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Three Choices for the New Year

BY BETH BOLTHOUSE, LEAD TEAM MEMBER AND SMALL GROUP LEADER, FRONT PORCH CHURCH

A new year. An opportunity for positive changes, possibly re-doing something we left unfinished last year. With 8,760 hours ahead of us in the upcoming 365 days, what if we took time to follow three lifestyle principles God put forth in the little book of Micah, chapter 6, verse 8?

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

These three lifestyle decisions can make a tremendous difference in our own lives, as well as impact society at large for good. In fact, the prophet Micah reminds us that we already know what is good – the Bible is filled with recognitions that creation, loving God and loving others is good. Knowing this is good, but action is needed; yet if “doing” is without heart, then it becomes nothing more than empty shallow motions with narcissistic intentions. For change to take place, the heart has to be the motivator – a heart for God, and a heart for others.

Do justice…from your heart. In order to begin doing justice we must become filled with a profound sense that there is much INjustice in our world. It doesn’t take more than a quick scan of the news or social media to identify the enormous extent of unfair, unethical, discriminatory and just plain crooked things that take place on a daily basis.

And laying at the feet of injustice is despair, defeat, devastation. People are wounded in so many ways, trampled upon, shunned, disparaged. Loss abounds not just from death but from the multitude and myriad layers of life issues and challenges, and therefore grief is never-ending. People are left feeling abandoned and alone and without recourse for resolution or just plain having things made right. God knows the pain people carry around in their hearts; the Bible says He grieves with those who grieve, and blesses those who mourn. And he feels our pain as well; and the pain we feel when others suffer.

God has told us – do justice, act justly. This is not optional, this is his command, his directive. We are to care for people we know, people we don’t, and be advocating for those who are unable to care for themselves. He’s laid it out clearly, succinctly – “Stand up for what is honest, righteous, truthful, just. Choose righteousness over injustice. Be a source of integrity and making things right.”

Muskegon Magazine.com, Muskegon County's online magazine


Love kindness…with your heart. Kindness goes a long way toward healing the wounds brought about by injustice. The original Hebrew language in which the Bible was written uses the word kindness to include loyalty and showing mercy. To love in this way is to fully embrace goodness, to be intentional about being merciful, compassionate, gracious; to make this a choice in how we relate to others.

Mark Twain said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." It permeates barriers that would normally make communication difficult. It makes a change that matters. Most importantly, it brings healing to the wounded soul. And we are all wounded on some level — perhaps by injustice, perhaps by the natural order of life, perhaps by unintentional actions of others.

Showing mercy or kindness is something we need choose, every day; a gift we give someone else that can increase hope and remind them they have worth and value regardless of anything else that is happening in their life.

Walk humbly…in your heart. This may be the most difficult of the three directives God has given. As human beings we want our own agenda, we like to be in control, and we all have some level of narcissistic process which drives us. Humility requires a certain degree of submission and surrender. It communicates to others that they matter; it focuses on serving and giving; it bows the knee to the Divine purpose and chooses trust rather than rebellion. It relies on God for our identity, rather than a continual striving to be more, get more, have more, doing whatever it takes for our own purposes. It challenges injustice to do what is right regardless of how it may impact us; it takes kindness to a new level of focusing on what others need. It is antithetical to the self-serving focus that ignores the homeless, the powerless, the abused, the suffering, the “less thans” in society who Jesus Christ himself hung out with because he understood their need for justice and kindness.

Three directives that now become three choices laid out for the new year. It is up to each of us to choose to embrace these so that 2018 will bring about increased healing for ourselves, for others, and even for our world at large. What difference we can make if we let go of the status quo and be a force for good so justice, kindness and humility are the order of the day. Mother Teresa, who so genuinely lived out the principles in Micah 6:8, gave us a tip for getting started: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Take time today to choose justice, kindness and humility as the focus for the new year and be inspired by the little and big transformations that will take place around you.

Muskegon Magazine.com, Muskegon County's online magazine


Join us at Front Porch Church every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. for our weekly gathering – great music, good teaching, coffee and pastries! Embrace Books is a free bookstore dedicated to putting books into the hands of people who want them. Check our Facebook page frequently for updates and information about our services and podcasts.



Front Porch Church is located at 1050 W. Southern Ave. in Muskegon. Gatherings are Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and all are welcome. Visit them online at FrontPorchChurch.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/FrontPorchChurch. Weekly teachings can be listened to at FrontporchChurch.com/teachings/.

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Contents:

EVENT
February 10, Sip and Shop will bring together local crafters and vendors to sell hand made items and more at Watermark 920! Explore crafters here.

AWARD
Nominations are sought by the Greater Muskegon Woman’s Club, which will honor three women who have made on impact on our community! Learn more here.

FAMILY
Family caregivers are vulnerable to post-holiday blues! Judith Delis of Seminole Shores Living Center has tips for avoiding those blues in this informative article.

HOMES
2017 was a very good year in real estate, writes Nancy Bierenga, with Muskegon County home values rising about 12%! Find out what these numbers mean to you.

EVENTS
Are you stuck inside this winter? Visit the Lakeshore Museum Center online for updates, interesting tidbits and Muskegon history! Find out how here. AUDIO!

EVENTS
January is packed with things to do at the Hackley Public LIbrary! Explore music, crafts, games, classes and much more at HPL. Find out more here. VIDEO!

FAITH
A new year is an opportunity for positive change, writes Beth Bolthouse of Front Porch Church! Look into three decisions that can make a tremendous difference here.

FAMILY
How do you have “the talk” with your parents about wills, finances, medical care choices, and funerals? Jodi Clock of Clock Funeral Home has some suggestions.

HOMES
Window fashions can keep your home cooler in the summer, warmer in winter, provide light control and affect indoor air quality. Carol Beatty of Quigley Draperies explains. VIDEO!

GALLERY
2017 was an uplifting year for illustrator and writer Gary Scott Beatty! Find out why, and enjoy some eerie art from this powerful local artist, here.

COMMUNITY
It’s not too late to give to United Way of the Lakeshore this year! Christine Robere explains the goal to help 10,000 working families meet their basic needs. VIDEO!

BUSTER KEATON
Muskegon’s own Buster Keaton parodies melodrama, poking fun at William S. Hart, in 1922’s “The Frozen North,” complete and online here! VIDEO!

LAKESHORE STAR GAZER
January skies offer chances to enjoy some of the brightest stars of the year and to observe planetary sights for those willing to brave the cold. VIDEO!

EVENTS CALENDAR
Enjoy what’s happening with Muskegon County's BEST online events calendar, from Hackley Public Library.

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