#159 (12/12/04)
The Spirit of Christmas—Part I

The Message

By: Robert H.Schuller

Special Guest

One of the greatest country western musical, We have Kathy Mattea, the Grammy winner, in person sharing from her new CD “Joy for Christmas Day.”

Special Music

" O Come All Ye Faithful "
" Joy to the World "
" I Heard the Bells "
"Go Tell it on the Mountain"

" Good Christians, All Rejoice!"
“O Holy Night”

KATHY MATTEA - "Christ Child’s Lullaby"
SOLO – KATHY MATTEA - "Angel’s We Have Heard on High"
INSTRUMENTAL – DA CAPO PLAYERS – “Joy to the World Medley”

Acticle of The Message

Well the holiday seasons are always delightful, but this year seems, in many ways, more exciting than ever. You know a mother, (this is a true story) the mother said to her little girl, this week, right here, “have you decided what you wanted for Christmas yet?” And the little girl answered, “no, I haven’t seen all the commercials yet.”

We had a wonderful time here Sunday night before Thanksgiving when we all gathered for a great concert, and we went outdoors and lighted the Christmas tree out there. It’s 80 feet tall. The one in Rockefeller Center is 79 feet tall. We’re not competing it just happened that way. But who do you pick to put the lights on the tree? Who would push the button? We decided to pick a little girl, gorgeous, two and a half years old, whose daddy is in Iraq. He was in a company and the company got hit and they were all killed. He missed the meeting. Survived. Came home for a few weeks. He went back there. Hard going back. Hard to say goodbye to your little darling two and half year old girl. He called a day or two ago. He said he had to go to this meeting, it was a large meeting about 600 of the troops. Then they were told that there was to be a distinguished guest would be showing up and they thought it’d be a performer. Then the curtain opened and in walked President George W. Bush, and he said everybody screamed, yelled. He said he never heard anything like it.

Quite a Christmas season this year. They’re never always alike, and yet the message is always the same, it’s so great. I’m so excited because I’ve reached an age and stage where I have seen Christianity go through it’s critical times, and it’s tough times, and comes out stronger than ever. Why here we are today in the year 2003 and more and more of the leaders and the science communities are joining partnerships with us in ministry, because they see that this faith that we proclaim and practice is such a healthy wholesome faith. This Jesus Christ wasn’t just another Jewish kid born in Nazareth. He was sent by God, to give us the truth. Yeah.

Only in yesterday’s papers the report coming out that social researchers at the University of Michigan, have conducted a survey and in a large, prolonged study of 2,000 Presbyterians published in the Journal Psychosomatic Medicine, they now declare that people who help people live longer. Now that’s remarkable.

So 2,000 years ago a baby was born. He grew up and He said I’ve come that you might have life and have it abundantly. And He told us that if we want to be His disciples we have to deny ourselves, take up His cross, follow Me. He has been teaching this and the church has been teaching this for 2,000 years. Finally the secular world is catching up. People who care for people live longer. And the people who care most in caring for people are the people who have themselves been hurt. Wounded.

Yesterday John Steensma died. Maybe you probably didn’t hear of him, but he made the L A Times, so that’s kind of significant. And he’s from Holland, Michigan, that’s where I went to Hope College. That’s where I went to seminary, and he was going to go to seminary. He’d of been ahead of me, five years. But then, he was getting a homemade parachute out of the power lines and lost both of his arms in the electrocution. So he decided to spend his life helping everybody who’d been suffering with the loss of limbs and became one of the most effective prosthetic people in the past century.

He went to Korea to help them in a little clinic, and when he was finished they left behind an eight story prosthetic building, which led the whole nation. It is an amazing thing how Jesus of all religious leaders in human history focused on the positive, not on the negative, and the tragedy in 2,000 years of Christianity is that far too many Christians and those that promote the faith have been hung up on the negative aspects. That’s not what He came here to do.
I am moved almost to tears at this age when I read the prophecy from Isaiah Chapter 40. He’s predicting that there will come somebody who will be a Messiah. And that through this person every valley shall be exalted. Every mountain made low. The crooked places will be made straight. And the rough places smooth. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. And all of flesh will see it together. Yes, if you want to see the glory of the Lord revealed, look at the people who follow Jesus Christ and through Him have overcome they’re undergoing experiences. Look at the four points, all in the Bible. It’s a given in life that there are mountains, and there are valley’s that we go through, and rough places, and crooked paths where we wonder, do I turn right, or left. Confused, conflicted, overwhelmed. Jesus came to be our Savior.

