Friday, February 11, 2011

Rebelutionary Action Project: Voices of the Innocent

Hello all!

One would think that an Administrator and Moderator on a Forum that exists to promote and facilitate collaboration in "doing hard things" and "rebelling against low expectations" would be aware of all the projects being hatched on said Forum. Well, that is not necessarily true. As many of you may know, Hannah and I both serve on the leadership for of the Rebelution Forum and for some inexplicable reason or another, we've entirely missed out on a great action project hatched on the Forum.

The project is called "Voices of the Innocent" and its purpose is stated in the "about me" page of the projects blog.

Thanks for stopping by! Your interest is very encouraging! "Voices of the Innocent" was founded by 2 best friends (Emily and Olivia) who both expressed anger over the increasingly accepted practice of abortion. We wanted to speak out against it, but didn't know how. Then, God blessed us with an idea, and we are asking for your help to make our idea into a reality. Our mission is to have people from all around America send letters protesting abortion to their local newspapers. We want everyone involved to to send the letters out on the same day (2/14/2011) so that newspapers around the nation will receive pro-life letters all at once! We're praying that God will lead at least 200 participants to join us in our fight against the murder of the innocent. We hope you are one of those participants. Please feel free to contact us by commenting or emailing us @ God bless!

This is a project we at Rebelutionary Musings definitely want to support. Letter writing is something that virtually all people can do and it can be a very effective avenue through which to advocate for values we hold dear. It's also a great way to learn to be maximally effective in our advocacy.

As a special note to parents...encouraging your children to take part in this project and others of the same nature is an excellent way to encourage them to "do hard things" and step outside their comfort zones. :-)

If you don't feel like you know where to start don't worry! Olivia and Emily have very thoughtfully provided Example Letters and Letter Guidelines for us.

Be sure to check out the Voices of the Innocent blog and their Facebook page. If you would like to hop on board with this project please pop them an email letting them know of your support. It's always an encouragement to know people are standing firmly with you!

I know we are a little late in bringing this project to your attention (understatement) but please don't worry about writing long letters. If time is not abundant something short and to the point will more than suffice. It is the content and spirit of the letters that will impact readers...not their length or eloquence!

God bless!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Addisyn Block: sacrificing for children in Africa

Hello all,

For today's post I would like to share the story of Addisyn Block, a 15 year girl from right here in my home county (Hunt) featured in my home-towns newspaper. I will copy large portions of the article but not all of it, so be sure to check the story out on the Greenville Herald Banner's website.

February 7, 2011
A story of sacrifice
Herald-Banner Staff

CADDO MILLS — Feb. 3 marked the 100th day that 15-year-old Block has given up her school lunch money, approximately $2 a day, to Lifesong for Orphans, which in turn gives it to the Adami Tulu preschool in Ziway, Ethiopia. Instead of using that money to purchase lunch, she brings soup — the same kind of soup that the children attending the African preschool eat every day.

Why Ethiopia? Because Block recently paid a visit to Ziway in March, along with her mother, Amy, to bring home Block’s baby sister, Havyn.

Block has eight siblings. Travis, Keegan and Kal are her siblings, related by blood, and Mya, Aliegha, Kaden, Carson and, of course, Havyn are her adoptive siblings.

Her first adoptive sibling was brought home from Guatemala in 2004, when Block was 9 years old.

Due in part to the family’s adoptions, Block has had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala, where she worked at Eagles Nest Orphanage, and Ethiopia, where she spent a day with missionaries Gary and Peggy Ifft at the Adami Tulu Preschool.

“I’m pretty sure I left a piece of my heart there,” said Block. “I have a quote hanging on my bedroom wall that reads ‘When you walk with God, you always reach your destination,’ and I had reached mine.”

Being at the preschool that day made Block realize how much she took for granted.

