Don’t Skip These 3 Major Steps in Your Journey To Godliness

Focused Effort is Needed

No one drifts into godliness. It takes focused effort to become more and more godly. That’s good news! You can actually participate in God’s work to make you more like Himself.

Here are 3 Steps you cannot afford to skip: 

1. Desire – If you are really a Christian, you already possess the desire to become godly. It comes as part of the salvation package. You just need to tap into it. Call it “hunger,” “longing,” “yearning;” its all the same thing. You desire God. You desire to know God. You desire to be like God (called Christlikeness). There are times when this desire surfaces more strongly – at a retreat, in a conversation with a good friend, as you read scripture or a good book, while viewing a gorgeous sunrise/sunset, or in worship. You feel a hunger to know God and become like Him.

However, the stirring of your desire does not change you to be like God.

At the same time, desire can be the initial factor which drives you to practical efforts to become godly. Your ardent desire for godliness energizes you forward. You let nothing stop you. You press on towards the goal of godliness with all you’ve got carried along by God’s grace.

Desire is the God-given force that you live into. It is within you. Let it flourish.

How greatly do you desire God and to be like Him?

2. Vision – Imagine what being like God would look like.

You’d be filled with love, mercy, goodness, beauty, patience, joy, peace, gentleness, humility, compassion, forgiveness, freedom, and contentment.

Picture yourself easily radiating these virtues towards your spouse, children, family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, enemies and strangers.

See Jesus, God-in-the-flesh human being, living a fully human life in union with the Father and Spirit. See yourself doing the same.

Consider yourself enduring pain, rejection, shame, sorrow, heartache, misery, persecution, reviling, and evil without sinning. Can you even imagine?

effort-rock3. Intention – This is the decision to do something about your desire and vision of being like God. You can actually follow through with your desire and vision. There is nothing unbiblical or wrong with taking practical steps to becoming like God. In fact, take St. Paul’s invitation to “train yourself for godliness” seriously. Do something about it. Don’t just think about it. Don’t just talk about it. Don’t just wish it would happen.

You don’t drift towards godliness. It takes focused effort.

I am thankful for Dallas Willard’s VIM paradigm (Renovation of the Heart, ch. 5) which helps clarify the process of spiritual change. Vision, Intention, and Means are necessary for the journey to godliness. I added desire which kick-starts the process. I will write about “means” in the next post.

You can become more and more like God. Begin by taking these steps. Don’t skip them and move on to practices or exercises. You will falter and ultimately give up or settle for something less.

Take time right now or soon to revisit these three steps. Enter into them. Consider each step. What do you sense God inviting you into?

Dr. K

How To Experience Joy While Training Yourself Towards Godliness

The Key is "Synergism"

I am proud to claim Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) as part of my family heritage. He was an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents. He was a founder of Delco, and was head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947. This little story happened when he was employed by the Star Telephone Company of Ashland, Ohio in his early-20’s digging holes for telephone poles.

“You were the first person ever to tell me that work could be fun. If only years ago someone had taught me how much fun it is to work, when a fellow tries to do good work, I would never have become the bum I was.” These were the words spoken to Kettering after he gave a hole-digging job to a hobo and showed him how to dig a good hole. Kettering had dug one himself, smooth and round with walls perfectly perpendicular. He told the hobo, “It’s fun to dig a hole. And the rounder you dig it and the straighter you dig it the more fun it is. It’s fun to see how nearly perpendicular and smooth you can make the sides of the hole.”

Hard work can be satisfyingly fun if you focus less on the “work” and more on the process.

Applied to Training for Godliness 

Training for godliness can be satisfyingly fun. To become godly involves hard work; diligent effort. Yet, as you enter more and more into a good process you experience joy.

I recently heard the abbot of a monastery say, “I have rarely met a seasoned monk or nun who is not filled with joy. I cannot tell you how full of joy I am most of the time.” The life of a monk is demanding and difficult – middle-of-the-night prayers, restricted diets, physical work, prayer rules, solitude, obedience to authority, getting along with others, and self-sacrifice. Yet, in the midst of this challenging structure, pure joy is experienced. How can this be?

Being in the Zone 

Runners talk about being in the zone. Psychologists call this “flow.” It is the mental state of person performing an activity fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. It is a complete absorption in what one does. (

Could it be that the Apostle Paul was describing something like this when he wrote: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15.10). Was Paul so absorbed in the grace of God that his work flowed out of who he was by the grace of God? (Remember, grace is the activity of God himself in a person’s life.) 


