Food and Fitness

Wednesday Wisdom: Should “Christian” and “Yoga” be used in the same sentence?

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It has been heavy on my heart that so many fellow believers view yoga as a benign exercise. Somehow they believe that the physical poses of yoga can be separated from the spiritual purposes of yoga. But here is what a Hindu himself says about yoga:

While yoga is not a “religion” in the sense that the Abrahamic religions are, it is a well-established spiritual path. Its physical postures are only the tip of an iceberg, beneath which is a distinct metaphysics with profound depth and breadth. Its spiritual benefits are undoubtedly available to anyone regardless of religion. However, the assumptions and consequences of yoga do run counter to much of Christianity as understood today. This is why, as a Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, I agree with the Southern Baptist Seminary President, Albert Mohler, when he speaks of the incompatibility between Christianity and yoga, arguing that “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” is fundamentally at odds with Christian teaching. This incompatibility runs much deeper (bold is my emphasis).

You can read the rest of this article here. It is a very interesting read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/hindu-view-of-christian-yoga_b_778501.html

So why have so many Christians fallen prey to becoming part of this false religion? Because we have been told that it’s simply a relaxation technique and a good form of exercise. But as believers, we have a responsibility to make sure that what we are being told is actually true.  And before I hear the argument, “Well, it doesn’t affect me…I do it just for exercise,” think for a minute why you would even desire to do something so spiritually intertwined with a false religion. Should we draw closer to false religions and play around with their rituals and traditions or remove ourselves as far from them as possible? 

I found this article by Marsha West. I have only the second half of the article here, but you can read the rest of it by clicking on the link at the bottom. 

Many Christians have been duped into thinking that yoga is just relaxation and exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Classical yoga is intended to put one into an altered state of consciousness. Believers who think they’re “just exercising” are being swept into a counterfeit religion.

Not all religions are equal, as liberals would have us believe. Orthodox Christianity teaches that there is one true God. God as the all-knowing, all-powerful being who created the universe and still rules it today. “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:6,7). Moreover, orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes”(Romans 1:16). On the other hand, “Progressive Christians” (PC’s) believe that the Bible is a book of myths and legends. PC’s “read the Bible symbolically or allegorically, as a collection of interesting stories to take whatever meaning out of that pleases them. This allows them to reject various portions of the Bible they disagree with. Liberals label their interpretation as a “critical” approach, which essentially allows most of their theology to consist of finding ways to criticize the Bible, rather than actually trying to determine what it says.”[4]

PC’s see nothing wrong with yoga. They see nothing wrong with Christian mysticism either. But that’s another article.

According to God’s Word, mystical practices of any sort are evil. Romans 12:9 instructs Christians to, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Sooner or later the sharks will pull Christians who wade into mystic waters under. Jesus gave this warning in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Eastern mysticism leads to destruction.

Professor Tiwari is an authority on classical yoga. He believes that yoga cannot be separated from its spiritual center. “The simple, immutable fact,” he says, “is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it.” These facts need to be unequivocally stated in light of some of the things being written to the contrary by yoga teachers. The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances). These ethical tenets and religious practices are the first two limbs of the eight-limbed ashtanga yoga system which also includes asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation/Self Realization). Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.”[5]

If your church is integrating “Christian yoga” or any other New Age practice into its services, it’s incumbent on you to speak up. Gently lay out your concerns to your pastor. Explain that yoga is a Hindu or Buddhist practice and has no place in a Christian church. 2 Corinthians. 6:14 says, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Many pastors are unaware that some yoga practices, especially meditation to achieve an altered state of consciousness, can be spiritually damaging. If your pastor chooses to ignore your warning, you might want to consider finding a new church home.

