Archive for the ‘church’ Category

exercise for now and later

October 20, 2011

I came across this verse today as I was reading my Bible. It arrested my attention and reminded me to keep my focus and my priority.

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.  (Good News Translation)

I’ve been working out at Fitness Together for about 22 months. I’ve seen some very encouraging changes in my body and my attitude! I feel stronger, healthier, enjoy better balance and stamina and am so very glad to be able to work out there twice a week!

Monday I went in to my workout appointment with Ashley armed with my eating/exercise journal and a new resolve. I told her I’ve got to get out of this slump and that I wanted to face the ‘Big 50’ next month with 10 fewer pounds! She said it’s possible but that I’ve gotta be willing to pay the price. (translation – I’ve gotta get my fat butt in there more often to do my cardio – more cardio – longer, more strenuous cardio!)

Even as I do pay that price, I’m still an almost 50 year-old middle-aged woman fighting the calendar and gravity! Working out won’t make me look like a 29 year-old fashionista model! (Dang!)  It will help me be a healthy, fit 50-year-old!  Ha!

It’s so typical to work hard at trying to get/stay fit but let’s face it, each day gravity gains more ground! We continue to fight fat, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water and yet natural law has the upper hand at least for now!

That’s where this verse comes in. Physical exercise is helping me live physically. But one day this body will give up/check out/sign off.  But my spirit is eternal. It will get a new, way better spiritual body to live in one day. I need to continue doing my spiritual exercises daily because it not only will strengthen me for living day-to-day right now, but it is also preparing me for my future forever-life! My spirit doesn’t have to fight gravity or age! It becomes stronger, more agile and beautiful and more alive the more I nurture and train it!

So, how do I exercise my spirit?

For starters, I spend a little time every morning reading my Bible. God’s Word. The words of God. Spoken to people and written down. Wow. I can know some of the thoughts of God! They’re here for me to read! I just have to open the book and read them and let them sink into my mind and heart. As I do that every day, it impacts my life – my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, etc.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message Bible)

Another way I exercise my spirit is to pray. This, I have to admit is harder for me than reading. So, this is why I persevere, because I know it’s important. It is my lifeline to God. Talking to Him is vital. I mean, how can you grow a friendship with someone you never talk to? So, I mostly write my conversations with him. (At least my end of them, ha!) Although sometimes I just talk out loud. In my kitchen or in the car. I tell him what grabs my attention from what I’ve read in the Bible and how I want it to change me. I tell him about the concerns I have for my family and friends and myself. I ask him for help, for wisdom. I tell him how amazing I think he is. I marvel at the creation he designed. I tell him or I gasp or gawk! Like the time a huge hawk flew just above me. Or when there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. I don’t use religious language – Thees and Thous. I just talk and write and marvel.

Another way I exercise my spirit is to go to church. It’s way too easy to sleep in! Waaaaaaaaaaaay too easy! Excuses abound – I don’t even have to go looking for them. They are ready and waiting! (Kinda like all those excuses to keep me from working out!)

Going to church isn’t some way of making myself feel better about myself. I don’t go to ease my conscience. Going there puts me in contact with other people who are in the same boat as me so to speak. We’re all on a spiritual journey. We’re all wanting to know God and grow spiritually. None of us are perfect, nor are we pretending to be. We are learning to leave our pretenses at the door.

Being at church encourages me. It lightens my load. I leave refreshed, and challenged and armed with knowledge to help me make changes in my life and trust God more.

So, there’s my beginning description of what it means to exercise my spirit. I hope it encourages you to exercise yours.

Here’s a bonus tip, no charge! Sometimes I “multi-task” and listen to worship music as I run/walk. I talk to God as I pant my way along the treadmill or trail. I could even start memorizing scripture as I run! But I always find something to shake my head at and tell God how astoundingly amazing he is!

Happy exercising to you – physically and spiritually!

5K

April 30, 2011

Well, I did it! I ran the Lifegate Women’s Run/Walk today!
I don’t think I would have kept running or finished as soon if my friend Deanna hadn’t run with me! (I’m positive, in fact!) Running is mostly mind over matter . . . Deanna’s got a very strong mind, and I’ve got the matter! We made a great duo!

I haven’t run an event since this same 5K a year ago! I shortened my time probably by 10 minutes which for a 5K is significant! So my advice to you is to run with a motivated friend who is also an encourager! (My other advice is, lay off the chocolate covered caramels! lol)

consumer or community

February 12, 2010

As I wrote about a recent post, I’ve been attending church my entire life. (I don’t say that with pride, either.) There are a plethora of issues and disappointments, but one thing I just can’t come to terms with is the consumer mindset people carry in with them.

