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« What Demas Didn’t Know About This Present World | Main | Questions for the Judgment »

Taking Charge of the Change

Job 14:1-2 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

14:11-15 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. 13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

Job wrestled with the prospect of imminent death. His body was covered with boils; he lost his family, his wealth, everything. He sat in the ashes, scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery. He had no insurance company. He had no miracle medical cures. Life was miserable, pain-filled and totally depressing. All he could look forward to was death. You know life is bad when the only thing that sounds good is death!

Change or Die! (Article in FastCompany Magazine, )

What if you were given that choice? For real. What if it weren’t just the hyperbolic rhetoric that conflates corporate performance with life and death? Not the overblown exhortations of a rabid boss, or a slick motivational speaker, or a self-dramatizing CEO.

We’re talking actual life or death now. Your own life or death. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn’t, your time would end soon — a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most? Yes, you say? Try again. Yes? You’re probably deluding yourself. You wouldn’t change.

Don’t believe it? You want odds? Here are the odds, the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That’s nine to one against you. How do you like those odds? We are constantly bombarded with messages, commercials, public service announcements, warnings, scare tactics, and pressure to change the way we live. Change your diet. Change your exercise. Change your spending habits. Change stations. Change channels. Change models. Change phone companies, insurance companies, supermarkets. Change houses, furniture, decorations. Change your vocabulary. Change your lifestyle.

Some changes are easy. Some are hard. Some seem to be impossible. The easiest changes also happen to be the least important changes. The hardest ones are the most important changes.

Then the knockout blow was delivered by Dr. Edward Miller, the dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University. He turned the discussion to patients whose heart disease is so severe that they undergo bypass surgery, a traumatic and expensive procedure that can cost more than $100,000 if complications arise. About 600,000 people have bypasses every year in the United States, and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties — all at a total cost of around $30 billion. The procedures temporarily relieve chest pains but rarely prevent heart attacks or prolong lives. Around half of the time, the bypass grafts clog up in a few years; the angioplasties, in a few months. The causes of this so-called restenosis are complex. It’s sometimes a reaction to the trauma of the surgery itself. But many patients could avoid the return of pain and the need to repeat the surgery — not to mention arrest the course of their disease before it kills them — by switching to healthier lifestyles. Yet very few do. “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle,” Miller said. “And that’s been studied over and over and over again. And so we’re missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they can’t.”

Five Myths About Changing Behavior

Crisis is a powerful impetus for change. 90% of patients who’ve had coronary bypasses don’t sustain changes.

Change is motivated by fear. It’s too easy for people to go into denial of the bad things that might happen to them.

The facts will set us free. We are guided by lifelong habits, not facts. We reject facts that don’t fit our habits.

Small, gradual changes are easier to make.Radical, sweeping changes are easier because they bring fast results.

We can’t change because our brains are “hardwired” early in life. Our brains can change. When we put forth the effort, we can learn new things.

One of the greatest things I know about Jesus is his ability to change lives!

John 8:32 “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

1 Cor 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

We preach the new birth experience.

John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Why do we preach this so strongly? Because every element in the new birth is a positive catalyst for change! Repentance changes your self-image, your conscience, your relationship with the world. Baptism changes your standing with God; it wipes your record clean. The Spirit baptism changes your weakness into strength, it empowers you, it connects you with God. You may not be able to change yourself. But God can change you.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Tom Whitmore.

“As of May 16, 2002 , I have not touched a drop of alcohol since (all praise and glory to Jesus). I was still doing drugs and selling them during this whole time. I didn’t have a regular job and I was looking to make more money. The people that I was dealing with ask me if I wanted a promotion (beginning of 2003). Instead of selling (I would have to stop), they wanted me to transport. After thinking on this for a while and doing some research and planning, I agreed to the promotion. After one trip was made, my wife (my girlfriend at the time) and I took a trip to Fresno , CA , in the truck. While we were there we went looking for some cocaine, and the jealousy rose up in me once again. She left me in a motel room and took off. I didn’t know anyone, or where she might be; but the next afternoon I found her at the Greyhound bus station getting on a bus for Houston , Texas . I was devastated beyond belief.

While I was in that motel room for the next two days, waiting on a load back home, I began to pray. Not knowing how to really pray, I just told God that I believe that he had put us together for whatever reason; and if that were true, then he would bring us back together. I got a load back to Toledo and left California .

