When Was the Last Time You Repented?

When Was the Last Time You Repented?

You cannot rightly call yourself a Christian if you haven’t repented. Do you recall the first time you repented before the Lord of glory? No feeling in life can transcend higher and be more satisfying than to be at peace with God. Yet, for many Christians, repentance is merely a thing of the past—something they did when they entered the family of God, but not something they do on a regular basis. Take this opportunity to pause and consider how the child of God should repent frequently—perhaps even daily.

The Privilege of Repentance

We were once enemies of God. That’s what Paul writes in Romans 5:10. Take time to let that thought sink in for a moment. We had rebelled against holy God and rejected his sovereign rule. We transgressed his holy law and walked in disobedience to his good commands. Yet, God graciously came to us and sought us when we were strangers wandering from the fold of God. It was sovereign grace and mercy that granted us the privilege of repentance. In our culture that’s saturated by “rights” that are demanded and expected, we must remember that God did not owe us the gift of repentance (2 Tim. 2:25). In Matthew 3:2, we are called to repent. The word repent is taken from the Greek term, “μετανοέω” which literally means to change one’s mind, to change direction as a result of conviction and remorse.”

Beyond salvation, the privilege of repentance is granted to God’s children on a daily basis. We have access to the throne of God and we have a glorious mediator who is none other than Christ the Lord (Heb. 4:16; 1 Tim. 2:5). Why would we have such privilege and access to God’s throne and forsake it? Has God and his throne become too common and casual for us that we have been tempted to neglect such privileges? What about the responsibility of repentance? Have we simply failed to obey God by avoiding repentance?

The Posture of the Christian Life

When rightly understood, the Christian cannot fulfill the Christian life outside of a proper posture of repentance. A life of pride and self-sustaining knowledge and power displeases God (James 4:6). When rightly understood it will be clearly seen that every area of your life is stained by sin and stands in need of repentance on a regular basis. Repentance is difficult because it requires us to be honest about ourselves and we don’t enjoy being honest about our own failures. John Flavel stated, “It is easier to cry against one-thousand sins of others than to kill one of your own.”

While justification is a one time legal declaration—a verdict that will never be repeated, sanctification is something that is in progress. The forward motion of sanctification demands repentance. When properly understood, even our worship stands in need of repentance. If we’re honest and if we undergo a proper examination, even our prayers stand in need of repentance. The totality of who we are is corrupted by sin.

The proper response to the sins of our flesh as we journey onward in this body of sin—is genuine and honest repentance. Without repentance, it’s impossible to walk with God. A.W. Pink once stated, “The Christian who has stopped repenting has stopped growing.” Who among us can honestly state that they have lived a life of genuine perfection since their conversion? Even the smallest sin stands in the way and holds us back from properly glorifying God and enjoying him forever. We must find ourselves turning to God regularly as 1 John 1:9 teaches.

When Paul found himself held captive once again in the grip of sin—he turned to God. He didn’t look inward to himself or to the outward world of psychology for a self-esteem boost. He looked upward to God. Notice Paul’s prayer at the end of Romans 7:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Rom. 7:24-25).

I once heard a man lament as he was looking at the schedule of a Christian conference. His complaint was that the upcoming session was going to be centered on John 3:16 and according to his thinking, he didn’t need to hear another sermon on that since he was already a Christian. Perhaps we have all been guilty at times of thinking that the gospel was only needed to save us, but it’s not needed to keep us faithfully walking with God. A person who rejects the need to repent is someone who is likewise rejecting their need for God. Without a walk that includes repentance, we cannot faithfully walk with God.

 

The Crisis and Comfort of Romans 7

The Crisis and Comfort of Romans 7

Yesterday, in our series through Romans, I had the privilege to preach the concluding verses (24-25) of Romans chapter seven. As you may know, the seventh chapter of Romans is one of the most difficult passages to interpret in all of Romans—indeed in all of the Bible. There are many questions to answer including identifying the “I” of the chapter and explaining the relevance of the law of God for new covenant Christians.

