DIYs to Get Closer To God

7 Ways To Better Yourself This New Year

  1. Don’t overextend yourself

“ Before I was born God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.”- Galatians 1:15

I go to a college where everyone is involved in as much as they possibly can be. And the thing is everyone brags about it. We flaunt our extracurricular and 400 level classes like badges of honor and saying “I’m just so busy,” is a quote of pride, not annoyance. The truth is, it’s ok sometimes to say no to things so that you can put your best foot forward in other areas. God wants to use you, but He can’t use you very well if every day you find yourself  with barely enough time to give to Him.

You won’t be less of a Christian because you aren’t involved in two ministries on campus and lead your own bible study. You won’t be less of a person because you have a difficult semester and choose to have a social life and focus on one activity. You aren’t a bad person to spend less time investing in friends that blow you off. You can’t always be the best at everything, be everyone’s best friend, and love Jesus the most.  Don’t try to do it all because God has a specific plan for you, but He also has a specific plan for your roommate and the person that lives down the hall from you. Don’t waste your opportunities or accidentally take the opportunities of another.

  1. Be intentional with your relationships

“ Two are better than one, because they have good return on their work; if one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

College is an amazing time in your life to meet new people, focus only on yourself, and basically have unsupervised parental fun. Make the most of it. If you don’t take the time now to make plans and be intentional with the great friendships you have, they are going to fade away. This is the only time in your life where your best friends live literally feet away from you. Take the time to stay up late talking to your roommate, have weekly lunch dates with the person you’ve always wanted to get to know better or a friend you’ve neglected, and encourage one another in Christ. It’s never too late to work on being a betterfriend. So this new year try to become the type of friend you would want to be friends with, the type of friend God calls us all to be.

  1. Stop defining yourself by social media

“ You are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:31

“He rescued me because He delighted in me.”- Psalm 18:19

Sadly if you’re reading this blog that probably means you aren’t famous. You not likely to get over a thousand likes on any of your tweets or pictures you post. You aren’t Sarah Vickers, and people are not going to be looking to you for fashion advice just because  you got bean boots for Christmas and you took an artsy pic of them in the snow. It can be so hard in our generation to not constantly judge ourselves based on our followings on social media, or how many likes our Instagram photos got. I find myself sometimes planning photos and tweets to post at just the right time to get the most amount of likes. I even sometimes will pull a post if it doesn’t get the likes I expect in an hour. Isn’t that ridiculous?

There are so many perks to social media. but one of the downsides is becoming focused and obsessed with getting this many likes or mentions. I can tell you one thing for certain. When we face God at the end of our lives He isn’t going to let us into heaven because we got 90 likes on that selfie we took 30 minutes perfecting with the just the right filter. He is going to ask us why we spent so much time online instead of focusing on furthering His kingdom? He is going to ask us why we weren’t able to comfort a friend because we were checking Twitter simultaneously. He’s going to ask us why we felt the need to post pictures of our Bibles artistically placed next to our cups of coffee on a cold winter morning, but never lived that scripture out in real life?

Don’t let people’s perceptions of you online define you. God already defined you as lovely, saved, worthwhile, treasured, and beautiful, ask yourself why you need more? What has happened to us that all we use the internet for is to make people feel bad that they aren’t having as much “fun” as us? Why do we panic if we don’t get a picture with our friends for Instagram when we hang out?  Why do we feel empty inside when we choose to stay in on a Friday night and look at all our friends having a “blast” on their snap stories? We are missing memories as we are carelessly loading all our social media accounts. We are missing great conversations about real topics as we have to stop to snap our friends the picture of the Starbucks we just got. We are afraid to be real with someone so we hide behind our phone screens. We think the snippet of devotion we glance at on our phone on our way to class is enough to nourish us spiritually for the day.

So this new year enjoy your phone, but not more than you enjoy the people around you. Don’t become so enthralled with your followers that you forget to take time to follow the only one that matters.

  1. Read the Bible in a year or dedicate time to God daily

“ Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:1-2.

I’ve never read the Bible in a whole year, so this year I’ve decided to try it.  One of the websites I contribute for, Tirzah, is having a year of devotions linked to reading the Bible in a year. You can sign up for email updates daily. Sign up at the bottom of the article!

