Finding Your Push

Don’t you hate when you find yourself daydreaming about enjoying a face full of fresh foods or getting a good sweat in at the gym only to jar yourself back to a frustrating reality knowing you’d surely enjoy all of that if you could just convince yourself to actually get up and do it?

Been there.  Totally been there.

We all need a good swift kick in the pants from time to time; maybe even a good friend willing to give us that straight talk to get our head back in the game.  You’re not alone and having to wrestle through that DOES NOT mean you’re weak or any less capable of walking in victory than the most bull-doggish people you know.  Maybe you just have to find your way and here are a few points that can help you do just that.

Keep It Simple but Intentional

While some people have no problem whatsoever grabbing that big ole bull by the horns, others find a rapid shift to be totally unsustainable.  This is typically where we see the average American mom stuck in her health – she gets frustrated with where she’s at and puts her foot down, determined to do something about it.

Like a mad-woman, she dashes through the house with a massive black bag, pitching everything and anything to get temptation out of the house.  By 10:00a, she’s at the grocery store, re-stocking the pantry.  By noon, the her pics of the nose dive she did into the salad bar at Whole Foods are up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  3pm – she’s a Sweaty Betty’s, leaving the gym.  4:30 pm – “I’m so crazy hungry!”  (House full of new foods)  “What on earth am I going to make?”  {“Healthier veggie chips” devoured}  Day 2 – repeat steps 3 and up.  Day 3 – She’s getting bored with it and that cheeseburger smells SO GOOD.  Day 4 – Still going strong but thinking about getting that head checked.  Day 5 – She says “forget it, I can’t take this anymore” {“healthy” Oreos devoured while taking a nice warm bath in nacho cheese sauce.}

Okay, so maybe that’s not your story but most of us can relate to the feeling of cycling through the excitement, frustration, elation and disappointment as we cycle through all the latest diet trends, hoping that this one will finally be the one.

I know the ads can be super-convincing but you don’t have to drop 8 pounds in 8 days, or 50 in 10 weeks, to be a real success story.  You just have to make it a point to take even simple but intentional steps toward your health and wellness goals.  Even on days you feel like you’re barely inching toward it, you’ll soon enough look at the huge divide between where are were and where you are with intense joy.

You cannot measure your successes and failures on the successes and failures of others and you have to learn to run at your own pace.  When you do, you’re going to quickly surpass your wildest expectations and walk in true triumph as you start to see all the progress you’ve made with no temptation to go back to the way things were.

Get a Solid Motivator

A major hurdle many women face in mustering up that moxie to get up and get moving is that they have their sights set on very faulty motivators.

While we may want to lose that weight once and for all, or find ourselves determined to get back in those old jeans, we really need something more substantial to give us the drive we need to be successful over the long haul.  Even those who can hold themselves to it until they hit that goal often find that maintaining the ground they’ve lost can be very difficult over the months and years to follow.

If we want to get healthy and stay healthy, it has to be about something more – something that really means something to us and those we hold so dear.

Weight and waistlines can be VERY poor measures of progress when it comes to your health.  You can drop 10 pounds in 10 days and maybe even feel better for the time while doing a lot of damage to the body.  On the flipside, you might feel like you’ve gained a few pounds over the last couple weeks since you started eating better (I know – total head-scratcher) but have no idea as to how much your body has done in that time to cleanse and heal the organs, or reverse chronic or underlying conditions.

I know it’s exciting to “see the results” but to get a better picture of your progress, you’ll have to look further than skin-deep – not only in measuring progress but also for the strength and motivation to keep going when the going gets crazy tough.

Look to the Hills

If you ever catch me in a workout and I’ve got that stern, gritting my teeth look on my face, with my eyes closed or staring intently up and forward, chances are, in my head, I’m repeating Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Now, some of you may find that silly but it’s a verse that helps me keep going when I’d otherwise be tempted to give up.  Adding empowering, encouraging personal, positive declarations can not only increase your enjoyment of the activity/effort in the moment, but can also be a great help as you seek to establish new, lifelong lifestyle habits.

Rather than looking to the pain or even to the clock, choose to look to “whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is noble…” Instead of complaining (even to yourself) about how much it aches, how about giving thanks to your God that you are able?  He has made your body capable of doing incredible things and will help you get there but you’ve got to press in and press forward.

Stop telling yourself about all the reasons you can’t do it and start speaking words of victory over yourself and your efforts (and more over those around you while you’re at it).

Whether you’re feeling weak, tired, or just straight not in the mood, look to God, look to His Word, think life, speak life and find your push to keep pressing forward.

