We’re half-way through this challenge and no doubt, those who are pressing through are experiencing change that only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we addressed taking inventory of outside influences which may be counteracting our renewing of the mind efforts. This week, we will be focused on the physical parts of us again with an emphasis on exercise.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
Your Body, A Temple
I know it seems crazy to be doing a weight-loss challenge where exercise isn’t even introduced until week 7. That’s ok, I’ve been called much worse than crazy. This doesn’t mean I haven’t exercised for the past six weeks, quite the contrary, but this week we’re going to renew our minds about it so we can think God’s thoughts on the matter.
For years I only saw exercise in terms of how it affected my weight or made me look. I treated my body like a temple alright, but I focused on the “temple of Jules” and not the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Exercise was about making me look good, allowing me to eat whatever I wanted, or trying to regain a figure I had lost.
Exercise, fitness, workout stats, flat abs, toned arms… they were an idol in my life. I bowed to them like I bowed to food. I spent years believing lies and living in utter fear of being overweight. As so often is the case, life happened and I could no longer practice my “exercise religion”. Eventually, “that thing which I feared came upon me” (Job 3:25) and I found myself classified as “obese”.
I tried for a while to get back what I had lost, but I was still trying in my own strength and still worshipping all the wrong things. It would be many years and countless injuries later that I would discover a much healthier way to view exercise.
Most would agree physical exercise is important for the health and wellbeing of our bodies. Even the Proverbs 31 woman understood the need to be physically strong so she could endure the day ahead. (Proverbs 31:17). Exercise helps all of our bodily processes function better. It also improves our mood and lowers blood sugar. When our bodies are strong, we are less prone to injury. And yet, none of these have anything to do with fitting into a size two dress or looking great in a swimsuit.
There is a vast difference in focus when we use exercise to aid our vanity as opposed to doing it to honor and glorify the Lord. One feeds our flesh and one feeds our spirit. We are to be good stewards of what He has given us to care for. Unfortunately, so many of us end up worshipping the temple (or berating it) rather than worshipping the One Who made it.
Which leads me to the focus of this week. Yes, we are going to exercise, but we are going to ask God to keep it in proper perspective. One way to do this is to thank God after every workout for the ability to accomplish the task. I often thank God for my legs and joints after a run because I know, from my days on the injured list, that without these things, I couldn’t run.
You see, it is all about perspective. Are we grateful for the ability to move our bodies and offer our workouts to God as a form of praise? Or, are we bitterly lacing up our shoes because we ate a box of donuts the day before, and now we must pay the price? Perhaps we live in a third category of feeling guilty for not exercising. I spent years in the latter two categories and can tell you they are not the best way.
“I Can’t Want To”
When my oldest daughter was three, she would often say, “I can’t want to” when asked to do anything she was less than thrilled about. Maybe that’s how you feel about exercise. You think you “can’t want to”, but is that the truth? Doesn’t the Bible say we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13)
Sure, exercise is difficult, but a funny thing happens once you build the habit of exercising regularly for the right reasons. After a little bit, you actually want to do it. You begin to notice you feel better physically and mentally, and when you add praising God, the “want to” comes even faster.
Each day you set aside the old negative mindsets around exercise and you work-out with God, it gets easier. Now, obviously, you need to choose something that is somewhat enjoyable to you, or at a minimum something which interests you. I’ve done various forms of exercise over the years and, while figure skating and taekwondo rank pretty high on my list, I much prefer to be outside in God’s creation. This is one reason I enjoy running, walking, and hiking the most.
Maybe you think you’re too out of shape to exercise. Well, then it’s time for a trip to the doctor. If your doctor clears you for moderate activity, there are many things you can do. You don’t have to just sit on the sidelines, but you also don’t have to run hurdles in the one hundred yard dash. Pick some form of movement and get started. The most important part of whatever exercise program you choose is to do it to the glory of God.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” ~ Psalm 119:36 (ESV)
Week 7 – We’re going to add 15 minutes of exercise at least three days a week as we continue to actively renew our minds by keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.
For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music, & kept my food boundaries.
I’m up 1.6 the sixth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.