Sometimes I am convinced that God gave us physical bodies so that we would have a ‘picture book’ to look at in them of how life really works in His reality!

Last summer I went with Duncan to a Nordic ski camp for high school students. Nordic skiers, in the summer do this thing called “roller-skiing” to strengthen and train for their season. If an athlete has flaws in technique it is seen more easily during roller skiing. During one of the roller-ski training sessions the coaches video taped the athletes. I sat through the review of that video later that night with the coaches and athletes. It was interesting for me to learn, a new skier myself, the similar flaws that each skier seemed to have.  The basis for the flaws these young skiers portrayed was not a lack of skill, but inefficient use of or lack of core-strength for the power of each stride.

Think about an activity that you participate in: running, skiing, biking, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, dance, basketball, golf, etc. When you think of the major muscle groups used for those activities what first comes to mind??

Arms & Legs? That’s what I think of first. But if you only use your extremities for strength they will wear out quickly and become injured more easily. We must work and move from our CORE, and build the strength from there. The coaches at the nordic camp I just described often take away their athletes poles, to make them ski from their core, not merely push with their arms!

Last January Duncan gave me some new exercises for my gym routine: core-strengthening exercises. I was Nordic skiing, swimming, running and weight training regularly and had recently run a “decent-Annie-paced” 37K: I was in decent shape. However, I noticed a difference immediately in every area of activity when I committed to my “coaches” program: my core began to get stronger. Running up hills felt efficient and strong. Each stroke in the pool seemed to wear on my arms less as I pulled from a deeper strength. Each stride on skis was more balanced and graceful. I could go farther and longer during all activity.

It is from our core that the power of each stride, stroke, throw, swing, or leap comes from. Balance and stability are found in a strong core.

When I mountain bike I can ride technical parts more slowly, balanced and successfully when my core is strong – despite the changing terrain and need to make small quick adjustments continually. Those without this strength either fall over trying to carefully maneuver a difficult section, or attempt to blast through it often resulting in injury to body and bike.

“Why?” You might be wondering WHY am I talking about this? Well, just as it is important to “protect your core” (or your “heart”) because what is allowed in will flow out, good or bad – building or destroying life; it is important to “strengthen your core” because the center most part of you is where the real power, strength and balance for life rests, waiting to be strengthened and put to use.

Those who know what they believe are not easily swayed by an opposing argument. Someone who knows God’s truth is not going to throw it aside because an experience does match up to what they’ve read or heard from someone about who or what God is or is not.

When we have truth deep inside of us our lives are powerful and effective. Our every decision and movement is purposeful and efficient. When difficult times show up on the trail, we are balanced and strong, and can maneuver through those times with grace and faith, without getting hurt or hurting others in the process.

It is vital, therefore, that we do not settle for hearing about who God is secondhand. It is indispensable to take time to read the Word of God, not merely for head knowledge, but to hear and understand, to allow the words of life to transform and change your thinking, attitudes and desires.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  James 1:21-22

My pastor just taught us that the phrase for “evil” is a medical term describing ear-wax buildup. “Moral filth” is the stuff of life that will cling and stick to us, requiring cleansing and a change of clothes. We need to clean out the ear-wax that has been sticking and clinging- and causing us to stop hearing properly! When that is done – we can hear what is being said and do what it says. I have noticed something interesting about people with hearing problems – they tend to mumble. Not only is our ability to hear from God muted, our voice to speak of what is good and true becomes cloudy and muddled!

Look over these verses as you think about this idea and let God’s Word begin to build up your core strength! These verses tell us that the Word is flawless, powerful, keeping us from sin, life, a firm foundation for life.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

… he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.” Proverbs 4:4

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. Matthew 7:26

I first learned to swim in college. After my first-ever triathlon event a friend, who had come to cheer me and other friends participating,  described my swimming that morning as an “attempt to beat the water out of the way so that [I] could occupy the space.” You might feel that way at your first attempts to strengthen your core – awkward and strange – to use and build new spiritual muscles for this new activity of living from what God’s word says, rather than tossed around by the flood of opinions and ideas from the world. But don’t give up! At first it may just feel like you are merely beating away the constant stream from without, but eventually, you will learn the strength and grace that God has put within you – and will glide and slip through without drowning in those ideas. The truth inside of you will keep you buoyant and moving forward!

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I love reading, studying, teaching and preaching the Word of God! My hearts desire is to see people set free, equipped for their calling, and strengthened through the transforming power of God’s Word.

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