My text this morning is from the book of Hebrews 11, chapter 1: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Stop right there. When Vince Lombardi would get together to train his team at the beginning of every year, he would come before these professional football players and he would stand with his hand and in his hand is a football. He said, "I'm here to train you. Okay to get started look at what I've got in my hand. This is called a football." He always started it that way.
In a book where ex-players told anecdotes, one said, "The worst game they ever played and they lost miserably, they got to the locker room and the coach said, ‘don't wash the mud off, don't take your clothes off, don't take your shoes off, you follow me.' And he took them back into the corner of the field where it was muddy and then he put his hand in the air and he held the football. He said, 'You need more training, for starters, this is a football.'
Let's get to the basics. This Bible, this is a Bible. This is the Word of God. The text: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." There's a reason why hope is right between faith and love. You can't have faith and you can't have love without hope in the middle.
How to keep hope alive: think right, pray right, live right, do right and you'll be right. Optimism comes if you know there's no guilt in your heart and soul.
This morning with the left hand, I want to give you the five principles of what this ministry stands for. Ministries have their distinctive contributions to make and you can go to the different denominations and the different independent churches and the different expressions of faith in this world and if you look at them carefully, they're probably all after the same thing, but each one has its distinctive emphasis. So do we. I would summarize it in five points on the left hand this morning.
Take another five. What is this ministry focused on? Well with five things and if you get these five points, you will be a hope filled person, then you will be a faith motivated person, and then you will be secure internally so you will be a loving personality.
The five principles. First, become aware of the fact that you’re a person and not just a part of people. This ministry tries to turn people into persons. There’s quite a difference. The vast majority of human beings see themselves as part of people, more than as persons. And a person is somebody who is aware of the fact that he or she makes decisions that the community cannot make for them. It's private. It's personal, and it's called personhood. That's principle number one.
Think for yourself! I came back from China. I was the first person to allowed to conduct a seminar in a hotel and invite the people to come. No one else had ever been approved. I broke ice. It was in Nanking. And the communist governor was there, but it wasn't easy. I had to submit in writing what I was going to talk about and it went through a variety of layers and almost got torpedoed because they had a problem when they heard that I was telling people to "think."
Hear this: We don't want people to think. We want them to learn. We want them to listen, we want them to obey, but if people are motivated to be individual persons and they all think for themselves, we got a billion people here. We're going to have anarchy.
The ministry that we teach comes from the Old Testament and the New Testament and every individual soul was designed by God to be a distinctive person. You do your own thinking. You make up your minds. That's why in this church we don't indoctrinate you we try to educate you so you'll ask the right questions. We don't try to brain wash you, we try to liberate your imagination to think creatively and that's the heart of real Christianity.
Number one: Personhood. Two: then we turn you into a manager of ideas. We are a great part of the management stuff that's going around the world today, but we have something distinctive. We teach something that is distinctive from what's taught in management in universities. You can go to universities and study courses on how to manage money. Good. How to manage time. Good. We focus on how to manage ideas. That's crucial. That's basic. This is football!
Number one, become a person. Number two, learn how to manage the ideas that come into you head. Don't miss a great idea when it comes. I was thinking of the time I taught philosophy and psychology in Chapman College in a summer school and it was on a cruise ship. And we had among the faculty; there was a Grandma Finley who was 86 years old. She was peppy, she was jubilant, she was a person. I'll tell you, she was a person. Not just a part of the people. And when we landed in New Zealand, rumors about her got out and there was a press conference like you can't believe and they all wanted to talk to Grandma Finley, and they said, "Well Grammy you're 86 years old, I suppose this is your last trip?" She said, "Oh, I hope not. I don't think so. I belong to the CMT club."
I had heard her mention that once or twice but didn't want to expose my ignorance because she sounded like everybody knew about the CMT club so I put two and two together. I knew what it meant; it meant Chapman's Mature Travelers.
So she said, "I belong to the CMT club." And they said, un-embarrassingly, "What is the CMT club?" And she answered immediately, "It's Can't Miss a Thing." Wow!
I spent a few hours with Sir John Templeton, one of my dear friends. And I said,
"What are you doing these days."
"Well," he said, "I'm preparing a new lecture on humility." I said, "Good, just realize that humility is not the opposite of pride."
He said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "Well the opposite of pride is not humility."
The truly humble person is not ashamed of his humility, he feels good.
And then he said, "But the Bible says that pride is the beginning of the fall."
I said, "A better translation would be egotism always proceeds the fall."
Egotism is damnable, demonic and very destructive. That's the difference. Be proud of who you are. We teach become a person. That's transferrable. We teach believe in ideas and manage them effectively. That’s real leadership. Idea managers. That’s good. It can be taught. Then you become proud of how you handled the dreams God gives you, yes. And then you become a possibility thinker! And you welcome impossible dreams that God is sending to you. It’s fantastic.
And five: you recognize the presence of God at all times. It’s all around you. You go through a hurt, you turn the radio on and you hear a song, or someone drops a word, and it’s just what you need to hear. Or you get a telephone call, or you get a letter, recognize the presence of God. He’s around you all the time. You’re a person, you’re managing ideas, you’re proud of who you are and what you’re doing. You are practicing possibility thinking. Yes, nothing is impossible.
Wow! This ministry, the big five, become a person, don't just be a people. Learn to manage ideas. They're good and bad. Go for them. Three, be proud of what you're doing and what your goals are and where you're going. Four, become a "possibilitizer." Unbelievable, you'll just start your own. And finally, remember, God is with you all the way. And you say, "You know I'm beginning to be a believer in God, but how do I visualize Him. I don't know to imagine Him." I'll tell you how. Just imagine Jesus Christ. He came to this world to make God real and we were told .. He said it, He said, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." So if you want to see God in your head or in your imagination, see Jesus Christ and follow Him. Embrace Him as your Savior.
Let's pray: O Lord, You are really doing a good thing in us. You are giving us hope and the good feelings we experience, it is Your presence within our personality that gives us these up moods we can identify it. It is a good spirit, it is a Holy Spirit, it is the presence of God. Hallelujah. Amen.