What Moves You?
by Dr. Jeff Owens
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
Jesus here has traveled to many cities and villages as He is preaching. He has been to Galillee. He mentions the importance of salvation and the people’s need of salvation. He mentions Heaven. He mentions hurting people. He mentions sick people. He sees the multitude, and He says they are fainting. They are fainting because of a lack of leadership. He said they are scattered. The portion of the verse that captivates my attention this evening is verse 36. “He was moved with compassion.” That word, that one word from verse 36 is my whole sermon tonight. The word -- Moved.
The Bible says that Jesus Christ was moved. I would like to ask you a personal question this evening. Are you moved? Are you moved, Christian? What in the world does it mean to be moved? I think what it means is that Jesus was affected from deep within. He saw something that affected him. Jesus was motivated. Jesus was stirred. Jesus was inspired. Jesus was enthused because of what He seen. He was activated. Something happened inside of Him, and it moved Him.
Are you spiritually moved? Are you spiritually motivated? I have a man at my church, his name is Paul, who helps us with the finances of the church. A couple years ago he said to me, “Brother Owens, I feel like our church is growing at such a rapid rate and we are building buildings and borrowing some money here and there, and I feel it would be very wise if we took out an insurance policy on you. They call it a key-man insurance policy.” He said, “Let’s get a million-dollar insurance policy in case something happens to you, and we will make the church the beneficiary.”
I said, “If you think it is a good idea.” We took it to the deacons, and it didn’t take them but a moment to agree on it. It is scary when you are worth more dead than alive and your deacons are the ones that voted to do it! Paul said to me, “Brother Owens, you are a highly motivated leader, and if something happened to you, where would we find someone with that?” He said, “To us you are one of a kind.” I don’t believe that, but that is what he said. That conversation with him is what kind of inspired this message.
Some would say I am a motivator, and others would say I am just a motor mouth. But I am forced, just like many in this room, to be a self-starter. Churches need key people. They don’t need just one key person. I think you need many key people in a church. I believe this. I truly believe one of the ways we can have many self-starters is if we can figure out what starts us. We don’t need just one person that is moved in the congregation. We need many people moved in our church. Do you know that as many people that will choose to be moved may be moved, and the more that are moved, the more we can move forward for the cause of Christ.
I asked myself. I had to figure out what in the world motivates me. I had to ask myself what is it that lights my fire. I have asked myself, “What is it that keeps me going. What is it that fires me up? What is it that electrifies me? What is it that flips my switch? What is it that puts me in high gear? What is it that inspires me? What stirs me? What generates my enthusiasm? What energizes me? What is it that primes my pump?” I like that song, “Rouse then soldiers, rally round the banner; Ready, steady, pass the word along.”
I would like it if I could teach you how you could have your own private, spiritual pep rally. You are going to have to have one, and you must have it alone from time to time. The pastor can’t be there all the time. There won’t always be a youth director there. There is not a Revival Fires Conference every week of the year for us to go to and get energized. You know, we have got to get alone with God and learn how to energize with Him.
Hey, do you know what spiritually motivates you? Do you know what moves you? The average person does not. What happens is that every once in a while in life they stumble onto it. So, their motivation, the moving, the energizing of the Christian, for most people they just happen into it. What would happen if you knew what motivated you, and when you needed to, you could flip it on full force and your service to God would benefit from you being moved and energized and inspired whenever you needed it?
It was my privilege for 18 years to be with Dr. Jack Hyles. He told me one day, “Jeff, there are two studies that a man must make.” He said, “Number one, you must study your Bible and you must know your Bible.” He said, “Number two, you must know you. You have got to know the Bible and you have got to know yourself.” He said, “You must know what gets you down, and you must know what gets you up.” You must know what will depress you, and you must know what will excite you. You must know that about yourself. If you do not know, you won’t know what to avoid and you won’t know what to plan into your life.”
Too many of us, life just happens to us. I am sorry, dear friend, but we are supposed to happen to life. Productive Christian servants of God have a plan, and God is in charge of that plan. We are not just to live it wondering what is coming our way. We have a plan, and God is a part of that plan. He said, “Jeff, you have got to know yourself.”
