest of the Christians, so now
all the Christians in Jerusalem start running and they're scattered, and ironically, when they get to their new towns, they start telling people about Jesus. "When Stephen was killed, some of them traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cypress and Cyrene went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks." Are you kidding me?

Linn Winters: 35:49 Also telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus, the Lord's hand was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News reached the church in Jerusalem. They're going, oh whoa, whoa, whoa. This can't possibly be true, the Gentiles are becoming [no] and so they decide (are you ready?) to send next name Barnabas to Antioch.

Linn Winters: 36:13 "And when he arrived, he saw what the grace of God had done." He goes, man, I, I got there and God was just moving. I mean there was something electric about what was going on in these Gentile churches.

Linn Winters: 36:24 "He saw what that the grace of God had done and he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts."

Linn Winters: 36:30 He, Barnabas, was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith and a great number of people were brought to the Lord, you think? And a great number ever since because Barnabas had the ability to say, "You know what? It may not be familiar to me. It may not be what I'm using, but I'm just telling you, God can work in different ways than what I'm used to."

Linn Winters: 36:52 Guys this a big deal for the church because you know what? The church gets stuck. We get stuck. This is how we've always done it. Can I tell you how many churches have split over whether or not to have drums on the stage?

Linn Winters: 37:04 You go, "what?" No, I'm telling you this was a big deal. It was Satan's instrument. You couldn't bring a drum in church. I mean that was obvious, right? That was clear. I can't tell you how many arguments have been in church about whether or not you should dress up to go to church or whether you should dress down.

Linn Winters: 37:19 And there were people who said, "Hey, wait, wait, wait. If you're going to church, you're going to meet God. If you were going to meet the President of the United States, you would dress up, so how would you go to meet God and not dress up?"

Linn Winters: 37:31 And then others said, "Well, no, wait a minute. The President's children don't dress up to be with their dad, and God is our Heavenly Gather, and so us being casual is just a thing".

Linn Winters: 37:46 Hey, I get it. I'm in the family. It's only natural. Do you know how many fights there have been over hymns versus praise songs.? See, there are people who go no, no, no no. You have to do hymns because hymns are so doctrinally rich and you declare the things you believe out loud when you sing a hymn.

Linn Winters: 38:00 And then there's those that say, "Whoa, Whoa, whoa, whoa, but praise songs, declare what's in the heart."

Linn Winters: 38:08 And here's the answer. You ready for this? Both sides are right. It's one of those rare occasions where you go, no, no, no, there's merit to what both of you are saying. But is it possible that God could bless both? Is it possible for someone to be different than me and still love Jesus as much as me?

Linn Winters: 38:39 Here's the deal. I guarantee you that there are some of us here who would say, "Hey Linn, you know, could we just go back to the old style? You know, have a choir? I'm not sure I understand the moving lights and this. I don't need moving lights and smoke, you know, why are we spending money on that?"

Linn Winters: 39:02 And, I get it. I get it, I get it, I get it, I get it. And so every once in a while someone comes up to me and says, "Hey, could we just do like an old folks service?"

Linn Winters: 39:12 And I go, "Yeah, we could, because you know what the truth is, I grew up in old folks' services. We could do old folks service better than the old folks." We could do it.

Linn Winters: 39:21 But here's what I tell her, "We won't, and here's why: because if we do a great old folks service, the only people who are going to go to it are old folks."

Linn Winters: 39:35 Guess who's not going to come to that service? Your sons and your daughters, which means you're going to go to church and you're going to in essence say to them "You go find another church because we're not going to welcome you in this room because this is old folks service."

Linn Winters: 39:57 You want to hear something even scarier than that? When your sons and daughters leave, guess who's going to go with them? Your grandchildren, and you're going to lose the opportunity to leave a service where you've sat in it together and talk about the sermon. You're going to lose that Sunday lunch or Sunday, whatever that is.

Linn Winters: 40:19 When you go, 'hey, what about what he said and did it touch your heart and what are you planning?' You'll lose that influence because you'll separate yourself.

Linn Winters: 40:28 I'm just going to tell you, I get it. I get it. I get it. If you're in this room, chances are if you're over 60 years of age, you've got stuff that you look at the service and you go, I can't figure out why that guy that's playing prayer songs can't take his hat off. Why can't he take his hat off? And I guarantee you there's stuff, not the least of which is volume, right? Volume! Alright? Do you have to play it that loud? Right? And I guarantee, I guarantee you we've got people...I get it. We've got people in this room and you've had to decide it's okay. It's okay for it not to be what I'm used to. It's okay because I see what God is doing in this place and I see it changing the lives of my children and I see it changing the lives of my grandchildren, and I just want to be in it. It's okay. It's okay if they eat bacon, and shave their faces.

Linn Winters: 41:28 Hey, if you're here and you're over 60 years of age, would you do me a favor? Would you stand? I know you've made sacrifices to be in this room. Would you just stand if you're here and you're over 60 years of age? [applause] Thank you. Thank you. You can sit back down? Thank you for giving permission for it to be a little different than what you grew up with so that we could experience the power of God.

Linn Winters: 42:04 There's a very average man who changed the world. He was generous to a fault. He was building the right pile. He saw people that everybody else ran away from, and he gave them second chances. He allowed God to do things in people's lives different than what he was comfortable with. His name was Barnabas. And, I just wonder if we maybe need a little more Barnabas in some of us.

Linn Winters: 42:53 Let's bow our heads. How are you doing ordinary? You want to change the world? Be Generous. Build the pile that has eternity written on it. Push the kingdom forward. Consider those who've hurt you the most. Consider that maybe just maybe with a second chance their lives would be totally different and so would yours.

Linn Winters: 43:30 And is it okay for your church not to be perfect and for it to be a little different than what you've been used to, but to just glow in the glory that God is doing something. I just want to be in it, even if they shave their faces and eat bacon. Dear Lord Jesus, we just come to you. Thank you. Thank you for the story of an absolutely average man who changed this world because of what he decided to do in some of the most critical moments of the church. God made all of us have a little bit of Barnabas in our hearts and this we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
Read More
Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286