8 Spark Plugs to Start Your New Year
Discover the secret meaning of “cylinder.”
Well, LeRoy Eims was one of my heroes. He was a former marine officer, a successful campus director for The Navigators, and the author of my favorite book, The Lost Art of Disciplemaking. To get a chance to eat with him and pepper him with questions was a dream come true. So, instead of launching another air ball, I snatched the four guys I’d been discipling that year and sprinted to the room where “Mr. Eims” (as I respectfully addressed him) was eating lunch.
I spotted his silver hair and chiseled face in the corner, eating at a table by himself. The five of us quickly grabbed our food and, with great reverence, tiptoed over to Mr. Eims, asking permission to sit and drink of his wisdom. It was obvious, though, that he was all business, so we ditched the introductions and small talk. I pulled out a carefully crafted list of questions, inscribed on a meticulously folded piece of paper.
Tilting forward, attempting to initiate eye contact, I asked: “Mr. Eims … how can we be sure we’re still walking with Christ 20 years from now?” Leaning back, proud of my question, I expected him to rattle off a string of verses or draw out an intriguing diagram. Instead, he said nothing. He didn’t even look up or stop eating. After a long pause I repeated the question. Before I could finish, however, he raised his fist, pounded the table and shouted, “Live for Christ today!” Then he looked down again, quietly stabbing another batch of green beans with his fork.
“Well, Mr. Eims,” I nervously stuttered and stammered, timidly glancing back and forth, “could you expand on that a bit?” Afraid to repeat my question, we waited in awkward silence for him to digest his food — and my inquiry. He finally looked up, pointed his finger at each of us and exclaimed, “If you live for Christ today, today will turn into tomorrow, and the days will turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years … into a lifetime.”
I’m sure we asked other questions that day, but my puny little brain couldn’t absorb any more than one truth at a time. Good thing. Twenty-seven years later I am still trying to apply this one blunt, but profound, piece of advice — one day at a time.
Live for Christ today!
Not tomorrow … TODAY!
It still rings in my ears.
Another year passing, another year beginning. They fly by much faster now, don’t they? Make this year, this month, this week, this DAY different! Get off your duff and get going. Don’t sit on that sofa one more minute, watching one more reality show, one more football game, one more video. Make something of your life. There are small steps you can take — right now! You can’t steer a parked car, so let’s fire it up, put it in gear, and get moving. Here’s a short list: eight spark plugs that can help ignite your life — eight things you can do right NOW!
- Come to Christ. If you haven’t already, I implore you to get down on your knees at once and turn your life over to Jesus Christ. It’s not the position of your body that matters though — it’s the position of your heart. Confess your sins to Jesus and make Him your Savior. If you could know God in a personal way, would you want to? Of course! So don’t wait one more minute to establish a personal relationship with your Creator. It will forever change your earthly and eternal destiny.
- Yearn for intimacy with God. Grab your Bible, go to a quiet, private place and get some TAWG (Time Alone With God). Set aside 30, even 45 minutes and draw close to Him. Pray like King David did in Psalm 51, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Drink deeply from His words, then pour out your heart to Him. There are some good addictions. This is one of them.
- Leave a destructive habit behind. Whether it’s just unhealthy or downright sinful, let go of it before it won’t let go of you. This is more than just a new year’s resolution, this is a fork-in-the-road decision you need to make. Freedom is not the power to do whatever you want to do, but the power to do what you ought to do. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you break the bondage of slavery to sin and then make the necessary changes, today — so God can set you free!
- Initiate a conversation with a broken relationship from your past. Matthew 18 teaches that if someone has something against you (or if you have something against someone), stop and go to them. It could be a family member, an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe even someone back in your high school days. Visit, call, write, do whatever you have to do to say you are sorry for your anger and pettiness. Cleanse your soul by extending to them the same grace and mercy Christ extends to you.
- Nurture a younger believer. Look around. Is there someone at your school, work or church that needs to grow spiritually? Ask if the two of you can team up to grow together. If you’re having a quiet time, you can help them start. If you’re memorizing Scripture, show them how. If you’re sharing your faith, bring them along. If you’re plugged into a good local church, invite them to join you. You may not feel like you have anything to offer another believer — but you do. I believe the command to “be fruitful and multiply” is a spiritual as well as a physical mandate. Go for it!
- Die to self. Don’t let the world revolve around you. The happiest people I know are the ones that constantly serve and give to others. If you can’t give away something, you don’t own it, it owns you! Materialism is choking us and most Americans don’t even know the difference between our wants and our needs. Look around at all of your stuff. Give away something (maybe something you’re really attached to) this week, just to prove to God (and to yourself!) that you don’t own it — God does.
- Eat a meal with an international student. There are as many as 720,000 on U.S. soil, and most of them will never set foot inside an American home. They are the cream of the cream of the crop in their countries, but we ignore them, treating them as “nobodies.” Want to impact the world for Christ? God has brought future world leaders to our doorstep. Befriend just one student from another culture and begin to share your life and the love of Christ with them. It could change their life — and yours!
- Resolve to set goals; and this time — stick with them. After you finish your next meal, get the notepad out. Pray and ask God for wisdom. Don’t just say, “I want to be a better Christian this year.” Instead, SPAM yourself! Set challenging, but realistic goals that are Specific, Practical, Achievable, and Measurable. In Luke 2:52 Jesus grew physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Those aren’t bad categories for us to set goals in as well. Then, ask a friend (who isn’t afraid to ask you some tough questions) to check on you each week.
The first letters of each of these eight spark plugs spell C-Y-L-I-N-D-E-R. Eight good spark plugs will keep all eight cylinders in a car pumping. I know … a little cheesy, but I’ll say anything to help you remember my list!
As a college student I asked my father a dangerous question. “Dad, if there is one area of my life I need to work on, what would it be?” He didn’t pause a second before shooting back, “Oh, that’s easy — procrastination.” I tried to act shocked, but I knew he was right. He lovingly exposed my immature policy: “Why do today what I can put off ’til tomorrow?”
My hair is not silver and my face is not chiseled, but if you and I could sit down and eat a meal together, I would probably give you just one piece of advice. You guessed it:
Live for Christ today!
Not tomorrow … TODAY!
It still rings in my ears.
Copyright 2004 Steve Shadrach. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Steve Shadrach lives in Conway, Ark., with his wife, five kids, two pets and six college students. Some of the students want to call their homestead across from the campus “The Compound;” Steve didn’t think that sounded too good. He works with the ministry of Student Mobilization.