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Are you Training? Or Just Working-Out? (Knowing the difference can help you achieve success for all your endeavors)

If you’ve been having trouble meeting some of your goals lately (in anything), take this Mini-Quiz below to see if you notice any patterns that might explain the mediocre results. Then, read the Keeping Room Tips for support and solutions to help you learn how to love training.

Mini-Quiz:

When you exercise, do you a) generally feel proud to get your heartbeat up for a while and knock out a few calisthenics and strengtheners, or do you b) operate within a challenging, specific training regimen to precisely target certain fat zones, strengthen and tone specific weak areas, invigorate lesser-used ligaments and joints, move your body for a certain performance, steadily maintain and assess certain health objectives, etc.?

When it comes to your eating choices, do you a) mostly boast that you eat a “balanced diet” (which includes regular desserts and frequent fast-food runs along with plentiful fruits and vegetables), or do you have b) certain consumption percentages allocated for each food group, purposeful eating techniques for raising metabolism and lowering blood sugar, a sharp eye for portion control, a customized menu for your body and age with a variety of certain foods and complete exclusion of others, etc.?

In order to grow closer to Jesus, do you a) more or less read for a few minutes to wherever your Bible flops open, say a blessing over your meals, and go to Church or Bible study, or do you b) open yourself up to deeply receive His love, purposely and consistently invest your best time and energy into getting to know Him, give yourself to Him as much as to your best friend or spouse, etc.?

For any of your goals, have you a) repeatedly allowed guilt, a person, institution, or popular thought to determine for you what and how to do things, or b) through the strength and loving security of your own relationship with God, have you taken ownership for what He wants you to be doing, created your own plan for fulfilling your calling during this season of your life, boldly stood up for what you believe He made you to accomplish, learned how to say “no” to what others are doing or think you should be doing, secured the accountability partner of your choice, etc.?

Keeping Room Tips:  

*If you answered “a” to any of the questions above, and/or have struggled to meet other personal goals and can’t understand why you have fallen short, you don’t have to follow the exact examples above or take things to unhealthy extremes. Instead, be inspired. You just might secure the success you’re looking for by changing your approach to something more difficult, targeted, disciplined, specific, individualized, and training-oriented.

*If you feel overwhelmed after taking the quiz or the idea of training sounds too intense to you, don’t quit, or try to muster up more will power. Go to a safe person in your life for support, lean on your relationship with the Lord for courage, and turn to God’s Word for the truth.

*Understand the meaning of the word training:

  • to develop the thoughts, habits, and behaviors of another person by discipline and instruction
  • to make proficient by instruction and practice

*Enjoy praying these short, powerful, Scriptural prayers:

  • “Train me, God.” (Ps. 86:11, Msg.)
  • “Train me in all your ways of wise living.” (Ps. 119:9-16, Msg.)
  • “Train me well in your deep wisdom.” (Ps. 119:25-32, Msg.)
  • “Train me to live by your counsel.” (Ps. 119:57-64, Msg.)
  • “Train me in common sense; train me in your goodness.” (Ps. 119:65-72, Msg.)

*Store these passages in your memory bank:

  • He trains your hands for battle; trains you to fight fair and well. (Ps. 18:34, NIV; 144:1-2, Msg.)
  • Everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. (Lk. 6:40)
  • Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Cor. 9:25)
  • Train yourself to be Godly. (1 Tim. 4:7)
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16)
  • Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:14)
  • No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:11)

*Trust God as your Personal Trainer: He is the Trainer of Nations and he can certainly train you to reach the heights that are just right for you. Set yourself aside to be trained in holiness and be amazed at what He will do in you in all areas. (Ps. 18:33 NIV; 94:8-12, Msg.; Amos 2:11, Msg.)

Ash Wednesday (Fasting)

Her husband’s been in Iranian prison for 2 1/2 years – because he’s a Christian. Their two young children experience the pain and agony of a missing daddy, while they hope and pray they won’t have to celebrate their next birthdays without him. Naghmeh Abedini’s response to her husband’s persecution is to seek God’s face and His breakthrough. She doesn’t know what that breakthrough will entail; she leaves that up to God while she holds tight to Him each day. A major means through which she seeks God is through prayer and fasting. In January, she fasted from coffee and chocolate for the three weeks leading up to the anniversary of the day Saeed was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment for his Christian faith. During her fast, she found herself focusing less on their loss and pain, and more on the Lord and His goodness, richness, and faithfulness. Her time of prayer and fasting helped her to remember and reclaim that “Saeed and I chose to associate with Christ and suffer for Him rather than to live this short life seeking passing pleasures…As I pray and seek the Lord, I am believing for a great harvest for the Muslim world!”

