Changeability: Flying from the Pigeon Hole

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Changeability: Flying from the Pigeon Hole

A problem that seems to dominate human beings throughout generations is the belief that people just are who they are and will, in general, default to some lowest common denominator given a situation or comfort position. As a Christian, I run into other believers regularly who seem to also think this. They look at the world around them and state cynically, “Those people will never change” or more specifically “He/She will never change”. But, is this true? Is this a Biblical description of humanity or is there any hope of humanity, either individually or as a whole, can change?

I learned early on from my dad that at least one person can change drastically and regularly. As I grew up in his household, my dad seemed to change and surprise me every day. In some ways, he still does. He and my mother encouraged my brother and me toward the belief that we had the ability, skills, and knowledge (or could at least attain them) to do and be people of endless variety and influence. Part of this view of life seemed to stem from an understanding that even under the most extreme circumstances of completely messing up a situation or our entire life, we could come back from that situation and be new again. As a result, I grew up with a confidence that life was not a single track on which I was locked, but more of a series of divergent paths onto which one might turn, either intentionally or unintentionally, but onto which one might converge once more, leaving the ruts and tracks of the other paths in another place. It’s a different kind of clean-slate approach, but one that makes a great deal of sense.

Now, though, it seems that the cynicism of our culture has gone another way. Maybe the prevailing mindset has always been toward being stuck in a sate-defined path in life, but it seems even more pervasive in the world and specifically in our American culture today. People say things like, “If it’s meant to be…” or “It’s fate…” as if those cliche statements somehow make sense of life. But, is there a such thing? Are we locked into a hopelessly plunging path toward an unsatisfying end?

This viewpoint even enters Christian culture. Believers will lock themselves into a particular spiritual trajectory and never see around something they were taught by another human being, even when the Bible says exactly the opposite. I still know people who try to squeeze racism out of the Bible by using Old Testament passages regarding the separation between the Israelites and other nations. Of course, this concept has nothing to do with racial separation, but with spiritual purity. But, the mindset of racism that continues to overcome the truths of God’s teachings of all being equal in the Kingdom have imprisoned the minds of many today.

But, in the overall picture of scripture, there are consistent reminders of God’s ability to make and prevent changes in the lives of people. The story of Joseph shows one side of this. God changes Joseph’s life over and over, from being the favored son, to being sold into slavery, to rising to lead an Egyptian official’s house, to prison, to leading Egypt itself! Another side can be seen in the story of Moses when God hardens Pharaoh’s heart over and over to bring about a certain end. While some might use both of these circumstances to show how people are fated to do something, the fact remains that Joseph or Pharaoh either one could have chosen differently. God merely used the attitudes and beliefs of both to His own will.

A wonderful New Testament example of change in someone’s life is Saul turning his life to become Paul. He was on a life track to become the next, most powerful Jew in the religious elite. He killed and tortured Christians with extreme prejudice. But, his life was immediately spun around and he became one of the most powerful Christian figures of the first century! Paul himself wrote: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” 1 Cor 6:9-11. Paul knew very well that lives can be completely changed. Do we?

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Is Mental Illness Something That Can Be Healed? Is it Like Demon Possession? @Enwrightened

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This is the thirty-third excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.  Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Is Mental Illness Something That Can Be Healed? Is it Like Demon Possession?

In the first century, demon possession was still somewhat prevalent. Here are a few instances that might ring a bell: A mute demon in Luke 11:14. A little girl possessed by an impure spirit, Mark 7:25-29. A man possessed by “Legion”, Luke 8:27-37. In every case of possession, there was a separate “spirit” inhabiting the body of the affected person. There is no indication that the person was suffering from a chemical imbalance or childhood trauma. The demon possession was something of supernatural origins. Therefore, mental illness, while the symptoms may seem similar in some cases to demon possession, is not the same as possession. Mental illness is characterized by physiological or environmental interruptions that lead to a neurological/emotional condition. But, can someone with mental illness be treated? Can they be healed? I would say that the answer to both of these questions is “yes”. But the questions are very different. Treatment through pharmaceuticals and therapy can help, but healing comes through the completion of the person. How does someone become complete? Of course, we talked about the complete Christian in the previous chapters. It’s really a spiritual matter that, given time and work, can bring completion to a human existence.

Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord Part 2 God’s Judgment on All Nations

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Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord Part 2 God’s Judgment on All Nations

One of the most sobering pictures we can get from Zephaniah is just how profoundly similar Judah was to what we see in today’s nations, including our own. If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will…

In Zephaniah 1:11-13, we see how Judah has left God for worldly goods: Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar! For all the traders are no more; all who weigh out silver are cut off. At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ Their goods shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.” God sees idolatry and evil in every nation and He will not allow it.

In Zephaniah 1:18, we see the root of their idolatry, not very different from the idolatry we see today: “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the Lord. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth”

In 2:12-15, we see God’s abhorrence of those who would bully and destroy as the Assyrians did so often to other nations: “And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert. Herds shall lie down in her midst, all kinds of beasts; even the owl and the hedgehog shall lodge in her capitals; a voice shall hoot in the window; devastation will be on the threshold; for her cedar work will be laid bare. This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, “I am, and there is no one else.” What a desolation she has become, a lair for wild beasts! Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist.” This kind of evil in our own country is far more subversive than how the Assyrians manifested their cruelty. Theirs was through military might while we see bullying and evil coming from “social change” in our nation. We are given a view of post-apocalyptic Assyria in this passage, empty and completely destroyed. The once wealthy and self-involved, almost solipsistic city will become nothing.

In 3:1-5, listen and think about who this reminds you of: “Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law. The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.” People who will not listen to wisdom and reason will not endure. See what happens in vss 6-8…

I have cut off nations;
their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
to make all their deeds corrupt.

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
“for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
all the earth shall be consumed.