Faith Tips

When it comes to Faith, we've been there, done that, now serving 19 tips in 9 categories ranging from Finding a Church to Youth Ministry.

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The Treasure of a Good Reputation

A good name is to be treasured. This is one of the best tips any spiritual mentor can share with someone. Many aspects of life can be restored easily and recovery is the rule of the day but a good reputation is a gift from God and it should be guarded at all cost because once it is gone, it can be tremendously difficult to get back.

Consider your credit profile for example. You can be the best customer in the world and fall from grace within a month or two due to job loss or unexpected medical bills. Another example of the precious nature of your good name is the power of a rumor or lie. Either of these malicious tales can cause irreparable distress and trouble for the person involved. Again, as much as you can always consider your actions and alliances, and guard your heart, strong mind and soul against false accusations is essential.

You may wonder how this might be lived out. One example would be to always behave in a way that is honorable rather than not. Be mannerly and polite, and respect the rights of others. Try not to align yourself with people of questionable ethics and habits; always take the high road.


Don't Shun Those Who Don't Believe What You Do

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make in his or her comings and goings is to write off those who don't have the same belief system that they do.

If we are called to love one another, and called to represent Jesus in this world, then we must engage the world the way Jesus did. Jesus did not shut people out who needed help. In fact, the only onees he did stand vehemently against were the Jewish leaders who treated the poor and outcast as lepers (see Luke 15 for an example).

Spend time with those who don't have the same belief system you do, and treat them as people just like you. It is ok to note the differences, and necessary for you to stand for what you believe, but it is also necessary for you to love and love well. Be humble enough to know that you are really no better than those people except by the grace of God, and treat them like kings.


Using Observation to Help You Study the Bible

One of the primary elements in Bible study is observation. Literally, this just means that you take the time to simply see what is in a passage or book that you are studying.

Start with the 5 W's:

Who? Determine who was involved in what was written, who wrote it, who the author wrote it too, etc.

Where? Where is all of this taking place? What do I know about the setting? What do I know about where it was written?

When? When was the book written? When did the events written in the book take place? What was different about that time period from today?

What? What is happening in the passage? What is being written about it? What is the background? What events are taking place around the action? What does the author say about everything?

and Why? Why is this important to the author? What was this passage written? Why is it where it is in the book? Why does it matter?

Use these questions to help you start your Bible study, and watch your understanding and retention jump up astronomically.


Portrait of an Apology: Learning How to Apologize

One of the hardest things for Americans to do is to apologize. We all want to be right, all want to believe that we can do things the way we want without people questioning our methods or becoming upset with us.

That is not the way real life works, however. Invariably, we will end up hurting someone close to us, and will need to mend that relationship through an apology.

A good apology has four parts:

1. I was wrong. It is important to acknowledge this for both your sake and the other person's. If you still think that you were right in whatever caused the argument and you are apologizing for it, your apology lacks sincerity.

2. I am sorry. Let the other person know that you are genuinely remorseful for whatever caused your falling out, and that you wished the events had not transpired the way they did.

3. Please forgive me. Solicit forgiveness. The other person needs the opportunity to give that forgiveness to you in order for the relationship to flourish in the future.

4. I love you. You do not have to use those words specifically, but it is important to communicate to the other person that she is valuable, cared for, and that it is important to you that the relationship continue.


Consider Theology When Looking For a Church

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they look for a church is not considering the theology of the church as a primary factor in whether or not they will attend. Often churches which have a very exciting public face may have something in their doctrinal statement that, when it is finally revealed to you, can cause significant issues and get in the way of good relationships within the church.

When you are looking for a church home, ask a pastor or elder for a copy of the church's doctrinal statement. If the church doesn't have one clearly defined, that should be a serious red flag.

Once you receive it, spend some time looking through it. If anything at all strikes you as odd or off-putting, check it against what you know of the Bible. If you don't know much about the Bible, run it past someone you respect, and write down your question for a future conversation with a pastor or other church leader.

Make sure you're on board with the doctrine of the particular church you're thinking about to protect yourself and the church from a lot of heartache in the future. Leaving a church can be very hard, and may result from differences in interpretation in the future if you are not on the same page to begin with.


Pray in the Car

Prayer is one of the most important parts of our spiritual growth, and yet it is often one of the most neglected parts of our lives. It is understandable that we are all very busy; finding time to do those things which add to our spiritual growth is a hard task indeed.

There are a number of ways that you can find time to pray throughout your day however that are not all that difficult to work in once they become habit.

1. Pray in the car when you are alone. Driving time is most often spent listening to things that we will end up forgetting anyway or occupying our minds with music. Use that time instead to strike up a conversation with God.

2. Pray in the shower. What else do you have to do? A shower is a given few minutes of alone time, and can easily be turned into time with God.

3. Pray in the elevator. Not all prayers need to be long. Use just those few minutes or seconds to acknowledge God's role in your life and offer up the day.

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Kristle Jones