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Posts tagged ‘Jim Penner’

Schuller Discusses What Went Wrong at Crystal Cathedral.

Robert A. Schuller
Robert A. Schuller

The Crystal Cathedral is no more, at least not in the form that it has been known for decades. The bankrupt church has a new name and a new pastor.

Now that the dust is settling, Robert A. Schuller, the son of televangelist Robert H. Schuller, is speaking out. Schuller was groomed to become the pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and for many years was part of the weekly television broadcast, The Hour of Power.

But Schuller says he was forced out in 2008. From there, he sat on the sidelines and watched as the rest of his family suffered through a painful ordeal last year. Charisma News caught up with Schuller, author of the new book When You are Down to Nothing, God is Up to Something, in the first of this two-part interview to discuss what went wrong.

Charisma News: The drama at the Crystal Cathedral seems to have started years ago. You left in 2008 and word is that you were forced out. What happened there?

Schuller: There was a board meeting on July 9, 2008. The board decided to make my brother-in-law Jim Penner* my boss. In September he decided that my sermons were “not anointed” and he couldn’t air them on The Hour of Power. In October he told me I could preach any time other than Sunday mornings. With that I resigned.

Charisma News: Over the last year or so we’ve seen a lot of unfortunate circumstances at the Crystal Cathedral. Is there a connection?

Schuller: The church went into bankruptcy about two years later. That’s pretty fast, if you ask me.

Charisma News: Went wrong at Crystal Cathedral? Was it also an issue with the board? It seems like I hear a lot about “the board” in news reports.

Schuller: Before I left, I was in the process of moving the Crystal Cathedral into a Carver Policy Governance model, which is basically a model of pure governance. There are many corporations which have adopted this model. It is a very good way to govern any institution whether it’s for profit, nonprofit, church or secular. If you’re going to have board members, the board members have to be free from conflict of interest. I think there were people who were very threatened by the transition and couldn’t allow that to proceed. They were very sensitive to that so they made sure that didn’t happen.

Charisma News: So where are you directing your energies now?

Schuller: I had to reinvent myself from a television preacher to something else. I’m a chairman of a Youtoo social network. Since I left the Crystal Cathedral, we started a fund to acquire two television networks. We acquired FamilyNet in February of 2008 and since rebranded that as Youtoo. It’s available through most Time Warner networks. We have developed television software which allows individuals to really connect with television. They can create 15-second fame spots next to what we put on television.

Charisma News: How difficult was that transition?

Schuller: It was very difficult emotionally and spiritually. I had to go through a crash course in education as far as business practices and principles because they’re really quite different from what I was used to. I was used to raising money simply by going on television and saying, “Hey, help me out.” You’re not allowed to do that when you’re raising funds for a corporation or private placement money.

In addition to that, I had to come to grips with my relations with my family and with other people. So it was a very, very difficult time. I like to use the illustration of a tapestry when it comes to living. When we look at the back of the tapestry we see a bunch of strings and knots and it’s hard to understand why things are the way they are. But the time will come when we see the other side of the tapestry and we realize all things work together for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.

Charisma News: What was that the biggest lesson that you learned through that transition?

Schuller: There are many lessons. Clearly the one that summarizes it and puts it all together into one package is “When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something.” And that was something I held on to and something that I clung to—the promises of God.

That process for me started with the prayer of Jabez. The prayer of Jabez starts out “Enlarge my territory and then bless me indeed.” But I didn’t focus on that part of the prayer. What I actually focused on was the second part of the prayer, which few people pay attention to. That part of the prayer is “Keep me from evil that I may not cause pain.”

My first goal when I left the Crystal Cathedral was to believe in such a way that I did not cause any pain to the Crystal Cathedral or anything that was happening there. My second goal then was to discover where God was leading me and how I could best use my talents and gifts to further the kingdom of God without interfering with whatever is taking place at the Crystal Cathedral.

*Penner could not be reached for comment.

In part two of this interview, Schuller discusses how hard it was to watch his family lose so much during the bankruptcy and subsequent fall out at the Crystal Cathedral.


By Jennifer LeClaire.

Crystal Cathedral Relocates, Rev. Schuller Resigns.

Robert H. Schuller
Robert H. Schuller

The financially struggling Crystal Cathedral will be getting a new name and a new location, the church’s pastor announced over the weekend.

