The Christian life can be a rollercoaster of emotions, experiences, and events. Jesus never changes of course (which is v. comforting), but we believers tend to change a lot over the course of our life (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse). I’ve compiled a list of almost twenty resources that have helped me in my walk with God (though I don’t think you can call people ‘resources’—you’ll see what I mean). I hope you find some useful on this list! ❤
—Bible. I know this one is really obvious, but it’s essential for good reason. The Bible is God’s message to us. It’s how we know Who God is and what He’s like. It’s where we go to (or where we should go to) for truth, guidance, comfort, and basically everything. I use the KJV—I know it’s considered outdated by a lot of people, but I love it (and I don’t have the inclination to get into a debate on the merits/faults of different Bible versions :P).
My dad gifted me a leather-bound Cambridge KJV Bible with wide margins and a lot of note-taking space in the back. For the longest time, I was leery of writing inside that Bible because it seemed so permanent (and because I didn’t feel as though I had anything much to say). But I’ve been cautiously venturing into doing just that! Pretty awesome. I’d highly recommend getting a wide-margin Bible or a Bible specifically designed with journaling in mind. (Like this one.)
—Prayer. Besides prayer being a way to, let’s be honest, ask God for stuff, prayer can truly be a two-way conversation between you and Jesus. I’m not saying that He audibly speaks to me as I pray, but more than once, as I’ve been praying, a new insight into God and His character has sparked inside my mind. It’s really cool when that happens. I know that I have often fallen into the trap of ‘laundry list’ prayers or prayer sessions that are mostly asking God for what I want (even when I’m praying for others, it often turns into asking, asking, asking without much praise or just talking to God like a friend). And our prayers shouldn’t be like that!
I think I mentioned something about this in a previous blog post, but if you’re stuck in a cycle of rushing through a prayer list, asking God for things instead of simply spending time in His presence, or any number of other blah prayer habits, you should try praying through scripture! (Specifically, the psalms.) David and the other psalmists knew how to praise God, and how to pour out their hearts to Him. Here’s a link with more information/tips for praying through different psalms. ❤
—A plan. Can you tell I’m an enneagram one? I love to-do lists, organization…and plans! You should definitely find a Bible reading plan. When you don’t have any idea where you’re going in your reading/study of the Bible, you’ll probably end up drifting from book to book, picking out verses here and there. And while every part of God’s Word is amazing, you’ll almost certainly get more from it if you have a plan.
If you’re unsure where to find one, the Youversion Bible app is an excellent place to start. I’ll talk more about it below, but suffice to say that they have thousands of different Bible reading plans—everything from one week devotionals to one-year marathons. (I also love these plans.)
What Bible reading plan do I follow? Well, I’ve kind of adopted my assistant pastor’s wife’s method. We take a book of the Bible each week (or four to six chapters of a book, if it’s longer) and read that passage through every day that week (though honestly, I pretty much never read it every single day :P). We write down our questions, thoughts, and general observations about the passage and then share them with each other (and a couple other women who’ve joined our Bible study as well). I’ve never consistently (or semi-consistently) studied the Bible like this and it’s such a good thing to do. I’ve learned so much (and I know there’s still a ton to discover).
This week we’re doing James, by the way. 😉
Also, I’d say that it’s a good idea to have a plan for when you’re going to spend time with God and to have a prayer plan. Even though I’m not a morning person, I find that it’s so good to get up around six and spend an hour or so reading the Bible, taking notes, and all that. Just find what works for you! You may actually do much better reading in the afternoon or evening. It all depends on the person.
As for the prayer plan, the Coffee and Bible Time girls (more on them in a bit) did a prayer challenge during July where you set yourself a time limit and then pray for that amount of time each day. I found it really good and helpful (though I didn’t stick with it through all of July, sadly), and it’s something that each of us could implement into our devotional time.
—Notebook/journal. Not a necessity, but super helpful for jotting down notes, thoughts, prayers, poems, and anything else that comes to you as you read your Bible and pray. I know that some Christians really advocate writing down prayers. I’ve done a bit of that, and I might do more…but I mostly use my notebook for Bible study notes. 🙂 Again, whatever works for you! Also, you might find it helpful to start taking a notebook to church to write down sermon notes. I do that for a couple different reasons, and it’s lovely for catching those little insights and #fire points during messages.
—Highlighters. I don’t have a color code method (and that’s something I kind of regret now), so if people discover my Bible in the future, they’re going to get a headache from trying to decipher what the different colors mean (answer: nothing). But I love highlighting my Bible all the same. Look up highlighters that are specifically for Bibles, so that you don’t have the dreaded bleed-through.
—Your favorite hot beverage. Got to have that coffee (or tea)! I’ll get up, get dressed, come upstairs and grind coffee beans, brew the coffee, and then settle in with my Bible/notebook/pen/highlighter. #best
—Devotional book. I don’t currently use a devotional book, but I have in the past and they can be great for one’s devotional life (hence, the name). Usually the readings are quite short and, if you get a good quality devotional book, they can enrich your understanding of God, the Bible, and the Christian life. I’d recommend The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon. I also found a list of devotional books on Goodreads, and some of them look really good. (I just can’t wholeheartedly recommend any book I haven’t yet read. And I know that Jesus Calling has some iffy doctrines. :P)
—Other Christian books. There is no greater Book than the Bible. But that doesn’t mean that you should only read the Bible and turn your nose up at any other book. There are several amazing Christian books (both fiction and nonfiction) that can inspire and encourage you in your faith. The Saving Life of Christ and If I Perish, I Perish by Major W. Ian Thomas, 0/100 by Dr. Jim Van Gelderen, and Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman are excellent books to start with. (And there’s soooooooo many others. Like Elisabeth Elliot’s books, A.W. Tozer’s books, C.S. Lewis’s books…) For fiction, I’d recommend authors Lynn Austin and Jack Cavanaugh.
