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My Body Is Yours, Lord

"Therefore, I give glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God." Romans 15:17

“Heavenly Father, as I begin this workout help me have the strength and fortitude to complete it so that I may be strong in order to serve you with all my heart, mind, and body.  And in that service my body gives glory to you for all that you have given me.  Amen”

One of the many lessons I’ve gleaned through studying the Bible is that Jesus wants all of us – our entire body, mind and heart.  He’s not a halfway kind of guy.  You’re either on the path and maybe struggling to stay on it or you are wandering off into the forest.  There’s no one foot on and one off.  Because when we get to the narrow gate you’ve got to have both feet firmly planted to walk through it.  This includes taking care of the body God gave us.  

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore,  honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Put in context this Bible verse is referring to sexually immoral acts.  However, it can also simply remind us that our bodies are God-given.  And like all God’s gifts He wants us to use it as good stewards.  Why? To put our gift into service for the children of God to glorify Him.  

One day, after beating myself up about my weight, my aging face, my bad hair I stood in front of the mirror and had an epiphany.  I am a child of God.  My body belongs to Him. And my complaining and lack of caretaking of my body was rude.  Yes, rude and disrespectful to God.  I needed to instead think of ways to care for this gift and glorify Him with it.

Whatever state our bodies are in, be it fit, or old, not quite fully functioning, or basically in working order, we need to take care of it so that when called upon by the Holy Spirit we are ready for action.  Even if you are in a wheelchair, your arms can be strong to hug a person or maybe just hold a hand.  If you are struck with a disease affecting you physically God still wants you in His holy service.

So friends, break out your sneakers, snap on your headband, pick up those weights and getting moving.  Get strong.  Get ready.  Your neighbor, your friend, a stranger, a family member may need you today to lend a hand.  And when you step forward to help remember to thank God for this gift and glorify Him!

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Self-Improvement

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. Proverbs 31:15

Over a year ago, my Bible study group embarked on a 90 day adventure into the world of the famed Proverbs 31 woman.  Each week we studied a verse which described a woman who took care of her husband, made sure her household was up to snuff, bought and planted land, and even had her own business.  Throughout the study we were challenged to look at our own lives and see where we needed to improve.

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17

If you go into any bookstore or do a simple search on Amazon you’ll find 1,000s of book titles which focus on self-improvement.  We seemed to be always looking for ways to get slim, have better skin, increase our muscles, learn more, and take on new hobbies.  I find it so fascinating that God placed in all of us this self-improvement desire.  And while we may not act on any of those desires, we certainly dream about them!  Isn’t that what we do every New Year’s Eve?  Making our mental lists of how we plan to improve our lives.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

As Christians we know this self-improvement nugget God has placed in us is really His desire to have us grow closer to Him.  To seek His will for us.  To turn our bodies and minds over to Him.  I’m so thankful for that Proverbs 31 study He sent our way and all the ones since.  His gift of self-improvement helps me become the woman He wants me to be.

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Muscle Building

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 
1 Corinthians 9:25

I’ve been a member of various gyms over the years.  Each time, after that initial enthusiasm of “this time I’m going to become a flat stomached, toned armed, no jiggle mama” I fell into a boring workout routine.  And then I found excuses to not go to the gym – I was tired, I worked late, I didn’t sleep well, my kids needed me for something, etc.  Next thing I knew the gym was making money off a person that wasn’t even using their services.  

For some of us, at one time or another, our faith life and studying and living out His Word fell into that same pattern.  There were times when my on-line giving to my church showed up a heck of a lot more times than my physical body.

Running is a fitting pace for a believer. Jesus Christ deserves that we should run for him. 

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

How many of us got up this morning and thought, “I need to get in my God workout today so I can be ready to win that race!”?  We may not see our studies of His Word like a workout but that’s what it really is.  The “prize” is the ability to carry through the days of our lives as Christians who take full advantage of the fruits of His spirit.

Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  
1 Corinthians 9:26-27

There are a few keys to successfully training for a big race or event and those same keys work for keeping our faith life active and effective.

Have a Plan

A plan is not, “I’m going to study the Bible” or “I’m going to be a good person today.”  A plan IS something that is measurable and specific.   For awhile I thought the Bible was something I just opened up to a random spot and expected to be told all the answers to a problem.  And although God does set before us scripture we need we also need to be able to figure out the true meaning.  A specific plan might be to pick one book of the Bible and find a five week study on it and do the study at a certain time each day.  Another plan might be to commit to one God-directed behavioral change like smiling and saying “have a great day” to 10 people each day for the next month.  Ask God to help you with your plan and He will surely answer!

Be Consistent

Any devotee of fitness will tell you that consistency, consistency, consistency is what builds endurance.  So even when you go on vacation you find a way to stick with your plan.  Just last year I started packing my devotional book when I travelled.  I brought my Bible study booklets on the plane to keep up with the chapters.  Each time we want to make an excuse for falling off our plan we need to remind ourselves of the benefits.  When I don’t want to go for a walk I remember the feeling I have when I am done – happy and satisfied that I cared for my body.  When we don’t want to take the time with God we must remember how that centering time helps us throughout the rest of our day.

