Day 10: But, exercise makes me want to cry

Thought for the Day: I fully realize that my body as a temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up to the Lord my willingness to dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.

Before I met my exercise-loving husband, I believed the only reason a person should sweat was if he or she were lying by the pool. But when I encountered Art, I temporarily changed my attitude. I was smitten. Oh, how I was motivated when I discovered that running was a fantastic way to spend more time with this man. However, on the first day of our honeymoon, when he woke up cheerfully and initiated an early-morning run, I thought, “Gracious, why would I want to do that? We’re married now.” And I didn’t run again for many years.

Sad, but true. Psalm 86:11 – 12 explains my quandary:

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart . . . I will glorify your name forever.

An undivided heart. My heart was divided between exercising for another person’s reasons or finding my own motivation. I’ve found that when it comes to my body, which 1 Corinthians 6:19 calls “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” that I can’t live with divided loyalties. I can either be loyal to honoring the Lord, my husband, and my body, or be loyal to my cravings, desires, and excuses for not exercising.

An Old Testament story in Haggai struck me with the problem that a divided heart creates before God. The Israelites were charged to take care of God’s physical temple by rebuilding the actual structure. But just like most of us, they struggled with a heart divided by concerns about the everyday needs of their city and homes. And so God’s people neglected building the temple for ten years. Each year, something else seemed to be more important.

Likewise, I found that my struggle to exercise got delayed by other things that seemed to be higher priorities. How could I find the time between raising kids, running a home, paying the bills, watching TV, and chatting on the phone with friends?

Just as God promised the Israelites blessings for obedience, he warned them of consequences for not rebuilding the temple as He desired. And while we may not feel the effects of ignoring our health immediately, our choices will eventually catch up to us.

I finally admitted that I needed to make time, just like the Israelites, to care for my temple — my body. So I began exercising consistently with a friend and discovered many motivating blessings. While I can’t say I’m always eager to jump out of bed and start my day in a sweat, I’m always refreshed with the alertness that comes once I’ve started. In addition, my friend and I find time to process life, contemplate decisions, and talk about what God is teaching us. I love the feeling of accomplishment each day. Even if everything else in my day falls apart, I can smile and say, “Yes, but with the Lord’s help, I ran this morning.”

I fully realize that my temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up my willingness to the Lord and dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.

How might you start rebuilding your temple today? Maybe running is not your thing. No problem. I say the best exercise for you is the kind you’ll do.


  1. It’s the hardest thing for me to do and makes me feel GREAT when I do it! John C Maxwell said something like exercise is the only thing you can do for 20 minutes that makes you feel great all day long! What motivates me is how much better my body gets rid of things if you know what I mean, when I have a good hard heart-beating-out-of-my-brain workout! I go, I go, I go!

  2. Good morning, Jesus Girls! I have been reading your posts and decided to join in. I am 100 pounds overweight and I know this is the time for me to bring my body and eating to Jesus. I have been using food to cover pain all my life. With my 55th birthday fast approaching, I decided to be honest with myself and you. I choose today to bring all my emotions to Jesus, the true lover of my soul. I trusted Christ with my life and for salvation when I was 21 years old. He has blessed me in every area of my life. Yet, I have been holding on to food instead of Him. I repent of my sin of going to food instead of Jesus. He has helped me this past summer to go faithfully to the health club 4 days a week. I am now going 6 days a week because of Him and I know that I am worth taking care of. He helps me on the eliptical machine to walk 4 miles in 65 minutes and do water aerobics. That is a total miracle! He gives me my portion of food daily just like He did for Israel in the desert before they entered the promised land. The promised land for me is in my sight… I can see it in the distance. 100 pounds to lose is nothing for the Lord of Creation. Thank you for going with me on this journey. Jesus Christ is faithful and He will complete this hard work for each one of us. God bless you today.

    • Hi Debbie; Your story is such an uplifting one. I would like to know how you are doing now, Dec 23, 2011? I’m not really sure how to use this website. I don’t know what to put in the space for website. I’m praying for you though and if God wants us to ever chat i know He can do it. I used to hate exercise but He totally changed that. I battle severe rheumatoid arthritis and He has givin me remission for the most part every day with only a very few flares now each year for the past 3 years. I go to Curves or Planet Fitness 4 or 5 days a week. Praise His Holy Name, Jesus Christ my Lord and gentle healer. I used to weigh 200 # but now I weigh between 150 and 157 most of the time. I would like to be closer to 140 though but have learned to be content with where I am as long as I’m not going up up up. As far as food is concerned I crave healthy food and pray for healthy choice every day. I know the temptations are really every where I turn this time of year but one at a time I can hand them over to Him and even if I do give in to just a little I trust Him to deliver me from going way over board. Like this morning the chocolate cupcakes I gave into last night I got up this morning and fed them to the waste disposal instead of my waist line. glory to God! As I pray and He gives me rest through the night I am strengthend beyond measure in the morning. Praying you are having victory this season of our Savior’s Birth!

