Mailbag

The Mailbag: God saved me out of a false “church” … what do I do now?

God recently saved me out of __________ “church” / religion. I’m not sure what to do next. I’m scared to start looking for a new church because I don’t know what to look for in a good church, and I’m afraid I’ll choose another bad one. And how do I “do” this whole Christianity thing, anyway?

I’ve received some variant of this question dozens of times, and it makes me so happy every time I do. God is still saving people, y’all! Doesn’t that thought just encourage your socks off and fill you with joy?

Whether it’s someone coming out of the New Apostolic Reformation, Mormonism, Catholicism, a liberal/progressive “church,” or the New Age, walking through the doors of biblical Christianity is thrilling, but can also be a bit daunting.

As someone who has been in church since my parents brought me home from the hospital, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around being new to the church and the things of Christ as an adult. It must be like landing on Mars, or at least in a foreign country where you don’t know the customs and don’t really speak the language.

When you’re doing something new, it’s always best to start by reading the directions. So here are a few basic directions that might be of help to you if you find yourself newly saved out of an unbiblical system and you’re not quite sure what to do next:

1.
Believe the biblical gospel.

The first priority is making sure you understand and believe the biblical gospel. I know you’re saying you’re saved, but, considering your background and my limited knowledge of where you are spiritually, and considering the fact that sooooo many churches and professing Christians do not know or rightly teach the gospel according to Scripture, I’m not sure what you’ve been told about how to be saved, or “become a Jesus follower,” or however it was put to you, but here’s the truth:

What must I do to be saved?

I strongly urge you – even if you’re 100% positive you’re saved – to take your time and slowly and prayerfully work your way through everything on this page to make sure you understand and believe what the Bible says about how to be saved.

Once you’ve done that, if you still need some reassurance that you’re saved, you might want to work your way through my Bible study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check-Up.

There are two reasons nailing down your belief in the biblical gospel is the first and most important priority:

  1. If you’re not genuinely saved, you need to be, or you’ll die in your sins and spend an eternity in Hell. Even if you think you’re a Christian.
  2. If you’re not saved, you’re not going to understand or accept the things of Christ, and pretty much everything in Christianity and the church is going to rub you the wrong way. First Corinthians 2:14 says: The natural [unsaved] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2.
Find a church.

The next most important thing is getting you into a doctrinally sound church where you can be taught God’s Word properly.

For Christians, membership in and faithful attendance at a doctrinally sound church is not optional, and is non-negotiable. The Bible knows nothing of “Lone Ranger” Christians. For 2000 years, even in places of harshest persecution, like first century Rome or current day North Korea, the church has found a way to meet together, even if it had to be in secret.

And yes, this means physically attending worship service and other gatherings, not watching it on Zoom, assuming you are physically/medically able to do so and a decent church within achievable driving distance is open. (If not, you’ll have to find another way to meet together with fellow Christians.)

(Notice, I did not say, “If you’re not afraid to go,” or “a church that’s nearby”. There are Christians in the world today who, every time they meet together, are risking imprisonment, torture, and execution. And some of them travel for hours in very primitive modes of transportation just to meet with the church. Prayerfully consider, just between you and the Lord, if you might need to sacrifice your fear or drive a bit longer for the privilege of meeting with His people. Jesus didn’t promise us a bed of roses. He promised us a cross. It’s time to pick it up and carry it. This is what we signed on for.)

Go to my Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Start your search for a church by reading all of the resources under What to look for in a church including all of the links contained in those resources.

When you’re finished with that, go back to the top of that page and use the search engines to find a good, solid church in your area. Personally, I would recommend starting with the Founders search engine first, then the The Master’s Seminary search engine, then the others.

When you’ve found a church, start visiting it. Set up an appointment with the pastor to ask any questions you might have. Prayerfully consider whether or not this church is a fit for you – a place where you can learn, grow, and serve. If it is, join it. If not, go back to the search engines and find another church to start visiting.

Helpful hint: You’re not going to find a perfect church. Churches are made up of imperfect saints who still sin and make mistakes. Find the best one you can and help make it better.

3.
Get plugged in.

Don’t just sneak in to the back of the sanctuary just as the Sunday morning worship service is starting and sneak back out during the final prayer.

Get invested in the life of your new church. Find a Sunday school / Bible study / small group class to join. Go to midweek services or prayer meeting. Go to fellowships and special events. Get to know people. Find a place to serve.

