#345 - The Power of Peacefulness (06 July 2008)

The Message

By:Donna Schuller

Special Guest

Marian Hammaren

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
For the Beauty/Fairest Lord Jesus
Wonderful Peace

Solo/ Anthem
Glorious Everlasting
Chris Sligh – Vessel

The Message

You know I recently had a lot of fun here on a Sunday in between church services. Actually it was after church service and maybe you saw me, I got to go around and talk to people for a while so I want you to take a look and see some of the things I found out.



DONNA: I just want to ask you to today, I want to ask you what you’re feeling anxious about or worried about, or perhaps, I don’t know, stressed about?

FEMALE: I have a tea party in a half an hour and we’re a half an hour away and I got to go change because I have dirt on my pants and my daughter needs a change, and she’s got muddy and she’s hot, so yeah that, today right at this second, that’s my stress.

MALE: I’m originally from Nigeria and I’m here alone, you know, so every other day I continue to worry, I continue to pray and God continues to keep them, you know, safe back home until I go to see them.

FEMALE: I think that busyness really just takes over my life, like school and I play basketball and that takes over also, and then money being in college, really is a tough thing right now.FEMALE: Right now it’s my children. I have a daughter who’s 32 and she’s been having heart problems and she had to wear a heart monitor all day Friday and so now we have to wait for the results to find out what’s going on and what’s wrong with her heart.

FEMALE: You know I sometimes question my calling and my function and my purpose.

FEMALE: Making sure that I’m doing the best I can for him. That’s probably my biggest anxiety, is making sure that I’m doing the best I can.

CHILD: I have a lot of math.

DONNA: Oh, a lot of math homework or just in school?

CHILD: Just in school and at home, every time.

FEMALE: I’m a school fanatic and I know that I’m going to be going back to school in the evenings and where should I go, what should I be studying, is it going to interfere with my marriage, with my work, it’s a pretty heavy question for me.

MALE: I’m anxious about the world situation. Everything’s happening around us and negative things people are involved in, that’s it for me. But in my personal life, no, I believe in Jesus.


Thank you everyone who participated. A few of you I see here this morning. I find it very interesting. I’ve been a pastors wife for twenty four years and I think one of the things people assume about me is since I’m a pastors wife I never have any reason to be anxious or stressed or nervous or any of those anxiety filled. And to a certain extent I would say yes I probably am better than most at putting that over to the side and handing it over to the Lord and going on with my life. But on the other hand I want you to know I’m just like all of you. In fact let me tell you there are a couple things I can think of right now that I’m stressed about. For one, my husband and I have two kids in college; okay that’s very expensive. So we’ve got the financial stress. The third thing I can think of right off the top of my head is we have a daughter that’s getting married June 7th. That’s a positive stress, as is having kids in college, but there you go. Once again there’s the anxiety associated with planning a wedding and the financial stress. So those are just a few things I can just come up with that quick.

You know it’s really interesting we all get these emails from time to time. Does anybody else get like what I call junk mail and some times you delete it and sometimes you don’t. Yes I get tons of it, but most of the time you know I use my email a lot for work, for ministry work so I don’t have time to read all those things. But one came across my desk the other day. I took a minute to look at it because the title caught my eye because I was planning on speaking to you about the power of peacefulness. And it said how to have peace and calmness in your lives. So I just want to read it to you, it’s very brief. This lady wrote this email and she said; she recently saw a talk show where the talk show host was sharing one of the ways to achieve inner peace was to finish all the things that you’ve started and have never finished. That sounded good enough so I read on. She went on to say, so I looked around my house to see all the things I’d started and I hadn’t finished. Before the day was over I finished off a bottle of white zinfandel, a bottle of bailey’s Irish cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. And she goes on to say I felt terrific. Now you know I read that I laughed also and there’s a real funny part about that. It’s funny, but the flip side of that is it’s really rather tragic because people do live their lives that way. That’s where they find their peace. And I’ll admit I mean its temporary peace maybe, it feels great to go out and eat chocolates doesn’t it? Afterwards you feel kind of bad and I could go on and on.  You know people that drink excessively, excessive amounts of alcohol. People that abuse drugs. People that don’t take care of this temple of the Holy Spirit as the bible instructs us. They’re really not living a peaceful life.

