Continued from last month
change: to cause to become different; alter; transform; a radical transmutation of one’s character or core nature.
Many extensive surveys and studies the past few years have disclosed that one of the greatest fears among both teenagers and adults is the fear of changes which might occur in their future. In fact, the fear of possible future changes has led to an entire category of mental and emotional illnesses roughly categorized as “anxiety” or “panic attacks.” For the most part, such illnesses are caused by fear of the future. In turn, such illnesses create stress, which, as you know, often is the cause of (or related to) many other, stress-induced illnesses such as some cardiac problems. Hospital beds, psychiatric hospitals, and mental health clinics are filled to overflowing with people who suffer from stress, anxiety and panic attacks, which, in turn, cause all sorts of other illnesses.
Yes, fear of the future leads to stress, panic attacks, and anxiety, which, in turn, are the causes of many other illnesses. I just came from having lunch with an old friend. My friend seemed unable to talk about anything except his fears of the future and all the changes taking place in and around him. As he talked, he was actually shaking from such fears. It seemed like that’s all he could think about and talk about. After I let him tell me about all his fears and anxieties for almost an hour, this is how I responded: “There is one prayer God will not answer: ‘Please, God, let things remain the same; please, no more changes!’” I informed him that changes were going to continue in his life for as long as he lived, and he needed to begin to ask God for help as such changes occur. Otherwise, he would make himself physically ill. In fact, he already had some physical illnesses likely caused by his worry and anxiety about his future.
When Changes Begin
Changes begin in each of our lives at the moment of our conception when our first fertilized egg cell changed by dividing . . . and changes will continue right up until the moment of our death . . . and beyond. When we were conceived, our bodies began to change, our souls began to change, and our spirits began to change. And such changes will never cease in each of our lives. One of the few predictable things in your life is change: change in your body, change in your soul, and change in your spirit! On a vastly larger scale the entire created universe is constantly changing, growing, and expanding. Nothing in all of God’s creation ever stays the same; nothing throughout all creation remains unchanging.
The only Person Who never changes is God. He doesn’t need to change because He is whole and complete in and of Himself. Malachi 3: 6 emphatically states: “I am God; therefore, I do not change.” Hebrews 13: 8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for all the ages of time and eternity.” The theological word for God’s unchanging-ness is “immutable.” Just thought I’d throw in that word so I could impress you with my deep theological understanding… But let’s take another look at all the changes occurring in our lives…and changes that will be coming in our future. Get used to change. Learn to deal with changes in your external world and inside you. They’re going to keep coming. They ain’t gonna stop. You can’t run from them. Change is here to stay. You can learn to embrace change rather than fear it!
Job’s Ageless Question
Thousands of years ago a man named Job asked God a question…and then answered his own question. He asked: “If a person dies, shall that person live again?” He then stated: “I will wait until my change comes.” What change was Job thinking about? He was thinking about the changes that come to every human when they die. As I wrote last month, we will all die (except for those people who will be alive when King Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom on earth). You will die. I will die. We will all die. If you don’t believe that, well . . . you must be living in a world far, far away from the real world of life and death the rest of us live in.
Biggest Change Yet To Come
I’m going to begin by writing about the biggest change we all face…and then work backwards from that big change—to other changes in our mortal lives leading up to that big change. 1 Corinthians 15: 51 and 52 teaches about the Great Change coming when King Jesus will return to usher in his Kingdom:
“Pay attention! I am telling you a previously hidden truth. We will not all sleep in death, but we shall all be changed—in an atomic second, in less time than it takes to blink. A trumpet will sound and we will be raised from the dead, free from decay. Yes, we shall be changed and transformed.”
That will be sort of our final change, when we are changed from mortals to immortals, but it’s not really our final change, because we will continue to change for many eons to come after that event…and then beyond those ages, we will continue to change in timeless eternity. In the meantime, God wants us to continue to change, grow, and develop in this mortal life before we die or before Jesus returns—whichever occurs first. As I wrote last month, most changes that need to occur in our lives during this mortal journey are changes in our minds, attitudes, and thought patterns so we see life more and more from God’s point of view and think more and more like Jesus thinks. I’ve stated this before: “If we’re not green and growing, we are ripe and rotting.” I know, I know, that’s kind of a dumb statement, but—as dumb as it is—it’s true!
