The Paradox of Change

The Paradox of Change

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:9, Luke 5:36-39
Date: 02/02/2008 
Because we are afraid of change, we can stop growing as a Christian. We can put off change until our life is gone. On the other hand, there is good stability that gives you security. The teaching of Jesus on change comes through in His parable of wine and wine skins and patches on clothes.
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“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” --Psalm 102:25-27

Well, it has already been a blessing today to see the people that were baptized making these decisions for Jesus. Amen. Just when you see the great commission being fulfilled before your eyes. It’s nice to have the youth helping to lead out in our worship service today. We sure appreciate the good work that Pastor Steve does. We’re very thankful you’re here, thankful for this Sabbath time we have to worship God in freedom. Unless you live in a cave, unless you live in a shell or cloistered somewhere just totally cut off from any kind of media outlet, you’ve probably notice that there’s an election winding up, developing momentum. I’m not taking any sides, so don’t worry about that, but one thing I thought I would bring to your attention I’ve noticed coming from virtually every person who is campaigning for that highest office is there’s an operative word. I didn’t even realize that as I was preparing the message this week, didn’t even think about it but I was in an airport yesterday flying back sitting there waiting for my plane to load. They’ve got this CNN terminal and again I heard it. That word was change. Change. I mean obviously if somebody is running for office and you’re wanting them to elect you rather than somebody who is currently in office you’ll say, “It’ll be different. There’s going to be change.” But all the candidates who are using that word all mean something different by it. I don’t think any two of them mean the same thing when they say change.

I’ve been thinking about how dynamic life is, how scary change is and how important change is. Hence the title for today’s message “The Paradox of Change”. Now a paradox is something that is seemingly contradictory in either a statement or some aspects. Change is good and change is bad, it depends on what you’re changing. When you read the Bible there appears to be a paradox about the word change. There seems to be a contradiction at times. For instance you can read that verse in Proverbs 24:21 “My son, …do not associate with those (who are) given to change…” Stability, consistency, tradition; don’t hang around folks that are subject to change. And then you read a lot of other verses that talk about how God wants to change us. Jeremiah 18:11 “Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” God is pleading with us to change. So it seems like on one side God is saying watch out for those who were given to change and on the other side God is saying when are you going to ever change? So there is an apparent paradox there.

Now one thing I’ve noticed that in many areas people are afraid of change. We resist change. Change often means pressure. The way you get a diamond from a hunk of coal is it requires heat and pressure and people are scared of change. You are exhibit A. Matter of fact, I could close my eyes right now and name twenty families in our church and I can tell you where they’re sitting. I just heard Cathy Navarro laugh. It’s interesting because you guys used to sit on this side, but that’s been ten years ago. You’ve evolved. But most of you, Isadora sits in that seat right there. She comes in. Now I don’t want to put you on the spot, but isn’t that your seat? Would you like us to reserve that one for you? And if we have a visitor that gets here before her, they’d better watch out! That purse she carries is heavy. No, I’m sorry. My parents-in-law, I always know. If I want to look where Karen’s at I don’t ever look on that side. Matter of fact, I could make you all very nervous right now if I said I want you to all swap sides. I don’t want to embarrass. I’ve already embarrassed several people, but I don’t want to embarrass our son, but last night we had Pastor Ross and his family over for a little Sabbath dinner. Their three kids and Nathan there, we’ve got a little dinette in the kitchen there and all the placemats are about the same, the table is the same, all the chairs are identical. Everyone had the same paper plate and one of Pastor Ross’s kids sat down in Nathan’s chair where he sits when it’s just mom and me. And Nathan said, “That’s my chair!” And I labored with him, I said, “Son, they’re visitors. Let them sit where they like.” “But that’s my chair!” Isn’t that right, Nathan? Sorry. Am I embarrassing you, Nathan? He just was going to come unglued. I said, “You can have my chair.” I said, “They’re all the same.” But you know it just taught us something about human nature, that how many of you go to a restaurant, and you like going to this restaurant, but when you go to that restaurant you always order the same thing off the menu? They might have forty things on the menu there, but you found one thing you like and you’re afraid to order something else? Because you know that you like whatever that is.

