By Pastor Jack Hyles: I read biographies a great deal. Especially in the early, formative days of my ministry, so very often did I read biographies. I have read about the lives of most great men. One of my favorite characters in all of history is General William Booth. General Booth was the founder of the great Salvation Army, when it was more salvation than it was army. He led in spreading the Gospel over much of the world, as he organized street meetings and evangelistic services.
With the passing of the years, General Booth became an invalid. His eyesight failed him, and one year he was in such bad health that he was unable to attend the Salvation Army Convention in London, England. Somebody suggested that General Booth send a telegram or a message to be read at the opening of the convention. General Booth agreed to do so.
When the thousands of delegates met, the moderator announced that General Booth would not be able to be present because of failing health and eyesight. Gloom and pessimism swept across the floor of the convention. A little light dispelled some of the darkness when the moderator announced that General Booth had sent a message to be read with the opening of the first session. He opened the message and began to read the following:
You recognized awhile ago the words of our Lord. No one ever exemplified the “others” life as did our Saviour. He never typified His life for others quite so beautifully and so clearly as He did when He was on the cross. As I have said from this pulpit several times, our Lord in dying on the cross, suffered as no man ever suffered, agonized as no man ever agonized, and hurt as no man ever hurt. His Father turned His back on Him. His own race had crucified Him. His own city had hated Him. His own people had nailed Him to the cross. Yet when our Lord opened His mouth on Mount Calvary, the first statement that He made had nothing to do with His own pain or His own suffering, but He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He did not speak of His own suffering. Before He ever cries, “I thirst,” He says, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” After awhile, He is going to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46) He will speak in the first person, but not yet. He speaks in the third person when He says, “Forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Before He speaks about His own suffering He says, “Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26) and “Behold thy mother!” (John 19:27) Before He says, “I thirst” or “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” or “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), He says, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Our Lord had learned the lesson that most of us never learn, and that is, to live as we ought to live, is to live for somebody else.
I don’t know who the person is tonight in this room who is the most miserable wretch here, but whoever he is, he lives for himself. I don’t know who it is tonight who is the most unhappy creature in this room, but whoever it is has never lost himself in service for somebody else.
I want you to notice the first three of our Lord’s sayings on the cross. In the first place He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus died loving others and forgiving them. He died loving others.
There sits at my right on this platform tonight, Brother Fisk. I kid him a great deal, but he’s one of the great, if not the greatest, personal soul winners alive today. He came to this church 14 years ago an unsaved person. He came during a big special contest drive. He heard me preach. He thought I preached too loud and too long. (I would never plead guilty to either.) Somebody said that C. W. Fisk didn’t like my preaching; I thought he’d never come back. The next Sunday, he came back. He walked the aisle and professed his faith in Christ as his Saviour. I couldn’t believe it! I went to him, shook his hand, and said something like this, although I do not recall exactly what I said: “I’m surprised to see you back; I thought you didn’t like my preaching.” He assured me in no uncertain terms that that was an accurate appraisal, and then he said, “I’ll tell you why I came back. After the service last Sunday, you placed your left hand on my shoulder and put your right hand in mine, and you said three words that no one other than my wife had ever said to me — ‘I love you.”‘ I wonder how many people will be in Heaven because the Holy Spirit inspired this preacher to say, “I love you.”
If there is a need among fundamental people tonight, it is for a baptism of love one for the other. Jesus died loving others. I love to tell this story, and you may as well love to hear it. I preached at Bob Jones University for a few days several years ago. I had to fly all night long. I had to leave this pulpit, and somebody met me at the back door and rushed me to O’Hare Field. The plane was to leave at 10:00 o’clock, and I got there a few minutes before 10:00. I’ll never forget it, because somebody had given me a sack of grapes to eat on the plane. I wish they would have wrapped the grapes in some kind of plastic or waxed paper. Because I was late for the plane, my shoe came untied and I lost my shoe. So there I was, a sack of grapes in this hand, a shoe and a suitcase in the other hand, running down to catch the airplane. Then the grapes decided they wanted to work their way through the sack! As a great crowd of people rushed to their airplanes, there were grapes rolling all over the concourse. There were “grapes of wrath” going everywhere, and wrath coming back toward me from the people.
