Common Pattern for Life Changes

Good thinking helps you eliminate the bad part of a common pattern everyone experiences. All your changes follow the common pattern, even though it may be hard to believe right now. Once it is stated, you may agree.

Common Pattern for Life Changes

So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." -- 2 Samuel 12:13

The Common Pattern

Good thinking helps us eliminate the bad part of the common pattern everyone experiences in life. The pattern occurs repeatedly, with the outcome of each occurrence leading either to a life that glorifies God or a further self-absorbed one.

Three Statements Create the Pattern

“I was living this way. Then, one day, THIS happened. Now I live my life differently.”

On closer inspection of many life changes, you will see more detail, which sounds like this:

“I was living this way.  Then THIS happened … it happened again and again and again … Finally, it struck me! I got it! Now, I live my life differently.”

That is the standard format or common pattern of every testimony you hear at church or program that helps people change.

Multiple Examples in the Bible 

A great example is King David in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. That is the story of David and Bathsheba. If you use the common pattern, it sounds like this.

“I was living a life that displeased God – adultery, murder, and unconfessed sin. My bad choices came from bad thinking that led me to sin rather than doing what was right. Of course, I knew it was wrong, but I did not want to admit it. So, I made it worse by trying to cover up my adultery with murder. Then, one day, Nathan confronted me with a story that showed how real my sin was. That led me to confess my sin to the Lord. The consequences of my sin resulted in the death of my baby son. Now I walk with the Lord, and when I sin, confess it as soon as I am aware of it.”

God calls David “…a man after His own heart…”  How is that possible when God knew David would commit such sins? I believe it is because David believed and trusted God first, and when he sinned, he confessed it. That is a person who desires to please God – a man after God’s heart.

Options for Change

Since the pattern is so real, the middle part, “THIS happened,” is the critical element. THIS in David’s story was the time Nathan confronted him, but that is just one way THIS is communicated.

Three Examples from My Life.

Former Belief

1) Going to heaven is what is important

2) Climb the corporate ladder

3) I am basically self-sufficient

Current Belief

1) I will be judged. Eternal rewards are real.

2) Work to your strengths

3) Relationships are critical

Heaven & Eternal Rewards

I believed in God’s desire to conform me to His image, but despite that, I did not understand the connection of this life to living in the kingdom. That made going to heaven my focus. Now, because I know more Scripture, my thinking is different. While going to heaven is very important, it is not the end of the story. Eternal rewards and being prepared to reign with Christ are also critical. This life is an apprenticeship for being a servant king in God’s Kingdom.

Corporate Ladder & Strengths

Another former belief about work and career was climbing the corporate ladder was an important goal for me in an organization. Now, I believe that the key is to focus on your strengths. That makes you most effective for the organization.

Self-sufficiency & Relationships

Yet another change I’ve had is social: I used to believe in self-sufficiency, but now I believe that relationships are critical.

Take a minute to think about your life. Consider some examples of what you believe now and reflect on what you used to believe.

What happened that moved you to change? What THIS happened?

Change and Your Thinking

Different thinking ties you directly to any change, whether good or bad. Consider this principle.

If people are changed, they are changed largely because their thinking has changed.

Notice how that statement fits the scripture below.

Acts 19:18-20 (NKJV) – And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

Before they knew Christ, they thought magic was the answer. Now that they believe in Christ, they burned an absolute fortune in books about magic.

Why? Their thinking had changed!

Their common pattern could have been stated: " My life depended on whether I had the right magic or potion to make life better. Now that I believe in Christ, I burned by magic books and believe He is the answer.” Their life was radically changed, so much that they burned what they used to consider a treasure.

Three Options for Change

Change follows three options: get better, stay the same, or get worse. So, a “Change Table” looks like this:


Believe a Truth

Believe a Lie


Believe another Truth

Believe a Truth


Believe same Truth

Believe same lie


Believe a Lie

Believe another lie

What’s evident about the BETTER column? Right, it involves believing TRUTH!

The Better Life

Truth is imperative for a “better” life. When your life changes for the better, truth is there somewhere. “Better” in this context does not mean winning the lottery. While that is possibly better for some, if they have the correct thinking about stewardship, but it creates a nightmare for most. So, “better” is a life that closely aligns with God’s prescription.

Truth always aligns you with God. Consider the definition of truth: “the quality of being true, genuine, actual, or factual; a proven or verified principle or statement; fact.”

Similar Definitions

And, let me introduce another word to consider – REALITY. Reality is “in actual fact, the quality or state of being real.”

While those definitions are not identical, they show remarkable similarities. Believing truth means seeing what is actual, genuine, and factual. Being in reality means you see objectively and factually.

