A "Quick Start" Guide
A New Life through Spiritual Birth
Every power tool comes with one of these nowadays and you’ve just been entrusted with some of the most powerful tools in the universe: the Word of God, the Name of Jesus, the indwelling Spirit, the righteousness of Christ. That's a ton of divine equipment! You could be “armed and dangerous” as a warrior for the Lord, but first you’ve got to figure out how the thing works.
Now may the God of peace... equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV
Four for the Road
Before you head out into that wide world, be sure to load up on these necessary items for your journey. There’s a whole lot more to it than this, but these pointers will get you going in the right direction. Why wear yourself out yanking on the crank of a lawn mower, when maybe you need to fill the tank or switch it on first?
Many things in the spiritual life won’t come to you naturally or automatically. Learning to slow down and listen to a friend trying to advise you is a choice. Let these pointers from your "quick start guide" become good friends.
Item 1: Five Crucial Reminders
1) Keep the main thing the main thing — keep your focus on Jesus.
2) He loves you — trust Him
3) He is your Lord — follow Him
4) He is your Teacher — listen to Him.
5) He is your Savior — call on Him (whenever you have a need, or lose the peace, etc.)
Item 2: Two Key Acquisitions
There are a few things that you will need to get right away, or at least make consistent, determined headway on trying to get them:
1) A Bible
This is a must. We live by faith. Without a vibrant faith our spiritual life withers and dies. Faith is grown by feeding it the life-giving Word of God. We also live by truth. Scripture is our “one stop shop” where truth is concerned: Jesus is the Word of God. His Word lightens our darkness, shows us our path, and strengthens us to walk in it. Through the scriptures we are trained in the many ways of worshiping God “in Spirit and in truth” which Jesus says the Father greatly desires.
2) A Church
Church will introduce you to the "Big Five" Connecters that every Christian needs in order to grow into the person Jesus created them to be—and train you in the ways of staying connected. Church is much bigger than the local church and it is not confined to or defined by the building, but that is a great place to start. Church is people like you, flawed but seeking to be faithful, whom the Father has gathered out of the world to prepare as "bridal lovers" of His Son and "gospel warriors" to rescue others trapped in darkness.
Item 3: Top Two Strategies
Yes, this is a love affair, but you definitely need a strategy to keep it on track. Even human level loves require some work to keep them within healthy boundaries and to keep the communication open and strong. This love requires extra vigilance, because a) you have an enemy gunning for you, b) you have a fallen nature just waiting to take you down; and c) you're still a babe in the woods.
1) Trust and Obey
You really can't do better than this one in seeking a principle of simplicity that you can hold in your head and that will orient your heart. By the way, it also helps you fulfill the top two commands Jesus requires of us—to love God (by trusting God) and to love others (by doing things His way).
2) Stay Connected!
Since our top strategy is to trust Him so that we can also follow Him, it stands to reason that we need to stay well-connected to Him. The "Big Five" Connecters are Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship, service. Go to a good church: They will help you get these five going.
Item 4: Top Three Questions
Good communication is the life blood of any relationship. With the Lord our communication can take two main forms: polite or pressured. Set times of prayer and praise, talking over how things are going, thanking Him for His blessings represent ways of coming to the Lord "politely." We can also go to the Lord under the pressure of events, such as our frequent need for forgiveness or for help. Daily life gives us limitless opportunities to develop a full-bodied conversational relationship with Jesus over matters of pressing concern to us. The following three essential questions will grow a great conversation:
1) Jesus, What do you want me to do today?
Maybe all your life you only wanted to find out what you really wanted to do and find the best way to do it. But you are under new management now. Now that Jesus has been revealed, the only honorable and wise thing to do is go to Him for His leadership. He is still asking people everywhere to "leave their nets" and "follow Him." And why not? No one else in the world, not even your dog or your best friend, not even you on your wisest day, can hold a candle to the love He has for you and the beauty of the plans He has for your life, if you would only learn to let Him lead you into them. The key is our willingness to surrender. This is a daily practice. Sometimes it may seem like a duty; but do the duty for Him and He will make it into a delight--every time!
2) Lord, What are You trying to show me?
There is always something to learn and now that you are connected to the greatest Teacher alive, you can go to Him for instruction and insight concerning the things in your life that don't make sense or don't respond to your efforts to fix them.
3) Lord, How should I respond to this?
Jesus is always ready, willing and able to help us keep our old emotional reactions to people and events in check. We learn to reign in the old ways and go to Him for the new ones! His ways of handling things really work. Not only that but if we do things His way, we get to live in His peace as we go along. This beats the pants off getting stressed up because our old ways aren't working.
No one does these things perfectly—only the Lord is perfect—but if you do them sincerely and steadily, you will make good progress and stay on the right path while you’re at it. You now have a deeply rooted desire to grow spiritually (can you sense it?). Just as the Holy Spirit gives an infant or toddler a desire to grow and learn (though they are certain to make a lot of minor mistakes in the process), so too the Holy Spirit is awakening in you a desire to grow spiritually. Why not head over to Spiritual Growth ABCs and learn more about it?
The "Starter Kit" If you are a new Christian, you need to know that even though you have been given a great “starter kit” of heavenly blessings, it carries no guarantee you will have a happy or wholesome life. Make sure you know what’s in it, but don’t stop there: Put it to good use gaining these three essential “extras.”