Ever feel out of whack?
Beginning at the Fall, mankind has been mangled as a being. A dead spirit, chaotic soul, dumbed-down mind, and a body that wastes away—not too promising, eh?
All of us struggle with the integration and integrity of body, mind, soul, and spirit. So here are a few suggestion for Christians for improving ourselves for the King and His Kingdom. If practiced regularly, these things will keep us sharp for the Lord.
Sleep no less than seven hours a night. Too few of us get proper sleep, never making up the sleep deficit we accumulate. This make us dull and easily swayed by ungodly voices.
Get up at dawn and go to sleep before midnight. God made the day and night for a reason. I’m convinced that one of the reasons that so many people suffer from depression today is that they don’t get enough sleep or they stay up too late. I know that my own mood brightens when I go to bed before midnight and get proper sleep.
Stop overeating. Almost two-thirds of American are overweight. From what I’ve seen in the pews, I’d say that three-quarters of Christians over the age of 30 are. Gluttony is a sin. Being fat makes us sluggish and slow. Plus, it incurs a litany of health problems. (Charles Spurgeon may have been a godly man and a great preacher, but his issues with eating shortened his life.) God doesn’t want his people to live that way.
Stop eating bad food. Junk food makes us fat—don’t eat it. Buy organic. Cut out the sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Stay away from artificial ingredients, especially man-made sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda). Keep the carbohydrates down (see this and this). The closer a food is to its natural state, the better it is for you, so stay away from the heavily processed stuff. God knew what He was doing with the basic foods He gave us. Why then do we have to mess them up?
Get out of the chair and exercise. Walking is one of the best ways to stay fit—do it. And with someone else!
Read a book! Though the study numbers don’t always agree on the exact numbers, the truth remains that the majority of Americans don’t read books, with some never picking up another book after they graduate from high school or college. That’s horrifying! An uneducated populace only makes Satan’s job easier, as ignorance is one of his chief weapons against us. (Remember that Adam’s intellect was perfect before the Fall.)
Learn the basics of logic. Don’t know a genetic fallacy from a tu quoque? Though our culture no longer values right thinking, Christians must. Learn more here.
Get out of the Christian ghetto and find out more about an opposing viewpoint. Narrowmindedness begins when we fail to grasp all sides of a belief system. None of us should spend time wallowing in filth, but if we fail to recognize those worldviews that set themselves up against Christ, we do the Kingdom a disservice.
Kill two birds with one stone and engage another face-to-face concerning a difficult topic. Wrestling with tough issue is fine. But doing so with another person or a group of people fulfills the “iron sharpens iron” idea in Proverbs. If we isolate ourselves, we fail to learn from our neighbors—and they may have great wisdom to share with us. And let’s not be selfish with what we learn; share it with someone else. Who knows how that wisdom may help another! Too many Christians bury their intellectual talents and they never grow to bless others. If that great book we’re reading isn’t used by us to challenge others, then perhaps we’re wasting our time.
Learn empathy. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. We must make our lives available to others and share in their ups and downs. We’ll never learn what it means to be godly people if we don’t connect with others.
Listen to classical music. Yes, Mozart and guys like him. It’s good for us.
Write music, also. Even if it’s just a simple tune, we can reflect the heart of the God who sings over us.
Write letters. Write them to God. Write them to friends. Write them to strangers. But write! Our letter may be the only one someone gets in a month. Make the most of it.
Cultivate beauty. We need to make beautiful things. God is an artist, and we are made in His image, so we should create. Also, we must find beautiful places filled with beautiful items and spend time amid that beauty.
Get in touch with the land. God intends that we till the land and take care of it. Are we doing so? Why not? Find time for the natural world. Learn the names of plants, trees, birds, and such.
Get out of the house! If we’re spending all our time shut up within our personal fortresses, we’ll never make an impact for the Kingdom out there where the lost people and our fellow Christians live.
Pray more than an hour a day. We simply cannot know God if we toss off a prayer or two. Remember: knowing God IS eternal life. And this is not “practicing the presence” or journaling, either, but concentrated prayer on our knees.
Read the Bible intently. I recommend this plan. We should be reading for deeper discipleship and understanding, not just to tick “Read the Bible” off our checklists!
Cultivate godly horizontal relationships with others. With Christians: fellowship, service, and discipleship. With unbelievers: friendship, service, and evangelism.
Ruthlessly eliminate those things that interfere with our spiritual lives. If we don’t have enough time to pray an hour a day, read the Bible thoroughly, and cultivate horizontal relationships with others, then we need to eliminate all interferences. Turn the TV off, put down the newspaper, and log off the Internet. And if materialism and idolatry are keeping us from God, then we eliminate those items that keep us from growing in grace.
Practice the spiritual disciplines. We can’t help but grow in the Lord if we pray, study, meditate, fast, embrace solitude, practice submission, live simply, serve others, worship, confess our sins, seek guidance, and celebrate.
If we do these things, we will most certainly be better for the doing.
Thanks to Julie Neidlinger for pointing me to this.