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Bridge Builders

By Sheila Schuller Coleman

2197 2021-03-11

I like to tell people that I practice what I preach. When we practice something, do we always get it a hundred percent right? No, there are times we mess up. I may be practicing what I preach, but that doesn’t mean I’m always getting it right.
For instance, this past week my attitude was a little down, a little negative, and I’m sorry to say that I was negative for one day, and then another day, making life miserable for the people around me, but most of all for moi, myself. About halfway through the third day while I was driving along feeling sorry for myself, all of the sudden I thought to myself, “Sheila, you’re not practicing what you preach! Time to practice. Start practicing.” And I started singing, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I got a new attitude!” It helped. I started thinking about all of you and I thought, “If I forget to have a new attitude, then you may be forgetting, too. I hope that most of you are remembering, but we have to practice it, right? We have to practice it so that we remember it.
Right now I want you all to stand. We’re going to practice. Practice makes better. I don’t believe it makes you perfect, but I think it makes you better. All right? All right. Our Worship Team’s going to help us practice.
(WORSHIP TEAM SINGS: I’m feeling good from my head to my shoes. Know where I’m going and I know what to do. I tidied up my point of view. I got a new attitude. I’m feeling good from my head to my shoes. Know where I’m going and I know what to do. I tidied up my point of view. I got a new attitude. I got a new attitude. I got a new attitude. Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I got a new attitude! Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I got a new attitude! Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I got a new attitude!)
All right, stay standing. So, this is the part I want you to remember: When you have those negative thoughts and you’re feeling just a little bit down, you can put your hands like this and follow with me. We’re just going to push those negative thoughts away when we sing, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.” Right? We’re pushing those negative thoughts away: “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.” And we’re putting on that positive new attitude. “I’ve got a new attitude.” We’re putting that on. Right? So, one more time. Do it with me. Here we go, we’re going to practice one more time then I promise you, you can sit down. Hands out here, pushing the negative thoughts away, putting on the positive new attitude. “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I got a new attitude!” Right? Good! You can do it! All right? You may be seated.
So, this week, maybe you’ll do better at your practicing than I did. Maybe you’ll remember right away, or maybe you’ll be two or three days into it, but I promise you, all of a sudden you’re going to remember to put on that new attitude. Of course, we’re talking about not just any old new attitude, but the new attitudes, the beatitudes of Jesus Christ. And we want to be those attitudes of Jesus Christ. We don’t want to just have them; we want to live them so that people will see Jesus in us no matter where we go.
The beatitude that we’re delving into today is “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Peace. Peace. Peace within. The Hebrew word is shalom. Shalom. Shalom within; shalom amongst. Peace within and peace amongst. Shalom is more than just lack of strife, or lack of angst, or absence of angst. Shalom is harmony. Shalom is being fulfilled. I like to think of it as being filled with God’s Spirit. Shalom.
And so this beatitude says that blessed are those who have Shalom and spread it. Be positively contagious. You are spreading something, whether you like it or not. You are contagious, whether you like it or not. But what you are spreading is either positive or negative. You’re either spreading peace and shalom, or you’re spreading disharmony and discord. It’s your choice. And it’s my task, today, to try to help open your eyes to the fact that you are a contagious person. But what are you going to spread?
And so we want to stop those negative thoughts, because those negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, which lead to negative behavior. We want to think about our thinking. It’s called metacognition - thinking about our thinking, being aware of what thoughts are going through our minds, and having mental discipline through the help of God, but controlling and capturing all those thoughts, and making them obedient to Jesus Christ. That’s what is inspiring this whole beatitude series.
So, are you thinking positive thoughts, or are you thinking negative thoughts? Are you thinking loving thoughts, are you thinking forgiving thoughts? Are you thinking peace and shalom, or are you mired in bitterness? Are you building bridges, or are you creating chasms? Your thoughts. You feed your thoughts whether you realize it or not. You feed them. If you feed your negative thoughts, they’re going to grow stronger. And if you feed your positive thoughts, they’re going to grow stronger.
Something I’ve realized this week is that a lot of times we invite and allow other people to join the feeding frenzy with us. For instance, there are two women at work. They were in the break room. And the one woman said to the other, “I don’t understand my husband. He drops his clothes on the floor. The hamper is right there. He could drop his clothes in the hamper but he drops his clothes on the floor. What is he thinking? Why is he doing that?”
Her friend said, “Yes. Doesn’t he know how hard you work? He should be more thoughtful.”
The wife said, “You’re right. You know, if he loved me, he would think about me and my needs, but all he thinks about are his own. In fact, all during dinner, I have to listen to his problems, his problems.”
Her friend said, “Does he ever ask about yours?”
“Now that you mention it, he doesn’t. He never asks. I didn’t realize until you said it how marginalized I feel, much less valued. I don’t feel valued by my husband at all. I’ll tell you this much, I’m not going to go out of my way to treat him better until he starts treating me better.”
This wife just fed her negative thoughts towards her husband. She invited her friend to help in the negative feeding frenzy, and it led to a withdrawal and a fracture in the relationship. Stop those negative thoughts. Capture them. Make them obedient to Christ. Okay?
So, that’s a negative example. Now, I will give you a positive example. We’re going to do that same scenario all over again. Same wife, two women in the break room, and this time the wife says to her friend, “I don’t understand my husband. He drops his clothes on the floor. The hamper is right there. He could drop his clothes in the hamper but he drops his clothes on the floor. What is he thinking? Why is he doing that?”
Her friend says to her, “Maybe it’s not important to him where he drops his clothes. Maybe it just important to you. What’s important to your husband?”
“Well, you know, now that you say that, I remember this week he stopped on the way home from work and made a hospital visit with a colleague who had a serious stroke. He prayed with her husband. That’s important to him. Then, he came home and checked my car to make sure it was in working order because he didn’t want me to get in a car accident. That’s important to him. Last Saturday, he went to his mom’s house and he fixed a leak in her kitchen sink. That was important to him. Wow. I’m so lucky to be married to him. I wonder what I can do tonight. Maybe if I make him his favorite cherry pie, I can show him how grateful I am for him.”