To all you Christians who want to get in shape, I say halleluiah! I’m all for physical fitness. To stay in shape I’ve taken ballet (for the novice), jazz dance, aerobics, stretch classes, played tennis and racquetball, hiked in the mountains, and gone on brisk walks. All of these things will keep you in great shape. You don’t need yoga to stay fit

Footnotes:

4, Liberal Theology Misses Plain Truth By Rachel Alexander
5, Yoga Renamed Is Still Hindu By Subhas R. Tiwari

© 2006 Marsha West – All Rights Reserved

Read this article in its entirety here:http://newswithviews.com/West/marsha30.htm

Joy Killers

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Yesterday, I shared some excerpts from a sermon by Spurgeon on the Joy of the Lord. As I thought about his words, I thought of how often I desire to walk in the joyful sunshine of God’s light but then choose, instead, to walk through the dark, cold shade of my own sinful choices.  What are some of those sinful choices–or what I like to call Joy Killers–that are so effective in leading us to the shady side of the street?  The list is probably endless, but here are a few that came to mind–

 Joy Killers

  1. Holding a grudge
  2. Entertainment that glorifies what God hates
  3. Caring too much about what people think
  4. Loving money
  5. Eating more than your body needs
  6. Wasting time
  7. Gossiping about someone else
  8. Caring more about your physical health than your spiritual health
  9. Watching too much news
  10. Anger and Frustration
  11. Caring too much about what you look like
  12. Focusing only on what’s wrong in the world
  13. Making yourself and your needs your top priority
  14. Complaining
  15. Criticizing
  16. Trying to fix, control, and manipulate people and circumstances
  17. Taking something that isn’t yours
  18. Envy and jealousy
  19. Sex outside of marriage
  20. Hating someone
  21. Putting sports (or anything else) ahead of the spiritual welfare of your family
  22. Language that is filthy and crude
  23. Pretending to be someone you are not (hypocrisy)
  24. Abusing our bodies with substances
  25. Twisting scripture to make it mean what you want instead of what it really does
  26. Living only for today, with no thought for eternity

Many on this list are specific things listed in scripture as sin (see Galatians 5). Others are simply unwise to do if we want to live a life of joy. There are so many others that could be added. We humans have been very creative at concocting ways to steal our own joy!

I have been really convicted lately that we need to pray that we (and those we love) would hate sin. No, we will never be perfect here on this earth, but if we have a heart that is yielded to the Lord and we desire to be pure and holy, it is then, and only then, that we make it possible to have deep, abiding communion with our heavenly Father, thus leading to true and lasting  joy.

Do you have anything to add to my list of Joy Killers?

 

The Quest to Find the Perfect Jeans

Disclaimer: This post is for women only. While men may gladly read it, I have my doubts that any of them have ever had a difficult time finding a pair of jeans that fits!

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I think I was on my 100th pair of jeans (okay…I may be slightly exaggerating, but it certainly felt that way!) Most of the styles I liked weren’t available in my size. If they just happened to have my size, they didn’t fit. Once again, I despaired over the extra pounds hugging my body and berated myself for my lack of discipline. I gave up and dejectedly walked out of the store. I went home discouraged.

That evening I went online and ordered three or four pairs of jeans in my size and even a couple in a size bigger–just in case.  I excitedly carried the box up to my room when it arrived. I had high hopes. Surely one of these would fit!

Imagine my discouragement when not one of them fit right. They were either too small or too large or gapped at the waist or were too baggy at the crotch.  I threw them all back in the box to return to the store and decided to just give up my search.

I shared my dilemma with my mom and she suggested I try Target. She told me she likes their jeans. I hadn’t thought of them before. I figured what did I have to lose?

And, so, on Friday, when I had the opportunity to get to a Target, I made one last-ditch effort to find a pair of jeans. I found seven pairs that were in my size and took them back to the dressing room.  I had little success with the first five pairs and they lay in disarray around me.  I sighed heavily and resigned myself to another fruitless attempt of finding a pair of jeans.

I pulled on the sixth pair of jeans and buttoned them. I did a double-take. I stared at myself in the mirror. Not only did they fit, but I actually liked how they looked on my body.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I left the dressing room with one pair of jeans to buy. I still felt discouraged about how I looked, but at least I had found one pair.

