I love this series UP because it’s all about moving forward. It’s becoming stronger, becoming better, becoming kindler or gentler. And it also implies that we’re going to help others become better and stronger and kinder and gentler. But it’s really interesting because that’s not always the case. I heard a story about a very, very old preacher in the Midwest. And he was just hours from going to heaven, from dying. And this preacher, he sent message to his doctor and his lawyer to please join him by his bedside so the doctor and the lawyer knew there wasn’t much time so they rushed to the house. And they were quickly ushered upstairs to his bedroom and when they walked in the preacher’s daughter was sitting in the corner in a rocking chair with a bible in her lap.
And when the old minister saw them walk in, he kind of quietly gestured for them to come closer and the doctor knelt on one side of the bed and the lawyer on the other side of the bed and they each took the ministers hand. And the minute their hands were touched, you could see a glow come over the minister’s face. He was just content and nobody said anything for a few moments, and then the doctor and the lawyer kind of looked at each other because they were a little bit puzzled. They’d never had any indication that this preacher really liked either one of them. They remembered these long negative sermons about greed and covetousness and avaricious behavior and so they kind of looked at each other and after a little bit the doctor finally, very reverently and quietly said, “Pastor, why have you asked us to come?” And with that the preacher closed his eyes and a large smile came to his face and he said, “Jesus died between two thieves and that’s how I want to go out.”
So I know that at the Crystal Cathedral we love everybody and we want everybody to succeed. That’s not the kind of attitude we have. This morning, let’s go back to the last Sunday of 2009. It wasn’t on the Hour of Power, but here in the church I spoke with you about how do you face tomorrow with a sense of wonder. And many of you decided that you were going start facing tomorrow with a sense of wonder and that was terrific. And then the next few weeks, Pastor Sheila came to us and she taught us how to fly right side up in an upside down world. And I loved the cardboard testimonies of people walking down, of what God has done in their lives, how He’s changed their lives. And then Dr. Schuller taught us how to be an up person in a down world which is a difficult thing because we live in a down world, and we need to face it with possibility thinking and a positive faith in Christ. And then Dan Chun taught us what to do when God says no and that’s a difficult thing. In your prayer life, when God says no is His answer, that’s a difficult thing to deal with and Dan Chun gave us a great illustration for that, and by the way, if you missed any of those messages, just go to hourofpower.org, they’re on there 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that’s the great thing about the internet is you can watch all of those messages any time you want.
But after all of that inspiration, I started to think of the question what in the world are you waiting for? What in the world am I waiting for? All of this inspiration, God has an amazing plan for your life. All you’ve got to do is tap into it and get moving, get moving already. But then the buts come in. Yes, but. I’m too old to start something new. I’m too young. Nobody’s going to believe in me. I’m not pretty enough to do what I need to do. If only I were smarter then I could do what I need to do. Do all of these sound familiar?
So I’ll ask it again: what in the world are you waiting for? Are you waiting for somebody else to give you permission to live your life? You need to stop listening to the world and start listening to God because God has an amazing plan for you. Jesus Himself said it: “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” So then question becomes are you ready to move from mediocrity to excellence, are you ready to climb that mountain of financial hardship, are you ready to climb that mountain of relationship problems, are you ready to climb that mountain of health challenges and start facing them with faith rather than fear then you are ready to embrace the abundant life that Jesus was talking about. You need to start climbing mountains hand in hand with Jesus. But I’m going to warn you: mountain climbing is not easy. Mountain climbing is not easy. It’s treacherous, it can be exhausting, it can be taxing. It’s never easy. But I’m also going to warn you that the view from the top is magnificent. The view from the top is magnificent.
And I was thinking about that. When I was in 5th grade or so I used to go to a little camp in Colorado called Deer Creek. I grew up in the Mennonite church and they had a little camp called Deer Creek Christian Camp. And at this camp there was a long meadow about the size of a football field, maybe a little smaller, and at the edge of this meadow the mountain went up pretty steep. So what they had done over the years, very inventive, they had kind of cut out smaller trees and removed some rocks and they had carved out a toboggan run up this mountain. And those of you who don’t go to the mountains, what a toboggan run is its basically a plume of snow or ice and what they would do is hand you a great big truck tire inner tube, a great big black rubber donut that you’d sit in and you’d get in on this ice patch and you’d race down this mountain and land up in the meadow. Now from the meadow, this looks like fun.
So they handed me this truck tire inner tube, and I was in 5th grade and says okay you follow the older kids up the hill. So I started up the mountain. Now at the beginning of the climb, it’s not too bad. You know, you can make it pretty easy, but about a quarter of the way up, you’re starting to realize this mountain is pretty steep and this isn’t a set of stairs walking up the mountain. It’s icy and slippery and wet and its rocks and tree stumps that you’re climbing over. This is not a custom thing. You have to climb up this mountain to get to the top.