With that in mind I’d like to share with you where I find my peace and my comfort and how I de-stress. So again we’re going to be referring to the Power for Life Bible. This is a new bible put out by the Crystal Cathedral. It’s the same great bible Old and New Testament. Happens to be today’s new international version.  In the beginning of each book of the bible there is a power purpose and a power focus. The power purpose of the book of Philippians is where St. Paul encourages us to rejoice in all circumstances. Now you have to remember something really important. Paul was in prison okay? He was in prison in Rome. Now I know some of us today, some people that will be listening to me when this airs, they will physically be in prison. But I also realize that there are intangible prisons that we all put ourselves in from time to time. That’s the prison of self-doubt; the prison of sadness and anxiety or maybe it’s something a little more concrete, like maybe you’re in the prison of drugs or alcohol. But I know this: Paul broke free. Paul teaches us and again in the power focus of this book is that God will complete the positive work He began in us and He will supply everything we need to fulfill His plans for our lives.

So hear what Paul says from prison. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I’ll say it again rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. And finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Let your gentleness be evident to all,” we read in that verse 5. Be gentle. Be gentle with yourself, with others and with God’s creation. What do I mean by self? You know if you’re like me you’re probably your worst critic. I know I am so hard on myself. I have to constantly tell myself take it easy Donna, relax, chill out, be good to yourself, right? I’m my worse critic. So be good to yourself. 

Some of the ways that I’ve found to do that is I try to wake up slowly in the morning. You know that alarm clock or opportunity clock I try to call it, which is kind of tough some mornings, it goes off. Instead of just bolting right out of bed, which is my God given nature. That’s just the way I am. Robert will tell you I used to make the bed up when he was still sleeping. Seriously. When we first got married. I’ve overcome a lot and I don’t do that anymore. But that’s my natural God given bent, that’s my personality. So I have learned to be gentle. If it takes waking up two, three, four, five minutes is ideal, early, I like to stretch before I get out of bed. I like to think about in my mind what I have ahead of me. I like to say a quick prayer to God and I like to be gentle to myself. It’s made a big difference to me in the way I wake up in the morning. I try to eat right, I exercise and I encourage you to do the same thing as difficult as it might be. It really does help.

Breathe. So many of us don’t breathe. You know it’s the first thing we give up is proper breathing when we get stressed out. And I think if you pay attention you’ll agree with me that you know that when you’re anxious its like you either forget to breathe and so you take a couple of deep breaths and then you don’t breathe for a couple of minutes and then a couple more and then you don’t breath or you do huffing and puffing. Not because you’re exhausted physically. So I want to encourage you to breathe. Breathe in the beautiful, beautiful life that Jesus has given to you and then breathe out all that stress and anxiety. I guess that it’s worked for me, I’m practical. 

Be gentle with others. You know its amazing what you can see just driving around or walking around and I’ll never forget just recently, this past Easter my husband and I were taking a walk. We’re walking down the street and we don’t have little kids at home anymore so I’m always busy looking at what everybody else’s little kids are doing. I can’t wait to have grandkids, but we’re not quite there yet. But I’m looking and we hear this woman come running out of her house and there are quite a few children out playing on swing sets and fiddling with bikes and things children do. But she says get in here! Get in here real quick, little Johnny, little Bobby! We are going to die Easter eggs by golly and we’re going to do it now! The Easter eggs are ready! Get in! We’re going to die Easter eggs! We’re going to have fun. And I thought wow! Gee! You know and it reminded me, right? It’s like holding a mirror up, it reminded me that perhaps I’ve been a little harsh when I had little children at home, we all get a little stressed out, but how interesting. You know that in the midst of trying to create a beautiful, wonderful experience for our kids or for anybody, we can treat them in less than a gentle way. So you know it’s like our guest Marian said today, we never know, we never know when it’s our child’s last day or our spouse or our friends. So I would just encourage you to look at people that way and to treat people with gentle kindness.

