Be Available

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind, including travel, the normal “Delta is not ready when you are” travel schedule and a lot of miles on my Enclave. I’ve had it 2 1/2 months and this last week alone, I logged about 1,400 miles. I think I need to see if the old TRUTH bus is still available. Plus I’m wondering if my chiropractor would consider traveling with me. I normally need either a mental or physical adjustment with the way travel goes these days.

Two weeks ago, I was able to spend a day and a half with dear friends Warren and Betty Wiersbe. Now in their 80s, it’s still a joy just to be in their home and see their faces. I treasure the times and wish they weren’t so far away. Warren and I do the usual: go to his study and talk books, talk the current state of ministry and hit a used book store. It’s a time I cherish and a friendship that has blessed me beyond measure.

Of course, Warren wrote the famous and best selling “BE” series of commentaries. I told him he should write “Be Rejected” on why certain books didn’t make it into Scripture, but he’s got other books on the burner. Although he doesn’t travel anymore, he continues to write, bless and encourage the body of Christ. His books are available through our bookstore at Sherwood (www.sherwoodbaptist.net).

I say that because I’ve talked to many pastors about one of his new books, and they didn’t even know it was out. Sometimes, bookstores put his books on the back shelf to give room for fiction and fluff, which seems a tragedy to me in light of the continued dumbing down of American Christians. But that’s another blog…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been out doing a few screenings of COURAGEOUS. The Sherwood Pictures team doesn’t do as many of those as we used to, but it’s still fun to get out and sit with an audience and hear their reactions. I’ve done two in Nebraska and one in Alabama. Part of being available is to hang out and talk to people after a screening. Hearing how the movies have encouraged them is a blessing and an encouragement. One principle leaders need to learn is how to walk slowly through a crowd.

This past week, I was privileged to be on a webcast from www.lifeway.com with Dr. Thom Rainer, Dr. Tom Elliff, Dr. Kevin Ezell and Dr. Frank Page, talking about COURAGEOUS and the resources we are making available to churches and pastors so they can take the event (the movie) and turn it into a process (sermons, Bible studies). Among other materials we are making available are: free online sermons through LifeWay (some are my sermons and some by other pastors and leaders); a Bible Study curriculum with clips and guides. Currently there is a four-week study out, and in the next two months, They will release an 8-week study. The Church Event Kit enables a church to use the movie as an outreach tool. Once the DVD is released sometime in 2012, you’ll be able to buy the site license and have full legal rights to show the movie. After all, NO CHURCH WOULD JUST BUY A DVD AND BREAK THE LAW BY SHOWING IT ILLEGALLLY WOULD THEY?

There’s a way you can learn how to be a part of an action squad and get the movie into your local theater, plus suggestions like giving away tickets to law enforcement officials and their spouses. The divorce rate among law enforcement is over 90% according to some research. My book COURAGEOUS LIVING covers the courageous lives of numerous Bible characters. It is filled with illustrations from the movie as well. Like my book FIREPROOF YOUR LIFE, this book can be used as a sermon resource, as a guide for teaching a Bible Study or for personal edification and growth. Why the resources? We want them to “be available” to you after the movie so you can give people a “now what” after they are challenged by the theme of the film.

On Thursday, I was part of a very small, intimate group of influencers looking at COURGEOUS. One of them had experienced the death of a child. His insight and comments about how we handled the family crisis story line was very encouraging. It’s one story line we wanted to make sure we got right. As my friend Ed Litton, who plays the pastor in COURAGEOUS, says, “Hollywood does violence well. We do grief and suffering well.” We know how to handle it, talk about it, deal with it, and find God in the midst of it.

On Friday, I had the privilege of being on THE RICK & BUBBA SHOW based out of Birmingham, but heard literally around the country. My friend Scott Dawson and I (Scott has a VERY SMALL ROLE in the movie — he loves for me to say that) were guests for one hour. It was filled with laughter and also some serious commentary and comments about what’s happening with men today.

One of my rules for life is, “Be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, doing what you are supposed to be doing.” In other words, “Be available.” Look for opportunities to live your life to the glory of God.

One of the funny moments on the show was when we began to talk about what happened this past Thursday night. While we were headed to a home for the screening, a lady in front of us had a flat tire. Scott said, “I guess I need to help my neighbor.” First of all, she wasn’t his neighbor, she was just cutting through that street. Secondly, he had never met her.

Scott jumped out of the car and told me to head on to his house. It was three doors down. My wife was with me, so, being under authority, I took off for the cool air-conditioned home. The rest of the guests were already at the house.

Finally,we waited until we figured out we might want to go see if Scott had been mugged or was finished. We walked down the street and he still didn’t have the tire off. Rick Burgess got the rest of the lug nuts off. He was pulling so hard, the car almost came off the jack.

Now, to further complicate the story, this is one of those “hHow many men does it take to change a tire?” In Alabama that night the answer is, “One…and three to give advice.” Or, more accurately, “One…and two to give advice…and Michael Catt to serve as Executive Producer of tire changing.” Which means I watched and Scott and Rick did most of the work. Okay, I admit, I wasn’t very available. I was there to provide commentary and moral support. For the record, I did pick up the flat tire and put it in the trunk. I think that is called distribution of responsibilities, and I took “the least of these.”

On the radio, I kept losing it because Rick kept saying, “We’re down there helping this lady change this tire and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to get up to the house and see this movie about how to be a godly man.'” It was classic, spot-on and typical Rick & Bubba commentary. He nailed me when he said, “Catt’s over there as Executive Producer giving us the thumbs up and ‘good job guys.'”

I guess I wasn’t very available. But, in my defense, I had…well, I really had no defense. I wasn’t as available as I could have been. I left my friend Scott standing on the side of the road in 98-degree heat and then offered little more than free advice.

Which leads me to my topic. How available are we? Really? Are we willing to be inconvenienced? Are we willing to sacrifice so that we can render service in the name of Christ? Who is my neighbor? Let’s face it, it’s easy to “pass by on the other side of the road” isn’t it.

This past week at Sherwood, in 100+-degree heat, several hundred of our adults and young people made themselves available. The end result: we had nearly 800 involved in VBS and saw 32 make professions of faith for Christ. Ministry doesn’t happen in isolation. Someone has to get dirty, someone has to sweat, someone has to sacrifice, someone has to give.

When given the opportunity, are you an Executive Producer, telling everyone what to do, or are you changing the tires? Unfortunately, I was the priest that passed by on the other side of the road last Thursday, while my brothers in Christ, Scott and Rick modeled ministry.

Next time, I should think about being available.

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