Belief Beyond Boundaries
In the last couple weeks we’ve discussed the importance of emotional, social, and occupational wellness. This brings us to physical wellness. Physical wellness encompasses physical activity, diet, nutrition, and sleep. We all know that great physical wellness wards off illnesses like certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive problems while also bringing about a greater sense of fulfillment. We all have reasons for wanting to achieve physical wellness so let’s discuss some great goals that may assist you in achieving what it takes to have great physical wellness.
Physical Fitness Routine
Ideally, your goal should be to have a regular routine of activity that you truly enjoy. Do you like hiking, biking, tennis, gardening, or basketball? This isn’t to rule out traditional exercise routines, but if you can truly enjoy HOW you are exercising, it will be that much easier to stick with a routine that promotes healthy exercise. In addition, physical fitness isn’t all about how much you exercise, but also includes maintaining a healthy weight, and muscle mass.
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This would be broken down into 30 minutes a day, 5 times per week or about 21 minutes per day for a whole week. Here are some ideas that could help achieve this:
If you look online, you will quickly see many diets and supplements that advertisers claim will help you take off weight quickly and effortlessly. The truth is a healthy diet should help you maintain weight and provide a balance of nutrients that keeps you healthy. Generally, this means eating small amounts every 3 hours throughout the day. This helps keep your metabolism burning strong for weight management, helps you get all the nutrients you need, and helps you feel fuller longer. If you need to lose weight, you can simply reduce the size of your small meals to achieve a lower calorie intake.
Within the scope of eating less more often, you can integrate other lifestyle eating choices such as a low carb eating plan, vegetarian diet, mediterranean diet, etc. By being mindful about what you put in your body while measuring your weight regularly, you can fine tune your efforts.
Not getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis, for many, can sabotage all efforts at making substantial health improvements in general. A tired person has the potential to be a very unmotivated person. If something is preventing you from getting a full night’s sleep, it is vital to understand and remediate whatever is preventing you from getting the sleep your body needs. This can be as easy as going to bed earlier or cutting out habits that keep you up late.
If reading this makes you feel overwhelmed, considering not only the spiritual aspects we’ve talked about, but also physical wellness routines you could employ in your life, know that full transformation is a lifestyle. You start with a few things and develop a small routine. Over time, you can add more and more healthy habits into your life, mastering them as you go. Understand this, a transformative lifestyle is about the journey itself, not the destination. The small improvements you make are the reward. You may have a destination in mind, but there will always be new ways to grow and improve yourself so take time to enjoy the scenery and find fulfillment in the process.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Apostle Paul (Colossians 3:23-24)
I think about how different working experiences are when just one or two people, or even a manager, on a work team keeps with this mentality. I have worked on teams where people looked out for mostly themselves, owners and managers were stingy, and the paycheck was the extent of the reward.
Still, while working in retail, I experienced a full time cashier with a grandmotherly demeanor, named Bernice who would periodically bring treats for her fellow workmates, speak with compassion to everyone, and always had a smile on her face even when things got hectic. Customers would line up 6-deep, while ignoring other cashiers, just to experience her warmth and caring attitude. That is not an exaggeration. She was the definition of hospitality and people flocked to her.
If you find yourself on a demotivated team that needs building up, it is in the spirit of Christ that we can seed a transformation on our work teams. Through generosity, caring, patience, kindness, understanding, and love for our fellow human beings, we can inspire those around us to see the power of the Lord when we act out his teachings while at work. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
One of the dimensions of wellness described by Dr. Swarbrick we discussed in one of my recent blog entries, “Degree #3: Personal Wellness” is Occupational Wellness. There is inherent value in the meaning and satisfaction derived from one’s work. It is through Christ that we shortcut the process and find instant meaning in our work that could otherwise feel monotonous or like an endless loop when we are still on the road to our career destinations. I assure you, the place you are now, in your current journey, can be as much or more fulfilling than the destination itself when we work in the name of the Lord.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - Jesus Christ (John 13:35)
Jump Start Your Social Life
Having a healthy social life is one of the best ways a person can find fulfillment in their life. After the pandemic I have noticed rekindling relationships has been hard for many, but it isn’t just rekindling relationships that will bring fulfillment, rather establishing the right kind of relationships that will allow you to grow and flourish as a person. I’d like to share with you some ways today in which you can begin to re-establish a healthy social life:
Get Involved at Church
If you're not involved at church, aside from spiritual training, one of the main benefits you’ll find is the surprising number of opportunities available for those looking to grow their social circle. Oftentimes, churches will have a list of clubs or activities you can get involved with right away such as Bible studies, volunteer programs, event assistance, or evangelizing.
