Prayers, Power, Passion and Inspiration



Believe in the Future

by Robert Schuller

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Today we live in a changing world. We have new technology. We have I-Pods. We have I-Mac's, we have I-Phones, we have You Tube, we have My Space, we have Face Book, we have new cars and freeways and buildings, intersections, and growing cities. We have changing morals, changing worldviews. We have a world that is growing and moving constantly and in the midst of this world, we have new and better communication and yet we still remain not truly connected. We are busy but unproductive; entertained but bored with life; surrounded by people but infinitely lonely. It is into this world where we ask the question, "What does the future really hold? Is the future really something I can believe in? Is it just going to be more technology, more speed, and less life? Is that my future? Is that what the future holds for me?" God speaks to His church and He calls us to a grander future. It transcends technology, it transcends changing moral norms, and it touches us in our lives, in our jobs, in our relationships, in our families, right where we are now. Here and now, God gives us a promise: "For I know the plans I have for you; plans for a hope and for a future." That is what God says to His people.

If you are in a dead end job and you are wondering if you are going to be there ten years from now, and you don't want to be, this word is for you. If you are a single parent this word is for you. If you are retired or elderly and you feel like you know your life is over, this word is for you. If you feel empty, if you feel like you are never going to connect, you feel like you are never going to be happy, if you feel like you don't have a future, you don't know where you are going, this word is for you. The word of the Lord says to you, "I have a mission, I have a quest, I have a purpose, a calling, a story, an epic tale that you are the main character of; that I am calling you to. The word of God comes and it speaks to the heart, if only we would listen. He calls us to that quest, that mission; He calls us to be missional people. Missional people.

Whenever God speaks to people in the bible and even in our world today, He doesn't call them to narcissism, nor does He call them to selfishness. He calls them to live a life beyond themselves. God revealed Himself to Abraham and said, "I want to make you the father of many nations and through you I will bless the world." He called him; spoke to him, calling him to something greater than just his little tribe in the middle of a desert, in the middle of nowhere. God spoke to Moses in a burning bush, a man who was a murderer, rejected from Egypt, walked into a cave and God says take your shoes off, you're in a holy place. I need you to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go. God speaks to Joshua and says, possess the land. In the same way God spoke to Martin Luther King, when he said there is injustice in the world and I want you to look beyond yourself and beyond your congregation to embrace passive resistance, and bring civil freedom in America. He spoke the same thing to Mother Teresa when she was in a privileged school, and she looked out of her window and saw kids dying on the street, God called her, called her beyond herself, beyond her personal goals into something greater. The voice of God beyond just my little things today, God calls you to a mission, a purpose, a calling, something greater, something grand. It is different and unique for all of us. If all of us could just hear it; if all of us could hear the voice of our future that God speaks to us, everything would be different.

I think of Isaiah. When I read Isaiah chapter 6 and his calling to ministry, he seems like just a normal guy to me. He seems like a guy that has a decent job, he's living life, and he's in this temple and all of a sudden God shows up. The scripture says the train of his robe filled the temple with glory and there were seraphim and angels and smoke and lightening. In the midst of this, God shouts out not to Isaiah but to all the people: "Who will go for Me? Whom shall I send?" I always picture Isaiah as being that guy who just wants a purpose, a goal in his life. With all of his heart he says, "Here I am Lord! Lord, send me! Send me, God!" This is the voice of the human spirit that cries out to a God who says who will go for us? Our spirits want to say yes. Our spirits want to say yes. They want to say send me, God. They want to say send me into the dark places. Send me to hurting people. Send me to people that are suffering, send me to people that are less fortunate than myself, but it is the world that says no, you need more money. You need more stuff. You need your time. But it's God that says move beyond yourself. It's Jesus who is the ultimate fulfillment of this ideal.

Jesus said, "If you want to gain life, you must lose your own. You must give it up for My sake." Jesus was the greatest human life in history. He was God in the flesh, no doubt about it. But in His life we see the perfect way to have what Jesus called joy; joy that will last. It is amazing to me Jesus being the most glorious and perfect being ever, the representation of who God really is, because it overwhelms that nagging sense that God wants to get back at me, or that God wants to punish me because in Jesus you just don't see that. You see a Jesus who guides, who corrects. You see a Jesus who embraces, a Jesus who teaches, and who loves. You know, and this is kind of funny. Jesus sort of had an eating ministry. I'm serious. He had an eating ministry. You know, in Christ's time, to eat with somebody was to call them your equal. That's why kings would sit at elevated tables away from the court. Jesus, the king of kings, would eat with the lonely, the forgotten, the rejected, and the lepers. Enough so that His disciples, His followers would say, "Rabbi, don't you know who that man is? Rabbi, don't you know who she is, what she does for a living, Rabbi?" Jesus called those people to His table. His life and His ministry were unmatchable. He blessed, He healed, He raised the dead, He changed social structures, and He affected the government. He changed people's lives and everywhere He went things changed for the better.