About half way up the mountain, I made the mistake of looking back. And when you’re looking down, you’re realizing how steep this is and the treachery that you’re really in on this icy, you know kind of make shift staircase to get to the top of this ice plume. And about the time I looked back, I slipped and fell, face down in the snow to the amusement of all of my friends behind me. Now I was going to be tough. I got up; I didn’t even brush the snow off my clothes. I was going to be like one of those major league batters who gets thrown down by the pitcher into the dirt and they get up and they’re tough and they won’t even brush their uniform off. That’s how I was going to be. And I looked back up at that mountain facing me, and if Dr. Schuller would have been in line with me, he would have looked at me and said “When faced with a mountain, I will not quit.” That’s what he would have said, right?
So I said okay, and I start climbing that mountain. And when I get to the top, I looked through a set of trees. There are two big trees at the top and you got to kind of walk between the two and that’s the first time you get a look, straight down this ice shoot that you’re supposed to go down on this big inner tube. And I looked at that and I go I don’t think I can do this. Thinking in my brain and the counselor is standing right there. He’s helping everybody get into their inner tubes. And he looked at me and he said, “What in the world are you waiting for?” And I wanted to say for my life to stop flashing before my eyes. That’s what I wanted to say because I was scared to death.
And then he said something very interesting. He said “The first time is always the worst. If you make this run once, you’ll never stop climbing this mountain.” If you make this run once, you’ll never stop climbing this mountain. So I climbed into that inner tube and I raced down that shoot and I had so much fun I climbed that mountain ten times that day. That counselor was absolutely right. And he was right. Every time I climbed the mountain, the view became more magnificent because my fears were evaporating away and I was seeing the glory of nature all around me and the glory of this mountain all around me. So I scaled that mountain.
Now the question I have for you is what’s your mountain? Everybody’s got a mountain. You have a financial problem? You have a relationship problem? A job problem? Family problem? A health problem? What’s your mountain? Everybody’s got a mountain so this morning I want you to picture your mountain in your mind. What mountain do you want to climb and we’re going to go through five simple points to help you climb your mountain. And we’re going to spell out the word climb: C-L-I-M-B. And the C stands for climb. I’m going to make C climb because this is a very special step. You have to be willing to climb. Are you willing to climb? Are you even willing to climb your mountain? This is where most people get stuck. They’re not even willing to climb their mountain. They’re not willing to get out of bed and try. So you need to be willing to climb your mountain and I have some reassurance for you today. You do not have to climb your mountain alone. That’s the greatest thing about our faith. You do not have to climb your mountain alone. And if you ever need encouragement, go to Psalm 18 right here in your bible. Psalm 18:28, “You O Lord keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness into light. With Your help, I can advance against a troop. With my God, I can scale a wall.” That’s what our faith gives to us. You do not have to face your mountains alone. Or in Philippians 2, it says, “It is God at work giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.” His purpose. You do not have to climb your mountains alone. And the great thing is God believes you can climb your mountain. Did you hear that? God believes you can climb your mountain. So its time to take God’s hand and say okay God I’m ready. Let’s start climbing. Are you willing to do that this morning?
So C stands for be willing to climb. L stands for live today. Live today. And now I know all of you are saying well what about tomorrow? What about goal setting? Absolutely. Plan your tomorrow. Don’t live there. How do I know a lot of you are living in tomorrow because I talk to so many of you and the same themes come up over and over again. I’m worried about money tomorrow. I’m worried about my job tomorrow. I’m worried about my economy tomorrow. What’s my health going to be tomorrow? We could write a song: tomorrow, tomorrow I’m worried about tomorrow. Right? So the thing is that’s not what Jesus taught us to do. That’s not what Jesus taught us to do. Jesus taught us” “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus did not say give us this day, give us tomorrow’s bread. He didn’t say give us next month’s bread. He didn’t say give us 2011’s bread. He said give us this day our daily bread. Live today. Plan for tomorrow, set goals, but don’t forget to live today. Climb your mountain one day at a time. You can do amazing things. God has some mountains that He wants you to scale that you cannot believe. But you have to scale them one day at a time. One day at a time.
Think of a graduating mountain climber. A mountain climber starts locally in the hills, right around here to build up his endurance, to build up his heart and his strength, and then he may graduate to the mountains around Lake Tahoe. And then he may graduate to Mt. McKinley and eventually he’ll graduate to Everest but he didn’t take on Everest day one. He had to build up his endurance. Climb your mountain one day at a time but be willing to climb. Live today.
I is for inspire. Now inspire means don’t get so wrapped up in climbing your mountain that you forget to help somebody up their mountain. Inspire somebody to go up their mountain. If that counselor had not said to me “if you make this run once you’ll never stop climbing mountains,” if that counselor hadn’t of said that to me, I’d have never made it down that day. I would have never made that run. So don’t forget to inspire somebody up their mountain.
