The posts on this website are for informational purposes only. Please, check with your health care provider before trying any new exercise or weight loss program. You will find articles about health, nutrition, exercise, relationships, Christian wellness, self-image, the Bible, and hazards of the New Age movement prevalent in the general health, fitness, and wellness communities. My hope is to encourage you on your journey to total health as you live out your Christian faith.
|Posted on October 11, 2019 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash
Hi, Everyone. You may be wondering what happened this week. I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth nor have I decided to play hookey from blog posts. Instead, I’ve had to slow down to get well. For the past two months, the weather and seasonal changes made my fibro and MCVD worse. I’ve been very tired more often. On my trip to Colorado a month ago, I had a strange discomfort in my chest that knocked the wind out of me and I’ve not picked back up since. This week, I spent the major portion of a day in the emergency room from an intense coronary artery spasm that wouldn’t go away. Thankfully, there was no damage left behind. Most friends and family know I hate going to the emergency room for anything.
I am telling you this because 1) it affects my ministry to you, unfortunately, and 2) to help you see that I really do practice what I preach and teach, even though it may not be pretty. The Happy Friday videos, which seem to be valuable to some of you have stopped for right now. They were never promised as a regular thing anyway. The blog posts and Healthy Lifestyles groups are at a standstill this week. This week’s blog post is almost done, but trying to write much beyond this type of post isn’t working. I’ve also canceled Healthy Lifestyles Groups for now. Any fees paid will be either refunded or credited to the January groups. The fatigue and brain fog have stopped me in my tracks right now.
I have to take care of me right now in order to serve God and you more effectively. My calendar is full of follow-up doctor appointments. My exercise is simply doing what I can like walk or ride my bike on it’s trainer at a LOW TO MODERATE pace. All of my work, that is writing, housework, etc. is in work-rest intervals. We-- the doctors and I-- are trying out a new treatment plan to see what works best. I wish I could have chosen great genes, but as it is, I have my genes to thank for this. UGH! So it is.
In the meantime, I do ask God, “Why?” Job did. King David did. So many of God’s people in the Bible have asked similar questions of their own circumstances. As long as I remain reverent of the Holiness of God and His Sovereignty, I am okay to ask Him such questions. I may have plans, but God can certainly interrupt or divert them, even halt them if He so chooses (Proverbs 19:21).
I will post what I can as best as I can right now. Memes are easy to do. It is the blog posts that require a lot more effort.I will work with the people who are currently doing personal Healthy Lifestyles. No exercise classes right now, either. Watch for updates over the next few weeks.
What I ask of you is to simply pray. My doctors are great about looking at alternative health practices proven to work alongside traditional medicine, so I would ask you to respect me by not pointing me to special diets or natural therapies as a cure. I have heard this quote often regarding the autoimmune disease that plagues me, “By His stripes we are healed!” These well-intentioned people mean well, but it is not helpful since it is unknowingly taken out of context. Nice sentiment. I appreciate your willingness to encourage me. I know God certainly does have the power to physically heal me, but He will only do so if it is His plan. Your prayers and encouragement are always welcome.
Feel free to contact me through your social media venue where you find Be Totally Fit for Life or use the comment section below.
May God bless you!
|Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
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Recently, I felt pummeled by troubles ranging from a damaged computer to pressures of trying to finish our house and move while trying to start groups and classes, to one huge flare-up that landed me in bed for a few days. You likely noticed my posts were sporadic at the end of my visit with my daughter in Colorado until recently. It seemed like I was spiritually slammed down to the proverbial mat. Often, I find myself up in the middle of the night since fibro and pain wake me up. This morning was one of those mornings.
It seemed the Lord was showing me several things. One is the level of selfish ambition in our world that appears to be at an all-time high, "Do it for yourself," they say. The second is that I fight an invisible battle of balancing my needs with the needs of others. This is a common problem for those in ministry and for Christians in general. The onslaught I've dealt with over the past few weeks now makes sense as I've pondered these points.
Caring is Exhausting, So Retreat When Needed
I think being a parent or caregiver brings a better perspective on the fact that life is about more than just us. This is my third round of caregiving. I am also a parent of three adult children and a grandma of 10 grandchildren (combined between my Boaz' and my families). There have been a few times the importance of taking care of myself really stood out to me recently. The first is when my daughter-in-law went into the hospital in critical condition with pneumonia. I spent quite a bit of time with my son at the hospital supporting him. The reality that he could lose his wife was so weighty, I labored in prayer for all of them. I helped watch my grandkids for some of that time. Every ounce of energy drained from my body. As soon as I came back, several people called within a few days who sought my attention. My mom needed my help. I looked at my husband and said, "I desperately need to get away. Just the two of us, please." We hopped in our plane to visit a couple of beaches at the tip of the Thumb of Michigan. It was so refreshing! I gave out so much of myself that renewal time was like inhaling after having exhaled every bit of air I held in my lungs. Renewal time is vital to be available again later.
Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Others
The other moment was this week when my mom needed me to take her to the doctor. I also set an appointment for myself since we would already be there. Interestingly, going to a D.O. family doctor can seem a lot like a Family Circus! Mom fell last week, so she needed to be checked to see if there was any damage. She also required prescriptions renewed. Then it was my turn. Typically, I go on my own, but an incident in Colorado concerned me, so it needed checked out. I wondered if it could have triggered such a nasty flare. Believe me, you haven't lived until your elderly parent interjects her own issues in the middle of your exam! Oh, my! X-rays, blood work, and scripts in hand, we were finally out the door two hours later. At any rate, getting her wheelchair in and out of my car several times plus holding the door with one foot while stretching to pull her through the doorway over and over made realize how weak and tired I felt. She needs me to stay healthy and strong. Not only does she need me, but my hubby and the rest of my family need me. God has ministry work for me to continue. Therefore, I must exercise, eat healthily, get rest, worship God, read my Bible, and go to the doctor when needed for more than just me. Sure I do it for me, but I also do this for them-- and for you.
What if I decided to only focus on getting my gym body back, pretending my health conditions didn't exist? What if I decided to "do something for myself"instead of taking care of my mom's need to go to the doctor or family members who needed to talk out issues with me? Pretty vain, huh? It certainly would be. God created us to be and do so much more than just our little world of Me, Myself, and I. He created us for community-- to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A39&version=NIV" target="_blank">), and look to others interests and Christ's as well as our own (Philippians 2:4, 21). Our personal needs must be balanced (physical, mental/emotional, relational, and spiritual) with the needs of others in light of Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visiting those in prison (dare I say, hospitals and nursing homes, too?) and helping the widow and fatherless (Matthew 25:41-45, James 1:27). There is only one me and so many of them and you. I need to recharge and renew for others by spending time with the Lord and taking care of my own basic needs. It becomes a life rhythm.
