Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways to Boost Your Christian Walk in the New Year

  • Dawn Wilson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Ways to Boost Your Christian Walk in the New Year

Make no mistake, God is working. He works in our hearts, giving us both the desire and the power to please and honor Him (Philippians 2:13). And our Father God will continue to work in us until the job is done and we are like His righteous Son, Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus acknowledged His dependence on the Father while He walked on the earth, and He in turn says to us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Philippians 1:6). But we must also remember God intends for us to bear much fruit as we abide in and walk with Him (John 15:5-8).

There’s no room for spiritual apathy or laziness. As my Grandpa Parks used to say, “God doesn’t want us to sit around like a bump on a pickle!”

Our Heavenly Father works through us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and obey God’s Word. Here are ten ways we can “cooperate,” and boost our Christian walk in the New Year.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Szepy

  • 1. Pause with Purpose

    1. Pause with Purpose

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    My niece “Rocky” is intense and intentional when it comes to pausing for refreshing stillness. “Be still for one minute and let it grow,” she says. In these stressful days, we need distinct times of physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual pausing—pausing with purpose. Some express this as coming apart in stillness before we “come apart.” 

    We need physical pauses: sleep, rest, maybe even fasting from food. We need mental pauses: either pushing away from long labors at a desk, or stopping to ponder what we’ve read. We need emotional pauses: time to get away from the drama of life and refocus on what matters. We need social pauses: unplugging from technology or perhaps going on a distraction-free, personal retreat where we can remember what God has called us to do. 

    And we definitely need spiritual pauses to connect with God. The biblical phrase selah comes to mind: “pause and reflect.” The psalmist reflected God’s heart of longing for us when he wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.”

     

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  • 1. Pause with Purpose

    2. Change Up Your Intake

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    No matter how much we love the Word of God, we all go through “dry spells.” We can often boost our Christian walk by varying our means or type of study. Try it! Intentionally change-up your intake of the Word! 

    For example, many new Bible studies include an adult coloring feature, like Pam Farrel’s book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms. We might listen to an audible version of the Bible while driving in our car, or to podcasts from our favorite ministry. We can stretch our faith with a practical video and book study like Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon; or listen to radio programs like Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 

    Find fun ways to use the scriptures in everyday living. Author and Bible teacher Rachel Wojo created a great list of suggestions titled “30 Ways to Read Your Bible More.” 

     

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    3. Memorize and Marinate

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    Daily or weekly, choose an instructive or encouraging scripture. Memorize it and then marinate in its truth. Try to be aware of how the Holy Spirit might want you to apply it to your life.

    Place scriptures in prominent places in your home and car. Tape them to your bathroom mirror to memorize as you brush your hair or teeth. Use objects around your home to trigger thoughts and meditation about scriptures. I have a little red car on my desk that reminds me to stop putting the brakes on in my life out of fear, and to instead “trust in the Lord” with all my heart for direction and wisdom to move forward—based on Proverbs 3:5-6.

    Pick a word from a scripture God puts on your heart, and ask Him to help you marinate in its truth. You might be surprised how that word keeps popping up for you. Before Christmas, I chose the word “listen” from Proverbs 19:20. I smiled a few days later when a relative drew me into her family’s commitment to listen to the Whisper of God this year.

     

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  • 1. Pause with Purpose

    4. Discover the Good Works

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    Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us we are saved by grace, not works. Works to attain a relationship with God will never be sufficient, but after we trust in Christ, we certainly are called to work because of our relationship with the Lord. 

    In other words, we will “work out” the salvation God has “worked into” our lives, because it is God who works in us to desire to obey Him and act according to His purpose. Psalm 2:11 encourages us, “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” When we work for the Lord, we do so with awe and reverence, and a sense of humility and total dependence on Him.

    Good works are not reserved for pastors or leaders in the church or ministries. Ephesians 2:10 explains how God, long ago, planned good works for all of us to do. Think of it: Christ-followers are God’s handiwork, and our Father God prepared in advance many ways we can serve and glorify Him. It’s our job to discover these good works and be faithful to accomplish His purposes with joy.

     

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    5. Dial Down Distractions

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    If we’re going to get serious about our walk with God, we’ll need to dial down distractions. Voices and competing agendas surround us, calling us away from God’s purposes for our lives. We need to discern when we’re being distracted and hindered, and intentionally refocus on God’s voice and calling.

    This isn’t a simple mantra for success; it’s biblical wisdom. The writer of Hebrews encouraged believers to strip off every weight that slows us down in the race of life, along with every sin that trips us up. We’ve got a race to run, and if we are to faithfully endure and win the victor’s crown, we must eliminate—or re-prioritize to a lesser level—all that gets in the way.

