#105 Special Episode for Hong Kong -
God's Word: Rebuild, Renew, Restore (30/11/03)

By: Robert H. Schuller

It's great to be back because I've been gone around the world, quite literally, for the past couple of weeks. And one of the first things I did when I got back I listened to the terrific sermon that was preached in this pulpit seven days ago by my son, Robert Anthony. And this place was, it was wonderful, Robert. He was sensitive to the providence of God, set aside his prepared sermon, and spoke instead on the subject "Rebuild Broken Dreams." Terrific.

And today I want to continue on that theme because God is in the business around the world of rebuilding broken dreams. And He does this first, by renewing us internally after the big hurt, and then restoring our souls. Psalm 23: "He restores my soul." And then renewed, restored, He helps us to rebuild from the loss or the hurt. And you take those 3 words together: renewing, restoring, rebuilding, and I call that redeeming. He is the Redeemer and a redeemer does not destroy, does not settle for ashes.

God is in the business of renewing human lives and human spirits, literally around the world. He does not quit.

You didn't ask to be born. And most of you who are suffering troubles didn't ask for it. Maybe it's cancer; maybe it's an incurable heart problem. That dandy little boy of our choir director, I remember praying for him when this first hit. And I said what are the options? And they said probably heart transplant. And today the aneurysms are gone. We just don't know when and how and where and why and through whom God performs His miracles, but a million miracles are happening every day.

You know we have a Bible verse that probably more than any other Bible verse is a hallmark of this ministry. It is Isaiah 40:31;

"Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." The word is renew. "They shall mount up as wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary." WOW!

And I come and stand before you again with profound gratitude to God that He and you continue to give me the privilege of standing here quite often to share a message that God has put in my heart and life. Now today's message is quite simple;

rebuild, renew, restore.

I say that to many of you who have relatives and friends, if you yourself have not suffered a loss in the fires. People who listen to this program and who are a part of us by way of television around the world, I must say to those people, this probably was the worst forest fire in history. I haven't had time to review, but 3,339 homes are gone, gone. And 20 people are gone.

And so we need the spirit of renewal, rebuilding and redemption here in this church and in the state of California. I left here a couple weeks ago at the invitation of the Vatican to be a part of the beautification ceremony of someone who was a friend of mine named Mother Teresa. And I think most of you are old enough to remember the name. It was a marvelous service in St. Peter's Square where I've been often. And it was a two-hour event that was worship from beginning to end. And the forefront of everybody's attention was not Mother Teresa; it was Jesus Christ on a cross that stood in the front so you couldn't even see the Pope or the picture of Mother Teresa until you looked behind Jesus Christ. He was central and it impressed me profoundly.

And it was a worship service with a choir and the ritual and the spoken word. It was deeply moving. Many times, in a crowd of over 350,000 people you could feel a holy hush. I swear if someone had dropped a quarter or a dime in St. Peter's Square you would have heard it. It was such a sacred silence, such a holy hush. I was renewed. I need that too. My vision for the gospel of Christ to the world was restored. He restores my soul. And I could come back here with renewed enthusiasm for the unique ministry and message of this church for 48 years, soon 50 years, and for 34 years on television. It's marvelous.

And from there I went straight to Hong Kong. I went to Hong Kong because we'd been on television there a short time and the people there are in great depression. I mean the depression hovered over the city like the smoke hovered over this place. And it came not from a fire in the forest but from a fire in the hospital wards called SARS. And suddenly a mysterious disease come and it hits two people and then only a few days later hits 35 in one town. Finally, 1,700 will be infected and finally, over 300 will die, but the first deaths came in the early days to the medical staff. They were called in to help these people quote: we don't really know what they've got but it's in the lungs and it looks like it could be fatal but it must be a new disease.
Well, there was young doctor, Dr. Joanna Tse. Dr. Joanna Tse, what a girl. I never met her but she specialized in hearts and lungs and when the first two cases came to her hospital they asked her if she'd be willing to volunteer to see them. They would not assign them to her just because it was in their hospital and she was a specialist. She volunteered. She said, "If I'm called to the front and knew that I would only last 50 days on the first day I would step to the front and have no regrets." She stepped to the front, 35 years old. This finally happily married for about six months to another young doctor. Both of them became Christians, both of them loved Jesus Christ, both of them went to church every Sunday, great, great medical people. Even before the SARS thing hit it was her husband, he got leukemia, got a bone marrow transplant, cured. So they had marriage in the church, beautiful wedding in the church. Six months later, after six months of marriage leukemia came back, one year later he would die, and one year after his death Dr. Johanna would die from her treatment of the SARS patients. And the premiere of the Chinese government in Beijing came down to Hong Kong where the thousands of people honored her and she was given the gold medal for starting the process of discovering the solution to SARS and she is so credited today. Wow!

So they asked me to come and try to lift the spirits cause they said, "You know, you're on television." And I knew we were not very long. But the shock that I had was how many people in Hong Kong are a part of us. This morning they're hearing me speak, they see you sit there. It's unbelievable. We are on every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. When I checked into the hotel where they hosted me and where they took care of my room. The doorman, seeing me come out of the car to go into the hotel stood back, jolted, recognized who I was and he looked at me and he said, "Robert Schuller." Then he said, "Wow!"