To run is to be diligent. We should hardly call that running in which a man starts and stops, and starts and stops again. In some Christian works we are painfully conscious that the persons undertaking them, if they ever run, run only for a very short time.  

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

Shake it Up

When I was training for the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day I walked five to seven miles a day five days a week.  Occasionally, I would throw in a 14 mile walk.  I set aside most of a day to accomplish that walk.  And in our faith lives we need that same occasional change.  It might be that we go to a different church that has different music.  Maybe we move our morning devotional to the outside and watch the sunrise.  Or we write out our prayers for the day on sticky notes and put them around the house.

Don’t Try to Do It All at Once

A good overall workout plan focuses on different parts of our body on different days.  My daughter once was on a swim team.  Some days were “land days.”  On those days they ran.  In the pool they practiced endurance on certain days and others it was technique.  I have a lot of behavioral changes I need to make to align myself closer to Christ.  And if I think about fixing them all at once it’s overwhelming.  So, I ask God to help me with just one thing at a time.

Rest

There are always rest days in a workout routine.  Time to let our muscles re-group.  The same is true with studying the Word.  You might think that’s Sunday – but that’s another day of study, isn’t it?  Hearing the Word from our pastors, taking notes, and being challenged to go out into the world is part of our workout plan.  For me, my rest from study is Saturday.  I’ll read a devotional to get me focused for the day and that’s it.  Yes, I put into practice the different lessons I’ve learned for the week.  But I also just rest in the beauty of God.

So run that ye may obtain. So run that the great cloud of witnesses may applaud. So run that the King may say, “Ye did run well.” 

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

Our days here are short.  If we chose to lollygag and be distracted by the world we miss out on all the glorious wonders of God.  If we strengthen our spiritual muscles through a consistent plan we can be God’s instruments for the day.  He will look upon us as fit warriors, ready for any heavy burden, ready to stand firm, ready to be his standard bearer.

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Kindness Matters

“May I continue to find favor 
in your eyes, my lord,” she said. 
“You have put me at ease by 
speaking kindly to your servant—
though I do not have the standing 
of one of your servants.” 
Ruth 2:13

A prayer to always speak kindly of others

Merciful God, so often when I think of sinful behavior, I rarely attribute my own tendency to gossip and tear down others.  And yet throughout Jesus’ time here on earth he reminds us to love one another.  Help me to remember to love not just with deeds but with my words.  You speak so kindly of me, LORD, and I have many, many flaws.  Not only do I need your help in not speaking unkindly, but also in being your servant to exalt your people.  I know that a kind word is all that is needed to cure so many of our world’s ills.  Guide me in controlling my lips so that they drip with kindness rather than bitterness.  In Jesus’ name I lift this up to you.  Amen


“The problem with youth sports is the parents,” my husband loves to say.  And he’s not wrong.  If you’ve never stood on the sidelines of a soccer, softball, baseball, football or any youth sport let me paint a picture.  There’s the pacer – that parent that has so much anger or anxiety they can’t sit still.  There’s the cheerleader parent and the coaching parent – yelling out to their kids instructions of how to play better.  There’s the sideline referee – yelling at the refs for every call.  The peek-a-boo parent stands off to the side trying to shield themselves from their anxiety, only peeking to check out the score or why everyone just cheered so loudly.   And then you have little groups of parents huddled together gossiping.  

I have been every single one of those at some point.  And guess what, so has my husband.  He may be hesitant to admit it but I have seen him be the actor in each of those roles.

During my youngest daughter’s last season of high school field hockey, I decided to take a different tack.  I knew my mouth wanted to speak so I figured, why fight it.  But instead of anything negative I would cheer positively for every girl at one point or another.  Afterwards, I would seek out parents and pay their daughters’ compliments for a job well done.  It’s amazing how much better I felt after games. 

My command is this: 
Love each other as I 
have loved you.
John 15:12

I know for some, speaking kindly comes naturally (looking at you Betsy!).  But I have found that not to be the norm in society.  We seem to feel the need to seek out the flaw, the screw up, the mistake.  “The movie was good, but I’m not too sure about that choice of an actor.”  “She’s lost a lot of weight, but she really needed it didn’t she?”  “He’s a good leader but I don’t like his hair.”  “She always looks so nice, but of course she likes to impress people.”  And on and on.  The “buts” in our sentences erase any good we intended.  We just need to get that extra little dig in.

“‘Do not go about spreading 
slander among your people. 
“‘Do not do anything that endangers 
your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:16

I was listening to a podcast by a well know Christian speaker.  She told a story of how she would listen to other talented speakers and upon leaving start dissecting all they had done wrong.  And yet, she hoped people wouldn’t do the same to her.

