Blog by Jenny & Mark Rowan
Each January a little less than half of Americans make resolutions. Nearly 70% of the people polled by Nielsen set their goals around one thing. Being healthy. Whether it’s staying fit or losing weight, a lot of people want to have healthy, strong bodies. You may have set some health goals for the year that you are already working towards. Way to go!
The fitness and health business is a multi-billion dollar industry. Healthy food choices are paramount as more and more of us look for non-GMO, gluten-free, sugar-free, no artificial additives, and whole grain options. There are gyms everywhere. Gyms for ladies. Gyms for people that don’t work out. Gyms for really huge dudes that pull tractor trailers with their teeth. Gyms for torture enthusiasts (CrossFit). Clearly, we are aware of the need for good health.
Get In Shape
We’ve established that Americans are really concerned about their physical health, but what about their spiritual health? In his letter to Timothy, Paul addressed this in I Timothy 4:8(NIV), “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” My paraphrase: Being healthy is a good idea as long as you are investing more into your relationship with God.
I jumped on the “get in shape” resolution train a few months early, and started exercising regularly and eating better. It has definitely made a difference in my life. My pants are baggier. I can wear some of those cool slim fit shirts. I have more energy. All of which are great benefits, but my bodily health has not affected my godliness, as Paul puts it. You may be advanced enough to combine connecting with God and strengthening your body. I am not. The only spiritual connection I am having while exercising is an occasional “Jesus, help me!” Burpees are excellent for strengthening your core, but there are some entirely different exercises that will get your inner man in shape.
Get With God
Godliness starts with God. I took some Bible classes when I was at Liberty University and this deep theological knowledge has allowed me this insight. Kidding aside, our spiritual health is derived from the One who made our spirit alive. If we do not make time to connect with God on a regular basis, our inner strength will be diminished. Walking a mile once a week will leave a marathon runner in dire straits when race day arrives. Just like a runner needs a consistent regimen to enable him to run his race well, we have to have a regular meet up with God to see the spiritual results we desire.
Developing a deep relationship with God is not a mystery that is unattainable. If we want to get to know someone better we ask questions and listen. This is prayer. Sure, there are many types of prayer for different occasions, but at the base level it is having a conversation with our Daddy. I recommend a journal to keep track of your journey with God. As I mentioned, ask questions and listen for responses that don’t sound like you. For instance, “Go forgive that person that hurt you five years ago,” or “I’m so proud of you. You make me happy.” These are the types of messages we get from God … the ones that we never imagine saying on our own.
Getting with God doesn’t need to be four hours in the storage closet starting at three in the morning. Maybe that’s not a bad idea every once in a while, but if we can carve out 15 minutes of alone time with Him it will greatly enhance our day and our lives. When I started working out and eating less, I set out to lose 40 pounds. That doesn’t happen in a week, but one or two pounds for six months … that is very possible. Begin to make room for a few more minutes in God’s presence and see how you will be strengthened by this time next year.
Get in the Word
The Bible is our exercise manual for life. It gives us the necessary instruction and wisdom to live spiritually strong and healthy. Without it we are like the guy using the leg extension machine with his forehead. It’s not super effective and we look silly.
Our time in the Bible goes hand in hand with prayer and intimacy with God. Hearing from God on a regular basis begins with knowing what He has already said in His word. Some of the answers to the problems we face are waiting in the Bible for us to discover. If the only scripture we read is on the screen on Sundays, we’re missing out on life-altering wisdom and truth.
There are many ways to “get the Word in you” … memory verses, word studies, reading plans, etc. I’ll be highlighting three ways to bolster your spiritual health through the Word of God.
- Original language study – I use this often. The Blue Letter Bible is a great resource for learning about the original language used to write the Bible. You may be surprised to learn that Jesus did not speak with a British accent. He more than likely spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. The writers of the Bible spoke and wrote those languages as well as Greek. The Blue Letter Bible gives the definitions of every word of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Don’t worry. You don’t have to become a tri-linguist in order to read it. Everything is in English, as well. It not only gives additional depth of understanding to the culture of the Bible but also greater insight into the heart of God.
- Subject study – Have you ever wondered what God thinks about a particular subject? If so, there’s a good chance you can find out His thoughts by reading what He already wrote down. For instance, if you are struggling with depressing thoughts, pull out your favorite Bible app and find everything you can on joy. Write the verses down. Read over them. Memorize them. Read them some more. What the Bible has to say about a particular subject is not just good information. It is life-infused truth that comes from the very heart of God. Despite all the changes in culture and advances in technology, the shepherds of Israel faced the same basic issues of life that we do today. God’s Word is eternal and powerful.
- One Year Bible – My wife Jenny will relay her experience with the One Year Bible … My parents made me start reading the One Year Bible at the age of 7 years old. I read it every year till I was 18 years old. That was 11 times in a row that I read the entire Bible. If you have ever said I want to read the entire Bible the One Year Bible is a great plan and an even better plan to start at the beginning of a new year because it is broken up for you in daily readings that start on January 1st and go every day till the end of the year. Each reading takes about 10 minutes long includes an Old Testament passage, New Testament passage, Psalms and Proverbs. My parents also had me write in a spiral notebook after my reading. This helped me digest what I was reading. I had to write three things. 1. What did God say to me? 2. What do I say to God? 3. Favorite scripture from that days reading. As the years passed I realized how much I was learning and really was beyond thankful for the foundation my parents laid for me.
Hopefully by the end of the year you will have eaten more kale and quinoa than you thought possible and crushed every single one of your WODs. (Workout of the Day for you noobs.) Those goals are noteworthy and valuable, but I hope you have also spent more time with Jesus than you ever have. I hope the truth you learned from the Bible has forever changed how you love yourself and others. I hope you have discovered a place in the heart of God you never knew was there. May this be the healthiest year of your life!
Bible Study: Go through the entire Bible in 2017 with the “As It Happened” chronological Bible reading plan. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/2053-as-it-happened