So you met JC? Now what?
Read the Bible
Some people will tell you that you’re only allowed to read a certain version of the Bible. I’ll tell you right now that you should not listen to those people, because they believe in the traditions of men and deny the power of God.
I grew up reading the New International Version (NIV) and liked it, but these days I’ve been reading the New Living Translation (NLT) because it makes the Bible even more accessible, and I am all about tearing down the barriers between people and God.
A lot of people grew up with the King James Version of the Bible, but it’s really difficult to understand because it was written in the 1600’s. It is one of the most commonly quoted versions of the Bible, though, so if you want the flavor of that translation, I’d recommend trying the New King James Version (NKJV), because the language has been updated a bit to make it easier to understand.
You can also get Bible apps for your phone or tablet, and there are a multitude of audio Bibles available on-line, as apps, and in other formats if you’d rather listen.
But where do I start?
The Bible is really long! It’s pretty overwhelming at first. I recommend choosing a gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John – and then just reading straight through until you reach the end of the Bible, then starting at the beginning.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all books about Jesus and what He did. You know Him now, so it’s good to find out more about Him. Acts is about new Christians doing what Jesus did. You can read it and feel inspired to know that Jesus will empower you to do the same things, too.
There are a bunch of letters after Acts, and they are really informative and often instructional. They’ll teach you a lot and be encouraging, as well.
Revelation is a bit strange for most people, but I like it. It’s more important to keep reading some part of the Bible than to stop because it’s tough to swallow, so I’d say if you have a hard time reading any part of the Bible, feel free to skip it for now (you can always read it in the future) and move on to something that speaks to you.
At the beginning of the Bible there’s Genesis, which I really like because it’s full of really amazing stories. I also really like 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel because they have some of the best stories ever in them. Isaiah has beautiful poetry. Proverbs is full of wisdom and Psalms are essentially poems and songs.
There are lots of other books and stories you can read, but those are some of my all-time favorites and ones I’d recommend to you.
Regardless of what you choose to read, though, it’s important to establish the habit of reading the Bible everyday. It doesn’t matter how much or how fast.
But the devil, Satan, who is the enemy of our souls and desires your downfall, is the father of lies and will try to lie to you a lot. He will even use Scripture (Bible verses) to try to convince you that his lies are true. One of the best ways to defeat him is to know the Bible, to know what it says, so you can quote it back to him – or say it out loud, since he’s usually so subtle you don’t realize at the moment that he’s even bothering you – and release the power of God to give you victory.
Jesus did exactly this in Luke 4. The more you read the Bible, the more ammunition you’ll have in your arsenal so you can stand when you’re attacked.
Speaking of standing…
Put on Your Armor Everyday
Make this a habit, too. You’re on the winning side, but Satan, the loser, doesn’t like it. Before you joined the winning team you weren’t a threat to him, so he was happy to oppress you but might not have come straight at you. You’re covered by the blood of Jesus and God commands His angels concerning you, so you don’t need to be afraid and you don’t need to worry, but it’s smart to wear your spiritual armor everyday.
I put mine on in the morning when I first wake up.
You can read about the armor in Ephesians 6:10-18:
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
When I put on my armor, I just speak out loud (or sometimes in my mind, but like I’ve said elsewhere, I believe it’s powerful to speak out loud) and say, “I put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and all prayer.” (You might notice that these words are different than the ones above – because I grew up with the NIV.)
It might seem confusing now, but God rewards us for the things we do in faith (trusting Him even when we can’t understand). So even if you don’t understand it yet, put on your armor everyday.
Praying is simple and easy. It’s just talking to God. Listening when He talks back can be much more difficult, but talking to Him is so easy you can do it all day long, no matter what you’re doing. I usually pray when I get up in the morning and bring up a handful of specific, recurring things, and then throughout the day I just talk to God whenever I think of something that I want to say to Him.
Prayer isn’t something to feel stressed about or to turn into a pious exercise. It’s just spending time with somebody you love (in this case, God). And when you start to see the way He answers you and you can really recognize that He’s listening intently to your voice and really cares about even the smallest aspects of your life, it becomes a real joy to talk to Him all day and know He’s listening.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Go to Church
A lot of people think they’re saved (in a solid relationship with Jesus) because they go to church, or because their parents went to church, but that is 100% wrong. The church itself has no power at all whatsoever to save you. Only Jesus can do that. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that your salvation is dependent upon church attendance.
But going to church is another healthy habit to begin. God designed the church with many wonderful things in mind, but one of those things was to provide a beautiful family for all who believe in Him. Now that you know Jesus, there’s a really important part of you that people who don’t know Jesus just can’t understand. Just like football fans like to get together with people who like the same team so they can talk about their favorite players’ stats and cheer together during matches, it feels good to go someplace where people understand you.
Plus, being a Christian isn’t always easy. There are a lot of great aspects, but sometimes things are hard. If you attend church regularly and develop strong relationships with people there, you’ll have support when things get rough.
And, if you go to church, it’s easier to…
Find a Spiritual Mentor
This can be tough to do on your own, but God is faithful and He will provide you with every single thing you need. Ask Him to show you where to go to church, and ask Him to show you who your spiritual father or mother can be.
Just like I told you to put on the armor even if you don’t understand it, there are a lot of spiritual things going on that you might not know about yet. As you grow, you’ll learn about those things, but in the meantime, it’s good to know that your mentor is praying for you (talking to God on your behalf) regularly.
And there are a lot of strange things in the Bible or bizarre elements of church services that might seem strange to you if you didn’t grow up with those things. A mentor is someone who is spiritually mature and is willing to listen to your questions and concerns and help you understand what’s going on. They desire your success.
If you find a good spiritual mentor and cultivate a trusting relationship with them, you will be blessed.
Again, God knows the things you need and He will provide everything. Just ask Him to show you where to go and to give you what you need. He will.