I have a bit of a confession to make.
I love going to the gym. Through the years, doing cardio and lifting weights has been a personal source of health, enjoyment, and stress release but due to my recent surgery at the start of 2014, I have temporarily had to give this routine up. The tough part is, now that I am out of the habit of getting regular exercise I have found it extremely difficult to jump back into what once was a regular routine. The result: I have not felt myself lately, food choices have become poor with my belt quickly running out of usable holes, and quite honestly, I have felt off my game. One recent observation, you know it is time to take action when you sit down to watch a moment of TV and your stomach begins to make a nice shelf for the remote (or an evening snack).
Bottom line, with my current routine, I am becoming out of shape.
Certainly, a piece of cheesecake here or a few cookies there will not bust the gut, but if we allow these treats to become our staple diet, over time we may slowly surge toward an unhealthy and undesired outcome. We eat up the immediate while spitting out the slow, often tougher road of a healthier you. Studies have shown again and again the benefits of regular, consistent exercise for our body both physically and emotionally. Exercise helps keep our mind sharp and body healthy.
In looking at your spiritual health, how in shape are you?
This is where it can get personal, really fast. If we are honest, this exercise may lead us to wrestle with deeper questions about our habits. Have we become spiritually flabby or are we a spiritual stud? Are we somewhere between flabby and stud? What is holding us back, preventing us from taking action?
During the past weeks at church we have been exploring our spiritual shape through a sermon series entitled CrossFit. The Lord is continually at work to shape us for ministry and life together as the Body of Christ through our God-given Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences (S.H.A.P.E.). I have been so encouraged how each of you have come around this discussion. The Bible class on spiritual gifts led by Rodney Edwards has been a true joy to attend. If you are looking for a Sunday morning Growth Group this one is excellent. Also, I am thrilled to see the Senior Youth about to begin a study on spiritual gifts as well. There are a lot of people living out their S.H.A.P.E. in wonderful ways!
As we wrap-up CrossFit, looking at our God-given S.H.A.P.E. for ministry, I would suggest a few next steps for consideration when it comes to discovering and strengthening your spiritual muscles:
1. Prayer for God’s guidance and strength through His Word. Since our faith and S.H.A.P.E. is a God-centered, Holy Spirit action, it is important to come before the Lord and His Word for guidance, shaping, and direction.
2. Take the S.H.A.P.E. Inventory (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:6). The S.H.A.P.E. Inventory is divided into five sections that identifies and explores each part of our God-given S.H.A.P.E.: spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences. On Sunday, March 2 and 9 during the Growth Hour (9:45am), I will lead two identical sessions that will walk through how to take and apply the S.H.A.P.E. Inventory. Also, once Rodney Edwards completes leading his class through the study “Concerning Spiritual Gifts”, he will guide his group through the same inventory. Copies of the inventory may be found on the Welcome Center at church or online at RedeemerRolla.org under the “Resources” tab. The final page of the S.H.A.P.E. Inventory is a summary sheet (pg.9-10) which we encourage you to complete and submit to church by any number of ways: During the week you can hand it to Tami in the church office or on Sundays, you can leave it in the church office, the offering plate or one of the offering vessels. More details can be found in the S.H.A.P.E. Inventory.
3. Be courageous, trusting the Spirit’s power and guidance, as He leads and empowers you to flex your spiritual muscles. At the end of the day, discovering and strengthening our God-given S.H.A.P.E. may mean trying new things and actually using our gifts in daily life. Just like building muscle and endurance is not something that happens on its own, neither does strengthening our spiritual muscles (Matthew 7:24-27). Discipleship growth is a lifelong process of God at work in and through our lives to challenge our status quo to become something new (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Paul writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23)
4. Be bold, try something new. Have fun experimenting with areas of life you have never explored. Try playing an instrument during worship, pray with people before or after worship, ask a board chair how you might assist them in accomplishing their board’s goals, ask your not-yet-Christian friend(s) how you may serve them, look for tangible ways to be Jesus to your neighbor, volunteer to create and/or run slides for worship, share your faith-story with a family member, or help with Vacation Bible School, KidZone, or a youth function. The options for employing your S.H.A.P.E. for ministry are limitless. What next step may God be desiring to lead you toward? Do not wait to be asked, but jump in. A person is never too young or “seasoned” to try something new, you may discover a gift you never knew you had. With life as our gym, God is at work to challenge our flabby muscles into action. Unused muscles can atrophy.
Congratulations, you are gifted! God is at work in you, my friend, to stretch you for Kingdom impact. As we live out our Christian faith, central to being a disciple is the process of becoming, growing into the child of God He is at work to create. Yes, our look at spiritual gifts will soon end, but our journey of self-discovery and becoming is just beginning. Together, as God’s beloved children, we celebrate with the apostle Paul, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:10a) By God’s grace—through the mighty hand of God—we are shaped for significance, being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
As I work toward getting back in shape, the excuses must end. It is time to hit the gym, to begin my transformational journey of becoming something new. When it comes to your S.H.A.P.E., I pray the same transformational journey for you, that the Lord Himself works to stretch and deepen your spiritual muscles to lead you into a regular, Spirit-led rhythm of becoming, that you would be challenged in your understanding of and living in your unique, God-given ministry S.H.A.P.E.!
In the rhythm of becoming a CrossFit warrior,