Announcer: His personal story. What was it that turned Mike's extreme fear of public speaking into a passion for sharing God's Word?
Mike: Turn to Luke chapter 15. Luke 15. This is the first sermon I ever preached, on the prodigal son. I was about 17 years old, and we had a youth meeting in the church, and youth week. Different young men, about seven of us preaching at various times, and I was the most novice I guess among the crowd. They didn't want me preaching in the church because I'd never preached anywhere.
I'd taught some Sunday school classes and spoken up in Sunday school, and they'd recognized I had a little bit of a gift. They gave me the job of preaching at the rescue mission Sunday afternoon. About 4:00 I guess, 4:00 or 5:00, before suppertime. I was scared to death because I'd never spoken publicly. In high school, when I had to stand up in front of the class and speak, I would cry it would scare me so bad. Just scared me to death.
The idea of standing up in front of people, I just felt like I wouldn't have anything to say. I could hardly read. I spent the whole afternoon trying to figure out what to preach on and I finally, I knew the prodigal son story in the Bible better than anything else in the Bible. I'd heard it preached a thousand times. I said, "Well, I'll just preach on that."
I stood up before a group of about 150 men, drunks, sots, broken people. I, very, very nervously opened my Bible, and began to read. I didn't have any notes, just began to read the story of the prodigal son. As I looked at those people and saw them sitting there looking at me, that I had their undivided attention, it dawned on me that I had the power to say something to them that might change their lives. I saw some of those men sitting out there, and I realized one of them could be my daddy or somebody I knew.
I began to give them the story of the prodigal son. As I did, I saw the relevance of it to them, that this could change their lives. I totally forgot that I was speaking. I totally forgot that I was up in front of a crowd of people. I just cut loose and gave them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From that point on I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to tell people about Jesus. There was quite a bit of response among them that day, quite a bit of stirring, excitement. Several of them professed faith in Christ. It's like taking a six-year-old fishing and he catches a six-pound bass on a cane pole. You've got a fisherman the rest of your life [laughs] because once you've done it and experienced it, you don't want to go back to anything else.
Here we are once again. I'm now 67 years old. It's been about 40 . . . 50 years since I've preached that message on the prodigal son. Let's look at it again. It'll be a little more sophisticated than the last time, maybe not as good.
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