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Dare to Be Disciplined
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV)
Friend to Friend
It is much easier to give in to sin or yield to temptation when we are physically depleted. Discipline begins in the mind and travels to the body. I can hear you groaning already, but stay with me! Sin and temptation often find their greatest opportunity to work in the body.
I have struggled with diet and exercise from childhood. Part of my struggle is rooted in "fluffy" genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of "fluffy" relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I hate exercise, take medications that cause weight gain, enjoy eating, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet. Maintaining a healthy weight is a constant battle in my life and the area in which I am learning the most about discipline.
Born and raised in Texas, I was a young adult and living on my own before I realized that part of the creation process included green things called vegetables. The motto in our family was, "If it ain't fried, it ain't right." Gravy was a condiment and potatoes a staple at every meal. No bread? How can you have a meal without bread? And dessert was a necessity. Get the picture?
Consequently, over the years, my weight has fluctuated like a championship yo-yo. Satan rejoiced as I deemed myself "worthy" when I lost the weight and "unworthy" when I gained it back. Guilt and shame attached themselves to every bite of food, while the Battle of the Bulge became the War of Worthiness. Fulltime ministry brought new weapons into the fray. Ridiculously crowded schedules and chronic fatigue seemed to be regarded as holy Medals of Honor, so I signed up and quickly learned the unspoken rules of ministry – such as rest is for the wicked, exhaustion is for the holy, fast food is for the fully devoted, and burnout is the unspoken but ultimate goal. At times, I can almost hear Satan standing in the wings, laughing at my skewed priorities and lack of discipline, knowing that his opening is just around the corner.
There is simply no way around the truth that discipline of the body is part of a godly life. We cannot give our hearts to God but keep our bodies for ourselves. To do so is sin. It's time for a new plan and a new way of thinking when it comes to disciplining these frail, human bodies in which we live.
Eliminate diets. Replace all diets with a healthy eating plan. Fad diets are nothing more than a quick fix and rarely work long-term. A healthy eating plan requires a change in lifestyle, and is not only a matter of how much we weigh, but a matter of what we eat as well. Many thin people follow diets that are just as ungodly as the diets of overweight people. I have begun asking myself, "Is this good for me?" instead of "Is this fattening?" A healthy eating plan honors God.
Learn to fast. Consistent fasting produces both physical and spiritual discipline and control. Try fasting one meal this week. Next week, fast two meals on the same day, and during the third week, fast the entire day. Be sure to drink plenty of water and juice. Take the time you would normally spend eating to pray and read the Bible. Fasting leads to physical and spiritual cleansing as it paves the way for godly discipline.
Get moving. A friend once told me that her favorite exercise was opening and closing the refrigerator door. Hmmm ... not good! Set realistic goals in the area of exercise. Start with fifteen minutes a day, three times a week. Gradually increase the time spent exercising. Choose an activity with a dual purpose. For example, while you are walking, you can pray. Walking can be a healthy way of dealing with anger, venting frustration to God instead of others. A walk can also serve as a "mini-retreat" during a chaotic day. Ask God to change your perspective of exercise – then take the first step. He will meet you there.
We need to remember that our bodies house the Holy Spirit. In what condition is your dwelling place for God? Is He pleased with His temple? A lack of physical discipline is a foothold for the enemy, an unlocked door through which disobedience and failure ride on the wings of Satan's best schemes. It is time for us to embrace and apply physical discipline as a gift and commandment from God.
Father, I celebrate the amazing truth that You chose to live in me, and that my body is Your temple. Please forgive me when I abuse that temple, Lord. I need Your strength and power to apply Godly discipline in my life.
In Jesus's name,
Now It's Your Turn
Memorize 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV) "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."
Record this verse in your journal. Then write it in your own words and make it your prayer today.
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