I go to church to be fed the Word of God. But the problem is I’m already full. My life is full. My mind is full. My belly feels full until the sermon goes long. I come to learn, but sometimes it feels like math class in high school. Even if it did make sense, when am I going to use this in real life?
I go to church to be healed. But I’m not sick. Or hurt, or suffering. I don’t need help, so why am I here?
The least comfortable part of my week is sitting in a pew for an hour and a half. I can read the Bible on my own, and I would be much more comfortable on my couch. And I would probably get more out of it too.
But what if the point of church wasn’t to get something out of it? What if instead of trying to get something out of it, I tried putting something into it? What if.. What if I put everything into it?
What if I had been suffering for Christ all week long? What if I really put myself out there and was mocked and scorned because of my belief. What if I lost sleep because I was praying and weeping over the lost and unbelieving and my brothers and sisters in the faith who are dying every day just like me? I have a feeling I wouldn’t care what songs the worship band chose or what I would be having for lunch. And it wouldn’t be because I’m not hungry, but it would be because the only thing that will satisfy me is Jesus Christ. Because if it weren’t for Him I wouldn’t be suffering.
The American dream isn’t appealing to me any more. I’m not motivated by the prospect of a comfortable life. I’m motivated by love. And I know that in the end it will all be worth it. Because I actually believe that what He said is true, and I want my life to show it.
I go to church because I need encouragement to go another week. I need a reminder of why I’m a Christian because otherwise it’s not worth all the heartache. And I know that my fellow believers are going to need the same thing, and that’s why I go to church.
Being a Christian simply means that we follow Christ.
Matthew 16:24-26 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
You breathe 24/7 from the time you’re born to the time you die. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you breathed poorly your whole entire life?
We need oxygen in order to burn the fuel we get from food and convert it to usable energy, just like the flame on a candle needs oxygen to burn the wick. Breathing is what keeps us alive, and when our breathing is hindered everything becomes more difficult. So it’s important that we learn to breathe optimally so that we can perform optimally and lead better, more effective lives.
TIP #1: Posture
Good breathing starts with good posture. Stand and sit tall. Chest up, chin up, entire back is straight (opposite of hunched). If you want a really good breath, stretch out your arms into the sky as if you are fully expanding yourself and going for a big yawn. Then relax. But rather than relax your whole body and hunching over again, just relax your arms, bringing them down to your sides. This is the posture you want to strive to maintain throughout your day.
TIP #2: Diaphragm
Breathe from your “belly.” Poor posture (slouching or hunching over in a chair) restricts you lungs and cramps your diaphragm causing you to breathe from your chest. In routine breathing, the diaphragm should be fully sufficient for breathing. You should only need to recruit your intercostal muscles (those little ones between your ribs) in intense or emergency situations. We need to get better at shifting back into belly breathing when we’re not in those situations. If you aren’t using you’re diaphragm, you’re breathing inefficiently and increasing stress in your body. The smaller intercostal muscles are not designed to lift your entire rib cage with every inhale all day every day. It’s unnecessary stress, like using your finger to lift a dumbbell instead of your hand. Don’t make your life so difficult.
My personal favorite breathing exercise: SINGIIIING! Belly breathing will help your singing voice dramatically although it won’t do much for tone-deaf. But who cares how you sound anyway? Don’t sing to be heard. Sing to be singing! This is important.
TIP #3: Relax
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling stressed you will let out a sigh? We do this to reduce stress. You can consciously re-create this natural occurring deep exhalation to achieve the same effect. Next time you want to calm yourself down and relax, force out a breath. A long exhale. Then allow your lungs to refill themselves naturally. Repeat as needed.
TIP #4: Exercise
I’ve often heard people say that you should exhale while you are contracting your muscles to perform an exercise, then inhale as you relax and go to the start position. For example, you would breathe out during a push-up while pushing yourself up. Then breathe in as you lower yourself back down. You may have heard someone tell you to breathe if you’re struggling to perform a sit-up or bench press. But why is it that we naturally want to hold our breath when doing a difficult maneuver? It’s because holding our breath tenses up our body giving us more stability and power. You just don’t want to take this too far such as holding your breath a full minute while doing sit-ups or push-ups. You generally want to keep your breathing relaxed and steady unless you need a burst of power. Then do what your body naturally wants to do: hold your breath a split second or make a small opening with your mouth and push the breath out. Don’t confuse your body by relaxing when you should be contracting. It’s okay to grit your teeth a little to get the job done, just don’t hurt yourself.
Don’t go crazy with thinking about your breathing too much. Get in the habit of breathing properly if you’re not. Then let your body do its thing.