My subject has to do with change, and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard them from the platform saying, “How come so many people go to church and they don’t change. That’s what they ask me, isn’t it? I have been saying the big important thing is, you’re gonna change to repent. For goodness sake I’ve been working on that, too. What do you need to repent of? You need to repent of your sins. That’s all I’ve been hearing here. I thought I’d been doing some original thinking. So I want to talk to you about change because people come to me, more often, and they describe themselves like this: They say, “I’m restless.” That calls for a change, doesn’t it? What has to change?
That’s the important question. I hear people tell me, “I’m nervous.” People tell me, “I’m anxious.” People tell me, “I’m under stress.” People tell me, “I’m upset.” So, those are the kinds of things we’ve spotted. You know people don’t tell you that, “I have sinned.” That word has disappeared out of our vocabulary, I think. How often do you hear people say, “I’ve sinned?” We talked about sin, and we ask people, where do you start? We need to know what we’re dealing with, and I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned across the years about how to affect change in people’s lives.
I’m a professional counselor, and so when you come into my office, and you tell me that you’re restless, my job is to get you out from under that problem. I want to say to you, I’ve listened to folks say: “We’re at loss, or at sea, I don’t know quite what to do. If you have a little book like this….what have you got in your hand? For you to say, “What in the world am I gonna do?” I’ve got to say to you that I think you know more about what you ought to do than you think you do. Most of you people know more about this book than I do. Over and over again, I have to take the man who’s studied the Bible, he’s studied the Greek, the Hebrew, and I haven’t done that.
He was saying, “I wish I could be useful like you, I’ve only studied you.” That’s a pity, isn’t it? What we’ve got to do is get into the real stuff. So what is that in your hands? I’d like to reassure you that if you’re restless, or anxious, or worried, or under stress, that you’re just one little prayer away from some help. All you’ve got to do is find out what to pray about, folks. I’ve heard people tell me that they have prayed, and it didn’t work. Imagine, theologians telling me that prayer doesn’t work. That’s a pretty serious statement. I’ve heard people say I’ve prayed, and agonized, and wept on my knees….doesn’t work.
Let me reassure you, I think the only problem is, it’s not what you’re praying about that’s bothering you, it’s what you are not praying about. So you may be on your knees, and you may be agonizing, and crying out to God desperately and nothing happens. I can assure you that you’re pretty close. Probably what you are doing, it’s not what you are praying about, it’s what you’re not praying about. I’m convinced that repentance is rare in our day. I want to tell you what I think repentance is. In this book that I wrote that’s back there, “When you’re tired of treating the symptoms, and you’re ready for a cure, call me.” What are the symptoms that we’re dealing with? “I’m restless.” ”I’m under stress. ”I’m under tension.”
What people want to do is routinely tell me what that is in their life that is causing that, and so they want me to go into detail into their past history so we can figure out why they are under stress today. Isn’t that true? You know what I found out when I go to people’s background? A lot of them aren’t telling me the truth, so I get a skewed background. Now when you talk to me about your background, I asked you to tell me a little bit about your background, as old as you are, you’re gonna have to select some things among many, many things that are in your background that may be accurate, or it might be inaccurate. So what am I gonna do with you when your problem is stress? The Heaven’s are as brass.
You know I think of a Bible verse that’s in Isaiah 59:1-2. “God’s hand is not shortened it cannot save.” Are you sure of that? “Neither is His ear heavy that he cannot hear.” So what’s the problem there? It is your sins that have come between you and your God, not your wife’s sins, your sins. It is your sin that has come between you and your God, or it is your iniquities that keeps Him from hearing you. I have to find out what’s wrong with you. Some people give me these vague answers. So I push him a little farther, and someone will tell me strange things. I’m talking about college gradates. They want me to believe that they lost their heads. “I lost my head.” Can you picture that?
People don’t loose their heads. People will tell me, “I blew up.” I mean, they’re serious. Just get the picture…”POOF!” Eyeballs, bones, teeth. Look folks, people don’t blow up. I had a fellow tell me he broke down. When you get down to it, have you ever had the experience of waking up and you say to yourself, “Oh, no, I woke up.” How am I gonna get through this day? That’s what people tell me. I even had a fellow tell me one time that he was beside himself. Amazing. You know the one that really gets me is the guy tells me that his wife gets under his skin.
