Deep in the heart of every believer, there is a faint whisper. A call. A prompting. We go about our business and we hear it. We see and interact with lost people each day, and the whisper echoes again: “Share your faith. Tell them about Jesus.” But fear, busyness, and lack of tools or motivation silence the whisper. Another day, another year, another life passes and we haven’t told anyone about the best thing that ever happened to us—the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Modern-day messages of kindness and acceptance deceive us into thinking we never have to open our mouths and actually share the truth with others in love. And yet the whisper is trying to tell you that you have the key to eternity in your possession. Can you hear it? In Compelled, Dudley Rutherford shares his earnest desire for each and every believer to be equipped and bold with the good news of salvation. He encourages you with inspiring stories of men and women, young and old, who have accepted the irresistible call to share Jesus with everyone they meet. And he provides practical methods to overcome your fears and effectively articulate the message of salvation. Allow these pages to strengthen the gentle nudging in your spirit until it’s too loud to ignore—until you are compelled to tell others about the hope you’ve found.
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About the Author
Dudley Rutherford is the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, a 10,000-member congregation. Through the Lift Up Jesus television ministry, Pastor Dudley's sermons are broadcast on TV and radio nationwide. He is the founder of DreamofDestiny.org, a ministry designed to foster ethnic diversity within the Christian Church. He is the author of Walls Fall Down, God Has an App for That, Unleashed, Romancing Royalty, and Proverbs in a Haystack. He has had the distinction of speaking for several professional sports teams and has been a featured chapel speaker for the World Series. Dudley earned his Bachelor's Degree from Ozark Christian College and his Master's Degree in Church Growth from Hope International University. He also obtained an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from St. Charles University. Dudley and his beautiful wife, Renee, have three children and reside in Porter Ranch, CA.
Read an Excerpt
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity
"The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ. ... God became man for no other purpose."
C. S. LEWIS
It was a beautiful night at Dodger Stadium. Loyal fans sporting their team apparel formed a patchwork of blue and white across the multilevel stands. Above, the stadium lights sparkled like diamonds against the near-black sky. Below, not a blade of grass was out of place on the baseball field. And the Dodgers were up by two. Everything seemed perfect.
I was sitting behind third base next to a preacher friend of mine named Ron. He had flown into town, and I was thankful to spend a few hours catching up with him while we watched America's pastime. Sitting next to Ron was a kid around the age of twelve, who I realized right away was completely blind.
To this day, that boy is one of the greatest pictures of faith I've ever seen.
The entire game he had his baseball glove on with his hand outstretched toward the field. His mother sat next to him, and during every play, she leaned over to the boy's ear and quietly explained what was taking place.
"That was a hit to right field."
"The pitcher just struck out the batter."
"That was a double play."
Throughout the entire game, the mother described every pitch and every play for her son. And throughout the entire game, the boy sat with his glove out as though he was going to catch a fly ball.
In about the fourth or fifth inning, something surprising happened. Just like that, a foul ball popped up and headed precisely in my direction! I looked up and thought, Man, this ball is coming straight at me!
What happened next, for a moment, seemed extraordinary at least and miraculous at best. I don't know if it was the spin on the ball, the wind, or the Holy Spirit, but as that ball began its downward trajectory, it started to move away from me and toward the blind boy sitting patiently with his baseball glove wide open.
My first thought was not that it might land in his glove. That wasn't even a possibility as far as I was concerned. My thought was, That ball is gonna hit that boy in the head! It's gonna kill him! Thankfully, the baseball flew over his head, missing him by an inch, and landed in the next row. In an instant, four or five guys scrambled down on the floor, fighting for the baseball. During the scuffle, the ball rolled way down the aisle until a lady picked it up.
The guys were still fighting for it, so I said, "Guys, guys! She's got the ball over there!"
They looked up and there was this woman, happy as a clam, with the baseball in her hand. She put the ball away and continued to watch the rest of the game.
The whole scene bothered me. In my opinion, the ball didn't end up with the right person. After a couple of innings went by, I leaned over to my preacher friend and said, "You know what? I'm going to go ask that lady if she'll give me the ball so I can give it to that kid."
Ron said, "No, no, no, let me ask her."
And I said, "No, no, no, no, let me ask her."
He said, "No, let me ask her."
"Okay," I relented.
As Ron stood up, I said, "Hey! Before you go, here's a twenty-dollar bill. If she won't give it to you, offer her that twenty bucks, and if you wanna give her twenty bucks of your own, that'll be forty. I bet she'll give it to you for forty dollars."
I handed him my twenty and went upstairs to get a Coke. When I returned, Ron was sitting there with a dejected look on his face.
"What's wrong?" I asked him.
"She wouldn't give it to me," he replied.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Well, I went over there," Ron began, "and I said, 'Ma'am, you see that kid over there? He's twelve years old. He's totally blind, and he's been sitting there the entire game with his baseball glove. Is there any way you would give me that baseball so I could give it to that kid?' She said, 'No.'"
