Baby Steps

On December 15th, “Prancer” the little heifer was born. Normally, Diane names all the calves; but I texted the photo of the frost-covered newborn to my sister who showed it to her two granddaughters. After the expected oohs and aahs, I told them if they could agree on a name, I would give them the calf. Natalie and Camille named their calf “Prancer”, since it was born so near Christmas I think. I gave them the calf, with the understanding that great uncle Jim would keep it for them and care for it. After all, where could the girls keep a cow living near Boston, MA and Malibu, CA?

As I do with each calf born here at the Cross-Dubya (pronounced ‘dub-ya’ as in the way Texans pronounce the letter “W”), I stand at a distance and pray over them; thanking God for His blessing. I then watch to make sure they get to their feet, take their first few awkward steps, and find their way to mama’s udder to get nourishment. This whole process makes me think of how we mature Christians must disciple newer ones.

As new Christians take their first awkward baby steps in their journey of faith, we need to be there for them. To help them find the way, be a steady source of guidance and information, and encourage them to grow stronger.

Calves, like most animals (including humans), are born with certain instincts. For example, newborns know where to seek nourishment. They know to stick close to their parents for safety and protection. When they need attention, they know to make a noise. By watching others, they learn many new skills as they develop.

I can’t imagine what questions a newborn baby (of any kind) must have when they first enter the world. I remember the many questions and attacks on my faith when I first became a Christian; and the seemingly endless string of attacks every day since. The lack of guidance and help to learn new skills needed to navigate my Christian life led to a crisis of faith; causing me to turn away from God. Not having matured in my faith early on, I was not equipped to survive my crisis.

Therefore, I’m a strong advocate for sharing the lessons of faith I’ve learned with others. Each day, I pray God brings me someone I can help to grow in their faith. I remember how it felt being filled with doubt, to wonder if I have what it takes to serve the almighty God and not the gods of this world. I recall the strong feelings of shame; so strong that when mixed with pride, I could not bring myself to seek help from others.

Finding my way back to God after years of ignoring His call was not an easy task. I learned to let go of so much worldliness that entrapped me, with great pain. As God healed and nurtured me, I became stronger in my faith. During this growth, I vowed to never stand on the sidelines and watch other immature Christians struggle in their journey. With God’s help, I strive to live that promise each day.

Discipleship is more than teaching new or immature Christians how to read their Bibles, develop good prayer habits, and desire Christian fellowship. It is hearing their needs and helping them seek answers from these tenets of faith.

Does your church have a formalized Discipleship Program? Many do not. New Christians often receive a shout of praise at their moment of salvation. Some receive a round of applause or a pat on the back after their baptism. Even less get a certificate and a new Bible. They are then left to sit in a pew and flounder as they try to make sense of it all. Just as parents have to teach our children new skills and help them find and develop their unique gifts and talents, we the church must do the same thing.

Have you ever taken a new Christian or young person under your wing and helped guide them as a mentor? Have you ever followed up after a lesson or sermon with a struggling Christian? Did you check to see if they had questions or needed help understanding outside of a large group or crowd? We all learn in different ways, but the key to learning is having someone show enough interest to find the best ways for us to learn.

In what ways can you help new Christians take their first steps towards God? Share on X

There are lots of wonderful resources to help you learn to become a disciple maker. On-line studies, books, even web sites. I pray you will consider either helping someone grow, or grow you, through discipleship in Christ. I have learned an important lesson in discipleship; both parties must want it. You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn and you can’t learn correct behavior from someone who is double-minded and doesn’t live what they’re teaching.

If someone in your life has taken the time to help you in your journey of faith, then repay their investment in you by helping another.

God’s blessings…

28 thoughts on “Baby Steps”

  1. I love your analogy of the new calf instinctively knowing where to find nourishment and protection. I think the enemy attempts to blind us to that truth when it comes to our position with God. So part of discipling others is praying that those blinders come off so we see the truth of that relationship.
    Well done, J.D.

    1. Thank you Ms. Jeanne. Satan sure does try to derail us all doesn’t he ma’am? Even old guys like me feel the sting of his fiery darts nearly every day. It’s as we grow and mature our faith that we become better able to withstand them isn’t it? God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Trust me my friend; you are a blessing to all of us around you. Your words, your encouragement, and your inspiration helps all who know you find God’s blessings through your gentle spirit. Thank you for your willingness to share your “Servent’s Heart” with the world. We are honored and blessed ma’am.

  2. Excellent analogy. We do certainly need to be investing in the growth of new Christians. A very good reminder of the importance of walking along side s new believer!

    1. Thank you Ms. Veda. We certainly do need to invest in our new Christians. As someone who floundered for years until turning my back on “the church”, I can attest how important guidance and solid mentoring can be.

  3. Great reminder J.D. of the mentoring or discipleship we are called to do. You asked some really good questions near the end of your post, too. Thank you for the reminder that we were all new Christians once and needed help navigating our new found faith.

