The Rest of The Way Posts

CHEERLEADING
Thursday, June 6, 2019 by Leona Choy

I was not born with a body type that would qualify me even to tryout for cheerleading in high school. That's an understatement. Oh, how I envied the kids who made it as cheerleaders!

To jump around in synchronized formation waving pompoms and shouting rah-rah slogans to rev up the crowd at sports events and inspire and energize the players on the field—that was the ultimate in my dreams. When my now-mother-of-two granddaughter Kara was in junior high, how proud and excited I was when she became a cheerleader!

Well, I guess God “heard” the dreams of my heart. When I grew up, I answered God's call to mission work, which led me to many countries and various ministries. Among the spiritual gifts God provided for me to do His work was—believe it or not—the gift of cheerleading!

It is a gift integrated with other ministry gifts such as encouragement, exhortation, building people up in the faith, affirming them, praying for them, lifting them up when they are despondent or weak, teaching, comforting and consoling. In the Scriptures it is expressed through both the tangible and spiritual works of mercy. In short, cheerleading is a “Barnabas gift.” Barnabas?

If it had not been for Barnabas, there might not have been an Apostle Paul! Barnabas exercised his cheerleader gift on behalf of a needy new convert to the fledgling Christian faith. The apostles of Jesus and the entire early Christian community in Jerusalem didn't trust that fresh convert who was widely known as their enemy. Who could blame them? Saul (Paul) was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” and dragging both men and women off to jail. (Acts 9:1,2) “When he was trying to associate with the disciples, they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple” (9:26, 27).

That could have been the end of the story. Period. There would have been no early Christian missionary travels to spread the gospel widely and win converts, defend the faith and establish new churches. We would be without letters of instruction to the early churches and their leadership, which became a beloved major portion of our New Testament.

Enter “Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas [a nickname] by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement).” A man of proven character and reputation in the early Church, he put his own reputation on the line to vouch for that unlikely young convert. “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” and testified to the veracity of his miraculous conversion story. He bore witness that Paul “was now speaking out boldly in the name of Jesus” (9:27).

God obviously gave Barnabas the gift of exhortation and the ability to inspire others in the faith. He didn't stop with merely introducing Paul, but followed up on his progress as a true disciple. He offered him an opportunity to serve the Lord by calling him away from settling in Tarsus to join him in encouraging and building up the growing Church at Antioch. That Church in turn sent them together on evangelization mission trips. They made repeated return trips to encourage the newly established churches. The rest, as they say, is history.

Later we find Barnabas again vouching for and encouraging his young dropout nephew John Mark by giving him a second chance in mission work. The result? God eventually used the matured and seasoned John Mark to write the second Gospel! According to early Christian tradition, we find Barnabas continuing to exercise his gift of encouragement by establishing the Church in Cyprus, his home city. Wherever Barnabas went God used him as a cheerleader!

I love my cheerleading Barnabas gift! I can exercise it in person, by prayer and through my writing. Thank You, Lord. There is no greater gift that I could desire. All of us who know Jesus have within reach personally and through social media many people in our circle of influence who need our gift of encouragement/cheerleading.

God networks people together for that reason as parts of the Body of Christ. He brings us through certain life experiences so we can encourage and comfort others and build them up in the faith. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6) This is not a flashy gift but a largely hidden and behind-the-scenes personal ministry with results that reproduce themselves in the lives of others. Only God knows whether there might be a potential Apostle Paul or a John Mark who would not become who God destined him to be without my Barnabas cheerleading—and yours!

And where would I be without those prayer partners who hug me and cheer me on?

*****

During the month of June, I'm excerpting selections from my book Sage Brushings which I'm offering at a discounted $12 plus postage this month only. Order through this website at BOOKSTORE or email [email protected] Ideal gift for family and friends.

A BONUS: Anyone who orders this book during June may request a free CD with an hour of my previous radio programs, one on the topic of cheerleading.


Comments

Louise Looney From Conroe, TX. At 6/7/2019 1:02:43 PM

Got it. I am so proud that you are still reaching out and following the calling God gave you.

Kay From Frederick County At 6/7/2019 7:56:40 AM

Loved it! Cheerleaders unite, the helpers, not the bouncy ones.

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