We Can Change

Change is good.  That’s what they say.  Whoever they are.

We change our diets.  If we have to.  We change jobs.  Some people change spouses.  We can even change our gender.  On the outside, at least.

We change to try to please others.  To get in their good graces.  To get on their good side.

We change the color of our hair.  We change our weight.  We change our zip code.  We change.

I remember a couple of changes I made.  Not big changes.  Petty ones, really.  I remember when grocery stores switched from paper bags to plastic.  I resisted.  I didn’t want plastic bags.  The funny thing is.  I got used to them.  Now I’m told that plastic is environmentally unfriendly.  Stores are returning to paper.  I find myself resisting again.  I’ve changed.

When paper towels became available in full and half sizes, I resisted.  I wanted the full size.  Now I only buy the ones with an option.   Full or half size.  I sometimes feel that I’m being wasteful if I use a full paper towel when I only need a half size.   I’ve changed.

I used to drink pop.  Now I don’t.  I used to eat sugar.  Now I don’t.  I used to take naps.  Now I don’t.  I’ve changed.

So we can change.  We just don’t want to.  It isn’t easy.  It isn’t fun.  It upsets our routines.  We’re set in our ways.  But we can change.  We just have to want to.  We have to work on changing.

What changes do we make just to make our life easier?  What bad habits do we stop doing?  What bad words do we stop saying?  What bad attitudes do we correct?  What gossip do we stop spreading?

What changes do we willingly make?  What is the good we intentionally start doing?

There are some changes that I resist.  No matter what.  I just don’t want to change.  It just seems too hard to change a bad attitude.  That would take work.  And will power.  It’s hard to love the unlovable.  Those who treat us bad or bully us or reject us.  But we can love them.  Love is a choice.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  Ezekiel 36:26

If I listed all the changes I’ve made in my life, would I even be able to list one character flaw that I’ve worked to change?  Do I expect God to forgive me and then me not be willing to change?

Isn’t maturity a sign of change?  Isn’t change a sign of maturity?

Look at Paul.  I mean Saul.  Saul changed.  God called out to him.  And Saul changed his life.  He changed his behavior.  He changed his motives.  He went from hunting Christians to being a leader of Christians.  He changed his name.  Paul changed.

The soul that’s in tune with God.  That truly loves God will change.  Will want to change the old for the new.  Old attitudes for new.  Old beliefs for new.  Old ways for new.  Perhaps old friends for new.  It’s possible.  It can happen.  Our hearts can change.  Our hearts must change.

I See You

I know this guy.  Honestly.  I don’t know him well.  But I know enough.  I’ve never felt comfortable around him.  I can’t really pinpoint the reason, but it’s there.  Hiding behind the façade of friendliness.  I see inconsistencies in him.  I hear the words he says.  I see the look he gives.  I know what he does.  He’s fighting something.  He’s facing a storm within.

The fight looks familiar.  It feels like it fits.  I think the inconsistency I see in him is the one I’m trying to hide in myself.  The thing that bothers me is the flaw I see in him is what I don’t want others to see in me.  But I see it in him.  Is it because his flaws are similar to mine?  If he can’t hide his, then what are the chances mine are hidden?  Who is seeing my flaws?  Do they judge me as I’m judging him?

Oh.  It’s not my intention to judge him.  But if I’m honest.  Really honest.  I’m judging.  I want to call out his narrow-mindedness, while I shove mine down.  Hoping no one sees.

What inconsistencies do others see in me?  Who do I think I’m fooling?

I wouldn’t call him out publicly by name.  I wouldn’t do that.  But I watch.  Hoping he’ll change.  Hoping I’ll change.  So maybe the one who’s watching me sees change in me.  I’m trying.  Perhaps he’s trying, too.  I like to think he’s trying.

I don’t know his history.  I don’t know what caused his attitude and his faults.

Instead of focusing on his flaws, why don’t I look for his strengths? His gifts?  His talents?  They’re easy to spot.  If you know him.  If you see him in action.  And his career is pretty spectacular.  He works to make people’s lives better.  That has to be a good feeling.  Why not praise him for those things instead of tear him down for his imperfections?  Why is it so much easier to focus on those annoyances?

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.   1 John 1:8-10

I look at my faults.  My flaws.  The inconsistencies in my life that I try to keep hidden.  Oh.  I know God sees them.  He knows them.  He lets me know he sees them.  And asks me to do something about it.  He wants me to change.

