Working Out In God’s Gym

Most people don’t know that I went to college on an athletic scholarship…they paid me not to play athletics. (rim shot)

Despite my highest hopes and most fervent desires, I wasn’t endowed with natural athletic ability. I like to tell people that when I played intramural basketball in college, people would ask me after the game, “Ever thought about becoming a bricklayer? Because you shoot nothing but bricks.”

Nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed watching sports. And in my study of Scripture, I’ve discovered that Paul was a sports junkie like me. Reading through his epistles, it quickly becomes apparent that he enjoyed track and field events.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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 Corinthians 9:24–25 (NIV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26

A couple of weeks ago, one of his sports-related comments jumped out at me:

 Train yourself to be godly. 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. 1 Timothy 4:7–8

Paul was offering instruction to his protégé Timothy, but I think all of his can benefit from his words.

God’s Gym Can Work For You, Too! 

Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “train” is gymnazo, where we get the English word “gymnasium.” The word can also be translated “exercise.” Last year I delved into this Scripture passage in-depth in my post Exercise Naked

Mulling over the idea of exercise, I realized that getting in shape requires a plan. Despite my lack of athletic acumen, I still try to stay in shape. But if I lack a plan, it simply won’t happen.

Our walk with God works the same way.

This led me to ask to ask myself two questions:

  1. How often do I work harder at getting in physical shape than I do at getting in spiritual shape?
  2. What’s my plan for getting in spiritual shape?

Let’s be honest: growing in godliness doesn’t happen on its own. Our relationship with Christ doesn’t naturally deepen over time.

Plan The Work And Then Work The Plan

As we enter the New Year, I invite you to join me in prayerfully assembling a plan for growing in your walk with God. Obviously, your plan won’t resemble mine. Rather than over planning and setting yourself up for failure, try to establish a plan that you can reasonably follow. Perhaps you may want to spend 15 minutes a day reading the Bible, or set aside 15 minutes a day to prayer and listening to God. For other ideas in growing in your walk with God, click here.

I’m curious to know what your spiritual plans are for 2012. Please share them with the rest of us by commenting at the end of this post.

As I conclude the final Neighborhood Café blog post of 2011, I offer you my sincerest thanks for joining us. On behalf of Eugene Scott, Michael Gallup, and Brendan Scott, thank you for taking the time to read our posts.

May you encounter the presence of the living Christ in new ways in 2012.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. By looking at his office desk, you can tell that 2011 was overly busy. He hopes to slow down in 2012.


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10 responses to “Working Out In God’s Gym

  1. John Moyer

    I subscribe to One Year Bible On Line, plus I get a devotional reading/prayer from DeDe Thompson, one of the co-pastors azt my wife’s church, Activation Ministry Center.
    I am a VERY early riser and very early in bed, lites off, as this became a pattern in my youth delivering papers of the LA Times. Medical school and practicing pediatrics altered that, but now the circadian rhythm is back.
    I do email, read, that kind of stuff including Spanish homework early. The I head to Foothills Rec, walk about 5 miles indoors from 5:30-6:50.
    Love the scripture read plus DeDe’s devotional, and that’s my daily ongoing spiritual game plan.

  2. Georgie-ann

    I posted a comment that somehow “got lost in transmission.” Not sure what happened. Maybe I can get back later — (wish I had copied it before sending,…)

  3. This Christmas I gave my family God Sightings Journals. These journals are meant to keep track of what we are thankful for, how we have been blessed, and how we have felt God’s presence. The idea is for us to keep track of the big and the small events in which we experience God each day. It should

  4. Georgie-ann

    Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

    This has long been a favorite scripture of mine, as it leads us to diligently turn our attention and vision and reliance directly on the Lord, our source,…and our “listening ear” as well.

    Song of Solomon 1:15 “Behold, you are fair, my love!
    Behold, you are fair!
    You have dove’s eyes.”