I got on the plane; there was only one seat left and I felt led to take it. I sat down beside a little lady who had on a black sweater, a diamond pin on that sweater, and a beautiful diamond ring, but she had her hair rolled-up. Now anybody knows that no lady with any sense is going to take a trip with her hair rolled-up. I couldn’t understand it, because her hair was rolled up and she was wearing a diamond pin and a beautiful, gorgeous diamond ring. She was obviously wealthy, but obviously not prepared to travel. I sat down beside her, and as I usually do, I spoke to my fellow traveler. (I had the misfortune being reared in the South where folks are friendly, and did not learn that you’re not supposed to be friendly till I moved up here.) I said, “Howdy. How are you?” She said, “Fine. How are you?” We chatted for a few minutes, and then I went off to sleep. I slept for an hour.
I was awakened by the touching of the wheels on the runway at Cincinnati, Ohio. I stretched, woke up, and looked around. The little lady looked at me and she said, “Mister, could I ask you a question?” I said, “What?” She said, “How could you do what you did while you were asleep?” I thought, “Good night! What did I do while I was asleep?” I said, “Ma’am, what did I do?” She said, “Sir, we have been in a storm. This plane has almost turned over. It is the worst storm I’ve ever seen on a plane. One of the stewardesses got so scared she locked herself in the rest room. We had our heads in our pillows. Some folks have been praying aloud, and you’ve been over there snoring. How could you do it?”
I said, “Dear lady, there are two reasons, I guess. One reason is, I fly 150,000 miles a year on these planes; but the other is, my Father owns this airplane.’! “Your father owns this airplane?” “Yes,” I said, “He owns the Delta Air Lines.” She said, “Your father owns Delta Air Lines?” I said, “Yes, ma’am, and American Air Lines.” “Delta and American?” “Eastern and Allegheny, too.” “Your father owns Delta, American, Eastern, and Allegheny?” “Yes, and also Braniff, United, Northwestern and Ozark.” Her hair fell. She said, “I am so honored to be sitting beside the heir of the Delta, American, United, Allegheny, Braniff, Ozark, and Eastern millions.” I said, “Thank you.”
She said, “May I ask you a question, who is your father?” I said, “He’s the Father of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Then she screamed so loudly that everybody on the plane heard her. She sat up in her seat, pointed at me and said, “I know what you are!” She said it so loud that everybody was listening, “You’re a minister; that’s what you are!” I said, “I already knew that; but I’m more than that.
Then she screamed so loudly I’ll never forget it, “Mister, tell me one thing. Tell me, does your God love me, too?” Everybody on the plane heard her. Folks gathered around. They thought she was an emotionally disturbed lady. I said, “Yes, my God loves you, too, and I love you because He loves you.” As we were flying between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia, at 28,000 feet in the air I told her a wonderful story of love.
How many times have I told it from this pulpit through these years? Oh, thank God, it never grows old! For ten years in this auditorium I’ve preached from one Book, just one Book! I’ve preached from it all the time; it never, never growsold. At 28,000 feet in the air, my Father adopted her into His family and she was born of the Spirit of God. I thought about her shriek and cry. She told me a sad story. She told me how her husband, the manager of a manufacturing and mining company in Racine, Wisconsin, had just left her. She had just tried to kill herself. She rolled up the sleeve of her sweater and showed me the scars where she had taken a razor blade and tried to kill herself. They had found her almost dead. She said, “I have a sister in Atlanta, Georgia, who is a Christian. I was put on an airplane with the hope that I would find a reason to live. Of all the people that could have sat beside me, a minister of the Gospel would come!” She was sweetly saved at 28,000 feet in the air.
I was thinking tonight, “I wonder how many people wonder if our God loves them?” I hope I learn someday to live for other people. I hope I’ll learn what it is, before I see Him, to so bathe myself in service for others it won’t matter about self anymore. Oh, my friends! This is a heartsick, sin-sick old world. Everybody is weeping, and the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together. Everybody needs somebody to help them! There’s a great need. Do you want a job? Do you want something to do for God? Just try to help other people. Oh, my! Honestly, I mean it, I never go home late at night without wondering as I drive home after counseling and trying to help, “How many people out yonder in this great Chicago area could use some help?”
Yes, Jesus died loving others. That leads us to one of the sweetest things ever written in the Bible. Jesus is dying on the cross. He is God incarnate, the very God of gods, clothed in flesh, the preexistent, eternal Son of God on earth. He walked among men and now He is on the cross. This is the most important hour in the history of civilization — Calvary! All the rivers of history empty into Calvary. All the streams of prophecy find their source at Calvary. Look at Him. He’s dying. Look at Him! That’s the Son of God! Look at Him! He had fellowship with the Father before the world was. Look at Him! He’s virgin-born. Look at Him! He lived a sinless life. Look at Him! All the doctrines of justification, propitiation, sanctification, glorification and predestination — all the Bible doctrines are wrapped up in what’s going on right there on Calvary. If He comes down from the cross, we are doomed: If He stays there, we will live forever with Christ. Calvary!
