In the current issue of Day by Day with God
Find out more about Day by Day with God January to April 2014:
What makes Christians stand out from the crowd? We certainly don't all look the same. We speak different languages. We worship in a huge variety of different ways. We often interpret scripture differently. But Jesus is the crucial common factor - and, because of Jesus, Christianity is different from every other religion.
Jesus is the only human being who has died and come back to life, permanently. He has no death date and he promises his followers the same future, not as a reward for a good life but as a gift. We start our year looking again at Jesus, the 'author and perfecter of our faith' (Hebrews 12:2, NIV). John the Baptist was among the first to recognise Jesus as Messiah, and Rosemary Green will be turning our focus to John later in January. As Rosemary says, John put Jesus centre-stage. Jesus went on to change the lives of an unruly mob of first-century followers. His life, death and resurrection take centre-stage in all of history, and our lives are transformed as we follow him and find identity, purpose and hope in him.
This transformation is not a secret to keep to ourselves. He commissions us to follow him in making disciples, introducing others to this transformed life. This year, churches throughout the UK are working together to share the hope we have because of Jesus. Branded as HOPE 2014, it's a year when churches are working together in mission in villages, towns and cities. This mission is expressed in ways that are as diverse as the people involved - old and young, black and white, urban and rural, high church, low church and everything between. They are all followers of Jesus, seeking to put faith into practice both in action and in words.
As you start this year, join me in focusing afresh on Jesus and let his life bring meaning and purpose to your year as you put your trust in him.
Jesus, our hope
John the Baptist
Coping with fear and anxiety
19 January-1 February
Characteristics of a growing church
16 February-1 March
The Spirit of power
30 March-12 April
Fiona Barnard is a TEFL teacher and staff member of Friends International. She works with international students, encouraging local Christians to reach out in friendship and witness.
Catherine Butcher has edited Day by Day with God since 2003. She loves using words to help Christians grow spiritually and put faith into practice. She and her husband Adrian have two teenage children and live in Sussex.
Lyndall Bywater lives in Canterbury with her husband, her housemate, her assorted guide dogs and a cat. She is passionate about prayer: writing about it, promoting it and training people in it.
Rosemary Green is active in her local church, in which she leads a pastoral care team. She has four children and 14 grandchildren.
Chris Leonard lives in Surrey with her husband. With two children recently married, she remains busy leading creative writing courses and holidays. Her 20th book was published in August 2013.
Michele Morrison is a freelance writer. She is published frequently in Woman Alive and has written three books. She moved from California to Scotland when she married, and has four grown-up children.
Elaine Pountney coaches Christian leaders to integrate all the pieces of life and to move toward deeper levels of wholeness. Elaine is an international speaker and author, lives in Canada and loves hanging out with family, especially learning from her grandchildren.
Sharon Prior is a freelance trainer, mentor and leadership coach. She is passionate about seeing people, especially women and girls, enter into their God-given potential. She is very involved in her local chuch and likes to cook, read and walk in the Peak District near where she lives.
Alie Stibbe has been a freelance writer and translator for almost 20 years. Her books have included Barefoot in the Kitchen and A Spacious Place. She lives in Watford, works at several jobs, and is an active member of Watford Community Church.
Ann Warren began her career working with the BBC as a producer and script writer, subsequently training as a pastoral counsellor and life coach. She was a regular contributor to the Church of England Newspaper and has written a number of books.