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Core to Extremity (Reboot)

Spiritual Training Cycle: Unity (wk. 12/13)

Strength is powerful. From Popeye to Superman and beyond, we’ve come to associate strength with power. Whether to leap tall buildings or rescue those in need, strength is where it’s at. But what’s the origin of strength? For Superman, it was his home planet of Krypton. For Popeye it was his can of spinach. And for us, the origin of physical strength is our core. Some people toss around the word “core” like it’s an accessory movement you do at the end of a workout. But spend enough time training and you’ll realize that the core of the human body is essential to every functional movement it will perform. The core is the foundation upon which all movement will be built. In our gym, we call this core to extremity.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to exhaustively list every muscle that makes up the core, let me say that I’m not just talking about abs. Think of the core as the torso. It’s the essential base of the body. Your limbs, your neck, your head, all the rest of your body is an extension of your core. Which is why it’s vital that our core be strong. But punching you in the gut or having you do some crunches or back extensions won’t reveal your core strength. To really see core strength, hold an object as far away from your body as you can and try to move it. Whether that’s flutter kicks or overhead squats, stronger athletes will do more reps or move more weight because their core supports their extremity. The extremity of your physical performance cannot be realized without the sufficiency of your core strength. In other words, the foundation matters.

Core to extremity is also applicable in spiritual fitness. Think of extremity as life happening to you and around you. Your job, your relationships, your family, rush hour traffic, school, bills, you name it. People miss the opportunity to develop their spiritual core when they primarily focus on the world around them. They get caught up in the pursuit of happiness and accomplishment, or they end up trying to control everything around them. But life has this amazing way of bringing new and unexpected things to us all the time. A strong spiritual core comes from the joy found only in Jesus. Avery Rimiller defines this kind of joy as, “A feeling of good pleasure that is dependent on who Jesus is rather than on who we are or what is happening around us.” Joy is the by-product of a life lived in pursuit of Jesus. When the extremes of life happen, and they will, your joy in God remains stable. The stability of godly joy provides more freedom to handle tougher challenges in life. It gives you a solid platform to rely on no matter what the world throws your way.

A strong spiritual core comes from the joy found only in Jesus.

I find that sometimes the best way to build my spiritual core is to find joy in the moment. When the kids are making you late for work, find joy. When the clothes you needed are still in the washer, find joy. When the interview doesn’t go the way you thought it would, find joy. In today’s reading, the Apostle Paul shows us why he can be content in every situation. It’s the joy of the Lord that gives him strength. And he calls on that strength by actively choosing to rejoice. So, here’s my challenge to you – rejoice in the Lord! Make godly joy not something you walk around with, but something you do. That’s the firm foundation on which we stand.

Questions for Reflection:

How do you rejoice in the Lord?

What makes finding joy in the moment challenging?

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