#196 (28/08/05)
If you can dream it, you can do it! – Part IV

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

Neita Armstrong
Lieutenant Colonel Neita Armstrong has been joining the service for nineteen years. She requested a private time of prayer and communion, because she's being deployed to the danger zone. She would share with the congregation and represent all of the men and women who may be called into the danger zone.

Ron Maxwell
Writer, director, and producer Ron Maxwell is best known for his critically acclaimed movie "Gettysburg", based on the Civil War historic battle. Ron Maxwell has been an independent filmmaker since 1978, and has an Emmy nomination among the many honors his film has earned over the years. Ron's newest movie, "Gods & Generals," is the prequel to his landmark film, "Gettysburg." Ron served as writer-producer and director, and just wrapped up postproduction of "Gods and Generals," which stars Robert DuVall, and Jeff Daniels.

Special Music

"Joyful, Joyful..."
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"
"O For a Faith that Will Not Shrink"


"The Love of the Lord Endures" by JOY ARMSTRONG

The Message

My son and I had planned very carefully the four messages in this series based on the four chapters of the most recent book I have written, "If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It!" It is the smallest and shortest book I've ever put together, because I wanted to offer it free to teens and young people. I wanted them to grab hold of this central message: If you believe, you can achieve ... go for your dreams!

But today I am as stunned and shocked at the Columbia shuttle tragedy as each of you are, and I asked the question, "Is my message, "If You can Dream It You Can Do It" still relevant?

Yes, as you pursue your dream there will be risk involved, but God will bless you throughout. It doesn't mean He will protect you in from bloodshed, but it does mean that God will have the last word. He will protect your immortal soul, and He will proclaim His love to you forevermore.

The message of this book is in four simple, but powerful action words:

1) I am!
2) I can!
3) I will!
4) I believe!

I very carefully thought about how I would close the little book, and I chose a true story, which I have shared with you maybe a hundred times in my almost fifty years as your pastor.

My friend Dr. Dan Poling had a son, Clark, who was a chaplain in the Armed Forces in World War II. And then the day came when his ship, the Dorchester, was torpedoed by the Germans and it sank. That headline was as shocking as today's newspaper (February 2, 2003). Then, all of America picked up their daily papers and they saw a picture of four chaplains, Clark Poling, who was a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jew and another Protestant. The four young chaplains, with arms around each other, were bowing their heads and praying together as the bow of the ship slipped between the waters and they were gone forever. They had given their officers' lifejackets to four enlisted Navy boys. They sacrificed their lives.

The headline that appeared in the paper in World War II ... "Four chaplains die with hundreds of sailors" ... was as shocking as today's newspaper with the headline" "Columbia is lost. The shuttle burns up over Texas, killing all seven crewmembers." And beneath the headline are the pictures of the seven astronauts in their space suits.

God Calls Us To Dream

Read their stories and you will see how these seven astronauts for years and years had a dream that they could become astronauts. It was a choice and they made it. Yes, and they succeeded. They went into the astronaut program, knowing very well the risks involved. They were doctors. They were educated intelligent people. They were engineers who knew that machines could break down and there could be problems. They all very intentionally made the decision to carry out their lifelong dream knowing the risks. More than one had a special word they wrote to their loved ones if they didn't come back. They knew they were going into space ... that it was dangerous, but they were truly alive because they believed in their dream. They had faith. They were believers. Yes, you make your dreams come true when you affirm: I am! I can! I will! But ... if the ship goes down, those who remain will have to go to the window like Clark's father, Dr. Dan Poling and say, "I believe! I believe! I believe!

What a wonderful faith Christianity is! There is no other faith that can match it. There is no other religion that has as its central character, Jesus of Nazareth. At the age of thirty-three, two thousand years ago, the wisdom that poured out of the mouth of Jesus Christ has never been surpassed by any psychiatrist, psychologist or clergy. And the text for my message this morning are His words,

"If you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe." (Mark 9:23)

We're called to dream the dream, take the risk ... then what? What if there is disaster down the road? Then it's time to say: "I believe! I believe!" Dan Poling would never see his son, Clark, again. But he said, "I believe!" Today many families and loved ones will never see their beloved astronaut again. The seven brave heroes, who on the way home fell to their deaths, knew there would be risks.

So what does this say about God Almighty? Does He inspire us to dream great dreams ... make the commitment ... pay the price ... receive the laurels ... and then go down in a disaster? What does that say about God? Read Psalm 121 ... the key line in this Psalm is ... "He shall preserve your soul." (Psalm 121:7) That is the last word. Read the Bible. Look at how God calls us to dream. He'll equip us to succeed. He'll see us through to honorable success. Then we pay the risks. And if, for whatever reason, sometime through human errors, sometimes through our own sins, and sometimes through reasons we will never understand or know, disaster strikes. Don't blame God. He is not finished with you yet! When you enter the death zone, God is ready for His last move. He will then move in and preserve your soul forevermore. And that will not be the end of the story. It is the beginning of eternity, with Him, for you. Wow.

