Power to the Ordinary

History is littered with ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  What’s stopping you?

How many times have you heard a story of someone rising up from obscurity to achieve some great accomplishment.  Hollywood is inundated with this theme.  Erin Brokovich, Rudy, The Lord of the Rings.  Seemingly ordinary people with no special gifts.  Just a heart for a mission and a spirit of determination.  How are you any different?

I’m currently reading a book called Finding Ultra, the story of Rich Roll, a Stanford swimming prodigy turned alcoholic, turned overweight couch potato who, on his 40th birthday, decides that it is time to make a change.  The story chronicles his rise in a few short years to the top of the endurance sports world.  Starting from a position of being winded just climbing the stairs in his home, and against seemingly insurmountable odds at an age way past his prime, Rich set a goal for himself and set his heart to the task.  No special skills.  Just focus and direction.

So what’s stopping you?  What challenge is on your heart?  What goal can you set to help spurn you to action?  Don’t let the fact that you are “ordinary” keep you from setting a challenge before yourself and actually achieving it.  You don’t need any special skills.  You don’t need any special training.  You already have all that you need inside of you.  You just need to have the courage to set that goal, and make a plan to realize it.  You don’t have to be the next endurance superstar or take down a tyrant corporation (though you can if you want).  Find those desires unique to you and go with it.

Show the world what ordinary can do!

J

Our Purpose Part 2: Serving God is Not a Desk Job

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. “  Ephesians 2:4-10

God created us with physical bodies for a reason.  As it is clear in Ephesians 2:4-10, we were created by God, designed by a perfect craftsman, tarnished through sin, but made new through His grace in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  As verse 4 states, we are walking testimonies to that grace to this generation and generations to come.  The things that we do today, tomorrow, and the next day should bear witness to the fact that we were once dead, but have now been made alive.  And while we can take no credit in having earned any of it (“it is the gift of God”, verse 8), it is clear that we have work to do.  Verse 10 states that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works”.  The term “works” implies a physical action, and a physical action requires a physical body.  Being a follower of Christ means, whether you like it or not, you signed up for a day-labor position.

Often we like to think of our “Christian life” as that part of our lives where we meditate on spiritual things, pray, and think about God and his wonder.  And these are all things that we should be engaged in on a regular basis.  But following the Lord is not a desk job.  The call in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations” did not call for the disciples to sit in the upper room, design a global strategy of ministry, create an online presence, and then implement a social media campaign.  It involved walking from place to place (sometimes running out of those same places as fast as they could, stones flying past their heads).  It involved talking and praying with people.  It involved healing the sick.  It involved meeting needs.  It involved time, sweat, and sometimes blood.

That early call to the disciples has not changed for Christ’s disciples today.  And in order to serve Him effectively, we need to be physically healthy.  It is a proven fact that people who exercise regularly, eat healthily, and get proper amounts of rest have more energy, have better outlooks on life, and are less prone to depression.  What kind of servant are you when you are chronically tired, depressed, and over-stressed?  Being physically healthy allows you to carry out the spiritual desires that God has placed on your heart in the life-changing way that they were intended.   How fit for service are you if God asks you to serve Him in a way that is physically demanding?  Could you help that neighbor dig post holes for his fence, creating an opportunity to get to know him?  Could you kick the soccer ball or toss the baseball with your grandkids whose parents don’t know the Lord, creating opportunities to talk with them and share God’s love?  Are you prepared to dig wells, build houses, repair a single mom’s home, carry grandchildren, play with orphans, or walk with widows? Serving is an action, and actions are physical.  Good “works” are not passive, but filled with movement.  And it is through those works that we fulfill the call to love and to disciple.  It is time for us to stop separating the spiritual and the physical.  It is time for us to stop thinking that it is ok to be physically unhealthy, as long as we are spiritually strong, and start realizing that if we want to make a strong spiritual impact for the “ages to come”, our bodies need to be up to the challenge.

J

Our Purpose Part 1- The Spirit and the Body

“Why am I here?” is the question that has probably been asked more than any other throughout the course of history.  And for good reason.  Just the asking of the question alone implies that we humans have a deep-rooted knowledge that there is more at stake for us then mere existence.  Something that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.  I don’t believe a fish questions the purpose of its existence as it drifts in the current.  It just does “fish” things, carrying out its God-given purpose of being a fish.  You don’t see a tree changing its mind, giving shade and providing oxygen one minute, then picking up its roots and heading off to try something new the next.  It is clear that God has given mankind a soul, that spiritual nature that makes each of us uniquely “us”.  We sometimes call it our “spirit”, or our “heart”, but whatever the name, it is the driving force by which we conduct our lives.  The meter by which we judge right from wrong, good from bad.  The central core that governs our physical actions.

