Building a Healthier You

Building a Healthier You


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Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2, KJV)

You’re probably hearing a lot of people saying they want to get in shape for the summer. As a matter of fact, you may have said it your self. But just because you don’t have to wear a swimsuit in front of your friends, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to eat right or exercise daily. Healthy habits should not change with the seasons; they should be a consistent lifestyle.

Easier said than done, right? Let’s be realistic. Convincing yourself that you need to optimize your health just for the sake of living a longer and more comfortable life sounds like a monster task. It’s hard to pass a fast food restaurant when you are really hungry. It’s hard to stop eating when there’s plenty of food left over and you don’t have the feeling that you’re full. It’s hard to exercise every day, especially with all the work you have to do; believe me, I understand. But no one said it would be easy. I will guarantee, however, that it will be worth it. If you want to start a consistent healthy lifestyle, don’t wait another day. Here are eight steps to get you going.

1. Decide to care for your health. You must make a choice to live a healthy lifestyle. Until you make up in your mind to do so, you will continue to change with the seasons. It shouldn’t take someone you know and love to die from health complications for you to decide to be healthier. Neither should it take you to be diagnosed with a disorder to force you to change your habits. Choose health so you can breathe easily, think clearly, and just plain feel better.

2. Drink life. Your body needs water and fresh, unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices. How much you need depends on your age, current weight, activity level, metabolism, and even climate. The average is eight cups of water and two cups of fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

Why not just grab a half gallon of juice from the grocery store? Why do we need unpasteurized? Pasteurization is the process of heating liquids to destroy viruses, bacteria, and harmful organisms. What you get is juice that really isn’t as pure as it could be if it came straight from the fruit or vegetable, which means the vitamins and minerals are reduced.

3. Eat life. Eat raw, living fruits and vegetables every day. When foods are cooked, their natural enzymes are killed, and some of the fibers in the foods are broken down. Cooking (and especially overcooking) foods can reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals.

4. Eat fewer animal products. That’s right; meats and dairy products. They have no fiber, and they are the primary means that we ingest cholesterol.

5. Break addictions. Avoid smoking; reduce or eliminate caffeine, salt, and sugar. They all make your body systems work harder than they have to and cause strain on these systems.

6. Exercise. Do whatever you want to do that gets your heart rate up. Three times a week for twenty minutes per session will help. Check with your health care provider if there are physical challenges you have to work with.

7. Rest Trust God, don’t worry, get enough sleep, relax your mind, remove or minimize stress, and do something enjoyable. Resting doesn’t always mean logging more sleep hours. Take yourself away from your routines, even if it is for 15 minutes a day. Shut the phone, television, and radio off. Be still.

8. Cleanse your environment Treat yourself kindly by using natural products on your body and in your home. Man-made chemicals are all around us–in our foods, in the products we use, and even in the air we breathe. Be aware of them and try to avoid as many as you can.

Optimizing health can be done if you take small steps or huge leaps. Decisions have to be made because everything we eat, anything we spray, or even how long we sit will affect our health over time. Do research. Make sure there are different colors of food on your plate every day (if it’s all one color, you’re missing some nutrition). Be active. Use what God gave you, and don’t settle for what’s easy. You are worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthier.

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Ruth the Illegal Immigrant

Ruth the Illegal Immigrant for Urban FaithIn the Old Testament, her testimony stands out as an example of great love, sacrifice, and redemption. But was Ruth the Moabite breaking the law?

Every once in a while I get an “aha” moment and I can’t turn my mind off, thus preventing me from a good night’s sleep. Last night’s “aha” moment came as I was reflecting on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

The tendency of faith leaders advocating for a compassionate approach to immigrants is to appeal to the numerous “be kind to strangers” texts in the Hebrew Scriptures. The problem with this approach is that it elicits a universal response from the other side, “Yes, but those were legal immigrants. I’m talking about illegal immigrants. Since illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, they shouldn’t have any rights. And if you think they should, you’re just another godless liberal seeking to undermine the moral fabric of America … etc., etc.” It occurred to me that one of the most famous and beloved women in the entire Bible was an “illegal” immigrant. Her name was Ruth.

I’m not making this up. Deuteronomy 23:3 is clear, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever.”

If you’re still not convinced that descendants of Moab were ordered to be excluded from the congregation of Israel, take a look at verse 6, which says, “You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all their days forever.” With this in mind, isn’t it strange that the hero in the story of Ruth is Boaz, a man that showed kindness to a Moabite woman? We look at the story today and know intuitively that Boaz was a hero, but we often forget that Boaz could have very well been considered a villain to the religious leaders of his day. After all, they might have said, the law forbids people like Ruth from being included in Israeli society — and they would have been right.

Kind of strange isn’t it? God writes a law and then commends people for breaking it? I can think of two other examples where this strange paradox occurs. One example is Joseph, the husband of Mary. Once Joseph discovered that his wife was pregnant with an illegitimate child, the Law of Moses said that Mary should have been stoned (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Isn’t it a little odd then that the Holy Spirit, speaking through Matthew, calls Joseph a “just man” because he wanted to put her away secretly (Matthew 1:19)? Or how about when Jesus commended David for doing what was unlawful — his word, not mine — on the Sabbath because of a pressing human need (Mark 2:25-26)?

Yes, we’re supposed to respect the law, and I’m not saying that undocumented immigrants are right to break into the United States illegally (I happen to believe that nations do have a right to protect their borders); but there comes a time when we have to ask the question of how much should “respect for the law” determine a Christian’s response to those that suffer from economic forces beyond their control?

Let’s not forget that it was famine and death (read: economic hardship) that compelled Ruth to migrate with her mother-in-law Naomi. The same story could be told millions of times over today. If God commended people for breaking God’s own laws because of compassion for their fellow human beings, what might God think of people today that challenge human laws for reasons of compassion? Think about it.