It started with thoughts, and it was a choice about which thoughts got fed. So, be careful which thoughts you feed. Be careful about allowing others to feed your thoughts. If people are feeding your thoughts in a negative way, you can stop them. You can say, “You know what, I don’t need you to feed my thoughts this way. I choose to love this person.” It’s a choice. You are contagious, positively or negatively, and it’s your choice. You get to choose what kind of person you want to be.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Peacemakers are bridge builders, and building a bridge is dangerous. I know. One of my sons - who use to drop his clothes on the floor but now is notoriously neat - is a sworn police officer. He’s a peace officer. He puts his life on the line. Peacemaking is dangerous. It’s dangerous. You can get hurt in the process. Building a bridge is dangerous. Building a bridge is costly. Building a bridge requires patience. And building a bridge is an ongoing process.
There are no other bridges more famous in the world than the Golden Gate Bridge, right? I want you to think about that bridge because it’s a metaphor today about bridge building. It was dangerous building that bridge. Eleven men lost their lives in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was costly. It cost, in 2003 dollars, $1.2 billion dollars. Patience. It took four years to build this bridge. And building a bridge takes time. And the wider the chasm, the broader the span, the longer it’s going to take to build that bridge. It will be a difficult. It can be a difficult, time consuming, painful process.
When my husband and I visited the Golden Gate Bridge one time, I was stunned to hear that they have to continually paint it that color from which it gets its name. It’s always being painted. They start at one end and they continue to paint until they get to the other end, and they start over again. It never stops. They never stop painting that bridge. It is an ongoing process.
So, in our relationships, building bridges with others is an ongoing process. It never stops. It’s something we need to work at. We need to maintain them, positively maintain them.
“Blessed are the bridge builders,” is what this beatitude teaches us. Blessed are the bridge builders. Is there a chasm? Build a bridge. Build a bridge. How do you build a bridge? You lay planks.
A mother named April recently contacted me. She said, “Sheila, I’ve lost my daughter, my grown daughter. She won’t speak to me. It’s been three years since I’ve heard from her, and my heart is absolutely broken. What can I do to restore this relationship with my daughter?” There was a chasm, a bridge in need of being built between these two.
I said to April, “When you build a bridge, first you lay a plank, right? You initially put one plank down. And then, pretty soon you come along and you lay another plank down, and then you come along and lay another plank down. And you just keep on laying planks until you’ve built a strong, strong bridge. It’s not your responsibility to make your daughter walk across that bridge. It’s not your responsibility to take her by the hand and drag her back into a relationship with you. Your responsibility is merely to lay that bridge. Build that bridge plank by plank by plank by plank, and then you wait on your side of the chasm because when the day comes, and it’ll come, when she’s ready to come home to you, then you have that bridge ready so she can walk across it back into your arms.”
“What do you mean by a ‘plank,’ Sheila?”
“Oh, I mean this: Your first plank can be a birthday card.”
“I sent her a birthday card and it came back marked ‘Return to Sender.’ unopened.”
“That’s hurtful, I understand. Send her another one. Send her a Christmas card. Send her a text. Think of excuses. Maybe you find a picture of you and her when she was little. Send her an e-mail with an attachment of the picture. Leave her a voicemail. Each one of those caring gestures is a plank. And being a bridge means you’re willing to be walked on. That means that, even if the love is not reciprocated, even when it still hurts, even when you receive no positive response back from her, you keep laying plank after plank of kind gestures because you want it to be easier for her to come home when the time is right.”
Sure enough, about a year and a half later, after April kept laying planks on her daughter’s behalf (I was so proud of her), her daughter stood on the other side of that bridge, and she started walking home back to mom. And April stood at the end of that bridge thinking, “Oh! I’ve been waiting for you.” And her daughter came running home to a hundred percent fully restored relationship. April is a bridge builder of the finest sort.
Some of you say, “Oh, but Sheila, I have regrets. I caused the chasm. I didn’t build bridges. I have done nothing to be a bridge builder and today I have regrets.” The good news is that God is here to help you bridge any chasm that you have in your life, and it begins with Him.
This final story illustrates this so beautifully. Once upon a time, there was a bridge master. It was his job to make sure that, when a tall ship came down that river, he would raise that bridge so the ship could pass through safely. It was also his responsibility to make sure that that bridge was lowered again to allow trains to come across that bridge. If he didn’t, when a train came full of people, it would plunge into the river. This bridge master had the life-and-death responsibility of raising and lowering the bridge.
The bridge master had a son. He loved his son. And the son loved the train. He was daddy’s little shadow. They would go to the train station; they would sit there and watch the people board the train – happy people, hurt people, lonely people, excited people, angry people, busy people, and lost people. And the little boy loved sitting there with his daddy and this daddy loved his son.
One day when the little boy was playing down by the river bank, he saw to his horror that the bridge was raised and the train was bearing down quickly on it. The little boy tried to yell to his dad to get him to lower the bridge in time before the train plummeted and people died. But his dad couldn’t hear him. His dad couldn’t see what was happening.
So the little boy went running toward the mechanism to pull the red lever that would close this bridge. But he lost his footing, tumbling down into the crevasse, the joint, in the bridge. His father, the bridge master, just happened to be looking out when he saw his son fall into that joint. Just then he saw the train coming, bearing down on the bridge, which was up.
The bridge master had to make a choice. Would he pull the lever and cause that bridge to close and crush his little boy, or would he leave it open and allow the train, carrying all the people, to plunge into the river, causing so much death. That was his choice. The bridge master chose to pull the lever. He chose to sacrifice his son for the people.
The bridge master is your heavenly Father. He sent His Son Jesus. He sent Him for you and for me. The cross is the ultimate plank in laying bridges. That bridge, the cross, was created so you and I can have eternal life, so that we can cross the chasm between us and our heavenly Father. We can cross that bridge, we can have peace, we can have shalom within and amongst others.
Today, I invite you to join with me because we receive that shalom. We receive that peace. We receive that from our God the Father and we give it to others. Today, to demonstrate we are a church united, stand where you are and join hands. We’re going to build a bridge here in this church. And I don’t want a single person left out. Go wherever you need to go to find a hand. Take a hand and make a bridge because we are bridge builders. Blessed are the bridge builders. Blessed are you when you spread shalom. Blessed are the bridge builders. You are called the children of God. Make sure everybody has a hand.
Thank You, thank You, heavenly Father. Thank You for that supreme and ultimate sacrifice of Your Son. That cross, that bridge - we walk across that bridge, we walk across that plank to You, our heavenly Father. You are standing there on the other side. And we don’t see a Father looking at us, saying, “What took you so long?” You don’t say, “Oh man, how you’ve hurt Me.” You stand with arms open wide and say, “Oh, thank you, I love you.” Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

