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.

How Bad Do You Want It?| By Chelsea Verdin

What does desperate faith look like?

For me, it is the story of the paralyzed man in the gospels. 

“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)

Most recently, after hearing this story for what seemed like the millionth time in service, I could hear Jesus ask me, “How desperate are you? How far are you willing to go?” 

It was kind of like a “what would you do for a Klondike bar” moment. 

What would I do to meet with Jesus? How far would I go to see His glory? How desperate am I for His presence? 

I was baffled, and honestly, I wanted to say “Lord, I would do anything, go anywhere just to be with you.” 

That was my heart’s intentions and cries because of how much I love Jesus, but as I have looked at my life, I have seen where I have fallen short. It has made me reevaluate my desperation for Christ.

You see the level of our desperation depends on the level of our want. How bad do we want it? 

If a drug addict can sell everything they own for something that ultimately destroys their body, then why are we not more desperate for Christ who is good and ultimately the giver of life? 

Maybe our problem as Christians is not that we are addicted to Christ’s goodness and the work of His glory, (it is very easy for most of us to pray about things we need or want), but maybe it is that we have not spent enough time with Jesus to have developed an addiction for more of Him. Just more of what He can give us.

Just as the four friends who carried their friend on a mat showed Jesus their faith, we must also be willing to go the extra mile in our actions. They could have spoken their desperation and later brought Jesus to their friend, but that was not good enough for them. They needed Jesus to see him, to see their hunger, to feel the intensity of how badly they wanted their friend healed. When our actions match the intent of our heart, we have stepped into pure desperation.

Those friends could have seen the crowd and the impossibility to get through, but they reasoned in their minds that turning back seemed more impossible than getting to Jesus. We have to come to a point when we are so utterly desperate for the presence and glory of Jesus that the impossible seems logical.

We have to be willing to climb those mountains, dig those openings, and lay ourselves paralyzed by the world, but desperate to sit at the feet of Jesus.