Sh-h-h-h! He’s opening His mouth; He’s going to speak. God Incarnate is going to speak! He has a message for us; I wonder what it will be? I wonder if He will give us a dissertation on justification. Hey! Maybe He will tell us something about the great doctrine of predestination that none of us quite understands. Maybe He will tell us something about propitiation or about the heart of God. What is He going to say? Sh-h-h-h! Listen! I wonder what profound words will come through His lips? He is opening His mouth. “John, take care of Mama. Mama, John’s going to take care of you.”
There is something so sweet about that I cannot even walk through the garden without feeling that I have profaned the petals of the roses. Why wouldn’t He speak about a great doctrine? I’ll tell you why! When Jesus died, He wouldn’t say, “I thirst,” until He took care of His mama. (John 19:28) He died caring for the needs of others. After awhile He’s going to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” but not yet; first He wants to care for the needs of others.
Let me say this. You’ll never be happy, you’re barking up an empty tree; you’re running down a dead-end road; you’ll never be happy until you lose yourself! Forget yourself! Forget your own needs! Forget your own likes and dislikes! Bathe yourself in service for other people.
I think I am a happy man. I think folks who are around me know that I am rather happy. I enjoy life. If happiness were bought tonight by money in the bank, I would not be happy; I have no money in the bank. If happiness came tonight by a lack of enemies, I would not be happy; I have thousands of enemies. Whatever degree of happiness I’ve found, I’ve found it trying to help somebody else. “Help somebody today, somebody along life’s way.” That’s the secret!
There’s a lady — I think she’s in the auditorium tonight; if she’s not, she usually is — who came to my office several years ago and said, “Pastor, I’m about to crack up.” (Now, that’s nothing unusual; all ladies are about to crack up, Every lady I know either just had a nervous breakdown or is having one now or is planning to have one as soon as she can work it into her busy schedule.) She said, “I’m about to crack up. Can you help me?” I said, “Yes; ma’am, I can help you.” She said, “How?” I said, .”Go bake some cookies.” She asked, “What does baking cookies have to do with my nervous breakdown?” I said, “Go bake some cookies and take them to some deaf people in our church. Spend an hour with them, telling them you love them. Tomorrow, bake a cake. Take that cake to some blind person. Spend a little while with that one. The next day, go down to the hospital with a dozen roses and go to each room in the hospital that has nobody visiting. Give a rose to the patient in that room and have a prayer with that one who has no visitors. Every day of your life spend at least one hour — at least one hour, at least one hour — forgetting yourself and thinking of others. That will take care of that nervous breakdown.”
I didn’t see that lady for awhile. It seemed like she was trying to avoid me. One Sunday morning after months had passed, I happened to catch her in the back of the auditorium. I called her by name and said, “How about that nervous breakdown you were supposed to have?” She said, “I got so busy I called it off.”
You could call yours off, too. Do you know what your trouble is? Self! Some body offended you. Somebody didn’t treat you right. Somebody mistreated you. You didn’t get what you were supposed to get. (If you got it, you wouldn’t be happy.)
I’m going to tell the story that I’ve told so often here; I love it and it’s one of the best stories for closing a message. (Pat Paolucci, are you here tonight? I like to tell it when she’s here. She was probably in the early service this evening.) A little bus girl, nine years of age, walked down the aisle in the old auditorium and got saved one Sunday morning. I can still see her coat. (Some of you folks that knew Pat; you remember that she was sort of a tubby little girl. She’s always been tubby; she still is a little tubby. Since she’s not here, I’ll say that. Of course, the whole world will hear it on tape!) Her coat was made of imitation fur. After the service was over, nine-year-old Pat came and knocked on the door of my study. I went to the door and I said, “Can I help you?” She said, “I’m Pat. Brother Hyles, my Mommy ain’t saved. Would you pray that my Mommy would get saved?” I prayed for her mommy to get saved. The next Sunday morning after the service, there was a knock on my study door. I went to the door and it was little Pat, She said, “Brother Hyles, Mommy ain’t saved yet. Would you pray that Mommy would get saved?” I prayed. The next Sunday morning after the service, there was a knock on my study door. It got to where almost every Sunday, if not every Sunday, Pat would knock on my door. I’d know who it was and I wouldn’t want to answer the door. I would be busy; It didn’t matter whether I was praying or winning a soul or counseling, there would be a knock on the door. She’d say, “Would you pray that Mommy would get saved?” For almost nine years she came by and asked me to pray. I’ll never forget it.
