Celebrate Freedom and Dependence
CBN.com Freedom – It’s a beautiful thing. We have the capacity to think, believe, speak and live uniquely and individually. Freedom converts that capability into BEING. Who you are matters to you. It is your personal value that is central to your very spirit. It matters to others too because that value, nurtured in freedom, is what will have some impact in the lives of your family, friends, contacts and quite possibly many more in the future. The effect of freedom on you translated into others is your heritage. It matters to God too. In fact your freedom matters so much to God that He designed it to be central in what you might call the big master plan.
It’s a bit of a mystery to say the least that God – this all-powerful creator of the universe who has always existed and knows our future would hardwire into our very essence, our spiritual DNA, the freewill gene. He has. True to His nature, He has done this without compromise. And – it makes all the difference. This God-engineered freedom innately working in each of us is creating our eternity. That doesn’t steal any of His thunder. It doesn’t make Him any less God. He has spoken the very universe into existence and He has authored the ultimate model of freedom.
So, what’s this have to do with your physical fitness and your active lifestyle. Quite a bit if you embrace the notion that your faith is central to every aspect of you.
How do you celebrate freedom? We asked you to share what freedom means to you and make a declaration of ‘dependence’. Take a look at what nine Faith & Fitness Magazine readers are saying. See how living a faith and fitness lifestyle is a beautiful way to celebrate freedom and dependence.
I celebrate God giving freedom because I fell in love with Jesus and learned how to have a relationship with God. Now, I work every day to live like Jesus. A few years ago I was dark, depressed, overweight and far away from God. I went through my teenage years being tormented through a verbally abusive marriage that ended in divorce at age 19. After that in college I lived a life of partying . I lost 60 pounds at the age of 21. My body was healthy but my mind and soul weren’t. I hit rock bottom after a bad break up and became depressed. I decided to start attending church more often. I got baptized, joined a life group, started volunteering at church and in the community, started reading my Bible and praying daily.
My dependence on God is what has helped me through so many difficult times and obstacles in life. He has given me vision for what He wants me to do with my life. But I’ve often felt stuck not knowing how to fulfill that vision. One night a few months ago, I surrendered my entire life to God. I spend a lot of time with Him in prayer and ask for help with specific things so that I can help others through my fitness coaching. After praying more and seeking Him each day, He helped me get to the point with my business that I could quit my full-time job. I feel so blessed. Now I always say, “God is working in all of us, He just needs you to stop trying to control everything yourself, let it go, seek Him, and just have faith!”
I celebrate how God has given me freedom from the lies I held onto for years regarding my sense of worth and self esteem. From my teen years straight into my early twenties, I struggled with the belief that I could never overcome my struggles with obesity and that the words “Slob, “Pig”, “Fat”, and “Obese” would always be the terms to describe me. Cycles of depression, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-esteem controlled my life; limiting my ability to make substantial and sustainable progress in my weight loss efforts. Food for me was a source of comfort and pain, causing my weight to increase while my sense of value decreased.
However, now I am dependent on God to transform me, inside and out. I am no longer held captive by yo-yo diets, quick fixes, and attempting to become the “big man on campus”. I now know that He loves me unconditionally, no matter how much I weigh and is with me along this journey of health and wellness. I have surrendered this area of my life to His leading and though I have a long way to go, I am confident that I will attain the level of fitness my heart desires. I am no longer fighting my past failures and the opinions of others regarding me. This change is about me embracing the life that Father has always meant for me --- and I am loving it! Ripped abs here I come.
I celebrate how God has given me freedom through the power of His Word and through His faithfulness. There is no situation or circumstance in life that can happen to me that I cannot find hope, peace, wisdom, and comfort in the Bible. His faithfulness to His Word and the promises He makes and keeps allows me to walk daily in the freedom that Jesus died to provide us. I can always be free when I live my life in His Word and by His Word.
My dependence on God is my life’s breath. He is my complete source for every need I have.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the burden of sin. By receiving His gift of salvation we are truly free. I celebrate that freedom by living my faith. When we live our faith, it’s like the song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love”.
My dependence on God is a pillar of my faith. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”. We may not understand why certain things happen or what God’s master plan is for our lives, but if we live our faith and depend on God ‘s guidance, He will never fail us.
Have you ever felt like a modern day Job? Maybe you’ve even felt a sense of being "stuck" in your faith. We sometimes get to points like this in our relationship with Christ. I have and I thank God that I was and am able to experience them. They can rob us of that sweet freedom God has given us.
Freedom in Christ first came for me with my salvation. I grew up in a church in Lansing , Michigan where I was a “comfortable”. By age 21 a series of events would change my life. I just finished Police Academy and was in my first few weeks on the road. I was driving home and prayed, " Lord, please make me the most physically, spiritually, and emotionally fit man that I can be." Little did i know this would lead to the most life changing and faith building events in my life.
The job of a police officer is tough. The things I saw daily took an emotional and physical toll on me. It distanced me from God. During my career I was injured over twenty times, hospitalized twelve times and diagnosed with PTSD that would end my career at age 25. Why would my God let this happen? It happened because He loves me. Additional stresses like a job loss, financial depletion, apartment loss and spiraling health issues left me seeking God even more. Ultimately I was lead to work with people in the fitness industry. For me it took all of this for me to listen to God.
