I’m sure you’ve heard the statement “Life is a series of choices.” To some, that’s too simple, but it really is true. Your decisions determine your destiny.
Jamie and I recently took a vacation. We didn’t get in the car and just go in any direction; we had a goal, and every turn we took was calculated to help us reach our destination. We checked the map often and made a few adjustments when we missed a turn. We didn’t do it perfectly, but we got to where we wanted to go, because of decisions.
Likewise, you make decisions every day that move you closer to your God-ordained destiny—or away from it. There is no such thing as just sitting still or putting God’s plan for your life on hold. That’s a deception. God’s will for you is intertwined with His will for others, and that is a constantly moving and changing dynamic. It’s like catching a flight. You can miss it.
It’s true that the Lord can get you to your destiny another way. He’s certainly smarter than a GPS device that “recalculates” when you miss a turn. There is always a later flight with God. But who wants the hassle, disappointment, and delay that comes with missing a connection? I want God’s best. Don’t you?
When you are on a road trip, those who are ahead of you can be valuable sources of information. It doesn’t matter how you feel about them personally. The fact that they have already driven the road gives them insights that you need. They can tell you what accommodations and restaurants are available. Or they can let you know of a wreck or construction ahead and then advise an alternate route. You would be foolish not to draw on the insights of others who have gone before you.
With that in mind, we have put together a number of what we call Destiny Stories. These are the stories of individuals who have made choices that changed their lives for the better. They are people just like you, with challenges, failures, pasts, and even successes that stood in the way of them following God’s will for their lives. But with a few good decisions, they made their lives count.
Take, for instance, Kevin and Rachel Dowling. They were living on the streets of New York. Homeless and helpless, they were dope addicts with no good future. But through a woman at one of the soup kitchens they frequented, they found the Lord and His love. Five years later, they were free from dope, but still lacked direction for their lives. They decided to come to Charis Bible College (CBC) in Colorado Springs, and everything began to change.
Not only have they been set free from the feelings of unworthiness and shame that dominated their lives, but now they are bringing others into their newfound freedom. The ones who used to sleep in cardboard boxes and eat out of trash cans are now providing food and the Gospel to thousands of other people who need a new destination.
Or take Leland Shores, who was a successful businessman in Dallas, Texas. While he lay on the floor, nearly choking to death on a sandwich, his life flashed before him, and he knew that all of his “successes” were worth nothing. When he recovered, he made the decision to sell everything he had and dedicate his life to the Lord.
That one decision led Leland to CBC and eventually Africa, where he helped establish the Discipleship Evangelism course, which has now reached nearly 500,000 people. Leland also established the AWM bookstore in downtown Kampala, Uganda, where hundreds of people have been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. If that weren’t enough, Leland started CBC-Uganda, with over 100 students who are changing Uganda.
Leland died unexpectedly in June 2011, but in the eleven years since he made the decision to make his life count for the Lord, he did more than most people do in a lifetime. And because Leland’s emphasis was on discipleship, his disciples are continuing the work he began. Numerous people have been raised from the dead through those Leland reached. Disciples are ministering on the radio daily, and others are holding crusades with signs and wonders. Leland’s impact is just beginning.
Carrie Pickett is a young woman who came to our college fresh out of high school. She had known that the Lord had a call on her life since she was a little girl, but she was transformed by the Word and her missions trip to Russia. God put a love in her heart that she has been following for the last thirteen years in Russia.
Some would think of all that Carrie gave up to go to Russia. She’s an attractive young lady who put her personal desires for a family on the altar to serve the Lord. But God had the perfect husband for Carrie—in Russia. She would have missed him if she hadn’t followed the Lord to the ends of the earth. Now she and her husband, Mike, have a beautiful daughter, Elliana.
Their lives are making a big impact. They not only have established a CBC in St. Petersburg, but they also have a goal of starting 1,000 new Bible colleges in the next five years and are well on their way to seeing the completion of that vision. They were also responsible for getting my books and television broadcasts translated into Russian. Through their efforts, the Gospel Truth television broadcast now reaches 160 million homes in Russia every weekday across eleven time zones. They also direct our AWM-Russia office, which ministers to thousands of Russian-speaking people throughout the world.
What would all of these people’s lives have been like if they hadn’t made the decisions they did? An even greater question might be, what would the lives of the millions of people they’ve affected have been like without them? Every one of us has a God-ordained destiny that is designed to touch others. We are carrying other people’s miracles. I don’t think we can fully comprehend this. It is certain, however, that the lives of millions of people were changed simply because these “heroes of the faith” made the right decisions.
Are you certain that the decisions you are making every day are the ones the Lord wants you to make? If you can’t answer that affirmatively, then what is stopping you? Most people don’t intentionally decide to miss their destinies; they just get busy with the cares of this life, and before they know it, they are in a rut that they can’t seem to get out of.
But remember, your life is the result of choices—YOUR choices. Others can influence or hinder you, but your choices are the determining factor of your destiny. It is never too late to make the right choices.
My spiritual life started with making a choice. I had been seeking to know the Lord’s will for my life when He directed me to Romans 12:1-2, which says,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
He showed me His will for my life was to be completely committed to Him. That’s the main thing. I was only seventeen years old at the time, but I started seeking to become a living sacrifice to the Lord with all my heart.