Be faithful in your attendance. Don’t just go only when you feel like it. Be there at least every Sunday morning unless you’re unavoidably detained. If you wanted to learn chemistry or math or underwater basket weaving, you’d show up for class, right? Well, if you want to learn and grow as a Christian, you’ve got to show up for church.

And if you ever have any questions, never be afraid to ask your pastor, elders, or teachers.

4.
Study up / Pray up

Bible study and prayer are crucial for the Christian. They help you grow, and they foster sweet fellowship with the Lord. Don’t let them loom as some big, scary, new thing that you don’t know how to do. They’re both very simple.

Prayer is simply talking to God. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Ask Him to help you and provide for you. Ask Him to help others. Thank Him for all He’s done for you. Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to forgive you. You might find some of my articles on prayer or my Bible study on prayer to be helpful.

Studying your Bible isn’t as hard as it sounds, either. Start by making sure you have a good translation. Then, pick a book of the Bible. Start at chapter 1, verse 1, and make your way through the book, verse by verse until you get to the end. Then start over again with another book. A few tips:

  • Many Christians find that about a chapter a day is a good amount to study, but take your time and study the amount of Scripture that seems to be a fit for you.
  • You might want to have a notebook and pen handy for jotting down any notes or thoughts that occur to you about the text as you’re studying.
  • If you’re new to studying the Bible, I would recommend starting by reading one (or maybe all four) of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – the first four books of the New Testament). Genesis is also a good book to read as you’re getting your bearings in Bible study.
  • If you need help studying your Bible, click the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. There are lots of resources to help you learn how to study the Bible, plus all the Bible studies I’ve written. My studies are designed to help you learn how to study the Bible in a “learn by doing” sort of way. Maybe you’d like to work through one of them until you get the hang of studying your Bible on your own.

In addition to Bible study and prayer, I would suggest reading the articles in my Basic Training series. This is sort of a “Christianity 101” series of articles. If you’re new to Christianity and the church, this should help explain some of the things we do, why we do them, and the proper biblical way they should be done.

I would also recommend that women read my Rock Your Role series of articles. This series explains what the Bible says about the role of women in the church.

Welcome to the family, and may God richly bless you as you seek to grow in Him.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat about it.

Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner
by Jennifer Buck

It’s not hard to find in Scripture the responsibilities of a wife and mother. We know what it is that we are and are not to be doing. The struggle comes when that which we are to be doing… for example, being the keeper of the home, doesn’t come naturally and we don’t easily find fulfillment in it. Often, those things that we are not to be doing… giving all our energy and attention to things outside of the home at the expense of caring for our home, does come more naturally and seems more fulfilling. What’s a woman to do?

We understand that the Lord created us with our specific talents, abilities, and natural inclinations. We also understand that the Lord created us for a specific task: being our husband’s help-meet and caring for the home are our first priorities. I am not saying a woman cannot work outside of the home, but even in that, she still has a God given sphere of responsibility first and foremost to, and in, the home.

So, why do we not all, as believing women, have natural talent and interest in cooking, child-rearing and helping our husbands? Sin obviously clouds our senses and that must be dealt with, but even beyond that, many women who desire to want those things… just don’t.

God did not create me with a flair for cooking, nor with a desire for all things kitchen related. Even as a kid, I would do the task my mother told me and after finishing the job I would immediately back out of the kitchen with an “OK, job’s done, you don’t need me anymore, right? OK, I’m gone now…” attitude. I hated the kitchen. When I looked forward to marriage, I knew that I would have to prepare meals, but I was content to wait until I had to. And I did. Early on I learned to cook and did what was necessary. My family was not showered with Martha Stewart meals and exotic desserts. We ate, and we ate well, but it didn’t go far beyond that.

Soon, however, that ol’ “I-hate-the-kitchen-and-kinda-resent-that-I-have-to-do-this” attitude crept in. I was a bit jealous of my friends who loved cooking, and kept the house well, and kept their kids doing all kinds of fun stuff, while I’m over here just wanting time to enjoy opportunities to do what I felt was more natural to my talents and desires.

Then one day, it finally hit this thick skull of mine. God has called me to a task. God did not give me the natural talent or desire to do that task to which he has called me. Do you know why? Because He determined for me that this task was to be my area of dependence upon Him. It certainly is only one of many, but this was not an area I would pick for lesson time. But, He picked it for me. It has become my opportunity to depend on God to find joy performing the tasks I dislike. This means as soon as the thought of “What’s for dinner?” hits my brain, right on its heels must be the prayer, “Lord, equip me for what You’ve called me to do, and give me joy in serving my family.” Every. Time. “What’s for dinner?” has become a trigger to prayer for me.