    The “eye of the dove” was said to represent a purity and singularity of focus on “the beloved.”

    “Waiting upon the Lord” allows us to NOT rely solely on our own plan or pace — (which inevitably fizzles, or maybe snowballs and then fizzles) — but to “tune in” to God’s frequency which is there for us personally and guides and steadies us throughout our days:

    Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’ ”

    Deuteronomy 4:29 ” … if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

    Isaiah 55:6 “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:”

    “In the still of the night” and early in the morning, I enjoy a sense of personal communion moments with the closeness of God’s presence:

    Exodus 15:26 ” … If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

    Deuteronomy 28:2 “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.”

    Deuteronomy 28:13 “And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:”

    Deuteronomy 30:10 “If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, … and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”

    1 Samuel 15:22 ” … Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

    Psalm 34:11 “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

    Early in the morning, “hearken unto the Lord.” Give Him our first moments of awareness. Tune into His “frequency.” Show Him He is truly “our first love.”

    Mark 12:30 ” ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”

    1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”

    Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

    He is truly our faithful shepherd:

    Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

    Sometimes, early in the morning, I just quietly “breathe air” & rejoice in His loving presence.

    Praying for new year blessings & an ever closer walk with our loving Lord.

  5. Georgie-ann

    Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.”

    Jeremiah 7:13 ” ‘And now, because you have done all these works,’ says the LORD, ‘and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer,’ ”

    Jeremiah 32:33 “And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction.”

    Psalm 90:14 “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!”

    In the heavily electronics-dominated and demanding atmospheres of our modern lives, “hearing the voice of the Lord” is an effort that can easily be drowned out in an avalanche of pressurized “to do” lists and routine commitments and schedules.

    There is honor in diligently “keeping up” with outer demands and life duties, but apparently our God is seeking to touch us and commune with us in private and personal ways as well. Finding some regular and consistent “quiet time” in which to affirm our love, commitment and need for God everyday, will grow to be a blessing for us in many ways, nourishing an attitude of heart that will sustain us through life’s vicissitudes and is very pleasing to the Lord as well.

    Apparently, God is already “seeking us” early in the day, to commune with us. Will He find us listening, attentive? Jesus sought the presence of the Lord at night and in the desert. The greatest compliment we can give to the Lord is to earnestly seek to “know” Him, to desire to hear His voice speaking to us personally. His warmth, His presence, His consoling thoughts become more precious as the years go by,…

    • Georgie-ann, I agree with you that our electronic devices seem to drown out that still, small voice. Because I read my Bible on my computer, it’s hard to turn it off when I’m spending time with God.

      Once a year we spend a week on a houseboat at Lake Powell in Utah. Because it’s so remote, I can’t use my cell phone or access the Internet. What a great week!

      Electronic devices aren’t bad as long as they don’t rule my life. I guess you could say that they’re neutral, but how we use them–and the priorities we give them–determine whether or not they’re beneficial or detriments.

      Happy New Year, Georgie-ann.

      • Georgie-ann

        I think it’s more about where WE are putting our attention, our own focus. The electronics I have in mind — (as being a perpetual disturbance, and either vying for or interfering with our available attention) — are more the automatically noise-emitting, distracting varieties. Many households have the TV and such blaring just as soon as anyone is awake — a constant life-companion of sorts. I think such habits make it much harder to really “hear God” trying to speak with us, or to center and direct our pure thoughts to Him.

        Deuteronomy 4:24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

        We often think of God being “a jealous God” in the fearful or punitive sense. But the loss is ultimately ours (and our own possible self-undoing), if we miss His valuable and sustaining spiritual input by our own choice to be continually distracted by, and/or pre-occupied with, the attention grabbers of some of these modern secular “alien altars.”

        God is “jealous” to rescue us and claim us as His own beloved children, to nourish us with His benefits and spiritual blessings — but we have to choose Him and love Him and seek Him out above all the rest!

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