Consequently, it's also easy to do too much for others without taking care of our own needs. You know those who give crazy guilt trips if you don't load up every waking moment with missions and ministry. There is no time to do anything for your own needs. The great Christian lie, "Do everything for others to the neglect of yourself," causes burnout and resentment. I've seen more pastors and their families fall prey to this lie from the pits of hell. These are the loving saints who came to the gym because their blood pressure was off the charts while the scale groaned beneath their tremendous weight. It was then they realized their great mistake in believing their needs should go without attention. Many have left the pulpit to seek less stressful work elsewhere, thereby neglecting the call God placed on their lives. What a shame, too. Christian wellness is based on personal stewardship of one's self to serve God and others more effectively. Taking care of our own needs is imperative. We can't give out if there is nothing left to give. This becomes a never-ending balancing act every day.
Balancing Me with We and Us
We aren't on our own individual islands. God created us to be in a community with others. We rely on each other and communicate with each other. We need each other. Learning how to balance our own needs with the needs of others is vital to overall health. These tips are some of my own discoveries through the years that might help you balancing your caring needs:
1.Take time with God every day in prayer and reading your Bible. Listen for His voice and cues throughout your day.
2. Take care of basic hygiene and sleep, or you will eventually get sick.
3. Get your exercise on a regular schedule.
4. Be careful to not be everything to everyone, instead invite others in to assist by offering a support network to those whose needs are too much for you.
5. Always point others to Jesus.
6. Keep appointments with your doctors, dentist, and other health professionals as a priority.
7. Never neglect your family's needs to meet the needs of others; otherwise, it will cause resentment and hurt the relationships you hold dear.
8. Invite family to pray and help with ministry to others, as appropriate for the ages of children and your station in life. God will tug on your heartstrings as a family for the ministry in which your family should take part.
9. Protect your home space for the safety and security of your family, even when hosting guests by offering your house rules to them. Be kind yet firm.
10. Never go on a rescue mission alone because these needs are weighty, and the person being rescued needs strong community support.
Once you get your rhythm of caring set, you will begin to thrive. How can we pray for you as you work to balance self-care and caring for others? Many blessings to you!
|Posted on September 27, 2019 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
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I've been sick all week after returning from visiting my daughter and her family in Colorado. The altitude difference, 432 feet above sea level in Michigan to over 4,000 feet above sea level in Northern Colorado, got me. It made me feel like I was doing mild endurance exercise while I was there. This issue wasn't new. I've been there on several other occasions. Just before the return home, I noticed the difference in the Denver airport, a bit over 5,000 feet. I will say that my joints felt better in the dryer climate, but when I returned home to low-pressure cells and high humidity, ouch! My hands and feet throbbed. Not only that, I found myself ridiculously fatigued all week. I couldn't concentrate yesterday to finish the original blog post, so I had to claim a Sick Day. If you've missed some of the posts this week, that's what happened. It's been a sick week.
I want to conclude National Chronic Pain Month with a focus on the fatigue factor of pain. It can be very debilitating at times, causing the pain sufferer difficulty with day-to-day activities. Pain requires concentrated effort to keep going even when you hurt. The "alarm bell" of pain rings loudly, often. If you've ever been around when a loud alarm sounds for a long time, all you want is for it to STOP! That fight-or-flight response literally exhausts your body. Not only that, pain causes your body to self-protect. Working against self-protection requires more energy than usual. If the sufferer has an autoimmune disease or fibromyalgia, the pain isn't limited to joints. It affects muscles, fascia, and tendons. The disease process causes an overly active immune system response zapping your body of a lot of energy in a short amount of time. Think of it like when you've had the flu. All you want to do is sleep. It may cause muscle stiffness or cramping, which requires a lot of effort to get your body to cooperate! Lost sleep, or unrestful sleep, robs us of what we need to function the next day. Brain fog rolls in creating confusion during pain and fatigue.
So when considering chronic pain, it's nasty sister, chronic fatigue, tags along. You can manage your fatigue to be more productive than giving in to it. But you want to increase your quality of life, too. Here are a few of my personal helps:
1. Use work-rest intervals to accomplish necessary tasks. Some chores may need to be delegated while others may have to wait another day. My hubby took the laundry down to the basement from our bedroom upstairs. Now if only he remembered the dead mouse in the mousetrap!!!
2. Simplify your life by avoiding a heavy calendar full of appointments. I rarely set more than two significant dates in my schedule, like a doctor's visit or taking my mom out for shopping. I need the rest of my time to get my own tasks done and to rest.
3. Let friends, family, and coworkers know when you require help or rest. Of course, at work, you may have to disclose your illness. I revealed fibro early in the work relationship because I didn't need to be pushed beyond function. Some people save disclosure until absolutely necessary. If you can give them the "Heads Up" on your painful fatigue days, they can give you space to adjust your workload to balance with your health status for the day.
4. Use helpful devices to reduce pain and fatigue. I use a rolling computer bag because a heavy computer case on my shoulder presses on painful pressure points that cause me to feel worn down and dizzy. The roller bag also reduces stress on the joints of my hands so I can travel with ease. Some people need special grips to keep their hands from severe pain. I use full-finger weight gloves for weight training, so my hands don't fatigue out before the rest of me.
5. Get moderate exercise on good days, rest on the terrible ones. Last week I got in three great days of water exercise in the hotel pool and lots of walking. This week I could only do some basic tasks, so my Apple Watch isn't happy with my progress. So what? I needed to back off, so I don't end up worse.
6. If you can't function at all, declare a sick day. If you try to push through, you will only prolong and aggravate your health condition. Fibro sufferers can increase their pain by pushing though bad fatigue. I had to do that yesterday. Sorry, Everyone! Days like that are best-to-rest days.
7. Never make big decisions early into your bad fatigue days. Either you will overestimate or underestimate what you can handle. I always give myself the “Two Cups of Coffee and a Shower” rule. Then I can think more clearly even if I feel like crawling back in bed.
Yes, it would be easier to pull the covers over your head and say, "Forget it!!!" But healthy living starts with changing our attitude to an, "I can"attitude trusting God to carry you when you are too tired to carry yourself. Pain and fatigue can be managed to improve health and quality of life.
If you have some helpful tips for dealing with fatigue and pain, feel free to share in the comments below. May God bless you!