Someone recently told me one of the faults they see in me.  They didn’t call it a fault.  They just let me know that’s how they see me.  They believe it to be truth.  I was left trying to figure out why they think that of me.  It’s interesting, humbling and eye-opening to hear others describe you to your face.  Sometimes their critiques are correct.  Other times, their words make me stop and examine myself.

Maybe I’ve been denying the truth.  Maybe I’ve been so blind that I can’t see my own faults.

Reuben Welch once said that we really do need each other.  And we do.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to encourage each other.  We need to stand with each other.  We need to pray for each other.  We need to love each other.

The book of 1 John was written to a group of believers who weren’t getting along.  John was asking them to be better.  To be together.  Not against each other.  It takes work on both sides.  We can see each other’s flaws and still get along.

Momentary Troubles

Lately I’ve been stewing.  A lot.  Stewing about a situation that has become intolerable.  It’s frustrating.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s maddening.  I am struggling.  I don’t get angry very often.  It takes a lot to make me mad.  But lately.  Lately I find myself angry more often than not.  And I don’t like it.  I’m not an angry person.  I don’t carry grudges.  But sometimes others’ injustices and inconsistencies get the best of me.

I find myself not wanting to be in that place.  But I must.  I must go there.  I must face the situation every day.  I find myself wanting to run away.  To move to a place where I can escape the trouble.  To a place where I can breathe and feel whole again.  It’s not time to do that, though.  Not yet.

The thing is.  God knows my discomfort.  He sees it.  He says stay.  He says I will be safe.  So I stay.  So I pray.  I face each new day knowing he is with me.  Knowing he won’t leave me.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:17

I’ve read that Satan roams the earth.  He’s looking to cause trouble.  He looks for people he can devour.  He searches for Christ followers who he can trick into following him.  He slyly convinces people to do things his way.  He pretends to be someone else.  He is Satan.

God’s eyes also roam the earth.  He’s looking to give strength to his faithful people.  He’s constantly observing everyone on the earth to see what they’re doing.   He can see the entire human race all at the same time.  He isn’t a magician.  He is God.  He is omnipotent.  He can be everywhere all at once.  I know he sees me.

I wonder whose eye I’ve caught with my light and momentary troubles.

Have I caught Satan’s eye?  Is he stirring the pot?  Is he causing trouble where trouble shouldn’t be?  Is he tormenting me and winning?  Is he trying to convince me to do things his way?


Is God watching over me?  Is he testing me?  Is he allowing this friction, so it will pull me even closer to him?  To strengthen my faith and trust in him?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace

As I think of the words of this old hymn, I realize I need to keep my eyes on Jesus.  I need to keep the faith.  I need to choose my battles.  I need to stay in the word of God and trust.  I need to trust God.   As I do that, the things of this earth will grow dim.  They pale in comparison to my future in heaven.  Those things, whether they’re good or bad.  They are momentary.

Fighting Hunger

He’s hungry.  I can see it in his eyes.  I can see it in the way he carries himself.  He doesn’t seem to relax.  He’s all uptight.  Like he’s fighting a battle within.  And he is.  He may not know it.  But he is.

He’s looking for something to satisfy his longing.  He’s wanting a taste of goodness that will relieve the emptiness he’s feeling.  He’s searching for peace, contentment, joy.  He’s looking for love. Everlasting love.  He’s looking in the wrong place.

He’s been hungry for a long, long time. Perhaps all his life. He hasn’t known it though.  Sometimes hunger appears in different forms.  Sometimes relieving hunger is not easily satisfied.  Sometimes what looks like relief only causes more hunger.

He’s filled his hunger with things.  Career.  Money.  Hobbies.  Sports.  Time share.  Good things.  But not satisfying things.  He’s looking for love in all the wrong places.  He’s looking for fulfillment where he’ll never be filled.

Sometimes thirst feels like hunger.  The stomach feels empty.  The thing that will truly satisfy is a long slow drink of cool clear water.  Hunger and thirst are both an emptiness looking to be filled.

Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.  Revelation 22:17

I can’t say I’m any different.  I once had that same hunger.  That hunger was filled when I met God.  But I’m still hungry.  Hungry for more.  Hungry for an eternal fulfillment.  I’ve had a longing.  A longing to study God’s word.  To know my heavenly Father intimately.  The thing is.  It takes time.  It takes work.  It takes putting away those temporary things I use to fill my hunger.

I feel the hunger pangs.  I hear my stomach growling. I know the gnawing empty feeling when the things I run after don’t satisfy.  I know what will satisfy.

