You may have noticed I’ve been posting regular content on my blog a lot less often than before. To a lesser extent, the frequency of my podcasts has also lagged a little bit in recent months as well. I haven’t gone anywhere, but I have added a new habit to my lifestyle that in some ways has interfered with the time in my routine I used to have for writing.
I’ve been going to the gym.
For the first time in my adult life, I have a gym membership, and I have lost 23 lbs since July 2nd. However, since I suck at taking selfies and broadcasting myself to Instagram and other social media sites, I don’t have an intentional “before” picture or a more recent photo than this one below when I had reached 18 lbs lost. But if you go through my Facebook profile’s archived photos, it won’t be difficult to see I’m telling you the truth.
When I started going to the gym over 4 months ago, Lili and I were doing a two memberships-for-the-price-of-one deal for three months. We started going together, but with watching our 2-year-old, coupled with my schedule teaching some mornings when Jemina goes to her nursery, Lili would go in the mornings and then I would go in either the afternoon or evening depending on other commitments. Eventually, Lili needed to stop going altogether as we discovered she was expecting and feeling tired and sometimes sick and not in the mood for a workout.
Maintaining my lifestyle that involves 60-90 minute workouts almost every day that our gym is open (it’s closed only on Sundays), on top of my teaching duties in our ministry school here and freelance work I take when it comes, I’ve found the time for writing has taken a backseat. This is relatively intentional. Although I haven’t stopped writing altogether, I have just simply been doing much less of it.
Working Out: Making Time for Discipline
For years I’ve likened two things to working out = writing and speaking in tongues.
Whenever people tell me they don’t know where they can make the time in their life for writing, I always point out — at least if I already know they are athletic — that they have no problem carving out the time for exercise. Some people are disciplined to wake up at ungodly hours like 5 am to do it before they commute to work. Others, like myself, basically do it in the evenings outside of working hours, even though I freelance from home and minister/teach walking distance from our house. Incidentally, that was part of the reason I got so out of shape and needed to start working out, but I digress.
Writing is the exact same way. We all have the same 24 hours in a day to use for whatever we decide to prioritize with that chunk of time. Some people remove a portion of their sleep, or they remove something else they deem unnecessary from their schedule. But make no mistake, for almost every new habit we start, something else is usually stopped whether by necessity or as an unintended result.
In my case, I’ve been feeling much better physically and psychologically. I’ve been avoiding junk food, and have slashed my daily calorie intake by at least 1/3. In fact, when I started working out, I didn’t really track my calories or anything like that but instead I would only eat one portion of meals served and no seconds. I also did things like avoiding junk. You know, pizza, hamburgers, greasy foods, etc. On the rare occasion — like twice per month, maximum — I eat whatever I want, but I found I either have no appetite for it, or the amount I feel I can eat has been noticeably diminished. In fact, the first two weeks of starting this new diet and workout lifestyle I was hungry all the time, though I wasn’t starving myself. I learned to eat dried fruit and popcorn for snacks. Fruit and vegetable smoothies are becoming an integral part of my diet, and I honestly think my taste buds have even changed a little. But several months ago, I needed to eat more in order to feel full. Now, the amount needed to feel full is a lot smaller.
And did I already say I feel awesome and more active, as well?
Speaking in Tongues: Disciplining Yourself for Long-term Change
Like I said above, I’ve also likened speaking in tongues to a workout for your inner man the same way hitting the gym, using weights and cardio machines are a workout for your physical body.
On the first day Lili and I went to the gym, a trainer there weighed us both and asked us questions, and on that day I weighed just shy of 112 kg (245 lbs). He then walked us downstairs, put us both on ellipticals next to each other and told us to use them for 20 minutes and he’d come back and check on us. He asked me if I’ve ever worked out before, and I said not in at least 10 years, and he told me (in Spanish, of course) “it’s going to cost you, then!” I told him I realized that, and I proceeded to sweat like a hog for the next 20 minutes using that machine. Sidenote: since I started mostly going in the evenings since that first morning, I ran into that same trainer recently and he did a double take when he saw me and said just by looking at my face he could tell I’ve lost a lot of weight and congratulated me.
If you’ve ever been to a gym or seen your muscular jock friends post selfies on Instagram or Facebook, you know gyms typically have mirrors along all the walls. I stared at myself in that mirror for that whole 20 minutes thinking the time had run out and the trainer had forgotten to come back and get us. It turns out only 5 minutes had passed.
I kept doing cardio exercise for the first 5 or 6 weeks, and did not find it to be a chore — then again, I enjoy listening to audiobooks and podcasts, so that helped time fly by. Doing 45 minutes on the elliptical started to be easy. I’d mix up the programs in the machines so I wasn’t doing the exact same thing. But little by little, I started losing 1-2 kg per week. Eventually, I could run at higher speeds and for more minutes on the
None of the progress I’ve made has been an overnight change but has been a gradual process where you can’t see the progress from just one day to the next, but one day to another day and then 3 or 4 months later the progress is obvious.
Praying in the spirit is the same way.
Like I say in my book, Nine Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues,
Some charismatic preachers mistakenly believe that if they pray in tongues diligently every day for a certain amount of time—let’s arbitrarily say three months—then when they get on stage suddenly one day their preaching will just be amazing and everybody they lay hands on will fall to the floor and shake, bake, rattle and roll, and they’ll have an uproariously glorious church service. However, what’s more likely to happen is that maybe, after the end of three months, you will find that you can’t approach God in prayer without the feeling that you need to stop exaggerating when you preach. Maybe a stronger conviction will come on you and you no longer can keep watching that cable TV show you used to be such a fan of because something bothers you about it. You might feel led to delete things from the hard drive of your computer or throw away DVDs you own. The edification process that comes with prolonged amounts of speaking and praying in tongues results in change, not in sensations or feelings. If you get sensations of the glory of God or other feelings, then that’s just gravy on top of what God is doing in your heart.
In this excerpt I don’t intend to sound like I’m saying it takes 3 months and then suddenly you will have these results, as much as to imply you’re building to this little by little, just like exercising and eating properly has gradual results, so that at a certain point in time, arbitrarily 3 months, for example, you can see how far you’ve come. When I go to the gym for one work out, I don’t suddenly lose 25 lbs and gain more muscle in that one hour. Doing that work out daily for months leads to growth in my muscles or inches lost around my waist. One’s metabolism is higher in the post-workout hours, and you watch what you eat. When I get off the treadmill or one of the spin bicycles, you can’t tell from looking at me on the outside or just measuring my heart rate what impact that ONE visit to the gym has permanently had on my body. You add them all up.
It’s the same with praying in the Spirit.Regularly praying in the Spirit = working out: it takes time, and the results are not immediate.Click To Tweet
You may just feel some sense of the manifest presence of God. To be honest, I rarely do, even if praying for an hour, while other people I know are presence junkies and always sense or feel something. But praying in the Spirit every day produces inner change that over time may be noticeably manifested outwardly in how much more you flow in the other gifts of the Spirit or in revelation knowledge flooding your inner man. As Dave Roberson says in his book, The Walk of the Spirit — The Walk of Power: The Vital Role of Praying in Tongues, the answer prayers from our spirit comes to our spirit man because that’s where lasting inner change comes from.
The more you work out your soul, the more you’re strengthened and the more resistance you can face in the spiritual, just like the more you keep lifting weights, the more weight you need to lift in order for your muscles to grow and be able to handle more. Like the old saying goes, “no pain no gain”. Eventually what used to knock the wind out of you no longer does, but something more difficult does.If you're not working out your inner man, now is a good time to start.Click To Tweet
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Blessings and fire on your head!