Dear Millennial: Give Faith a Chance in 2017

It’s that time of year once again! The expected “New You” slogans are populating the airwaves and saturating the marketplace. Whenever we approach a new year, the predictable appeals to look forward to new beginnings are always meeting us. And if you’re a millennial (approximately ages 18 to 34), you’re expected to be on the frontlines of change and pursuing new ventures in 2017. As a fellow millennial, I can attest to the burden and expectation to reach further and aim higher. With every challenge I’ve faced, my faith in God has been an anchor through life’s ups and downs. Here’s my challenge to you: While the weight of expectation increases, why not give faith in God a chance in this New Year? Here are some quick tips in activating your faith in 2017:

 

Step #1: Digest God’s Word – everyday!

I wish I could tell you there were some quick way to grow your faith. I must report that there is no shortcut to faith in God! But, there is a sure way to grow your faith starting today – digest God’s Word everyday. I liken it to eating food. Sometimes, I admittedly eat my food too fast. As a result, I deny myself the opportunity to enjoy the taste of the food for the satisfying a momentary hunger. I’m learning to chew my food properly so that it can digest properly. I apply the same approach to the Word of God. It is our living Bread! Why rush it?

If you already do this, I want to applaud you and encourage you to keep going! If this hasn’t been a habit for you, start today! Rather than taking large sums of Scripture, take a portion and reflect on the passage. Search faith scriptures on Google via BibleGateway.com or Blble.com and read these life-giving verses. If you’re hungry for God to move in your life without hindrance, build your faith in His Word. It’s His promises!

 

Step #2: Devote time in prayer.

I used to think I couldn’t pray because I heard other people pray publicly. From my observations, I did not measure up at all! Their poetry and prose was on point! They talked to God with eloquent language. I thought I was at a poetry jam! But, I laid down on those insecurities to pick up the mantle of prayer. It’s talking with God and listening to God. I know our schedules and lives can be hectic and quite overwhelming. But, the Giver of your life wants to connect with you. He wants to hear your heart and desires that you hear His.

Before ending my seminary pastoral internship in Trenton, NJ, a member of the church came up to me and lovingly said, “Ryan, God misses your times with Him.” My heart sank. I knew exactly what they meant. It wasn’t that I failed to pray. It was how I was praying. I wasn’t all in. I wasn’t completely devoted to sharing the depths of my heart and hearing what grieves God. Almost a decade later, I remember those loving, corrective words. I never thought about how God felt when I didn’t seek Him. Faith is built when you trust the Father in relationship and conversation.

 

Step #3: Develop an appetite for faith-filled risks!

My fellow millennial: Face your giants. Confront your fears. Courageously address the elephant in the room. Look around. There are many examples of people taking risks without any evidence that it will work out for their good. They’re making an attempt to try something new or as Aerosmith would put it, “Living on the Edge”! How much more should we be taking risks for God that is rooted in our faith? This kind of living requires an appetite for it. If you are used to playing it safe, you’ll find that your hunger to try new things wane. You may even be tempted to think, “That’s crazy. It doesn’t take all of that!” But that’s the crazy, radical, mind-boggling deal! It does TAKE ALL OF THAT and ALL OF YOU!

The biggest obstacle standing in our way is that four lettered word: FEAR. It is the enemy of faith, handicapping us from pursuing our purpose and calling. It will keep us on the sidelines, unwilling to open up and share our deepest passions and dreams. But it doesn’t have to be this way! When the voice of doubt says, “You can’t! Don’t bother!” turn to the voice of God that says, “You can! Move forward in Me!” Surround yourself with faith-filled adventurers! Keep them close and if you don’t have it in your circle, seek them out! Faith is contagious and will spread like wildfire when you are around those who keep the fire lit with their devotion and discipline. Before taking a faith-filled risk in 2017, I’m encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:17:

“God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives.” (The Message)

As you navigate the hopes and challenges of 2017, I rest in the confidence that this three-point guide for faith will help you move into new realms of thought, creativity and passion as you pursue your goals and your purpose. And remember – the world is waiting on you. Let’s take a faith-filled adventure in 2017! -RF

Amazing Adventure with God!

 

AmazingAdventure

Boring. Status Quo. Dull. Redundant. 

The above words should never be used to describe our relationship with God. Too often, followers of Christ seem to be drowning in their own despair, exhibiting signs of a mundane existence. The hope we confess has been silenced by the challenges of life. The joy that is meant to be our strength has alluded too many. Faith in God was never meant to be a chore — but an amazing adventure!

God is an adventurous God! He invites us on the adventure of life to discover unknown territory and to experience unforgettable moments. For God, there’s nothing hazardous or risky for Him. But, for us, this amazing adventure should represent faith-filled risks and taking daring steps into the unknown. In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows that taking an adventure with Him will change our lives forever.

Doesn’t the Scriptures tell us that…

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain or what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

When you make the decision to take an amazing adventure with God, there will be things you do not see. You will not have complete understanding of the terrain. That’s the plan! We are placing our faith in God who is leading us, not placing our faith on what’s ahead of us. In the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33, if Peter kept his eyes on Jesus rather than the reckoning winds around him, he would have no doubt walked completely on water to Jesus. But, his fear prevented this from happening and Jesus made it clear — you have little faith.

But, here’s the key: Jesus never said Peter didn’t have any faith at all. This experience for Peter was the precursor of him taking even more risks and becoming a Kingdom builder! If you have rejected the adventure before because of fear, anxiety or doubt, take heart! God offers this adventure everyday you wake up and every moment you use your faith to believe in His unrivaled power.

How do you begin to take an adventure with God?

1. Speak words of life! 

Your words will inform how you live. If you keep declaring your life is boring and dull, guess what? It will become boring and dull. Speak words of life over you — that you will prosper, will succeed, and will accomplish the will of God for your life.

2. Pray for new adventures from God!

Seek God for new adventures and new opportunities to grow in your faith. I must caution you though: It may not come the way you expect. It may arrive at your door by way of challenge, crisis or conflict. It may come in an unexpected way. Stay connected to the Jesus — the vine — and receive His strength to accept the challenge.

3. Discover how to give God glory through the unknown!

It can be downright frightening to be led into new opportunities or challenges that you may feel unprepared for. Yet, without faith-filled risks you cannot take ownership of faith-filled rewards. As you use faith to embark on this adventure, always give God glory for the lessons learned and opportunities given.

Jesus was attractive too many not solely on his mastery of doctrine or theology. His appeal was the endless adventure He pursued and accepted. Our attractiveness to others is not about how many times we say Jesus, but live like Him. Take an adventure with God! Go for new dreams and new goals! Don’t hold back because of fear. God has too much in store for you to live in boredom. Your life in God should be marked by the exciting adventure that awaits you. Go for it! – RF