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Archive for the ‘The B-I-B-L-E’ Category

Prepare for Rain

Prepare for Rain: The Story of a Church that Believed God for the Impossible by Michael Catt

After watching Fireproof, I was curious how Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia, came to be in the movie-making business. The book Prepare for Rain, authored by Dr. Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, satisfied my curiousity.

Dr. Catt began the book by asking four “how” questions.

(1) How do you prepare for rain?
(2) How do you cultivate the soil of your life in preparation for God’s outpouring?
(3) How do you break up the unproductive ground?
(4) How do you wait expectantly and patiently for God to act?

In order to answer these questions, Dr. Catt told the story of how Sherwood Baptist Church went from a neighborhood church to a regional church with a global ministry. After reading the book, I see that the whole process was a lot of hard work. There was the work of reforming the basic organization of the church from the deacon ministry to determining just what type of music they were going to sing on Sunday morning to smoothing out the educational system of the church’s Christian school. All that didn’t seem difficult compared to the next step. When he confronted legalism, gossip, and racism in the hearts of members, more than 800 people chose to move their church membership elsewhere.

God worked in the heart of every member, including Dr. Catt’s. One day, out of the blue, he learned that he was adopted, and that practically everybody in the whole world knew about it but him. Learning of his adoption threw him for an emotional loop that called for forgiving all those that had kept the story of his birth a secret. He acknowledged that he had no control over his own life, and embraced his adoption as God’s perfect will.

During all this hard, heart-searching work, the church began to focus on prayer. They wanted to increase their ministry impact, and needed a vision. So, they built a small prayer chapel and began to pray. They focused on praying for the “spiritually sick, the prodigals, and the wayward.” Prayers for the sick continued, but the prayer meetings no longer consisted exclusively of what he called “organ” recitals. Mr. Catt wrote, “You know the drill; pray for in-grown toenails, minor surgeries, a few big surgeries, the sick and afflicted, shut-ins and those for whom it is our duty to pray.” I laughed at his description of the church’s typical prayer meetings because I’ve attended to a few of those myself.

While people prayed, relationships with the Lord and with each other grew; multi-cultural relationships, pastor/church relationships, and staff relationships were strengthened. Prayer also brought a vision. After reading a George Barna article listing the top cultural influences, and noting that church was far behind the increasingly stronger influences of sports, education, and movies, the staff began to question why the church had forsaken the arts. Soon, after pondering and wondering why the church was no longer on the cutting edge of creative arts, Sherwood Baptist recognized an opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus through movies. All three of their movies have been produced with all volunteer actors, one camera (!), not much money, little training, and God’s grace.

How does Michael Catt answer the questions posed at the beginning of the book? Plow the fields that God has given you. Pray. Confess sin. Love people.

Hosea said to Israel, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord” (10:12). Fallow ground is unproductive and undisturbed. It has to be broken up, tilled, and prepared for seed. The rocks and weeds have to be removed. The tilling has to be deep for there to be a bountiful harvest.

Michael Catt’s prayer is that Sherwood Baptist Church “be a catalyst for revival in our land.” These followers of Christ plowed the fields, tilled deep, yanked the weeds, and chunked the rocks. It’s raining in Albany, Georgia, and throughout the world where their movies, communicating the uncompromising truth of Jesus, are shown.

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Robby

Meet my friend, Robby. We’ve been acquainted for about twelve years, and friends for ten.

Robby

The first two years that I knew Robby, I didn’t interact with him much. Cerebral palsy confines him to a wheel chair or the floor, and he communicates with grunts, yells, and occasional smiles. His developmental age is approximately 18 months. Although I always acknowledged Robby’s presence with, “Hello, Robby, how are you?” it was Robby who made the first overture of friendship when his face showed pleasure at the sound of my voice.

Knowing that Robby responded to my voice intrigued me. I spent more time on the floor talking to him, and coaxing smiles. His eyes held a look of recognition, but I rarely captured one of his special smiles. One day his mother handed me a dish of black olives to give to him, and a delighted grin spread across his face. Although Robby can feed himself finger foods, I pop black olives into his mouth at every opportunity because the ratio of olives to grins is one-to-one.

