Rethink Your Priorities

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 

Daily demands, like nature, abhor a vacuum. Give them an opening, and they will rush to fill it, regardless of their importance (or unimportance). Along the way, more important matters get nudged to the margins.

The Bible deftly illustrates how priorities get shifted:

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38–42)

The passage makes clear that Martha’s heart was in the right place. Her intentions were honorable. She busied herself making sure her guests were properly cared for—which, in a culture that prized hospitality, was no small matter. Yet along the way, she lost sight of what mattered even more.

The way to combat such derailment in the coming year is to eliminate the vacuum—to make a conscious decision to give proper time to the most deserving matters first. Here’s how.

How you spend your time is the truest indicator of your priorities—not what you say or mean to do. If you say your family is your top priority, yet you regularly sacrifice family time for work, then it’s time to come clean and admit that your work matters more to you than your family. If you spend most of your family time staring at your phone, then your social media friends matter more to you than your family since they get the lion’s share of your mental energy. The more transparent you are in assessing your current priorities, the more effective you’ll be in changing them.

This is the place to project your good intentions and best-case scenarios. In a perfect world, what would your priorities look like? Where would God rank? How about your family, your job (or education), friends, social media, pastimes, fitness regimen, free time, and so on?

Compare your two lists. Identify one or two things that need to move up or down, and brainstorm practical ideas for making that happen. For example, if social media needs to become a lower priority for you, brainstorm a set of rules to govern your screen time. You might consider banning all personal devices during family time or restricting their use until just before bedtime.

Let’s say you want to make family a higher priority, but you’re finding it difficult due to the demands of your job. Brainstorm ideas for connecting with your family during your downtime at work. For example, you could occasionally meet your spouse or children for lunch or use breaks to text or call them. If you can’t always give them your physical presence, at least devote your mental and emotional attention to them.

Share your plans for rearranging your priorities with someone you trust. (Your family is the most obvious choice to serve as accountability partners, since they have the biggest stake in your success.) Give them permission to confront you when your priorities get out of order. Invite them to help you stay on track in the new year.

This blog post was adapted from Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is a special-edition that is now available in stores.


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Lead by Example

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. 

Child-rearing experts agree that most of the instruction parents give their children is communicated non-verbally. Children are keen observers—and followers—of their parents.

That thought can be a little disconcerting to parents who remember moments when their actions were less than exemplary. Yet it should offer hope as well. In the upcoming year, you can set an example for your kids to follow—one that will impact the rest of their lives. Here are four specific areas to focus on.

How many interactions do you have in a given day, counting everyone from your close friends and neighbors to servers in restaurants, store clerks, and complete strangers? Each interaction is a teachable moment if your kids are present. If you show grace, humor, patience, concern, and understanding—even (and especially) when things aren’t going right—you will make a lasting positive impression on your children.

As you start the new year, let kindness be your guide in all your interactions. Make a habit of putting yourself in other people’s shoes and treating them the way you would want to be treated in similar circumstances.

One who is humble is quick to listen and slow to speak. A humble parent resists the urge to one-up others in conversation. He or she consistently gives praise to God for the blessings in life. Most of all, a humble parent quietly models Jesus’ behavior for his or her kids.

This means thinking before you react. It means you recognize and reward good behavior as readily as you discipline in response to bad behavior. It is important to make sure your kids understand why they are being rewarded or punished. If you can maintain a steady demeanor in good times and bad, you will set a healthy tone for your household. Your kids will see you as someone who is just (even when they don’t like the consequences)—someone who rewards and disciplines in equal measure. They will see you as someone whose example is worth following.

Be quick to commiserate and come alongside your spouse and children when they’re hurting or struggling. But when possible, help them see things from a different angle—that is, help them see the positive aspects of the challenges they face. Be realistic; acknowledge the struggles they face. But try to be the person your family members seek out when they need to feel better about a difficult situation.

This blog post was adapted from the special-edition magazine Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is now available in stores.


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Strengthen Your Marriage

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 

If you’re married and committed to crafting a new you in the coming year, improving your marriage needs to be part of that process. The reality of biblical marriage demands it. Quoting Genesis, Jesus described it this way:

“ ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Mark 10:6–9)

In other words, any effort to craft a new you will necessarily involve your spouse.

Herein lies an opportunity to make a seismic impact. Marriage experts have found that when couples experience happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction in their marriage, the effects tend to spill over into other areas of their lives.

Here are five steps you can take this year to transform your marriage—and your life—for the better.

