TWENTY-TWO THINGS CHRISTIANS SHOULD DO IN 2022

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I love reading through a good list or “idea” type post and have found them to be very helpful when trying to be creatively intentional about living a deep, and also meaningful, Christian life. You know, I’m sure that many of us wrote out some of the fitness goals we wanted to accomplish in 2022, or perhaps you thought about a new hobby you would like to try. Or maybe creating a book list full of amazing classical literature (oh wait, maybe that’s just Madie, haha). Those things are great, but what about the things that actually matter? What about Jesus? Is He something you just fit into your schedule when it permits, or does everything else flow from your personal relationship with Him?

We get asked quite often how to practically get serious about living for Jesus, and I pray this list is one you can refer back to time and time again to help you do exactly that. Here are 22 things I believe Christians should do in 2022!

  • Challenge yourself when it comes to reading Scripture. Don’t complicate it, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. It’s too easy to do what’s easy, so we must choose to do hard things in order to continue to grow. I am challenging myself to read the entire Bible this year, and I would invite you to try something new and maybe even a tad bit difficult!
  • Give 22 minutes each day to simply listen to what God may want to speak to you. Maybe this time needs to happen in the morning after you study Scripture, or perhaps it’s on your lunch break, or right before you get ready to go bed. Make it happen. Many of us spend much more than 22 minutes on our phones each day. Instead, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible, and ask Jesus to share His heart with you.
  • Read three Christian books that will help you learn more about the basics of Christianity and why we believe what we believe. My three recommendations would be: “Until Unity” by Francis Chan. “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis. “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee.
  • Ask someone how you can pray for them and then pray WITH them! How many times do we tell someone that we will be praying for them and completely forget to do so? Trust me, I’ve done it too. By praying for someone’s request with them, you let them know that they are loved and that their request or struggle is not trivial. If it matters to them, it matters to God, and it should matter to us as well.
  • Seek out and prioritize time with a small group of Jesus-loving believers (in your local church and also outside of your local church). After starting a teen girl Bible Study myself, I have come to realize how vital this is and how much it can help a Christian get serious about living this Jesus thing out, but also how few actually make time for it. I am convinced that the small group model is what Christ intended for us to make the most of! It’s real Church. Please do not neglect this in 2022.
  • Try to open up your home by sharing a meal with someone you know who may be struggling, live alone, or you feel Jesus wants you to pour into. Hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts, and I so enjoy creating a cozy environment where people can relax, have meaningful conversations about Jesus, and know that I care about them! This is the best way to create community. My mom, sister, and I have decided we want to serve by doing much more of this in 2022, and I couldn’t be more excited.
  • Evaluate how much you are allowing the world to influence you and your lifestyle through the music you listen to/shows you watch. Far too many Christians have compromised in this area. Would you want Jesus to listen to/watch what you regularly do? If you don’t care, then that’s on you. But if you do, and you know that something needs to change, there’s no better time than the present. Aim to please Jesus in all that you do.
  • Be prepared to share your testimony and how Jesus has changed you with those you encounter! Remembering the Lord’s faithfulness to us will help us to not forget how good and gracious He is and will enable us to lead others to knowing and experiencing Him for themselves.
  • Be a witness to others through your behavior and conduct. As Christians, we are called to live above reproach (Titus 1:6-9). This is often one of the most powerful ways to witness to others of what it means to live a godly life. You can say all the right things, but if your actions don’t reflect what you say, then your life won’t make a difference.
  • Edify and uplift others daily. Through text messages, phone calls, cards, etc. make sure that you are putting others before yourself continually.
  • Be obedient to Christ even when you feel pressured to come under the world’s authority instead. Let Him lead you. God calls us to live lives worthy of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27-30), and we must listen to Him before anyone else. Obedience to God means that we say no to ourselves, and yes to carrying the cross. Obedience requires faithfulness.
  • Let Christ have first place in all the choices you make. Our lives should be scheduled around what Christ wants us to do first and foremost. Pursue nothing except what God wants and has for you. Nothing should matter more to you.
  • Fight the enemy on your knees. Pray fervently for the unborn babies who are being murdered, and for the people who lost or have walked away from the Lord. Pray blessing and comfort over those who are heartbroken and fearful.
  • Don’t give up on anyone. God can do anything, in anyone, at any time. No matter how disappointed or hurt you may be, don’t give up. Remain steadfast and patient despite what you feel. God has taught me some of the most crucial lessons when I wanted nothing more than to walk away.
  • Seek Simplicity. The Christian life is not too difficult or complicated for you to live out. Christ gives us strength when we give Him our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). You can’t hit as hard as life, but if Christ dwells within you, nothing is impossible.
  • Fear God, not man. Are you concerned with what men think of you more than what God does? Begin to fear God, and you will begin to live your life in light of eternity, and the temporal views of men won’t matter. A.W. Tozer once said, “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.”
  • Don’t purposefully stay in your comfort zone. Are you worshipping Jesus in the midst of your pain, or do you pursue comfort by escaping it? When trials occur, you must press onward and move through the pain to the God who allowed it to take place. When you pursue comfort to escape the pain, you miss the comfort God provides in the midst of it.
  • Start to disciple someone and go after Jesus together. We weren’t meant to do life alone. Community is one of our greatest resources. We won’t always be motivated, so we must learn to be discipled and stay accountable. Being discipled and discipling is the key to Christian success if done as Scripture illustrates.
  • Stop following people on social media who think too highly of the world and make you question if Jesus is worth everything. Just unfollow them. It isn’t worth it to waste time looking at what they say/post. What could you be doing with that time for the Kingdom instead?
  • Avoid pride and spending time with prideful people at all costs. Proverbs 16:5 says, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Pride is the desire to be exalted rather than to glorify God. Your prayers reflect the desires of your heart. If you want to kill pride, ask God to kill it in you. 
  • Live by convictions instead of convenience. We cannot afford to let the world rule our emotions and our reactions. Stand for what’s right and do it. Know what you would die for and then go live for it. My dad has a sign in his office that says that, I’m not sure who the quote is by.
  • Know who you are and what you mean. Do you know what Christ says about you and what He created you to accomplish? C. S. Lewis once said, “The Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct – in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty, and truthfulness.” Christians should desire to pursue those things more than anything else if they care about what the Being behind the universe really values.

