We’re talking these weeks about heroic faith. Question: what’s a hero? Not necessarily a celebrity and not necessarily a star on stage. A hero is someone who inspires us to be what we should be and to become more than we are. That’s a hero. I have my heroes and in preparation for these weeks of hero’s faith, I’ve been thinking of heroes and what impresses me this morning is a hero without whom we would have no televised program.
I’m preparing for the 40th anniversary of the Hour of Power. Yes, will be 40 years ago in February that we had our first national televised church service. It was the beginning of a new thing in religion. It would be a new thing in the history of the Christian church. A church service, on television, and I said yes it would be fantastic. People are in hospitals, they can’t go to church this Sunday. People are in prisons, and they can’t go to church this Sunday. People have no faith, they’re skeptical or they’re cynical, and they’re not going to church. We have to bring the church to people who can’t or don’t come to church. And that was the inspiration for a televised church service. It did not start with me. It started with a friend of mine named Billy Graham.
I first met Billy when I was a college student. And we invited him to come and give a message. I sang in the college quartet and we provided his special music for the times he preached there. So we go all the way back. Well it was Billy who said to me, “You ought to televise your church service.” I don’t know. He said “you’ve got it. The church is the right church.” So we proceeded slowly, cautiously on faith and found we could buy an hour of airtime at ten o’clock on Sunday mornings in Los Angeles and we signed a contract to begin in February.
So we made the arrangements, planned a Sunday three weeks away when cameras would come into the church. And the Tuesday before that Sunday I was informed that they couldn’t televise the service, not in the church. It was too dark; the lighting wasn’t there for the cameras. Well we could make it lighter. We’d have to bring in transformers and all of that. So I said well do it. Well the next day I think it was Wednesday and they said to me “You know Dr. Schuller we can bring it in but it’s going to cost ten thousand dollars.” I said “Just put it on our bill.” They said “No they won’t put it on your bill.” Before they bring a transformer in and hook it up and have all the wires and put it all in there they need cash in advance. Oh, that means ten thousand dollars. Oh. I mean I had zero. I didn’t know what to do. I thought gee.
Thursday I had a marriage counseling appointment and I still hadn’t had a chance to try to find people to whom I could go and ask for a $10,000 cash gift before Sunday. The marriage counseling on Thursday morning, they would turn out to be heroes. Real heroes of faith. They came in and I said “Well what’s the biggest problem with your marriage?” They looked and said “We don’t have a problem.” I said “I thought this was a marriage counseling thing.” They said “No, no.” No, they said “You know we live in Arizona, and once in awhile we come to California and we try to go to church and last November, we were in your church and you preached a sermon on tithing.” I always do. They said “We both were convinced the bible is crystal clear, no debate that we should give ten percent of whatever money comes to us to God first and the balance we can use.” And they said “You know Dr. Schuller, its February but it’s only a couple weeks ago January that our accountant came to us and gave us the results of last years revenue and our net worth was $100,000 so we brought a tithe in today of $10,000” and they turned and gave me $10,000.
Now you know how the televised program started. In prayer. In gifts. They’re heroes and you know they gave me the check and I had never met them before. I was so blown away by it all. The shocking thing is they didn’t give me their name or their address and the gift didn’t have their name on it. Who are they? Are you here today sitting in this audience? I’ve never had them come back and say remember us? Never have. They’re heroes! They took a chance. They risked. You always do when you are benevolent. When you are philanthropic, you are a hero. A hero of faith, I call it.
And what do these heroes have? These heroes have cut the word impossible out of their dictionary and out of their vocabulary. They’re constantly challenged. You and I are challenged all the time but when we’re challenged, we don’t ask is it possible because almost always it’s impossible when the challenge comes. God doesn’t give us guidance to do things that we can easily afford. When the ideas come from God, they’re humanly impossible. It’s got to be that way or we won’t need Him and we won’t depend upon Him. And He won’t be a part of it. So God’s ideas are always fantastic but they’re impossible.
This morning I give you and leave with you again the bible verse on which money is mentioned most specifically in the holy bible. Malachi chapter 3: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, how are we robbing You? In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse as a nation because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord God Almighty, see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing there will not be room enough to store it. Test Me; I will prevent pests from devouring your crops. Then all the nations of the earth will call you blessed for you are a blessing.” Wow.
