#275 (04/03/07)
Step up to a Better You: Face Your Fears with Confidence

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University with a BBA in International Finance and continued his studies with the London School of Economics. He was named one of the top 20 students in America by USA Today. Wow. He was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship and was an NCAA academic all American, while captain of the TCU football team. And after working for a multi million-dollar investment firm, he started his own executive management company. Well that ought to impress you. But the book that he wrote is called “Undressed: The naked truth about love, sex and dating.”

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" O Bless the Lord, My Soul "
" Love Divine, All Loves Excelling "
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

KEN MEDEMA - "Flying Like an Eagle "

The Message

We are talking about the 12 steps. The 12 steps has done more to help people than any other program that I know of on planet earth. It has saved millions of peoples lives, literally saved their lives as we know that people have to reach their bottom before they can actually experience the healing and the hope and the power of Jesus Christ.

And last week we talked about the first three steps which are summarized with this statement: I can’t, He can, let Him. And that’s how it begins, by us coming to the realization that with Jesus Christ, with the power of God, we can do all things. That’s what the Bible says. With God all things are possible. If you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, you can say to your mountains move and they’ll get up and they’ll move. And I can continue to quote scriptures that encourage us and empower us with the presence and the love and the mighty wonders of God’s miraculous healing abilities. And He wants to heal us.

Today, I want to take a look at the next steps where we begin the healing process, which brings hope and joy and renewal into our lives. Steps four and five, I’m going to put those together because we’re going to go through the 12 steps in six weeks and not 12 weeks. And so the two steps I put together are very important and they tie together.

Step four reads as follows, and maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve read out of a book the last couple weeks. The book I’m reading from, I’m not plagiarizing by the way, because I wrote the book back in 1991, it’s entitled, “Dump Your Hang-ups Without Dumping Them on Others.” And it’s a book on the 12 steps. Let me share the steps four and five.

I will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. And number five, I will admit to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. Those are the steps. I will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my life.

This past week I met a gentleman, very nicely dressed man and he had on his lapel something that I’d recognized from my past. It was about an inch long and a half an inch wide and it was made out of solid gold with a diamond holding up the lid. There was something I haven’t seen in years. But it brought back some memories. Maybe you’ll remember this scene. Galvanized aluminum. About yeah tall, about that round and it’s a giant bucket with an aluminum lid on top. You know what I’m talking about? That’s what trashcans used to look like. Do you remember those steel things that you would drag out to the street and they’d clank and that’s the way trash cans used to be and he had a solid gold trash can on his lapel. I’m thinking to myself, that’s kind of an interesting thing. Why would you want a solid gold trashcan on your lapel? And he quickly told me that he used to be in the trash business, at one time he had a thousand employees and I don’t even remember how many trucks he had picking up trash. And now he’s retired. I thought to myself, you know what? In many ways I’m in the trash business. I encourage people to put their trash out the street. And I encourage people to dump their hang ups, to get rid of the sin that they hold on to. And that’s what steps four and five is all about. It’s about trash. That’s what it is. It’s about trash. And the fact is that I always have trash in my house. I can never seem to get rid of it. Every week I haul it out to the curb, every other day I collect the trashcans and bring them out to the garage and dump them in the big canisters. Anyone know what I’m talking about? The trash just piles up over and over and over again.
And the fact of the matter is my trash piles up so fast that I have trash hanging in my closet. Its clothes I haven’t worn for years, literally for years and its trash, its just hanging in my closet. I know that no one here would be guilty of that. I could go into anyone’s closet and you’d be proud to show me everything you have and I know I could open every drawer in the house and wouldn’t find a thing that you would be embarrassed about. Not. We all have trash in our closets, we have trash in our drawers, we have trash in our garages, we go to the store, we come home, the first thing we do is we throw the bags in the trash, and wrappers in the trash. And we’re constantly dealing with trash.

Same thing is true of our spiritual lives. We’re constantly dealing with the trash. And the trash piles up and if we don’t take the time to take the trash out to the street, it just piles up and it piles up and it piles up and it starts to rot. And our souls and our minds and our spirits just collect this trash and our lives just begin to disintegrate because we haven’t taken the trash out. And this is the time where we go and we gather the trash. We gather the trash and we take it out to the street and we get rid of it, we get it out of our lives. On the spiritual side, why are we afraid to make our spiritual inventory? To take a look at our moral wrongs, to examine our lives and list them and say you know, I failed here and I failed here and I do this and I do that, and we take this spiritual inventory. It’s a real scary thing to do, that’s why the steps literally says a searching and fearless moral inventory.