I heard yesterday that only 2% of women like their bodies the way they are. That means 98% of us don’t. I confess I am definitely one of the 98%. Why is it that so many of us are unhappy?

Well, of course, weight is a big issue for many of us. But there are other things that we pick out, too. Things like big feet or big noses. Hair that is too fine or too curly. Calves that are too thick or too thin. You see, we have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the world’s definition of beautiful. And I am right there with you.

We judge ourselves by the world’s standards, or shall I say Hollywood’s standards, and come up short. Very short.

But I am not going to sit here and write that we are all beautiful, as seems to be the typical message of the day. We aren’t all beautiful.  Not really.

I would suggest we need to go a different direction. I think we, instead, need to stop worrying about if we are beautiful. Oh, we should take the greatest care possible to look nice and to be healthy. Don’t get me wrong. We are Christians and want to present ourselves as such. We are also stewards of our bodies and are responsible to take good care of them.

BUT it ends there. Our obsessive concern about how we look is not from God. It just isn’t. It is a self-absorbed, me-centered thing that distracts us from being the best Christians we can be.

When I was looking at myself in the mirror trying on jeans, I never gave one thought to what people would think of Christ if I bought these. I was thinking only of myself and how I looked. I wasn’t standing there thanking God for my body, but instead, I was complaining to myself. About myself. Under my breath, of course.

As I write this, I find myself being very convicted! I am so self-centered and focused on me. There is no better time for that to surface than when I am in a dressing room trying on clothes.

Some of us are gluttons for punishment and keep trying things on, hoping that we will eventually feel good about ourselves in something. Others of us totally avoid dressing rooms if at all possible. We don’t shop for ourselves. Ever.

But no one is going to look good in everything. We’re just not. But we think we should. We are focused on a standard that isn’t possible for most of us. We want to look a certain way, but that way takes time that we don’t have or requires us to grow longer legs or to have a different type of hair and so we find ourselves with a dilemma, don’t we? We can’t look that way. But we think we should.

Perhaps it is time to start thanking the Lord for how we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and then stop thinking about ourselves at all and go about the business of our Savior.

Instead of worrying about how people think we look, let’s worry about how they think we act, and speak. Let’s worry about if they think we love them.

Sometimes I get all mixed up and distracted and focus on things that aren’t important and forget the things that are important. My quest for jeans showed that to me so clearly. I was guilty of doing just that. I have some work to do. But at least I don’t have to visit another dressing room for awhile, since I did find that one, elusive pair of jeans!

Wednesday Wisdom: The Power of a Habit

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,
and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men.
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine.
Plus, the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?

I am a HABIT!

I could not find the author of this profound bit of writing, but when I heard it the other day it struck a chord with me. How many consequences could we avoid by simply changing a habit?  It is so simple, but yet it is so difficult. I can think of several small habits that, if I could change them, would yield tremendous rewards in my life. How about you? 

 

Who Do You Look Like?

When my son was just a little boy, he used to play little league baseball. One day, as I was chatting on the sidelines with one of the moms, she said something like this, “Oh, I know who you look like! I have been trying to think of who you look like and now I have figured it out!” I looked at her, very curious to hear who she thought I resembled. Her next words could have knocked me over with a feather.

“You look just like Cindy Crawford!”

What?? That is the first (and last!) time that anyone has ever compared me to a beautiful model.  But I certainly felt honored. I knew this was a situation where she had no need to flatter or impress me, so I knew she had said it sincerely.

As I remembered this incident the other day, I thought about how my heart’s desire shouldn’t be for people to tell me I look like Cindy Crawford (or any other well-known, gorgeous woman) but, instead, to tell me that I look like Jesus.

Now, while I will never resemble Jesus physically, as he is a man from the middle east, I can resemble him by my actions. As we grow in Christ, we should grow more and more like Him.

Stop and take a minute to think about your life. I know for my own life, there are many areas in which I haven’t resembled Jesus at all.