St. Paul put forth maximum effort in the grace of God. So much so, that he could say that it wasn’t himself doing the work but God’s grace doing it in him. Yet…he did the work. This is called “synergism.” “Ergo” means “work” and is combined with the prefix “syn” meaning “together with” or “having the same function as.” St Paul and God were co-laboring together by God’s grace. “Working together with” – the Apostle with God and God with the Apostle. 

You experience joy in the hard work of godliness as you exercise yourself synergistically with God. This is where the joy resides.

Exercise is Not an End in Itself 

There is no joy in simply doing spiritual disciplines. It would be tempting to take a spiritual exercise that you like, engage it for a while, and then analyze its effectiveness in making you more godly. (Been there, done that!!) Many have tried this “approach” and failed. Making spiritual exercises an end in themselves keeps you at a dead end spiritually. Exercising is essential but it is not sufficient. Even extremely good exercises like Bible reading and meditation, prayer, spiritual reading, worship, journaling, solitude, fasting, and retreats will become empty routines when engaged apart from the flow and joy of God’s grace.

Then the question becomes, “If it is necessary to experience the flow of God’s grace, how do I experience synergism with God and His grace?” We will attempt to deal with that question in the next post.

Thanks for hanging in with me on this post. This one was a little heavy. Do you have a story of failing at a spiritual discipline due to an absence of joy and grace? Share below.

Dr. K

The One Essential Mission Of Every Exemplary Christian

We Need Christian Leaders Who Are Becoming Godly Christians

Today I want to connect godliness to leadership. If you have any influence on others, you are a leader. If you are a leader, you want to be the best leader you can be. If you are a Christian leader, you want to influence others towards God. You want not only to influence people by your words. You want to influence them with your life.  Simply put, you want to be a godly example.

Who is a Leader? 

Notice my definition of a leader – anyone who influences another. Influencers are spouses, parents, grandparents, supervisors, group, church, or civic leaders, writers, podcasters, department heads, teachers, or friends. Almost everyone walking this earth is influencing someone. Since you’re reading this you’re probably a leader.

If you want to influence others towards God by word and example then you long for godliness – to be like God. Your influence on others flows out of your journey towards godliness.

Connecting Godliness and Leadership

The Apostle Paul connects godliness to leadership. The topic of godliness is found most frequently in the letters of the Apostle Paul to his son in the faith Timothy, a leader. For Timothy to have a faithful ministry in doctrine, worship, conduct, and pastoral care, he must live into “the mystery of godliness.” To be an exemplary leader, Timothy must become a godly Christian.

In 1 Timothy, the Apostle writes:

  • Pray “that we may led a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (2.2)
  • Great is the mystery of godliness (3.16)
  • Train yourself for godliness (4.7)
  • Godliness is of value in every way (4.8)
  • Teach…what accords with godliness (6.2-3)
  • There is great gain in godliness with contentment (6.6)
  • Pursue…godliness (6.11)

Godliness is a Way of Life

Godliness is not a concept but a way of life. It is not a thing, it is a way of living. If it’s merely a concept or thing, you can get away with merely thinking about it. If its a way of living, then you are challenged to learn to live it. The reason most Christians are not intentionally journeying towards godliness is because they’ve been taught that godliness is an idea which can then be accepted or rejected. They have not been taught that godliness – living more and more like God – is actually a description of the Christian life. It doesn’t really matter what you know or even say about godliness. It matters most how you’re living it.

It’s like physical “fitness.” Lots of people want to be fit, talk about being fit, quote what others say about being fit, and can even give you reasons to be fit. But are they fit or at least becoming more fit than they are now? Being or becoming physically fit is a lifestyle not merely an idea.

If you influence others, you are a leader. As a Christian leader, you are to become more like God. As you become more like God your influence of others toward God increases in effectiveness.

In my next post, I’ll begin discussing the joy of training yourself for godliness that you, as a leader, can welcome and value.

So, where are you in your journey to godliness? Thinking about it? Talking about it? Quoting verses about it? Pursuing it? Training yourself in it? Share the experience of your journey to godliness below.

Dr. K

Do Not Make This One Major Mistake On Your Journey Towards Godliness

Godliness Calls For Grace and Effort

Tomorrow I head for a conference in Birmingham. But I’m getting nowhere unless there’s gasoline in my car. A sailor is adrift unless his sails are filled with the wind. An energy source is needed for vehicles to work. The vehicle and the energy source work together resulting in movement.

