Posted on Leave a comment

Why Christians Should Take a Vested Interest in City Planning/Design

We are a product of our built environment. If you put me in a crappy house that doesn’t smell good and it’s got a bad bathroom and broken faucets, I’m going to be a crappy person. If you put me in a small cute house with good door handles and good faucets [and] a good shower, that I can walk to the park when I get mad, I can walk down the street and get a cup of coffee without having to have a car—I have more money in my pocket that way—I’m going to be a different person. I’m also going to have an interaction with different people who may be able to help me with my problem, whatever my problem is.[i]

 

These words from Monte Anderson on the Go Cultivate! podcast sum up why I’ve come to believe that city planning/design is an issue in which Christians should become more involved. I’ll be frank: I strongly believe America should re-evaluate the way we design cities and towns. I believe this primarily because it would make life better. It would alleviate many of our social, economic, and environmental woes.

I’ve made it no secret that I think loneliness is a massive problem in America. Much of the reason for our loneliness is the way our towns and consequently our lives are structured. Living in isolation—except for when we have to go to work or run errands—is our default. We are isolated units who meet together when necessary and then disperse back into isolated units. One of the main reasons for this lifestyle is how spread out our cities are. We have to drive (generally an isolated activity) to get anywhere.

It’s not impossible to be social. But neither is it easy. It takes considerable time to drive (if you even have a functioning car); it takes increased effort to create plans while accounting for drive time; it takes no small amount of money to buy a car, maintain it, pay for gas, and pay the taxes necessary for road upkeep (not to mention other infrastructure and police). I know for me (and I’m sure for other introverts), getting out of the house is hard enough, so putting these extra obstacles in the way just makes me want to stay inside more. And when you’re driving, there’s very little chance you’ll have the opportunity to socialize on the way to wherever you’re going. If you’re walking to your destination, you may run into neighbors and people walking their dogs. If there’s a small ice cream shop on the way, you could quickly pick up a cone or a milkshake. But when you’re driving, it’s just you and whoever is in the car with you. What do we expect when we make socializing harder? Of course it’ll result in loneliness.

There are many ways Christians address our country’s problems. Some of these problems can’t necessarily be solved or alleviated by redesigning cities, but many of them can. The flawed planning/design of our cities is a root cause of many social ills, yet I don’t hear Christians talking about it. Is it possible that we’re focusing on symptoms and not the cause? Here are a few examples.

I recently heard a pastor state in a sermon that all Christians should care about the environment. I agree. It was part of a passing statement he made while giving examples of how we pursue God’s kingdom in our professions. He didn’t get political and he didn’t elaborate much on practical steps for creation care. But he did say that we should, before driving somewhere, think about whether the trip is absolutely necessary. That way, we can drive less and release less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

I don’t disagree, but the statement feels to me like a half-hearted attempt at environmentalism, like slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound. Pastors encouraging their congregations to think twice before getting in the car will do essentially nothing for the environment. Perhaps a few people will drop a trip or two per week for maybe three weeks. But then they’ll revert back to normal. Why? Because you have to drive to do well-nigh anything in our country.

If we re-evaluated our city structures, though, we could drastically reduce automobile dependence. It would become manageable for people to walk or bike to where they need to go. It would also reduce the need for parking lots and streets, which would mean fewer trees cut down and less disturbance to the ecosystem. This would actually solve problems. But who knows a preacher who discusses this approach? I don’t.

Exercise is another example. We’re told to go to the gym, to jog when we have time, to fit it into our daily routines. Yet, as a certified fitness trainer, I hear from people all the time that they’ve tried, but they just don’t have the time to fit in exercise. So our health suffers. But what if exercise had to be a part of our daily routine? If we could walk or bike to work instead of drive, our daily exercise would be taken care of. But most people work way too far from home to bike, let alone walk. And what if we could walk or bike to most of our daily errands or friends’ houses? But most of us live so spread out that walking to even the grocery store isn’t feasible.

Pastors tell us if we’re lonely to get out and see friends. But they also tell us not to drive unless we have to. They encourage us to serve at the church food bank. But there’s little mention of how Christians can advocate for affordable housing. We’re slapping band-aids on problems and not thinking about root causes. Treating symptoms is helpful, but it doesn’t solve problems. And the church needs to solve problems.

