growing

Growing in Faith

You want to grow in the things of God, so now what? The first step is to purchase a copy of the best selling book on the planet -the bible – God’s holy word. This is the owner’s manual that God gave to us to show us how to live our lives. In it, you will find everything you need to know about how to get the most out of life. You will learn how to handle your finances,parent your children,be a good husband or wife.

If you don’t currently own a bible, I would suggest purchasing one at a Family Christian Bookstore or other Christian bookstore where you can browse through the huge selection and find a version that speaks to you. There are so many different versions including the New International Version, the Message, the Amplified, The New Living Translation. You might want to do some research on line as to the types of bibles and each one’s advantage. There are also many wonderful study bibles that will tell you more about the history of the world when that particular book of the bible was written.

Reading from the bible each day is an important habit if you want to really move forward in the things of God. Set aside five, ten or fifteen minutes each morning before the craziness of the world and read. You might want to read a chapter from the Old Testament and then a Chapter or two or three from the New Testament. You might find getting up fifteen minutes earlier than you presently do to be the best way to “find the time” to read the word of God. Once you realize the power, strength, comfort and peace you receive from reading God’s word each morning, I guarantee you -you won’t miss the extra zzzzs.

The Bible is available on audio version so that you can listen to it on your way to work. There are also many websites and phone apps that allow you to take the word of God with you. If you are struggling with a certain issue – say fear,you can check the Concordia in the back of many bibles or an on-line version and read the specific scriptures which deal with the issue you are dealing with in your own life. Use a yellow highlighter to mark the scriptures that especially speak to you or keep a scripture journal so that you can repeat the scriptures that resonate with you. You might want to try and memorize one verse a day or a week. For instance, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” Say that everyday for a week straight and see if you don’t start believing it.

If you don’t go to a church, pray about which church you should attend. Many people shop churches like they would a new pair of shoes. They visit and visit and visit and as soon as one thing is said they don’t like, they are on to the next church. They never get planted. They want the perfect church – run by a perfect pastor – filled with perfect people. Let me burst your bubble. There is no perfect church. There is no perfect pastor. There are no perfect churchgoers. We are all imperfect. We have all sinned. We all make mistakes. Churches are hospitals for the sick. Don’t hesitate to start attending church because you have messed up. I will tell you that everyone you sit next to is also messed up – they might just hid it better. We are all in various stages of being messed up.

I strongly believe in asking God which church to attend because attending church is a two way street. The church will put something into you, and you will add something to that church. There are different seasons of our lives, and often times God will lead us to change churches when He wants us to sit under a different teaching for the plan He has for us or wants to use us in a different church. God has given us all specific gifts and talents, and He moves those gifts and talents at times. When I lived in Virginia most of our development worked for IBM. Many of the IBM employees teased that IBM means “I’ve been moved” and not International Business Machines, because of their penchant for moving their employees. God’s kingdom operates no differently.

Ask for the wisdom of Solomon. Look for a church that preaches the word of God. Ask for confirmation of the church God has for you. Seek His will. Learn to hear the small inner voice. Pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Learn more about the church you are thinking of attending. Find out what they believe. See if they have a class for people wanting to learn more about their mission and vision. Don’t be a church hopper. Seek God’s will for your church attendance and then become a member. Get planted. Continue to pray for how God want’s you to participate.

Join a bible study. Studying the bible in a small group is a wonderful way to really dig deep into God’s word while making new friends who will support and guide you. Find out what bible study groups are offered by your church. Many churches offer a separate bible study for women only, men only, seniors or couples. Maybe God has been speaking to your heart for years to start your own bible study in your place of business before hours or in your local neighborhood – well do it. Set the date and time and start inviting – God will do the rest. Are you hearing a break out of the Hallelujah chorus right now as you make the decision to set the date and make the calls? God has been waiting on you to the obedient to this call in your heart that was placed there years ago. Don’t waste time apologizing for not moving faster – just move fast now!

Pray Together

Even if you join a small group bible study, nothing can take the place of having a prayer partner. The word says “whatever two or more bind on earth is done in heaven.” Whether you meet for a few minutes or call each other on the telephone and pray, having a prayer partner is the greatest blessing. If you are struggling with overcoming an addiction, debilitating grief or fear or dealing with marital or financial difficulties, having one person you can trust to share you inner struggles with in the strictest confidence and be accountable to is often a life saver – sometimes quite literally.