Plan is the operative word here. Spend time ahead of your date thinking about where you would like to go with your spouse and what you would like to do. You might want to take turns planning your dates to make it more enjoyable for both of you. Brainstorm new ideas together. Instead of the usual dinner and a movie, take a cooking class, go on a picnic, or hike a new trail. Don’t settle into predictable routines. Find new things to experience together.

Commit to giving your spouse your full attention when you’re together. Here are some common-sense ideas for what that can look like:

• Put away your mobile device.
• Disconnect from work pressures.
• Avoid distractions (such as TV or your never-ending to-do list).
• Shield your mind from interruptions (that may mean finding a place to talk away from the kids).
• Look your spouse in the eye when talking to each other.
• Send a nonverbal message (and perhaps occasionally a verbal one!) that nothing matters more to you than listening.

Purposeful attentiveness sets the stage for the kind of interaction that changes relationships.

A well-timed text or phone call does more than just break up a day. Done right, it can also communicate sentiments such as

• “I miss you.”
• “You’re never far from my mind.”
• “I can’t wait until we’re together again.”
• “You are important to me.”
• “I’m really looking forward to our date this weekend.”

Be creative, thoughtful, and judicious with your messages. (The last thing you want to do is become a distraction or annoyance to your spouse!)

Working toward common goals can strengthen your bond. It’s also a great way to discover hidden talents and abilities in each other. Your best bet is to start small, with fairly easy projects around the house you can complete as a team. As you develop a working rapport, you can tackle bigger challenges together.

Whether it’s a take-out meal from your spouse’s favorite restaurant or a weekend getaway by your favorite lake, a well-planned surprise can

• let your spouse know you’re thinking of ways to please him or her;
• add a little excitement to your daily routine;
• brighten up an otherwise bad day;
• make you seem unpredictable—in a really good way.

How many times can you surprise your spouse in the next 365 days?

This blog post has been adapted from Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is a special-edition magazine that is now available in stores wherever magazines are sold.


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Realign Your Life with Jesus

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”

For a follower of Christ, every change you make—every new facet you add to your routine—must first be tested with these questions: Does this bring me closer to Jesus? Does it make me more like him?

If the answer is yes, the change should be pursued. If the answer is no, the change should be reconsidered or abandoned. Here are four steps you can take to identify worthwhile changes to pursue in the coming year.


Work your way through the Gospels—and eventually the entire New Testament—in search of answers to these questions:

• What does Jesus stand for?
• What does he expect of his followers?
• What does he stand against?
• What did he do during his earthly ministry?
• How did he treat people?

Make a list of the answers you come up with. Hint: The more succinct your responses are (“Jesus expects his followers to love their enemies,” “Jesus opposes hypocrisy,” etc.), the more useful they will be later.

Go through your responses one by one and consider how you measure up to each. Ask yourself:

• Do I stand for what Jesus stood for?
• Do I meet his expectations?
• Do I oppose what Jesus opposed?
• Do I follow Jesus’ example?
• Do I treat people as he did?

Be brutally honest with your assessment. The more evenhanded you are, the more potential you will have for taking life-changing action.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom as you evaluate yourself in light of Jesus’ example. Ask him to show you those areas that are most in need of alignment, as well as opportunities to become more Christ-like in your daily interactions and decision making.

Choose one area in need of alignment, and create a workable plan for addressing it. For example, let’s say you decide some of your entertainment choices fall into the category of things Jesus opposes. Your plan might involve contacting some friends to explain your change of heart and brainstorming God-pleasing alternatives that bring you just as much enjoyment.

This blog post is adapted from the special-edition magazine, Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is now available on store shelves.


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The Impact of Jesus on Equality in America

, by Christopher D. Hudson

For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:26 

When slavery ended in the United States in 1865, black Americans received their freedom, but they did not receive equal rights. Racial segregation and discrimination were rife. The official “separate but equal” policy did not even achieve similar facilities; it certainly did not provide an atmosphere of unity among all people.

The American Civil Rights Movement was largely a Christian movement. While not all Christians agreed on the equality of blacks, enough became involved to encourage sweeping social reform.

Some major denominations took a bold stand in support of racial equality. The Presbyterian Church of the United States issued statements supporting civil rights for blacks. Likewise, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ supported civil rights and ending segregation. The support of these denominations encouraged people, both black and white, to take a stand for equality.

In 1954, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) became pastor of the Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. The following year he was elected head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, an organization created to oversee the Montgomery bus boycott in the wake of the arrest of Rosa Parks.

