the Bell Rang -- "Change, Change"
In my mind the word rang like a bell - "change", "change", "change".
It was December 26, 2002 and I was in prayerful meditation as I drove to work.
My thoughts and prayers were flowing together for changes in my life when the
word began to ring. The repeating of the word was like the ringing of a bell.
With resonance and lingering sound it rang - "chan..ge". Say the word to yourself
right now and let it ring.
What did this mean? Why the sound and the symbol
of a bell? Was it a call to change or a warning about change?
difficult whether imposed or initiated. If, in 2003, God is calling you to personal
change and growth, how can you cooperate and what can you do to facilitate positive
growth changes? Or, if in 2003 God is warning you of changes that will be imposed
upon you, how can you prepare for them?
In answer to these questions I
propose several change agents or additives to the change process that can help
bring about positive, rather than negative, adjustments. I will call these "Power
The nature of prophecy is often strategic,
providing objectives, goals, warnings and direction. God initiates change through
his word. I believe it was a prophetic impression that "rang" in my mind - "change"
"change" "change". I believe it was the Word of God in a strategic sense - having
implications for my life. It was a prompter to seek for His answers to the questions
There is both a harshness and melodiousness to the sound of
a bell. As the clapper strikes the bell the initial sound may be harsh, alarming,
or irritating. But quickly the bell's vibrations smooth out the sound. Often this
is the way prophecy may "sound". God's prophets often came with stinging words
that were harsh and alarming, sometimes irritating, but God's peace and love was
the intention and followed any rebuke. God spoke through me to one of my congregations
in the first sermon to them, that if they would receive God's Word, "though it
hurt, it will heal them." Prophecy is a resonating and lingering sound ringing
out God's call to change. Its penetrating tonal "attack" is mellowed by the melodious
timbre that follows the blow of the clapper.
A bell sounds out a call.
It may be used to announce the time to assemble, as in the case of a church bell.
It may announce someone's presence, as the bell that hangs on a door. It may announce
a notable event, as when the bells of a community ring when the prince and princess
According to the Prophet Amos, God announces change through
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing
his plan to his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Amos began chapter three
by admonishing his generation to "Hear this word the LORD has spoken. . . " To
the Churches of Asia Minor the Prophet said "He that has an ear to hear, let him
hear . . ." When Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets on the other side
they despairing stated that they had fished all night without a catch. "Nevertheless,"
they said, "At thy word we will" (Luke 5:5).
flows out of prayer. Prayers offered in agreement with God's word facilitate change
and empower change. Even Christ Himself was fashioned by prayer. What we pray
for not only activates God but also activates ourselves.
What I pray about
and for is not trivial but significant and a priority I have placed in my life.
If I pray for my children's spiritual needs I will be focused on those needs and
will be poised to work towards those goals. Sometimes we are guilty of not putting
"legs" to our prayers, but certainly, if we are not even praying about something,
or putting "knees" to our needs, then what chance will there be that we will act
in a way that may facilitate answers to our needs. Change can come through the
alignment of prayer.
That alignment includes our
behavior. Change is lived out and followed through by behavior patterns. Much
of our behaviors are lumped together in patterns. We have our morning routines,
our work routines, our family routines, even our devotional routines. These clustered
behaviors may need to be changed. If one aspect of the cluster is changed it may
change the pattern.
People who struggle with bad habits often will identify
the "trigger" behavior or event. If I smoke when I am driving or after I eat,
what can I do to break up these relationships. If I need to pray more or change
an attitude, what patterns can I interweave to establish change?
is meaningless apart from purpose. Purpose gives direction to change. Closely
related to the previous point, prophecy, purpose is necessary if change is going
to last. Many changes are sought but lack enough purposefulness to continue. A
whim or a trend, a fad or an impulse, will not last.
Much of our society
requests changes to us of this type. Thinness, beauty, and some successes are
often without real purpose. The Bible says that exercise profits little but godliness
has eternal benefits. With the pursuit of change ought to be the question, Why?
When change is being imposed, should we yield or not yield, can also be answered
by the question, Why?
Change passes through one's
perspective - what I am seeing or not seeing. We can change through learning,
by changing our understanding. As I age I recognize that I want to see things
as they were and not as they can be. I find that my perspective stiffens and the
ability to look at the world differently fades.
I told a mentor pastor
one time that I admired his ability to yet be creative and flexible at his age.
Though, in time, the ability to change will slow down, a key to remaining young
is in the thinking. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
Change needs outside assistance sometimes. Positioning yourself for
influence and opportunity is important. Building networks of people who can help
you reach goals, motivate you, teach you, etc., cannot be overlooked. You are
a part of a community and personal growth is attached to that community.
Another "power P" for change is pain. Unfortunately, pain is an effective
change agent. Perhaps it is due to our fallen natures that we will not change
while we are comfortable. But with pain comes the acceptance and the pursuit of
change. Someone has said that we change when we learn enough or when we hurt enough.
I understood in prayer recently that the merging
of the word change with the ringing of the bell means an activity on my part.
As one is required to ring a bell and to ring it frequently and "religiously"
(with patterned repetition), I am to call myself to change by the preceding behaviors
- prayer, patterns, purpose, perspective, etc. Each day I am to ring the bell
- "change". Not just once a day, perhaps, but maybe twice or three times.
will come. Are you ready for them? Changes need to come. Are you willing to make
them happen? The prophets are ringing the bell of change. It is a part of their
calling to do so, to announce "change."
Michael Cooper is pursuing
a Doctor of Ministry degree in the Regent University School of Divinity. You can
send your e-mail comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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