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Resolve to change lives for the better
Stephen Ministry
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Happy 2013! Many of us started the new year by making New Year’s resolutions — sometimes planning with great detail and motivation — but many of us will break or downgrade those resolutions quickly.  
Let’s face it — it’s hard to change. But most of us have the desire to do better.  
The biggest resolution for many people is to solve the nagging feeling that our lives are missing something. This rationale can hit us due to a success or disaster in our paths at any time.  
Whether we live in the secular world, or our lives are driven by faith values, we think about and want to find out what we can do to enrich our lives beyond where we are.
So what can we do to master self-improvement and make New Year’s resolutions obsolete and resolve to make 12 months of every year fill that void?  For the next several weeks, let’s discover ways to use God’s word and love for others to “self-improve” our lives and the lives of those around us.
Almost everyone can “love” people in the abstract. But when it comes time to express that love by lending a helping hand, a kind word, helping those who are down get up and stand on their own or sometimes writing a check, one quickly can determine sincerity. That was Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 8-9.
For instance, we often read about our homeless and those who are less fortunate than ourselves and their needs. We often see articles about providing a holiday meal or having a clothing drive or a “homeless day,” in which we can serve food, provide products or other services.  While these events are important, we still miss the mark of solving the problem by putting a bandage on a much deeper issue. We feel good after we go home, but we can do more.  
There are many programs established by our local governments and nonprofit agencies to assist, but due to budgeting restraints, there isn’t enough to go round. We have a responsibility to our genuine homeless, and this community has deep enough pockets, talent and compassion. Followers of Christ have the potential to be among our area’s most effective agents for social service.
Many already are involved, but there are so many more who can get involved and use their skill sets and experience to organize, volunteer, advocate and support the community and reach out further to the poor, needy, widows, elderly, afflicted and children. We can learn a great deal about delivering services to the needy by observing the principles the Apostle Paul set forth for Timothy and the believers at Ephesus.
Take a good look around you. Take time from your questions about being resolute and study the demographics about our transient and resident homeless. You’ll find that many are “homeless by choice,” educated and have left their families for many reasons. There are many children who are sleeping in cars behind convenience stores or living with grandparents while their parents struggle. Many youngsters and elderly are subject to many forms of mental and physical abuse. Many of these children are attending school, their homelessness and disadvantage not deterring their parents from trying to better their children’s future.
Throughout God’s word there is instruction on how to work with and support our needy. This is only one way for many of us to “fill the void” we feel that is missing in our lives. I believe that there is so much talent and compassion in our community that is untapped, mostly because of apathy or unawareness of the need. Christ became poor to put into perspective the philosophy of living responsibly. The more we give, the richer our lives become.
There are many ways we can fill the void in our lives. We’ll look at more next week.  
If you have questions regarding wholeness in your life and service to others, Stephen Ministers can help. We work with this issue and many others every day. We will listen to your thoughts and feelings in a confidential, gender-sensitive and caring way.  We will walk with you through times of decision and indecision for as long as it takes and be a friend.  
We are guided by God’s word and feel that faith-based answers and guidance change lives. For an appointment, call 912-320-7840.
The Stephen Ministry in our community is a unit of the globally recognized Stephen Program, which is in more than 15,000 churches with 150 denominations in the United States and 35 countries.

Scherer is a crisis intervention minister and the leader of the local Stephen Ministry.

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