100 Ways the Bible Can Change Your Life: #41 Listen Hard

, by Christopher D. Hudson

The best gift you can give anyone is a listening ear. To listen to someone is to say, “You are important to me. I want to learn more about what you think and feel.” That’s why the apostle James recommended it so highly: “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry” (James 1:19).

If you make a resolution to become a better listener, you’ll quickly discover three important truths.

1. Listening can be difficult.
Pausing long enough for a person to finish a sentence is not the same as listening. Hearing what someone says is not the same as listening. Listening is an art that requires a certain set of skills.

Listening requires concentration. When you listen to someone, you pick up not only their words but also the emotions behind them. You register not only what’s being said but also what’s not being said.

Listening almost always produces questions. When you’re fully engaged in what someone is saying, you’ll wonder about certain things. At the proper time, you’ll ask leading questions to encourage the person to open up more, or you’ll ask follow-up questions to help you understand better.

Listening takes practice. Once you get the skills down, though, people will seek you out. Everyone loves a good listener.

2. Listening is a great way to learn.
Everyone you know—and everyone you meet—has knowledge and experience that you don’t have. When you open your ears and mind to people, you get to share their knowledge and experience.

In order to be a great learner, you have to be a great listener. In order to be a great listener, you have to approach conversations with a humble attitude. You can’t learn from someone until you acknowledge that the person has something to teach you.

3. Listening is a great way to reduce conflict.
Note how the apostle James contrasted being quick to listen with being slow to get angry. Usually at the heart of every conflict is someone who wants to be heard. If we oblige the person by listening, we may be able to head off conflict before it arises.

That’s not to say we should always agree (or pretend to agree) with others during a conflict. But we should understand their point of view—and why they hold it—before we disagree with them.

For more information on how to reserve your copy of this book, click here.


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100 Ways the Bible Can Change Your Life: #23 Keep Your Books Balanced

, by Christopher D. Hudson


The  following is an excerpt from an upcoming book project of mine.

#23--Keep your Books Balanced

Debt reduction is a timely topic—and has been for at least 2,000 years, judging from the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:7–8: “Pay all that you owe, whether it is taxes and fees or respect and honor. Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands.”

You’ll notice that Paul took the discussion out of the realm of the fiscal almost immediately. This isn’t just about financial bookkeeping. It’s about living with integrity. This is about enjoying healthy relationships and maintaining balance in our lives.

Paul pointed out that our debts may include respect and honor. That means if there are people in our lives who deserve (or prefer) to be treated with an extra measure of courtesy or deference—because of their age, position, or background—we should oblige. Likewise, if we know people who warrant special recognition for things they’ve accomplished, we should offer that as well. Fulfilling such obligations not only benefits others but is also good for us. It moves us closer to being debt free.

Here are a few other ideas that might fall under Paul’s heading of debt reduction.

If you owe a phone call, you should make it. If you’ve lost touch with a friend, it’s time to reestablish the connection.

If you owe an explanation, you should offer it. If someone somewhere is wondering why you did something, it’s time to explain yourself.

If you owe an apology, you should make it. If you’ve wronged someone, it’s time to seek forgiveness and make things right.

If you owe gratitude, you should give it. It’s time to let the people who’ve made a difference in your life know how thankful you are.

If you owe your time and attention, you should offer them. If you claim that someone or something is a priority, it’s time to show it.

If you owe a confrontation, you should initiate it. If you’ve let a problem situation go, it’s time to address it.

If you owe discipline, you should give it. If you’ve skirted your duties as a parent or manager, it’s time to make amends.

The more unpaid debts you’re able to settle, the more balance you’ll restore to your life. 

For more information on how to reserve your copy of this book, click here.


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Should Christians Pay Taxes2

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Bring up the topic of taxes with a group of people and you are likely to ignite a heated debate. Are you paying your fair share? Should the government tax you more or less?

Jesus’ perspective on taxes may surprise you. When he lived on earth, Jesus was a citizen of the Roman Empire. Ironically, he would have been responsible to pay taxes that funded the government that eventually gave him an unjust trial and death sentence.

Even though Jesus knew the role the Roman government would ultimately play in his own suffering, he did not advise anyone to opt out of paying their taxes. Instead, he encouraged people to pay their taxes without a second thought. He said, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God” (Matthew22:21, CEV).

How could Jesus commend paying taxes to a corrupt government? How could he support a legal system that supported torture and crucifixion? The answer lies in Jesus’ perspective.

Christ’s eyes were focused on a different kingdom. He was focused on God and his work and did not find his true home here on earth. His true home was heaven, and he encouraged his followers to have the same perspective by giving to “God what belongs to God.”

If we aim to follow God and focus our hearts on heaven, then mundane and earthly duties (like paying taxes) can become less of a frustrating burden.

I wrote the above article for The Bible: 100 Ways It Can Change Your Life published by Time.


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100 Ways The Bible Can Change Your Life: #39 Get On Your Knees

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Few things in the spiritual realm are more confounding than prayer. After all, if God already knows everything—and if he already has a plan in place for everyone—what can we hope to accomplish by talking to him?

Obviously there are complicated theological answers to those questions. But all we basically need to know is that the Bible puts a lot of stock in prayer. Just look at these words from the apostle James:

If you are having trouble, you should pray. And if you are feeling good, you should sing praises. If you are sick, ask the church leaders to come and pray for you. Ask them to put olive oil on you in the name of the Lord. If you have faith when you pray for sick people, they will get well. The Lord will heal them, and if they have sinned, he will forgive them.

If you have sinned, you should tell each other what you have done. Then you can pray for one another and be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot. Elijah was just as human as we are, and for three and a half years his prayers kept the rain from falling. But when he did pray for rain, it fell from the skies and made the crops grow. (James 5:13–18)

If we acknowledge that prayer is important, our next step is to figure out how to pray; that is, what to say to God.

One of the most popular prayer models is called ACTS, an acronym for four key elements of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

The best way to start any prayer is by telling God how awesome he is. The more specific you are in your praise and the more time you spend in adoration, the better your experience will be.

The things we do wrong get in the way of our relationship with God. To make things right, we need to confess them and ask for his forgiveness.

It’s one thing to be thankful for the countless things God does for us; it’s quite another to tell him, in detail, just how thankful we are.

After we’ve told God that we recognize how incredible he is, asked his forgiveness, and thanked him, we can talk to him about our requests.

[[Taken from an upcoming book project my team and I are putting together. It's called 100 Ways the Bible Can Change Your Life. Want to be one of the first to pre-order it?]]


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