I’m Finding I’m Having A Challenge With Change

I will be doing something this week I don’t like to do: change.

There are some things I like to change, and others I have no problem changing, but there are some things I will avoid changing at all costs.

Change is a curious thing. I have an Apple Watch with several very different bands. I like that; I like to be able to change my watch strap.

In fact, before I got my Apple Watch, I had a collection of watches in all shapes and sizes because I like to change them up.

I’m not sure I would have been all that excited about moving to a new watch if I couldn’t do something to change the look at least a little bit.

But when it comes to other things, like changing my email address, well, that’s a whole other matter.

I’ve had the same email address for 22 years, and been with the same internet company all that time.

But things are going to change here this week. We got a new internet service and TV package.

I really struggled to make the change because I didn’t want the hassle of informing everyone that they have to stop using my old email address and change to a new one.

The crazy thing is I don’t mind doing it for other people. I get those email messages that inform me that so-and-so’s email has now changed so please update my contact list.

I do it; I don’t have a problem with it, and it works fine.

But just thinking about changing mine, well, it creates a stress that is not rational but real.

It doesn’t make any sense, but I really don’t like the thought of changing it. I’m sure no one will be devastated that they can’t contact me if they forget to make the change in their address book … and possibly I could lose some contacts that are more like spam anyway.

That wouldn’t be so bad.

I just don’t like the thought of all that I have to do to make this change … even though I actually don’t have to do all that much.

But the thought of doing it seems a bit too much. It’s disruptive; it’s changing something that has been the same for a very long time.

It’s like changing out old hockey equipment. I hang on to the same equipment until I am forced to make the change.

Years ago I had a pair of long johns I would wear under my equipment. I had the same pair for so long that they had holes all over them.

I actually sewed them together, so that I could keep wearing them – that’s how crazy my aversion to change is!

With my email address change, the price tag was what eventually forced my hand.

We could save close to $50 per month by making this bundle change.

I just couldn’t justify my old email address being worth that much money.

And you know, just talking this all out right now has made the change seem a little more doable.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we can get stuck in a sin because we have a hard time with change. Sometimes we have a hard time moving forward in our relationship with God because it will mean change. Be careful that an irrational aversion to change doesn’t keep you from dealing with sin and moving closer to God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What is something that God might be asking you to change? Leave your comments below.

How to Win An Argument With Yourself

If you’ve ever tried to win an argument, you know how hard it is to change your mind.

In my last post (read here) I wrote how real change only comes when you change your mind, and not when you just do something different.

Doing something different can bring temporary change, but not long-lasting change. For the long haul you need to change your mind.

I remember I once changed a teacher’s mind. In my high school geography class we were studying Israel and who had a right to the land – the Jews or the Arabs. It was a hot issue because, at the time, it looked like Egypt and Israel would go to war.

Our teacher set up a debate for our class to decide who had the rights to the land, with one side defending the Jews and the other the Arabs.

I got thrown on Israel’s side and, since I was probably the only kid who went to church, I had some background to Jewish history.

By the end, my side had won and my teacher was really impressed that we had changed her mind with our arguments.

Changing your mind takes work; it doesn’t come easy.

If changing our minds was easy, we wouldn’t do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result.

Changing your mind is like a skill, and to develop any skill you need to work at it; you need to practice.

Years ago I learned the skill of playing the guitar. The only problem was I didn’t practice it enough. Though I play the guitar, I don’t play it very well – that would require me to practice way more than I do and, over the years, I’ve proved that I don’t have the desire to practice enough to become good at it.

Changing your mind requires that you put new or different information in your head, and then use it or practice it over and over.

It’s similar to having a favourite picture frame filled with an ugly picture. You won’t be happy with the frame until you change the picture in it.

In my office I have a picture I had taken of me with a famous hockey player. I also got his autograph to “Pastor Paul” on a separate card.

They sat on my desk for a while before I did anything with them. They were of no benefit to me until I got a nice picture frame, removed the sample picture that came with it, and replaced it with the picture of Darrell Sittler and his autograph.

