#15 Strength, Security and Serenity for YOU in 2002! Part IV (09/03/02)

By Robert H. Schuller

When my plane landed in Madrid three weeks ago, I was welcomed to the American Embassy by the new Ambassador, our friend and neighbor, George Argyros, from Orange County, California. I spent two nights at our American Embassy and there I met some very distinguished guests at a special dinner. Included in that guest list was the head of our military forces in Rota, Spain. Now Rota, Spain was unfamiliar to me, but it is the power base that guards the entrance into the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. All of the great ships and military personnel go through that narrow passage so it's a very critical and important port guarding the Mediterranean. And that was my first port of call to minister to the military.

I was told that I would be greeted at the airport at Rota by a Colonel from the base. When our plane landed in Rota I looked for a Colonel but didn't see one. Then I saw an attractive woman holding up a sign saying, "Schuller," so I walked up to her and she said, "I'm here to welcome you and escort you to the base."

I said, "Thank you." But I was perplexed because she was dressed in casual clothes, obviously not military. But she escorted us to the car and as she drove us to the base, I asked, "My itinerary stated that military personnel from the Naval base would be meeting us, I believe it was to be a colonel?"

"Oh," she said, "You are. I'm Colonel ...." And she gave me her last name.

"Oh, I said," I've traveled around the world to the Orient and Europe to minister to our military bases before, but I've always been met by someone in uniform and I would recognize them by their star or if they had a double eagle or whatever."
She said, "You know, Sir, it's a rule now, since 9-11, that we do not wear uniforms off the base. It makes us an easy target so we dress like regular civilians."
I don't think that rule has ever been enforced until now. I noticed that throughout this trip to the military bases as I traveled from the Navy base in Rota, Spain to our Army bases in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Germany. Off base they're also dressed very casually. And our military men and women were wondering what we think of them back home in America now that we are at war. And I said to them, "When you come back home to the United States, if you haven't been back since 9-11, you can wear your uniform with pride and everybody will be so proud to see you that they'll salute you!"

As I visited the troops this time, I gave many messages but the one they really appreciated hearing was that we remember them in our prayers. And not only the soldiers and sailors, but also their spouses. Many of them are married and their spouses and little children are with them. After a great church service on a Sunday, there was a reception for me in a large hall and hundreds and hundreds stood in line to receive my personal attention and to receive a special blessing.

One young mother who stood in line was probably 25 years old and she was carrying a little child on her arm. She said, "Dr. Schuller, you know in many of our military bases, we spouses and families are looked upon as extra work and somewhat of an intrusion, and when our husbands are gone it gets very lonely for us to be here without being surrounded by the special love and care we need." She continued, "My husband is in the danger zone right now," (she was not allowed to say where that was) "and I'm alone with my little one and to think that you would come all the way from America just to encourage all of us is something I want to thank you for." She added, "And your congregation for letting you come." At that point she was crying silent tears. It was a very precious experience.

But today, I have arrived home in America, and I'm continuing the messages that my son and I are sharing. The title of this series is Strength, Security and Serenity for YOU in 2002!

Now, as I look back on my life, I've had strength, I've had security, and I've had serenity. Where did I get that and how can I give that to you, because many people do not have it? My son and I believe that the Psalms give us the answer. This morning I turn your attention to Psalm 37, because as you read through this Psalm you will find all of the elements that will lead you to a successful life. Yes, I am an incurable optimist because I have strength, security and serenity. I claim this truth. I believe in success, not failure.

Why am I an incurable optimist? Psalm 37 makes it very clear.

"God shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

But what are your heart's desires? Well, it may be a business accomplishment. It often is. It may be an academic achievement. It may be the building of a church structure like we've had to build here and are still building. But the desires of my heart, more than anything else, is a desire not to have something more, but to do and be somebody good!

Desire To Do and Be Somebody Good...

