Start 2019 on the right foot

 
Alexa Burstow | January 1st 2019

Christmas can be a real spiritual high point in the year, a time to enjoy worshipping the birth of our Saviour with renewed wonder and joy. But, ironically, for some it can also be a low point. It’s hard not to give so much time and energy to cooking, present-buying and socialising that it leaves us feeling wiped out. They’re all good things, but so easily crowd out any time for proper reflection and meditation. 

But with the dawning of a new year comes that opportunity. Social events often get cancelled as people calm down a bit and try not to spend money, and there’s no need to exhaust ourselves rushing around shopping centres and attending plays, concerts and so on. It’s a bit of breathing space to invest our time elsewhere. 

Here are two ideas for how to make the most of it:

1. Do a bite-sized Bible reading every day. 

Nothing new I know, but this simple discipline often slips during the festive season. Yet the rewards of setting our eyes on things above on a day to day basis far outweigh the effort. Just like exercise, we know it’s good for us, but once we’re out the habit, it seems so hard to start up again. ‘Spiritual Healthcheck’ is a resource that has been specifically designed to help you kick start a healthy habit of daily Bible reading. Sixteen short devotions, dotted around the New Testament, will help you assess your faith and excite you about God’s plans to make it grow and thrive. It’s so easy to do and it will inspire you to carry on reading your Bible once you’ve reached the end.

2. Read a Christian book. 

There is usually a bit more time in the evenings in January and February, and for me it is very tempting to simply collapse in front of the TV before getting an early night. But just as relaxing and far more rewarding, is to cosy up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea. Getting stuck into a longer thought piece than the soundbite pieces of content I consume on my iPad or phone is also very welcome. 

New for 2019

Tim Lane’s new book, Unstuck provides the opportunity to look at the attitudes and behaviours that we’d love to see change. Unlike various self-help books that offer strategies and ways of talking yourself in or out of things, the starting point of this book is that we need to look outside of ourselves. Only God has the power to change us from the inside out, and so we need to look to him to empower us to break free from unwanted habits and behaviours that don’t seem to go away. Tim Lane presents nine steps towards change that lasts and they are all truths rooted in scripture. Each chapter is fascinating and easy to read, leaving you with a feeling of lightness as you realise change is possible if we depend on God for it. 

If you are a twenty-something navigating your way through the challenges of adulting, there’s a book written specifically for you by someone who knows what you’re going through. In Is This It? Rachel Jones is honest about the difficulties of being a young adult. She knows what it’s like to dread family occasions because relatives will ask you what you’re doing with your life, to still have lots of stuff at your parents’ house with very little prospect of owning your own home, and to find that social media leaves you with the miserable suspicion that most of your friends have more fun/a better relationship/more money/a better house/more friends than you do! But she is a Christian and she also recognises that knowing Jesus makes all the difference. If you’ve started the new year wondering “Is this it”? there is no better way to spend the long winter nights than reading this warm, amusing and hope-filled book. 

So as well as the usual task list of trying to lose weight and trying not to spend money, treat your mind and soul at the start of 2019 by getting stuck into some reading that will point you to Jesus. What better way to start the new year? 

Alexa Burstow

Alexa was trained at some big London ad agencies and the BBC. Now her branding, messaging and design management skills are being put to good use at TGBC, as well as her love of free lunches and staff parties! Alexa is married to James and they have two children. She is a member of Grace Church Worcester Park where she leads a women’s group for those who have recently come to faith.

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