Helping People Change

Do you like change? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t! Change can be disruptive to our schedules. It can be discouraging to our spirits or even destructive to our mental/emotional well-being! Let’s face it, some change can even seem, dare I say it, “diabolical!”   That’s how much we hate change!

But for some, change is good! It’s like what happened after a fire swept through a barn and burned it to the ground. The farmer surveyed the wreckage while his wife called the insurance company. She asked the company to send a check for $75,000 based on the amount of damage done to the structure according to her husband’s estimation.

“Oh, we don’t give you the money,” a company official said. “We replace the barn and all the contents and equipment in it so you recover with exactly what you had before.” She quickly replied, “If that’s the way your insurance works, you can cancel the policy I have on my husband.”

We chuckle at such stories but in reality, change is not always easy. We get set in our ways. We live in a comfort zone that we like and don’t want disrupted. Constancy brings us a sense of stability and security while change brings us a sense of uneasiness because we have to face the unknown. But if you really stop and think about it, change is good in many ways and we should learn to embrace it.

Imagine never learning anything new after age 8! Or consider going through life without the conveniences that modern technology has provided for us over the last decade or two: cell phones, tablet or laptop computers, GPS, microwaves, or the myriad of other electronic devices that make our lives more manageable. Changes in things like transportation, communication, and technology all have advanced the quality of our lives many times over. So change can be good!

Personally and spiritually speaking, God wants us to be changing and growing as well! He wants us to change in our mental, emotional, and spiritual character. We have all had or maybe still struggle with bad habits or stubborn addictions we want to break. Things like overeating, watching too much TV, or just having an inactive lifestyle can all be detrimental to our health if we let these things become the regular pattern of our lives. Perhaps it’s a bad temper, a sharp tongue, or depression that has taken control of your life and pushed others away. Even more serious is the use of dominating substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, or the overuse of medications to dull the emotional pain of the past. To change in these areas is not only helpful and necessary but potentially critical. So, change is good in many ways.

God is in the business of changing lives, and this compels us in our ministry to help people change for the better as well. He changes us by working on the inside where our thoughts, motives, will, and desires reside. If we respond properly to His promptings, we can first change our inner man, then the outer man can follow suit.

At Valley Forge Baptist we have a Biblical Counseling Center that serves the community with the specific purpose of helping people change and grow!

Our focus is to come alongside people struggling with a life event and lovingly instruct them in the Scriptures in order to evoke change on the inner man. We help them to change their thinking in order to ultimately change their behavior, which will, in turn, improve their feelings and help them find or return to a Christ-centered, joy-filled life. The order for true change is to start with one’s thinking, which will affect one’s behavior, which will then impact one’s feelings. In a nutshell, it’s helping people change and grow in their walk with Christ. The formal term for this pattern of change is called “progressive sanctification.”  Here is a purpose statement we follow for helping people when they come to our counseling ministry…

“To have one’s thinking patterns changed so drastically that we and our counselees automatically, unconsciously, and comfortably act like Jesus would act if He were in our shoes.”

Since what we think is who we are, it is vital that we have right thought patterns about life. This is the beginning stage of true change. The most basic of thought patterns focuses on the following questions:

• Why am I here?

• What is my purpose in life?

• What will bring me joy and meaning in life?

• What happens after this life is over?

• How do I have assurance of heaven?

Having proper answers to these questions can change your life for all eternity. Here’s how change works…

God’s Part

1. God convicts our hearts, telling us we are all sinners. We must accept the fact that we have all sinned and missed the mark of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23).

2. We must then recognize that our sin will keep us out of heaven, so we must have forgiveness for our sin in order to have right standing before God (Romans 6:23).

3. We must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive us of our sin and then rose again to conquer sin and death. He paid our penalty for sin through His death, allowing us to go free (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

4. Next, we must receive Christ into our hearts by faith through praying and inviting Him to save us (John 1:12, Romans 10:9–10).

5. Once Christ (through the Holy Spirit) comes to live inside of us through our placing our trust in Him to save us, we now have the power of God living within us for victory over our old thought and behavior patterns (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Our Part

1. With Christ now living in you, though you will still be tempted to do wrong things (like mentioned above), you have the internal power to say no to temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 6:11–14).

2. You must begin to practice the “put-off” “put-on” principle (Ephesians 4:22–24). After asking God for strength for victory, you determine to literally “throw off” the old desires of your sinful heart and “put on” the new desires of the Holy Spirit who now resides in your soul that please God.

3. We change by allowing the Holy Spirit to have more influence in our lives than our old sinful attitudes and desires.  This change happens in the heart first (Matthew 15:19) and then impacts our behavior, which then impacts our feelings.

4. So the three-step dynamic for change is this:

If we BELIEVE right – We will THINK right.

If we THINK right – We will DO right.

If we DO right – We will FEEL right.

True change happens when we allow the Lord to change us on the inside by having His Holy Spirit dwell within us. This happens by trusting in Him through faith. With His power now living in us, we can begin to change the way we think about our hurts, struggles, and challenges in life. As we learn to rely upon Christ to help us, our burdens don’t seem as difficult and our temptations are not as dominant. We are able to say “no” to sinful or lustful thoughts and desires because we know they will not please Christ who saved us and now lives in us.

By receiving Christ, into your life, the initial change is immediate! You instantly become a child of God. That’s a change in who you are. But the change in what you do is a process that takes place over time and is not immediate. It happens as you learn to apply biblical principles to your life. The more you learn about Jesus Christ, your faith in Him, and the Bible, which is man’s instruction book from God for life, the more you will find yourself changing from the inside out. A key Bible verse to consider is:

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

What Keeps Us From Changing and Growing?

• Sinful habits

• Self-righteous attitude (“I’m OK” or “that won’t happen to me”)

• Stuck in the past

• Scared of the future and the unknown

• Small faith

• Set in our ways (same old same old; hard to make new patterns of living)

• Slow to respond to God’s conviction in our lives

• Sluggards (lazy)

• Surrounding ourselves with ungodly people and influences

• Sadness over our circumstances (can lead to self-pity and depression)

• Sinful actions of others done against us (creates bitterness and unforgiveness)

Consider all these factors. If you are dissatisfied with some area of your life and are looking for change, we want to be of help to you in guiding you through the change process. Please contact us at vfbcc.org or 866.828.9667. It would be our joy to assist you!

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