Faith for Life's Journey IV (19/01/02)
By Dr. Robert
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
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.