Some years ago a friend and his wife moved to a quiet residential street and bought a simple, but comfortable home to raise their family.

It was their first house and they enjoyed their neighbors who also had children who would play street hockey and invite each other to birthday parties; there was even the occasional well-attended neighborhood barbecue.

But, according to my friend, the street - almost imperceptibly - began to decline. Families moved away - and people with less sense of community took their place.

Homes became shabby and required painting; railings on sundecks fell off and were not replaced. People began parking immobile vehicles on their front lawns.

Eventually, my friend and his family sold their home and moved away.

I've also noticed that cars can also send a similar "message" of a declining sense of concern.

Some people will struggle to make payments on their dream vehicle, only to lose interest after just a few years.

The snazzy sports car or elegant sedan increasingly needs washing and there seems to be blue smoke emanating from the exhaust pipe.

The upholstery rarely gets cleaned and there are gum wrappers and other refuse underfoot.

The car, once garaged and protected from the elements, is now left outside and begins to rust under the onslaught of rain and snow.

More personally, you can often tell if an individual has lost interest and motivation through his or her appearance.

For example, although it is not always the case, a person who becomes less interested in keeping fit and eating healthy foods may put on weight: he or she is may be communicating that appearance is now less important.

Another person may have a taste for fashions and, even with a limited budget, can make herself appear elegant and stylish.

Subsequently, however, she chooses dowdy, even unattractive clothing, which may indicate that she is no longer interested in how she looks.

Unwashed hair and scuffed shoes can also be indicators that a person has given up on making a good impression on others.

While these examples are all discernible - even to a casual observer - the more telling gauge of a personal sense worth may be found just below the surface.

An individual who struggles with a compulsion such as alcohol, for instance, may be skilled at disguising his debilitating addiction even from his closest friends.

Another person may be involved in a highly destructive relationship that could threaten his marriage but he can't resist the temptation: he feels defeated but can't see a way out.

A man finds that he is becoming increasingly isolated and friendless: his solution is to find refuge in meaningless and sometimes unpleasant entertainment. He feels trapped and empty.

The Bible talks about this lack of hope when it says, "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Two other verses are equally encouraging: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

"The blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin." (Sin is all the bad things you have done that separate you from God).

God sent Christ, his only son, as a ransom, once and for all, for you. Christ accepted death on a cross - and rose from the dead - in order that you might be delivered.

Perhaps now as you are considering your own life, you sense that you have increasingly found meaning in hollow and even evil pursuits.

You want to change, but you don't know how. Call on God through Christ today - don't wait.

It is never too late to call upon him and find the enduring peace and purpose that you have been seeking.

Last updated Mar. 23rd, 2009 at 11:49am by Simon Gibson