INTRODUCTION

 

It is very true that our health is our wealth. Most people today are sincerely concerned about their health. Either we desire to improve our health or remain in good health so we can truly experience wholeness and live life to the full. As a pastor and fitness trainer, I have been helping people from all walks of life grow spiritually and improve physically for the past 20 years, whether that meant offering support for overcoming obesity, improving overall health, learning the proper way to exercise, eating healthier, or simply experiencing a deeper spiritual connection with God.

 

No matter where you are physically, emotionally or spiritually, you can start where you are and take baby steps to achieve optimal health. There is a universal truth for all who have embarked upon this healing journey with me: Transformation and positive change maximizes our health inclusive of the body, mind and spirit.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23 states, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Live Longer, Live Better: Body, Mind and Spirit was written to serve as a resource and reminder of the importance of taking care of our bodies, renewing our minds and staying connected to the Spirit living inside of us.

 

It is my prayer that you maximize your health and get fit from the inside out.

 

—Kahlil Carmichael

  

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BODY Finish Strong

 

You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:3-4

 

I am a longtime admirer of marathoners. Truthfully, I am even a fan of those who are in training for a marathon! Thinking about the time and consistent discipline that must be put in day in and day out to complete a marathon — all 26.2 miles of it — truly captivates my heart and imagination. But I am equally impressed with those who make a decision to work out when it is not convenient, when it doesn’t feel good, or when there are some initial pangs of discomfort when a new exercise is introduced. Why? Because they are persevering.

 

I have a slogan on my mirror that says, “Finish Strong.” Although I am a very big believer in new beginnings and starting right where you are, I have truly grown to appreciate the qualities of a finisher as it relates to getting fit. When we do what we have previously deemed impossible, such as work out at 5:00 a.m., stop smoking cigarettes, or even train to run a marathon, it builds us physically and mentally.

 

So what’s the formula to help us when we begin our own personal wellness journeys?

 

1. Step out on faith;
2. Do the work;
3. Persevere;
4. Mature;
5. Finish strong.

 


BODY Temporary Pain

 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time,vbut painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

 

So many people have given up and decided to take shortcuts and quick-fix remedies to weight loss. I understand that some people may use these quick solutions to jumpstart their weight loss and healthy living journey or when it is medically necessary — but a majority of people are simply trying to find a more convenient way to lose weight without having to put in the hard and disciplined work that is required.

 

Let’s be honest: Exercise is not always pleasant. If it were, a lot more people would probably do it. Eating healthy is not always tantalizing to the palate. It’s painful sometimes to wake up early and commit to an exercise program. It can be challenging to eat salad during Sunday dinner while everyone else is eating homemade bread and fried chicken.

 

The discipline required to live a healthy and fit lifestyle is surely not always easy, but as I often say, “Pain is temporary.”
Our efforts to work out and eat healthy might appear painful, but hopefully — sooner rather than later — we will benefit from good health, energy and perhaps a much better body image.

 


BODY Matters of the Heart

 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

 

February is recognIzed as National Heart Month. It’s a time when we celebrate love and literally looking at the physical condition of our heart.
As an advocate for healthy living, I observe the month of February by teaching a series titled Matters of the Heart. The people with whom I share this truly love this series because it gives us the opportunity to check on the condition of our hearts physically and spiritually. But of course you do not have to wait until February to check the condition of your heart.

 

When is the last time you checked on your heart? Even if you have not gone to the doctor (which I strongly recom- mend and hope that you will do), there are some things that we can do to strengthen our hearts. In order to maintain good heart health, it’s recommended that we do the following:


• Eat a balanced diet;
• Have cholesterol levels checked regularly;
• Maintain a reasonable body weight;
• Maintain moderate physical activity;
• Avoid smoking;
• Get regular check-ups;
• Get enough sleep;

 

Let’s do a heart check today so that we might live life to the full.

