The past month has been a whirlwind and a blessing. In the last 30 days, I’ve spoken at a conference on revival in Edmond, Oklahoma, and the annual ReFRESH™ Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Plus, I’ve taken a week for study and traveled for ten days to Israel. I’m both exhausted and exhilarated!
This is the fourth year I’ve preached at the conference in Oklahoma. This year’s conference focused on revival and awakening—a subject that is near to my heart. I was privileged to share the program with Dr. Roy Fish and Ken Jenkins. The sessions were powerful, and God used the four days in my own life. I was stirred, challenged and stretched. It’s rare to be able to preach a conference while being ministered to at the same time.
This year’s ReFRESH™ in the Smokies Conference was unusually blessed of God. Tom Elliff, Ed Litton, Bill Stafford, Ken Jenkins and I had the privilege of leading the nearly 300 participants in seeking the Lord for a fresh touch from heaven. Mark Willard, our worship leader, and our praise team led the worship, and God was all over it.
At the conference, we were able to distribute some pre-release copies of my new book, The Power of Desperation. I’m very excited about this project, published by Broadman & Holman, which will be released nationwide in June 2009. It is the first of three books they’ve asked me to write in the ReFRESH™ series. The second book is already in the editorial process. God gave me the title and chapters for The Power of Desperation in one day. It was a joy to write, and it’s a book, I believe, that defines and describes what it takes to meet God in a new and fresh way. I’m praying God will use it to stir the hearts of many people.
ReFRESH™ started with snow and ended with manna from heaven falling on us. Pastors from about a dozen states (including New York and almost forty from Pennsylvania) attended the conference. We were able to pour into these men who are serving the Lord faithfully. Like all of us, they can grow weary in well doing, but God allowed us to be refreshed physically and mentally. If you would like to order the messages from this year’s conference or past years, you may purchase them through our online bookstore (www.sherwoodbaptist.net/bookstore).
Again, God provided the resources for the conference through scholarships and a generous gift from two anonymous donors. God is teaching me to trust Him for the funding for this conference. It’s not easy, but I’ve seen Him be faithful every year to meet our needs—not our wants, but our needs.
Following a Sunday at home, we were off to Israel for ten days. This is the third trip I’ve taken since November of 2006, and I learn something new every time I go. There were significant God-moments in the Holy Land. We were able to visit places we’d not previously seen, as well as the familiar spots. The weather was cool, but our hearts were warmed through and through. It was a privilege to take mostly first-timers with me. To see people experience the land of Israel for the first time is incredible.
We had several times when we weren’t pushed by other groups and were able to pause, reflect and worship. Many tears flowed at certain points on the trip. There is a bond that develops between people when they spend ten days together that can’t develop any other way. This group was hungry for God, and God met us and fed us.
We were also able to take our girls again, which was fun. Erin’s fiancé and his family joined us, and we got to know each other a little better on the bus, at meals and as we worshiped together during those ten days. It was a good bonding time for all of us.
A funny (maybe funny is the wrong word) thing happened while I was teaching at Caesarea Philippi. Someone walked by and said, “That’s Michael Catt over there…” I have no idea who it was, but one of the members of our group heard it.
Erin was recognized by several people while she was there. It’s a little strange to go to Israel and have folks you’ve never met know who you are. She and I even posed for a picture at one store in Jerusalem. They added the picture to their wall with folks like Rudy Guliani and a few other famous folks. Obviously, we’ll be the ones everyone has to ask, “Who are those people?”
While we were in the Holy Land, we ran into Jonathan Falwell and Charles Billingsly from Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University. They had a huge group over there, and we were in Tibereas and the Garden Tomb together.
On the plane ride home, I met Michael Medved, a nationally known leader on speaking to the culture. He was returning from his father’s funeral. He was very gracious and complimentary about the films and what we are doing at Sherwood Pictures.
And, to top it all off, we got bumped up to First Class on the flight home. I got to see how the other half lives…and they live well! It’s the first time I’ve arrived home from Israel without jet lag. I was actually able to sleep on the plane. Riding in coach for thirteen hours is like being loaded onto a cattle car. If they would just take two rows out, all of us could fly first class with the added leg room.
I’m grateful for what I’ve seen and heard. I’m grateful to be back in my own home, my church and my pulpit. I love the place where God has called me. I serve great people who allow me to minister to “churches” and are not selfish when these opportunities come along. I’m a blessed man.
(copyright 2009, Michael Catt)
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.