    Social media is my biggest distraction. It can drain time better spent on my most important goals and priorities. Hobbies, entertainment, social events—all are good in their place. But we always need to ask, “Is this distracting me from something you desire instead, Lord?” Be honest and act on what God reveals.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Oinegue

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    6. Relish God's Creation

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    A walk along a seashore at dawn, a hike through a lush green forest, a stroll through a flower field, a climb through some craggy hills, a trek through fresh-fallen snow in the moonlight—we all have our favorite ways to enjoy God’s handiwork. The Lord made all things (John 1:3) and He wants us to relish His creation.

    Get out into God’s creation every day, especially if you are indoors for your job or are a “desk hermit.” I work from early morning to late at night at my desk, both for my job and for my personal writing. But I intentionally take plenty of nature breaks and spend time praising God for His marvelous and myriad gifts: “O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!” 

    To boost your enjoyment—if you need more than the sound of tweeting birds or the rustling of leaves in the trees—take along an iPod to listen to worship music in the expanse of God’s creation. 

     

    Photo credit: Pexels

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    7. Practice Abundant Giving

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    Abundant living is meant to be a hallmark of the Christian walk. Jesus said He came that His followers might “have life and have it abundantly.”

    Abundant giving is the outflow of abundant living. God has given us so much, and as we respond to Him with a grateful heart, He will show us ways to be generous with others. And the blessing of generosity, Proverbs 11:25 says, is this: “one who waters will himself be watered.”

    We must reject the attitude of scarcity and intentionally embrace the truth about abundance. For the Christian, there is always the potential for more time, more ministry and more resources, because God is not limited as we are. He will never use up the blessings He plans for us. The Lord is our sufficiency, and we practice abundant giving by seeking Him and committing to respond to His voice rather than our own insecurities and limitations. 

     

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    8. Use Prayer Prompts

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    Ask Christians if they pray, and they’ll likely say, “Of course!” But if we wore a prayer meter—much like a Fitbit—how much time would we find we’ve actually prayed? Do we only practice “prayers on the run”? Do we have a “prayer time” during our devotions and then “leave” the Lord at our Quiet Time corner? Are we praying, or just talking about it?

    We know prayer can change and encourage us and give us hope; but we are such forgetful creatures. We need “prayer prompts.” Think about it. We use prompts for other things: a prompt to take medications, a prompt (alarm clock) to wake up in the morning, a prompt (note in our calendar) to remind us of an appointment. What kind of prompts might help you spend more time in prayer?

    Recognize everyday prompts. Pray over people in photos. One of my daughters-in-love uses Christmas cards she received—hung on the wall in the dining area—as prayer prompts. Use exercise: consider prayer walks in your neighborhood. Create and use a prayer journal to record the roses and thorns in your life—the blessings and struggles—and take them all to the Father in praise and requests for help.

     

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    9. Rethink Mentoring

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    My original concept of mentoring was to sit down with a Bible study and teach people theology. That’s good and needed, but not necessarily mentoring. Mentoring involves advising or training, especially someone younger or younger in the faith. Beyond teaching, it includes listening, modeling and discipleship.

    In some ways, that’s harder than teaching. I have to “practice what I preach” or I won’t be credible. As my wise sister-in-love, Janice, says, “I can’t impart what I do not possess or practice myself, so mentoring stretches me.” Perhaps we are afraid to mentor others in the Titus 2:1-8 and Philippians 4:9 mode because our lives don’t back up what we profess. 

    To boost your Christian walk this year, ask the Lord to examine your heart and show you where your life is not credible. Rethink mentoring. How can your life model biblical Christianity as you simply include a mentee while you wash dishes, care for children or go shopping together?

     

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    10. Partner for Progress

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    It’s not uncommon for Christians to seek out an “accountability partner” for progress, and that’s important to boost our Christian walk. We war against spiritual forces that threaten to undo us, and we should be properly prepared for temptation. 

    God knows we are vulnerable, but so does our enemy. Partnering with godly believers is a great source of help in our weakness. Accountability is a biblical concept. Proverbs 27:17 says a good friend will “sharpen” us. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Also, godly partners for progress can help us deal with sin issues.

    Ask the Lord to direct you to those who can help you boost your spiritual growth this year! You might want to pair up with a trusted friend, or join an accountability group to help you monitor your progress. Meet regularly, at least monthly, to help you stay accountable to your goals. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/ThomasNorthcut

    Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn and writes for Crosswalk.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.