 


BODY Fruit Is Better Than Juice

 

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

Proverbs 16:16

 

Fruit and Fruit Juices are both simple, unrefined carbohydrates, but fruit is much better for you than juice. Both fruit and fruit juice are converted into glucose quickly; if consumed on an empty stomach, both can give you a quick energy burst and then a letdown soon after. The difference is that juice does not have the bulk that helps fill your stomach or the much-needed fiber provided by fruit.

 

You ultimately consume more calories with juice than fruit. Of course we know that not all juices are created equal. Freshly squeezed or pressed juice without any added sugar is the best. Although you may not get the bulk in juice, you do get vitamins. How you eat fruit is important as well. It’s better to eat complex carbohydrates, such as beans, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole grain pastas and breads, and/or proteins first and fruit after. Then your stomach is partially full, which helps prevent a sudden drop in blood sugar and energy.

 

Having the right information to make wiser and healthier choices in your life will take you further faster on your wellness journey.

 


BODY A Good Start

 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

 

It Is a good thing to help children establish good habits early in their lives. Habits such as brushing their teeth, keeping their room clean, and waking up early are great practices for children to establish. These daily routines create patterns of excellence in their lives that will stay with them well into adulthood.
Another set of habits we should help children establish early within their lives are exercise and healthy eating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. This is indeed concerning, as our children have more information on healthy choices than ever.

 

If we are going to turn this around we must help our children do the following: 1) Learn how to incorporate fitness into their lives, 2) Eat healthier, 3) Help them understand that exercise is like brushing their teeth; it’s not optional.

 

Helping the children within our sphere of influence understand the value of consistent exercise and modeling healthy eating gives them a good start in life. By making a healthy lifestyle a habit in their younger years, our children are more likely to continue on their wellness journey into adulthood.

 


BODY Lasting Change

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

A lot of times when we begin a fitness program or decide to live healthier, we immediately set out to change all of our unhealthy habits and behaviors at one time. Although this is quite admirable, and of course it’s great that you realize certain things can be improved upon, it may not be the best approach for long-term success.

 


When it comes to living healthy, you want to incorporate changes that can last a lifetime, not just a few weeks or months. Let’s face it — you didn’t pick up these habits all at once, so why would you think you have to get rid of them all at one time? Instead, try focusing on making one change at a time. Maybe this week it will be setting a goal to drink more water. Next week it could be getting in three workouts instead of one.

 


Human psychology is somewhat predictable in that quite often we feel overloaded and overwhelmed when too many changes present themselves at one time. Once again, we are seeking transformation, which is really another word for lasting change.

 

Also, you want to be careful of others who constantly remind you of what still needs to be changed about you! Simply tell them, “I’m a work in progress,” and know that in time you will get to where you want to be.

 


BODY Easy Ways to Live Healthier

 

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

 

ImprovIng your eatIng and living a healthier lifestyle does not have to be difficult. A good way to start is with one of these suggestions: 

 

Keep a bowl of fresh fruit available. Place a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter at home. I enjoy having fresh fruit easily accessible year-round. For summer fruits such as cherries and strawberries, make sure you pre-wash them and store them in a container in the refrigerator.

 

Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast is a terrible way to start your day. It just makes you hungrier for lunch or a mid-morning snack, increasing your chances of overeating. Not to mention the drop in blood sugar that you may experience having gone from dinner the night before without eating.

 

Plan and shop for your weekly menu ahead of time. It’s hard to make the right choice in what to eat when you are hungry. You have a much better chance of eating healthier when your meals are planned.

 

Pack your lunch for work the night before. By doing this you avoid the pitfall of not bringing a lunch and being tempted to make an unhealthy food choice depending on what’s available. Also, this will allow you time to eat breakfast in the morning.

 

Buy a healthy cookbook or fitness magazine. You can find some good tips and suggestions for living a healthier lifestyle.

 


BODY The Benefits of Rest

 

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

Psalm 3:5

 

We often hear the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This often-repeated phrase is used to remind ourselves that we can’t always complete a large goal all at once. However, there is some simple truth to be gained from it, especially as it relates to how we approach exercise.