It looked great; it was just what I wanted. But it took another week until Lily found the right place to hang it on my office wall so I could enjoy it.

To change your mind, you have to want to change, and then you need to put new information in your mind and use it.

Here’s the thing: If you are struggling with a sin, a habit, or a character issue and you want to overcome it, change it. Then find a verse that speaks to that issue and memorize it. Work that verse into your mind by saying it every day, and every time you fail at the change you want to make. Over time you will change your mind with that verse. It will help you to change your character so that you will not be plagued by that sin, habit or issue any more.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: When you think of something you would like changed, what verse comes to mind?  Leave your comments below.

I Never Wanted To Change My Mind

I always thought that changing your mind was a flaky thing to do, that someone who changes his or her mind can’t really be counted on.

But I’ve changed my mind on that one. … Please don’t consider me flaky now; let me explain.

The Bible tells us that God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever; He’s not going to change His mind. He is all-knowing and all-powerful so He can remain unchanged.

For the rest of us, we have to change our minds. If we don’t, we never will progress; we will never get out of our ruts. We will never make any breakthroughs.

In order for you to do something different, it will mean you have to change your mind.

We can try to change things by focusing on developing new skills or processes. We can try to make ourselves follow a certain set of rules or regiments.

But unless we change our minds, we will not be successful in the long run.

People go on diets or they hit the gym, bound and determined that they will lose weight or get into shape by doing certain things and eating certain things (or not eating certain things).

But most of those people, who start out with these great intentions, go back to their old ways of eating and their old ways of living on their couches.

The reason? – they never changed their minds.

They changed their habits for a while, or their activities or their intake for a time. But only a change of mind will activate their actions into something that will stick with them for the long haul.

Everything starts in the mind, not with your actions. When you change your mind, you can then change your actions.

Forget the diet until you change your mind about how healthy you want to be and feel.

Don’t go to the gym until you change your mind about being fit.

And by the way, changing your mind is not that easy.

It’s not just a matter of telling yourself something new. You have to believe that the change of mind is a worthy change, that it is a wanted change, that you are fully convinced that you have to make this change.

Often a change of mind comes when you reach the point when you are so unsatisfied that you have to do something.

It’s that Popeye principle. You know, when Popeye would be beaten to a pulp by Brutus, when he had no hope, no escape and no strength.

Just before he popped a can of spinach out of his shirt pocket and squeezed it into his mouth (where he got the strength to do that is another story), Popeye would say, “I can’t stands it; I can’t stands it no more!”

That’s it, right there – that’s when we get to the place where we are ready to change our minds.

Before that point, we probably will just be trying a new activity, fad or process.

to be continued.

Here’s the thing: We like our minds just the way they are. Only when we are not satisfied, not wanting the same, are we ready to change our minds. That’s why, when it comes to our faith, there is usually something making us uncomfortable. Don’t ignore it until it goes away; grapple with it, wrestle with it. It may be God trying to get you to change your mind.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has got you unsettled, unsatisfied that you may be inclined to change your mind? Leave your comments below.

This Time Change Is Really Affecting My Rhythm

I never really noticed how the time change affected me before, but my sleeping sure has been altered in the last two nights.

I like the fall change because you get an extra hour of sleep … or at least that’s the theory.

In reality, it’s a license to stay up an hour longer … but even that turns into more like two hours.

So I actually get less sleep but only half as much less sleep than if I had stayed up two hours later the night before the time change.

I usually like to get to bed early on Saturday night because I have to preach the next morning. I don’t know why, but this Saturday night I was wide awake, so I stayed up a little longer than I should have.

For some crazy reason, however, I woke up way earlier than normal – at 4:30 a.m.! And I’m not that guy who gets up by my internal clock. I need an alarm or I would keep sleeping.

I just lay there going over my sermon in my head. By the time 6 a.m. rolled around and it was time to get up, I had basically rehearsed my whole sermon in my mind.

If you’re doing the math, no, I don’t preach for an hour and a half; there were gaps and times I struggled to remember what came next.

