#8 Building Faith for Life's Journey IV (19/01/02)

The Message

By Dr. Robert H. Schuller

I want you to know that I feel terrific. I am full of energy and enthusiasm. Not a pain in my body. Never felt better, except I've got laryngitis. So relax. I'm comfortable. You be comfortable too.

Building Faith for Life's Journey that's what we have to do. I've been doing it for 75 years, and it's fantastic. The St. Paul text is very important to me. In Thessalonians, "Rejoice always. Pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances." We are fast approaching the end of the year 2001. And I invite people of all faiths or no faith to join me in an attitude of gratitude as we come to the year 2001 Christmas Eve. Nothing is as important as having an attitude of gratitude. I heard the other day of a man whose wife was going to turn 60 and he said, "What would you like for your birthday? I'd do anything to give you what you want." She said, "I'd like to be 6 again." So he planned a birthday party like you can't believe. He said, "Get ready, I'm taking you away for the day." Took her in the car, and he took her first to a theme park, and gave her the fastest, wild most scary ride you ever imagined. And she got sick it was that bad. And then there was the screaming dive, and he took her on the screaming dive. From one frightful dangerous ride to another, and then he would stop between rides and he would buy her hot dogs and then there, McDonald's had a place there. So he bought her a McDonald's with all of the gooey stuff on it. And so it went all day. When he got her home, she was sick. And she was in a bad shape. And he said, "Well, honey, what does it seem like to be 6 again?" She said, "I didn't mean age 6, I meant size 6."

Well, I'll tell you, I've never before had the attitude of gratitude more than I have today. It's been an amazing experience writing my autobiography. But very, very encouraging and I hope you'll all get a copy and read it. I've dedicated it to my parents. But there's an opening line on a page by itself, a quote from Tennyson, "I am a part of all that I have met." And in this book, are people, some of you sitting down here, some of you listening on television, some of you whose names have never been called to the public attention at any time, at any place before. And you're in the index. It is an amazing index. If you don't read the book, at least read the index. Unbelievable index of people. Power people and common people whom the world has never heard of before. Simple people, sublime people, successful people. It's just my journey. But it's a journey of faith, and I want to thank all of you. That's why I picked Tennyson's line to be the opening of the book, on a page by itself. "I'm a part of all of whom I've met." And that's you.

And God's used people of all faiths. I think of a Jew. Benno Fisher great architect with the Richard Neutra firm and he did a lot of the designing of that Tower of Hope and the Arboretum and the gardens and the fountains. And Benno and I became like brothers. He died this year as did Anne his wife. He was a young architect in Poland when Hitler came through and the next thing he knew he was on a truck and then a railroad train and then in a death camp. There were 4,000 in that death camp. And many years later, he was one of the 400 that survived. And he said he'd never forget the day when they heard a rumble and they looked out and they saw tanks and trucks coming down the road. And the American flag was flying. And they were rescued, released. And he asked the doctor, why did I live? There were 4,000 of us, every day I saw them die. And I wondered when I would die but I never died. And the doctor asked him many questions, what did you have to eat? Well, we said, we each were given a bowl of soup and small square of bread every day. But all the prisoners would come and say, I want, I want your soup. I'll give you my little piece of bread for your bowl of soup. And he said I never had the heart to turn them down. So he said, I never had much soup. I think I was hungrier than all of them. So they got, they got to know that Benno Fisher was a soft touch. He'll trade his bowl of soup for your little cube of bread. The doctor said, let me tell you, Benno Fisher that's why you lived. The soup did not have the nutrition that the bread had. Your small cube of bread doubled every day, kept you alive. He lived because he knew how to give. Benno Fisher, great man of God.