 

Our bodies, for better or worse, cannot be transformed in a day. After setting our minds to begin a wellness program that has exercise as a component, we often want to see immediate results and end up overdoing it. But when it comes to exercise, more is not always better. Your body needs adequate rest to heal the micro tears that are created in muscles during exercise. When the muscles are properly healed, the muscle fibers become thicker, resulting in greater strength and stamina. You must allow your body to get ample rest to recuperate from a workout in order to achieve the maximum benefits of the workout. So remember to get your rest after each workout.

 


You are, after all, building a better life — not just a better body.

 


BODY A Purpose-Driven Day

 

Let us rejoice today and be glad.

Psalm 118:24

 

The God who created the universe made each day especially for you and me. My question to you is this: What are you going to do with the day? Perhaps you have planned to work hard, share more time with family or simply relax? Sounds great! But what about physical exercise?

 

Statistics show that many people who say they desire to start a physical fitness exercise program often never start, or start and quit, because they fail to make time in their busy days. But not you, my friend. William Shakespeare wrote, “Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are garden- ers.” You must take care of your body — and plan to take care of your body.

 

So today, why not plan to incorporate some type of exercise into your day? Try taking a brisk walk. If you are physically able to exercise, a one-mile walk in a safe place would be an ideal place to start. Here’s a great walking routine I created called purposeful walking: Walk one mile and record your finishing time, then look to beat that recorded time during your next walking session. This increases the intensity of the walk without increasing the distance. This method of walking not only gives purpose to your walking, but purpose to your day.

 

Today is the day. What will you do with it?

 


BODY Long Life

 

For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30:20

 

We have heard many times, over this past decade in particular, that “60 is the new 50” and “70 is the new 60.” I am here to tell you that these are not just catchy phrases used to help those of us who are fast approaching these milestones to feel better about ourselves. Today, the senior or active adult population continues to grow, largely because these active adults have placed staying healthy and fit as a priority.

 

What we focus on grows. So it is with our health, both spiritually and physically. As we continue to exercise and make lifestyle changes, our bodies get stronger and healthier and we will literally preserve them! Not skipping meals; eating a balanced diet of fats, carbohydrates and proteins; engaging in a fitness regimen that includes cardio, strength training and stretch- ing; and getting more sleep are all ways to help our bodies perform optimally for a long time to come.

 

As we continue to focus on our total health, we will see the benefits of a life well-lived.

 


BODY Caring for God’s House

 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

1 Corinthians 6:19

 

A healthy body is a blessing. When we are given good health we must not take it for granted. Doing this is akin or analogous to a person who inherits a great fortune but does not invest wisely in sustainable entities. Unfortunately, this is sometimes what we do to our bodies when we make un- healthy food choices and avoid physical fitness and exercise.

 

Many of us have been given a healthy body to care for and maintain. Our bodies are actually the dwelling place of our spirit. Just as we take great care of our beautiful homes and houses of worship, we must aspire to take care of our bodies, this blessing we have been entrusted with. If you have been neglecting your body, I want to encourage you to start taking care of the precious gift you have received. You may have neglected your body for forty years, but it does not take forty years to reverse the effects of neglect.

 

The good news is that each daily healthy choice puts a great deposit in our wellness bank. We can start building our wealth right where we are today!

 


MIND A New Attitude

 

You were taught...to be made new in the attitude of your minds.

Ephesians 4:22-23

 

Do you have a positive attitude? If you answered yes, that is a good starting place for success, especially in the area of physical fitness and health. When we think we can accomplish something, more than likely we will. When we think or believe we cannot accomplish a task or project, more than likely we will not.
If you believe you cannot lose weight, improve your health through exercise, or discipline yourself to eat healthier, then perhaps it’s time to get a new positive attitude.

 

The definition of attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior. If you have settled into bad thought patterns and your thinking is causing you to act negatively, you need a new attitude. A new positive attitude will bring positive results. A new attitude will help you begin to believe that you can do what might seem impossible. You can lose weight. You can control your unhealthy eating habits. You can exercise consistently.

