Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run” -Proverbs 21:5a

Our family makes Resolution’s on New Years Eve. We write them out and keep them secret from each other for the year. Then, the next New Year’s Eve we open the envelopes and share how close we came to reaching each particular goal. The idea is to model goal-setting and learn to enjoy the process while celebrating success. Of course we often don’t reach the goals we set- but we are sure to cheer for all progress made, no matter how small.

Top 10 Adults New Years Resolutions for 2015
1. Lose weight
2. Get Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

45% of adults make resolutions each year and start strong in January. But by February, many people are feeling sour. In fact, 24% never reach those goals. But the fact remains, if you set a goal and determine to complete it- you’re 10 times more likely to actually complete it than just winging it and hoping for the best.

Watch this video with the kids. If you haven’t, it’s not too late to create your resolutions for this year. So, this week just watch the video, write down some goals and tuck them away until next year. If you’ve already been trying to accomplish something hard this year, I hope this video inspires you to press onward.

I realize this is Marshmallow Madness– so where are the marshmallows? I don’t know, I guess you could eat some while you watch. Or carrot sticks.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

” A certain ruler asked Jesus a question, “Good teacher,” he said, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”    

“Why do you call me good?”, Jesus answered. “No one is good except God. You know what the commandments say. ‘Do not commit adultery. Do not commit murder. Do not steal. Do not be a false witness. Honor your father and mother.’ ”   

“I have obeyed all those commandments since I was a boy,” the ruler said.   

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You are still missing one thing. Sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”  

When the ruler heard this, he became very sad. He was very rich. Jesus looked at him. Then he said, “How hard it is for rich people to enter God’s kingdom! Is it hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? It is even harder for someone who is rich to enter God’s kingdom!” Those who heard this asked, “Then who can be saved?”   Jesus replied, “Things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:18-27

This week we’ll encourage kids to give up anything that might keep them from developing their faith. Over at Ministry-to-Kids.com, Amy has created a wonderful object lesson that helps children understand the scripture when Jesus talks about the rich young ruler. Here is an excerpt:

  1.  What is a resolution?”
  2. “A resolution is a goal.  Something you want to do or be by the end of the year.”
  3. “Do you have some ideas for a resolution you could make?”  Take input from the kids.
  4. “Did you know a resolution can be something you choose to give up, too?  For example, you can resolve or make a goal to give up eating candy because it is not good for your teeth.  Or you could give up playing video games after dinner because sometimes you end up staying up too late.”

Book:

  1. “Jesus spoke to a man in the Bible and asked him to give something up so the man could follow Jesus with his whole heart.  Jesus wanted the man to resolve to give up this thing so he could fully follow Jesus.  Can you guess what that one thing was?” Take input from the kids.
  2. “Let’s look at the passage where Jesus talks with this man and find out what the one thing is Jesus asked him to give up.”
  3. “Open your Bibles to Luke 18:18-27 and let’s read the passage together.”
  4. Read the passage out loud.

Look:

  1. “What is the question the man asked Jesus?”  How can I have eternal life?
  2. “How did Jesus answer his question?”  Reread verses 19-20.
  3. “First, Jesus reminded the man that no one is good and that all people have sinned.”
  4. “What was the man’s reply?”  He said he had kept all the laws Jesus listed and was a good man.
  5. “Yet what did Jesus tell the man he still needed to do?”  Reread verse 22.
  6. “Jesus told the rich man to give up everything he owned to follow Jesus.  This is the ‘one thing’ the man had left to do before he could have eternal life.”
  7. Reread verse 23.  “How did the man feel about giving up everything he owned?”  He was sad because he was very rich and he did not want to give all of his possessions up to follow Jesus.
  8. “Now something I want to make clear to you is that Jesus does not give us a list of things to do in order to get into heaven.  There is no to-do list to check off.  But you might wonder then why did Jesus ask this man to do something to receive eternal life?  Jesus knew that this wealthy man was being held back by his many possessions.  His great wealth was the ‘one thing’ that was keeping his heart hard.  Jesus knew this man’s heart would not want to follow Jesus until his possessions had been given away.”
  9. “Jesus says in verse 24-25,” Reread these verses.
  10. “To be a true follower of Christ and receive eternal life we must give our whole heart to Him.  This rich young ruler was willing to give most of his heart and life to Jesus, but not all of it.  His wealth was the ‘one thing’ keeping him from following Jesus with his whole heart.”