Listen folks, this isn’t funny. That’s so sad that it’s funny, isn’t it? That’s the way people talk, don’t they? People are not sinful anymore, and so I’ve got to find out what’s going on, what is hindering you from drawing on the resources of God. I want to reassure you that you probably just a little prayer away from help. What are you doing now? I know somebody else who reluctantly said, “You know I get so angry. I have a temper. That’s not a confession, that’s a warning.
You be careful around me, because you’re gonna stir up my temper, and it’s gonna be your fault. So people will tell me, “Yes, I have a temper, I’m angry.” Let me explain to you why I am this way. Then people will proceed, it’s amazing what people tell me. That the condition underneath your own skin, they tell me, is caused by something out there. Is that what you think? I am angry. Why am I angry? Because of what somebody out there said, and that caused me to be angry. Therefore, since something out there disturbed something in here, we’ve got to correct something out there, won’t we? Listen, that’s a universally accepted proposition, I do believe, that the condition in here is determined by something or somebody out there.
So what do we have to do? We’ve got to correct that condition out there. Now when I was studying that, that sounded so good to me cause that was true. I use to have a boss; he was a mean old guy. I mean when he wanted me, he’d let me know like this, he’d say, “BRANDT!” That one word, that’s all it took. He made me so mad. One word and I was mad from head to foot. Have you ever had that problem, or do you have that problem? What do you do when you’re mad and you’re a preacher? You have to develop a ministerial manner. My first experience with a minister when I was a young consultant. He came in, he drove over 1,000 miles to come and see me. He said that he had an ulcer, and he went to (inaudible 12:31) and they confirmed that it was psycho-somatic ulcers. So he came to see me.
He said he had had some therapy, and he wanted to talk about it. Why would a guy want to drive 1,000 miles to tell me what he already knew? Anyway, he came. He started the first session with his mouth open, and he started telling me all he learned about himself and why he had this ulcer, and he was explaining to me the problems his mother had and his father had, and his grandfather, and his brother and sisters, and I tried to get in a word edgewise, and he wouldn’t let me. The hour was up, easy way to make a living. Then he comes in for the second session with his mouth open, and he wants to continue that, and he picks up with sibling rivalry, and he explained that to me. He had conflict with authority, and he explained that to me. The hour was up.
The third time he came in with his mouth open and I had to try to figure out how to stop this fellow. I was new at this so I didn’t know much. Anyway, I came up with a plan. I said, “STOP!” Well he stopped, and I said, “Do you realize what you are doing?” He said, “Yes, I know what I’m doing.” “What are you doing?” “I don’t want you to get at me,” he said. “Hum.” I said, “Listen, you’ve got a stomach ulcer, haven’t ya? See, the psych people, we know hat stomach ulcers have a psycho-somatic cause and that’s what your doctor is telling you. Now that means that you’re mad at somebody. Who are you mad at?” Well, he told me about some people he was mad at. He was mad at two people.
One of them, he was in Seminary, and he had learned about the eye-gates, and the ear-gates, and how a Sunday school class should run. This one wasn’t running right, and he told me he made up these graphs and charts, and he called the church together. He was gonna show those through the ear-gates, and the eye-gates, why they should change the Sunday school? This gentleman got up and said. “I’ve been in this church for 40 years and I don’t see anything wrong with the Sunday school, and they voted him down. So he was mad at him. He tried it again, and he had some changes to the music program, and that didn’t work either, so he was mad at the other guy.
He reassured me that he was….This is the first time I ran into this term. Righteous indignation. This is a Righteous cause. That’s okay. So this angry minister, Righteous with anger gets up to preach Sunday morning and over there is the guy that he’s mad at, and over here is another guy that he’s mad at. Now he’s having a hard time talking about the love when he’s mad at those two people. So he goes to the back after the meeting; greets these people. “Good morning, glad to see ya.” That was a lie. This fellow was angry, he was deceitful, and I told him that, and he’s now mad at me.
It was alright for me to be mad at him, not for him to be mad at me. You see, this fellow, I could not get to him because he had this screen up in front of him, I couldn’t get to him. I said, “Why don’t you watch yourself when you leave here, and see what happens to you by tomorrow morning.” He comes back very disturbed in the morning. He was from a little mountain-town where you mozie up to a stop street, and you stop and look around, and you don’t do that in Detroit where we were, but he did it. These people would lay on their horns when they passed, and they did some hand signals. He was mad at some people that he would never meet, driving a car.
