Now is a Good Time To Build a Deeper Faith in Jesus
Looking back over more than 40 years since I accepted Christ, it’s challenging to lay out a specific map of my steps to deepen my faith. I firmly believe it has been 99% God’s direct effort pulling me closer to him with each passing year than anything I did intentionally. But I often realized that I must build a deeper faith in Jesus. The most profound change/improvement in my intentional attempt to walk more closely with Christ began in 2003 when my life was crumbling around me. And while I vividly remember praying for guidance (AKA – Help Me I’m In Trouble!), My effort was not more than that of a scared little boy desperately wanting the pain to disappear.
It was the most challenging time of my life.
Not that there weren’t other hard times, like growing up with an alcoholic dad, but this was so much worse because I created it. This requires me to step back even further to the 1998 time frame when I was promoted to district manager, running a $60 million sales operation for Sun Microsystems. After several very successful years, I was promoted to lead the team. My arrogance, sense of self, the conviction that I was always right, and willingness to fight anyone who disagreed with me was simply over the top. After many years of being bullied and struggling with constant failure, I would be a humble leader. But I was not. This arrogance led me to believe that I did not need others to succeed, which was a significant factor in deciding to leave Sun to start a business. Although starting a business in the technology sector had been on my mind for over a decade, it was only an idea, not a formulated plan. But I was convinced I would succeed and walked out the door in August 1999.
The next four years were difficult. And, of course, the stress at home was intense. Yet, there were many successes, valuable lessons, and ways that my character as a man began to develop in that period. Most importantly, my dependence on Jesus Christ began to grow quickly. I had nowhere else to go!
Today, 20 years have passed since I returned to employment.
In many ways, I see this period as a time of sanctification where God has worked on my heart from every imaginable perspective. And while the process has been painful in so many ways, I cannot begin to describe the growth I have experienced, not only from a faith perspective but also in areas such as humility and patience. Yet, I still have many areas of immaturity that He is still working to change.
Developing a stronger faith in Christ has been a lifelong journey, but these past 20 years have changed me in many ways. Through God’s grace, I have learned the importance of investing time daily to intentionally “build” a closer relationship with Him. Below are seven steps that have provided the most significant benefit to me personally.
Step #1: Build Your Relationship with Him
Daily prayer will profoundly impact your life and foster a deep and transformative connection with God. This daily routine offers a sacred space for a Man of God to communicate his thoughts, hopes, and concerns to Chris while inviting reflection and self-examination moments. Daily prayer cultivates a sense of inner peace and tranquility, grounding a man amidst life’s challenges. Furthermore, it nurtures a sense of community and unity among men who believe in Christ, promoting a sense of purpose within the group. Through prayer, Christian men seek guidance, strength, and wisdom, allowing them to align their actions with their faith. This consistent communion with God creates a heightened sense of gratitude, compassion, and empathy, encouraging believers to contribute positively to their communities and the world. Daily prayer deepens a man’s relationship with God, leading to personal growth, spiritual enlightenment, and a life of purpose and love.
Spend time daily on your knees in prayer. Three areas typically work for me:
- Show Gratitude – Take the time to thank God for everything excellent in your life. Thank him for each family member in detail. Thank Him for your last paycheck. Thank Him for your health. Thank Him for the roof over your head. Also, thank Him for the challenges that you’re facing and that you know He is in your life and guide your steps.
- Pray for Others – Did you ever see the movie, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks? It was a beautiful movie about a man, Mr. Fred Rogers, a trained minister who ultimately produced the daily afternoon show for children called Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Although I never watched the show growing up, nor was I overly taken by the silly dramas and songs that were a vital part of his show, I was awe-struck by his deep faith and how he consistently prayed for so many people. This is the man I’m trying to be… Fred Rogers provides great insight to the importance of praying for others, both friend and foe.
- Pray for Your Needs – Pray specifically for the challenges you face today. Provide details about each of the situations that you’re dealing with. Ask for exactly what you want from God. Recognize His sovereignty over your life, and be clear that you know it’s his and that He will do what is best for you. “Not my will but Thy will for my life.”
- Pray to Walk More Closely to Him – Close your prayer time by inviting Chris into your life to inspect your heart and provide guidance on becoming the man He needs you to be.