Follow these links for additional resources:
|Posted on September 19, 2019 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
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Sitting hunched over a computer is the norm nowadays. Leaning toward a coworker over the table in a meeting to hear him while showing interest is also common. Pastors, teachers, and childcare workers are reaping the negative results of working in a leaning forward position day in and day out. The results of work-related and care-giving positions take its toll on people's spinal health, overall health, balance, and how people perceive us. With assistance and proper posture correction, these issues can be alleviated to bring relief and improvement in total health.
I worked with a piano teacher who suffered from neck and back pain. The doctor found nothing medically wrong, so she thought maybe there might be some exercises to help reduce her misery. After I gave her my disclaimer that I am not a medical pro, but a fitness pro, she agreed to allow me to show her some simple stretches and exercises she could do three to five days a week. After six personal training sessions, she began to see improvement. After three months of work, she stood taller, felt less pain, and found people treated her with greater respect. She also discovered she felt less likely to fall on uneven terrain, which was a problem she hadn’t revealed to me at the beginning. After she finished three months, I noticed that she often waved at me with a smile as she walked by me on the track. Her transformation with simple stretches and exercises was astounding.
*Note: This should not be construed as medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.
The problem that results from leaning or working forward is called kyphosis. You can tell when you see noticeable curvature of the upper back, accompanied by the hips tilting forward to compensate. Arms naturally rotate inward causing the palms to face toward the back. Not only does it cause compression of the discs in the neck because the head juts forward, but creates tension in the muscles of the neck. The chest muscles (pectorals) are quite tight. The lower back is painful because it no longer has it's normal curvature compressing discs in the lower lumbar region above the sacral section of the spine. This bent forward position makes balance more difficult forward and back. As a person ages, forward falls become common, especially descending stairs. Proper alignment of the spine relieves tension and pain while creating better ability to right one's self in a potential fall.
As a martial arts instructor, I discovered that this posture also caused people to think someone with kyphosis lacked self-confidence. Interestingly, as I worked with students with self-defense, they gained greater respect immediately as they carried themselves by standing taller. How you carry yourself changes people’s perception of you.
Fundamental postural changes are essential for overall spinal, physical, and emotional health. Here are a few ways you can help improve your posture:
1.Use the ergonomic seat of your vehicle to help you work on better spinal alignment. You probably feel "normal" with kyphosis until you consciously line up your body with the seat. The most challenging part of changing the alignment will be with your neck. Some seats may keep your head further forward than is reasonable due to the demands placed on vehicle manufacturers. Keep your head level, but press the back of your head gently into the headrest. I used this method to correct my posture initially.
2.Using a full-length mirror, turn sideways to view posture. Work to line up your ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips, and hips over the ankles. Use your cellphone to snap photos of yourself before and after. It would be better if you have someone to take pictures for you.
3.Doorway Chest Stretch. Place your hands fingertips up, elbows at shoulder height on the doorway of a standard width with the door open. Step through with one foot to gain a gentle stretch across your chest. Breathing, hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds, doing them three to five times each day.
4.Do bridges on the floor. Facing up, bend the knees and place feet flat on the floor, arms lined along with your side palms down. Peel your spine up from the mat, starting with the hips and ending just before the shoulders. Check to see if your body looks like a ramp. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then slowly lower the body back to the floor one vertebrae at a time and rest. Repeat for ten reps.
5.Supine Palm Claps/Shoulder Press Down. While lying on the floor, Take your arms straight in front of you with your hands palms together. Make sure your hands are over your chest, not your face. Press your shoulders down into your mat with your hands together. Then lower the arms straight out to the side palms up. Rest in that position for about 30 seconds. Repeat about ten times.
6. Lat flyes. Using light hand weights, Lean your body parallel to the floor with one foot in front of the other. Raise weights out to the side until they become even with your shoulders, then slowly relax the arms back down in front of you.
7. Lower back exercise. Lying face down on the floor, hands underneath your shoulders, slowly rise up using the back muscles. Only use the hands and arms to help you keep a steady movement. Hold for five to ten seconds, then slowly return your body down to the mat. Do five to ten times. Stretch the other direction by pressing up on your hands and knees, then rock back toward your heels, then relax face down in this position.
8. External weight rotations. Lying on one side with knees bent while holding a very light weight, bend the arm at the elbow and maintain this position. Rotate the weight from the belly outward until it is perpendicular to the ceiling, then release back toward the stomach. Do ten times.
9. Neck stretches. Slide your chin back while looking straight ahead into the neutral position and hold. Breathing, tilt your ear toward your shoulder and hold for ten seconds. Return to center, then repeat on the other side. Do five times. You may want to add this: with chin retracted, look down. Hold for five seconds, then raise head back to looking forward. Do five times.
10.Quad/hip flexor stretches. While standing or lying prone on the floor, grasp ankle with your foot behind you. Keep the knee pointing down/away from you. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Do three to five times each side.
11.Squats. Standing with feet hip-width apart, slowly lower body to a sitting position, then slowly stand back up. Be careful to keep your knees behind your toes when you sit back.
12.Ab/core exercises. There are several, so I will send you here to the https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/body-part/abs/view-all" target="_blank">ACE Exercise Library. You will also find the exercises I mentioned previously.
Once you feel relief, you will notice that you stand taller, feel better, your belly is flatter, and people take notice. Your digestion should improve, joint pain diminish, and your breath capacity increase.
I want to offer an insight from the Bible about how we should posture yourselves in your relationship with Christ that you may stand confidently firm.
Philippians 1:27-29. Stand firm, not frightened.
With this passage and considering posture with balance and confidence, we may stand firm (confident) without fear in the face of opposition. Not only do you face opposition, but so do many other believers, both in the past and now.
Other great reads about posture and it’s effect on health and balance:
"Surprising Risks of Poor Posture" Havard Health
"10 Ways Poor Posture Can Harm Your Health" U.S. News
"Effects of Forward Head Posture on Balance" National Institute of Health
|Posted on September 12, 2019 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Photo by Brandon Rowe from Freely Photos.
The past few days challenged me here at Be Totally Fit for Life! All was not well here. First, I noticed the hinge on my laptop caused a separation of the screen from the case, thereby cracking the bottom corner of the screen at the Windows logo. It finished fully cracking off the rest by the time I could take it to an approved repair shop. Sadly, it cost as much as buying a new computer because mine was out of warranty. We ended up buying a new one.
While that drama was going on, I experienced severe problems with my allergies over the past couple of weeks. It flared up my autoimmune conditions and knocked me down over the past few days. I later discovered our water was not hot enough, when I washed laundry, to kill dust mites. I woke up rashy with headaches and dizziness. We learned how to resolve the hot water problem, but now I've got a ton of laundry to re-wash.
