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Chapter 1 - Hearing The Call  (below)                       Chapter 6 - Going Forth

Chapter 2 - Effective                                                  Chapter 7 - Sowing Beside All Waters

Chapter 3 - The Finger Of God                                  Chapter 8 - The Spirit and Power of Elijah

Chapter 4 - With All Your Heart                                 Chapter 9 - Your Ministry

Chapter 5 - Henceforth You Will Be Catching Men




Chapter 1                                              Hearing the Call


And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw

Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting

a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And

Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you

become fishers of men", And immediately they left

their nets and followed him.  Mark 1:16-18


When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to

Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me

more then these?" He said to him, Yes, lord; you

know that I love you." He said to him 'feed my lambs'

A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John,

do you love me" He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know

that I love you," He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He

said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do

you love me?" Peter was grieved because be said to

him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to

him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love

you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly,

I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself

and walked where you would; but when you are old,

you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird

you and carry you off where you do not wish to go."

(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify

God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

John 21:15-20


If we were asked to compare the function of a Christian congregation to its counterpart in the auto industry, we might think of a factory where new cars are produced, or perhaps a bump shop where they are repaired. But hardly a junk yard.


Suppose that one day you’re making the rounds of the junk yards in search of a transmission for your car. In one of them an astonishing thing happens. A man comes into the yard who needs only to touch the remains of a wreck and it becomes a brand new car again. He touches a 1963 Chevy. Instantly it's new. He brushes against a 1949 Ford. Suddenly it looks as it did when it left the factory. He leaves, and all the people in the junk yard are scratching their heads. Did that really happen? Was there such a person? He's gone, but there's a new car ....a brand new car!


 The church of  Jesus Christ is not a factory where new souls are produced from scratch... nor is it a bump shop, (although very often it is thought to be one; a place where spiritual fenders are straightened). No... the church of Jesus Christ is a junk yard. We are an assembly of human wrecks who have been, or are being, brought back from the dead. With some of us it’s a slow painful process... with others it seems to happen more rapidly. But it is happening. And even if you can’t see the One who’s performing it, you’re seeing the results... look around you. If you walk up to one of these revived souls and ask him or her what happened, every single one will give you the same answer: “A man came to me and called me by name. And when I turned around and answered his call this happened.” We may not fully understand who this man is. We cannot see him with our eyes, or touch him with our hands, or hear him with these ears... yet we know the call of his voice in the center of our hearts.   We know that he has a claim on us.   We know in our bones that we were born to hear that call and that our whole life up to this moment was spent waiting for it to come. We may not yet understand the ins and outs of his death and resurrection, yet we somehow begin now to understand that it is the power of that death and the power of that resurrection which comes to us in that call and draws us by that call into the very heart of God.


And this miracle goes all the way back twenty centuries, to the beginning. If you talk to Peter and you ask him what caused the change in his life he would say, “I was fishing one day and this man came along and said, ‘Follow me’....and I knew I had to go.”


“Matthew, how did it happen to you?”


“I was in my tax office counting my money... here comes this man who says, ‘Follow me.’ I had no choice but to get up and go.”


“Mary Magdalene, what ever happened to you... I never saw you like this before.”


“I was living in a mental hell. Suddenly my mind cleared and standing before me was this man who told me that my sins were forgiven.”


“Oh, you mean the call comes to some but misses others?”


No, sooner or later the call of that man comes to every single soul that has ever or will ever be born. For he says himself,


“And I when I am lifted up from the earth, (on the

cross), will draw all men, (women), unto myself.”


He will fulfill those words. But many hear the call and know they’re hearing it, and understand what it means, and go on their way.


"I married a wife and I cannot come... I got some land and I have to look at it... Let me first go and bury my father."


But for those who answer the call, the miracle happens in every life without exception.


Now the call that comes to us has two aspects. First, there is the initial hearing. It's like being in a deep sleep and your wife or your husband is trying to wake you up. Your name is called ten times and you don't seem to hear it. You grunt and roll over and continue sleeping. Then suddenly you hear it. You shake yourself and jump out of bed. And so it is with some who will be reading these words. A voice has been calling you by name. The moment comes when you hear it. If you respond to that call, you begin to experience the mercy of God and you begin to change.


The second aspect of this call is the daily hearing of it. There are those who have the idea that you just have to hear it once and you're all set. If you think that because you came down to the altar once-upon-a-time and asked Jesus into your life, confessed your sin, and shed some tears, that that blazing and wonderful experience is going to hold you all the way through, you are in for a surprise. Glorious as it is, that experience by itself will no more keep you through your life than a marvelous wedding ceremony will keep a man and woman married for fifty years... you've got to hear that call every day.


If any one would come after me let him deny himself (herself),

take up his cross daily and follow me.


 If I don't have enough sense every day to put other things aside and be still and listen once again, I will soon drift beyond hearing range. But if I make the time and settle down in my heart and listen, I will again hear the voice of the Shepherd and I will be renewed. 


My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they 

follow me, and I give them eternal life.


It doesn't matter whether you heard the call fifteen years ago or if you're going to hear it for the first time today, the call of the Lord upon our lives is, first of all, a call to the unworthy. He doesn't call you because you've got something to offer. ("Wouldn't it be wonderful if so-and-so became a Christian. Think of all the people who would come into the kingdom because he's ouch a wonderful ball player... because she's so pretty... because he's a brain.")


It, comes for the very opposite reason. God allows us to get to the junk yard stage in our lives so that when we come to him it's clear that we didn't do it .... he did it!


As Jesus passed on from there he saw a man called Matthew sitting in his tax office. And he said to him," Follow me." And he rose and followed him.