The ministry will now be called Hope Center of Christ, Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a brief video posted on the church’s website Saturday. The megachurch’s new location will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

The news comes amid more upheaval among the church’s leadership.

On Saturday, founder Dr. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, announced they were stepping down from the church board.

The couple’s daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, explained that her parents have been embroiled in a legal conflict with the board over copyright infringement and back payment for services.

The Schullers had made numerous offers to settle the claims, but the board informed the couple Tuesday that they “had no interest in continuing their dialogue.”

“We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere, especially since it now seems that it will not be ending anytime soon,” Arvella Schuller said Saturday in response to the board’s decision.

“We were optimistic that a solution was close at hand which would be mutually beneficial to the Schullers and the ministry,” Arvella said.

Also, last week the cathedral fired Schuller’s daughter, Gretcher Penner, producer of the Hour of Power, and her husband Jim Penner, the show’s executive producer. Jim Coleman, husband of Sheila Schuller Coleman, Schuller’s other son-in-law, also lost his job as director of creative services.

Church officials explained the move was part of an effort to revamp the television program, which reached millions of American viewers on a weekly basis.

The shake ups come as little surprise to those familiar with the ministry’s drawn-out financial and legal struggles.

Two years after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the main campus in Garden Grove, Calif., is now owned by Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County.

“No matter what, God is still God,” Robert H. Schuller said. “No matter what, God is still a good God. God loves you and so do I.”



Crystal Cathedral Fires Three Schuller Relatives.

Crystal Cathedral
Crystal Cathedral (Wattewyl)

The Crystal Cathedral has confirmed that it fired three relatives of the Rev. Robert Schuller, the megachurch‘s founder, on Tuesday.

The decision was a part of an effort to revamp the church’s weekly television show, the Hour of Power.

The broadcast once reached millions of people, but both donations and viewers have been on the decline.

Schuller’s daughter, Gretcher Penner, producer of the Hour of Power, and her husband Jim Penner, the show’s executive producer, were both dismissed.

Jim Coleman, husband of Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, Schuller’s other son-in-law, also lost his job as director of creative services.

Organizational changes affecting ministry leaders are never easy to make, especially when it involves individuals who have devoted their lives to this ministry and have served with great distinction,” John Charles, president of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, said in a statement.

“This was a very difficult decision the Crystal Cathedral Ministries board of directors prayerfully deemed was necessary in order to make a change in direction for the Hour of Power and reverse recent declining donations and viewership,” he said.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, Calif., recently purchased the property after the ministry declared bankruptcy.



Evidence of Success?.

Speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” -Titus 3:2

Years ago when I was in college, I was a young man running as hard as I could away from God.I was angry – angry at life, angry from disappointments, and working very hard to feed that empty feeling in my gut with whatever the world had to offer.

During that time, one conversation in particular affected me significantly.

I’ll never forget sitting across the table from a fellow student I’ll call Mike.

The words that poured out of my mouth that day certainly reflected my state of mind.

“I don’t get it,” I said, “the hypocrisy of it all.

All these people claim to be Christians, yet they treat each other worse than most atheists I know.”

Mike just sat there and sipped his coffee as I continued my rant about the many things wrong with the church, and those who walked through church doors each week.

After I had cooled down just a bit, I finally said to Mike, “Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong.”

Mike just smiled and said, “No, you’re not wrong. Christians can be no better or worse than anybody else can.

They’ve just been forgiven. Whether someone chooses to let Christ change his or her life is a different question.

Some don’t.

They tuck their fire insurance policy in their back pocket and go on with life in whatever way they please.

Then there are the ones who truly take up their crosses and follow Jesus.

They are the lights of the world that Jesus talked about.

They stand out.

You see the evidence of that change all over their lives.

The fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control – permeate their lives.

It doesn’t mean they’re perfect; they just get up each morning hoping and trying to do what Jesus would have them do, and love the way that Jesus would have them love.”

Then he looked me right in the eye and said, “So, the question is, what kind of Christian do you want to be?.

Just forgiven – OR – forgiven AND changed?”

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Lord Jesus, change me.

You said to those who believe in You to take up their crosses and follow You. Lord Jesus, I’m Yours.

 Wherever you lead, I will follow.

