Conversion to Christianity can be a terrifying experience; the early church leaders are often described as being “afraid” of becoming Christians. The first step is often one in which they flee from their previous lives and attempt to hide. For new converts, this fear can continue into their newly converted life. They feel like an imposter, afraid that someone will discover that they don’t know much (and really not much at all) about Christian doctrine.

In addition to experiencing this feeling of being a fake, there are several other pitfalls that new Christians must avoid. We all need to take care of each other as we grow up together in Christ, understanding the mindset of people who have only recently joined our ranks and recognizing that we were at least once where others are now—immature and wanting someone to show us the ropes. As the old saying goes: “You never forget your first time.”

This is especially true when you consider Paul’s remarks in Galatians:

But the moment I wanted to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings—I was thrown head over heels... I want to discover only Christ and the power of his resurrection—I more than anyone else! Indeed, I think I already have experienced the faintest hint of what that power can do, so why don't you just wait? I can almost hear you now: ‘He has God for his Father, so isn't he just a little too proud?’ At least that’s what some of you are thinking. Well, am I supposed to go around boasting about my problems with law-keeping, like men do? No way, no way!—No, contending with those ideas does me good. It pushes me on, urging me to keep on moving forward, reaching toward all that makes up Christ’s superabundance... (Galatians 2:1, 4-5 MSG)

If You Want to Know God, You Must Repent

For starters, if you want to begin a relationship with God you must repent. Of course we all sin in some fashion or another but the bible describes repentance as turning away from our sins and returning to God. It requires an acknowledgment that sin is wrong and asking for forgiveness. Jesus will save those who repent and accept him.

Think of it this way: if a friend offends you and hurts your feelings, what happens? In most cases, both or you end up hurt and angry at each other. After cooling down you both agree to reconcile: your friend says "I'm sorry," you accept their apology, and you move on. In the same manner, God gave Jesus to pay our debt and die to save us from our own wickedness. Our part is to forgive him for the horrendous death he suffered while keeping in mind that it took place because he loved us.

Repentance is needed before baptism and baptism is required before we can become adopted into God's family. Baptism also symbolizes what happened at the cross and resurrection--our entrance into Christ's body and through Him, into eternal life. Through baptism we enter Christ's Body, are incorporated into it by the Holy Spirit, and thus become members one of another.

Heading the Call to Holiness

Turning from sin may be easy for some but for others it is exceedingly difficult; especially when we are surrounded by temptations. What are those things that tempt us most in our lives? In 1 Peter 1:14-16, God says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your conduct; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am Holy.”

We needn't worry about trying to rid ourselves of sin immediately. First, we should put aside evil, stay sober, and always look for the answers found in the scriptures, allowing God to help us change from within. This process starts by acknowledging the presence of spiritual forces warring against us. By watching out for temptation, realizing when we fall short, and taking action by praying and seeking the Lord, we allow God to change our heart so that sin no longer has a pull on us.

This is a slow process and it requires discipline but God has promised that He will help us every step along the path. He promises to fill us with the Holy Spirit, a force that enables the believer to live without giving into temptation.

Speaking in Tongues

Some people claim that speaking in tongues (or "glossolalia" as scholars call it) is an indication that one has attained a higher state of spiritual awareness and communion with God. Others argue that it's nothing more than a form of prayer language that people use during worship. Whichever side of the debate you find yourself on, one thing is clear -- you need to learn how to do it properly. There are two methods:

The first method is to speak using known foreign languages. Under the right circumstances, the person speaking may have the ability to understand words spoken in these languages even though they don't know the meaning of them. While many of the speakers hear nothing when they speak in tongue, others actually hear sounds they believe are words of God. Each speaker has a different experience and there's no way to predict what will happen until you give it a try.

The second method involves learning how to use strange words and syllables that sound similar to other languages such as Arabic, Russian and Chinese. These syllables may be common to languages used by worshipers from all over the world. This way doesn't provide any sense of achievement or feeling of closeness with God. Instead, it might represent a step back to something primitive and illogical.

If you want to start talking in tongues, try the first method first. A lot depends on whether you practice in front of God or alone and how you use your tongue. If you talk to God and address Him through your prayers, you may feel His peace in your heart and your mind. Your tongue will be relaxed and then start moving by itself. The best way to begin is simply to start talking to God, but if you want to use the second method of glossolalia, here are a few tips that could prove helpful as you start learning how to speak foreign languages:

Start talking slowly and clearly, say each word separately while keeping your eyes open. Focus on the meaning of each word instead of getting caught up on pronunciation. Don't stress yourself because this will make mistakes worse and more pronounced. Try not to stop talking until the first words come out fluidly; practice stopping after each phrase. Watch as closely as possible for reactions from those listening to you. If people react badly or seem uncomfortable, either practice again or ask someone else to listen next time.

Acting Like God Wants Us to Behave

Acting right. This might not sound like a major revelation, but as we all know from personal experience, sometimes it is hard to be good even if we truly desire to be. Many of us are driven by guilt and shame—feeling unworthy, unlovable and disliked by everyone around us. In order to avoid the pain of living with these negative emotions, we choose ways to get through each day without hurting ourselves or those around us. Many times this takes the form of addictions and compulsive behaviors we engage in either to get high or forget about our troubles. Others can be controlled by money; focusing on earning enough to buy everything they ever wanted, regardless of how this may affect those around them. We also let anger control our behavior, fighting for things we think we deserve despite knowing better than to do so. Selfishly, we refuse to let those around us love us, lacking humility and not realizing that this opens up opportunities for us to love and be loved in return. Finally, we keep quiet about our weaknesses because we don't want others to see how weak we truly are.

None of this, however, is what God expects from us; instead, He offers us free will and opportunities to make choices that lead us further away from Him. When we act in this manner, we ignore the message He has for us; the message that He desires us to know Him and love Him beyond anything else. We lose sight of the big picture and fall prey to the subtle tendencies within us that cause us to do foolish things.

What does God tell us about acting right? "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Leviticus 19:18 KJV) Basically, this means that if you want to be saved, you had better start working on being good and not thinking only about yourself. To accomplish this, we must first learn that God loves us, and that He will forgive us and allow our lives to progress because of it. Then we need to "Walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV) Once our souls are confident in Him, we will start seeing what He wants for each of us.

God loves each and every one of us. That's why He made us in the first