Volunteers are needed for many non-profit organizations. Think historical societies, zoos, community initiatives, and museums along with charities, churches, and assisting the unsheltered. Whatever your calling is, there is always help you can offer and along with that comes valuable relationships with others that have the same calling.
Join a Club
Whatever your passion is, chances are there is a club for that; anything from hiking to biking, cooking, camping, dancing, sports, and quilting. There are online resources such as meetup.com or Facebook Groups that can help link you up with others that share your interests.
Fulfill a Community Mission
Taking a look at your community, there may be something you would like to improve. Through organizing events, gathering like-minded people for a purpose, or joining council boards, you can make a difference in your community while also getting to know people in your neighborhood.
Start a Small–Group Gathering
With Facebook Groups, as mentioned above, you can find others with similar interests. If a gathering isn’t already organized by a group, you can connect with others in your area and invite them to your own small-group gathering. The objective should be to make your gathering something that is not complicated and easy to get going with a few others.
Start A Home Church
If sharing your faith with others is important to you and you feel that you may have a unique take on spirituality that could uniquely serve others, one possibility is starting a home church. By serving others in Christ, this will allow you to get to know others on a deeper and more satisfying level that is hard to beat with a larger congregational church. Feel free to get creative like taking turns bringing food, holding church in unique and fun spaces as well as having in-meeting discussions as a small group.
With so many options to find others who also share a heart for your passion, there is little reason not to get out and utilize your social skills. As a key factor of wellness, even though you may find it uncomfortable at first, you will undoubtedly over a short period of time begin feeling a sense of connectedness and shared purpose with others in whatever group you choose. If, however, it misses the mark, don’t be afraid to try something new until you find what speaks to you.
Quick Tips for Emotion Regulation
For many, emotion regulation is one of the main barriers that keeps people from achieving full transformation. As long as a person is a slave to their emotion and all the whims of the day, they will never experience all the freedom that a spirit-led life in Christ can bring. Think about it for a moment. Vented rage, lost calm, and hurtful words have probably caused more harm and destruction than any war in history ever could have. This is why, as Christians, we should regularly strive to process our emotion in a positive way. Let's look at a few topics that will help us understand emotion regulation:
The Only Thing You Can Control is Your Response
The first thing to understand about regulating emotion is that you cannot control the events happening around you. If you could, you would have already taken care of it. The only thing you can 100% control is how you respond to each situation. Would you like to handle each situation that comes your way with intent, grace, and purpose or would you rather lose self control, potentially opening yourself up to further loss of control?
Practice Self Control
Everyone has a default way they handle specific situations. Understanding your triggers, how you respond, and past outcomes will help you begin to understand the importance of self control. Understanding these triggers and having a calculated plan of response in advance is a great benchmark in which you can gauge how to respond in each situation you encounter. The goal of every encounter is to act in a logical and purposeful manner that results in the ideal outcome you are looking for every time.
Pause Before You Respond
This may go without saying, but taking a moment to pause and think about how you will respond or solve your problem will, more often than not, assist you in overcoming whatever obstacle you're facing. A little patience and focusing on the first step to solving your issue means you are already on track.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
I personally love mindful meditation, because at it's core, it's really teaching you about managing distractions in your thoughts. It allows you to accept whatever is happening in your environment, quickly process it, and move on. I think this is so important for emotional regulation, because with enough practice, you will realize that simple stressors are simply a matter of acknowledging their presence and then moving on to achieve peace in your mind.
I practice mindfulness meditation by relaxing my body, closing my eyes, and focusing on my communion with God, acknowledging and releasing distraction as I meditate. Having a subject matter you'd like to contemplate planned ahead of time is helpful.