One Wednesday night I walked out this side door and down the hallway behind the choir and right where you go to the door to go down the stairs, little Pat met me. She was 18 then. “Brother Hyles, could I have my senior appointment with you?” (As you know, I have a senior appointment with all the high school seniors and discuss their futures.) I said, “Pat, I won’t have to have a senior appointment with you because I know what I want you to do. I can tell you right now what you ought to do.” Pat said, “What?” I said, “I want you to go to a Christian college and prepare to serve God full-time.” She got mad at me! She put her hands on her hips, stomped her foot (nobody here stomps their foot at me, except Pat), and said, ‘Well, Mr. Hyles,” — Mister Hyles? (Oh, I’d rather call the pope “Pauly.”) Then she said to me, “You don’t even know who I am!” I said, “Yes, I do; you’re Pat. You’re one of our bus kids.” “Well, how do you expect a bus kid to afford to go to college?” she said. I said, “I’m sorry, Pat. I’m sorry, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a God?” Pat said, “There’s a God, and you know it!” (She was almost insolent! If we’d had a school, I’d have given her 150 demerits. I may do it any way and make them retroactive!) I said, “Pat, it would be wonderful if that God weren’t flat busted?” “He’s not flat busted; He’s rich and you know it!” she said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if He Weren’t such a tight wad?” Disgustedly she answered, “He’s not a tight wad; He’s generous and you know it!” “Oh? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if He loved little bus kids and would send them to college?” She got mad again. She put her hands on her hips and stomped again and called me, “Mister Hyles,” again. She said, “Mister Hyles, for your information, there is a God and He is rich and He is generous and He loves bus kids, and for your information, I am going to college!” We knelt right back there in that hallway right by the top of those steps and we prayed down a college education for Pat that night!
Eight weeks after that, Pat met me right here after a Wednesday night service. Her hand was full of green bills. She was crying. She said, “Brother Hyles, I have $200.00 here that people who don’t even know me have given me! There is a God, and He loves me, and He is generous! He’s rich, and I’m leaving for college tomorrow at 12:00 noon on a Greyhound bus.”
The next day I got the staff together — we had 15 folks on the staff at the time; some of the folks will remember this. Our staff got on one of the old church buses that Pat had ridden on for nine years. We rode down on Conkey Street where Pat lived. Just a short while before she was to leave, we called her out to our bus and gave her a personal shower on the bus. I never will forget it. One of the ladies on the staff bought her a…. Two of the ladies on the staff went together and bought her a pair of…. One lady bought her a… (You see, it was a personal shower.) After she had opened all the ‘presents she said, “Brother Hyles, there is a God. He loves me and He’s rich and He’s generous. Brother Hyles, I love you so much; you’ve fed me and clothed me and prayed for me.” Pat went off to school.
Her mother got saved the next Sunday right here in this auditorium! Five months passed. The folks on the staff will remember this. I got a long-distance call from Pat in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (The little stinker called me collect, would you believe it?) “Hello. Long-distance calling collect for Reverend Jack Hyles.” “This is Brother Hyles.” “Brother Hyles, this is Pat. I’m so happy. I wanted you to know. Brother Hyles, this is the happiest day of my life. I wanted you to know first; I haven’t told my mother, yet. I haven’t told my father, yet. I wanted you to know first; I haven’t told my sister, yet.” I said, “You haven’t told your pastor yet, either.” She said, “Brother Hyles, a preacher just proposed to me. I’m so happy.” I put the phone on the desk — didn’t hang it up, but put it on the desk; I felt a spell coming on. When I have a spell, I always take off my shoes. I took off my shoes and jumped around the room, clapping my hands and saying, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” My mind went back to the morning when a little nine-year-old girl got saved. I remembered the little meeting we had nine years later in the hallway behind the choir. I heard Pat’s voice on the phone saying, “Brother Hyles, Brother Hyles, Brother Hyles!” I went over to the phone and said, “What is it?” She said, “This is costing money.” I said, “Don’t forget, honey, it was collect!” I put the phone down and clapped my hands some more and rejoiced and praised the Lord.