“I couldn’t open my closet door and see 12 pairs of shoes without thinking about those with none,” said Block. “I couldn’t go to the mall with friends and spend $15 on yet another T-shirt knowing that that $15 would have fed five children at the preschool for a month. I couldn’t just be a regular American teenage girl anymore. I was different. And different, I realized, is a good thing.”

Block’s forfeiture alone has yielded $200 to the cause, but it doesn’t stop there. Through her efforts, people have picked up on the idea via her family’s blog and Facebook page. Now, more than 200 people have committed to take part in Block’s sacrifice in some way. Some forfeited their lunch money on Feb. 3, Block’s 100-day anniversary, with all money going to Lifesong for Orphans to help the children Block fell in love with in Ethiopia. Many, however, are donating a good deal more than just their lunch money.

“A mere $3 feeds a child at the preschool for one month,” said Amy Block, Addisyn’s very proud mother. “It may just be one meal, but often times it’s their only meal of the day.

In addition to this $2 a day sacrifice, Addisyn has also raised money to help buy the preschool children’s uniforms and backpacks. She did this by forfeiting birthday and Christmas presents, raffling off a Nintendo Wii and hosting luncheons at Paradise Baptist Church in Caddo Mills, where they served the same African soup Block has been eating for the past 100 days, including bad weather days.

“What to some may seem a small gift, God sees the heart behind her efforts,” said Amy. “He sees a child willing to give up the little she has for others who have nothing. Through a simple bowl of soup God has taught Addisyn so many lessons in sacrifice and integrity.”

Addisyn's story reminds me of the well known passage in Luke 16:10: "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."

May we all be as faithful in stewarding the opportunities and resources given to us as Addisyn!

If you have been encouraged by Addisyn's story I would encourage you to visit her families blog here and also the 'One Day - One Lunch Project' on Facebook (if you are part of the Facebook world). You can also visit the organization the Block's have worked with, Lifesong for Orphans, here.

God bless!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kevin Bales on fighting modern slavery: the power of small things

Hello all,

For today's post I have grabbed a post from my own blog (Mark here). No...I'm not totally self-absorbed or self-aggrandizing. I just feel really passionately about the issue of slavery and would like to pass on to you valuable information I found on the subject.

If you like it, feel free to leave a comment here or there letting me know. :-P

Hello all!

Ever wondered how to fight slavery? Ever wondered what young people and/or people with limited resources can do to help? If you have asked yourself these questions then I highly recommend the following video to you. It won't answer all your questions probably, but it will help set you on the path to finding your own answers.

Watching this video, I was flabbergasted by the impact that "small things" can have on a global level. I've always known intellectually that small things could make a big difference but the projected impact that small things could have in fighting slavery simply shocked and convicted me. I was convicted because I how much impact I have been wasting. Take for instance my love of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato's...

I am a frequent patron of the local Starbucks, frequent enough that most of the regular employee's know me by name and all of them know my regular order; a Grande Caramel Macchiato. Nothing can beat a Caramel Macchiato for bit of relaxation and awesomeness. But, at what cost do I indulge in this treat?

Well, suppose I have 1.5 Caramel Macchiato's a week (I try to limit my intake). They've raised the price this year from $4.28 to $4.60 for a GCM, so if I have 1.5 a week that = a total of $6.90. Multiply that by 52 and you get $358.80 a year spent on GCM's. If I get 2 GCM's a week, by no means something unheard of, that total number jumps to $478.40 a year spent on Grande Caramel Macchiato's.

How much does it cost to free a slave? In many parts of the world...$400...for sustainable freedom according to Kevin Bales.

Wow. I am both angry with myself by those calculations and joyfully amazed at the impact I can have!

Now tell me. What does it say of a person who refuses to do small things for God's glory?

God bless and veritas supra omnis!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pressing On Toward the Goal: How Much Time?

Hello all!

Remember us? No? I don't blame you. :-P

At any rate, we've been on an extended hiatus due to numerous demands on our time and have badly missed blogging. But, this time, we are for real going to be blogging regularly again! No seriously...we've talked about it and have a "plan". ;-)

On a more serious note, let me jump with both feet into this week’s excellent line up of Rebelutionary posts!