Then he got on the freeway, one of these…you know in Michigan we have these enormous highway trucks that come bearing down. They let him have it with the air horn, and they drove around him and his little car shook. He was mad at him, then he went out to a restaurant that night and apparently somebody at a table next to him had a cold. He’s sitting there and he hears sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff. Blow…blow…. Anyway, he left the restaurant with his meal half-eaten, and so he told me this in the morning. He said he began to realize it. He said what about the verse that says, “Be ye angry and sin not?” It’s amazing, the people who don’t know anything else in the Bible, they know that verse.
They know one other one. Jesus threw some people out of the temple. It’s incredible to me how many people want to be Christ-like with that verse. Well, what I’m trying to say folks, is that repentance is rare. Now I could get him to acknowledge that he was angry, but I could not get past that. I am angry, but let me explain my story. If you would let me tell you my story, you would understand why the scriptures do not apply to me. So to acknowledge that this is wrong is not enough. Repentance involves more than that.
Anyway, that was the struggle that he and I had. You know, I thought to myself….”Boy, you’ve got a lot of nerve talking to this Theologian like this.”
You see, the Lord doesn’t require you to do penance. He wants you to at least move from being sorry to wanting forgiveness. That’s pretty hard. “What more do you want? I’m sorry.” So I get you that far, but that’s not far enough. Now I want you to be forgiven. “Why should I be forgiven, it’s not my fault?” These steps get tougher and tougher, I’ve discovered. Then the next one is you need to be cleansed. You know, I had a fellow write me a while ago. He said, “I was reading your book, and I had a grudge from 35 years old, and I got through…”I’m wrong, I admit I was wrong.” Which is rare. How often do you hear someone say, “I am wrong, and I am sorry?” No excuses, no alibis, forgive me.
This fellow got as far as cleanse me. When he thought about letting go of those 35 year old grudges, he couldn’t do that. He got hung up right there. Have you got those things lurking in your soul? It almost gets to be like a family heirloom, doesn’t it? It’s very precious, and you can work yourself up into a frenzy over this thing. See, you’ve got to clean that stuff out of your life. Any ancient pet-peeves that you have, you gotta let them go, and then He’ll cleanse you. I thought the people who say, “I got to my therapist, and when I get through talking to my therapist, I’m relieved.” You want to be careful here. That’s true, you can talk to a human being, and you talk to me. I make my living off of miserable Christians. It’s good business, repeat business.
You know, to get to the point where you want to be cleansed….some folks say to me, wait a minute, I don’t show much interest in your story about your past sins. People insist that I listen to the stories about their past sins, and there is something about telling me about your sins that is cleaning for you, I don’t think so. What we’re talking about is you telling me about your past brings a relief to you, it’s not cleaning. You can pour out your heart to somebody who’s warm and loving, and you’ll go away feeling much, much better that you’ve been relieved.
You know folks, this is sin. There isn’t a human being in the world that can help you…is that true? What an important thing to isolate, if it’s sin that we’re dealing with. There isn’t a human being in the world that can help you, only God. If we are going to affect change in your life, we’ve got to get you to the place where you can see what it is that’s blocking your communion with the Lord. Something is, and if you get rid of that that’s blocking your relationship to the Lord, and you’d be surprised at the results. You can be transformed just like that if you get to that sin. Getting that sin, I tell ya, that’s the best news there is. Is that all it is, is sin?
Why listen, it may be that no human being can help you, but Jesus Christ came to die for your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and He will do that for you, and see, for you to tell me all about your sins, I began to realize after awhile, I’m a garbage for people’s sins, and after you tell me all about them, I can’t help you anyhow. I think it’s important for you to know what you’re about. So what we need to do is review what we can do to affect change into people’s lives? When we do, we need to help people to become familiar with what sin is.
When we talk about sin, the word is “sin.” I want to pass out something here. This little chart is the one in this book. I believe that we need to understand these things, if we’re gonna affect change in people’s lives. I think we’re gonna have to help people understand what sin is. Now we talked about that word very vaguely, but to tear a person down, is what it is. Let me just use this. One time, this happened to me a long, long time ago in the 40’s, and my wife, I was telling you that I had this boss and he use to make me so mad. I discovered in those days that not only did my boss make me mad, but my little tiny, preschool child made me mad. That little preschool kid would buzz around and want to get in my lap like a little mosquito, and that kid use to get me so disgusted with that little kid, and then I had a wife.