Even if you think that is too bold a dream for you right now it’s never too late to dedicate more time to God in the coming year. Even if it’s just in the first 10 minutes you get up every day or when you are driving to work to pray instead of listen to music, little steps can help you get to a better relationship with the God of the universe. If you have a more advanced devotional time try journaling, meditating, or nature walks as new exciting ways to worship God. Whatever works for you, figure it out and then dedicate time to God every day. Not in the last 5 minutes of your day as you fall asleep, not interrupted when you roommate starts talking to you in your room, not put off so you can “figure out a time tomorrow” do it today. Find some quiet time with God every day and it will open up your life to a great relationship that never will disappoint.

  1. Sometimes you need to be weak to show your inner strength

“ That is why for Christ’s sake I delight in hardships, in persecution, in insults, in difficulties, in weaknesses. For when I am weak then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:10

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so we may comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”- 2 Corinthians 1:4

This past semester I struggled pretty heavily with some pretty bad anxiety that had been foreign to me before. If you know me well at all you know that I am the person that loves to be there for everyone else. Having a crisis, I’m here. Need prayer, take a seat. Need to talk about emotional things, let’s get a meal date, because I’m your girl. I love playing that role and being strong for other people when they can’t be strong for themselves. I am, however, not so good at being weak. Not so good at coming to other people when I need prayer, and the queen of bottling everything up until I burst. I have learned this semester that there is nothing wrong with seeking counsel from friends, nothing weak about meeting with a counselor at your college’s counseling center to get the help you need, and nothing weak about God’s love.

He wants us to stop relying on ourselves and rely on Him alone. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way this past semester. God surrounded me with the exact right people I needed during this storm of my life, friends who I had prayed over before who started praying over me, friends that calmed me in the midst of panic attacks, and friends who walked me to the counseling center when I was too scared to go in by myself. Satan wants us to hide our struggles in the dark so that we feel ashamed and feel weak, but don’t forget that with God we can never be weak. We alone our victorious. So don’t be afraid to lean on the people God has granted to be in your life, or of using your struggles to be leaned on in the future, and don’t ever be afraid to cry out to God because He will always rescue you, even if it means diving in after you.

  1. Point to God, not yourself

“He must become greater; I must become less.”- John 3:30

This is something I have really been struggling a lot with lately. Because when we point other people to God we need to make sure we are pointing them to Him and not to ourselves. As Christians it can be so easy to slip into hypocrisy because we think what we are doing is benefiting God when it’s really only benefiting our egos. Examples of this could be always signing your name on cards when you encourage people with scripture and blessings of God because you do want to encourage them at your core, but it doesn’t hurt that they’ll spend the rest of their day thinking your such a great person instead of about God’s provision. It can be as simple as always being the one to talk at bible study because you want people to know how on fire you are for God. It can be using someone’s weakness as a way to gossip, “ Did you hear that Mary fell back into her depression, poor thing we really need to pray for her.” And let’s not forget the constant stream of song lyrics and “All to Jesus I surrender” we post on social media every Sunday.

We don’t like to admit we do these things but we do. The amazing thing is that God can still use our not so great intentions for good and to bless those around us. Yes, God has gifted us with amazing gifts and talents, but we are nothing without Him. We need to be pointing others to Him and not to our selfish hearts. This year be open to encouraging and loving other people where God calls you to, but in a way that doesn’t point back to you. Maybe that means sending anonymous notes of encouragement, letting others take the prayer after a meeting, and letting God use your talents for His good not your good. He must become greater; I must become less. Live by that code.

  1. Enjoy the little things

“The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like the flowers of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”- Psalm 103:15

Life goes by so quickly that in a blink of an eye we are done with high school, then done with college, and then starting jobs in the real world. We are so focused on the coming up that we forget to enjoy the right now. To enjoy and relish in those late night talks about boys and life in a college dorm room. Enjoy dancing around a room to silly songs with your best friends as you get ready for a dance. Enjoy the random Saturday afternoons when you hunker in and have a movie marathon. Enjoy the days in practice when you get the opportunity to push yourself to your breaking point by some of your best friends.

As I look to the next three semesters I have in college I want to make the most of those memories. Because as much as I will continue to do my best in my classes and get my 8 hours of sleep, I definitely know that when I look back at my college experience the regrets I will have are the experiences and memories I missed making with some of the best friends of my life. So whatever you have planned for the next year make sure it has plenty of laughing until you cry, regretting eating so much food, spoiling friends, encouraging others, and of course learning to love our Savior more than all of it put together.

