Confident Living = Creative Living: Part 3 (11 May 2008)

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

Alex Harris & Brett Harris

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Challenge/Take My Life/Spirit of the Living God
Eternal Life

Solo/ Anthem
Temporary Home
Search Me, O God

The Message

Good morning. 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 confidence.

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.

Well confident 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. Yes.
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!

So everybody’s 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. Wow!

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.

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