I know what moves me. I know what spiritually motivates me. I have a list. I go to that list and I let that list do its job. Jeff Owens has learned how to inspire Jeff Owens. Now, you are going to need to get yourself a list. You need to figure out what it is in your life. Listen folks, I am not in this for short term, but long term. I don’t care how famous I may become, I’d just like to be faithful. I’d just like to make it all the way to the end of this life and hear my Savior say, “Well Done.”
I have watched enough Christians fall by the wayside. I have watched plenty of them quit, get side-tracked, get discouraged, and not make it to the end. I want to be faithful to the end, but the only way we are going to make it to the end in faithful service to God is if we have a plan. We are going to have to know how we are going to get there.
I needed to know what moved me, so I made a list. After Dr. Hyles taught me that, I started examining me. I started watching and studying me. I started figuring out what it is that moves me, what it is that excites me, what it is that causes me to want to keep on moving forward.
Let me say to everybody in here. Hey, church leadership -- rise up! Rise up and let’s not depend on the motivation of someone else. We are wearing pastors out all across the country because all of the motivation comes from one source. We need motivation from more than just one. Oh, we need this so badly. We have all got to figure out what moves and motivates us.
Now listen, all I am going to do for the next few minutes is simply, I am going to share my list. It started out that this was a very private issue, a private matter to me. I wrote down a list of things that moved me. I call upon this list when I need to call upon this list. I am going to share with you my list of what moves me. Your list may be different than mine. My list may be different than your list, but I beg of you, you need to get a list.
You need to figure out what moves you to action. We have enough lethargic church members. We have enough spectators. It is time to get some participators. We have enough people that come to church to be entertained. It is time for somebody to jump in wholeheartedly and make something happen for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls. I am talking about long term. There are some that are “used-to-be-r’s.” I don’t want to be a used-to-be-r” or a has-been Christian. How many saved people used to be a soulwinner? How many used to be a bus driver or bus worker? How many used to be a Sunday School teacher, a choir member, and usher, a servant in the ministry of their local church? I want to do something for God now and every day for the rest of my life until Jesus comes. I am going to share with you my list of what moves me.
First of all, let me tell you this, I am moved by duty. I am moved by duty. This may be the most important item on my list. Luke 17:10 mentions that ever so important word, duty. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” You see the word duty, and that is so important to us.
It is my duty to keep on going. It is my duty to go forward. It is my duty to keep serving God. It is my duty to encourage others, and I keep moving by duty. Let me explain something to you. I have got some other things on my list, and I often call on them, and they have the ability to inspire me. They have the ability to get me moving. But there is one thing I can turn to when nothing else works, and that is duty. You say, “What in the world do you mean by duty?” I just do what I am supposed to do because it is right to do. Look, friend, it is time for Christians to wake up and grow up and realize that if God said it, it is right. If God wants it done, we are supposed to it! We shouldn’t have to have little trinkets of promotion for God continually to get us to do anything.
If you love God, then serve God. Duty says to me, “Jeff, serving God is right to do, now do it.” Now, there are mornings when I don’t really want to go do what needs to be done. I really don’t feel like it today. I look at my list of the things that motivate me and go through it. I try one, and if it doesn’t work, then I try another one. I will try another one yet if that doesn’t work. Finally, I come to the big dog on my list, which is duty. Duty says, “Jeff Owens, you get up, because it is right to get up. You go to the church. It is right to go to church. You go soul winning.” Why? Because it is right to do. I must do what is right to do because it is right to do! We are pampered too much in our own Christianity. I have on my list duty! Duty! Duty! Duty! It is my duty to serve God. It is my duty to keep on going! You see, when all else fails on my list, I turn to duty. Somehow, duty just always keeps me going.
There is another item on my list, and that is failure. Now, I am just telling you what motivates me. Failure moves me, or the fear of failure. You say, “Brother Owens, you ought not fear.” I know there is a lot of stuff I ought not do. I am a human being, and I have my failures. I don’t know about you, but failure bothers me. I don’t like failure. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to fail God. I don’t want to fail myself. I don’t want to fail goals that I have held through the years. I don’t want that. I want success in God’s work. The fear of failure will drive you to your knees, and drive you to depend on the Lord.
