Life At Its Best - Part II(29/02/04)
by Robert H. Schuller
ask, "What is this ministry all about?" I answer that
we teach people how to live life at its
best. The focus is on finding the purpose that God has
for your life. He wants you to be happy, healthy and prosperous,
living in the joy of salvation. We have printed a Bible verse
on the cover of our new Eagles Club edition of the Possibility
Thinkers Bible. If people never open the bible (tragically some
people don’t ever read the Bible), at least they will see
this one verse, Isaiah 40:31. What power these words give to each
"Those who wait on the Lord shall renew
their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They
shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint."
Renew Your Strength
Today, I want to focus on three words from that verse, renew
your strength, that you can carry with you. What was Isaiah
thinking about when he said "strength"?
What did he mean? If you had seen him in person, and he lifted
the sleeves of his robe, what would you see? The kind of a muscle
they can give you in the gym? What was his waist? What power did
he have in his thighs and legs? How much weight could he lift
just from his toes? What does Isaiah mean when he talks about
strength? He is not talking about physical strength. This is not
gym language. He is talking about spiritual and emotional strength.
This ministry, since it began almost 50 years ago, started with
an intentional focus to strengthen people emotionally.
People who have studied our work and read our materials have said
that historically we are not like other churches. Denominations
and religions started with teaching a theology about God. Whenever
there was disagreement with each other about a certain detail,
the result was to establish a new religion or branch thereof,
so today there are many different denominations and lots of different
religions. When I started this ministry, I chose to focus on human
need and said, "Let's ask what a human being really is? What
does he need?" And is there a God who can provide for those
needs and what kind of God does he need? So we started talking
about the needs in humanity and we defined the single deepest
need of the human being. We came to the conclusion that the deepest
need is not intellectual knowledge. We need all the knowledge
we can get, that's for sure. But ultimately it is not knowledge,
but the single deepest need is found in the spirit. It is the
heart. So how can you get heart? How can you strengthen the inner
spirit? It is here in the words of Isaiah ... "Renew
your strength." I suggest that Isaiah’s strength
was a strength of heart. He had a
sense of mission ... a passion.
That’s what each of us need. I believe that all of us want
to be and do something
Kinds of People:
Mirror People and Window People
really I think there are two kinds of people:
those who are mirror people and those
who are window people. We have many
mirror people in America today. I
live in Southern California, known worldwide as the home of Hollywood.
You cannot find more narcissistic people in any part of the world
than you can find in Southern California. Narcissistic people
are mirror people; they always look
in a mirror. And if Botox can improve the appearance, they'll
take an injection shot of Botox. Narcissism and self centeredness
focus on the strength of the physical shape, muscle and figure.
Then there are the window people.
Window people are quite different. They are looking out into the
world around them. Window people
see the hurting. Kim Phuc from Vietnam
suffered the most horrible effects of the war. Kim Phuc, a nine
year old Vietnamese child, was the subject of the most famous
war photograph ever taken. This Pulitzer Prize winning picture
showed this young girl naked and screaming, running up a country
road. Her arms outstretched in terror and pain. Her village had
just been bombed by Napalm in an aerial attack by American bombers.
She is terribly burned. Kim has survived seventeen operations
and years of pain and rehabilitation. She has a powerful testament
to her spirit and her amazing courage. Kim not only had to deal
with all the pain, but also the scars, trauma and nightmares.
She hated the people who caused her suffering. Her family lost
everything. They survived day by day for ten years.
Kim had a dream that she wanted to become a doctor because she
had stayed in the hospital so long. In 1982, at the age of 19,
she entered medical school, happy because her dream was coming
true. But unfortunately at the same time the Vietnamese government
found her as the little girl in the famous picture. So they started
to use her for their propaganda. They cut short her study. She
could no longer go to school and was suddenly not a free person
to do what she wanted to do. She was now under the control of
the communist government who watched her every move. She was so
bitter and angry that she wanted to die. Nobody could help her
... no family, no friends. And then even though she could not
go to school, she was allowed to spend her time in the library
to read. She began to read religious books and among them she
picked up the New Testament and began reading it. She found something
new in there, but of course, she couldn’t understand.
One day she just faced the sky and asked, "God are you real?
Do you exist somewhere? Please help me." And she asked God
for just one girlfriend to whom she could talk, to share her suffering.
God answered her prayer. And this friend helped Kim to attend
a church, to hear more about the Bible. At Christmas time, 1982,
Kim opened her heart to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.
In her own words, Kim said, "I was raised with a religion
where I was taught to pray to thousands of gods, but nobody answered
my prayer. Now the more I prayed to God, the more God gave me
peace inside. But I still had to deal with forgiveness because
I was really bitter, angry and filled with hate. But I knew I
had to forgive when I read Luke 6:27: ‘Love
your enemies. Do good to them. Bless those that curse you and
pray for them who use you.’ How could I do that when
I had so much pain? One day God’s love set me free from
In 1986 the Vietnamese government sent Kim to Cuba for six years.
While there, Kim was praying that God would open the door of freedom
for her. Then she married a Vietnamese student and the government
sent them to Moscow for their honeymoon. They had no choice, but
on the way back from Moscow to Cuba the plane was scheduled to
stop for one hour in Newfoundland for refueling. Kim new that
Canada was a free country, so she prayed, "God, help me,
open this door for me." And in that one hour, Kim and her
husband defected with just their camera, purse and each other,
trusting that God would provide. They were free! Since then, happily
married, they live in Canada with their two children. Then Kim
was invited to Washington, D.C. to address the Veterans of the
Vietnam war. There she encountered, by a strange providence, the
Vietnam veteran who was in charge of that bombing mission. And
now a believer, she said, "Because of Jesus Christ in my
life I was able to forgive him. He didn’t mean to hurt me."