We’re creatures of habit. We’re made insecure by too much change. Who was it? Mark Twain said “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” I think that part of the reason that we like when we see some of the old cars restored or you hear one of those old songs on the radio and even some of the old styles start coming back because there is that familiarity and that makes us secure. People are made restless by change. Problem is, if you don’t ever change you end up getting in a rut and someone once said “A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out.” If there is any one thing I want to try to communicate during this message, and I’m praying as I go because it’s hard to communicate this, it would be because we are afraid of change… Well, there’s two things I want to say. One is because we’re afraid of change we get into a rut and you can stop growing as a Christian and you continue to do the same thing and you say, “One of these days I need to change,” and you never get around to it until your life is gone. And you end your life with all these regrets of all these things you wished you’d changed, but you were afraid to step out. Then there is the other extreme (we’re talking about the paradox) of people who have no stability, and they’re just changing every day. Matter of fact, you don’t even know how many personalities they’ve got. They’re just always wanting to do something different, it’s called constantly changing. Someone did a survey, forty-five percent of Americans would change a bad habit if they could. Forty-five percent admitted if I could I’d change a bad habit. Sixty-four percent would change the status of their wealth if they could. Fifty-one percent would change their weight if they could. The number who would change their intelligence, only thirty-two percent. Most people were perfectly happy with their level of intelligence. I would change mine if I could. But so many things are constantly changing , the Bible even teaches that. Do you know that you have changed since I began this message? Matter of fact, by the end of the sentence I’m speaking right now, you’re different than you were when I started period. That’s the end of the sentence. Your body, your cells, constantly changing, nothing is the same. And yet Solomon said, here’s the paradox, Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

It seems like everything stays the same. That’s true when it comes to certain trends and human nature, but everything is also dynamic and changing. Think about for instance how much has changed in the generation in which we live. Most of us sitting here right now have lived and crossed the threshold of millennia. If you were living in the nineties and now you’re living in the two thousands you have witnessed the transition of a millennium. Never did it hit me so hard as when I was present for my grandfather’s, I conducted my grandfather’s funeral. He lived to ninety-three. There is a generation that’s still around us now who remember when there was no radio. Forget about television. Some of us don’t even remember black and white television. Some of us here don’t remember cassette tapes. You grew up and it was CDs. You think about that. When I did my grandfather’s funeral and I thought can you imagine how much change mankind for five thousand nine hundred years lived lighting their dwellings with a flame and then bingo electricity. For five thousand nine hundred years people went from point a to point b riding a horse or walking, right? Then all of a sudden in that last generation, I’m talking about those who are in their nineties now, anybody could buy a car. Now some of us have three or four cars. Just before my grandfather if you wanted to get from the east coast to the west coast you either took a ship around South America, because the Panama Canal wasn’t built yet, or you went overland if you were very modern a train might have been available. Or you went by wagon. Now that’s going back like I said a little more than one generation. But think about all of the change that is happening around us right now. Matter of fact, I read a fact this week. Studies have shown that the halfway point of all human knowledge in the continuum of six thousand years of human written history, the halfway point of all human knowledge is only twenty years ago. Did you catch what I just said? Picture a timeline of human technology that has been gathered. It’s six thousand years long reaching from creation to the present day. If you want to point to the halfway mark of all the knowledge that has been gained, you only go back twenty years because knowledge has grown exponentially so much. They used to say it was fifty years back. They thought with the space program, the invention of the car, and the airplane and all of that, but knowledge has been compounding and growing and changing so much. Now with that in mind, how much should a church change?

Should a church change? It depends what you mean, Pastor Doug. There could be a paradox. Are you talking about changing beliefs? You know part of the reason I chose this message is I wanted to talk about how we change with the times without changing what shouldn’t change. Some go too far. Matter of fact, in a day, we’re living now in a time where you can buy more than you’ve ever bought in the history of man. Somebody told me that a hundred and fifty years ago or maybe a little after that the Sears & Roebuck Catalog tried to have some of everything that could be bought and there were only three hundred things in the whole catalog. They figured there were only about three hundred things you could buy. Look at all that you can buy now. Some people shop for change. They’re not happy with either what they have or who they are and by trying to constantly acquire new things and change their environment and change their clothes. They’re just shopping for change all the time. Styles change. Very maddening to me because it takes me twenty years to figure out what’s in style, and by the time I’ve figured it out it’s out of style. Can any of you men say amen to that? I mean if you get to finally where you’ve got some clothes that are practical, stop changing. If it’s good, just wear it. Everyone keeps changing the styles. I’ve got this tie that I really like, and so I’ve been wearing it for twenty years. It still looks good to me. I have it dry cleaned once every decade and it’s good to go. And then I have friends around me saying, “Doug, you’ve got that tie in some of your tapes that are ten years old.” I say yeah, it’s a good tie. What’s wrong with it? I’m trying to be consistent. The styles can’t make up their minds. For a while there everybody were wearing these little anorexic ties and then they got these big old ties that look like an L. A. interstate. Look, I haven’t changed. You guys can’t make up your mind. You know what I’m talking about? There is a conspiracy out there. I’ve got my mind made up. Somewhere in France there is a group of sinister people that are gathered around drawing boards and sewing machines and they’re playing cruel jokes on us about what we’re supposed to wear. These fashion programs. How do they come up with this stuff? I mean if you get something that makes sense. This doesn’t even all match. I don’t even know why we wear ties. But it’s a style. It’s considered to be respectful so I wear one. People sometimes just always shopping trying to find change.