Tirzah In the Word

 

Four Ways To Refocus Your Attention On God

Let me ask you a question. How many times in the past month has your mind wandered to other things when you are praying? It can be much easier than it sounds.

Dear Lord,

I come before you now to thank You for this day. Oh wait did I turn in my assignment today? No re-focus. God you are so good and I am so blessed by, I wonder if that cute boy in my class noticed my skirt today? So Sorry God. And help me to follow your plan but also to pass my finals. Crap are people going to dinner already?

Sound familiar? The truth is, in our media centered and hectic world it can be really hard to hold any of our attentions for any too long. I wonder how God feels when this happens, probably pretty frustrated. How often do we find ourselves rushing through our devotion times to get to something we deem more important? How often do we find our prayer times lacking because we are distracted by the stress of tests or just the noise of a college dorm room? How many times will we plead for God to answer our question about what to major in, who to marry, and who to room with next year and never hear an answer? Is it because God doesn’t care to answer us? I feel, rather, that it us not taking the time to invest and listen.

I came across a verse this week that accurately depicts what our life of devotion time should look like,

“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. My soul yearns, and even faints, for the courts of the Lord. Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”- Psalm 84 verses 1-2; 10.

These verses really struck me because I realize that is not at all how I feel most of the time I am before the Lord. If I’m being honest, He is not always the most important part of my day. I can easily do my devotion time as something to cross of my Christian list before I feel like I can watch my latest show obsession on Netflix, go running, or screw around on Facebook. These activities aren’t inherently bad things, but rushing through a devotion time to get to anything suddenly makes them an idol.

I was stunned this summer when I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan who was talking about would we be satisfied with heaven if God wasn’t there? This questions crushed me because sadly I wasn’t sure what my answer would be. Do I love God enough that I could live in paradise without him? Am I truly so prideful that I feel fine going throughout the day ignoring the God of the universe?

So how can we overcome this? How can we love to dwell in the House of the Lord that we get annoyed when we have to surface to go to class? How can we be so poured out for God each and every day that we go to bed feeling like we have nothing left to give?

Well, I have not discovered the answer quite yet, but I do have some tips that helped me to prioritize God.

  1. Have a time of devotion each and every day. I know that every Christian alive drills that into us, but it’s so vital to having a relationship with God. This can be anything from reading the word, prayer, singing, walking in nature, and writing; find what works for you and do it every day. Don’t get stuck thinking that if you aren’t doing what everyone else is doing your devotion time is wrong. Whatever you need to feel closest to God and glorify Him is just as successful as the person from your church that talks about their hour long prayer sessions. Setting aside time for God starts to make Him a priority in your life even if it’s not the first one.
  2. Have a time of meditation. How many times do you ask your friends questions and then not listen for an answer? Never, right? Because that would be stupid. But yet we do the same thing with God. We ask him questions and then get angry because we never receive an answer. Maybe it’s because we aren’t giving Him time to speak. So even if it’s only 10 minutes every day, take some time to be still before the Lord.
  3. Truly surrender everything to God. That sounds easy enough, but it’s a bold prayer to pray. Giving God permission to give and take everything from you means He will do just that. Remember we are not immune to trials, but we are immune to living without God.
  4. Don’t put a time on it. As a Christian I think it can be all too easy to make ourselves have these long winded, repetitive prayers so we can get a certain amount of time each day in. Almost like a workout or study session. But God wants quality not quantity. Who cares if you only spend 10 minutes each day with God if I spend an hour and don’t really accomplish as much? Everyone’s relationship is their own so don’t get lost comparing it to someone else’s. God has an authentic relationship He wants to have with you that is different from any other.

God doesn’t call us to have perfect relationships with Him, but He does call us to love one another and more importantly to love Him most of all. So now that you’ve read through the blog post I want to ask you a hard question. Would your heaven be complete without God?

 

Is God Your Number One Priority?

What consumes your thoughts? Where does your mind drift to when you’re day dreaming in class? Who is on your mind? Is it God? Because if I’m being honest that is not always the case for me. When people think of idols in our modern day culture they think that they are outdated. They think just because they aren’t worshiping a golden calf that, that means that they have made God their number one priority. “The idols of this nation are silver and gold, the work of human hands.” Psalm 135:15.