Maybe it’s because we live in America, an extremely consumeristic nation. Maybe it’s because we are a society that is on the move, never staying in one community for very long. Maybe it’s our advertising slogans, “You deserve it, have it your way…” maybe it’s just plain old human selfishness. I couldn’t begin to diagnose the problem, but I can definitely see the symptoms!

Attending church isn’t supposed to be like going shopping. But how many people move around church to church looking for the best choir, the best preaching, the prettiest sanctuary, the cleanest nursery, and so on. I’ve known people who quit attending because the service time changed – by half an hour! Good grief! Yes, some of those things are important, but just like everything else in life, me included, no one person or place will have it all, all the time. (I probably don’t need to point out that in countries where people meet in secret because Christianity is forbidden, that those people aren’t irritated because of a time change or lack of a choir. . .)

Church is really community, or it’s supposed to be.

Church is where you come at least once a week to see your friends and carry their burdens, to be in a safe place, feed your spirit and worship God. It’s a place where you can use your gifts and serve God and others. It’s a place where you don’t have to put on pretenses (or you can get help taking them off) and it’s a place where you grow in authentic relationship with one another.

It isn’t all about me, it’s all about following God and caring for one another. It’s about learning to love God and others as much as I love myself. That’s the Bible in a phrase. Loving God, loving others as much as ourselves. Period. That’s community.

muddy church

February 10, 2010

I’ve been attending church since before I was born – literally – because I went everywhere my mom went! Then I was put in the nursery, toddlers room and children’s church and eventually began attending regular church services in 7th grade which I called ‘big church’.  My mother was the church organist and for several years my father was the choir director. I was there nearly every time the church doors were open. I didn’t mind (usually); I didn’t know any different!

I do remember one time faking sick so I could stay home and watch Mr. Ed the talking horse on television. I loved that show! Fortunately, but unfortunately, I had a healthy conscience, and I knew I had lied and would most likely be found out  . . .  which kept me from enjoying Mr. Ed  . . .  fully.

I’ve continued going to church, listening to sermons, learning, growing, worshiping and longing to become more like Jesus, because I love Him and I want to bring him joy.

I never intended to marry a pastor though. That wasn’t even a possibility I would have considered considering! (Maybe someday I’ll go in to all my former reasons!) But, because I fell in love with Les, the most incredible husband of all time, and because God had pastor-plans for him, I’ve been in church ever since!

Some people have a very jaded and negative view of church, and I don’t blame them. I’ve dipped in and out of that mindset on more than one occasion. During my lifetime I’ve seen so many terrible, hypocritical, wicked things happen in churches that should never have occurred. There have been abuses of power, misuses of authority, and sexual scandals, not to mention leaders who are greedy for money and notoriety who aren’t in ministry because of a genuine love for God or for the people He created. It’s all about them and it’s appalling.

Believe it or not, it isn’t The Church’s fault, it’s people’s fault. It’s easy to assume that going to church is to be avoided because of all the crap going on inside some of them. The Church is God’s plan and design, sin is not. Even though The Church is to be the bride of Christ, she looks as if she’s been mud-wrestling in a cow pasture. She’s gotten pretty dirty and doesn’t smell so good.

People are the problem, not God.

I know, some may present that age-old argument of how can a good God allow evil? It is precisely because God is good that he allows it, otherwise we’d all be toast. Evil was never in his plan, but giving people a free will, (I mean, what kind of an authentic friendship can develop if it is forced?) led to sin and sin always messes everything up.

Thankfully, in spite of all the junk, God still loves us and longs for us to know him and be in relationship with him. Mercifully he is slow to anger and abounding in grace, and that, my friend, is amazing!

What is also amazing is that in the many churches most people never hear about, those where the leaders and their people actually strive to love God and listen to him and obey him, he still shows up and helps us and allows us to help others!

It’s astounding what good things do happen in churches today! My husband and I are privileged to see people develop real, authentic relationships with each other and with God. We get to be a part of people’s lives as they marry, have kids, learn to parent, and face the many challenges that life inevitably brings their way. We get to be a part of helping people who are in desperate situations find a way out or through, whether they are local or half-way around the world!

The Church may be muddy, but she’s the best we’ve got!