AOSSM lecture July 13, 2019

7/13/2019: This is the manuscript of lecture I was unable to deliver due to minor health reasons restricting flying.

Taking an Act of Faith on to a Tangible Reality

Before I start, I need to tell you my favorite golf story. I have spent 10 years as putting instructor on the PGA tour, so I know quite a few players. A couple of years ago Jay Haas came up to me and asked could we have our picture together. I was surprised because it is usually the other way around. I inquired as to the reason. He said he was at his orthopedic surgeon’s office recently and asked if he knew me. Jay told him he had lunch with me a few weeks before. The orthopedic surgeon told Jay he must be mistaken as Dr. Lanny Johnson is so old, he must be dead. You probably had lunch with his son. Jay wanted the photograph to email to his doctor to verify that Lanny Johnson was still alive.

I have a Judeo-Christian Biblical world view. The God I am referring to is not generic. He is the Lord God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the one who is manifest as Jesus of Nazareth and is present today as the Holy Spirit.

It may surprise you that I have never believed in the Bible. Where I went to Church as a youth they always preached, “You must believe in the Bible.” Even then as now, I think the Bible is unbelievable. Some statements were confusing like “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”. In retrospect I wondered if this passage was the precursor to the present-day concept where every child in sports gets a trophy; the last shall be first.

As a result, I would not ask you or anyone else to believe in the Bible. It might seem I am not exercising faith. I see it differently. I see what is written the Bible as a potential hypothesis to be tested. The hypothesis for this morning is “Can I take Him at His Word?”

A short spiritual autobiography will explain how I came to this way of thinking. I had a born-again experience when I was twelve years old. For the next 22 years I was a fundamental legalistic Christian. I thought the Ten Commandments were written for me and others to fulfill. I tried to live according to the admonitions in the Bible. I finally reasoned that with all my failures I was a hypocrite. I further reasoned, why fight it? I would likely feel better if I just lived a life of outright sin. At least I would not be a hypocrite like all the others in the church. I walked away from God at age 34. As the Bible says, sin was pleasureful for a season, but the season ended. I became manic depressive. The manic phase was more fun than you an image. I entertained myself and everyone I was running with, but not my family. While I was still high, I reasoned within myself, “If this is so super, why do I feel so bad?” Pause and think about that.
That is a common question for others in a similar state to be asking. Maybe you have or are asking, “If this is so super, why do I feel so bad?”

Then I hit the depression phase. That was so painful I wanted to make a change. I looked back and realized the manic season started when I walked away from God. So, I ran back to Him. I made several requests of God upon my return.
• I wanted to get delivered from the manic depression.
• If possible, I wanted my life to be exciting.
• I wanted to know God’s will for my life, and it had to be plain as black and white.
• I wanted the power to do it.

Here is what happened. I was verified mentally ill. At the time I was not going to church but was reading the Bible almost full time. I read where the disciples laid hands on the maniacs and they recovered. It also has a passage that said physician heal thy self. So, I tested this hypothesis. I put my hand on my head and prayed in the Name of Jesus to be delivered from manic depression. I was instantaneously and permanently healed with confirmation by everyone including my psychiatrist. No recurrence in 46 years.

I learned God’s will is written as plain as black and white in the Bible. I then received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which makes available the power to do his will. I now have an exciting life without the agitation of a manic but accompanied with peace. I previously had a religion and now I have a relationship.

In an ideal relationship, I would like to be able to take the other person at their word. We have sayings like, “He is good as his word.” “His word is good”. We have expressions like; “If he says it, you can count on it or you can take it to the bank.” It is interesting that this concept is in the Bible. It is written that God differs from man as he is not a man that he should lie. Unlike man, you can trust what is written.
God goes a little farther concerning the importance of a person and their word. It is what is spoken must be true, but it is more than that. A person and their word are one in the same. I repeat; a person and their word are integrated, one in the same. This concept is so important that the Bible records that everything started with His Word, when it is written “in the beginning was the Word (a.k.a Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God Himself”. Then the “Word became flesh” in as Jesus of Nazareth so we could see God in the natural realm and relate to Father God in His spiritual realm. This concept is unbelievable.

I explore the unbelievable by forming hypotheses. I do not believe it as this stage as I have no supporting evidence. I must test the hypothesis in the laboratory of my life. To start with I am going to think, act and behave as though it is true. At this stage it is nothing more than an idea and I am going to act upon it to see if it can be validated. It is the same definition of faith one has when they buy an airplane ticket. You agree with the terms of the contract to the extent you board the plane. That takes faith. The more you fly without incident, the more faith you have in flying. It is the same way one exercises faith in the Bible. I will give some examples of agreement with and acting as though it were true.

