Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I am empowered with inner strength!

Ephesians 3:16-18 (New Living Translation)
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Which chicken wing is healthier for you?

A. Don Pablo's Buffalo Chicken Wings
- or -
B. KFC's Boneless Fiery Buffalo Wings?

Hmmmm. Ok - I'll bite! Which one?

According to the nutrition experts at Spark People in their daily Food Showdown e-mails, an order of KFC Boneless Fiery Buffalo Wings is the healthier choice. One little wing has 87 calories and 4 grams of fat so the whole order of 6 pieces would have 520 calories and 25 grams of fat.

Don Pablo's wings on the other hand have 129 calories and over 8 grams of fat EACH! That's 1036 calories for an 8 piece order and 78 grams of fat. Wow! That's over half of my daily allotment of calories if I want to continue losing weight!

I've been counting calories and measuring portions for over a year now and have learned how to make healthier choices both at home and in the restaurant. So far it has paid off with a weight loss of over 57 pounds! I'm learning which foods are full of empty calories and which ones contain nutrients that will strengthen my body from the inside out.

Coupled with making healthier food choices, I'm exercising more which helps to tone muscles and improve strength. But the increased activity and healthier eating habits have also paid off in other ways - I am feeling more content - I feel less depressed and anxious than I felt a year ago. Plus I'm enjoying life more.

Just like these healthy lifestyle changes have strengthened me physically, mentally and emotionally, there are changes I must make in my spiritual life to become strong and healthy.

1. I must choose to put my relationship with Jesus first on my list of spiritual priorities.

As a child I learned the way to happiness was to follow the anagram J-O-Y (Jesus-Others-You). But as an adult, I am realizing there are times that doesn't work.

As a Super-mom, I used to think I had to do things for everyone else first and if there was any energy left, I could look to my own needs. You know - "Never say no." My needs weren't important. Consequently, there was rarely time for my own spiritual nourishment. I grew weaker and weaker spiritually until I burned out.

God finally got through to me. I need to keep my relationship with Him open and functional at all times. When I keep that vertical channel open and clear, I am happier, easier to get along with and more productive for Him. Rather than putting my spiritual needs last as I had been doing, I must put them as top priority so all other areas of my spiritual life are healthy and strong. Then I can and want to do more for others.

2. I must eat a healthy "meal" from His Word daily.

I'm active in children's ministry so I'm not in adult church on a Sunday morning. It strikes me as funny when people say, "I can't teach Sunday School or Children's Church because I need to be fed."

Those poor souls! My best meal of the week is seeing the hearts of children open up to Jesus and blossom under His care! As an adult, I am perfectly capable of opening God's Word and reading His truths for myself. I know how to pray and listen for His voice. When I do those things daily, I am strong and ready to minister to others whenever the opportunity arises. I am healthy, not so weak and sickly that I need to be spoon fed each Sunday!

True, there are times when I need the spiritual strength and support of others. We all go through trials which weaken us for a time. That's when I need to call on those around me who are spiritually strong. I can lean into their strength until my own strength is restored.

3. I must exercise my spiritual muscles daily.

Without exercise, the physical body grows weak and flabby. The same with our spirits. If we are not running with endurance the race He sets before us; if we're not putting on our spiritual armor daily to meet the challenges of the day; we will ultimately lose our ability to make it as Christians in this world.

Things are changing - getting more difficult as the days pass. Will we be strong and healthy spiritually, ready for the battles that lay ahead? The answer is "Yes!" - When we learn to make healthy spiritual choices and become empowered by His strength from the inside out.

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