In the final verses, we see both the crisis and comfort of the Christian life—which was not only true for the Paul, but likewise, for all who follow Jesus Christ in this life.

The Crisis

After a lengthy and raw autobiography of his own struggle as a mature Christian who lives with tension between the law of God and the law of sin—Paul launches into a sincere confession, “Wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”

Paul’s crisis is often our crisis. However, Paul provided a true confession of his situation as he refused to sink back into sin or look inwardly for the solution. Paul understood that the answer to the crisis was external—and he likewise understood that he was greatly limited and unable to save himself.

Far too often Christians reach a point to where they become board with John 3:16. They believe that they’ve already cried out “wretched man that I am” at the point of salvation, why would anyone need to do that again? Isn’t that what 1 John 1:9 teaches? True believers, even mature believers, will often need to confess their sin to God and cry out in distress for deliverance. J.C. Ryle rightly states, “A right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity.” When was the last time sin in your heart scared you? When was the last time sin caused you to cry out to God for deliverance?

The Comfort

Paul finds his comfort in the none other than his Savior Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t turn to self-esteem or psychological counseling techniques in order to elevate his opinion about himself or his situation in life. Paul turned to the only true solution for his crisis—Jesus Christ the Lord.

Notice that Paul didn’t simply say, Jesus. He referred to Jesus as the Christ and the Lord. This is critically important because we know that Jesus means “Savior” and Christ means “anointed one of God.” On top of that, we see that Paul references Jesus as Lord—meaning “master, owner, sovereign.”

The exclusive hope for fallen sinners is Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The exclusive hope for guilt-plagued Christians is Jesus Christ the Lord. He is the sovereign Savior—the one who never leaves us and never forsakes us. That means when we find ourselves in the darkest night and overcome by the most intense guilt and shame of sin—the Lord will come to us as we cry out for help.

How does Jesus provide hope and comfort in this present evil world?

  1. Present Peace: As we live in this world, we live with the blessed assurance that Jesus has overcome death and that he alone can save sinners. What he began in us will be completed for his glory (Phil 1:6). There will be no drop outs along the way.
  2. Future Peace: Whether it be through physical death or the return of Jesus—we have the assurance of a future eternal peace as we will be separated from this body of death and will receive a new body at the return of Christ. That’s why Paul could say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Before we can enjoy the truth of Romans 8, we must first become honest about our struggle with sin and cling to the work of Jesus Christ our Lord as our hope now and for all eternity. We can likewise be encouraged to see that as Paul struggled in sin and found comfort in the Lord, so can we when we find ourselves struggling in our journey of faith.

Different Standards or Genuine Stumbling Block?

Different Standards or Genuine Stumbling Block?

In the Christian life, it’s not uncommon to hear someone referenced as a stumbling block. However, what exactly is a stumbling block and what is the difference between a genuine stumbling block and a violation of a person’s standards on a particular issue? In order to see the difference between the two, we must examine how the Bible uses both of these situations and compare them to one another.

Offending Someone

There is much in the New Testament about how a person should maintain healthy relationships within the church. For instance, in Ephesians 4:3, we find Paul urging people to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We should strive to walk together in peace within the church and to value our relationships in Christ Jesus. This is so important, notice what Paul wrote at the end of Ephesians 4:

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:25–32).

Some of these verses in this paragraph in Ephesians 4 are often used regarding how we treat one another in our home, especially between  husband and a wife in Ephesians 4:26 regarding not allowing the sun to set on your anger. However, this entire paragraph is contextually referring to the relationships within the church (although we can make application to how we treat one another in our home). The idea is that we should maintain love and healthy relationships and seek to walk in peace together for the glory of God—not giving the devil an opportunity to divide us and cause us to sin.

Stumbling Block

In the Bible, we see a few different types of stumbling blocks mentioned. First, we find the stumbling block used in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:14. That language is picked up and used in the New Testament to describe a person who causes someone to stumble in obedience to God. We see this as Peter questioned the crucifixion of Jesus and was subsequently rebuked for his words. While he was certainly not going to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, he could become a stumbling block, or a hurdle by getting in the way of God’s eternal plan.