Oh.  I’ve tried to fill my longings with other things.  Facebook.  Instagram.  Pinterest.  Novels.  Chocolate.  Hobbies.  Things that aren’t evil.  Just fillers.  Temporary pleasures.  Time wasters.  Things that make me long for more.  More of something.  More of something else. Things that take my heart and soul a little further from the call to be holy.  Things that try to replace my hunger to know more of God’s word.

Why do I fight it?  Why do I make sure to cross everything else off my to do list before I spend time with God?  Why?  Why do I do everything else I want to do before satisfying my true hunger?  When I know deep down what truly satisfies.

It seems I reach for that holy book when I’m anxious or troubled.  When I’ve nowhere else to turn, I finally turn to the Book.  The Book that teaches me to release my struggles to my Maker.  The Book that tells me that the hunger I feel can be filled with everlasting peace.  The Book that tells me that my thirst can be quenched by drinking living water from a well that never runs dry.

So I dip my cup into the living water.  I take a bite of the eternal bread of life.  I sense a peace.  A calm.  My thirst is quenched.  My hunger is satisfied.  I am full.  The good thing.  This well never runs dry.  I can come back any time and be filled up again and again.  There is no need to be hungry.  As long as I come back to the One who satisfies.  The lover of my soul.

God Have Mercy

It’s all over the news.  Hugh Hefner died.  Natural causes.  We know how he lived.  We know what he stood for.  We know what his god was.  What we don’t know is if he ever confessed his sins and became a Christ-follower.  Oh.  It could have happened.  On his deathbed, he could have called out to God and asked for forgiveness.  He could have asked God to have mercy on his soul.

After all.  He was a pimp and a pornographer.  That’s what I read this week.  His goal was to change the world’s view of pre-marital sex.  He accomplished that.  Is that even an accomplishment?  God is his judge.  And he has been judged.  Hugh Hefner is in eternity.  Right now. Forever.  He misguided far too many people down a seemingly attractive fun-filled road.  He may be paying for that right now.  He may be paying forever.

I’ve read several articles and heard news reports about his life.  Some applauded him.  He encouraged people to live their dreams.  To disobey God’s commands of purity and faithfulness.  Why did he do it?  Oh, he was raised in a conservative home where values were taught.  He felt he had been repressed as a child.  He rebelled.  He decided to forsake the teaching of his parents.

He was pronounced a stunning success.  Progressive.  Revolutionary.  An architect of the sexual revolution.

The thing is.  God loves Hugh Hefner.  God created him.  He knew Hugh Hefner before he was even born.  He even knew what Hugh would do on this earth.  He still loved him.  He loved Hugh so much that he died for him.  He had plans for the man.  Plans that never materialized.  Not by Hugh Hefner.  Perhaps God had to find someone else to achieve what Hugh Hefner would have had he not lusted after sin.

All we can hope now is that God has mercy on Hugh Hefner.

As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  Revelation 3:19-20

I’ve never started a revolution.  I’ve never created an empire.  I’m not a pimp or a pornographer.  But I have sinned.  I think of the times this past week when my attitude was bent way out of shape. I think of how my negativity could start a revolution of sorts.  I think of how my frustrations led me to say things I can’t take back.

Too often lately, I find myself leaning toward the negative side of things.  I’d like to blame it on the actions and intentions of others.  But deep down, I know I can do better.  Sure, it’s easy to get frustrated.  No one is perfect.

Frustration.  Negativity.  Annoyance.  Bitterness.  Aggravation.

Why is that the first place my mind goes?  I work for God. I live for God. Why don’t I act like it?  Why am I such a failure at this? How does a person stay positive in a negative world?

I can’t help myself.  Or can I? Sometimes I think I enjoy being negative. Sometimes I want to lash out. Sometimes I want to get even.  If I do, though, then I feel foolish.  Immature.  Petty.  Unchristian.  I feel like a failure. Being negative isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Being human is tough. We were made in God’s image. Why is it so hard to be like him? Why do I fail so often? Will l I ever get it right? I hope he sees that I’m trying.

I’m no Hugh Hefner. But I am a sinner. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. Oh. Some may say there are degrees of sins. I don’t know.  Some may say there are different levels of hell.  I don’t know.  What I know is that sin is sin.  If I disobey God, then I’ve sinned.  The Bible says that everyone has sinned.  Everyone has fallen short of God’s plan.  You.  Me.  Hugh Hefner.  Any unconfessed sin will send a person to hell.

The thing is. I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want anyone to go to hell.   I have asked God to forgive me.  I hope Hugh Hefner did.  I hope and pray you do, too.

All I can ask is that God will have mercy on me.  and on you.