John Wesley says, and by the way there’s a similar quote by Ellen White, John Wesley said, “As to matters of dress I would recommend that one never be the first in fashion nor the last out of it.” Some people always want to be the first one to sport some new fashion, and some fashions don’t ever take and so you look pretty weird all by yourself for a while. You also don’t want to be so conservative that you’re the last one to ever adopt something and you stand out like a sore thumb, and there are some people who think that it’s pious to be a spectacle. Do you know what I mean? So they are so out of fashion that it’s a bad witness for Christ. So John Wesley, who was very conservative, I think that was very insightful. Milton Berle one time was doing some standup comedy in the sixties. An old lady started to heckle him. He said, “I remember you. You heckled me in 1948. I never forget a dress.” He was making fun of what she was wearing. So some people are shopping for change. Now there’s a verse I’d like for you to read where Jesus addresses this dynamic of the paradox of change. Luke 5:36, and by the way, He says something similar also in Matthew and in Mark, but I chose Luke 5:36. “Then He spoke a parable unto them…” speaking about new and old. “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.”

I remember when I’d patch my cotton denim jeans. Of course cotton shrinks, and if you take a new patch and you put it on old denim and then when you sew it in there and the new cotton shrinks it actually tears it away and makes it worse. Some of you ladies are surprised Pastor Doug knows so much about material. Because I did it, that’s how I know. It also works the other way around. If you take an old patch and sew it on new clothes then you wash it, they don’t shrink the same and it can make it actually worse. You want the old patch on the old clothes and the new patch in the new clothes. Got it? That’s what Jesus was talking about. It’s a truth that goes all the way back to the time of Christ and before. And then He goes on to say, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.” Not only do you lose the wine, you wreck the wineskin. “But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Now what He’s talking about here is wine has a tendency to develop yeast, to ferment, and to expand. That yeast is on the inner lining of those old wineskins. If you put new wine in old wineskins, the old wineskins will stretch out once, but they won’t stretch out twice. You can put the old wine that is done expanding back in the old skins. That’ll work, but if you’ve got new wine, you’d better put it in a new wineskin so it can stretch with it. How many of you know that you can have copper pipes in your house and you can handle one freeze with most copper pipes because the copper does actually expand, but that second freeze the pipes are going to start leaking everywhere. You just can’t do it twice. Well, these are the truths that Jesus is talking about. Why did He share that parable? When Christ came the church had become an institution. They were settled in their ways. They had preconceived ideas that they taught in their university. The teachers and professors were all tenured and along comes Jesus and He said, I’ve got things to say to you that are different than what you believe. They’re different from your traditions. Jesus did not come to change the law of Moses and the prophets. He said, “Do not think I have come to change the law and the prophets. That’s not My purpose.” But they had some traditions that were not biblical and they had become stuck in a rut as a church. One reason they executed Jesus is because He came to implement change. He didn’t change the truth. Bringing a revival to a religious institution is one of the hardest things that can happen. It’s like trying to turn a battleship at the same speed you would turn a jet ski. It just doesn’t work. It’s so big, it’s so mammoth, it’s cumbersome, behemoth that you just can’t turn it. You’ve got all of these people and this history and tradition and institution that is settled in its ways and rooted that it just takes a miracle of God to bring revival and renovation and change to some of these institutions. I’m not just even talking about religious institutions. It could be all kinds of them. But Christianity needs to have that balance. The Christian church needs to have that balance where you can make quick maneuvers to do things that are fresh and new and innovative while not sacrificing the truth.

