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The Reverend Dr. John Callahan is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton Theological and Pittsburgh Theological Seminaries. He served as associate pastor in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and as pastor of the Clinton United Presbyterian Church in Saxonburg, PA. He began his ministry with Morrow Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 4, 2008.
John served on an administrative commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the Good Shepherd Clinic Board of Directors of Morrow, GA. He also served for six years on the Examinations Committee of the Presbytery, which admits pastors into membership of the Presbytery. He currently serves on the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and as a Pastor Nominations Committee Liaison to Stockbridge Presbyterian Church.
John’s wife, Tamara, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as Sunday School Superintendent and Moderator of the Presbyterian Women of Morrow Church. She participates in the Sunday School as a teacher of our fourth and fifth graders and in the music program of Morrow Church, playing the piano and singing in the choir. She and John have two children, Parker and Amanda. Parker graduated from Union Grove High School and is enrolled at the University of Maryland with a focus on architecture. His talent is the trumpet, which he plays during Sunday worship. Amanda is a Sophmore at Valdosta State University. She shares her talent of singing in our church. She joined the Children’s Choir of Spivey Hall for five years and sang and danced for her school through the Advanced Women’s Chorus and Union Groove.
You know how people declare on the first day of the New Year that the last year was such a bummer. “Last year was so awful,” people say. “We are so glad this New Year finally arrived. It’s going to be so much better.”
Well, I can say without a doubt that 2020 was more than a bummer. It was the worst year we ever experienced. I would like to find one person who can say any other year was worse than the one which had a pandemic controlling every move we made. Plans were altered. Events were canceled. People unfortunately became sick and some passed away. 2020 was truly a rotten year.
Still, we get that familiar feeling with a New Year arriving. We begin to believe that things could turn out better for 2021. We can start again – we can start anew. It might take a little time, since COVID isn’t finished with us yet. However, something is different. We are not at the beginning or middle of this virus. It feels like we are at the end, especially with new vaccines being distributed. We are closing a strange chapter in order to begin a new and exciting one. With the New Year good changes are going to come sooner or later.
In order to get in tune with those possible changes, we need to get in tune with God. Developing a better relationship with God is vital, and what better time to start than now? In order to have a richer, healthier, more intimate relationship with God, we could follow the list below:
Begin a devotional: Find books that offer 30-day or 365-day devotionals. Pick up a Daily Bread at the church and follow each lesson each day. Make it a habit to be with God.
Read the Bible in a year: If need be, find a Bible that provides a list of chapters and verses to read each day. Or, just start with the Psalms and read one a day. One hundred and fifty Psalms will cover nearly half the year. Insert a Gospel reading as a supplemental. Make it a habit to be with God.
Pray more often: Set aside 5 to 10 minutes per day to pray. Maybe the best time for you in the morning, in the evening, or during lunch. Just talk with God about anything. Ask God to open your ears so you may hear him. Make it a habit to be with God.
Take on a ministry: Whether it is church-related or not, ask God how you can be used. What are you missing, in which you and God may work together to do something wonderful for God’s kingdom? Make it a habit to be with God.
Worship God every week: Whether you are an avid church attender or not, make it a priority to attend worship every single Sunday. Online or in the sanctuary, be in church. On vacation or resting on the weekend from work, be in church. Make it a habit to be with God.
I know that’s not quite a Top Ten List – it only covers five ideas to implement. As you work on those five above, five more ideas may come to you.
Hopefully, we get the picture that we all have to grow in our relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit, or else we will not grow at all. In this New Year, God is still molding and shaping us. God is doing a new thing right here and right now. We want to be a part of all that God is doing. We want a fuller awareness of who God is in us and around us. Use this New Year as the means by which we may grow in a rich, intimate relationship.
Never stop, even when January is gone. Keep praying and reading and serving and worshipping the One whose abundant life for us is always new.
Peace in Christ,
Rev. Dr. John