Robby is the 38-year-old son of my friends, Robert and Cherrye. If you have read Dad’s book, Maiden Spring Legacy, then you already know something about Cherrye. She is skillful with the English language, and edited the book. Dad credits her with “great ability and patience as an editor.” When I was in graduate school, I was never required to attend the dreaded writing clinic due to Cherrye’s excellent proofing of all my papers.

Tomorrow is a big day for Robby. He is scheduled to be admitted to the hospital so that he can be sedated for extensive dental work. An empty coffee cup when he awakes will be Robby’s first clue that his day is different.

Thank you, Lord, for Robby. Wrap him in Your perfect peace. Grant him a speedy recovery so that he may soon drink familiar cups of coffee, and grin his way through a bowl of olives.

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I’m In!

Last August, I began listening to a unique program on KHCB-FM Houston, called Haven Today. Each program focuses on a current news event, and relates it to scripture. On the first of March, the host, Charles Morris, began encouraging listeners to read the Bible in 90 days or the New Testament in 21 days.

I declined the invitation outright. Reading the entire Bible in 90 days looked like another way for me to fail. I confess that I have never read the Bible through in one year, and, believe me, I’ve attempted it many times.

Today’s guest on the program did get my attention though when she said that three things came about as she and a group at Saddleback Church read the Bible cover to cover in 90 days:

  • extra energy,
  • multiplied time,
  • and increased discipline in other areas.

Ok, I’ve accepted the challenge because I could do with a good dose of all the above. I downloaded the 90-day bookmark from Haven Today, and read the first 16 chapters of Genesis. I’m thinking that I’m going to get that hour back that I lost this weekend due to Daylight Savings Time.

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When I Met Mike

When I met Mike, my world grew bigger.

Mike introduced me to Bear, Grady, Pedro, Mellissandra, Bubba, Elizabeth, Baby Gary, Stanley, Tony, Amy, Boyce, Dallas, Hadley, Guitar Dave, and Jesse.

They live on the streets in Austin, Texas. Most are alcoholics. They all have broken relationships with family, friends, and God. They are troubled people.

In a sermon, entitled “Jesus with the Troubled Man,” pastor Dr. Ed Young, described how much Jesus values troubled people. The demoniac of Gadara, or Mr. Legion, was over-the-top psychotic, due to the 3000-6000 demons that resided in him. Jesus sent the evil spirits into a herd of swine, and the man was healed.

As a child, I wondered what happened to the pigs’ owners whose livelihood raced over a cliff, and drowned in the sea. Two thousand pigs represented food on the table, clothes, medicine, children’s shoes, home repairs. It didn’t seem right that hard-working people lost their means of earning a living.

My world grew bigger when I took my eyes off of the monetary worth of pigs, and focused on God—the God who loves people so much that He became “a people.” The truth of the matter is that one soul, restored to sanity is worth more to God than 2000 pigs. One life made whole, whether it be from demon possession, emotional illness, addictions, or the stress of everyday life, is infinitely more valuable than the economic foundation of an entire region.

The Gadarines didn’t grasp the eternal significance of Jesus’ actions, and so they pressured Jesus to leave. As the healed man continued to live in the area, testifying to God’s goodness and the healing power of Jesus, I like to think that many ruptured relationships were restored.

The story of “Jesus with the Troubled Man,” recorded in Mark 5:1-20, is good news for me. It’s good news for Mike. It’s good news for the whole, troubled world.

Please pray for Mike.

Please pray for Mike

Troubles vanish,
hearts are mended,
in the presence
of the King.

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God Phoned Today

It was about time. I’ve been waiting for God to telephone me for as long as I can remember.

He talked about love and faithfulness. I was all ears as the call began with a reminder of the faithfulness of Noah (Hebrews 11:7). Then it was right on to Proverbs 3:3, with some personal instruction.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

As I hung up the phone, I pondered how God wants me to be faithful to Him, and to everyone He calls me to serve.

411God is a new service of “Back to the Bible.” Sign up, and have a minute of scripture read on the phone, emailed, or texted to you whatever time of the day you choose; it’s all free. Reading scripture in an email isn’t appealing to me, but pausing to listen to God’s Word on my cell while I’m washing supper dishes gives me a boost.

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