 

Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that as a man or woman thinks in his or her heart, so is he or she. In other words, we are not just what we eat — but we are what we think. So let’s unsettle our thinking and be made new in the attitude of our minds.

 


MIND Just a Few

 

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Matthew 25:23

It often seems when we are embarking on a new endeavor, especially one that is out of our comfort zone, that we feel we may not have what it takes to accomplish the tasks at hand. Our life expands when we are willing to continue moving forward by faith, even in the small things, taking one step at a time. How sad that many of us will not take even the first step!

 

Our fears, anxieties and perfectionism thwart our attempts to start something new. We are not called to be perfect in this process, but to stay the course, to be faithful. We must diligently show up for our assignments even when it doesn’t seem as if we are getting anywhere. It is God’s good pleasure to see us make progress in all the areas He has entrusted to our care.

 

Have you heard the saying, “An inch is a cinch but a yard is hard”? This one rings true for me. I have found that when I break down that seemingly unachievable big goal into just a few small steps, I am more likely to meet my goal every time. Try it.

 


MIND Don’t Worry

 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Mattew 6:34

 

It’s important that we set realistic goals and try our very best to achieve the goals we set. But we should never allow ourselves to become so preoccupied with reaching our goals that we let the fear of not reaching our objective cause us to worry. We should not worry so much about reaching our goals that we forget to enjoy the journey along the way. It is the journey and every small step we take that builds character and shows us what we are truly made of. Someone once said, “Don’t wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of each step you take toward reaching that goal.” Many people who walk (climb) the 1,000-step, 2.8-kilo- meter Kokoda trail in New Guinea can’t wait to reach the top and enjoy the scenery and relax in the beautiful campgrounds. But what other people find exhilarating and most rewarding is the actual climb or walk.

 

Individuals who desire to reach the top often forget about their ultimate destination. They tend to lose themselves in the journey while allowing the process and not just reaching the goal to be the moment of victory. So go ahead — set some amazing goals for yourself. But don’t worry if you miss the mark now and then. Be proud of every little step you take.

 


MIND Schedule Your Day

 

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

1 Corinthians 14:40

 

I used to be somewhat taken aback by people who carry around to-do lists or personal calendars that have every task planned to the minute. But I stopped laughing when I saw how organized and efficiently their lives flowed and how much they were able to accomplish on any given day. Mistakenly, I had believed that writing down and scheduling what needed be done would take the fun out of life, but what I now realize is that knowing what has to be done and allotting the time to do it actually frees up the time you need to do the fun things, and the things that are most important to you.

 

Having a written schedule helps you focus, taking the guesswork out of what you need to do each day. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to remember what you’ve forgotten to do right before you go to bed! This leads to unnecessary stress. When it comes to achieving your weight loss goals, incorporating healthy habits into your daily schedule is of critical importance. Knowing when, where and how much time you have to exercise is half the battle.

 

I encourage you to write out your daily schedule, and each night review your accomplishments and the day ahead. Planning will ensure that you have the opportunity to do those things which are most important to you.

 


MIND Stop Comparing Yourself

 

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:7

 

If a pIcture is worth a thousand words, think about what that means when it comes to the beautiful, glamorous, idealized celebrity images that are so often sent out through mass media. It is easy to compare ourselves against these images, but we should not. Many of those whom we see looking so perfect are paid professionals who make a living being in front of the camera and have their images created by others. This is not the case for the majority of us.

 

We are working long hours, taking kids to activities, commuting long distances, and being caretakers to loved ones, to name a few of the tasks that consume our time. I am not saying that those in front of the camera do not live real lives that are just as complicated as ours, but they don’t live your life. We often compare ourselves to an ideal that is not realistic or obtainable for us. And sadly, this comparison can cause us to feel let down.

 

No matter what age and where you are in life, you can be in the best shape of your life, and achieve great health. In- stead of looking to be like someone else, make the decision to be the best you possible. Accept both who you are and who you are not — just like God does.

