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Jesus Creed

A Barnabas Moment

Barnabas, the Book of Acts tells us, was called a “son of encouragement.” Many of us have Barnabas moments in life where we can draw from our own experiences to help others, and I had one recently. At one of our speaking engagements in the last year or two, we spent time with a young man who deeply impressed me with giftedness — good solid thinker, articulate, a church leader type, faithful and wise beyond his years, and had a wonderful reputation at his church. He was a college senior at the time and enthused about going to seminary.

We spent enough time together that I was comfortable writing a strong recommendation for him to a well-known seminary. That seminary did not admit this young man. I can’t imagine an entire batch of first year students being better than him, but so it is … he’s sorrowful over what happened.
His pastor recently wrote to me and told me about the situation, so I wrote to the young man to encourage him and I was told my letter was an encouragement to him. It was for me a Barnabas moment. I think one of my own experiences helped me.
When I went to Trinity as a student way back in 1976, I wanted to enroll in the M.A. program in New Testament so I did during the first semester, but I was not admitted — though I was not given reasons. So I applied again but was told I’d have to wait until the end of the first year so they could assess my abilities on the basis of my first year grades. Long story short: I was admitted and ended up being invited back to teach, and taught for a dozen years at Trinity.
That experience, which helped me sort through my own calling and led me to concentrate even more on my studies, gave me some foundations for helping this young man who is experiencing something similar to what I experienced. I told him not to give up but to dig deeper into his own calling … and I’m sure he is and will … and I’m also confident he will become a church leader someday. But for now, he’s wondering what he will be doing next Fall when he’d like to be in seminary.
Do you have any Barnabas Moments to tell us about?
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posted November 30, 2009 at 8:02 am

After working in full-time ministry for many years, I made the transition to becoming a stay-at-home mom when my husband started seminary. He had been holding down the fort as a mostly stay-at-home dad for the early years that our family was growing, and I continued on at my job, in many ways experiencing the best of both worlds.
I didn’t expect how difficult it would be and how dramatic the change would be when I stayed home. I knew I had made the ‘right’ decision for our family at that time, I loved my kids, I was expecting our third – but I couldn’t get traction on my spiritual life in the context of being home. It was a shock to my system to never have a moment alone, not even in the car [minivan!], no more staff retreats and long conversations about esoteric spiritual points and congregational growth strategies – now it was all ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and Veggie Tales movies. I was stuck without an outlet, without an inlet.
Two things happened to not only extend grace to me, but to encourage me in very tangible ways, and they’ve continued to do so to this day. The first was the day I was expressing my sadness and confusion to a friend who is a well-known teacher and preacher. She looked at me and said ‘Steph, this is just the Selah before your next Psalm. You don’t want to miss this season, or you won’t be ready for what God is doing in the next’. Gulp. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and when I’m mired in diapers and Legos even still, I think of her words, and they encourage me to be faithful today. Just today.
The second was the day I discovered ‘Jesus Creed’. I was sitting at the computer in the bedroom of our seminary housing with a 2 year old playing at my feet and a 2-week-old in my arms, and somehow, somewhere, I was linked to the old blog and found a community of people who thought about the things I thought about, who engaged in thoughtful, challenging, exhortational communication, and who were shepherded by a thoughtful and pastoral teacher and leader. It very quickly became a lifeline for me. It still is! I was thrilled to discover that I could still read interesting and important books, and could have a place to process them. I continue to be grateful for Scot and this crew. It was definitely a Barnabas moment for me!
Now the kids are 10, 6, 4, and 1, and I’m a Pastor’s wife instead of a seminarian’s wife. God is good.

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John W Frye

posted November 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

I wanted to go directly into the Th.D. program at Dallas Theological Seminary upon finishing my Th.M. in Old Testament. Due to some complications in the Christian Ministries Field Education area, I was told to wait a year. I was thoroughly bummed out and felt that some issues were totally unwarranted. One of my Hebrew profs, Don Glenn, became a Barnabas, empathizing with me because he felt I should have been admitted. He gave me a gift–Walther Eichrodt’s 2 volume Old Testament Theology with this note “To John Frye: with best wishes for his good work.” That affirmation carried me. I went to a church in Racine, WI for three years and then applied to the Th.D. program and was accepted. After a year in the program, I began to wonder if I was called to be an Old Testament scholar…I mean who reads Ugaritic and Akkadian? No one in the local church that I knew of. The 2 years in pastoral ministry “got into my blood.” After teaching on faculty at Moody Bible Institute for two years, I’ve been a pastor ever since. In this journey, Prof. Don Glenn was the right man, doing the right thing, at the right time.

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