there are a lot of words in this one.

This weekend, we took 8 soon-to-be seniors to Austin for a little senior retreat. We had a blasty blast. Yes, you read that correctly. A blasty blast. It’s a term. Look it up. We talked through some chapters in the book “How to Stay Christian in College” by J. Budziszewski. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that. I can’t help you. This book is an incredible handbook to dealing with the realities of college that nobody warns you about.

I wanted to write about some of the things that stood out to me the most. But then I thought…that’s lame. So my creative wheels started turning and I came up with this “Playlist to Staying Christian in College”. Enjoy.

“We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters

This is more like a wrap-it-all-up kind of song, but hey..the last shall be first and such. (Matt 20:16) I may have loosely interpreted that verse. The intro to this song belongs at the beginning of a CD.  It has awesome lyrics like, “They say we’ll never make it but we’re gonna take it all the way” and “all we hear is wait, it’s not you’re time.” I’ve had many people imply that there are certain things more important than digging into God’s word or even taking that simple trip to church on Sunday morning…but there’s nothing they can say to make me believe it. I’m going to take my faith as far as I can and nothing will stop me, though many will try. My first year at college, it was easy for me to decide to sleep in on Sunday, for example. Once I realized that they were wrong, that there isn’t anything more important than strengthening my relationship with God, I understood: You have to fight. You have to decide that you won’t give up, that you CAN make a difference, despite your youth (1 Tim 4:12). Make that decision before your first day of class, and stick with it. [[Also, “Can’t Shut Up” by Anthem Lights]]

“Outta My Mind” by Anthem Lights

This song basically describes one of my insecurities: that I’m not important. I know…that’s stupid. I’m dealing with it. God says I’m important, loved and special. Why do I need more verification than that? I get stuck in my head and only hear my own thoughts. Do you do that? I drown out that voice telling me how special I am and get stuck. “If anybody asks me, what have I been up to, this is what I’m gonna say/I’ve been spending my time out of my mind/and I’m really loving living this way”. Preach it, Anthem! I’m done with inward living and moving on to serving others and serving God. In college, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things other people have and you lack. Especially as a girl watching friends get married and have families of their own. “Gotta try not to say/oh God, what about me/cause I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be” and “gotta try just to say/oh, God what can I do” are words to live by. I have this song on repeat sometimes just to get me “outta my mind and into [His] heart” so that I can start “playing my part in [His] design.” [[Also, “Overcome” by Jeremy Camp]]

“By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. I have a lot of “jams” and only a few “favorite songs of all time.” This is definitely one of those. “Why are you looking for love?/why are you still searching as if I’m not enough” are some of the most impactful words I’ve ever heard. A common struggle in college is the need for comfort, love and attention. I think everyone struggles with those to some degree. God is by our side! He doesn’t run off when a prettier girl comes along or a funnier friends walks by, so why do we make Him our last choice? Why not the first? God knows what we’re going to say before the words even pass through our brains, He never has any intention of abandoning us, and He is the King of comfort! This song is a love song to you from the Father through Tenth Avenue North. Don’t take His love for granted, but rather cling to it as you enter the college chapter of your life. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I can attest to that. [[Also, “Strong Enough” by Matthew West]]

“You Are My Passion” by Jesus Culture

This song is sung by my hero: Kim Walker-Smith. She chuckles when she sings. Her joy is full, pure and infectious. I’ve never heard anyone sing with as much passion as she does. I don’t even know where to start with this song. One of the most important nuggets of advice I can give is this: know what you believe. People will ask you why you don’t do this or why you disagree with that and if you can’t give them a solid answer…they’ll either make fun of you or shrug you off. Neither one of those outcomes feels very good, I’ve experienced them both in college. Is God your passion? “My strength in life is I am Yours/and my soul delights because I am Yours/Your will on earth is all I’m living for.” Amen! If you follow Christ and you’re about to head off to college, make God your passion, make Him your only desire. [[Also, “All to Us” by Chris Tomlin]]

-Caitlyn

Listening to: Honestly, I’ve been listening to “You Are My Passion” and “Rooftops” also by Jesus Culture this whole time. Ha!

the combination of a student retreat and a rap song.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going with Agone Student Ministry, from First Baptist Church of Bowie, to Camp Copass for their Spring retreat. The theme was “Back to Basics” and we studied these verses:

“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” Hebrews 5:11-14 [The Message]

Lately, I’ve been struggling with having a daily quiet time. My friend, Alexz, and I have been working through Beth Moore’s study called “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” together and have been able to meet every week to discuss the daily readings and hold each other accountable. The problem is, we’ve both been finding it difficult to actually do the readings every day.

We kept focusing on setting goals like, “If I do at least two of these daily entries every week…I’ll be okay” or “I did two last week…so I’ll do three this week.” The problem is, that’s not the point of doing a bible study.

God wants us to find time for Him every single day. Whether it’s 30 minutes or 10, He deserves it. If we have to wake up earlier or stay up later, He’s worth it. At the retreat, we talked about how if we give God 1/100 of each day, that’s roughly 10 minutes.

Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Wow. Spit us out of His mouth. I’ve read those verses before over the years, but I’ve never been so caught off guard by those words. God doesn’t want us to sometimes focus on Him. He’d rather us either choose Him every day or not at all. In Lecrae’s song “New Reality”, he says,

“Well cold water we drink, hot water we cook
But lukewarm does nothing it just sits and it looks
And that’s you imagine these as the words of Christ.”

Cold water has a use. Hot water has a use. But lukewarm water? It sits there and has no purpose; it doesn’t help anyone. The majority of Christians out there are in this stage of life. We talk the talk, but ignore the whole walking part.

Instead of focusing on completing a certain number of daily bible readings a week, focus on spending at least 10 minutes every day working through the studies. Start your day with God. Dedicate the day to come to Him. God’s really been using multiple things to get my attention in this area. Music, the retreat, a speaker at DNow in Van Alstyne, everything around me seems to be illuminating the importance of spending time in His word every day.

You can’t fight a war without training, experience or knowledge, after all.

We don’t deserve God’s constant love or His omnipresence, yet He’s there for us. He deserves our everything, every moment of every day, yet how much are you giving Him?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “New Reality” by Lecrae ft. Chinua Hawk