I’m not suggesting that we completely get rid of cars. I think cars are a blessing. It’s amazing that we can travel long distances in a relatively short amount of time. I just think we should use cars a lot less. Also, reducing automobile dependence would drastically reduce the number of automobile-related deaths.

One of the main arguments conservatives make against climate action is that it would decimate the economy. But if people and cities decided to restructure on their own, top-down governmental climate mandates would be much less necessary. Plus, people and communities would be more self-reliant, so the economy would be more healthy and resilient. (The current Covid-19 crisis is revealing some the fragility of our system.)

Rethinking current norms on city planning and design would make life better. Americans love their space and privacy (and I’m not saying people can’t own their own homes), but if we consider the benefits of living in smaller communities closer together (and these can be pockets of big cities), I think we’ll realize how much happier we’d be. Americans vacation to Europe and gush about how walkable European cities are. There’s no reason that can’t be done here. Plus, we’ll give our cities an American flare—I’m not saying we have to become Europeans. Nor am I saying life will be perfect. Accidents will still happen and people will still get sick. I’m not advocating utopia; I’m advocating what I think is a better way of life.

Our mission as Christ followers is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, if there’s a way to improve quality of life and alleviate multiple social ills, we should be involved. I know there are some Christians already working hard at this. But frankly, most American Christians don’t care about this subject. It’s time we start the conversation.

 

[i] Clark, Jordan, host. “Affordable housing & incremental development.” Go Cultivate!, Episode 48, Verdunity, 11 Dec. 2019, https://gocultivate.simplecast.com/episodes/affordable-housing-incremental-development-m5He7hvQ.

 

This post was originally published on my website: https://www.wrhwriting.com/episode-10-why-christians-should-take-a-vested-interest-in-city-planning-design/

It’s also an episode on my podcast Churchthink.

Posted on Leave a comment

How We Can Become Stronger Through the Pandemic

There is a lot of fear, panic, anger, sadness, and depression in the world today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that. But what if God is using this pandemic in order to strengthen us and not just make us “suffer,” as some may think? What if, instead of fearing the worst that can happen to our families and friends, we could rely on God’s comfort, presence, and power to help us to get through each day without paralyzing fear? What if, instead of getting angry at the inconveniences that the pandemic has caused in our lives, we learn to live with it and make the best of it? And what if we could take the time to mourn those we have lost, without fear of ridicule or judgment? What if we could treat our fellow human beings with more love and compassion than ever before? I believe we can, if we trust God to help us.

I have been grieved by all the politicized vitriol surrounding the pandemic, especially here in the U.S., because it points to our society’s inability to come together in unity. One of the customers that I talked to recently told me, “We are all in this together.” That is certainly true, but some people act like only their view is right and that those who have differing views are somehow immoral and/or inferior to them. In order for us to become stronger through the pandemic, we need to be respectful of people’s beliefs surrounding it. For instance, if you believe that people should stay at home except to shop for essentials and that they should wear a face mask in public, you should not chastise the people who for some reason can’t wear a face mask or who must go out to shop for certain items. On the flip side, those who are not as concerned about the pandemic should not chastise the people who believe that staying at home and not going out too much is the best option. We must remember that each person is an image bearer of God, and that they have needs and dreams, just as we do. They are feeling the effects of the pandemic, just as we are. Be open to others’ views by treating those with whom you disagree with grace. 

Many people have legitimate fears about the pandemic. If you are one of the people working as an “essential worker,” as I am, you may worry that all the people you come in contact with at your job could cause you to unknowingly pass on the virus to your family or those with whom you live. You may worry about finances if you are unemployed right now and may worry about not being able to pay bills on time.  

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV), it says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Know that whatever is happening in your life right now, that God is using that for your good somehow (Romans 8:28).  What you are going through in your life right now may not seem “good” or “hopeful,” but know that God will use the icky parts of our lives to either teach us something we will use in our future or lead us to a better future. We can ease those fears, at least a little bit, by trusting that God will protect us and provide for us.  