For those of you who approach the kitchen the same way I do, God did not deal us a bad hand. He has not withheld from us a necessary element for finding joy in our role. He did, however, fashion us in such a way that that joy will only be realized by depending on Him. This is actually a very good thing. Not only do we have the opportunity to find a deep appreciation in serving our families, we also learn how to depend on God. That’s the best 2-for-1 sale I can imagine!

So, my dear look-a-likes, don’t begrudge the Lord’s lesson of dependence. For those of you who delight being in the kitchen, you have your own areas of struggle. You have an area to which you are called and it competes with that to which you are drawn. That is your area of dependence. Learn it, and learn it well. You will not regret it, and your family will reap its rewards.


Jennifer and her husband, Tom have been married for 33 years and have 3 children. For the last 15 years they have been serving in Lindale TX, where Tom is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Jennifer loves to teach and encourage women in the truths of Scripture.

Holidays (Other)

40 Things to Give Up for Lent

Originally published March 3, 2017

Although, as a Louisiana girl, I’ve had a decades long love affair with king cake, and I totally support the increased availability of fish entrées at local restaurants and getting a few days off school or work, I’m not a big fan of Mardi Gras and Lent.

The intrinsic philosophy behind Mardi Gras – a day of revelry, indulgence, and debauchery to get it all out of your system before you have to start “being good” for Lent – is patently unbiblical.

The practice of Lent often is, as well. Lent is the forty day period, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday, observed by Catholics and some Protestants. Originally, it was simply a time of fasting, prayer, and worship in anticipation of Easter, and for Christians who continue to observe it this way, it can be a valuable and meaningful time of respite and renewal with the Lord.

For many, however, Lent – particularly the aspect of giving something up for Lent in an act of self-denial – is nothing more than an empty religious ritual, or worse, works righteousness. Giving something up for Lent because, “I’m Catholic and that’s what good Catholics do,” or to atone for your sins, or to curry favor with God, or to flaunt your self-righteousness flies in the face of grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone biblical Christianity.

If you give something up for Lent, why do you do so? If it’s for one of the aforementioned unbiblical reasons (or others), or even if you don’t observe Lent at all, I’d like to challenge us all to give up the things below for Lent:

1. Give up Lent for Lent.

2. Give up attending any church that requires the observance of Lent in a sacramental way and find a doctrinally sound one.

3. Give up thinking your good behavior earns you right standing with God.

4. Give up the idea that there’s any such thing as truly good behavior.

5. Give up thinking your good deeds could ever outweigh your sins.

6. Give up willfully indulging in sin as long as you “make up for it” later.

7. Give up the notion that penance or self-denial can pay for your sins.

8. Give up thinking that penance or self-denial curries favor with God.

9. Give up the idea that repentance and obedience belong to a certain season on the calendar. We are to walk in repentance every day.

10. Give up the concept that Christmas and Easter are Christian “high holy days.” We celebrate Christ’s incarnation and resurrection every Sunday, and should prepare ourselves all during the week. Every Sunday is a high holy day for the Christian.

11. Give up rote participation in church rituals. Search the Scriptures and see if they’re biblical first.

12. Give up thinking God concerns Himself strictly with your external behavior rather than the condition of your heart.

13. Give up “sounding a trumpet before you” with humblebrags on social media and in real life about giving things up for Lent, fasting, giving offerings, or any other good works you might do. You just lost your reward, baby.

14. Give up approaching church attendance as punching the time clock for God. The Christian’s entire life, our very beings, belong to Christ, not just a couple of hours on Sunday.

15. Give up the delusion that you’re basically a good person. You’re not.

16. Give up biblical ignorance and become a good student of God’s word.

17. Give up forsaking the assembly and become a faithful, serving member of your local church.

18. Give up thinking that everyone and everything that calls itself “Christian” actually is.

19. Give up the desire to have your itching ears scratched and long for the truth of God’s word. Even when it’s hard to hear.

20. Give up neglecting the daily study of God’s word.

21. Give up rejecting parts of the Bible you don’t agree with. We don’t sit in judgment over Scripture. Scripture sits in judgment over us.

22. Give up neglecting your prayer life.

23. Give up making excuses for failing to memorize Scripture. You can do it!

24. Give up being a non-serving member of your church.

25. Give up being a non-giving member of your church.

26. Give up thinking you’re hearing God speak to you. If you want to hear God speak to you, open your Bible and study it. God has spoken in His word and many are largely ignoring what He has already said.

