Core Strengthening: 4 Must-Do Exercises

The human heart fascinates me. I’ve watched surgeries (on tv), I’ve researched procedures for a book. How God fashioned us, is truly amazing. This week while moving through the Bible study, Your Strong Suit, by Donna Pyle,  she led me to a verse in the book of James.Chapter 5. Verse 8. “Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
After the movie clip from Clue bounced out of my head–you know where J. Edgar Hoover shows up and tells them the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand then Mrs. Peacock slams the door in his face and calls him a beatnik–the word “establish” stuck with me.
What exactly does it mean to establish your heart?
The Greek word for “establish” is “sterizo.” It means “to make stable, to strengthen, to render constant.”
I’m working on strength for this year. You can read about it, HERE. Not just physical strength but in every area of my life. So, I wasn’t surprised to find the word “strength” in this little nugget that God flicked at me.
This Greek word, “sterizo” is a derivative of “histemi”–which happens to be a Greek word Donna Pyle comes back to often in her study, because it means “withstand” and Your Strong Suit is all about the armor of God and withstanding in the evil day. I had to smile about that, how God is using her study to minister to me and then pinging other scriptures off of that for my life. He works like that often.
My question was, “Lord, if you want me to strengthen my heart, I’m down with that, but what exactly do you mean?”
In the Bible, the word “heart” isn’t always meant as an organ. The Greek word for “heart” is “Kardia.” I bet reading that you immediately related it to our English word, “Cardio.”  That’s where we get it. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t. No one is judging!
“Kardia” refers to the actual organ, but also denotes “the centre and seat of spiritual life.”
The center. The core.
Strengthen the center, the core, 
of your spiritual life.
Last year, I did P90X. I’d like to tell you how fit and trim I am, but the truth is the minute I stopped doing it, the muscle tone fell away. Quickly. But I learned something of importance in this program.
It’s all about the Core. 
In an article on core fitness, Elizabeth Quinn states, “To build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of muscles…The core muscles also make it possible to stand upright and move on two feet. These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction.”
Interesting since my study is talking about wrestling, standing, and withstanding.
To establish a heart, means to build strong spiritual muscles (by exercising various muscles), thus creating balance, (controlled spiritual movements), and the ability to move in any direction–(flexibility) when God asks you to step out and do something you might be uncomfortable doing.
As I looked at the passages above this particular scripture,  I found some exercises that can help build core spiritual muscle.
  1. 4. Be generous with wealth and remember where your true treasure lies.
    1. James Chapter 5:1-6 talks about fattened hearts–those who have been corrupted by their wealth. Nothing wrong with wealth, as long as it doesn’t turn you into a selfish monster.
 3. Include God in all your plans
James Chapter 4:13-17 talks about boasting in what you will or will not do, never considering that tomorrow may never come, after all we are but a vapor in the wind. Instead, we need to say, “If the Lords wills we shall live and do this or that.”  Now, that doesn’t mean every time we make plans for the next day, we tell our BFF, “If the Lords wills, we shall have lunch.” It means, don’t go about planning life and forget who holds our destiny. Include God. Even in a shopping trip! You never know when you’ll just “stumble” upon a deal. 😉
                    2. Do not Judge 
James Chapter 4:11-12 talks about speaking evil or backbiting. It’s not our place to condemn. Jesus has much to say concerning us, but it is the time of seeking and saving what has been lost. But one day–or night–He will come. As Judge. Until then, we should get on board with the program and “snatch souls from the fire” not send them there behind their backs. Ouch! I know. I got the whammy first, so…
         1.  Go Low
James Chapter 4:7-10 talks about submitting to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. Be sorry for your sins. Weep over them. Sometimes, we focus so much on mercy, we forget to be repentant for our sins. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. I find when I go low, God soars in my life. And if I work my core muscles, I can squat for days, not just over nasty public toilets.
These are just a few exercises, but they have to be done daily. More than just your #30minaday. It won’t be easy by any means, but what real in-depth workout is? If it was easy, we’d all look like Jillian Michaels. I was going to say Billy Graham, but…whatever, you get my point!
What do you think is tougher: Working out physically or spiritually? Why?

I’m hosting at Living By Grace today! Come by and chat or offer some encouragement to others!