Matthew 16:23 — But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

In another sense, the stumbling block can refer to a genuine opportunity to cause someone to stumble into sin. This is a serious place to find oneself. Consider Jesus’ sobering warning regarding those who caused the little ones to sin:

Matthew 18:5–6 — Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, [6] but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Consider yet another scenario where someone once struggled with a particular sin and by observing the actions or choices others—it opened a door for that person to flirt with their past sin enough to fall back into it again. We can see this in connection with the Jews who ate the meat sacrificed to idols while others were offended by it. Paul writes to the church at Corinth and says, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). While the meat itself didn’t contain demons nor was it contaminated as a result of being sacrificed to idols—it was the weaker brother who felt it was a violation of their conscience and could serve as an open door to sin and this is why Paul urged his fellow believers to abstain. Paul was consistently looking for the high road (2 Cor. 6:3) and provided a good example.

The Path of Wisdom

As it pertains to a genuine stumbling block, you may find that you have liberty and freedom to make certain choices, but if it could cause one of your brothers or sisters in Christ to sin—it would be best to not flaunt your freedom. The path of wisdom is a path of love that cares for others and looks out for the immature (weak) who could be harmed unintentionally. The path of wisdom is the high road that seeks to avoid controversy and looks for opportunities to build the church up in the faith as opposed to being a rogue believer who thrives on controversy.

It’s also important to consider the path of wisdom when your personal standards may differ from another brother or sister in Christ. Rather than approaching a situation as if you’re the weaker brother—it would be wise to simply agree to disagree on certain personal standards in order to prevent damaging relationships. Remember, the heart of legalism is the desire to bind someone’s conscience based on your personal standards rather than chapter and verse in the Word of God. Wisdom and love will allow us to pursue the high road.

 

Why Do I Feel Spiritually Dry?

Why Do I Feel Spiritually Dry?

Seasons of spiritual drought seize the heart and mind of Christians—far too often without notice. It’s often through a busy time of life that a person comes to the realization that they’re spiritually dry and in need of revival. What caused it? Was it the result of a spiritual attack or was it a self-inflicted wound? How can such a state of drought be avoided?

Isolation

One of the greatest ways to find yourself spiritually dry is by isolating yourself from the local church. It might be through over serving or it could be for lack of commitment to assemble with the gathered church for worship (and fellowship), but either way, you find yourself alone, discouraged, and lacking spiritually. This is one of the greatest tools of the enemy.

God never saved anyone and intended for them to be journeying alone. The Christian life involves community and this community is not a religious club. It’s far more than the gathering of people around athletics or other recreational outlets. The church of Jesus Christ is a body of believers who are united with Christ and as a result—united with one another in the faith. In short, every believer (no matter of age and spiritual maturity) needs other believers for the Christian life. There is a real, raw, and dangerous world that will suck the life out of you and consume you without the support, wisdom, and assistance of the gathered church.

One way to isolate yourself is by not showing up for church services altogether. This follows the pattern that’s condemned in 1 John 2:19, but there are more ways to isolate yourself—even while attending on a weekly basis. For instance, it’s possible to work with children to the point that you have zero interaction with other adults in the life of the church. That’s one form of isolation that you should avoid. It’s likewise possible to isolate yourself by intentionally avoiding everyone in the church by arriving just as the service begins (or a few minutes after) and sliding out just as the benediction is being offered. Such isolation can lead to a spiritual drought. Sometimes such isolation is intentional while for others it could be a total accident. Either way, it’s extremely dangerous for your soul.

Serving without Worshipping

While over serving is always a danger for the zealous Christian who desires to see his or her church reach certain goals, another danger involves serving without worshipping. There are several ways that a person can do this, and one obvious category is over serving. However, it’s also possible to be present in the room with the gathered church for the worship service and to serve through song, instruments, ushers, choir, door greeters, security, and various other ministry outlets within the worship service without worshipping.

