Wish-I-Knew Basics

When we came to Christ, many of us were given clear instruction on salvation, yet little-to-no instruction on how to live out that salvation practically. As a result, we spend many unnecessary years wondering, Why isn’t this faith thing working for me like it does for others?

Yet Christianity isn’t broken—what’s broken is the way we’re trying to live it.

That’s a sobering thought.

Yet rather than dwell on the negative, let’s focus on the amazing positive.

The way of life Jesus died to give us is alive and well, and every bit as life-giving as it ever was!

This chapter contains some “LEGO building blocks” of spiritual growth I wish I’d known when I first started following Jesus. Oh, how much wasted time, energy, and effort they would’ve saved me!

Maybe you feel the same way? If so, why not end the cycle of frustration by renewing your soul in the basics of the faith? (which is SO much easier than what most of us have been attempting on our own) 

When you first read these principles, they may not sound very spiritual at all— just simple and down-to-earth.


The Word of God is full of practical principles that help us live out what Jesus taught. When I’ve applied these truths to my life (or watched others do so), they’ve resulted in a deeper heart connection with God, increased “traction” with His ways, and a growing sense of peace, power, and purpose.

You can take it to the bank—God’s ways work!

They work because they enable us to show up for the transforming work of Christ in our lives, rather than straining and trying harder to make growth happen. When you apply these principles, some growth may occur instantly—yet usually it’s a gradual process over time. Either way, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to complete what He starts.

All you have to do is keep showing up to let Him teach you.



HOW WE HEAR  Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice

HOW WE PRAY  Speaking Heart to Heart with God


HOW WE TRUST  Believing God vs. Believing in God

HOW WE OBEY  Loving Obedience Leads to Intimacy


HOW WE THINK  Learning to Take Thoughts Captive

HOW WE LIVE  Learning to Rest in the Easy Yoke


HOW WE GROW  Training vs. Trying in a World of Striving

HOW WE GIVE  The Drink In/Pour Out Cycle


HOW WE FIGHT  Our God-Given Spiritual Authority

HOW WE DELIGHT  A Gift Wrapped in a Command

Some of these principles have been learned directly from the Lord through my own personal study and experience. Others have been learned from wonderfully wise Bible teachers whose books I read or conferences I attended. Because their teaching has influenced me in such a life-changing way, I consider each one a trusted long-distance mentor. For your information, and their honor, I will list each author in the footnotes. (also see “Spiritual Growth Reading List” in Appendix)

Here’s a brief overview of the wish-I-knew principles…


 HOW WE HEAR – Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice 1

Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the garden. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” Yet many believers feel insecure about whether or not they can truly hear the voice of God. Any believer can learn to hear God’s voice through quieting their heart, focusing on Jesus, reading the Word, and listening for the Holy Spirit. You may even want to try writing out your two-way conversations with God in a journal. 1 While it’s always a good idea to screen what you hear through the filter of Scripture and wise feedback from mature believers, God DOES have words of love, instruction, and correction to speak to you—and with a little practice it IS possible for you to hear them.


Psalm 5:3; John 10:27; Habakkuk 2:1-2; Isaiah 6:8


HOW WE PRAY – Speaking Heart to Heart with God

Prayer is simply an authentic conversation between you and God. Though we sometimes find the idea of prayer intimidating, our heavenly Father truly does want to hear from us. David poured out his innermost thoughts to God, and so can we. Try reading a few psalms to get a taste of the       gut-level honesty that’s possible in prayer. Or personalize The Lord’s Prayer or other Bible passages to bolster your courage to pray them for yourself.


Psalm 42:1-2, 62:8; James 1:5; Romans 8:26; Matthew 7:7; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:9-13


HOW WE TRUST – Believing God vs. Believing in God 2

Without realizing it, many of us have gotten into the habit of believing in God without truly believing His promises apply to us. This allows pockets of doubt to hide in our hearts and sabotage our growth in Christ. Once we recognize and repent of these areas of unbelief, our relational “traction” with God is restored and we’re able to believe Him and rely on His promises more fully. 


Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 37:5-6; Isaiah 26:3-4; Psalm 56:3-4; Psalm 112:7; Psalm 27:13; Psalm 40:4; Romans 4:3, 18, 21-24


HOW WE OBEY – Loving Obedience Leads to Intimacy

If we’re not careful, obedience can turn into a legalistic exercise, rather than an act of love. Sometimes we find ourselves doing what the Bible says merely to avoid negative consequences or to avoid being thought of poorly by other Christians. Yet Jesus repeatedly says: If you love Me, you will obey Me. He also says the Father Himself draws closer to those who obey Jesus. Obedience is a matter of the heart. When we obey out of loving gratitude, something inside us softens and shifts in God’s direction, bonding us more deeply with Him and the truth we’ve just obeyed. 