Another way we can become stronger–emotionally and mentally–through this pandemic is not getting so upset at all the inconveniences caused by it. One of the things that really gets people upset is having to wear face masks in public. They say they can’t breathe in them (I understand their concern); it forfeits their “rights” (I am baffled by that one), and they are allergic to the kind of masks they are wearing (there are different kinds of masks you can wear). If you are one of the people who have significant trouble breathing through a mask, ask your doctor to recommend a face shield that can function as a mask or some other alternative so that breathing won’t be so difficult. For those that just don’t want to wear a mask, know that complaining about wearing one or refusing to wear one will not alleviate the inconvenience. For one thing, if wearing a mask is required where you live, you could be fined for refusing to wear one! 

Also, please be patient. I have noticed certain things take a little bit longer because of the backlog caused by the pandemic and certain businesses not being able to open. Do not yell at an essential worker if you have to wait longer for an item, or if the item is out of stock. This is not an issue with that worker, and may be an issue with the supplier/manufacturer of the item not being able to make the particular item at the rate of demand. If you have to wait longer for an item, it may be because of inadequate staffing to meet demand. Again, the worker is only one person. Unless you find a way to clone them, they cannot do five people’s jobs. 

When we unite as children of God and as a society to get through this pandemic together, we will grow stronger in faith and character. Then, we will realize that we are all in this world together, and we will all lead others to know the love and power of Christ by our care and compassion.

Posted on 2 Comments

The Problem with “That’s What the Bible Says”

If you’ve been around evangelicals for long, you’ve probably heard the phrase “That’s what the Bible says.” This is generally said to justify or defend an unpopular position the person holds when he or she is speaking during Bible study or debating a friend or preaching. It’s used as a trump card, a last resort, and as an implicit statement saying, “Don’t blame me, blame God.” In many cases, its use is motivated by intellectual laziness. In other cases, its use is based off of a genuine desire to adhere to God’s truth. In most cases, if not all, it’s a terrible thing to say.

One of the problems with the phrase is that it doesn’t take the relevant verses in context. By nature, the phrase simply plucks up a statement or a few words or a sentence and highlights that at the expense of everything else in the passage and perhaps even the rest of the Bible. This tactic doesn’t consider other passages to shed light on what that one verse means, nor does it take potentially contradictory passages into consideration. The phrase implies that this is what the text says and that there’s no other way to interpret it because this is literally what it says. In general, it shoots down any other attempt to understand the text because any other attempt would be failing to take the Bible seriously or to take God at His word. And if you’re not taking God at His word, you must be creating your own god and your own doctrines.

This is a non sequitur and a false dilemma. It’s a non sequitur because it doesn’t necessarily follow that just because one verse or passage of scripture says to do or don’t do something or to believe or don’t believe something means that should be the case at all times. It’s a false dilemma because there is another option besides believe what one verse literally says or reject the Bible.

For example, let’s look at anxiety. Some Christians say it’s a sin to be anxious because Jesus and Paul say not to be anxious (in Matthew 6 and in Philippians 4, respectively). In Matthew 6, Jesus is talking to a crowd that is probably filled with poor people who are obviously concerned about how they will provide for themselves (hence “do not worry about…what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear”). He wants them to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” and trust that “all these things will be given to you as well.” In Philippians 4, Paul gives exhortations to the Philippian church about how to live, knowing that they may face imminent persecution of some sort.

We can take away from both passages that God wants us to trust in Him through all life’s circumstances. He doesn’t want us choosing to sit around and fret instead of pursuing His kingdom. But we run into a problem when reading about Jesus the night before His crucifixion. Luke 22 says Jesus was “in anguish”; that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”; and that he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” Jesus never sinned, but He was clearly anxious the night before His death. What do we make of this?

There is obviously a kind of anxiety God doesn’t want us to have, and there is obviously a kind of anxiety that He is okay with. I think God doesn’t want us to willfully choose to worry about the future, our provisions, or our circumstances. But I think there is a natural, neuro-chemical type of anxiety that we don’t have much—or any—control over. We can choose to fight through it or succumb to it, but it’s there regardless. That kind of anxiety isn’t a sin. How could it be? We didn’t choose to have it.