I tell you, the work of God is too big for man. It is going to take a supernatural movement of a God that has all the power that is necessary for the work of God to succeed. Hey, failure is not an option with me. It is an enemy. I think we have become lax in our Christianity. I believe Christians ought to want to win. I think Christians ought to want to achieve. I think Christians ought to give their best and do their best, and they ought to work hard. We have accepted our own personal excuses way too much. Way too much! Way too much! You see, I hate failure.
I remember when I was about 10 or 11 years of age, and I got the flu. Now, up to this point in my life, I had never tossed my cookies. (I try to think of the most polite way to say it.) Never regurgitated. We called it puking, but that is not the right word to use at a conference like this, and so I had never thrown up before. I got the flu, and I tossed my cookies, and I thought, “Goodnight, that is nasty! I mean, that tastes bad.” I made a conscious decision. I was about 11 years old. I said to myself, “That is so nasty. I am never doing it again.” With God as my witness, I have never thrown up again. That was distasteful.
Can I tell you something? Failure is distasteful to me. I don’t want to fail. I want to achieve. I want to accomplish. Hey, I am so sick and tired of people that want to be average, it is pathetic. Christianity is not average. The Baptist church is not average, and I don’t want to fail! I don’t want to fail. Some of my boys came home from a ball tournament. They got some third-place trophies. On the way home, they stopped at a McDonald’s. My boys threw their third-place trophies in the garbage can at McDonalds.
They came home and their coach came to me. “Preacher, the boys threw their third-place trophies away.”
I said, “Why?”
He said, “They were disgusted that they got third place.”
I said, “That is fine with me.”
You know something, you can lose a ballgame and be a good Christian, but you ought to be sick at your guts that you lost. I think you ought to be a good Christian when you lose, but I think it ought to bother you that you lose. We are raising a “mamby-pamby” generation of people that do not mind losing. America ought not want to lose anything. It is time to get some backbone. It is time to get some character. It is time to get some drive about ourselves again.
Failure moves me. Boy, if we are doing something at the church and it looks like it is getting ready to fail, I am ready to stay up all night. So is my staff if they want a paycheck! They get moved. I am at the top of their list. Failure moves me.
Let me tell you something else that moves me. Broken hearts move me. When I see the tears of brokenhearted people, I move. When I see hurting people, it moves me because I don’t want anybody else to be hurt. I might be a big baby, but if you cry around me, tears make me cry. I just about can’t stand watching somebody cry. I don’t like to watch people cry. I tell you, the hearts of people when they are broken, it moves me. It causes me to want to do everything I can to hinder any more hearts being broken. I don’t like to see people brokenhearted.
Some years ago, right before Christmas, my phone rang When I picked up the phone, somebody said to me, “Brother Owens, you need to get to the Clark family. You need to get to them as soon as you can.”
I said, “What is wrong?”
They said, “Grandma and Grandpa Clark need you. Their son and daughter-in-law and three children just a little bit ago burned to death in their mobile home.”
It was just about a week before Christmas. The Christmas tree was set up, gifts everywhere, and a mom, a dad, and three children in a mobile home in the night it had burned all the way to the ground. If you have never been to a funeral where you are burying five people all at one time, you wouldn’t understand. The newspaper was at our church, TV cameras. The church was packed out.
I tried, just a few days before Christmas, to conduct a funeral service for a family of five. I would look up in the balcony where Grandma and Grandpa Clark sat on a Sunday morning. Sometimes, Brother Fugate, Sunday morning rolls around and I am weary. Maybe sometimes I even get to feeling sorry for myself a little, and I walk to the pulpit and look up into the balcony and I will see the face of Grandma and Grandpa Clark, and I think to myself, “I have got to encourage them.” I have watched Grandma Clark during the song service wipe tears from her eyes while we sing, “There’s a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar...” Brother Clark will wave his hand. I
Do you know what that does to me? I think, “Lord, I can’t be tired. I just can’t be weary. I have got to love them and encourage them. Oh, Holy Ghost of God, you have got to do something, and help me help them. Somebody needs their heart encouraged today every day that you preach or serve the Lord in your church. All I have to do is think about broken-hearted people, and all of a sudden, something inside me says, “You have got to keep going! You have got to keep on doing what is right! There are people that need you. There are people that are depending on you to deliver a message from God!” You see, I know what moves me. I know that duty moves me. I know that failure and the fear of failure moves me. I know that the broken heart moves me.