Luke 6:46; John 14: 15-16, 21; John 15:9-11; John 21:15-17


HOW WE THINK – Learning to Take Thoughts Captive 3

Our thoughts are the starting point for our emotions, attitudes, actions, beliefs, character, contentment, and even our state of mental or physical health. Thus, it’s only logical that the enemy would attack there first. Satan constantly whispers hellish thoughts into our minds, which we often mistake as our own—or worse still, God’s. This lulls us into a deadly rut that sabotages our joy and steals our fruitfulness. The good news is you CAN think differently! As the gatekeeper of your own mind, you can “arrest” each thought, bring it to Jesus, and receive His life-giving perspective in return.


Colossians 3:2; Proverbs 4:23, 25; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Luke 6:45; Romans 12:2; I Peter 1:13; Philippians 2:2, 4:8


HOW WE LIVE – Learning to Rest in the Easy Yoke 4

We tend to think of the Christian life as the hard road, and following our own desires as the easy road. Yet the truth is just the opposite. While following Christ requires everything of us, it also includes His promise to carry our burdens, empower us by His Spirit, and give us rest. Like a young colt yoked to a more experienced horse, we first must learn to stay yoked to Jesus as He remained yoked to the Father—embracing His will, ways, and pacing for our lives—to experience the rest of the “easy yoke.” 


Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:3, 11; Galatians 5:22-25; I Peter 5:5-7 


HOW WE GROW – Training vs. Trying in a World of Striving 5

Though we come to Jesus through grace, it’s easy to slip into trying to grow in our own strength. Soon we’re trying hard to be “good Christians” rather than deepening our relationship with Jesus. Yet merely trying harder only leads to frustration, legalism, and hopelessness. On the other hand, going into training with Jesus allows His grace into the broken places of our lives so He can transform us from the inside out. This often involves taking a training step backward, followed by a smaller step of faith forward, as we learn to lean on His strength rather than our own.


I Timothy 4:7-8, 6:6; Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26; Galatians 3:3, 5:25 


HOW WE GIVE – The Drink In / Pour Out Cycle

As disciples of Jesus we’re called to two things: drinking in His truth and love and pouring out that same truth and love into the lives of others. If we drink in without pouring out, we become bloated and stagnant. If we pour out without drinking in, we become exhausted and burned out. When we practice a healthy balance of both, we’re able to experience the overflowing kind of life Jesus promised—joyfully giving to others what we ourselves regularly receive.


Psalm 42:1; John 4:14; Luke 6:31, 38; Acts 13:52; Philippians 2:17-18; Acts 20:35


HOW WE FIGHT – Our God-Given Spiritual Authority 6

Most of us weren’t taught how to operate in our spiritual authority—and some of us aren’t even sure we have any! Yet once we know who we are in Christ—and learn to recognize lies, resist the devil, wear our spiritual armor, and submit to God—we truly canbegin overcoming darkness and walking in the authority and freedom Christ died to give us. (and yes…that includes YOU!)


2 Corinthians 10:3-5; I John 5:4-5; I John 4:4; James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10-12, 13-17 


HOW WE DELIGHT – A Gift Wrapped in a Command

On a tough day, being told to be thankful and rejoice always can feel a lot like adding insult to injury—after all, what on earth do we have to be thankful about, right? Yet when we choose to be truly thankful for even the smallest thing, our body is flooded with feel-good endorphins that improve our mood like a natural painkiller. Not only that, but even a tiny act of thankfulness weakens the enemy’s grip on our negative emotions and reconnects us to God in a tangible way. Like all God’s instructions, gratitude truly is a gift wrapped in a command.


I Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 4:4, 6-7; I Corinthians 15:57; Psalm 118:24; I Chronicles 16:34; Colossians 2:6-7; Proverbs 17:22; Philippians 4:8 


Whenever you find yourself struggling in one of these “basic” areas of your spiritual life, returning to these Scriptures and principles will give you a solid springboard toward continued growth!




PRESCRIPTURE (mp3 audio)


Here’s the full PreScripture list…with free downloads for both pdf and audio! 

(click here for PreScripture blogs #1-4)

  1. IDENTITY IN CHRIST PreScripture 
  2. “MASTERING” THE DAILY PreScripture 
  3. WISH-I-KNEW BASICS PreScripture 
  4. KING’S DAUGHTER PreScripture 
  5. RELATIONSHIPS PreScripture 

I’ll be sharing about the remaining 5 PreScripture audios in future individual blogs, so be sure to join the DiscipleSips email list for notices of future posts!

And if you share my passion to equip more women for relational discipleship, click here to learn about becoming a DiscipleSips Pour-Out Partner


1 Mark and Patti Virkler, Counseled by God

2 Beth Moore, Believing God

3 Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind

3 Steve Berger, Winning the Mind Wars sermon series at gracechapel.net

4 Dallas Willard and John Ortberg, Living in Christ’s Presence

5 John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted

6 Keith Martens, A Field Guide for Followers of Christ

6 Neil T. Anderson, Freedom in Christ devotional app

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