Here are a few areas for us to think about —

1. Do I look like Jesus in how I love others? Look, anyone can feed orphans or go on a mission trip. I am not talking about the socially acceptable “love for others”, I am talking about the love for others we show in our everyday world.  The reactions and choices we make around our families and in our daily living. When a spouse needs some help and we are lying comfortably on the sofa, do we get up? When there is an interruption to a favorite TV show, do we grow quickly frustrated? When we are in a long line at the store, do we give the clerk an angry look or shower her with frustrated words? If someone criticizes you, do you grow defensive or hold a grudge? All of these are just normal, everyday occurrences, where we have the opportunity to look like Jesus…or not.

2. Do I look like Jesus in what I choose to do with my time? This question covers a lot of ground, doesn’t it? Would Jesus spend so much time on _________? (you fill in the blank with your favorite, time-consuming hobby or pastime). Would Jesus spend so many hours doing this, if there is no eternal value? Of course, there is nothing wrong with hobbies, but we do need to keep it all balanced. It also covers this question: do I spend my precious hours on entertainment that will make others think of Jesus? Or do I waste hours and hours on movies, video games, and listening to music that is against everything my precious Savior stands for?

3. Do I look like Jesus in the area of self-disicpline? This is a challenging question that encompasses two big areas: money and food. I covered the question of food in my recent post entitled The Sin No One Wants to Talk About, so I will move on to the other area– money. This is a challenging one. Money is one of those things where we can hide our true state of affairs. In this age of credit and debt, no one really knows how anyone is doing financially until they completely crash and burn. But, whether we make a little or a lot, we need to ask ourselves if we look like Jesus in how we spend our money. Are we focused on the here and now or are we focused on the eternal? Jesus was very clearly focused on the eternal, which is clear in scripture. So, in order to grow more like Christ, my priorities should be the same.

4. Do I look like Jesus in the words I speak? Words are so powerful. They can cut to the core. I have always thought that the old adage “sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Word do hurt– dreadfully. Whether we are talking about someone else behind his back (otherwise known as gossip) or are short-tempered and unkind to someone’s face, words are one of the quickest ways to tell if we resemble Jesus.

 

I don’t know about you, but I see much room for growth in many areas of my own life. In fact, I feel like the older I get, the more work I see ahead of me. But when I look back, I also see that I have come so far. And so, I will keep on going. I know I may not look like Cindy Crawford anymore — it is my guess that, to most people, I never did in the first place — but oh, how I hope I resemble Jesus more and more as I grow older.

I Peter 2:5-11

 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The sin no one wants to talk about

I have been so convicted lately of something in my life that isn’t quite right. Oh, it’s not out of control, but it’s not quite right. I know in my heart that I haven’t surrendered this area of my life to my Lord and Savior. It’s one of those things that none of us want to admit.

The area I am talking about is food. And lest you say, “Oh, I don’t have a weight issue,” might I remind you that this has nothing to do with weight, but instead about your relationship with food? I have seen skinny women who eat like a pig. I have seen healthy women that the world would call overweight. I have seen women who look like a stick obsess over every bite they put in their mouth. I have seen overweight women who fill their bodies with fat, sugar, and carbs, leaving little room for anything healthy…and I have seen extremely thin women who do the same thing.

And, lest I forget, this is not just about women. Men have issues with food, too.  For some of us, this sin is so obvious in the extra weight we carry around. Or perhaps it’s obvious in our unhealthy thinness.  But, then again, let’s remember that God made every body differently, and so this isn’t about judging anyone else, because it is a very private and personal area of our lives so that only we can know personally if this is an issue for us. And that means as you read this, you can only think about yourself. What is your relationship with food?

For many of us food is our comfort, strength, and go-to remedy. But for some of us our ability to control what we eat becomes our source of security and stability in our lives. And then there are those of us who simply love to eat and so we do, giving no thought to the consequences of our big appetites.