I celebrate my freedom daily for the journey through which God has brought me. His grace to me is so remarkably awesome. It is what keeps me hungry for Him.
These hardships have given me a dependence on God. He has restored me. I need his strength daily to cope with the post traumatic stress disorder and other difficulties through daily life. God has given me a new apartment, my father purchased a gym I am able to run and conduct my vision for a ministry in fitness. I and recently became a sponsored athlete with Optimum Nutrition. Gods promises for us should give us such hope that nothing shy of our dependence on Him can stop us. I still could stand to be a bit more physically, spiritually, and mentally strong, but I have the confidence He will perfect this!
I celebrate the freedom God has given me by honoring my body as His temple. I believe in active worship and consider my time in the gym as a means of preparing my body for the dwelling of the Holy spirit. A trainer in my gym often says to me when I mention going to workout on a Sunday before church, that Sunday is God’s "day of rest". I respond that I am preparing myself for worship. I love to listen to worship music during my workout or read devotionals between sets.
My dependence on God is what powers me through every day. Running a business, working a full-time job and serving my family as a wife, a mother and a (very young) grandmother, I couldn't do it without Him. I draw strength from Him and strive to seek Him in all things.
I celebrate how God has given me freedom, through movement and exercise. As my faith in Christ has grown, so has my faith in the physical abilities God has given me and the way I express those abilities. I have for most of my life been plagued by doubt, guilt, and anger. Because of those limiting thoughts, I also limited my faith and what God could do through that faith. Then I rediscovered the joys of exercise. As my body became stronger, something else started to happen as well. I rediscovered God. That led to my marriage with my wife Carolyn and a wonderful son together to add to our blended family. We celebrate God daily through exercise and prayer.
We discovered that God is not only in old buildings with church organs playing, we also discovered that fitness is not just in buildings smelling of sweat and iron. The fact that fitness and God can be enjoyed everywhere has given us the freedom to never be gym-less and to never be without God. The two are so tightly tied together for us.. When we workout, we are celebrating all that God has given us, and also by keeping our bodies in shape we are showing God our appreciation of his gift of life.
Through the freedom of movement, whether we our at home, in the gym, out for a hike or some other excursion, we are also expressing the freedom God has given us to live a life of faith. It is a blessing to have both faith and fitness in our life, two things we are passionate about. Because of them we have also tied in another passion, the passion of helping others and the freedom to share our faith with others through the vehicle of fitness.
My dependence on God did not always come easy. As an insecure person, I relied on other people who I thought were stronger, better equipped or wiser. I was a stubborn rebel, who had to learn everything the hard way. My dependence on God has been a slow and arduous journey to say the least. I'd love to say that once I gave my life to Christ, poof a light went on and there it was. It took and still takes some trials and tribulations before I realize, “Hey, what am I doing? God has this covered already.” Living life dependent on God is freedom and the only way to live a life of abundance.
I celebrate how God has given me freedom from sin and death. There is no greater feeling than knowing that the God of the universe personally loves you. For me, the greatest way that I can show my thanks to God is to celebrate what He has done for me. I do this through worship, prayer, sharing His love with others and admiring His wonderful creation.
No matter how strong a person is physically, we each eventually come face to face with death. Not one person is strong enough to overcome this reality. That is why we need the one who already has, Jesus Christ. He has overcome death and endured the wrath of God placed for us, so that we do not have to. I may be able to do what the world sees as great things, but everything I do means nothing if I do not do it for the glory of God. The only way that I can do that is to take a step back and allow God to live through me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”-John 15:5
God has helped me celebrate my freedom in Him in so many ways. Through Him I have freedom from spiritual death. I have freedom from sin reigning control over my life and freedom to live life fully. Through Him I am a unique person with all the strange behaviors and odds and ends that make a person different from others. Many Christians along the way loose who they are by binding themselves to rituals rather than living life fully in Him and have joy overflowing. I am not talking about being so super spiritual that you pretend everything is sunshine without rain. That is unrealistic. He has given us the freedom to see beyond the obstacles that bind us and to have joy and strength to prevail and overcome.
Dependence on God is a daily consistent action just like personal character is a progress not a destination.
In bodybuilding there are temptations like performance drugs to get that win or IFBB pro card. I feel my Christian faith has no shortcuts nor should my fitness and bodybuilding. I have to daily depend on God’s mercy and grace. Our faith is a dependence on God. But it also grows strong as we encourage each other, exhorting and growing together to maturity in Christ. Biblical Christianity is an impossibility to live without dependence on The Lord. As an athlete I believe utter dependence on God is a must. It is not about the trophy, the ifbb pro card nor my name but honestly reaching and preaching and inspiring others.
From Faith & Fitness Magazine July 2013. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2013 Faith & Fitness Magazine
and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith
& Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical
and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the
Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle. To contact the publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine, Brad Bloom, for reprint permission, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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