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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faith as Tiny as a Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:20
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

I was blessed to know the famed original 'positive thinker,' Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. His book, 'The Power of Positive Thinking,' is one of the best-sellers of all time. I was not close enough to him to be considered a personal friend, but I knew him and would regularly attend his popular seminars for Christian ministers in New York, which he called, 'The School of Practical Christianity.' I also regularly attended his church in NYC whenever I was in town. 

Many people did not understand Peale. For example, he wanted the title to 'The Power of Positive Thinking' to be 'The Power of Faith,' because he felt that the concepts he presented therein were based upon the faith that is taught in the Bible. But his publisher insisted that they change the title to appeal to a broader audience. That, it did, as the book has sold multi-millions worldwide and has been translated into practically every language on earth.

This fact about Peale's original title is important because many within the Christian community have mistakenly believed that the concepts he taught were not really 'Christian' but 'New Age' or some heretical deviance from traditional Christianity.

But the truth was that Peale was as traditional as they come. He simply believed that the traditional concepts of the Bible should be communicated in modern terms so that the unchurched could understand them.

One Christian fundamentalist angrily approached Peale on a sidewalk in NYC, thrust a 'test' in front of him and demanded that he check off each traditional belief to which he adhered. Peale carefully read over the doctrinal statements, and proceeded to check off every single one! The man was shocked, thinking that he would catch Peale in denying the traditional doctrines of the Christian faith. But Peale believed in them all--the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the authority of the Bible, the necessity of the sacrificial death and shed blood of Christ on the Cross for our salvation, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Peale preached on these beliefs on a regular basis.

But one of the key teachings of Peale came straight from Jesus himself--the mustard seed principle. I have often told people that the only way I got through college and graduate school was clinging to the mustard seed principle as taught by Peale.

And the concept is this--if you have faith even as tiny and microscopic as a mustard seed, then you can do far more than you could ever imagine or think...even to the point of 'moving mountains.' Of course, the mountain reference is symbolic, not literal. Christ was referring to the mountains that come into our lives that derail us--problems, troubles, difficulties, illness, pain, disappointment, grief, a poor self-concept, shyness, or whatever. Whatever hampers you in your desire to do what you must to make it in this life, you can move it out of the way with a faith tiny as a mustard seed, provided that faith is grounded and centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As a shy person who was always beset with self-doubt, I needed such a message to get through the hurdles of life that to me seemed frightening and impossible to do.

Today, my closest friends tell me they cannot believe that I was ever shy or quiet. And my accomplishments in education and in other areas belie that part of me, which is still there, that tells me I am not good enough to achieve anything. I suppose that voice will always be with me.

But the good news is that I can choose to listen to a different voice. It is the voice of Jesus that says, 'If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed, and it shall move, and nothing shall be impossible unto you.'

Praise the Lord!

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