I have a friend who has a great statement regarding the church and ministry. When we are talking about something that is just beyond belief, he says, A I can ‘ t make up the stuff I know. ” I’ve had some weird encounters in my time. Every preacher has at least one A truth is stranger than fiction ” experience.
Several years ago, the media reported that a group of fundamentalists in Columbus, Ohio, were on the prowl for ungodly and dangerous books to ban. One book of particular concern was E. B. White ‘ s classic children’s tale, Charlotte ‘ s Web , the story of a farm girl and her pet pig.
These well-intentioned but nutty believers tried to rid the public schools of this A blasphemous text ” because the animals in the book could talk. They said it was against God ‘ s will for animals to talk. Might I also suggest that it might be grievous to God when people do stupid things in his name?
It wasn’t that long ago when one of the most famous television preachers said he wished there was a verse in the Bible that would allow him to take a machine gun and blow his enemies away. Sounds just like Jesus, doesn’t it? He denies he said it, but the tape doesn’t lie.
I wish Pat Robertson would go quietly into the night. I ‘ m sure he does a lot of good, but he needs to quit linking God with some of his asinine pronouncements. Through the years, he’s moved hurricanes by his prayers (I know the people who were slammed by those hurricanes really appreciated him looking out for number one). He has recently
called for the assassination of third world dictators. When he ‘ s not selling vitamins (I ‘ m not sure why you need to be ordained to do that), he ‘ s making some comment that he has to apologize for within the next forty-eight hours. Pat, zip it and help the rest of us as we try to be salt and light, not vinegar.
When we served a church in Oklahoma in the 70s, we had a guy hanging around the church who thought he was Robert Duvall, the voice of Steppenwolf and various other famous people of the time. He claimed he had eight million dollars in the Yukon National Bank and that they had killed his wife because she was the real voice of Janis Joplin. We had many strange encounters with the guy that I wish I could forget. One week he showed up with his eyebrows shaved off. He said when he shaved them off, he could see Jesus in the mirror talking to him. The first thing I wanted to see was a padded wagon taking him away.
Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a man who showed up at Moody Church claiming to be John the Baptist. Warren, with his quick wit basically told him he couldn’t be John the Baptist because he still had his head on his shoulders.
Several years ago I was talking about revival and said, “When God starts to move, watch out, the nuts are going to come out of the woodwork, ” or as one of the great preachers of another time said, “Where there ‘ s light, there ‘ s bugs.” Not two minutes after the service, a lady walked up to me and said, “You were talking about me. I’m a nut.” After talking with her for a few seconds, I have to admit that I agreed with her. She was one brick short of a full load and losing a brick with every sentence.
If you’ve been around long, you’ve met someone who blames God for everything they do. God calls them, and then he doesn’t. God tells them he wants them in ministry, and three months later he wants them selling insurance. Is it God who can ‘ t make up his mind or do some people use God as an excuse for their indecisiveness?
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably met the American Idol rejects who think God has called them into music ministry. They can ‘ t carry a tune in a bucket, but they think they can sing like Steve Green, Sandi Patty or any number of Christian artists. They always have a song that “God has given them to sing. ” I’ve decided to tell those folks that “When God tells me He wants you to sing, I’ll call you. “
Several years ago, I shared the story of Maria Rubio from New Mexico who was frying tortillas when she got a vision of the Lord Jesus. The vision was in the tortilla. She preserved the tortilla so that God ‘s people could see it at the Shrine of the Holy Tortilla in her home. She claims people have experienced miracles and cures from seeing Jesus in a tortilla. Personally, I don ‘ t buy that story. Although I have eaten some Mexican food a few times that made me want to see Jesus.
People have made a financial killing from selling prayer cloths and healing oil. Thousands have spent hard-earned money to take a trek to see the image of the Virgin Mary on some wall. If every faith healer actually healed all the people they’ve claimed, it would have made front page news in every paper across the world.
Sometimes we give the world reasons to ignore us or even to mock us. It ‘ s time, that we were a little more sober in spirit, sound in mind and firm in rebuking those who use God for their own agendas. It is not loving or Christ-like to let someone manipulate you or pressure you when your heart, conscience and God’ s Word all are waving red flags in your face. We don’t have to put up with this stuff. Speak the truth in love and keep moving. There’s a difference between mercy and being manipulated. Discerning Christians know the difference.
© Michael Catt, 2006
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.