Want To Be A Godly Man / Women? Here's A Little Help

I sit down with guys on a regular basis who ask some variant of the same question, "I want to walk faithfully with Christ, but I am not sure where to start. Can you help me?"

While it always takes me back and I am honored to have the opportunity to help point them in the right direction, the truth is none of us are finished products. I remain very much in the trenches, fighting for faith each and every day.

Therefore the best way I know to help and serve others, is to pull back the curtain and share with them how I am seeking to grow and mature in Christ.

Today I would like to do just that with you and share the daily practices and resources that touch and inspire me in this pursuit.

So you want to be a godly man / woman?

Read God's word every day

You can't grow and mature in Christ without being connected to His word. Everything else flows from this daily devotion. The Word is central to your becoming God's man / woman. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in godliness so that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work.   

Not sure where to begin? Here is a post to help you read your bible and get more out of it.   

Memorize God's word

Hiding God's word in your heart is huge and I know of no other way to transform your mind than Bible memorization. One constant you will find among the men and women you seek to emulate most, is that they know God's word. It flows from their lips with ease. That doesn't just happen, you have to work at it.

The Scripture Typer app is one handy little way to memorizing God's word on the go. Whether you're in the line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or anywhere else this app can help you.

Pray

This is perhaps the simplest aspect of our walk with the Lord, but the one we tend to emphasize the least. This is one we tend to overcomplicate when in reality prayer is just a conversation with God. Not sure where to begin? Share your hurts, fears, anxieties, worries and cares. Ask Him for wisdom and that He develop Christ like character within you. Pray His word.

Here is are some extremely helpful prayer tips from Ben Stuart. 

Lock arms with others who are running in the same direction

No soldier wanders off and goes into battle alone, and you shouldn't either. The Christian life isn't meant to be lived in isolation. In fact, isolation kills. Grab people who are after the same things and run together. There will come a day when things don’t go your way and you'll need encouragement, when hard times come and you'll need support, when you'll stray from the path and you'll need correction. These things come for everyone, and you weren't meant to face them alone.

Here are some best practices for community shared by Jonathan Pokluda. 

Avail yourself to the vast array of resources at your finger tips

We live in a crazy awesome time! It is mind blowing all the resources you have access to. How crazy is it that you can learn, and be encouraged by folks all over the world. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Man, and 44 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Women, and 43 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

The Key to Christian Obedience via Ask Pastor John

One of the greatest resources available to is the opportunity to fill your ears with truth through the vast amount of teaching available digitally. Here are a few sermon series and podcasts I encourage you to invest some time in:

A Few Good Men via Todd Wagner

The Carey Neiuwhof Leadership Podcast

Ask Pastor John Podcast

The Role of Men via Matt Chandler  

Stand to Reason podcast

While blog posts and teaching are fantastic and will help you grow tremendously, not much can replace the value of a book in your hand. Here are a few books that have been helpful to me, and would be worth your time: 

Don't be legalistic about it

This sounds incredibly simple and it is, but boy can it be hard to execute on them with regularity. When you miss a day, don't beat yourself up, climb back on the horse and keep riding. None of us will get there overnight, we are playing the long game. Consistency over years is what it takes.

Faithful men and women are not over night successes, they come about over a long period of time. They devote themselves daily to the word of God and prayer, and they run with other others headed in the same direction. Do they still fail? You bet! But one thing they do consistently is forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is ahead. That is they, ask forgiveness when they fall short, confess it to others and then get right back on the horse running after Jesus. There are no perfect men, but there are plenty of broken men pursuing a perfect Savior.

 

Lessons About Life From A Sweet New Puppy

After nearly four years of hoping, dreaming and praying my wife and I recently got our first dog, the sweetest little golden retriever puppy named Annie. It has been a little like a roller coaster ride at the Hagaman home lately as our world has been changed for the better.  

Aside from being the sweetest, cutest little puppy I've ever met, Annie has also opened up my world to a thousand new realizations.

It's funny how these types of changes reverberate throughout the rest of your life. Well that has certainly been the case with Annie.

Most of the time she is sweet, cuddly, and all around the most wonderful little fluffy ball of joy imaginable. However there have been times when she hasn’t been near any of those things.

For example, our first couple of nights. She would whine and yelp most of the night. She wasn't used to the new surroundings and understandably felt fear at being left all alone in her new crate.

There have been a few accidents where she either didn't make it outside or didn't even try. You can't take your eye off her. You have to watch her and track her every movement, being ready to scoop her up and run outside at a moments notice. Talk about limiting your productivity and freedom throughout the day!

With things like this swirling around I find a number of things running through my mind almost daily.

Why can't she get it right?

Doesn't she know she is supposed to go outside?

Doesn't she understand that she is loved, cared for and safe? 

It all boils down to the expectation that a 6 week old puppy would act, think, behave and live as a fully mature and well trained dog.

And that convicts me.