Speaking unkindly, gossiping, or even slandering others is sinful behavior.  It is like an amoeba that slowly eats our heart and mind.  And the cure is to offer the kind word.  It’s not enough to remove something from our behavior, that’s only half the work.  God wants us to actively love our friends, family, neighbors and strangers with kindness. 

I realized that not only was I having problems speaking about others unkindly but also about myself.  I discovered this while at the gym.  When I would get tired and worried I wouldn’t perform well I found my inner “but” speaking – “Come on you lazy so and so, you showed up today but now get it in gear!”  How many of us really need one more person saying something negative to us?  And yet, how many of us are that one more person?  I decided to flip the script and start saying, “Come on!  I know you can do this!  You are stronger than yesterday!”   I’m thankful for a few less bruises on my soul. 

Just one more! You can do it!

When I head out on my errands now, I say a little prayer asking God to help me say something that brightens someone’s day.  I put a sign up in my prayer room that says, “Kindness and Grace Matter.”  With His help I will remove the “buts” out of my vocabulary and rest in the compliment.  I’m doing that not only for others but also for myself.  I will speak kindness into my own heart so that it is full.  And with fullness of heart, I will spread His fruit of love and kindness.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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Work It for God

Therefore, I urge you, brothers 
and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, 
to offer your bodies as a living 
sacrifice, holy and pleasing to 
God—this is your true and 
proper worship.
Romans 12:1

A prayer to keep my body strong and dedicate it to serve God

Heavenly Father, I regularly make the commitment to keep my spiritual life active and strong.  However, when I make choices about exercise or my diet, I rarely see that as part of my devotional life.  My spirit, my soul and my body all belong to you.   You ask us to be your warriors in the name of Christ.  And warriors are strong spiritually, mentally and physically.  Starting today, LORD, I recommit my entire body to you.  When I am weak and want to forgo exercise or eat food I know just isn’t good for me I ask that your Holy Spirit remind me that I need to be strong to accomplish all that you have planned for me.  I lift this up in your Son’s Holy Name, Amen.


I heard a pastor speaking the other day about our bodies being a “living sacrifice” and how so many of us Christians focus solely on the spirit part of our being.  But there are three key parts that make us, well us.  Our spirit, our soul (emotions and mind), and our physical body.  And when one is out of balance then we haven’t fully committed ourselves as a living sacrifice.  We may be saved but some of us are downright miserable either because of what goes on in our heart and head or because we just don’t feel good about our bodies.

We make that New Year’s resolution to lose that famous 10 pounds.  Which in reality is probably more like 15 or 20.  But resolutions are only so good as our own personal commitment to ourselves. Recognizing that our bodies belong to God and He has a divine purpose for them is key to taking control over our physical health.

There’s a funny movie featuring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep called, “Death Becomes Her.”  In it the two women take an immortality potion.  The two women have despised each other their entire lives and spend much of the movie trying to outdo each other.  But prior to taking the potion they are warned to take care of their bodies.  Once broken, their body remains damaged – but they continue to live forever.  The famous scene in the movie is called the “shovel scene.”  The two women get into a fight and begin bashing each other with all manner of devices including shovels.  The destruction they cause to their bodies is hilarious.  And they will be stuck that way for all eternity.

Oops, you gotta little hole right there…

When we look into our mirrors, we should heed the same warning.  This is the only body we have and we should take good care of it, not just for ourselves, but in God’s name and purpose.  If we are not in our best fighting shape (no matter our God-given physical situation) then how can we expect God to give us every opportunity possible to serve Him?

My current Bible study group (My BSGs – Bible Study Girls) is made up of two women I met at the gym and another with whom I walk regularly.   Now, lest you think the two from the gym were longtime friends I want to clarify.  I started working out at this particular gym because my daughter was a physical therapist there.  It was a different type of workout than I’d ever done.  Their small classes are crossfit style, in addition to weight training.  There’s not a lot of time to sit around and chit chat.

She sets about her work vigorously; 
her arms are strong for her tasks.
Proverbs 31:17

I found that some people have the unique ability to actually talk to others while dying, I mean working out, on the rowing machine.  It was during these times I discovered some of the Christians in the group.  They were open with their faith journeys.  So, when my walking buddy urged me to start a new Bible study, I prayed about who to invite.  God urged me to ask some of the ladies I sort of knew from the gym.  Two of them immediately said, “yes.”

Had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the crossfit craze, had I not made a commitment to working out every weekday at 6:30a.m., I wouldn’t have met these amazing women.  God used me and my body to serve His kingdom.

I’m currently working on losing a few pounds I gained during the lockdowns.  But I have a renewed commitment, not to me, but to God.  I want to be in the best physical shape I can be so that He opens more doors and places me where I can do His work.  I know with this new understanding of my body being a living sacrifice and the help of His Holy Spirit I will be in fighting shape soon.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!