Move from religion to relationship. Faith isn't just a matter of believing the right doctrines or performing the right rituals or service. Faith is about connecting to the living God in a dynamic relationship, which is only possible through Jesus. Real faith flows across the boundaries of time and space, uniting people to God from every generation and every culture on earth. Focus on what matters most in developing a relationship with God: the question of who Jesus really is.

Discover the truth about Jesus. Face the reality that you (like every other human being) must deal with who Jesus actually is. Realize that He can't possibly be just a great moral teacher who once lived, because -- unlike other major religious figures like Muhammad and Buddha -- He claimed to be God. Only three possibilities exist for who He is: Either He's an evil spirit who lied, He's a dead man now who was crazy while He was alive (which would also mean that all His followers were delusional), or He truly is god in the flesh.

Consider the creed. Think and pray about the Christian faith's core beliefs as expressed in the Apostle's Creed: God is our Father. He made heaven and earth. Jesus Christ is His only Son and our Lord. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered, died on the cross, was buried, and rose to life again. Now He lives in heaven with God, ready to judge all of humanity. The faithful believe in the Holy Spirit, the universal church, the eternal bond between saints both living and dead, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, and everlasting life. Considering the creed shifts your focus from yourself to God and helps you sharpen your beliefs.

Get rid of excuses. Whatever excuses are keeping you from committing to true faith, admit them to God and pray for His help to overcome them. Don't hold back from God any longer. Be willing to act on your desire to believe, even if you still have doubt or unanswered questions. Trust God enough to move toward Him as much as you can, and expect Him to meet you there.

Keep growing. As your faith increases and deepens, keep your eyes open, your mind discerning, your conscience soft, and your spirit alert for all the new things God wants to teach you every day.

Adapted from i want to believe: finding your way in an age of many faiths, 2007 by Mel Lawrenz. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.


mel lawrenz (M. Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Ph.D., historical theology, Marquette University) has been a pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin for over 25 years. Mel has a passion for the ministry of the Word in writing for effective outreach both nationally and internationally, is author or coauthor of seven books and has been developing a multidimensional media ministry network, which includes his radio interview program, Faith Conversations. For more information, visit his website, http://www.wordway.org/.