My idea when I got married was that women were dedicated and committed to finding out what their husbands wanted them to do, and they were ready to do it, that’s what I thought. I haven’t found one of those yet. Anyway, that’s what I thought, so she wouldn’t do what I told her to do. Now between those three people, they backed me into a corner where I have to admit that I was an angry, selfish, hostile person. My little kid didn’t do that to me, and neither did my wife. Anyway, during those days, my wife and I, after I got that through my head, we did a little research, and the result was this thing you’ve got in your hand. We started studying the Bible to see….If I’m a sinner, what does that mean? How can I tell when I’m sinning?
Then we discovered also that there’s another thing that God can do for you, is to fill you with His Spirit. There’s no human being that can do that for you, either, is there? Only God can help you out there. Anyway, just let me give you an idea how I used this little chart with folks, this is in the book. This is to help people understand what sin is. Take for example, emotions. Spirit-filled emotions. What are you like when you’re Spirit-filled, emotionally speaking, what are you like? How can you tell? Well, just look, you’re loving, and peaceful, and gentle, and truthful, and kindly, and long-suffering. That’s what you’re like when you’re walking on the left side of this chart, right?
Folks, to respond that way emotionally, is humanly impossible. Are you struggling with those kinds of things? You’re trying harder? There’s no way that you can act like that. Now let’s go to the other side. Compared to the sinful emotions. Hatred, rebellion, bitterness, envy, bad temper, anger, unloving, jealous, malicious. Where are you in there? If we’re gonna affect some change in your life, you’ve got to face up to the fact that if you’re not finding yourself being on the left, then what is going on on the right-hand side, you have to deal with. Let’s take for example, the matter of a Spirit-filled mind.
What is a Spirit-filled mind like? Well, it’s forgiving, and hopeful, and appreciative, and willing, and impartial, and humble, and thankful, and confident, and wise. By the way, this is based on Mark chapter 7 and Romans chapter 1, and Galatians chapter 5. We just put them together so you could see them. You take the other side—the sins of the mind. Unforgiveness. I find people struggling, seriously struggling with a lack of forgiveness. I find especially when people have been physically abused, we would reassure those people that you have a right to nurse that kind of a Spirit…an unforgiving spirit in your heart towards somebody who physically abused you.
Especially if you are sexually abused, this applies to you. You are a special problem for God; I don’t think that’s true. You know I have good news for you; you can let the Lord clean that right out of your miserable heart, today, unless you don’t want to let it go. I discovered that it’s fun to hang onto those things, and I have found a Bible verse in James chapter 3 which says that….this is verse 14 and 15. “If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart…” See, that’s one of the problems with us human beings, isn’t it? We ought to come united. That’s what they’ve been telling us all week. We should become united, but the trouble with that is that the Bible says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, and we have gone, everyone unto his own way.”
So we people who want our own way are supposed to become united. There are two ways of doing it. How are you gonna do it? My way or your way? Obviously my way. I one time was on a little trip with a missionary. A Mission Executive. He had a Th.D. degree, and I had a Ph.D. degree, and we admired one another, respect one another, honor one another.
We had been through many, many things together for over 20 years, and we were planning this trip for almost a year. This is my friend, and I haven’t seen him for awhile. You know when you meet your friends, isn’t it delightful to meet your friends? Your beloved friend said, “Now we’re gonna start on our trip.” We had to go through the door like that. Me being the humble, consultant, I said to the mission executive, “You go first.” He said, “No, you go first.” I said, “No.” We get hung up at the door. Th.D., Ph.D., Mission Executive, Psychological Consultant travels all over the world, we get hung up at the door. Finally, I could see that he was stubborn, and so I gave in, but I did not like it.
As we were walking across the cement to the airplane, I saw this little narrow ladder, and I said to myself, “So help me, I am not going up that ladder first.” We held up the line for awhile discussing which one of us was gonna go up that ladder first. When that fellow finally went up the ladder first, then I felt much better. I tell you, this guy is getting sensible, now. Why? Because I got my own way. We got into the airplane; this is a trans-Atlantic flight. There were two seats, and I wanted the window seat, and so I’m gonna get the window seat. We’re from me to this fellow, and you’ve got to think fast in this world. I had to come up with a strategy. I figured, well, if I tell him to take the seat, he’d turn it down, and I’d accept it.
