The days in which we live could cause one to be anxious. We find ourselves unsure about domestic policies, foreign policies and the economy. We don’t know if the bailouts are going to work. We don’t know how all the changes in the auto industry will shake out. We are uncertain about what might happen in the Middle East.
But we are not like those who have no hope. We know how all this is going to end. Think about all that the Jewish people have been through. Through the centuries, they have survived Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, dispersion and the Holocaust. They formed a nation when no one was truly on their side. They are surrounded by enemies who hate them, yet they survive.
Someone once said, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” Are we tough? Do we have the stamina to stand when things are not going our way? Will we stand for what we believe or fall to the whims of the world and the adversity that might come our way?
It seems the only people in America today without civil rights are believers. As I read and listen, Christians are increasingly persecuted in this “land of the free and home of the brave.” There are forces at work (fleshly covers for demonic influences) to take away our freedoms and undermine our faith. It’s been eroding for decades, and we may well live to see the demise of all we’ve taken for granted.
But are we the stuff of which martyrs are made? Can we take the heat, or will we run out of the church kitchen? That’s a question each individual and church will have to ask and answer. The choices we make determine the roads we take.
For instance, since we have the freedom to worship, will we make use of it or make excuses for not doing it? Will we take the summer off from church and jump in the lake, or will we make the most of every opportunity to worship Him? The word “worship” is a shortened form of the old English word “worthship,” which means showing God the worth He holds in our lives.
With that being said, what’s God worth to you? Is He worthy of your worship, giving, praying, studying and witnessing? The weeks ahead will reveal whether we are a people of convenience or conviction. Remember, moms and dads, what we do in moderation, our kids do in excess. We set forth a model, and our model sets the mold.
What about other opportunities this summer like camps, Vacation Bible School, Bible study and worship services? All the activities of summer are designed not only to minister to your family, but also to give you an opportunity to invest in others and reach others for Christ. Something is fishy if we aren’t fishing for men.
The gospel is not something we go to church to hear; it is something we go from the church to tell. Let’s reach out to a world in need with the Word it needs. Our world begins in our neighborhood and across the street from the church.
While it blesses me to meet people from across this country who have come to “see the church that made the movie,” I want to see more folks who have come because they’ve been invited by us during the week. Last week we had visitors from Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Kansas, but were we able to convince our neighbors in Albany, Leesburg, Sylvester, Dawson and the surrounding area to join us? We have not been given this strategic role to impress others, but to impact those we know.
If God can find us faithful in giving, growing and going, we could see the weeks ahead as some of the strongest in our history. Already, this has been one of the strongest years in our history in terms of baptisms and new members. But there is MORE to be done. We must not rest on our laurels. We must not become slack in our giving or our going.
The days demand the church at her best. We can’t control what is happening in the world. We can make conscious decisions to make the Lord and His church our priority. We can choose to make an impact this summer. The other option is to do what you please, but when you do that, do you please God? Christianity is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions. A great church is one that remembers the past, lives in the present, and works for the future. Christianity is not just Christ in you, but Christ living His life through you.
A few years ago, a family in our church was vacationing in New England during the summer. They passed a church whose sign read, “Closed for the Summer. See you in September!” Don’t let that be the sign this community reads from your life over the next few months. Model your Master this summer.
(copyright 2009, Michael C. 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.