If God Asks, reposted from PrayFit

Sometimes someone says something that you couldn’t say better yourself. Such is the case today. This article was written by Jimmy Pena, at PrayFit. I’m an avid reader of Jimmy’s blog and I subscriber to his teachings on fitness. I hope you enjoy this post:

“We live by faith, not by sight.”–2 Corinthians 5:7

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

I know we typically end our study with a question, but today we’re starting with one. I’m wondering: Would you forfeit your health for the Lord? More specifically, would you give up your fitness lifestyle if God asked you to? Maybe you’re a runner. An avid runner. Your calendar is marked — not with holidays and birthdays — but with 10Ks. Or perhaps you’re a fitness junkie. You lift, you sprint, you jump rope, you sweat and you repeat it…six days a week. What if God asked you to give it all up? And no, He doesn’t give you His reasoning, because He doesn’t need to explain Himself to you. All you know is that the one passion you have in life — that one thing that fulfills you and makes you you — He wants you to relinquish. No more gym. No more road. How would you feel? Sad, confused, both? What would you do?

 

Well, before you say, “Jimmy, I doubt God would ever ask me to give up something like that,” let’s visit a couple guys who would beg to differ…

When Abraham got to the top of Mt. Moriah, he was confused and saddened. “Daddy, where’s the lamb?” asked Isaac. But Abraham took the son he loved more than life itself, set him on the altar and raised his knife.

When the rich young ruler approached the Lord and asked Him what he needed to do to have eternal life, Jesus said to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and then follow Him. But the bible says the rich man walked away sad because he was rich.

Two men, both asked to sacrifice the love of their life. One was sad but obedient, the other was sad because he couldn’t be. The difference? Faith. Faith saved Isaac and spawned generations that outnumber the stars. Faith loved. Faith sensed guidance. Faith followed. Faith swallowed fear. Faith didn’t walk away sad.

Now, Lord only knows what He’s calling you to do (or not do) when it comes to His purpose for your life, but is there anything you need to sacrifice in order to be closer to Him? Since He’s likely not asking you to give up your pursuit of fitness, could it mean you need to carve out time alone with Him? If He’s asking for time with you, do you walk away sad because you’re so “fit”? Or on the flip side, if you’re not honoring your health like God desires, perhaps stewardship is your sacrifice. Maybe the hill of discipline is your Mount Moriah. What is God asking you to do?

Read this article at its original location, here. Also, I encourage you to take time to read many of Jimmy’s other devotionals.

Foundations of Fitness

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Hello Friends! I’m inviting you to join me over at Haven Journal today. Here’s a taste, follow the link to get more!

My dad was a full five bike lengths in front of me, despite the fact that his bike might as well have been made of lead compared to mine, crafted from a lighter alloy. He turned back to search for me in the slowly spreading sea of cyclists. Concern filled his eyes, but he knew better than to admonish me.

We had registered for this 60 mile bike ride in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in May, right after I returned from my first stint at Remuda Ranch, a treatment center for eating disorders. By now, a rainy, chilly, September day, I had shed most of the weight my therapists and dietitians had gently encouraged me to gain.

Malnourished and tired, I hadn’t felt well for three days, but I refused to tell my parents. If they knew I was getting sick there was no way they’d let me ride, and I would rather die than miss a chance to burn 60 miles worth of calories.

Keep reading…

(Image is the property of Haven Journal)

Disciplined or Driven?

I’ve always been a black and white thinker. I remember my therapists saying, “You’ve got to chill out, let there be some gray areas!”

And I remember thinking that was compromising, only wimps compromise. Is that true?

I’m wondering what you do halfway?
And are there some things that deserve to be done halfway?
And is halfway related to balance?

Imagine the teeter-totter from your childhood. That hinged pyramid was situated exactly halfway between the ends of the beam where you balanced your butt. Ideally, two similarly sized individuals capitalize on that middle ground and lazily bound up and down. That’s a positive perspective on halfway.

But normally, when I hear halfway, I hear lazy, uncommitted, indecisive, watery, wimpy, undisciplined. Right or wrong, that’s my default interpretation.

So the concept of moderate exercise? It doesn’t exist for me, or didn’t until the uncompromising Jesus began to cultivate in me the mind of Christ.

