Over the last several weeks, I’ve been purposely working out to improve my fitness, mental clarity & stamina. It’s been nice this go around for lots of reasons & I’ve experienced some wonderful spiritual lessons:
Beginning is harder than maintaining: starting a spiritual discipline (daily prayer, consistent church attendance, Bible reading, fasting, etc) requires more effort than maintaining the discipline
Social fun: I’ve allowed people to be involved with my exercise & it’s been very enjoyable; the parallel holds true with spiritual growth as well – we need people in our lives on this spiritual maturity journey
Too rigorous: last week, I got a migraine largely because I was too hard on my body; in a similar way, let’s be careful to have a balanced spiritual walk in our daily living
With these suggestions, I pray that you grow spiritually & that your inner man is strengthened with the presence of the Holy Spirit – Eph 3:16 🙂
That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:
I want to control my body rather than my body control me
Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8
Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂
To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:
The last will be first;
the way ahead is through humility & service;
exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!
In our home, one of my kid’s weekly responsibilities is to do the laundry for all of us. I often think that this child is shrinking my clothes from setting the dryer too high. But alas, we both know that this misconception is rooted in my desire to eat freely without consequences.
I think all of us have the ability to believe what we want & dismiss what we don’t like. This is another essential reason we desperately need the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus tells us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth & in our modern living, we need an abundance of truth, full stop. Let’s make the ongoing decision to follow the Holy Spirit in truth even at the expense of eating less & exercising more 🙂
This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.
Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.
Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!
When I do physical therapy for my shoulder, I do some exercises (turkish getups, step ups, etc) that have some nice side benefits related to strengthening my core. Translation: my abs get a workout along with my shoulder. I’ve learned that when my abs are strong, the rest of my body has better alignment, agility and strength. In a similar way, I think that one of the core essentials to following Jesus is trusting Him.
So here are some core exercises to consider for your “Cross Training”:
when you go through high pressure experiences, choose to lean into rather lean away from Jesus (don’t fall back on old habits or destructive patterns)
consider doing some extra Bible memorizing to strengthen your muscle memory & provide a constructive alternative to the worry default
pain is gain: I know my abs are getting a good workout when they hurt & following Jesus isn’t only about having perpetual pleasure
agility comes with practice: the more I trust Jesus, the more adventures I get to enjoy rather than endure (Saving Moses is a great personal example)
form is important to prevent injury: fully trusting Jesus yields better results than just trusting with pieces & parts
Have an awesome weekend & don’t fight the urge to pass this along to your friends 🙂
“I’m bored!” My kids are on Summer Break & I’d like to avoid the “I’m Bored Syndrome” that can occassionally creep into the Summer days. I definitely remember these seasons as a kid, so I’d jet outside & do lots of different things like bike riding for a few hours, learn new tricks on our trampoline, continue exploring the canal behind our house and find varieties of mischief. As an adult, I get bored sometimes with the mundane & hanker for some adventure.
If you find yourself “bored” even though you might be busy, here are some ideas to make the boredom evaporate:
prayer: there are so many adventures in prayer, that I always seem to be learning & discovering new things, probably because God is so infinitely creative
exercise: taking a walk, going swimming, bike riding, gardening, enjoy a walk with a friend
look up and imagine: ever remember laying on the grass in the Summer & imagining the clouds to be dragons or horses, frogs, castles, birds, . . . . I used to make up stories to go with the clouds, like my own fictional narrative & very entertaining
memorize some Bible verses & maybe even a chapter: occupy your mind with the ultimately creative and engaging Word of God 🙂
try some new recipes – Summer is always a blast to try new cooking stuff: grilling, fresh combinations of various veggies & fruits
My new physical therapy exercise is called Turkish Get-Ups & they’re very exciting, so say I with a smirk. I’m supposed to hold some kind of weight, do some weird getting up thing & pretend I’m nimble, maybe.
This is all very exciting because I can see that I’m making progress – to the point that I can do Turkish Get-Ups. Even though I feel uber silly doing these crazy exercises, I’m totally committed to doing them because they’re helping me to reach my goal to go snowboarding, swimming, jogging, paragliding & possibly wingsuit jumping.
Sometimes our spiritual development can be a little bit like Turkish Get-Ups. As we keep growing in our walk with God, sometimes we get to do things that might feel silly. Let’s appreciate, however, that if our flesh feels uncomfortable & silly but our spirits are growing, then ultimately that’s not bad: Maybe we need to pray out loud for someone today.
Maybe we need to ask God for some of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to move in our lives.
Maybe we need to choose to be patient when we’d prefer to rip off someone’s head.
Maybe we need to ask for God’s help in our daily living rather than trying to be independent 🙂
This has been a fairly crazy year for me with travel, particularly during the 1st half of the year. As a result, it has come to my attention that I’ve put on a few pounds (did you like how I suddenly got formal? smile). Thankfully, no one has made any overtly rude comments or observations, but I can most definitely tell a difference with my clothes. So I’m getting my rear in gear to see what great things can happen from endeavoring to get back into shape 🙂
In order to be more fit, to be stronger & more healthy, I have to put some work into these areas – a truth that can apply to every area in our lives. Discipline, effort, work & committment can have some very glorious results in our lives, particularly when we join with God’s grace & power working in our lives. Without some effort & engagement I can quickly get flabby – just a little food for thought ,)
When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym. It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time. But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.
On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from. Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from? For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.
Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him. Be strong!! 🙂