Back in the day, the great high priests would sacrifice bulls and goats,  i.e., a sacrifice of blood,  as a means of atonement for the sins of the people. But this had to be done repeatedly, as these sacrifices were impure and basically “powerless” to take our sins away. This was the old way.  Fast forward hundreds of years later and we discover radical love that is unfathomable to comprehend but compelling enough to believe and embrace. God, rich in mercy and grace, was pleased to “bruise” his only son. Yes, to put his only Son to death. Why? So that the sacrifices for mankind could be settled once and for all. So that we could be redeemed by pure blood and gain access to the throne of grace, yes, God’s throne, and to receive His mercy and be made whole. The prophet Isaiah foretells our true redemption, and paints the story so eloquently:

“He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole” (Isaiah 53:5 AMP).

 All we have to do is believe and receive this extraordinary gift to find ourselves in the very presence of God  This is the new way.  This IS radical love.Radical Love

(For further reading go to Isaiah 53; Hebrews 9-10; Romans 10:9)

 

holy-spirit-best-bestInevitably, at the start of each New Year, many of us scramble to find a diet, fitness plan, or quick fix weight loss program that we are determined to stick with, making the resolve that this time it’s going to work. This year it’s going to be different.

A few are successful, but most are not [1]. With a prognosis of grim results observed from our past, (past behavior is a predictor of future behavior), we put ourselves into a “false hope syndrome” and in the end we feel worse, not better, and our pocket books are drained by yet another failed attempt at dieting.

We focus on the body so much and we believe that achieving mastery over it will bring the happiness and satisfaction we crave. Indeed there is much benefit to living healthy and physically active lifestyles.  However, when we focus on weight loss as being the means to the end, we are sadly going about it the wrong way, joining others in the rat race of chasing yet another diet program that offers the fix we are after.

At the start of a New Year, making goals and resolutions is great. It gives us hope and drives us towards making positive changes in our behavior.  Losing weight and achieving health and fitness is a noble goal we all can aspire towards.  But to be successful and turn that weight loss into an habitual pattern of an altered lifestyle, we may need to consider how to lose weight from the inside out.

Oh yes! It bears repeating: We may need to consider how to lose weight from the inside out. We didn’t gain all of our excess weight by being emotionally and spiritually healthy! There are a myriad of reasons why our nation has an epidemic of obesity occurring.  What’s yours?  This is a good place to start in the journey of weight loss. First define what brought on the excess weight in the first place.  We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.  Once you have figured this out, you have something to work with and most likely you have some soul care to implement, rather than behavioral change.

In the realm of wholeness, we are spirit, soul, and body. The body is our lowest realm of existence. Thankfully we will receive new bodies when we pass from the flesh and move into eternity. [2]  On the other hand, it is our soul, which comprises the mind, will, and emotions, that drives the bus and steers our behaviors in one direction or another. Scripture teaches that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 NKJV).   With over 450 million individuals suffering from a mental health disorder, with depression, anxiety, and unstable moods topping the list [3], it is quite telling of the health of one’s soul by the words he or she puts forth.  Until we can get our emotional health in order, or rather, learn how to nourish our souls, we are in grave danger for negative outcomes. Stated like this, it seems silly to distract ourselves with a diet to lose weight, while ignoring the heart behind it.

Our soul on the other hand can be managed by the beckoning needs of our flesh, or the whisper of our spirit.  We can respond to the appeal for immediate gratification or we can discipline ourselves by what we know in our heart is best.  It’s not easy. Jesus teaches us to be on the alert because the “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).  Therefore if we are not feeding our spirit, it is obvious which of the two will rule.  Scripture teaches that we can’t live off of bread alone. Real living is when we press into the realm of our creator, and feed off of His bread, the Word of God. (Deut. 8:3 NKJV).

With our spirit man as the highest level of existence, this would be the place to start, and a noble goal for the New Year.  Feed the spirit. Get to know your Creator. Learn about His blueprint for living life and relating to others.  Find out about the love He has for you and the gifts that are there for the taking.  When we walk according to the Spirit, our flesh no longer rules. (Gal 5:16). This leads to a healthier soul, and in turn, a healthier body.

Change directions this New Year. Don’t go on another diet.  Instead, consider how you might feed the spirit, nourish the soul, and then, lose weight from the inside out.

 

feed the spirit

[1] A systematic review of commercial and self-help weight loss interventions showed at best 3.2% weight loss maintained after 1 year and at worse, most gaining back 50% or more of lost weight after 1-2 years. Tsai, A. G., & Wadden, T. A. (2005). Systematic review: An evaluation of major commercial weight loss programs in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142(1), 56-66.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 NKJV

[3] World Health Organization (2013). Investing in Mental Health. http://www.who.int/mental_health/publications/financing/investing_in_mh_2013/en/

 

eucharisteoIt’s easy to talk about being thankful during this Holiday Season for all the many blessings we experience in our lives. No sweat there.  But what about other times, when the blessings seem few and far between?  Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in “all” circumstances. Note, he doesn’t tell us to be thankful for our situation, but rather, to be thankful in our situation.

  • When the bills are due and the finances are low;
  • When alcoholism or pornography take a front row seat in our marriages;
  • When our spouse walks away in pursuit of another bride;
  • When the child we poured our hearts into has plummeted into a self-destructive path of addictions;
  • When the business fails and our dreams are shattered;
  • When friends lie, or loved ones pass away;
  • When trauma strikes,

…..how can we find any reason to be thankful?

