It was merely a coincidence when Tuzdy Currlin, and her husband, Nick Currlin, parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake in Hendersonville, stumbled upon the Bible in a Year podcast with Father Mike Schmitz, featuring Jeff Cavins.
But when Cavins, creator of the Great Adventure Bible Study series published by Ascension Press, was lined up as the keynote speaker for the Diocese of Nashville Office of Faith Formation’s Scripture Summit Oct. 1-2 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, the couple didn’t hesitate to sign up to hear their favorite speaker in person.
“In December, I had eye surgery and I couldn’t see or read for a while, but I was searching for something where I could learn the Bible through a Catholic lens,” Tuzdy Currlin said. “I Googled ‘Bible in a year,’ and I didn’t even know if the podcast was Catholic or not, but we started listening to it.
“It’s been life-changing,” she added. “We try to get everyone in our life to listen to it.”
In his address on Friday, Oct. 1, Cavins talked about what it means to be chosen as a disciple of Jesus Christ and how to proclaim the good news of the Gospel to others.
“In a disciple’s life, here is the key. The shape of your day should reflect the love of your life,” Cavins said. “If we’re going to be in love with Jesus, if we’re going to say ‘yes’ to follow Him, and we’re going to be with Him everyday morning to night, if we’re going to be with Him in our thinking, in prayer, and looking for opportunities to share Him and be a blessing to others, growing in virtue and fighting the vices in our life with virtue … the shape of my day has to change.
“That’s prayer every day, reading scripture and looking for opportunities,” he said.
Once a Christian says ‘yes’ to following Jesus, Cavins said it is about sharing His Good News with others.
“The one responsibility that we have as Catholics that I’m afraid doesn’t happen very much is that we all have, according to John Paul II, the vocation for evangelization; to share Christ with a hurting world; to share the Lord with those who are broken,” Cavins said. “Sharing Christ with people … is a matter of love and passion, and you’re excited to share the best thing in your life, and to share that which you wished and hoped that your children would be or became.”
The Good News is the “proclamation of the Gospel and you can share it any place, anytime, anywhere,” he said, and it can be broken down into seven key points.
The first point, “God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life,” he said.
Second, “sin has royally messed up this plan.”
Third, “the good news is Jesus loves you so much that He died for your sins.”
Fourth, “He expects us to respond to this truth and revelation with repentance … and He wants us to radically reorient our lives to Him.”
Fifth, “He wants us to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation to deal with that original sin, to be part of the family, to be filled with the spirit and be empowered to live this life.”
Sixth, “to join His amazing family, the Church where the sacraments are and the family is. It’s a hospital for sinners. It’s a place where we can come together and heal and worship God.”
Finally, as a result, the seventh point is that “you’ll go out and make disciples.”
“The Scripture says three times that the Spirit confirmed the message,” Cavins said. “When the disciples went out and they proclaimed the Good News, it was the Spirit that confirmed the message.
“In other words, what I cannot do in your heart … the Spirit can get in there and do in your heart,” he said. “He’s just waiting for someone to tell the truth in a loving and sincere way.”
With that in mind, Cavins had a challenge for Scripture Summit attendees.
“Here’s how your church can double in five years,” he said. “I’m going to give every one of you five years to bring one person to the Church, five years to bring one person to Jesus and share the Good News and become their sponsor. If we all do it in the next five years, we will double.”
Both Tuzdy and Nick Currlin said they enjoyed what Cavins had to say.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect,” Nick Currlin said.
“I love that he is trying to get Catholics, because I’m a convert, to stand up and preach the Gospel because I have been searching for Catholics to do that,” Tuzdy Currlin added. “Going through this year, I realized that I didn’t know the Bible at all … but I see the Catholic Church in it now and the story.
“I think just the message of him trying to literally just preach the Gospel and do what we are all called to do was really important.”
Like the Currlins, Paula Farmer, parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, was also a fan of Cavins before she signed up for the event.
“I think he has given a richness to Catholicism,” Farmer said. “He’s taken it off the shelf and put it in the world.”
In his keynote address, “I think he’s spot on,” she continued. “(My husband and I) facilitate a Bible study at St. Rose and have for about 12 years, so I was hoping that he would teach us how to learn to be conversant with others.
“We need to do the reaching out and not sit back and wait for them to reach out to us.”
Other speakers featured at the Scripture Summit included Sonja Corbitt, creator of the LOVE the Word Bible Study method and journal; Dr. James Prothro, assistant professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute in Greenwood Village, Colorado; Dr. Michael Dauphinals, Father Matthew Lamb professor of Catholic Theology at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida; and Joan Watson, Catholic speaker and writer.