In the University, I truly believed Christians had two brains: one was lost and the other was out looking for it. No, I thought Christians were walking idiots. I’d met some. And I was challenged by some Christians that I wanted to know what made a difference in their lives and they said Jesus Christ and I just laughed at them. And then they challenged me to intellectually examine that. And after much persuasion I did it out of.. probably I was ticked off because they kept trying to persuade me to do it so I said okay I will. So I set out to write my first book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict against Christianity and in the process I’d returned to London England after going to five countries gathering evidence and I sat in a small museum library, six thirty at night on a Friday and I leaned back in my chair and right in front of everyone, which was probably three people I said “it’s true, it’s true, it’s true.” And that brought me to a number of months later on a Saturday night to place my trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. And my life was literally changed upside down almost overnight. And this is my fiftieth year in ministry and I’m thankful for that. I think Dr. Schuller and I started ministry the same time and that’s when the Dead Sea was not even sick. But it’s been a long haul.
Wow! Boy that music with Ken and Daniel and the choir. What more could you ask for on a Sunday morning? And then the beautiful scenery like this. But heroic faith; oh men and women do we need that? Do we need that ever in today’s world and right here in our own country in the area that we all live in. I’ve learned that a person who has a heroic faith is one: someone who is obedient. Remember the scripture we had this morning from Joseph and it said, and “when he awakened he did as the angel had commanded him.” Second: a person who has heroic faith is always willing to do that which is right, not that which is expedient. And do you know what I’ve learned over the years? That which is right, no matter what the cost. And then third, a person who exercises heroic faith is always looking for opportunities to make a difference for Christ in impacting people. If you’re going to impact the world that means people and oh this time, especially with the economy and everything else, we need to impact people. And I would always ask well what’s the key? What makes some people really live out for Christ and exercise heroic faith and others just seem to go along.
And so my motto in life is Jesus so I looked to Christ and you know what I found the answer. In Matthew nine, I’ll read it to you, in verses 35 to 38 the word of God says: “And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages teaching in the synagogues and healing and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing a multitude he felt compassion for them because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” The harvest is plentiful but we have few who are excising heroic faith. “Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field.” If we are going to exercise a heroic faith and make difference in peoples lives for Christ, then one we’re going to need to see as Jesus saw. It says when He saw the multitude before Him. It probably looked like a multitude today, well fed, well dressed, everything but He saw through that and He saw them like sheep without a shepherd. And when it talks about being distressed and downcast it means to be spiritually torn apart. And I truly believe if you and I are going to step out and impact people’s lives we’ve got to ask God to open our eyes to see as Jesus saw and if we do, it will change our lives.
I was in a TGIF restaurant recently. Went in for lunch with some of my staff for lunch on tour and the hostess introduced us to our waitress who walked us to the table. She was so just bubbling over everything and chatting and all and about halfway to the table I reached down, I just put my hand on her arm to hold her back a little bit and I said ‘ma’am can I ask you a question? I said how are you doing? How are you doing personally?’ Wow! I mean she just stopped. Her whole complexion changed. Tears started to well up and come down. She says oh sir it’s so hard, her husband had just left her, her son was a drug addict. She was just struggling. She says sometimes I don’t even want to get out of bed. But here when we met her she seemed so full of life; everything until I took time to see as Jesus saw.
I was in a very prestigious school. And I mainly speak to high school kids and I thank God now they come to me, I don’t have to go to them. And I was in this large auditorium and I go out and I interview students and about half of them are Christians and half aren’t. But I ask them if they are or not so I was going around interviewing and I came to this one young lady and I said what is your name? She gave it to me and I said are you a Christian. She stopped. She looked at me and she said I’m in the corn bin because I just shared my testimony how my father was an alcoholic and as a little boy to run away from the pain I would go bury myself in the shelled corn at the end of the barn in a little room and I’d bury myself up to the neck and just pray to die. And she said I’m in the corn bin. And everyone, the whole, I mean hundreds and hundreds of kids just stopped. And she said I woke up this morning and I just wanted to die. What an opportunity to minister to her in front of hundreds of students. But you know on the outside everyone thought she was full of life and on the inside she was hurting.
I was at a university and along came this student and he had this varsity jacket on and he had all these Olympic medals and it was almost walking like that and he kind of stood out and I’m not an introvert so I said, I introduced myself and I said can I ask you a question? He said yes. I said why do you wear those medals? He said because I always wanted to be different and these medals make me different. I had to admit they did. But then I asked so many people business, about their success or whatever, I said to him, do they satisfy? Wow. His whole composure changed and he said no. I can’t stand the loneliness that goes with being different.
