New Year’s Resolutions for Individual, Congregational Spiritual Growth

happy new year

(Amodiovalerio Verde / Flickr)

As 2020 begins, many people will optimistically make New Year’s resolutions. Historians aren’t certain when this custom started, but the practice was recorded more than 4,000 years ago by the early Babylonians. They believed that whatever a person did on the first day of the year would affect the next 12 months.

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Unique Christmas Traditions for Your Family

christmas presents

Carolyn Tomlin

Shops overflow with holiday gifts. Carols ring out from every street corner. Bell ringers collect monetary contributions for needy families. Families spend time together. If you’re like many families at Christmas, you continue the same traditions handed down by parents and grandparents. Could your clan honor their history while starting a few new customs?  Perhaps these suggestions will work for you.

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China: Then and Now

china farm

Family farms where the Chinese people lived for generations were flooded when the Three Gorge Dam was built on the Yangtze River.

The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and has over 1.3 million people or one-fifth of the world’s population. In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.

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Exploring Europe’s Danube River


The Danube River flows through Budapest, one of Europe’s most interesting cities.

Running through or touching the borders of 10 European countries, the Danube River flows from the Black Forest in Germany and runs into the Black Sea. Covering a journey of 1,785 miles, the river is the second longest in Europe after the Volga River in Russia. Approximately 315,000 square miles make up the drainage area, and it continues to expand. Tributaries number about 300 of which 30 are navigable. The delta area is the second largest in the world and is still growing. At least 5,000 species of plants, birds and animals call the wetlands home. Fishing, once a primary industry has declined over the years. However, over 10 million people in Europe get their drinking water from the Danube.

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Good For the Long Haul: Pastoral Sabbaticals Offer Renewal

Kyle Childress, pastor of Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, said sabbaticals provide enough time away from the demands of the pastorate for a minister to truly rest and renew.

Observing the sabbath can be tough for ministers, but taking time away from the demands of ministry can help them maintain emotional, physical and spiritual health.

2015 LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches revealed 84 percent said they are “on call” 24 hours a day. The survey showed 54 percent found the pastor’s role frequently overwhelming, and 48 percent said they often felt the demands of their job to be more than they could handle.

Some ministers “unplug” on a regular basis by turning off cell phones and computers for a prescribed time each week and taking time away from the church office. Some enjoy periodic retreats at conference centers. Others find it hard to get away from the day-to-day grind.

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