Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PTGW Part Eight B: Taking Care of Your Soul

Note: Thank you to everyone who commented! It is good to know that people read this blog because I was thinking of not continuing it, but I'm glad that I am going to continue writing for this blog because I think it helps me more than anyone else. ;-)

Alright, today I'm going to be talking about taking care of your soul, though maybe not in the way that you're thinking.
Now first of all, what is a soul? Well, I'm NOT going to go into what the Greek and Hebrew words mean, because this is not that kind of a blog. (If you want to find out, you could probably just google it.) But if we look at the Bible, we see that the word soul used in a variety of ways (Just get out your concordance and look up the word soul). But most often it seems to be used to convey the core of our being.
Now, God is the only One who can save our soul, but after He redeems us, how can we take care of our soul?
Well, a great part of that is what we do, see, watch, listen to etc. Because even though we have a soul, heart, mind, body... we are still just one person and everything affects each other.
I don't know about you, but I can tell when I'm not taking care of my soul, mind, and heart because I start feeling 'cluttered', anxious, and disturbed.
So what can we do to upkeep that part of us?

1. Pray. Prayer is amazing. We are able to speak to God and He hears us! (One particularly helpful verse on prayer is Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.") And make sure that you really do pray specifically about what is bothering you and then give it to Jesus and LEAVE IT WITH HIM!!! Don't take it back. And if you start worrying about it again, pray again and give it to Him again. Praying scripture is a great help (e.g. "Lord, please help me to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right....")

2. Read your Bible everyday. I like to read mine in the morning first thing, and last thing before bed. Pray that the Holy Spirit would show you what needs to change in your heart every time before you read and when He shows you, repent of it and confess it to God. This can remove a lot of that cluttered feeling. The more you read your Bible, the more it will train your mind to see everything in the light of the scripture.

3. Sing scripture songs (that actually use Scripture) and hymns. I love the Hide 'em in Your Heart songs for scripture songs. As for hymns, I'm not talking about 'worship songs'. I'm talking about good, old fashioned hymns. Even though his theology was a bit off, a lot of Charles Wesley's hymns are really wonderful. One of my favorites is "And Can it be That I Should Gain" (I like to sing that while I'm washing dishes... just because it's hard to sing while you're breathless from vacuuming). :-)

Ok, now are you ready for a little list of don'ts?

4. Don't spend too much time watching movies. They just add to the clutteredness, and they can really make you feel disturbed and anxious.

5. Don't spend too much time listening to secular music. (Now I'm not saying that you can't ever listen to secular music, but make sure that you limit the time you devote to it.)

6. Don't read romance novels. These sow discontentment and most teach you that the outward appearance is all that matters (that goes for romance movies too).

Now, one thing that I would like to challenge you to do is a fast. This is a mind and heart fast to get you out of the cluttered state and into a peaceful one. Here is what the fast looks like:
For one week you give up entertainment (this includes movies, YouTube videos, and books), secular music, video games, and thoughts that are not glorifying to Jesus (for instance, hateful thoughts, lusting thoughts, and coveting thoughts).
Ok? So now you've removed those things from your life, something has to take their place, right? Of course right! ;-)
So what is going to take their place? Prayer, Bible reading, and hymns. Read your Bible first thing in the morning, right before bed (about a chapter each time), and then whenever you would normally read a book go ahead and read your Bible. Pray in the morning when you read your Bible (Just to let you know, you don't have to do this alone, if you have little kids you can read your Bible outloud and pray with them), at night before bed, whenever you have a thought that is not glorifying to Jesus, and whenever the rest of your family is watching a movie or something use that time for prayer as well. Instead of listening to secular music while you work or just to kill time, sing hymns and scripture songs. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather hear "And Can It Be" than "Man, I Feel Like a Woman". ;-)
At the beginning of the week pray and ask God to show you areas in your life that are not submitted to Him or are against His word, and when He shows you focus on praying about those things throughout the week.
When you pray don't just pray for yourself, make sure that you pray for others as well.

Now of course, you can modify this fast to fit your needs. The first time I did it I also did a sugar fast because I wanted to make sure that I didn't turn to food when i was bored. The second time I did it, I only did a movie fast and I allowed myself to listen to secular music if I wanted to (though that time didn't have the same effect as when I did the whole fast because I still had entertainment). But you can also do an internet fast, a dessert fast, etc.

If you do it, make sure to come and let me know how it went for you. :-)

Now obviously, no matter what we do God is the One who "restores my soul". So during the fast pray that He would restore your soul.