27. Give up following false teachers and be a good Berean.

28. Give up being afraid to share the gospel and just do it.

29. Give up thinking you can please God apart from faith in Christ.

30. Give up basing your doctrine and beliefs on your own (or anyone else’s) opinions, experiences, and feelings, and base them on correctly handled Scripture instead.

31. Give up following your wicked and deceitful heart, take up your cross daily, and follow Christ.

32. Give up thinking you have to do big things for God in order for Him to be pleased with you and “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.”

33. Give up worrying and trust God.

34. Give up neglecting to fear God’s wrath if you don’t know Christ.

35. Give up fearing God’s wrath if you do know Christ.

36. Give up the idea that “God is love” means God is a pushover who won’t judge you.

37. Give up thinking you’ve been so bad that God could never forgive you.

38. Give up thinking you’re so good that you don’t need God to forgive you.

39. Give up refusing to forgive others when Christ has forgiven you so much.

40. Give up everything and be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and walk in His ways, all the days of your life, to the glory of God alone.

Mailbag, New Year's

The Mailbag: My word for the year is…

Originally published January 7, 2019

I can’t seem to find information on one topic that keeps coming up with women I am friends with. “One word” for the year. They are all waiting to “hear” from God what one word they need to focus on for the year. I have been asked what my word for the year is. I just think… the Word Of God is my word for every year. Do you happen have any links, resources, or input?

I wish there weren’t any links or resources on this, but, unfortunately, it looks like a small cottage industry – both secular and evangelical – is growing up around this unbiblical concept. (I’m not going to give anyone free advertising and website hits by providing their links.)

The idea is pretty simple. You pick (or God “speaks” to you) a word that represents some sort of change you want to see in your life and you focus on that word, especially during situations when you want to see that change manifest itself, for the remainder of the year. For example, if you want to be a more peaceful person, you might choose “peace” as your word for the year. You find some way to think about or meditate on the word “peace” every day, but especially in worrisome or chaotic situations, and that’s supposed to make you a more peaceful person by the end of the year.

The only problem with this is – as with so many things in pop evangelicalism – the Bible.

You will not find this practice taught, endorsed, or even mentioned in the Bible. In fact, I suspect this idea traces its roots back to some form of Eastern mysticism. It’s a modern day twist on repeating a mantra. And somebody thought it would be a good idea to “Christianize” it – so she slapped a thin coat of “this is how God can speak to you and work in your life” paint over the surface of it.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. You don’t just get to make up Christianity as you go along. That’s God’s job, not ours, and He already set it up exactly the way He wants it – in the Bible.

We know that God is not going to speak a certain “word for the year” to people for two reasons. First of all, extra-biblical revelation is unbiblical. God speaks to us through His all-sufficient written Word, not audibly. Which brings us to reason number two. Because God speaks to us through His written Word, and there’s nothing in His written Word about getting a word for the year, we can be certain that He’s not going to be whispering a word for the year in anybody’s ear.

OK, so let’s take the extra-biblical revelation component out of it. What if we go at it from a sanctification angle? Maybe I’ve noticed that I tend to worry too much, so I decide, for the sake of my own spiritual growth, that my word for the year is going to be “peace”, and I’m going to focus on that word this year?

Still not biblical. Not just because it’s not taught in the Bible (although that’s certainly reason enough), but for a host of other reasons as well.

For starters, we are not in charge of our sanctification, God is. He is the one who gets to decide what work He’s going to do in our hearts, and how He’s going to do that. And that’s a really good thing because He is infinitely wiser and more powerful than we are and He knows our hearts much better than we do. You probably won’t hear many of your girlfriends choosing words like “suffering”, “humility”, or “repentance” as their word for the year, but God knows that areas like these – the ones we often push back against with the greatest resistance – are the ones we usually need the most work on.

Next, sanctification isn’t linear. You don’t tackle peace, master it, then move on to patience, master it, and then move on to whatever’s next. And that’s how this “word for the year” thing is set up. This year, you choose the word “peace”. Next year, maybe you’ll choose “patience”, and so on. But what do you do when you get to the end of the year and you know you haven’t mastered peace yet? What then? Do you choose the word “peace” again? Give up on peace and choose another word?