Make A Plan as Soon as You Can
When something, without warning, interrupts your emotional groove, many times focusing on a plan can quickly dispel negative emotion. Asking yourself what the problem is, how it can be solved, and how you will solve it is key. If you need to write it down, do that. For instance, say you are having a car issue and have no money to get it fixed. First, acknowledge that you can't change that the problem exists. Then, knowing that the problem is out of your control, you can first pray about it. Ask God for resolution and assistance. Then make a list in your mind of what you have the power to do. For instance, you can make a mechanic appointment, call a friend who fixes vehicles, buy a different vehicle, or borrow a car from a family member. Of course, after that, it's a matter of understanding which option best works for you, but the sooner you have a plan, the better you will feel so you can continue focusing on your life.
Emotion Response is Learned
One thing I've realized is how often our emotion responses seem to be determined by how we think we should react to specific situations and are often learned from others. For instance, a boy grows up watching his mother or father throw things whenever they get upset by another person. The boy may then grow up thinking that when he gets upset, it is acceptable to throw things around when he loses his temper.
Stay in Scripture
Having a regular routine of scripture reading goes a long way in understanding emotion regulation and its importance. The Word has been transforming lives for thousands of years and inspires us to understand our actions and take corrective measures through action and repentance.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. - James 1:19-20
Degree #3: Personal Wellness
A very important aspect to total mind, body, and soul transformation is personal wellness. Alone, wellness ties all 3 aspects together. A significant lack in mental or physical wellness is a detriment to well being in general as well as spiritual growth.
According to Dr. M. Swarbrick, in "A Wellness Approach" written in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, the author outlines 8 dimensions of wellness that we can point to in order to create potential goals that improve our personal wellness and satisfaction. You may also consider referring to these dimensions when approaching Degree #1: "Self Reflection".
Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.
Satisfaction with current and future financial situations.
Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.
Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one's work.
Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition.
Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills.
Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.
As a whole the "8 Degrees of Spiritual Transformation," which this blog wholly represents, includes topics to improve not only wellness, but also focuses on self reflection, acknowledgment, and finally actions that promote a fulfilled and purpose-driven spiritual life by expanding that which improves lives and clearing away that which does not. Using a goal oriented approach, the 8 Degrees of Transformation seeks to create outcomes that will significantly improve your life. Stick with me as we continue to explore many topics that support this mission.
Do Not Be Afraid
You may recognize Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous quote, "The only thing to fear is fear itself." He spoke this during one of the most challenging times of our nation's history, The Great Depression. It was a dark time when the world seemed to be unraveling and hope seemed far away. It can be easy to let our current circumstances define us, and depending on our perception, these fears are created in our minds offering us nothing but limitation and lack. Fear is the ultimate destroyer of dreams. So how do we overcome it?
Commit to Your Vision
You need to sincerely ask yourself this question: "If I didn't reach my dream, because of an excuse or a fear I have, would I be okay with that?" If not, it may be time to reach down deep and find the courage you need to overcome your limitation. Will you pick up your cross?
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7
Through Love You Can Do Great Things
Love overcomes fear. It is true that when we love something with our whole heart, what would normally seems like a challenge is suddenly transformed into a purpose through focused intention. There are countless stories of everyday people doing incredible feats out of a spirit of love they may not have had the capability of doing otherwise. It is when we transform our own dreams and ambitions into acts of service and love that we too can have access to this great power God has gifted to us. This, my friends, circumvents fear altogether.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” - 1 John 4:18
So how do we cast out fear? LOVE! Although there are other tactics to simply dealing with fear such as preparation, understanding where our fears are coming from, and other mental work, it is truly our inner motivations and purpose that will drive us through it. When we forget our purpose, it is simply too easy for fear, insecurity, and distraction to creep in, diverting us from what we are here to do. I hope this brings you encouragement, friends. Have a good day!
The Process of Winning
If you watch football, you'll know that touchdowns don't come easy. It is a series of strategies, plays, and regular practice that all come together to successfully get the ball into the end zone to score a touchdown. The process isn't all that much different than in your own life, but knowing the process of winning in your goals will help you create an ongoing system of success. Let's break this down:
Have a Clear Objective
In order to have the best outcome, it is important to know what it is you're working toward. If your goal is to lose weight, what does this look like to you? Is it a specific weight? Is it how you feel? Be specific so you'll know when you've actually completed your goal. If your goal is to be more spiritual, break this down into clear actions such as reading the Bible, becoming an evangelist, attending a set number of volunteer sessions each week. This is where lists come in handy.
