True Confessions

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”  Exodus 20:3 (NIV)

True confessions?  I am a fitness enthusiast.  I like working out and examining what I am eating and learning how to do both better. I enjoy learning about how God made the body and exploring how it responds.  I am enthralled by the potential God built into the body and rejoice when I see people discover the gift that God has given us in the body.

But the truth is that I am enthralled by God more.

With anything we love and hold dearly, there is always the danger that our love for it will supersede our love for God.  It’s a tension we must learn to navigate throughout our lives and about many different things.  It’s not that God wants us to love only Him and nothing else.  God made us to love, and He holds love above all other characteristics (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 13:13).  He wants us to love; loving people and ideals and is part of our DNA.  But one thing should always remain — that we love God more.  Whether it’s our kids, our spouse, our jobs, our life-calling, or whatever, it’s good to love those things … even to love them deeply … but we must love God more.

So as I examine myself, my heart and my loves, I return to this truth:  I love God more.  And I pray and I ask that He helps me keep all things in service to my love for Him.  That love for God is what fuels me and drives me and beckons me to everything else I love.  That love for God is what all my other loves point to.  That love for God and His glory remains my ultimate objective.

Yes, I am a fitness enthusiast.  But my ultimate objective is not health and fitness.  My ultimate objective is Christ-likeness.  May I never forget.  And may the pursuit of health always be within the greater context of loving and honoring and bringing glory to the One who made me.

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An Incomplete Theology

“May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God ….”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)

What concerns me about our view of God’s love is that it’s inconsistent.  We say one thing and yet often live contradictorally.  What I’ve learned at church is that God cares a lot about my soul, and that He even cares about my mind (what I allow to enter into my mind, what my thoughts dwell upon, etc.).  But what about my body?  I’ve heard next-to-nothing about how God views my body.  So what should I do with that?  Since I am a creature who is unquestionably part body (and mind and soul) … but I don’t know hear much about God caring about my body … then can I be certain that God cares about all of me?  On some very deep level, I fear that it leaves us wondering about the magnitude of God’s love. Is God fickle?  Does He love just certain parts of us?  Is His love conditional or partial?  Of course, our minds know that the Bible teaches differently.  Our minds know that the Bible teaches of God’s overwhelming, unconditional, engulfing and endless love for us; yet our practical theology, for the most part, is as if God is completely unconcerned with our bodies and how we interact with them.

I don’t believe that’s true.  I believe our theology is incomplete in that respect.  I believe the Bible teaches that God loves every one of us and every aspect of every one of us.  He is working to make all things new.  I believe God’s love engulfs every part of us (body, mind and soul) — that He is the Love that sees and embraces every aspect of ourselves.

He calls us to be better, yes … because He loves us.  He calls for our hearts and souls to be purer and more devoted to Him, for our minds to be more disciplined and focused on His purposes, and for our body to be more dedicated to Him as His temple.  Yes, the soul is of God’s highest concern because our souls are the part of us that lives forever.  But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about our minds or bodies.  He gave them both to us, and He wants us to cherish and nourish and grow and strengthen and use all of us for His glory.

So let’s give all of us … all to Him.

Temple Care

“I know, my God, that You examine our hearts and rejoice when You find integrity there.  You know I have done all of this with good motives, and I have watched their people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.”  1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)

This is part of David’s prayer after he gathered all the materials for building the temple, the place where God would dwell.  No expense was spared.  Everyone contributed generously.  Gold and silver beyond belief and precious stones and other riches.  The temple that Solomon ended up building with these materials was probably beyond most of our imaginations.  They wanted it to be as magnificent as it could be because it was where God would live.  And yet, David acknowledges that, even still, it is too insignificant: “who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to You?  Everything we have has come from you, and we give You only what You have given us” (1 Chronicles 29:14).  The most magnificent dwelling they could make for God paled in comparison to God’s own magnificence or to the things of God.

David wanted both God and the Israelites to know that his only rationale for building a magnificent temple was to bring glory to God.  It was not that he wanted to impress the neighboring nations or lord it over his people or be the king with the most opulent kingdom.  He hoped to build something that might be worthy to be God’s dwelling place on earth.  And He knew that God knew his heart and his intentions.  Yes, it wasn’t going to last forever … but it was to be God’s dwelling on earth.  It needed, as best as possible, to reflect God’s glory.

And so are you.  You are God’s temple — the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within all who call Christ “Lord.”  (See 1 Corinthians 6:19) What type of temple are you building for Him?  What type of care are you giving His temple?

Rest-oration

“For in six days, the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything in them; then He rested in the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” Exodus 20:11 (NLT)

Do you consider rest to be holy?  Most of us don’t. Our lives are crazy busy and overfilled. Silence is a rarity and rest? Well, rest is hard to come by.

So, then again, maybe rest is holy. Maybe rest denotes honor and respect. Think about it: when someone has been “worked to death,” it reveals a lack of respect for that person. Their personal value has been disregarded and minimized.  To allow rest would be giving a level of honor.

Perhaps to rest means to quit working and chasing our tails and trust that God is in charge and will take care of us, because … well … He promises to.  And we trust Him, right?

This is the last of a 3-part series with practical tips for stewarding our bodies.  We looked at monitoring our Input (March 20 entry), increasing our Output (March 27 entry), and now we’ll look at Restoration.  And rest is key to restoration.  Let’s learn to better rest our bodies because we trust in God and we value the bodies He has given us. So here are a few thoughts:

  • Do you get enough sleep?  Most adults do not.  God gave us sleep and, on average, our bodies need at least 8 hours a night.
  • Are you overtraining?  While exercise is essential to overall well-being, many exercise enthusiasts and new recruits are at risk of overtraining.  One or two days off of exercise is recommended for your body to rest and recover.
  • Are you constantly on the go, running from one thing to another?  If so, then your body, mind and soul are probably tired.  I am a firm believer in keeping the Sabbath and in periodic solitude retreats.  Honor your body, mind and soul by resting from all of life’s craziness and reconnecting with yourself and with God.

God created a rhythm of life for us, and that rhythm includes rest.  Maybe we too can rediscover the holiness of rest.