As an athlete through college I grew up with the constant moniker of Bigger, Faster, Stronger going through my mind. If you were going to be able to have victory on the field, you were going to have to put the work in at the gym. And I was in hook line and sinker.

I loved to get with my friends and teammates to lift weights, put in extra time at practice, and work with coaches on my form and technique. I lived, breathed, and ate training. And one thing I learned through all of that is that if you really want to be bigger, get stronger, run faster, and jump higher you had to have more than a dream or a desire, it takes specific action. 

The key to getting stronger physically and spiritually is to have a plan and to actually work it.

As a new Christian, even one raised in a ministerial family, I knew I needed to grow stronger in my relationship with God. Through Godly men like Greg Taunt and Mike Palmer (and many others) I was guided into a much deeper relationship with God than I ever thought possible. The reality is that it took specific effort on my part to get into a place where my heart would be open to God's shaping. 

"By themselves the spiritual disciplines can do nothing; they only get us to the place where something can be done."
-Richard Foster

At LifePoint our watchword for 2017 is STRONGER. We want to grow stronger in faith, in service, in love, in giving, in sacrifice, basically we want to be stronger in every way that we can. We take seriously the call to become disciples, it's in our DNA:

We will grow as disciples in Christ. 
We are committed to pursing God’s best for every aspect of our lives that we might be fully His in heart, soul, mind, and strength. We believe God’s Word always guides us to God’s best. We will walk in grace and truth.

So in an effort to embrace this call and live up to this commitment, I have challenged the church to embrace something we are calling LP317. Basically it is a call to discipleism.

Discipleism: intentionally building relationships around the Gospel in order to love people into a deeper walk with Jesus.

Here's the challenge, the work out, the plan: Find 3 people to build 3 different types of intentional relationships with. If you embrace the call I can guarantee you it will grow your relationship with Christ and cause you to grow STRONGER in 2017!

One special note, these relationships are never about pretending that we have a  superior position to someone. Jesus taught us in John 13 that the highest position in the room is always kneeling at someone's feet in service. With that said, here's the plan!

Be a Lifter: Build a relationship with someone you will pray for and try to lead to Christ.

This always starts with prayer. "God please lay someone on my heart that I can be a blessing to, that needs the same hope, peace, joy and life that you have given me." 

We never win our enemies to Christ. We only win our friends.
-Rick Warren

After we pray we listen and look for God to provide and answer. This doesn't mean you have to go knock on doors, pass out tracts, or try to pray someone through in the middle of Walmart. It is all about sharing the love of Jesus with someone who needs it. Guess what? We ALL need Jesus because only JESUS BRINGS LIFE! So pray, love somebody, build the friendship, share your story, share Jesus with them, invite them so church or LifeGroup and see what happens!

Be a Trainer: Someone you will pour your life into.

This is different than the person you are hoping to lead to Jesus, this is a fellow believer. Someone you can encourage, teach, do life with, challenge, and walk in accountability with. You could specifically pray for someone, send them encouraging texts, meet up with, and just do life with them. A great place to find someone like this would be in a LifeGroup. If you are looking for a place to get connected to other Christians on a deeper level click here!

Find a Spotter: Someone to pour life into you.

This is usually the toughest one for us to find. Traditionally these people are called mentors, and good mentors are a treasure! I have had several mentors through the years, and currently have more than one even now. My grandpa Dean Rhoades has been a mentor to many people including myself and Dwayne Deskins, my main mentor, is someone who has truly changed my life. He offers these three keys to finding a mentor or spotter for your life:

3 Keys to Finding a Mentor:

1. Realization - You have to realize you have a need.

It takes a certain amount of humility to go to someone and admit where you struggle, to allow them so shine a light on your shadow side, and to otherwise help you where you truly need it. One of the biggest reasons we fail to connect with a mentor is that we don't see the need, mostly because we don't want to or because we are afraid to try and make the connection.

2. Cry Out - You have to ask God to direct you to this person and be spiritually sensitive in the process.

Matthew 5:6 says "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." As the church grew and grew I knew I needed to grow as well or we would never grow to become the church God wants us to be. Reading books is great, but having someone you trust who can speak into your life without reservation is far more powerful. So I began to pray specifically for God to connect me with powerful men of God who He could work through to help me become all I can be in Jesus. It wasn't one prayer, it was a prayer I prayed for years, but it was worth it.

3. Intentional Work - You have to put yourself in growth environments.

The best mentors are people who are already busy, who don't have a real agenda for you, but still care enough to help you grow. You don't generally find those guys and gals while you're playing xbox or playstation and they typically don't just show up knocking on your door. After prayer you have to intentionally go and make contact, drive to their town, make the phone call, go to a conference (Like the AMAZING C3 Conference PASTORS here's a link to special pricing just for you!) and introduce yourself. And even then you have to be sure both sides reciprocate.

When I schedule time with Dwayne, or any of my mentors, I am careful not to waste their time. I come prepared with a list of topics or questions I feel they can help me with. I also ask them about books, sermons, blogs, etc that they recommend  I want to read and understand what helped shaped them because that in turn shapes me. 

In all of this I never lose my sense of who I am because the primary relationship I want to cultivate is with Jesus. And that is what this is all about.

So who's with me? Who wants to get stronger in 2017? Thanks for sharing and I would love to read any comments below! And if you don't mind I would LOVE IT if you would subscribe to this blog!


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