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  1. youngeone writes:

    Thank you Hour Of Power for this Encouraging ,Uplifting Hour .Thank you for all the years you have Faithfully Preached the Gospel to this tired old world , my prayers are with you in these uncertain days .

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/13/2012 00:36:07
  2. youngeone writes:

    Things seem to be changing at a fast rate----Dear SHEILA please take my thanks and blessings to your parents , I have been greatly blessed , my life has been changed and I have grown in my faith walk as I have tuned into Hour Of Power each week . The contribution that this ministry has made to my life has been on going , effecting my family , encouraging me in giving of both finance and time assistlng in church activities , various charities and mentoring at the local school . Yes "I FOUND A NEED AND FILLED IT . I FOUND A HURT AND HEALED IT." Please thank your parents for their faithfullness for obeying the CALL John 3:16 to preach the GOSPEL to all the world .

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/13/2012 15:13:50
  3. youngeone writes:

    I sent a message a few days ago ,some one has added a blue line to what I said ? -----,Dear SHEILA I wish you every success in the future and will very happily support you in any way I can , you are in my thoughts and prayers .

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/15/2012 01:55:58
  4. Glenda Goerzen writes:

    Hi Sheila, I enjoy watching your program when I can. However, it comes on when I am in church so I watch it on the internet. I am wondering what is happening. The last two Sundays, Robert has been on and it appears that these are previous programs. Are you no longer in the Crystal Cathedral? I miss seeing your father, you and your brother-in-law. Will you be discontinuing the broadcasts? I am praying that will not happen. So many times your messages have touched my life and I have printed them out and shared with others. Praying that God will be your strength in whatever lies ahead. If someone can reply to me, I would really appreciate that. Thank you.

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/25/2012 18:23:30
  5. youngeone writes:

    GLENDA , go to web site ---hope center of christ.

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/25/2012 19:51:29

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