King became a key figure and the face of the Civil Rights Movement. He admired Gandhi’s (1869–1948) effort in India and insisted that his movement follow the model of nonviolent protest. A difficult standard to maintain, this approach offered the black community moral high ground when they were physically attacked by police and civilians alike.

In 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. helped launch the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Many other black clergy joined with him in this effort, such as Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Wyatt Walker, Joseph Lowery, and Jesse Jackson. Founded as a Christian organization, the SCLC existed to end segregation.

As the SCLC’s first president, Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly spoke about nonviolent efforts. He pushed Christians of all races to end discrimination and racism. According to King, “The gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men, and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men, so the soul will have a chance after it is changed.”1 He saw the Civil Rights Movement as nothing more than fulfilling the work of that second hand.

Another great civil rights leader, writer, and teacher was Maya Angelou (1928–2014). She said, “If God loves me. . .what is it I can’t do?”2 Sexually abused at a young age, Maya turned to literature and writing as a way of escaping the pain. In her later years, she was the coordinator of the SCLC, working with Malcolm X (1925–1965), Martin Luther King Jr., King’s wife, Coretta (1927–2006), and Nelson Mandela (1918–2013).

1 “The Words and Images of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X – Part 5 of 7 | UNMC.” University of Nebraska Medical Center.  17 Jan. 2002. Web. 11 July 2015.

2 Marie, Brownie. “Maya Angelou on Christian Faith: ‘If God Loves Me, What Is It I Can’t Do?’” Christianity Today. Christian Media Corporation, 29 May 2014. Web. 11 July 2015.

This blog post has been adapted from my new book How Jesus Changed the World. You can learn more about it here


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Revitalize Your Prayer Life

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

According to Scripture, prayer is the lifeblood of the Christian faith—the spiritual discipline that nourishes all others, supplying believers with the following:

• Inspiration

• Encouragement
• Direction
• Comfort
• Healing
• Strength
• Answers
• Wisdom
• Peace of mind

Prayer is so vital to spiritual health that the apostle Paul instructed believers to “never stop praying” (1Thessalonians 5:17). If you’re serious about deepening your sense of spiritual well-being in the coming year, you can start by clearing obstructions from your prayer life. Here are six things you can do to revitalize your one-on-one communication with God.

Prayer is like exercise. If you wait until you have time for it, you’ll never get around to it. That’s why it’s important to set aside time—at least fifteen minutes every day—to talk and listen to God. Once you’ve designated a time, make sure nothing infringes on it.

Prayer doesn’t have to be a sedentary experience; it can be as mobile as you want it to be. If you’re going to praise God for the beauty of his creation, go where you’re overwhelmed by it. If you’re going to pray for your kids, sneak into their rooms while they’re sleeping and say silent prayers over them. Find “everyday sacred spaces” that draw you deeper into communion with God.

The Bible is filled with prayers and pray-ers, and there’s something to learn from both. Read the Psalms. Notice how David and the other psalmists expressed themselves to God. Look at Jesus’ prayer habits, especially how he withdrew from the demands of everyday life to spend quality time in God’s presence. Consider how you can apply what you learn from the prayer warriors of the Bible.

Use a notebook (or a note-taking app on your mobile device) to keep track of prayer requests, answers to prayer, signs of God’s love, worship ideas, and other prayer prompts that you can use during your conversations with God. There’s nothing wrong with a little improvisation during prayer time, but putting some thought into it ahead of time can give your prayers much-needed form and direction.

Use your Bible study as source material for your prayers. When you come across Scripture passages that inspire you, confuse you, or cause you to look at God differently, incorporate them into your conversations with him.

Get creative with your prayer time. Personalize it, incorporating your interests as well as your God-given gifts and abilities. If you take a walk or go for a run, use that time specifically to pray. If you’re musical, set your prayers to music and sing portions of them. If you enjoy art, pray while you draw or paint. You might also try focusing on one particular sense—building a prayer around the things you hear, or around the people and places you see out your window. Work to become a prayer trailblazer, practicing outside-the-box techniques for communicating with God.

This blog post was adapted from Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is a special-edition magazine that is available wherever magazines are sold.


