I read in the paper this week it was about the Wall street
Journal and it said “Crisis in Confidence.”
There is a real crisis in confidence in Wall Street today.
And with a million homes in foreclosure there’s
a real crisis in confidence, absolutely. I have never
gone through anything like that. I’ve gone through
times when all I ate for a week was a sweet roll and coffee
because I was out of money, but that’s nothing.
Some of you
are really going through the tough times. Yes, I know
a little bit about tough times, I wrote a book called,
Tough Times Never Last! Never last! But Tough
People Do. And I would just hope and pray that some
of the words that come out of this well traveled mouth
will hit you where you need the help and give you what
you need most and that’s hope. It’s amazing
because this isn’t just something that’s hitting
us in America today; it’s been with us as long as
the human race has been here. We’ve always needed
In the Bible,
why in the Bible over half a hundred verses refer to the
need for confidence. And they didn’t have a study
of psychology. They were going through tough times. All
human beings go through tough times. And you say not the
rich, oh boy I know some rich people and they go through
times as tough as what you go through. And it seems that
we always think that people really don’t appreciate
tough times unless they experience what we’re going
through. We don’t stop to think of what are they
going through. And mostly people would happily exchange
their problems with what yours are.
living is creative living and I want to share with you
this morning that even if we have confidence we can lose
it in ourselves very quickly. You know I read in one of
my psychology books, read that it takes an estimated twenty
compliments to every single criticism you get. And people
criticize you before they compliment you. Whether you’re
a winner or a loser, how quickly we could lose it.
You know every
Sunday morning I go from what I’ve done here preaching,
down a private stairway into a private little office and
the door is closed and nobody can open that door. The
first face I want to see and the first voice I want to
here is Avella’s. And she comes in and I look up
to her and I say was it okay? I don’t think I miss
a Sunday morning. Often times I’m not that bad.
Confidence, where do you get it? Why do you have it? What’s
the danger of losing it? How do you get it back? I think
it’s built so deeply into the human system that
it’s God way of keeping us humble. Yes! People say
how do you go through success and keep your humility?
I always want to laugh, that’s the hardest; that’s
the most obvious thing in the world. God keeps us humble.
Boy, you know what happened last week? Baseball started
again right? Hello, what did the Dodgers celebrate, their
fiftieth anniversary? Is that right? Well anyway I think
then of the little boy who heard that baseball was starting
and so he took his bat and ball, went outdoors and he
said I’m going to be; talk about confidence, I want
to hit more home runs than anybody else. He said no I
want run up the biggest batting score for runs batted
in. And he rattled off all of the other possibilities
and he said well I’ll start by showing you how a
batter hits. And he threw the ball swung at it, missed.
Picked the ball up, threw it again. I’m going to
be the biggest batter in history. And he swung at it and
missed again. Third time he picked it up and this time
he would hit it. He was sure of that; took a swing and
missed again. And he threw his arms in the air and he
said I’m the greatest pitcher in the world! Yeah,
confidence. How we need it.
And you know
we all have some confidence. At least I think every human
being does something that excels. Maybe you make the best
chocolate chip cookies. You know. And my daughter has
her earned doctorate from the University of California
Irvine in education, runs our education department here.
And the other day she came by our house and brought us
a lemon meringue pie. How many of you like lemon meringue
pie? Anybody? How many more? Nobody over here? Good morning.
She brought in a lemon meringue pie and I have to tell
you honest to God without any possibility of exaggeration,
I never saw a lemon meringue pie like it. I mean the meringue
on the top was close to three inches. It went all the
way around at the same level. It didn’t dip here
or lean over that way, it was perfectly level. And the
meringue wasn’t all white or all brown or all flat.
It was wavy like lovely little waves on a bay of water.
And the waves, they were a golden brown at the top edge
and then in the little valley they were white. All of
these, it was fantastic, the taste sensation. The big
surprise when I took my fork to cut into the meringue,
the fork didn’t bring the rest of the meringue down.
It cut through as if it was a sharpened hot knife. I couldn’t
believe it. I said, Sheila that’s the best meringue
pie I’ve ever had. She said I’m sure that’s
right. Catch the confidence?
Oh yes, she
said, grandma was the best pie maker but grandma never
made lemon meringue pie like I do. She said nobody does.
I have my little secrets. I never make it out of lemons
that I buy in the store. I only make it out of lemons
that I pull off the tree. Interesting. And she went through
the rest of the details and I couldn’t wait to try
it so I didn’t hear her so much. I just was anxious
to eat it. But I never thought that she, with an earned
doctorate, would be known in our home from now on as the
great baker of lemon meringue pie! Wow!
got confidence in something. You may have lost confidence
in this or that, but you still have confidence if you
have some good friends. And you might call somebody and
you know you’ll get a lift just hearing the sound
of their voice. Or you know it’s only two days till
Sunday and I’m going to church. I’ll sit there
and I’ll see the faces and I’ll hear the voices
of the pastors. I know I’ll get a lift out of church.
They wouldn’t put another load on me, I’ve
got enough. Check on your successes, you still have them.
Now how do
you get your confidences back? You go back to your centers
of certainty. Everybody has some centers of certainty.