 


MIND An Anxious Mind

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

 

An anxIous presence stems from an anxious mind. Left unchecked, these thoughts can lead to stress and depression. The apostle Paul reminds us to not be anxious for anything. He knew that worry and fear stemmed from anxious thoughts that became deeply embedded in our hearts and minds. The only way these anxious thoughts could be overcome was by prayer to our God, Who is deeply concerned about every detail and every situation in our lives.

 

Turning to God and asking Him to help us accomplish our goals and tasks, and to handle all that we are concerned with, can help us experience peace. Peace brings clarity of thought and a willingness to receive the wisdom needed to help us be successful in our endeavors. There is a profusion of information and stimuli coming at us at any given moment. If you do not center yourself, you may find that you are consumed with anxious thoughts and devoid of peace in the process.

 

Remember that we are all at some point in a process; how we go through the process depends a lot on our re- sponse to it. Pray, and ask God to guard your heart and mind against anxiety and fear.

 


MIND Think on Truth

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

 

What are you thinking about? Are you thinking about your problems or are you thinking about the solutions to your problems? If all you’re thinking about is what’s wrong, how about making a decision to think on what is right and true? The apostle Paul tells us to think on whatever is true. One of the best ways to do this is to try turning your negative thoughts or statements into positive ones. Instead of, “I’ll never be able to turn this around,” try, “I’m getting stronger and closer to my goals each day,” or “Today I will make better choices in my eating.”

 

For example, instead of thinking about all that is burdening you, can you think about what is going well for you? What has turned out better than you expected? Not thinking negatively about your failures allows you to begin to think about a solution. The solutions to our particular stressors can only be found in truth.

 

Let’s meditate on whatever is true and whatever is right. When we focus our thoughts on truth and goodness, we are free to experience and receive answers to even our most challenging problems.

 


MIND Get a Dream Team

 

May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.

Psalm 20:2

 

Many people would agree that Oprah Winfrey is one of the most inspirational people on the planet. Her journey from rags to riches, low self-esteem to self-help guru, and obesity to fabulously fit and every level in between is one we all could learn from. But despite this, I have heard some people say, “Well, if I had Oprah’s money, I would be in the best shape of my life!”


I have to disagree. Money alone won’t help you live the life of your dreams. Besides changing your mindset, you must change your behavior — and to do that, you need a dream team. A dream team is composed of the people in your life who will help you achieve your goals. The goal is to get people to help who bring different assets to the table. Money can help you choose some of the best talent when assembling this team, but if you don’t have tons of money, you can still find people to share their talents and passion with you.


To reach her goals, Oprah hired a personal trainer, and a personal chef to cook healthy meals. Maybe your dream team consists of a workout partner, a spouse who’s gifted in the kitchen, and a life coach to help you achieve your goals. With the right team on your side, you can achieve more in a shorter amount of time.

 


MIND An Alert Mind

 

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

1 Peter 1:13

 

We miss out on life when we are unfocused and inattentive. If we are going to make the most of our lives we must keep our minds alert. Exercise is a great way to keep our minds alert. Did you know that exercise has been shown to not only develop and boost health from the neck down, but in our brains as well Researchers have shown a strong connection between physical exercise and brain health. One of the biggest areas in which exercise has been shown to have a great impact on is our moods. Exercise releases what are termed the “feel good” hormones — endorphins.

 

Another way to keep our minds alert is to watch what we eat. There are foods that energize and help us become stronger and healthier; others have the opposite effect. Pay attention to what’s happening after you eat certain foods. Are you energized and ready to go or sluggish and ready to retire? And perhaps the best mind energizer is a good night’s sleep. Sadly, sleep is underrated. Getting proper rest is just as important as eating well and exercising in a plan for healthy living.

 

If we are to live out the true plan and purpose for our lives we must keep our minds focused, alert and fully sober.

 


SPIRIT A Pure Heart

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8

 

The story of Joseph in the Bible is the story of a person with a pure heart. He loved life and loved people. Unfortunately, Joseph was resented by his brothers for who he was and how he was loved by his father. After being thrown into a pit by his brothers, who wanted to get rid of him for good, Joseph was taken captive. He experienced even more difficult times, including serving two terms in prison. All of this trouble could have caused Joseph to shut down and close his heart to people, but throughout his trials he was able to maintain a pure heart. When we keep a pure and open heart, that’s when we really experience God’s blessings.