“But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.”  Job 32:8.

If it is the soul that dictates the actions, then it is the body that carries out the commands.  The fact that we are both spiritual and physical beings hints at our purpose here on planet Earth.  If God wanted us just to float through life thinking about Him, pondering His attributes and wondering at His glory, then he would have stopped at unembodied spirits when making mankind.  But instead He made us to have physical form, with bodies capable of carrying out actions in real time.  Capable of communicating with one another in words and gestures.  Capable of moving or standing still, going right or going left.  Capable of holding out a hand or taking that hand back.  Our bodies are the vehicles by which we carry out our spiritual longings and desires.  And it makes perfect sense.  The greatest lessons learned are by doing.  Experience is an amazing teacher.  God has much to instruct about: love, grace, mercy, compassion, sacrifice.  But these things would have no real meaning to us if we weren’t given opportunities to experience them in our lives, both in the giving and in the receiving.  These spiritual truths that we spend so much time contemplating would remain vague ideas instead of becoming deep-rooted beliefs.  And while, yes, it is true that the body will some day decay and pass away, while we are here it plays a crucial role.  The body is not just a house for our soul, an inanimate shell, but an active participant in the carrying out of our spiritual will, those actions that we call “life”.  Those actions “to the glory of God”.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  I Corinthians 10:31

(to be continued)

J

Increasing Resting Metabolic Rate

Question of the Week:  What is the purpose of your journey?

Nugget of the Day:  Increasing muscle mass through strength training is the best way to raise resting metabolic rate (RMR).

The major factors in increasing resting metabolic rate (RMR) are an increase in lean body tissue (muscle mass), being young, genetics, or some hormonal change such as hyperthyroidism or monthly cycle.  Scroll through this list and tell me which ones you actually have some control over.  “Being young”?  It would sure be nice to have some control in this area, but unfortunately the clock keeps ticking.  “Genetics”?  Again, while some of us wish we could have chosen our pedigree, our chromosomes are what they are.  And genetics can even account for a 10-20% difference in RMR.  Some engines just run a little more “hot” than others.  “Hormonal changes” are also largely out of our control, so the only remaining factor that we can influence is lean body tissue, or muscle mass.

A few post back I mentioned that excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise can decrease muscle mass, thereby decreasing number of calories burned, both at rest and during exercise.  Have any of you ever participated in a cardio-heavy exercise routine and wondered why you plateaued after a few months?  One of the prevailing factors leading to this plateau is a decrease in metabolism associated with loss of muscle mass.  Strength training stimulates the body to both retain present muscle and to add additional muscle mass to what you already have.  The benefits gained pertaining to metabolism are in effect for the entire day.  Not only does the body burn more calories during exercise when there is more muscle mass present, but the RMR also goes up and you burn more calories at rest as well.  RMR is important, whether you are trying to shed body fat, or just seeking to maintain your current level of fitness.  And a proper strength training program performed a couple times a week is just the thing your body needs.  I have some workouts that you can use to get started, and keep checking back as I am adding more each week!

“I’m afraid of ‘bulking up’ by doing strength training” is a concern I often hear, and I will address this in the next “Nugget of the Day”, so check back soon!

J

Higher Calling

When dealing with physical health, it is difficult to separate image from the topic.  How we look is one of the ways that we judge our progress towards optimal physical health.  If our clothes are fitting better, we are heading in the right direction.  It is also a meter for determining health in others, and guides us where to get our information on the subject.  We see a trainer at the gym who is in good shape, and we will listen to his advice because his body gives credence to his words.  It’s not that much different than a Christian’s actions giving credence to his faith.  However, the world would have you stop there.  Looking good is the end game.  The prize?  Attention, popularity, sexual fulfillment, pride, self-esteem.  However, God would call you to live your life for a purpose higher than these things.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”  I John 2:16-17.

While it is true that during our time here on Earth we must go about the business of living (eating, drinking, sleeping, working, communicating, worshiping, resting), the focus and purpose of these things should stretch beyond our time.  As beings bound for life beyond this world, our end focus should be eternity.  Our time here on this Earth is just a hash mark on the timeline of our life.  All of the earthly things that we live for will pass away.  The money.  The fame.  The attention.  The looks.  They will all be gone.  But what lives forever is the work done for the Lord.  Work done from an eternal perspective.  While our physical bodies will only last for a lifetime, what we use them for and why will follow us beyond this life.  Don’t let image be the higher calling that drives you to better physical health.

J