Took:

  1. “ Maybe there is something your heart is clinging to which you think is more important than Jesus.  Is it getting the lead role in the school play?  Is it becoming the player to score the most goals on your soccer team?  Is it sneaking extra food from the kitchen at home when no one is looking?  Is it not following what your parents say because you think you know better?  All of these things can hold you back from having the closest relationship you can have with Jesus.”
  2. “So what is your ‘one thing’ today?  For the rich young ruler it was holding on to his wealth, which meant he did not receive eternal life.  What is your ‘one thing’?”
  3. “Jesus does not leave us to give up that ‘one thing’ all on our own and by our own strength.  He knows we cannot do it on our own, but we need his help.  Ask Jesus for help to give up your ‘one thing’ to Him.  Pray for Him to help you give up your ‘one thing’ this year, so that you can have a relationship with Him or so you can have a closer relationship with him.  None of us can give up our ‘one thing’ all on our own.  We need His help every day.”   Hop over to her site and check it out!

Take a large marshmallow, and try to shape in into a heart. Using markers, have children write in their “one thing”. You can let it dry out and leave it on the counter as a reminder that we don’t want to have anything in our life that could cause our hearts to harden.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

With all the Christmas hub-bub flying by my calendar, I find myself buzzing with nervous anticipation. Pinterest entices me into believing I can- I really can- learn to knit and sew and bake and cook gourmet- all while saving money of course.  Making quality time for the kids. Finding quantity time with the kids. Ultimately, hiding from the kids.

That’s when I give up the super mom act! I go into hibernation mode, throw out all the “have to’s” and “shoulds”. I marvel at the incredible gift of salvation and how God has changed my life.  Initially it’s all positive, but as I continue to reflect on the past year I gravitate toward over-analyzing my many failures. I ponder the year ahead and determine what will attain more of God’s favor. It’s not that I’m being completely selfish, I do genuinely want to please Him. Perhaps if I worked harder in ministry, or found more time for that service project. Maybe if I took this class or joined that prayer group I could get that heavenly A plus. I want to accomplish everything He’s called me to do, but I suspect I’m missing the point…

And probably you are too.  Most of us make goals for ourselves each new year. I’m no mind reader but I bet yours are similar to mine- you want to improve your health (read lose weight), your finances (save money), and your relationships (spend more happy time with the family-emphasis on happy).  Most importantly, I want to grow closer to Jesus than ever before.

The Message Bible translates Romans 12:1-2 : “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.”

sarahSarah Young, author of “Jesus Calling”, the hugely popular daily devotional, is changing the way people view their prayer time. I find her so interesting because she was a Super Christian for 16 years before she understood devotion. I mean she was PERFECT! She went to seminary and earned her master’s degree in counseling and biblical studies. She was a missionary in Japan for 8 years. Got married and had children. Earned yet another degree in counseling at University. Even moved to Australia and started a church!

Yeah, I would think she deserves a heavenly pat on the head…

And yet, as she looks back on her life, she reflects,

“I cherished my experiences of helping deeply wounded women find healing in Christ. I was also thankful for my kind, loving husband and our two delightful children, who were the main joys of my life. However, not once during those sixteen years did I vividly experience the Presence of Jesus.”

As she was preparing to pack up and move down under, she began searching out God’s Presence like never before. And she discovered her previous devotions were pretty much one-sided. Formerly, her time with God was mostly HER praying, HER  reading, HER asking and thanking, and HER writing down HER thoughts. Now she practiced the art of waiting:

 “I began seeking God’s Presence in earnest. My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee. As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. An hour or two alone with Him seemed too brief.”

Of all the experiences she’s had, of the many soul’s Sarah has won for Christ through counsel, prayer, both in her profession and in service as a missionary, she cites her quiet time with God to be the most personally victorious she has felt as a Christian. Hmm…

Let’s experience absolute victory in our walk with our Creator this year. Jesus has much to say to me and you, and I resolve to listen.