The first of the week comes from the blog of Rebelutionary leader, Daniel Osborne, by way of his blog 'Pressing On Towards the Goal'. I would like to take a few lines to commend Daniel for his passionate desire and efforts to everyday live out the admonition of Romans 12:1-2, which says:

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I (Mark) am honored to work alongside Daniel on the Rebelution Forum where he serves as an Administrator. He frequently offers sober-minded yet grace-filled insights on His blog and this is not the first time his posts have been featured here on Rebelutionary Musings. Don't let his sober minded posts fool you though. He's a notorious prankster. ;-)

(sorry, Daniel)

His latest post poses challenging questions and reflections on time, a matter the Bible speaks to frequently and with great clarity.

I am copying his post here, but if you are blessed by and/or appreciative his post I would encourage you to leave a comment on his blog by following this link.

Without further ado...How Much Time?

Do you ever wonder how much time you have on earth? Do you dream of things you want to do before that point? Do you actually pursue those things or are they in the distant future?

I was reminded once again today of the need to make the most of my time. I spent a few hours this afternoon at the hospital visiting a friend who was in a coma for over a month... and then unresponsive for another couple months and is just now starting to be responsive. It was a simple skateboarding accident. All at once, his life was changed... his mouth has not uttered a word for 4 months. He was one of the most energetic people I know. Things have changed. Yet, God is still in control.

I sat there on the hospital bed reading Psalm 27 to him and talking to him about Joshua and God's promise to always be with us. It was hard not knowing if he could even understand what I was saying. I think he could understand... but is so hard when there is no response. It was good to be able to pray with his mom over him... but so hard to see him in that state. I'm thankful that we have an all-wise God who has never once failed in doing what is best.

It did cause me to think about the different things I want to accomplish in life... and what I am doing now to prepare myself to accomplish them. I'm talking specifically about the areas in which we can make a difference for the sake of Christ for eternity. How am I living out the reality of the gospel in my normal everyday life? How is Christ and His call to forsake all and follow Him changing me? These are all questions that I ought to ask myself continually.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:16)

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Col. 4:5)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8)

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

God, I ask that You show me my end... remind me of how short my life is, so that I would spend my time wisely. Remind me of the death I must die daily [to sin and my own desires] and of the life that I must live to the fullest in Christ. You have made it clear that there are times for just about everything. Please make Your will clear... show me the things that it is time for. Fix my heart on You and grant courage to make the most of the time that You have given me. Let me not live life without impacting souls for Your glory. Rid me of myself so that I see the opportunities that You are continually placing in my path. Conform my desires to Yours. Make me more like Christ. I want a full life for Your glory. I am Your tool... not one that you need... but one that You have chosen. Please use me as You see fit.

Many thanks to Daniel for his challenging post!

God bless!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Redefining Femininity: The Power of a Gentle Answer

Hello all,

Rebeka Fry of the 'Redefining Femininity' blog has given us a great post titled "The Power of a Gentle Answer". I love how she weaves the power and affect of the Gospel through her examination of this very practical issue. In particular, I think she makes an important point when she points out that in the process of learning to give gentle answers we rid ourselves of the tyranny of our emotions. This is not to say all emotions are wrong, just that when they control us they are tyrannical. It brings Matthew 11:28-30 to mind.

So as to not steal all her thunder, allow me to just post selected portions of Rebeka's post. If you are blessed by what you read, and I'm sure you will be, please read the rest at 'Redefining Femininity'.

"A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger."
~ Proverbs 15:1 ~

When someone speaks rudely or responds in an insensitive tone towards us, our human inclination is to respond in an equally critical manner. After all, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, right? We have every reason to respond harshly! But, once again, Jesus raises the bar in how our response should be.