Be gentle with God’s creation. What do I mean by that? You know it was recently Earth Day and I’m not going to get off on a big green message although I think that a lot of that is just really wonderful, but we don’t have time for that today. I will say this; my mom raised me, I’m now looking back and realizing my mom raised me to be so ecologically minded. I mean I have been recycling my whole life. And like in every way imaginable. I think it’s because she was brought up so poor that it was just part of her nature and thus I’ve just kind of probably inherited that and passed it on. But let me give you a couple of examples of what you can do, just a few. And we won’t go into them in great detail but these are just really easy things you can do to be gentle with the earth. Number one: recycle. We recycle Christmas cards. We get Christmas cards, my mom and I have been doing this together since I was a little kid. It’s like a craft project, but I never really realized that, it was just part of what we did. You rip off the cover of the Christmas card if people don’t write in it, right? And then you make little gift tags and you put them on your gifts and you make them so they can coordinate in with your wrapping. I’m sounding like Martha Stewart aren’t I, but anyway. That’s the only Martha Stewart part of me; I’m not that crafty. But that is something we can do that is so easy. 

Another thing that is so easy, you know how we all get those bags, like either you go to a luncheon or maybe somebody will give you one for Christmas, it’s a book bag or sometimes you can get them at various bookstores. They are canvas bags. Put all those bags that you don’t know what to do, put them in the trunk of your car. Next time you go to the grocery store pull them out so you don’t have to use the bags in the grocery store. Now these are just easy things. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll leave them in the trunk of your car, you’ll be checking out and you’ll have to say wait a minute, wait a minute, I’ll be right back I promise, and you go sprinting out to your car and you open your trunk and you get them and you bring them in. But it works.

Third thing is that I think is so easy to do to be gentle with our earth is to turn off the lights and the TV’s before you leave the bedrooms, the dining rooms or your house. Turn off the radio, I don’t know I think maybe women are better at turning things off than men; I’m not sure how it is in your house. But turn things off. You know it’s so easy. So be gentle. Be gentle with yourself with others and with God’s creation.

Moving on to verse 6, Paul tells us to pray with thanksgiving. Be grateful; be grateful for where you are, for what you have. I also saw driving down the street a couple weeks ago a young man had a shirt on; it said peace is a state of mind. It was a simple t-shirt and I though wow that’s great. What a great message. And I thought a little more about it and I thought you know it could say peace is a state of mind or prayer is a state of mind. I really believe prayer is a state of mind. Being grateful for all things all the time. You know I took a class many years ago where the professor said that one of our assignments was to come up with a gratitude list. And he said you will be graded depending on how heavy it is. Make a gratitude list; it will help you be grateful.

You know I’m wearing this suit this morning and it’s not by accident that I chose this suit. I’m wondering if one of the cameramen might be able to get the buttons here because I wore this because of the buttons. These buttons belonged to my grandmother who died last year just shy of her one hundred and first birthday. And it’s interesting because I think they actually were my great grandmothers. My grandmother was a great seamstress. With that being said, every time I look at these buttons they remind me of my grandmother’s last year or two of her life and how grateful I am that she taught me how to stop and smell the roses. Now I know that’s cliché, but I mean that literally. I used to take my grandmother from the center she lived in, and I would take her for a ride in the wheelchair around the building and that was the highlight of her day. She’d put on her little hat, and she’d put on her little glasses so she wouldn’t get sunburned and we’d wheel around and you know I’d be like okay I’ve got an hour, and hour and a half, I’m going to wheel my grandmother, but I’ve got to get back. I’ve got to get to work, I’ve got to go shopping, I’ve got to make dinner, you know? And sure enough as God would have it, my grandmother would say something like, “wait, wait, wait Donna. Wait honey, stop there. Look at those flowers. Aren’t they beautiful?” And I’m sitting there yeah they’re beautiful grandma. So we’d stop. I’d pick flowers for her. She’d collect them, we’d smell them together. We’d go a little further she’d say wait, wait, wait look at the birds. Listen to those birds. Aren’t those birds beautiful? Wow, grandma yeah they’re beautiful. I don’t take time to appreciate the birds. You know there are so many beautiful things. Look at this building here. This building is just unbelievable. We have a gorgeous church, we have gorgeous campus. Everything about life can either be looked at in its splendor or you can look at it negatively. So I want to encourage you to just be grateful for what you do have.