 

Cleansing for Wellness

Article courtesy of Dr. Claire Morris, ND.  Visit her at ClaireMorrisND.com.

The fastest way to transform your health is to do a cleanse.

There are many types of cleanses available…some formatted to cleanse the colon, kidneys, lungs and blood either separately or collectively.  There are also cleanses that call for fasting, juicing or eating raw.  Maybe all that sounds too complicated or too much like work.  Wait, before you decide to quit before even starting, here are a few things to ponder.

We are in contact with toxins every day. Poor quality water, chemicals in personal care products, medications, food additives and preservatives along with environmental pollutants are a few of the toxins our bodies are exposed to regularly.  Toxins in our systems can cause chronic health conditions, fatigue and even obesity.  With constant exposure stressing the immune system, the body’s defenses break down.  It has been known that cleansing helps with the removal of toxic build-up.  

A good cleanse will not only remove the disease causing toxins but increase energy, improve regularity and immunity, aid in stress management and promote weight loss.  The amount of toxic overload is proportional to exposure and age.  That means the more toxic you are, the longer and possibly more difficult the cleansing process.

Internal cleansing works by using the body’s own systems and a proper diet (possibly herbs or minerals) to pull those toxins from different areas of the body then flush them out using the systems of elimination.  

There are also many herbs and supplements created to support cleansing and detoxification of the body.  Milk thistle is good to cleanse and regenerate the liver.  Dandelion is great for the kidneys.  Zinc chelates out nickel (which has an affinity for the prostate).  Doctors have used chelation (pronounced- key lay shun) for the removal of heavy metals.  If you feel you are extremely toxic, it may be best to cleanse one system at a time.

Diet is important during and after cleansing.  You should consume raw, unprocessed foods – mostly organic fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Actually, we should eat that way all the time.  Internal cleansing is important for good health, but educate yourself, and it is a good idea to consult with your doctor or a healthcare practitioner before starting.

Wouldn’t you like to experience better health and attain a new level of wellness?  There’s no better time and you can be part of the Transformation of a Nation.

 

 

 

Originally published 6/20/12

Lighten Up

In life we have a tendency to take on far more than God intended for us to carry. So many of these things we take on are things we feel entitled to or things we feel should be even our moral obligation to carry.

We pick up many bags in life, as we go along, often to the point of feeling like we’re on overload but don’t even know which bags to put down or how to pull one strap off our shoulders without running the risk of dropping it all in our attempt to simply lighten the load.

The bags we grab are not of leather but of burdens. We lug around a suitcase of guilt, a sack of discomfort and a sachet of shame. We shoulder a bag of weariness and a bag of grief and fill our pockets to overflowing with all the little extras we think we’ve got room for. We pull behind us trunks full of fear, angst, and doubt.

No wonder we’re tired, run-down and overwhelmed. We lack vigor and joy and often fail to see that so many of those things we continue to carry are sucking the life out of us.

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I look at the lives we so often live today and catch myself pondering just how far we’ve moved away from the Garden. We get so busy with so many things. Our fast-paced, high-output culture pulls and tugs at our time until it feels like we’ve nothing left to give. In all honesty, it’s not just the world that has a way of pulling us into this vortex of appointments and tasks. Really, I’d say it can be every bit the obstacle in the church too. Not that I would ever deter any one from working in the church. I’m just stating what many well-seasoned Christians can also attest to. Our desire to pour out, when not tempered with the wisdom to get away with God and get pointed on what we should be doing, is a quick recipe for burnout.

How easy it is as Christians to feel like it is our duty to take on the world and to bring about the fulfillment of God’s plan. Yet, there’s such a relief in realizing that the results, ultimately, are not our responsibility.

Yes, we ought to give it our best. Yes, we have to bring the effort. But we work ourselves to the bone for very little fruit when we operate in ourselves rather than simply pressing forward, trusting that whatever the results, God will have His way.

We have got to get away from this mindset that God is somehow measuring us based on the things we can accomplish for Him. That line of thinking is circumstantial yet we serve a God who is eternally the same and doesn’t look to the same things man does.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is not looking to what we can do for Him but rather what we’ll but let Him do through us. He’s the One with the Big Picture and the Big Plan. We can’t bring about all that He has in mind. It’s too complicated. But, we can be a part of it and that in itself is such an incredible gift.

So many burdens we carry and so heavy they become yet Christ says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We’ve placed such great expectations on ourselves yet I believe the Lord would have us learn to lighten up a bit. We get too tense. I GET WAY TOO TENSE! It’s not good for us and it tends to detract from that peace and joy we should be bearing as fruit of His Spirit working within us.