So be willing to climb. Live today, plan for tomorrow but live today, inspire someone along the way and then M stands for motivate. Motivate. And what do you need to do to motivate? Grab this. Grab your bible. Soak in God’s word. The greatest mountain climbing guide ever created is right here. It’s right here. The greatest possibility thinking guide you could ever get is right here and most of its gathering dust on your book shelf because you don’t pick it up and dust it off and see the amazing life God wants you to have. Pick up your bible. If you want power over your circumstances, if you want victory in your life, pick this book up. Pick up the holy bible and get into God’s word.
Be willing to climb. Live today. Plan for tomorrow but live today. Inspire someone along the way. Get your motivation from God’s word and the last letter in climb is B and B stands for believe. The kind of belief that says with God’s help I can scale my mountain. Belief to live by II Corinthians which says we are to walk by faith and not by sight. If you remember nothing else from today, memorize that bible verse. You need to walk by faith and not by sight. And why do we need to do that? Because I guarantee your mountain is going to look pretty intimidating. You’re not going to want to climb it. That’s where you have to take God’s hand, take Jesus’ hand and say I’m going to live by faith and not by sight, and I’m going to take His hand and I’m going to start climbing this mountain.
Now I know what you’re saying. Jim you don’t know my life. You do not know what I’m going through. I’ve tried to climb my mountain and failed. I’ve made it halfway and burned out. I made it three quarters of the way and I fell off a cliff or I made it almost all the way, I almost touched my dream and then I slipped down that mountain into some rocky thorns, thorn bushes at the bottom of that meadow. I don’t think I can handle one more disappointment. I hear that from so many people. You know what; every one of us has that story.
Some of you know when I was a kid; I came from a broken home. I went to six elementary schools between grades kindergarten through 5th grade. That’s a lot of change. That’s a lot of change. Six elementary schools in five grades. That’s an amazing story because we were constantly running from creditors. Constantly having difficulty but I never really lost all of that anger. I went through college angry at God. How could He have given me the childhood that He gave me? How could He do some of the things that He was doing in the world. All that stuff that we question when you’re in college, when you say I’m angry at God. And I’ll never forget the drive to California after I graduated from college, I saw that beautiful road in Utah where you see these absolutely glorious mountain peaks and it hit me that God is real. God is real. Those things were not there by mistake. That beauty was not there by mistake. My life has never been the same. I got touched by God on that road. Anybody can be touched no matter where you’ve come from, no matter what you’ve gone through, God can touch your life. He can overcome any circumstance.
So here’s the thing. You need to start climbing your mountain. And how do you do that? You need to have the faith to do it. But for most of you, it’s up here. You know the bible stories. You believe the word of God is real but it’s all up here. It’s never really penetrated in here. It’s never really gotten in here. You can go to the greatest mountain climbing schools in the world, you can learn to put every hand hold and every foot hold and where to put every rope, but if it’s all up here, you’re never going to make it up that mountain because the minute you start climbing, it’s hard. It’s exertion on the heart. It’s exertion on the muscles and if you don’t believe it in your heart, you’re not going to make it up that mountain. So you’ve got to get your belief in your heart.
And this morning you’re going to do that. This morning, somebody here, maybe many of you here, need to stand up and say in the name of Jesus, I do believe. Is somebody willing to stand up this morning, put their hand up, say silently, say it out loud “in the name of Jesus I do believe.” “In the name of Jesus, I will climb my mountain.” Is somebody willing to stand up right now in the audience? Are you ready to stand up? Stand up! You got your hand in the air. Stand up and say “I’m willing to climb my mountain. I’ve got challenges, I’ve got problems, I’m willing to climb my mountain.” You need to stand up. “In the name of Jesus, my mountain will move.” You need to say that “in the name of Jesus, my mountain will move.”
“In the name of Jesus, my financial problems can be solved.” In the name of Jesus, my financial problems can be solved. “In the name of Jesus, my illness can be conquered.” Don’t listen to me; listen to the Holy Spirit talking to your mind right now. “In the name of Jesus, my illness can be conquered.” Jesus came to set you free. “In the name of Jesus, I will make my marriage work.” “In the name of Jesus, I will love my kids more.” “In the name of Jesus, I will love my wife more, my husband more.”
Are you willing to stand up and say that? And if you’re watching at home, you’re not off the hook. You need to stand up in your living room and say the same thing. “In the name of Jesus, I will make my relationships work.” “In the name of Jesus I will overcome my financial problems.” “In the name of Jesus I’m going to put that bottle down.” “I’m going to put the pills down.” “I’m going to put the alcohol down and in the name of Jesus, I can conquer it.” “In the name of Jesus,” as Dr. Schuller would say, “tough times never last, tough people do.” “In the name of Jesus, what in the world are you waiting for?” “In the name of Jesus, all things are possible.”
Lord Jesus, today we give You our hearts, the belief is pouring in, and we praise Your holy name today, Jesus. We believe that in the name of Jesus, all things are possible. Hallelujah, everybody say Amen.