Anywhere from two weeks to a month went by, and the phone rang. It was my girlfriend. Her dad had had a heart attack and asked me if she could come home. I thanked God for the answered prayer and flew her home. Her dad recovered, and I still had not had anything to drink. On May 29, 2003 , she and I went to Las Vegas and got married.

Now I’m getting ready to do the third trip for my ruthless employers; and unexpectedly God audibly spoke to me and said, “IT’S NOW OR NEVER—THE END’S AT HAND !” It shook me so bad that I dropped to my knees and said, “Lord, You know where I am, and what I’m doing, and who I’m involved with. If you will keep me safe; and bring me back, my life is yours! Everything I have, and all that I am is yours.” I went on the trip, and on the way back I put down all the drugs and cigarettes; and the Lord delivered me from them all with no withdrawals! Glory is to Jesus!

But, just when you think the story is over and will end happily ever after, the flesh raises up! God brought me back safe and sound, but when I called the people to tell them that I was done, they asked me if I could still transport their money. Without even thinking I said, “Yes.” (This was approximately July 6, 2003 !) As soon as I hung up the phone, I cried out to God, “How can I serve you if I am still working for them?”

By this time, I was going to church and seeking the Holy Ghost and trying to learn all God wanted me to learn. On July 20, 2003 , I was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins. Up to this point my wife had not ever been to a church, let alone an Apostolic Pentecostal church. So, one Sunday morning, she attended for the first time. Sunday night, she went back again. Afterwards she wouldn’t talk to me for two days; all she did was cry. Then, one Saturday night I was going to prayer service, she said that the whole family needed to go, so we all went. (By the way, once I came to the Lord, my mother gave her heart and life back to Jesus and was refilled as well!)

On August 10, 2003 , during the service, a wonderful lady in the church sang a solo. From the first note to the last note, God filled me with the Holy Ghost! At the altar call, while I was looking for this lady to tell her that God had filled me, another sister in the Lord came over to me. She said that my wife wanted me to call my mother because she wanted her there when she was baptized in the name of Jesus. Why? Because God had filled her with the Holy Ghost during the altar call! Now, we not only share the anniversary of our wedding day but also of the new birth! Exciting things had begun in the Whitmore family. Then the Lord filled my wife’s nine-year-old daughter with the Holy Ghost on August 31, 2003 . The Lord is so great and greatly to be praised!

Right after this, God performed a genuine miracle for me. Phone calls started coming from the drug people. They wanted their money. I informed them that I didn’t want to do that anymore, but they threatened me with things that they would do if I didn’t continue to work for them. I kept praying about it. One Friday night at 3:00 AM , the phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “I don’t know who you talked to, or how you did it; but you are free and clear of your obligation.” Praise the Lord! I trusted in Him, and He has never let me down!

Since then many things have tried to get me down and cause me to go back to the world, but there I know that there is nothing out there for me. A short time after the new birth experience, I felt strangely impressed that I would preach the gospel. I immediately told myself that I could never preach because of my past, and, besides, I had never been a public speaker in my life. I sat on this feeling and tried to make it fade away. I continued to pray, telling God that I wanted to be used of Him in anyway that he would use me. Three more times, this impression that I would preach came to me, each time getting stronger and stronger. I tried to pass it off as just myself. The fifth time that this happened I realized that this might actually be the answer to the prayers that I had been praying. I went to the Lord; and asked that if this was Him that He would direct my steps and give me the courage to do what He has called me to do.

So, let’s look at these five myths about changing behavior:

Crisis is a powerful impetus for change. 90% of patients who’ve had coronary bypasses don’t sustain changes. The crisis won’t do it, but the crisis leads you to God—-he can do it!

Change is motivated by fear. It’s too easy for people to go into denial of the bad things that might happen to them. I’m not into telling you all the bad things that will happen if you don’t. I am going to tell you of the good things that will happen if you do!

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

The facts will set us free. We are guided by lifelong habits, not facts. We reject facts that don’t fit our habits. The facts may be more depressing than liberating. My God is the Lord over the facts! He can change you in the face of the facts.

Small, gradual changes are easier to make. Radical, sweeping changes are easier because they bring fast results. Nothing is more radical than being born again.

We can’t change because our brains are “hardwired” early in life. Our brains can change. When we put forth the effort, we can learn new things. You become a new creation. The God who created your DNA can change your spiritual DNA.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

It’s time to take charge of your change! With God, all things are possible.

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