The first change that needs to be made in peoples’ lives is to be born2. That change into a new person—a newly created immortal being—automatically sets in motion a lifelong process of change, growth, and development. You became a brand-new creation—a “changeling” when you were born2—and will spend the remainder of y0ur mortal journey here on earth being changed and transformed back into God’s image as seen in Jesus. I refer you back to last January’s issue of The Traveler where I wrote about that process of change and growth back into God’s clear image in us.
“I appeal to you in view of God’s mercy to make a decisive dedication of your bodies to God, which is only reasonable, and is well-pleasing to God. Don’t be conformed to the external, superficial ways of this world, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.” –Paul, Romans 12: 1 & 2, paraphrased
In last month’s issue of The Traveler, I taught about the process of changing our minds–what the Bible calls repentance. I wrote about how such change is inevitable; how we mustn’t resist such change because of our fear of change. An old Gospel song puts it like this–about our constant change and God’s unchangeable-ness:
God’s oath, his covenant, his blood,
Support me in the ‘whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
The only way for us to deal successfully with all our lifelong internal changes is to rest upon God’s unchanging support and stability. If we know that He never changes—and that all changes in our lives are working out for our ultimate good—then we can face all of life’s changes with confidence.
Model For Inner Change
When you were born2, in an atomic second Jesus came to live permanently inside your spirit in his “unbodied form” of Holy Spirit. Part of the work of Holy Spirit living inside you—his “job”—is to bring to your attention changes needing to be made in your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. When He points out those things needing changed, then you job is to change your mind about them…to repent. Then, once you change your mind, Holy Spirit furnishes you the inner power to make the necessary changes. Once you make the changes, then He will bring to your attention more changes you need to make…and so on throughout your entire mortal journey. Here’s how that “model” for change looks and “works”:
1. Holy Spirit brings to your attention thoughts, attitudes, or behavior needing changed. 2. Next, you change your mind. 3. Then Holy Spirit gives you inner power to change. 4. You then make the necessary changes with his inner power. 5. Next, Holy Spirit brings to your attention more thoughts, attitudes, or behavior needing changed. 6. Again, you change your mind…and so on throughout your entire mortal life.
That’s the model, that’s how it works, that’s how you make the necessary changes using Jesus’ power within you from where He lives in your spirit.
Thoughts, Attitudes, Behavior
Our thoughts need changed because before we are born2, for the most part we had learned the thoughts and thought-patterns of this world and it’s systems. We learned a “worldly” worldview; we need to unlearn many of those views and newly learn a biblical worldview. We need to learn to see life here on planet earth as God sees it. Of course, we learn such new thoughts and thought patterns by reading, studying, and obeying the Bible! That’s why God gave us the Bible–not merely to inform us, but, rather, to transform us.
Next, we need to learn new attitudes. Why? Because 90 to 95% of what we do every day of our lives is based upon the attitudes we have at any given time. Our prevailing attitudes dictate almost all that we do—or don’t do—at any given time in our lives. We definitely need to change many of our attitudes. We weren’t born with attitudes; we’ve learned them throughout our lifetimes. And, they can be unlearned and replaced with “godly” attitudes.
As to our behavior, well, our behavior flows from our thoughts and our attitudes. When our thoughts and attitudes change to be more godly, then changes in our behavior will follow.
Yes, dear reader, it’s a lifelong process of repentance—changing our minds: to see life more and more as God sees it, to think more like Jesus thinks, to change our attitudes and our behavior.
Keep repenting! Keep changing! Stay green and growing!
“And be constantly renewed in your mind, having fresh thoughts and attitudes. And put on your new nature–your new self–being created to be like God in true right-living and wholeness.” —Paul, Ephesians 4: 23 and 24
To think about this month:
“All the universe is about change—about moving on. And when things stop changing, they are dead.” –Twyla Tharp
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated November 2020