When I think about getting in shape, it crosses my mind that pears and grapes are viable options in contrast to the idealized hour-glass shape. I also think that I can get in shape for swimming, but be out of shape for running. This holds true for snowboarding, weightlifting & a plethora of other physical exercises.
Indeed, let’s go beyond the physical and cardiovascular concepts and think about our mental and spiritual shape! Keeping fit in our minds and emotions requires exercise and usage since the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” holds true.
And let’s be certain that we don’t neglect our spiritual shape when we consider what it means to be healthy. I’ve met plenty of people who are physically and mentally healthy, but whose spiritual lives are anemic on a good day. And I’m learning that if I’ll keep my spiritual health as a top priority, it’s often easier to be physically and mentally healthy. To stay spiritually healthy, here are a few helpful suggestions:
Read your Bible daily
Purpose to have prayerful conversations with God throughout the day
Connect with spiritual communities (church, small groups, Bible study, etc)
Being part of an elite group can be very attractive. The sense of belonging, being special & set apart appeals to our emotions & sense of significance. Sometimes there can seem to be some good reasons for being exclusive: excellence, comraderie, influence, achieving high goals, etc).
A problem, however, with being exclusive is that it becomes easy to allow the status of the group to influence the way we see ourselves. Sometimes we can think that being part of an exclusive group makes us elite or a cut above “other people.”
Another problem with being exclusive (religious, social, economic, fashion, athletic, etc) is that we can often remove ourselves from connecting with others who are not as elite, don’t achieve as highly, don’t dress in the same fashion, don’t had the same income bracket, aren’t as athletic, or don’t have a similar mental prowess.
The biggest problem with being exclusive is that such a mindset runs entirely contrary to how Jesus taught us to live. In John 13:14-15, Jesus models for us a servant mindset, ready to wash feet & lay down His life for others for the simple & revolutionary goal to express genuine love. Let’s always keep our sites on the end goal to love with a genuine heart & sincere expression!
Sometimes I get frustrated with God, not so much because I’m not getting my way (that was a problem when I was younger), but moreso because of some struggles I have with God about faith & trust. As followers of Jesus, we know that we’re supposed to trust God & keep the faith, but sometimes this gets tricky. It’s in those “sometimes” that I can get frustrated and even mad with God because it can get really difficult and seemingly impossible. Maybe you’ve had some similar challenges in your walk with God pertaining to a health or relationship situation. Maybe you’ve struggled with God about some decisions or the direction you’re supposed to go with your career, education or family consideration.
The Bible is full of people who have been in some of the exact same situations with which we may be struggling. So here are some thoughts that can be helpful:
timing: sometimes God does last minute work that can be really unnerving – consider when Abraham was about to sacrifice Issac in Gen 22
bits and pieces: I often find that even though God knows the beginning & the end of stuff, we frequently find ourselves in the “need to know” zone, a little bit at a time and not the giant picture – consider Moses and the incremental nature of how God used him to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
honesty with commitment is important for intimacy: you can be honest with God about your frustrations without putting your entire relationship with God at risk – consider Job
endurance & persistance: the Apostle Paul comes to mind when I think about a biblical example of what endurance looks like, even finishing an extremely well run race with getting his head chopped off
community: the Bible is full of examples of people encouraging each other in staying obedient to & passionate for God – consider when Jonathon encouraged David about being the king of Israel in 1 Sam
God makes a way when there seems to be no way so be sure to share this with a friend to spread some encouragement! 🙂
I was just looking up the news & saw that there’s been a school shooting at Reynolds High School in Oregon. The situation at the high school has been stablized but not without bloodshed. Understandably, the parents, students & community is shook up and probably in a state of shock. Because I live in Denver, CO the city where the Columbine HS shooting happened, along with the shooting last fall at Arapahoe HS, my heart & prayers go out to the people at Reynolds HS, just outside of Portland, OR. I understand what it feels like to live in a city that has had its fair share of school shootings and because of this, I want to encourage you to pray for the students, parents, teachers and administration. The journey in front of this community is challenging and Jesus gives us the best hope in these kinds of situations and many more. Let’s be praying for Reynolds HS!!
