Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett (Inspirational Stories)

Recently, I took my kids to the library and en route to the children’s section I had a moment to look at the new arrivals. One particularly caught my eye: The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do in This World by Matthew Barnett with George Barna. The title and the summary on the jacket cover intrigued me, so I checked it out that day along with a slew of children’s literature.

The book is an easy read, and less than two hundred pages in length. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly. I appreciate the premise. I’m middle aged, and people at my stage of life are trying to figure out if we’re spending our lives the right way. And I work with a lot of young people at the beginning of their careers. Many of our relatives are senior citizens, and are at a phase of their lives when they are not sure how much time they have left. We all want to do important things with our time on this planet, but it is hard to figure out what we should be doing. Matthew Barnett’s book focuses on helping the reader discern his/her purpose and calling.

Matthew Barnett is from Phoenix, the son of a mega-church pastor. In his early 20s, Matthew Barnett took over a failing church in Los Angeles. He was a young man with a passion to serve God. But under his leadership the church continued to decline and hit rock bottom. Eventually he turned that apparent failure around to found the Dream Center. I had not heard of that institution before, but from what I gather in reading the book, the Dream Center is a very vibrant Christian ministry. There are worship services, as well as a number of innovative ministries of various types to help bring healing to hurting people.

Throughout the book, Pastor Barnett shares the stories of a number of individuals who’ve gone through difficulties in their lives but been transformed into joy-filled people with a passion to minister and serve others. It was a very inspiring book to read. There was a story of a troubled young man who was suicidal and doing drugs, but ended up spending years of his life passionately serving at the Dream Center as a volunteer to help the homeless. There was an anecdote about a couple who began ministering to hopeless people in a dangerous housing project and their ministry expanded to consume their lives in a positive way. Pastor Barnett also wrote about a young woman who had been a prostitute and had overcome addiction; she became inspired to start a new ministry at the Dream Center, an outreach to pimps.

One of my favorite stories was about the former televangelist, Jim Bakker. I remember being in high school when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the butt of jokes. Over the years, they have been the source of many negative stereotypes about Christians. When their televangelist empire crumbled and Jim Bakker went to prison, many cheered and others smirked. But Pastor Barnett and his father invited Mr. Bakker to the Dream Center, and he was apparently a transforming experience. Mr. Bakker arrived at the Dream Center a hopeless man who had been broken by his public disgrace and the abuse he endured in prison. He was called without forewarning to speak at a service, and felt appreciated and loved. He shared his experience in prison, and there were plenty of people in the church who had also had that experience. They did not judge him, they could relate to what he had gone through. Mr. Bakker ended up staying several months ministering in a variety of ministries to the homeless and the destitute. That service gave him back his hope and apparently transformed the subsequent part of his life.

After reading The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do in This World, I have a real interest in visiting the Dream Center. The book was also an excellent reminder of the importance of serving others. I recommend it highly regardless of your age or your path in life.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

1 comment:

  1. No need to publish this, but thought you might find this interesting.

    The Renewal Documentary: Across the nation, people of faith are standing up for the environment. Evangelical Christians are fighting mountaintop removal, a coal mining process that is decimating Appalachia. Muslims are supporting sustainable farming.