E22: A life of transformation!

PODCAST: Do you see the situations of your life as opportunities for transformation and new growth?

  • E22: A life of transformation!
  • This week Julia and Kathy invited their friend David, the youth leader at their church, to join them for a chat about what our hope for the future is. We discussed how valuable it is when we use the opportunities that we are given in our lives to – step-by-step – be changed and to add virtue to our faith. It’s an incredibly exciting and hopeful life when we learn to see the opportunities for what they are! The Bible tells us that “we shall be like Him,” and that is a process that starts now during our lives on earth. And it means we can live a life like no other!

    Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 22: A life of transformation

    This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

    Kathy: Hey everybody! I’m Kathy.

    Julia: And I’m Julia.

    Kathy: And today we have a guest with us for this episode of “Living the Gospel.” This is a friend that we’ve known for a very long time.

    Julia: Yeah, our friend David who, well, he’s about the same age as me, so we grew up together and went to school together, so it’s been a while. Anyways, hi Dave!

    David: Hi guys!

    Kathy: So, David is actually a youth leader in our church, and he’s been working with young people for many years, so we thought he would be a perfect fit for our topic today.

    Julia: The topic we have today starts off with this verse that a lot of us probably know, in Jeremiah 29:11, it says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Dave, for you, what would you say what this “future and hope” is?

    David: I know that in my heart, I have a hope, like it’s written, that “we shall see Him as He is.” That’s speaking about God. “And we shall be like Him …” which is … it sounds almost blasphemous, when you say it …

    Kathy: It does – like incredible!

    David: And especially when I look at the way that I am as a person, right? I know I have a personality that’s much more … tends to be down on myself, tends to be a bit more on the hopeless side. Some people are much more in what you would call “the other ditch”, where they are overconfident, and super in other people’s face. And that’s not me, I tend to be a little depressed, and a little hopeless.

    Kathy: Just according to your personality?

    David: Yeah, just according to my personality. But when I’ve received a faith in my heart that that verse isn’t just generic, or it’s not just written down, but it’s for me, then not only my … in a sense, my instant reality, like … almost forget the future, but my “right now” becomes awesome. My life, whatever that might be left on earth, is super awesome, and whether that’s tomorrow, next week, 10 years, 20 years, I don’t know, whatever …

    Julia: Well, that’s the thing too, because you said that verse, that we shall be like Him, right? But that doesn’t just mean that we’ll be like Him in eternity – we’ll get there and there we’ll be like this, you know, Revelation speaks about that we’ll be changed in the twinkling of an eye, yes we will, but the idea, and the amazing thing about this whole thing, is that now, here, with the personality I’ve been given, and the situations I’ve been given on this earth, I can already become like Him. That’s the amazing thing.

    David: And that’s the process. That’s why I’m here on earth, is to use the time that I have to be what we call transformed. The Bible writes about a real change that can happen into us. And that’s not some bizarre concept that I don’t really believe in, that I, you know, maybe it might work, but … I’m fortunate enough to have, for example, parents that have gone on this way before me. And I can see the change that’s happened in them.

    Kathy: We all have ideas of what we want our lives to be, right? Maybe we want a sense of purpose or a sense of direction. We have goals and things that we want for our lives; everyone does. And the thing is, often we end up disappointed, but actually, we do have a guarantee for how we can be blessed in our lives, right? That is, that if we follow the laws of God, we will be blessed! That’s a promise, and that’s a guarantee. So, if we build our lives on the Word of God, then life will be just as God intended that it should be, right?

    David: Yeah, and so many people are disappointed in life when they don’t reach their goals that they’ve set for themselves and when things don’t work out, and you try, I don’t know, maybe a business venture or something and it doesn’t work out, and that can just destroy a person and they’re just lost because they’ve kind of lost purpose. But when you do have this heavenly future and a hope for yourself, then all of these other things, they don’t become less important, they become important in a different way, where you can use them to work on your heavenly future and hope, right? So, for example, of course my earthly relationship is important to me, right? My relationship with my wife, my relationship with my children. But I think that if I tried to put that into some context outside of my heavenly calling, I don’t even know what that would mean. I don’t know what that would look like. And it would be so hard, right? At least when I look at myself and the way that I was born, with my stubbornness and my “quit” attitude, and all of this nonsense, I’d be totally lost. But now, you know, if you’ve got young children, and it’s tough at home, and you see that they’re struggling with things, that can be debilitating to people.

    But now I can see that that’s my opportunity for myself to be changed and to come into, we read in James, I think, about adding virtue to your faith. And that’s something that I’ve thought about a lot lately. Like, I have this faith that things can change, but how can I add virtue to that? How can I come to be something that I’m actually not, as a person? Where’s my patience, where’s my compassion, where’s my kindness, where’s my goodness? All of these things that, when we experience from other people that they give those things to us, it makes us feel so loved. And there’s such a hope that comes with this. And then when I want to give that to others, all that I see is my own impatience, and my frustration, and my, you know, “Oh man, once this little issue is over, then it will be fine.” Well, if you keep doing that throughout your whole life and, say, even magically, all your struggles went away, and I didn’t come to something, I wasn’t able to add virtue to my faith, then what’s the point?