Keep a prayer journal. This would be even more helpful if you both you and your prayer partner did this. Write down when you start praying for a particular concern such as a child who is dealing with a drug addiction. Put the date next to it and pray until you can make the entry “answered.” By doing this with big and small prayer requests, you can start to see God’s faithful in your life.

Your prayer partner and you can pray not only for your own concerns, but the needs of those around you – the co-worker at the office whose husband is ill with cancer, the person in your community whose child recently died, the couple on the next block whose house burned down, the people in a foreign country who just experienced an earthquake. There are times where you won’t really know the power of the prayers you have prayed in this life but I guarantee you, you will in the next. God hears our prayers. The bible says “the prayers of a righteous man avail much.” Praying for others not only helps others, it helps us. It builds our spirit. It strengthens our souls. Kind of like what push ups do for our physical body but without the sweat.

Pray with your spouse each morning. Five minutes will make a world of difference especially if you are dealing with the grief and loss of a child. We especially like to read a Psalm out loud. My husband picks one and reads it, and we claim it as God’s word for us that day. It is a good way to seek God’s will for you as a couple. To confess our wrongs to each other by confessing them to God. Our prayers are not always serious. Sometimes we just laugh, because we find it just so comical that God put us together that laughing is all that we can do.

When we hold hands and bow our heads and pray for our lives, we feel strengthened that despite the fact that we are literally and figuratively “The Odd Couple”Felix and Oscar, Mutt and Jeff, the Tortoise and the Hare – God is in the middle of it all working out His plan. The closest to heaven I get on this planet is when I sit on my husband’s lap when we ask God for His will to be revealed or when I walk along the beach early in the morning and just tell God what a good job He did making this earth. Hey, everyone wants a pat on the back sometimes!

Listen to Christian music. I am in my car five to six hours each day as I drive from client to client. I listen to Christian music all day long. I sing. I worship God. I have church. I love channel 63 the Message on Sirius Radio. There are so many great Christian music stations as well as those that have great Christian speakers such as James Dobson. Go to the Christian bookstore and purchase a cd that will encourage you and uplift you as you fight through the battles of life. There are many wonderful Christian television shows as well. Joyce Meyers is always spot on as far as I am concerned. If what a speaker is saying on TV does not sit well with your soul, change the channel. Just because they have a TV show, doesn’t mean they are the speaker you should be listening to – especially if they talk more about you sending money than anything else. Don’t judge all Christians because of a few bad apples, or as they used to say, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Start A Library

The Christian bookstore is loaded with books which will help you learn and grow at every stage of your spiritual journey – whether you are a brand new believer and just started walking with the Lord today or are a long time believer wanting to move forward and do great things for the kingdom. Our church gives out a book by Randy Hurst called “Following Christ, a Guide for New Believers.”

Some other great books for new believers include “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel for those looking for historical proof as to the sonship of Jesus Christ, “What’s so Amazing about Grace” by Philip Yancy, “Crazy Love” by Frances Chan and “Six Hours on a Friday” and “He Still Moves Stones” by Max Lucado.

Purchasing a day by day devotional is money well spent. There are so many to choose from. The Daily Bread devotional is a great one, and you can often times find this one for free at Christian bookstores and at churches. Many church denominations have created their own devotionals.

Beth Moore has some great books and workbooks dealing with some of the biggest life challenges to overcome including incest and fear. You can purchase her resources at local bookstores or online. You can study by yourself, with a partner or with a small group.

The resources available to those seeking the Lord and his Will are almost incomprehensible. This is “Simon Says” time. Just start. “Simon Says move your right foot forward.” Do that, and the next step will become apparent. “Hey, did you hear me. Move your right step forward. That means you.” Just like you don’t get in shape watching an exercise video while eating Bon Bons on your couch – you don’t move into the plans God has for you without some training and preparation.

So you decide. Are you the weekend warrior or the athlete going for the gold? If you know you are late getting out of the starting box, don’t fret. Lace up your sneakers now and get moving now. There is a lost and hurting world that needs YOU!

For me. I want to be everything God has intended for me to become. I don’t want to miss one thing God has ordained for me to accomplish. I don’t look left or right as to what He wants the person to my right or my life to do. I look forward at the path He has set before me. That is my only concern. That should be your only concern. God’s path for YOU. At the end of my life I want to hear “Well done good and faithful servant.” How about you?