Your journey towards godliness is not ONLY by grace but is ALWAYS by grace. A major step on your journey towards godliness is to experience the reality that you have a role in becoming like God. AND, your primary role is to participate more and more in the grace of God that is already active in you. HOW you learn to participate in God’s grace is what Paul means when he says, “train yourself unto godliness.” Training yourself by God’s grace in godliness is a description of the Christian life. It leads you to “become by grace what God is by nature.” (Athanasius, c. 296/98 – 373)

I am not saying you can become a god or become like God in His essence. But, you actually can become more and more God-like as I described in my last post. The Apostle Peter describes this “becoming more and more God-like” as: “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1.4). Learning to be “partakers” is the quest of the Christian life.


The notion of “grace” is greatly misunderstood. It is not a “thing” given to you. Grace has its source in God and is therefore the very vitality of God in you. “Grace” is one way of describing God’s life and activity flowing in you. The Father’s life. The Son’s holiness. The Spirit’s working. All are grace.

It seems that when I challenge people to put in some effort to become godly, somebody raises the issue of grace. It’s as if they are saying, “We don’t need to do anything to become godly because it’s all by God’s grace.” Or, “You’re talking works righteousness and we know Paul condemns that.” Their theological notions get in the way of reality.

Grace and Effort?

Reality is: you become godly through training yourself by grace. In other words, godliness comes through grace-infused training.

St. John Chrysostom (349-407) writes:  “It is not just what we want that matters. We need God’s grace to complement our efforts and ought to rely not on them but on God’s love for us.”

Becoming godly is not simply a matter of deciding, planning, and implementing. Those efforts must be directed and filled by the always-active grace of God.

Try to become godly without experiencing God’s grace working in you and you’ll end up a frustrated legalist or self-satisfied do-gooder.

Try to become godly apart from exercising yourself and you’ll end up paralyzed in passivity, weighed down by intellectual notions, or grasping at the wind of barron ideas.

Here’s my point: you can only become godly by grace AND you can only become godly by training yourself. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and!

Learning to participate in God and His grace is the first step to godliness. Don’t try to become godly without participating in God’s grace.

How are you learning to participate in God’s grace? Or, is this a new idea for you? Share your thoughts below. And share this post with those you care about. 

Dr. K

29 Virtues to Help You Consider What A Journey to Be Like God Would Look Like

I wonder what it would be like to be godly. I mean really like God. Not in a mean, despotic, controlling way like some people might think. That’s a false understanding of God anyway. But, in the way seen in Jesus. He became man so that in some way humans could walk a journey to become like God.

It is so tempting for some Christians to spend much time comparing themselves to others. They can come out looking pretty good. I’m not as petty as they are. I know the Bible better than they do. I sacrifice more than others. I’ve read more, experienced more, studied more, given more. But, this is a dangerous game since it leaves you far short of godliness and content to be there.

A journey to godliness invites you to so much more. Move away from what you currently think is “godly” and consider what becoming a person who is like God would look like. This is the God Jesus shows us. These are some characteristics of a person who looks like God. He is the God of:

  1. Life
  2. Love
  3. Peace
  4. Mystery
  5. Mercy
  6. Salvation
  7. Goodness
  8. Holiness
  9. Beauty
  10. Long-suffering
  11. Faithfulness
  12. Wholeness
  13. Joy
  14. Kindness
  15. Patience
  16. Forgiveness
  17. Tenderness
  18. Steadfastness
  19. Creativity
  20. Truthfulness
  21. Humility
  22. Silence
  23. Graciousness
  24. Strength
  25. Wisdom
  26. Glory
  27. Selflessness
  28. Purity
  29. Blessing

Consider yourself on a journey in each of these virtues – a journey in becoming like God.

Is it possible to walk this journey? The Apostle Paul answers that question this way, “train yourself for godliness.”  It sounds to me like you can actually become a person who becomes like God. “Become” is the operative word, of course. That’s the journey part – you’re always becoming.

In the next posts, I will examine more closely what this journey looks like. Not because I’ve arrived but because I’m traveling with you and you with me. Let’s become more like God together.

Look over the list of godly virtues.

  • Consider your life with these as more characteristic of you.
    • What would life be like?
    • What would each of your relationships look like?
  • Repent of the fault of comparing yourself to others.  
  • Pray for God’s mercy and help in becoming more like Him.
  • Look forward to future posts as we walk this journey together.