Today, is my annual message on tithing. I do it once a year, that’s because I started this church with only $500 and had no money and needed money and was afraid to talk about money. And was very concerned because I heard so many people criticize ministries just all they want is your money. I heard that. That’s a devils message. If you don’t have it, and you have a dream and you have a calling from God Almighty, you can’t pull it off without money. You need it.
Today in this country there’s a grave concern, widespread high and deep at all levels about finances. I have my word to speak on that issue. Begin right. If you start right, you’ll end up right. I’ll never forget when I was teaching my son Robert to button his shirt and then I’d say okay now you do it and he started but he got the first button in the wrong hole. And I was going to correct him. He said no, no, no dad! I want to do it. And he kept buttoning till he got to the top and there wasn’t a button for the hole. If you start out right, you end out right. If you start out wrong, you’re not going to end right. You may or may not know it, but seek guidance, then believe in it and follow it. I’ve never had financial problems. I’ve had times when I took postage stamps to the post office to cash them in. I needed the cash. Did you ever try that? Let me tell you, they won’t cash in postage stamps in the post office. I was shocked. But they won’t give you your money back. I’ve been there. I’ve been there when I went and waited to get enough food to survive for a week, I would buy these big packages of sweet rolls. Six in a package, two a day. Last me three days. I’ve been there.
Hey! What we need is wisdom in how to manage money. Because enough is never enough if you’re not on the right path. Heroes of faith, oh I’ve met you, I know you and I owe this whole ministry and I owe this church and we owe our television ministry and the books to you! People who are my heroes! And you are making this ministry possible. I still get letters, four words, not every letter, but more than anything else, you saved my life! There is no other institution on planet earth that goes on television week after week with one purpose and that’s to pour out positive emotions to people. Ultimately, you need it. You need the hope, you need the faith, you need the joy, you need the thanksgiving, you need the encouragement, you need the bravery to move ahead. Positive emotions. They don’t give it to you at the university level; they try to train it out of you. They try to train you to become a knowledgeable person, not emotional. You can’t live without positive emotions. And here you sit in a church, the only institution on planet earth that pours out positive emotions week after week, through the bible, through the stories of the great people. Heroes of faith.
You know why the bible still is so true? This bible has come under attack the past 2000 years that you can’t believe! If you don’t like it, you don’t believe in it and you attack it, go ahead! You’ll lose. Every anti bible thinker loses. And the bible is still here. It’s still my book of faith. Why? Because it brings to the human being what no other book brings: positive faith, hope and love. Wow.
I invite you this morning to take a look at your life. Become a hero of faith. You’re my hero. I’m looking at you. You’re my hero because this ministry which reaches millions of people was the first televised church service in the world, and it’s been going on ever since. And we started without a capital base, which is not really the way to start a business if you want it to succeed. You begin by asking what’s the capital base I need. We didn’t ask that. We only had $500. We come and now as I’m planning the 40th anniversary of this television ministry, phenomenal history making. We come to the end of this year and we celebrate our 40th anniversary in a few months, preparing for it, we’re looking at accounts payable of six million dollars and no savings. No funding source we can go to. Depending upon God. And He’s depending on you. We need huge gifts, we need loads of modest gifts. But I need people who will believe in this and support us and help us, even before you know me or I know you. You’ll be my hero. I need you. This ministry needs you. God can’t do it without you. Heroes of faith. And you help before you know what good it’s going to do. But this morning, like every Sunday morning around the world, there are people tuned in and you are suicidal, you’re not going to do it. God will not let you terminate your life. He has plans for you. He needs you. Yes, become a hero of faith.
Sheila, join me here. Sheila is my firstborn child of five and she has this calling to ministry and Sheila, help us.
We need people today to say I will be a hero; I will keep the faith alive. I will take this message into 40 more years and 40 more years and 40 more years. And we cannot do it alone. We need an army of heroes to stand with us. And so we want to say to you, we want to ask you, will you stand with us today? Will you? Because we can’t do it alone and if you will stand, will you stand now, and if you’re standing, you’re saying yes Sheila, yes Dr. Schuller, I will be a hero of the faith. I will be a hero of the faith. I will be a hero of the faith. I will be a hero of the faith.
Thank you. I’m going to cry.
Thank you. I will be a hero of the faith. We can do it. As an army of God, we can do it. We can keep the faith alive.