of The Message
Well the holiday
seasons are always delightful, but this year seems, in many
ways, more exciting than ever. You know a mother, (this
is a true story) the mother said to her little girl, this
week, right here, “have you decided what you wanted
for Christmas yet?” And the little girl answered,
“no, I haven’t seen all the commercials yet.”
We had a wonderful
time here Sunday night before Thanksgiving when we all gathered
for a great concert, and we went outdoors and lighted the
Christmas tree out there. It’s 80 feet tall. The one
in Rockefeller Center is 79 feet tall. We’re not competing
it just happened that way. But who do you pick to put the
lights on the tree? Who would push the button? We decided
to pick a little girl, gorgeous, two and a half years old,
whose daddy is in Iraq. He was in a company and the company
got hit and they were all killed. He missed the meeting.
Survived. Came home for a few weeks. He went back there.
Hard going back. Hard to say goodbye to your little darling
two and half year old girl. He called a day or two ago.
He said he had to go to this meeting, it was a large meeting
about 600 of the troops. Then they were told that there
was to be a distinguished guest would be showing up and
they thought it’d be a performer. Then the curtain
opened and in walked President George W. Bush, and he said
everybody screamed, yelled. He said he never heard anything
Quite a Christmas
season this year. They’re never always alike, and
yet the message is always the same, it’s so great.
I’m so excited because I’ve reached an age and
stage where I have seen Christianity go through it’s
critical times, and it’s tough times, and comes out
stronger than ever. Why here we are today in the year 2003
and more and more of the leaders and the science communities
are joining partnerships with us in ministry, because they
see that this faith that we proclaim and practice is such
a healthy wholesome faith. This Jesus Christ wasn’t
just another Jewish kid born in Nazareth. He was sent by
God, to give us the truth. Yeah.
Only in yesterday’s
papers the report coming out that social researchers at
the University of Michigan, have conducted a survey and
in a large, prolonged study of 2,000 Presbyterians published
in the Journal Psychosomatic Medicine, they now declare
that people who help people live longer. Now that’s
So 2,000 years
ago a baby was born. He grew up and He said I’ve come
that you might have life and have it abundantly. And He
told us that if we want to be His disciples we have to deny
ourselves, take up His cross, follow Me. He has been teaching
this and the church has been teaching this for 2,000 years.
Finally the secular world is catching up. People who care
for people live longer. And the people who care most in
caring for people are the people who have themselves been
Steensma died. Maybe you probably didn’t hear of him,
but he made the L A Times, so that’s kind of significant.
And he’s from Holland, Michigan, that’s where
I went to Hope College. That’s where I went to seminary,
and he was going to go to seminary. He’d of been ahead
of me, five years. But then, he was getting a homemade parachute
out of the power lines and lost both of his arms in the
electrocution. So he decided to spend his life helping everybody
who’d been suffering with the loss of limbs and became
one of the most effective prosthetic people in the past
He went to Korea
to help them in a little clinic, and when he was finished
they left behind an eight story prosthetic building, which
led the whole nation. It is an amazing thing how Jesus of
all religious leaders in human history focused on the positive,
not on the negative, and the tragedy in 2,000 years of Christianity
is that far too many Christians and those that promote the
faith have been hung up on the negative aspects. That’s
not what He came here to do.
I am moved almost to tears at this age when I read the prophecy
from Isaiah Chapter 40. He’s predicting that there
will come somebody who will be a Messiah. And that through
this person every valley shall be exalted. Every mountain
made low. The crooked places will be made straight. And
the rough places smooth. Then the glory of the Lord will
be revealed. And all of flesh will see it together. Yes,
if you want to see the glory of the Lord revealed, look
at the people who follow Jesus Christ and through Him have
overcome they’re undergoing experiences. Look at the
four points, all in the Bible. It’s a given in life
that there are mountains, and there are valley’s that
we go through, and rough places, and crooked paths where
we wonder, do I turn right, or left. Confused, conflicted,
overwhelmed. Jesus came to be our Savior.
