Real Change

     Just a few days ago you probably called out “Happy New Year!”  It’s a unique time of year.  It feels like a new chapter, in this case even a new decade begins.  Many of us embrace the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, changes we want to make in our lives: get healthier, exercise more, shed toxic relationships, start a new career or change a difficult habit.  All of us want real, substantial, lasting change.  How does real change work?  Granted, it’s complex and individual, but there are some crucial keys to lasting change.  Here are the ABC’s of change.  
     If we want to truly change we need to participate in an awakening community; for me this is the church.  But this could include recovery groups and other transformative groups as well.  It is nearly impossible to change alone.  The church is a change community.  Remember it was God who said after making Adam in the garden that it was not good for man to be alone.  We are designed for connection.  In my Christian relationships I receive valuable, awakening feedback.  Zig Ziglar once said, “Everyone you meet is your mirror.”  Others often see us more accurately than we see ourselves.  They see our blind spots.  A hard truth from a friend is like an alarm going off; but don’t hit snooze!  Therefore, it is vital to have a few people that you “let in” who are allowed to speak into your life.  Go through the Scriptures and study the “one another” passages.  There are many.  The author of Hebrews reminds us that “we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  Look at where you are struggling and find someone in the faith who is healing and growing in that area and see if they will help you. 
  • B.  IS FOR BIBLE.  
     Author Tim Chester says “Behind every sin is a lie.”  The Bible is the truth and the truth is what sets us free and calls us forward.  The child believes that the cookie before dinner is worth his mom’s anger.  But the Bible teaches him to obey his parents.  Truth matters.  The Apostle Paul writes that we are to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).  Changed thinking leads to changed behavior which results in a transformed life.  Biblical truth calls us to living differently than what our broken culture recommends.  The Apostle Paul says of the Bible that through it “we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).
     To make a real change you must actually want the change and choose it.  This explains what looks like an insensitive question from Jesus of a man who has been an invalid for decades.  He asks him “Do you want to be well?”  Particularly in areas that are stubborn habits or addictions the person must to decide to give up whatever that habit is doing for them.  No loved one can decide for you.  We must genuinely decide that we will no longer reach for (fill in the blank) when we are tired, hungry, stressed or upset.  At some point we must say with conviction “my new life starts now.”  And let’s be honest, rarely is the right choice the easy choice.  Usually it is the challenging choice on many levels.  Author John Maxwell says “People will summarize your life in one sentence—pick it now.”  Today choose to start exercising, write that book, start that new company or write that letter of apology.  Pastor Mark Batterson says, “You are one decision away from a totally different life.” 
     Thankfully personal change is not all up to us.  As a matter of fact, ultimately change is God’s work.  God has His hand on our lives molding and shaping us.  He is the potter and we are the clay. When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit, and He begins to change us from the inside out.  He provides the power.  Like a battery in a flashlight he gives us the power to shine our light, to live differently.  Through the power of the Spirit we can look more and more like Jesus in our character.  The Apostle Paul writes “we all . . .are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).    
     I encourage you to embrace the new year and exhibit the new you.  Happy 2020!
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church