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A new year, a new beginning

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Jan 05, 2017

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What will you do differently in this New Year? How will you utilize this new beginning? Quite frankly, if you recognize that each minute hour, day, week and month is a gift from God, you would seriously consider how you utilize your time says Pastor Leonard A. Johnson, regional president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The advent of the New Year, he said, brought with it the marking of the opportunity for a fresh start and as such people should be excited for the opportunity to be able to start anew.

“Religious writer Ellen White observes, ‘If every moment were valued and rightly employed, we should have time for everything that we need to do for ourselves or for the world’.” (The Ministry of Healing, page 208).

To ensure that you make the best use of the 86,400 seconds that each person has daily, Johnson said your attention and concentration should be on devotion, family, self, exercise, time for your job and time for others.


Making the best of each day

“It is important that we begin our day with that which is likely to inspire and motivate us. For the Christian that involves reading the Bible and spending time in prayer,” said Johnson. “It is said of Christ that ‘A long while before daylight, he went out and departed to a solitary place, and there he prayed’.” Mark 1:35

Johnson said that people should start out the year devoting quality time to people and things of importance; he said the family is an institution that appears to be crumbling.

“With successive years of high murder rates, it must be clear to you that numerous parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends are hurting. A story is told of a youngster who asked his father how much he made in an hour. It is needless to say that the father was upset and thought his son was getting into his business. But after some insisting by the son, and the father feeling guilty for his poor attitude toward his son, the father gave in to his son’s request and shared his hourly wage. The little boy got his piggy bank and counted his savings, which was less than his father’s hourly wage. He asked his father to loan him the difference to reach the amount his father made hourly. Not knowing why his son wanted the money, the father gave it to him. The boy then placed it with his savings; therefore, he now had enough money to pay his father for one full hour. The point — he valued his father’s time. The same may apply to mothers, spouse-to-spouse etc. When we neglect time with family, we leave the door open to television, the Internet and others to do the job.”

Johnson said it becomes risky when the family is neglected, and that people should start the year devoting quality time for people and things of importance.

The Seventh-day pastor reminded people to make time for themselves and that they should continue to improve themselves by either commencing or resuming their studies.

Taking care of the temple of the Lord in their body is also important, he said, which makes engaging in exercise important.

“We need to engage in some form of physical activity so as to strengthen our bodies and muscles. Health is a priceless commodity, but too many of us are afflicted by diseases that could be remedied by exercise and change in lifestyle,” he said.

As for their jobs, Johnson said people should ensure they give a day’s work for a day’s pay. Even Jesus said to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

“It is so unfortunate that there are persons who shortchange and essentially rob companies of hours and still hope to be paid in full at pay date.”

While making time for themselves, Johnson said people should not be selfish, and that it would be wise for them to devote time to assisting an organization that caters to the poor, abused and marginalized within the community.

“With a social consciousness regarding the various needs in the community, we can assist many,” he said.

“It is important that we recognize that we have a responsibility to use our time wisely. As stewards we have different talents, different amounts of wealth, but the same amount of time. Unfortunately, when the day is gone, it is gone never to return; and therefore it is critical that we understand the importance of redeeming the time. The Apostle Paul explained in Ephesians 5:15–16, ‘See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil’. Paul is talking about more than time as we know it chronologically — instead his emphasis here is opportunity. Employing the Greek word ‘kairos’, he speaks to embracing the opportunities that knock at our doors. Too often we see joblessness, roadblocks, recession and other ills, but through the eyes of Christ we may see other possibilities and potential opening of doors for the unemployed or for greater use and effectiveness.”

Johnson said more so is the emphasis on preparation for a significant appointment with God. And that redeeming the time requires that people recognize that they will have to stand before a righteous God and give an account of their actions. What happens to them then would be determined. But he said as a wise person that they could choose through the leading and directing of the Holy Spirit, to allow God to change them for good.


A weekly and timely reminder

Johnson said people have to remember that God has given his people the weekends in order to build self, family, community and provide rest and perspective. This is also the time people have to reconnect with their “roots”, or what he calls “the Maker” during the Sabbath or the Lord’s day.

“Stephen Covey makes an interesting analogy or application when he refers to the Sabbath principle as ‘sharpening the saw’.

“He penned, ‘Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.

“‘What are you doing?’ you ask. ‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply.

“‘I’m sawing down this tree.’

“‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim. ‘How long have you been at it?’

“‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’

“‘Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you enquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’

“‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,’ the man says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing!’”

Johnson quoted Darrell Pursiful, who said “Like the Sabbath, sharpening the saw is about taking time we need for self-renewal — physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.”


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