They brought in three hundred professional interviewers into Dallas, Texas and several other cities later. They wanted to see the spiritual emotional condition of young people in an average American city at any time of the week. Where were they in their own happiness depression or whatever? And then from Friday night to Sunday afternoon they personally interviewed 3,300 students in the shopping centers, at sporting events, everywhere. And when they released their report they were even amazed. They said on an average weekend of teenagers in America, anywhere from 50 or more percent are from mildly to severely depressed. Young people have everything to look for. Do you know who is the most depressed person in America? Sixteen/seventeen-year-old girls. A teenager has a chance, four hundred percent greater chance of being depressed and lose meaning in life then a sixty-five year old or older. See as Jesus saw, God open my eyes especially this season that I can see people as You see them and then ask the Holy Spirit if we do that we may feel as He felt.
It says when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion. Oh I love that word. It’s so much different then pity. You can have pity on someone and watch them die in their pain, their hurt without becoming involved, but you can’t have compassion without involvement. Means to ache with their wounds, to hurt with their hurts, to weep with their sorrow. It’s kind of like what Paul talked about in Romans 12:15. Remember where it says to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” That’s compassion.
A man in Africa was asked one day walking down the street. He said how are you? He says it depends on how you are. If you’re happy, I’m happy. If you’re sad, I’m sad. You see I care. A surgeon in our country, a very famous surgeon was asked don’t you fear the day will come when your fingers will no longer possess their skill? He said no. But I fear the day might come some day when my heart no longer feels the suffering of my patients. I fear in my life, in your life, in Crystal Cathedral, in the body of Christ all over the world when our hearts no longer fills the need of those without Christ that our ministry is finished. To see as Jesus saw and then to feel as Jesus felt. And then third, to pray as Jesus prayed.
It says when He saw the multitude He said pray therefore unto the Lord of harvest to send forth workers out into the harvest field. A great theologian once said, he said Josh you could translate that verse this way; accept me and thrust me out into the harvest field. Oh men and women, prayer is a privilege. It really is. And I’ve learned one thing over the years if you are not willing to become an answer to your very prayers then you’ve almost lost the right to pray. God has to teach that to me so many ways.
I was up at the Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters that time in San Bernardino, Lake Arrowhead Springs and a business man name of Lou Hurley came up to me and said Josh would you pray with my wife and me. I said well what about, Lou? He said we just started a ministry to those in the nursing homes and he said I just have a little old rickety Volkswagen. He said I need a large car or station wagon to pick up workers and take supplies. And so I met him off the lobby there and we started to pray and pretty soon I just stopped. I couldn’t pray. I said Lou I can’t pray for this. He said why? I said I just got married and my wife had a marvelous car. I didn’t propose to her until after her father bought her a new car and then I proposed to her because I was afraid he wouldn’t buy it if he knew she was going to marry me. And I said we have a brand new car and I have a Buick station wagon that I really do not need. And I said here are the keys. I’ll have Dottie pick me. And God taught me a lesson: Unless I’m willing to be involved and become an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit to answer my own prayers, I’ve lost the right to pray.
How many times do we pray for our neighbor? But how many times have you walked over to your neighbor’s house and helped to them and loved them and shared with them? See as Jesus saw. Ask God the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and we will feel as Jesus felt. And if we feel as Jesus felt, moved to compassion, then we will pray as Jesus prayed. Accept me and thrust me into the needs of others. And then fourth, do as Jesus did. He got involved. Oh men and women, the Christian faith, the heroic faith is involvement in peoples lives.
It was about ten thirty at night and I got a call from a young lady by the name of Jana at Fresno State University. She said Mr. McDowell can you please help me. I said what’s the situation? She said I’ve been a Christian for eight years and in my psychology class here the teacher told us that next week he’s going to be showing several pornographic movies and that we had to watch them. If we didn’t, we would be deducted one grade. In other words if you’re going to get A, you’d get a B. If you’re going to get B you’d get a C. And she said I really need a good grade in this class. But she said I’m a Christian and God has convicted me that I cannot watch them. So she said I went to the professor, boy this took some courage, went to the professor shared my testimony and said look as a Christian I’ve always been so careful of what I see and what I hear and I cannot watch those films. And he stood his ground and said you either watch those films or I will deduct you a full grade. She was persistent, kept going back in until finally she just irritated him, I think. And he said okay if you write me a three-page paper of why you do not want to watch these films and if it makes sense to me and I accept it you will be excused and will not be graded down. She said please help me.