Let me know in the comment section which specific thing you are excited to start implementing, and be sure to share this list with a friend!

WHY YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT 2022 BEING “YOUR YEAR”

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Please, allow me to set your mind at rest about this new year, weary soul. I know that our frightfully busy world is in the business of making us think that everything is about us, about our happiness, about how well we can compete with those around us. We chase the new car, the big house, the money, the perfect body, a relationship. All of it.

We are captives to a lie that sounds as if it promises freedom. It sounds so good.

If we do more, be more, get more at some point or another we believe that all will be set right in our lives. That we will finally be at rest. That we will get to enjoy life.

Why? Why do we think that?

Is it really so hard for us to see that the “self” cannot be both the problem and the solution?

Listen, can I let you in on something that God’s really been pressing on my heart these first few days of 2022? This year should not be “your year”. It should be His year.

This, friend, is what true freedom is. When we come to the end of ourselves and stop thinking about ourselves, that is precisely when true freedom begins.

Romans 8:1-4 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

There is nothing worth doing this year if it is not exactly what Jesus has for you. If you have welcomed 2022 thinking that you must make this new year “your year”, hear me when I say with complete love that you will be a miserable creature if you continue down that path.

C. S. Lewis once said, “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or happiness to the future.”

Why? You ask? Because you are not in control and will be disappointed time and time again if you do not cling to something much deeper and stronger than the fleeting and hopeful feelings that come with a new year or dreams of the future.

If, however, you want more than anything else for 2022 to be Jesus’ year, and that He may allow you to be a part of it in whatever way you can, then I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Y’all, our fresh started began when we found Him! A new year is simply marked by the page we flip on the calendar every January 1st. It won’t magically change your life and priorities. That’s what Jesus does!

The point: This year should NOT be your year anyway. It should be His and His alone. So, take the pressure off of yourself. Let go of the expectations you have for yourself to do it all, be it all, and get it all. Is that really how you want to spend the rest of your days?

The passion to live for eternity is pumping through our veins because it’s pumping through our Heavenly Father’s veins. That’s what I want to spend this year, and the rest of my days, living for.

If you want to have the best year yet, stop chasing what you want and start chasing what Jesus wants for you. If you’ve been found, why are you living like you’re lost?

What matters, what Heaven longs for and Hell fears, is that further step, out of our depth, out of our very control.

Let this be His year.

“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”  (C. S. Lewis)

EVERY NOW AND THEN (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTY-ONE)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Today is New Year’s Eve. A day of reflection and resolution. Some of you are probably excited at the prospect of a fresh start, a new year. Others are likely apprehensive about what 2022 will hold. The previous couple of years have been trying, to say the least. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, I want to challenge you to make your personal relationship with Jesus your priority this year.

