Integrated

His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?'”  John 9:2 (NET)

I was talking today with a church leader about the implications of a person with a Western worldview reading a text written by ancient Middle Easterners.  The Bible, of course, was written by ancient Middle Easterner’s who write from an ancient Middle Eastern worldview.  Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis read the Bible from a modern Western worldview.  And as I’m sure you know, one’s worldview is not an overt aspect of how we perceive and interpret things. Instead, a worldview is very subtle and covert, but it colors everything we see and interact with.

The distinctions are many, I am sure. But in my studies thus far, I’ve become acutely aware of this:

  • A Western worldview is a very dualistic lens. It sees the inner and the outer/external journey as separate and distinct, almost antagonistic against each other.
  • An Eastern worldview, especially and including an ancient Middle Eastern worldview, understands a person to be very integrated, body mind and spirit as one.

As such, many Westerners are perplexed by passages such as the one in John 9.  What a silly question to one with a Western worldview.  But for one with an Eastern worldview, the question is obvious. Physical sickness can and often does begin with the mind and soul.  Even Western medicine is beginning to admit the inherent connection between inner and outer aspects of self.

Try reading the Gospels with an Eastern worldview in mind. Try looking at church history with the overtones of an Eastern worldview. You will see things differently.

  • Like the laws of the Torah that make a person clean or unclean by what they eat and what they touch.
  • Like the woman who only needed to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe to stop a perpetual bleeding.
  • Like how lepers were cast out of cities to survive on their own, not only because of the physical contagion, but also because if their perceived spiritual depravity.
  • Like how the early church was the one to start the concept of hospitals … because they knew that caring for the body was also caring for the soul in some deeply mysterious, God-breathed way.

May we all learn to embrace our God-breathed integratedness and, in the process, come to know and reflect our Creator more clearly.

Distractions

“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’” Luke 10:40 (NLT)

If you have ever built or remodeled a home, you quickly learn that every choice, every decision, forces you into a whole new universe to learn and understand. Whether it’s about flooring or countertops or even grout, every decision opens up a universe of options and things to consider. It can be exhausting.

As I continue to venture down the road of health and fitness from a faith perspective, the same thing happens. The expansive detail that exists about exercise … about food and nutrition … about supplements … about rest … and about all the various sub topics under those broad topics … can be overwhelming.

Lately, I find that people want to talk about the topic of food and diet. GMOs, gluten, sugar, fat, hi-protein, lo-carb, paleo, vegan, clean, etc. etc. There is so much to consider within the food topic alone that it can be all-consuming to figure out.

But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be all-consumed about what I eat. I want to be all-consumed with Jesus.

Do I want to eat healthily? Yes. Do I want to care well for the temple of the Holy Spirit that is my body? Yes, I do. But I don’t want to be obsessed with it. I want to be obsessed with Jesus.

So I weed through the information I can, and I do my best with it. I trust God to lead me and guide me even when I don’t know or understand it all … because, after all, He is the One who made me and continues to remake me … and He is in control of all things. I trust Him to honor my desire to please and honor Him with my body, even if I make under-informed choices.

At the end of the day, all He asks of me is to do my best and trust Him with the rest.

And so I do.

Food-session 2

“Then God said, ‘I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'” Genesis 1:29 (NET)
After spending a week in the islands and enjoying local, island cuisine … it has made me think about food in a different way. If you looked for it, local food was everywhere. Of course, the processed, commercial, U.S. food was also present … but if you looked for it, the local food was everywhere.

“Why is the coffee so good here?” my husband would ask. “Because it was grown right over there,” I would answer. “Why is the pineapple so perfectly tart or the seafood so amazingly fresh or the rum so very smooth!?” Because it is all local and fresh and indigenous to the place where we are.

God had a plan when He created the world and made different climates to produce different foods. They were meant to be grown and consumed there. And God had a plan when He created growth and life-cycles. Fruit, for example, is meant to be eaten when it is ripe … and scientifically, a fruit that is ripened on the tree/vine has many more nutrients than those ripened off he tree/vine. Food is supposed to be eaten at a certain stage in its life-cycle.

Why does this matter? Because our “food-session” — our obsession with food — has not only led us to create a bunch of consumable stuff that isn’t really food, but it has also led us to neuter the nutritional value of the real food we do eat, through mass production & distribution. Harvesting food before its time so it can ripen in a crate and be shipped halfway across the globe may offer us variety of food-choice, but it provide us only a fraction of the nutritional value. It isn’t what God has in mind. (Not to mention, chemical, gmo’s, hormones, etc.)

God has a plan. And we keep messing it up.

As a result, we keep messing ourselves up.

God help us.