I met a really incredible woman in Calcutta, named Kali. She is extraordinary in several ways, but let me 1st share a little bit of Indian culture that was explained to me while I was there. Generally, the Indian society is male dominated & females are generally relegated to a strictly domestic role, particularly in the older generations. With this in mind, let me have the privilege of introducing Kali to you: she is probably around 50 years old w a few grown daughters who have several children themselves. I think that Kali’s husband left here many years ago & she lives in a very poor village with no apparent way for any improvement or opportunities to excel. Her village is so poor that Calcutta Mission of Mercy has been delivering food to this village 6 days a week for more than 5-7 years.
Here’s one of the things that makes Kali so marvelous: she made the decision that she didn’t want to see her grandchildren (who are quite small) continue in this seemingly hopeless squalor & crushing poverty. So one day, she asked one of the food delivery men from CMM about the possibility of having someone come to her village consistently to teach the children to read & provide some basic education. She explained about her grandchildren & agreed to provide some space for this requested education. Some space turned into a small dirt floor classroom where now there is daily education for all the children who have agreed w their parents to be a part of the educational program w CMM.
We had the great honor of getting to watch some of this training for the 3-5 year old group (pre-kindergarten & kindergarten ability) & I was really moved to see these little people learning their ABCs, reading, writing & some basic English.
As we were finishing our visit, I was told that because of Kali’s generosity to donate the classroom space, she is now considered to be the village grandmother & is very highly respected.
When the aid workers asked her why she had decided to pursue some education for her grandkids, she explained that just because she & her daughters live destitution, she wanted to give her grandkids a chance for a better life by getting them some education to open more opportunities for their future.
I’ve thought about this in relation to saving Moses & I’ve concluded that it’s extremely important for the kids in the older range of saving Moses to receive some very fundamental education so that they can begin to walk the path of education to not only better themselves but also their community & to extend Jesus’ love to & through them.
Kali, may God richly bless you for your vision, heart & generosity. You are changing the future one child at a time.
Check out this video w the kids learning their ABCs 🙂
The longer I do the Christian adventure, Im becoming increasingly convinced that God is after our hearts & fellowship w us more than anything else. As I consider His goals for my life, I find myself wanting to cooperate & give myself to His desires. I think there are 3 simple ways that I can easily present myself to Him, everyday:
*prayer: whether it’s the quick “HELP!” or giving Him our requests & thanksgivings or going through a prayer pattern, like the Lords Prayer, I find that prayer has become a spiritual adventure for me, unduplicated in any other activity of my life
*Bible: the Bible gives my soul substance to feed on rather than the froth & cotton candy that’s so readily available in pop culture. I’ve found the Bible sustains, chalenges, comforts, corrects, guides, . . . . . me. If you don’t have some Bible in your daily living, try reading a Proverb or a Psalm a day as a starting point 🙂
*community – working out my Christianity into a daily context especially in my relationships makes my experience w Christ deeper, richer & more 3 dimensional than just attemtpting the solo act.
Get a lil prayer, get a little Bible, get a little community in this day & see God where He couldve have been invisible in the past 🙂
He’s deeply in love w you!! Hosea 11:4
what a deadly experience isolation can be. i read a book a few months ago about a Mt Everest climbing expedition in the ’90s that was a DISASTER! About 1/3 of the team died on the mountain they were trying to conquer and many because they got disconnected from their team.
We all need community in alot of different ways: work, friendships, health, Jesus, specific issues, support groups, etc. Community, I believe, is part of God’s plan for redemption. Furthermore, thanks to the input from my friend Chris Hill, i believe that community on earth is just a trial run for the community that already exists in heaven. Consider Revelation 4 – everything around God’s throne is plural (24 elders, 24 thrones, 7 spirits, cherubim, . . . . ).
So given all of this, here are some community principles Jesus discusses in Matt 13 with several parables:
stay planted: in Jesus’ parable on the wheat & the tares, the whole point of the exercise was to let the wheat keep growing. To do this, it needed to stay planted & not be disturbed by having the weed / tares removed.
be changed: in Jesus’ parable on the mustard seed, even though this seed is the smallest seed, Jesus says its changed into a large tree. The seed is changed into a tree & community helps us grow & change – becoming who God has made us to be.
spend yourself: Jesus’ last parable to the mass of people who were listening to Him was about yeast. Simply put, yeast spends itself to become infused w something greater than it is by itself. When bread is made, you can separate out the yeast. Community is about spending one’s self, even being worn out, for something bigger than our selves – the Kingdom of God.
So, let me encourage you to plug into some Jesus communities – they’re an essential ingredient for God’s kingdom to grow in your life. If you go to Orchard Road Christian Center, check out the link to see some community opportunties! 🙂