Month: November 2017

“I want to change, but I can’t!” (part 5 of 5)

When we want to change, but we can’t, we need to identify the beliefs that are resisting that change. We may need to return to the memory that created those beliefs. We take those beliefs to Jesus, and let Him do what only He can do.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

You might be thinking, “I already know the truth.” And you might be right. You probably do know the truth. But understand this: It isn’t the part of you that wants to change that needs to know the truth. It’s the part of you that can’t change that needs to know the truth.

Just like my son. He knew he shouldn’t be hitting his sister. Part of his mind was already informed.

But it’s the other part—the part that does not want to change—that part needs to receive from Jesus the truth that will set us free. The amazing thing is this: Jesus knows exactly how to deliver that truth so the part of us resisting the change can take it in.

When the beliefs change, the resistance goes away, and change becomes easy, natural, no, super easy and supernatural.

Hope this was helpful. This is a topic I cover in much more detail in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.

Abstract image: Marco Nürnberger, Flickr, Creative Commons

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“I want to change, but I can’t!” (part 4 of 5)

Let me give you an example.

For many years, when my wife got sick, I got angry. This was not a good thing. Here she was, sick, vulnerable, needing my care, and I was just getting snippy with her. “How long are you gonna be sick?” “Why do you always get sick when I’m busy?” Yada, yada.

Okay, let’s all agree: I was being an absolute jerk.

Trouble is: I knew I was being a jerk. I just didn’t know how to fix it.

Then I started looking at my feelings. (HINT: Your emotions are a huge clue to help you discover what you’re really believing.) I started connecting the dots, and came to this realization. When I was a boy, I didn’t feel safe with my dad. (I’m not saying that was his fault; I’m saying that’s how I felt.) So when my mom was sick, there was no one there to protect me from my dad.

Anyway, I took all of this to Jesus. I shared my faulty beliefs with Him. I don’t remember now exactly what He said or did to correct them; I just remember this: Next time my wife got sick, I wasn’t angry. She was sick; I cared for her—all part of life.

More next time, and this is a topic I cover in detail in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.

Train image: Marco Nürnberger, Flickr, Creative Commons

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“I want to change, but I can’t!” (part 3 of 5)

The growth process:
Step #1: Getting past “I don’t need to change.”
Step #2: Getting past “I can do it on my own.”
Step #3: Getting past “I want to change, but I can’t.”

While we each technically only have one mind, it’s helpful to think of our minds as having several parts. Part of my mind wants to do the right thing. For sure. If that wasn’t so, I’d still be stuck at Step #1. But part of my mind does NOT want to change. If I don’t figure out what’s going on with this part of my mind, I will never change.

If we’re going to change and grow, we need to take a close look at that part of us that resists that change and growth. What does that part of your mind believe will happen if you change? What do you lose? What do you give up?

It’s important that we take our time with this and look at whatever FEELS true, even if we know it isn’t true, even if it’s ridiculous. These beliefs are often connected with defining moments in our lives, often with events that happened when we were young and still figuring out how our world works.

This is where we need the intervention of Jesus.

More next time, and this is a topic I cover in detail in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.

Ice cave image: Giuseppe Milo, Flickr, Creative Commons

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“I want to change, but I can’t!” (part 2 of 5)

The growth process:
Step #1: Getting past “I don’t need to change.”
Step #2: Getting past “I can do it on my own.”
Step #3: Getting past “I want to change, but I can’t.”

So how do we make it past Step #3? How do we change once we figure out that we can’t? To put it in Christian jargon: How do we repent?

To answer that question, I’ll tell you a story. When my children were young, one of my sons was hitting his little sister. So I took him by the hand, we went out to another room, I sat him down and asked him, “Can you think of any reasons why it might not be a good idea to hit your little sister?”

He immediately rattled off six reasons. He knew the speech better than I did! Hmm. I thought about that for a moment, and I followed up with this question:

“Can you think of any reasons why it WOULD be a good idea to hit your little sister?”

Then we got into something. We got to the beliefs that were driving the behavior. And that’s where we all need to go. We need to find the beliefs that are driving the behavior.