Finding Weakness

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

When I work with clients who want get stronger, I find that the first step is often to help them find specific muscles or muscle groups.  Whether it is the tricep, the glute or the transverse abdomimus, finding the proper muscle group must happen first.  This “finding” of the muscle occurs within your body and your mind … learning to identify it, isolate it and contract it.  And when we learn to isolate a muscle (or muscle group) from the surrounding muscles (or muscle groups), we can then learn to work it independently.  But often … upon “finding” the muscle … we find that the muscle is weak.

Finding the muscle usually means finding weakness.

But that is the first step.  Until we find the weakness, we cannot work on getting stronger.

Jesus tells us that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  And I believe His words are true.  Just like in our bodies, it is when we find out weaknesses that He can begin His work of transformation.  But we must find our weaknesses first.  And finding our weakness means identifying it and isolating it … accepting it, owning it and confessing it … and then giving it to Jesus.  Only when we find our weakness can we give it to Jesus to transform with His strength.

In a culture that shies away from any form of weakness, may this encourage you instead to find your weakness.  Find you weakness — identify it and isolate it — and submit it to the process.

For finding weakness is the beginning of strength.

Aging

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate … for He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 (NLT)

Lately I’ve become aware of the effects of aging. Some personally, some within my family, some in other people’s families. But with aging, there seems to come a number of issues that involve our bodies (& sometimes our minds). Our bodies begin to age and weaken and become increasingly susceptible.

So how are we to treat our aging bodies?

The answer might sound familiar: the same way Jesus would. We should treat our aging bodies the same way Jesus would treat our aging bodies — with love, tenderness, compassion & understanding.

God’s mercies are new every day … & so should ours be … even to ourselves.

Instead of comparing yourself to what you used to be able to do (5, 10, 20 years ago!?), assess who and where you are today & start from there.  If you used to bench-press 80 pounds and can only bench-press 20 today, so what!? Bench-press the 20 today! (Or maybe even 10 until you really know you have the muscle stamina.)

Our bodies are not machines.  They are delicate pieces of craftsmanship created by God. Think of them as Stradivarius violins:  of great worth, able to pay beautiful music … but you must learn how to play & care for it properly.

And if you are aging, think of yourself a an aging Stradivarius violin: still of great worth & still able to play beautiful music … and needing a bit more tender-loving care.

Evolving

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others.  Instead you need someone to teach you again the basics … like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. … Solid food is for the mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”  (Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT)

Here’s a truth:

the person you have been is not the person you will remain.  

The person you have been and the person you currently are — these are not the person you will be.  You will evolve (small “e”) — you will adapt and grow and change — perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse.  And the things that you habitually practice, whether consciously or unconsciously, will make all the difference.

This is true physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  We can train our bodies, for example, in ways that makes us stronger, more flexible, with greater functionality and with more endurance … or we can neglect our physical bodies and grow weaker, more stiff, less functional and with less endurance.  You choose.

And the same is true with our minds and hearts and souls.  We can incorporate practices that grow us toward who we want to be and who God wants us to be … or we can kick back and let the culture or those around us to shape and mold us as they see fit.  You choose.

So as we look toward the season of Birth … and the New Year ritual of rebirth … consider this:

The person you have been is not the person you will remain.  

This is both a challenge and a gift.  Accept and embrace both.

 

Into the Light

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”  Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

Have you ever noticed that when you get hurt or injured, one of the first things you do is bring your hurt part into the light to get a better look at it? Or if your kids get hurt, the first thing we often say is “come here, so I can take a look.” And the second thing (for me anyway) is “let’s move over here where the light is better so that I can see it more clearly.” When we or someone we love are physically hurt, we automatically want to look at the problem area in the light. Why? Because it is hard to see the problem clearly when we look at it in the dark.

And so maybe we should look at all our problems in the light.

Maybe we should bring every hurt, injury and problem we have into the Light so that we can see it more clearly from God’s point of view. Maybe that Paul means in his letter to the church in Philippi. Whatever problems, struggles, hurts or difficulties we may encounter, we will always see them more clearly for what they are (and are not) if we look at them in the Light of God’s Presence. And in the Light of God’s Presence, we can see from a vantage point that is far beyond our own.  In His Light, we can see from a perspective that is much broader and all-encompassing than our own.

 

It is this kind of perspective (or the lack thereof) that is part of the problem with the healthcare system in the U.S.  Every doctor sees only their part.  No one seems able to look at or treat the whole. No one has a perspective broader than their own. (And too few bring things into the perspective and Light of the Lord!)

Sh’maFit is on a journey to offer a health & fitness alternative that takes the broader view, that looks at the whole person, and that brings the whole person into the Light of God’s Presence.

What God has already done will astound you.  If you would like to explore joining our adventure, email shemafit@gmail.com.