My Boaz and I had a few verbal skirmishes during this time. Nothing huge, just misunderstandings mixed with stress. Someone once told us that building a house, especially doing it yourself, will either make or break your marriage. Personally, I think seminary rivals house construction, but not by much. At any rate, we've been able to step back and see the issues for what they are. Apologies make a world of difference!
My hubby has asked me on several previous occasions what I was writing that kicked up such an attack from Satan and his buddies. It dawned on me this might be the case with recent issues I mentioned at the beginning. Satan and his demons often attack Christians' relationships, health, and ministry tools. When they can't beat those who serve in ministry down, they will often directly confront and attack. Christian wellness is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and how our faith can be lived out as a shining example with our ability to minister to others effectively.This time of the year is especially tricky. The good thing to know is God is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). He gives us the means to win these battles and skirmishes by the Blood of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the sharpness of the Bible, God's Word.
Focus Verse: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 NIV
Paul confronted the Corinthian church regarding some believers from Palestine who lived worldly and encouraged others in the church to do likewise. They brought a "Sin Virus" into the church. Interestingly, they decided to focus everyone's attention toward Paul by projecting their own sin issues onto him and his companions. Their goal was to discredit Paul's apostolic authority. Essentially, a spiritual stronghold took root in that church.
Paul addressed their accusations of not only being timid in person but bold while away. He tackled allegations of boasting about his apostleship. He boldly confronted these accusers bluntly with the Truth: All power and authority he has come from God through Jesus Christ. He will boast in Christ. Nothing comes from him on his own as a vain pursuit.
What is Paul's secret to this deeply rooted problem? He was fighting a battle that is not from the world with the weapons God has given him which have to power to shut down the accusations made against him because of the power of God. This power demolishes arguments and every high thing that comes against the knowledge of God. He didn't get angry to beat them up verbally, instead brought every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
In Ephesians 6, Paul told the church in Ephesus to put on the full armor of God that they may be able to stand in the evil day. We received an excellent set of armor with the Word of God as our offensive weapon and a Shield of Faith to quench fiery darts that come our way.
Let me clarify some terms for you. First, a spiritual attack can come through weird circumstances and illness without a reasonable cause. It happens to people who are effective for the Lord, regardless if they are in vocational ministry or not. It is often known as demonic harassment, in many cases. Some demonic harassment can be direct confrontation by demons, often the case with Christians God has set apart for service, but not always. A spiritual stronghold is much bigger. It is usually comprised of several demons that attach themselves to a place or group of people due to the attitudes of a group of people. Territorial spirits attach themselves to a location, which I've not found the reason behind this phenomenon. It could be occult activity in the area or space. Demon possession is when a demon or group of demons live within a person, although the person is usually aware of what is happening to him or her. It may be due to this: the Holy Spirit and demons cannot occupy the same person, so it must mean that Christians cannot become demon-possessed. They often appear crazy but defy the diagnoses for psychiatric illnesses. C. Peter Wagner explains some of these in his book,s Prayer Sheild and Warfare Prayer.
I've been under some of these types of attacks before as a pastor's wife, in case you are wondering how my past week's events fit with this passage. Narcissistic lay leaders in the two churches set us up to fail as a ministry couple, even before we arrived. They projected their very issues onto us, causing people in these congregations concern about our fitness for ministry. They twisted our words, barely resembling what we actually said. We prayed, clarified, and confronted lies with Truth. As quieter people watched these scenes unfold, they were able to see what the situations really were. My first husband, the pastor of these troubled congregations, kept preaching the Truth of God's Word. His steadfastness heated up the spiritual squad fire. I kept praying for him and his elders, that the Truth be revealed about what was happening in the church. Even though there were faces in front of us, the source was the same: demonic attacks. A spiritual stronghold had it's grip on these this church.
I "accidentally" stumbled into a workshop at a Christian writer's conference about dealing with spiritual warfare. It was no accident. My cardiac event, along with several other incidents that made no sense, were all part of spiritual warfare which I learned partway through the leader's presentation. Formerly a military commander, now a Christian writer, the workshop presenter used military tactics to illustrate spiritual warfare and God's way for us to deal with it. He also recommended a book, Warfare Praying: Biblical Strategies for Overcoming the Adversary by Mark Bubeck. In this book, he tells of a woman having seizures and her husband, who struggled to help her. Nothing made sense medically. When Bubeck met her, he discerned spiritual activity in her illness. Because the seizures were so upsetting to the woman, Bubeck told both of them to do this: her husband was to challenge the evil spirit, "In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of His blood, I resist any spirit of darkness that is trying to cause my wife to have a seizure". I forbid you to do it. I command you to leave our presence and to go where the Lord Jesus Christ sends you." (p. 39) Eventually, after several times doing this, and with his wife also doing her best to say the same, she was free of seizures. God often leads us to learn about these spiritual encounters and how to deal with them.
This method is not an uncommon way of confronting evil. Chuck Swindoll, in his book, Hand Me Another Brick, talks about confronting evil with similar words. Also, in The Gift of Seeing Angels and Demons by Susan Merritt, a book about spiritual discernment used in intercessory prayer, the writer shared how she often found herself waging spiritual warfare for herself while praying for others. These encounters were sudden and of an unexplainable origin (loc. 1838). She would praise God out loud using His Names mentioned in the Bible (loc. 1804), silently pray, then confront the evil presence with status in Christ Jesus and having her name in the Book of Life, she had the authority to bind and cast away such demons in the Power of Jesus Name (loc. 1914). She gives this example, "In Jesus Name, and by the Blood of Jesus Christ, I command you, Satan, and your emissaries, to leave this place. You have no authority here. We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." (loc. 1930) She goes on to say to follow up by asking God for a hedge of protection from God and for Him to bind the Enemy. Always praise God. As an intercessor, she often found herself under attack. She called upon the power of God to defeat the Enemy for herself and the leaders for whom she prayed. She used Scripture in all of these instances. Only believers in Jesus Christ, washed by His blood, can wage such warfare. This battle is certainly not for the faint-of-heart Christian nor is it a silly game. We are fully equipped to do battle, but the battle is the Lord's.
