#205 (30/10/05)
Living in the W.O.W. Zone

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

A friend who also had a dream, his name was Walt Disney. Fifty years later, Disney studios has brought us many wonderful true life stories of people reaching their own dreams such as “The Rookie” and the movie “Miracle.” Today with director Bill Paxton, they bring us another true life story of a young man reaching his own impossible dream. The name of the movie is “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” It’s a true story of an amateur golfer who shocked the world at the 1913 US Open when he defeated his idol Harry Vardon and won the tournament.

Special Music

"Joyful, Joyful.."
" This Joyful Day "
"We Build a New Tomorrow"

" Praise the Name of the Lord "
CCA CHORUS - " Jubilate Deo "
NITA WHITAKER - " Impossible Dream "
“ O Clap Your Hands ”


The Message

I'm speaking this morning on Living in the W.O.W. Zone. People live in different levels you know. But for fifty years this church is made up of a group of people who live in the W.O.W. Zone. That's half a century! Think of that!

Building this church has never been dull ... It's not been boring ... It's not been tension free ... It's not been free of conflict. It's been adventurous, risky, daring, costly ... and it's been fruitful and fulfilling. Wow!

When I wrote my first book, "Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking," the first note I got back from the editor was, "Schuller, you have too many exclamation marks in your writings. It's over done. Every other sentence should end with a period." Then he added, "Don・t worry about that, I'll take the exclamation marks out!" And he did.

Then when the television production company saw our first televised program, "Oh ... you say WOW too much and that's not a very religious word." Wow ... here I go again. I have become addicted to that expression. It comes out of me all the time.

But I use the superlatives! I make no apologies for that. For years in this church I would send a memo to all the staff people saying, "I'll listen to all of your ideas if it's got a superlative in it. We want to be a WOW movement. Why? Because there is always so much potential that is left undone, undiscovered, undeveloped or unappreciated!"

Then a few years ago I taught you to respond to our messages, not with the common response of "Amen," but instead, "And all God・ people said, 'W.O.W.'!; Wow is a praise word. It is a thanksgiving word."Wow" is a God honored word. It's a celebratory word! "And all God's people said .WOW・!;

You know the WOW comes because in summarizing my fifty years as your pastor, I grabbed hold of one Bible verse, John 10:10. Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly." WOW! What a promise. Take a look at the WOW life of Jesus. What a story! It is a true WOW story through the ups and downs, from His birth, through his ministry in the meadows in Galilee, to the crucifixion and finally it ends with the biggest WOW ... Easter... Jesus is alive!

We are a WOW blessed ministry

I have in my hands a very important church bulletin. It is the bulletin of the official charter meeting of this church, fifty years ago. It opens with this blessing:

:Let your blessing rest upon this church, oh Lord.

(We were only a drive-in church then.)

Out from the by-roads, out of our care-filled days,

We come, an earnest throng, to hear Your word.

To offer You our sincere heart-felt praise.

We come to seek Your steadfast guiding power.;

And God gave us that blessing for fifty years! Living in the WOW Zone is never dull. It・s got to have an exclamation mark at the end of it. It's got to be spoken energetically with a lot of volume. What a W.O.W. blessed ministry!

There were one hundred fifty charter members that were the first signers of this ministry・s charter fifty years ago. Many have died. Others moved out of state, but two of the very first charter members to sign still are active today, fifty years later. Doris Kostal, now Doris Carlson, and Opal Weaver. These were the WOW people who committed to building this church and I celebrate you! You made it happen! Just think ... a twenty-eight year old unknown preacher standing in a drive-in theater asks people to help him build one of the greatest churches ever built in the world. That's what these people did!

And look at what you have done during these fifty years. You started America's first twenty-four hour live suicide telephone counseling service. Thousands of lives have been saved and we need more new members to come forward and commit to this ministry.

You created America's first nationally televised church service. That's a WOW and it still goes on. You are seen every Sunday in China, Russia, and Europe, in the Arab world and on and on! This is a W.O.W. ministry. And all because fifty years ago, one hundred fifty people whose names are unknown, responded enthusiastically when I asked them for their commitment to start a new church. They believed. WOW!

And now after fifty years we still have a WOW ministry. Just look at this, our fiftieth anniversary year. Look at what you have done. You, the believers, the congregation. You are WOW people!

When a big WOW is knocked out of you, get ready for God to move in

In January how you, our members in this church, and many, many more who watch our television program, responded to the tsunami. We estimate that our church, including the members across the country, gave two million dollars to the tsunami cause. And we noticed also that our offerings in the first part of this year dropped by that amount.