Surprisingly, when I got up, I didn’t feel tired or like I hadn’t gotten much sleep that night. I did, however, take a rather long nap Sunday afternoon.

I thought it was a fluky thing until this morning. Again I woke up very early, and again I rolled around in bed, this time without a sermon to keep my mind occupied.

I thought of random things for about an hour until my alarm went off and it was time for me to get up.

Now I’m thinking that the time change has affected my sleeping patterns and I hoping it won’t last too long.

I also found out that this time change is a lot more dangerous than I ever imagined it would be.

It turns out there are more accidents on the roads the Monday after a time change.

And then there are the physical problems! Apparently studies show there are more heart attacks, strokes are more frequent, and cases of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also rise.

… Not to mention headaches for those who suffer from them.

They say it all has to do with our circadian rhythm being disrupted. Your circadian rhythm regulates your 24-hour internal clock and it does it based on light.

I don’t know much about all that stuff but I want my rhythm back before something disastrous happens!

Here’s the thing: There are many things that can disrupt your walk with God. It might be sleep, it could be sin, or it could be some distraction that you are focussing on. My advice is to stick with a routine of meeting with God, continue to confess your sin, keep praising Him, keep looking into the scriptures for what He’s saying to you. You will get your rhythm back. Check out what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message by Eugene Peterson); its all right there:

“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.”

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What gets you out of your rhythm with God? Leave your comments below.

A Momentary Action Can Change Your Life

A momentary action can make a huge impact on one’s life. The repercussions of that action can have long-lasting effects.

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Let me tell you about it …

This week as I was playing hockey, I crossed the blue line with the puck. A defender was right in front of me so I made a quick direction change in hopes that he would zig to my zag.

It took probably less than an second; it was just a subtle move to give me some free ice to keep moving forward.

That move may not have fooled my opponent, but it sure fooled my back. Immediately I felt a tweak down low near the base of my spine.

“Whoa!” I thought, “This doesn’t normally happen.” But I also recognized the feeling which brought a truckload of memories to my mind.

This was not the first time a momentary action had caused some pain in my back.

It started about three years ago when I was mountain biking on vacation. I carry a folding saw in my backpack to take care of small trees that have fallen across the path.

This particular summer there was a big tree too high to go over, too long to go around. I needed to get rid of it. It was too big for my saw but I thought I would just saw a little every day until I got through it.

I worked on it for a couple of days but then got impatient. I jumped on it … nothing. I kicked at it … again, nothing. So I put my arms around it and yanked.

It was a momentary action, but it sent a sharp pain to the base of my spine that left me lying on the floor of our trailer for about four days.

Since then, there has been a couple of other instances that a momentary action has given me the same result.

One time I bent down to pick up a knife I had dropped on our kitchen floor. That led to some more flat out time for me.

All these memories came back to me the moment I felt the tweak in my back. I went to the bench and stretched a little. And then a curious thought was planted in my brain: “Maybe I can just work it out by playing the rest of the game.”

So I did, but I spent the next two days pretty much flat out on my bed. The rest of the week, I’ve been moving pretty slowly. I’m hoping to be able to stand and preach on Sunday without any twinges of pain and without seizing up.

One momentary action about three years ago has now weakened my back so that new momentary actions continue to make a big impact on me.

Here’s the thing: Coming to faith in Christ is like a momentary action. It’s a decision to turn from self-rule to Christ’s rule in your life. There may be many factors that have contributed to that momentary decision, let alone the years it may have taken to get to that point. But in one moment you are changed and the impact of that change has long-lasting effects, right into eternity. You can also expect other momentary actions, triggered by the first one, that will cause more long-lasting effects as God continues to mould you and shape you into His image.

I don’t recommend the momentary action that caused my back issues, but I do encourage the momentary decision to give your life to Christ. You won’t regret those effects!

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What momentary action has left long-lasting effects on you? Leave your comment below.

New Doesn’t Always Feel Better At First

I’ve worn the same hockey skates now for 22 years – that’s a long time to be wearing the same set of blades.

my skates.001

Some people like to stay current and keep up with the latest improvements. Though I like new things, when it comes to hockey equipment, I don’t easily let go.