Create a List of Plays
Once you've gotten clear on what a winning game looks like regarding a goal, really committing to that vision in your mind. It's time to decide what strategies you can use to get to that outcome. Before embarking on any goal, always make a list of what strategies you'll employ. Don't worry if your list isn't completely full. You can add more strategies later. Let's say your goal is to find a new job, your starting list could look like this:
The key to successfully winning any game is practice. In goal work, the answer works the same. Regular, ongoing great habits and activity is key to winning! In the above example (finding a job), some great habits could be:
Strategize Your Plays
Games are best played with thoughtful strategies and so is goal work. Once you've created some lists and established what habits you can use, its time to determine the best place to start. In the above example (finding a job), you wouldn't necessarily start with sending out your resumes. You'd want to make sure your resume is up to date and that you know the latest trends in job hunting. You would then narrow down exactly where you'll send your resumes or what activities you will do on an ongoing basis so you can effectively deploy your strategy.
Methodically work toward the end zone
It takes focus, concentration, and careful consideration of the activities you employ on a regular basis in order to win the game. Through regular practice, diligence, and keeping an eye on your plays, you'll have all the tools you need to win the game. For more information on goal setting, check out my post, "The Core of Success - Goal Setting."
How Should Christians Meditate?
Meditation is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Many times, it is referring to Eastern meditation, however, Christian meditation can prove to be quite helpful, even more so than Eastern meditation, but like any kind of spiritual activity, it does take some discipline in some regard in order to get the most out of it. Let's go through the steps.
Step 1: Relax and Fill Your Mind
In order to relax, either sitting comfortably or lying down, close your eyes and take some time to simply breathe in and out, focusing on the exhale. With eyes closed and slow relaxed breathing, relax each part of your body individually such as your arms, hands, legs, feet, head, face, and chest. Shake out any feelings of tension. After a couple of minutes, slowly integrate worshipful praises to God, either in your mind or audibly, focusing on his glory, his wonder, his love, and majesty. He is the creator of all. Picture this love in your mind, whether it be light, a hug or embrace, or however it presents itself to you.
Step 2: Bring Something to Reflect on
Whether it be a psalm, a prayer, a biblical law you'd like greater clarity on, or a challenge you'd like wisdom about, meditate on this as you continue to feel the gratitude and wonder of God. If your mind becomes distracted, simply acknowledge the distraction and bring yourself back to a state of gratitude and love of God. If you find yourself falling asleep, you can try sitting in a different position or take joy in the fact that you may have needed some well-earned shut-eye.
Step 3: Receive
Be ready to receive an answer or a response. Picture in your mind what that response looks like. When I pray for healing, I like to picture a Godly healing energy surrounding myself or another person in my mind. I also picture myself touching the hem of Jesus' robe.
Why is a state of gratitude and love so important?
The Lord works on only the highest wave lengths of energy. When we mediate in a place of gratitude and love, this propels us into this higher, more elevated, energy state that makes it easier for us to hear his voice.
What does the Bible say about meditation?
Pray in the Style of Jesus
Jesus said, "This, then, is how you should pray":
"Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." - Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:9-13
I want to take a moment today to discuss The Lord's Prayer given to us in the Gospel of Matthew. One day while reading this Bible verse I saw the word "how" when Jesus said, "This, then, is how you should pray." I got to thinking, "How do I pray?" and "Do I pray like this?" I felt like there could be a powerful message in the "how" rather than simply reciting this prayer. I was excited to uncover some "treasure" as Jesus would say, letting my meditation uncover what the Truth was behind this prayer. Let's take a look at each line and attempt to understand what is behind it and how this could impact your own prayers.
Our Father who Art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name
Prayer is an intimate moment with our Father, whom is holy and sacred. Even his very name has power and deserves reverence! Each prayer we pray should start in reverence and worship to the Lord God.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
When we pray, we should reflect on the kingdom, but what does this mean? It means in our prayers, we should focus on the laws and covenants God has given us to help discern what we are asking for and if it lines up with his will. It is priming us to look at each request from a state of love, gratitude, and obedience to Him. Perhaps we can uncover truth about our own hearts and what our own motives are as well. Does ego need to be set aside? Are we harboring feelings of unforgiveness, envy, or malice? This will only serve to help us clarify what we are truly asking for. For example, if I am upset at someone and pray that God reveals to them how they have wronged me, I instantly must ask, "Is it me who is in the wrong and lacks forgiveness?" If so, I have revealed that I too must have some things to work out with God.
