January 11, 2013
…your Action Plan
A Growing, flourishing faith demands action (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4). Most believers don’t stop long enough to assess the condition of their faith, much less work on a plan to grow it. The basic idea is to just keep it, like it’s something you put on a shelf, or store in the attic. The challenge here is to pick a number and then do something about it.
Selecting your Faith Number
These ten action items encourage believers to take their faith to the streets, to get out of the shallows, out of the huddles, out of the comfort zones, and watch God work his wonders. Here’s the plan: Read, Assess, Pray, Pick, and then make it so (take action). Your faith number is a short-code for your “faith in action plan.”
1. Live to give
Regardless of what you know or don’t know about the level of need, ask God to put a name on your heart. Then, plan an extravagant surprise and give abundantly, not because of pressing needs, but because you want to put generosity in action. The receiver could be a stranger you meet in line, a single mother, a long-time friend, a relative, or a ministry. The task is to give generously, to give like Jesus gives (Luke 6:38).
2. Focus outside yourself
Begin with selecting one person, someone who really needs to be touched by a miracle. Invest a week spending as much time as possible with that person. Eat together, walk together, coffee together, etc. Toward the end of the week ask this one question: “What 5 things would you like to do, or see, or experience before you die? It’s your “Five for Life” question. At your next meeting say: “Been thinking about your big five. How could I help you make one of them a reality?” God will honor the investment.
3. Experience forgiving
If you have a friend or relative who dishonored you, lied about you, humiliated you, rejected you, disowned you, or deserted you, it’s time to do something about it. You can’t force them to make it right, apologize, or ask forgiveness, but you can choose to release them. First, you can forgive them. Write a letter expressing your dismay over the broken relationship, and state without judgment that because of your growing faith commitment, you are asking for forgiveness and granting the same. Send the letter. Now, whether or not you hear back, you have taken a faith step. You have done what God did for you. Celebrate the new found freedom.
4. Become a fingerprints of God reporter
Put a little excitement in your life. Become a reporter for our Faith Features project. God is still doing awesome and wondrous things. His mighty deeds are not confined to the pages of Scripture. The poet proclaimed that the Hebrews would not stop telling their children about God’s interventions (Ps 78:1-5), but need a reminder or two to help. Become a collector of fingerprint stories. The goal is to record or write one a week.
5. Begin or revive keeping a faith journal
Something good happens when we take the time to write about the people and events of our lives. This is especially true when we are focusing on writing about our own faith journey. Check the storyboard suggestions for your faith journal near the website header. Few people write in their journal every day, but many write on a weekly basis. You have a “holy ground” moment that needs to be remembered, so write.
6. Be a blessing giver
Ask God to help you give a blessing a day. Blessings express “out loud” what we see in others. Sometimes these point to what we see in their future; sometimes it’s all about the present. Do you know people who need to hear someone say, “I see great things in your future. God has big plans for you.” or “You handle difficult situations with such grace, you inspire me;” or “Your smile is infectious, I come here just to get a dose of hope for the day.” Your words could be game changers for people.
7. Prepare for the answer
Write a short answer to the following question: “So, do you still believe in all that God stuff?” After you’re comfortable with what you’ve written, ask a fellow believer to let you practice. Using your written page as a guide, tell your friend your answer. Ask for some response, “So, what’d you think?” Re-write as needed and try again. When you are ready, God will send people who are ready to ask (1 Peter 3:15).
8. Inject yourself in a crisis
Faith is tested and shaped by struggle and crisis. That’s why the Faith Team focuses on roadblocks, stumbling blocks, and mental blocks. So, when a crisis comes to someone you know. GO! Don’t worry about the words. Go and listen and hug and pray. Run errands, get coffee, provide meals. Go for walks, talk on the phone, write cards, send emails. Inject yourself into the moment. God will shape it.
9. Demo thanksgiving
Get a fresh cup of coffee, sit in a comfortable chair, open your address book and begin calling the names out loud. As you call out names, tell God why you are thankful for having these people in your life. “God, thank you for putting __________ in my life.” Tell God something each one has done that has blessed your life. If you can’t think of anything, ask God to make this the year. Being thankful is a choice, a habit, and a faith response to life. Sometimes it takes a little practice.
10. Listen for the voice
We live, so to speak, on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-31), with a burning heart. We want to hear God’s voice, but there are many distractions and discouragements. As a response to our growing need to connect to the God who never leaves us, this task requires silence. Turn off everything for as long as it takes to disengage and calm the voices in our head. Then listen for the nudging, the whisper, the call, the words of comfort and grace. God is still speaking…we just quit listening.
As you learn more and more of what God is like, have you noticed you still have those twinges of selfishness and doubt? You will face dark times, but as you quit reading his book as a textbook and read it more like a diary, he will reveal his secrets to you…he already knows yours. And that’s the best preparation for whatever the future brings.