On my list there is another word, the word Hell. Hell moves me. Hell is very real to me. Every once in a while, I just need to think about Hell for a little while. Christian, when was the last time that you thought about Hell?
I have an uncle that I think is in Hell. When Thursday night soulwinning rolls around, and I am tired, and part of me doesn’t want to go do what I am supposed to do, all I have to do is think about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and then suddenly, it can become very personal to me, because I have an uncle who is probably burning in Hell.
Something down inside me begins to stir. Something down inside me says, “Jeff, somebody else has an uncle. Somebody else has a family member they love who is on their way to hell! You have got to go find them, and you have got to win them to Jesus. You don’t want them to go to that place!” Hell moves me!
Let me explain. I have all of these on a list. When Jeff Owens needs Jeff Owens to get fired up for God, Jeff Owens goes to his list. I pick something on the list, and I move down the list until I figure out what it takes to get my lazy carcass up. I figure out what on the list is going to make me move forward because there is no time to spare. Jesus is coming again! There is no time to spare. Who knows who will die next. Who knows who will be the next to be broken-hearted. Somebody has got to keep people going.
Are y’all like me? I need some encouragement sometimes. I need something to keep me going. The only sermons that I get are my own. You preachers know what I mean. Listen, we have got to figure out what moves us. I promise you, if you want to make it to the end, and be faithful to God for a lifetime, somewhere along the way you’d better figure out what trips your trigger.
I will tell you what moves me, Heaven. Heaven is on my list. I have got the word Heaven written down because it moves me. I want people to see that it is a real place. I want people to have hope. There is a place called Heaven, and it won’t be long until we will have the privilege of being there. I want people to understand that there truly is a place where the streets are gold. There is a place where there are no more tears. No more dying. No more pain. No more cancer. Hey, there is a place like that. There won’t be any cancer or seizures in Heaven.
Somebody who has recently lost a loved one and you had to say goodbye, or better yet, “See you later.” Let me tell you, there is a place called Heaven. I want you to know that this is all going to come to an end. This whole mess is going to come to an end. We who are saved are going to be with Jesus. There is coming a day when we will get to hear HIM preach. You talk about preaching! You talk about power! I can’t wait. I can’t wait to hear the angels sing. They can’t sing everything we can sing, because they know nothing about redemption’s song. They can sing for a little while, but then we can stand up and sing “I have been saved by the blood of the lamb.” We will be able to sing, and they will have to listen to us! Yes, one of these days Jesus is going to come, and we are going to get out of this mess and go on to Heaven. Heaven moves me. I want to get as many people heading toward Heaven as I can.
A lady in my church, her name was Jeannie, and she was passing away. She had been very sick for some time. Her husband called me and said, “Preacher, they told us that Jeannie is going to pass away in the next 24 hours, and she wants to know if you will come to the house.” Mrs. Owens and I went out and made a couple soulwinning calls, and then we ran by Jeannie’s house.
When I got there, she was laying in her bed all shriveled up. You could hardly recognize her anymore. Her husband was there. Her son was there. I went over and sat on the edge of the bed with her, and Mrs. Owens and I began to talk to her. Jeannie said, “Preacher, could you tell me about Heaven one more time.”
I said, “Jeannie, Heaven is real. It is real.” I said, “Jeannie, I don’t know if they told you the truth, but I need to. They are figuring any time now you are going to Heaven.” I said, “Jeannie, you are not going to hurt anymore. You won’t toss and turn. You won’t embarrass yourself anymore.” I said, “Jeannie, you just wait, it is going to be wonderful.”