Over the years I’ve replaced my skate blades several times. But recently I saw signs that other parts were beginning to wear out.

Some of the stitching was giving way, and there were some cracks in the leather inside the boot. … That’s right, leather! It’s not easy to find skates with leather anymore. It was time for a new pair.

But this was not a quick decision. In fact, I’ve been thinking about buying new skates for a couple of years, but the thought of parting with my old skates was just too hard.

My old skates are comfortable; they are well broken in. I like to hang on to things like that. When I was in my early twenties, I sewed strips of cloth to my old long underwear, so that I didn’t have to get a new pair to wear under my equipment.

So making the move to a new pair of skates was a big deal for me.

I’ve worn CCM Tacks for 40 years or more, so that’s what I gravitated to in a new skate. But the new ones looked different, felt different and even fit differently than my old skates.

My old skates were the very first attempt at moulding the boot to your particular foot. With those skates, you put them on and they took a heat gun to the boot, making the boot pliable. Then they sucked all the air out so that the boot formed tight to the contours of your foot.

With my new skates, they went into an oven and were heated up. Then you put them on, tied them up tight and just sat with your skates on until they cooled down.

The results were pretty much the same, though I think my new skates feel even better than my old ones.

But that’s what you get with new things. Processes have been refined over the years, materials have been enhanced, and my new skates weigh considerably less than my olds ones did.

My new skates look better, more modern, up-to-date.

Even though there are many good things about my new skates, there are some drawbacks that I need to overcome. For some reason the new boot feels like there’s more to it so I feel a little clumsy in them.

My new skates also lace up higher than my old ones, which feels a little awkward. I had to undo the top eyelet so that I could get into a comfortable skating position … but tying them one eyelet lower makes them feel like they need to be done up a little higher, just not a whole eyelet higher.

I really needed to get a new pair of skates, and I know that eventually I will get used to them, but between now and then it’s not going to be fun.

Here’s the thing: When God prompts you to make a change in your life, it’s never an easy one. You are comfortable with the old; you are used to it. You feel awkward or out-of-sorts with the new. It’s going to take some getting used to, but in the end, it will be better … God is shaping you into His image.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you put off changing in your life? Leave your comment below.

This Watch Really Has Changed Everything

You know how you can get something new and think to yourself, “Hey, this changes everything”?

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Well, maybe you haven’t ever thought that, but Apple thought of it. In a recent advertising campaign, that was the slogan they used: “This changes everything”.

Well, about five months ago as a gift, I got an Apple watch. Since then it really has changed everything. Besides the fact that it will do everything short of cooking my breakfast in the morning, it really has changed my life.

It’s changed how I think through my day. I used to go through my day without a thought for my body. Then I got a step counter and I consciously considered how many steps I take in a day.

But that’s nothing! Since I got my watch, I’m thinking of how many calories I’m burning in a day, how often I’m standing during the day, and how much exercise I’m getting each day.

I used to feel good if I played hockey a couple of times a week. Now I’m trying to get thirty minutes of exercise in each day.

It would be nice, however, if the watch could shut my mouth in the evenings to liquorice or chocolate. But I’m figuring out that there’s a part that I have to play that’s more than just wearing the watch on my wrist.

Some people would call it deficiency; I call it first generation Apple watch … they’ll figure that out in future editions.

My watch has also changed how I use the stuff in my pockets. I don’t haul out my wallet or phone nearly as much anymore.

I answer texts by speaking into my watch (like I’m an FBI agent speaking into his hand). I get my points for purchases right from my watch; no more swiping a card. I even answer my phone like Dick Tracy used to do in the cartoons when I was a kid.

My watch has got me to be conscious of how much water I drink in a day. Now I know when I need to take a sip. As a result, there have been a few times where I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

They say we are 96% water … I may be approaching 97% on those nights. I think I’m a little waterlogged!

This watch has even changed how I play hockey. The other day I was on the ice, playing defence. The puck was at the other end of the rink when I suddenly remembered I wasn’t recording my on-ice exercise.