Gluttony. When’s the last time you heard that word? Or how about the word “idol” in regards to our relationship with food? So many of us Christians have an unhealthy relationship with food, that we dare not talk about this subject too much.

It’s so easy to talk about things like anger and gossip and slander. It’s easy to preach about stealing and lying and cheating. But self-control in regards to our food? Boy, that hits right at the heart of most of us “good” Christians, doesn’t it?

And maybe I am alone here. But I realized, yet again, that I am to surrender EVERY area of my life to Jesus. I can’t pick and choose. I can’t tell Him that I don’t cheat or lie or steal, so I will eat how much of whatever I want, thank you very much. It just doesn’t work like that. If you are saved, then you are no longer yours, but have dedicated to live your life for Christ and Christ alone. This encompasses everything.

Another thing I have realized as I am working my way through this is that there are no bad foods. Okay, let me take that back– highly processed and chemically generated foods probably classify as bad foods. But it is not wrong to eat dessert or to have fries or a doughnut. In the Bible days, and even in many poor countries yet today, bread is the staple.  Carbs are not evil. God has given us good things, and we should enjoy them.

My problem is I want to enjoy them too much. There is always a special event or a birthday or a bad day or a great day–anything I can do to rationalize an extra snack. It’s about moderation.

And, while there aren’t necessarily bad foods, there are definitely good foods. There are many benefits from eating our fruits and veggies and even most meats.

But this isn’t a blogpost about nutrition. This is about our relationship with food. And, once again, there are women (of which I am not one) whose relationship with food becomes an obsession. They are so concerned about not gaining weight or with how they look, that self and the control not to eat becomes the idol. It goes so far beyond weight or the perception of others. This is a heart issue.

Personally, I find myself looking very forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 19, where I will be able to eat to my heart’s content, without any concern for the food’s nutrition (I guess it will be nutritionally perfect, anyway?) or the damage it will do to my hips! But, until then, I have a responsibility to have a healthy and balanced relationship with the food I eat. It is a never-ending battle that rages within me, but I cannot quit…and neither can you.

I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Wednesday Wisdom: The Words of My Mouth

I am currently reading a wonderful book called 40 Days to Healthy Living, written by author Danna Demetre.   We only think of healthy living in the physical sense, but this book has some very insightful points on living healthy spiritually, as well.  As I was reading “Day 18”,  I knew it was what I would have to share with you today.  I do not normally recommend a book before I have completed it. However, I have been so thoroughly impressed with this author’s handling of both the spiritual and the physical side of our health, that I am counting on her to continue to do so through the end (I’ll let you know if the book doesn’t live up to my expectations!)  

Nourish Your Spirit— The Words of My Mouth

Matthew 15: 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man “unclean.” 

The mouth can cause us so much trouble. From putting too much food in to letting the wrong words out, it is often a key player in many of our challenges. Too often, we say something before we’ve passed our thoughts through the filter of God’s truth. Words that tear down and wound don’t please God. Words that gossip or slander don’t either. Yet it is so easy to want to share a juicy tidbit about someone or pass on some interesting news in the cloak of a “prayer request.” I wonder how many of these kinds of prayer requests were ever really prayed about.

It seems if we can get to the root of controlling our mouth and our tongue, which we are told in James 3: 6 “corrupts the whole person,” we may be able to control our entire self. Our verse above says that what comes out of our mouths actually originates in our hearts. If we want to know the state of our own hearts, perhaps we should listen more carefully to not only the words we are speaking but also the silent conversations we are having inside our own minds. In the Bible, the word heart refers to the soul. And the mind is the soul’s pilot. As we have already learned, our words are by-products of our thoughts, and our thoughts originate from our beliefs. If we want our hearts to be pure and have words that flow naturally from our mouths, we must change our thinking.

If the words we are speaking are tearing down more than building up, we definitely need some “heart surgery,” which begins by identifying the lies we believe so they can be excised from our minds. These are the “unclean” things that Matthew is speaking about.