Or worse yet, how in the world are we supposed to even come close to following the exhortation of James (1:2) who tells us to “consider it all joy” when we encounter various trials? Beats me.

But there is a greater story in the midst of our sufferings. It is a story of rescue, redemption, and hope. It is a story intertwined in the infamous cliché that we hear so often, “Let go and let God.”  It is a story of faith in a God who is not only sovereign, but intimately compassionate towards us. The psalmist writes, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and [delivers] those who are crushed in spirit” (34:18).  For that, we can be thankful.

Ann Voskamp writes about her own painful journey toward thankfulness in her book, One Thousand Gifts.[1] “How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing–through-to-
God places? How do [we] give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion?” Her answer? Eucharisteo. Or simply put, thanksgiving.

But there’s more. Eucharisteo envelopes joy, and grace. Eucharisteo is to fully live – “To live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.” Is this possible? Voskamp says that it is, but only if we dare to live an emptier, fuller life. It begins with an attitude of thankfulness, not just for the many blessings in our lives, but for the painful circumstances that bid us to search deep for the beauty if we are to survive. Eucharisteo: it is the Greek word with the hard meaning and the even harder meaning to live.” But it is the only way to live from “empty to full.”

James adds that in choosing joy in the midst of our trials, we grow, we mature, and afterwards, we receive the crown of victory that God has promised to those who love Him (1:12).

Thanksgiving is about more than thankfulness. It is the beginning of an answer to the curveballs of adversity that come our way. Thanksgiving is defined within Eucharisto. But only if we choose, and only if we dare.

I dare. Do you?

[1] Voskamp, A. (2010). One thousand gifts: a dare to live fully right where you are. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

 

Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids that is absolutely necessary for our health. Fats, or “lipids,” play a big role in how our body functions.  Lipids are essential components of cellular membranes, the means through which cell-flaxseed_oilto-cell communication takes place.  Keeping toxic substances out, while allowing necessary nutrients in, is largely dependent on the health of the membranes.  Research has shown that a deficiency in omega-3 fats may be linked to the high prevalence of inflammatory disease that we are seeing today. Adding flax to your diet on a daily basis can be one solution to this problem.  Flax oil is nutrient dense and very sensitive to heat, humidity, light, and oxygen.  It is best not to cook with flax, but to incorporate it in salad dressings or other cold foods such as guacamole, or hummus.  Flax seed can be ground up and used in protein smoothies, oatmeal, or sprinkled over soups and salads.

Flax Tips:

1. Store both the oil version or the ground flax in the refrigerator.

2. Only grind small amounts of flax seed at a time and use 1 tablespoon when adding into foods or smoothies. Refrigerate the remaining.

3. Consume 3 servings of essential fatty acids daily and choose organic flax seeds that you can grind for the freshest source of omega-3 fat.

You can barely see them in the darkness of the early morning hour.  Huddled together under the park’s shelter, they chat lively as they await the sound-off from their coach.  The sun begins to peak above the horizon and the dawn’s light gives a glimpse of the women. If you look closely, you can see that they are almost naked.Almost Naked

Oh they are clothed alright, but barely. Shorts, tanks and sports bras are the preferred attire.  With their hair pulled back, head donned with a cap, visor, or headband, and virtually no makeup, these women come in all shapes and sizes, and they dare to expose their most vulnerable self. There is little room for pretensions. Walls are broken down and masks are removed.  Some have never run before and others have been running for years.  Some are fast and some are slow.

Stripped of professional titles and corporate affiliations, these women are connected together by their running shoes. Profession by trade makes no difference; Socio-economic status does not matter; Age is not an issue; Sexual orientation has no bearing; The color of one’s skin is irrelevant.  They are CEO’s, business owners, professional executives, nurses, teachers, students, store clerks, waitresses, housewives, and unemployed.  They share many faiths, Bahia, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Buddhists, or none of the above.   They are married, divorced, single, or in a significant relationship.  They are wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, and sisters.   But you don’t see any of that.  What you see is that they are almost naked, and they come together for one purpose: to get their run on.

What you see is what you get when you’re almost naked. Young or old, fat or thin, these ladies unite in a spirit of community and acceptance. Many seek to get their bodies back in shape after years of neglect and weight gain. Some are hoping to avoid getting caught up in the epidemic of obesity.  Others want to maintain their shape and improve their health.  Some simply want to reduce stress or find an outlet to help them deal with a challenging life circumstance.

Whatever the reasons, they have one thing in common: the courage to take the first step. Our goals are simple. Complete each mile in 18 minutes or less, and cross the finish line. Collectively, the women find encouragement and support from one another.  Connections are made, bridges are built, and hearts are woven together as they get their run on.  With the support of each other, they stay the course with their training as they pursue a goal. In the process, their lives are changed forever. These gals are members of the FAB 50 Women on the Run team, and together, they are almost naked.

Now you too can get in on the fun and be part of a revolution that sees women push through self-imposed limitations and achieve what they never dreamed possible! Get naked (almost) and join with us! Go to FAB 50 Women on the Run and get signed up for our next training program! We’ll see YOU at the start line!

 Most people think your life changes forever the second you cross the finish line.

Runners know your life changes forever the second you decide to go to the starting line.

 

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