I would like
to share a couple of stories with you today. One story I
want to share with you is a good friend of mine named John.
He goes by John C. John was eight years old when the earthquake
hit Compton. It was the 1933 earthquake. When that earthquake
hit, it was so big that it scared everyone so much that
they wouldn't go back into their homes. He said, "That
night we pitched a tent out in our backyard and we slept
in the tent because we were afraid the house wouldn't stand
up." He said, "That totally changed my worldview
and my perception of life because up until that time, I
had the impression or the thought that adults were in control
and they had security and they gave me security. During
the earthquake I saw people panic and the panic was such
that people were clearly out of control. I discovered that
I was insecure and out of control." He said, "It
would be many years before those insecurities would be settled
and resolved in my mind. He said, "As soon as I could,
I went into the Navy very young with the hopes that the
Navy would teach me how to be secure. I thought that if
I could defend myself and I could have strength and I could
have the abilities to be able to fight off the demons that
I would find security." He continued, "But what
I found instead was a bottle. In the Navy I had my first
drink. For the next eight years I continued to find my security
in a drink. It helped a little bit at first but as the years
went on, it didn't have any impact anymore. My insecurities
and my fears were only compounded when I drank. On August
16, 1950, at 7:00 p.m., I left the bar with my drink still
half full and that was the last drink I ever had."
He said, "I've been sober ever since." That's
Let me tell you
another story about a man by the name of Robert Harold Schuller.
Robert Harold Schuller has to be one of the most courageous
men I've ever met. Robert Harold Schuller happens to be
my father. He is the man who founded this church. When he
started this church, he started in a drive in theater. You
don't know what a drive in theater is? If you are under
the age of thirty, you probably don't even know what a drive
in theater is. There was a time a long, long time ago, when
we had these places called drive in theaters. You would
take your car and you drive in and you park your car and
there is a pole with the speaker on it and you stick the
speaker in the window. Across the parking lot there would
be a big screen and you watched the movie outdoors. Anyone
remember that? There would be a snack bar in the middle
of the parking lot where you could go and buy your popcorn
and your sodas and anything else you want for snacks. Halfway
through the movie there would always be an intermission
and you could go to the snack bar and buy your snacks. That
is the way the movies used to be.
My father came
to California and he started this church on the roof of
a snack bar. He took a ladder, put it against the snack
bar, climbed to the roof and started preaching to the people
in the cars that were there. That takes courage. Courage
is something you take. It's not given to you, you realize
that don't you? That's why they say "Take courage,"
you've heard that expression? That's because you have to
take it. The fear doesn't go away; I learned that this past
week because I took a ropes course. Have you ever heard
of a ropes course? A ropes course is leadership training
or team building exercises. We had 40-foot telephone poles,
and we would walk and stand on the top of this telephone
pole, out in the wind. It is really scary! They have you
all harnessed in so there is absolutely no way you can get
hurt and you break through your fear and you take courage.
But, the most courageous man I know is my father. He took
the courage and broke through the fear to be able to walk
up and stand on top of that snack bar rooftop and tell everyone
that some day this would be a spectacular church with thousands
of people, reaching millions around the world. When he decided
to build this Crystal Cathedral in 1975 the idea was born.
At that time the price tag was out of this world. It started
off with just a guesstimate. They didn't know how much it
was going to cost. It was a guesstimate. A wild guesstimate!
With that he went to see a gentleman that he had never met
before. Tell me if this takes courage. He asked this gentleman
for a million dollars. The gentleman's name was John C.
John C. gave a million dollars and as a result of that,
this church is here today and my father, receiving this
incredible beautiful gift, went back and instead of having
a guesstimate he got an estimate. Do you know the difference?
An estimate is about half as close as a guesstimate. He
gets the estimate and it was twice the guesstimate. With
that he thought, "I can't afford to build this building.
I'll never be able to."
He went back to John and he said, "I can't accept your
million dollar gift. Here's your check back." It's
a true story! John looked at my father and said, "I
don't want the check back. That's a million dollars, Bob.