Now I’m sharing that with you because you’re thinking, “Okay, Pastor Doug, I’m starting to cinch down in my pew. You’re not getting ready to change anything, are you?” I think we should change all the time. I think that anything new and innovative we can do to preach the old story is a good thing. As long as you’re not sacrificing the fundamentals of what truth is, we should be willing to change. Not only is that good for an institution, good for a church, it’s good for you. Have you gotten stuck in a rut? Has it been the same thing? Some of you are stuck in the same jobs you’ve had for years and you’re not happy but you’re afraid to take a risk. Now before I’ve got to issue a disclaimer here, but I think if you’ve been doing something for years but because of security or because you’re afraid to maybe retrain or learn something new, but you’re unsatisfied you don’t feel like you’re able to glorify God in your job, you’re not growing as a person, but you’re staying there because you think, “I don’t know what else to do.” I’d say step out in faith. Do something. I’ll share something with you and I’m probably going to get letters on this. I hear about people who are caught in certain parts of town where there might be gangs and crime. People will say, “But they’re trapped. There’s no way out.” I don’t accept that. I’ll tell you why. One day when I was unhappy where I was, I wasn’t living in a crime ravaged neighborhood, I said, “I’m not going to do this anymore.” I got up, I walked to a freeway, and I stuck out my thumb, and I got a new life. I mean, really, you can. It’s scary because you have no idea what’s down the road, but I’ve done that more than once. I just said, “This ain’t working. I’d better get my backpack.” You get out on the road. “Where are you going?” “I don’t know.” I mean, that’s how I ended up in Covelo. They picked me up, they said, “Where’re you going?” I said, “I don’t know, but I don’t like where I’ve been.” Sometimes you’ve just got to say I’m ready to, you know, something new, Lord, new adventure. Be sensitive to the leading of God. I think a lot of us miss opportunities for God to work miracles for us because we get stuck. Why do you think the Lord chose the children of Israel to illustrate salvation for us going through the wilderness? You notice they had a tent. The tabernacle was portable. Why? Because it was moving. Sometimes they’d stay somewhere sometimes even years and then all of a sudden they’d look towards the sanctuary and that pillar of fire would rise up and it would begin to start moving and they’d say, “Better pack!” And they’d all pack and they’d start going. Where are we going? We don’t know, but God is leading us to the next place. So while they had the truth in their midst that did not change they were constantly moving. One of the things I’m afraid of is that we get in a rut as a church. You know one of the dynamics that sometimes happens to a church that has been around for several generations, it becomes an institution, the people lose their fire.

Now I don’t know if any of you saw the broadcast Thursday night at 3ABN. We were talking about this. If you look at some of the revival movements, the Lutheran Church, Martin Luther, he kind of began a revival movement. They were on fire and they were learning new things and they were growing and they were spreading it. But then a couple of generations, three, four, five generations go by and pretty soon it becomes an institution and they get settled in their ways. John Wesley, man of God, revival, he was preaching in the open fields. Not too many Methodists preach that way anymore. It became an institution. They got settled in their ways, got stuck in a rut. Do you think our church is immune? How many people grow up in the church and they never find the fire of the Holy Spirit, a love for the Message. They don’t discover it for the first time, and they just get in a rut. They say, “Yeah, we’ve been in the church for this many generations and they’re depending on the heritage and the tradition for their salvation and they’ve never had a personal experience. They need to change. They need something fresh, something new. This is what Jesus faced. The Jewish nation had gotten stuck in a rut. He came along and He’s preaching these fresh truths and one group of people said, “Living water! This is feeding my soul. This is what I need!” and others were saying, “He’s threatening our institution!” and they killed him. He’s changing our traditions. Jesus talked about that tradition versus the new. A healthy church, I believe, needs a mix of firmness for the truth and innovation. Matter of fact, I may as well announce it. Well, Pastor White already told you, you know we just modernized a little bit and we put in some security, some video here just to protect the premises, because we had a few things. I was talking to Pastor White and just talked with Doug Hill in the studio. We thought, you know, we’re living here in the twenty-first century. We could put a couple of monitors up a little higher in the foyer there. Our greeters are missing the service and we spend so much paper on all of these little announcements and inserts. Why don’t we put them up on the screen and put them up in the foyer? Of course then you’d have nothing to read during the sermon, right? Think of all of the money we’d save on paper. So that’s a change we could make. We need to be willing to think about what can we do to be more effective about getting the gospel out? I was reading in Reader’s Digest this week on the airplane. That’s sort of when I indulge myself with a Reader’s Digest. They say we’re having a problem with our magazine. Reader’s Digest said people are not reading as much anymore. All magazine subscriptions are struggling. People now are getting their information on the Internet. They don’t buy the printed page nearly as much.

