Okay, I'm a Christian...
I didn’t grow up as a Christian. I had an idea of who Jesus was and understood somewhat that he died for my sins, but that was about it… Be a good person, do to others what you would have them do to you kind of stuff. But actually knowing Jesus and how to “hear” from God. yeah.. not so much.
My conversion to Christ came out of despair and relationship. 1. I was a drug/alcohol abuser and was heading down a slippery slope while serving in the military. I had many “friends” who were getting busted all around me for drugs. I got scared. 2. I started spending time with someone in my company who was a Christian. Long story short, his investment of time in my life produced incredible spiritual capitol. My life was changed forever. But it had to start somewhere. The big thing for me was… Okay. I’m a Christian… Now what??
So, where does one get started in the Christian life? How can we grow and get to know God better? These were some of the very first questions I asked myself as I began my relationship with God. Maybe they’re similar to the ones you’ve been thinking about. I knew so little about the things of God that I had a hard time even trying to explain what I was trying to understand! I was afforded some great opportunity when I first got “saved” (that’s a church word used for someone who has given their life to Christ). I now just like to say I am a follower of Christ… I may not be a perfect one, but I am a living one! Here are a few things I learned that got me started almost 30 years ago and I hope they can/will be helpful for you as well.
So, the first step: What is God saying to me?
Listening to God
2 Timothy 3:16 says,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That is why we need to spend time reading the Bible every day. If we want to hear from someone, you have to be in the same room (okay, phones etc. you get the point). If you don’t have a Bible that’s easy to understand, there are SO MANY OPTIONS. It can be confusing to know where to go and what to get. I like to recommend THE BIBLE APP They have so many different translations (that is people who have translated from one language to another and there are a few different places/professors/scholars who have done that). Some suggested translations I’d start with are English Standard Version, The New Living Version or The Message. Begin with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. (This Book, sometimes referred to simply as “John”, is the fourth book in the New Testament, near the beginning, not to be confused with 1 John, 2 John and 3 John, found at the end of the New Testament.) Use a journal or pad of paper to write down things that are sticking out to you. Answer these two questions for each chapter: What is the one thing that stuck out to me the most and what am I going to do about it? This will help you in the “hearing” part I talked about earlier. How awesome will it be to actually read something about and from God and be able to say you heard him speak directly to you!!!
When we read the Bible we learn how loved we are by God.
1 John 3:1 (The Message) What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.
We learn that we are entirely new people because we’ve invited Jesus to be our Savior (I like to think of the word Hero to really make it hit home) and Lord (meaning what he says goes!). Check out Ephesians 1:3-14 (The Message) and spend a moment listing all the things that are true of you as a Christian. Amazing, isn’t it?
3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
1. Talk to God
It seems that prayer is always such a scary place for people. Will I do it correctly? Is there a certain style or way? Prayer is such a vital aspect to a healthy walk with God. If you have a brother or sister, a best friend, a husband or wife… It’s easy to think of things to talk about and have a conversation. It is simply that easy. A conversation. Sometimes in a conversation there is a talking part and other times there is a listening part. Think of it, we can talk with and hear from GOD! Anytime, anywhere, any mood, anyway, good or bad! Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God will never leave or forsake us. That’s good news for some of us who have never known that kind of love and commitment. Well, we do now…because God does not lie or change his mind (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). And because He is always with us we can always talk with Him. Prayer is simply talking to God. No religious tones or words necessary. Psalm 62:8 tells us to “pour out your hearts to God.”
There is an acronym, ACTS, which I’ve found helpful when learning to pray. If you’ve never prayed, it can feel a bit awkward to begin, but using the ACTS process may help out a bunch!
ACTS: FREE!! Cool graphic image to help you remember. CLICK ABOVE
Adoration…is where we praise God for who He is: loving, good, kind, understanding, gracious, etc. As you read the Bible and write down the things you are learning about God, you will have more and more to praise Him for. Also, you could begin to read a Psalm a day – takes about 3 to 5 minutes – and praise God for how each Psalm reveals new dimensions of His character and ways.
Confession…is a key component to growth. Sin clogs up our fellowship with God. It’s missing the mark. This is where we lay out all the sin on the table that has kept you from fully following God. (that missing the mark moment or clog). Confession isn’t so much telling God something He doesn’t already know, as much as it is agreeing with God about the disobedience and absolving to change it with His help. Look up 1 John 1:9. Then read Psalm 32:3-5 about the consequences of unconfessed sin and how to deal with it.
Thanksgiving…is when we just say thanks to God for all He has done. Again, the Psalms are a great place to head to be reminded of all He has done for us. Use the psalmists’ words as your own. It’s a good way to learn to just talk with God.
Supplication…is where we pray both for ourselves and for others in our lives. You can keep a prayer journal and watch progress. Pray specifically, expectantly and faithfully. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us that if we pray according to God’s will, He will hear and answer. But, you ask, “How do I know God’s will?” That takes us back to where we began…to reading His word.
Being a part of a Gospel Family
2. Living in community
This is simply called fellowship, hanging out with other people who love Jesus. It is for purposes of growing together (Acts 2:46-47). Many of us will need to make new friendships and learn how to have fun in different sorts of ways. By spending time with believers, our behaviors begin to change and we learn what older believers look and act like (discipleship).
3. Living on mission
You may have heard this referred to as witnessing. One of the main guys in the New Testament, Paul, writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
For me, I just had to tell my friends about my new relationship with Christ! Because He’d changed my life, forgiven me and loved me in a way I never knew was possible, I wanted others to have what I did. Sure, not everyone was as excited about the whole thing as I was, but my desire was so strong. You don’t have to be an extrovert to talk about your experience... Just share it.
Well, that is a starting point. There is no perfect way or method, but I’ve found this helpful and hope it helps you as you go along your journey. Feel free to reach out to us here at #GodsGotThis if you need help finding a faith family in your area……. And for crying out loud, have fun!!!