Or take addiction. I once talked to a woman about joining my website as a writer. I had read an article on her website about addiction and I told her I disagreed with her position that addiction is entirely a spiritual issue. She pointed me to Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” She then told me that this verse shows that all sin begins in the heart, and so all other attempts to deal with addiction are vain.

I don’t disagree that there are spiritual elements to addiction. But research shows there are significant physical elements to it as well, and an effective approach to fighting addiction includes both. Nor do I think this verse implies that there is nothing else that affects behavior except the heart.

For one, this verse is a proverb. By definition, proverbs are instructive statements that are generally true. They aren’t meant to say that whatever the proverb states is literally always going to be true. For instance, is it always true that a “troublemaker and a villain…who plots evil with deceit in his heart” will have “disaster…overtake him in an instant”? Will every bad person “suddenly be destroyed—without remedy” (Proverbs 6:12, 14, 15)? No. We all know that bad people sometimes get away with their actions, and if they don’t they still aren’t immediately blotted from the face of the earth. Some bad people repent and end up living holy lives, which is the opposite of being destroyed “without remedy.” If we take Proverbs literally, we will end up very confused—because we’re not reading it the way it was meant to be read.

So yes, in general everything you do flows from the heart. Our moral choices come from our heart, which is why Jesus says we know people by their fruit. But someone with brain damage can’t always control his or her actions. If we read this verse literally, then it means that person is choosing these actions and that he or she is completely responsible for them. This is the kind of interpretation that defies common sense and makes Christians look hopelessly ignorant. In regards to addiction, yes, we need to address the heart, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else to address. There are external and biological factors that influence our behavior, and these factors may give us a propensity towards a certain sin, which is why they need to be addressed. Again, the woman I talked to about being a writer for my site committed a non sequitur (and a false dilemma and some sort of argument from exclusion): just because the text only says “heart” doesn’t mean there’s nothing else involved.

If the Bible was just a one-by-one list of rules, perhaps we wouldn’t have this problem, perhaps we could say, “That’s what the Bible says.” But that’s not what the Bible is. The Bible is made up of several different genres that all have different expectations about how they’re supposed to be read. The Bible was written 2000+ years ago, and if we don’t consider each book’s cultural and historical context then we run the risk of misunderstanding what the text is saying. We can’t simply read one verse or passage and say, “Look! That’s what it says!” We have to consider the rest of the Bible, especially the contradictory verses (like in my example with anxiety and Jesus the night before His death). We have to let scripture interpret scripture, and from there try to draw conclusions. The Bible is hard work. As C.S. Lewis said in his book Reflections on the Psalms: “No net less wide than a man’s whole heart, nor less fine of mesh than love, will hold the sacred Fish”[i].

I think we need to ditch “That’s the Bible says.” The phrase has done a lot of harm. It shuts people in cages and can discourage them from digging deeper to really understand the Bible. Even for those who genuinely want to uphold truth and don’t quite understand why the Bible says what it does, something gentler like, “I’m trying to uphold God’s truth and this is what I take it to mean” would be better.

I’m not saying the Bible never means what it says. I’m not saying we can make up our own version of truth. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take the Bible seriously (in fact, I’m saying we should take the Bible more seriously through deeper study). What I’m saying is we need to take the Bible on its own terms (for example, reading each book with its genre in mind) and sometimes do further study to truly understand its meaning. When we do that, the Bible will make a lot more sense—including some of its most baffling passages. I’m suggesting we think twice before uttering, “That’s what it says.”

 

References

[i] Lewis, C.S. Reflections on the Psalms. Inspirational Press, 1958, p. 192.

 

This post was originally published on my website: https://www.wrhwriting.com/episode-3-the-problem-with-thats-what-the-bible-says/

It is also the transcript of an episode of my podcast Churchthink.

Posted on Leave a comment

Momentary Troubles, Eternal Glory

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

 

I consider these two verses to be perhaps the most comforting verses for a suffering person. Our current troubles don’t feel “light.” They didn’t to Paul, and they don’t to us. But believers in Christ have the greatest joy just ahead: we get to be with God in His kingdom forever.

Let us remember that when we’re suffering. Our suffering is temporary. For the believer, suffering always has an end. For the believer, joy in Christ has no end.

