Membership Update - Growing in my Relationship with Christ (June 2010)

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , , , , , | Posted On Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Last month, as I began this monthly column for our Gateway members (and anyone else), I talked about the GUIDE. I said the GUIDE (which is a part of our Membership Covenant) is an acronym that both describes what a "fully devoted follower of Christ" looks like, and lists biblical disciplines and practices that God has given us to help guide us in our spiritual journey in order to become fully devoted. Listed below is the GUIDE:

G - Growing in my relationship with Christ
U - Using spiritual gifts to serve
I - Involved in biblical community
D - Dedicated to reaching others
E - Exercising stewardship

Over the next few Updates I'll be examining each of these in more detail, beginning with the "G," which expands to say, "I will pursue a growing relationship with Christ through scripture, prayer and the spiritual disciplines."

The key word here that often gets lost in understanding and living the Christian life is "relationship." A relationship doesn't just happen - we have to work on it. Growing a relationship with Christ is no different.

Part of our Life Journal reading this past Wednesday (June 9) was Ecclesiastes 12, written by King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. There is a pessimistic, cynical outlook on life through much of Ecclesiastes as Solomon drifted away from God in his later years and wrote this work. But, as he concludes this writing, his last chapter opens with this statement: "Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old..." (12:1, NLT2; italics added)

God drew my eye to this verse and the ones that followed. Solomon tells us not to "forget" our Creator. Then, he proceeds to repeat this by saying, "Remember him (God, the Creator)..." seven more times.  Before it's too late, Solomon says we need to remember our Creator. Why? Because we have a natural tendency to forget!

Practices such as reading our Bible daily, praying, reading spiritual books, meditation, journaling, listening to Christian music, etc., are ways God has given us to "remember" Him. (I think of them as sort of powering a "God Radar" that helps me stay tuned to Him and what He's doing in me and around me.) They are especially helpful in times of trial and adversity, but they really do make a difference all the time. 

Doing these practices isn't meant to be legalistic. Legalism is about checking something off my list as an accomplishment, while relationship is always about investing and giving more. Legalism always leads to the idea that if I do these things God will reward me, and likewise, if I fail to do them, He will punish me. Nothing could be farther from the truth! These practices are fundamental to helping us become more like Christ, and not just to please him.

I'll admit there have been many times in my life when I simply read to "check it off my list." But, God has been showing me that's not His purpose or desire for me...or any of us! He wants our relationship to grow, and He's teaching me to approach scripture and prayer and all the other disciplines as ways to get to know Him better and be influenced by Him. They are ways to help me remember who I am and Whose I am. They keep turning my focus back to Christ instead of on me. They prepare me so that when the Holy Spirit does move in my life, I'm ready to respond and grow.

One thing I've realized is that just as no two relationships on earth are the same, or developed in exactly the same way, so no two relationships with Christ are exactly the same or develop in the same way. However, spending daily time with God and His Word, the Bible, and prayer are almost always a part of the life of a Christ follower who is being grown by God.

We offer the Life Journal as one method of investing time daily with God and His Word. We have journals available for sale or you can go to our website and read and journal online free. I've also recently discovered that there is a free Bible app - YouVersion Holy Bible from - for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android operating systems and more that includes the Life Journal reading plan right on your phone.

There's nothing magic about the Life Journal, but it works for me and for many others in our church family. If it doesn't work for you, find another reading plan or another system. Talk to any of our ministry staff about what they do. Go to a Christian book store or look online. The main thing is to do something, because the easiest thing really is to do nothing. And when we do nothing, our relationship with Christ cannot grow, and, in fact, will shrivel. That's not God's desire, and it isn't mine either!