 

Resentment, bitterness and lack of forgiveness contaminate the purity of our hearts and limit our ability to give and receive love. All of us have experienced unfair treatment at one time or another. When someone takes our kindness for weakness, it hurts. It can be upsetting when a good friend or mentor turns on us because of jealousy or envy. But we must remember that we cannot become who God wants us to be by holding on to grudges. Despite many trials, Joseph was able to rise to the top.

 

Like Joseph, we must learn to let go and forgive, because blessed are the pure in heart.

 


SPIRIT A Willing Spirit

 

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41

 

There have been many times in my life when I have simply had to say, “I am willing.” This has usually come on the heels of my not being fully sure of my capabilities to overcome a challenge, begin a new endeavor or move outside of my comfort zone. I have found that saying, “I am willing,” as opposed to “I can’t,” energizes me, gives me hope and helps me tap into that voice on the inside of me (and you) that is our spirit.

 

Having a willing spirit allows us to connect to limitless possibilities that we may not have imagined for ourselves. Recently at a senior leadership retreat, a loved one shared how she was literally locked into a room with her co-workers and they had to work together to find a way of escape. She shared how she was not initially looking forward to this experience but ended up laughing more than she had in years — all because she was willing to try something new.

 

A quote that has been attributed to Wallis Simpson says, “For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat.” The word gallant simply means brave or heroic. We have a hero and a helper living on the inside of us who is cheering us on every step of the way — let’s be willing to receive that gentle nudge.

 


SPIRIT A Healing Place

 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

 

Many people can probably attest to the fact that much of the pain they have experienced in their lives has not been the result of a physical wounding or illness, but of emotional wounds and the pain that extends from them. There is no easy remedy for this kind of pain and the wounds that cause it. Unlike physical wounds, emotional wounds often 1) Are not obvious to see, 2) Can be difficult to touch, 3) Require courage to reveal, and 4) Take a long time to heal.

 

Such was the case with a young lady I met in class years ago. She grew up in a difficult household where she never felt affirmed. This caused the young lady to seek the approval of peers and authority figures, and led her down a challenging path of people-pleasing and performance ad- diction, and the unbearable feelings of rejection that often came along with it. It wasn’t until this young lady was diagnosed with cancer that she realized that just as she had to have surgery to remove the tumor that had taken up residence in her body; she would need to upend the emotional wound that had taken root in her soul.

 

Today she is cancer-free. Remarkably, she credits the cancer to leading her to her healing place, and unashamedly wears a scar to remind her of the journey.

 


SPIRIT Asking For Help

 

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

Luke 5:31

 

It is sometimes difficult to admit that we are sick. It is not easy to admit that we are depressed, stressed out, or have let some of our physical ailments go unchecked. People who experience illness in this way often do not ask for help and may avoid curative remedies (and people) who can assist in their healing.
This is unfortunate. At one time or another it is quite possible that we may find ourselves in need of someone to help us heal physically, mentally or spiritually.

 

Yet, we may avoid seeking the help we need due to uncertainty and fear. A professional who is able to help us improve physically may be a personal trainer. A pastor might serve as a good guide for someone experiencing spiritual crisis, while a therapist could foster healing for someone dealing with depression.

 

I love this vignette by an anonymous philosopher: “A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone. His father came along just then. Noting the boy’s challenge, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?”, “Yes, I am,” the little boy said impatiently. “No, you are not,” the father answered. “I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.” I believe this is what God is saying to us: He’s waiting — so ask for help.

 


SPIRIT Failure

 

For thought the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.

Proverbs 24:16

 

The biblical story of Peter the disciple is one of my favorites. It is the story of giving birth to great success after experiencing great failure. For many of us it is easy to keep moving forward when all is going well in our lives, but inevitably there are challenges that will occur that can make us feel as if we’ve failed.