Number one: In His faith and in His power and peace, every valley shall be exalted. What does that mean? That means that every low time that you go through can be helped by Christ.
I’ve had low times. And you’ve had low times. But the Christian faith like no other faith in the world lifts us in those down times. And even the valley turns out to be a blessing. And we are better people because we went through it. That’s why the valley will be exalted. We look back on our bad experiences and say, wow I don’t think I’d give it up. Amazing. Every valley. Exalted.

John Wimber, some of you knew him. He’s a friend of mine, he had a great Christian movement here. It still goes on even though we’ve lost him, called Vineyards, and when he was dying of cancer he made a great statement. I cried when he said it. He didn’t have long to live and he said, “Bob, got to tell you, the view from the valley is not too bad.” “Every valley shall be exalted.” Going through down times, hang on to Jesus.

“Every mountain made low.” Yeah. “Every mountain made low.” When we hold onto Him then suddenly what the world sees as a horrific tragedy, becomes to those who carry it out in their life, even a trivial thing. This is shocking.

Some of you remember Showers was a man that also lost his arms in an electric accident and he went out to create a place for handicapped people in Arizona and I was there the other day to help them celebrate their 25th anniversary. It was wonderful. Only handicapped people can be there and live there. They may be emotionally handicapped, or physically handicapped, but the amazing thing, when I talk to people who’ve been through a tragedy, I would call Carol’s accident a tragedy. My daughter. Terrible accident. They amputated her leg. But she would say boy I’m glad it was my leg and not my right arm. It’s amazing.

Then I talk to people who lose their eyesight and they’re blind. They say well I’m glad it’s my eyes, and not my hearing. And the people who lost their arms will say I’m glad it’s my arms and not my legs. It’s unbelievable how positive people go through hardship tragedy and they wouldn’t trade. They wouldn’t trade it for something else. Why? Because they’ve discovered this isn’t a mountain! They have a different perspective and now they look upon it almost as something trivial. Every mountain is made low. Every valley is exalted. The crooked places are made straight. Wow. Yes we go in a society and in a world where they’re all kinds of teachings, ideologies, philosophies, theologies.

I have lived 50 in the ministry. From 1950, when I was ordained, and into the new millennium. And what my focus has been for half a century is psychology and psychiatry and I had the benefit studying under Viktor Frankl, and Carl Menninger, the greatest of our time. And during this 70 years, you know, the science of psychiatry was only 50 years old. It really started at the turn of the 20th century with Sigmund Freud. And the prediction was that Freudianism would eradicate the need for Christianity. Think of it. And there was grave concern that religion would be exterminated by Freudian Psychoanalysis. And then last week his granddaughter, who carries his name Freud and who carries her earned Doctorate in Psychology announced that she was abandoning all the beliefs and teachings of her grandfather Sigmund Freud. They were not true.

What’s happening? Crooked places are made straight. Secularism has spread its jagged path through all of life, culture, entertainment and science and religion. I’ve seen some crooked paths and they’re being made straight by Jesus Christ. Wow.

I’m predicting that this century will see the Christian faith stronger than it has ever been in human history. We’re going into good times. Oh, the valley will be exalted. Down times, we’ll go back and look at them and thank God for them. The mountains will be low. You’ll realize that they’re really quite trivial. And the crooked places are made straight. We’re going to come back to a book called the Holy Bible. It’s being rediscovered. It’s being reverenced again. It’s being studied.