It's interesting because we think Jesus doesn't really call us normal people. He calls guys like Robert Schuller, right? Well Robert Schuller was a farm boy, but it's easy to believe that God calls people who are born into privilege. But Jesus called fishermen to follow Him and be His apostles. He asked a rich young punk to be His apostle. He invited accountants, to follow Him and to be like Him and to learn from Him. He called these people to be like Him and in calling them gave them a future that they could believe in. In this moment, the same Jesus by His Holy Spirit, here and now, speaks to you. Wherever you are in your life, he says, "Follow Me." Follow Me and I will lead you to a life of joy that is everlasting, it never ends. This is why we, as believers, are called to enter into discipleship. Discipleship is something that is kind of thrown around a lot. A lot of Christians when they think of the great commission for example, which is Matthew 28, think about going into all the world, preaching the gospel. But that's not what Jesus says in the great commission. Jesus says to His apostles, go into all the world making disciples, baptizing them in the Trinitarian reality and teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you. You see living in the Jesus way is the best way to live life. It's so much more than just believing theology and getting into heaven; although that is great and by no means would I ever diminish that gift that God gives us. There is so much more. How many of you who have been raised in the church felt that the day you received Christ your journey ended? I'm here to tell you the day you received Christ, your journey begins! It begins as a path of discipleship. Dallas Willard likes to use the word becoming Christ's apprentice. Being His apprentice.

I remember when I was in the garage with my dad one time, and he said, "Hand me an allen wrench." I said, "What's an allen wrench?" He said, "You know what my son, you need to learn your tools." So he sent me to Rancho Capistrano where I worked as a maintenance guy, and I worked for a wonderful man named Tim, as sort of an apprentice. Tim would take me around to different jobs. He would teach me how to put locks on the doors and make keys and build things and paint things. He would always say, "Do it right the first time." He would teach me to fix things and build things and I started with little projects and every summer, for three years, I made $6 an hour and I was an apprentice to Tim, to learn how to build and fix things. By the end of that time, I was making master keys, building staircases and sound equipment. Over the years of being Tim's apprentice, it changed me. It gave me confidence, gave me a guide, and showed me how to live, to lead my life. That's why we as believers are called beyond so much more than just debating theology. It is about being an apprentice to Jesus, looking like Him, acting like Him, inviting tax collectors, business men, the lonely, the forgotten, the blessed, whoever to your table in the spirit of love, acceptance, and change. This is what Jesus was about. The greatest commandment He said was love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the message of Christianity.

You know when my grandpa was my age; he wasn't trying to build a church necessarily for all those people who were used to church. He was like Jesus; he went into the dark places. He went to the place called a drive in movie theater. You know he got so much heat and criticism for that because he went to what they called back in those days the passion pit. People would go to make out in their cars. He invited people who were not used to church, who didn't like church, to come as you are in the family car! Through this the ministry thrived and when television, the new universal medium came, he said we can do something with this. We can reach beyond just Orange County; we can reach the whole world. So, he decided to reach the whole world. Here we are, years later, proclaiming a message that is true to the nature and the life of Jesus Christ. One that believes in the future, that believes in possibility and purpose and hope.

And my dad now, you guys are so lucky to have the senior pastor right here. He is an incredible visionary and an incredible man, and if I'm ever half the man that he is, I'll be a great man. I'll be honest with you. My dad continues this vision; the original purpose of this ministry to go into China, to go into Africa, to go into South America, to promote justice over the world, to bring wheelchairs to people that can't walk. And he sees a newer universal medium, which is, anybody guess? Just say it if you got it. Internet! My dad sees the Internet. He says you know what? We can use this. We can use this to get across the world using free messages to promote the message of Jesus Christ to the world. I have to tell you, it's easy to believe in the future of this ministry. I believe in the future of this ministry because I believe in you. All of you are a part of it. You are a part of this journey, this conversation, this dialogue. You are here and now. This message, the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will continue to preach forever. My family, my friends, the elders of this ministry, the leaders of this ministry, the eagles, the sparrows, and everyone that is a part of this ministry will continue to proclaim the words and the life of Jesus Christ until our last dying breath. That is the future!

The future it bright regardless of our changing, rapid world because the future has us, a people who are human, who make mistakes, but we come together and we say we know that Christ is the center of our lives and we can change and we can be better.



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