Dr. K  

The Power Of One Man’s Hospitality To Change The World

Meet Sampson the Hospitable

Caring for soul and body has been of great interest to me most of my life. I think it’s the interest of most human beings. There are few who do this kind of work well. When you find one, it’s good to get to know him or her. Today, I introduce you to a man who did this so well that he is actually known as Sampson the Hospitable. He’s my hero, brother, and friend. Even though we’re separated in time by 1500 years, he is one of the “cloud of witnesses” that watches over me. You and I don’t walk this journey alone. Many among the “company of saints” are walking with us. But among them, Sampson is special.

Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople died June 27, 530 AD. He is known for real-life hospitality given to the sick and poor.

Sampson was born in Rome to a wealthy and notable family. He was well educated focusing on medicine. He often took care of the sick without charge. When Sampson’s parents died he inherited their wealth including slaves and property. Rather than settling down to a comfortable lifestyle, he sold everything, freed the slaves and prepared to head into the wilderness to become a God-seeking hermit, doing battle with satan. Sampson set out towards the East from Rome. But, the Lord changed his plans and directed him on a path of service to neighbor, caring for those around him.

He came to Constantinople, settled into a small house, and began to take in homeless wanderers, the poor and the sick, caring for their souls and bodies. Perhaps the house looked like a medical clinic, hostel, and homeless shelter rolled into one. The Lord blessed the efforts of Sampson and gave him the power of wonderworking. He healed the sick not only through his medical skills but also as a bearer of the grace of God. His efforts did not go unnoticed. The Patriarch of Constantinople heard of his great virtue and ordained him to the priesthood. However, he did not pastor a church but continued to serve and care for the sick and poor.

One day, it was revealed to the grievously ill Emperor Justinian (482-565), that he could receive healing only through Sampson. In praying, Sampson put his hand on the afflicted area and Justinian was healed. Deeply grateful for Sampson’s help, the emperor offered Sampson silver and gold. But Sampson instead asked for help to build a new home where he could continue and expand his work caring for the poor and sick. Justinian agreed and helped Sampson build one of the largest free hospitals in the empire.

Sampson devoted the rest of his life to serving his neighbor. He survived into old age. After a short illness he departed peacefully to the Lord. The saint was buried at the church of the holy Martyr Mocius and many healings were effected at his grave. His hospice remained open where the saint continued to care for the suffering. At the request of an admirer of Sampson, the hospice was transformed into a church and beside it a new edifice was built for the homeless. During the time of a powerful fire at Constantinople the flames did not touch the hospice of St Sampson. It is believed that through his intercession a heavy rain quenched the fire. This hospice continued to be a place of care for the souls and bodies of the sick and poor for nearly 600 years.

Lessons from the life of Sampson the Hospitable Giving up everything to follow Jesus  – Christians often talk about full devotion to Jesus Christ. But do you personally know anyone who has given away their wealth and possessions to live as poor in order to help the sick and poor, like Jesus did? (I know some who didn’t have much to begin with who do this kind of ministry.)

  • Use of skills – Healing of soul and body is always by God’s mercy. Skills and medicine may be used or not. But, when you use the skills and gifts given you by God, you either learn to operate them in His grace or they become the means of self-serving.
  • Direction from God  – Following God’s lead may take you to surprising places. Yet, these places will be a better fit for you. God has a way of molding together your personality, interests, skills, and dreams to direct you to inner transformation and service to others.
  • The ministry of hospitality includes caring for oneself and caring for others. Learning to live in God’s love, care, and mercy opens your heart to minister the same to others. You may be surrounded by many who are spiritually “sick and poor.” Your loving hospitality towards them may bring them to Christ.
  • Faithfulness in the small things – You never know what doors may open when you begin a new venture. It may seem small at first. Yet, God can grow you and your ministry in ways you never imagined. Just remain faithful.
  • Death is not the end but brings forth life – Evangelist D. L. Moody told people not to believe it when they’d heard that he had died because at that moment he’d be  “more alive than ever.” Is it crazy to think that those who’ve gone before us are still alive? Can they still care for us, pray for us, love us, and protect us? Why not? Jesus Christ defeated death by his own death. Those in Christ will always be alive.

This is the kind of ministry we have at Homestead Hospitality House. Check us out and come see us: 

What do you learn from Sampson the Hospitable? Share your thoughts below. And share the life of Sampson with others by your hospitality and/or by sharing this post. 
 Dr. K 

The Irritations In Your Life Are For Your Good

A Brief Exploration of "Two-Legged Minor Irritations"

My dad pastored a little Baptist church on the south side of St. Paul, Minnesota while I was in Jr. High. We had a Bible teacher come one year for a week of nightly meetings, something you probably couldn’t get away with these days. He taught from a unique perspective that resonated with my parents and many in the church. (Being in Jr. High, nothing resonated with me except sports and girls.) He described people hard to get along with as, “two-legged minor irritations that make you more like Christ.” I’ve never forgotten that description though I’ve often forgotten its truth.