Ron continued, "So then I took out the forty dollars and I said, 'I'll give you forty dollars for that baseball.' And she said, 'Okay,' and she started to hand me the ball. But her boyfriend reached out and grabbed her hand and said, 'No. This is a once-in-alifetime opportunity, to go to a Dodgers game and get a foul ball. We're not giving it to the kid.'"
Now, I know I'm a preacher, and preachers are supposed to have good thoughts about other people. But when Ron told me what happened, I did not have good thoughts.
I wanted to turn around and say to the couple, "Do you wanna know what a once-ina-lifetime opportunity is? It is not going to a Dodgers game and having a foul ball roll right over to you out of nowhere — and you just look down, pick it up, and take that baseball home. That is not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
I wanted to say, "A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is going to a Dodgers game and having a foul ball roll right over to you out of nowhere, and you reach down and pick it up. Then you look over, and you see a twelve-year-old kid who has never seen anything in his entire life, let alone a baseball, and yet he's sitting there in faith, believing that he's going to catch a fly ball. And you take that baseball and you go over there, and you stick it in that kid's glove and you say, 'Here you go, kid. Here's a baseball.' Now that's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
A Clearer Vision
What happened that night at Dodger Stadium is a remarkable picture of the gospel and what we choose to do with it once we receive it. Many of us are just like that couple. We're sitting somewhere minding our own business, unconcerned and unaware of spiritual matters. And all of a sudden God — who is loving beyond our wildest imagination — graciously places salvation in our hands. We weren't even anticipating it. We weren't cognizant of the fact that God was working behind the scenes, before the beginning of time, to prepare and provide a way for us to be saved.
Yet He sent Jesus to die on the cross. Christ was buried and resurrected on the third day, and once we put our faith and trust in Him, the Lord God Almighty gives us eternal life.
What do we do next with this incredible gift? Do we hand it to the next person who needs it, or do we hold on to it tightly like a brand-new foul ball at a Major League Baseball game? Are we so overcome with joy and gratitude that we can't help but share it with others, or do we keep it to ourselves and think, I'm saved. Thank God I took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
But there are people all around us who are in need of this incomparable gift too. There are people who are lonely and broken. There are people who are depressed, hurting, and hopeless. There are people who are spiritually blind. There are people who are in bondage to sin and need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we walk closely with Jesus, He gives us a clearer vision. We become more like Him, and we begin to notice people. Not only do we notice them, but we also start to see people as Jesus does. Our perception changes. Instead of looking at people on the surface, we realize there's more than meets the eye.
In Matthew 9:35–36, we get a glimpse into how Jesus views mankind:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.
Now, let's be honest. Seeing huge crowds of people usually doesn't spark compassion within us, right? If you are like me — living in a large, metropolitan community like Los Angeles, California — you are constantly surrounded by large numbers of people. Sitting on the freeway with thousands of cars crawling in front of you usually produces more frustration than compassion!
We're more likely to think, I wish these people would get out of my way! — not, Gee, I wish I could tell all these people how much Jesus loves them!
But when we examine what Jesus taught and how He lived (1 John 2:5–6), we will see people as He sees them — even in a big crowd. For the Christian, the greater number of people we encounter ought to equal greater compassion and awareness of the deep, spiritual needs of mankind. We should become compelled to tell them about the hope we have found in Jesus.
Where Are the Workers?
Matthew 9:35–38 reveals the type of people for whom Jesus had compassion: they were sick, harassed, lost, and helpless, "like sheep without a shepherd." In verse 35, His compassion turned to action when He not only healed their diseases and sicknesses (which is to serve their physical needs) but also verbally shared the good news of salvation with them (which is to meet their spiritual needs). Then He issued this edict to His disciples in verses 37–38:
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
I've often wondered what Jesus would say about the lost people in our world today. Did you know that the population of humanity has grown from 300 million people in Jesus's day to almost 7.5 billion today? Cities, towns, and villages across the globe are teeming with people who need to hear about how they can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. If our Lord asked two thousand years ago for workers to be sent forth into the fields that were ripe for harvest, what would His prayer be for the present-day fields that have twenty-five times more people than in His time?
What would He say if He saw so many sheep without a shepherd in your city, in your country, and in other nations around the world? The truth is, our planet is in desperate need of people who are compelled to share the hope of Jesus Christ. We are Jesus's workers — you, me, and everyone who professes the name of Christ. He is counting on us to take His message to a world that is spiritually bankrupt. Pause for a moment and silence the many distractions competing for your time and attention, and you'll hear the faint whisper. A gentle yet irresistible call in your spirit. An invitation nudging you toward something greater than you could ever imagine.
A Compelling Call
In 2 Corinthians 5:11–15, after writing about our responsibility to "persuade others" about the good news, the apostle Paul made this beautiful assertion:
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (vv. 14–15)
When the New Testament was written, the word compel referred to the privilege Roman officials and soldiers had to force people (as well as their horses, equipment, and family members) into public service. Our contemporary definition of compel carries the idea of driving or overpowering something or someone. It also means "to have a powerful and irresistible effect, or influence." But Paul identified that it was not Roman officials, nor force or obligation, that compels us to share the gospel with our fellow man, but Christ's love! You might say that to compel is to propel into action.