Along with an abundance of love and gratitude, one must also reflect on how they can be of service to the kingdom itself. How can you personally carry out the will of your Father in heaven? If you do not know, think about your skills and talents. Could these be of use to the Lord?
Give us this day our daily bread
Once we have expressed admiration and reverence to God and meditated on His will, we should then feel free to bring our requests to him from a heart of joy, faith, and expectance. Jesus uses the example of "bread," but why? In the Bible, bread symbolizes to us abundance from God. It was bread from Heaven (manna) that sustained the Israelites for 40 years as they wandered through the wilderness. Jesus is telling us that God will also sustain us and if we are in need, he will meet that desire in the way that serves us best. It is a reminder to us to have faith that our needs will be met with no problem and that we serve a faithful God.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
If God will faithfully meet your needs, should you also withhold your sins from him? What is on your heart? Take a moment and acknowledge what you are struggling with. God forgives! You know this, but first, can you also extend the love the Lord gives you by extending that same love to others who may have wronged you?
Lead us not into temptation
Wait. Did Jesus just ask God to not lead him into temptation? Indeed, he did. Why would a loving father willingly send his own son into temptation? Well, it is so we understand the consequences of our sin, but the purpose of this phrase is to understand that, because of our faith, God will hear our prayer and allow us to forego the temptation altogether. Psychologically this makes sense, because when there is a sin we suffer from and ask God not to send us into it, we are admitting that what we are struggling with the fact that something is not good for us. This thinking reflects the first degree of spiritual transformation: Self Reflection. You can read it here. We cannot make change until we are first willing to draw the darkness into the light and accept that something in ourselves needs to change. Our prayers should allow us to not only ask for forgiveness, but also request that God helps you navigate around that which allows you to sin.
But deliver us from evil (the evil one)
This is an extension of asking God to not lead us into temptation. When we forego temptation in the first place, it allows us to not have to encounter the consequences that sin often brings. This is the beautiful mercy the Lord offers you. This is also an invitation to pray for protection from any schemes that Satan may send your way with the intention of thwarting your spiritual progress.
Using Jesus' prayer model, a personal prayer could look like this:
God, my heavenly Father, whose name is Blessed and Holy; I look forward to your kingdom and feel grateful to do your will here on earth. Lord, sustain me and grant me favor as I make my requests known to you. Forgive me from sin and keep temptation away. Protect me from the evil one. I also agree to forgive those who have caused me pain as well, gratefully extending love and kindness to them as you've shown to me.
In Your holy name, Amen
To sum up, an alternative prayer outline that you can use to formulate your own prayer could look like this:
If you don't currently keep a prayer journal. I highly recommend it. Each day, you can record the topics you'd like to pray about and follow that outline as you pray. In time, you can review your journal to see how God has been working in your life.
The King's Mission
Friends, there is no ignoring that things have been getting strange around the world. There is a change happening and we cannot deny that. The threat of war for many people around the world is a true reality, destructive, satanic, culture is taking deep root in high places, where our previous blessings are being eroded away by corruption, and climate change can no longer be dismissed. I am here to dispel the spirit of fear and remind you that there is hope in the darkness.
If there was ever a time, now is the time to realize that you are chosen by God to do great things. I ask you now: What is a warrior if he never sees a battle? What is a sword if never touched by the flame? Do not be afraid.
During times like this, a regular routine of purposeful activity is absolutely essential to keep our eyes looking forward. Establish daily bible reading time, meditation, and a few active goals to keep. The kingdom needs you to stay focused on the King's mission. Devote your life to it and keep moving forward with absolutely precise focus. Like a child who grows into an adult and does away with childish things, we too must put away all that does not serve the King's true purpose.
As the warriors of Christ, when the enemy comes near, we do not slink away in fear, but rather draw up our sword and hold fast to our shield, which is the word of God. Let him be our fortress and strength.