How to Deal with Spiritual Attacks and Tear Down Strongholds
So I didn't deal with a confrontation from people recently, although my hubby and I had some arguments that made no real sense. The attacks were genuine, though. I discovered while trying to set up the new computer that it got stuck in one part of the initiation process. Nothing I did worked. I gave up by shutting down my laptop down to deal with it the next morning. I powered it up at breakfast, but the same screen stared back at me. Shut down. Start up. Shut down. Pray over it. Start up. This last time, I told Satan and his demons to back off in Jesus' Strong Name. I bound these spirits and told them to go where Jesus sends them. Why would I do this? Because it was worth a try. It the problem is demonic in nature, it works. If not, the problem would persist, and I would have to find the solution elsewhere. Guess what? It worked! I started it back up with a new screen and walked through the setup process from start to finish. Ta-da! I am up and running. Praise God!
As for arguments, we agreed God's Word has the final say. I've been working on a shadow box with our Cord of Three Strands from Ecclesiastes 4:12 and some of our small wedding decorations and God's Knot. It reminds us Who is at the center of our marriage. So far, no more arguments. I've also prayed the Blood of Christ over our home, property, and marriage. I have crosses and Bible verses throughout the house, not as a lucky charm or talismans, but as a reminder to all who enter our home Who is the real Owner of all that we have. Even demons know Scripture and acknowledge God's sovereignty (James 2:19, Luke 4:1-13, James 4;7). Everything we have and are have been marked out and staked out for God.
Allergies were still plaguing me for no apparent reason. I got disgusted with the headache and vision distortion by taking Aleve to reduce inflammation. Then it occurred to me to try telling Satan and his buddies to take a hike in Jesus' Name. Remember, if it's a demonic thing, this will work. It took a bit longer but finally subsided. Usually, when I take Aleve for this, some of those allergy issues are still there. They went away for now.
Here are your take-aways:
1. Always stay rooted and grounded in Christ through prayer, Bible study, and living out the words of Jesus.
2. If there is no reasonable explanation, it could be demonic. Do look for feasible solutions, but if those don't help, begin praying about the situation.
3. Never try to drive away demons with anything else (Luke 11:14-26). Never try this if you don't know Jesus as your Savior (Acts 19:13-16). Put away anything you've been using to "clear out negative energy."You may be inadvertently inviting these spirits to make a home, that is, setting up territorial spirits. If you know Jesus, His power and authority are what you have available along with the Truth of God's Word and Faith. Suit up! Put on your armor (Ephesians 6:13).
4. Confess your sins. Sin hinders our prayers as does unforgiveness (1 Peter 3:7, James 4:3, Proverbs 28:9, Mark 11:25, Psalm 66:18 ). A clean heart is open to God's direction.
5. Pray for God's discernment and guidance. We cannot discern spiritual activity without the Power of the Holy Spirit. He will guide you in all Truth (John 16:13).
6. Confront evil with the Power of Jesus Christ's Strong Name. This battle belongs to the Lord, so let Him fight it by using His authority which He gives us to use (Luke 10:17-20).
7. Bind the enemy and send him (or them) away where Jesus sends them. Remember that Jesus sent Legion into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-13). ! If you don't bind demons, you could be hurt. Don't get into a discussion with evil. It is essential to tell it (or them) to be still and go where Jesus wants them to go.
8. Confront spiritual strongholds with God's Word, fasting, and prayer (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12). You could end up in vain arguments if you don't, like throwing gasoline onto a blazing fire! Fast and pray, then confront with Truth.
9. Always Praise God! The battle belongs to the Lord, so we are calling on Him and His heavenly angels to wage war for us. Never call on angels because the holy ones follow God's command. Demons will often pretend to be God's angels, doing what you ask to get you to trust them, which leads to serious problems.
10. NEVER attempt to deliver someone who is demon possessed on your own and if you don't have the spiritual gift of deliverance. Pray instead for protection for yourself, tell the spirits to be stil and leave you alone, then ask God to bring the right people, yes, PEOPLE with the specific gifts to help this person.
This issue is very much a part of Christian wellness. If all is not well, then prayerfully ask God to reveal the source of the problem. As you consider a time coming with greater attention to the unholy, be ready to deal with demonic activity with God's power and the blood of Jesus Christ, which bought you from slavery to sin and gives you eternal life. My God bless you!
The Gift of Seeing Angels and Demons: A Handbook for Spiritual Discerners by Susan Merritt, PhD. Copyright 2016 by Susan Merritt, PhD. Electronic version.
Warfare Praying: Biblical Strategies for Overcoming the Adversary by Mark I. Bubeck. Copyright 1984 The Moody Bible Institute and 2016 by Mark I. Bubeck. Moody Pubishers, Chicago.
Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Vol. 2: New Testament by Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III. Copyright 1984 by the Zondervan Corporation. P.p. 689-691.
|Posted on August 30, 2019 at 6:15 AM||comments (0)|
Photo by Charlaine Martin, 2019.
Cooler Fall temperatures make us hungry for warm comfort foods. I've loved spaghetti squash for a long time, but recently rediscovered it's delicious swap for pasta. Spaghetti squash gets its name for the stringy texture of the flesh. Why bother spiralizing stuff when God set this up for us already? The stores around me had it on sale tempting me to buy one, which I cheerfully did. On the way to the checkout, I considered how I wanted to make it into a filling, yet nutritious, low-carb meal.
I've made an Italian version several times in the past, but thought, "Gee, I bet it can be made with taco filling!" A few extra tomatoes from my garden tempted me to dice them for this delicious meal, but time wouldn't permit me to do so. The taco meat in the Mexican version uses Spice Islands Taco Seasoning from Costco. I only use 1/2 the amount and add 1/4 cup of Pace mild salsa. In the Italian version, I used an lowfat gluten-free Italian turkey sausage I found at Cosco. By the way, every ingredient with a brand name is gluten-free at the time of writing this recipe for you. You can jazz it these up with other veggies like onions and peppers, jalapenos, black olives, portabella mushrooms, and more. I personally enjoy a great nut cheese by Parmela Creamery. It is amazing for this GF, DF, SF, EF girl! This recipe is as versatile as you choose it to be. I set it up with busy schedules in mind.
IPersonally, I like to make the filling first and set aside in the fridge. Other people I know like to do the squash first and set aside in fridge, while others do both at the same time. It is totally up to you.
We are having ours for lunch for our lunch date. Mmmm, Good!I hope you enjoy this low-carb delicious meal in a squash shell like I do!
Note: Spaghetti squash has 42 calories per cup, only 10 grams of carbs (whole wheat pasta has 37 grams, refined pasta 42 grams). It is loaded with fiber (2.2 grams), vitamin C, B6, Manganese, Niacin, Potassium, and pantothenic acid. Small amounts of thiamine, magnesium, folate, calcium, and iron (Healthline).