People who irritate you are for your good. They are in your life to make you more like Jesus.  Let me put it more strongly – without people to irritate you, you cannot become godly.

Irritators Are Everywhere

You’re married to one. He’s driving the car in front of you. She’s in the cubicle down the hall. They’re the neighbors who live next door. He’s the employee who doesn’t do things your way. She’s the part-timer at McDonald’s who can’t get your order right. He’s the salesperson who won’t leave you alone. They’re the couple in church who refuse to take their baby to the nursery.

You’ve seen Christians fly off the handle when irritated. You’ve driven with Christians who yell at other drivers or threaten them under their breath because they do something “stupid.” You’ve seen Christians take offense when none was given. They get angry because “so-and-so” treated them “unfairly.” Are you, perhaps, one of these Christians?

Your Reactions

How can you respond when irritated by someone?

 1.  You can try to fix the irritation. This rarely works. “I’m going to teach them a lesson” usually spells trouble for everyone concerned. Unless you have a good relationship with the person or you overflow with love for people, it’s best to be cautious with this approach.

 2.  You can embrace the irritation.    

  •  Say “Thank you” for the person who irritates you.
  •  Let the irritation do its work. What’s being touched in you by their irritating actions? Does that need to be addressed?
  •  Pray for that person. There’s something in them causing them to irritate others.
  •  Pray for yourself to see the good that is present in the irritation.

3.   You can become a person who is irritated only by what matters. Jesus saw the temple turned into a marketplace and was able to do something about it. Jesus rebuked his disciples over their lack of faith. The Apostle Paul chided the Corinthians for mishandling relationships, communion, doctrine, and spiritual gifts. St. James admonishes his readers to stop blessing God and cursing people out of the same mouth. These men were probably not irritated by the actions of others. But, they did possess the authority and credibility to speak into the actions of others. They “picked their battles” wisely. You can do the same.

4.   You can become a person who is less irritated. By living more and more from a still and quiet heart, you will be irritated less and less.

So, who are the “two-legged minor irritations” in your life? Share your stories and thoughts below. We all benefit. And, share this post with others.

Dr. K

How Being Thankful For Little Things Makes a Big Difference

The Struggle of Learning To Say "Thank You" Continues

On Sunday, at our church “brunch,” I had a 10-second conversation that taught me a lesson for a lifetime. I drink hot tea at these meals. So, the water was boiling and my spiced-tea bag, which I had supplied, was in my cup ready to be steeped. Martha came to the table and pointed out that she had brought some tea bags – Earl Grey and English Breakfast – for everyone to have. I said, “I brought this spiced tea. So, that’s what I’m drinking today.” She responded, “I don’t really like spiced tea so I brought these.” That’s was it. End of conversation.

I started thinking later, “What if I’d responded in thankfulness?” What if, instead of pitting my tea against her tea, I had said, “Thank you for bringing the tea bags. I enjoy those flavors, too.” What a big difference a little “Thank you” would have made. We might have had a little conversation about tea, where she purchased the bags, or why she liked those flavors. But, no. I had to make it about my tea vs. her tea. Silly really. But I realized (again!) that I need to develop a thankful heart.

Words of thanks bring about harmony and peace rather than argument and conflict.

I think now about how many conflicts could have been avoided if I’d simply said “Thank you.” “Thank you for the work you’re doing” instead of focusing on the mistakes. “Thank you for reminding me to slow down” instead of getting upset at the pokey driver. “Thank you for your concern” instead of being irritated by all the questions.

Developing a heart of thankfulness comes from practicing the words “Thank you” over and over again. Do we really know the importance of these two little words?

According to Amy Morin, psychotherapist and best-selling author, gratitude is good for many reasons, two of which are:

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

For her full article, click here.

It’s good to know about these benefits. It would have helped my conversation with Martha. But even more, I want an authentically thankful heart so that “Thank you” would simply roll off my tongue continually. This brief exchange was a reminder to keep at it – to keep saying “Thank you,” even for the smallest things, until my heart becomes thankful.

“In everything, give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5.18).  Will you join me?

Where do you see the need in your own life to develop thankfulness? Share below.

Dr. K