I took off my glove to set it, but as I looked down at my watch, I saw the puck go through my legs and heard some heavy breathing. I fumbled with my stick and dropped it. I had to control the puck with my feet, move it to a corner and then kick it over to a teammate.

I wasn’t that successful, but they didn’t score. When the puck cleared again, I hit the start button on my watch and everything was good.

Here’s the thing: Christ changed everything over 2000 years ago when He died on the cross for our sins. What we need to consider now is how have we changed our lives because of Him? He changed everything, but it really only changes everything for us when we accept the changes and implement them in our lives. Give yourself completely to Christ’s change.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: When you look at your life, how has Christ changed everything for you? Leave  your comment below.

Is It Really Time For A Change?

Apparently it’s time for a change in our country. That’s the mantra floating through the air in Canada this last month.

Time for Change clock

I hear it in every commercial for the Liberals and NDP. It’s either time for a change or it’s time for real change. Even the media have been telling us the voters want change.

I’ve heard people say the Conservatives have been in power too long so it’s time for a change. The government is not doing enough for some people; certainly they want a change – a new government who won’t do enough for a different group.

Sure, this election seems like it’s all about change, but is change really what the election should be about?

When I go to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac instead of a Quarter Pounder, I might say that I feel like a change. I might not even have a reason for the change; I just want something different.

But that’s called a craving; I don’t need a reason for a craving.

It’s fine for hamburgers, but is it good for an election? Let’s face it, the parties who want change, who want us to vote for a change, just want us to pick them.

For the opposition, change is good because it gets them what they want. They may try to disguise it to look like they really want what’s best for the country, but the bottom line is they just want to replace the government with themselves.

If they can get us to believe we want a change, a hankering for a new party to lead the country, that works in their favour.

But hey, it’s not like we’re all pregnant with whimsical cravings for pickles and ice cream or a minority Liberal government with an NDP opposition on top.

Choosing a government means we have to think of what’s best for the country as a whole. That also means it won’t be the best for every segment of the country. Some groups will not get what they want.

The bottom line is the government has to do what’s best for the country at large.

That’s why I question the Liberals wanting to run a 10 billion dollar deficit. Sure, the arts will get more money, as will other groups, but someone’s got to pay for it. It won’t be the richest 1% either, because they have lots of ways to reduce their income.

It will be the middle class … it’s always the middle class.

The NDP think they can spend their way to a balanced budget. They will take care of the environment, pay for daycare, fix our medical system, and give you what’s behind curtain number three (hint: the car is never behind curtain #3).

So that’s why some parties want us to believe it’s time for change. Because if we thought about what they really want to do, we wouldn’t want to change.

There isn’t a perfect party, and there is no government that will make everyone happy. But if we focus on what’s best for the whole, a stable and secure country is what we all really need.

Here’s the thing: Every day we’re tempted to do what’s wrong over what’s right, and choose bad over good. When we give in to our whims and our desires, we’ll give in to the temptation to sin. We won’t consider the consequences, or the pain it might cause, just anticipate an immediate gratification. If we think through about the temptation instead of reacting to it, we will choose not to sin more often.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How are you going to think through your decision this election? Leave your comment below.

Change Happens Over Time

A lot can happen over a long period of time. You don’t notice the change at first because it takes time to develop.

leaky tap

Recently, we cleaned the deck in our backyard. When we moved in to our house the wood was pressure-treated and it looked great. But over the years it started to look grey and old and there were dark patches that became more dominant.

It didn’t just happen; it gradually got that way so that it kind of snuck up on us. But one day we realized we needed to do something about this deck; it was not looking very good.

Scientists will say that’s the way the whole world works; it’s called evolution. Given enough time, things develop. One problem I see with their theory is that, with everything at my house that changes over time, it changes for the worst!

It deteriorates; it doesn’t get better, or turn into something new and improved. Things get worse.

You might not notice for a while, or pick up on the little signs, or indicators, but down the road at some point you realize that things are not as they were, and it’s not for the better.

