Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commutes. I’m Ryan, your host in the daily challenges. It’s Monday, so we’re introducing a new topic for our week. Right now we’re working through a series in these challenges called Pioneer Story. We’re trying to read through the Book of Acts, the book in the Bible that tells the story of the very first Christians, the very first followers of Jesus and how they tried to organize themselves as a community for the first time.

These challenges, as you can probably tell, are meant to help people who have decided to follow Jesus or are learning what that means, to follow through on their plans, to follow Jesus even though it can be hard as a busy commuter. If you’ve never explored in the first place what it would mean to follow Jesus in your life, we’ve got a great course that will introduce you to some of the basic concepts. It’s called Christianity 101. You can get it through the same website or app. I’d encourage you to start with that first, and then build on it with these challenges.

Every Monday we introduce a new idea for the week. Every Tuesday we study the Bible. Every Wednesday we see how it changes and transforms us. Every Thursday we try to live and apply it out. Every Friday we pray and reflect about our topic for the week. Saturday is a day for rest, and Sunday is a day for community. That’s the rhythm we follow to keep ourselves in sync as one community, even when we’re not together in person.

This week we’re talking specifically about what we’re calling pioneers and pagans. The very first Christians, the pioneering Christians, encountered some people who were very much unlike them. They were Jews, the original Christians and they were used to communicating the Good News about Jesus to other Jews or at least people who were interested in Judaism, knew some of the basic stories and so on.

In the story we’re going to read this week, they encounter some pagans, some people who worship multiple gods. As you can see when we get to the story tomorrow from the Bible, there were some challenges as they met people so different from them. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to turn on the television or read a newspaper or magazine without encountering ads for weight loss products of one kind or another.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend about a lot of them. Very few of the different weight loss remedies and programs out there tell you that you are going to have to radically change your lifestyle, that you are going to have to give up all the foods you know and love, that you will have to have self-discipline, that you’re going to have to be willing to change everything in order to lose weight. The weight loss strategies that I see being advertised tell you just need to add a little something. You just need to take this one pill. You just need to get this gastric bypass surgery. You just need to get this lap ring. You just need to add our products to your already full and wonderful life, and it will become even better.

There is a place for some of these products, but so often with something like weight loss, what we actually need is to take stock of our lives and decide not just what needs to be added – if it’s a supplement like that – but, we need to decide what needs to be taken away as well. What do we need to stop? What do we need to have self-discipline for? That can be hard for us though, but we can’t only ask the question of what do we need to add.

I’ve been taking a course on leadership and change, so I’ve been studying a fair bit about the processes involved in change. When we are scared of change, we often look to a kind of change called incremental change, where we want to make just little, small changes, incrementally, slowly, over time so we can feel that we’re safe and in control of change when in fact, some of the most effective change happens when we are willing to sacrifice, when we are willing to see things really change, when we’re willing to live in chaos for a time.

This week we’re going to study the story of some pagans, people who were used to worshiping many gods, who encountered some Christian missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, and decided maybe they should add Paul and Barnabas to their pantheon of gods as well. A lot of people try to do that with Jesus. That’s what we’ll be talking about this week.

Until we get there, I’ve got a question for you to think about, hopefully discuss with some friends.

Question: Share a story with your group about a time when you were afraid to make a large scale, dramatic change in your life and instead turned to small, incremental changes, trying to add things when you knew something actually needed to be taken away.

Have a great discussion. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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