Eric and Leslie Ludy don’t have a convenient life with a little bit of ministry thrown in. Rather, they live a strenuous, obedient lifestyle with Christ at the center – habitually fasting from the entertainment of this culture so that they can experience Him more. They’ve made persistent prayer their daily job description, and fasting from modern pleasures is their way of life so that their spiritual work will make change in the physical world. Through fasting from Netflix and other common forms of relaxing, they quiet themselves to hear how Jesus is interceding for the world and they join Him. “Spending an hour in the presence of God is more refreshing and renewing to us than any Hollywood mind escape ever could be.” An hour in the presence of God is no small feat to accomplish while running a full-time ministry and staying present with their 6 young children running around the house. Yet, He not only makes it doable, He’s the reason they can do it at all.

Keeping Room Tips:

Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) is a perfect day that you can claim a Lenten fast for yourself. To understand more of the benefits of Ash Wednesday and Lent, click here for part 1 of this two-part series.

A fast doesn’t have to be giving up something; it can be adding something challenging to your routine. Here are a few book titles to consider if your Lenten fast includes additional reading, prayer, or spiritual discipline:

  • “Wrestling Prayer, a Passionate Communion with God” by Eric & Leslie Ludy
  • “A Place at the Table, 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor” by Chris Seay
  • “Help! I’m a Slave to Food” by Shannon Kay McCoy
  • “Captive in Iran, A Remarkable True Story of Hope and Triumph amid the Horror of Tehran’s Brutal Evin Prison” by Maryam Rostampour & Marziyeh Amirizadeh with John Perry

Fasting is an amazing opportunity for you to be put in a position where you cannot rely on your own strength. You will have to rely on God, and in that dependency, His strength will show up for you in a way that’s incomparable to any other time before. Fasting will also give you greater humility and repentance, leading you to experience transformation and greater love and passion for the Lord and for others.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke…” (Acts 13:2)

Ash Wednesday (Benefits to participating)

Ash Wednesday is next week, and with this launch of the Lenten season comes the potential for having a fresh experience with God. There is no Biblical command that tells you to put ashes on your forehead once a year and to give up chocolate for 40 days. Rather, the Lenten season is an inviting, specified time of reflection, repentance, sacrifice, and self-discipline that begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Easter Sunday. By joining with your brothers and sisters in Christ in this church tradition, you will have an opportunity for renewal and to walk in even more freedom than before.  

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never participated in Ash Wednesday or Lent, or if the Lenten season has always been a part of your life, you can start at any time of your life, and you can make new memories with God each time. Best of all, you can meet God through Lent in a way that is creative, unique, and personal to you.

Keeping Room Tips:

Make it your Ash Wednesday in order to partner with Christ. It is so easy in this distracting world to feel distant from God. A dependable way to connect with and relate to Christ is to make sacrifices or to even suffer. The world glorifies happiness and absence of pain, but the Bible glorifies Christ who took on sorrows for a grand mission. You may find that self-denial this Lenten season draws you closer to the heart of Christ and motivates you to serve Him like never before. “We are co-heirs with Christ if we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Rom. 8:17)

Make it your Ash Wednesday in order to be trained in divine discipline. It’s tempting to try to muster up self-discipline in your life, but it’s much more effective and consistent if you allow the Lord to do the disciplining of you instead. Obey His suggestion for where you need His discipline and you may find yourself developing a new habit this Lenten season that you’ve been longing for your whole life. “I will discipline you, but only in due measure.” (Jer. 30:11)

Make it your Ash Wednesday in order to live more freely. Letting God get a hold of you during a spiritual journey such as Lent will stretch you and bring life into your soul. You’ll bear more fruits of His spirit and find yourself feeling more true to who He created you to be. You’ll be loving and serving others more, and finding yourself more fulfilled as His Spirit leads you. “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness… It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time… Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (Gal. 5:16, 19, 25-26, Msg.)

 

Recognizing the Gift of the Sabbath

The 17-year old boy sits in church dressed in modern clothes and has the fashionable “swoopy” hair. He is outgoing, well-rounded, and active like so many of his peers.

Yet, he comprehends a truth that most boys his age do not know. He understands and lives according to Mark 2:27. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, this boy knows that Divinely Set-Apart Rest is a gift to him; not the other way around. Best of all, he feels unrestricted by any man-made ideas about what a Sabbath “should be,” and instead feels free to engage in Sabbath rest in the Biblical way the Lord leads him personally.