Amazing Facts, in our publishing department, we’ve noticed book sales, Bible studies, they’re going down a little bit. We’re trying to figure out what is it? We’re working harder to get the message out. People just aren’t reading as much. They’re doing it all, they sit in front of their computer screen and that’s how they’re doing their reading, that’s how they get their information. Reader’s Digest was admitting, we’re having a problem. I mean, when people stop reading Reader’s Digest is in trouble, right? So what are we going to do? Well, we’d better be fast and lean so as a church we can then get out. I discovered YouTube quite by accident. Everybody was sending me, they’d say, “Pastor Doug, did you know you’re on YouTube?” I said, “What’s YouTube?” They said, “Yeah, they’ve taken the Final Events. They’ve chopped it up in these little sections and they’re streaming it on the Internet.” I went and I found out about YouTube. Now not all of it’s good and I’m not recommending that. It’s just a medium for communicating. Everybody makes these little videos and they send them and most of it is goofy nonsense, but I got an idea. I don’t know if I told Eric about this one yet. It probably scares him because I have a new idea about every thirty seconds. Most people watch the computer when they watch a video on the computer the average speed is what? Eight or nine minutes? That’s not very long. I thought, alright, I could make a gospel presentation in nine minutes. What if you took the most important things, if you were going to talk to somebody on death row and share the gospel with him, what would you say in nine minutes? I thought what if you made just the most powerful appeal for someone to accept Christ that you could make, call it gospel presentation, put it on YouTube. Let everybody send it to all their friends that don’t know the Lord, right? So then you compensate. You’ve got to do something new, but in order to do this you know, I think the devil is trying to throw the church off their balance all the time because he’s changing. We’ve got to know what to change and what not to change. The new wine needs to go in the new wineskins and the old wine needs to stay in the old wineskins, right? Old patches on the old clothes, new patches on the new clothes. By the way, wine and cloth is what Jesus talked about. Cloth represents the righteousness of Christ, the wine represents the gospel and it’s a new righteousness and a new fresh unfermented gospel that He gives us. Amen? Just something I want you to think about. Mark chapter 7, talking about tradition, Christ, verse 8, He said to the religious leaders, “For laying aside the commandment of God,” the thing that shouldn’t change, “you hold the tradition of men” the things that don’t matter. So many people are protective of their pet traditions and the laying aside the commandment of God is something that’s not supposed to change. Such as “the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” That’s typical. Churches become very jealous. We guard our traditions and go home and break God’s law. We think that tradition, religious tradition is a substitute for holiness. We’ve got to know what to change and what not to change.

Some things you should be willing to do new. I believe we should have new music every now and then, new songs. Now as soon as I say that, some of you, you go, “New music? I don’t know if I like the sound of that! New music!” Because you’re automatically thinking that means the wrong kind of music. I’m not saying that. Are we supposed to sing a new song to God every now and then? Now let me read it to you in case you’re wondering, Psalm 33:3 “Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.” Question. Your favorite hymn. Was it once new? I wonder what it was like to sit in the cathedral when John Newton first sang “Amazing Grace” and be by one of the saints who elbowed another saint and said, “I don’t like this new music.” Don’t you think that probably happened at some point along the way? Or even in the German church when Martin Luther was singing “A Mighty Fortress”. That was once a new song, and I’m sure some of the Catholic Prelates said, “That fancy protestant music!” And now we look at it as high church, old fashioned. I think there are principals of music that don’t change, but we shouldn’t be afraid to sing a new song as long as it maintains those principals.