18 thoughts on “Core Strengthening: 4 Must-Do Exercises

  1. When you're working out physically, you can get into a routine and turn your brain off to get what needs to be accomplished done. When you work out spiritually, it's all about the heart, and you can't let it become just a routine. I think that's my struggle as I strive to be spiritually fit – to continually seek him with my whole heart and not letting it simply become a task on my to-do list. Good post!

  2. I'm not choosing one or the other today, Jessica. At different times in my life, working out physically or working out spiritually have both been tough. Sometimes I'm in the zone with one, but not the other — and sometimes both areas are going smoothly.
    I understand Julie's point about not letting my relationship with God become "routine," but there is something to be said about focusing … not letting my heart wander. And in the same way I have to focus on my physical health too.

  3. I love the research you put into your posts and how you present them! Establishing the heart. Yep, that's the kind of God stuff He's working on with me.

    ~ Wendy

  4. Both make me feel…stretched. 🙂 I think my problem is when I only come at both as an obligation rather than a "Wow, I need this and somewhere (under the spiritual AND physical jiggles…hehe) I know I want it too." To keep both workouts fresh, I have to switch it up – can't keep doing the same thing over and over or else I tend to settle into that easy-peasy place where I'm not stretching myself.

    Sidenote: I actually did a Jillian Michaels workout the other night. Can I just say, people who can do more than four or five push-ups at a time amaze me.

  5. I totally agree with Melissa. I need variety!

    Working out is a mentality thing. Really. I know I should workout but I'm "too tired"…but if I remembered all the times I did it, I would remember how it refreshed me.

    But when you make it part of your life, a core part, then you can't imagine your life without it.

  6. Jessica, I just love the thought, Word, and heart (pun intended) that you put in this post. Words of strength to start out my day. 🙂 Oh, and I tried P90X last year and couldn't get past the push up lesson. I had noodle arms for a week. 🙂

  7. Both require diligence, but a spiritual work-out is far more challenging to me!

    Loved your devotion today! I liked how you talked about our spiritual core and made us re-think "healthy."

  8. Tough question, Jessica. Both require us to set aside time for exercising. When I spend time with God, I'm strengthened. I don't dread it. I love it. But…I don't always make it a priority.

  9. I always love your analogies and spiritual insights! Esepcially the one about including God in your plans. I try to do this, but when things get busy or stressful, I often think "oh, I can handle this on my own." But those are the times I need to remember and rely on Him even more.

  10. What a SUPER analogy – and I think, like the others, it depends on the day. BOTH are tough.

  11. Ew, fattened hearts. LOL Yep, like our bodies, we need to exercise our spiritual hearts. I especially love #3, including God in everything you do. 🙂

  12. Yeah. I'm gonna say both! I'm awful at making time for working out physically and spiritually. God's been talking to me about it though, and I love where you say, "It won't be easy by any means, but what real in-depth workout is?". That thought's been stuck in my head for a while now as God keeps pushing me to go deeper in a lot of areas of my life. So it stopped me to read it here. Love what your learning and how you're sharing it!

  13. Insightful post, Jessica! Working out spiritually is definitely harder. You may not sweat on the outside, but you'll be feeling it on the inside. It takes so much patience to see the results of our spiritual walk. God can be working on our hearts for years and we may not see the results for a long, long time. But it's worth it.

  14. Beautifully written post, Jess!

    I find working out spiritually or mentally is always a challenge. Challenges can be a good thing for the body, heart, soul and mind. We must keep after it otherwise we get flabby…eww. I don't want a flabby soul.

  15. Great post. I love the verse in Isaiah He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. It's so exciting to know God wants to spend time with us. But we have to want to spend time with Him. And sad to say, sometimes I get too busy. Thanks for the reminder that I have to make time.

  16. Oh I love this analogy, Jessica! I'm studying to get my fitness instructor certification so this is right up my alley. 🙂 I love how you challenge strengthening both our insides and outsides.

  17. You're so speaking my language today, Jess. I just started Beth Moore's David: A Heart Like His and within seconds, I was captivated. I always cringe when I hear that God wants my whole heart. I think to myself, "I need to clean up a few things first. Then you can have it." So it's humbling to know that He wants the whole ugly, disgusting mess. And what's more…if I let Him, He can actually do something with it! Amazing!

  18. Somehow, though both are a challenge, the spiritual stuff is harder for me. Guess I really am a couch potato at heart!

    Thanks for the reminder that we need to be working on these things daily!


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