Persevere, persevere, persevere—even through the worst of times. Let us say with Paul that it will be so worth it.

 

W.R. Harris is the founder and owner of Persevering Hope. He is an author who has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://wrhwriting.com/

Posted on Leave a comment

Our Illusion, God’s Reality

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

–Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

 

As human beings, we plan and prepare for many things in our lives: school assignments, which college to attend, what to major in, where to get a job. We plan weddings and birthday parties and funerals. Even our days are planned: when to have time with the Lord, when and what to cook (or order) for dinner, when to go to bed. In fact, upon scrutiny, we can see that we plan just about everything. Granted, maybe not all of it will go exactly according to plan, but most of the things we plan will. Right? We certainly expect good outcomes.

 

The issue we come upon is one of having a sense of control. Most of us have been through enough to know that we don’t have absolute control, and many of us know, on an intellectual level, that we do not have any control, truly. But everyone falls into that trap of thinking that the control for which we grasp is something we can, in reality, obtain. Even people that have had their plans so seriously derailed that they know on a heart-level that, as humans, we have no control, can slip into a mindset of having some form of control.

 

However, Proverbs 16:9 makes it extremely clear that our illusion is God’s reality, that, while we plan things, God is the one in control. No more. No less. The end. Period.

 

And that? Is great news. Especially as our country, our world, faces a pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It’s scary—the media outlets don’t help, nor does social media. We’re all being encouraged to social distance. We can’t go to our church building on Sundays. And yet, in all this, God. Is. In. Control. God is King and He is on His throne.

 

What does this mean for us? It means to, yes, take precautions, but more importantly, to remember that God hasn’t stepped off His throne during this pandemic. In the Bible, we are actually told that our Earth, our home, is merely God’s footstool (Isaiah 66:1). God hasn’t left us and He won’t (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He knows what is happening and what’s going to happen, and He tells us not to worry about tomorrow—in essence, today has plenty of trouble to deal with all on its own. Don’t go adding on more trouble that you may not even have to deal with (Matthew 6:34).

 

At first blush, not having any control sounds horrible, but given a second look, we realize that having an all­-knowing, all-powerful God in control of things, Who is working everything together for our good (Romans 8:28), is far better than anything we frail humans could manage.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Living In Fear–My Journey Out

I have lived in some fear for most of my life. Even back to my elementary school days, I was chided by teachers and peers alike for “worrying too much.” I had severe OCD in my early teen years. Later, some of my anxiety sometimes turned into paranoia. My senior year of high school I was dubbed “most paranoid” by my graduating class.

But God has rescued me out of many of my fears. Yes, He is the same God that said “Do not fear” numerous times in the Bible.

I recovered from my severe OCD with medication and by slowly trying to reduce the time I spent on my nonsensical rituals. Now, many years later, I barely even remember what the rituals were! God used people and situations in my life to help me combat the devil’s lies that not doing the rituals would bring me “bad luck”. (Yes, I actually believed that “bad luck” deal!) God helped me realize that not doing the nonsensical rituals actually freed me to be joyful and to do what He wanted me to do with my life.

I also used to be so afraid what people would think of me if they found out that I was on the autistic spectrum. I tried to hide my struggles from the outside world even before I realized I was on the spectrum. I was taught by my parents, my culture, and the community around me to not tell anyone about my “dirty laundry.” I know they all meant well—they did not want to further expose me to becoming prey to unscrupulous people who may have wanted to take advantage of my openness. However, I also felt alone and powerless to fight the battles that still raged on in my heart long after the visible symptoms of the struggles had passed. When the Spirit impressed upon my heart to write about my struggles, I expected people to judge and even reject me, but, at that point, I did not care. I knew God wanted to use me to bring hope to others struggling similarly. When I started writing about my struggles, something amazing happened! Not only did God use me in His amazing way, but I also found that most people found my vulnerability refreshing. It opened up a way for them to share their own struggles and find acceptance and camaraderie with those struggling similarly, including myself.