    • Hi Debbie,

      I wonder if you come back to this site and ever read my comment, but, like Bonnie K, I was moved by your post. I want to thank you so much for it – it’s given me great encouragement and I’ve used your beatiful, bold and honest statements to pray for myself on this journey.

      I managed to lose quite a lot of weight last spring with MTC (and Jesus, of course!) but then got back to my old, self-destructive ways when the emotional stress became too hard to handle (or, rather, I ‘forgot’ where to turn to for help and comfort). I found myself in a dark place again but I’m ready now to bounce back with the Lord’s help.

      If you do read this, I want you to know that your comment has been helpful and that I’m praying for you (and you, Bonnie K, and all the other beautful sisters on this journey).


    • SHARON HAMMER says

      Good morning Debbie:
      My name is Sharon I am 45 and I am 230lbs I just started the MTC devotionals and they have helped me a great deal. I also hate to excerise. I have two bad knees, the only real exercise I can do is walk. I cant evene do that properly, but please pray that God will heal my knees and help along this journey. I also very overweight at one point in my early 30’s lost 70lbs on weight watchers. I never really gave much thought to asking God for help in this area of my life. Thanks ladies. God Bless.

      • Hi Sharon,
        I have Arthritis and I have discovered exercising in a pool. It does not hurt or put stress on my body or my knees and in fact it keep the pain away most days. But if I skip a few days, the pain and stiffness return. Just a thought. I have a lot of weight to lose also and have been exercising since last fall and dropped from 262 to 232 in that time. Never been able to exercise before and now I pure LOVE it. Look forward to that time. I play worship music when its warm and I can do it at home. Join the Y in the winter. I too prayed for God to heal my Arthritis because the doctor wanted to do a total shoulder replacement and God showed me exercises to do which as I said alleviate much of the pain.

    • I know you posted this in July 2011 and it’s now January 2013 but I just wanted to say how beautiful and motivating your post is.

    • Debbie,this is wonderful, I also found myself 60lbs over weight and in
      Jan.2012 I also started hitting the gym, with strength that came from my
      Heavenly Father. It is a wonderful journey, I lost the 60lbs and have
      Been MAINTAINING my new temple for about 5months :). This is
      The first time I have been able to not just loose but maintain, thank you
      Lord, you are awesome, kind, loving, forgiving, and merciful .

    • Your story sound a lot like mine! I too am 100 pounds overweight.! I am 50. I have been married 30 years and have an amazing husband, 3 grown children and 5 adorable grandchildren. I am so blessed, but… It is like I have a dark cloud over my head when it comes to my weight!! I confessed my addiction and lack of self control to Jesus today. I will pray for you. Will you please pray for me? I will be leading MTC this Fall for our women’s ministry study. Thinking of you and praying for you.

  3. I hate sweating in the heat. So I have found that swimming us a great way for me to exercise. And during the winter when I can’t swim, I like going to my air conditioned gym and mixing things up with the fun machines there. I also love dancing. Zumba is my favorite! I still don’t feel like exercising most days, but it helps to find something I can enjoy while I do it.

  4. I’m a 59-year old personal trainer with the YMCA and LOVE exercising! Many times I have to remind myself that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and DON’T harm this temple with overtraining! So it can go the other way. It’s always a challenge (and a privilege) to motivate my clients so they will enjoy exercising. The key is finding something they enjoy. So thanks for your insight. I plan to share it with my clients!

  5. What each day I read do you address exactly where I’m stuck. Please pray I can find a friend to exersize with. I just so want someone to walk and eventually run with. The devotional also spoke to our unfinished house we started 10 years ago. I have to get this story out in the Bible and gain understanding as to how to finish the house.


  6. I see jogging as time with Jesus. He is my source of strength, my comforter, my counselor, my rock. I love to visualize Him as my trainer encouraging me all the way side by side. This book has only made my relationship with Him that much more and when running I use the go to scripts and meditate on His word. Last week I had the joy of running my second marathon. I know that God was there in that 43 degree rainy weather bc it was not as hard as it could have been. I set my mInd on Him and He gets the glory. There is nothing like setting a goal that is fear producing and asking God to help you through it. It seems to parallel our goals with eating healthier and losing our pounds of excess flesh. I am going to reread this book and lovingly embrace each new insight I hope to get as the good Lord above gives me.