How often do I think, act, behave and live as a mature and well trained follower of Christ? How often must the Lord look at my life, emotions, attitudes and thoughts and conclude that I just don't get it.

Don't I know that He loves me, cares for me, and has me in the palm of His mighty hands? In light of this, what business do I have with fear and doubt?

Am I not aware of how God has called me to conduct myself?

How deeply must my inability to get it right be frustrating to Him? 

Thankfully, God has a nature, character and love deeper, wider and greater than mine in every respect. Where I may be frustrated with the difficulties a little puppy brings into my life, He is not frustrated with the mess I create on a daily basis in my relationships, work and life. No, He loves and cares for me just as a loving father would. Because He is the ultimate loving father.

While He loves me enough to forgive my sin and meet me right where I am, He also loves me enough not to leave me there. He enables me to grow and take ground so that I come to resemble His Son more and more over the days, weeks and years.

He shows me remarkable grace. That my sin is not counted against me is the greatest news I've ever heard. I am so thankful that God is a gracious, loving father who has made provision for my sin and called me into His family.

Reflecting on these simple truths about God over the last few days has been so very convicting, not just in how I think about our little Annie, but in how I approach life in general. I desire to extend grace to people like crazy, to be generous and lavish in my praise and to love people enough to gently and lovingly call them to grow in Christlikeness.

I don't know about you but I have some serious ground to take and I am serious about taking it.

Here are four quick ways we can take ground this week:

1. Invest time in God's word. Get God's word into your heart and mind. Fill your thoughts with the words of scripture. I use the word invest strategically here, because this takes time. We aren't going to memorize the bible this week. However, we can increase our knowledge, understanding and memorization of God's word over time. As we consistently put in the time, we will see a return in not just our minds but in our lives as well.

2. Surround yourself with good people. Truthfully, I don't always like this one. Community is hard, messy and difficult, but it is 100% worth it. Even if you don't like the people they will have a tremendously positive impact on your life. They will be there to bounce ideas off of, but more importantly they will be there to help you take stock of your heart and your life for the purpose of growing in Christlikeness.

3. Pray specifically for the lord to help you mature in Christ, specifically related to those areas that are especially hard, difficult and trying right now. Rarely have I seen my prayers change someone else's heart, attitude or behavior, but I have definitely seen it transform mine. It is quite difficult to dislike and mistreat those you are consistently praying for.    

4. Serve. Jump in the game and start giving of yourself. When you begin to serve and care for others you begin love them. Throughout life, you'll often find that emotions follow actions. 

How I Journal Daily

On Monday, we talked about how men and women throughout the ages have kept personal journals and three positive effects of daily journaling. If you missed it, run grab it so that you know where we are going today.

Today I want to help you establish journaling as a daily habit.

I'm sure that you've given journaling a shot once or twice before. Perhaps it didn't stick. Maybe you tried for a week or two, or maybe even three but eventually you stopped.

We usually fail to develop habits because we go about them unintentionally. We fail to think through the three main elements that matter. No matter the habit you are wanting to establish the three things you need to think through are: 

1. Time

Determine when you will journal. Ideally you would want to journal at the beginning of your day but in the end time of day isn't as important. Establish a time each day when you can retreat, think and write. Having a consistent time helps you in establishing a the habit as it becomes part of your routine. 

2. Place

Decide where you will journal. My wife has a favorite chair in our backyard that she enjoys spending her mornings in coffee in one hand and her journal in the other. Me, I prefer to sit in my office chair. No matter where you choose to write, pick a place and establish that as your daily journaling spot. Establishing a place helps root the habit to not just a time of day but also to a physical location. 

3. Plan

One of the most helpful ways to establish a journaling plan is to use a template. By using a template you'll remove the worry of what to write about. At first glance, this might appear confining but in reality it will create freedom. To create your very own journaling template spend some time thinking of a few questions that will help you process the day before, access how you are feeling & plan for the day ahead.

Not sure what questions to ask yourself? Below is an image of the journaling template I've been using.

My hand writing can be difficult to read at times so here are the eight questions I'm currently using:

Yesterday

1. What did I do yesterday? (hit the high notes. What do you want to remember?)
2. What lessons did I learn?

Now

3. What am I thankful for right now?
4. How am I feeling right now?

Today

5. What have I read in the last 24 hours? (record everything you've read since you last journaled. Maybe even a few important insights.)
6. What are my plans for today? (Review schedule and major tasks)
7. What one thing must I accomplish today?
8. Who will I see today and can I intentionally add value to their day?

Below is one of my real journal entries from the past few weeks. 

As you can see I ask myself the 8 questions and then write out my answers to each prompt. It is simple and helps me narrow my focus to the areas that really matter to me. If you're having difficulty coming up questions of your own, grab these and give them a try. Over time you will tweak the questions and eventually arrive at a template of your own.

7 Day Experiment: Establish a time, place and plan for journaling. Then give it a try for 7 days and let me know how it goes.