Number one: In
His faith and in His power and peace, every valley shall
be exalted. What does that mean? That means that every low
time that you go through can be helped by Christ.
I’ve had low times. And you’ve had low times.
But the Christian faith like no other faith in the world
lifts us in those down times. And even the valley turns
out to be a blessing. And we are better people because we
went through it. That’s why the valley will be exalted.
We look back on our bad experiences and say, wow I don’t
think I’d give it up. Amazing. Every valley. Exalted.
some of you knew him. He’s a friend of mine, he had
a great Christian movement here. It still goes on even though
we’ve lost him, called Vineyards, and when he was
dying of cancer he made a great statement. I cried when
he said it. He didn’t have long to live and he said,
“Bob, got to tell you, the view from the valley is
not too bad.” “Every valley shall be exalted.”
Going through down times, hang on to Jesus.
mountain made low.” Yeah. “Every mountain made
low.” When we hold onto Him then suddenly what the
world sees as a horrific tragedy, becomes to those who carry
it out in their life, even a trivial thing. This is shocking.
Some of you remember
Showers was a man that also lost his arms in an electric
accident and he went out to create a place for handicapped
people in Arizona and I was there the other day to help
them celebrate their 25th anniversary. It was wonderful.
Only handicapped people can be there and live there. They
may be emotionally handicapped, or physically handicapped,
but the amazing thing, when I talk to people who’ve
been through a tragedy, I would call Carol’s accident
a tragedy. My daughter. Terrible accident. They amputated
her leg. But she would say boy I’m glad it was my
leg and not my right arm. It’s amazing.
Then I talk to
people who lose their eyesight and they’re blind.
They say well I’m glad it’s my eyes, and not
my hearing. And the people who lost their arms will say
I’m glad it’s my arms and not my legs. It’s
unbelievable how positive people go through hardship tragedy
and they wouldn’t trade. They wouldn’t trade
it for something else. Why? Because they’ve discovered
this isn’t a mountain! They have a different perspective
and now they look upon it almost as something trivial. Every
mountain is made low. Every valley is exalted. The crooked
places are made straight. Wow. Yes we go in a society and
in a world where they’re all kinds of teachings, ideologies,
I have lived
50 in the ministry. From 1950, when I was ordained, and
into the new millennium. And what my focus has been for
half a century is psychology and psychiatry and I had the
benefit studying under Viktor Frankl, and Carl Menninger,
the greatest of our time. And during this 70 years, you
know, the science of psychiatry was only 50 years old. It
really started at the turn of the 20th century with Sigmund
Freud. And the prediction was that Freudianism would eradicate
the need for Christianity. Think of it. And there was grave
concern that religion would be exterminated by Freudian
Psychoanalysis. And then last week his granddaughter, who
carries his name Freud and who carries her earned Doctorate
in Psychology announced that she was abandoning all the
beliefs and teachings of her grandfather Sigmund Freud.
They were not true.
happening? Crooked places are made straight. Secularism
has spread its jagged path through all of life, culture,
entertainment and science and religion. I’ve seen
some crooked paths and they’re being made straight
by Jesus Christ. Wow.
that this century will see the Christian faith stronger
than it has ever been in human history. We’re going
into good times. Oh, the valley will be exalted. Down times,
we’ll go back and look at them and thank God for them.
The mountains will be low. You’ll realize that they’re
really quite trivial. And the crooked places are made straight.
We’re going to come back to a book called the Holy
Bible. It’s being rediscovered. It’s being reverenced
again. It’s being studied.
We have here
“Houses of Power.” Small group and they’re
spreading. Get into one. Get with it. They’re huge.
The Bible is back. And rough places will be made plain.
This is what the prophet said about the coming of Jesus
Christ: The Messiah, the valleys will be exalted under Him.
The mountains will be made low under Him. The crooked places
will be straight. Yes, you’ll know what to believe.
Simply ask what did Jesus believe. Ask that question. Don’t
listen to any skeptic, any doubter, any agnostic, any atheist
until you listen to Jesus Christ.
you I trust Him before I’d trust anybody else. Yes.