This way of thinking helped me come to understand what made no sense to me, the Biblical definition of faith.(Heb 11:1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I found it puzzling that a definition of faith could include substance and evidence. I continued testing this hypothesis about substance and evidence before the resultant reality.

I approach this faith walk, based on the Bible the same way we approach evidence-based outcomes in medicine. I want God to be a tangible reality to me. I continue to test the hypothesis of what is in the written Word.

This is a way for Jesus to become more of a tangible reality in your life. Unlike most research projects in which one tests a hypothesis with an unpredictable outcome, it is not so with the Word. It states, “seek and you shall find”. With that guarantee in hand, I suggest you test the following hypotheses to confirm the Word and the tangible reality of Jesus, the Word who was made flesh.

You should start with some simple ones to execute and easily see the evidence. In the natural you have heard, what goes around comes around. In Bible language that is what so ever a man shall sow, so shall he reap. You will not sow soybeans and reap corn. It will be a harvest of like kind. If your present harvest in life is not to your liking, you need to think about when you planted it. If you find people are very critical of you, then maybe it because you have a very critical spirit. Worse yet you may be unduly critical of yourself and thereby others are given permission to get in line behind you to criticize. You need to pray for a crop failure.

You know the Golden Rule is in the Bible. The importance of testing this as a hypothesis is so that you get back the good you did to others. If not immediately, it will come. There is a backup to this provision in the Word and that is what you do for others, God will do for you. (Eph 6:8)

To see a cause and effect, I suggest you start by yielding way to other cars on the highway. Allow them have space to go ahead of you. At a stop sign, wave them to go ahead of you. Stop short of the car in front of you to allow another car to enter from a driveway. Allow another to have a parking space you had your eye upon. Now patiently wait for the outcome evidence.

I purpose to give something away every day. The Word says that give and it will be given unto you; pressed down, shaken together and running over. This giving is for God’s purposes and investing in the kingdom of heaven. That is true in every realm, including giving time to others. But to make it more tangible to see the evidence I suggest you do it with money. There are many similar potential hypotheses. “A generous man will prosper.” “He who waters will be watered.” I have tithed since I was 12 years old. The title is ten percent of my gross income. The Word says God would like to be tested on this principle. He says to try me in this and see if I do not open the treasures of heaven and pour out blessings to such an extent you will not be able to contain them. They will be in every realm including money. I know. I have proven this hypothesis. There is another side of the coin explained here, one which you do not want to test. That is if you do not do this, you will be cursed with a curse. That is curse to the second power.

I have laid up many treasures in heaven. I also have the evidence-based outcome here on earth. I encourage you to test this hypothesis. When it comes to money it will take lots of faith; i.e.; hypothesis testing with a pure motive. We do not give to get. We give and the consequence is receiving. Also note that the harvest is in the same measure that you plant. If you give very little, you will reap very little.

There are more difficult personal hypotheses for testing. The Word says that we are to forgive, or you will not be forgiven. WOW! How can you do this when only you know how serious was the offense? It has been said that keeping a grudge is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. This experiment may take you longer to launch. However, when you do you will have peace. I will give you a preventive medicine from the Bible to test. It says, do not take into an account a wrong suffered. Let it go. If you do not, you will move on to unforgiveness. Persistent unforgiveness leads to a root of bitterness. This is a state almost impossible to overcome alone. It will take others praying for your deliverance.

I would not expect you to be able to do on your own everything I have suggested you try. Remember when I mentioned I thought the Ten Commandments were written for us to be able to do. I subsequently learned they were written to make it clear we were unable to fulfill them on our own. This like all other Word hypothesis testing requires God’s influence upon us for success. In difficult personal problems where my lack of desire or ability is not there, I have come to the following conclusion. If God does not do something, I will guarantee you nothing will happen. That premise is also in the Word. Outside of Christ Jesus I can do nothing. I need His help in every endeavor. However, there is the hypothesis that I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. I challenge you to test this one and the others I have mentioned. I challenge you to read and find other hypothesis directly related to your life to be tested.

This morning, we tested the hypothesis that where two or three of you are gathered together, I the Lord am also. We acted as though He was. He is here.
Let us test another hypothesis. The Word says “if any two of you join in a request here on earth, God will do it from heaven.”

Join with me as we test this request hypothesis in prayer, individually and then collectively.