What’s more is that as we take on more than we were meant to carry, we tend to start looking to others – our partners, family and friends – with the expectation that they help shoulder the burdens they really weren’t meant to carry either but that we should instead be leaving at the feet of Christ.

There are a great many burdens we bear that we need to quit carrying to walk in the freedom that we’ve been so graciously gifted with and called to.

While there are many that we could look at and discuss in great depth, I want to touch on just a few of these here.

The Burden of Want

We all know Psalm 23:1, where it says “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

Yet, how many of us can honestly look at our lives and say that we don’t want? We know that David is spot on – we have God, what else could we possibly need or desire? Yet, something in us stirs, turns and ponders the things of this world and what it would be like if we could just take hold of them.

I am guilty here. I would be one big, fat liar if there ever was one if I said that I didn’t.

It’s part of our nature as humans to want something better – to pursue greater things, to improve upon our lives, our futures, and the future we’ll leave to our children. However, it becomes a great burden when our definition of “better” becomes more worldly than Wordly.

The thing is, we often don’t see it for what it is. It can seem that it would be so obvious when our hearts long deeply for a big house or a Benz, great wealth or fame, clout or “Big Time” connections but it can slip right under our radar when we find ourselves entangled in want of things we see as things we should have.

That’s where it gets hard to catch ourselves getting caught up in it.

Just one new house, just one new car, just one new spouse, new job… we don’t want much – just this one more thing and we swear we’ll be satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 – “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”

Do we calculate that into the value of the things we long for and what we’re actually giving in exchange for those things?

When the measure of our lives or what we think of them is defined by what we acquire, attain or climb to, we find that we take on a great burden that acts like an anchor, keeping us from moving forward in the fullness of all that God has for us as we’re tied down to our efforts and pursuits of what we seek to attain for ourselves.

The weight of want gets heavier over time. We carry the weight of wanting something until we get it or get over it. Once we’ve enjoyed the pleasure of taking hold of things long longed for, we set our sights on bigger and better things. One more promotion…one nicer car…

The more we get, the more we want and the more we think we’re capable of carrying that longing-for-more yet the longing is never fully satisfied.

What really gets us is where we exhaust so much of our time and energy pursuing the things and life we think we should have. When it gets to be too much, we start praying for the supernatural strength to endure, to rise to the occasion but what would our response be to God if we listened earnestly and honestly and instead of Him giving us what we were asking for, He simply told us just to put it down and walk away?

Yowch.

I don’t always like the sound of that.

See, the Burden of Want also comes with the Burden of Discontentment. It’s easy to look at what everybody else has and seem to so easily take hold of, and wonder “why not me? Why shouldn’t I have those things?”

We start struggling with seeing the value in what we already have and become burdened under the weight of that discontentment.

James 4:1-3 – “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

The Burden of Discontentment is very hard to bear. It tempts us to take drastic measures and think very little about enslaving ourselves to creditors and mounds of debt just to end the aching of that longing to simply take hold of those things we just want so badly. How often we fail to calculate the true costs of desperation and discontentment.

Want is a very heavy burden to bear, even when we think we want so little. Yet, The Word says Godliness with contentment is great gain. It’s hard to do at times and it takes an intentional move on our part, but when we purposely look at those things we’ve long wanted and choose to want God more, we find relief, joy and peace – the lifting of a great weight from our shoulders.

The Burden of Worry

Matthew 6:27 – “You cannot add a day to your life by worrying.”

We all know what it’s like to worry. I think most parents would more so wonder what it’s like not to worry. It’s been so long since they’ve not, they can hardly remember what it’s like to live without the weight of worry pressing down firmly from atop their poor, achy shoulders.

Anxiety, fear, doubt, insecurity… all these things are tag-alongs to worry. But, there is so much freedom in coming to the realization that when God says “you don’t have to worry, I’ve got you covered…” You really don’t have to worry. How cool is that?

That’s not to say that challenges won’t arise, that tragedies don’t happen or that things won’t seem to take a turn for the worst on occasion; but the reality is, worrying doesn’t prevent the hardships of life and, the grand majority of the time, we see that worry does nothing but rob us of the joy in the time that we have now.

The Burdens of Guilt & Shame

Guilt is something we often have a hard time putting down because it’s something we feel we should carry. We have such a hard time letting it go, feeling like it’s not something we have a right to be free of but the Gospel tells a very different story.

1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

Do you really grasp what He’s done for you? The guilt and the shame are no longer yours!

Repentance reveals a heart that is sensitive toward God but we’re not to walk under the oppressive cloud of guilt and shame.

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Guilt and shame make you hide from God but God lifts that from us that we can walk freely and uprightly (not proudly but in confidence in what Jesus has done for us) before Him.