Sometimes, I would also be afraid of certain people, as when an abuse survivor sees his or her abuser in close proximity after going “no contact” for a long time. This probably stems from an incident where a teacher growled at me and acted threateningly to me when I ran from him in fear. I still fear people when they yell at me because of this, but thankfully my fear abates within hours, or only a couple days at most. God has infused the power of forgiveness and redemption to quell my fears of people yelling at me or hurting me. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) the power of releasing bitterness and replacing it with mercy, compassion, and grace.

When I was in school, I used to worry about many things–for example, whether I would pass a test or quiz, or if I would get in trouble for something that I may have said or done. Sometimes, I would lie awake for a long time worrying about these things. What I learned was that my worries and fears either never came to pass at all or it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I still struggle with this sometimes, but one major way God has helped me is redirecting my focus from my circumstances and the “what-ifs” (like what if I don’t pass that test….or what if I get laid off or fired from my job?) to His sovereignty and goodness. Now, I am learning how to say, “Even if I don’t pass the test, God will give me a second chance. Even if I get laid off, God will provide me another job. Even if I get COVID-19, God will use my illness to glorify Himself and bring about good in my life.” This has quelled my fears about COVID-19 significantly, and has helped me to trust God’s sovereignty and goodness in my life, no matter what happens.

Almost everyone I know has at least one fear, even if they don’t readily acknowledge it. It’s normal, but when fear starts to paralyze your joy and freedom in life, then it needs to leave. With God’s help, you can conquer your fears and experience the joy and freedom He has for you.

 

This post was originally published on Patricia’s blog: https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/living-in-fear-my-journey-out/

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Simple Ways to Maintain Physical Health with Little or No Exercise Equipment

I recently contributed to CityView Church Pearland’s blog about maintaining physical health during Covid-19. I gave an example of a beginner-level workout, as well as advice about cooking/eating healthy. Here’s the link to that article: https://www.cityviewpearland.com/blog/physical-health-during-distancing

Here is another example of a workout you can do with little or no equipment. This one is a little more advanced.

 

Start out with 3-5 minutes of light calisthenics for warm up. Examples include power walking, light jogging (this can be done in place), lunges, lateral shuffle, jump rope or jump squats (if you’re comfortable jumping; if not, don’t worry about it), lateral lunges, or squats. Do a combination of these at an easy pace.

For each exercise, do 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

  • Single leg balance with multiplanar reach. Balance on one leg. Extend the other leg forward and then bring it back to neutral. Next, extend it directly to the side (right leg would go out to your right, left leg to your left) and bring it to neutral. Then, extend it behind you diagonally. Cycle through all three motions as many times as you can (while staying balanced) for 15-25 seconds. Do both sides. Here is a video of the movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo4P9Y_AQt8
  • Pushups. Try not to let your hips sink down or raise up too much.
  • Lateral lunges. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Lunge directly to your right, keeping your trail leg extended. Keep your hips pressed back as you squat down on your right side (your knee shouldn’t go forward over your toe). Come back to neutral and do the same on the other side (8-12 reps each side). This is a way to get your hip abductor and hip adductor muscles involved in a good leg and cardio exercise. If you have a dumbbell or kettlebell, hold it up at your chest during the exercise.
  • IYTs. Lie on your stomach with your arms straight above your head and thumbs pointing toward the ceiling. Bring your arms straight up a few inches off the ground. Then, move your arms so your body creates a Y and do the same thing. Then, lower your arms to 90 degrees and bring them off the ground. Think about engaging your back muscles to raise your arms, and do 3-4 reps each way. If you have a stability ball (yoga ball—same thing), you can do the IYTs on it. Keep feet on the ground—lay your stomach on the stability ball.
  • Mountain climbers. Starting in a pushup position, lift one foot up toward your chest. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg, alternating back and forth as fast as you can for 8-12 reps each leg.
  • Single leg glute bridge. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Extend one knee until leg is completely straight. Push up through the heel on the ground and bring your hips up until knees, hips, and shoulders are directly in line.

For a cool down, do 1-3 stretches. Some good stretches are child’s pose, t-spine twist, quad pulls, and knee hugs.