Oh, I'm a part of all of whom I have ever met. Jew, Catholic, many, many Catholics and many Jews but most significantly Mother Teresa. I shared with her once how my critics said, Schuller doesn't preach very profound sermons. He's not listed as a great preacher. He just, he's successful because he's got a good smile. And that's about the depth of his content. These are my critics. Mother Teresa said, "Dr. Schuller, the smile is the beginning of peace. Don't ever forget it. Teach people to smile, religion needs to have joy again." Thank you Mother Teresa. I went to her funeral. Guest of the President of the United States. An event I'll never forget. I'm a part of all of whom I've ever met. Jews, Catholics, and Muslims. Never before has a Christian minister been put in a position where he has an audience of well over a million Muslims all over the world, every Sunday. And please, don't believe anybody who tells you that all Muslims are wicked. That they're all going to hell. When I met the Grand Mufti in Damascus only a few years ago I met a man who loves Jesus Christ. He said something that I want to give to all the world. He said, "Religion is like rain: like rain. It falls fresh from God upon us on planet earth. And the rain will cause flowers to bloom and food to grow out of the soil. Wheat and corn and cause the fragrance of the bloom of the flowers. And we need it or we'll die. We cannot live without the rain from heaven." But he said, "Then something happens. It happens to us in Islam. It happens to Jews in Judaism, it happens to Catholics in Catholicism, it happens to you Protestant Christians. It happens to Buddhists. It happens to everybody." What happens? "Extremists come, and they think they have every last word. And if we don't follow them, they don't like us. Extremists come worst of all, they pollute the water. And the ponds of fish are poisoned, and we don't dare to drink it. And so the world doesn't dare to touch it. And so the world moves away from all religion and says all religion is bad. But then they die of spiritual starvation." Profound. Yeah. My journey, I had to tell that story because there's a photograph of the Grand Mufti and Robert Schuller in this book, and there are people today that are saying, dangerous, disparaging things against Islam. I'm a part of the Jews I've met and the Catholics and Muslims. Most of all, I'm a part of a family, I had four sisters and a brother. And I want you to know that I don't talk about them publicly very much but I do in the book, and my one and only brother Henry, is a great brother. Great soldier. Survived as a litter bearer in WWII. When he got home, he would always pray for his kid brother. He was a great farmer. I wasn't. He would get so upset with me when I didn't do things right on the farm. He said to me once, he said, "I sure hope you can make a living talking cause you can never make a living as a farmer." Well, but through these years, when we needed to raise money a lot of it, no ministry needs more than we do because no ministry begins to reach out to as many countries on television as we do. And people say Schuller, you're always asking for money. I said, I hope so. Or I won't be doing what I should be doing. And you wouldn't have the chance to be a partner in it and an investment in it. My brother, always the checks come and always near the year end, a check with at least four numbers. Simple. Farmer. My sister Violet, always I get a laugh out of her. Always encouragement from her. And I go to their simple house in Orange City, Iowa, and it's full of Eagles. She said, "I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of the eagles you're going to be sending, but I'll buy an eagle every year, Bob." And then there's Margaret. I told something in this book that nobody ever knew before. At the age of 5, I made a commitment to become a minister, through high school, now I'm ready to go to Hope College in Holland Michigan and the parents, my dad and mom said, we got to sit down and talk. Sat down, because I had on my own written to Hope College for an application. I was now a high school graduate. Dad and mom said, "Bob, you know we just don't have the money. I don't think you'll be able to go to college." I knew I couldn't be a minister if I didn't go to college. They tried to make me feel good, they said, "Well you want to be a minister, maybe God is just meant for you to be a minister as an elder or a deacon or a Sunday School teacher. They're all ministers." It was a discouraging night. I still prayed my prayer, and make me a preacher when I grow up. The next morning was breakfast, and mom and dad were there and Margaret was there, and she was home. She was a public school teacher. She was the only one of my siblings that ever went to college. She was the only one that had a job. After breakfast, mom and dad said, "We got to talk to you again." They said, "Go ahead, make out the application to Hope. If they accept you, the money will come. We don't know where," which wasn't really truthful. But they couldn't tell me where it was coming from. Years later they told me that my sister Margaret would pay the college bills. But she didn't want anybody to know it. Henry never found out until he read this book two weeks ago. Her sister Violet didn't know, until she read this book two weeks ago. And now Margaret into her 80's, I say in the book she was the first one that invested in this ministry. Yeah.

Oh my, I'm a part of all of whom I have ever met. Yeah. Many people I've never met. All of you who support us with your gifts, your tithes, your offerings, oh, it's phenomenal. You know I'll never meet many of you. I do want to meet Phyllis Bellevue of Worchester, Massachusetts. She sent us a check, $5 for the little book, "God's Minute." But the letter never got to me. It was on an airplane that left from Boston. That's where she lives. And that plane carrying that letter of Robert Schuller, crashed into a tower in New York City. And the man who was in the office next to it and heard the crash and ran out, three hours later, found the letter on the sidewalk. Etched in black, and damaged. He mailed it back to the return address that was on that envelope. And it went back to Phyllis Bellevue. It made the newspaper in Worchester and somebody sent me a little clipping and that's how I found out. We made sure she not only got the book, but she got a ton of stuff. And then we found out when she lost a husband and was left with three children, 20 years ago, one girl and two boys, it was the Hour of Power that kept her going year after year after year after year. And for that I want to thank you, not me. You are the ones that make it happen. Oh, thank you.

Thank you because this Hour of Power is coming to the year-end and we need more help than you can imagine. And I wanted to give you the best gift I could give and that's something that could build your faith. And that's my new book. I'm very, very pleased how it's being received all over the United States. And it'll give you, I'm sure, an awareness of how I got the positive faith that I have. And this is the faith the world needs. Roger Craig, some of you remember the name, some of you don't but he was married just before he went to Vietnam. It was after he was in Vietnam that he got the word that his wife was pregnant. He couldn't wait to get home to see his little boy. Well, just before he was about to come home, he hit a mine and the mine blew off both of his arms, both of his legs. But the Vietnam took him as a prisoner, and he would spend four years in the Hanoi Hilton. It was terrible. Without arms or legs. Then the war ended. And the news came that all of the prisoners were coming home, 250 came down those steps except one, Roger Craig. He couldn't walk. Someone got an idea, they said, well first, let's have his wife and his little boy back behind the chain link fence and we'll take him out the back way, carry him off, put him in a wheelchair and bring him to his wife and son. And so they carried him down in a wheelchair and they started pushing him to the fence where his wife was standing, crying, and his little boy suddenly said, "Mommy, daddy doesn't have any arms, does he?" She said, "No, he lost them in the war." Crying. And as Roger came closer, suddenly the little boys eyes got big and he said, "Mommy, daddy doesn't have any legs either, does he?" She said, "No, he lost them in the war, too," and she was crying. And his eyes got bigger and bigger then he whispered, "Mommy, let's not tell him."

Look for the positive. We are all a part of all of whom we've ever met. Let's pray:

Thank You Lord, for coming into our lives and for giving us an opportunity to share this healthy, happy, wholesome, healing, harmonious faith with the world. In Jesus name, Amen.

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