Step #2: Build Your Bible Skills
Someone once said, “You cannot hear God’s word if you’re not ready for the Bible.” For me, this is very true. In the 2019 timeframe, I committed myself to reading all the remaining parts of the Bible that I had not read yet. In the 2007 timeframe, for an unknown reason, when I read a Bible chapter, I started writing the date on the top of the chapter. Several years later, I realized that I had read more of the Bible than not. So, that became a mission for me – to complete the reading. And this effort translated into a daily investment of time to complete the action. Which, of course, began to deepen my walk with Christ.
Step #3: Build Your Legacy
Many men think of journaling as a feminine activity. I disagree. Throughout history, some of the most remarkable men of science, theology, and philosophy invested countless hours writing about their experiences, thoughts, and challenges. One of the obvious ways this is known is that their ideas and beliefs were put in writing, and we can see those writings today. If you don’t journal, your legacy will be minimal because there will be nothing to remember you by. Journaling is one of the most important things a man can do to directly impact his legacy’s success and leave something valuable to future generations.
Step#4: Build Your Team
Over the past fifteen years, this has become an essential part of my life. Initially, from a perspective of helping other men walk with Christ and life. But more recently, finding a mentor for myself. There have been many times when I was desperate for input as I tried to make crucial decisions, but there was never an older/wiser man willing to invest the time. This became a passion for me to help others because of the loss I had experienced. It was not for a lack of trying, however. On several occasions, I tried to engage with a potential mentor, only to be left hanging. However, this past year, everything changed, and I’ve now been meeting.
Step #5: Build New Relationships
This is not an easy suggestion for us “Loners.” In addition to the difficulty in building new relationships, I have also become more of an introvert as I have aged. When I was younger, it was easier to engage with others, but today it feels more challenging. However, after being pushed by a friend to get involved with the men’s leadership time and a large church nearby, I have become tightly involved in several groups. It’s a beautiful feeling to “Know and Be Known.” Today when I go into the church just a year later, I see many friendly and welcoming faces of men I’m meeting in other group venues throughout the week. To that end, I suggest you take the next to get involved in three different men’s groups within your church; if you don’t have a church invest the time to find one.
Step #6: Build a Servant’s Heart
Use whatever skill or interest you have to serve God’s kingdom. For me, it’s mentoring other men, and this has become my purpose over the past several years. Learn to look for ways to help others, regardless of your situation. In the work environment, there are unlimited opportunities to touch another life. Look around and see others suffering from work and/or family-related stress.
Step #7: Build Your Knowledge
I have lost interest in reading, not about my relationship with Christ. I don’t suggest that you do the same, but it has been very effective for me to increase my knowledge. I enjoy reading books by male Christian authors about how to be a better man of God and books that provide insight into personal history and how God has used and is using those experiences to sanctify my heart.
Step #8: Build Your Boundaries:
Establish limits for what you will accept in your life and what you will not. For example, pornography is off-limits. For a man, watching porn is like pouring gasoline on a fire! It will negatively affect your relationship with your spouse and turn you away from God’s love.
“Run from sexual immorality! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Step #9: Build Spiritual Discipline:
Christian disciplines are practices and activities a man can engage in to deepen his relationship with God, grow in faith, and develop a deeper spiritual character. These disciplines are rooted in biblical teachings intended to cultivate a closer connection to God, a transformed heart, and a Christ-like way of living. Several, including Prayer and building relationships with other believers, have already been mentioned, but there are several others worth mentioning as well, including:
- Gratitude – Cultivate a thankful heart by focusing daily on God’s blessings instead of being consumed with your problems. This will do wonders for your attitude and how you see your life.
- Sabbath – If possible, identify Sunday as a day of rest and enjoyment. So many people continue to work, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Solitude – Similar to identifying a day of rest, it’s important to find time to get away regularly to be alone with God. Different forms of exercise are good ways to find the solitude I need and improve my health simultaneously.
Although I’m not successful on many days, I have a high-level plan of spending one hour every morning walking closer to Christ by following the schedule below:
- 10 Minutes: On my knees in prayer
- 20 Minutes: Bible Reading
- 20 Minutes: Journaling about my feelings, needs, issues, etc.
- 10 Minutes: Reading or researching other material
Remember, you are saved once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Refrain from continuously fretting about whether or not you are saved – YOU ARE SAVED!
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scriptures says, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11