The next June I stood right here on this platform, and a young man stood right here beside me. Down that stairway the bride came — a bus kid, just a bus kid. She walked down the aisle and we slobbered through a ceremony together.. (I slobber through everything I do.)
She was married.
After the ceremony, she said, “Brother Hyles, aren’t you going to preach at Highland Park in Chattanooga at Tennessee Temple School this summer?” I said,. “Yes.” She said, “Would you come to our little apartment and let me fix you a meal? I would just love to have you.” I said, “Why, sure.”
So later that summer on a Friday at noon, I walked up an old stairway to second-floor apartment of a married college student. It was summertime; the screen door was closed, but the main door was open and I heard Pat say, “I wish I could die!” I didn’t think it was that bad to have me over to eat; I couldn’t understand what the deal was. Again she said, “I wish I could die!” So I decided to wait and see why she wanted to terminate her existence. I listened and she said these words to her husband: “I burned the steak! I wanted to serve Brother Hyles a good meal, but I burned the steak and I don’t want to live.”
Soon I said through the screen door “I’m here!” She said, “Come in.” I went in; nobody as yet had come to the door, I was just standing by myself in the other room. I called to her and said, “Pat, what are we having for lunch?” She said, “Steak.”‘ I said, “Pat do me a favor.” “What?” “I like my steak burned. Would you put my piece back in the oven and just burn it slightly, please?” I heard her say, “Praise the Lord!” So, we had a lovely meal. Pat and her husband and I had an enjoyable meal. My steak was highly baptized with ketchup, but we had a lovely meal. When it was all over, Pat said, “Brother Hyles, we bought you something.” She gave me a little gift-wrapped package. I opened it. It was a little notebook; you’ve seen these little plastic notebooks that cost a dollar. I’ll tell you why I know; because the price tag was still on it. (When you buy a gift that “expensive,” you ought to leave the price tag on it.) I opened it and they were so pleased and I was so pleased. (I still have the notebook. I wouldn’t trade it for the Taj Mahal.) Pat said, “Brother Hyles, there is a God, He is rich, He loves bus kids, and He is generous. Brother Hyles, I love you and I appreciate you.” After I left I sang. (I can’t sing! When I sing, the angels weep and Heaven’s flag is flown for three days at half-mast.) I was singing and crying,
Elizabeth Barrett was an invalid and for many, many months didn’t even lift her head off her pillow. One day Robert Browning came to see her. On his first visit, she lifted her head for the first time in months. On his second visit, she sat up in bed. On his third visit, she eloped with him. Others! Others!
Jesus — God Incarnate, the preexistent Son of God becoming flesh — with all the sins of all the universe, of all the world, heaped up on his shoulders, suffered as no man ever suffered! He saw the back side of the Father for the first time in eternity, but He said, “John, take care of Mama. Mama, John’s going to take care of you.” He said to the thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” He died saving others.
I’ve been your pastor over 15 years — over ten of them have been in this auditorium. There is one thing I want my people to do — I want you to forget yourself! I want you to be happy. I want you to live the victorious life. I don’t want you to be miserable. I want you to be happy. God knows I do. I want the best for you. You are my people. I love the words, “preacher” and “pastor.” You’ve got me so spoiled, it’s pitiful. Between services tonight I said, “I wish I had something to eat; I need a little energy.” I opened the office door and saw a little package of peanuts that somebody had left me. Here’s the sweet thing about it — and Jesus is this way — I said, “How can I eat the peanuts? The skins and pieces of nuts will stay in my teeth and bother me when I’m preaching!” Whoever gave me the peanuts had thought about that, too. There was a little piece of Dentyne chewing gum that I could chew so the leftover pieces of nuts would stick to the gum. The Lord’s that way and you’re that way. Somebody left me three tomatoes. That’s the way it is all the time! There was a note from a little girl saying, “I love you.” Little boys write notes and say, “I’m glad you’re my Preacher.” So, I want the best for you.
Listen to me. I know that when I’m not happy, it’s because of selfishness; and I know when you’re not happy, it’s because of selfishness. It be a wonderful thing if we could so live that the theme song of our lives would be “Others.”
“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” “Mama, John’s going to take care of you. John, you take care of Mama.” “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
I’d like to close my ministry some day from behind this pulpit with one word to my people: “OTHERS! Signed, Your Pastor.”
[box] by Dr. Jack Hyles[/box]