15 Things To Do In 2018

15 Things To Do In 2018

How to make the most of the life we have been given.

The new year is an extremely exciting time. It is another chance to start over – an opportunity break out of the darkness that existed in the previous year. This year, I am focusing on drawing nearer to Christ. Rather than making unrealistic goals for myself (A.K.A. healthy eating and going to the gym), I want to challenge myself to dive deeper into my relationship with God than I knew I could.

1. Love recklessly.

One of the best things I have ever heard is that we should love people so recklessly that they are forced to ask why. In a broken world, the biggest gift we can give to people is love. We have the ability to be Jesus to those who need it most – I want to take advantage of that.

2. Lose myself.

Sometimes in order to let Jesus totally in, we have to empty ourselves. I want to give him all of me so that He can make the changes that He needs me to make. When we live with a self-absorbed mindset, we can fall for the idea that God isn’t working in our lives. The truth is that He didn’t have room to come in because our focus was ourselves.

3. Seek the kingdom.

I want to fearlessly and totally be set on Jesus. I want be less worried about my weekend plans and more concerned with how to live more like Him.

4. Pray constantly.

The bible tells us to make our requests known to God. I want to lose my own thinking and worrying about how things will turn out and instead turn them over to the Creator. He always answers our prayers – even if the answer is what we want.

5. Work to discover my purpose.

I want to be open to what God declares over my life. I am going to work towards more “Yes” and “Amen” and less doubting my abilities. I want to listen to what He says I am instead of what the world wants me to be.

6. Be salt and light.

I want people to see Jesus when they see me. I want him to see me as a good and faithful servant. We have such an incredible opportunity to represent him and I don’t want to take this gift of life for granted.

7. Work earnestly and diligently.

In everything that I do, I want to act as if I am doing it for God. In each class, in each responsibility, in everything, I want Jesus to be the center. I want to push as hard as I can until I accomplish the goals that I have set for myself.

8. Act with intention.

I don’t want to live my life going through the motions. I don’t want to live lazy. I want to live for Him and live to make a difference.

9. Love myself.

Society today has created a thin line between being too humble and too conceited. 1 John 2:9 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” This applies to loving yourself too. God created you in his perfect image and has made you to be an amazing display of his goodness.

10. Be grateful in trials.

With each year comes new joys and new trials. Trouble on earth is inevitable. I want to recognize that I am being refined when I am under fire. I want to keep Jesus at the center even when it feels like He is miles away.

11. Show my faith through my actions.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). I want to live out His call on my life. I want to bring as many people to Him this year as he will let me. I want to wake up knowing that each day is a new chance to be his hands and feet.

12. Forgive because He forgives.

If He can forgive me for every bad thought, unfaithful action, or mean word, I can forgive another person. I want his strength to forgive the people who wrong me.

13. Know my worth.

I want to be 100% what he called me to be. I don’t want to settle for less than what he has for me. I choose to stand against the enemy when he puts thoughts in my head deeming me as less than what my Father says that I am. I am found in my Creator. (How cool ?!)

14. Be present.

I want to be present for the awesomeness that He has given to us. The idea of being present is not just to put my phone down. It is to be mentally there in every situation that He puts me in. There is so much beauty in the world around us and I want to enjoy it. I sometimes get wrapped up in a heavenly mindset. I get so excited for how cool heaven is going to be that I forget how cool it is that we get to be on earth.

15. Be bold for the one who sets my soul on fire.

I am so grateful for the life that I have been given. There is no place I would rather be and no people I would rather be with. I have been blessed beyond words with this sweet, sweet life and I want to live it for the One who gave it to me. I want to be bold. I want to be on fire for Him. I have the best opportunity to spread the joy that is Christ on the college campus.

2018 will come with all sorts of experiences. Just how I'll feel sad and scared at some points, I know I will be happy and excited. I am excited for what’s to come and I hope that you will take something from my to do list. You’re never too far from the life He has for you.

Cover Image Credit: Whitney Weldon

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What It’s Like Being A Christian At A Liberal University

The constant struggle of trying to dissolve the clichés and long-held assumptions towards religion.

Upon attending a liberal university, I started to understand the mindset many people have towards religion. Simply because I hold religious beliefs, I am often considered illogical, overly-optimistic and ignorant.