The Burden of Self-Reliance

Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We have a terrible tendency to want to do things our own way.

What’s more, in self-reliance, we look too much to our own qualifications to determine whether or not we’re up for the task to which God has called us. That is absolutely unbiblical.

We see this play out in both directions.

On the one side, we can bring the wrong attitude in with our efforts as we walk in a sense of pride when in all reality, the only thing in us worth bragging about is Him.

On the other side, we let our sense of inadequacy hold us back and deter us from even thinking that those God-sized dreams are possible. Self-reliance tells us to quit before we even start. Yet, Paul says “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

With God, the question is not “Are you capable?” – It’s “are you available?”

Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Are we starting to see a trend here?

If there’s one thing I believe God has been working on with me quite a bit it’s this – trusting in Him working through me.

While God may give us particular callings, like pastoring or administration, we can’t even begin to calculate the value of how God will use us even in what seems to be our simple day-to-day lives, where He’ll drop things and people in our paths and in our thoughts. We may think those things so small yet we can’t even begin to calculate the true significance – where He would use even a simple phone call as a way of showing our brothers and sisters that He truly is so mindful of us and ever-present in our lives.

We bear fruit not by just working for Him but becoming One with Him.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The Burden of Perfectionism

How easy it can be to come under the burden of perfectionism when our heart’s desire is to give our best. There is something to be said about striving for a higher standard but here’s what needs to be understood – while I believe the Lord is pleased with our deep desire to give Him our all, we have to know that He is not at all disappointed by our shortcomings.

I think all too often, we get this picture in our minds as to what things should look like and how they should play out and when any part of that picture falls short of what we’d envisioned, we take on guilt, shame, and a deep wound of failure that leaves us pulling away from God, yet thinking He’s pushing us away for our inadequacy.

We somehow get the impression that because of our failures, God doesn’t like us so much or that He’s just kindly putting up with us until the time comes for us to go home but I don’t think that could be further from the truth. Out of all of scripture, there was ONLY ONE that could claim perfection. Other than Jesus, there was not one of the great apostles, prophets, servants or children of God that got it all right.

Could you imagine if Peter quit and just walked away from it all after he’d denied Christ 3 times over? Isaiah himself said he was a man of unclean lips. What if he’d followed that with “…so let me live out the rest of my days in silence for fear of saying the wrong thing or even the right thing the wrong way.”

We all have our faults. We’re all in progress. God saw everyone of them before He ever determined His plans for us, in all His omnipotence, wisdom and sovereignty, yet still spoke His word and calling over our lives. He a every failure, every weakness, every error, mistake, lapse in judgment and flat stupid decision we’d ever make and every dumb moment we would ever have and determined that He could and would still work in, through, and around everyone of them.

I think I’ve heard a few too many times about how God had called people to one thing but they messed things up and went the wrong way and now they’re no good for that task. Yes, we can walk away from what we know God is calling us to but I look at that parable of the prodigal son and how God was saying, if you would just come back and let me put that ring right back on your finger, I will restore you to the position originally intended for you.

In reality, we serve a God who lets none of it go to waste, not even our worst screw-ups. We serve a God that sculpts our calling around those times in our lives when we were even at our worst, and says “I only let you get away with it because I knew I could use it to pull them over there out of it too… I knew that once you’d gone through all of that mess and seen what I could still do through you, you’d never be the same again and you’d have such a heart for my people!”

Yes, there’s something to be said for striving for holiness. We all should strive to bring Him our best but remember, it’s not about you being perfect. There’s something incredibly liberating about being able to accept that and lay it bare before the Lord. He knows where you need help. Sometimes we just have to be willing to confess our own needs with our own mouths and watch the work of the Lord that follows.

God is not looking for men or women who can be perfect in themselves. He’s looking for those who want to be made perfect through Him – who recognize that He alone is our righteousness and perfection.

So, what do you say?  Are you ready to lighten up a bit?

Whatever the reasons we may have for walking around with these boulders on our backs, we have got to realize that this is not the kind of life that God has called us to and that it is holding us down from being able to walk freely with Him.

The tension that results from carrying such burdens has a tendency to become a great hindrance in our readiness to freely, simply walk in fellowship with our Creator. Stop worrying so much and start taking more delight in the walk you get to have with Christ. Take delight in the fact that He’s not counting on you to make His plans happen but that He’s called you to be a part of this grand and gorgeous story that He’s orchestrated across the ages.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

What are some ways God is prompting you to lighten up and enjoy the gift of life you’ve been so freely given?

 

Originally presented at Gospel Lighthouse Church, April 13th, 2016