Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Fundamentals of Faith

I continue to think about being a Christian who plays to win (Read more HERE) and I found myself thinking about fundamentals. As an athlete, fundamentals were important...if you wanted to improve as a basketball player you had to start with the basics. Even in college we worked on some of the same drills I had done as an elementary student. Sure somethings became more complex, the skill level improved and intensity increased, but ball-handling, shooting form and dribbling stayed the same. 

If we want to strengthen, grow or mature in our faith, I think it's good to learn a lesson from athletics - keep working on the basics. Sometimes we're too much like the 10 year old basketball player who wants to walk in the gym and practice shooting 3's...it's not going to happen consistently until they can make a shot from 3 feet. The same is true for you and me...we're not going to do big things with our faith until we repeatedly do the little. 

I thought about this concept for awhile and began to think about the fundamentals of the faith and eventually came up with a list of seven. As a basketball coach, I tried to incorporate the fundamentals of basketball into each and every practice and friend, we'd do well if we daily do the same with the fundamentals of faith.

Are you in? If so, find some more details below - 

Read the Word - If we want our faith to grow Romans 10:17 tells us where to begin - "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Friend, it is critical that you and spend quality time in God's Word each and everyday. There are countless reading plans available, you could choose a book of the Bible or a topic to study...whatever works for you! I've heard it said that "Faith feeds on the Word of God." (Wendy Blight)

Pray - Faith is a gift from God and He not only wants to give us gifts, but He is a heavenly Father who longs for a relationship with all of us. Prayer is the way we communicate with Him. One specific way we can use this fundamental to increase or improve our faith is to take a lesson from two verses in the Bible. In Mark 9:24 we read words from the father of a sick boy, "I believe, help my unbelief!" Friend, if you're struggling to have faith, ask Jesus to help. And in Luke 17:5 we hear the apostles say, "Increase our faith!" Let us learn from their example, pray a dangerous prayer and ask Christ the same thing.

Worship - Worship is an important, and perhaps sometimes overlooked, fundamental of the faith. May we remember worship is not just for Sunday mornings and doesn't just take place in a church. Scripture commands us to praise the Lord. When we do we remember who He is, praise Him for all He does and thank Him for the gifts He gives. See Psalms 150:1-6 and Psalms 95:1-6 to get you started.

Obedience - Having faith is important, but living it out is vital. This is where obedience comes into play! James 1:22 tells us, "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." I've heard it said faith is a muscle and friend we must exercise it if we want it to get stronger. We must not just read what God's Word says we must put it into practice. Along with that in James 2:26 we learn, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." I don't know about you, but I don't want a faith that is dead!

Fellowship - Individually an athlete might be pretty good, but without a team they will never win a game. Friend, we can and should do much as an individual Christian, but we must not forget God created us for community and blesses us through His body. Fellowship is important! Here are a couple of reasons why - "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25) In Romans 1:12 we read, "that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." Daily try to find a way to connect with a brother or sister.

Witness - Friends, we are constantly setting an example, the question is whether it's a good one or not. The same could be said about our witness for Christ...our words, our actions and our attitude all send a message. We don't have to recite John 3:16 to witness and share our faith. Friend when we do share our faith, Philemon 1:6 tells us that we will deepen our knowledge of every good thing, which I believe will strengthen our faith. "And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ." 

Remember - I've always been one to enjoy journaling, but since accepting Christ I see the value in putting my thoughts and prayers on paper. One specific way they help is remembering. I can look at years past and the prayers I prayed and see God's answers and His faithfulness. Friend, remembering is important...it reminds us who God is, the power He has and the way He works. I encourage you to try journaling for a week and see how God uses it to build your faith. "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old." (Psalms 77:11) "Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered." (Psalms 105:5) Another way to remember and build your faith is to memorize God's Word...this is not easy, but it is powerful and productive. 

Friends, I pray that you and I will do a better job of practicing the fundamentals of the faith...just like any good coach, God will help us if we are willing to try! Which one from the list are you going to work on today? 


2 comments:

  1. Jill, I will try sending my comment again. I read this piece the day you wrote it, and I immediately responded with a post, but I don't see it, so I suppose I was wrong.:) My husband, Braxton, coached baseball, track, and football for 30 years as a pe teacher. Again, as I do with all your write, I took something from this post as well. As for now, I could relate to the obedience section; I do so want to be obedient in whatever He calls me to do. I really could identify as not only do I want to remember, but I pray that my children and esp. grandchildren will know about my time spent with God in what I have in my journals, and my 3 years worth of "Siesta" index cards. I love memorization, but I find that I have to go back and revisit the verses. I even memorized the 1st ch. of Thessalonians in BM's "Children of the Day"; but I now have to go back and read over it and over it before I am familiar with it again, BUT at one time, I could say it---does that count as memorization??? (Remember, I am soon to be 65 in March) ;)
    So, Coach Jill, keep up the good work for Jesus. May He be pleased with you- Zephaniah 3:17!!!
    Hugs,
    Mema Jeanne

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging words and the reminder that this is a life-long journey!! Just like in sports, I think it's important that we never quit trying...we can always grow in our faith regardless of age. Thanks for the example you set in doing just that!

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