The last Element of THRIVE, the ‘E’ and freedom!
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If we are to T.H.R.I.V.E., Exercise will be a staple in our daily habits. The challenge:
Exercise our bodies.
Exercise our brains.
Exercise our freedom to choose food as fuel;
Exercise our right to choose what goes on with our bodies
Some time ago I had a phone call from a young wife and mother who found out she was pregnant, though the baby was unplanned. Her husband was insistent she have an abortion and was pretty ugly about it; she called me for advice. Of course, I prayed and offered her godly counsel. What sprung to my mind was pro choice . . . why does the term pro choice only apply when it comes to choosing to abort? Among other things, I encouraged her to consider that she has a choice to keep her baby... I know too many women who have opted to abort and they never quite get over it; God forgives, but they cannot fully forgive themselves. Planned Parenthood does not talk too much about the parting gifts of their 'procedure'--shame and regret.
One more thing: why is pro choice (choosing to abort) a woman’s right but choosing to vaccinate (or not) is neither the woman nor the man’s choice according to the government mandates? I too am pro choice--I have a choice to get a vaccine or not. Now my choice may come with consequences, but we have known since we were toddlers that our choices come with consequences.
Last week, we stayed in Edgewater, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. An easy ferry ride and I could have walked those streets of New York City I love, jumped on a subway to go to church at Brooklyn Tabernacle! Oh wait--without a vaccine passport, I could not go shopping or get a meal. Where is the freedom in that? Where is American liberty? At risk. We have to stand up for freedom, Friends!
Freedom. Paul wrote, 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.1
And Jesus said, So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.2 There is freedom when we walk with Christ and live as he would have us live, remembering that it is his desire that we have eternal life in him3 and that welive the abundant life!4
Please choose to exercise freedom and make a personal choice to exercise.
Brisk walks outside are so great--raising the heart rate, swinging the arms and flexing abdominal muscles - all the while taking in the deep blue of the sky, artful cloud formations, the birds that fly overhead, flowers and trees--oh, so good.
Is there a biblical case to be made that fitness matters? I believe so. Otherwise, why would Paul say ‘I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified’?5 When challenging myself at the gym, I have actually pictured the apostle Paul--I mean, how in the world did the guy survive stonings, shipwrecks, imprisonments and walking 10,000 miles if he was not quite fit?! Why did he have so much respect for the athletic feats of the Isthmian athletes who competed near him? While Paul was no competitor on an athletic playing field, Paul disciplined himself to stay physically strong to do what was required of him and that should challenge us to do the same.
Asking a reader-friend if exercise/fitness is important to the Christian, her response was keen. These are her words, not mine. ‘Well, first we are the temple of the Holy Spirit…right? [yep, that’s right--1 Corinthians 6.19-20!] When we share our faith, I think it’s important for people to see our joy and our health--that we have some victories in our lives that you can see from our appearance. Exercise is a way to be mindful of the blessing of a body that can move and breathe and climb hills and walk miles--things we shouldn’t take for granted … If our bodies are strong from regular exercise, we also won’t be constantly focused on our lack of energy or aches and pains…” Thanks, Amy!
Friend, if we are to T.H.R.I.V.E., we will intentionally exercise our discipline to spend time with God daily and we will put on our shoes, hit the trail and walk, (or the closest thing to that, depending on our own limitations) Oh and one more thing--let us partake of food as fuel! As I mentioned yesterday, our lives are a gift from God and it is our responsibility to take the best care we can, including exercising discipline in what we eat and drink. Both food and alcohol addiction has increased since the pandemic--but we can start today to choose well. Sometimes we are bound by the shame of our addiction and do not reach out for the help or accountability that is so available if we will just seek it out with the help of God.
There is no question about the importance of exercise for our physical selves, but then there is the value of moving our bodies, expanding our lungs, waking up our muscles for our mental and emotional selves. There is a definite connection between a healthy body and a healthy brain, whether or not we want to acknowledge it; plus, in order to mitigate weight gain and manage stress in this surreal space of time, exercise is key. God created us body, soul and spirit ~ all need to be exercised if we are to be our best selves!
And here’s my thing: I do not want my physical condition to hold me back from anything I believe God is calling me to do. I do not want to be disqualified, as Paul said; rather, I do not want to disqualify myself for lack of training. In a world where there is so much that is out of our control, let us exercise in some capacity and let us exercise our freedom as well. It is for freedom that Christ came. Freedom is a beautiful thing!
Freedom, Jesus Culture, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKxeZsZvp7E
1 - Galatians 5.1
2 - John 8.36
3 - John 3.16
4 - John 10.10
5 - 1 Corinthians 9.27