 

There was a time when if I did not achieve something I wanted, I considered myself a failure. If I didn’t get the promotion, the right car or the perfect house I would wonder what I had done wrong. Since that time I have grown, and now consider my greatest failures to be the times when I do not listen to God: when I honk the horn in impatience, when I am short with someone, or when I do not respond in love to everyday failures.

 

Peter’s denial of Christ forced him to deal with his own personal failure. It is important to remember that even before Peter’s betrayal, Jesus had named him — Peter, which means “the rock.” Sometimes on the way to becoming who God intends for us to be, we are going to experience failure. It is what we do after the failure that matters.

 


SPIRIT Shalom

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

 

I love to greet people with the shalom of God. One meaning of this wonderful Hebrew word is peace, and it is often tied to a promise. When offering the peace of God to people I meet throughout my busy day, I am immediately aware of the calm and tranquility this word elicits. I have come to enjoy this exchange of calm and quietness (although only for a moment) so much that I offer this greeting to everyone at every available opportunity or chance I get. I truly believe that this word has the ability to help alleviate the weight on the hearts of those who may be facing life challenges.

 

Jesus offered the “shalom” or “peace” of God to His disciples. This peace was offered so you and I would have the ability to overcome fear. Fear is the enemy of peace. When we are afraid or fearful, peace is absent, but we can overcome this. Jesus promised to give us a peace that is unlike the peace the world gives. The promise of peace which Jesus offered is not contingent on having or doing, but on being.

 

So receive the shalom of God and find comfort. Let not your heart be troubled, because you have God’s promise of peace. Shalom.

 


SPIRIT Not Knowing

 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

 

It is often difficult for adults to admit that we simply do not know everything. This is especially true within the area or areas outside of our expertise. It is often very difficult for a pastor to admit that he or she does not know why you may have experienced a particular life-changing event. It can be very challenging for parents to admit to their child that they simply do not know the answer.

 

Saying “I don’t know” is difficult for many of us, especially if we believe we are supposed to know. But it is actually OK for us as humans not to know everything. Actually, our not knowing presents us with a great opportunity to call on a power that is all-knowing — that power is God. It gives me great comfort to know that when I don’t know, I can call on Him. Admitting that I don’t know and calling on God puts me in a position to learn — which is the first step to knowing.

 


SPIRIT Time to Live

 

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

Ecclesiastes 3:14

 

There comes a time in all of our lives that we must make the decision to enjoy the life God has given us. I realize that everyone has some challenges and issues which they would like to resolve, but we must not let them keep us from experiencing joy. In my role as a pastor I have met many individuals who are facing difficult situations: illness, financial crisis or family issues. These stressful circumstances can cause even the most hopeful person to doubt.

 

But I want to encourage you that no matter what you might be facing at this time, you can live a victorious life. All you have to do is make a decision in your heart that your life will not be defined by setbacks, disappointments or your past. When we make a decision to live despite the issues of life, we are able to stay in peace and find joy. If you have been struggling with health-related issues, you can take control of them through exercise and healthy eating. Through prayer and meditation we can confidently face each day.

 

It’s time for you to live!

 


SPIRIT In His Presence

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

 

I don’t know about you, but when I find I am easily agitated and grouchy, I know that it is time to seek out some quiet time, some solace in the presence of God. Sitting in the presence of God brings about a familiar comfort and sense of well-being that lets us know we are in the right place, at the right time, and that we indeed are on the right path.

 

One way we can enter into His Presence is through meditation. Allowing yourself to be still is a great way to give your mind, body and spirit rest and connect on a deeper, more intimate level with God. Meditation is defined as the act or process of spending time in quiet thought. It can be difficult to feel anything but angst and stress when we are so accustomed to going non-stop. However, when we are spending time alone with God, we can let go and just be.

 

I read a fantastic quote recently by Sharon Salzberg that said, “Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.”

How great it is to know that His Presence can be accessed wherever we are. Just the thought of this fills me with joy!

 

 

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