As a young pastor just beginning to build this church, I was ushered into the forefront of the success movement in America by Norman Vincent Peale and W. Clement Stone. Stone, now almost 100 years old, wrote two of the premier books that are still being read today on success with P.M.A. (positive mental attitude). As I joined these two great motivators, I also wrote books on how to succeed, how not to fail and how to make your dreams come true. These success principles became public domain. And then there were those who listened to us and wrote their own books, but they cut God and Jesus out. They cut the Ten Commandments out, and they didn't deal in ethics. As a result, they had a far bigger market than our limited market because we refused to cut Jesus out. They do not have, I do believe, the deepest desire and that is to do and to be a beautiful follower of Jesus Christ. That's where we want the success road to lead.
Yesterday, I was very honored to be invited to a memorial service for a celebrity singer, Peggy Lee. As friends, we had exchanged correspondence through the years. There were probably two or three hundred friends, colleagues and family in attendance by invitation. We all had to be checked at the door so that her memorial service would not be a media event. It was one of the most delightful and inspiring hours - no speeches, only the sharing of those nearest to her about personal experiences with Peggy Lee. The one I liked the most was when Peggy Lee was performing in a concert arena connected to a major hotel in New York. Right next to the stage was her dressing room, and her dressing room led to a hallway, then to an elevator which would take her up to her master suite in the hotel. And Peggy Lee would dress casually in her suite, and then about an hour before curtain call, she would go down to her dressing room to put on her make up and dress in an exquisite gown. So this day she left her suite with her hair still in curlers, no make up on, and wearing a sloppy top and jeans. She did not look very elegant. So she put on her dark sunglasses and threw a scarf around her neck, covering her chin, thinking no one could recognize her. When she reached the elevator it was empty, but before she reached her floor, it stopped and on stepped a woman who never looked at her until . . . the elevator stopped at the floor where Peggy Lee had to get off. As Peggy Lee started to move from the corner of the elevator to the door, the women suddenly recognized something about her and she said, "Excuse me, are you Peggy Lee?" And Peggy Lee turned around and said, "Not yet." When Peggy Lee took the curlers out of her hair, put on her makeup and dressed in her beautiful gown then she was Peggy Lee as she moved on stage to the applause of her audience,

Be an Optimist...

Yes, Peggy Lee was an optimist and you can be an optimist too, when the desire of your heart is to do something beautiful and to be somebody wonderful, all of us can be a success in that.

In all of the success principles delivered by Norman Peale, W. Clement Stone or in any books written since about success, you will find nothing new has been added. You can find all of these success principles in the Bible in Psalm 37.

Read Psalm 37 and underline the verbs. Verbs put action and energy into living. Concentrate on the verbs in Psalm 37 and underline them.

These verbs will give you success.

"Delight" ... "Trust" ... "Rest" ... "Wait" ...
"Fret not" ... "Commit" ... "Do good." ...
"And God shall give you the desires of your heart."

Live a successful life! Be an incurable optimist! Be confident that you'll succeed and not fail! How? Build your life with these verbs in your backbone.

"Delight yourself in the Lord." Start there! You need to have the faith. How do you get it? Delight yourself in nature. Look around at the trees ... at the flowers ... listen to the birds ... look at the sky ... see the stars. I was born and raised in the open air of nature on an Iowa farm. I think that's why faith was so easy for me to embrace as a child, because when we planted the seeds, the crops grew. When we prayed for the rain ... the rain came. And we heard and loved the birds. We loved the trees, the flowers, and the green grass. So when I signed the contract 47 years ago for my denomination to come to Garden Grove, California to build a church, they said, "You choose the property, the architect and design the kind of church you need. That's your responsibility. You must raise the money, do the job and don't leave until you are finished."

Delight Yourself in Nature ...

That's the beginning. Then when you are in harmony with nature you will have the tranquility to begin to dream beautiful dreams. And if your dreams come from God, they will come from your prayer life.

Delight Yourself in Prayer ...