The idea of a balanced budget? Not my cup of tea. Just ask my hubby. I’d rather watch the savings account bulge than enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Recently, the cogs in my brain have been on overdrive. I can literally feel my mind overheating. You see, I told you that I am writing a book. It’s a good idea, a God idea. I know that it is what He has been calling me to do for years and only now have I unearthed the courage to obey Him.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Can I fully obey God and still fully rest in Him?
Can I be disciplined to sit down and write this book and still be able to set it aside and engage in relationships and enjoy all the other things God has put in my life and enabled me to do?

This is me naked.
This is me rambling slightly, trying to let you inside my head. It’s a little embarrassing that I can’t find the halfway point between doing something well and doing something obsessively; between doing something for God’s glory and feeling like I am responsible for God’s glory; the difference between writing a book because I have something to say and feeling like a failure if I don’t say it all today; the space between BIC (butt in chair) writing and waiting quietly while God puts the words in my heart – in His time. That’s the key: Obeying God, in His timing. 

I think, perhaps that’s why God is so insistent that we wait on Him. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, that we are to come to Him and share His yoke, His burden. That implies that He does have good things for us to do. The problem is that I often bend down, shoulder the burden and then try to run off and plow the whole field on my own. “Look Jesus, see how strong I am?”

For you, naked truth now,
Do you struggle with commitment in anyway?
How about self-discipline?
How about resting?

Do you see a fine line? And if you can see it and if you can balance on it, will tell me how?

Me, a glutton?

Being Naked is nothing if not humbling. As God would have it, the brilliant theologian, C.S. Lewis has struck me where it hurts the most.

In so many ways, I have healed from anorexia. In so many ways, I am walking free of the chains of food fears, starvation and compulsive exercise. And even in the throws of my disorder, no one, least of all myself would have considered me a glutton. So as Screwtape began to instruct his evil nephew in the art of deception by means of gluttony, I thought, This is so utterly new to me, it should be interesting!

Interesting it was, but not because I’ve never experienced such temptations. It was interesting particularly because it could have been written about me, so convicting was it.

[Our goals] have largely been [accomplished]by the concentrating all our efforts on glutton of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess.

Anorexia is chiefly defined by not eating much. For me, that included a desire not to need much. But I glutted on all my own selfish desires. Quite literally, I binged on exercise. I pushed my personal desires upon all who entertained me. My gluttony was on being accommodated by all who should understand the nature of my disorder. I fully expected my family to provide the foods I would eat, understand when my love affair with myself interrupted their lives. Hosts should cater to my specific food requirements. My husband should go out of his way to stop at hotels with gyms whenever we traveled.

Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.

Oh, and Lewis would not feign to ignore my affection for myself in the realm of exercise.

…feed him the grand lie which we have made the English humans believe, that physical exercise in excess and consequent fatigue are specially favorable to this virtue.

Ouch.

So, the naked truth, confession at the deepest level, even my recovery is incomplete. And I brought that to my Father this morning.

God, how can I pretend to write a book on how you have walked me through the Valley of the Shadow of anorexia and how I have grown in you and been strengthened by the journey, when my journey isn’t over yet?

And He, Sweet Father, always answers.

Beloved, you ask why the journey is not complete. Your journey with anorexia is long over. Your walk with me is only beginning. Precious one, can you define a single step that you have already taken? You will not have a mark to define your successful recovery. It is a part of OUR journey. 

Who Me? An Addict?

Call it passion, drive, ambition, even obsession. But I don’t like the word addiction.

Tobacco is an addiction. Alcohol can be an addiction. Smartphones and game systems can be addictions. But exercise?

God called my intense focus on exercise an idol. “Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” Philippians 3:19

I called it training. Every morning, before anything else, I tied on my running shoes and slipped onto the lamplit street. If my schedule got too tight and something had to give, it was anything except my workouts.

Once I skipped church to get in a long run. Often, I rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning leaving my slumbering husband to wake up alone. I had goals, no time for relationships.

Many modern addictions have become socially acceptable, even applauded. The workaholic is rewarded with raises. The compulsive exerciser is congratulated on being so thin. The shopaholic is envied for her good fashion. If we finally admit that we might have gone a bit overboard, rather than confess and abandon our idols, we demand a placebo. Or perhaps we are willing to reduce our obsessive pursuits but we fear to forsake them.

Recently, I spoke with a friend who was concerned that she might be drinking too much. “Is there something I can eat or do to cleanse my body?” she asked. She wanted the glass of wine, but she didn’t want the consequences.