Some things should never change. What I order when I go to Subway, that’s not going to change. I’ve got one option and I think probably Karen could order for me without my telling her. It’s, well, I won’t tell you what it is right now, but you can probably figure it out. One of those things, Jeremiah, that should not change, 6:16, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it;’” Some people want a new thing and they’re walking in a new path and they’re out of the path of God. “…then you will find rest for your souls.” I’ve got this theory, the last verses in the Old Testament and the spirit and power of Elijah. Elijah “will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Last words in the Old Testament. I think it’s interesting the last words in the Old Testament are really talking about a unity between the young and the old, the fathers and the children and the children and the fathers. Not only do I think there’s something there for family love. There’s no question, we’re living in a time in the world’s history that there’s more breakdown in the family than at any other time. There are more single family homes, more children growing up without fathers than at any other time in the history of the world, but I don’t think that’s one of the main things God is saying there in that verse. Turning the hearts of the fathers to their children… You know one of the problems with fathers and children is that the kids are more willing to accept something new. Parents and fathers they get settled in their ways and they’re afraid of those new things. One of the problems, it says turning the hearts of the children to the fathers too. Sometimes in the children’s quest for that which is new and novel they’re abandoning the old paths. I think that God is calling us in the last days to return to the faith of the fathers and use fresh, innovative methods to share those things. Knowing how to embrace change without sacrificing truth. Matter of fact, I think we all feel this paradox, fear of change and fear of monotony. Judges 5:8 “They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates…” By the way, without looking, who said that? Deborah the prophetess. “They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates…” So often when the children of Israel turned away from God it led to war, it led to calamity. Isaiah 24:5 “The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws,” catch this, they’ve “changed the ordinance…” Some things shouldn’t change. They changed the foundational truths. They’ve “Broken the everlasting covenant.” When those things change you’ve got problems. In America one thing that people do a lot of changing is spouses. Some things shouldn’t change. Heaven forbid you’ve been widowed. Paul says if the married person’s spouse dies they’re free, they’re not under bondage. That meaning they’re free to remarry. Some people already start shopping around, they’re still married to the old one, they just think that, “If I just had a new husband” or a new wife “it’d be better.” Some things shouldn’t change. You know what typically happens? I’ll just pick on guys for a second. Marries this gal who has that charisma, that energy, that spark, it’s new, it’s exciting and she just looks like a million dollars every time he sees her and he has no idea it means it’s going to cost a million dollars to keep her looking that way. Then they get married and after a few months or years he wakes up and looks at this creature in the bed next to him, got curlers and paste on the face, but he goes to work and his secretary still looks like a million dollars. He begins to think, I’m ready for a change. Comes home, wife says, “Take out the trash!” And so he runs off with the secretary. A few months go by, he wakes up and he looks at the creature there with the curlers or something else. She says, “Take out the trash.” And you know what? Almost invariably people who abandon their relationships for that… God. God is a loving God. I’m convinced He’s got a sense of humor. He will put you back in the same situation so that you will learn. I’ve seen so many guys that they throw away their families, they throw away their spouse. Women do it too. They say, “Oh, you know, this person is so strong and a, b, c, and my spouse is so weak in character traits a, b, and c, and oh, I’ll be so happy with this.” But they didn’t know when they married that guy how weak he was in d, e, and f, and they’re in the same place. Say amen. If I could just have a change…

God doesn’t change. Malachi 3:6, I’m so thankful for that truth, he says, “I am the Lord. I change not.” Again Hebrews 1:12 “And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up,” Mountains and the hills can all be folded up “and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Then you go to chapter 13 in the same book, Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Which is really very encouraging when you think about it, God is love and His love for us does not change. Can you say amen? God’s word does not change. Somebody told me that if Shakespeare were alive today he would not understand what was it two out of five words that we say. The English language has really changed. Some people don’t know that the King James Version is actually a revised version. If you were reading the 1611 version you probably couldn’t even read it. The lettering wasn’t even the same. The spelling was not the same. Language is evolving, but God’s word does not change. His truth is the same. Jesus said Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will not pass away.” Again, Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” God does not change and since Jesus is the word that stands to reason the word does not change and because Jesus is the truth that would also mean that the truth does not change. If you’re a pilot then you know that there’s two kinds of north. You might say, “Pastor Doug, what? Two kinds of north? North is north!” Now, not exactly. You’ve got your true north and then you’ve got your magnetic north. Now the invisible axel on which the world revolves, that’s pretty constant even though it does wobble, but magnetic north is determined by, as best as they can tell it’s magma underneath the tectonic plates of the earth that is creating this magnetic field around our planet and helps contribute to the Aurora Borealis in the north and the Austral Borealis in the south that is migrating all of the time. In fact, I read something here. It says that right now magnetic pole, magnetic north pole has steadily drifted for decades. It’s picking up speed. It’s soon going to exit Canada. If it follows its present course it’s going to pass north of Alaska and eventually in half a century it will arrive in Siberia. It’s floating. Truth does not float.

