Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Steve Douglass and the Stint Commissioning

Here's a picture of Steve Douglass with our MCs and Andy McCullough. I've included some notes on Dr. Douglass' talk... just notes, it's not word-for-word unless it's in quotes.

Steve braved a tropical storm to come be with us for a few hours. He leaves tonight because of meetings tomorrow. Why would he do that? "Because I love you. I am so impressed with what you are going to do next year, serving God overseas."

Here's the Problem. You're only going to spend a year or two overseas and you're going to feel that things are just getting started.

There's a great person who's going to stay and do follow up when you are gone. That's the Holy Spirit.

In I Corinthians 3:5-6 Paul says "we are servants through whom you came to believe. I planted the seed. Apollos watered it. But God made it grow." Psalm 1 says those who walk with God instead of with the world are like trees planted by the water which bear fruit in season and whose leaves don't wither.

Steve told us a great story about finding a sapling in his yard and helping it grow. It ended with him being up on his roof with a chain saw pruning his maple tree!

A person with a heart with "good soil" will grow, and will yield a crop. The only way spiritual movements can flourish is for good soil to yield a crop and you are going to launch that in the lives in many people next year. You will plant the seed and God is faithful to bring it to pass.

"One thing I've learned to count on through the years is this: Jesus changes lives." Over time people change drastically. 2 Cor 5:15 -- the old has come, the new has come. There's no such thing as a spiritual movement apart from changed lives.

A couple of examples of changed lives:
  1. Steve Douglass told us the story of his own life. He spent time at MIT looking for the secret to finding satisfaction... it seemed not to be success. He went to a Bible study to hang out with a young lady and saw people whose lives were different... he eventually decided that's what he wanted, and he sat up in his bed and prayed for Christ to come into his life. Years later he wrote "How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun." The first time he shared about it was at Vanderbilt. 75 students showed up, which wasn't bad. About half were Christians. About half of the non-Christians there wanted to know more about Christ. He gave the talk 300 times, about 30,000 students heard it, 150,000 books published. The point: the people from that Bible study planted a seed, and as Steve grew he became more useful to God, and God brought the fruit.
  2. Steve was told about a student who spent a lot of time drinking until God got a hold of his heart in a dramatic way. He was leading many to Christ, his life was changed, today he's a pastor.
  3. At a campus in Wisconsin a freshman named Kate came into her dorm room to find it decorated in black crepe with many books on the occult in the room. Kate went to CCC meetings and learned about Freshman Survival Kits. Kate gave one to her roommate, and it was amazing. Her roommate voraciously consumed the material. Her life changed. She redecorated the room, she threw away her occult books. She made a big difference on that campus, a changed life, a great contribution.
  4. A young man who, years ago, was a gambler. Could run numbers in his head. Engaged in wild living and all of a sudden God got a hold of his life and he radically changed. He went into the insurance company, an incredible success. When he died, he left 400 million dollars to promote the Gospel. One thing they did was to come up with a way to talk about getting power for living life. Well known people gave their testimony on television. They saw 7 million people ask for a copy of the book. best we can tell, 700,000 people received Christ in a six month period. Jesus got ahold of his life.
  5. Steve's Dad. He had struggles in life. One was alcohol. Alcohol ruined a marriage, caused hard words to be said, led to divorce. Ruined his career. A sharp guy, outgoing, winsome... but job after job fell away. Steve got a call in the middle of the night, his dad had come out to Southern Cal looking for him, but Steve was in Australia. For five years on and off he lived with Steve and became one of the most popular guys at CCC HQ. When Steve's Dad died, 600 people came to his memorial. In five years Jesus had changed his life.

When Jesus changes lives, those lives spawn interest on the part of other people, those people respond, they receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the desire to read the scriptures and more people come to Christ and desire to tell others, and that is a movement of God.

You are going out to share Jesus. Many will respond. Some will go on to bear fruit. Those precious people you invest your lives in will launch movements where you go. Wherever there are changed lives, there are spiritual movements.

"As you go, I pray you find those people God has prepared beforehand" (Eph 2:10). You will run into people, plant a seed, a tree will grow and fruit will come.

A closing story: Sunday. A few days ago, on a walk. Listening to the Bible on his headset, praying. He meets a neighbor. The neighbor asks to walk with him and asks him if he's a Christian. The neighbor wants to be used by God. So Steve gave him "Enjoying Your Walk with God" and a Bible and a copy of the Jesus film with the answers to 50 tough questions that people ask. He introduced him to the church that he's helping plant in Orlando.

"If God can bring my neighbor across the street to talk about Jesus, he can find people in the countries you are going to." In many cases it will be people who totally don't know Jesus. They will marvel at the fact that the vitality in your life is somehow related to God.

You are going to make a difference in the next year for eternity. You will see a small amount compared to what God will ultimately do. Eventually these transformed people will take whole territories for Jesus Christ. "I commend you for the most excellent choice you have made about how to spend this next year. Having been at this for 40 years I can tell you truthfully... I have no regrets."

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