Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jen Hatmaker's new book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (B&H Publishing Group, 2012).

Is your consumer lifestyle crowding out the purposes God wants to fulfill in your life? An excess amount of things may seem to enrich your life, but actually impoverishes it. Excess consumes time, money, and energy for what’s not important, when God wants you to invest your resources into what matters most.

When you intentionally reduce the excess in your lifestyle, you create space for God’s kingdom to break through. Then you can see life more from God’s perspective and join Him more in His work.

Here’s how you can take seven months to decrease excess in seven key areas of your life, and increase your participation in God’s kingdom work as a result:

Reduce your food consumption. For month one, choose just seven different types of food to eat, rather than consuming an endless variety of foods. Some healthy foods that can meet your nutritional needs for the month are: chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and apples. Limit your drinks to water to make this month’s meals and snacks even simpler. If you’re medically able to do so, fast from all food for a short while, skipping some meals to train yourself to focus on something greater than your physical desires. Ask God to help you redirect your physical hunger to an appetite for what will satisfy you spiritually. Turn to God alone for true fulfillment.

Reduce your clothes consumption. For month two, choose only seven different types of clothing to wear (not including underwear, and a pair of shoes counts as one item) night and day for the whole month. Go through your closets and identify all the excess clothes that you don’t really need or have outgrown. Then donate as many as possible to organizations that help people in need. At the end of the month when you can wear more clothes and find yourself wanting some in a different style, consider swapping clothes with your friends instead of buying new ones at stores. Consider how much you’ve learned about humility and giving God glory during this time that you’ve been free from trying to clothe yourself for attention from others. Recognize that it doesn’t matter very much how you look to people on the outside; what’s in your soul is far more important. Remember that Jesus Himself had a very simple appearance (the Bible says in Isaiah 53:2 that Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him”) but was magnificently handsome on the inside. Decide to value substance and integrity more than charisma and style.

Reduce your possessions. For month three, choose seven different things you own to give away – every single day (so in a month with 30 days, you’d give 210 items away). Ask God to direct you to specific people in need who could use the items you’re giving away, such as a single mother’s family that’s moving into a new apartment and needs furniture and household items, or refugees who had to leave most of their belongings behind when leaving their countries. Notice how giving away your excess possessions to help others who need them helps you let go of certain qualities (selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation) and embrace better qualities (community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love). Follow Jesus’ advice to store up your treasures in heaven rather than on Earth by focusing on what has eternal value.