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Tag Archives: the Coronavirus outbreak

Fitness for the Soul

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there were 41,370 fitness centers in the United States. Depending upon where you live, most of these local gyms are in walking distance or less than 10 miles from where your reside. Whether you prefer exercise bicycles, treadmills or lifting weights, if you want to get in shape prices often range from $10-20 per month. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, most facilities often a special rate for guests. If you can’t afford this, there are always local parks with fitness trails with detailed instructions to follow for you to remain fit.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

In his first letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to not get caught up in physical fitness. While exercise is needed to stay in shape, fitness for your soul is much more important in the long run. Paul ends his first letter to Timothy with an illustration of what spiritual fitness resembles, 1 Timothy 6:11. The pursuit of happiness is an honorable quest, but fitness for the soul begins by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Along the way, fight the good fight as you strive to emulate Jesus.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

The author of Hebrews adds a different dimension to fitness for the soul in the passage above. As you work out physically and spiritually, remember the advice passed on to you by former coaches, mentors and teachers. If parts of your life begin to spin out of control, unload everything that is tripping you up or weighing you down. As you do this, keep your eyes focused on the cross since when runners get tired, the first thing that occurs is that heads slouch, forcing eyes to stare at the ground. If you keep your eyes fixed on the finish line, God will give you the vision to maintain fitness for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Pilgrimage Known as Going to Church

Korah is one of the individuals who rebelled against Moses following the Exodus out of Egypt. According to Number 16:31-32, the earth swallowed up all of Korah’s household and possessions. While some of Korah’s descendants survived the wrath of God, they were barred from entering the tabernacle for 7 generations. Based upon the passage below, the sons of Korah were finally able to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship at God’s temple.

How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God. Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings. They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion, Psalm 84:1-7.

Depending upon where you live in the United States, going to church in 2020 is much more complicated than it use to be. If you don’t call ahead, register or sign up on line, you probably won’t be able to attend due to limited numbers. Since the Coronavirus outbreak struck in the middle of March, churches have either gone virtual, transitioned to outdoor services or limited their attendance due to new state guidelines. Until a cure is discovered, weekly pilgrimages to church might have to be altered.

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, Fair and beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth—[a]Mount Zion [the City of David], to the northern side [Mount Moriah and the temple], the [whole] city of the Great King! God has made Himself known in her palaces as a Refuge (a High Tower and a Stronghold), Psalm 48:1-3.

The concern for future generations is that teenagers will grow up without worship being part of their lives. While most congregations limits services to one day a week, accountability groups, Bible studies, fellowship and Sunday school classes play a key role in developing faith. Although some youth groups have used Zoom Chats to stay in touch, nothing can replace face to face interactions. Thus, as certain governors have enacted emergency orders to ban in person worship services, people of faith need to be creative. The goal is to do whatever it takes to make the pilgrimage to a local church possible once again.

by Jay Mankus

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