She said, “What will I see?” I described many things the Bible says about Heaven. I talked about many things and many people that she would see there. I said, “Jeannie, I’ve got good news for you. Everything that I described about Heaven is more breath-taking than I can describe it, but you are basically going to ignore all of it, because when you get there, you are going to want to see Jesus.”
When you get to Heaven, you won’t wonder where He is or who He is, you will be so attracted toward Him. He will be like a magnet and you like a piece of steel. The moment that you hit the floor of glory, you are going to be pulled right toward Him. It will be like nothing you have ever experienced or seen before. I said, “Jeannie, you are going to see Jesus soon. Jeannie, I am going to ask you if you could do me a favor.”
She said, “Sure, Preacher.”
I said, “Jeannie, when you get to Heaven, would you tell Jesus two things for me?”
She said, “Well sure, Preacher.”
I said, “Jeannie, when you talk to Him, would you tell Jesus that I love Him.”
She said, “I will, Preacher.”
I said, “Jeannie, will please ask Him if He will keep blessing our church, please.”
She said, “I will do it, Preacher.” I prayed with her. Mrs. Owens and I left. We got about 35 minutes up the road toward our house, and my cell phone rang, and I knew the number. It was her son. He said, “Preacher, Mama is in Heaven telling Jesus that you love Him right now.”
You know folks, I believe there is a Heaven. I believe in Heaven there is our Savior, Jesus. I believe one of these days you and I get to go there, but between now and then we better do all that we can to keep people out of Hell and get them on their way to Heaven.
You see, on those days where I am down just a little bit and tired a little bit and need a little encouragement, I go to my list. I start looking for what will move me and motivate me.
I will tell you what else moves me. Family moves me. You see, I have family on the list. I want our families to see that there is a real God, that we are not just playing religion. I want them to have an old-time revival type church. I want to tell every preacher and all people that if the only people that came to our church were just a few, I would still have an old-fashioned independent fundamental King James Bible only kind of a Baptist church, and I will tell you why! I want our families to have an old-time religion church. I would have all the standards of the Bible and all the convictions and the same kind of red-hot preaching if the only people that came to my church were my own family, because I want my family to have that kind of a church.
Hey, I don’t want our families to just hear about the revivals of yesteryear. I don’t want our young folks to think that the only people that get to have revival are the people in the past. I want them to say, “We have revival at our church! We see supernatural moving of God at our church. Revival is not a thing of the past!” Family moves me, and I know you love your family. We want them protected in the will of God. Our children. Our grandchildren. We should do anything we can to keep our church right, so that our grandbabies can grow up and be in an old-time religion church. Not a has been, not a want to be – an old-time religion church. Family is on my list.
I will tell you something else that moves me that is on my list. Children move me. I enjoy spending time with young children. I preach to the children at our church all the time. I just love doing it. Children are so helpless. Children need somebody that will do what is best for them. Children need motivated moms and dads. Children need motivated Sunday School teachers and bus captains. Children need somebody to be motivated for God.
I enjoy helping marriages. One of the reasons why I counsel hundreds of couples about their marriages and I enjoy it, I will tell you why, is because I want to work all I can to make sure little boys and girls have a mommy and a daddy that live in the same home. I want to prevent the hurt and heart-break of little boys and girls who don’t understand. I wouldn’t, for all the world, hurt anybody here that is going through the tragedy of a divorce, and nobody would wish that upon anyone. God bless you, you are not a second-class citizen to me if you have been through something like that. But if there’s any possibility of preventing it, I don’t want little boys and girls to debate on who’s house they are going to for Christmas. I don’t want them to become a pawn in a chess game. I don’t want them shedding tears into their pillow at night over missing Mommy or Daddy who doesn’t live with them anymore.
Boys and girls need somebody to love them and move them. If you come to my church, every Sunday night, I have a sucker jar. We put Dum Dum suckers in it. Every Sunday night as church dismisses, all the children in my church come to my office. I get the sucker jar out 52 weeks a year, and they all reach in and get a sucker out of Preacher’s sucker jar. Now, I am not talking about 20 kids. I am talking about sometimes 250 children on a Sunday night.
