When I was young, I was under the impression that a "revival" was just another planned event on the Church's calendar. I don't believe that anymore.
For decades, Black Ridge Christian Church's pew backs were accessorized with plain brown hardback Bibles. These Bibles were for visitors who may not have their own, but were mostly used by members who couldn't be bothered to bring theirs. It was really a convenience and, if many of the members were honest, it was the only time we read a Bible anyway. We especially appreciated the Pastor for telling us which page number to turn to, in lieu of committing the books to memory.
Yes, the plain brown pew Bibles became no more than a symbol of our depravity and spiritual immaturity as a body. That is until everything changed.
Pastor Steve was closing his sermon on abiding in Christ. He spoke of filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God, memorizing scripture, and making a commitment to read the Bible daily. Then he gave us a final passage to look up. We eagerly awaited the page number. Pastor Steve said nothing. We must have all looked as if we were ready for a Bible drill and had not been given the passage; sitting erect, eager to be the first to the page as soon as he fed it to us. Pastor Steve said nothing.
I had been a Christian for 28 years and was waiting for a page number.
Eventually, of course, we found the passage after much awkwardness and an introspective lesson learned. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Steve left the pulpit and walked to the closest pew to grab one of the plain brown Bibles. Walking back to the platform and holding the plain brown Bible up, he said "I challenge each of you to read your Bible from cover to cover in 90 days." Chuckles were scattered throughout the congregation. We were used to, and in fact felt somewhat entitled to some comedy relief speckled throughout our Sunday sermons - after all, we were the ones who had to sit there for a good hour and a half or so.
As it turned out, he wasn't making a joke.
"Friends, we can't just talk about being Christians. We can't just read our Bibles on Sundays anymore. We have to become what others might call obsessed with God's Word."
He pulled a permanent black marker from his pocket.
"I begin the 90 day Bible challenge today, and when I am finished, I will use this marker to write my name on the front of this plain brown pew Bible."
I noticed a few members clasp their hands over their mouths and I'm pretty sure at least one person in the balcony lost consciousness.
He explained that it isn't the brown hardcover that is Holy, it is the Words. Pastor Steve encouraged us all to take the challenge as well. He was serious.
Something amazing happened to our Church in those 90 days and still continues even now. We began talking about God's Word. We began scheduling our lives around God's Word instead of the other way around. We began functioning as a body of believers. It became as though we had everything in common; like we were family. In fact, we were.
After 90 days, the covers of the brown pew Bibles began filling with names. Just a few at first, and then even more as weeks passed. You see, it isnít the 90 days thatís important, itís the daily commitment to read Godís Word.
When members who had not yet taken the challenge began seeing the names of their friends and family, they were encouraged to accept the challenge themselves. Every week, visitors to our Church ask why we have names written on the cover of our pew Bibles. So we tell them, and many times they get the fire to take the 90 Day Bible Challenge as well.
We joke that we couldnít avoid talking about reading Godís Word even if we wanted to, and I assure you we donít.
Our Church members love Godís Word. We donít need page numbers anymore, even for the visitors, because somebody is always willing to help. Word has spread, in fact, and there is never any question as to what our Church is all about.
I used to think that revival was a scheduled event.
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