When my health came to a critical point, I was forced to give up running. I looked fearfully for something to take its place. As I tried hours of weight lifting, swimming, spinning and fitness DVDs, peace remained elusive. But I continued to wonder, how can  something intrinsically good, like exercise, be sin?

James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Christ is the power that removes our addictions. “And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:2-21

 

Hereditary, Painful Privilege

My friend knelt beside her 10-year-old son. She was torn between shaking him and crying right along with him. He didn’t want her to know he was crying; she wished she didn’t know.

It’s my fault, she moaned silently.

Wednesday, after our workout, Delaney relayed this story to me. She hadn’t told her husband, and didn’t plan to tell him. He had just returned from a year-long deployment, during which the depression that had been mounting in her since her own childhood collided with the anxiety of being a single parent while he was gone, the fear of losing her husband in battle, the loneliness of establishing “temporary” homes every two years.

“My fears, anxiety and depression must have bubbled over to Tim,” she told me through reserved tears. “I don’t want him to suffer with this the same way I have.” Delaney had bravely shared with me her brief suicidal impulses during the last year. “Selfishly though, I don’t want to deal with him dealing with depression. I scared myself when I registered the thought, I wish I had another son.”

Delaney drudged through the pain in her heart, piling big shovelfuls of muck to the side her pit of despair. It helped to air out the anxiety, before it sucked her down into its tomb. Watching Tim, she feared that she could spiral back into her old depression.

A Bible verse came to me.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Cor. 1:3-7

I am no stranger to depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, despair. In fact, if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, or if you’ve even just selected a random post, you probably understand that most of what I write are the shovelfuls of my own muck, thrown up on the side of my pit to air out my own anxiety.

“Delaney,” I said. “God has specifically prepared you to be Tim’s mom, more perfectly than anyone else. You can empathize with his weakness, comfort him as you have been comforted. You will know the right things to say. You can rest in the fact that God has delivered you from this pit and He will just as assuredly deliver Tim.

“It is absolutely not your fault that he feels this way. It can’t be. Tim is Tim and is in charge of his own decisions and feelings. Besides, if he observed your pain, he will observe your deliverance.”

Actually, I wish I had thought to say all that. I did say most of it, but as usual, when I write, I gain greater understanding of my own thoughts. At the time, I didn’t even know the whole passage, but I looked it up to share with you. Amazingly, in Great-Godness, the whole passage is more relevant than part of it.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,b about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Cor. 1:8-11

There is a privilege in pain – it is preparedness. If our prodigy is a blessing, then so is the pain that fills us with the wisdom and understanding to love them fully.

 

Trial of Trusting

God has used numerous people and resources to teach me. Those have been as diverse as a Christian mentor, an atheist friend, a book about finding my own appetite, a biography of an exercise addict, my little sister, a website, an inpatient hospital, a horse, a dog, a gym, a journal, a cup of coffee.  Go figure. He is the creator of all things and everything (whether it wishes to be or not) is at His disposal. (Ps. 50:10-11)

Tuesday morning was my first morning back in my house, in my prayer chair with an unlimited amount of time to seek God’s face. (Only Brave’s bladder would signal the end of my revelry!)

I have shared some with you this week about how God has used Finding Balance and Constance Rhodes to teach me. Did I mention that many of the experts on the website were professionals working at Remuda Ranch when I was there?

One of the biggest hurdles for me in my recovery was wondering if I could trust those who were instructing me. How did that nutritionist know what would or wouldn’t make me fat? How did that counselor know that I shouldn’t be exercising? How did I believe that any professional had my best interest in mind? And then, when I was absolutely exhausted by the anxiety that was devouring my mind, I wanted someone to teach me the ONE thing I needed to do to be well. I wanted someone to just tell me what to do!

Guess what? As I wondered who actually knew what they were talking about and who I could trust, God revealed something to me. As I sought His deliverance from my eating disorder HE WAS TRUSTWORTHY to give the right words to my advisors. I could trust the people and resources that He was choosing to lead me away from my path of destruction.

Are you anxious about a change in your own life? Are you worried about seeking advice and who you can trust? I can promise you this, if you are humble enough to listen to Godly counselors, you CAN, YOU MUST trust their advice. Finding Balance is one such Godly resource. Listen to God’s promises to teach you:

Behold you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Ps. 51:6

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit guide me on level ground. Ps. 143:10

Please, don’t flounder in fear. I promise you that whether your hurdle be an eating disorder, an addiction to pornography, self-harm, depression, anxiety, marital stress or a simple need for wisdom – God can be trusted to teach you wisdom in the inward being and you can trust the counsel of those who love Him.