Sure enough. There’s a risk there…he might take you up on it, true. Anyway, I told him, “Why don’t you take the window seat.” He said, “No, you take the window seat.” I said, “Oh, okay.” We had three problems already and we hadn’t even sat down yet, and we’re supposed to go around the world! When he and I finished that right there, there’s something wrong here. So we decided we needed a leader, and we called ourselves together, and we elected a leader. Hey, did you ever have an election with two people? He was the Director of the Mission, and he invited me, and he was paying the bill. This was his idea.
How many of you would elect me as the leader? Let me go through that again. To submit to somebody, I’m gonna submit to him for the duration of this trip? That’s what we did. We decided that I would submit to him. First of all, we had to admit, “I’m selfish, Lord.” I thought I had handled that a long time ago. I don’t know what you think about that, but that was absolutely your doing there. I wasn’t any less smart than I was before I submitted to him, so he started acting like the leader. I got baggage, and I got hotel relations, and we solved that. When we come to a thing like a door, I look to him, and we will defer to his judgment. We didn’t have any more problems all the way around the world.
Listen, isn’t it true if you have to sacrifice your own way, or have a decent marriage, you’re gonna let the marriage suffer. The power of sin. Well, that was a lesson I learned about that. We talked about unity, it sounds good, but you know there’s a price you pay for unity. You must sacrifice your own way. You cannot have your own way, and have a united relationship with two or more people. So the power of this sin.
I was talking about self-seeking, how normal that is. Not spiritual, but normal, and I was reading to you in James chapter 3, “If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth.” Now this is the truth, folks, “This wisdom does not descend from above, it is earthly and sensual.” Sensual means pleasurable. I say, people enjoy seeking their own way. It’s too much fun to give up. You see, you’ve got to face that that’s what’s going on. You can convince yourself….I find that the smarter you are, the more ingenious will be your rationalizations for not repenting of your sin. My job is to hold up that mirror for you, and let you look at yourself, and you must want to know the truth about yourself.
Now gentlemen, ladies, you can do this from the public platform just like I’m doing now, and I can give you basis for searching your heart from the platform. I’m saying to you preachers, if you can sensitize your people to their problems from the pulpit, but you must be willing to recapture that word “sin.” We tend to let people know that we are super valuable to the Lord no matter what you do, just come back to the Lord. When you’re sinful, there’s a block between you and the Lord.
You have to reassure you that you’re okay will not help you one bit if it’s sin that’s come between you and the Lord. Is that right? Did I say something wrong there? I’m trying to say that sin is a word that has almost disappeared from our vocabulary, and so I’m giving you this to look at so you can get a visual picture of what we’re dealing with when we’re dealing with sin. Let’s take a look at the mouth. A Spirit-filled mouth. Truthful. You know, you can get yourself in all kinds of trouble when you’re not telling the truth. It’s so natural to shade the truth.
You know this fellow listened to me speak from the platform, he came up to me afterwards, he was so pleased because he had gotten insight into his life through the message. I never heard of the guy before. He said, “Last Saturday, this was the first week of my marriage, and last Saturday, we were tired, and I was looking at this paper, and it had a write up about the local zoo. I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if my wife would like to go to that zoo. I don’t want to go, but being a considerate, young, husband, I ought to call her attention to it at least.” She looks at it and she says to herself, “I don’t want to go to the zoo, but if you want to go, I’ll go.” So she said, “I’d love to go to the zoo. Let’s go.” He said, “Let’s go.” So they went to the zoo.
Why did they go to the zoo? Because they were lying to each other. You see, they’re trying to tell themselves that they are considerate of each other. That’s not the same as lying, is it? Am I a considerate person or a liar? So that’s what I had to help this individual to face up to. You see, he did this all by himself while I was speaking. I didn’t have to see him personally. He came up to me to testify what he had settled for himself during the sermon.
When he could see himself as a deceitful young man, and he is telling himself what a fine young, husband he is. Alright gentlemen, I tell you, you have a tremendous instrument in this pulpit. I would like to think that as I talk this way, that you are beginning to see yourself, also. Perhaps you can see some things that you can fix, and you say, “I don’t need to know about them. I don’t even want to know about them.” In fact, the less I know about you, the better I like it because that’s something I don’t have to remember, or keep from telling somebody about it. I trust that in this book….a lot of the important thing about this book is that I detail what I think sin is, and sin is specific.
There are specifics that we need to know about. Also, the fruit of the Spirit. Are you walking in the Spirit? You can just take a look. A Spirit-filled mouth is truthful, thankful.