Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Catalyst For Change

Are there areas in your life where you know you need change?  Aren't we all interested in finding the catalyst for change?

In an article entitled "Why Emotion, Not Knowledge, is the Catalyst for Change", Dan Health and Chip Heath state: "It takes emotion to bring knowledge to a boil."  They illustrated their point with the following:

Urologist Leon Bender became frustrated when he took a South Seas cruise and observed that the crew was more diligent about hand-washing than the staff at his own hospital.  Frequent hand-washing by doctors and nurses is one of the best ways to prevent patient infections, and studies estimate that thousands of patients dies every year from preventable bacterial infections.

Bender and his colleagues tried a variety of techniques to encourage hand-washing, but the staff's compliance with regulations was stuck around 80%.  Medical standards required a minimum of 90% and Cedars-Sinai was due for an inspection from the accrediting board.  They had to do better.

One day, a committee of 20 doctors and administrators were taken by surprise when, after lunch, the hospital's epidemiologist asked them to press their hands into an agar plate, a sterile petri dish containing a growth medium.  The agar plates were sent to the lab to be cultured and photographed.

The photos revealed that wasn't visible to the naked eye: The doctor's hands were covered with gobs of bacteria.  Imagine being one of those doctors and realizing that your own hands – the same hands that would examine a patient later in the day, not to mention the same hands that you just used to eat a turkey wrap – were harboring an army of microorganisms.  It was revolting.  One of the filthiest images in the portfolio was made into a screen saver for the hospital's network of computers ensuring that everyone on staff could share in the horror.

Suddenly, hand-hygiene compliance grew to nearly 100% and stayed there.

Someone might ask: Wouldn't it be great if there were something that could take a picture of what's going on inside our soul?

Well my friend – there is.  It's the Bible – God's Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13)

Pastor/author Paul Tripp commented:

"The Bible is God's great scalpel.  It is able to cut through all the layers of who I am and what I'm doing to expose my heart…The Bible by its very nature is heart-revealing.  For that reason, Scripture must be our central tool in personal growth and ministry."

So thank God, there is something that can accurately reveal the gobs of sin hiding in the recesses of our heart.  Not only does God's Word expose the invisible grime of our soul, God's Word also washes us:

"…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…" (Eph 5:25-26)

Someone might say: "Then why don't we see more change?"  The answer is most likely a potential problem that we are warned of by the author of the book of Hebrews just a few verses before he writes about the exposing power of God's Word:

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." (Heb 4:7)

To harden the heart is to make up one's mind what you're going to do, and be unwilling to show any flexibility in your thinking when confronted by God. 

Change is hard, it's needed, and it's possible – and our catalyst for change is God's Word.  But if we are to ever be changed we must not harden our heart when God speaks.

Pastor Van




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