Angry words come out of an angry heart and despairing words out of a desperate heart. Whatever negative, destructive words seem to flow out of our mouths freely and regularly reveal the condition of our hearts. But the opposite is true as well. Kind words flow from a kind heart, lovely words from a loving heart. By identifying our negative emotions and words, we can begin the process of transformation as we replace that which tears down with that which builds up.

As with all spiritual concerns, this is not a matter of self-control but rather of surrender and transformation. It took time for those lies to become imbedded, and it will take some time to dislodge them. As our hearts and minds become purified, so do our thoughts and our words. And surprisingly, a changed heart may also produce changed appetites for food and other things, as the “mouth” may no longer need to try to fill the gaps of a damaged heart.

Demetre, Danna (2012-03-01). 40 Days to Healthy Living (pp. 217-218). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

 

You can find this book on Amazon here.  As of the date of this post, the hard copy only costs $6.99 and the Kindle edition is only $5.38.  If you have been struggling with the topic of living a healthy life, this is definitely worth the few dollars!

Trading for the Trivial

Do you remember Esau?  Yes, the guy in the Bible.  He was the older twin brother of Jacob.  One day he came in from the field weary and hungry.  His brother was in the midst of making a delicious red stew.  When Esau asked for some, Jacob saw his opportunity.  He told him that he would give him some stew in exchange for his birthright. In those days, this was a big deal.  The older son was much more privileged than the younger son and by trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, he was giving up his inheritance. You can read this story for yourself in Genesis 25.

I have always thought of Esau as very foolish!  What man in his right mind would exchange something so important for a bowl of food?  And then it hit me.  I do that almost everyday.  I am in the habit of regularly exchanging self-control and a healthy body for a bowl of ice cream or a serving of french fries.  When I think about it like this, I realize that I am not all that different than Esau.

We also do the same thing when we trade:

–our financial well-being for a car we can’t afford

–our spiritual well-being for 2 hours of ungodly entertainment

–a healthy marriage for a moment of griping and complaining about something trivial

–our children’s well-being for the temporary moment of peace that comes when we don’t discipline them

–our Christian testimony for a glass of beer or an hour at the gambling table

–our integrity for a few bucks on a tax form

–a healthy body for an hour of laziness and tv-watching

Most of us are trading what is most important for what is trivial almost every day.  We wile away our entire lives on the unimportant, never realizing the great sacrifices we are making to do so.

Quite frankly, I can’t even relate to what Esau did because it is not part of our culture.  We couldn’t trade a birthright in our culture, even if we tried.  And so this story has always remained rather an enigma to me.  And, then the other day, as I was reading it once again, it was made so clear to me.  I can see how I am just like an American style Esau.  Trading what is most important to me almost every day for something really stupid.

Some of the things I am trading aren’t even sinful in and of themselves.  A bowl of ice cream or an order of fries isn’t sinful.  Buying a new car isn’t sinful.  But it is the attitude.  It is the habit.  It is the lack of self-control.  It is the desire of self-gratification over the desire for doing what is right.

I don’t know about you, but I will never read that story in the Bible the same way again.

 

 

WW #6: Simple Does Not Mean Easy

Today I am sharing some wise words from a friend of mine who is a missionary in Cambodia.  She is a wonderful writer and I know many of you will appreciate what she shared in her newsletter on Monday.  The analogy she makes is a great one.  Read on and see what I mean!
 

The heat here [Cambodia] makes it quite hard to want to get out and do anything, really, but I am glad to report I was up bright and early today for a riverside jog/walk. And I almost enjoyed it. Almost.

You’ll have to forgive me if a lot of my object lessons recently have been about exercise and the physical side of things. It is taking a bit of my focus and energy right now, as I am working toward some “before forty” goals. (The clock is ticking!) But I am beginning to see why many of the NT writers used athletics and sports allegories to make their points about the spiritual life. There are so many parallels!

