Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
No bondage, no legalism, no fear.
No judging, no condemnation, no pride.
No anger, no suspicion, no jealousy.
No factions, no intolerance, no bigotry.
No faking, no hiding, no masks.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17, New International Version
The Gospel of Welcome is a gospel of freedom. It takes you as you are and makes you into who you are to be in Christ without manipulation, comparison or control. It is the Spirit of God working in us on the inside, working its way out into our daily life and relationships.
The Catch is all about setting people free.
Like Gideon in the Old Testament, hiding from the enemy behind a winepress, God calls us out from an entire world in hiding and into the glory and freedom of His Spirit, into His kingdom in the world. It’s an adventure — a whole new way of looking at the world and our place in it — and it’s all about being set free to set others free as well.
This includes me.
I tell you that I am a minister of the gospel, and it is true; it was not by my choice, nor can I really choose to be anything else. But I can and do sometimes hide from what is to me the scary parts of the job. I am not afraid of continuing to proclaim God’s radical grace and to call for reformation of the church some 45 years after publishing ‘The Cold Cathedral.’ But with the Catch, modest as it seems most days, the Lord has started something global, something that requires a type of leadership that stands up first, and calls to battle, and comes to grips with immediate reality trusting in God.
The Catch, it has turned out, is far more than a devotional blog and some Bible studies by a mild-mannered itinerant survivor of the Jesus movement. For more and more people all over the world, the Catch is the one voice of the gospel of grace and welcome that actually reaches them. Some are in urban areas surrounded by sound mainstream churches whose voices are drowning each other out; some are far from any other voice at all. Some are the most devoted ministers I have ever seen, ministering faithfully to many or few or one, as they are placed by God, without recognition or fanfare, against the nonsupport or outright opposition of local Pharisees. These are just looking for a drop of encouragement, some echo out there in the world of the Jesus they know and love and serve, and I am so humbled to hear they find it in the Catch.
Something that started as an avocation, something I couldn’t help doing, has opened up an avenue through the Internet into an outreach and a platform for the gospel – to seekers, rejecters, and those who already believe – of huge scope. The work of keeping it and my household going, and responding to people, and endeavoring to live out what we are teaching, has consumed our lives. If only Gideon would show up now with a call to arms, and among other things boldly ask for money that has already been spent or will surely be spent in the immediate future. Gideon, after God gave him a good shaking-down, would be everywhere, at the doors of the wealthy, going door to door gathering coins, preaching and providing for his troops with boldness and without shame, and setting fires to wet kindling wherever he went.
And so when our annual report stated that there was a shortfall for 2012, and reported our needs for the first quarter of 2013, where was I? I was behind a winepress in the neighborhood waiting for another more suitable candidate to come marshal the troops. So the need persists and the reason for this letter.
So far, 2013 has been a tough lesson in boldness. Boldness doesn’t come from a sense of calling, because if I don’t answer the need that has been awakened by the Catch, someone else will. Boldness is a choice, based on the truth of the message of grace-once-and-always, and based on the character of the one who sends it, who was and is our God. Gideon was reduced to a tiny handful of men against a mighty army so there would be no doubt about the power of God in the middle of victory. God does the same with us now. Every day. When we are weak, we are strong. When we are few, He gives the victory. When we have little, He uses it to achieve much.
I believe we are on the verge of seeing the Catch connect as never before to the kingdom of God in the wider world through the Internet. Just as Marti and I, the Elder/Leadership board and a dedicated team are coming to exciting conclusions about how to pursue this ministry into the rest of this decade, we are there with Gideon, at the most perilous financial pass ever. Just as we gather focus on the message, and wisdom on how to proclaim it, just then comes the most frightening night of all. But we have the position, the place, the power and the presence to make this happen. God will take every one of us and multiply His kingdom using us to set others free.
Will you commit yourself to being a part of this work? We need your faith, your willingness to step out of hiding and to be available to the Spirit of God where you are. We need your prayers for us and for our new Elder/Leadership Board as they seek direction.
And we need your urgent financial support this very day.
Better late than never
It is my responsibility to inform you of our financial status which is in a deficit now – not because you wouldn’t give, but because I didn’t ask. We are limping along like the walking wounded because I didn’t tell you!
Here are the facts:
Fourth Quarter Program Deficit: $26,045
First Quarter Business and Program Deficit: $30,100
It is a deciding moment for the “us” of the Catch that includes you. We have come together this far, and there is such promise just ahead of the greatest impact by the soundest means on the truest and surest foundations. But between us and it lies this challenge. I am answering the challenge, not excluding the ridiculous, to cast the Catch vision and see it to fruition, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent the bottom-line from ever seeing red again.
Please stand and be counted for the gospel of welcome now, when the ministry of the Catch itself lies in the balance; “only be very strong and courageous.”
The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
Deuteronomy 31:23, New International Version