10 ways to grow your faith in 2016

Author: Andy Drozdziak

10 ways to grow your faith in 2016

At the start of a new year, Andy Drozdziak looks at 10 steps we can take to grow in our faith over the next 12 months.

1.     Carpe diem!

This ancient saying, meaning “seize the day”, echoes Jesus’ call to live “life to the full” (John 10:10). When rugby-mad teenager Stefanie Reid had her right foot amputated after a boating accident, she was devastated that she could no longer play rugby. Yet she felt God’s call to seize the day. With a prosthetic leg, Stefanie became an athlete and won a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics.  “God is not limited by physical disabilities or social stigmas,” she said.

2.     Pray

Sometimes prayer can be a struggle. “Pray like you can, not like you can’t”, a wise priest once said. I was once struggling to believe God’s personal love. I spent a year applying God’s words to Jesus at his baptism to myself: “You are my son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) This completely transformed me. Find YOUR way of praying - and stick to it.

3.     Forgiveness

With Paris, Syria and the refugee crisis, Pope Francis’ announcement of a Jubilee Year of Mercy is well timed. Jesus said we should be merciful like our Father. The Railway Man is an autobiographical book that tells the story of World War II prisoner of war Eric Lomax, who worked on the Thai-Burma Railway and was tortured. After severe psychological distress, Lomax found his torturer Takashi Nagase. “I assure you of my total forgiveness,” he told Nagase. “Sometime the hating has to stop.”

4.     Sabbath

 Many mark the Sabbath on Sundays in creative ways. One couple turn off their devices to reconnect with each other and God. Ron Rolheiser suggests that answering the question “what puts me in touch with God?”will show us how to best mark the Sabbath.

5.     Community

While watching The Gift DVD series, I was inspired and challenged by others’ reflections. We are called to grow in faith together. Joining or starting a new prayer group, or running courses such as The Gift are effective ways of sharing life in Christ.

6.     Get involved!

During the recent floods in Cumbria, which have caused misery and homelessness, Carlisle Utd FC football players helped empty houses and dump furniture, showing compassion in real, practical ways. Ask God where He wants you to be “the light of the world”- and then do it.

7.     Embrace the Other

It is easy to associate with people who are just like us. Jesus spent time with society’s rejects and revealed their dignity as God’s children. What is my attitude towards refugees, AIDS victims, sex offenders? How would Jesus treat them?

8.     Take A Risk!

We are all called to use the gifts of the Spirit to build God’s kingdom, and doing so means taking risks and making leaps of faith. My son Ben once woke up doubled up in pain, with a terribly sore stomach. My wife and I remembered Jesus’ words: “Lay your hands on sick people and they will get well” (Mark 16:18). We prayed for healing, refused the illness and Ben was immediately healed. We need to take risks.

9.     Joy to the World

Pope Francis challenges us not to look like undertakers, but to be joyful. As a child, I was inspired by Christians bursting with joy. I discovered that these people had suffered through depression and financial ruin.  However, they had encountered God’s love, which gave them joy. What is stopping you from experiencing such joy?

10.   Worship

We experience the depths of God’s love in worship. Worship leader Rónán Johnston says: “Worship does transform us…how God loves us!  And worship is the place where we finally get to experience it.” Go deeper in 2016!

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