Believe in Your Dream

What are your dreams? You must have some dreams. I gave communion this morning to Neita Armstrong. She is a Lt. Col. In the United States Marine Corps and is being deployed this week to the danger zone in the Middle East. Neita has been a member of this church for 17 years. I baptized her. She was raised in a strong Christian family. Her mother is still living and on December 17th, 2002 Neita's mother made the news. Why? Because she had a dream since she was 21 years old. Her dream was that someday she would fly an airplane, solo. She always had her goals and her to-do lists. Most importantly was her goal to raise her four children, three of whom received advance laurels in the Marine Corps, including Neita.

But Neita's mother did not give up on her goal to someday fly an airplane, solo. So, 59 years later her dream came true and she made the news only a few weeks ago. The newspaper showed her picture with the airplane. The paper quoted her; "They put me in the plane. Then they locked the door behind me and I realized I was alone so I started the engine and took off." The headline was: "Eighty year old woman solos!"

We believe in dreams. We believe they come from God Almighty who pours the passion into our lives so that we will be motivated to do God's will and change the world as His redeemed people.

We believe that our dreams come from praying for God's plan for us to do something that will bring glory to God and make this world better in the one life we live. That's the heart of the Christian faith. Yes, we must be prepared to take up our cross, follow Jesus Christ, and pay the price. But always God promises His ultimate reward.

God will have the last word ... and it will be good.

Since we lost the shuttle many of you, like myself, have been thinking of the time in 1986 when the Challenger exploded as it lifted up from its pad. Watching that horrible tragedy was the wife of the commander, Dick Scobee. June and the wives of the other six astronauts who died in that tragedy. June Scobee felt that it was her responsibility to comfort, encourage and build up the faith of all of these families who together, watched the Challenger explode right in front of them. Later I urged June, now June Scobee Rodgers, a dear friend, to write a book to share her positive faith and turn her scar into a star. June did and the book is entitled, "Silver Linings." [1]

Today, this book will be a comfort to the grieving families of the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In the first pages June quotes the poetry of John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who at 19 years of age, in the Canadian Air Force, lost his life in World War II. Before he died he wrote these words:

High Flight
Oh! I slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silver wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung.
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

-John Gillespie Magee, Jr. [2]

Dreamers of great dreams take risks, but they have a belief!

Dreamers believe that the dream is for them. They believe in the dream they have to do. They believe the dream somehow was put before them by God, that somehow it will be the meaning of their life and they believe that somehow, whatever happens, God will have the last word and it will be good.

Believers of the dream will touch the face of God and be happy that they went for the dream God planned just for them.

In the opening page of her book, "Silver Linings," June Scobee Rodgers included this famous quote of Carl Sandberg:

"Nothing happens unless there is first a dream."

So make life happen. Make things happen that will make our world more courageous ... more loving ... more encouraging ... more peaceful. Dare to dream a dream for God!

"When there are no answers, there is Jesus."

That is a personal message June penned to me in the inside cover of her book. That's what got June Scobee Rodgers through the grief and shock of her husband's tragic death. That is what enabled her to turn her scar into a star when suddenly she was a widow of the commander of the Challenger, and now surrounded by the widows of the other six.

I believe in a God who chooses a dream. Yes, there will be risks involved. God does not promise us and guarantee that errors or sins or interventions of human and other factors that accidents will never happen. But God does promise us that when the accident happens, that's not the last word!

"The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." (Psalm 121:7-8)

What kind of a God do you believe in? I chose, and I still choose to believe in a God who created heavens and the earth. I believe in this God who created creatures called human beings and shares with human beings the capacity to be imaginative, to dream of what they can do ... what they can be ... how they can make a difference. And then when they experience risks and dangers, in prayer they continue on their pathway to glorify God.

"If you can believe, all things are possible" (Mark 9:23)

Even when you lose your loved one, you can live again, somehow. All things are possible to those who believe. Connect with Jesus. I believe in Him. I believe that Jesus came to earth and through His life He showed us the face of His Heavenly Father, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and so I have chosen to believe in Him. I have chosen to believe in the teachings of Christ. I have chosen to believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior forevermore. I've chosen to believe in the dreams He gives me and the courage He inspires within me. I've chosen to believe that one day I will stand before Jesus in that day in which there there is no sunrise and no sunset.

Look at Jesus ... that's the kind of a God to believe in ... and He shall preserve your soul. Hallelujah! Amen.

Prayer: O God, it doesn't take any faith to live a safe life, but it takes a lot of faith to live a real life. Thank You for giving me dreams that can make the world better. Thank You for risks that make my character stronger. Thank you for the guarantee that the last page will be Good News to every believer as we hear the angels sing, "Well done, good and faithful believer. Enter into the joy of the Lord." Amen.

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