And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and

sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the

Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher

eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said,

"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.


Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'

For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."


There are many who have the idea that they will not hear the call of Jesus until they get their lives together... it's the other way around. You will never get your life together until you first hear and respond to the call of the Lord which comes to you as an act of sheer mercy. If you will be still inside your heart, my friend, you will hear him calling you today ...and as you respond all things become new. He didn't come to call the righteous he came to call sinners. This is not the Cadillac plant, this is a junkyard. And if you're not willing to be included in the junk yard you won't possibly hear that call. The fact that we're a piece of junk is no problem to the Lord at all. It is his joy to take that piece of junk which is our life and raise it up into something that is pleasing to God and a blessing to man.


The second thing about this call is that it comes to those whose hearts are tender.


Today when you hear his voice do not harden

your hearts as in the rebellion ....


And the reason why the call of the Lord which has been extended to many of us for years didn't get through was because we were anything but tender... because our hearts were critical, hard, self-righteous, full of judgments. We saw all the other hypocrites, and never imagined what hypocrites we were. For this reason, God, in his mercy to us, has taken many of us down a path of circumstances that have had the effect of softening our hearts, so that when we come out through the other end of the meat grinder we now aren’t so sure we have all the answers. We aren't so quick to judge other people. We're more broken and more tender and more merciful in our attitudes toward those around us. And now when Jesus comes, we begin to understand that what he says to us does indeed make sense. As long as I'm sitting on the top of the world, the money's rolling in, everybody's my friend, success is my constant companion, I don't have any interest in this strange man from Galilee who calls me to follow him. But after tragedy hits my life, or God in some way brings me down to reality, then I am able to recognize the truth. If you are having trouble hearing the voice of the Shepherd, the most valuable prayer you can pray is, "Lord, do whatever you have to do to soften my heart. Take me through whatever road necessary that I may finally be tender to the word that you speak."


Thirdly, the call of the Lord upon our lives is a call to the service of the living God.


For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder

who went out early in the morning to hire laborers

for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers

for a denarius a day he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out about the third hour he saw others

standing idle in the marketplace and to them he

said "You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is

right I will give you," so they went.


He didn't say, "I’m going to send you for ten weeks to a seminar... then you'll know how to serve God ... You go to Bible college... then you'll know how to serve God... I want to check you out a little more... give you some more instructions." He said, "Go... go in the shape you are right now and function in the place that I put you." What is the Kingdom of God... what is this vineyard we are to work in, but simply to share God's mercy in Jesus in the place where we find ourselves now.


Some of us are still waiting for the angel to come and say, "Go to Australia." And we won't go anywhere until the angel tells us Australia... because that's where we want to go. But what makes you think you're going to serve God in Australia if you're not doing a thing for him here? Is it not true that there are people who need to hear a good word from your lips in the place where you are now?... who need to see something that's going to give them some hope?... who need to see some evidence of love, mercy, kindness, goodness from your life and your actions? "Oh, I can't do anything, I'm only a piece of junk... I'm not a Cadillac." But when the piece of junk answers the call of the Lord and begins to serve the living God where it is, it's no longer a piece of junk... it is the habitation of the living God. We have this treasure in earthen vessels in order that the transcendent power may be known to be of God.


The call of the Lord upon our lives is a call to death.


If anyone would came after me let him deny himself,

take up his cross every day, and follow me.


And what does it mean to deny yourself every day and take up your cross every day, but to die every day. And to die every day is not morbid. It means that I come out of this ridiculous self that I am... that I come forth from that into freedom once again. And this only happens if I die every day, deny myself and go forth into him who is meek and lowly of heart and who lives not for his own will but for the will of the heavenly Father.


Most of us are so full of self that we're of little use to God. Many of us merely have to walk into a room… we don't even have to open our mouths... and our presence fills the room. Everybody knows we're there. We can be very "meek and humble," yet we make sure that everybody knows we're there. Until we learn how important it is to die... until we understand how essential this is, that we die every day, we're going to be of little use to God's kingdom. The people who are growing in their ministries, who are getting better at it, who are becoming effective, who are bearing fruit, who are coming through the storm stronger every time, are the ones who answer the call of the Lord to die. "Lord, I don't understand what this means, but I know I need it... help me to die with you."


And finally, the call of Jesus upon our lives is a call to life.


"Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming

and now is when the dead shall hear the voice

of the Son of God, and those who hear (that is,

who listen, who respond) shall live."


"My sheep hear my voice and I know them and

they follow me and I give to them eternal life."


Just as surely as we go down into the grave with Jesus with our sins, we also come up out of that grave by his grace and power to live a life which is so radically different from what we were before that it's a difference between life and death.


This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true

God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent ...


To be alive is to know God... to know God right now. Not last week, but now. Not that marvelous experience you had in January, but to know the living God now. And to this Jesus calls every single one of us. "You were a wonderful Christian last week, but right now, come out of that death into me," says Jesus to every one of us. He extends the call to each of us and it's up to us to answer it. Peter left his fishing... Matthew his tax collecting... the woman at the well set down her water jar and went to do what Jesus said, and that was to follow him. Mary Magdalene left her seven devils. Now the Lord calls us to leave what we are and what we have and all these things that cling to our hearts and that our hearts cling to. "Come, I have something far better."


And suddenly the junk yard is no longer a graveyard but a place where resurrection miracles begin to occur as men and women begin to rise up and answer the call that's been placed on their lives. And as they do they change. So if you now hear the call of the Shepherd to your heart... answer it... answer it in whatever way that is meaningful to you... answer it sitting in that chair... answer it kneeling on the floor.  Don't close this book until you’ve answered it. As you do you will experience new life... resurrection life... this day.