It is natural for us to gravitate towards making resolutions about our weight, fitness, and physical health. We feel a sense of determination to get organized at home, school, or work in the coming year. But I wonder how many of us even include our spiritual life on our list of goals. Above all else, we must create space in our lives to read and contemplate God’s Word. We must make room to watch for and celebrate the truth, goodness, and beauty He has placed before us.

I heard a poem about the shepherds recently (see Song of the Shepherds poem below) that resonated so deeply with me in regard to where we Christians are in the world today. It starts with the shepherds sitting out in the darkness; darkness that they knew so well because they were out in it night after night. They knew the feel of it and had grown comfortable in it even though they knew there were threats lurking about. Most of the time they sat in silence, but every now and then one of them would pick up a flute and start playing; breaking through the oppressive silence. Pushing back the darkness.

Friends, we have been sitting in the darkness of a fallen world night after night and year after year. We have grown accustomed to it and rarely even give its threats much thought anymore. However, every now and then, one of us has the courage to stand up and provide some beauty, proof that Christ is still in the world, working through His followers. The Light of the World (John 18:12) that breaks through the silence and pushes back the darkness.

Will you be that one this year? It only takes a little courage.

Will you be that one who speaks the truth of the gospel, with love, into your workplace or school? Will you be that one who calls your church back to what the Lord said Christianity ought to look like? Will you be that one who gathers a group of your friends to study and discuss God’s Word? Every little action we take in His name breaks through the silence and pushes back the darkness of this fallen world.

You see, those of us who have walked in darkness and then have seen great light should be changed by that revelation! We should be unable to contain it; desiring nothing more than to make Him known wherever we go!

There is a line in the poem that says the light exorcised the darkness from the world and the world, coming back to itself, began again. Isn’t it just like God to take even our scant and insufficient offerings and use them to set the world aright again? If just one of us will sing His praise, it reminds the world around us of what once was; of what can and will be again.

Oh, but what if more than one of us chose to glorify Him every day in all that we said and did? What would happen to the world around us then?

The shepherds in the poem continued to watch over their flocks night by night and year by year, but something changed after they saw the great light; after God revealed Himself to them. They played and sang of Him every night, not just every now and then as they had before. They clutched their meager cloaks against the cold and played their song. The song that banished dark. The song stayed with them!

I once heard a quote that said something like… Faith is our loyalty to our response to God’s revelation to us.

Brothers and sisters, do you remember a time when the Lord revealed Himself to you? It may be the memory of your salvation and the freedom and joy you felt. Maybe He revealed that He was with you through a loss or time of grief. Has he provided for you in a time of trial? Our response in those times is usually to tell someone about what the Lord has done for us. We want to share His love with others.

You must remain loyal to your response to Him in those moments when you have come closest to Him! Repeat that response on the good days and the bad. When you feel like it and when you don’t. That, my friend, is what pushes back the darkness!

That is what faith, as small as a mustard seed, can do. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord answered, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  (Luke 17:5-6)

Will you be that one who has faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed? Faith that is loyal to your response to God’s revelation of Himself and His truth to you. Faith that gives you enough courage to share that revelation with those around you. Faith that inspires other Christians to do the same.

If so, go into 2022 with great joy knowing that I too will be in my little corner of the world singing God’s praises and sharing His truth; pushing back the darkness with His wonderous light.

SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS by Richard Bauckham

We were familiar with the night.
We knew its favourite colours,
its sullen silence
and its small, disturbing sounds,
its unprovoked rages,
its savage dreams.

We slept by turns,
attentive to the flock.
We said little.
Night after night, there was little to say.
But sometimes one of us,
skilled in that way,
would pipe a tune of how things were for us.

They say that once, almost before time,
the stars with shining voices
serenaded
the new born world.
The night could not contain their boundless praise.

We thought that just a poem —
until the night
a song of solar glory,
unutterable, unearthly,
eclipsed the luminaries of the night,
as though the world were exorcised of dark
and, coming to itself, began again.

Later we returned to the flock.
The night was ominously black.
The stars were silent as the sheep.
Nights pass, year on year.
We clutch our meagre cloaks against the cold.
Our aging piper’s fumbling fingers play,
night after night,
an earthly echo of the song that banished dark.
It has stayed with us.