Tag Archives: Exercise

Finishing


I like to workout. There is something about exercise that I just really enjoy. Now I must admit that often in the middle of a routine, I become discussed with myself for calling this “fun.” Most of the time I get along fine, but every now and then I go through a routine that makes me think I’m sick in the head. This kind of happened the other day.
I was out at the high school track doing a routine in the heat of the afternoon. About a third of the way through, I was ridiculing myself for choosing this activity. I was tired, dripping sweat, and frustrated with how slow I was going. But that’s when I really started thinking things through.
I was really considering quitting part of the way through but I knew I would feel more frustrated with myself for quitting than I would feel tired from working hard. At that point, it became a matter of will and shear determination to finish. So I set out for one more lunge at a time. And as I was lunging around the track I had another thought.
How many times do I face something in life that it feels easier to quit than to finish? There are times that a job seems more difficult than it is worth, or a relationship seems easier to let go than to work through. In the middle of it all, quitting seems like a better idea. It sometimes seems like all the pain, sweat, and frustration is just not worth it.
Sometimes following Jesus seems the same way. It is not and easy thing to set out to follow His call and pattern of life. As a matter of fact, it’s completely against our nature. So is running up and down high school stadium stairs. There is nothing natural about that. But if I continue to train and practice, it does become slightly less painful each time.
I think it is the same in obeying Jesus’ call. Each time I say yes to Him and no to quitting, it becomes a bit easier. Or at least it is one more victory to celebrate!
In Philippians, Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew this whole follow and obey Jesus thing was not easy. It would take one step at a time, shear determination, and Christ to finish well.
Part of me really did not want to finish that day at the track. But the idea of quitting became unoptional. That is how I want to live my life following Jesus. I don’t want to peter out before the end- no matter how tempting it is. My prayer is to take one more step (forget what is behind), stay focused on the challenge (strain for what is ahead), and finish well (press on toward the goal).


I despise Fifer Scissors


I really do. I realize to hate something is pretty strong. But I think I can safely say that I hate Fifer Scissors. Fifer Scissors is one of the exercise moves in the P90x ab routine. In the exercise, you are suppose to lie on your back with your arms down on at the side of your body. Then you start with your right leg extended straight into the air and your left let extended and lifted just an inch or so above the ground. You hold that position for about 2 seconds then switch legs- left extending into the air and right hovering above the floor. Repeat 25 times. I hate it.

For some reason, every other exercise is fine with me, but this one makes me crazy. I dislike it so much, I have (a few times) negotiated with myself weather or not I will do the exercise. It generally goes like this, “Well, I’m doing all the other exercises so I think I can skip this one. Yeah, and plus it’s late. So skipping this one means I’m 2 minutes closer to going to bed and sleep is an essential part of good health. Okay, I’m going to skip it.”

Then one day I had this thought… it came somewhere around the 12th move (that’s generally when I  remember how much I dislike this exercise). The thought was this: I need to change my thinking. I need realize that I am frustrated with my out-of-shape core more than I hate the scissors exercise. The whole point is supposed to have a better, stronger core. And Fifer Scissors is part of accomplishing that goal. So now I push through them. And when I reach move 12, I remind myself that I hate having a flabby stomach more than I dislike Fifer Scissors.

So now is where we learn our discipleship lesson… Did you see it coming? I was pushing through the exercise one day and it dawned on me. The way I have begun to think about Fifer Scissors and pushing though to achieve my goal, is similar to the mindset I need to have concerning sin. There is no doubt that I do not want sin in my life. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God hate sin. (Just read through Leviticus.)

But often, I think of the practice of removing sin from my life as more difficult than just living with the sin. It seems easier to just not think about the jokes I’m laughing at or telling, than to retrain my thinking according to Ephesians 4:29. Or it’s seems easier to hold onto bitterness instead of love. Or it is easier to call complaining “venting,” instead of realizing that it’s actually contrary to the way Jesus wants me to live (Philippians 2:14-16). But if I’m going to live the way Jesus wants me to and calls me to, then I need to change my thinking.

I need to filter what I’m doing and saying through a Christ-like mindset. I have to train myself to think according to God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). I need to hate my sin more than the practice of retraining my thinking. But don’t forget the good news that goes with changing our thinking-

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law ofthe Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodiesthrough his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:1-11)

We have God on our side through the process. He is the one who grants us the strength we need in the process- if we will take it! And here’s the other great part, Fifer Scissors are a lot easier to do now than when I first began. And in the same way, if I continue to allow God to shape my thinking, it will become easier down the road too.


Obsession: the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.


I like to exercise. I like that feeling of physical exhaustion. Now here is something I do not enjoy- mornings. (And since moving into the mountain time zone from pacific time, morning time has just been killer for me.) I have always said that I would know I’m obsessed with exercise if I actually got up in the morning to workout. That would be the clue that I had gone from just enjoying and being disciplined about working out, to a crazy obsession.

Well, I seemed to have crossed that line today. I was out kind of late last night and just could not get motivated to do my workout when I got home. So I set my alarm for early this morning, got up, and pushed play on my P90X workout dvd. I was about halfway through (that’s probably when I really started to wake up) when I realized that this action was my clue to obsession. And I started thinking, “How did I convince myself to do this?!”

More than that, I began to wonder about my clues that indicate I’m totally into and obsessed with following Jesus. What is the evidence in life that following Jesus has totally consumed me? I knew that when the practice of exercising crossed into the morning time, it would mean I had gone beyond a practice. It was my indication that this was more important to me than doing something out of routine or feeling like I “have” to. So how do we know when following Jesus moves from a practice to an obsession?

I think scripture helps us look for those clues. Especially that part about the fruit of the Spirit… When I realize I love someone with a genuine compassion and passion, and not just because I’m “supposed” to… that’s a pretty good clue. Or when I have true joy that I cannot explain and not just a “grin and bear it” approach to circumstances, that’s a pretty good clue. That list is a great way to measure our obsession- or lack- of following Jesus.

Following him is really not rocket science. It’s not hard to discover what he desires for us- I mean, we have list of clues to know if we are living the way that he desires. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

But here is something that this morning reminded me of- it does take practice. Believe me, getting up this morning to workout was not a decision that I made on the fly. It was made because of the habit and practice of working out that I have been establishing over the last four weeks. Obsession came after dedicated practice… So while it is not hard to discover what following Jesus means, it will take practice- daily, weekly dedication. And slowly, it becomes an obsession. Something we cannot help but do and pursue.