Another way to always live your life in gratitude is to give back. You can give of your finances; you can give of your time by volunteering and serving. The great Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “The way not to lead a monotonous life is to live for others.” And I truly believe that. And I truly believe that God wants us to live that way. You know living for others starts in our home. We already talked about being gentle in our home to our children. But if you have the urge and if you have the desire there’s so many great things going on at this church locally out in the mission field. Just last week I went with a group of women to the house of hope. It’s a transitional home for women and children that have nowhere else to go. And I’ve got to tell you if I didn’t feel just filled, overflowing with gratitude after I left that place it was just fantastic. I’m going back. We have all kinds of these things happening all the time, every day. Get in touch with somebody if you’re interested. Once you start giving locally, I want to encourage you to give globally. We’re a global church. We are televised to the entire world. We are going; Robert and I are going to China. So we have a China project you can get involved in. If you are interested we will let you know what you can do for the people in China. China has one sixth of the world’s population. We have a responsibility to share the good news, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with China. They’re huge, they need us. They need the positive word of Christ. So you can get involved there. Nepal: my son’s church, The Gathering, they’re leaving for Nepal on June 18th I believe, it’s coming up real quick. They’re going on a medical mission there. I know three of my kids are going on that one. My son and his wife and then Anthony, our college son is going to Nepal. So if you want more information on how you can support that mission I can tell you there’s a lot of kids that can’t afford to go and they’re just, every day writing letters to their aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors so if you want to help with Nepal it’s an amazing thing! You want to feel grateful? They’ll come back with a report about Christ’s word exploding in Nepal like you won’t believe. 

Going on to verse eight: Be deliberate. The bible says in verse eight Paul says, “Think of good things. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, think about those things. Be deliberate. Be deliberate in what you choose to watch before you go to bed at night. Be deliberate if you’re having a bad day of what kind of music you listen to in your car. Surround yourself with good people. This bible, every bible is filled with power people. They’re powerful not because they had power on their own. They were ordinary people, many times, just like you and I. But they filled their life with powerful purpose and that’s what made them powerful people. So surround yourself with power people. Everyone you have a relationship with is either bringing you closer to God or pulling you further away from Him. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that before but I truly believe that.

And then back to Marian; gee it’s just so humbling having her share about the loss of her daughter; I have two daughters, I can’t even begin to imagine. But one thing I heard loud and clear is she talked about not being angry. And another way to be deliberate in our attitudes and all is to not hold resentments, to not be angry with people, to not hate. Now I don’t know if you’ve heard it said before but I’ve heard that anger and resentment, if you hold onto those things, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. So please be deliberate about getting rid of your anger and your resentments.

And in verse nine we go on to read, “Put these things into practice.” St. Paul says, “Put them into practice. Be persistent. Practice makes perfect, you’ve heard of that before, right? Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally, the great day of revelation arrived. The judge’s uncovered one peaceful scene after another while the viewers clapped and cheered. The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As the judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror smooth lake reflected lacy green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely, this picture was the winner. The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice. The crowd could almost feel its cold penetrating spray. Stormy gray clouds threatened to explode with lightening, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as it foolishly was seeking to experience its full and powerful force. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested the peace that transcends all earthly turmoil. 

Be gentle, be grateful, be deliberate and be persistent and finally in verse nine we read and this is a promise: “The God of peace, He will be with you.” Thank you.

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