#92 The Five Faces of Faith (31/08/03)

By Dr. Michael Guillen

Thank You so very much to Dr. Robert Schuller for inviting to give this morning's sermon. I'm humbled and over whelmed. This is an emotional moment for me that I can't even put into words. And my prayer is this: that the good Lord continue to bless Dr. Schuller, his son Robert Anthony, his entire family, the volunteers of the Crystal Cathedral ministry and each one of you members, continue to bless this ministry all over the world. That's my prayer and all God's children said; wow indeed.

Do you remember the first time you ever fell in love? I mean head over heels in love. Do you remember how that magical moment changed your life? I do. When I met Laurel my wife, everything in my life changed. Everything. It put a bounce in my step, it made me feel like WOW I was on top of the world. Everything changed over night. And by the way she still makes me feel that way. Can't imagine life without her. That's love. That's love.

And guess what: that's also true faith. That's today's headline. So let me repeat that. Having faith in God is like falling in love. It's a magical, mysterious, mighty force that changes your life, by my count five different and profound ways, one way for every letter in the word faith.

First off trust God like you've never trusted Him before and you will become fearless. Jesus Himself said to us in John 14:27,

"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

.   Guys, can you imagine being a seventy-five year old retiree living the good life in a place like Beverly Hills and then one day, one day you feel agitated. You feel God calling you to pull up stakes and move off somewhere to the boonies. Would you do it? Honestly would you do it? How would you explain it to your wife and your family? They would probably think you are going senile. But Abraham did it. Why? Because he trusted God. He trusted that inner voice that said to him, "Go and I promise you I will make you a great nation." That's the power of faith shaping a man's very sense of reality. That's the power of faith shaping a man's behavior. That's the power of faith making him fearless.
  Or take Mother Teresa. You know most of us hold our breath if somebody next to us sneezes. We're afraid to death of catching something and yet all her life Mother Teresa willingly and cheerfully ministered to people who had every contagious disease known to medial science. Why? Because she trusted the Son of Man when said in Matthew 25:34, "Come, take the kingdom that has been prepared for you because when I was hungry you gave me something to eat, when I was thirsty you gave Me something to drink and when I was stranger you let Me in." That's the power of faith shaping a woman's relationship to others. That's the power of faith making her fearless.
  Or finally take Mel Gibson, the movie actor, right at this very moment he's in Italy making a movie about Jesus in Jesus' original language, Aramaic, without subtitles. The Hollywood moguls think he's gone out of his mind and predict that the movie will be bust. Yet Gibson is determined. Why? Because he believes that God will bless his efforts. That's the power of faith making a person fearless.

Just one word of caution: be careful. Don't become like the guy, the so-called fearless believer who is determined to do God's will no matter what. So he opens up the Bible randomly and the first passage he comes to is this, "And Judas went out and hanged himself." A bit confused the guy tried again and this time the passage said, "Go and do like wise." Rattled by now the poor guy opens his Bible randomly one last time and this what he sees, "What you are going to do, do quickly."

So how do you tell the difference between fearless faith and reckless faith? How do you tell the difference? By being attuned to God's will. That's the second thing that happens to you when you have faith in God like you never have before.

Let me demonstrate to you what I mean. You've probably noticed over here a wrecking ball. And what's it doing in the Cathedral. Well I'll explain it to you in moment. It's fifty pounds of pig iron I want you to know and its usually use to demolish walls and buildings, but I have a different purpose for it in mind.

To make a point about being attuned to God's will, I'll explain that in a moment, but first the demonstration. I'm going to press this right up, smash it right up against my face three, two, one. I want you to note that I am not moving a muscle or blinking an eye.

Yes, there is a God. Okay, now what's that all about? First of all, kids don't do this at home! You adults don't do it either. That would be practicing reckless faith. It's taken me years of studying to become attuned to the behavior of swinging objects. Thank God for a little friction and a little air resistance. I understand and trust the laws of physics. And because of that, I'm willing to put my life on the line. I'm willing to stand my ground and look danger straight in the eye without flinching.

The same with God. It takes years of reading His word, of studying His creation, His beautiful creation to become attuned to His will. What does God want from you? Does He want you to make a big scary move, like Abraham, perhaps to another state, or a foreign country, or to a new job or career? Or does He want you to become selfless, like Mother Teresa? Maybe to take care of someone whose sick, or down on their luck, or maybe just plain lonely! Or does God want to face ridicule like Mel Gibson? By standing up for an unpopular cause, or an unpopular person, or for God Himself?

If you're attuned to God's will, if you understand what He wants from you, and you trust Him then you'll be willing to put your life on the line too. You'll be able to look at danger, dislocation and discomfort and derision straight in the eye, stand your ground without flinching.

Thirdly, the power of faith makes you insightful. You hear about good-luck, bad-luck. Forget about it. There's no credible evidence, scientific, spiritual, or otherwise that we live in a random purposeless universe? Just the opposite. The universe is lawful. It's orderly. It's meaningful. Everything, everything, everything happens for a reason. If only you have the insight to recognize it. Jesus said in John 12:46, "For I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness." And if you don't believe that, I mean really believe that, listen to this little story.

When I was a kid growing up in East Los Angeles, that's right, in the middle of the barrios of East Los Angeles, my family attended a group of churches, the largest Spanish speaking Pentecostal group in the world called the CLADIC. My father was the director of the seminary. My grandfather was the President.

