The above picture is so precious to me because it is my husband with one of our sons, my brother, his two sons (minus his newborn), and if you look close, you can see my eldest son and my niece holding hands. They are all excitedly walking to the pool in my brother’s neighborhood. If one child was going to an empty pool alone, would it be fun? No! The kids are excited about being with each other and being with their dads! If you are a parent, or even if you are a son or daughter, you know that the best parents make time to get to know their children, to bond with them, and to make them feel loved! Why, then, do we not recognize that we should be spending more time with God as our heavenly father? I am guilty of this as well! I have to keep coming back to God and apologize for any time I’ve spent away from him. Through my up and down journey in faith, there are some things I have learned from others and some things I have picked up on through observation of the faithful that I know will bring most people closer to Jesus.
Top 10 Ways to Get Closer to Jesus:
1) Start your day with either a devotional or just a verse and a prayer. It would amaze you how much of a difference 5-15 minutes of time with God can make in your attitude throughout the day! Sometimes my greatest “lightbulb moments” are from one little verse that I’ve seen over and over before, but on that one day, with what I’m going through – it really makes sense and comforts me! My favorite bible is the YouVersion app on my phone because it is always with me!
2) Every now and then look up scriptures that will help you to remember God throughout the day, write them on sticky notes or index cards and tape them to the fridge or the bathroom mirror. Keep them up until you have them memorized and then redo the process with a whole new list. I’ve started to do this with my 7-year-old as well and he is getting into it!
3) Make a conscious effort to talk about God, about verses and about your faith with your family and your friends. You can either do this by joining a bible study, meeting someone regularly for coffee and discussion regularly, etc. You would be surprised how many times faith applies to exactly what someone is complaining about, applies to exactly what someone is struggling with, applies to exactly what someone is searching for in life!
4) Set up some habits that you do yourself that you model to your children, and establish them as rules. For instance: We primarily listen to only Christian music, and sometimes allow for clean kid friendly secular music. Therefore, when my son plays video games and the music has swear words, has sexual content, etc, he already knows, he has to give me the control and I have to change the music selection before he can play. Our kids know that we have safeguards on Netflix that will not allow shows above a certain rating (G or sometimes PG) and then I have the perfect excuse to say no to them.
5) Surround yourself by other like-minded christians. I don’t encourage befriending only christians or completely separating yourself from anyone other than christians. That is like living in a bubble. What I am talking about is protecting your character and your good faith. Surround yourself and your children with christians and generally moral people that you know you can talk about your faith with, that you know you can trust with private information, that you know that you could trust your children with or that would not display obscene behaviors in front of them. You could have close friends that are not christians but that do respect your beliefs and won’t try to put you down or deter you from church. I do not recommend allowing someone to stay in your life who is constantly trying to get you to stray away from your faith, to separate yourself from Jesus, or from the church. That is not being a witness, that is being manipulated and you can’t put up with that and keep your faith in Jesus. You need to stop seeing people like that!
6) Look for evidence of your faith around you. I’ve been asked before, if being a christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That is a good way to judge whether you are being a light for Christ or not! This could be anything from a bible laying on the coffee table to a verse displayed on some artwork hanging up, to a church pamphlet from last week’s service, to a christian phrase on a T-shirt, among other things.
7)Persevere through testing. Let me tell you, you are going to go through some tests if you haven’t already! We don’t know yet if this test was purposely designed by God to make you stronger and more faithful to him or if you were a victim of circumstances that occurred as a side effect of a fallen world. However, one thing we know. God is good. If God allowed something bad to happen, He will find a way to use it for good. God will use a broken down person, build them up and make them into a champion for Christ. He will not use a pig-headed cocky brat that has never struggled a day in his/her life and can’t empathize with anyone. That’s not attractive at all! John 16:33 (NIV)“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
8)You don’t have to be working in Ministry full-time to minister to people! I struggled with this one for far too long! I kept feeling called to preaching or called to missions or called to some type of christian full-time ministry, but it never worked out that way. God has kept me in a full-time job working with the public because it is where he wants me and where I can do the most good right now. Someday, that may not be the case. Until that day, I will show up, I will smile and welcome people and be a light for Christ right where I am.
9)Accept constructive criticism from other christians and check yourself so that you don’t sin in your anger. Don’t take offense to every little thing someone says that does not line up with your thoughts or ideas. I used to do this way too much. This spirit is not from God and you need to reign it in quick. You are not in control, you are not God. I know this is a fine line category and people should be respectful with you as well. Sometimes I think “Can’t we all just get along? Aren’t christians supposed to be the nicest people on Earth?” In a perfect world, we would be, but the world is not perfect and we are not either. You just take care of you and make sure that you are being respectful and following God’s commandments and the teachings of the Bible and God will deal with whoever crosses the line in His own way and in his own time.
10) Remember throughout the day that God is listening and sees you and knows you. Imagine that Jesus is sitting right next to you as you read this. If you are a christian, He basically is – you just can’t see him! Sometimes it’s not enough for me to imagine “What Would Jesus Do?” Sometimes I need to ask myself “What if Jesus was sitting here watching and listening to me right now?” Then I can kind of catch myself and prevent some attitude before it starts brewing! You know when someone rubs you the wrong way and you just need that extra moment to prepare yourself to speak to them or see them so that you don’t lose your cool? Trust me, I have had my share of people that got on my nerves! The best thing that I have found is a quick little reminder from Matthew 25:35-40:
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’