What do you do when you encounter incredible statistical improbabilities (wow, that’s 3 words with 14 syllables)? 1) Write them off as coincidence? Or 2) Seriously ponder the mystery and awe behind them?
For example, have you read or heard about some of the amazing stats for the Denver Broncos and Pittsburg Steelers post season game? As the University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow used to wear “John 3:16” in eye black under his eyes, however this is not allowed in the NFL. After the game, Tebow had thrown for 316 yards, averaged 31.6 yards per pass, and the Nielson rating was 31.6.
The odds against all of that are all but impossible. If it was a coincidence, it was a once in a lifetime one (however, in my life, those incredible statistical improbabilities are beaten not just once in my life, but many times every year). If you seriously ponder such mysteries (laying aside any prejudice against the idea of something supernatural) you realize that there has to be something beyond nature at work. Perhaps, God is using Tebow and his stats to say “Wake up! I am real! Surrender your life and heart to me!”
Here’s another example of incredible statistical improbabilities. For more than 5 years my wife and I and others have been prayer walking in the McFerrin Park Neighborhood of East Nashville carrying The Salvation Army Flag which stands for the blood of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit. We pray for a mighty move of God to wake up the neighborhood to the point that people feel God’s convicting presence, even if they just drive by.
Four years ago, The Salvation Army asked us to start a non-traditional church in a chapel located right in the center of the neighborhood. No one knew what to name the new church which is located on Berry Street. Finally our Area Commander suggested calling it Berry Street Worship Center. We felt led to have Sunday morning meetings where people are free to testify and share as led by the Holy Spirit and God has done and is doing amazing things in and through many people.
Yesterday, we felt prompted to stop at Parnassus Books, a new, independent bookstore in Nashville. While browsing, I saw a book that told how various streets in Nashville got their name.
I looked up Berry Street. It was named for John Berry McFerrin, a nationally known Methodist leader and passionate lover of Christ. My mouth dropped. How could both the street and the neighborhood that God has had us to pour out our hearts and life for during the past 5 years, be named for a man with a similar passion? What are the odds against that?
When I got home and goodled John Berry McFerrin. Here is some of his bio: He was born in 1807 in Middle Tennessee. For many years he was secretary of the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He also edited the Nashville Christian Advocate and was the agent for its books. McFerrin wrote The History of Methodism in Tennessee. He was a man of wide influence in his denomination and was a delegate to the ecumenical conference in London in 1881. He frequently wrote articles for both religious and secular periodicals.
One writer describes camp meetings that were led by John Berry McFerrin this way: “Entire neighborhoods and sections of the country were taken. The attention of the thoughtless was arrested, the obduracy (hardness of heart) of the wicked was overcome, the prejudices of ignorance and bigotry were removed, the consciences of the assembled multitudes were aroused and their sensibilities stirred to the depths , and in the sweep of the religious excitement, opposition broke down and many turned to the Lord.” O, Lord, do it again on Berry Street in McFerrin Park!
Here’s a quote from McFerrin: “The Christian religion does not consist in mere forms and ceremonies and outward observances. In a word, it is what we call experience — a glorious realization in our hearts that God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”
When we gather at Berry Street on Sunday mornings, we encourage people to listen to God and then say and/or do whatever He tells them to. Here’s another quotation from McFerrin: “It is a fearful thing to resist the Spirit of God and fail to do the work to which we are distinctly moved.”
At Berry Street, we have seen Jesus miraculously set several people free from bondage to drugs. John Berry McFerrin said this: “I thought of the poor man who had a legion of devils, and Jesus came along and cast them all out at once! That’s His way.”
Coincidence? Or is God confirming the vision He has burned in our hearts for McFerrin Park?
Want to read more about the vision? Here are two articles: I’m Livin’ My Dream In Nashville and Be Part Of Changing Lives And Transforming A Neighborhood in Nashville.
Or come visit us at The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207, Sundays at 10:45 am. and/or Thursday nights at 6:30 pm.