why change?

There are only two responses most people have when you start to talk about change. And they are complete opposites. Some people really hate change. In fact they will do almost anything they can to avoid it. And when it is thrust upon them by circumstances and life, it really throws them for a loop. Stress levels top out and emotions run high. You may know someone like this.

The other type is those who like change. These are the types of people that the change haters dislike. It is like the saying goes “There are those who like to get up early, and those who hate those who like to get up early.” People who like change can go to extremes of just changing anything and everything because things haven’t changed in at least an hour. And it can be a simple need to change something once a year. But these people need change.

And these two types of people often frustrate and argue with one another. Myself I am a change lover. I have to have things change because I get bored easily, and start looking for something new. My wife is a change hater. She is most at rest when things stay the same.

Now neither personality type is bad. We are the way God wired us. And we need each other deeply. If it wasn’t for my wife holding me down at times, I would run and change anything I could. And if it wasn’t for me, my wife would never change a thing. We need each other to succeed.

In life change is necessary. We cannot live without it. Everything in life that is healthy grows. If it isn’t growing, it isn’t healthy. You don’t have to tell your garden or your kids to grow. If they are healthy, they simply grow. And growth requires change. No change means no growth.

We tend to settle into what we are comfortable with. Which is why most dislike change. It requires them to move their comfort zone. Even those of us who like change dislike moving our comfort zone. We all desire comfort. But is your comfort holding you back from growth? It is one of the dangers.

A person who stops growing doesn’t just stand still. In life there are only two choices. Growth and decline. If your not growing, then your declining. There is no park in life. Just forward and reverse.

So are we growing, or settling for the status quo? Funny thing is status quo is Latin for ‘the mess we are in’. Are we settling for the mess because it is what we know? If we desire to grow as people then we can never stop growing. And growing requires change. To borrow the slogan from milk “Always Grow, Grow Always”. So here is to change.

Is my life worth living?

An unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates

Many of us have heard this saying.  I know I have at least a couple times.  And yet I haven’t given it much thought.  Until recently that is.  I have begun to look at my life and wonder ‘is my life actually worth living?’  And right now I can’t really tell.  Maybe that is because I haven’t taken the time to look within and ask myself the tough questions.  Most of us don’t.  It may be that we are afraid of the answers we may find.  Or simply because life has taught us differently.

Life goes by us with a blurring pace.  It is like watching a fan go.  If you try to focus on it while it runs you just get dizzy.  And many of us feel that way about our lives.  It just keeps going and going, and the pace feels like it is getting faster and faster not slower.  And we rarely feel like we have time to breathe let alone take a good look at our lives and within our lives.  And yet at what cost?

Where are our lives going?  Can you say you have ended up where you wanted to so far?  I know I can’t.  We go where life takes us and few ever look hard and redirect our lives.  We run after all kinds of things and pursue all kinds of dreams and often end up sacrificing what is actually important to us.  How many times have you heard of someone sacrificing what they knew was right in the hope of gaining wealth or prestige.  Only to look back and regret it later.  Or have lost family and friends in the pursuit of their dreams.

We chase hard after many things and find ourselves often in places we didn’t want to be in.  And I have begun to give this very thing a lot of thought.  I have no complaints of where my life is, but it isn’t where I thought it would be.  There are many things I thought I would have accomplished by now that I haven’t even begun.  And the main reason is I simply haven’t checked where I wanted to go and made sure I stayed on course.  I haven’t examined my life.

This isn’t a new problem.  Jesus talked about this problem in the bible.  He said “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” What is it you have given yourself up for to pursue?  The list can be endless.  I know it has been in my life.   Anything we have pursued without examining ourselves has meant we have lost part of ourselves in the pursuit of something.

I can’t say up to now my life has been worth living, because until now I have not taken the time to look within and ask myself the tough questions.  I have lost myself in the pace of my life.  However I can now change that.  And you can to.  It is never to late to ask yourself “Is my life worth living?” and then begin to make the changes necessary.

Why do we struggle so hard for God’s approval?

Have you ever tried to live up to the expectations of the church?  Ever tried to live out the life that people said you had to live to be a Christian?  Many of us have and most of us have failed.  We have tried and tried and tried to live a life that we thought was pleasing to God.  Only to be left feeling disappointed and ashamed.

I know I have felt this way at times.  It is not a new problem.  For centuries people have had this struggle.  We try and try to be  who we think God wants us to be and become, and most times simply get defeated and for many completely give up trying.  This is what I did when I was in my teens.  It didn’t make any sense that we would have to fight so hard and seemingly get so little.

And to make it worse the “leaders” who promoted this lifestyle weren’t able to live up to it either.  We have seen many many church leaders displayed on national news having thrown their lives and ministries away for some pleasure.  And all the while they were preaching against some of the very behaviors that they themselves were committing.  And I would look at these types of leader and it would reinforce my need to do away with God and the church.  “Who needs it” was my thought.

But this was not the church or the Christian life Jesus intended at all.  Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:4 “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” And many of us have felt the weight of unbearable religious demands upon our shoulders.  Now whether we have put them there ourselves or have had them placed there by someone else is for us to evaluate.  Because we have tried to hold ourselves to a standard that God didn’t create for us.  Paul said it best when he said in Galatians 3:2-4 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?”

We have all tried to follow after God in our own way and have often resorted to rules to allow us to feel like we were measuring up.  But this is not at all what God intended for us.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Brennan Manning says something similar in his book “The Ragamuffin Gospel”

Let’s suppose you advanced me $1,000,000 for my personal needs. A year later, you request that I begin making monthly interest-free payments of $10,000 on the debt. On the first day of each month I sit down to write the check just as the morning mail arrives. You have just sent me a $10,000 check to cover my payment. You continue this practice until the full amount of my debt is repaid. I’m bewildered and protest, “But this is totally lopsided.”
God is enamored with His people and so intent upon a response that He even provides the grace to respond.

Now let me say that Christianity was not meant to be a cake walk.  Nor was it meant to solve all of your problems magically.  The church has often promised the unrealistic when we promised a bed of roses.  Christianity wasn’t supposed to be easy.  Now I know this sounds like a contradiction.  If Jesus promised an easy and light burden then how can Christianity be heavy?  It sounds like a contradiction but it isn’t.  Jesus said that this was a hard path to walk on, and there would be few who would.  The thing that makes it different is that Jesus walks it with us.  God will not lay anything upon us that He doesn’t equip us to bear.

Christianity is not about following rules.  It is about a relationship with the One who calls us personally by name, and then picks us up and allows us to walk with Him.  God gives us the grace we need to follow Him.  Now what does that mean you ask?  Well biblically grace literally means “The transforming power of God doing in us what we cannot do for ourselves.” It  means that all of the power of heaven is focused on you and I enabling us to walk out the life God designed us for.  It only gets hard when we try to do it ourselves.  That is what the rules are doing for us.  Allowing us to become who we think we need to be by our own effort.  It doesn’t mean that what we are trying to do is bad.  It is simply by whose power are we doing it?

So let me ask the question, Whose power are you trying to live by?