Brother Corle, I think I can tell you the favorite flavor of almost every child in the church. Boys, they will take anything they can get their hands on. Girls, it takes them forever. They think they are picking out a dress. Little two and three year olds will walk up to my office and wait in line. If anybody has ever been there, you have seen it. You can’t even walk through my office hallway. People can’t get out the North end of the church. It is packed from hallway to hallway with kids waiting to get a sucker. A little boy will take a sucker, and he will say, “It sure was good preaching tonight preacher. Can I have a sucker for my brother?” No! (He is going to be a deacon someday, already bargaining!)
I believe in fighting for those that cannot fight for themselves, and the thought of little children moves me. If we don’t do something about America, what are our children going to have to inherit from us, my friend? A little girl that comes in on one of our bus routes, her name is Moriah. Moriah has a disease called spina bifida. She is about 12. Her whole body is wadded up in a knot, and rather than sitting on a wheelchair, she has flat bed where they strap her to it. Almost every Sunday morning between Sunday school and church, Moriah wheels by my office and I will see her. Almost like clockwork, she will say to me, “Preach good today, Preacher!” If I wasn’t ready to preach up to that moment, Moriah lights my fire. I think that poor little girl has had 27 surgeries, and she comes by and says somebody has got to care about me. I need somebody to reach up and get ahold of God and bring Him down to where I am.
Do you know what moves you? I don’t want to be a quitter. That thought moves me. Calvary moves me. I will tell you this, preaching moves me. I have got a little section of sermon tapes that have been turned into CDs. Brother Hyles preached a sermon, and when I need it, I will pop it in a CD player and listen to it. It is called “Fresh Oil.” Every once in a while, I just need to push the reset button. Brother Roloff preached a sermon called “Dr. Law and Dr. Grace.” I remember watching and hearing him preaching it. Wow! You see, like the drug addict runs to the drugs to get his high, I have got a list of things that are wholesome and decent and scriptural, and I run to those things and I let them help me and move me and motivate me. The preaching of God’s word moves me.
Are you moved, or are you just another lethargic average, so-so, maybe I will, maybe I won’t type of Christian? I will promise you, usually the difference is that somebody knows what moves them and others don’t. Usually, the ones that know what moved them and act upon it, they become the leaders. I will tell you one last thing, and I will be done.
On my list is a lack of spiritually motivated people. That moves me. It moves that there are so few Christians who are actually moved. Somebody has got to get excited about Jesus. Somebody has got to get excited about the Bible. Somebody has got to get excited about preaching. Somebody has got to get excited about the bus ministry. Somebody has got to get excited about Sunday School. Somebody has got to get excited about soulwinning. Somebody has got to get excited. There are so many people, when I look out, there they sit like a bump on a log. Hey, do you know who we serve? I serve a risen Saviour. He is in the world today.
I look out and I look, and I look, and look, and I think, “Where is the motivation!” To think that I am just a dumb old country boy, but Lord, I want to be like Jesus. In the passage of scripture that I read to you to start this sermon, you find out that Jesus was moved. Moved! If you would, you could just study that passage of scripture and you will see what moved him. The sick. The lost. Those that were not being led. Jesus knew what moved Him, and He let it move Him. It is the kind of a sermon that truly needs more than just a hearing.
If I could, I would like to recommend something to you. I would like to recommend that before this night is over, you start a list of your own. I may never get to see you again. (You are probably hoping that you never see me again!) But this list will help carry you all the way to the end of your life in faithful service if you will make it. I am sure of it. I am very sure of it.
I watched my pastor of 18 years go through battles. The day he said to me, “Jeff, I have a list. The reason I keep going is I know what keeps me going.” He said, “I go to the list, and I let it do its job.” Friend, I would like to ask you, “Do you know what moves you?” Some of you that are not moved at all, it is time to get a list started, and it will change your life. I don’t mean to put the wrong kind of pressure on you, but I would like you to promise something. How many of you, if you don’t already have a list would promise God that because of this night and before this night is over that you will start this list so that you will have it to refer to in the future? This will keep you going, and we all just need to keep on going for God.
Jesus was moved with compassion. It is so important to know what moves you.