"You have heard that it was said,
'You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you
and persecute you."
~ Matthew 5:43-44 ~

This is probably one of the hardest commandments to live out in day-to-day life. There probably isn't anything less challenging to our flesh than to live out this principle of selfless and unconditional love to others. To bite our tongue, take a deep breath, and pray for the other person who seemingly wronged us.

"To exude the nature of Christ in the face of
rudeness, insensitivity, or cruelty is a
supernatural ability that His Spirit gives,
not something that we can muster up
in our own strength."
~ Leslie Ludy ~

I love reading through stories about persecuted Christians throughout the centuries. The primary thing that never ceases to amaze me is the longsuffering and patience of those who were tortured for Christ. Betsy ten Boom was able to see her brutal prison guards with the eyes of love, not hatred. Sabina Wurmbrand was able to sincerely love the pastor who betrayed her husband, which cost him several years of torture and imprisonment. Elisabeth Elliot did not become bitter towards her husband's killers; instead, she went back to them and ministered to the Auca tribe. If these women could receive the grace needed to forgive and bless even the most cruelest of men, we certainly can ask the Lord to help us overlook the much smaller offenses that occur every day.

The woman who is hidden in Christ rests in His security and is not easily angered. She does not fly off the handle. She is not a slave to her emotions. She is not concerned about her right to be treated a certain way. She sets her sights on the eternal value of the souls around her, not her own emotional tide.

Many thanks to Rebeka for her excellent reminder!

God bless!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Joel Brooks: Help Even the Unrighteous Poor

Hello all,

All of us are probably more than a little familiar with verses such as Deuteronomy 15:7-8:

"If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be."

The Biblical command to care for the poor, the needy, the least among us is not something we can merely side step. Most of us recognize this and are happy to help the poor, though we may struggle to fulfill this command consistently. However, perhaps if we are honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we want something in exchange for our service. Perhaps we desire recognition for our good deeds as did the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-17) or we want those we help to show proper recognition and thankfulness for our charity.

Joel Brooks explores this attitude in his recent post 'Help Even the Unrighteous Poor'. A few excerpts for your benefit...

My office is located in one of the poorer areas in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Even as I am writing this, outside my window I can see two prostitutes standing across the street outside a hotel and a homeless man pushing a grocery cart full of cans. Confronted with scenes like this on a daily basis has made me think a lot about Jesus’ call to serve the least of these. What should this look like in my life? Over the years, I have far more failures than successes when it comes reaching out to these people.

But any person who has actually spent time serving the poor realizes that it is not for the faint of heart. I have seen many passionate, bright-eyed Christians with a “heart for the poor” burn out in a matter of months or even weeks. This happens because the poor they serve often do not respond in the way they expect. As these generous people give of their time and money, they assume that the poor people they help will be appreciative and kind. Perhaps going into this they pictured a homeless man shedding tears of gratitude for the new coat and warm sandwich he received. Instead they receive not so much as a “thank you” or “God bless you.” Maybe they will even be criticized for the color of the coat or the sogginess of the sandwich. They quickly find out that some beggars can be choosers—and mean ones at that!

I experienced this firsthand recently when a homeless lady approached me and asked for money. I said that I’d buy her a meal instead. She loudly berated me in front of onlookers for this perceived insult until finally agreeing to let me buy the meal. As I walked in to the restaurant, she barked after me, “Combo number six with Dr. Pepper!” When I returned with her food, she got angry with me for bringing her the wrong dipping sauce. All in all, it was not a pleasant experience. I certainly didn’t leave with that “feel-good feeling” from helping the poor.

I have found that helping the unrighteous poor is perhaps also the best way to remind myself of the gospel by which I am saved. I did not receive mercy because I deserved it. Jesus Christ did not give his life for me because I was a good person. No, I was his enemy and full of sin when he died for me. I never did and never will earn his grace. Grace is always unmerited. So when I see how the unrighteous poor respond with bitterness to my acts of kindness, I am reminded of my own spiritual condition. Even now, I often fail to thank God for his continuous and abundant grace towards me. Thank God for the gospel by which I am being saved!