1 small to medium spaghetti squash, pre-cooked and cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed. You can set this up and do other things in the kitchen nearby while boiling. Watch for boil-over, though. If your pan doesn't allow the squash to be fully submersed, then roll it over carefully with a cooking utensil like tongs halfway. Once it is removed and cools, you can finish it.
Filling Mexican Version (one half, double mixture for both halves)
1 to 1-1/2 cup taco meat (browned lean ground turkey or beef with your favorite taco seasoning)
¼ cup corn
½ to 1 cup favorite salsa
Mix ingredients together and spoon into hollow of ½ of squash. Lightly sprinkle low fat cheddar cheese on top. Place in refrigerator.
Filling Italian Version (one half, double mixture for both halves)
1 link lean Italian turkey sausage or 1 cup of browned lean ground meat seasoned with sea salt, garlic, and oregano
½-1 cup favorite spaghetti sauce (I use Newman’s Socarooni or Classico with peppers)
½ cup frozen chopped spinach
Mix ingredients together and spoon into hollow of ½ squash. Lightly sprinkle part-skim mozzarella cheese.
Here’s the Scoop
Wash spaghetti squash well. Place into large pot of water and bring to rolling boil. Cover and continue light boil at medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from stove. Drain out hot water and let sit for 1 hour to cool. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds.
If making each half with each version, wrap lightly oiled foil around the shell of each half with inside exposed and place in baking pan. Fill each half as described above. If only doing one version for both halves, foil isn’t necessary. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool after removing from oven for a few minutes. Scoop desired amount of squash and filling out for each person. Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash Nutrition Facts by Healthline. www.healthline.com/nutrition/spaghetti-squash#nutrition.
|Posted on August 28, 2019 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
Image from Vistaprint free stock.
My hubby and I took a great bike ride along the Saginaw Bay through Bay City. At first, we thought it was a new trail discovery, but it was actually the extension of one we tried out a couple of years ago. Most of the summer, we rode between 10-12 miles near our home to the nearby town. Neither one of us expected to cycle twice as long. Incredible. I burned 557 calories! When we came back to the trailhead, our wobbly legs barely got us through putting our bikes back on the rack of our van. Although tired and ready for a snack, it was a beautiful day with great scenery for most of our ride. I will tell you, though whoever thought of building a small park with picnic tables in front of the wastewater treatment facility has a sad sense of humor. We quickly passed by that place.
We encountered a few unusual situations on our ride from which you might benefit. Trail maps don’t give a good sense of where the trail changes to sidewalks. It also doesn't give you an idea of what neighborhoods are like nor traffic patterns when you have to cross streets. We had a near accident crossing one of the busy streets, encountered trail construction which took us through sand and hurried through some concerning areas of the city. We kept track of our time as well as the trail map so we could head back before dark. The temperature was comfortably warm, but not hot. Boy, did we sleep well! When our heads hit our pillows, we went sound asleep until our alarms rang the next morning. I love late-summer to fall workouts outdoors.
If you are considering how to keep up your outdoor workouts with changing seasons, you will want to think about a few things to make your transition great. Here are a few of our personal tips
1. Check your weather forecast and sunrise/sunset times. For us, it meant we didn’t have as much daylight as last month. We also ran into headwinds that made our ride more challenging. The days are shorter with colder temperatures early and late in the day. The middle of the day from 12 pm to 5 pm is warmer. Rain crops up more often as does the wind. Take appropriate gear for your day with alternatives in mind in case your activity could be a washout.
2. Consider your mode of outdoor exercise for the time of day. Traffic picked up as vacationers headed back home. This situation made for nerve-wracking street crossings. My hubby almost collided with a car turning in front of him. If heavy rush hour traffic makes you nervous, then jogging or riding a bike on the streets may not be a good idea. Maybe you would prefer to do something else or go somewhere else. You may want to run in the park or ride on back roads when you don’t have access to designated trails.
3. Prepare for the place you will exercise. We took a screenshot of the bike path which turned out to be a good thing. Early Fall leaves covered some of the trail arrows on the asphalt, causing us to stop to look at our map. Wet leaves produce slippery conditions, too. We also had no idea the city would route cyclists over sidewalks that heaved slightly from the tree roots underneath. The city strangely routed cyclists through sand where they closed a portion of the bike trail. Rollerbladers would struggle for sure. Knowing about your space can make a big difference in your safety as well as your workout quality.
4. Be ready for allergens. 'Tis the season for the sneezin'! Ragweed and other allergens bring tears to the eyes of many right now. I always take my allergy meds an hour before my outdoor workout, even if it means holding off for a while from my usual schedule. Take your meds, as well as emergency inhaler and epi-pen. Take a shower when you get home. Emergency room visits aren’t fun.
5. Have a backup system in case you don’t have cell coverage for your GPS maps or emergencies. We can't rely on cell service in our area. Sometimes I have it, and sometimes he has it, but rarely do we both have it. We kept a screenshot of the trail map handy. Paper maps are still worthwhile to pick up at parks and trailheads. Also, if there is an emergency, have a plan in case your phone has no service. Make note of businesses on your route where you can go for help.
6. Check the appropriate websites, etc. for alerts that may make a difference for your workout. Also, some trail and park systems put out warnings for trail closings. Unfortunately, our neck of the woods is terrible about it. One ride a couple of years ago during early Fall, a construction worker hammered away a massive chunk of the trail. No signs. No warnings! The area I moved from has alerts for its trails on the parks and recreation website. You may get a surprise or two, but if you can avoid them, your workout will be better for your efforts.
7. Don’t give up your sunscreen and sunglasses. Sun protection is still essential when the chilly breezes on cloudy days roll in.
Let’s hear from you! What suggestions would you give from your experiences with outdoor exercise during the summer to fall transition? Feel free to comment below.
May your shortening cooler days still bring great workout challenges for you. Many blessings to you!
|Posted on August 23, 2019 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
image by mojzagrebinfo from Pixabay.
How Extra Weight May Indicate a Problem
"I can't seem to get my weight under control, no matter what I do," my client lamented. She wanted to lose 80 pounds but would be content if she lost 60. The more I worked with her, the more I realized there were a host of reasons why she was having trouble. Her work was high stress. She was post-menopausal and on medication for thyroid problems. It was a recipe for being overweight. We talked out a strategy to help her focus on what she could change easily outside the gym as we worked together in the gym. She began working through some of her work stresses, and then the scale numbers headed downward. Over several weeks, she lost enough to buy clothes two sizes smaller. She couldn't change the effects of her age, nor could she change her need for thyroid meds, but she was able to make some lifestyle changes. These factors created a big difference in her health, wellbeing, and health gains.