You know we're called to put a new spirit, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." We're called to renew the spirit of human beings. Wow! I went to a few stores where I've been to before and they all knew who I was and one man pulled out of his pocket and showed me the paper. He said, "Your son preached last Sunday. Well, he was good." And he showed me what he talked about, the Lord is my Shepherd and I forgot the rest of it but I was impressed. Hong Kong, 6 million people, they all live close to a television set and every television set in Hong Kong shows this program 9:00 every Sunday morning without another church service or televised ministry. It's amazing.

God needs you. The world needs you. California needs you. Oh, how can I thank you? I look in your faces and you are the people that keep this ministry alive. We know how many millions ultimately benefit from it and we thank you. Wow! "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." How does God specialize in rebuilding and restoring broken dreams? Well, He specializes by implanting in every human being something of His own Spirit. We are all called in the Bible as children of God. What does that mean? We are not all redeemed. We aren't all not good children. And He has His rebellious children, that's true. But even in the worst there is something of the Spirit of God that can be discovered and it can be ignited or it can be rekindled. And oftentimes in tragedy and heartbreak and hurt, whether it's pain you're going through with cancer, or with pain you're going through because of the funeral that lasted not long ago, this year, the love of your life was taken. Or, whatever it is, a fire, disease, God wants to renew you and He has put within you a divine spark that can become that unconquerable human spirit that we hear about. People who have no religion, people who are pure secularists still sense, see and they say it, there is an unconquerable spirit built into the human being. You go through hell and suddenly, you don't quit, something comes back, it starts with a spirit.

Proverbs 20, verse 27, "the Spirit of man is the lamp of God." Here that. That's the Bible defining the unconquerable human spirit. God is so merciful. So to rebuild your dream, it has been shattered. If it's in ashes or if it's in a casket oh, wherever it is, come back, come back to life again. Recognize you have an unconquerable human spirit and what is it? Proverbs 20:27, "the spirit of man is the lamp," life giving lamp, warmth giving light, "the spirit of man is the lamp of God." You know my faith isn't today what it was three years ago. My faith is deeper, broader, richer. I think it's the last three years.

You know in theology, pardon me for using a couple of big words, but in theology the God that we believe in, this God of Abraham is a transcendent God but He's also an eminent God. Transcendent means up there, out there, above us all. But God is also an eminent God. The eminence of God and the transcendence of God then you have a balanced perspective of God. The eminence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics. The eminence of God.

And my how the past three years I have seen this so shockingly. Yes, God is alive and He's in every single human being that's listening to the tone of this voice, even if you are an theist you cannot eradicate a spark of divinity that is within you. You may not ignite it, you may keep it under the ground with secularism, like a spark is kept under the ashes and never allowed to come back and move into a new light.

God is the rebuilding business. He begins by renewing your vision. And He gives you a new dream and you begin to imagine what you can be, what you can do, what you can.. how you can reconstruct, and how you will react to the tragedy that has befallen you. He renews then when you get a dream again He is in the process of restoring your soul. Psalm 23, "He restoreth my soul. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil." Oh, that's the word of a restored soul. He renewed, He restores, and then cooperate with Him. That's your job. Cooperate with Him. Push aside the negative thoughts.

I remembered, will never forget when I finally reached my daughter Carol's bedside it was with a plane trip from Chosen, Korea to L.A., from L.A. to Sioux City, Iowa. And there she was with her bandaged stump of a left foot still wrapped in the fresh bandages with dry blood red at the end. And I prayed for wisdom and I said to her, "Carol, the first thing I want to say to you is this," she listened, "Watch out for self pity." And she snapped back at me, "Oh, Dad, don't worry about that. I got enough problems without picking that one." Wow!

Renewed, restored, now rebuild. So God calls every person listening to me to be a part of His process in this world with SARS deaths and the poverty dying that Mother Teresa helped survive and all around the world and the fires here. And that's life. Title of one of my books, "Life's not Fair, but God is Good." I'm calling upon every person who's hearing this sound of this voice whether you're in Hong Kong this morning or in Moscow or Rotterdam or Peoria, Illinois, or Julienne, California, or Arrowhead, listen:

"those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint."

They'll come back again. They'll come back again.

One of the great books my son wrote was "Great Comebacks." You be one of them. Support this ministry more than you ever had because the world is depending on us like I can't believe and I don't have the strength to do it without you. This is your call. Your day has come. Say with Dr. Joanna Tse, "If I was called to go to the front and knew that it would leave me with only 50 days to live, what would I do on day number one? I would step to the front and whatever happened I'd have no regrets."

Dear God, You're in all of this. Everybody here has gone through times when maybe it wasn't fire and maybe it wasn't chemotherapy and maybe it wasn't the terrible accident. But O God, we needed our hope renewed and You gave it to us and You've caused this ministry to rise out of nowhere to become something going everywhere. And O God, thank You for including us. Amen.

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