14 Aug 2017

Do we honor God with idols?

Deuteronomy 5:7-10  You shall have no other gods before Me or besides Me. You shall not make for yourself (to worship) a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, and showing mercy and steadfast love to thousands and to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

The very first commandment God gave Moses in the desert was to not have any other gods except for the one true living God. He also said to not make for ourselves any graven image to worship nor should you bow down and serve them.

Strong’s Concordance defines graven images as an idol or image. We live in a world that violates the first commandment every minute of every day. For example, what’s the first thing we look at in the morning? Our Instagram or Facebook account? Our email? Do we turn on TV or the radio before we’ve even thought about sitting down to spend time with God? And what about what we see on our social media platforms, magazines, TV? We seem to idolize anyone who has a flat stomach, thin thighs, big muscles, etc. There is a reason why supermodels are speaking out against their bodies being airbrushed to get rid of all the “blemishes” and why actresses are giving scathing retorts to body shamers. Sadly we, as a society, worship everything but God.

Regarding our health and without even realizing it, we get sucked into idolizing the same thing and we justify it by quoting 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that says our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and we should honor God with our bodies. Conversely, we skip working on our relationship with God, which gives us the proper perspective and should be the first step to health. We instead go straight to working on our bodies and hoping God approves.

The other end of the spectrum is that we “honor God” by eating food causing us to be riddled with the effects of obesity and inactivity. I’ve heard it before, “God made food for us to enjoy and I’m enjoying it! That’s totally honoring God!” Again, who or what is your idol?

God yearns to help you be healthy, but not at the expense of losing out on a relationship with Him. He wants to and is waiting to show you mercy and steadfast love for you and a thousand generations after you, but you must love Him and keep His commandments first. It’s amazing what happens when you are in a growing relationship with God. You no longer care about the idols the world says we have to look like. You instead care about taking care of the gifts God has given you – the gift of life, health, family, etc. He helps give you a healthy mindset and perspective.

Prayer starter: Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for falling into the world’s mindset and not making you a priority in every area of my life. God please change my thinking to care about what You think! My sole purpose is to bring honor and glory to You. Thank you Lord!

16 Jan 2017

It’s Time to Make that Decisive Dedication

It’s Time to Make that Decisive Dedication

Rom. 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of (all) the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies (presenting all your members and faculties) as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. (AMP)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. (MSG)

When I decided to become a personal trainer, it wasn’t because I thought I would be good at it, or that it looked like a lucrative career. I decided to pursue it because I knew that’s why God had created me. He planted the seed of exercise and health, which began to grow as I realized and knew from first-hand experience that it wasn’t created to be a linguist, journalist or museum director. After prayer and talking with my husband, I made a “decisive dedication” and started walking the road God had placed in my heart. I never had a sense of peace,
fulfillment or purpose until I took the huge step of faith and started down the path of helping others on their health journey.

Although my “decisive dedication” was about a career change, the same applies to every aspect of our lives. Per Romans 12:1, making a firm, unwavering dedication of our bodies is exactly what God wants us to do: our “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, walking-around life”, which also includes our exercising, kid-raising, and TV-watching aspects of life.

When I resolved to follow God’s leading and make health and wellness my life’s work, He showed me some areas of my life that I needed to change, like no more alcohol. If you were to completely and decisively dedicate your body to God as a living sacrifice, what would you have to change to make it well-pleasing to God? Here are a few starter tips:

  • Eat food that God made for your body, not man-made food, i.e. cut out all fast food, processed foods (crackers, soda, cookies, cakes, pizza, etc.).
  • Limit personal device time to 30 minutes a day. Turn off the TV(s), iPads, Kindles, and cell phones. Instead, go on a walk or hike with friends or family or your dog.
  • Get enough sleep, so that you can better manage your emotions when things feel out-of-control, making it easier to live out the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) The recommendation is six to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water (150 lb. person should drink 75 ounces of water). In the beginning, God made water. Nowhere in Genesis does it say, “In the beginning, God made coffee.” In a harsh environment, we would survive about three weeks without food, but if we didn’t have water, we’d last three days! That’s how important water is.

If these suggestions seem hard, then place it before God as an offering. Dedicating your body to God is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). God didn’t place us here – now, in history – so that we could satisfy the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).  Making a determined dedication of our bodies is another way to worship God, the one who sent his only Son to save our souls.

Prayer starter: Father God, please forgive me for not taking care of my body. I determine to dedicate it to you and ask that you prick my heart when I’m doing something that isn’t in line with your will for it and my life. Please give me the courage and resolution to change my habits so that they are honoring of you and the gifts you’ve given me. Thank you for your help!