I am going to tell you something that might confuse you. Idols can be good. Most idols start out as being good things, even gifts from God. They become bad when we decide to exalt them over God and spend more time dwelling on them than our Father in Heaven. They can be anything. School work, boys, friends, fear of being left out, how you present yourself on social media, etc, etc. For me, I feel like a big idol of mine has always been boys. I love to be that girl who has a crush and excitedly tells all her friends about the interactions I had with him during the day. I am also the girl who worries and worries and worries about if they like her or not. It completely consumes me. You know who is not constantly on my mind during those times? God.

I treat Him like a king if I was able to have a great interaction with my crush that day and like a pariah if I did not. I constantly didn’t understand why I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted. I had done in my mind what God had asked me to do. I didn’t sleep around, I didn’t send the boys I liked bad pictures of myself;all I wanted was a boy who I could love and help me to grow in my faith. But even though that is a great and normal thing to desire, it was taking all my time and energy away from the number one thing I should have been desiring. Sometimes God has to smack you in the face for you to realize you are not making Him your priority. We deserve nothing from God, yet oftentimes we expect everything.

That is why I am starting a series with the acronym of I.D.O.L.S. because in our society it can be easy to look at the Israelites and scoff at them for worshiping a  golden calf over the God of the universe.  But we as Christians fail to realize that we do the same thing when we skip our devotion time to study with that cute boy from our chemistry class,  work out instead of pray because our bodies have to look a certain way,  and choose to put all our worth in academic success rather than considering what our life will look like in heaven. Because idols don’t just take us away from God’s love, they take away pieces of ourselves until we have nothing left to give God. They take our Interests, Desires, Opportunities, Leisure, and Self away from the Heavenly Father that grants us breathe each and every day.

But I have good news. Because of Jesus’s death we are freed from these things that seem to take and take from our lives. We are not slaves to our idols, we are slaves to no one. So today I would encourage you to take a good hard look at your life and discern if your life is truly one that puts God before anything and anyone else. “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God will all your heart and all you soul and all your mind.” Would you be willing to stand before God and say you did just that?

 

8 Steps To A Successful Semester

  1. Be willing to put your best foot forward academically, socially, spiritually.

“ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not men.”- Colossians 3:23.

God has always given us His best so we need to do the same with our daily actions throughout the semester. This could be not skipping class to sleep in, setting aside a time of devotion every day, or including someone on your hall that isn’t your favorite. No one likes eating leftovers and God sure doesn’t like getting ours either.

  1. Dedicate time to being a better friend

“ Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work; if one falls down , his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

This semester I want to be the type of friend that always puts people first, that always encourages, and is quick to listen. One of the best ways we can show Christ’s love is through our friendships. Sometimes in the busyness that comes with a college semester I fail to put my friends first like I should. I want to work on not taking the people that God has blessed to fill me up in my life for granted. Be the friend that holds the tissue when the boy says no and the friend that screams when she gets the internship she wanted. It’s time to stop using pictures on Instagram to express our love for friendships and start living out our friendships by our actions.

  1. Start thinking about what you can do for God not what He can do for you

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of you heart.”

I think this verse is often taken way out of context. Yes, God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but He also wants us to start desiring what He desires to give us rather than just what we want. When we go about our daily activities this semester we need to be asking ourselves what we are doing today that is glorifying to God. We need to work on not being afraid to say “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,” and truly understanding the weight of those words. God has granted each of with gifts and callings that only we can fulfill. Don’t let the class where the teacher asks the impossible, trying to do every club on campus, or Netflix get in the way of that.

  1. Seek time alone with God/ make his relationship a priority

“ But Jesus would often withdraw to lonely places and pray.”- Luke 5:16

It can be so crazy in our busy lives to find time to just sit and be still before God. But we need to accept that throwing up a quick prayer before we eat or have a test is not going to help us have an authentic relationship with Christ. We need to be actively seeking Him in our times of devotion so that we can have a relationship that grows. Now, I know how hard it is to set aside time when you want to hang with your friends, nap, or feel like you have so much homework you might explode. But setting aside time with God can help us to put Him first in our lives where He belongs. Growing in Him can be one of the ways we start to grow up ourselves.