Surely you can do something with a million dollars. I know
it's not enough money to build the whole cathedral, but
surely it can do something." My father said, "Well,
I guess I could dig a hole." So he dug a hole and today
we worship and hold services in this building, the Crystal
Cathedral. We are here because a man named John had the
courage to step out of that bar with his glass half full
and say there's got to be another way for me to be able
to find the security, to find the hope and eradicate this
fear, rather than through alcohol. He discovered a thing
called the 12 steps and it changed his life.
The 12 steps
1. I will admit that I am powerless over my situation and
that my life is unmanageable.
2. I will acknowledge that God is greater than I and that
He can bring restoration to my life.
3. I will turn my life over to God.
4. I will make searching and fearless moral inventory of
5. I will admit to God, to myself and to another human being
the exact nature of my wrongs.
6. I will make myself entirely ready to have God remove
any defects from my character, and make the necessary changes
in my life.
7. I will humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings.
8. I will make a list of the people I have harmed by my
past behavior and become willing to make amends.
9. Wherever it is possible, I will make direct amends to
the people my behavior has harmed.
10. I will continue to take personal inventory of my life
on a regular basis and promptly admit it when I do something
wrong or lapse back into old behavior patterns.
11. I will seek to know more of God.
12. I will seek to carry to others the glorious message
of the possibility of a spiritual awakening.
As a result of
these steps he had the ability and was used by God to create
this cathedral that we sit in today and it wouldn't be here
if it wasn't for John C. How many want to be prosperous
and want to succeed? The Bible talks about how to be prosperous
and how to succeed. It says specifically in the Bible, in
the book of Joshua 1:8, "For then you will make your
way prosperous and then you will have success." That's
what it says. Who wants to know what then is? "This
book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you
shall meditate on it day and night so that you might be
careful to do according to all that is written in it, but
then you will be prosperous and you will have success."
Here's what I
want you to do this week. I want you to meditate and open
your heart to the realization that there are things in your
life that need to be changed. There isn't a human being
on planet earth who is perfect, we all know that. There
isn't a single human being on planet earth who doesn't have
some form of addiction or compulsive behavior that needs
restoration. It's amazing how we move with our insecurities
and use crutches like alcoholism or narcotics or sex or
gambling or we become co-dependent helping others, or workaholics
or we spend too much. It can start at a very young age.
I have a friend of mine who has a 12-year-old daughter and
she's addicted to text messaging. You want to know how bad
the addiction is? He received the bill in the mail, over
six hundred dollars in one month! We have addictions that
grab our hearts and our souls and we don't understand why
or how, but it does.
In the science section of the New York Times on January
2 of this year 2007, the article was "Free Will - Now
you have it now you don't" by Dennis Overby. The article
was basically summarized by a quotation he made of a German
philosopher by the name of Arthur Schoperhauer and here's
the quote: "A human can very well do what he wants
but cannot will what he wants." The reasons are we
want things and there are things that are not healthy for
us and we know they are not healthy for us. Yet we do not
have the ability to get rid of those wants, it is beyond
our ability. In the twelve steps we discover something that
I can't. I can't. But God can! That's the good news. He
can, which is the second point in the 12 steps. The third
point is very clear; but, extremely difficult. Let Him.
So this week
I ask you to meditate. Meditate upon that which you know
God is revealing to you right now. You have something in
your mind and as I go through this series of messages, the
Holy Spirit will take and transform the will that is there
and give you the ability and the means to be able to overcome
the addictions and find the healing and the hope you need.
Because meditation doesn't change me, it doesn't change
you. But rather it is the means by which we internalize
the positive truth that does transform us. So we will meditate
and we will pray and allow the Holy Spirit to do what the
Holy Spirit does.
Next week we
will talk about the first three steps:
I can't, He can. Let Him.
Father, we thank You that You are a God of tremendous power.
We believe You want us to be prosperous and so as we meditate
upon Your word for us and we discover Your love for us,
we pray that You will reveal to us the joy and goodness
of Your hope. We thank You for the people around us, for
You have truly encouraged us with others. We thank You for
the opportunity to serve. Now we love You Lord, and we praise
Your name, Amen.