Biblical sanctification is more like a big bowl of spaghetti noodles. Everything is all tangled up and inter-connected. At any given time, God could be working on one or five or a dozen different aspects of your character. And while you’ll rejoice when you occasionally look back over how much you’ve grown, you’ll never “master” any aspect of Christlikeness this side of Glory.

Finally, God has already prescribed our role in sanctification, and meditating on a particular word for the year is not even a little part of it. Our role in sanctification is to abide in Christ. How? We learn the “how” of abiding in Christ from studying our Bibles. John 15 offers us a little glimpse:

V.1: I [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Recognize that, as I mentioned, God is the vinedresser – the one who prunes, waters, fertilizes, harvests – not you.

V.2: …every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Bear up under pruning as God conforms you to the image of Christ. Cooperate with whatever He’s trying to do in your life by obeying Him, thanking Him, and realizing that He’s doing it to make you more fruitful.

V.4: As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Recognize and practice your dependence on Christ and His work for you and in you, not on a word you meditate on. You can’t be a fruitful Christian by coming up with your own way to grow in Christ. You can only do it His way.

V.7a: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you… To abide in Christ is simply to live for Him and commune with Him day by day. One of the ways we do that is to study “His words” – the Bible – so that those words will live in us. We ingest the words of Christ by studying our Bibles at home, with our Sunday School or Bible study class at church, sitting under good preaching at our church, and consuming other biblical materials during the week.

V.7b: …ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. If you’re abiding in Christ and His Word is abiding in you – what kinds of “whatever you wish” things do you think you’ll be asking Him for? Your foundational prayer to anything else you might ask for will be for God to be glorified and for Him to make you more like Christ. “Father, please heal me, but only if that will glorify You and make me more like Christ.” “Lord, I’d like You to take away this difficult situation at work, unless letting it continue would grow me to be more like Christ. Help me to glorify You no matter what.” Prayer is one of God’s prescribed methods of sanctification.

V.8: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Glorify God by bearing the fruit of the Spirit, displaying the fruit of obedience, harvesting the fruit of evangelism, and by doing so, displaying for the world what a real disciple of Christ looks like in order to point them to Him.

V.10,12,14: If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…You are my friends if you do what I command you. Obey Christ’s commands and love one others the way He loves you. That’s the heart of your role in sanctification. It’s an outward focus on how you can bring Him glory in any situation by obeying Him and loving others with a die-to-self love rather than a navel-gazing, self-centered, inward focus on “How can I be a better me?”.

V.11: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Don’t forget the joy! What joy is there in a word that you focus on? How can you quantify whether or not you’re a better person at the end of the year and derive joy from that? Sanctification God’s way offers instant, daily gratification in the joy department. Joy dwells in us because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Joy wells up when we see the hand of God at work in our hearts and lives, when He answers prayer, even just from spending time with Him in His Word, worship, and prayer. Joy is communion with a Person, not satisfaction over a job well done of pulling yourself up by your own boot straps.

This “word for the year” thing is not necessary, it’s not biblical, and it kicks God out of His rightful place of authority in sanctification and attempts to put self in the driver’s seat. You’re on the right track with your thinking. When someone asks you what your word for the year is, just hold up your Bible and tell her, “All of these.” After all, Christ gives us abundant life. Why would we limit ourselves to one measly little word when we can study all of God’s words?


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

New Year's

Sanctification > Resolutions: 6 Ways God Could Sanctify You in the New Year

Originally published January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

There’s just something about the beginning of a new year that brings with it a yen for getting a fresh start. We think back over the past year, evaluate what we’ve spent our time and efforts on – or what we should have spent our time and efforts on – and, invariably, there’s a desire to make this year better.

Lots of people will make lots of resolutions on January 1: to lose weight, to stop smoking, to exercise more. And by mid-February, some 80% of those people will have failed and given up on their resolutions.¹ Why? Partly because (statistically speaking) most of those people are lost and the flesh is exceedingly hard to tame by sheer “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” willpower. Even Holy Spirit-indwelt Believers can testify to the pull of the flesh.

Should we, as Christians make New Year’s resolutions? Is it OK to set a goal to get a certain area of our lives under better control? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, is it possible there’s a bigger picture we need to take a look at?

The Christian life is not one of putting out fires via resolutions. We don’t tackle one problem, get it under control and then move on to each of the other five problems that popped up while we were working on the first one. It’s more like fire prevention. We get up every day and hose down the house and yard by resting in Christ, communing with Him through prayer and the Word, and seeking to obey Him throughout the day. Sanctification is not mainly reactive, it’s proactive. And it doesn’t come by our own outward effort and striving, but by Christ growing us, changing our hearts, and enabling us to obey Him from the inside out.