  1. Forgive those who have wronged you in the past and move forward

“ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

Forgiveness is not a word anyone likes to hear especially when it involves a situation where they have been wronged. It’s not a secret that my earthly father has not exactly played a big role in my life. It is really hard for me sometimes to call him and love him when I know that he has never put me first. But even though it can be a daily struggle for me to forgive him, it is still harder for me to continue to hold a grudge and keep it bottled up inside. I am not saying you need to let that person back into your life that has hurt you in the past, but by not forgiving them how can you expect God to turn around and forgive you?   So this semester let go and forgive the girls that were mean to you in the past or the boy that broke your heart. You might just point someone to Christ by your actions.

  1. Enjoy your time of singleness

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”- Ecclesiastes 3:11

It can be really hard when you are in college to look around and be happy for the people that are in relationships when you are not.  It can be start to feel like your biological clock is ticking when you just turned 19 or 20. Let me tell you a little secret, God wants you to be single for a reason. He wants you to be in a relationship for a reason. If you are not in a relationship, it might be because God isn’t done with you yet, or it could be because the boy He has planned for you isn’t ready yet. God’s timing is always impeccable. Even if the guy you thought would be your prince charming isn’t. This semester instead of stressing about never getting married or feeling like you wear a perpetual “Friendzone Me” T-shirt, take some time to truly enjoy it. Go out with your girlfriends, invest in the guy friends you have and make as many as you can, buy a new outfit to make yourself feel beautiful just because, have that extra scoop of ice cream. Use this time to fall so in love with God that you no longer need a boy to know your worth.

  1. Gossip less

“ A gossip betrays a confidence but a trustworthy person can keep a secret.”- Proverbs 11:18

“ Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only things that are good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it.”- Ephesians 4:29

Watching what I say is easily one the things that I struggle with the most. We can remember every single thing that a mean girl said to us in high school, the time a boy called us ugly or fat, or when our “best friend” told someone she thought we were annoying. Yet we forget to recognize that we so easily have done the same things to others. We need to be the type of friends that when we get frustrated with each other our first instinct isn’t to run to another friend and complain. We need to be the type of friends that can keep secrets. I know how much fun it can be to be the person who has the scoop at a sleepover, but it shows so much more maturity to keep the promise you kept. We were put on this earth to lift each other up and be encouraging, not to complain, ridicule, swear, and to hurt. Don’t say something in your haste and anger that you can’t ever take back.

  1. Don’t stress

“ If God is within her she will not fail.”- Psalm 46:5

“ This is why for Christ’s sake I delight in weaknesses, hardships, insults, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak then I am strong.”- 1 Corinthians 12:10

The hard part about being a Christian is that we are going to face trials. We are going to face semesters where our class loads seem insurmountable, we face problems back home, and we feel abandoned by God. In these stressful times, we need to remember to rely on God before we rely on ourselves. He alone promises to make our burdens light, if we turn to Him. No matter how many times you stress cry over a test, eat dinner alone, or feel like you can’t do it anymore, God has never left your side. You are not a failure for admitting you need help. So this semester try to truly let go and Let God. He holds our whole world in His hands, He will not let us fall without picking us back up.

 

When The Little Green Monster Becomes The Green Giant

When was the last time you went a day without looking at someone else’s life and wanting some aspect of it? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and felt truly comfortable at the reflection staring back at you? We all struggle with envy. In today’s society we are encouraged to embrace our individuality and just be who we want to be, yet we still find ourselves wanting to be somebody else. If you look around, our world is filled with people trying to suppress little green monsters whispering into their ears.  But what if we can never get it to shut up? Only God can help us defeat our jealousy when it threatens to consume our every day lives. To better understand the beast that envy is, I’ve broken it down into three main parts:

  1. Girl Hating On Girl Envy : I go to a very conservative, Christian college in Grove City, PA. Let me tell you I have never found myself surrounded by so many naturally good looking girls, some of who don’t even need a stitch of makeup, in my entire life. I am a girl who can’t even imagine not at least wearing mascara to my 8am, and I find myself seeing these girls who do absolutely nothing with their appearances showing up to class looking like Grecian goddesses. It is so easy in our culture today to compare ourselves to other girls and hate ourselves for not being what our warped idea of beauty is. We are forced to stare at airbrushed magazine spreads and see commercials with women who are covered in makeup, yet we still strive to emulate their “natural” look. There are so many days I get up and my hair won’t fall the way I want it to, I have a huge eye booger that I have to dig out, and I can’t find anything in my spacious closet that I think will impress other people. We forget that we all have those days and that everyone is just as self-conscious as we sometimes are. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”- Psalm 139: 5. We can recite that verse or verses like that until we are blue in the face, but we still have to believe it. God truly did make us look the way we do and to Him we can be nothing short of beautiful. Just because you feel like you are not as skinny as the girl sitting next to you in class does not make you any less the beautiful, authentic creation God made you to be.
  2. Competitive Friendships: This the type of jealousy we are sometimes embarrassed to admit we have. For example, this is being envious when your friend on the track team with you beats you in the race. You are happy for you friend, on the surface, but inside you are jealous and annoyed to not be the one who came out on the top. The same is true when your best friend gets a boyfriend and leaves you to be alone with no one to even watch Bridget Jones’s Diary You are so happy for her and you believe she deserves such a great guy, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking but don’t I? Why can’t it be my turn? It can be so hard to learn to be genuinely happy for our friends sometimes and realize that their good fortune is not supposed to make us feel bad. We are called to be the type of friends who love people enough to put our selfishness aside to be truly happy for each other. This is something I definitely still pray about a lot, but God can help give us perspective to put others above our envious tendencies.
  3. Who’s The Best Christian Envy: When we’re such good Christians don’t we just want everyone to know? We all want to be the one who is the best camp counselor, young life leader, and has the deepest prayer when a group circles up to pray. We strive to be the women in our church that little girls look up to. We can find ourselves spending more time being jealous of our friend’s spiritual gifts instead of focusing our time to decoding our own. God has blessed us all with our own individual distinct gifts. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone is the same God at work.”- 1 Corinthians 12:4. It is important for us to remember that God has purposely given us our gifts for a reason. Sulking at VBS because you were sent to work in crafts instead of teaching the motions for the worship songs does nothing to further His kingdom. Every gift is just as important as the next. We can only be truly happy when our skills are used to glorify Him.

So the next time that the little green monster starts invading your thoughts, ask yourself a simple question: Do you want to be used in an awesome way or do you want to wish your gifts away hoping to be someone else?

 

What To Do When You Eat Too Much Before Dinner: Gluttony

The first of the seven deadly sins I chose to tackle is one that many people think has been wiped from existence, gluttony.  In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters he says, “One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience to this subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled by it throughout the whole breadth of England.” Gluttony by definition is the sin of over-consumption of either food, drink, or wealth. It was originally taught by the church as eating more than one should and not giving properly to the poor. However, in our culture today it can look a lot different than sneaking the extra slice of pie.

I have broken down gluttony into what I like to think are 3 main parts:

  1. Overindulgence: This is not the same as it was hundreds of years ago. Nowadays it is not seen as a sin to eat a snack before dinner. However, it can be eating the last bit of chips when you’re not hungry so your brother has none to pack in his lunch. Or it can be as serious as getting super drunk every weekend or even every so often. Overindulgence can even show up in things we consider good and healthy, like going to the gym every day. This is a great thing. However, it becomes a problem when we are consumed with working out, or with eating healthy. When we get to the point that we can’t skip a day of working out or can’t enjoy the occasional cookie or 8. Everything needs to have moderation.
  2. All-I-Want-Mindset: This is the type of gluttony that is mentioned inThe Screwtape Letters, “ The woman is in what I call an “All-I-want” state of mind. She is an absolute terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning away what has been offered to her with a demure little smile.  She never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.” We live in a generation that is the era of customization and of making everything able to fit everyone’s smallest needs. This is raising a generation of people to not be able to handle not getting what they want. An example of this could be getting upset at your mom because she won’t let you get your dream formal dress because it doesn’t come with a dream price tag. You might pout for days and never think about how hard your mother had to work for that money, what else it could be going towards, or how it might break her heart that she can’t provide it for you. It can be getting really upset that your sketchy college cafeteria suddenly got rid of your beloved flavored water for a week. Now, they still had water, milk, a variety of teas, juices, and sodas but I’m pretty sure I told half my friends how ticked I was to have to drink “regular” water. I didn’t stop to think how lucky I am to have acceptable drinking water at my disposal, or about how the college might be using the funding that came from my flavored water to give to scholarships or to build new buildings that would benefit the campus. We are so blessed that sometimes we take things for granted.
  1. Cultural gluttony: This can be as normal and awesome as spending all day in a Netflix coma while you binge yourself to death on Grey’s Anatomy. While you keep hitting the “Yes!! I’m still watching” button,  you curse your mother and ignore the checklist of things to do she left you, forget to pray for your friend who just texted you telling you she is struggling, and yell at your dog to stop her feeble attempts to try to get you to pet her. All because YOU wanted to spend time watching Netflix. Can’t you relate? I know I can. Gluttony at its core cannot be disguised as anything but selfishness. Another example could be spending too much of your time being a slave to certain social medias. Being consumed with how many likes  your last picture on Instagram got or how funny your next tweet can be to get a ton of favorites, I’ve been there.  I still offer my tweet suggestions to my mom or roommate before I post them just to make sure they’re as funny as I think. It can even be our drive to have the most expensive this or that so we can brag to our friends. When we find ourselves thinking too much about how many likes to get on Facebook or how we can one-up our friends on social media and the world, we stop thinking about what God wants. We stop thinking about how our worth can only come from Him alone. We forget that our worldly possessions and all the likes and favorites we ever get won’t earn us any brownie points for furthering His kingdom.

These sins might disguise themselves as not seeming like a very big deal, but just like a scab you can’t stop picking at, they have a funny way of becoming an infection right under our noses. Ways to fight off gluttony can be praying to God to give you wisdom to weed out areas of your life where you are idolizing things over Him or other people. Pray to be less selfish (this is something I should do hourly) but pray that you can try your best to put other people above yourself. It’s time to curb our diets from the worldly things we all like to overindulge in. Are you up for the task?

 

Are You A Christian Only On Sundays??

Isn’t it funny to think about how easy it was to be a Christian when we were younger? How we were always the first ones to blurt out the answers in Sunday school, and inviting friends to church camps was second nature. Then around 7th and 8th grade we became embarrassed. We stopped declaring our faith and decided that is someone asked us about it,  of course we would tell them we’re Christians, but only if they ask.  Then we start high school, and we are presented with all new challenges that come with being a Christian. Our friends begin to drink until they throw up and have sex with anything that is available, and we find ourselves struggling to find that balance between being cool and not rejecting everything we’ve ever believed in.

I think that in today’s society there are far too many Christians that are becoming what a friend of mine once called, “Sunday Christians.” We all have those friends or have ourselves been that person who is there without fail Sunday morning singing the hymns with mom and dad, but Saturday night are singing a much different tune with a much crassier crowd. How can we stick to our morals when no one else is following them? Haven’t you ever felt like there was too much pressure to simply be the good girl?

Matthew 5:14 states, “ You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

How much truth there is in that one verse. We are called by Gods to be lights in our schools, jobs, colleges, and society. We are set apart and called to be different. Our culture does not need any more people who don’t stick to their morals or stray from the path. It needs a culture filled with people who are ready to love the broken, not be the broken.

So how can we do that?

  1. We need to stick to what God’s word tells us to be true. By honoring His commandments, by not getting drunk when all our friends are, by befriending that kid that everyone thinks is weird.
  2. We need to not be judgmental. I completely understand, and struggle daily with how hard it is to not compare yourself to others or just judge someone for the choices they’ve made. But that is not our place. After all, none of us want to be that Christian that discourages our non-Christians from coming to faith.
  3. Become friends with non-Christians. I know that this might sound a little strange, and I’m not saying to hang out with them on the weekends or always be with them, but I’m saying embrace and make friends with people who are different than you. There are too many Christians who are all too content to sit back and not associate with people who have ever done anything they deem as unforgiveable, but that is not how Jesus lived. He ate with the lowest of the lows, the tax collectors, the whores, the sick. Why would we lead the seeing and not the blind?
  4. We need to encourage our friends who are Christians. If we see one of our friends straying or feel like we ourselves are straying, it is our duty to be there for them. Not judging or gossiping about them, but with love.

At the end of the day it comes down to one simple question: Do you want to be a leader for God or do you want to follow the crowd?