Often we don't realize what is behind carrying the extra weight until we peel back the layers to reveal what lurks below the surface. When you bring these issues under control, you may see at least moderate weight loss with significant health gains.
Reasons Lurking Behind Extra Weight
Emotional eating is a big contributor to excess weight. We tend to internalize stress, anger, frustration, and loneliness, and then self-medicate with carbs and fats laced with sugar or salt. These types of foods trigger hormones from the pleasure center of the brain, giving a feel-good response. Then when frustration with additional weight hits, it begins this nasty cycle all over again (WebMD).
Family Attitudes about Food and Exercise
We usually adopt the attitudes our families have about food and exercise. Much of this problem connects with memories, or so it seems. These memories start early in life, making change difficult. Trying to get a healthy lifestyle built takes more effort with longer duration guided by regular coaching to succeed (APA).
Long-term Difficulties with Self-Image
This issue can go either direction: overeating or food avoidance. Binge eating is commonly connected with a poor self-image, but so is anorexia and bulimia. Either the person seeks comfort or hides in food, or this person wants to make their appearance fit the image they believe they should possess (Huffpost). These eating disorders are deadly, requiring professional help other than personal training.
The fight-or-flight response plays a more significant role in how a person responds through food. Since they can't punch out the people causing stress and they can't afford to lose their jobs, they take it out on the plate. Foods of choice are often salty and crunchy. Stress causes cortisol to flood the bloodstream, which makes the body retain fat in case of emergency. Anxiety causes problems with sleep and lack of willingness to exercise. We were never designed to handle chronic stress for as long as most people endure today (NCBI). Depression is a frequent companion in stressful situations.
Health Conditions and Medications
I cannot stress enough the difficulties people with certain health conditions and use particular medications that cause weight gain face. People with an underactive thyroid, Hashimoto's disease, polycystic ovarian disease, diabetes, Cushing's Syndrome, among many others, often carry extra weight. It is a fact of life with these diseases (Healthline). Medications like corticosteroids, some types of insulin, anti-depressants, some epilepsy medications, and more have the side effect of weight gain (University of Rochester Medical Center). Moderate weight loss may be possible; however, if you have any of these diseases or take these medications, you may not be able to lose the amount of weight that you want.
Misconceptions about Food and Exercise from Past Media
About 15 years ago, we heard eggs were terrible for you. Foods with healthy oils would make you fat. The Grapefruit Diet would help you shed those extra pounds. Women and girls shouldn't exercise when on their periods. Ladies don't engage in strenuous physical activities. Eating a gluten-free diet and avoiding dairy to improve your health or help you lose weight also is a fallacy (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/myths-nutrition-physical-activity" target="_blank">NIH, Insider). All of these notions stick with people, even after they were presented with new facts dispelling these myths. Your health and weight loss efforts can benefit from reprogramming.
7 Ways to Work with these Issues to Make Progress
1. Get a check-up. It is essential to know if you have health issues lurking behind your weight. Your doctor may require bloodwork which can check for several problems like vitamin and mineral levels, thyroid, endocrine function, kidney and liver function, and blood sugar levels. Your doctor may order these with a full blood panel at your well check visit.
2. Keep track of cravings and emotions when you eat when it isn't mealtime. Consider your portion sizes when you feel angry, sad, and stressed. Begin swapping the unhealthy foods with healthy and journal what's bugging you.
3. Look in the mirror and tell yourself what you like and don't like about yourself. If you struggle to find something you like about yourself, it may be worthwhile to talk with your pastor or licensed clinical Christian counselor. Your views about your self-image and God might affect your weight.
4. Prayerfully consider your stresses. Ask yourself what is within your control to change and what is not. Start making changes for those stresses you can control, then think how you might be able to change your responses to those you cannot.
5. Check through your medications for side effects that can cause weight gain and mood changes. Ask your doctor whether there are other medications for your health conditions or dosages that may help you reduce the weight gain effect. Also, consider whether your health condition causes weight gain or if it is the lack of exercise due to pain and fatigue.
6. Consider your view of God and your relationship with Him. Some false notions about God and His character can cause depression or anxiety, like doubting God's love or His faithfulness to you and your life. Get into a solid Bible study or load a Bible app to your smart device to subscribe for a Bible study that appeals to your needs.
7. Keep your focus straight. Always make total health your priority over weight loss. Various lifestyle changes and healthy food choices help with some weight loss but never compromise your overall health for the numbers on the scale.
None of these issues condemns you to a life of obesity if you can make some small changes. Your health, faith, and wellness are worth the effort.
May you find health, freedom in Christ, and contentment on your journey to total health. Many blessings to you!
What Causes Unintentional Weight Gain? by April Kahn. Healthline.com, July 10, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/weight-gain-unintentional.
When Your Weight Gain is Caused by Medicine by University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=56&contentid=DM300
Some Myths about Nutrition and Physical Activity by Dr. Catherine Loria. NIH.org, April 2017. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/myths-nutrition-physical-activity
How to Stop Emotional Eating reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD. WebMD.com, May 11, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/diet/stop-emotional-eating.
Obesity and Self-Image: Are They Connected? by Helen Pavlov, MD. Huffpost, October 2, 2012. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/body-image_b_1897704.
Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity by Karen Scott, Susan Melhorn, and Randall Sakai. NCBI, March 1, 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428710/. ;
|Posted on August 15, 2019 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
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I've heard parents and teachers exclaim, "School starts next week. Can you believe it?" Frantically they shop for kids' clothes and school supplies. All those forms will come home to be filled out and returned to teachers. Football practice and cheerleading tryouts place many parents' backsides in the seats of bleachers waiting… waiting… waiting for kids to finish. In all of the madness, when will you get to take care of you so you can take care of them more manageable? How can you set the tone for a totally healthy school year for everyone in your family? Even soccer moms and dads need to continue or begin living healthy while progressing toward weight loss goals. You influence your kids' health practices by your own example by maintaining consistency across the board. Here are a few tips and helps to get started:
1. Pray with your kids before they go to school in the morning. Read the Bible passage for the day from your Bible app. Send everyone off with God's Word in their hearts while giving Him charge of everyone's day. Do your devotions at lunchtime or while they are at their after school events.
2. When they practice for their after school activities, you walk. Take a walk around the track or do some laps through the school building. If there is a more private space available, try doing bodyweight exercises.