And now we are responding to the devastation of the hurricanes in our country. I relate to the hurricane victims because exactly 105 years ago something happened that determined I would be a poor kid and not a member of one of America・s wealthy families. My great grandfather was a wealthy baron in a village in the Netherlands and sold everything to create a new American colony for Dutch people. He bought eight thousand acres in a little town which he said would be the only Dutch town where you can see palm trees. That town was Galveston, Texas. Everything he had was invested into Galveston. Then the 1900 hurricane wiped out Galveston killing thousands of people. His life was spared, but he lost everything. So, as a displaced person, he and his family traveled to a little town called Orange City, Iowa, a Dutch colony. He took their charity. He needed it. Wow! Yes, even that is a wow because when something terrible knocks the big wow out of you, get ready for God to move in and to do something else even bigger and better. I look at it as a wow because my great grandfather survived and if he hadn・t lived, I wouldn・t be here. I think that is a WOW!

Look at what you, my beloved church, has done through this anniversary year. In January a thousand pastors came to our Institute for Pastors. For thirty-five years we taught this Institute and some smart and good young students went through it more than once to be inspired and stretched. One was Bill Hybels, another was Rick Warren. There were others who went on to build bigger and better churches than what we・ve done here. Because God called us to put our church on television, and we said :yes; and started the world・s first televised church service complete with music, organs, instruments and choirs.

Also, this year you launched the summer production of Creation, a twenty year dream. This ministry was designed to reach many young people who came had never come into a church before. (70,000 people came into this Cathedral).Thank you to over the two hundred volunteers who and worked 30, 40, 50, yes, even 70 nights this summer to make this happen. You・re a WOW people!

In August of this anniversary year, over three hundred of you went to Africa to plant gardens with Bruce Wilkinson. You planted 67,889 gardens which will feed almost 300,000 people. You are a WOW people! I・m proud of you! My eyes fill with tears when I see what you have given of yourself, how you answered the call to feed so many hungry and starving people, half a world away.

Then this month of September, we responded to the Katrina Hurricane victims when John Debney offered to perform his music which he wrote for Mel Gibson・s The Passion. John presented the premier of the Passion concert in this Cathedra! You all backed and supported him. There has never, in the history of this church, been a night of music and sound like that night as 250 musicians, including the most talented and, yes, expensive soloists, cellists, violinists, harpists, and percussionists donated their services ... and every dollar received from this concert went to the Katrina victims!

And now, today, you are bringing a very special offering on this 50th anniversary Sunday to say thank you to God for this ministry. Yes, we・re still a WOW congregation. We are Living in the W.O.W. Zone.

One of the greatest ministries we have in this church is the family ministry. And it has new programming this fall designed for today・s families.

When God Calls you ... that・s a WOW!

Is it just a habit that I say WOW? I know at a deep subconscious level God lives in me through His Holy Spirit and His Holy Spirit makes me say WOW because God has big plans even when I can・t always understand them.

So this isn・t a message about Schuller. I just responded to God's call at the beginning of this ministry and I・m still here ... alive ... today and hope to be with you longer than some people would expect or hope.

This message is about you. And I want you to live in the WOW zone. Some of you are living in the :blah; zone. You have the blahs when you get up in the morning, what are you excited about? :Umm... what・s for breakfast, dear?; Jesus came. He said, I・ve come so you might have life and have it abundantly.;

Are you living in the :blah; zone?

Decide to live in the WOW zone!

This is the unique message of this church. It is the message that you can succeed! You can achieve! You can make your impossible dreams come true! This church has lived it. We・ve practiced it!

Yes, on this anniversary Sunday I・m asking you to help build this church as the new church for the next fifty years. First of all, make a decision to follow Jesus Christ who gives you life abundantly. He will prosper you. I can promise that your life will be exciting as you invest your life, invest your time, invest your talent in the work of Jesus Christ. Yes, our message focuses on life! Not on death! On life abundant here and now! Not just eternity with Jesus. He wants to use you. That・s why you were born. And He wants to turn us all into the greatest possibility thinkers that ever lived.

So I・m asking you today if you have never joined a church, join this church. This church is changing the face of religion; even people of non-Christian faiths are being taught to smile like Robert Schuller does on television. Think of that. If we could put a happy smile on the faces of people who worship God and Jesus, we・ve made a difference. We need to continue to do that. With your help this church will positively shape the future of religion.

I・m going to ask if you will be charter members of this church for the next fifty years. I want some of you who haven・t belonged to this church or who have never made a commitment to Jesus Christ to make a commitment. I had to stand up fifty years ago, and I did, and many of you came along and lifted my hands and my heart through many crisis times and I thank you. Today I・m looking for more people. Are there people here today who don・t belong to this church who will accept and agree to be members, you don・t have to live here. I need you to say, :Yes, I・ll become a member of this church. I will follow Christ and I will help make this church the greatest church in the world in the next few years.; Will you stand up? I need to know you are responding. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Prayer: O God, thank you for these new members who are standing. They have the faith to make the same commitment that I and 150 people did fifty years ago. This church is all Your idea, and look what You did with what we gave to You. We thank you. And all God's people said WOW!

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