So, what does it look like when this particular teen observes the Sabbath? He purposely leaves his phone in his car when he arrives at church. He ceases all conversation once he walks into the sanctuary with his dad and brother. He isn’t too cool to sing the songs, even the hymns. He listens intently to the sermon and becomes solemn when he participates in Communion. After taking the Bread and Wine, he sits in the pew with his head bowed low, his back hunched over, and his elbows on his knees in serious prayer. He has no need to see what others are doing or to know if the song is almost over. As busy as he is all week long, he knows this is a gift of time between him and his Lord, and he doesn’t want to miss out. Then as he exits the service, he reconnects with others with a fresh dose of strength and energy.

The next generation has been largely convinced that Sabbath-rest is archaic and unrealistic for the modern age. Such messages are robbery of Truth, but this boy points to a renewed Biblical perspective.

Keeping Room Tips:

Don’t assume taking a Sabbath rest will be boring and irrelevant. Divine Rest is active and refreshing. When He leads you beside quiet waters, He will restore your soul. (Ps. 23:2-3)

Worldly rest can’t compare to God’s rest. Your soul can only find its true rest in Him. (Ps. 62:1)

Don’t get caught up in a certain way to observe the Sabbath. Just preoccupy yourself with the God of the Sabbath – and the method, restfulness, and joy will follow. (Mt. 12:9-12; Is. 58:13-14)

When to Break the Rules

Do you think you are a Rule-Follower?  Or perhaps this is your motto: Rules were made to be broken!   Actually, you can evaluate all of the rules in your life to determine whether to follow them, break them, or even make new ones!  Some rules are really good for you; others may or may not be.  It depends.   The key to knowing what to do about rules is found in their source.  See below for the various sources of rules

Keeping Room Tips:

1)   If the source is God…These rules – like waiting for marriage to have sex – are there for you out of love, and are truly best for you even if you can’t understand them now.   These rules, His rules, are always for keeps!   All his commands are trustworthy (Ps. 119:86).

2)   If the source is an Authority in your life…When these rules don’t violate Biblical principles, they are rules you’re bound to for a time.   You may not like one of these rules, and you may not have to follow it forever – like your mom’s rule of “no food in bedrooms” or your boss’s rule of “no meetings at this venue” – but you benefit when you follow these rules.  Positions of authority are placed there by God (Rom. 13:1).

3)   If the source of the “rules” is Others…These “rules” may not be worth following.  These “rules” may actually be expectations from others.  Someone recently announced, “Remember Who is in control, and don’t worry about those who think they are.”  Just because someone thinks you are bound to take them to lunch once a week doesn’t necessarily mean you are.  However, the decision to break these “rules” should be made carefully with wisdom, godly counsel, and prayer.  Look after the good of others and make sure not to do things just out of your own convenience (Rom. 15:1, Msg).

4)  If the source is You… You can make these rules out of love, and with God as your Guide, so that you’re moving according to His Will.  Making up your own rules – like “I won’t allow myself to text other friends while I’m watching a movie with one friend” or “I won’t turn on the TV until I’ve connected with my wife and kids” – can actually be a lot of fun and the results can be awesome!   God’s immense grace allows for anything, but that’s not the point… (1 Cor. 10:23-24, Msg).

Obedience is a Pain

You don’t have to be convinced that obedience is a pleasure.  You’ve experienced the lack of desire to obey a teacher, parent, authority, or God. You know the tension of resisting obedience to what you know is right.  You even know what it’s like to obey when you aren’t convinced it is the best thing to do.  Whether you are a student who has to obey adults and God, or an adult who is prompted by God to obey Him, you truly know the discomfort, difficulty, and pain of obedience.  But how well do you know the Reward?

Things will go well for you when you obey (Jer. 7:23).  When you put obedience before your desires, your next steps will have a full blessing of Christ (Rom. 15:23-29).  Once you gain a reputation of being obedient, others will be full of joy over you (Rom. 16:19).   The more you obey God, the more you will be operating in prosperous (Deut. 5:33), intimate relationship with Him (Josh. 22:5, Jn. 14:23).  Before you know it, you’ll be obedient because you really love His commands (Ps. 119:167).  Believe that obedience is a Beautiful Pain.

Keeping Room Tips:  1. Ask God to change your heart so that you will trust His will and lose any desire to disobey.  2. Ask God to give you confirmation (through circumstances, signals, words from others etc.) about what it is you are to do.  3. When possible or appropriate, tell someone when you’re being called to obey, (otherwise, it’s too easy to disobey when the command is kept in secret).  4. After you obey, make note of the rewards. Then, you will naturally want to praise God for His provision and faithfulness, and for His high and surpassing ways (Is. 55:9, Msg).