 

Do an exercise routine like this 3-5 times a week. Another great idea for exercise (and something you can do on the days you don’t do a workout) is walking, jogging, or biking. This article does a great job discussing how sunlight and fresh air can combat sickness: https://medium.com/@ra.hobday/coronavirus-and-the-sun-a-lesson-from-the-1918-influenza-pandemic-509151dc8065. Just make sure to keep your distance from others! If you can open windows in your house, do it. It will help to get as much sun and fresh air as we can right now.

These are also great ideas to consider anytime of the year, especially if you suffer from anxiety and/or depression. You don’t need any equipment and you don’t need to drive anywhere!

 

W.R. Harris is the founder and owner of Persevering Hope. He is an author who has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://wrhwriting.com/

Posted on Leave a comment

Good Days and Bad Days

There are so many factors that contribute to how we feel each day. The weather, the economy, our boss’s behavior, our spouse’s behavior, our kids’ behavior, how well we slept the last few nights, how much we’ve exercised, our diet, if our favorite sports team won, etc., etc. Some of these are within our control and some of these aren’t.

Sometimes we fail to take care of the things we can control, and we feel miserable because of it. That’s okay. Jesus is there with us and forgives us if we fall. The best thing to do is to pick ourselves up and do our best for the rest of the day.

Sometimes we take care of ourselves perfectly—and the things we can’t control fall apart. That’s okay. The best thing to do is to do our best with our situation.

The point is there are good days and there are bad days. If we always measure ourselves based on our very best on good days, we will have a low opinion of ourselves. That’s not reality: we can’t always be at our best. But we can make the best out of whatever the day has given us or however we feel. It may not be our “absolute best,” but it is the best we can do given our circumstances. And that’s what God calls us to—to be faithful right now, in our current context.

So some days we may not be as happy or gracious or creative or patient or energetic. That’s okay. Good days will come around again. Give yourself some grace. Relax, take a deep breath, and just do your best. That’s all God is calling you to right now.

 

W.R. Harris is the founder and owner of Persevering Hope. He is an author who has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://wrhwriting.com/

Posted on Leave a comment

Things I Learned in Order to Cope with the Coronavirus

Saying that these are uncertain and tumultuous times would be an understatement to so many in this world right now. I just moved almost a week ago and face some uncertainty because of that event. However, many of you are facing even greater uncertainty and even fears because your jobs may have been eliminated or changed, your children are no longer able to attend school (except online), and most of you can no longer attend church services, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship because of this pandemic. Even with all this trouble and uncertainty in the world today, there are still ways we can successfully cope with these new realities and stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. Here are some things I learned about how we can cope with this pandemic that is affecting our livelihoods:

Selfishness can cost lives, so we should strive to be considerate of others. When people hoard the essential supplies to combat or prevent the Coronavirus, or when they are rude and non compliant with those that provide services and supplies that they need, they are being selfish. This selfishness can cost lives because it can force stores and other businesses to close and those without means of transportation and access to online services can potentially starve or be in otherwise grave danger because they will have to go without the supplies they need to survive. If people don’t practice social distancing, not caring about whether they will potentially infect someone, they could potentially make someone who has a compromised immune system or is fragile physically to get seriously ill and even die! This can happen because the person who is acting nonchalantly can be a carrier of the virus, even if he or she doesn’t yet present any symptoms. However, when we practice social distancing so that the virus does not spread, wash our hands frequently in order not to spread potentially harmful germs, and when we are patient and considerate to those who serve us and to those in need, I know God will give each one of us the grace we need to be able to endure this trial for as long as He allows.

God will always provide for us, so we do not have to be afraid of not having enough. Many people are in fear of at least some aspect of their livelihood being affected by this virus—whether it has to do with their job or financial security, having adequate food and water, and even that they may contract the virus themselves. I confess that I had some fears in all these categories at some point during these past few days, but then God brought this verse to mind:

“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.”-1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

That is when I was reminded by God that He cares for me. And He still cares for every single person reading this today, even when we are going through trials. Not only that, but we don’t have to fear because God always provides for us what we need in some way because of his loving care for us. In fact, Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

