In John 13:35 Jesus says that the marker of His followers is love. We are called to love people unconditionally with the same type of love that He demonstrated to us.
In John 14 Jesus says that He is life and we can only truly know life through Him. He also tells us in John 10 that He came so that we could know the fullest expression of life possible.
To be successful in any endeavor there is a certain level of intentionality that is required. If we are to truly "Love People to Life" we must align our activity and energy towards that very endeavor. That is why we have identified the following 5 values that we believe are ultimately found at some point in the faith journey of every believer. God uses these 5 things as catalysts to greater faith and ultimately a full life found in following him. We have found this to be true in our lives as well. That is why we are committed to aligning our activity as a church around these 5 values. We want you (and everyone in our community) to know the full life that Jesus explicitly details for us in Scripture.
We believe that each believer experiences these 5 things throughout our faith journeys. How have these things been a catalyst in your faith (at Faith Mountain or elsewhere)? We invite you to share your story. It will encourage us and inspire others. Thank you for engaging in our new vision and values.
When individuals describe their faith journeys, they always reference the first time they were exposed to practical Bible teaching. For some, this happened at a college Bible study. For others, it was in a home. For many women in our country, it was Beth Moore who served as an introduction to this type of teaching. For most, it was when they heard the Bible presented in practical terms for the first time in a local church. When people tell their stories, it becomes evident that this was not their first exposure to the Bible. It represents the first time they understood what was being taught from the Bible. It was the first time they actually knew what to do with what was being taught. Most Christians can tell you where they were and who was speaking the first time someone made the Bible come alive for them.
Remember the first time you were challenged at that level? Remember how interesting the Bible suddenly became? You sat on the edge of your chair. The time flew by. You took notes. You wanted to know what kind of Bible the teacher or preacher was using so you could get one like it. You couldn’t wait to come back for another round. Yeah, you remember. Something came alive inside of you. Then you did something really crazy. You went out and applied some of what you had heard. And God honored your active faith. Your faith intersected with his faithfulness and your confidence in God got bigger. Practical Biblical teaching that moves people to action is one of the primary things God uses to grow our faith.
When people tell their faith stories we hear about the development of a private devotional life. Somewhere along the way, Christians begin to pray. Alone. They begin exploring the Bible on their own. They memorize their first Scripture verse. It’s not uncommon to hear people speak of getting up a little earlier in the morning to spend time with God. Personal spiritual disciplines introduce a sense of intimacy and accountability to our faith walks. Private spiritual disciplines tune our hearts to the heart of God and underscore personal accountability to our heavenly Father.
There is a direct correlation between a person’s private devotional life and his or her personal faith. And regardless of how long you’ve been in ministry, this is something you can’t afford to lose sight of. When God speaks to us personally through His Word or answers a specific prayer, our faith is strengthened. This is why private disciplines are a value that we adopted.
When people describe their faith journeys, they always talk about one of the first times they engaged in some kind of personal ministry. For some, it was a short-term mission trip. For others, it was leading a children’s small group. It’s not uncommon to hear this phrase “I went to go and bless others, but I was actually the one that was blessed.”
Although we train and equip people, when they describe their first ministry experiences, they often use phrases like: “I was so afraid.” “I felt so inadequate.” “I hoped they didn’t ask me any hard questions.” “I’ve never been so dependent on God.” And then they talk about the rush that followed when they realized God had used them; given them the words to say; allowed them to leverage their pasts to help someone move forward. Few things stretch and thus grow our faith like stepping into a ministry environment and seeing God at work.
When people tell their faith stories, they always talk about the individuals they believe God put in their paths. You hear things like: “Then I met this couple.” “Then I ran into an old friend from college.” “A guy at work invited me to church.” “A lady I barely knew said she had heard about my circumstances and asked how she could help.” “One afternoon my boss called me into his office.” We believe every faith story has a relational component at some point. There’s always mention of that guy, that couple, that neighbor I barely knew.
We call these providential relationships because when people tell their stories, they are convinced God providentially brought these individuals or couples into their lives. Encounters that initially appeared accidental or random are eventually viewed as divine appointments. As you’re reading this, I bet you can think of that person, couple, or perhaps group God brought along at just the right time. And if you are like most people, this is not a one-time occurrence. At critical junctures in our faith journeys, there are individuals whose paths intersect with ours. In some cases, long-term relationships are formed. On other occasions, the relationships are only for a short time. But in either case, there is no doubt in our minds that the encounters were providential.
Two things make a relationship providential: when we hear from God through someone and when we see God in someone. When either of those things happens, our faith gets bigger. Isn’t it true that when we see God’s faithfulness in someone else’s life, it is easier to trust him with ours? That’s the power of a divinely ordained relationship.
When people describe their faith journeys, they include events that could be described as “defining moments.” Some of these are good: being awarded a scholarship, discovering a new opportunity, getting married, having a baby, receiving a promotion or a job transfer. But just as often, these defining moments involve pain and disappointment: the death of a friend or family member, divorce, prolonged illness, a job transfer, betrayal by a friend. As you know, when it comes to faith, circumstances cut both ways. A positive event can adversely affect faith or strengthen it. Adverse circumstances can damage an individual’s faith or deepen it. People lose faith when life gets too easy, but people lose faith in the face of tragedy as well. Either way, life has the potential to impact faith for good or bad.
The challenge with this value is that there’s no way to program a pivotal circumstance. We don’t see them coming. We don’t schedule them. And we never know how they will impact our faith until we are in the middle of them. But as you know from your own story, big, emotionally charged, unexpected life events are major factors in the development or erosion of our confidence in God. When it comes to a pivotal circumstance the reality is this: It isn’t really the event itself that grows or erodes our faith; it is our interpretation of the event that determines which way we go. The conclusions we draw about God in the midst of our pivotal circumstances drive us toward or away from Him.