Tag Archives: change

God Can Change Lives

weekly theme #53 God Can Change Lives*          

week containing the Sunday between Oct 30 – Nov 5

I really do want to change.  I want to replace bad qualities, habits, and attitudes with good ones.  This tug of war with myself doesn’t always have the same winner.  Sometimes the “bad me” gets help pulling on his end from the world culture and from Satan.  The “good me” can’t win that contest unless I allow God to pull, too.  In essence, he brings about the change that the “good me” wants, but I must want him, and invite him, to join in my struggle.

At the end of John 9 are some words of Jesus that should trouble every morning.  He says that one of the reasons he came to the world was to “show those who think they see that they are blind.”  It is arrogant to think that I see so clearly that I don’t need the Holy Spirit to guide me.  Yes, I do see some things clearly, but my blind spots allow me to stray if I don’t defer to the Holy Guide.  I’ll always have blind spots, and I’ll always need God.  Some of my best changes have been when admit my blind sport, and I consent to walking with God.

The great and wonderful news is that God doesn’t just want me to be smarter.  He wants me to be more holy.  He wants his knowledge to work in me so I become more holy.  This affects my emotions and body as well as my soul and mind.  God changes all of me, the whole person.

Some people won’t like this change in me.  I may not be as “fun” as I was.  I may use my time, talent, and treasure in a different way.  I may make them feel guilty.  (Shame on me if I do!  I should make them feel loved and accepted.  The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, not me.  If they feel guilty, I should assure them that God is calling them to turn in a different direction – sometimes called repentance.)  Only God knows why some people won’t like the change God creates in me.  In any case, I can’t take it personally.  Even Jesus had his detractors.  Why shouldn’t I?

It’s more difficult to change my direction when I keep looking over my shoulder to stare at where I used to be going.  I never tried to drive a car that way, but I have tried to live that way.  Some things in my old direction look good, that’s why they are tempting.  Unfortunately, I remember the old way more fondly than it really was, and I fail to focus on my new direction enough to see how great it will be.  My life is filled with regrets, but that gives me proof of the change in my life.  What I once did, or failed to do, is no longer a part of me.  I have changed, matured, and grown.  God has made me better than I was.  I look forward to further change!

God is not limited to changing one life at a time.  Scripture tells of whole groups having a change of mind and heart and deed.  Jesus, in one short lifetime, changed the lives of billions of people.  Can I do that?  No way!  God is the one who changes the world, not me or a church or a congregation or even a denomination.  The Holy Spirit serves as the change agent for the world, and he will use me if I will cooperate with him.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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This book, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, was recommended to me by a United Methodist Bishop from East Asia.  I think the line that hooked me was, “It’s the best book on change that I have ever read.”  That was my motivation for reading it, and I will agree with him.

I used to say that people couldn’t be changed; they have to want to change.  I now understand why that is wrong.  People change without even realizing they are changing!  This book takes a very involved process and reduces it to three fundamental concepts:

  1. The logical, reasoning side of us is like a person, a “Rider”, trying to dictate the direction of an “Elephant”.
  2. The “Elephant” is the emotional, feeling side in all of us.  It is more powerful than the “Rider” and can wear down the “Rider” after time.
  3. Both the “Rider” and the “Elephant” need clear, simple directions to follow.  They need a well-marked “Path”.

I love the instant practicality of the book.  I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with individual or group change.  Thanks, Bishop!

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.  Look for “Switch” as you scroll through the box.

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The Christian Atheist

The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel

A friend was so impressed with this book that he bought several of us the book, and we discussed it over a period of weeks.  It was well worth the time.

The book is practical (Surround yourself with people who have faith – encouragers.), comforting (God is love; he can’t help but love you.), and challenging (Worry is the opposite of faith.  Worry is sin.)  It is an excellent book for group discussion because it covers areas that commonly challenge followers of Jesus: guilt, injustice, money, shame, and forgiveness to name a few.

It also speaks at a level appropriate for all believers making it easy to understand and apply.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.

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