Steve DeNeff and David Drury begin their book this way: “More than half a million people have heart-bypass surgery in America every year. Most are told that surgery is only a temporary fix; that the only long-term solution is a change in lifestyle and diet; that exercising, losing weight, and quitting smoking will increase their chance at living. Such advice is perhaps never more welcome and effective than when a person has had such a near-death experience. Instead, after one year, more than 90 percent of heart-bypass surgery patients report that they have not changed their lifestyle. Like most of us, they want to be different, but they don’t want to change.”

Last Ash Wednesday, I made a change. I swore off bread and sweets. By the second week of June, I had lost 45 pounds. I stopped for the rest of the summer and tried to maintain my weight loss while indulging in tomato sandwiches. When I weighed this morning, I was still at the same weight I was at the beginning of the summer. On Saturday, I’m going to go back on my diet of “no bread, no sweets” and attempt to lose another 20 pounds. That’s where I will stop. That will be a healthy weight for me.
Surprisingly, I can’t wait for Saturday! Mary and I talked about why I would look forward to “self-denial.” We concluded it was because I had experienced success in changing previously and many people have commented positively about my weight-loss.

[highlight class=”highlight_yellow” style=””]Spiritual change is difficult. [/highlight]We even call the machinations necessary to change “spiritual disciplines.” But we all want to change and see the need to do so. We see the areas of our lives that are unlike Christ and feel the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and say, “I must change.” As Church members, we see the consistent decline and recognize the need for something to change the course of our Church.

SoulShift is a clear and measurable way of defining the target for spiritual transformation. It differs from most discipleship programs in that it’s not a program—it’s a way of life. SoulShift clearly identifies what it means to be a disciple; and instead of focusing on doing more, it focuses on living more . . . like Christ.

This is for all of us who have tried hard to be different but feel we haven’t really changed. At whatever stage of spiritual life you may be, you can enter into this transformation.

But please don’t offer me any bread or sweets. I’m changed but I’m still human!

Many served; many saved,

Pastor Tim

Tim Smith is the pastor of First Wesleyan Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. He was raised in North Carolina in a parsonage home and educated at Southern Wesleyan University (BA in Psychology) and Asbury Theological Seminary (MDiv in Pastoral Ministry). He was ordained in 1977 and has served churches in North Carolina and Indiana. His wife, Mary, joins him in ministry serving the church in a variety of ministries. They have been married since 1976. She, too, was raised in a parsonage home in Alabama and has both her BA and MA from Auburn University in Choral music. Tim and Mary have three children; Austin, Graham and Hannah and one incredible granddaughter, Arya. Tim has traveled extensively preaching and teaching in Haiti, Canada, India, Russia, Costa Rica and Jamaica. Tim is a contributing writer to denominational Sunday School material and other publications and enjoys golf, history and Carolina Tarheel basketball!

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