It’s very possible to perform a duty or complete a job on a weekly basis while remaining isolated from the church and isolated from worship. We all want to say yes to serving when asked, but there are times when no would be more appropriate. Over serving is often a danger for larger churches, but it can likewise be a danger for smaller churches who don’t seem to have enough people to serve. I can recall a particular woman years ago who served faithfully and worked hard in her area of ministry in the church, but I noticed that she was rarely present with the gathered church body for worship. She was serving, but she was not worshipping. She and her family eventually left our church. This is not a unique example, sadly it’s far too common in evangelicalism.

It must be noted that worship is about us praising God, but it’s also about us knowing God. When we come to know God through his Word, we grow in Christ through the Scriptures. This is critical for all ages and levels of maturity within the life of the church and will be a consistent process until we stand in the presence of King Jesus. Worship is not about feelings and emotions—it’s about knowledge and the consistent pursuit of knowing God. Therefore, how is it possible to continue to pour out in service (teaching or other practical areas of service) without growing in the knowledge of God through His Word? It will result in a spiritual dryness and lethargy that overcomes a person in due time.

Harboring Sin

One of the most common and yet most deadly ways of reaching a spiritual drought is through the ongoing practice or harboring of sin. The Christian is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and is called to walk in newness of life in Jesus (Rom. 6:4). When Christians continue to harbor sin in their hearts, they become polluted spiritually and often this results in a lack of desire for God and his people (through your local church). People who walk in this pattern often find themselves having a lack of love for fellow Christians and a lack of patience in relationships. This pattern often leads a person to be grumpy and constantly finding ways to criticize leadership or other Christians in the church.

Another element of this problem involves the fact that it leads to isolation. When a Christian is living in sin, he or she often desires to surround themselves with unbelievers and as a result they find themselves having little time for God’s people. This is why it’s so dangerous to allow sin to remain in your life. The Christian is called to a life pursuit of God which involves the mortification of sin (Eph. 4:22-24).

Take time to evaluate your spiritual life and see if you’re serving on empty, harboring sin, or isolating yourself from the church. If so, you must remember that the enemy is crafty and is looking for ways to destroy you. Keep your guard up and draw near to the Lord.

The Unicorn Category: Carnal Christianity

The Unicorn Category: Carnal Christianity

How many thousands of people have repeated a prayer and publicly announced that they were a follower of Jesus Christ only to fall away back into the world? The answer to that question cannot be fully comprehended. Many estimate the number of false Christians to far outnumber the true Christian population which is a staggering thought to consider. Yet, it seems that was what Jesus communicated in Matthew 7:13-14 as he differentiated between the “many” and the “few” in relation to the false Christian and the true believer.

Throughout time, a certain category of Christianity has emerged under the name of carnal Christianity. This category is the product of a certain belief that claims it’s possible to have Jesus as Lord and Heaven as your home while living in open sin and remaining in love with the world. Not only is this a harmful belief system, it’s simply unbiblical. In short, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian. The carnal Christian is like a unicorn walking around in an open field—it’s an impossibility.

The Christian’s Call to Holiness

To be a Christian is to be a child of God. What God expects from his people is a life of holiness. As Peter stated, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) as he quoted from Leviticus 11:44. God has always had one goal for his people and it’s holiness. In Ephesians 2:10, we see Paul emphasizing the fact that God has before ordained that his people walk in good deeds (a life pursuit of holiness).

Far too often people miss the point of the Levitical laws. They turn them into a system of positives commands and negative prohibitions when in reality something far bigger is taking place. For instance, God was not merely forbidding the Israelites from enjoying a good BBQ sandwich in the dietary laws. God was positioning his people to be a distinct and separate people from the rest of the world. The Levitical laws were used to separate the people.