And guess what? Along the way as Christ is conforming you to His image, you’re going to fail. You’re going to give in to temptation, and you’re going to sin against your Master. But here’s what biblical sanctification offers you that New Year’s resolutions cruelly withhold:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

You don’t just get a fresh start once a year. You get a fresh start every time you confess your sin, repent, and receive Christ’s cleansing and forgiveness. You get the mercy of Christ, the grace of God, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to move forward in submission to God’s Word. You get the steadfast, never ceasing love of the  Father who is out for your good rather than the unfeeling “do more, try harder, be better” taskmaster of New Year’s resolutions.

So, bearing all that in mind, how might God be trying to grow you in Christlikeness this year? What are some ways you can get up each day and proactively rest in, and obey Christ? Let’s prayerfully consider the following aspects of our walk and ask God to sanctify us and help us submit our will to His as we follow Him in this new year.

Growing in the Word

1. Daily personal Bible study. Do you set aside daily time for the personal study of God’s Word? Have you ever read the Bible from cover to cover? Have you considered, maybe just for this year, putting away all of the Bible study books and materials authored by others and using only the Bible during the next 365 days of your personal study time? Evaluate your daily time in God’s Word. Here are some resources you might find helpful:

📖 Bible Study Resources (how to study the Bible)
📖 Bible Studies
📖 Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2021
📖 You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

2. Scripture memorization. This is something God has gotten a hold of me about recently. It’s important to store up God’s Word in our hearts as a weapon against temptation, for comfort, for prayer, and to encourage others. Try starting with verses you’re already somewhat familiar with. Many find it easier to memorize Scripture in song form, or by typing it out. If your pastor is preaching through a certain book, memorize a verse or passage out of each chapter as he comes to it. I’ve found it helpful to recite my verses in my head in bed at night. It helps me fall asleep faster, and there’s actually research that shows retention is improved if you study right before bed.

Growth In Prayer

3. Daily prayer time. Of course we should be talking to the Lord throughout the day as we go about the routine of life and work, but that’s not a substitute for having a daily block of time set aside for focusing all of our attention on communicating with God. Jesus set this example for us, and we should follow it. Do you have a daily time of prayer? Do you know how to pray in a way that’s pleasing to God and helps you grow in Christ?

🙏 Prayer
🙏 After this Manner Therefore Pray
🙏 Basic Training: 8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer
🙏 Sweet Hour of Prayer (Bible study on prayer)

Growth in the Body of Christ

4. If you don’t have a church, find one. Physically gathering with the Body of Christ for worship, teaching, fellowship, prayer, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, giving, serving – and so much more – is not optional. It’s vital to your growth in Christ.

 Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians
 Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly
 Searching for a new church?

5. Faithful church attendance. At a minimum, Christians should be at Sunday morning worship and Sunday School/Bible study class/small group every week unless Providentially hindered (circumstances beyond your control: illness, emergency, the rare out of town trip, occasionally having to work). That’s not legalism, that’s loving the Bride of Christ and having your priorities in line with Scripture. Contrary to popular metrics, habitually missing Sunday worship twice or more a month (when you could be there if you made it a priority) is not faithful attendance. If you’re lackadaisical in church attendance, examine your heart. What’s going on in your spiritual life that’s keeping you from wanting to gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ? (And if it’s a problem with the church itself, see #4.)

6. Don’t just “go to church,” invest yourself in it. Are you serving your church in some capacity? Do you regularly and fervently pray for your church, your fellow church members, and your pastors, elders, and teachers? Have you poured yourself into personal relationships with others at church for fellowship, care, and discipling? Do you regularly, sacrificially, and joyfully give offerings? Are you sharing the gospel with the lost? As with anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. God loves you and wants you to invest yourself in His Bride for His glory and for your joy.

⛪ The Servanthood Survey
⛪ Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others
⛪ Servanthood
⛪ Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor
⛪ To Tithe or Not to Tithe…
⛪ Evangelism
⛪ 10 Fun, Practically Effortless, and Free Ways to Do Missions and Evangelism

How might God want to conform you more to the image of Christ this year? Could it be in one of these areas? Maybe another area? New Year’s resolutions are often about how you want to shape your life. Sanctification is about how God wants to shape your life. Not just for the new year, but for eternity.


¹Luciani, Joseph. “Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.” U.S. News & World Report. December 29, 2015. Web. December 29, 2017.