Let all see the evidence of change in my life because of You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Do you feel forgiven by God?.

Since asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life, how have you increased in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control?.

Written by Jim Penner.

The Ultimate “Sonrise”

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” -Revelation 1:7

I love sunrises and sunsets.When I behold the magnificent spectrum of colors spreading across the sky, it is a feast for my eyes that warms my heart.

Yet, with each sunrise or sunset, I cannot help but wonder what it will look like when Christ returns.

Revelation says that, “Every eye will see Him.”

That means everyone.


My wife and daughter, who have accepted Christ, and also my neighbor who hasn’t.

I know on that day I will be rejoicing because Christ has returned, but I also have a feeling that my heart will ache for the neighbor I didn’t get to know better.

The neighbor I was too scared to talk with about Jesus.

The one I was afraid would laugh at me for my faith.

I won’t sugarcoat it – doing the work that Jesus has called us to can be hard at times.

You open yourself up to criticism and ridicule.

And that only grows when you say “yes” to full-time ministry because, when times are tough, you take public blows from a crowded field of second guessers.

Yet, what drives me each morning to continue to do God‘s work is picturing the look on my neighbor’s face when Christ returns, a look that says, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Perhaps you never thought you could be God’s instrument of change in someone else’s life.

Oh, how wrong you are.

Today, you can choose be the ambulance driver that brings someone you know to the Master Physician, God Almighty.

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Lord Jesus, show me the person You want me to introduce to You today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Name loved ones and acquaintances who need to know more about Jesus.

How will you model for them the love of Christ today?.

Written by Jim Penner.

Turn on the Power.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” –1 Timothy 1:7

Many years ago, I saw a film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a high-energy action film created to entertain the masses.One scene in this film hit me with one truth that I’ve never been able to wipe from my mind.

A large table holds dozens of ornate cups, each representing a goblet Christ could have used at the last supper.

Most are shiny gold with precious stones inlaid into the sides or bases.

Yet, the film’s star bypasses them all, reaches for a simple cup that appeared to be carved out of wood, and says, “This looks like the cup of a carpenter.”

Indeed, the world expected the Messiah to come in glory, to be born in a royal household, to have the privilege of wealth.

Someone who would have a goblet inlaid with precious stones.

Instead, He was born in a manger and endured the hardships of life that you and I experience every day.

He knew hunger, He knew thirst, He knew what it felt like to lack resources, and to work with His hands to make a living.

Jesus lived this life because that’s what the Father asked of Him.

Yet, despite hardships, poverty, and no roof over His head to call His own, He looked people in the eye and said, “God loves you and so do I.

Let me show you how much.”

Always remember that the real power in your life is not in your means but in your knowledge.

Today you can take your eyes off your circumstances for you know Jesus and He knows you.

He knows what you are going through.

He lived it Himself.

He knows your hardships and says to be joyful and love anyway.

Frankly, your biggest battles in this life will not be fought against negative circumstances or people, but against the thoughts in your own mind.

Today, you can turn on the power and win that battle for your mind.

Invite Jesus in.

He is all you need.

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Lord Jesus, I feel in turmoil so much of my day.

I worry and I fear decisions, relationships, and lack of resources.

I feel as if I’m drowning in anxiety.

But You said, “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”

Today, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would penetrate my mind and give me the courage and strength to overcome these self-defeating thoughts.

Today, thanks to You, I’ve just won the battle for my mind.

 Let Your joy reign within me today! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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What causes you worry and fear?.

 When you think of Jesus, who is able to help in all circumstances, how do you feel?.

Written by Jim Penner.

What’s Happening While You Wait?.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry…” –Psalm 40:1

Like you, I’ve spent my life waiting – waiting to see a doctor, waiting for my turn to board a plane in a crowded airport terminal, waiting for someone to call, waiting in a checkout line at the grocery store.Some waits are mundane, some are outright boring, and some are filled with anxiety.

The real question is, what’s happening within us while we wait?.

How are we spending our time in that wait?

In that grocery store line, or that airport terminal, or that doctor’s office, are we spending time with the Lord?.

So much of our lives are filled with anxieties and worries, and yet, we have heard so many people say, “I have no time to pray, or read the Bible.

My life is too hectic.”