This week Lily discovered something in our basement that had developed over the last week or so. I had sort of noticed that there was something going on in our basement, but it wasn’t totally clear to me.

On Friday night, Lily was talking on the phone and walking in the basement when she stepped on a wet part of the carpet.

It wasn’t supposed to be wet there and, as she looked further, she discovered that this wet area was pretty large. It had soaked the bottoms of book cases, a closet organizer and some picture frames.

When Lily told me, I realized what I had noticed earlier – a faint, musty smell that was actually coming from this water.

We knew right away where the problem originated. I had fixed a few taps in the house last week and, in doing that, had to shut off the water in the house. Well, the tap at the water meter had been dripping slowly since that time.

I guess it turns out that taps only last nineteen years because I’ve now replaced all the taps that old in the place!

It’s pretty amazing how a little drip over time can soak such a large piece of carpet and ruin several things. If it had have been a faster drip, I probably would have noticed it and not left it.

But I didn’t notice the leaky tap, and a week later it had created a mess!

It takes some people time to notice things. A few days ago, I was talking to someone and he motioned at my face. I knew immediately what he was referring to – my goatee … which is not there anymore and hasn’t been for a year and half.

There were no lasting effects with my facial hair going undetected. However, we have a big clean up ahead of us from that undetected drip in our basement.

Here’s the thing: Messes, like sin and hurts, if not addressed, can interfere with your relationship with God. They may not be that noticeable at first, but as more messes pile up, the damage to your relationship with God can get to the point where everyone around you notices things aren’t right. Don’t let the little things go unattended and you will keep your relationship with God in good shape.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you noticed that turned into something big? Leave your comment below.

When You Get Lost in the Change

I get a little lost at this time of year, especially in the evenings. For the past month, there has been hockey on TV pretty much every night.

New old Habit

Often there have been multiple games, extending hockey into the wee hours of the night for us in Ontario. But that has come to an end.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so in the past month, I’ve been in the habit of watching hockey each night.

It didn’t matter if I had a meeting or activity after dinner, when I got home there was always the action, cheers, commentary, and, of course, my red light broadcasting throughout the house that another goal had been scored.

It was comforting; I knew what I would be doing and Lily would know where to find me. I didn’t have to choose between several options or projects when I was home. I was focussed, single-minded. It was a good thing.

… Well, I guess it wasn’t all good. There were some downsides like not being able to follow the conversation Lily was trying to have with me. I found it difficult to look her in the eyes while she was talking when the play-by-play guy was describing how a player just rang one off the post.

All winter I have reserved Saturday night to have a can of Dr. Pepper. It’s pretty much the only time I will drink it. However, with hockey on every night, I had to daily remind myself that it was not Saturday or I’d have been going through a case of pop every week!

But all that has come to an end. I don’t know what to do with myself now, because we are down to only four teams and the games are spread out. I had to watch a repeat of the Canada versus Belarus game the other night and I already knew Canada won 9-0!

I’m finding there is great pressure for me to move away from the TV and find something more productive to do. I keep hearing suggestions and hints of things that could be attended to around the house.

My problem is I don’t have my ready-made excuses to not get at these things. It’s one thing to say, “Sure Lil, I’ll put out the garbage right at the end of the period . . . after Coach’s Corner.”

It doesn’t work any more to say, “Could you repeat that? I didn’t quite hear you” four or five times. Lil knows I’m scamming her.

You see, I just made a habit and now I already have to break it … and that’s why I feel lost right now. My routine is being interrupted; my time must be filled with new things.

I think I just need to be weened off of hockey over a few weeks. And that’s good because the semi’s are on and by the time the Stanley Cup series is done, I think I will be ready to fully embrace golf and mountain biking . . . until hockey starts again in the fall.

Here’s the thing: When a season of life changes or your schedule changes for that matter, it can throw you off from your time spent with God alone. Use these times to refresh your approach to your time with God. Change it up a little. Try to incorporate something that will challenge you and increase your interest and desire to meet with Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What disruptions to your routine cause you to feel out-of-sorts? Leave your comment below.