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Rebuild Burned Bridges

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

The themes of reconciliation and forgiveness are woven throughout Scripture. In particular, God’s people are urged to follow Jesus’ example in their dealings with others.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” In addition, Hebrews 12:14 (ESV) says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

However, in the case of burned bridges—friendships or working relationships that ended due to specific circumstances—one passage seems to resonate more than others:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. . . . A time to tear down and a time to build up. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3)

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for ending a relationship—a time for tearing down what once was. Some people are bad influences. Some stunt other people’s growth. Some people stir up bad memories or remind you of times best left behind. Some people simply grow apart or lose the common bond that joined them in the first place.

Sometimes, bridges are burned by careless words or deeds. Often in such cases, the reasoning goes like this: I’ll never need this person in my life again, so I’ll say or do exactly what I feel and then walk away for good.

A funny thing happens. Circumstances change. People change. Slowly, they realize that burned bridges limit the paths one can travel. With that realization comes a time to rebuild. If this is the year for you to restore relations with old acquaintances, here’s a step-by-step checklist that might help.

Find the difference between the person you were when you torched that bridge and the person you are now. How have you matured? How has your outlook changed? How do you feel when you look back on your younger self? Taking a hard look back can help you gain the proper mind-set for moving forward.

The circumstances of your bridge-burning experience will affect the speed with which you can proceed in making amends. If things were especially dramatic—if you caused offense or acted insensitively—you may need to take small steps at first. For example, you could reach out in an e-mail or on social media with a brief but sincere message, humbly testing the waters for an opportunity to reconcile. Or, if you feel you are ready for a person-to-person interaction, you can pick up your phone and call. Suggest meeting somewhere neutral—such as a coffee shop or restaurant. If you get rebuffed, you may need to turn to a mutual acquaintance to intercede on your behalf.

If you can arrange direct contact, start by sharing the results of your internal audit. Be transparent about what led to the bridge-burning moment. Invite the other person to share his or her thoughts and feelings about the incident. Apologize for whatever hurt you may have caused and ask for the other person’s forgiveness.

Accept that you may not be able to return to the way things were before. Once burned, twice shy, after all. But with a concerted effort on your part—a willingness to show you can be trusted again—you may be able to piece together a friendship (or at least a workable relationship) over time.

This blog post is adapted from the special-edition magazine Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is now available wherever magazines are sold.


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Swim Against the Current of Materialism

, by Christopher D. Hudson

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 

After you’ve grabbed the reins of your finances, you’ll likely need to do some careful maneuvering to avoid the ever-present temptations of materialism and consumerism. The Bible offers some strong warnings about their potential for damage.

Jesus himself said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke12:15).

The apostle Paul put it this way:

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9–10)

The siren call of consumerism can be hard to resist, especially if you’re surrounded by those who embrace a more-is-better mentality. But in a season of fresh starts, you can adopt a new response to the urge to accumulate—so you can resist the temptations that bombard you. Here are a few tips to help you start.

Before making a purchase—whether large or small (but especially large!)—examine your motives. Ask yourself, “Why am I buying this thing or spending this money?” Don’t let yourself get away with an easy answer, either. Keep digging with more questions:

• Is this a need or a want?
• Do I have ulterior or self-serving motives for purchasing this?
• Am I just trying to keep pace with other people?
• Am I trying to influence the way other people think of me?
• Is this in line with my goals for the new year?
• What would happen (good or bad) if I didn’t make this purchase right now?

If you find your motives for making certain purchases have more to do with how you’re perceived by your peers, for example, and have less to do with genuine needs, then now is the time to do something about it.

In many social circles, status is measured by the quality of your landscaping, the vehicle you drive, the sports camps and travel leagues your kids participate in, and other criteria as shallow as the credit card slot in your wallet. One-upmanship is the game, and whoever has the biggest, newest, most prestigious, or hardest to find [fill in the blank] is the winner.

The pressure to conform, compete, and spend your way to acceptance in such circles can be intense. Your best course of action might be to simply walk away, if possible. Explain your decision to friends and family who will support you. Distance yourself from those who thrive on status-based competitiveness. Politely decline social invitations that are beyond your financial comfort level.

In short, if you believe certain settings are harmful to your financial well-being, make some changes. It may take some radical decision making on your part, but remember: this is the season for transformation.

Embrace God-honoring financial stewardship. Refuse to feel any shame for driving a ten-year-old car or not enrolling your seven-year-old in the most elite soccer league. Surround yourself with people who have similar financial perspectives. You may find a number of people who are ready to jump off the consumer carousel with you. They’re just waiting for someone to lead the way. 

This blog post has been adapted from Unlock the Bible's Secrets, a special-edition magazine that is now available on store shelves.