One day the two had a terrible argument. I remember being in my bedroom and hearing the shouts. And dad resigned from the CLADIC the following morning. Just like that. Our whole world collapsed. Then when dad prayed, what now Lord? What now? Things got even crazier. Because God filled dad with an ambition to become, of all things, a lawyer. He was a minister, and God filled him with ambition to become a lawyer. And we said, Why? And we wondered how, dad had a wife and 3 children to support.

Looking at all that confusion straight in the eye, with fearlessness and a conviction that he was doing God's will, dad stepped forward in faith. By day he was a cabinetmaker. By night he went to law school. During the weekends, if he wasn't hold up in the law library, he was doing little extra jobs for a little extra money, and he would drag me along while all the other kids were playing on Saturday, I was with dad working to earn a little extra money.

It was a grueling insane schedule. But in the end Dad not only graduated from Law School, he passed the dreaded California Bar on the first try. And not only that he reconciled with my grandfather and became Chief Counsel of the CLADIC. Now you might think that's the end of the story, but it isn't. I've saved the best for last. The all-important insight didn't come until decades later. When the CLADIC found itself in a major crisis, because of a change in the Mexican Constitution, the CLADIC was suddenly in danger of losing all of its churches in Mexico. More than a hundred in all.

In 1990 the problem came to a head when the Mexican police actually threatened the President of the CLADIC to be arrested the next time he set foot in Mexico. That's when dad, by now in his late 60's, found himself exactly the right man, in exactly the right place, with exactly the right combination of experience and training.

Working with the Minister of Religious Affairs, he got the Mexican government to do an about face. In the end dad rescued all those CLADIC churches, and in the process protected the rights of the Mexican people to worship however and wherever they wanted.

Shortly after that incredible achievement dad died of Melanoma. He was only 72 years old. But God had been faithful. Have faith in God and you will become fearless in doing His work, attuned to His will, and insightful about His constant presence in your life.

Fourthly, trust God like you never have before and you'll become transcendent. You'll suddenly find yourself feeling, unbelievably relaxed. Like when you go away on vacation for a couple of weeks, except that in this case you don't suddenly feel tired as soon as you get back home. As Jesus said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. But not as the world gives do I give." Jesus' peace is transcendent.

It's like when the young man goes to meet his fiancee's parents. After dinner the future father-in-law escorts him into the study. "So what are your plans?" the father says.
"Well," says the young man, "I'm a theology student." "Oh, great" the father says. "But how will you earn a living?"

Calmly, serenely the young man says, "Oh, God will provide." And the father says, "But, but how will you afford having children, and raising children?"

Once again the boy said, "God will provide." Later that night the wife asks the husband how the conversation went, and he says, throwing up his hands up in the air, "Well, the kid has no money or jobs lined up, but on the other hand he does think I'm God."

When you trust God, I mean really put your confidence in Him. You'll find yourself transcending life's everyday worries. That's what Laurel and I are experiencing right now. It's very super natural. It's not that you're going to, you know, passively wait by for God to provide, and kind of give up on your own. No. No. No.

Becoming transcendent simply means that you're going to stop trying to control everything. Does that sound familiar? That's what transcendent means.

Let me try a little experiment on you. Take a look at this rosebud here. Suppose I asked you to figure out a way of opening up this rosebud without hurting, or tearing any of its delicate petals.
Now if you're a control freak and let's face it, we are all of us control freaks to some degree, you'll say, no problem. And then you'll proceed to tear your hair out trying to figure out how, right?

On the other hand, if you're a transcendent believer you'll approach the problem more serenely, more calmly. To start with, you'll water the plant. You'll fertilize it. You'll protect it from insects. You'll make certain it gets plenty of sunshine. And then you'll do something that control freaks would never think about doing. You'll turn to God for help. How about that?

For transcendent believers you see life isn't a solo act, it's a powerful collaboration. So, after doing their part, transcendent believers will wait for God to do His part, the part they know they can't do alone. In this case they'll wait for God's amazingly gentle hands to open the rose naturally.

Finally, what about the 5th change? Well, here it is. Trust God like you've never trusted before, and you will become healthier. That's right. Having faith in God is good for your health! According to a growing body of medical evidence, now listen to this, faith is like a miracle drug that helps prevent substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, depression, and suicide.

These are all documented in the literature. And that's not all. Compared to atheists and agnostics, sincere believers heal faster after surgery, have lower blood pressure, and live longer. That's the real biggy. In fact according to one major study, compared to atheists and agnostics, sincere believers who worship God regularly live seven years longer. Seven. Among African - Americans the difference is even more dramatic. Among Africans-American compared to atheists and agnostics, they live on the average 14 years longer. And that's just here on earth. As we all know these great health benefits carry on into the next life. That's the best news. As Jesus says in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." So there you have it. Something, something about this simple but sincere act of believing in God has the power to change our lives.

So this morning I ask you, each of you, who do you love? Who do you trust? I mean really trust, trust with your life? If your answer doesn't include God, if your answer doesn't put God at the very top of the list, if you don't trust Him will all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul, then dear friend take it from me, you are not connected to the most powerful force in the universe.

That's why here and now I want to urge you, if you haven't already, dare to take that first step. Dare to seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and then all these things we've talked about will be given to you as well. Fearlessness, attunement to God's will, insight into His ways. Transcendence, and yes health like you've never had before.

Dare to have faith in faith. Dare to trust your Heavenly Father and you'll see for yourself it's every bit as exciting as falling in love and just as profound. Thank you so very much. May God bless each and every one of you.

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