Issue 1, Vol. 2

It’s that the time of year when we resolve to change our old ways.  Our New Year’s resolutions tend to be regarding little issues that sneak up on us gradually in big ways.  Like the occasional Snickers bar that over twenty years has added four inches and 20 pounds to our waistline.

The Top 5 resolutions for 2012 are very predictable; they don’t change much from year-to-year.  The top 5 resolutions for 2012 were to lose weight, to exercise more, to reduce debt, to get organized and to quit smoking.  Pretty much the same resolutions we had as a nation the year before.  The reason we have the same resolutions every year is because we don’t keep them.  New Year’s resolutions have an 85% failure rate.

Now, if we have trouble exercising 20 minutes three days a week or eating salads for lunch, what about the guy whose New Year’s resolution is to get out of poverty?  If his resolution is to get a job this year and he doesn’t have a high school diploma, but he does have a criminal record, how does he achieve his goal?  Is there hope for real life change?

Our friends in the “Four Corners” area continue to teach us lessons.  We watch them humble themselves and say, “I can’t read, will you teach me?”  They do the unthinkable; they ask for help.  They know they can’t do it on their own, so they ask.  We have one friend who is almost 60 years old who asked for someone to teach him how to read.  He wants to learn how to read so that he can read his Bible on his own.  He recently read out loud in one of our Bible Studies.  He is doing great!

Would our New Year’s resolutions success rates go up if we humbled ourselves and asked others for help?  “Hey, I am in all kinds of debt.  I have made a budget, but we can’t seem to stick to it.  Can you help me?”  What if we reached a point of desperation and didn’t care who knows about our condition?  What if we just asked someone else to teach us how to eat right, or how to exercise, or how to budget?  I wonder what our New Year’s resolution success rate would be then.

We are also learning not to write off people who we might think are “stuck.” We have one friend that when he first started attending our Bible Study…well let’s just say he was not well groomed.  Although his wife worked, he hadn’t had a stable job for years.  A few months ago, he decided to find a job.  He applied at several businesses but was repeatedly turned down.  Then, he asked us to pray that God would help him find a job.  A little while later, he committed his life to Christ.  Then, we began to notice little changes in his life.  He was dressing nicer. He was more willing to have conversations with people and isolate less.  One day, he was walking to the grocery store to buy some peanut butter.  As he was walking along the highway, someone who he had worked for years ago recognized and stopped.  The driver rolled down his window and said, “Hey, do you want a job.”  Our friend said, “Yes!”  “Well, you start tomorrow.” He has worked steadily ever since!

Yes, there is hope for change!  It comes slowly, but steadily in the context of God’s spirit working in our lives, but also through loving encouragement that is found in His body, the Church.  God did not plan for us to work through our struggles by ourselves.  Individual effort produces an 85% failure rate.  But when we humble ourselves before God and His community, and then His community responds in love – that’s when change happens.

John & Kris