That decision led to a miraculous encounter with the Lord on March 23, 1968, when God revealed Himself to me in a way that changed my life forever. I have never been, and will never be, the same. I made an absolute and complete, unconditional surrender to the Lord that has propelled me to the life I live today. I’ve made thousands of decisions since then, but the decision to unconditionally follow God’s will for my life started it all.
The fact that you are receiving this letter is the result of decisions made by you and me. I decided to follow the Lord and teach His Word, and you decided to contact us in response to something He spoke to you through me. Our lives have been connected because of decisions. Decisions determine destiny.
My study of the Word of God has been the single most influential force on my decisions. God’s Word is a light to our path (Ps. 119:105). It’s like I explained in my book Effortless Change, all we really have to do is put the seed of God’s Word in our hearts, and it will change us effortlessly. That’s how God established His kingdom.
Charis Bible Colleges are changing the lives of thousands of people through the ministry of God’s Word. We now have about 2,000 people involved in correspondence courses, online Bible courses, and our eighteen campuses. But we are reaching the limits of the number of people we can accommodate here at our campus in Colorado Springs.
As you know, I saw this coming, and the Lord directed me to start preparing for a Bible college campus where we could train at least 3,000 people. We purchased 157 acres in 2009 and just got released from some legal issues in June 2011. We are now in the final stages of getting all the work permits. It might be possible to break ground in November, but with the weather in Colorado, that could be tough.
I’ve decided to have a groundbreaking on March 23, 2012, the forty-fourth anniversary of my miraculous encounter with the Lord. That is the night I made a decision that has led me to this place. I think that beginning date is providential.
I encourage you to go to our website and view the special live-streaming internet broadcast I did back in July. I fully discussed where we are in the process of building this Bible college campus and where we are going with it. I also asked that you help me make another decision.
Our CBC campus will have two main buildings. Together they will give us 220,000 square feet of space to train the men and women who will be world changers. That’s twice the space we now occupy, and there is plenty of room for expansion if needed. But constructing these buildings is costly. Therefore, I am currently in the process of making a decision on whether I should build one building as a first step or build both of these buildings at the same time.
I’ve decided the Lord wants me to do this debt free. I’ve witnessed other ministries make decisions that put them under financial pressure, and it changed their ministries. I’ve decided not to do this. These buildings are just tools. I think they are necessary tools and I’m following the direction the Lord has given me, but I’m happy and blessed without them. Regardless of how long it takes or if I never see the building of this campus come to pass, I will still be blessed and in love with the Lord. I will not put this ministry in a bind for buildings.
Therefore, I am asking those whom God has joined to Jamie and my heart to help me decide how to approach this. I haven’t got the money to pay for this out of my pocket, and I’m not taking out a loan. I need to ask what you are willing to do. You are God’s bank.
To build the smaller structure would take 6,100 new Foundation Builder Partners averaging $60 per month for twenty-eight months. This half of the campus includes a 1,500-seat auditorium upstairs, a 500-seat auditorium, and twenty-three classrooms downstairs.
If I also build the 2,500-seat auditorium with all the offices and Phone Center at the same time, I would have to have 16,668 new Foundation Builder Partners for thirty-six months to complete the whole project.
I know these numbers may seem overwhelming, but if you look at this from the viewpoint of how many people we are reaching, this is an attainable goal. There are 86,000 people receiving this letter. A $14.63 gift per month from everyone for thirty-six months would pay for this whole project, debt free. When you factor in that millions of people watch my program daily, this becomes nothing. All things are possible with God (Mark 9:23).
I ask you to simply pray about this and do whatever the Lord leads you to do. I would remind you that I am in the process of making a decision on how to approach this project. It’s important to me that you let me know in the next month or two what the Lord is leading you to do. I must decide whether to build just one building or both of these buildings simultaneously. I will have to give direction to my builder by January 1.
On July 28, I broadcast, via the internet, a special video message talking about our progress on the development of The Sanctuary project thus far and the steps we will be taking in the near future. Please take the time to go to our website to listen to this message, and then watch the virtual tour. I know it will bless and encourage you.
Decisions do determine destiny, but those decisions must be based on the truth of the Word. It was the Word of God that changed my life, and it will change your life as well. To help you, I have spent years developing a study of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). It became the first edition of what we call the Life for Today Study Bible and Commentary.
In this Life for Today Study Bible: The Gospels Edition, I have arranged the four Gospels in parallel and chronological order. It makes it very easy to compare what each of the Gospels say about specific events in the life of Jesus. In addition, I also recorded an audio verse-by-verse teaching to accompany it. Previously this was only available through partnership, but it is now available as a standalone resource.
It includes the Life for Today Study Bible and Commentary: The Gospels Edition and over fifty-five hours of verse-by-verse teaching and commentary loaded onto one simple USB card as MP3 audio. In the old CD format, it required over seventy CDs. This study Bible and audio teaching together is valued at $600, but I am offering it for a gift of $155 or more.
I also encourage you to order our Destiny Stories DVD for a gift of $15 or more even if you do not become a Foundation Builder. Each story will encourage you to make the decision that will move you toward your own destiny.
The Lord has awesome things planned for your life. Regardless of what things look like now, your positive decisions can change everything.