You know one reason I’m sharing this with you is because (I’m probably going to cut the message short today. We had a full service and I just want to, I know that some of you, we usually quit at 12:30. I want to respect your time.) but in our efforts to grow the church we make changes we shouldn’t make. Back in the days of Constantine when the church became an institution they legalized Christianity. They finally thought we’ve arrived. All this persecution is going to stop. All the former Roman emperors they’ve been persecuting us. They got a Roman emperor who not only allowed Christianity, he made a nominal profession of Christianity, Constantine. And they said, “How can these pagans go from their pagan religion (that old wine) and become Bible Christians? It’s too big a transition. We need to help them. If we make some changes and they make some changes we can meet them partway, make it easier for them to transition into Christianity and after all for unity it should be worthwhile sacrificing a few little things.” So they said, “Well, tell you what. They are so in love with their idols it’s too much for them to become Christians and give up their idols too. If we just give their idols Christian names…” and voila in a course of just about a hundred years idolatry came into the church. They’re used to worshipping on the first day of the week, the Bible Christians worshipped on the seventh day of the week. What difference is it? As long as it’s a seventh day, it doesn’t have to be the seventh day. So they said it doesn’t really matter. Let’s just now make Sunday the seventh day of the week. Let’s move it. Let’s make a series of compromises. I mean, after all change isn’t all bad. Not when it comes to changing the truth. Find out what they want. Try to market Christianity to the pagans. Meet them partway. Look at how the church will grow! So they sacrificed truth for numbers, sacrificed quality for quantity. Churches are doing that today, all churches including ours. They’re saying, “How do we get people into the church?” as though getting them into the church means that they’re getting them into heaven. And they’re sacrificing and compromising principals of truth. They’re changing the everlasting covenant, things that shouldn’t be changed, to try to make Christianity more, to market to the pagans in our culture. Is this true? That’s not how you do it, friends. That’s dangerous.

God’s promises do not change. We can trust that He’s going to do for us what He said. His love for us does not change. Romans 8:38, 39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now that to me is some of the best news in the message this morning is that in a world where it seems like everything is dynamic and changing God doesn’t change. God is love. That means His love for you is constant. There are days that I think my love for Karen is stronger than others depending on everything from how well I slept to how hungry I am to whether things went well for me. Do you know what I mean? Our love is a little bit vacillating, the environment and circumstances, but God’s love for you is not that way. My love for her may be affected by how nice she’s being to me, or how I think she’s behaving. Some of our kids we give them the same signal; we act like we love them more when they’re good than when they’re bad. Now somehow I’m scaring you by what I’m saying; I’m telling the truth. Don’t we? But whether you’re good or bad God’s love for you does not change. He doesn’t love you any more when you’re good. He doesn’t love you any less when you’re bad. He’s unchanging in His love for you. I’m thankful for that good news.

There are some big changes ahead. I’m looking forward to them. For one thing, our bodies are going to change. Some of our bodies are changing all the time right now anyway. We’re getting older and some of us are getting thinner, some are getting wider, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about I Corinthians 15:52. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Is that a good change? Yes! You’ll come to church with your glorified body and sit in the same place where you’ve always sat, right? “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” It says the dead will be raised incorruptible. We shall be changed. Job asks it this way, Job 14:14, “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.” He was looking forward to that day of the ultimate day. Then of course our whole world is going to change. God’s going to make a new heavens and a new earth. Revelation 21:4 “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things” have changed, they “have passed away.” Are you looking forward to that change?

Now if you want to experience that change then you’ve got to experience another kind of change now. Are you in a rut? Do you have a changed heart? Every Christian, it’s not enough to say, “Well, I’ve got the tradition of Christianity.” Is your heart new? What’s the new covenant? The new covenant is I’ll give you a new heart. There is a big change that takes place. “Aw, Pastor Doug, I can’t. I’m stuck in a rut. You know there’s that verse can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can a leopard change his spots? How can I change?” God says, I’ll do it. I’ll change you. I’ll put a new heart within you, through His Spirit. Albert Hubbard said, “If your religion doesn’t change you, you need to change your religion.” Just a little commentary. I know I said I was going to shorten this up a little bit. Listening to all these people, religion has come up in politics a little bit and it seems like the politicians are trying so hard to distance themselves from their religion. Don’t worry. I know I believe this, but my religion and who I am and my politics, I’m going to keep the two separate. I’ve always thought to myself, Hey if your religion doesn’t affect who you are in your decisions and your world view, what good is it? I want my religion to have an influence on my process. It doesn’t mean I’ll use it to dictate political policy, but people should probably say, Yes, my religion affects who I am. Catherine Booth said, “If you want a better future, you need to disturb the present.” If you want a better future, you need to get out of your rut. Ezekiel 36:26, I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you, I’ll take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I’ll put My Spirit within you and I’ll cause you to walk in My ways and keep My judgments. Then you will dwell in the land I gave your fathers. You will be My people and I will be your God. God says I will, I will, I will. You ask Him, He will change your heart.