    Julia: Right, like, what do you carry with you into eternity then, right?

    David: Yeah, so, then every situation in life, whether it’s a challenge in my marriage, or a challenge with my kids, or a challenge at work, or a challenge with my education, or some financial stress that you come into, instead of dealing with those like something like, “Man, as soon as this is over, then I can be happy,” but instead you can actually come to true happiness through those situations. That’s to me something that is super awesome. So then, what do you want from life? Of course I want these things, right? I want to be happy. I want to be able to provide for my family, I want meaningful earthly relationships, in a sense. But I get all those things, like it’s written, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

    Kathy: And it’s like the verse, like, this is probably one of the most famous verses out there, is that, “We know that all things work together for good to those that love God,” right? So, if I truly believe in that with all of my heart, then all these things are, like, I am going to be content with everything, because I know that whatever is happening in my life right now, it can be used for my good, really! And it’s so that I can be transformed, and so that I can get those virtues, like you talked about. So that I can learn, and I can grow, and these fruits of the Spirit can actually grow in my life. So that I have something to give the others and to help the others with.

    Julia: Well yeah, and that’s the thing, too. Like, everybody out there is looking for … I feel like everyone is looking for something more. Maybe they can’t quite put their finger on it, but there is something more that they want. And when you live your life like this, with seeking the kingdom of God first, and taking every situation in your life and using it as a tool to become more like Jesus and to be finished with all the ugly things that are in your human nature, then you get this elevated life, it almost can be called.

    Kathy: I think that you can have a good life on a human level, in a way, right? I think people have good lives. But you still have to deal with things like stress, anxiety, envy, dissatisfaction. All of those things still come into the picture, even when your life is good. And we have the tools to deal with those things in a way that we’re not just managing them, but they’re actually going to be eliminated in our lives. By faithful endurance, right? That’s what we read. That is the element that actually is destructive in life, is when these lusts and desires come up, and they lead to sin, right? Sin is the thing that destroys. So, when that is completely eliminated, that’s when our life becomes just more and more elevated beyond just a regular life. We get actually free from these things that are actually such bondage to so many people.

    Julia: Yeah, instead of worrying about all these things then you just take God’s Word and compare yourself to God’s Word and use that and start building your life around that, and then actually these anxieties and these stresses, they fall away. It’s a work, but you can reign over them, actually.

    Kathy: And just going back to what you said there, Dave, before, about having good relationships with people … this is a line that has stuck with me for a long time now. A while ago our dad’s best friend died. And at the funeral he was talking about his friend and the relationship that they had, and he said, I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but it was that, “There is nothing as good as a relationship in which sin has lost its power.” And I’ve thought about that over and over since then. Like, a relationship in which sin has no power. So, I’m not getting envious, I’m not being selfish, I’m not having demands on the other person, these lusts and desires that are all to do with myself and my ego, they have no power anymore. Then of course my relationships can be good, right?

    David: Yeah, that’s really what I was kind of trying to put into words there. And it’s relationships, it’s issues at work, or whatever it is. Something that I often think about for myself is, those verses in Peter. It’s written in 1 Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth:’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” Like, I have such a hope when I read this.

    Kathy: It makes it pretty clear.

    David: It makes it so, so clear. And I’m so thankful to Jesus, like it’s written here, that He bore my sin in His own body on the tree. And then, for what? Not just so that I can be forgiven and move on …

    Kathy: Although that’s a big part of it.

    David: Yeah, that’s a huge part of it. But think that I can go further and say that having died to sin I might live for righteousness. So, in a sense I don’t care what challenges I face in my daily life.

    Julia: If you’re looking for hope in life, there’s nothing more hopeful than what you just read there.

    David: It’s so hopeful!

    Kathy: I love just talking about it like this too, because just now I was getting goosebumps almost when you were reading those verses. Like, it’s unbelievable that that’s the life we get to live!

    Julia: And that’s the thing, is that yes, it’s a life of, I mean, you can call it battle, I guess, it’s battle against sin, like we said, you have a sinful nature and these things come up, and when you look at them and see them in yourself that’s not pleasant, and it is a fight to overcome them. But it’s so joyful! Like, the joy that comes from getting victory over these sins. Like we talked about relationships – the joy that comes from having relationships that have real “meat” in them, if you know what I mean.

    Kathy: So, what does that require of us though, to get that kind of a life? Like, we have to actually … Well, actually, I thought of the verses that follow In Jeremiah …

    Julia: You’re going to ask it and answer it, that’s nice. She’s got all the answers!

    Kathy: You can answer it if you want.

    Julia: No, no, go ahead.

    Kathy: Well, I just thought of this verse following where it says that the Lord has thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope. Right after that it says: “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all of your heart.” So, we have to do it with all of our heart. It can’t be something that we try halfway and reserve a little bit for ourselves. We have to do it with our whole, whole heart. And then we will seek Him, and we will find Him. That’s His promise to us.

