#249 (03/09/06)
Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow Part VI

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

We’re extremely blessed to have with us today Ruth Graham, daughter of Ruth and Billy Graham. Ruth candidly and passionately shares her journey with Jesus Christ in this fabulous book, “In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.” We are privileged to have her here with us today to share her message of faith.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.."
" God Make My Life a Happy Song "
" I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord "

" Blessed Assurance "
" A Jubilant Song "

SMOKIE NORFUL – “God is Able”

The Message

Today we celebrate the 35th anniversary of our television ministry. This anniversary is proof that optimism delivers achievement, success, and accomplishment.  Without optimism, one neither starts, sustains nor succeeds. Optimism is the bedrock of enthusiasm and energy that sets goals. Optimism makes things happen! 

All across the country we have watched in awe as the Iraqi people came forward in the midst of violence to vote in Iraq. Two prominent daily newspapers carried negative headlines focusing on the attacks, the dangers and the anxiety in Iraq during the voting day. They almost gave us the impression that it could be a disaster. They unconsciously were laying the emotional soil for pessimism. I don't think anything is more dangerous than when the media focuses on the black side of a news story.

But as I watched on television, the news was quite different. It showed a hundred or more people walking down main street, the most dangerous street in Baghdad. Unafraid, they were coming out to vote.  One man went up to a newsman, and as he held up his voting card, he said, "This is the bullet against the enemies."

The common people of Iraq want freedom and only freedom gives security. So I'm very optimistic about Iraq, and I'm praying for the best as I am sure you all are too.

Optimism: We all need it throughout all of life. So today, I share some thoughts from my newest book, Don't Throw Away Tomorrow, from the chapter entitled: "Start and Succeed with Optimism."

Positive thinking + possibility thinking = optimism

People ask, "Is there a difference between positive thinking and possibility thinking?"  Yes, in my philosophy there is a difference.  I learned positive thinking from Norman Vincent Peale, my mentor.  Positive thinking comes first.  It is the positive mental attitude that replaces a negative mental attitude.  It replaces a lethargic mental attitude.  Positive thinking sets the stage.  Your dream is conceived.  But at this point it is only wishful thinking.  You must then go forward to the next step. Your mind must move from positive thinking to possibility thinking. 

Positive thinking sets the ATTITUDE.

Possibility thinking sets the ACTION.

 Positive thinking asks the question, "Is it possible? Possibility thinking then asks, "How do I get ready to act?  How can I make it happen?" Possibility thinking puts wings on positive ideas. It puts legs under the positive attitude. And if you get positive thinking + possibility thinking, you've got optimism! Don't throw away tomorrow! Start and succeed with optimism!

One day Stephanie, my teenage granddaughter, reminded me of all the times I said to her, "What dreams would you have, Stephanie, if you knew you could not fail?" Her eyes got big as she asked me, "Grandpa, didn't you ever think you might fail?" "Oh yes," I answered. "I have often faced the reality that I might fail. But I never knew that I would fail. Because I believed that as long as I was trying and hoping and believing, then I was not failing. I knew that if I wasn't risking failure, then for sure I would fail!"

"Stephanie," I said, "all through your life you are going to go through decisions, processes, phases or arrangements and you will have to choose in all of them, whether you are going to be an optimist, or a pessimist."

You know, positive people shun pessimism, but they are attracted to optimism.  They want to be a part of an optimistic person's dreams and goals. When pessimism takes command in a life, or in a family, thoughts of failure seep in. Then guess what? You become physically fatigued. Pessimism saps energy out of living. Pessimism drives creative people away, and you are left alone. Pessimism is the toxic soil where worry, fear and anxiety sprout and choke your life's dreams.

Pessimism drops the curtain on tomorrow!  Optimism raises it back up and we see new doors opening. Tomorrow looks hopeful. All of us position ourselves for where we will be in life. If we position ourselves with optimism and hope, we are going to live in a different world with different kinds of people, who are not cynics. Instead, they are creative thinkers. That happens when we exercise options íK that is faith.

You may remember that my autobiography, "My Journey" starts with the sentence, "I was born on the dead end of a dirt road that had no name and no number." I know what it is like to come from nowhere and go somewhere! My wife and I came to California fifty years ago this month with only $500 in our pocket, and today this ministry is proof of what happens when we believe in tomorrow. Look at what God has done through all of us. You believed me not because of who I was, but because of what God's dream was for this ministry: to bring a message of the Gospel that would bring people emotional health and wholeness.

In my newest book, Don't Throw Away Tomorrow, I give twelve reasons why I am an optimist.  Today I have selected six of those reasons to share with you.

(1) I'm an optimist because I'm positive that the sun will rise tomorrow.

That's very simple, but very basic.  And it gives me the power to go to bed and know that the sun will rise tomorrow íK and babies are going to be born tomorrow.  As long as one new person is coming into the human family there is no reason for anybody to be a pessimist.