Today, 40 years later, Kim Phuc has established a foundation that
raises money to help those who are orphans of war. So Kim Phuc
is a window person.
Become a Window Person
become a window person you look out and see the hungry, the starving,
and the dying. My son traveled to Africa this summer with the
Wheelchair Foundation to deliver the gifts of wheelchairs to the
poor and disabled. They are among those who I call window people.
Renew your strength by helping people who hurt.
This is the strength Isaiah is talking about. He is talking abut
the strength to help people who are hurting and God knows the
world is hurting today more than it has ever hurt. Our world needs
faith. Some people never even had the strength of heart. Where
do you get it? You get it by asking God this question: "What
do You want me to do in the one life I have to live? God, what
kind of talents do I have that You can use? What kind of gifts
do I have? What can you do with me?"
One of my dearest friends was named Bob Pierce. He is no longer
living, but his legacy lives on. Bob Pierce heard a message in
his church and he made a commitment to give his life to Christ
and serve God in any way God wanted him to. Then Bob got a dream
that he had to go to China and be a missionary. Why China? He
didn’t know why, but he got on a boat and he traveled to
China. He got off that boat and he was walking on the sidewalk
in Hong Kong and then he saw the only other white person, an American,
stand out among all the Chinese. She was coming toward him holding
hands with a little Chinese boy. Then she stopped to look at him
and said, "Who are you? Where are you from?" What are
you doing here?"
He said, "My name is Bob Pierce." He was talking to
a woman who was very well known in our denomination, the Reformed
Church in America. Her name was Tina Holkeboer, from Dutch descent.
She had never married and as a single woman was one of the greatest
missionaries for Christ the world has ever seen.
Tina Holkeboer was a window woman ... not
a mirror woman. And Bob Pierce answered her question, "What
are you doing here?"
He said, "I came here to be a missionary."
She said, "What church are you with."
He said, "Nobody. I am here alone looking for my mission."
And Tina looked at Bob, "So you're looking for a mission?
Here is your mission. Take him." And she gave the little
Chinese orphan boy to Bob Pierce. She said, "I mean it. Take
care of him." And she walked away.
That was the beginning of World Vision.
Today, World Vision is still a powerful mission for Jesus Christ
caring for thousands upon thousands of children around the world.
Renew your strength to help the hurting.
Forget about yourself. That takes
the strength out of you. When you begin to look too much in
the mirror and stop looking out the
window, then you begin to think more and more of yourself
and less of others. Soon that kind of fixation will leave you
emotionally hungry, and you will become more and more depressed
How do you get your strength renewed? How do you come back? Some
of you once loved God and Jesus Christ. Maybe it was in Sunday
School. But you lost your faith and your devotion to God. How
do you renew your strength? Come back to church. Do as Kim Phuc
did. She read the New Testament, and then found somebody who was
a Christian and talked to her.
When you meet Jesus Christ, He will turn your life upside down.
I have studied psychology in my undergraduate work and theology
in my graduate studies and I want to say very boldly there has
never in the history of humanity been another human being that
came out with truths that will so radically turn a life upside
down as Jesus Christ does. He turns people from mirror
people to window people. He turns
people from self centeredness and self admiration to giving of
yourself to encourage people who are hurting.
Dr. Carl Jung, the great psychologist who happened to belong to
the Reformed Church in Switzerland, wrote a book called, "Modern
Man in Search of a Soul." He writes, "About a third
of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis,
but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. It seems
to me I can just describe this as the general neurosis of our
Renew your strength. Look for a Lord,
Jesus Christ. Of the 35 years we have been on television we have
received more than a couple of billion letters over a third of
a century. The letters come in many languages, from many countries
and these words appear again and again, "You
saved my life." The positive emotional needs of hope,
patience, courage, confidence and kindness are not given to us
by any other institution. No matter what university you graduated
from, what advanced degrees you may have, what honors or peace
prizes you may have won, there is no other institution on planet
earth like the church of Jesus Christ to turn people’s lives
upside down by giving them a new heart, a new spirit.
I was reading in John S. Whale’s book, "Facing the
Facts," this true story: "I once was in the room of
a geologist who had been to the Arctic Circle with a research
party. I saw on the wall of his room a large colored picture of
an iceberg, but it was a mountain of green, surrounded all around
with little white icebergs. I said to the geologist, ‘Tell
me about this picture. How can an iceberg be green?’ ‘Oh,’
he replied, ‘It was a natural phenomenon. I happened to
be just one mile away from this iceberg when we heard the cracking
of ice and it seemed to come from that one iceberg alone. Then
its sharp peaks rising white in the sky, looked like it was starting
to lean over. We all went to the rail of our ship and watched
as it leaned a little more, then a little more, until it tipped
completely upside down, and there was the bottom of the iceberg,
all green! It was transformed in shape and color!’"
What kind of life are you living today? Make a decision to forget
about the debates, forget about the questions, forget about the
disagreements, just make a decision to meet Jesus Christ. Nobody
can top Him. Accept Him and your life will turn upside down. Jesus
Christ will transform you and you will be
living life at its best. You will sparkle because Christ
lives in your life. That's real!
Try praying this prayer today and life will change for you: "God,
You're getting through to me. I realize there is a God who cares
about me. There is a person called Jesus Christ, very much alive,
living in people whose faces twinkle, sparkle and generate enormous
energy. O God, I need my strength renewed so I come to You. Transform
me from a mirror person to a window person. I want to do something
for the hurting in the world. Amen.