Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life Change Interview on ChristianPost.com

This post was published at Christian Post
 
A rising voice,  takes a spiritual approach to the topic of change in his latest book Life Change, walking readers through the book of Mark to highlight stories of life change in the Bible. The Tennessee pastor shows how the power of God enables us to do what we are incapable of doing ourselves by examining the seven miracles Jesus performed throughout that text and the people who were changed by them.
In this edited interview with The Book Room, Easley shares how too many Christians have settled for good enough when God wants greatness. 
TBR: What led you to write this book? 
Easley: I started reading through the book of Mark, and I see that just about everybody that’s mentioned in that book is somebody that has something in their life that needs to change.  But they all have something in common, and that is the thing they wanted to experience or the thing they wanted to change in their life was something they were incapable of changing themselves.
That reminded me of us; how we try to change things in our life but when it gets down to it, we’re not capable of changing it.  Not long term.  We change for a little bit or we can change a couple of habits or we can change our friends or our surroundings.   But when you’re talking about lasting life change, most of the time we are incapable of doing it ourselves.   Just like everybody that I talked about in the book from the book of Mark, they can’t do it themselves.  They have a friend who is in need of healing.  Well they can’t heal him.  They have a friend that’s lost or a man that’s demon possessed.  You can try to change some of that stuff, but really, you can’t really do much.  You can make a little bit of progress but you can’t really experience the change your desperately need.
So it got me thinking about you know, as a pastor you meet a lot of people who come to you for hope, and I wish as a pastor I could just, I could be that magic genie and I could grant people the wishes of life change that they’re desiring in their life.  But as a pastor, I’m not a genie; I am a facilitator of the gospel.


