The Training Table: God’s Change Management Plan, Process, and Produce

20140320-010522Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24).

The World’s Change Management Plan—When It’s Good, It’s God’s!

I’m not going to go into any level of detail relative to the volumes upon volumes of what “organizational change management” takes into account. But I can say just one thing… In two slices: a) Devoid of super-solid leadership who transparently or at least tangentially borrows from God via the likes of say, Covey, Blanchard, Kubler-Ross, Maxwell, Kotter…]; b) any long-term, transformational, top-to-bottom change will only scratch the surface, or cannot really occur at all.

“Change” is something God originated, and leaving Him out—or using principles and practices that contradict His Truths—always leads to highly unsatisfactory and unsatisfying results.

You might say, “Wai… wai… wait just a minute, Doz. I’ve experienced some deep and good changes in organizations before, and God was never brought up!” If that’s really the case for you, do me a favor and dig down into the principles and practices employed by deep, transformational change of this sort: Trust me; they were laid down first by God in the Bible. There’s nothing new, that’s True and Good under the sun.

And the larger the organization the more challenging… or impossible… because there are simply more of the forces of Sin, sinning, and organizational entropy working hard against God-pleasing and people-blessing… change.

This is one of the main reasons why we FEAST on the appetizers, entrées, and deserts of leadership, leadership, and leadership at The Training Table so often!

Change is Hard; Transformational Change is Impossible… Without God.

Some say change is hard—that’s because the spiritual, emotional, and psychological vice-grip human beings have on their pride and a wide of array of idols, egotism, inner-fears, false narratives, and multifaceted pretences. Akin to a very shaggy Shaggy Dog frolicking in the burrs all day long, there’s a huge amount of very tedious and painful “combing and teasing out of the burrs” to get things back to right! We might as well shave off the shagginess to the quick… And try, try, and try again… to stay out of the burrs.

Not gonna happen. To extend the metaphor, even if we underwent the de-burring it’s impossible to stay out of the brush!

Some say change is impossible—purely out of their frustration and hopelessness in the people around them, but, even more powerful, purely out of their own inner resistance to change the deeper things in themselves. Our idols, inner fears, and false narratives about our story put down [even generational] roots so deep it can feel like someone tasked us with taking out The Redwood State Park with a weed whacker, right? Again, not gonna happen. The tool simple doesn’t suit the task.

The clear and present danger and indomitable reality of the hardness and impossibility of change is one of the most powerful and effective death grips the world, our own falleness, and the devil can maintain on our life… On any human being’s deepest desire and potential to really and truly CHANGE… In order to LIVE, FLOURISH, and be temporally and eternally FRUITFUL.

By Just One yet Heart-Shattering Measure…

Lest anyone think I’m exaggerating this reality, please consider at least two generations of today’s youth—and the incidence of self-destructive behavior linked to “the apparent impossibility of deep, transformational, God-intimate… change.” When any Image Bearer of God [but especially a child] is abandoned to the hopelessness of, “This… I… can never change.” death “by a thousand paper cuts” or quicker does is not just light duty, my friends, it can appear like the most freeing option there is. For far too many, suicide is far better than daily despair.

Believe me, I do not say this lightly or without compassion on so many parents who have lost their beloved children to despair. In Christ, forgiveness, repentance, and redemption is real; but so is our responsibility for, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Proverbs 127:3) “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:6; Colossians 3:21) See: Titus 2.

You see, as God, the Bible, and St. Paul stated and repeated many times and ways, humanity is, a) born into Sin and b) has the habitual habit of sinning (Romans 1, 2, 7; Ephesians 2:9, 2 Timothy 2:9 and Titus 3:5… lots more). If any human being is not introduced to the reality of God’s Plan of Redemption—or “Change Management Plan”—the apparent intractability of his or her “Sin and sinning nature” will lead to despair, self-destruction, or, at a bare minimum, “a life of meaninglessness and chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1)

The ability to change… RADICALLY… exists; and God’s honoring us enough to offer us a free will choice in the matter exists along side.

God’s Change Management Plan, Process, and Fruitful Produce

Please cleanse your palate… Take a really deep breath or two… and do a quickie yet focused stretch of your neck, shoulders, and torso… before we dine on the next course.

God’s Plan of Redemption takes into account the ONLY fact and form of transformational change that matters as the first matter of change, that all fundamental change follows from, and that we need to pay very… temporally [to live in and for today]… and eternally [to live with for all time]… close attention to:

In the Beginning, the Trinity Created

Before anything at all existed, the pre-existent Godhead the Father thought, God the Son spoke, and God the Spirit fluttered and all of creation leapt into existence.

[Do you believe this to be true? It’s just one manifestation, very early in the Bible, of the Holy Spirit’s person, power, and practice that’s impossible to put aside, while hoping to believe in Him.]