We must see our service to the poor through this gospel lens. Actually, our ability to help those who don’t deserve it is an indicator as to whether or not we have actually received the mercy and grace of God ourselves. As Jesus says in Luke 6:32-33 and 35-36:

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and you reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

You can read the rest of Mr. Brooks excellent post here. Many thanks to him for sharing his insight!

God bless!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tim Challies: The Death of the Grown-Up

Hey all,

Tim Challies kindly shares a thorough review (linked below) of Diana West's new book "The Death of the Grown-Up". I purchased the book immediately after reading his review and am happy that it arrived in the mail today. :-)

The Death of the Grown-Up book review by Tim Challies

Reading the review, it becomes abundantly clear that the book deals much with issues near and dear to the hearts of Rebelutionaries. I think though, that the urgency and life giving importance of the ideas, challenges and theology that sparked the movement that is the Rebelution can be overlooked in our familiarity with them. Familiarity often breeds slavishness, and this is something I see all too painfully in my own life on a daily basis. I pray this would not be so with us, but do not take for granted that it is not.

I am looking forward to reading Diana West's excellent sounding book, and hope that it will serve to remind me of the challenges my generation faces, and that my resolve and desire to Do Hard Thing for the glory of God will be strengthened and deepened!

God bless!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Justin Buzzard: How to Prepare for 2011

Hey all,

Due to time constraints, I am not able to put up a normal length blog post, so I am just going to point you in the direction of Buzzard Blog, an excellent resource and blog run by Justin Buzzard that I only recently discovered. He has some great practical advice on "how to prepare for 2011" so that we can have a more fruitful year.

Buzzard Blog: How to Prepare for 2011

God bless!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Signs that Music Might Be an Idol

Hello all!

Is music a gift to you? Or is it a god?

In "Christian" circles we often hear talk of "idols" in our lives and exhorted to root them out - but it seems we often fall short of actually identify idols and presenting an alternative and/or plan to tear them down and out of our hearts. Thankfully for us though, Bob Kauflin takes the bull by the horns in his post "Music - Gift or God?" and identifies 5 ways that music can be an idol to us. I believe his insight is keen and since music is so powerful and pervasive an influence in our culture (for better or for worse) I definitely commend the following abbreviated version of his post to you:

Music - Gift or God?

Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.

1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.

Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.

2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.

Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.

3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.

Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.

Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5). There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.

4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.

We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extending to others the same grace we’ve received.

5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.

It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?

To sum up:

Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.

The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.

May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.

You can download a more expanded copy of my notes here.

Many thanks to Mr. Kauflin for his insight. If you enjoyed his post, I would recommend that you check out the entirety of his original post and his expanded notes.

God bless!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Transformed Generation: Making a Difference...Now

Hello all,

Jennifer of the oft featured blog 'transformed generation' has written a great follow up posts to yesterday's ('Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones'). The only thing I would say in the way of an introduction is to emphasize that pursuing excellence in small things as well as big things is or should be a way of life for the Rebelutionary youth. That doesn't mean we neglect the big things (missing the proverbial forest for the trees), only that we condition ourselves to not overlook the small things in the course of everyday life.

I don't want to steal from Jennifer by posting her entire post, so I'm not going to post it in its entirety. I would encourage you to check out the rest of her post here though and leave a comment if you appreciate what you read.

What I am about to say may seem a bit pointed or judgmental, so, as you read, remember that I am saying this to me as well. I'm not innocent either.

When was the last time you helped someone because you wanted to?

When was the last time you helped someone because you felt the need to do so out of the gratitude of your heart?

When was the last time you helped someone because you wanted to shine Christ in that person's life?

I have to be honest that this is not usually the case for me. I usually help someone because I was asked to help, told to help, or because I was guilt-stricken with the thought of not helping so I just gave in and helped. I probably ended up helping with a good attitude, but, more often than not, I held some deep-inside dread about the whole scenario.

