Friday, February 2, 2018

What Do You Do To Grow Your Faith?

Post by: Vicki Cromarty

I am fortunate to be in a small group with some great ladies. We meet every Friday morning and study God’s Word and support and encourage each other. I’ve been with many of these ladies for several years – and I look forward to seeing all of these precious people each week. They motivate and inspire me to keep growing and to draw closer to the God who is always with us, helping and guiding us- if we just look for Him and pay attention!

We just finished a great study by Andy Stanley (a pastor in Atlanta) that is really sticking with me beyond our lessons. Each week had fairly simple concepts but brought new perspectives and thought provoking ideas about 5 things that God uses to GROW our faith. I’m still a work in progress on ALL of them, but imagine how different our outlook could be if we were absolutely confident that God is with us!

Andy begins the study by reminding us that the original break in humankind’s relationship with God happened because of a refusal to trust Him. God has been working with us on this trust issue ever since. His desire is to draw us into a relationship built around our absolute, perfect confidence in Him.

Finding that absolute perfect confidence is hard, but below are the 5 things that Andy’s church has noticed that God uses regularly to grow BIG faith, again, if we are paying attention! I’m using some of Andy’s words in the description of each of the 5 things below.

#1 Practical Teaching. Can you remember a time when for the first time you heard the Bible taught in a practical, life-impacting way? This usually begins us on a path of applying scripture to our everyday lives- families, finances, work, morality, ethics. Suddenly God comes alive and we begin to respond with action!

I remember very vividly when God came alive in new way for me. I had just started working at a church in FL, and we took a bunch of teens to a Christian music day at a Disney water park. There were Christian bands there sharing messages and their music. Geoff Moore and The Distance was a band back then (I’m dating myself here! J) and the message Geoff shared included teaching about God that hit me in a way that I’d never experienced before. I stood in that wave pool with tears running down my face and couldn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t feeling what I was. I’d like to say God took my knowledge of Him from my head to my heart that day, and a deeper relationship began. What was your moment when teaching really impacted your head and heart and moved you closer to God?

#2 Providential Relationships. As you think about your life, has there been a particular person who helped spark your interest in God? Someone God used to help make your faith bigger and stronger? Someone who has pushed you to grow in your thinking about God?

My mom was always a role model for my faith journey as I was growing up (and still is). She has counted on God and trusted Him through the good times and bad, and always gives Him the glory. My relationship with my mom gave me a foundation on my journey of understanding God. Then in my younger adult years, I was blessed with a few amazing friends who loved God with all they had, and were more mature in their faith than me. They opened my eyes to how active God is and can be in my daily life. They helped me to begin to trust God and count on Him in ways I hadn’t before. Who are these people in your life? Or do you feel you have met them yet?

#3 Private Disciplines. The word “discipline” can bring about negative feelings – it’s all about something we’re supposed to do but don’t always want to do or have time to do. But when it’s a part of your lifestyle, what begins as a discipline can later become a pleasure. Discipline brings progress and eventually results in freedom. This is especially true of disciplines that stimulate your faith journey.

If I’m honest, this is a hard one for me. I start out of the gate with great disciplines but don’t go the long haul. I get distracted by life and fail to keep up- therefore needing to start all over again. I’ve realized a few things that work for me in this busy season of life. I listen to Christian radio and am blessed by the lyrics of the songs and the stories and short messages that they share. I get a devotion as well as some other Christian encouragement in my email inbox each day. And I’m a diehard for my small group that I mentioned. I’m there almost every single time we meet. I pray that one day I will be consistent in what a favorite pastor of mine calls “chair time”. Picking a place in your house – a comfortable chair – to go to each day for 15 minutes to be with God either in prayer or reading God’s word. That is my goal. Every day! What are some of your spiritual disciplines that you’ve had success with, or some of your goals for this area?

#4 Personal Ministry. Have you ever felt God tugging at you to do something that you don’t feel equipped or qualified to do? Then when you step out in faith, you began to see your gifts and passion in service for a greater good? God wants us to stretch our faith muscles and build our trust in Him.

Thinking about doing work for God is a pretty huge thing. Are any of us really equipped to do God’s work? Have you felt that tug but are too scared to walk toward it? If God is tugging on us to do a certain thing that can help others or make a difference, it is like He is saying to us “Just bring what you have”. A good friend told me long ago that “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” What a huge relief! That is kind of like getting permission to do something you aren’t that good at yet. Where are you feeling led to serve or be in ministry, but don‘t feel qualified?

#5 Pivotal Circumstances. It happens all the time: people go through the most difficult circumstances imaginable and come out on the other side with a rock-solid, unshakable faith. People describe their stories and say they wouldn’t wish their circumstances on anyone or wouldn’t choose to go through it again, but God did something in the middle of the circumstances that they don’t think he could have done any other way. James tells us that trials are for the purpose of testing our faith, and that testing produces perseverance (James 1:2-4).

This last concept is a tough one. My small group struggled a bit with this. All of us go through rough times at some point in our lives, some more than others. When we are walking through these trials, it can be hard to understand why a loving God would allow the hardship for us. Time and time again, however, people share stories of how God drew them closer or helped them grow through their hard time. I like to have faith that God will bring something good from the hard – but how do we justify that thought when a spouse or a child dies? Often we may not ever know where God brought good until we’re in heaven one day. But even if our hard story can help us empathize and relate with someone just freshly going through the same circumstances, God can help us be a blessing to that person. And that is the good. Can you see good that has come from the hard seasons of life you have endured? Do you believe God can use your trials for future good?

I encourage you to think about these 5 concepts and ask yourself the questions above. Ultimately, what can you do to grow your faith?? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 Please share in the comments below!

Vicki Cromarty is the Director of Family Ministries at BUMC. She loves getting to know families and kids and having the privilege to learn with them about God’s amazing love. Vicki and her husband Dave of 19 years, have a beautiful daughter, Lauren, who is 15 years old. Their family also includes Sadie, the Lhasa Apso, and a fairly new family member, Baylee, a chocolate lab puppy! Vicki loves spending time with her family and friends, and enjoying all that beautiful Colorado has to offer! You can contact her 

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