After meeting Jesus on that dusty road to Damascus, Paul's life was changed forever and set on a different course. No longer fervently persecuting the Christian church as he had done before, he literally had seen the Light. And he spent the remainder of his life traveling the known world to tell about the Light of the World (see John 8:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:8–10).
The gospel's irresistible effect is the reason why Paul went on missionary trips and voyages across tumultuous seas. His travels put him in unspeakable amounts of danger, distress, and brushes with death. But Paul could not help himself. He was compelled to tell others about the love of Christ.
In the same way, though you were once on a path away from God, you now have a miraculous story of conversion. You've met the Lord and have been changed by Him. Just as He did for Paul, God wants to put your life on a different course for His glory. When we truly examine the depth of God's love and the truth of His gospel, we will become compelled to share it with others just as Paul and so many other fearless believers have done throughout the history of the world.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is not unique to Los Angeles where I live. The same is true for your city and for any city — big or small — on earth today.
The Lost in Lodz
Vance and Jennifer were living an enjoyable life in Southern California. Vance worked at a law firm as an assistant manager, and Jennifer helped to plant one of our Shepherd Church campuses in the West Valley of Los Angeles before moving to Iraq to become a church planter and an English teacher. When Jenn moved back to the United States, she and Vance got married and had a son.
The young couple had intended to move to Iraq together and even took their infant, Nathan, there for a trip to find work. They became team leaders, sold all they had, and started raising support. It was in the middle of this process that they felt increasingly uneasy about the decision and sought the Lord for more direction. Over several months, God closed the doors to Iraq and led them to Poland in 2013 instead.
Poland has a population of nearly 38.5 million people — coincidentally, almost the exact same population as the state of California. Vance, Jenn, and their son moved to Lodz, which is the third largest city in Poland. Their second son, Josiah, was born there. Not a single person in the hospital spoke English when Jenn delivered him!
Although Poland is technically a "Catholic country," less than 0.3 percent of the population is evangelical Christian. There are two Jehovah's Witnesses to every evangelical — in Lodz it is more like thirty-five Jehovah's Witnesses to every evangelical. Vance and Jenn bear witness to the fact that there is a huge need for believers to share the gospel there.
Enduring extremely cold weather, the country's communistic mind-set, spiritual attack, loneliness, and occasional health issues, Vance and Jenn are filled with certainty that Poland is where God wants them to be. Just as the Holy Spirit did in my heart three decades ago, He has called Vance and Jenn to serve a people in unfamiliar territory. To bring Jesus Christ into a country that needs Him, they've left behind the comforts of family, friends, and yummy food (Jenn says there's only so much you can do with sausage and potatoes, which are plentiful in Poland).
Jenn started with a small discipleship group of four girls and Vance started with six guys. Through the ministry that God has allowed them to begin in Lodz, there are now over fifty people who have either been discipled or are being discipled. There are now three house churches as well.
Vance and Jennifer could have looked at the country of Poland and said, "You know, there are hardly any Christians living in Poland, and that's just the way it is." Or, "There are millions of people there who have never heard the gospel, but that doesn't really have anything to do with us."
Instead of believing that the spiritual state of Poland could never change, they believed in the power of the Holy Spirit moving and working through believers throughout the world to transform hearts indiscriminately. Christ's love compelled them to abandon everything they knew to gain His heart for the lost.
Later in this book I'll share more of Vance and Jennifer's journey with you. It will encourage you greatly! Their lives demonstrate the joy that can be had, and the impact that can be made, when we choose to take seriously Jesus's words in Matthew 28:18–20, which is the mandate of our faith:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
God has done truly remarkable things in Lodz through two willing vessels. And He is changing lives not just in Los Angeles, not just in Lodz, but all over the world. Yet I am convinced that there is so much more Jesus wants to do, can do, and will do when we become open to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This does not necessarily mean that God will ask you to move to another city or country, although He sometimes does. But what I do know for sure is that God desires to change your mind-set to be open and ready to do His will, to influence those around you with truth and boldness.
I will never forget something an elder in our church told me right before he died. He had served the congregation faithfully for sixty years, and as his frail body prepared to step into eternity, he told me, "Dudley, one of my biggest regrets in life is that I cannot recall actually leading someone to Jesus Christ."
Excerpted from "Compelled"
Copyright © 2018 Dudley Rutherford.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity 1
2 New You, New Task 18
3 What's Your Motivation? 39
4 Embracing Eternity 53
5 The Value of One Soul 72
6 The Dynamic Duo 89
7 Mouth-to-Ear Resuscitation 106
8 Civil Conversations 120
9 The Power of a Changed Life 134
10 Getting God's Word in Your Heart 147
11 The Patient Process of Planting 162
12 The Reality of Rejection 175
13 Count the Cost 191
14 Time to Celebrate 208
Scriptures to Memorize 227