I don’t know how long it’s been since you accepted Jesus as your savior; but, when I was a new Christian, it wasn’t long until I had questions. And, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t have anyone I thought I could turn to for answers. I hope you do. Regardless, let me give you some pointers that would have helped me a great deal – had I had them. These are some steps you can (should) take as soon as possible.
- Get your own Bible. (I like the Life Application Study Bible in either the New International Version [NIV] or the New Living Translation [NLT]; both have tremendously helpful notes). The Message is not a literal translation but rather a paraphrase translation. A lot of younger readers like it. So, take your time when in the book store. Read passages from several different translations. Check the notes, and any notes in the back. Buy the one you will read and enjoy the most. Prices can vary widely, and a lot of that is dependent on the binding. Over time you will likely buy more.
- Here are four scriptures (all in the New Testament) I want you to look up, and read. Ephesians 1:4-5; John 14:20; Colossians 2:13-14; and, 1 John 5:13. These are what I call ‘assurance’ verses. They will mean a great deal to you.
- You now have a new life in Christ. But, it won’t be different all at once. Think of yourself as an infant. You have some growing-up to do; and, it’s a process – one you will be working on for the rest of your natural life. Read: Colossians 2:6-7 and Philippians 4:6. Start talking to God. This is also called praying; and, if that sounds kinda’ ‘churchy’ to you, just think of it as talking to your new best friend. And keep at it. God loves it when His people talk to Him, …about anything and everything.i
- Try to read from your Bible every day. (Set a goal. Maybe a chapter, or a few paragraphs, a day. And, if you miss a day or two, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back into it, and keep at it. I suggest you start with the book of Mark; then skip back to Philippians (only four chapters), and then read Genesis. It’s literally the beginning, and where you will meet the Patriarchs and a lot of other interesting folks; some good, some not so good, some downright evil.
- Watch for answers to your prayers. Don’t expect that they will always be obvious, or on your schedule. God sees things differently than what we are use to. But, being the ‘perfect parent’ (and He has an absolute ‘lock’ on the title), He will always be working for what’s best for you. And we all know that what we think is going to be best, is not always the best – at all. Above all, don’t get discouraged. (As a matter of fact, as a new Christian you are particularly vulnerable to attack by Satan). Trust in God! Stand your ground! (And, that’s how God will grow your faith.)
- When you mess up – and you will – go to God and ask His forgiveness. See: 1 John 1:9. We all mess up. There is not a perfect man among us.
- Your new long term goal is to become, day-by-day, more like Christ. Read: Philippians 1:6, and Psalms 119:105
- Find a church. (My preference is non-denominational; but, that’s me). If the church doesn’t teach from the Bible, it’s the wrong church. In Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus said, “…’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the church isn’t living that passage of scripture, it’s the wrong church.
- If you have Christian friends, hang with them. (Don’t find yourself judging them. They are no more perfect than you.) If you don’t have Christian friends, find some. It will be a tremendous help. Note: Do not automatically discard your non-Christian friends. (See #8, above). However, if they are detrimental to your walk with Christ, you will have to cut them loose. Then, it’s between them and God.
- Here are a couple of books (besides the Bible) you may want to get.
- Paul E Little, Know Why You Believe – Connecting Faith and Reason. Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, Colorado. (2003 – by Marie Little).
- Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. (Evidence I and II, fully updated in one volume). Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. (1999).
I hope this helps. In Christian love,
i Why should God love it when we tell Him what He already knows? After all, we can’t hide from God. I’m sure part of it is like when a parent knows their child has made a mistake; and, before the parent can say anything about it, the child comes to them, pours out their heart, and asks for help – or apologizes for doing wrong. And then there are the times our kids just want us to know whats going on in their lives. Oh, we may very well already know, but we just love hearing it directly from them. And who doesn’t like hearing thank-you? Or how about this? Have you ever been really happy when someone asks you for help because you really, really want to help them? And then, I’m sure God has reasons I can’t even begin to fathom. I guess the simplest answer is, “…He Loves it, because He loves us, unconditionally; and He wants our trust.