I read about a parrot. It’s a remarkable story. If you’ve been up to Caribou, Alaska, they had a parrot there that was called Polly the Carcriss Parrot. Lived in the Caribou Inn and was brought to the Yukon Territory during the Gold Rush and was already old when Polly arrived at this Inn. From 1918 to 1972 Polly the parrot lived there. When people first met Polly there was a tavern, especially during the Gold Rush in the Inn, and all of the sailors and the minors taught unsavory songs to the parrot and colorful kind of purple language. The people thought it was very entertaining when sometimes they were shocked by the language not knowing what had been taught to this parrot. Well, that’s because the proprietor of the inn had a saloon. But then it was sold. It was sold several times over the years. This is a true story. A Christian got a hold of the inn and the parrot came along with it. They didn’t want to, in Alaska parrots don’t thrive out in the wild so that was its home and it was already so old. Trying to teach a parrot new words after it’s fifty years old is probably considered impossible by naturalists, but this fellow wouldn’t give up. Not only did he have to try to teach the parrot new words, he had to try to get the parrot to abandon the old ones. So whenever the parrot would utter one of these old words there was some kind of reward/punishment mechanism. I don’t know what they did. But eventually it abandoned the barroom songs and started to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and he taught it a number of nice greetings. Now here is the amazing part of this amazing fact, Polly died in 1972 at the age of 126 years of age. Can you imagine that? If you go right now up there to the grave that they’ve got outside the Carcruss Inn in Alaska they’ve got a large bronze monument to Polly the Carcruss Parrot who learned a new kind of language and a new kind of song. So there is hope for you, right? If a parrot can do this, you can do it too. Didn’t change its environment, but changed its ways. I’m glad that we have a God who does not change, but who believes in making all things new. Amen? This explains the paradox.

I think it would be good for us to sing number 100. We’re going to sing an old song. It was once new. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” let’s stand together.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Before we sing the third verse we talked about getting a new heart. Some of you may be changing where you shouldn’t and be stuck in a rut where you ought to change. You can come to the Lord just like you are and say, “Lord, I don’t want to try to be saved based on a vain faith and tradition. I know I need new heart. I need a personal relationship with You. Will You please change my heart?” He can do that. He is faithful. His love for you is constant. Our love, you know, sometimes it’s dictated by feelings. We might make a decision of love, but our feelings affect our love. God’s love for you is constant. It’s not influenced in any other way and if you’d like to say, “Lord, I’d like to come. I have some special prayer. I need to make a change in my life and I need Your help.” As we sing the last verse we’ll have special prayer for you. Use this opportunity.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Amen. Hey, you sounded very good, by the way, singing. It’s nice to have the organ and the piano together. Amen? It’s beautiful. Let’s pray.

Our dear Father, Lord, we sometimes sense this paradox or a contradiction in what needs to stay eternally the same and what needs to change. Help us to sort out the difference sometimes, Lord, between the new and the old cloth and the new and the old wine, what is manmade tradition and what are eternal principals. I pray also for our church, Lord, first as a group that we will cling to the eternal principals of truth, the commandments of God and will know how to also sing a new song to You, to make the changes when necessary. And then in our lives as individuals, Lord, there are some things that are constant that I pray we can be just absolutely firm and resolved and unyielding in, and then there are other things that need change. Lord, I pray that if we are stuck in this rut, that You’ll help us to come out of it, that we can have a fresh, new, vital experience with You every day, that we can be following You wherever You lead and be willing to be pliable in Your hands, and yet at the same time be firm in hanging onto the truth and the word that does not change. We’re thankful for Your love for us that is constant, not influenced by politics or environment or feelings. I pray that each of us can trust our lives into Your hands knowing that Your love for us is constant. Please forgive us for our sins, Lord. Give us new hearts. Be with each person here, those in a special way who have responded to the altar call today. I pray that we can all leave this place being new every morning because of Your grace and Your mercy. It’s in Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.

God bless you. You may be seated. For those who have come forward, if you’d like to visit with one of our pastors they’ll be greeting at the doors and also some may want to stay behind for special prayer. We have a prayer team that will be here and be happy to pray with you. Don’t forget also the health program this afternoon at Granite Bay.



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