3. Take your walk to the stairs or bleachers. It's an excellent way to increase your cardio without running. If the coach isn't using the track for team practice, find out if you can walk or jog the track.
4. Break your workout up throughout your day. One of the ways I do this is to do one set of bodyweight exercises three times interspersed in my day. I take a walk or bike in the evening.
5. Pack healthy snacks for on the way home for after-school activities or on the way home from school, that is, if you pick your kids up from school. Avoid the fast-food drive-through to save calories and money while protecting everyone's health.
6. Avoid buying the pre-packaged lunch items for yours and your kids' lunches. We use snack-size zipper bags for small items like nuts and sandwich size bags for sandwiches, cut veggies, and fruit. The only pre-packaged food I buy is applesauce cups. Set up an assembly line the night before and enlist helpers. Remember to put a frozen ice pack in lunches that contain foods like meats.
7. Prep healthy meals ahead of time and freeze. You can easily cook or re-heat them for dinner. Involve family in the prep time to teach them good healthy habits. You can spend more time at dinner discussing everyone's day.
8. After your kids go back to school, take some time to refresh your wardrobe, too. I used to pick out one or two new outfits in the fall then donate what either didn't fit me or weren't wanted anymore. Also, everyone in our house got new underwear and socks because they were on sale at great prices. Just by anticipating new clothes, you will probably become more conscious of what you eat and getting your exercise.
9. When everyone gets home from school, use some of the time to get your kids moving before they sit down for homework. Play, rake leaves,whatever gets them physically moving. Otherwise, take a walk or bike ride together after dinner.Burning off extra energy will help them concentrate on their homework. It also set the tone for regular physical activity.
10. Keep regular bedtimes for everyone in your house so they have the opportunity for no less than 6 hours, preferably 8 hours. Find a good app for tracking sleep that synchs with your activity tracker. Restful sleep improves mood, brain function, protects your heart, and healthy weight management.
11. Find ways to track healthy habits and Bible reading. Give praise or some positive recognition. Use a daily or weekly challenge to keep everyone motivated to succeed. Help those who don't achieve their goals figure out a strategy to improve.
When you integrate these practices from the first day of school on, you set a totally healthy tone for the entire school year.
Please, share some great tips you have in the comments below. May God bless you and your family this school year!
|Posted on August 9, 2019 at 4:10 AM||comments (0)|
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It’s been interesting since I came back from the Christian writers conference and retreat now that I am trying to get caught up. Nothing came to mind for my blog post this week. Ugh! How can I have something for you if my mind goes blank? So, I decided to take a break this morning to do my PraiseMoves workout and devotions together. Luke 4:16-19 stood out to me while I was doing the Scroll posture. During each segment dedicated to the Lord, my blog post became clearer to me. Isn’t it great how God speaks to us when we worship and honor Him with all of our being.
We are conditioned to want to look a certain way, to be thin, to be attractive, to be muscular. People often turn to gyms and diets to improve their appearance. It is hard to maintain a gym body. I know because I’ve been there. Keeping yourself strong, fit, and attractive like that takes dedication, usually five to six days a week for two to three hours a day of doing intense workouts in the gym. Honestly, most people don’t have that kind of time and energy. Not only that but for Christians, this self-focus pushes God out of the center of their lives. Appearance is crazy slave-driver. On the other hand, some Christians are hypercritical of those who take care of themselves and even those who don't. Being healthy and active is attractive, but it doesn’t always take center stage. Those who are hypercritical use the Bible verse that exercise only profits a little while exercise in godliness is more important (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+4%3A8&version=NIV" target="_blank">1 Timothy 4:8 ). Learning to be a good steward of your health brings a healthy balance of our physical and spiritual health. It brings freedom.
Read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+4%3A16-21&version=NIV" target="_blank">Luke 4:16-21 (cf. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+25%3A39-43&version=NIV" target="_blank">Leviticus 25:39-43)
Focus Verse: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV
Jesus finished dealing with the temptations in the wilderness earlier in the chapter, then He traveled back to His hometown. On the Sabbath of Jesus’ return home, He went to the Synagogue, a Jewish custom He regularly observed. Evidently, Jesus had already attained Teacher or Rabbi notoriety. He received the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah to read out loud. Everyone present expected Him to explain its meaning for the assembly.
He began reading Isaiah 61:1-2 (ref. Isaiah 58:6). He read it well, then sat down stating this prophecy was fulfilled in their hearing. In other words, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. The concept of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:39-41 is implied in this passage. In the Jewish law given to Moses, the Jews were told to cancel debts and free slaves in the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee. At first, the people were impressed with how gracious, simply stated, His message was. A few of the people in the Synagogue realized what He said. His statement about being the Messiah was considered blasphemy, which was worthy of death according to Jewish law. They tried to throw him over a cliff, but He walked through the crowd to leave on his own. The people of his hometown rejected Him and His message of freedom.
In Galatians 3, Paul wrote to the Galatian church, a group of Gentiles who were told they had to follow Jewish Law to the letter. Paul’s message was a letter of correction in the statement, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+3%3A1&version=NIV" target="_blank">Galatians 3:1). The yoke of slavery refers to bondage to ritual and following the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. Peter addressed this same issue in https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+15%3A10&version=NIV" target="_blank">Acts 15:10 by answering the Pharisees that the Gentiles were also brought to Jesus by faith. They should not be required to wear the yoke of bondage their Jewish ancestors weren’t able to bear. God gave them the Holy Spirit who cleansed their hearts and they are saved, just like the Jewish Christians. All who come to Jesus by faith are free from slavery to unbearable rules and rituals.
Bring It Home
We all have a background as sinners saved by God's grace. None of us is perfect. Sometimes we steal a look in the mirror to admire our fitness achievement or weight loss efforts. It’s pretty normal. When we live as free believers, though, we don’t become obsessed with how we look. We can handle working out and eating healthy without feeling horrible because we missed one workout or had a small treat. Freedom brings the ability to let go of addictions and the world’s standards of perfection in order to be the person God has created and redeemed through Jesus Christ. We are also free from casting judgment on ourselves and others for shortcomings. We don’t have to fix someone else but can step back to allow the Holy Spirit to convict those who are indulgent with unhealthy foods or avoid exercise. We can pray for them instead. In our freedom, because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, we are free to have a healthy respect for ourselves and love others as they are. Live as if you are in the Year of Jubilee!
Question for discussion: What difficulties do you face with your appearance, fitness level, or your own shortcomings? Do you find yourself critical of others who either take care of themselves or overindulge? How can your freedom in Christ free you from slavery to these issues?
May God bless you!