Well let me give you something that may help you in that endeavor. I’ve got your attention now. What am I holding in my hand? Can you tell what I’m holding in my hand? Do you know what I’m holding in my hand? You’re trying to see the denomination? It’s a hundred dollar bill. Anyone care for a hundred dollar bill? You like a hundred dollar bill? Well let me see if you still want it after this. Okay, anyone still want this hundred-dollar bill? You still want the hundred-dollar bill. Okay, let me try something else here. Okay, anyone still want this hundred-dollar bill? Boy you guys are relentless. Let me see, what else can I do to this thing? Well I can’t tear it apart, that’s against the law. But if I was, and to glue it back together or tape it back together, you could still take it to the bank, you realize that, right? It doesn’t matter what I do to this hundred dollar bill, it doesn’t matter how ugly and how old and how dirty and decrepit this hundred dollar bill is, it is still worth a hundred dollars, right? I can’t diminish the value of this piece of paper unless I burn it. And I’m not going to do that. I’m going to put this hundred dollar bill back in my pocket because I have a bumper sticker on my car. I had to go to the bank to get this hundred-dollar bill. My bumper sticker on my car says “driver carries no cash.” I’m married and I have two kids in college. And no matter what I do to this hundred-dollar bill, it maintains its value. And the reason it maintains its value, is because it’s backed by the most secured institution in the known universe. It is backed by the government of the United States of America. And as a result of that, that is what gives this useless valueless piece of paper its worth. And without that backing, this piece of paper has zero value; it could be simply tossed into the fire and used to create some warmth.

When you come to that realization that the same thing is true for you, that your value as a human being isn’t diminished in one iota because of how dirty you might be, because of how old you might be, because of how fat you might be, how thin you might be, how sinful you may have been. Your value doesn’t diminish one iota because that isn’t what gives you your value anyway. Your value comes because of the person who backs you, because you are a child of the living God. This child of the living God, we can come and we can confess our sins, we can ask God to wash us and make us new, we can go to the bank and trade ourselves in for a brand new hundred dollar bill. And He’ll do it.

St John wrote a letter, it’s in the Bible. It’s probably, it’s a small little letter, it’s easier to find it by going backwards instead of forwards. If you go to the back of the Bible you’ll find a book called Revelation and you go back two more chapters and you’ll find these words in the first chapter of John’s first letter. It says, “The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And here we have the request of God to gather the trash, get the trash out of your heart, out of your mind, get the trash out of your memories, out of your souls, get the trash out of your family, out of your relationships, get the trash out of your house. And you can’t get the trash out until you first go through and you collect it all. Open the closets, open the drawers, cleanse it. And that’s what step four is all about. We make a fearless moral inventory of our lives. It takes awhile. And it’s painful.

What happens with us when we face our pains? We allow the healing power of God to come in to touch our sin and to touch our lives. And once we gather all the trash, its time for us to confess our sins to another living breathing human being. That’s tough. And that is the process where we collect all of this trash that we’ve written down, that we’ve marked in our lives, our fearless moral inventory of honestly confessing our sins. And we take it to the garage by sharing it with another living human being. It’s really tough. Because suddenly we revert back to this whole concept of my value! Where is my value, how can I do that, what are people going to think? What if my secrets are suddenly revealed? And to confess to another living breathing human being.

I want to give you an option today to consider calling our NEW HOPE crisis hotline. We have a 24-hour a day hotline called NEW HOPE. You can dial 714 and the letters NEW HOPE. And a counselor will be there, will answer the phone. And you can share with them your inventory, a listening ear. And as you share those words, remember the words that we have recorded in the Bible. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us.” And we’re renewed and joy fills our hearts and love is reborn and health is restored.

And that’s what the 12 steps are all about. So this week I want to ask you to make a searching fearless inventory of yourself. And then admit to God, to yourself and another person the exact nature of our wrongs. And the results will be serenity. And so we’re going to close with a prayer. It’s called the serenity prayer. You’ll see it on the Jumbotron. Will you pray it with me? God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

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