A number of years ago, a doctor said to me that—unless your weight gain was due to medical reasons—all you had to do to lose weight was to eat less and move more. It’s that simple. It comes down basic math, really. If your calorie intake is consistently less than the number of calories you burn day after day, you will begin to lose weight. This is not rocket science, folks!

However, “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”.

Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how hard it is to change lifestyle rhythms or habits. It is soooo difficult to pass up that extra helping, or that tempting snack. It is exhausting to submit your body to rigorous exercise and grueling to stick to disciplined daily routines.

Weight loss might be simple on paper, but it certainly is not easy.

In the same way, salvation is basically simple. You have a debt of sin that you could never repay. Jesus has paid the price in full, and offers to clear your account. You simply have to accept His gift and His Lordship in your life.

But there is nothing easy about the Christian walk. The dying to self, the denial of fleshly desires, the breaking and bending of the will to the Spirit’s control. None of this comes naturally. But it must be done, intentionally and regularly. Besides that, the world will heap us with abuse once it sees we are trying to do things differently, not living by its norms and standards.

The basics of salvation might be simple to grasp, but living it out on a daily basis is probably one of the hardest things a person can do.

We do a great disservice, I fear, when we minimize the cost of following Christ. When we promise a primrose-strewn path, leading not only to future Glory, but also to heaven here on earth. We mislead others if we do not prepare them for the rocky road ahead.

Of course we do not walk this path alone. We need not strive and strain in our own strength. We have a Helper always available to us. In fact, He is eager to do most of the work if we will just submit to His control. It’s that simple. But not that easy.

–by Deborah Wise

Finding a Better Place

Last night a big gang of us went to watch fireworks.  We decided the best place to watch was the parking lot of a nearby historical society.  Apparently everyone else thought that, too.  But we found a place to park and joined the crowd.   With blankets and chairs in tow, we scoped the area for the best place to sit.  Most of the grassy area was taken, but we found one we thought would be okay, despite the big building directly in front of us. Oh, well.  We settled down to wait for the show.

A few minutes later, one of the guys decided he was going to search for a better spot and off went a group of them.  A few minutes later my daughter ran back and breathlessly told us that we should all follow her, where across the parking lot and behind a building, was the perfect hill to watch the fireworks.

So off we all went with our stuff, down the hill, across the parking lot, and around the building — to the perfect hillside.   Most people hadn’t ventured that far and so there was only a couple of other parties of people in the area.  And guess what?  It was a great place to watch the fireworks.  Probably the best place we’ve sat at in years…maybe ever.

This is the perfect picture of why I write this blog!  I was thinking about it this morning.  So often we are tempted to just settle.  We are tired of the weight battle, we are tired of the kid battle, we are tired of the entertainment battle.  We are tired of battles!  So we just settle.  We don’t want to work now for shadowy rewards to come later.  We want our rewards now.  And so we stay right where we are, taking the easy path.  But the easy path doesn’t always lead to the best place to watch the show.  In fact, I would venture to say it never leads to the best place to watch the show.

And some of us really do want to take the hard path, but then peer pressure weighs us down.  As I think on last night, I realize that if a few of us would have dug our heals in and said we weren’t leaving our spot, the whole group probably would have stayed put.   Thankfully, everyone was willing to walk to the better spot last night.  But, unfortunately, when it comes to real life, we often need to travel on alone in order to take the best path.

Paul tells us in I Corinthians 9: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring itinto subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

We can’t afford to be tired or pressured by our friends because we are running the race to win!  And the rewards are great if we don’t give up — a healthy body, children who love the Lord, a pure heart and mind, but, most importantly, the imperishable crown we will receive in glory.

Do you remember Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare?  I know the point of that is that slow and steady wins the race, but I would like to point out here that the tortoise never took a break, either.  He just kept plugging away without getting distracted or giving in to his exhaustion.  May we be like the tortoise today, as we continue to run the race set before us, always looking for ways to run it better and never giving up!  May we never settle for status quo!

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