We have here “Houses of Power.” Small group and they’re spreading. Get into one. Get with it. They’re huge. The Bible is back. And rough places will be made plain. This is what the prophet said about the coming of Jesus Christ: The Messiah, the valleys will be exalted under Him. The mountains will be made low under Him. The crooked places will be straight. Yes, you’ll know what to believe. Simply ask what did Jesus believe. Ask that question. Don’t listen to any skeptic, any doubter, any agnostic, any atheist until you listen to Jesus Christ.

I’ll tell you I trust Him before I’d trust anybody else. Yes. He’ll make the path straight and you’ll think straight again. And the rough places plain. We all go through rough times. And surely He did. And that’s why of all the religions and all the spiritual movements, and all of the new age stuff that’s going around, nobody else has what we have. What do we have that nobody else has, I’ll you what. A symbol. And it’s a cross. Check that out. That’s huge. Around the world believers gather! And we are on every continent, and they hold the cross as a symbol. Why? Because Jesus teaches that a minus can be turned into a plus. That’s the cross.

Follow Him with positive faith in a God of love who cares about you. And your valley will be exalted, your mountain will really made low. You’ll think straight again and the crooked places will be made straight, and the rough places plain. Rough places plain. Oh, rough places plain.
I was born and raised in Iowa. This is farm territory. And the pioneers came there and my grandfather was one of them, and they would go though the territory and a lot of the land was rough, and they would go out and pick up stones. Rough places will be made plain. They would pick out the rocks, then they would harrow and rake the ground. Looked pretty. Cleaned up. That’s not the point.

It can take seeds and you can grow corn, and oats and soybeans, food. They didn’t make a lot of money, and I said to my dad once, I said, dad, why don’t you just sell the grain? Sell it. Cash out. It takes so much work to feed the cows, and the animals every day. And by the time you sell the animals you’ve sold your corn, you probably got less than you would have gotten if you sold the corn immediately. And I was right. And he knew it. And he said, people got to eat. People got to drink milk. People have to eat eggs. My job is not to see how to get the most money out of the ground. My job is to help feed the world. Wow. The rough places plain. What will bring glory to God is if you become the person God wants you to be. Yes, and you volunteer, and you give and you support, and you produce food! You make a difference in this world. That’s where in this passage and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. That’s what it says. That’s the Bible. That’s not Schuller. Wow.

Every valley shall be exalted. Every mountain made low. Crooked places straight. Then the rough places plain and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. It’s only the positive Christian faith that really produces the kind of persons who really bring glory to God. Sure because when they go through their tough times, they’re still happy people.

It was the night before Thanksgiving and we would have family down and so I said to Arvella, well lets go out to this little restaurant for soup. I mean, if I just eat soup now I can have a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of all the other pies. Boy. So we went to a restaurant where we go often, and the waitress came, she’s very beautiful. Very attractive. Always bubbling. Always happy. Always cheerful, and so Arvella said to her, are you ready for Thanksgiving? And she said, oh, yes. I’m so thankful. I have so much to be thankful for. And Arvella said to her, well don’t eat too much turkey. She said, oh, no don’t worry about that, or too much pies. Don’t worry about that. Ever since my radiation for those cancer tumors I have no taste buds left. And I don’t have any saliva. So I have to make myself eat. So don’t worry. Laughing she said, I won’t over eat. She loves Jesus Christ. She really believes in the God of the Bible. Wow.
I invite you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, 2000 years later. And science is more and more coming to see that what we’ve been teaching and preaching is scientific reality. It is Jesus Christ and the gospel. It is the ultimate emotional support system. I repeat, I’ve known the greatest Viktor Frankl, Carl Menninger, I could go on. And I’ve known them personally and they mentored me and they’ve advised me no psychiatric system, no psychiatric system can be a stronger emotional support system than the Christian faith positively presented and understood. So take Christ and you’ll have a Merry Christmas. Let’s pray:

Thank You God, we are where it’s at. We’re on the right page. Thank You for coming into this world, teaching us the joy of our faith. I pray for people that are listening right now and in their minds, they’re looking at this whole thing differently than they ever have before. Suddenly they’re getting a revelation that it’s all true. It’s all true. Jesus and the gospel, it’s all true. And so they’re accepting. They’re changing. They are being born again. Hallelujah. Amen.

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