Well, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2, 3, 4, 5. Is this 2010? Well this is the year I owe a lot of people a big, big, big super big thank you because this is the year, 2010, when I celebrate anniversaries. And I have to change that “I celebrate” to “we celebrate” because I couldn’t celebrate the anniversary’s that I’m thinking of without you because you are a very, very, very big part of it.
This year is the celebration of my 60th year as an ordained minister. Sixty years. I made promises to God when I knelt in the church and ministers came from out of the audience, some I did not know, but they heard a young boy was being ordained to the ministry and they came. And there were about ten or fifteen, I think. And they put their hands on my head and prayed for me. Thank you. I don’t even know the names of all of them or where they are. But the prayers are still alive and that’s the big thing that I’ve learned and that is that prayers don’t have a life span. You throw them out; they never die.
Celebrate the 60th year of my ordination this year and that’s a big one. The next is as big. It’s the 60th wedding anniversary for my wife and I this coming June. Wow. Do I have good news for you today? I do. Wow. This is the 55th anniversary of the founding of this church. It was 55 years ago I came at the age of 28, called by the great old denomination to start a church and make it an ecumenical community church. And I walked into a drive in theater about a mile from here at the time, and I thought this is a good place to start the church. I’ll stand on the roof top of the snack bar and people can listen in their cars. I became a laughing stock, a butt of jokes, but today this is what lives through that. Wow. What an anniversary, 55 years old this congregation. Thank you.
Never dreamed that we’d become the first televised church service to the world. Yes, this is an anniversary. Forty years ago next week we launched the world’s first televised church service that would go nation wide and world wide. Unbelievable. It would be so expensive; oh how it scared me. And it was the money that scared me, and that’s where the anxiety still comes because the costs go up and many of my strongest supporters are passing on. And who’s taking their place and how long can the ministry survive? It depends upon new people joining, making commitments, becoming members of this ministry by their financial support. I need help today like I needed it that first Sunday.
Forty years of television. Whom have we helped? I remember our 1000th telecast when all of the living United States President’s appeared to thank you and to thank us for what we’re giving to the world and that’s hope with a capital H-O-P-E. Yes, this is an anniversary year: 60th of my ordination, 60th of my wedding, 55th of this church, the 40th of Hour of Power, the televised church. We’ve survived and with your help, we’ll continue to survive but it can’t happen without you and that’s why I started this comment saying this is a big thank you year.
And how do I say thank you to people whose names I do not know, whose faces I will not see, but whose tithes and offerings are the power behind the work. How do I thank them? It’s impossible. When something’s impossible, I give it back to God. It’s His promise to bless. It’s the 30th anniversary this year of this Crystal Cathedral. September will be 30 years ago that we opened the doors. The press was out; huge crowds were here to see the world’s first glass church. Quite a Sunday and for 30 years this building is here, and how it’s been used for Christian programming like the Glory of Christmas.
So as I go back those 30 years, money? We didn’t have it. Vision, oh yeah we had it. People supporting us? You bet we did and many of you are sitting here today with your prayers and your tithes we launched it.
So this is a year of celebrations and I’ve chosen one line out of the forty books I’ve written and the two thousand sermons I’ve preached. Out of all those words that are in print I’ve chosen one sentence to give to you on this anniversary year. Here it is: Faith plus focus plus follow through equals achievement. I’ve lived it. It’s worked. Yes achievement starts with faith, a vision and the vision has to be there. It has to come from God Himself. It has to come into your heart and soul so that you’d willing to die for it. I have. I’ve been willing to die for any one of the visions God has given me. Faith: what is faith? Faith is believing that something can come out of nothing.
You know it wasn’t until the past year that I noticed my name in a published article and it said “Robert H. Schuller, 1926,” my birth year. It looked like a bible verse and you know I told you a couple weeks ago I wonder if there’s a bible verse 1926? So I looked in Matthew: there’s a chapter 19 verse 26, there’s a verse 26. It is “And Jesus said, with men it is impossible but with God all things are possible.” Wow. I’ve been living under that. That’s been my destiny. I’m destined. I didn’t choose. I’ve been; pardon the word, predestined by God Himself to be who I am and what I am. Wow.
Faith: Get the vision. Who are you? Why are you here? What are you living for? What’s the purpose? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s to be here this morning or listening to the sound of this voice because God needs you. He wants you. I need you. I couldn’t do this work without you. Faith plus focus. Get the vision then don’t get distracted by doubts or fears or anxieties or other good ideas. Most good ideas that are hurt and destroyed are destroyed by other good ideas that come in and compete. Focus: a powerful word. Faith and then focus and keep focused.
When you look at these anniversaries, you can tell I have been focused. Then follow through. Follow through obstacles, achievements, follow through criticism and complaints, follow through self-doubts that would tempt you. Faith plus focus plus follow through equals lifetime achievement! Wow! You become an up person in a down world when you have a vision and you have the focus and you have a commitment that you’d die for this work that God has called you to do. Become an up person in a down world. And then trials come, tragedies come. I’ve been praying so much for the people of Haiti as I’ve said and I’ll say it again; I’ve never had to walk in the street and pass a dead body. Never. People in Haiti have been there. Where are you this morning? Jesus Christ came to be an up person in a down world. And He still comes to you and to me an up person in a down world.
You know Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote the words, she said: There are two kinds of people on earth today. Just two kinds. No more, I say. Not the rich and the poor for to know a man’s wealth you first have to know his conscience and health. Not the happy and sad for in life’s passing years each has his laughter and each has his tears. Two kinds of people on earth I mean are the people who lift and the people who lean. Which class are you as you go down life’s road? Letting others share your burden and load or are you a lifter who helps others share their portion of labor and toil and care?
That’s my message to you today. Become an up person in a down world and each of you can because I promise you every single person listening to my voice now knows people that I’ve never met and will never know. People who need this message of hope in Christ. You are the closest they will ever come to Jesus Christ. I repeat that. All of you know people who are not believers and you are the closest they’ll ever come to Jesus Christ. Now that’s enough of a challenge for living. That’s why you need to be an up person in a down world.
There was a priest and one of his parishioners were walking down the street and they saw a beggar lying on the side. The parishioner said to the priest, “God’s supposed to be a loving God.” The priest said, “He is.” The parishioner said “then why doesn’t God do something about it?” pointing to the beggar in the gutter. The priest said, “He is. He’s doing something about it. He just called him to your attention.” We all need to be up people in a down world and that begins by becoming a closest friend to the best person. We become like our friends, you know? That’s why Jesus Christ if He becomes your friend and that’s your choice and you talk to Him, pray to Him, you’ll become like Him, probably without even knowing it but you will become an up person in a down world.
Let’s pray: Oh God, thank You. You have a message for us today. It’s a message that there are lots of possibilities waiting to come out of our lives to help people who need hope. And we’re here in a place that You put together with a purpose; a purpose to take us and make believers and Christian living people. And so we give our lives, Jesus Christ, to You. Amen.