#237 (11/06/06)
When You’re Down Look Up

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

She’s a graduate of Stanford University, she has a very admirable education and marvelous career as a journalist and has had best selling books on the New York Times best selling list, but I think her greatest compliment is that she is happily married and has four wonderful children and still had time to write another book. The book is entitled, “I am My Mother’s Daughter.”

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" I To The Hills Will Lift My Eyes "
" Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us "
" This Joyful Day "

CCA CHORUS - "Carol to Beauty"
CCA CHORUS – “The New 23rd”


The Message

As I was telling you last week, the very toughest part of my life took place in 1983 when I went through the horrible pain of divorce. In fact, the most painful time for me was when I didn't feel I could share my pain with anybody. There was something within me that made me think if I shared it with people it would take away the opportunity of mending the relationship. So, I kept it within me. I think it's what we call denial. You bury your head in the sand and you pretend it isn't there and don・t tell anybody because maybe it will just go away. That for sure was the most painful period of my life, from October to December where I just held everything inside and I thought I was going to die. It was not until I released it and shared it with my congregation did the comfort begin and the peace and healing start. It wasn't until that time the pain finally started to subside. It is important for us, as God・s people, to be able to open up and to share with others the pain that we experience. By allowing others to share in our pain we can find healing and hope and the goodness that God wants to give to us.

Today my text is from Psalm 23, the 2nd verse, where the Psalmist writes, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures." I like that. I like the thought of lying down in a green pasture and looking up, just feeling the warm sun on my face. I love that idea.

This past week I went and visited a friend of mine in Central California. He's a rancher. John and his wife, Carol invited me to come and see their ranch. It is absolutely beautiful and they took us for a drive across a bridge. There is a river that runs in front of their house. They took us out to their pastures and I saw the cattle grazing and I saw the most beautiful great big, giant, old oak trees. Mixed in with these old oak trees was a big old sycamore here and there. I wanted to throw a blanket out in the meadow and just rest there and soak in the sun. It was so nice. It reminded me of the words from the 23rd Psalm, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures." I envision a carpet of velvet green grass and lying in this cool grass. I imagine the sun on our face and the coolness on our back while we feel the peace and the comfort that comes into our lives when we invite Jesus Christ and others to help carry the burdens we have today.

Today, I want to help you ignite the love for your children, for your parents, for your spouse and for people around you who need to feel your love and whose love you need in your life to help you through the toughest times. We need to feel the love of others. It begins by putting together a list of positive things which we know exist about the people to whom we are closest. This week I want you to do some homework. Get five pieces of paper and write across the top of that paper the following names: mom on one page, dad on another, and then choose 3 other significant people in your lives. It may be your children, it may be your brothers or your sisters, but choose three other significant people. So you have five sheets of 8 ½ by 11 lined sheets of paper and have the names written on the top. Now the next task is to fill those pages by writing positive things and things you admire about these people. So you・ll list 20 positive things about your father, and 20 positive things about your mother, and 20 positive things about your children, or 20 positive things about the significant other in your life, your husband, your wife. In the process of looking for positive things, guess what will happen to you? You will find positive things because you will always find what you look for. As you look for the positive things and you see positive things your life will become more positive.

I love the words of Roger Williams. I share these words in my book "Getting Through What You・re Going Through." Roger Williams has an amazing collection of gold and platinum recordings. We・ve heard him play here at the Crystal Cathedral many times but here is something that his father told him: :There is so much good in the worst of us and there is so much bad in the best of us, it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us.; That is what happens when we start looking and focusing on the positive. When we focus on the positive and we actually, physically write it down, positive things start to happen to us. Things begin to happen in positive and wonderful ways where suddenly we feel like we・re resting in the comfort and loving arms of our God. As we recognize the positive in other people we start to recognize the positive in ourselves.