The reason we can’t change when we want to is this: Somewhere inside are beliefs that are blocking that change. Transformation occurs when we let Jesus deal with those beliefs.

More next time, and this is a topic I cover in detail in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.

Stairwell image: Pixabay, Public Domain

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“I want to change, but I can’t!” (part 1 of 5)

“I want to change, but I can’t!”

If this is you, then that is good news!

Let me explain. You just made it to step #3 in the growth process. Most people are stuck in steps #1 & #2.

Step #1: Getting past “I don’t need to change.” Staying in denial about our need to change and grow is, of course, the easiest place to be. No effort is required. Just drift through life. Most of us don’t get beyond this until some crisis descends upon us—we lose our job, the spouse threatens to walk out, whatever—and then we find the courage to stop blaming everyone else, and begin looking at ourselves.

Step #2: Getting past “I can do it on my own.” This is especially hard for those strong-willed, do-it-yourself, goal-setting achiever types because they will set goals and achieve them. They can accomplish some level of behavior modification, and it’s easy to confuse that with real transformation. I don’t want to knock this; my hat is off to you if you’re a go-get-’em type. But there is a real danger of confusing what we can do with what only God can do.

More next time, and this is a topic I cover in detail in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.

Stairwell image: JoE Cass, Flickr, Creative Commons

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A Beautiful Christmas and new resources

Hi!

I’d like to make you aware of two new resources.

#1 Over the weekend I released a brand new book: A Beautiful Christmas.

Celebrate this beautiful season with me with freshly rendered scriptures, thoughtful meditations, and beautiful images. You can preview it, learn more, or purchase here.

#2 I’ve posted dozens of free resources on a new page on my site

Some of those resources include

  • How to hear the voice of God
  • How to forgive those who have hurt you
  • [What to do] When Christian leaders disappoint
  • Which books of the Bible are easiest to read?
  • What it means to follow Jesus (soon to be a new book)
  • 5 things every survivor of sexual abuse needs to know
  • 7 questions you must answer before you write your book

and several more…

Enjoy!

Dwight

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7 questions to ask before voting: A fresh look at Christianity and politics

This is a little different than what I usually post, but it’s been on my mind for a while, so here goes…

Left Right Fight? No. I’m not going there.

Our identity as Christians is a thousand times more important than any political label we might carry. I hope these questions will inspire us to move—not right or left—but closer to God.

 

#1 Have I taken the time to listen?
Am I listening not only to people who agree with me, but also to people who have a different point of view? This is critically important. Most of us listen ONLY to people we agree with. That’s dangerous. We don’t learn and grow unless and until we listen to a variety of viewpoints.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Proverbs 18:13 NLT

“Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.” Proverbs 18:17 TLB

 

#2 In my political conduct, am I contributing to love or to hate?
Hint: Accusing your political opponents of hate does NOT mean you are contributing to love.

I’m distressed by the political polarization I see not only in our country (USA), but also in the church—in the very family of God. When the world looks at us and sees strife and division, that damages the name of God. We don’t want that to happen. We want to lead the world in love.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear … hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy … and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:19-23 NLT

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice…” Proverbs 24:17 NIV

 

#3 Am I looking at the role spiritual darkness is playing in politics and in media?
Let me encourage you not to underestimate this. The battle that makes headlines may not be where the real fight is going on. We can fight very hard to win, only to discover we were fighting the wrong enemy. The Star Wars prequels come to mind. Remember the evil emperor Palpatine? Behind the scenes he stirred up conflict, not because he cared who won or lost, but because it diverted everyone’s attention from what he was really up to.

Am I praying against deception? Deception is a major tool of the enemy, and it is pervasive in politics and the media.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV

“Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness, Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 MSG

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV

 

#4 Am I promoting people of integrity?
Integrity matters. A lot.