    Julia: Like, sometimes we hear this metaphor about, you know, you want to get a Coke out of the machine, and it asks for a dollar. If you put 99 cents in, you’re not going to get 99% of a Coke back. You’ve got to put in what’s required, right? And the promises are true. You get exactly what’s been promised to you. That’s the way it is.

    David: And then I start to be taught by this Jesus, right? He starts to actually speak to me, in my daily life about my situations and my challenges and the things that I come up with in the day, like we read in these verses, that He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. And obviously He’s speaking of His Father, God, in that line. And I’ve found that to be such a huge relief and a solution, really, in my challenges, is to learn to commit myself to Him who judges righteously. So then, when I realize that I’m the one who’s judging the situation, then I’m never the problem. It’s never my fault. It’s always this external thing, or someone else’s behavior, or someone else’s words.

    Kathy: Right, that’s how we see things.

    David: That’s how I see things. And I can’t come to any progress or change with those thoughts or attitude. But when I experience that I’m open to committing these things to Him who judges righteously, then I receive a judgment from Him who judges righteously. And for me it always goes: Well, here’s your chance to be patient, here’s your chance to be kind, here’s your chance to be hopeful, here’s your chance to forgive, here’s your chance to …

    Julia: And don’t miss it right?

    David: Yeah, don’t miss it, don’t miss the chance! But then when I do that, then I experience that, step by step, I come to this life. We use the term a lot, “instant gratification” for things that bring us exactly that, instant gratification. And for me there is no bigger instant gratification than kind of these: A-ha! Here I can do something different. Here I can shut my big mouth, so instead of making trouble I can learn to say something good and kind and turn what can be a terrible situation into a blessing! Just one little exhortation after exhortation, right? “Be anxious for nothing.” OK, if I believe that, then … I mean, I’m nowhere near that, like a person, right? But I can get there. One thing at a time.

    Kathy: And I’m sure you’re farther than when you started, right?

    David: Yeah, for sure.

    Kathy: Because that’s the way it works.

    David: That’s the way it works.

    Kathy: Step by step.

    David: We could go on and on. But one little … You don’t have to overanalyze that statement. That statement is what it is. So, do I believe that, yes or no? And if the answer is yes …

    Julia: Then do it.

    David: Let’s get to work.

    Julia: Yeah, exactly. And it’s great. Yeah, it’s a simple, purpose-driven life. Like, I have a sign up on my wall that I look at every morning, and it says, “What do I want today? I want to be more like Jesus when I go to bed tonight than I was when I got up this morning.” And it’s that simple. And it is, like you said Dave, all it is, is those little situations, one at a time, being faithful to be obedient to God’s Word. And then it’s a life that is filled with something real, and it’s something that you carry with you into eternity, and that’s … there’s nothing better than that!

    David: And God’s our Father, right? Which is maybe something that we don’t think about enough. And He loves us something fierce, something like we can’t even understand. And it’s really sad when you meet people that say, for example, “How could God allow this to happen, how could God allow me to go through this?” And I’m so thankful, because I’ve started to see that God has a purpose with what He allows me to go through. And He’s so good and so kind that I have to, in a sense, go through just enough challenges that I can change from them. It’s not so many challenges, it’s not this big contest …

    Kathy: He’s not trying to see how much we can bear. Putting it on until we break …

    David: No! And to get to … man, we could talk about this all day, but …

    Julia: We just might!

    David: … to get to know God as your Father, and I would encourage everyone listening to pray to God, and to ask Him to show you what you can gain from life and from the time and from your challenges and from the days that you have. And then it’s actually, how’s it written, that God has put eternity in their hearts? So, it’s not us who woke up and were attracted to living a godly life. It’s God that put this desire in our hearts. And if you don’t feel that you have that, then God is real and He is there, and we can pray to Him. Say, “God I want this, and I’m not sure how to go about this. But I know that there is something more, and I know that I want to live this life!”

    And you will experience that God will start speaking to you. And it’s often not this giant revelation or flood of joy, but it can be simple. Something like, “Well, if you want Me, and you want this life, then you have to turn away from some of these earthly things.” And when we are obedient to these things, then the blessings really come. And that conversation with God gets louder and louder and clearer and clearer. And step by step we …. And then we look back on that initial decision, you know, I’ve looked back on my life and I’m like, “Man, I’m so glad we started on this way!” And it almost becomes comical to look at those, what used to be hard choices are now so easy, because you’ve seen the result of them. And you get more and more hopeful because you start really seeing this is true. That initial step of faith can be quite a step of faith, because you might not see it. But I’ve experienced that these steps of faith become easier and easier because you have such a concrete goal in front of you.

    Julia: Yeah, I would encourage everyone listening to, like David’s challenge there, pray and start working and see what happens. So, everyone, have an awesome week! We’ll see you again next time.

    Kathy: Thanks for joining us David …

    David: No, thanks for having me. It’s … yeah, I’m encouraged to keep going here.

    Kathy: Alright everybody, we’ll see you again next time!”