God is holy and has called us into a life of holiness. Paul urged the church at Ephesus to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). The pursuit of our lives should be on becoming conformed to the image of God rather than being marked by the world, the flesh, and the devil. That was our former way of living and we have been called out of that lifestyle. Listen to Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:2-3:

Ephesians 2:1–3 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Notice that Paul emphasizes that the believers in Ephesus (true about all believers regardless of geographic location) were once dead in their trespasses and sins. This spiritual deadness caused them to walk (a statement about lifestyle) in a manner that was following the prince of the power of the air (a title for Satan). This entire lifestyle is focused on satisfying the depraved passions of the flesh. It should be noted that Paul begins by describing this pattern of living by the believers in the past tense. In other words, before a believer’s conversion their lifestyle is carnal, but carnality is not the description of the believer in the present tense (after conversion).

According to Titus 1:8, the Christian is called to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” An undisciplined life centered on satisfying depraved cravings is not the picture of a pursuit of holiness. It’s the picture of a life that’s pursuing the world.

Conversion Results in Sanctification

When God saves a person, he not only saves that person from the penalty of their sin, but he likewise removes the shackles of sin and gives the individual victory over sin. Why would anyone believe that the God who can transport people into the his presence in eternity could not remove sin from a person’s life before they cross over the precipice of eternity?

The Christian’s life will be a constant battle against the flesh (Rom. 7). However, God calls the Christian to present himself as a living sacrifice—one that is holy and acceptable to God (Heb. 12:1-2). As a result of conversion, the child of God will love God more than the world or anything this world has to offer (1 John 2:15). As John makes clear, if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Sanctification is the progressive process whereby the child of God puts off the deeds of the flesh while putting on the clothing of holiness. Listen to how Paul describes this process in his letter to the church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:22–24 – to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Salvation should be viewed holistically rather than merely a compartmentalized focus on the soul. The work of salvation impacts the entire person, body, mind, and soul. The renewal of the mind comes as a byproduct of the changed heart at conversion. New desires and affections for God emerge which change priority lists, goals, lifestyles, and nearly every other detail of the human’s existence in this present evil world.

Conversion without sanctification is not genuine salvation. Carnality is not a description of a child of God. When a true child of God walks off the straight and narrow path—the Spirit of God will not allow that to be an ongoing pattern. There will be a chastening of the disobedient Christian that brings about correction. This process could come in form of a sermon preached where the Spirit deals with the sin internally resulting in repentance. It could be a private rebuke by a pastor out of love. It could come in form of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). For the obstinate, God has more severe methods of correction (Heb. 12:3-17). God will sanctify his people and Christ will have a pure bride.

Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”

 

Helpful Habits for Spiritual Health

Helpful Habits for Spiritual Health

I recall walking into my father’s room as a boy and seeing him sitting in the bed reading his Bible. It was his custom to read in the evening just prior to going off to sleep. When we traveled together, I recall him reading his Bible in the hotel room in the evening, at the beach condo, and in the tent while on a hunting trip. In fact, the habit of reading the Bible daily was something that I can recall my father doing and I also recall how he taught me to do the same thing (as he often encouraged a Proverb per day along with other readings).

When it comes to our physical health, doctors tell us that our eating habits will shape us (both externally and internally). If eating habits and exercise habits are important for the physical body, how much more are the spiritual habits of those who are children of God? Jerry Bridges once penned these words, “Habits are the thought and emotional patterns engraved on our minds. These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences on our actions – in fact, perhaps more so.” [1] We are called to a life of sanctification, always moving and always learning which will lead to a life that is always conforming to the image of Christ. In order to do so, we must develop good habits that will shape us in the journey of faith.

Bible Reading: If you read four chapters of God’s Word each day, you can read the entire Bible in a year. I remember David Miller (an evangelist friend) who has much of the Bible memorized telling me once that he went for a span of ten years reading sixteen chapters of God’s Word every single day. That allowed him to read the Bible in its entirety four times each calendar year. No matter if your goal is to read the whole Bible within the span of twelve months or to simply be reading the Bible everyday, it’s a good habit to form and it helps you worship God on a daily basis. Look for good plans (in both print and app version) to help you stay on track daily over at ESVBible.org.