“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to poor people as a roaring lion or a charging bear.” Proverbs 28:15 NCV

“When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.” Proverbs 29:2 MSG

“For the wicked shall not rule the godly, lest the godly be forced to do wrong.” Psalm 125:3 TLB

 

#5 What have I learned from history and the Bible?
If I’m going to campaign, vote, or even discuss politics, how well do I know the full counsel of God? Can I think biblically? Here’s an example. In Genesis 12:3, God makes this promise to Abram (Abraham), “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (NIV) As a result of that verse and others, many Christians believe that our prosperity as a nation is directly tied to our treatment of the nation of Israel. Do you know your Bible well enough to know whether you agree or disagree and why?

The word “remember” occurs 231 times in the Bible. In the Biblical narrative, when people forgot their history, they got into big trouble. (Judges 8:34) We’ve all seen videos in which even Ivy League educated adults are woefully ignorant of history. To me this is frightening. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

What was the significance of the Battle of Tours? What happened at Selma? What are the lessons of the Holocaust? What can we learn from the purges of Stalin and Mao? How is our culture different now than it was in 1776?

How many Christians were martyred for their faith from 1900 to 2000? Why were they killed? If you don’t know the answer to this, you are operating from a serious disadvantage. Most of these Christians were murdered by governments or by people who wanted to take control of government. Do you know why? Do you know how to prevent it from happening here? Is that on your radar?

 

#6 Am I looking at the big picture?
Am I able to see outside my own narrow experience? Am I only looking for policies that benefit me and people like me? If I only advocate policies that benefit me, especially if they benefit me at the expense of others, then how is that different than greed?

Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…” Luke 12:15 NIV

 

#7 Do I share God’s concern for the vulnerable?
I speak here, of course, of the poor, the pre-born, the children, the elderly, the disabled, the refugee, the immigrant, the prisoner, the marginalized. Read the Bible carefully and you find that God’s eye is always on the most vulnerable person in the room.

Here is an opportunity for Christians across the political spectrum to show real leadership. We may approach these issues differently, but we cannot and do not argue with God’s heart.

There is a great need here for people to listen to and respect one another. Are we considering things from another person’s perspective? Sometimes well-intentioned policies do more harm than good. But doing nothing is not an acceptable alternative. This is why it’s so important to listen, to respect, to refrain from judging, to build trust, to empower.

Issues like abortion, poverty, and immigration do not lend themselves to quick and easy answers. And government policies alone will not solve all our problems. But we have a flexibility that politicians don’t have—we have the ability to be salt and light in our culture, to inspire institutions such as the church and the family to step in and do what the government cannot or should not do.

Vulnerable people, as a rule, are neither stupid nor lazy. But they are marginalized, misjudged, and misunderstood by people at all points on the political spectrum. Will we do the hard work of getting God’s heart and God’s mind on this issue?

For further study: Matthew 7:1, Exodus 22:21, 1 John 3:14-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, James 2:2-7,

 

Bonus question: What role should the government have in our lives?
This is an important and challenging question. If we give government too much power, then it paves the way for evil leaders to use that power to abuse and oppress the people. If we give the government too little power, then it paves the way for evil people to get away with all kinds of harm against their fellow citizens.

What problems is government NOT able to solve? What problems should government NOT solve? What other institutions has God ordained to address these problems? How can I strengthen those institutions? What is the role of government in my life?

For further study: Romans 13, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Acts 5:29, Philippians 3:20, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, 1 Samuel 8:6-20

I’ve written three short books on politics, two of which are available at my website DwightClough.com.

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A prayer for you

Jesus talks about the importance of agreeing with someone else in prayer. I was praying about that today, and I felt that God wanted me to agree with you in prayer about a few things.

Actually, here below, I’ve written out a prayer for you, and
I’ve already agreed to each one of these requests for you.
So … if you agree, then that locks in the promise of Jesus:

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19 NIV)

Here goes:

Father in heaven
I make room for You, for Your Son Jesus, and for Your Holy Spirit.
Have the place of honor in my life.
Please reveal Your goodness to me.
Point my life heavenward, and guide my steps.
Break through into my world that I might know You and know Your love for me.
Grant me the courage to be real with you.
Heal my hurts.
Renew my mind.
Transform my life.
Let the details of my life reveal who You really are.
Let every life I touch be touched by the presence of God.
Save me from bitterness and all other sins.
Grant me the inner wealth that is my birthright as a child of God.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.


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