Resolution? How about a transformation!

Are you doing the traditional resolution dance today? This is the time of the year that we get motivated to change a certain part of our life. We have great desires to improve ourselves, which is admirable for sure!

Last night, we spent the evening with my brother and his wife. We had a fantastic night at dinner in Tremont/Ohio City, the re-energized area of Cleveland! As we ate, we began to ask my brother the details of how he has lost 50 pounds in 6 months. That’s right, my brother has completely transformed himself. He has done this in a very healthy and safe way……..eating right and working out consistently. When we asked him how challenging it was, he said it was very difficult at first because he had to get rid of his former way of doing things. He had to throw off his old lifestyle. David used to snack late at night after putting the kids to bed, which led to more and more snacking. He also was eating unhealthy during the day. All in all, he was consuming about 500-1000 calories more than his body needed.

After David’s Physician told him the truth of his current health status, David had to make a decision. Do I continue living this lifestyle and become a statistic of early onset diseases and potentially leaving my family sooner than I should? Or should I choose to become a new person (50 pounds was 1/3 of his person!) and change my life? He chose to become a new person! He had to really work hard, stay focused, have others encourage him to keep his eyes on his goal, and remember that this was going to be a complete lifestyle change and not just be a fad for a few months. Six months later, he is an inspiration to many (including me and Maureen!) and is proof that it is possible to become a new person!

Let me now encourage you to look at yourself today as you peer into next year, 2015. I am not talking about weight loss, but about true transformation. I am talking about a spiritual transformation similar to what my brother went through physically. You will have to do as David did, he had to evaluate some things in his life. He was enjoying eating and all the things that came with that. But deep down he knew he wanted to change. It took his Dr. telling him the truth about the life he was living. When it was stated that he had a risk for a heart attack at an early age, he had to face the truth. He had to look in the mirror. He knew it was needed, this change in lifestyle, but did he want to commit to this? He had to evaluate what the truth was. Then, he had to make a choice and stick with it. My brother never starts something he can’t finish. He made this choice and has done an amazing job of transforming his life.

How about our lives? This is a great time to evaluate ourselves. We need to hear truth as well. Is Jesus the truth? If He is, are you going to make a commitment to follow who He says He is, or walk away and keep living, like my brother was. Are you going to make a lifestyle change to follow Jesus and stick with this? Do you know who Jesus is? Do you believe the source? If Jesus is the only way to a relationship with the Creator of everything? What will it take? Is it an easy lifestyle, or will it be challenging? Or, will it be painful? My brother stated it was way harder than he ever thought it was going to be. Is following Jesus harder than we ever thought it would be?

Romans 12:1-2 says it best: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

My brother offered his lifestyle as a sacrifice so he could be a changed person, transformed! May we live for Jesus in a way that is sacrificial. May we live for Jesus and allow Him to transform us so that we are different over the next year. How? I don’t know…………ask God to show you the truth about yourself. Evaluate yourself today. Where are you severely out of shape, overweight, or where you simply have gotten lazy? Be ready for the answer, and it may be something like my bother heard…….you are dying a slow death. You need a lifestyle change. It will be hard at first because you will have to get rid of your current way of doing things. You may have to throw off your old lifestyle.! You will need to become a new creation and a new person (2 Cor 5:17). You need to…………………

Lead Small, 3 of 7

We, as leaders in kids ministry, have a huge challenge before us. Most studies show that more than 50% of students in KidsMin walk away from their faith in college. The main reason for this is that teenagers have a pseudo, immature, green, borrowed and even fragile faith. Why? There are many reasons: having to learn more in life; not experienced enough; being very young. Their faith is, to some degree, unchallenged! Just like the young baseball player who can scoop up every ground ball hit to him. He has trained, he has practiced, and he has overcome what has been set before him…..except one thing. He has never played in a game before!!! So when he makes an error and allows the ball to go right between his legs on a routine ground ball because a base runner was right in front of him when he tried to field that ball, we can say it was because he was never challenged with “live game action”. He then comes to the bench and complains it wasn’t fair and he quits!!!

What is the solution then? We want to walk along side kids and help them have a stronger faith then, right? In other words, we want to help them develop an authentic faith for themselves, one that is led by the Holy Spirit. It would probably look like what Paul was describing to Timothy in 1 Tim 1:18-19. We are after this type of a generation! They will be rooted in Scripture, hold onto their faith, have a strong conscience, and know God personally. We desire for them to trust in God and not just for a moment in their life (such as at VBS, Beulah Beach, or KOG/GOG).

Our vision is for each child to have a really BIG faith – an authentic faith. And a great way to cultivate authentic faith is through leading SMALL.

Leading small? Wait, I thought you just said to have a big faith….? Well, we have a huge challenge, but it needs to start small. We have a big ministry, but many little souls are at stake here! What if the biggest things we accomplish are by doing something small? There is great power in leading small. When we lead small, we realize that what we do for a few may have more potential than what we do for many.

When we lead small, we simply make a choice to invest strategically in the lives of a few over time so we can help them build an authentic faith! We lead small in small groups, teaching in the classroom with a smaller group of kids, or in larger groups by dividing them into small groups for discussion and prayer time.

A few weeks ago I was teaching 5th grade and was being vulnerable in the mistakes I made as a younger guy. I shared the story of stealing pumpkins when I was in High School (my kids love to hear stories of when I mess up, by the way!!). Wow, this had a huge impact on them! They opened up and began to ask tons of questions about that event. I engaged them with this story of my young adult life! I then was able to share my faith with them and inspired them to live differently. May God transform them from this opportunity I had to LEAD SMALL!

When you are leading your small group this week or teaching your class, remember that we lead small in order to build authentic faith.