Prayer: One way to commune with God on a daily basis is through his Word and that naturally opens the heart to pray. We must move beyond using God as a glorified bellhop to bring us answers to urgent needs or blessings to make our heart rejoice. We must carve out time to adore God and to thank him for what blessings we’ve already received from him. Consider how the habit of prayer will transform your life, your speech, your anxiety, and your worship.

Christian Fellowship: Far too much effort is placed on secular fellowship to the neglect of Christian fellowship. Read in the book of Acts and throughout the epistles and notice how often the church is spending time together in fellowship, prayer, breaking of bread, and all of this was on a daily basis. It really is true that the people you spend time with will shape you and leave a mark upon you. We need good marks and in order to be shape others and be shaped by others is to intentionally carve out time for Christian fellowship. How many times have you heard of someone in your local church complaining about not connecting well with others all while they spend more time complaining than they do intentionally inviting others into their lives. Christians need community and friendships that are robust and healthy—producing a higher fellowship than can be attained through a football gathering over pizza.

Journaling: You might not be the diary type, but a journal where you track your progress in prayer and Bible reading along with your own progress in the faith is a very healthy habit. In this journal, you might have some longer entries while others might be brief. At times you might just doodle and write down simple thoughts, but it will serve as a means of charting progress in the faith.

Fasting: One of the great disciplines in the Christian life is fasting. To go without food deliberately for the purpose of spiritual progress through prayer and Scripture intake can be enormously helpful in demonstrating the need for God over food. The body will scream for food, but as you continue to give your body more of God—you begin to settle into a sanctifying dependence that awakens holy affections and enables you to mortify sin.

Note Taking: Beyond the practice of journaling, the art of note taking can help a person connect thoughts and put on paper helpful nuggets of information that will increase learning and provide easier opportunities of discipleship. Some people prefer to use shorthand during note taking, but whatever works best for the individual should be the method while at the same time staying away from complete sentences when possible. There have been studies that link handwritten notes and the brain (especially in men) to a greater capacity of retain information.

Reading (other than social media): One of the best ways to grow as a Christian is to read good biblical literature. This would involve a good commentary and it could include resources such as technical, pastoral, and even study notes in a good study Bible. Going beyond the typical devotional reading is best. To take on a book on a particular subject by a reputable author is a good practice that will help you think through theological issues and increase your faith in God. If you don’t know where to begin, consider looking for a good reading list potentially on your church’s website or through another trustworthy ministry. You can always begin by asking your pastor for suggestions.

Serving: What a blessing it is to serve others. God has called us to serve and to exercise our spiritual gifts within the context of our local church, but we can go beyond to serve our community and those with needs in our community. It’s always a blessing to serve others and to give rather than to always be on the receiving end of such service. When it comes to the life of the church, do you show up expecting for others to serve you or do you have a desire to serve in and through your church? Faithful serving produces greater humility and prevents a selfish personality from developing.

Building a Vocabulary (especially theological): Have you been listening to a sermon from your pastor or a lesson from a Bible teacher in your church and couldn’t understand specific words he was employing? Rather than being frustrated with your inability to know the words, try jotting them down and making some effort to learn the words yourself? In fact, reading and searching through good dictionaries and theological concordances can help you build your theological vocabulary which will enable you to add additional layers of learning and discipleship as you grow as a follower of Jesus.

Exercise: It may sound crazy and a bit out of step with the rest of this list, but if you put effort into your mind and discipline yourself in discipleship, it would be a good idea to take care of your body too. Not only will a regular exercise routine decrease your stress levels and increase your physical health, it will enable your mind to think on the things you’ve been reading, the words you’ve been learning, the books you’ve been reading, and the sermons you’ve been taking in. In addition to this meditation, you can spend good quality time in prayer as you exercise. We should not neglect and harm the body that the Lord has given us. Better health leads us to a better quality of life and enjoyable ministry.

No matter what we do—whether we pray or journal or read—we must do all for the glory of God.