Exercising your faith: a completely different concept on the way to improve your health. You can find any number of workouts for your body, but very few that tell you how to weather the storms in life. What do you do when that job you've been desperately waiting on just doesn't come through? What do you when that person you love just doesn't seem to love you back? What do you when you face a negative health or financial crisis? All the bicep curls, ab crunches, lunges, and core exercises can't do anything for your soul. There comes a time in everyone's life, whether one admits it or not, that you need a positive force--something greater than oneself--to help you get through the dark hours. I have found that the peace, love, and comfort of the Lord is the perfect antidote: better than any drug, drink, person, or pill. God has truly saved, and changed, my life.
But how did I get here? How did I go from loving Lil Wayne to loving the Lord? How did I go from having aspirations of being like Beyonce to simply being the best "Me" I could be? How did I finally stop smoking cigarettes, drinking myself into oblivion every weekend, and thinking the fast lane was the only lane in life? Well, it wasn't easy. Like Langston Hughes' timeless depiction in "Mother to Son", life for me ain't been no crystal stair. And it truly hasn't been. Or, like Reverend Jones sang in his gospel classic,
I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some sleepless nights
But when I look around
And I think things over
All of my good days
Out-weigh my bad days
I won't complain
Reverend Jones says it best: I won't complain.
Instead, I can tell you how I built myself up and changed my thoughts, habits, attitudes, and actions so that I had the strength and stamina to use these same hands and fingers that once lifted cigarettes to my mouth not to smoke ever again. But let me first say that this isn't about willpower, for in my own power and will I didn't have it. I couldn't do it. I've gone cold turkey, only to return to the store again getting not just a pack a cigarettes, but a carton. I've said I'm not going to call this person or go that place anymore, only to be sitting up in the same place with the same people. By my own volition, my efforts were futile. And maybe you are like me too. You've read the self-help books and you've tried the simple steps to do this or that program only to find yourself back at square one--and even further below that! I've been there. I know what "the bottom" looks and feels like, and it's a place I don't ever want to frequent again. And you don't have to either.
So let's just get to it. For a major life-changing, mind-altering, complete total body makeover, there comes a time when you must learn the ways to of exercising your faith to build your spiritual muscles.
In Part 1 of exercising your faith, there were three ways for building your spiritual muscles:
- Waiting on God.
- Drawing your strength from God.
- Focusing exclusively on God.
Click here to read Part 1 of the Exercising Your Faith Series.
Now, let's focus on what we do on the inside of the body. Let's talk about what you are eating.
1. You must eat lots of fruit. Now you may be thinking apples, oranges, and bananas. But I'm not talking about that
kind. I'm talking spiritual fruit, fruit that can nourish you for eternity. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Gal 5: 22-23 (NIV)
In the natural sense, you can't maintain a positive healthy image eating fatty foods high in calories and low in nutrients and expect to look like the cover of a magazine, or not have cholesterol, blood pressure, and any other host of health conditions. This, we think, is a no brainer.
And yet, we don't think about this spiritually.
You can't expect blessings and supernatural favor if you are not eating right spiritually. How do you do this? By eating of these fruits EVERY TIME a situation presents itself when you would want to be bitter, fearful, anger, resentful, worried, unkind, or anything that is the opposite of these acts. Granted, no one is perfect. But, we do all have common sense, and an inner spiritual guidance system directing us the times we should behave in this way. Ever felt bad about not giving to someone in need? Or for responding harshly to someone? Sure you have. That's your inner guidance system convicting you. That is the Holy Spirit.
Now, look at what is in your hands. That's right. Open your hands and look at what you're holding. Not holding on to anything? You may think so. But in fact, if you feel stuck and unable to move forward, chances are you are struggling with things that happened to you in your past that you think you've gotten over, and you are holding on to A LOT of things from your past that you simply need to let go.
2. The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us a perfect description of how and why to let things go, which says that we must "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" if we want to run with perseverance in the race of "life." (Heb 12) You just can't run a race if you are entangled with things from the past. How outlandish would it be to see someone running in the Chicago Marathon with their shoes laced and tied to all kinds of people, places, and things attached to them. They would never win. And neither will you.
Simply put: you can't move forward if you're stuck on things from the past. God is not blocking your progress. You are choosing to stand still and stay focused on the past. Life IS change. And if yours isn't changing, it's not life. It's not God. It's not the economy. It's not "the man". It's you.
Maya Angelou left us with a simple and powerful truth to help us for eternity: when we know better we do better.
She says we must know AND DO.
That's why, the best way to get out of yourself and get into something better is to give to others.
3. In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15, we see that generosity is encouraged. "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
Does it seem like everyone around you is being blessed with gifts, opportunities, and experiences, and you aren't? Well, it could be that those people are helping others, or giving to others, or using their time and talents to help others, and not feed fictional characters in farm towns or crushing candy in games. Those games are called time wasters for a reason. You are wasting your time. Time is as valuable a commodity as money, resource, and talents. If you are doing anything with your time that isn't beneficial to others, then you are reaping nothing because you aren't sowing anything. It's really just that simple.
Believe me, I recognize that some of this may come off as harsh, rude, brusque, or hard core, but I guess the truth is, it is. Life is not meant to be lived as if we are floating on clouds. That's heaven. Here, on earth, we have work to do. And in order to have experiences that are like heaven on earth, we must eat right with spiritual fruit, be free and open to receive what God has for us, and then use what we have by giving and helping others.
Exercising your faith takes just as much stamina as building natural muscles in the gym. But once you learn ways to do this, and begin to focus on your "spirit man" as much as your natural man, you are certain to reap blessings beyond measure. It's never too late to create a new body. IFAIH, E
As a health and fitness spokesperson, I use my gifts and talents to help people enjoy the fun of fitness in my worshipful, workouts. And then, for those who need help with your nutrition, I have the best platform to help others transform themselves 10lbs. at a time through the Body by Vi Project 10 Challenge. Those are two ways for changing the outside of the body. But for a total transformation, I have learned that one must work on the spirit and soul just as diligently as the body.I pray these words, and my blog "In Fitness and In Health" is a blessing to you.
For more information on The Challenge, visit my website here.
For more information about my faith-inspired trainings, you can visit my personal website here.
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