To end with here is Psalm 23.
"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Friday, August 21, 2009

PTGW Part Eight A: Taking Care of Your Body

Don't give up on this post after just reading the title! I know that most of the time it is very discouraging to read anything about taking care of your body, whether it be losing weight or skin care or makeup or whatever. But I'm not going to present some impossible idea of how to change your appearance. Rather I'd like to give you a few realistic ideas of how to take care of your body.

Taking care of your body and your appearance is very important; it is part of being a good witness for Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean that you should spend three hours a day on your appearance, but it does mean that you should remember that even though God looks at your heart, people will see your appearance first. (But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 - yes, I know it's out of context, but it's still true)
God can work through everyone no matter how they look or smell or whatever, but if my dad gave me a beautiful dress to wear and I wore it every day and didn't wash it and it got all grey and dirty and I told everyone that my Dad had given it to me, well... that wouldn't make them think very well of my Dad, would it? "Oh my goodness! I'm sure glad I'm not his daughter! Look at what she wears... she doesn't even look clean!"
We should be so proud of being God's daughters that we want to give Him a 'good name' by looking like what we are... taken care of and loved very very much.

Also, when you get married your husband is going to want to be proud of your appearance. So start on good habits now so that when you get married you'll have a head start.

Now here are a few things that I'm NOT saying.

1. I'm NOT saying that you should lose weight

2. I'm NOT saying that you have to wear makeup

3. I'm NOT saying that you should obsess about how you look and constantly be running to the mirror

4. I'm NOT saying that you need to be self conscious if your clothes aren't brand-new

Ok? Now that we've gotten that straightened out... here are a few ideas of how to take care of your body.

1. Stay clean. This means taking a shower when you need it. Some people can get away with one a week and some people need one a day. A good way to tell if you need one is if you don't smell fresh or your hair feels stiff and greasy. Simply staying clean is an excellent place to start on having a good appearance.

2. Get dressed in the morning. Don't go to the grocery store in your pjs and slippers. Aside from modesty issues, is life as a Christian really so depressing that you can't bear to get ready for the day???

3. Do your hair. I know, it's basic, but it's important to have your hair look neat and tidy. Now I can't brush my hair when it's dry because it's so curly that it would just frizz and I'd end up looking something like Ronald MacDonald. ;-) But on days that I don't get my hair wet, I still smooth it and put it up in a bun.

4. Drink water. Drinking water can help you to have nice skin, give you energy, and help you not to smell bad when you 'perspire'.

5. Go for a walk or a bikeride OUTSIDE every day if you can. It doesn't have to be long, I like walking a quarter mile most days. This will get your blood flowing nicely, give you a chance to be peaceful (no listening to music), and help you be more energetic.

6. Make sure that your clothes are always clean, patched, and wrinkle-free. It doesn't matter if your clothes aren't new, you can look just as nice in 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) hand clothes as in brand-new clothes as long as they are pressed and clean.

7. Take care of your teeth. Now I'm not saying that you need to get braces, teeth whiteners, etc. But if you take care of your teeth (brushing and flossing every day) your teeth will look nice and you won't have to worry as much about bad breath.

8. Practice good posture. Stand up straight! You are proud of your Father, now walk like it!

9. Wear a Smile! That is a very important thing that you can do for your appearance. If you have a smile it won't matter if your teeth are crooked, your clothes old, or your hair is frizzy! Smiling is a very easy and simple way to look pretty and bless people.

10. Dress like a Lady. (I assume that no men are reading this, but if they are they should dress like Gentlemen, not Ladies.) ;-) Don't look as if you are ashamed of your gender. It is so refreshing to see a woman who isn't hiding under baggy pants and t-shirts and yet is not flaunting her body in mini-skirts and tight shirts.

11. Do the things that God tells us to in His Word. This is THE MOST important thing of all. If you live a clean life through Jesus, than others will have a 'good feeling' about you. I don't know why, but that seems to be the way it works. :-)

Now if you want to you can do other things like put on a little bit of makeup etc. But the most important thing is to be clean and neat, and to smile.
I don't know about you, but when I see someone who doesn't really take care of themselves I think "Oh dear, they must be quite unhappy with their life."
As Christians, we have been blessed with a Father who cares for us no matter what happens. Let's show the world how much we appreciate Him by taking care of His temple (our bodies).

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Next time I'll be talking about taking care of your soul (which is infinitely more important than your body). As usual, I love getting comments (as long as they're polite). I have no idea if anyone reads my posts unless they comment.