He’ll make the path straight and you’ll think
straight again. And the rough places plain. We all go through
rough times. And surely He did. And that’s why of
all the religions and all the spiritual movements, and all
of the new age stuff that’s going around, nobody else
has what we have. What do we have that nobody else has,
I’ll you what. A symbol. And it’s a cross. Check
that out. That’s huge. Around the world believers
gather! And we are on every continent, and they hold the
cross as a symbol. Why? Because Jesus teaches that a minus
can be turned into a plus. That’s the cross.
Follow Him with
positive faith in a God of love who cares about you. And
your valley will be exalted, your mountain will really made
low. You’ll think straight again and the crooked places
will be made straight, and the rough places plain. Rough
places plain. Oh, rough places plain.
I was born and raised in Iowa. This is farm territory. And
the pioneers came there and my grandfather was one of them,
and they would go though the territory and a lot of the
land was rough, and they would go out and pick up stones.
Rough places will be made plain. They would pick out the
rocks, then they would harrow and rake the ground. Looked
pretty. Cleaned up. That’s not the point.
It can take seeds
and you can grow corn, and oats and soybeans, food. They
didn’t make a lot of money, and I said to my dad once,
I said, dad, why don’t you just sell the grain? Sell
it. Cash out. It takes so much work to feed the cows, and
the animals every day. And by the time you sell the animals
you’ve sold your corn, you probably got less than
you would have gotten if you sold the corn immediately.
And I was right. And he knew it. And he said, people got
to eat. People got to drink milk. People have to eat eggs.
My job is not to see how to get the most money out of the
ground. My job is to help feed the world. Wow. The rough
places plain. What will bring glory to God is if you become
the person God wants you to be. Yes, and you volunteer,
and you give and you support, and you produce food! You
make a difference in this world. That’s where in this
passage and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. That’s
what it says. That’s the Bible. That’s not Schuller.
shall be exalted. Every mountain made low. Crooked places
straight. Then the rough places plain and the glory of the
Lord shall be revealed. It’s only the positive Christian
faith that really produces the kind of persons who really
bring glory to God. Sure because when they go through their
tough times, they’re still happy people.
It was the night
before Thanksgiving and we would have family down and so
I said to Arvella, well lets go out to this little restaurant
for soup. I mean, if I just eat soup now I can have a piece
of pumpkin pie and a piece of all the other pies. Boy. So
we went to a restaurant where we go often, and the waitress
came, she’s very beautiful. Very attractive. Always
bubbling. Always happy. Always cheerful, and so Arvella
said to her, are you ready for Thanksgiving? And she said,
oh, yes. I’m so thankful. I have so much to be thankful
for. And Arvella said to her, well don’t eat too much
turkey. She said, oh, no don’t worry about that, or
too much pies. Don’t worry about that. Ever since
my radiation for those cancer tumors I have no taste buds
left. And I don’t have any saliva. So I have to make
myself eat. So don’t worry. Laughing she said, I won’t
over eat. She loves Jesus Christ. She really believes in
the God of the Bible. Wow.
I invite you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,
2000 years later. And science is more and more coming to
see that what we’ve been teaching and preaching is
scientific reality. It is Jesus Christ and the gospel. It
is the ultimate emotional support system. I repeat, I’ve
known the greatest Viktor Frankl, Carl Menninger, I could
go on. And I’ve known them personally and they mentored
me and they’ve advised me no psychiatric system, no
psychiatric system can be a stronger emotional support system
than the Christian faith positively presented and understood.
So take Christ and you’ll have a Merry Christmas.
Thank You God,
we are where it’s at. We’re on the right page.
Thank You for coming into this world, teaching us the joy
of our faith. I pray for people that are listening right
now and in their minds, they’re looking at this whole
thing differently than they ever have before. Suddenly they’re
getting a revelation that it’s all true. It’s
all true. Jesus and the gospel, it’s all true. And
so they’re accepting. They’re changing. They
are being born again. Hallelujah. Amen.