It’s the beginning of 2021! Thank you for spending some time reading DHD on this opening day.

I wanted to start the New Year with six things I would like to see happen. There are tangible items on the list, yet some could be conceptual or symbolic, but they all represent improvement.

  1. Unity

This could be considered a pipedream by some. Unity may be hard to measure, but I think it is possible to experience unity in 2021.

It will take more than political rhetoric. It will take humility, listening and a willingness to care about people—even those who don’t agree with my views.

There were a lot of statements, demonstrations and protests last year. There could be even more of the same in 2021. What I hope for is God to establish upon people the desire to pursue unity.

We need to heal, reconcile and restore. If this happens, we would see unity.

  1. Smiles

I want to see smiling that happens naturally. I don’t like it when I hear somebody say, “You need smile! Tell your face how happy you are.” I get the intention, but honestly, it’s rather annoying.

Last year did not give us a lot of opportunities to smile. There was sickness, pain, grief, anger, bitterness and strife.

I won’t ask people to smile because I want them to be genuine. If I see someone hurting, I want to care for them, pray for them and support them.

But when I see someone smiling, I want to rejoice with them and see that joy grow. Smiling is a sign of encouragement and progress.

Of course, in order to see smiling, faces can’t be covered up by masks. That could be another sign of progress one day.

  1. Singing

I want to hear people singing in person. Singing is another encouraging sign of progress. Have you ever been in a large group of people who sang in unison?

I think of my days working at Falls Creek, before all the technical advancements we enjoy today. I was a teenager working the old manual spotlights above the crowds in the old outdoor Tabernacle. I relish thinking about being up there, listening to 5,000-plus people singing great hymns and praise songs.

It was the same feeling I had in 2017, when we celebrated 100 years of Falls Creek in the new Tabernacle, packed with people. That great moment, led by legendary worship leader Bill Green, when we sang “Saved, Saved” can never be replicated. Only in Heaven could there be a greater experience.

Singing is invigorating. It’s great for the soul. And singing with other people should be something to experience more this year, hopefully.

  1. Returning to church

It was important to socially distance last year. I will not criticize the standards that were essential for health reasons.

I hope the literary phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” could be applied to churchgoers this year. Church attendance suffered greatly in 2020. As we strive to improve and recover from COVID-19, I pray we see more people returning to corporate worship, as well as small group Bible study and other in-person church fellowship opportunities.

Perhaps this also could change the trend of non-churchgoers. My friend Jeff DeGiacomo shared the following comment from Christian speaker Shane Pruitt:

4-generation fade:

1) Parents don’t make church a high priority for their kids

2) Kids grow up and make it less of a priority for their kids

3) Those kids grow up and make it no priority for their kids

4) Those kids grow up with no concept of God

Priorities today, impact generations!

Dear friend, as soon as there is a healthy environment for the masses to gather together for worship and godly instruction, please make this a priority, not only for yourself but for others in your circle of influence.

  1. Scripture memory and Bible reading

This may be a struggle for you, especially Scripture memory. Now is a great time to start reading your Bible every day. Check out what Chandler Vannoy wrote in “3 Things That Happen When We Read God’s Word Daily.” This should encourage you.

As far as incorporating Scripture memory in your life, if you struggle, consider that you are dwelling on God’s Word instead of something that may not be helpful for your spiritual growth.

Memorizing Bible verses isn’t a contest. It’s a process of renewing your mind. We quote movie lines and song lyrics. If we can dwell on such temporal things with ease, why not find a way to recall the greatest Message ever given?

Last year, I committed to memorizing Habakkuk 3:17-18. At the start of my daily devotions, I would open to this passage and recite it. After repeating it over and over on a daily basis, it’s almost second nature for me.

That’s my encouragement for you. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy chapter or a long list of verses. Memorize one verse or a small passage. Dwell on that throughout your day and see how God’s Word can impact your life.

  1. Committed lives to Christ

There are so many great causes happening right now. You may be passionate about one or few causes that help mankind in a significant way. That is a great thing. It shows you care about people, especially those who struggle with hindrances of life.

There is one cause that surpasses all others—saving the souls of the lost, witnessing to those who have never made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Even Jesus asked, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:37 NLT).

Keep your passion for helping others, but remember that anything you do will have temporal value, unless your service involves sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Consider finding ways to live a more committed life to Jesus. Paul said it best, “Just as I also try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved. Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” (I Cor. 10:33-11:1).