And the Spirit is continuing to flutter and RE-CREATE today! This is a profound truth that has mysterious and supernatural AS WELL AS manifestly practical and natural consequences.

And please understand this: Just because any rampantly secularized or “pragmatized” human being or culture no longer believes in the realms of the supernatural where God “lives, breathes, has His being,” and maintains sovereignty of all life and death does not mean the supernatural realm of God’s sovereignty does not exist anymore. In fact, it not only exists, but it has a direct influence on how all things actually change.

JUST AS… “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering [“fluttering”, KJV] over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

SINCE CHRIST WAS RAISED… At just the right time, the Spirit of God FIRST hovers over the hearts of God’s chosen ones to bring each of them back from the dead… to life!

This “first cause” in the realms of God’s “continuing creativity” and our own salvation and eternal destiny is so seminal! And yet so unmentioned at the level of detail whereby we can be honest about why Jesus Christ [essentially] asked the same question to most everyone He encountered, “Have you been born again?” (E.g., essentially, “Do you want to be forgiven or healed? If you choose the latter devoid of the former you will remain terminally ill.” (Matthew 9:28; Mark 9:23; John 16:31… more)

Before… repentance, and before any whisper of our own awareness of our sin and our need for a Savior and Lord… The Spirit hovers and initiates the CHANGE of heart, mind, soul, and strength. Do you realize that you and I… and all of humanity… are so utterly corrupt that you, we are utterly incapable of turning from having been born into Sin, and our habitual sinning… to God?

Regeneration—This work of God is closely, yet mysteriously, linked with his effectual calling so that the two could conceivably be considered one simultaneous work of God. It is distinguished as that act of God’s grace whereby he supernaturally implants a new, Christ-aware heart and spiritual life in us so that our internal spiritual governance changes. It “carries with it the operative grace whereby a person called is enabled to answer [God’s specific and effectual] call…to embrace Jesus Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel.” [i] This supernatural work of the Triune God working separately and in union is frequently illustrated in Scripture as God’s gift of a new heart, a heart that is alive and honorably responsive to Biblical truth. It is God’s work alone that initially changes the heart, and yet Christians are called to evangelize and make disciples. This apparent contradiction or tension is God’s to command and ours to obey, nonetheless.” (John Dozier; Berkhof Systematic Theology, W.W.W., Appendix B)

Regeneration, Being Born Again, CHANGES Everything!

After regeneration comes, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification… When Christ returns to make all things new.

The Spirit’s most loving act of REGENERATION is aimed at CONFORMATION so that Christ’s growing, maturing, and increasingly effective disciples resemble HIM more and more each passing day!

Before we take some really important time to marinate slow and deep in the Bible’s inspired and inerrant Love and Truth concerning “God’s Change Management Plan” below, please allow me to offer two more points:

1) Being a “born-again Christian” is considered by far too many people [even in the church] to a form of Christianity or “religion” that is reserved for particularly needy, bankrupt, gutter-dwelling, gin- and urine-soaked, and inordinately dire derelicts—who need something well beyond a little religious spit and polish… “Like the rest of us.”

If it isn’t obvious enough by now, Jesus Christ’s perspective on this is that being born again is the absolute bottom-line, crux, essence, and foundation-beneath-all-foundations requirement for, a) inclusion in His family, and b) the eradication of shame—that originated in the Garden at The Fall!

There is no other way to gain access to The Family of God OR kill deader-than-dead the effects of humankind’s Sin and sinning [in part while we’re alive and absolutely when Jesus returns].

It’s so like us to be like Nicodemus, right? Loosely translated, “Hey, Jesus! I was wondering what it’s gonna cost to get out of this mess I’m in? I see my need and I’ve got the resources to pay the debt…”

And Jesus might reply, “The cost of the debt you owe is as far out of your reach as the distance I had to span to become a man, Nicodemus. This state of your heart is so dark and deep that you that you have no resources to deal with it in the least! You literally have to be spiritually reborn and made a new creation… IN ME and by THE SPIRIT.”

The net-net is SOLA Gratia—by Grace ALONE! Not—like all other religions have it—“It’s mostly Grace plus a pinch, or a front-loader full, of some of your own works… to get right with God.”

We contribute NOTHING to our salvation except for our sin, Beloved.

If we don’t get this [“the sin side of the Gospel”] one way down deep, we can never, ever, no never fully know and sense the extent of God’s love and manifold mercies for us in Christ Jesus [“God’s love side of the Gospel”].

2) When we are regenerated, hovered over by the Spirit, born again, converted… it’s all the same… our transformation is begun and all of our sense and sensitivities are, a) instantly, b) slowly, c) incrementally, and d) progressively changed! The way we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is instantly changed, and yet, for most of us, it’s indiscernible at first.