—Christian movies. Yes, I know. Christian movies are often mocked and disliked, because there are so few quality ones! However, I would recommend I’m Not Ashamed, Courageous, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, The Ultimate Gift, Risen, The Prince of Egypt, and the TV shows Sue Thomas F.B. Eye and Vindication. Also, you can watch a TON of faith films on Tubi for free (at least in Canada?). Most of them are garbage, but they can be a nice diversion.
—Youversion. I think every Christian app list includes the Youversion Bible app, because it’s just that good. You have a clean interface to read the Bible, a verse/devotional/prayer of the day, badges you can earn, Bible reading plans, and more! My mom wrote a really good, helpful review of the app on her blog if you want to check that out.
—Bible Hub. This website/app is chock-full of Bible study tools (as well as the full Bible, of course), but what I mainly use it for is Strong’s concordance. With the Bible reading method that my assistant pastor’s wife and I use, Strong’s concordance is really awesome because if we don’t understand something (a concept, the use of a word, etc.), we can find good insights by using Strong’s (or, often, more questions). I haven’t really explored the rest of the app/website, but I’m sure that there are other good resources on there as well.
—Abiding Radio. I love this app! Most Christian music these days isn’t my thing, and listening to the same few albums over and over again gets old pretty fast. So when I downloaded Abiding Radio after a friend recommended it to me, I fell in love right away. (One of the settings is a bit finicky, and I ended up deleting AR after a while because of that. But then I re-installed it a little while ago, figured out the setting that had been causing me trouble, and now I loooove it.) You can listen online or download the app for Apple or Android.
THE YOUTUBE CHANNELS.
—Coffee and Bible Time. This is the first Christian girls channel I started following once I began to grow in my walk with God (I think it was actually a contributing factor to that growth). They have so many great videos (you might end up binge-watching their channel, along with the other two channels I talk about below). Three good videos of theirs: 10 JOURNAL IDEAS (for those who don’t know what to journal about), 10 Things Christians Should Be Doing Daily, and 54 year old shares 10 things she would have done differently in her 20’s. (Yep, I love lists.) They also have a vlog channel, for those of you who enjoy vlogs.
—Tiffany Dawn. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend all of Tiffany Dawn’s videos because she goes into pretty adult territory semi-often. 😛 But the videos I have seen from her are usually excellent and helpful. She speaks on relationships, singleness, growing in Christ, and all that kind of awesome stuff. Here are three great videos from her: Dear Single Girls: Ignore these 4 things people say, What to Do While Waiting on God, and 4 Things that Changed My Faith Forever.
—Morgan Tracy J. Okay, I haven’t watched many of Morgan’s videos (though I have a ton of them saved to my ‘watch later’ playlist on Youtube). But I included her on this list because her videos look really good and helpful! Three I’m looking forward to: Revamp Your Life with Jesus (Five Tips), Social Media Detox (Is Social Media Controlling You?), and 21 Day Daniel Fast Experience + Tips.
—A good church. This should actually be in ‘the essentials’ section, almost. Yes, you can survive without a good church. But it’s hard to thrive. Really hard. (Speaking from experience here!) When you find the church that God wants you to be in, it’s amazing. Obviously not without its challenges, since a church is the members, and church members are people, and people are sinners, and sinners live messily. But the benefits far outweigh potential hurts. Growing under good preaching, have a family of believers that will support you (and who you can support in return)…it’s quite literally a taste of Heaven.
—A group of like-minded friends. Church = family. But within that family (and outside of it, too), it’s a great idea to have a smaller group of friends that you can hang out with. Building strong friendships does take time, but it’s #worth. Pro tip: try to spot a kindred spirit or two in your social circle. And once you have, open up! Don’t wait for them to come to you! Go to them, perhaps starting with something small that’s on your heart. Because until your relationship with people moves beyond surface conversations, you don’t really have a relationship, y’know? You and your friends should build each other up spiritually and know how to have a great, fun time.
—A spiritual mentor. I see a good spiritual mentor as being someone who you can go to with the tough questions and struggles that you’ll inevitably face in your Christian life. You need a mentor who won’t judge you or look down on you for your spiritual wrestlings, but who will instead encourage you, gently correct you, and above all, point you to Jesus. There are actually a few different women in my life (plus my pastor, who is not a woman :D) who fit that criteria, but my assistant pastor’s wife is who I consider my ‘official’ spiritual mentor (it’s not really official at all, tho). She’s awesome. ❤
Tips for finding a spiritual mentor? Basically the same as for building good, deep friendships: open up. This doesn’t mean you have to spill your soul to everyone until you find the right mentor for you. I just kind of randomly opened up to Mrs. S. (my mentor) one time when we were texting. I didn’t know her super well, but she was the first person to talk with my family when we arrived at the church for our first ever service and she always seemed very friendly and nice. Anyway, I told her about something I was struggling with and she sent me back a SUPER long, helpful text that included an invitation to study the Bible with her. And here we are, three-ish months later!
Also, you can always ask God to send you a spiritual mentor. 😉
Wow. This post is super long. I hope at least some of these resources/thoughts were helpful. Please let me know what your favorite Christian resources, tips, etc. are!