I am struck so heavily by the realization that we as young people can never hope to make a huge impact on society or the Christian community or our peers if we cannot make an impact in tiny, mundane, ordinary things. If we can't even help our mothers or fathers around the house, how can we help the hungry, the sick, or the poor?

Only by learning to do the hopelessly ordinary tasks with an attitude that oozes God's love and kindness can we then move on to bigger, more widespread influences. Here's a thought: maybe home is the place that needs the most love and encouragement.

Start small. Clear the table before you're asked. Help your sibling with something before he or she begs you for the fifteenth time.

Then grow. Open the door for someone out of pure politeness. Pick up a piece of trash on the sidewalk and throw it away.

After that, just keep growing.

Many thanks to Jennifer for her exhortation!

God bless!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paul Tripp: Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones

Hello all,

We're back! that might have been a little dramatic, but as much as we love holiday's and the craziness of "catching up" after holiday's we have really missed posting here regularly. From here on though we plan to be posting everyday and have a great line up of material to begin with.

Let's get going!

No doubt many of you have participated in the ceremonial making of resolutions on or around New Years Eve. For some reason our culture loves making resolutions in a ceremonial fashion and clearly there is value in making resolutions if they help us to set good goals and to pursue those goals until they are reached. Unfortunately though, the vast majority of resolutions made at New Years (or at other times of the year) are not kept by their makers. Some have even said, with good reason, that New Years resolutions are little more than a ra ra attempt at bettering ourselves and - more importantly - making us feel better about how hard we are working to "do better" at a million and one different things.

All this begs a question. Are resolutions of any value? What is it about the way we make resolutions that gives them such a low "success" rate?

In his article titled 'Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones' Paul Tripp suggests that our entire way of thinking about and using resolutions needs to be corrected.

Allow me to quote the most relevant portions of his article:

Rethinking the Annual Ritual

Why am I telling you this story? Well, it's that season once again. It's the fodder for blogs, newspaper articles, TV magazine shows and way too many Twitter posts. It is the time for the annual ritual of dramatic New Year's resolutions fueled by the hope of immediate and significant personal life change.

But the reality is that few smokers actually quit because of a single moment of resolve, few obese people have become slim and healthy because of one dramatic moment of commitment, few people who were deeply in debt have changed their financial lifestyle because they resolved to do so as the old year gave way to the new, and few marriages have been changed by the means of one dramatic resolution.

Is change important? Yes, it is for all of us in some way. Is commitment essential? Of course! There is a way in which all of our lives are shaped by the commitments we make. But biblical Christianity—which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart—simply doesn't rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change.

Living in the Utterly Mundane

The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart and life change is always a process. And where does that process take place? It takes place where you and I live everyday. And where do we live? Well, we all have the same address. Our lives don't careen from big moment to big moment. No, we all live in the utterly mundane.

Most of us won't be written up in history books. Most of us only make three or four momentous decisions in our lives, and several decades after we die, the people we leave behind will struggle to remember the event of our lives. You and I live in little moments, and if God doesn't rule our little moments and doesn't work to recreate us in the middle of them, then there is no hope for us, because that is where you and I live.

The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they are the little moments that we live in and that form us. This is where I think "Big Drama Christianity" gets us into trouble. It can cause us to devalue the significance of the little moments of life and the "small-change" grace that meets us there. And because we devalue the little moments where we live, we don't tend to notice the sin that gets exposed there. We fail to seek the grace that is offered to us.

The 10,000 Little Moments

You see, the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.

What leads to significant personal change?

10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
10,000 moments of humble submission
10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
10,000 moments of courageous faith
10,000 choice points of obedience
10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.

And what makes all of this possible? Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace. You see, Jesus is Emmanuel not just because he came to earth, but because he makes you the place where he dwells. This means he is present and active in all the mundane moments of your daily life.

There is a lot of meat in the above and I wish I could comment but time is short and I must run. I highly recommend that you read the entirety of Mr. Tripps article here.

God bless!