A Healthy Spiritual Appetite| T’eoria Murray

Have you ever found it difficult to maintain a healthy diet? If so, welcome to the club! I have been a member since elementary school, and junk food was a pleasure I never denied myself. 

French fries? Yes please. Chicken nuggets? Yes, everyday! Chips, cookies, ice cream, cake? Of course, all of the above! 

The more I indulged in these treats, the less appealing healthier foods looked. After eating a double cheeseburger, salad tasted like notebook paper in comparison. When I was 16, I realized I was not happy with my health. 

Wanting to make a change,  I switched over to a vegetarian diet and cut back on processed food. Those first three months were so hard! I would watch my family eat all the things I loved and feel my mouth watering. However, I resisted, until eventually the foods I had desired most held no appeal to me at all. 

When I went to college and new friends noticed my dietary preferences, there would always be a surprised silence followed by statements of incredulity. “What? You mean you don’t eat ____? I could never…”

Some of them would jokingly try to tempt me with their meals, but I would laugh it off. I could not be tempted with things I did not want. 

This same principle holds true in my walk with God. The more I consume worldly things, the more I desire them. I can never watch just one episode of a Netflix show I like, even if that is my intention when I start. Before I know it, I am six episodes in and cannot seem to stop myself. Themes of dishonesty, sexual sin, unbelief, and violence are threaded through every plot, but it’s just so entertaining!

I think to myself, I have to see how it ends. I’ll just finish this season. Actually, the series is not that long so once I make it to the end my curiosity will be satisfied. 

But there is always another show or movie that everyone is talking about. What about that popular music artist? The lyrics are offensive, but the tune is just so catchy and the artists are so talented. I do not believe what they are saying, but what harm does it do? 

“And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from one degree of glory to even more glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP)

We are changed by what we behold. Just as we become more like Christ by spending time with Him, our minds are changed by the television we watch, the music we listen to, the things we observe on the internet. Every day we are flooded with images that promote a secular worldview. Even when we do not actively seek them out, we can become saturated with them if we are not intentional about setting our eyes on Christ. Just like an unhealthy diet, we develop a taste for it. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, spiritual things become less palatable. It becomes harder to focus on prayer and Bible study, to exert the mental effort required to explore the deep truths of God. If this has been your experience, you know how frustrating it can be. God wants to renew our minds. Today, you can begin the journey to a healthier Christian walk. Like the transformation of our physical health, it’s a gradual process and requires committed effort.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:7.8 (NLT)

A good rule of thumb is to evaluate any form of recreation with thoughtful questions. What will this prompt me to think about? To what does it steer my affections? Can I maintain an awareness of God’s presence in the midst of it? As Christians who are set apart for Christ, the ungodly things common in our culture should never feel comfortable to us. Impurity should not entertain us but disturb us. Consider prayerfully evaluating your media intake to see if there is anything polluting your relationship with Christ. The Lord wants us to be pure in every aspect of our lives – the entertainment we consume, the words we speak, the places we go, even our very thoughts. Then we will be able to say like the psalmist David,

“I will set no worthless or wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the practice of those who fall away from the right path. It will not grasp hold of me. A perverse heart shall depart from me. I will not tolerate evil.”  Psalms 101:3-4 (AMP)

God honors the desire to be more like Him and will help us to love the things that He loves and hate the things He hates, until following His will becomes our first instinct. May we present ourselves to Him today and everyday willing to lay at His feet everything that separates us from Him, until we are holy as He is holy.

New Year Reminders|By Stephanie Cain

We are freshly into a new year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly sure where 2018 went. Nevertheless, the new year is here, and with it comes the wave of “New Year, New Me” resolutions. Discounts on gym memberships and things to help you organize every part of your life are at an all time high. In the middle of all of that, I would like to take a moment to remind us of a few things.

First, just breathe and be still. The Lord says to “Be still.” In the our society today it can be so easy to get caught up in striving for “perfection” which often means pushing yourself, your time, your body, and your money to the max. Be sure to take time to also be still with the Lord.

Second, you do not have to have your entire life planned out for the next 365 days. You don’t have to have all your meals planned, workout days mapped, and new routines scheduled to the minute. The Bible says,

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

Please do not take this as me saying planning and goal setting is wrong. Laying out steps to reach goals is important and often requires taking control of the flesh which is an important spiritual discipline.However, what would our 2019 look like if we took time out to seek the Lord for what His plans are for us this year? Maybe He’s calling you to a new ministry in your church, or to open up your home more for fellowship. Maybe He wants you to take a year to focus on prayer. Walking in and fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives will bring a much bigger sense of accomplishment, joy, and peace than reaching any of our goals.

Lastly, if you are like the majority of us, and you give up on your resolutions by January 16th, please know that you are not defined by that failure. Remember that you are chosen, cherished, loved, and purchased with an immeasurable price. Hold fast to the truths that nothing is impossible through Christ and in Him we can overcome the world because He already has! You do not have to accept defeat. This life on earth is a race with many legs. Keep going with the Lord!

I pray that 2019 is a year of spiritual growth for you. That this year would be a year of overcoming the world. Most of all, I pray that this year is a year of salvation. Salvation for those around you, and if you haven’t accepted Christ, that it is a year of salvation for you. Looking forward to all that God is going to do in our lives this year.