“Life changes overnight for Coach John Harrison when his high school basketball team and state championship dreams are crushed under the weight of unexpected news. When the largest manufacturing plant shuts down and hundreds of families leave their town, John questions how he and his family will face an uncertain future. After reluctantly agreeing to coach cross-country, John and his wife, Amy, meet an aspiring athlete who’s pushing her limits on a journey toward discovery. Inspired by the words and prayers of a newfound friend, John becomes the least likely coach helping the least likely runner attempt the impossible in the biggest race of the year.”
Overcomer by Chris Fabry
“What do you allow to define you?”
With the upcoming release of Overcomer – the movie – slated for later this month, I decided to read the book. Rarely does any book capture my attention like this one did. Even more rare does any book evoke an emotional response from me, as this one did.
It is difficult to write this review without spoilers, so I will only give my thoughts and impressions of the story and leave the reader to embrace the goodness and pursue their own journey of overcoming.
The Book is divided into 4 parts (The Coach, The Question, The Answer, and The Voice) that will take the reader through a year long journey of 4 distinct characters – John the Coach, Hannah Scott, Barbara Scott and T-Bone (aka Thomas Hill). Through these rich and relatable characters, we are reminded that sometimes God’s plan for our life doesn’t always follow what we want for our life.
We are privileged to journey through this particular year as these characters come to terms with disappointment at the loss of what was, disillusionment of what is coming, apprehension and trepidation of our expectations of ourselves and our lives and the burdens we all carry, both real or self-imposed.
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (RAPTURED) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord!” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AMP
In theological terms, the word RAPTURE is defined as: “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to earth.”
While the exact word “RAPTURE” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away, or caught up. The concept of the “caught up” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at God’s command, with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet call of God, believers that have already died (the dead in Christ) will rise from their graves. Then the believers still alive on the earth will be “caught up” in the air with the dead in Christ to meet Jesus in the air. Together we will be taken to be with the Lord. These believers – both the dead and alive are called the Church.
“Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death].” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 AMP
”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Sin wearies the flesh; it causes sickness and death in our soul. Bit by bit our sinful behavior destroys all that is, or was, good within us. Sin begins to cause our hearts to harden. Left unchecked, it destroys our peace, causing guilt, sorrow and shame. Sin consumes the mind and thoughts – weakening and darkening the soul.
With it comes fear and dread that our scandalous behaviors will eventually be exposed; knowing full well what will be left in its wake are shattered families and devastated innocent childhoods. Uncovered and exposed, the sins in our lives lead to death – perhaps not physical our death, though that is entirely possible, but certainly spiritual death. Most of all, unrepentant sin in our lives can shut down a relationship with God our Father.
Many years ago, I met a blessed Christian woman, Tanya, whose life mission was to minister to men on death row in some of the toughest prisons in our country. She asked me to take a look at the “mug-shots” of these men taken when they were arrested. She asked me concentrate on their eyes. I was troubled at the lack of light reflecting back from those eyes. It seemed as if death had already taken place, any light that may have been in them had been long ago extinguished, snuffed out by the magnitude of their sin.
Matthew 6:22-23 (Voice) tells us that “The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray—that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.” Continue reading
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan
“The Cross splits the world. Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think – that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other” ~ Billy Graham
“Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.” (Newman, Peter, “The Meaning of the Cross”, 11)
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
“’We preach Christ crucified.’ This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.” (Decision Magazine; April 2007)
“For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 AMP
A minute doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it’s just 60 seconds. It goes by in the amount of time that the average heart beats 80 times… or for the average lungs to breathe 20 times. A minute is fairly insignificant if you think about it. We really don’t focus on the single minutes of our life. They are not accounted for in big plan of our life. They tick away and before we know it, all 2400 minutes of this day are done and we are starting on the next 2400 minutes.
So what can happen during one minute?
- 25 Americans will get a passport
- 58 Airplanes will take off around the world.
- 116 People will get married
- 11,319 UPS packages will be delivered
- 243,000 photos will be uploaded to Facebook
- 250 Babies will be born
- 106 People will die
- 360 Lightening strikes will hit somewhere on the earth
- 7,295,000,000 human hearts will beat 582,800,000,000 Continue reading
“And God spoke these words, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have NO other God before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
The first of the Ten Commandments, along with the next three, tells of our duty to God. While the remaining 6, speak to our relationship with our neighbor. It is correct that this commandment be first as we had a Maker to love, before we had a neighbor to love.
He is Jehovah God. He is the singular object of our worship. The worship of any other god animate or inanimate is forbidden.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.” Exodus 20:22-23 Continue reading
“What’s the big deal about not being born again; after all I’m a good person. It’s not like I’ve ever killed anyone. I’m not a bank robber. Sure I might cuss from time to time, but God knows that I don’t mean it. I know that I am going to Heaven.” I have heard this statement from many people over the years. My response is usually… Really? Are you absolutely positive?
In John 3, we read about the interaction of Nicodemus, a religious leader, most likely a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council) and Jesus. Nicodemus sought out Jesus in the cover of darkness without other members of the Sanhedrin to learn from the man named Jesus. He needed to determine fact from rumor about Jesus. Though Nicodemus was a learned man, he still had questions. He wanted to know more and he knew that Jesus had the answers.
“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him” John 12:27
During His three-year ministry on this earth, Jesus had performed so many miracles, signs and wonders as witnessed sometimes by a few and other times thousands, yet the people wouldn’t, or couldn’t, believe in Him as the Messiah – the Son of God.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John there are over 30 miracles documented. Yet, despite the eye-witness evidence of the lame raised up able to walk, the eyes of the blind opened to see, the lepers healed, the 5000 fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish, the dead raised to life, demons cast out at the mere sight of Him, enabling the mute to speak, turning water into wine, healing at the simple touch of His robe, life-long paralytics restored to complete health, house servants healed by only the words of His mouth, raging storms on the sea clamed by His command, and walking on water just to name a few, and let’s not forget His resurrection from the dead as witnessed by hundreds. Yet, despite all of the evidence, so many people in Jesus’ time would not believe either during His earthly ministry or after His resurrection.
Perhaps some had only heard about the miracles and did not witness them personally. With a skeptical mind, they could not, or would not, believe in what they didn’t see first hand. Perhaps they thought someone was exaggerating the event. Continue reading
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” Eph 2:1
When I look at the life I have in Jesus it is no doubt that satan wants to stop my forward
movement by filling my thoughts with “what if…” the “what ifs” of my past; what if I had made a different decision in 1998 or 2008 or 1972 or 1979. How different my life would have been. The images and thoughts are not ugly thoughts, they are not condemning thoughts. They make me want a “do-over”. They almost make me long for those days again. But do they really?
Then I read just a bit further to Eph 2:4 and I see… “But God…” But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much…
Misfits Welcome: Find Yourself in Jesus and Bring the World Along for the Ride by Matthew Barnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Being a misfit does not disqualify you from a dynamic life—it prepares you for it. Matthew Barnett knows a thing or two about misfits. As founder of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, a 24-hour church that ministers to 35,000 hurting people a week, Barnett has seen a little of everything. Gangsters, addicts, orphans, taggers, cutters, the sick, the suffering, the hopeless…all the misfits of the world come through the church’s doors in search of hope.”
The Least of These… This is the premise for this powerful book, “Misfits Welcome: Find Yourself in Jesus and Bring the World Along for the Ride” by author, Matthew Barnett. For more than 20 years Matthew Barnett has served the “misfits” that walk in our midst – those that most of society has thrown away – as founder of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, California. He has served them with through programs and out reach ministry. But through it all, he has served them in love. Continue reading