So all I can do is point people to somebody that can give them the change that they desire and that is what this book is.  This book is my way of holding up the directional sign that points directly to God, the facilitator of life change.  When people come to me saying how come my life wasn’t different, how can I experience this change  that, how can my marriage be restored or how can I experience healing in my life, as a pastor I wish that  I could just grant wishes and facilitate that but I can’t.  So I point them in a direction to where they can experience that which they’re desiring and looking for.
TBR: In your opinion what is it in human nature that desperately seeks out change?
Easley: I think the short answer to that is we know that we’re broken.  We know that we’re not perfect. You know God created us in the beginning to be perfect but when sin entered the world in the book of Genesis, ever since then we have known that we are jacked up.  This is the reality of it.
I was – and I put this in the introduction of my book—I just did a couple of Google searches, and I typed in a couple of “how-to” phrases just to see how many results show up.  How to lose weight before my wedding – 19,600 results show up.  How to join alcoholics anonymous – 55,900 results.  How to stop biting my fingernails - 188,000 results.  How to quit smoking – 884,000 results.  How to keep a New Years resolution – 1,030,000 results.  How to change my life – 5, 740,000 results.  And that’s just a testament to show that as a people we know that we’re broken and we know that we have things in our lives that need to change and things God allows us to feel that way because of the hole in our heart that was placed there from the moment that we were born. We all have a God-size hole in our hearts, we all have a desire for Him and we all have a brokenness.  And I think that’s God’s way of showing us we aren’t complete yet.  We’re not there.  We haven’t arrived.  We still – we’re a work in progress and we’re never going to be the prefect creation that he created us to be until we meet Him and we experience the fulfillment of knowing Him.  And then even in our imperfection, it’s a reminder that we serve a perfect God who sees us as perfect representations of Him as we have the blood of Christ all over.  So even in our imperfect state, He see us a perfect because He doesn’t see us in our sins.  When He looks at us, all He sees is His son and that’s just a great reminder of the goodness of God and mercy and forgiveness that He offers us when we didn’t deserve it in the first place.  So you know Life Change is [about  more than] making your life better or living a better existence.  It’s about meeting a greater God and depending on Him, and realizing you’re incomplete and you’re imperfect until you meet Him.
TBR: For the non-believer that picks up this book, why is God's power essential to making a change?
Easley:  I have a lot of friends who endorsed it (the book), and on the cover I put one of my friends – he endorsed this book as well – and his name is Andy Stanley.  [He said something] about the book, and I liked it so much that I put it on the cover:  It said “This book will make you uncomfortable with where you are while providing clarity about where you need to be” and I just really like that a lot because it shows that all of us are at a destination right now, like we are here, this is where we’re at.  But it’s a great reminder that where you’re at right now isn’t where you will necessarily always be and it’s a reminder we need to focus less on where we are today and focus more on where God is trying to bring us tomorrow.
 And that’s the thing, we all have those goals.  We have ambitions. We have places that we want to be and things that we want to accomplish.  But the thing is if we trust in ourselves and we trust in our own abilities to get there, we’re only going to get so far.  So when you trust in God to get you where God wants to get you to go, then He’s going to take you there every single time.  It’s when you start to rely on yourself and your own power to get to where God want to take you, that’s when you fall short.  But I believe God sees us where we are, where we are at, but He also sees where He wants to take us and when we align our heart with God’s heart and when we submit ourselves to His will to get us to where He wants us to go, I believe He will take us places that we can only dream of.
God’s a lot more powerful than us.  He’s a lot more powerful than anybody obviously and so getting to the destination that He wants us to go to is a lot easier if you submit to His power rather than rely on your own.  I think that’s a lot of the reason why that many times when we try to change ourselves, we fail.  You say “OK, I’m going to change my marriage this year, I’m going to be a better husband.”  Well you can only do so much.  You’re just a human being and the thing is, Satan is against you.  He doesn’t want your marriage to change and when you look at you and you look at Satan, you have to concede that he is way more powerful than you.  He’s a lot more creative.  He has a lot more resources.  When God created him, he was the most powerful and the most beautiful creature that God ever created.  The Bible says that.  So when it’s you versus him, you’re going to lose every single time.  You can make some headway, you could change a few things, you could get creative and be a good husband for a day or two but in the long run, you’re not going to be able to change yourself because it’s you versus Satan.  Now if you team up with God, you submit to God, you tap into the power of Christ in your life, than you’re capable of doing anything.  The Bible says you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.  You can’t do anything in your own strength.  The Bible also says that you are nothing, outside of Christ you are nothing.  So this is a reminder that God is more powerful than you, He’s more powerful than Satan and so when you tap into the power of God, you can accomplish greater things in your life.
TBR: What advise do you have for the Christian who has tapped into the power of God and achieved some changes in past but are now stuck in new areas?
Easley:  This book is written to a believer and a non-believer but it really focuses on the believer, believe it or not.  It really focused on a believer who maybe they’re so used to being good that good has become good enough.  They’re so used to being good that they don’t even know what great tastes like.  Since good has become good enough, great seems to be out of the question, and they’ve forgotten the God that they serve and love and claim to know.  This book is written to a believer to remind them of the power of God and to show them that God is capable of doing things that we have forgotten that He is capable of when God changes things in your life in an area that maybe you’ve overlooked because you’ve forgotten the greatness of God in your own heart and own life.  I’ll give you an example.  One of these chapters is focused on us as believers remembering what it’s like to be desperate for God, and it shows us through the book of Mark, through stories of biblical characters that when you’re desperate for God, it changes everything.  When you’re desperate, it just changes the way you look, the way that you act, the way that you react.
[In the book] I tell a story about a friend of mine.  I took a couple of my youth pastors when I was at Second Baptist Houston with Dr. [Ed] Young; I was in youth ministry and I took some our youth pastors to lunch one day and one of them, this is a very paraphrased version but [he] ordered this big fajita platter and there are some peppers that are like garnish, you know, they’re like decorative peppers.  Well one of these youth ministers never knew the characteristics [of the pepper] didn’t understand Mexican food, picks one up and puts it on his plate and everyone’s like dude you better not eat that.  It was bright orange and it just looked hot, you know, and he’s like it’s just a pepper, it’s not a big deal and everyone starts to act like we’re in junior high again and everyone starts daring him.  “I dare you to eat that pepper.”  “I dare you to do it.”  Well, everyone knew what was going to happen.  So everybody starts waiting and he says one, two, three and when he said three, he popped the pepper in his mouth and everybody at the same time took their glass of water or ice tea, coke and removed it from the table.  And a person even took his water – the guy who popped the pepper – and removed it from the table and all of a sudden this guy, his face starts changing colors.  He goes from this off-white color to this bright red.  It’s like those Looney Tunes cartoons, and he starts doing everything except for smoke coming out the ears.  He’s panicking because it was one of the hottest peppers that came out of the kitchen that day.  Well this guy who is normally meek, mild, very shy, normally  would not do anything like this or say anything, he stands up in a crowded restaurant during the business of the lunch hour and he starts walking at a rapid pace around the restaurant and finally he locates the pitcher of water.  This pitcher just happened to be on one of the tables of an elderly couple having a lunch date that day, and he walks up without saying a word with his face bright red, grabs the pitcher of water, dumps the water on top of his face and drinks as much of it as he can get in his mouth.  
But I used it as a picture to say that Ryan that day, he was desperate for water and because he was so desperate for water, it caused him to do things he normally wouldn’t do. He normally wouldn’t walk up to an elderly couple and dump a pitcher of water down his face.  He normally wouldn’t do anything I just mentioned but because he was desperate, he was willing to do things he couldn’t imagine doing.  I just use that to say when people get desperate for Jesus, we are willing and capable of doing things that we can’t even imagine right now.  In a state when we’re not desperate, it’s hard to imagine a state when we become that desperate for Christ.  When we’re desperate, He can make us do things or lead us to do things that will blow our minds when we really stop and think about it.

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