    1. Thanks Pastor Stephanie. I often remind myself that while God might allow me to pass along things He’s taught me, I must always remember that I too am still being sanctified. I too am still learning and growing. It’s amazing how when helping a younger/newer Christian, I find myself learning the same lessons. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. Author Terry Palmer

    yes and yes and yes. Yes, our church offers a discipleship investment. Yes we are involved as Leann and I lead the group, and yes with a smile as two days ago we led a young boy to the Lord. Our weekly prayer is toward the next one. who is it Lord? Where is that next heart, softened by Your Spirit to receive Jesus? The book we use and which we really like for its simple, line by line use and understanding is ‘continue’ by Paul Chappel. We are prayer too at our church for 8X8 prayer. That is 8 people, either seeking Jesus or are new to Christ and need to be led closer, times 8 pews for 64 people to disciple, to lead to a stronger faith and amen for each one and amen for your article, which lays it out for all to see. Thanks JD

    1. What a wonderful prayer Mr. Terry and Ms. Leann. As I travel around and visit with different churches and congregations, a solid discipleship seems more difficult to find. Many times I hear “we’re just too busy.” I can appreciate that comment, but I can’t understand it. How can we be too busy to grow closer to God? Thanks so much for your comments and guidance.

  5. You are a storyteller! Thank you for using that analogy. My late husband and I visited his family in TX several times and on one occasion, a calf was born. His family’s tradition was if a calf was born during someone’s visit, the calf took their name! This northern gal was honored and a calf was born- named Marilyn. Marilyn, by the way, because she had a name, was saved for breeding, not steak and hamburger. So I related to Prancer.

    I also got to thinking, if we took discipleship personally, how we would be humbled that people would not only take Jesus name, but as we discipled them, would walk as we walked, and point back to our influence–our name. .
    Thanks so much for this post!

    1. I never knew you have family out here in “cattle country” Ms. Marilyn. All of our cows have a name. In fact, we have ‘Luigi’ and ‘Phil’ in the freezer now. I could not agree more with your comments ma’am. If we will take discipleship more personally, then I think we could reverse the trends we are seeing today in Christ’s church. We need Him more and the world less in many buildings today. God’s blessings ma’am.

  6. I enjoy reading about your life on the ranch and love the way you find a connection to God in everything that happens on the Cross-Dubya.

    This is good counsel for all of us.

    1. Am so glad you enjoy Ms. Candyce; as I do your blog ma’am. Am sure you’ve seen my brand (the Cross-Dubya logo). My wife Diane and I chose to name our little ranch to show the world that we do our best to put Christ first in everything we do here. Of course the “W” comes from our last name. LOL Not very creative I know, but it works for us. Thank you for your comments ma’am.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. Cattle and donkeys are a little different from ewes, but ewe (in the words of Foghorn Leghorn “That’s a joke son!” 😀 ) get the same inspiration I think. God’s blessing ma’am.

  7. I just love that you pray over each calf born, J.D.! That’s awesome! And a great reminder for me to pray over new Christians that go forward at church or if I know of those that make a profession elsewhere. Even if I can’t mentor, I’ll try to let your calf story remind me to pray “from a distance.” Thank you!

    1. Thanks Ms. Julie. Something I am certain of is that our prayers are never silent. While those we pray for may never hear us, the halls of heaven are filled with the sounds of our earnest prayers. As for praying over my calves, I do for all the animals God has placed in my care. Sometimes my neighbors Mr. Tom and Ms. Ola Jean probably think I’m just standing at the fence enjoying watching the animals. More times that not, I thanking God and praying for them. I know… “crazy old farmer.” 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  8. I just love reading about life on the ranch. The lessons you manage to weave in are wonderful. I’m currently reading “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by W. Phillip Keller. Your style and lessons remind me of his writings (over a million copies sold!).
    Blessings to you and yours!

    1. You just brought the biggest smile ma’am. I approach my Christian writing as “each book sold is a life touched.” To think that I might one day have a reach that could impact that many lives… oh my. I suspect though, I’ll always be happy touching one life, one soul at a time. Am so very glad my writing has touched yours in some small way; as yours does mine ma’am. God’s blessings.

  9. Your post touched a deep chord in me, J.D. I also remember those faltering steps when I first became a Christian and the multiple times I stumbled, fell, and backslid. I’m so thankful God didn’t give up on me and sent godly people to disciple me. Your courage in sharing your story is a “booster shot” for us all to remember the importance of mentoring our new Christians. Thank you, my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Katherine. I think many of our generation struggled with our faith early on. I too am so grateful God never gave up on me. Such love ma’am. As we mature in our faith, I am so blessed to know that you and other writing friends are working around the clock to help bring God’s message to this world. I am emboldened by your words and your actions my friend. God’s blessings.

  10. Love your stories, J.D. Mentoring and discipleship is so important. Time well invested as we reach out to others and help them along their way.

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