My family and I have personally experienced the truth of this verse, even just over this past week! For example, my mom needed chicken to cook a dish, and she looked for it in several stores, only to discover they were already out. However, God provided us with the chicken through my brother, who was able to find it at a store closer to his house, and bought it for my mom. Another incident where God graciously provided happened a few days ago, when I found out I would still have a job, after having worried about what I would do if I didn’t have one, since I tend to delve into depression and get antsy when I have to stay home and not have work to do. Moreover, I would have a very difficult time staying at home for several days on end and still be relatively sane and stable mentally. Thankfully, I went in for the job offer at my new workplace, and they allowed me to start the next day! Not only that, God provided for me beyond what I had asked or even expected when I discovered I got a good raise compared to the last place I worked! I am so blessed! God also did the same for Job, after Job’s time of intense suffering, by fully restoring or replacing all that Job had before. I am convinced that if we all continue to fully trust and lean on God, He will do similarly for you, in His timing, according to what is right for you. Even when you don’t think God is coming through for you right now, do not give up on Him! God will always come through just when you need Him. His timing is always perfect.

I learned we should help others in need during this tumultuous time, according to what we are able to do. If you are healthy, do not have the virus, and have the means to do so, help others who are battling the emotional and/or financial effects of the virus. For instance, if a friend (online or in person) wants to talk or vent to you, listen to him or her with thought and consideration. Do not seem too busy or judgmental in your demeanor. Offer words of encouragement as he or she faces these trials. Share how you are getting through it and talk about the hope that comes from Christ. If your friend needs financial help, and you are able to do so, give him or her the necessary resources as a gift, not expecting repayment, as burdening him or her with a loan can create additional financial and emotional burdens. Help your loved ones in any way you can, and value their presence in your life even more now, as they may have no one else they interact with face-to-face.

If we do our best to put others before ourselves, trust that God will always provide what we need, and help others struggling with the effects of this pandemic, we will defeat Coronavirus and God will make us stronger and better than before!

 

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Seek First His Kingdom, and All These Things Will Be Given to You

The following is an excerpt from my devotional book Pursuing God’s Kingdom Day by Day https://www.amazon.com/Pursuing-Gods-Kingdom-Day-ebook/dp/B07SL2GHFM/

Considering the current Covid-19 situation, this passage might be helpful. I pray our nation would lean into God and have peace.

 

There are many things that can distract us from seeking the Kingdom. Money may be the primary distraction, although pursuing sexual pleasure and social status are big ones, too.

I can certainly relate to money. It’s not that I chase after fortune so I can have a big house and lots of cool stuff. It’s just that I worry about not always having enough to pay the bills. My wife and I have never had that problem, but it’s a worry at the back of my mind. What if this happens? What if that happens?

Some of you may relate. Yes, we should be cognizant of and wise about our finances, but we have to be able to trust God and not let worry consume our lives. It doesn’t matter how much you know about God’s kingdom and how to pursue it if you spend all your time worrying about money (or anything else). I understand some of us may have to work a lot to pay the bills, and that’s okay. As we discussed earlier, your work brings the Kingdom to earth. But if we’re spending our free time worrying about money and not seeking God, we need to seek help from our small group, trusted friend or pastor, a recovery group, or counselor. Or, we may just need to pick ourselves up and go serve someone.

Jesus addresses this in Matthew 6. He exhorts His audience not to worry about life’s necessities: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matthew 6:31). We should remember that His audience in this passage likely consisted largely of poor people. They were dependent on the harvest for food, so we can imagine they worried about the harvest’s productivity. Jesus knows that. He grew up in Galilee—He knows the people’s mindset and how they think about food. His response to this concern is to trust that God will provide because He “knows that you need” all these things (verse 32).

God wants us to trust Him enough to pursue His kingdom. In fact, He wants us to pursue His kingdom “first,” and, He says, “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). That is, make God’s kingdom your priority and He will provide life’s necessities for you.

Questions: What worries or distractions are keeping you from pursuing God’s kingdom? What steps can you take to break free from those worries and distractions?

Prayer: God, it’s hard sometimes to focus on your Kingdom. I’m worried about and distracted by _______ (fill in the blank). Teach me how to trust you instead and pursue your Kingdom. Show me the steps to take to get there. Amen.

 

 

W.R. Harris is the founder and owner of Persevering Hope. He is an author who has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://wrhwriting.com/