(2) I'm an optimist because I know that

whatever happens tomorrow I can be a part of it.

Somehow, someway I can make a difference in the world and proclaim the kind of a faith that gives people hope and dreams. Each of us can make a hopeful and helpful difference.

(3) I'm an optimist because I see positive possibilities

all around me even in the problems

Charles E. Moss Kettering, an inventor at General Motors years ago said to one of his colleagues, "Problems are the price of progress. Don't bring me anything but trouble.  Good news weakens me."

Problems are never real problems, unless they cause you to take your eye off the goal.  Negative experiences aren't bad, unless they motivate you to become a pessimist!  And that is a choice you don't have to make. You look over the problem. You look beyond the problem. You look around the problem. You look underneath the problem, and you give God time to work it out. It has always worked for me. That is my testimony as we celebrate our 50th anniversary in this ministry.

Yes, (4) I'm an optimist because I believe we can always

choose new dreams, even if one has been delayed or set aside.

Our hopes for tomorrow can become achievements. Optimists never accept failure as the last word. I have had projects and dreams that didn't materialize. But I don't call them failures because they might come up again. Twenty-five years ago I had a dream of the Glory of Creation, where through high-tech we could recreate the drama of Creation as it has never been done before. Even with our contacts with the very talented people in the Hollywood industry it didn't come together. But now, twenty years later, it is being staged this summer here in the Cathedral. With all the latest technical and special effects that will come together. It will be a most awe-inspiring drama of the greatest miracle íK "In the beginning, God íK"

Never accept failure. Optimists don't use the two word sentence, "I quit." Only God is allowed to say that.

(5) I'm an optimist because love outweighs hatred in the human family

Every time a tragedy happens, whether it is the horrific tragedy of the Twin Towers in New York City, or the Tsunami, everybody shouts, "Where is God?"  But God is there.  He is constantly alive in the hearts of millions and millions of people who rush to help!  Overwhelming millions of people respond. God is always there wearing a fireman's suit, a policeman's uniform, or a person standing in line to give blood or to pick up the broken, bruised and dying bodies. God is there!

Psalm 27:13 says, "I would have lost heart unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Why am I an optimist? Because I believe in the Bible. It is a Holy book. Don't look for its faults. You can find faults anywhere. Look for the truth you find there. In the Bible I read Psalm 23 íK "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

My son called to my attention that God doesn't lead you "to" the valley of the shadow of death to leave you there íK NO! But when you get there, God will lead you "through the valley."

(6) I'm an optimist because I've seen in my lifetime the awesome power of the human spirit

As a pastor, I have lived through wartime where I would call at a home when their son wouldn't come home from Vietnam, or a husband wouldn't come home from Korea, or a loved one wouldn't come home from the Gulf. This has been my calling as a pastor.  I'm not an evangelist. I'm not an educator, nor a researcher. I am a pastor and I have lived where life's trouble and tragedy is real. And it is amazing how the human spirit can arise when you think how can they come through this tragedy?

I have to say the real reason I am addicted to optimism is the Spirit that I have in my heart. And it comes from God. That Spirit came to me as a child. And it comes from the Bible. It comes from my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior, how He went through hell on the cross. But He never lost His faith when He cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" He still believed in God even when He couldn't touch Him or feel Him. How about that? That is the Lord and Savior we have. Embrace Jesus Christ. Decide today: "I'm going to become a follower of Christ." Hallelujah. Optimism changes everything!


Floyd Baker was a professor of physics who attended this church. He was a teacher at one of our colleges here in Orange County. When he was getting his degree íK a PhD in physics, he had to write a thesis. In his thesis he wrote how he and the teachers always would laugh about the kids who failed, they flunked out. He said, "I always had to fail fifty percent of the freshmen in my physics course every year. It was always fifty percent.

"I would tell my students that fifty percent of you are going to fail. Don't let it be you." You see, he was feeding his students pessimism and they were believing it so they failed. Then he said, "I started going to this wonderful church. It was this church. Every time I went there, I was told to think positively, to be optimistic. I was told that I should tell people not what they really are, but tell them they are what they wish they were. They will become what you hoped they would."

He listened. He said, "OK, I am going to try that principle in my class." So the next fall he said to his incoming physics class, "You are a rare group of students. Every year fifty percent of the students fail, but I've checked your backgrounds and I am impressed.  You are a miracle class. Every one of you will pass this course. There will not be a single failure and I'm going to help you. I won't let anybody fail. Together we are all going to get through this course and we are going to have fun doing it." At the end of that semester Dr. Floyd Baker, the physics professor, reported that every student passed. One received a C+ and one received a B- íK the rest all got B's and A's and he said, "I never changed my grading procedure one bit!!! Wow!

Go for it!  You are going to be an optimist!  Congratulations!

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