Over the years in my time in ministry, I have seen, met, and worked with many different people. It really shouldn’t be surprising what and who we run into when it comes to Christianity, but I find myself continuing to be surprised by who and what I find. Some people amaze me in how strong their faith is and others amaze me in how weak their faith is. It seems that it is a never-ending circle when it comes to people and their relationship with God.

In my study of our upcoming Excel Still More Bible Workshop over the book of James, there are many conclusions that I have been able to reach when it comes to faith.

  1. My faith means nothing if I am doing nothing about it…James 2:14-22
  2. My faith is only as strong as I will allow it to be…James 1:4-5
  3. My faith simply will not exist if humility is not a priority in my life…James 2:1-10
  4. My faith only grows when it is directed towards God…James 3:13-18
  5. My faith is not only more stable but more sustainable when I love my brothers and sisters in Christ…James 5:14-16

As I have continued in my study of the Bible there is one conclusion that I continually come to. It is not overly complicated. It is not deeply theological. It is a simple fact of life as God has designed it.

Ready? Here it is!

Everything in this life is your choice!

What does this mean and why is it important? It is important because faith is a choice! It’s your choice! To believe or not to believe. It’s all up to you.

Problems of Faith

I cannot remember the last time I spoke to a Christian, and they told me that they didn’t have faith. For some, it may have weakened, and they realized it, but they still have it. So generally, as far as I can remember anyway, the people I have encountered have all had faith, or at least claimed to have it. However, that is essentially the problem, many “claim” to have faith in their life, but the sad thing is that they never do anything with it. Is that faith?

You may hear things like this,

“I read my bible every day!”

“I pray every day that…”

Or even…

“I love the church, but…”

I think maybe it’s time to say it, Just because you read your bible every day, pray every day, or love the church does not mean that you have faith and are faithful! There are so many people that I talk to who talk about these very things and believe that because they do these things, it makes them faithful. The problem isn’t in what they are doing, it is in what they aren’t doing.

If I read my bible every day, but then do not apply it to my life, or pull things out of it that make me feel good and then live how I want, my reading has done me no good. When I reach this point, I am essentially reading my bible for my “self-pleasure” to read things that make me feel good but do not change and transform my heart.

If I pray every day, but then do as I wish, or go against His way, then my prayer means nothing and is in vain. I pray for joy, happiness, and blessings to come. I pray for financial stability, someone to get better, or for my children to be safe, but then turn around after the “amen” and use His name in vain, open that next bottle of wine, buy that next lottery ticket, light up my next cigarette, or allow my children to do things they shouldn’t and then wonder why it is that my prayer isn’t being answered the way I want. Doesn’t this seem wrong?

If I say that I really love the Church but then never make time to be at worship, fellowship with the people, be a part of the work, help in making decisions, or take part in evangelizing and discipling the future generations, do I love the church? Or is it an idea of love for the church?

Remember the problem isn’t what I am doing, it is what I am NOT doing. James teaches in his wonderful letter that faith is shown by what you do, not by what you claim (James 2:14-26). It truly is heartbreaking to see so many people living a life of “faith struggles” thinking that they have it when they don’t.

Five Strategies To Help You Grow In Your Faith

  1. Pray – Prayer is your connection to speak with God. Don’t use it for your gain, use it to grasp onto His grace. Unfortunately, prayer for many has become just something you do, it should never be that. It should be in response to what you are! A child of His (Romans 8:16). When we pray it isn’t a formal conversation spouting out huge words. It isn’t an opportunity for you to get revenge on someone else It isn’t your gateway to huge success. It is a personal moment that you can have with your Creator to tell Him everything on your mind and to speak to Him as you would speak to no one else. This builds faith.
  2. Bible Study – When we read God’s word it should never be about proving someone wrong to be proven right, personal advancement, or taking it all to mean what you want it to mean. Getting in God’s word should be about personal growth and spiritual growth. Spiritual growth comes from knowing God. When I know God I make decisions, and choices, that are based on what He thinks. There is a big difference between reading and studying your bible, both can have a great impact, but bible study gives you an intimate knowledge of who God is a what God wants. This builds faith!
  3. Fellowship – When I am around God’s people, I am around the foundation of truth, because I am around His people. We are all one in the same place, “In Christ Jesus” (Romans 12:5). The Church is made up of the people and the people make up the Church. We that have been baptized into Christ are all of one body. Together, family, children of God! Your family loves you and you ought to love them! When this love exists, it builds faith! Surround yourself with God’s people (Romans 12:10).
  4. Involvement – When a person is involved in the work of the Lord, they feel a sense of investment in that work. This in turn gives you a feeling of “ownership.” It connects you to the work and the work to you. If your life is filled with “good work” your life is filled with positivity. Unfortunately, many have withdrawn from their brothers and sisters. Possibly because of COVID, depression, being in your mind, or your ill feelings toward another. Once again you have a choice! If you choose to fill your life with negativity your life will be negative. However, if you choose to be positive and fill your life with responsibility, you essentially empty out the garbage and allow yourself to be filled with good and positive things. Involvement is not only a faith builder but a church builder!
  5. Teaching – I realize that not everyone has the desire to preach, but all are commanded to teach. To be very honest, I grow the most when I teach. No matter what age. Why? Because I want to be prepared to help and answer the questions no matter how hard. I want my students to grow and succeed in building their faith. I want them to grow in knowledge. I can tell you that when you have someone in your class talk about things that they have learned to teach other people, there may not be a greater feeling in the world. Teaching forces you in a way to grow in knowledge and invest in others. Your investment means something, and you will do all you can to help it grow. Teaching builds faith!

If you will implement these five things into your life, you will begin to see opportunities grow. Your spiritual life will bloom. Your family will grow closer to you and the Lord, and you will become what God has meant for you to be. A disciple of His.

I hope these five things will help you in your spiritual walk as you build and grow in your faith, I know they have helped me! To God be the glory!

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Garrett married his wife, Cristen, in December 2005 and has four wonderful boys! Parker is married to his beautiful wife Claire and their daughter Taytum, Cohen, Ryder, and Kamden. Garrett has directed and participated in many camps, retreats, conferences, and workshops and serves on the national staff for Lads to Leaders. He is the President of Excel Still More and an annual writer and instructor for ESM. Garrett currently serves as the pulpit minister for the Hydro Church of Christ in Hydro, Oklahoma, where he and his family reside.