There’s some person you can talk to. You’re
sure of that. You haven’t lost confidence in their
love. That’s the kind of marriage I have. We’ll
be married 58 years this coming June. That marriage is
a center of certainty and it gets stronger as the years
go by. You know why? Because the memory system is growing
and I choose most of my memories. When I go, where I go,
what I do, who I talk to. You can shape your memory systems
by your values. Wow!
I sat next
to this guy on the plane; I’ll never forget him.
He said I lost everything I had. I said how did that happen?
Oh he said, it all started with a fall in you know Wall
Street. He said all my money in one stock and it all went
down the tubes. I said how do you feel about it? Are you
blaming Bear Stearns? He said I was until I heard that
they were leveraged thirty to one. Hello did you hear
that? Leveraged thirty to one. Then he said all of them
in New York, all of them: Neiman Brothers and he went
on and rattled off all the big names you know. He said
in Wall Street in New York all of us were mortgaged thirty
to one. That’s why they’re all a little nervous.
Well, you’re worrying about it. Some of you may
lose your life savings, that happens. But let me tell
you something: You can live with out things, but you can’t
live without a cause and if you haven’t lost the
cause you can get through it.
And most of
you who are sitting here, you have a cause. It’s
more than your business; it’s more even than your
money. It’s more than things. Anybody can live without
things. But you can’t live without a cause. And
we have a cause that’s all-important, it is to honor
God, it is to share Jesus Christ our Savior to people
who never know Him. Don’t know Him. They’re
getting ready to live and die without having the peace
of mind of knowing that the best friend they have on the
other side is a man called Jesus who went there at the
age of thirty-three and is alive there now. And I can
talk to Him. I haven’t lost that. That’s the
cause. You can live without things, but you can’t
live without a cause. Wow!
There was a man named Russell Conwell who came from Brookshire
Massachusetts and he was an atheist, a strong non-believer
and a cynic. But he decided to get some volunteers together
and take them all down, go to the war zone and help unite
America. Well he was down there and they won victory after
victory after victory until they ran into their first
defeat. They were still on the wrong side of the river
when the enemy came. Close enough to a bridge thank God,
they all ran, got on the bridge, came back to the safe
side. And he got there and he said I left my sword in
the tent. Oh, I need that sword. And one of the boys in
his group called Johnnie Ring, he was just a nice young
teenager, he said I’ll go get it. And Colonel Russell
said no, no, no! But he couldn’t stop him. The boy
was on the bridge running to the other side, straight
to the tent, found the sword, came back but the bridge
was burning. And the enemy saw him running into the fire
and they didn’t fire, they didn’t shoot. They
admired his youth, his heroism and they felt sorry for
him and they never shot him. And he came back almost totally
burned, dropped the sword at the Colonel’s feet,
lost consciousness then revived. He said I think I’m
dying. Conwell said nothing, he just shook his head. Don’t
worry Colonel, Johnnie said, I’m ready to die. I
know where I’m going. I’ve got a friend there;
He’s my Savior Jesus. And with that he looked up
one last time and said Colonel do you know Jesus? Then
he died then and there. And the Colonel, alone with him,
broke into tears, fell on his knees and cried. And he
said God I never believed in You, but I need You. Thank
you for Johnnie. I want to be a Christian and I want to
be a minister. He was going to do that. I’m going
to work 16 hours a day the rest of my life, 8 hours to
do my thing and then 8 hours to do Johnnie Ring’s
thing. And Russell Conwell did that.
He became a
minister, worked an average of 16 hours a day, 8 for him
and 8 for Johnnie Ring. And then he became a minister
and he wrote a talk that went over so well it was called
Acres of Time, it’s one of the most famous speeches
in American history and he was called by many big companies
to deliver the speech and they paid him handsomely. And
when he died all he had left, even though he had raised
at the time over 10 million dollars, all he had left was
his house, no cash. He took the money and decided he’d
build a monument to Johnnie Ring and I’ll start
a university. He did, it became Temple University. How
many of you have ever heard of Temple University? Higher
so I can see, that’s very good. Now that’s
how it got started by the gift of one man, Russell Conwell.
How do you
come back to confidence when you’ve lost it? Believe
in the God who created you. Believe in the God who never
will let anything happen to you unless He can take it
up, pick it up, turn it around and make a blessing out
of a tragedy. And your worst times will turn out to be
your best times. I’ve lived long enough so I look
back on my life and I don’t think I’ve ever
had bad luck. I went through trying times, troubling times,
tough luck times, but when it was all finished and God
was done with the whole thing it was a blessing that came
out of it all. Hallelujah. I am persuaded that neither
life nor death, nor things present, nor things to come,
whatever my troubles are today, whatever my troubles might
be this coming week, I’m persuaded that neither
life nor death, things present or things to come will
be able to separate me from the love of God! That’s
where the bottom line comes in. If you know this kind
of a God and I do and I know many of you do, life will
be beautiful anyway. And you know that tomorrow’s
a new day. New opportunities will come to you and many
of you who are going through great trouble, you don’t
know it but you’re walking into what’s going
to be one of the greatest blessings of your life. Something
good is coming out of your hurt. And it’ll be a
halo over your head. Hallelujah, Amen.