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Give Back to God

, by Christopher D. Hudson

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 

Here’s the irony. The most important step in taking the reins of your finances is acknowledging who really holds the reins of your finances. (Hint: it’s not you.)

Here are four tips to help you put God first in your financial decision making.


Consider the following statements and decide if each is true or false:

• The skills, talents, and personal qualities that help you earn a living are God-given gifts.
• Your job—that is, your ability to earn money—is a blessing (regardless of how you may feel about it on bad days).
• Without God, your financial outlook would be much bleaker.

If you answered “true” to any of these statements, you’re well on your way to understanding who holds the reins of your finances. Now it’s time to give back to the One who gave everything to you.

Jesus wasn’t easily impressed when it came to acts of service. One woman, though, managed to capture his attention and earn his praise without even trying.

Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41–44)

A God-honoring tithe requires sacrifice. It is not easy to make—nor should it be. The apostle Paul took things a step further, arguing that it’s not just the amount of the gift that matters; it’s the attitude behind it.

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Finally, tucked at the end of the Old Testament is this promise from God to his people, relayed by the prophet Malachi:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10)

The passage from Malachi is not necessarily a guarantee of future riches. Blessings come in many different forms, including peace of mind, wisdom, and the privilege of being part of God’s work in the world. But one thing is clear: God promises to care for those who remember him.

Some people like to give their entire gift to their local church. They trust church leaders to distribute it as needed. Others take a more hands-on approach, dividing their tithes and offerings among several ministries (including their church) that are close to their heart.

If you’re not sure how to allocate the money you give back to God, pray about it. Ask him to make you aware of the needs around you and to guide you in making wise decisions.

If your tithing starts to seem rote—or if your motivation starts to falter—spend some time considering how God might use it to make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t think in terms of helping a church or an organization. Think of the people who will benefit from your faithful giving.

• Villagers in a developing country who will no longer have to walk miles for clean water every day, thanks to a well that was dug in their community
• Children who will make their first steps into God’s Word, thanks to a new interactive Bible study app
• A single mother whose prayers are answered by a donation that allows her to buy a reliable used car

A subtle change of approach can shift your thinking from How much am I required to give? to How many people can God help with my gift?

Once you put God at the center of your decision making, you can proceed to the nuts and bolts of crafting a financial strategy to maximize your generosity.

This blog post has been adapted from the special-edition magazine Unlock the Bible's Secrets, which is now available in stores where magazines are sold.


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Embrace the Seasons of Life

, by Christopher D. Hudson

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 

One of the keys to emotional health is accepting the seasons of life that make up our time on this earth.

King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, understood this. According to tradition, he authored the book of Ecclesiastes, in which he wrote:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. (3:1–8)

Some seasons are obvious; others aren’t immediately discernible. Some seasons begin slowly and gradually; others start suddenly, with a single incident. They all have a time and place. You can set a pattern of seasonal living in the year ahead by following four simple guidelines.

Stay in the moment. Wherever you are, be there—wholly. Don’t keep one eye on a screen. Don’t let your mind wander to other places, other topics, or other people. Obliviousness is a terrible reason to miss life’s big moments. Keep yourself in a frame of mind to fully experience the events unfolding around you. If you’re in church, worship with everything you’ve got. If you’re at the family dinner table, converse, laugh, and eat heartily. Put the smartphone down. If you’re having a conversation with someone, give that person your undivided attention. Be fully present at all times.

Everyone’s seasonal cycle is unique. A season of laughing for you may coincide with a season of mourning for your next-door neighbor. Be attentive to the seasons of those around you. Empathize with them. Feel what they feel. Follow the example of Jesus in John 11. He knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet when Jesus saw Lazarus’s loved ones mourning his loss, he wept with them. He felt deeply what they were feeling. He entered their season of mourning so he could provide true comfort.

If you’re in a difficult or painful season, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell others. Don’t pretend every day is a dancing season just to make others feel more comfortable around you. Likewise, don’t try to avoid a season because you feel unprepared to deal with it. Share your situation with God, as well as with trusted friends and loved ones. Give them a chance to walk with you through whatever season you’re in.

If you notice that a season is lasting longer than it should—if, for example, you can’t shake feelings of mourning or hate—talk to a counselor. Share your thoughts, experiences, and concerns. A trusted professional may be able to give you the nudge you need to bring a season to a close so you can start a new one. 

This blog post was adapted from Unlock the Bible's Secrets, a special-edition magazine that is now available in stores.


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