Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stoke Your Fire

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you...
James 3:5 ...Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

While these scriptures don't specifically refer to metabolism, the principle is the same. In reading and meditating on them, I was reminded how important it is to use the correct fuel and to be vigilant to keep the fire burning steadily.

Think about the similarities - you can't start a fire with wet wood. The wood has to be nice and dry. In the very same way, you can't ignite your body's metabolism with cookies, cake and processed, synthetic junk foods. It won't work. They are not fuel. They're wet wood. They will not burn. They'll simply gum up the works.

In the first scripture, Paul urges Timothy to "fan into flame" the gift. We also must fan the flame. The very best way is with exercise. We can run, walk, jog, bounce on a rebounder, lift weights, use a medicine ball, ride a bicycle, use a treadmill, play tennis, dance - all great ways to get our hearts pumping which turns up the flame. There's a second component to exercise that's critical and that is increasing oxygen.

A fire deprived of an oxygen source will not burn. In the very same way, the more oxygen we process by exercising and breathing deeply, the more fat we burn. You kind of kill two birds with one stone with this one!

Finally, weight training builds muscle which also burns fat. The more muscle we build, the more fat we burn. As we build muscle, we enable our "furnace" to burn continuously, just as fanning a flame encourages it to burn more brightly.

The objective is to do those things that create a consistent, continuously burning flame. Both in our faith and in our metabolism. Father really does know best!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It'll Do You Good!

1 Samuel 16:23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better and the evil spirit would leave him.

If you skim through your concordance you'll find quite a few references in the Bible to music, musical, musician, etc. The Lord created music. So many of the references tell us to sing to the Lord, sing praises to His Name, sing for joy to the Lord. In fact, we are commanded in both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 to "sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God" - to sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord constantly.

Did you ever wonder why music is so important to God? Sure it gives us pleasure. Everyone has their own personal taste in music. The Lord's creativity is obvious in all the different styles and genres of music.

However, what I would like to draw your attention to is that science has been researching music's health benefits. Here are some fascinating facts borne out by scientific studies:

Listening to "joyful" music improved blood vessel function! Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland studied heart health and documented the positive effects of laughter. He then used the same research method to study the effects of music on cardiovascular health.

In his study he asked ten subjects to bring music they enjoyed most. The music in that group ranged from country to rap to jazz and classical rock music. He emphasized that everyone responds to music differently and what is joyful to one may not be to another.

He hooked each person up to a blood pressure monitor and played their favorite music. Then he measured their blood pressure. Nine out of the ten had very positive results. The findings were very consistent. His conclusion was that the effects of listening to music you really enjoy are comparable to taking some types of heart medications or even of doing exercise. Of course, it doesn't replace the need to watch your diet. His research found that it improves blood vessel function, and can become a pleasurable addition to a heart-healthy lifestyle.

His suggestion for getting the best response is not listening to the same song day after day. If , for example, you listen to one favorite on Monday, don't listen again for a week or two. For example if you listen to a Barry Manilow CD Monday, put it away until at least next Monday. Tuesday you may choose Il Divo, Wednesday Celine Dion, Thursday Frank Sinatra and Friday Usher. Perhaps Faith Hill or Tim McGraw float your boat. Fine. Just listen to a different favorite daily and recycle them every week or two. The reason is that if you listen to the same song over and over, you become desensitized to the emotional effect. I think we can see that from the scripture that opened this post. At first, each time King Saul became agitated, David would play the harp and he would calm down. When you read further in 1 Samuel (18:10 and 19:9, 10) you see that even though David was playing the soothing music as before, Saul was not calmed and in fact tried to kill David.

Another fascinating fact is that research shows music actually by-passes the conscious mind, directly stimulating the portion of the brain that controls emotions. The right music can actually be more effective than a tranquilizer!

So, put that CD or tape in, charge up your ipod and make joyful music that you really love part of a healthy lifestyle. That's a command straight from the Father and you know He always really does know best!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Clean it Up!

Matthew 23:26 Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish and then the outside also will be clean.

I realize that in this verse, Jesus is referring to greed and hypocrisy, spiritual and soul issues. However, I believe it is relevant to another issue, one that relates to our physical health.

So many of us are focused on the goal of "looking" younger. In our society, younger is better. We exercise, starve ourselves, take all sorts of diet pills and other drugs that promise noticeable results. We submit to botox, cosmetic surgery and liposuction. We are missing the most important factor in real health and wholeness. And an unexpected bonus will be that we actually look and feel better, with more energy - which equals youthfulness to me.

What am I talking about? Detox. Not, not drug detox which is what most people may think of. I mean purposely, systematically, periodically cleansing our spirits, souls and bodies of the toxins that assault us on a daily basis. Real healing and health begin from the inside out, at the cellular level. If you have poisons flooding your cells, eventually your body will begin to break down.

These toxins and poisons are all around us - in the air we breathe, in our water and food, in our emotions, relationships and thoughts. Unless we are consciously aware of them and take the necessary steps to flush them from our lives, they build up and overtake us.

We must take Jesus' command to the Pharisees to heart and look inward in all three areas of our lives. We can take that day of rest God instituted for our good and use it to pray, worship God and release any toxic attitudes we are harboring in our spirits: unforgiveness, offense, resentment, fear, worry, envy. Acknowledge them to yourself and then confess them to God. He already knows about them, but the very act of admitting you are fearful or resentful is cathartic for you. Spend time in praise and worship; meditate on the Word of God and realign your spirit.

Are you walking around with a toxic soul - mind, will or emotions? Fasting is one of the most effective ways to detox. Fasting is simply giving up food for a set period of time. Why not try a "soul" fast - give up criticizing, judging, complaining, worrying, gossiping, procrastinating? Stop speaking negative words for one day. It isn't easy - you have to be aware and willing to stop yourself, but you can do it. Then go two days; how about three? Are you always putting yourself down? Listen to your self talk and make a concerted effort to stop those negative, defeating thoughts in their tracks and replace them with positive, encouraging thoughts. Change those "I can't" thoughts to "I can" and "I will." Not only will you feel a difference, you will see your entire countenance change!

What about your body? There are many different ways to detoxify. You can try a raw food diet, juice fast, use one of the many cleanses available at your health food store, try a plan like Isagenix, eat more organic vegetables and fruits and increase water and fiber. I, personally, do a 3-day juice fast every month. I look at it holistically - I tithe a tenth of my month to cleansing my spirit, soul and body. The act of denying myself cleanses and strengthens my spirit and soul (particularly my will!) and the juices and green foods cleanse my body and give my digestion a rest. That's only one way to do it.

Recently I was given a book to read called, "Give Your Body a Break" by Celeste Davis. She is a Whole-Food Lifestyle and Detox Coach. She details in her book a 28-day plan using mostly raw, whole foods to cleanse the body, as well as practicing forgiveness and living life intentionally. It's an excellent option for someone with health issues who wouldn't otherwise know where to begin. She details the plan day by day and walks you through it. I highly recommend it and you can get more information at thewellnessworkshop@msn.com.

Father always knows best. In order for the outside of our temple to look its best, we must begin by cleansing the inside.