While lies are real, the content of the lie leads to what is not true and factual. Truth is often difficult to accept, and reality is an acquired taste. But both are the best for you despite any unpleasantness they may create.

Reality and Change

With truth and reality in mind, let’s build on the earlier statement –

We seldom change for the better unless we accept and act on truth or reality.

What reality/truth are you not applying to your life? Will you ask others for their input? Consider the following as a starter kit to reflect on changes that may be needed.

  • Health/exercise/food/weight
  • Financial stewardship/saving/spending/investing
  • Prayer life/Bible study

If you take one item and see the truth or reality about it, you create a great chance to make a change. Assume it is your spending. That money is God’s. Your actions show you think it is yours (I was living this way). You accept truth or reality, or ignore it and act like the money is yours. Your life is better, the same, or worse (Now I live this way). It is only better if you adopt good thinking. See the pattern?

The Critical Element of the Common Pattern

So, what is THIS in the common pattern for life change? It is one of two things:

  • Truth and Reality or
  • Lies, Deception, and Bad Assumptions

You see which THIS as you watch where your life goes from that point. Even better, get someone to review your decision compared to God’s Word.

Lies and deception lead to unexpected consequences, regrets, grief, and even slavery like addictions. You end up just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, wondering how things got this way. Deception always looks like something good but ends up bad. For King David, it seemed so right to be with Bathsheba. That flawed thinking led to further lousy thinking when David created a situation for Uriah to be killed.

But It Seemed So Right!

It seems so right, just like Eve’s statement about the tree.

Genesis 3:6 (NKJV) – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

But there are unexpected consequences.

Genesis 3:7 (NKJV) – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

But It Isn't Right

Truth or Reality is just the opposite. It often does not look easy. Flawed thinking drives your emotions, telling you it is wrong. But when you choose truth, there are rewards, wisdom, and freedom, which are also largely unexpected.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth – only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.  – C.S. Lewis

It’s your choice.

Hebrews 3:13 (NKJV) – …but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The Lord continually pursues your best and your growth. What needs to change, even though it has been repeatedly brought to your attention? You have two options: you make the change, or you don’t. That is why you need to use “Opposites,” meaning it is true or false, good or bad, right or wrong - no other options.

Simple Tools for Better Thinking

1. Slow Your Emotions (Thinking) Down

Most situations stimulate your emotions in some way. You may have a near-miss collision with another car, hear lies about you, or narrowly escape a temptation to sin. Whatever it is, something happens, and feelings are stimulated. Your flesh is ready to act, and your self-control may be switched off.

You have a choice at that moment, but you may not realize it. Following your emotions is the same as following your sin nature and flawed thinking. Or, you choose to follow the Spirit. Too often, a choice is never considered; there is only a reaction to the situation.

Slowing your thinking down allows your emotions to subside so you can reflect on what is right. Hopefully, you’ve been in God’s Word and under good biblical teaching so that you can consider Godly principles, Christ-like values, and truth. If you do not have a foundation of good values, then slowing your emotions may only delay the reaction. But if you have a good foundation, slowing down allows you to engage your thinking, and act on good principles, truth, and virtues.  Eventually, emotions or feelings will follow your thinking.

Simple, right? Isn’t that what you were taught as a child? Count to 10 and take a deep breath – those things help to engage your thinking and help change your emotions. What you were taught is correct and works.

2. Pre-decide

What happens when you don’t think and weigh your options? You tend to react and respond. But it is worse than you think. Depending on the situation, what you think you value can easily be pushed aside depending on the temptation at hand. For example, research shows that men who select good values toward women and then are shown pornographic images of women will then select lower, immoral, and even illegal actions toward women as they view those images.

Those situations let you know if your values or good thinking have become part of you rather than just part of your speech. Difficult situations show your character. Actions show character, not words.

Prepare for Temptations

An excellent way to prepare for many life situations is to pre-decide. List various temptations or situations where you know you are weakest. Study and reflect on God’s Word related to those situations, and then decide to trust God’s way by the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

Immerse yourself in God’s Word; meditate on what He says is the best way to live. Mediate on the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Then, listen to God about each decision you make so that your decisions align with God's thinking. Now, you have more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

And the simplest of all – will this bring glory to God? That is an excellent foundation for good decisions.

Decide For Not Just Against

Finally, remember the power of deciding fornot just against, something. Identifying something to remove from your life naturally creates rebellion because you see that as removing your current freedom. While stopping bad habits and flawed thinking is necessary, find ways to start living differently with a focus on adding the fruit of the Spirit or those things that are “…pure, just, lovely and true…” (Philippians 4:8) into your life.

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