I’ve sat through biology lectures that teach students that some people have a greater propensity to "fall for religion" simply because of their genetic composition. I’ve heard my philosophy professor emphasize how "spirit" does not exist and that humans are just breathing machines with no soul or purpose.

I’ve listened to my art teacher imply that only those who want to live in fantasy believe in a god because they’ll do anything to help them sleep at night.

Being a Christian at a liberal campus can be difficult because of how people view Christians and what they associate with religion.

It’s hard to explain that the beliefs I hold did not come from force-fed religious jargon in my childhood. It’s hard to share that I believe in a God who practices love, acceptance and second chances and who does not, in fact, hate the gays. It’s hard to stand for a belief that has been tainted by uptight religious undertones and obligatory customs.

The God I believe in went to the church and ridiculed the priests for their strict laws and fixed judgments. The gospel I live by depicts a man who befriended the criminals and prostitutes; who demanded mercy to be given to the adulterous when death was her sentence. The religion I follow is meant for the broken, the imperfect and the lost, in order to give them the chance to become people greater than themselves.

When you take away the voices that misrepresent Christianity, you will see that its final message is for everyone to demonstrate love, patience, and compassion in everything they do. Whether you choose to believe my story or not, it’s important to understand what Christianity stands for--the same goes for every viewpoint out there.

When attending a university with a diverse array of belief systems, it’s important to remain open-minded and strive to understand the intricacies of different cultures and contrasting morals. It’s imperative to look past the stereotypes and assumptions held toward certain beliefs. Only through taking time to understand one another and different perspectives, can harmonious living and discourse be obtained.

Being a Christian at a liberal university can be challenging at times, but when you meet people that are truly willing to listen and present their beliefs to you, it can fuel genuine and enlightening conversation.

Being on this campus has not only allowed me to collaborate with like-minded believers but also to engage in authentic relationships with people that hold different perspectives than my own. College is a time for learning and absorbing everything we can. It is within this community that we can do just that, simply by listening to one another.

Cover Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

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Thank You, InterVarsity, For Being The Best Part Of College Yet

"For where two or three are are gathered in my name, there am I among them" — Matthew 18:20

When I came to college, I knew that my faith was important to me, and I really wanted to be a part of a Christian organization. However, I had no idea how to find one or where to start. It turned out that instead of searching for and finding it on my own, InterVarsity, a large Christian organization at James Madison, found me. Here's how I became involved, and why it's the best thing that has happened to me since I've started my journey as a college student.

On my first week of college, (also known as FROG week) I heard through the grapevine about this weird event called the "watermelon bash." I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, as I hadn’t been off campus yet, and I didn’t know any upperclassmen that were involved in InterVarsity. At the last minute, some friends from my hall convinced me to tag along with them. So, I crammed into a car with a bunch of strangers (probably not the best judgment on my part, but it turned out okay) and off we went.

When we arrived, there was an overwhelming sea of people in the backyard of a house. It was a whirlwind; so many people introduced themselves to me, and I probably gave my phone number to at least 4 different small group leaders. And on top of that, it was dark outside, so I can hardly recognize most people that I met at that event. Nonetheless, I decided that Intervarsity, without a doubt, was where I wanted to be.

So, after that whirlwind event, I attended large group on a Friday night, where I fought for good seats and worshiped the Lord with my brand new lifelong friends. It was there that I signed up to be part of small group.

One day, I received a phone call from a number I had never seen before, and despite the fact that I almost never answer phone calls from people that aren't in my contacts, I decided to pick up.

"Hi Dakotah, this is BryAnna and Hannah, we're your small group leaders!"

And just like that, I became part of a group of girls that I now know will be lifelong friends, and for the next four years (and hopefully beyond our graduation day) we will spend time growing our friendships and supporting each others' relationships with Christ. What a great decision it was to answer that phone call.

Since then, our small group has experienced everything from tunneling, paint twister, and a weekend retreat with no phone service and lots of flannel, to receiving undeniable signs from God, and we have supported each other through everything that college life has thrown at us.

I am so thankful for InterVarsity, as it has given me amazing friends, beautiful memories, and the opportunity to take responsibility for my faith in God. I can't wait to see how God will continue to bless me through this organization during my time as a JMU student.

Cover Image Credit: Greyson Joralemon on unsplash

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