In the Second World War there was a statue of Jesus Christ in a small French community. This statue was unfortunately blown up by one of the bombs. It was a statue which was so important to all of the people in the community they gathered as many pieces as they could and they meticulously put it back together again. But they could never find the hands, the hands were broken into many very small pieces and there was nothing left. Some of the people thought, :We・ll commission some new hands to be placed on the statue. However, the decision was made: :no we will leave the hands as they are.; So, on the base of the statue are written these words, :Christ has no hands but our hands.; It inspired this poem. :I have no hands but your hands to do my work today. I have no feet but your feet to lead me on the way. I have no tongue but your tongue to tell men how I died. I have no help but your help to bring men to God・s side.; Today, Jesus Christ wants to bring out the best of us. He wants to use us to bring out the best in others. Would Jesus Christ, if he were here, tell people who are around us how terrible we are? Would Jesus Christ point out all of the mistakes and the shortcomings that our spouse has, or our children have, or our employers and employees have? Or instead, would he say you are the light of the earth. You are the salt of the earth. You are God・s child. You are made in the image of God. Would he have positive things to say about everybody? I believe he would. Today, God is asking you to share the positive message of the beauty that is within every single human being by recognizing that beauty, by declaring that beauty, by writing it down. Then when you have 20 positive things written down, share it with one another. Jesus Christ doesn・t want us to keep everything to ourselves; He wants us to share it with another. If it is too tough to do it personally, just fold it up and mail it. If your mother and father are deceased then put it in your bible and send it to them through the word of God. Let them know that healing in your heart is taking place, that healing has come to a point where you can share, where you can love, where you can recognize the positive and the goodness. God forgives; God can heal, and God can bring wholeness and goodness into our lives. The other option is we can spend the rest of our lives boxing with God. Spend the rest of our lives holding on to the grudges and the criticism and the pain and all of those negative memories. If that is the way you want to live it・s your freedom to do so. But here・s what the prophet Isaiah says about this. In Isaiah 59:1 he says, :surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.; Our arms are too short to box with God. So today is the day to take the gloves off, to recognize the positive in people, our parents, our children, our brothers, our sisters, our significant others and to share it with them.

Sharon was only a young girl when she started watching the Hour of Power. She started hearing the positive messages that you can do wonderful things if you come to God, if you pray and if you dream. So she lived her life actually in fear and that・s how she was introduced to the Hour of Power. Her mother was a severe alcoholic. Shannon would go to bed in fear every night and she would often hide and she・d turn the television on to drown out the noise. One morning when she woke up she heard a voice saying, :This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.; That woke her up and she started watching the Hour of Power. She started thinking that maybe she could accomplish some of her dreams. She decided she wanted to be the first chair in clarinet so she started practicing her clarinet and she started praying and she became first chair clarinet. She thought, :Maybe I can continue with another dream that I have: the Future Farmers of America.; She started working on that and sure enough she succeeded in Future Farmers of America. With some success and the realization that God answers prayer, she reached out where she needed it the most. She needed God to heal her mother, to heal her of the alcoholism and to bring healing and hope to her family. Shannon started telling her mother that she needed to go to AA. That didn・t go over very well with her mother. In fact, Shannon called AA and asked them to come over and take her mother to an AA meeting. They came to the door and knocked on the door and said, :We are here to take you to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.; Shannon tried taking her mother・s bottles away from her. That was even worse. One day she took the last bottle her mother had, and her mother became so irate that she started yelling obscenities. Then she noticed her mother had a knife in her hand and Shannon ran to her bedroom and closed the door. All of a sudden the blade of the knife came through the door. In fear, she started praying, and God told her to :open the door, and say you are sorry.; She thought, Lord, there has to be another way! So, she kept praying. And God told her to :open the door and apologize to your mother and tell her you are sorry.; Shannon went to the door and opened the door and said, :Mom, I・m sorry; I apologize; I love you.;

Courage is doing what you know is right, it・s not a feeling. Courage is an action. Terror is a feeling. Courage is acting while one is totally terrified and then doing what is right.

And that was a turning point in the life of Shannon and her mother. Some time after that Shannon・s mother went to Alcoholics Anonymous. She has been sober now for 11 and she shares with other alcoholics how they can be sober as well. Today Shannon thanks God for her mother.

It starts with a realization that we need to open the doors, to face the fears that hold us back from experiencing the presence and the blessings God has for us today; a renewed relationship with our mothers and our fathers, our children, our siblings, the closest people who live around us and with us. It starts by recognizing who they are in Christ. We need to recognize that God created them just the way they are for a purpose and for a reason and it・s up to us recognize the beauty that is within, to see it, to share it and to be the voice of Jesus Christ in the household, not trying to set everybody straight; but, rather, just to love everybody we meet. That is our calling!

Pray with me:

Give us courage, O Lord, to trust you, to open our hearts and the doors of our minds to experience the blessings that you have for us today. You came that we might have life and have it abundantly. You came that we might experience the joy and the blessings you have for us. You came that we might feel your love. Wrap us, O God, in your protective armor, your armor that is impenetrable, the armor that comes into the very core of our being, the armor of love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have everlasting life. And so with this armor, O Lord, we face our fears today and we open the doors to a bright and beautiful tomorrow. We love you, Lord. Amen.

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