So I pulled out the why wait book I wrote on sexual purity and we started going through for almost an hour and a half on the phone, walked through ideas as she shared and I’d put a little meat to it and all and when she handed that paper in I don’t know who was most anxious. Whether she was or I was. And I found out that Tuesday when they were going to start sharing the films he still hadn’t given her an answer. She went to class. He got up and told about the situation how Jana had come to him and what he had said to her and he said I read her paper and Jana I want you to come up here and I want you to read your paper to the class. She thought literally he wanted to put her down. She stood up there and she said Josh with a little fear and in trepidation I read the paper. When I got through he said I accept your paper and you may be excused. And then he said anyone else in the class who wants to be excused, you do not have to watch these films and you will not be graded down. And fifteen students got up and walked out of that class. Because of one young lady who was willing to do what Jesus did. Thank you, dad. But she was willing to do that which was right, regardless of what the cost.
I was at the University of Texas. It was during the height of the unrest and the violence and everything and about 2,000 students out there and all the televisions there as I was speaking. I decided to give a unique invitation. I said how many of you here not only know Christ personally but He’s made a significant change in your life. Several hundred hands hesitantly went up. Then I said to crowd if you do not know Christ personally and you want to know His forgiveness and the joy of having that relationship, talk to one of those who raised their hands. Oh man I was up on the steps of the student union. All over, probably a 175 to 200 small groups of Christians with eight to ten people around, another Christian hey when I looked down as I was talking to these people up here on the platform that came up. Here was a young lady in a wheelchair and she had a little wooden like tray like the top of this podium on her wheelchair. And she’d wheel up to people and six/seven/eight students would look down for maybe twenty/thirty/forty minutes and then they’d go away and she’d go up to another. Well I decided after this one group and I finish speaking, I’m going to go down and see who she is because she was having an impact.
So I went down there. She’s one of the first people I want to meet in heaven. Here was a young lady; a junior was in a serious car accident. Her entire body was almost totally paralyzed. She could only move her right arm. But they said every time she moved her arm, severe pain went through her body. Through that process she came to know Christ as Savior and Lord and placed her trust in Him. And just like the apostle Paul that was born running, it said immediately started to present Christ all through Damascus and in Jerusalem and all. Well that’s what this young lady did. Do you know what she did? She had this wooden tray made in the front of her wheelchair that would lift up. They’d put her in the wheelchair which had a motor on it, they’d put the tray down. She had an artist with a wood engraver engrave the four spiritual laws. Four simple steps of coming to know God’s love and forgiveness. She would wheel up to people and say I’d like to share with you the most meaningful thing that’s ever happened in my life. And she’d take her arm with the pain going through her body and would reach over and she’d walk down through these four principles and lead many of them to Christ. I stood there and I cried. I was convicted. Lord, forgive me for the times I’d been too tired, I’ve had a headache; I haven’t felt like it that I never took that opportunity to share. She will never know the impact that she had in my life and let me tell you she’s one of my heroes of faith because she was doing what Jesus did.
I led this surfer to Christ at UCLA, kind of a world known surfer and he went to Hawaii for the summer so he could surf and got a job there. And after he accepted Christ again he just was born running. He wanted to tell others about Christ and be obedient. And so he said I would go over there and we’d go out and wait for the big waves and we’d wait out there sometimes fifteen/twenty minutes or more and I’d try to share my faith so he got an idea. I’d given him a copy of those little four spiritual laws. So he went and he got a whole bunch of them, cut them up and had them laminated, then put a hole through them, put a little chain through it with a little fishing bobber. He had a pocket sewn on to his swimming suit and he’d put four or five of those laminated four laws in his pocket and when he was out there he’d wheel up to three or four others and they would all listen to him because of who he was. He would hand them out because if they dropped them it would bob back to the top and he’d retrieve them. And he would lead many of those surfers to Christ. There was a man that was obedient and he wanted to do what Jesus did.
A pastor was in India and he was at a business man’s meeting and he shared some of his own faith when he was speaking. And an Indian man business came up to him and said I came to know Christ. He said how? He said I was in San Diego, California and an optometrist lead me to Christ. He said well what was the situation? He said well this optometrist was a Christian. I found out who he was and went to see him and he wanted to be a witness for Christ like every one of us should be. So what did he do? He took that little four spiritual law book with the New Testament’s and left them on the little table in his reception area. And he had so many people coming in sitting in this chair with a little booklet and asking questions about it and he would lead some of them to Christ. And he a said wait a minute. He said people come in to get their eyes checked and I want them all to read that. So he went and had an artist make up the eye chart with the four spiritual laws from large print to little print. And this man said I went in and sat in his chair and he led me to Christ with eye charts. There was a man who simply wanted to do what Jesus did.
Oh men and women, during this season there is this time of economic challenges and all, more people are hurting now then ever before. What a chance we have to live out Christ before them and ask God open my eyes that I may see as You see. And God the Holy Spirit give me that compassion that I’ll feel as You felt. And then if you do you will pray as Jesus prayed and I trust that will lead you to do what Jesus did. Please take that to heart. God bless.