Devin Riley is back, guest blogging health and fitness applications to the current sermon series, Days of Future Past on the Book of Daniel. With over a decade of experience, and over 25,000 sessions completed at Hoffacker Health and Fitness, Devin is a true marathon man. If he’s not running or riding his bike, he’s mindfully pushing the weight to get the most out of his body in the least amount of time. Devin has attended Heartland Church with his family since 2006. If you don't see him in the sanctuary, chances are he's onstage entertaining and educating your little ones in the Crossroads (K-4) Ministry. Connect with Devin at email@example.com
Ok. You guys are stepping into my wheelhouse now. We’re continuing to discuss Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, which has 5 essential areas (Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, Friendship) that influence the trajectory of your life. This week we’re about to talk about that other “F” word…fitness.
Take our friend Daniel and his pals Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—They were put to the test by King Nebuchadnezzar. Rather than bow to the statue he created, they stood tall and fast, and refused to worship anything other than the one, true God. It takes strength to stand in the face of adversity. Even though Daniel and his boys had found favor in the eyes of the Lord, they still had to face challenges. This world is broken. This world will break you. Your heart must be strong to go the distance. Your soul must be at peace in the midst of battle. Your mind must be clear and sharp. Your strength—honed and ready for use.
Fitness can be used as a form of worship to fix the brokenness. Yet so many people are repulsed by the idea of working out. Let’s fix that. So let’s take a deep breath, get in a quick stretch, and put in some work.
I’ve heard every reason imaginable for NOT working out.
Let me rephrase that, I’ve heard every reason imaginable for NOT taking care of yourself.
For the next few paragraphs, I want you to do your best to forget what you think you know about fitness. Forget about body image and how the message of this world is to be thin and flawless (and hairless) with a chiseled chest and 6 pack abs.
Forget about how you look. How you feel? I’m not talking about the emotions you feel when you look at your body, I’m talking about how does your body actually feel? Does it function the way it’s supposed to? Are your muscles tight and sore? Do your joints hurt? Are you out of breath and tired from taking a few steps upstairs? Can you stand/sit/walk/crouch/reach/bend/sleep pain free?
We were designed to move. We are animated creatures, brought to life by the breath of God. We were not meant to be still and sedentary, with rusting joints and creaking frames. Movement means energy. Movement means life—and movement is a way to worship our God who created us.
Paul gives amazing advice: “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
This verse speaks to us all. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or not into physical activity at all, God wants your movement to be worship. Thanks to Paul, I’ve got 5 ways that you can transform your movement into worship. I know that three is the gold standard, but consider this a platinum edition.
1. Willpower alone won’t do. It is by God’s mercy alone that we are saved. Let that sink in for a second. Ever started an exercise plan, full of ambition and motivation, only to fall by the wayside the second it gets hard? There is no judgment here. No guilt in feeling that there are too many things in the way of you improving yourself. I simply urge you to pray about this. Pray that God will help you find a way to prioritize your life to BETTER your life through physical activity. This will prime your mind for activity and strengthen your faith. Then you must act, because faith without works is dead.Take one step. Then another. Start small, with modest goals. Don’t be ashamed of a small goal. That’s the enemy in your head telling you that it’s dumb—worthless. You are neither. Get up again and do.
2. Sacrifice means gain. Ever hear the phrase” you’ve got to spend money to make money?” It’s the same idea with energy. Exercise of the appropriate intensity means that you spend some your energy. But the return on your investment is “beyond beyond” what you expect. What does appropriate intensity mean? Here is an amazing explanation of your target heart rate zones, and which one is appropriate for you. Too little effort, and you don’t maximize the use of your time. Too much effort, you burn muscle instead of fat, and if you’re a beginner, you risk injury.
3. Holy, Pure To be pure, to be holy means that you must be broken down, set apart, refined, and then made whole again without impurity. Physical activity does just that. Break down your habits of moving as little as possible. Set yourself apart from those who hate exercise and experiment with different types of movement until you find one you actually enjoy. We are often fearful and critical of things we don’t understand. There are a lot of differing opinions how to exercise. Find someone you can trust, and ask questions. Keep at it, and you will see yourself refined over time. You didn’t get “out of shape” overnight. You can’t get “into shape in that amount of time either. Understand this, and keep moving.
4. Pain Perspective Are you hurt or are you injured? Are you sore or are you in pain? People think that because I’m a trainer, that I must never be sore. Ha. I am sore every day. Not only do I welcome that soreness, I’ve learned to embrace it as a steadfast companion. It lets me know that I have moved much, pushed my limits, and lived another day well. I control that soreness. I am in control. There is so much pain that is out of our control. This world hurls pain and suffering at us with abandon. I hurl myself into training with the same intensity. And I am reminded of the one who gave all. Who suffered and bled and died for me. And so I humbly submit my training as an act of worship to Jesus. I die to myself and press through the pain toward a greater goal.
5. True and Proper Have a true and proper plan for your movement. Consult a professional. Read a trusted source. Talk to a friend. Make a plan, write it down. Act on it. Revise it. Stop it. Start it again. Learn to let your movement be an act of worship. Pastor Rick makes a great point when he says “When you love God, and you love others, your motivation for being healthy changes.” God gave you this body. Honor him with it by taking good care of it. God gave you others in your circle of influence who depend on you. Honor them by taking good care of yourself and being the best possible you for as long as you possibly can.
Run the good race. Fight the good fight. Live the life you were called to live. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.