This is why getting on the road to discipleship is vitally important: It acts as a the necessary and logical catalyst for GROWTH from being a spiritual infant to a mature, wise, discerning, self-sacrificial, and Christ-like disciple. Growth is the catalyst for the Christian’s increasing sensitivity of being in touch with the Trinity via all of our senses:

The way we “see, hear, taste, touch, and smell” all of life is infused by the Spirit of God pointing, pointing, and pointing to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is The Supernatural Heart Changer and Pointer to Jesus… The summum bonum, E.g., “the highest good”, of our faith in word and deed, Beloved!

For some people the touch of the Spirit’s regenerating change of heart from dead-cold-stone to a living flesh is subtle, nearly indiscernible… For others, the change of heart is more dramatic… most not to the extreme of Paul’s Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9) radical, ecstatic, blinding, and scales falling… conversion.

If we… if you or your loved ones… feel the slightest touch of God the Father or His Son Jesus moving you towards Himself, the Spirit has already touched and fluttered over you heart. Follow the lead. Follow the lead. Do not be to prideful or ashamed of worldly to talk to a Bible-based leader, disciple of Christ.

Pastors, Church Leaders Need to Know God’s “Change Management Plan” and Speak the Truth in Love.

This is very important: In these days of a living in a rampantly secularized [no God, all the here-and-now], privitized [what occurs in our private life has no bearing on our public life], and pluralized [relativism reigns, no transcendent True True exists, only each person’s version of truth matters] culture, the situation couldn’t be more plain and dangerous. A complicated mix of Christ’s more mature disciples, infant disciples going undiscipled, unbelievers who think they are disciples, and unchurched people are all sitting together in church on Sunday morning.

Pastors, church leaders, Christ-centered counselors, Care Ministry leaders, etc. need more than ever to be Biblically aware, “Trinity aware”, “culturally aware”, wise, discerning, and plain in regularly reminding all people in the church of the above reality of God’s Change Management Plan, Process, and Produce.

While preaching, teaching, or communicating in any sort of ways, church leadership needs to remind people of the nuances as well as the mega-changes that occur to the heart, Spirit/emotions, and actions of a person when the Spirit’s regenerating, “fluttering”, transforming, and conforming is at work!

The church of our day needs to be about lots of things, but acknowledging and clarifying God’s people of God’s Change Management Plan, Process, and Produce is vitally important. The supernatural realms of God Plan of Redemption are very real. Please take some very quiet, prayerful, and communal [go deep and discuss this within a community of the faithful] time to marinate on the Bible passages concerning the Spirit’s regenerating “change management process” below:

Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…

John: 1:13
…who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:3
Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’.

John 3:5
Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’.

John 3:6
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:7
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’.

John 3:8
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

John 5:24
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Ephesians 2:4-8
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…

Colossians 2:13
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…

Titus 3:5
…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…

James 1:18
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

1 Peter 1:23
…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…

1 John 3:9
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

1 John 2:29
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 5:1
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

1 John 5:4
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:18
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

God’s Change Management Plan, Process…

…and Produce

Please closely consider, and please do so with another born-again, regenerated, converted, thank-full, growing, and worshiping disciple of Jesus Christ… The sorts of questions offered as “the produce” or fruit of your own faith journey, Beloved of God.

  1. Do you have a conversion story? Are you ready, willing, and excited to tell it to others?
  2. Have you enjoyed fellowship with Christ and the Father?
  3. Are you sensitive to sin?
  4. Do you thirst for God’s “living water” in His word, the Bible?
  5. Do you obey God’s word?
  6. Are you very much aware of the spiritual battle going on within you?
  7. Do you reject this evil world?
  8. Do you eagerly await Christ’s return?
  9. Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life?
  10. Do you have an increasing presence and growth of The Fruit of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
  11. Do you love other Christians (and spend time in community with them)?
  12. Have you made a commitment to a local church—membership, preaching/teaching, worship, growth, the sacraments, and service?
  13. Do you try and radically give of your time, talents, and treasure for Kingdom-building work in word and deed?
  14. Do you experience answered prayer?
  15. Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
  16. Can you discern between spiritual truth and error?
  17. Have you suffered rejection because of your faith?
  18. Do you have a strong desire to know your own gifts and use them to fulfill God’s command of being light, salt, and of service?
  19. As you experience everyday life and the people therein, are you always listening for signs of whether or not they are saved?
  20. Are you angry, indignant, offended, insulted, or so confused that you’re reeling inside… by any of the above? If so, please use these emotions as a sign that you should seriously question the nature of your faith—and speak to someone of a bona fide, born-again, Biblical faith…ASAP.

Offered as a sinner saved by grace… to serve,

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