Yet, we all spend so much of our lives waiting here or there.

What if we would choose to spend those waiting times in prayer?.

What would happen to us while we wait?

I love Psalm 40:1 that says, “I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry.”

I love it because, just as I wait patiently for the Lord, the Lord is also patiently waiting for me to call on Him.

Our waiting times in life may just be the time that transforms our lives.

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Heavenly Father, in these quiet times of waiting in life, I draw near to You in prayer.

 Cradle me in Your loving arms as I worship Your Holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      *                *                  * 


What do you do while you wait?.

 Have you ever tried connecting with God – through prayer, worship, Bible-reading – during those times of waiting?.

Written by Jim Penner.

My Shepherd.


“I am the Good Shepherd.” –Jesus Christ, John 10:11

For the past twenty-three years, there has been a ten-inch by twelve-inch framed pencil drawing hanging in our living room of Christ holding a lamb.It belonged to my wife before we were married and was a drawing she always cherished.

The drawing itself is simple but the artist was masterful in his depiction of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

The drawing is done close up so that only the face of the lamb and the wrist and hand of Christ are seen cradling around the neck of the lamb.

Christ’s face is not even shown as He is lovingly nestled behind His sheep.

Over the years, I’ve looked at this drawing in passing.

Like so many times in life, sometimes we look but we don’t really see. You’ve been there.

You’ve looked at something for years and then one day you really look at it and the message comes through loud and clear.

Just a few nights ago, I glanced over at this drawing and for the first time really saw the drawing.

For the first time, I noticed the small pencil lines that formed a scar on Jesus’ wrist.

The lamb’s face may have dominated this pencil sketch, but now, tonight, the scar that Christ bore to rescue the lamb shone through to me above all else.

As we look forward to celebrating Christ’s resurrection at Easter in just a few weeks, remember the gift of all gifts that Jesus gave to you.

One day you will come face to face with Jesus and you will see those scars on His wrists as He stretches out His hand and says to you, “I love you…this much.”

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Lord Jesus, Oh how You love us with a love beyond measure.

We praise Your name, worship, and adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      *                *                  * 


Is there anything that you took for granted and then later re-discovered in a whole, new way?.

 Have you experienced a moment like this in your walk with Jesus?.

Written by Jim Penner.



“Into Your hands, I commit my spirit.” -Psalm 31:5

So often when Jesusspoke at critical times during His time on earth, He would quote scripture.In those final breaths on the cross, Jesus said in Luke 23:46, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

In these few words, Jesus declared that God, alone, is the final authority.

No matter what the circumstances are, God is the final word.

Jesus also declares that there is power in speaking God’s Word over our lives.

Just as David spoke these words over His life, and Jesus over His, so you and I today have the ability to speak God’s Word over our lives.

 In this quiet time with God, give Him the final authority over every breath you take.

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Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.

Mold me and shape me into the person You want me to be.

 All I am is Yours! Amen.

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When you speak God’s word out loud, how does it affect your life?.

 Change your attitude?.

 Lift your worries?.

Written by Jim Penner.



“He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” –Psalm 1:3

The greatest self-help booksever created by man cannot ensure what is declared in Psalm 1:3.Imagine having whatever you do prosper!Whatever you set your hand to flourish, be it relationships, finances, or health.

People would flock to the bookstores day and night to gain access to a book that would ensure such success.

Yet, God declares the prescription for ultimate prosperity for all to see just one verse earlier, in Psalm 1:2: “Delight in the Law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night.”

I have found one thing to be true in my life.

When I spend time memorizing and reciting scripture, or singing a worship song under my breath as I work throughout the day, there is suddenly no room for the troubles of the world.

The distractions of our troubled world melt as I worship God. So, if you find yourself spending far too much time battling fears in your mind or stressing over situations, simply delight yourself in the law of the Lord.

 Sing that worship song under your breath as you work, or recite your favorite scripture verses. Try learning some new ones. Tape them to your fridge, your mirror, the dashboard of your car.

Delight yourself in the law of the Lord and anxiety stands no chance against the power of our risen Lord!

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Heavenly Father, I WILL delight myself in Your word day and night.

Lord Jesus, You are all I need. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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What can you do each day to rise above the worries of the world and keep your mind focused on God?.

Written by Jim Penner.

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