Practical advice for new Christians to help you grow in your faith in Jesus:

1) Get to know the Bible starting with the New Testament Gospels first so you can get a whole picture of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of His Word to you. The Old Testament is very important and critical to understanding how Holy God is and our need to repent because we fall short of God's law. However, like newborn babies, it is best to start with milk and work your way up to eating meat. God gave the Law so that we would know that our sins condemn us to hell, as we cannot live the sinless life required to enter heaven. The animal sacrifices were a temporary covering and a foreshadow of the coming new covenant through Jesus. The Old Testament shows us how Perfect, Pure, Holy and Powerful God is and it recorded the lineage for the Messiah (Jesus) to enter into this world. All of the Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah have been or will be fulfilled, when Jesus returns as King and Judge at the end of time (Old Testament rabbinical scholars see two different Messiahs while Christians see one Messiah, Jesus, coming twice to fulfill all the prophecies). The Old Testament validates Jesus as the prophesied suffering Messiah and Savior. When Jesus died on the cross He said, "It is finished" making a new covenant of faith through Jesus. When reading the New Testament for the first time, don't concern yourself with the things that you do not understand but focus on the clear and understandable instructions that God is teaching you through His Holy Spirit. As you get to know God, many of the other things will become clearer later when God's Holy Spirit is ready to reveal them to you. Be very careful when trying to apply any single verse by itself as interpretations need to be considered in the original context, plus all the rest of what the Bible has to say on any subject. Study Bibles can help offer understanding on the background, traditions and culture of that time period. It is the things that are easy to understand and repeated over and over (love, forgiveness, patience, humility...) that are the hardest to actually do. Follow what you know to be true and more light will be given to you.

2) It is not about rules, rituals or our personal rights but it is all about relationships. As a Christian, you now have a relationship with God your Heavenly Father through Jesus His One and only Son. It is this relationship that allows us access to God and eternal life in heaven if we submit to follow Jesus and walk in the light. God not only wants you to have a relationship with Him but also to have Christian love and forgiveness for everyone else (see Luke 6:37 and I Corinthians 13). Talk to God through out each day and He will speak to you though His Word (the Bible) and His Holy Spirit.

3) The Christian life was not intended to be lived alone. You not only need God's help but He has designed that, if at all possible, believers get together on a regular basis to help and encourage each other (we call this the body of believers). In America, we have many different types of churches to choose from. As long as they are staying true to the core Bible beliefs: Jesus is the one and only way to God, He died on the cross and was raised from the dead, the Bible is God's message to us and it can be trusted to contain everything that God wants us to know. It is important that they are also ministering and teaching others to minister in love. The style of a church is not important so try to find one that appeals to your whole family. Remember that there is no "perfect" church and that we all are saved by grace and we all do things without thinking that later we wish we had done differently. Everyone is at a different stage of growth so keep your eyes on Jesus and not on the church or anyone else or you will be disappointed. I will warn you that some churches are shifting their focus away from fundamental Biblical teachings listed above. This is predicted in the end times. We are to love everyone in the world but when someone becomes a Christian, they need to know what sin is and call it sin. Christians are to repent of sin, not justify it. If a church is condoning any sin (usually it is a sexual sin), do not associate with them. Another problem creeping into some churches is selfish greed. If the focus of the messages are usually about you... your dreams, your goals, your success, then be very cautious. The Christian life is about serving Jesus and others. Look for a church that has a Blibical worldview.

4) It is not about you but it is all about God, so try not to focus on yourself but focus on God. It is important to understand our short comings, but do not dwell on them. Instead, give them to God and ask for His forgiveness and ask for His help as you desire to please Him. Be honest with God and when you have a sin that you are struggling with, ask God for His help. A prayer that I learned from my Pastor goes like this, "Lord Jesus, I give you permission to change the way I feel about ___________ (an issue I am struggling with), as I want to view ___________ in the same way that You view it". Whenever you are confronted with a repetitive sin issue, immediately turn to Jesus and repeat this prayer of permission. Trust Him, knowing that we do not have the power to overcome temptation ourselves without becoming proud. Give Him the praise and thanks whenever He helps you do what is right. We need to give God permission to change us from the inside out. If we change ourselves outwardly without asking for God's help, then we will become proud of our accomplishments and pride is the worst sin of all. Be careful not to get caught up in "popular Christianity" where God is "My co-pilot" and "He works for Me", because a time will come when things do not go the way you plan and you will have to decide if you will follow Jesus example of obedience or become one of those people who say, "It just did not work for me". To those people I would respond, "yes that is true, God does not work for you but you can work for God". Look at all that Jesus suffered. Look at the martyrs of the early church and even today in many other countries. It should become clear and obvious that anyone claiming "health and wealth for everyone who believes", is just not true to the gospel message.

5) We receive power when we give praise and thanks to Jesus. Some people like to do this though song. There are many types of worship music, as people have different music tastes. The praise and thanks that we give to God is actually to our benefit as it brings our attitude into alignment with God's purpose for us and allows the Holy Spirit to work in us.

6) Many people are under the wrong impression that once they become a Christian that all their problems will go away. The truth is that you may have more problems than ever before but now you have a helper (the Holy Spirit) to help you through your problems with a healthy attitude. God will often allow problems to help build your character (if you allow Him to help you through them). The Christian life is not a destination but a journey as you grow in love and faith through the trials of life. As you walk with God, you will see your attitude toward your problems change as God helps you become the person that He designed you to be. Jesus can give you a joy and a peace in spite of the troubles you may be facing. You can rest assured that as a child of God, nothing can happen to you that God has not allowed to happen for a reason. If you take your problems to God, He can use them to make you into the person that He wants you to be.

7) Be an ambassador and represent well in all your interactions. Share your faith when someone is interested. Look for opportunities to share what God has done for you so you can help others. Don't try to force your faith onto someone but pray for those that God brings into your life. Look for ways to introduce them to Jesus. Help them to understand that they have broken God's Law and cannot enter Heaven on their own. Show them the 10 commandments along with Jesus's Sermon on the Mount (ask them if they have ever lied, stolen, lusted, etc). If they do not see their sin as horrible because of the separation that it causes, then they will not see the need for a Savior or the need to be born again. You don't need to have an answer to every question in order to share your faith. Keep it personal and keep it real. People do not become Christians just because someone gave them the "right answers". Becoming a Christian is not just a mental "vote" for Jesus. It is a complete submission to God to obey Him and become "little Christs" as you follow the Bible and the Holy Spirit. If someone is honestly seeking God, then you can always say, "I don't know the answer to that question, but let me see if I can find out and get back to you" and ask other Christians to help you with a Biblical understanding. Many of the toughest questions are answered when you see the "Big Picture" from an eternal perspective. It is the power of the Holy Spirit through God's love and a changed life that brings people to God, not the argumentative "Mr-Know-It-All" cold, accusative and uncaring answers. Build relationship "bridges" and try to avoid subjects like politics that distract from the message of Jesus as they usually "polarize" others against you and nothing else you say will have an impact. Remember not to focus on a non-believers lifestyle as they do not yet understand why it displeases God. If someone asks you if "such and such" is a sin, then be honest but try to help them see that ALL disobedience to God is sin and we are all sinners seperated from the pure and holy presence of God so we and need to follow the only one who can forgive sin. Bring them to Christ first and help them understand they need to repent of all sin and then allow Him to renew their minds and change their hearts desire.