I've never been to a prayer meeting like the one I attended a couple of weeks ago in Assisi, Italy with Pope John Paul II. I've had three private audiences with him, but have never been invited to one of his private meetings on prayer. This was a special day of prayer where the Pontiff invited spiritual leaders of all faiths in the world and I was honored to be included, and I accepted. But we also had a private prayer time with the Christian leaders only. This happened in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Here was this beautiful cathedral on these rolling hills. The environment was so peaceful. Here was where St. Francis of Assisi lived, ministered, and where he wrote his beautiful poetry and his prayers. You know the one we pray so often, "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love." And ending with the words, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

St. Francis of Assisi was one of the greatest Christians ever to live on planet earth and it was in his Basilica where the Pope led our prayer meeting.

We were a small group, sixty Cardinals and probably another one hundred people, which included me. It was a simple prayer meeting. The Pope sat in a chair right in front of the altar, and I never saw him like I saw him there. The press has never been able to show Pope John Paul II in the solemn intimate prayer time like I saw him praying at that prayer meeting. He, the sixty Cardinals and the power people of the largest Christian movement in the world, in history, all praying so fervently. I never felt so much humility in any environment as I did there. All of the Cardinals, their body posture, the dropping of their heads were so very humble. And then the prayers had such honesty, "Lord, we have failed to bring peace to the world." Wow.

Why am I an incurable optimist? Because ... I "delight" in the lord ... I "delight" in nature ... I "delight" in prayer.

Now look at the other verbs and write your own message. "Trust" ... in the Lord. "Wait" ... patiently for Him. "Do not fret" ... You will have problems ... you'll have frustrations and challenges ... pain ... tough times ... I've had that. Everybody does. But rest ... and "wait patiently for the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire."

Commit Your Way ...

Of all the verbs I've underlined in Psalm 37, this is the most important one. "Commit." A dream starts in delighting, you trust, you fret not, you rest, and you wait patiently and commit. Inch by inch - anything's a cinch. When the timing is right, the door will open - if you do not walk away. "Commit" means to drive a stake. My grandpa was one of the pioneers who came to America from the Netherlands, Germany or Norway to establish farms in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. In Iowa, my grandpa showed me how he outlined a farm. He said, "For the entire rectangle of the farm to blend together beautifully, the most important thing is that the rows in the fields must be straight. So make sure the first row is straight. That's a universal principal." He said, "How do we do that when there is no guideline?" He said, "We take our horse and plow to the bottom of the hill, then we walk to the top of the hill and set a stake. Then we tie a red flag (usually a red handkerchief) on it and we walk back down the hill ready to begin. We keep our eye on that red flag never looking to the right or the left nor yielding to the temptation to turn around and see how straight that first row looks. No, not until we get to the flag. Then we turn around and we'll always see a straight row."

So how do you solve your problem? That's simple. I've said many times ...

Problems aren't problems unless they cause you to take your eye off your goal.

Obstacles are never obstacles, unless you're tempted to quit.

Keep your eye on the goal - that's called commitment!

Read through Psalm 37 and you'll get all of the principles you need to be a super success. And in the process, you will have your heart's desires . . . to do something good in the one life you have to live and to be a beautiful person.

Where are you at today? Are you like Peggy Lee? Not yet. Are you what you want to be? Not yet. Am I what I want to be? Have I done what I want to do in my lifetime? Not yet. But we're on the success path where we keep our eyes on the right goal. And what is that flag on the stake at the top of the hill that keeps me believing? It is Jesus Christ. He is my Lord. He is my Savior. He is my Best Friend. He lived all of the promises found in Psalm 37.

Follow these universal principles and you will be an optimist. You know you will succeed. You know God will not quit on you until He gives the last command: "trust ..." "fret not ..." "commit ..." and live with these verbs in your spiritual backbone and you will come to the end of your life with pride behind you, love around you and eternal life ahead of you. Amen.

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