Sick in Modern Idolatry

Setting Captives Free, is an almost overwhelming resource – or better said – collection of resources. I was introduced to it by another woman struggling through her husband’s addiction to pornography. Little did I know that God intended to use it to address my lingering love of my eating disorder.

Setting Captives Free offers online courses that address sexual purity, eating disorders, substance abuse, gambling, Bible study, self-injury and more. Listing Bible study as a category seems a little deceiving because the entirety of each program is laced with Scripture and the conviction that Jesus Christ is the only source of freedom from these behaviors – more accurately – sins.

Within each category, there is a listing of 3-6 individual courses focused on that issue. Currently, I am studying In His Image.

The goal of this 60-lesson course is your complete and final freedom from anorexia and bulimia.

The course is written by Setting Captives Free founder, Michael Cleveland and Kim Schmidt, who writes from personal experience. Here is a link to Kim’s brief bio, but she shares many more details of her story throughout the course.

Personally, for years through many treatment programs and professionals I was taught that my eating disorder and battles with food and exercise addiction were a “disease,” implying that it was something that happened to me without my choice. Not really. Yes, Satan is our diabolical enemy who prowls about like a lion seeking to destroy God’s creation, especially those in His Image (humans.)

However, especially as one who knew Jesus long before I ever began to idolize food and exercise, my descent into this hell was nothing short of sin. Like ancient Israel, I walked away from a loving, all-powerful God, into the arms of a tangible “king.” I wanted a god I could control. In deeper self-evaluation, I discovered that the driving force behind my eating disorder was a desire to prove myself independent, needless – that I was not weak like others – I didn’t even need food. In essence I wanted to believe that I was my own god and self-sustaining.

What an ugly picture. God is using this study, In His Image, to burn away my dross. Praise Him that in the midst of my sin, I was no less saved by the blood and grace of His son, Jesus Christ in whom I believed. But I also praise Him that He would not allow me to spend the rest of my earthly life wallowing in pathetic worship of a false and powerless god.

Prayer for Crushing Idols

Last weekend, I was disappointed because Patrick had to work. I look forward to our Saturday morning coffee times. We roll out of bed about 7 a.m.  and sit our butts right back down in cozy living room chairs with steaming cups of banana nut-flavored coffee and the computer. Sounds romantic right? Well, we don’t get cable and we don’t pay for newspaper delivery, so Yahoo News, and FOX online do the trick. After browsing a few depressing stories, our search deteriorates to the funniest pictures of animals, or YouTube bloopers.

But this last weekend, one of his soldiers got a DUI, so Patrick called the whole company in for a corporal punishment of 8 hours of safety classes. But my greatest Lover, my Heavenly Father, met me right there. This week, I promised to share Scripture prayers with you. The Bible is laced with perfect narratives, supernatural dialogue and personal scripts for prayer. I am without excuse for prayer-less-ness. Saturday morning, God got personal.

I am doing a wonderful Bible study called In His Image, by Setting Captives Free. I had been doing it infrequently, a day every couple weeks, but I’ve been missing out! God has used my study mentor and the probing questions to dig deeply into the lingering worship that I ascribe to food and exercise. The Bible talks several times about the Israelites “following God,” and yet at the same time refusing to tear down their high places of idol worship. I often find myself in that exact position: daily serving and following God, all the while with my idolatrous alters standing in the background. Why? Is it a safety net? The idea that I can always go back?

So, Father brought me again to a place of surrender. I want to share with you the verses that He strung together and draped as a garland around my neck. When I am inhaling, exhaling, gazing at and living in God’s word, then I am beautiful.

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment,
do not let them out of your sight;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.” Proverbs 3:22

Father, today (Saturday, April 28, 2012) I lay my body and my appetites before you in reasonable and rightful worship. [Romans 12:1] I choose to renew my mind in your word and conform it to your perfect, personal will. I am setting my mind purposefully on your Holy Spirit, grateful for and convinced of your promise of life and peace. Just as you raised Jesus from the dead, you can and will fill my body with life. [Romans 12, 8] I confess to you that I am unable to do this at all – but you promised to help me in weakness. Intercede for me and personally meet my needs and bless me. I am opening my very mouth before you – fill it. [Ps. 81:10] I will feast on your sufficient word, it is my delight. [Jer. 15:16] I hear you call my name. Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

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