Ronan Keane is the executive editor of the Activated magazine.
A well-known story tells of a man who was walking along a beach at sunset and noticed a young boy in the distance who kept bending down, picking something up, and throwing it into the water.
As the man approached, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing.
One thing that seems set in stone is that most things don’t stay the same over time. Many people are conflicted about that. On the one hand, you have people who are eager for change, like self-help author Karen Salmansohn, who said, “What if I told you ten years from now your life would be exactly the same? Doubt you’d be happy. So why are you afraid of change?”
In the Bible, God often uses metaphors or word pictures to describe our relationship with Him; for example, a shepherd and sheep, a father and child, a vine and branches—and a bride and groom.
Although the Bible contains 66 books, commentators have often noted that it is really one book with a consistent theme. It is a love story. Like every love story, this one has a beginning, some ups and downs, and a dramatic conclusion.
Most people try not to think about it more than they have to, but there’s no denying it: There’s a lot of suffering in the world. Innocents are killed, maimed, and made homeless in cruel and unjust wars. More suffer the same in natural or manmade disasters. Cancer, AIDS, and other diseases claim millions of lives each year, often after months or years of pain. There’s no end to it. Why does life have to be this way? It’s the age-old question: Why does God allow suffering?
In ancient Israel, men’s and women’s roles were clearly defined, with the women’s sphere traditionally being the household and everything pertaining to it, including the care of the children, the oversight of the servants, and often the managing of the family’s finances. But throughout the Bible, God didn’t limit Himself by gender when choosing who to use to accomplish His will, speak His words, or lead His people.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a young man who makes a million-dollar mistake in his company and is overwhelmed with stress and worry. A few days pass, and sure enough, his managers call him in and say to him:
“After spending a million dollars training you, I sure hope that you aren’t thinking of quitting!”
Here are some tips to turning your New Year’s resolutions into lasting changes in your life:
1. Make a list of your goals and select the top three to five that are the most important to you. Pray for God’s guidance in the process. He knows best.
In years past, Activated has occasionally featured articles describing little ceremonies the contributors participated in around the turn of the New Year. For example, friends might gather to reflect on the old year and to share their hopes and ideas for the coming one.1
Throughout the Old Testament, God’s kindness and mercy flows through the text, like this verse in the Psalms: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”1
But what happened 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem took God’s love and mercy for humankind to an entirely new level! God offered His only Son to the world, who showed Himself to us as a weak and helpless child and chose to take on human form in order to save humanity.
In God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis included an essay entitled “Answers to Questions on Christianity.” One of the questions is on which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness, and he gave this famous reply: