The front row of people at Bible Cathedral in Martinez came armed with pencils and notebooks Sunday to hear Dr. John Maxwell, a preacher with a message of encouragement.
Dr. Maxwell, 52, founder of the Atlanta-based The Injoy Group and no stranger to mega-conferences with audiences in the thousands, quickly adapted to the church, though it was less than half-full.
"Why did I come? I came for friendship. A friend is worth a whole day," he said to some 80 people sitting before him. His long-time friend, Ben Brush, was among them.
Calling encouragement "the oxygen of the soul," he led them through an epistle of St. Paul's, the Letter to the Hebrews. In chapter 12, the evangelist wrote that saints in heaven were watching earth and cheering on believers, like fans clapping for runners in a race.
If Noah...David...Esther...Rebecca could step out of the crowd (of saints) and run one lap with each person in the room, what would they say?, he asked.
After studying for a year and a half, he said he thought he knew.
Dr. Maxwell's specialty is leadership - it is the recurring focus of his books, tapes and conference appearances.
"I promise - you are going to love this. You are going to want me to give you more, and it is OK because in July, I will have a book out," he said as laughter erupted in the sanctuary.
New York-based Time Warner is publishing Run With The Giants, he said. "This is going to be a huge crossover" book, one that will sell to secular and Christian readers.
As he stroke from side to side in the red-carpeted sanctuary, he warmed to his audience. He seemed to wrap each of his hearers in his voice.
Despite a meeting in Atlanta scheduled within three hours from the start of his talk, he decided to stay a little longer with the folks at Bible Cathedral.
"I'm already late, what's 15 minutes more..." he said.
The last biblical character he mentioned was Rebecca, the bride of Jacob, whom he singled out for her generous spirit.
Rebecca would tell them to give out of the abundance of their heart, he said.
"Don't do it for the return, (she would say). Because little do you know - eternal stuff is happening" here, he said.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or email@example.com.
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