• Tyler Barnes

"Best Practices" for a joyful, enduring Christian life

We often times water down Christianity into behavior modification when it is all about heart transformation. Our hearts are naturally inclined to rebel against God in the Genesis 3 fallen world we live in today. God in his love, mercy, and wisdom made a way for us by sending his Son to sacrifice his life, being crucified on a cross. Once we accept the truth that there is a God, that we were separated from him by our sinful rebelliousness, and that there is only one way to heaven through Christ, then our hearts begin to transform. We begin to hate the things God hates, love the things God loves, and display spiritual fruit in our lives. This only happens when we make a daily choice to follow the things of God instead of the things of man. I wake up each morning and knowingly or unknowingly decide whether I am going to draw close to God or keep him at a distance. This has recently led me to a concept called “a rule of life,” a set of rules to guide my choices so I stay close to God. Tangibly, this is when and how I will implement the “best practices” of Christianity. My eight best practices of the Christian Faith in no particular order are:

1. Bible Study- Daily study of scripture is the main way we know God. It reveals his purpose, promises, and plans for our lives. It connects our daily struggles with spiritual solutions. Scripture inspires, encourages, challenges, and admonishes believers to live fully devoted to God. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

2. Community- Biblical community is God’s mandate for us to know others and be known. In community we can hold each other accountable and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. We were designed for relationship! The Christian life can be daunting and difficult without fellow believers to do life with. (Acts 2:42-47)

3. Witness- We are called and compelled to share our new life in Christ with others until everyone has had the opportunity to come into right relationship with God. When our hearts are transformed we want others to find the joy, love, grace, and peace that captured us. (Matthew 28:18-20)

4. Worship- We were created to glorify God. We praise him because he is the only being worthy of such praise and devotion. Worship demonstrates a humble heart under God’s authority and a life being lived in awe of God. (Psalms 73:25-26 Psalms 95:1-7)

5. Sabbath- A command from God to rest one day each week. This allows our mind, body and spirit to rejuvenate. A successful Sabbath is spent focusing on God and delighting in life. (Genesis 2:1-3 Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

6. Prayer- Communication is a must for any relationship, including a relationship with the Most High. Prayer connects our heart with God’s heart, brings us peace, and gives us an opportunity to share the most intimate details of our lives with the Source of everything. (Matthew 6:5-13)

7. Stewardship- Giving our time, talent, and treasure to carry out God’s purpose and mission for us on Earth. Stewardship is an outward expression of the desire of our heart to give to God. (2 Corinthians 8 & 9)

8. Fasting- Denying ourselves of our most basic need and choosing to allow God to meet that need recalibrates our heart to his heart, making it easier to deny ourselves in other areas of our lives. (Matthew 6:16-18)

My “rule of life” helps to ensure that I am living out each of these disciplines, keeps my priorities properly aligned, and points me towards fulfilling God’s personal calling on my life. The “rule of life” I am creating for myself will look something like: keeping the Sabbath each week (probably on Fridays); scheduling one day to fast each month; tithing (giving the first 10% of my income to the church), serving in areas of the church weekly and giving to ministries that need support; praying, worshiping, and studying scripture each morning and throughout the day; spending time sharing my life with other believers in their homes each week; and intentionally looking for opportunities to share my faith each day. I challenge you to build your own “rule of life” incorporating these eight spiritual disciplines.