07 Jan 2017

God’s prescription for destressing

Hebrews 12:2 Looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection). He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Looking away from all that will distract you is not easy task in this day and age. We are inundated with the pressure to keep up, be better, work harder, and do more. This all leads us to sleep less, worry more, eat worse, and exercise is nonexistent.

Stress negatively affects our heart and blood vessels, brain structures and mental health, mood, immune system and sleep. It can cause overeating or undereating, headaches, nausea, acid reflux, and much more! However, we act like we think we are invincible and this won’t happen to us.

We all want less stress in our lives; however, we don’t take action to reduce the stress! It’s like the old adage that says, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Are you hoping that your stress will go away but not purposefully taking steps to make that happen? What must you do to reduce the amount of stress in your life? Have a talk with your boss? Slow down the amount of activities in which your kids are involved? Cut out TV and social media time so you can meal plan and exercise?

God’s prescription

God aptly writes in His Word that we are to enjoy the work you do here on earth. Whatever work you do, do your best. (Ecc. 9:9-10 NCV)  Enjoying the work we do doesn’t just include our occupation, but everything including eating, drinking, and exercising. By correctly reprioritizing our life to what God calls and asks us to do, we immediately de-stress!

By taking one day at a time and trusting God completely, the stresses of life become manageable because we know that the Creator of the universe is in control and He knows what is best for us.

One of the biggest excuses I hear from people regarding their health is that they don’t have time! However, when we go a little deeper, it’s not a matter of not having time – we all have the same 24 hours in a day – but it’s more about priorities and who they are trying to please. What would happen if you started living your life to please God instead of your boss, your spouse, your friends and your children?

Go ahead and make a list of all the stressors in your life that need to change. Pray about them and ask God to give you the courage to follow His leading in making the healthy changes. Read Scripture and you will find answers to tough questions you might have in making the life changes happen.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, I ask for your forgiveness in trying to control my own life without giving much thought to your commands. I humbly ask that you help me enjoy life everyday by showing me what changes to make and then helping me make them. I trust You as You grow my faith through this process. Thank you Lord for your love and guidance.

14 Nov 2016

Love Him Forward

Love Him Forward

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God’s love for us is incomprehensible. He gave His ONLY Son … for us … for you … for me. These emotions hit me like a ton of bricks each time I think of this immeasurable love: deep gratitude, humility, joy, compassion, relief, excitement, vigor and so many more!

When we fully grasp the love that God has for us, we should be moved to want to love Him back – or for God, love Him forward. Huh? Love Him forward?

In Mark 12:30 and 31, Jesus gives these two commands:love-god
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength;
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus then says, “There is no commandment greater than these.”

Love God, love ourselves and love our neighbor. But what does this have to do with health, you might ask? In loving God, we should want to take care of our health, as He is the one who gave us: our bodies to exercise; our hands to cook nourishing foods; our minds to capture each thought (2 Cor. 10:5) in order to reduce stress, rearrange busy schedules, control our eating and get enough sleep; Sabbath to rest; His Word to give us faith, hope, assurance and peace; prayer to ensure a two-way relationship with Him.

The above list, although not exhaustive, gives a glimpse of what we can do for ourselves, but what about our neighbor? The Greek definition of neighbor in this context means someone close by or near. Who could be nearer than your spouse, your children, your extended family, your close friends?

Loving God forward includes taking care of yourself and your “neighbors”, but it doesn’t stop with just your family and close friends. By sowing seeds of health and wellness into your relationships, you’re impacting generations to come!

To illustrate the importance of sowing good seeds, consider two men named Jonathan Edwards and Max Juke. Edwards was born in Connecticut in 1703, attended Yale and later became the president of Princeton University. Theologian Benjamin B. Warfield charted over 1,300 descendants of Edwards. This is what he found: a U.S. vice president, three senators, three governors, three mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 62 physicians, 75 military officers, and 100 missionaries and pastors.

Now, let’s look at Max Juke. Although not all of Max’s life can be completely traced (sociologist Richard Dugdale tried to trace it), the adage “you reap what you sow” still rings true. Juke was alive in the early 1700s. Out of the 1,200 descendants studied, his descendants include seven murders, 128 prostitutes, 60 thieves, 140 convicts, 280 indigents, and 440 whose lives were ruined by alcoholism.

If one person can affect their descendants that drastically, then it’s time to start loving God forward by getting healthy and well – both ourselves and our neighbors.

Prayer starter: Father God, thank you for your love and for Jesus. Please help me to love you and others, especially by setting a good example of health and wellness. Help me to do it out of a heart of love.