    • I love that Jesus your trainer he is truly our greatest champion isn’t he? Unlike others he never gives up on us. I am really growing closer to Him through this study and now it is time to pick my poison (exercise) and get going thank you ladies for
      sharing all your journeys with us.

  7. I am training to run a 5K and then I plan to train to run a half marathon. I actually got up and ran this morning. I love your message of dedicating my exercise as a gift to God and to myself. I will never view exercise the same way again. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  8. I love to dance so I am going to dance myself skinny love it 🙂

  9. After whining to my husband last night about needing to start exercising, he suggested that we get up at 5 am. I said quickly, ” I am not getting up at 5am!” ugh ! Ok so I may still not get up at 5, but I will make time to exercise with him. His idea of exercise is good ole Army PT…yuk! I like to dance…maybe we can compromise! Either way, clearly the Lord is saying move!

  10. My body hurts so bad in the mornings. I often say “It’s uphill from my bed to the bathroom!” When I was younger, I never showered before I exercised. Now, I can’t move until I shower. So, that changes my whole perspective! I mean, who wants to shower before they exercise??!! But my husband and I are walking. I have to wait till he gets home after 5pm. We’ve rearranged our evening routine a bit in order to get that walk in, and that’s alot for us!! My husband hates change of any kind!! But if he’ll do it with me, that means alot. I, too, usually quit my resolutions by Jan. 7th. But here it is the 10th already and we’re still going! Woohoo!! Thank you for the encouragement!

  11. Wow I just love it when you hit the nail on the head with you topics. I really need to start some kind of exercise plan but I always have an excuse for why not. I have always thought of my body as Gods temple but never thought how run down this temple actually is and how awful it must be for God to have to live in this temple. No more Excuses for me time to do some reno work on this temple. Thank you…

  12. Lynda Tesney says

    Well last summer I started exercising in the mornings and loved it then life happened and I stopped. But the day after New Year’s this year I started back and have been going every day during the week before wor. It is hard to get up and I fight with myself every morning and say oh just not today then I say what difference is 30 more minutes in bed gonna make, after all I can’t get into a deep sleep in that time so I slowly get up and go to the gym. I always feel so much better when I do. Thank you for giving me the idea to remember to give it to the Lord and do it for Him.

  13. I have to agree that exercise is one of those things we hate to start and put off until later with any excuse we can find. I purchased gym quality elliptical which sat untouched for 18 months until I read your book. Now I am on it for 30 minutes at least 5 days weekly and feel so much better about myself. Thanks for the push…. I needed it,! Oh and by the way, I still dislike exercise until I am actually doing it, and really love it just after it’s done for the day 🙂

  14. Funny, I juSt started to re read MTC last night and didn’t give myself a chance to make excuses this morning, just went to the gym. Less stressful to just DECIDE than waver and justify and feel lazy or weak after skipping the workout. SHALLOW (EFFORT) DELIVERS SHALLOW RESULTS!

  15. Evelyn Dunston says

    I first read this challenge at 5:19 this morning – and vowed I would begin to exercise after 4 years of inactivity. First I had to find the walking tape so I could walk inside (I wanted a telephone close by in case it didn’t go well!). And then the “ought to” kicked in. First I did the dishes, then picked up, cleaned the litter box and then I rested. Then I re-read the challenge – perhaps I had misunderstood. Then I read the scripture alluded to Haggi – just to check out those consequences. And the description on my present state was spelled out: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” and then I found this: 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” I walked that first mile and it only took me 8 hours!

    • Thanks for sharing Evelyn, I too find many reasons to stray from exercising. I love the scripture from Haggai and have never thought about it as being directed to me (isn’t that often the way – I think it is the perfect scripture for someone else but God intended it for me!). I have been trying to walk a mile each day before coming home from work – it is slow. Many days it takes me much longer debating about whether I can walk or not than it actually does to walk. I am so very glad that God is patient with me and I am on my way to creating a temple that is obedient if not restored! Hang in there!

  16. I require myself to exercise for at least 15 minutes per day. I do a little stretching, a little cardo and a little resistance training in that length of time. It isn’t much, but it amounts to 91 and a half hours of exercise a year or burning off over ten pounds of fat a year.

  17. Thanks for this encouragement, Lysa!! I had been doing so well in the area of exercise. Since my “life-change commitment” last May, I have consistently worked out AT LEAST three times a week, for one hour each session. Even through the holidays I kept a rigid schedule. About a month ago I contracted pneumonia. I was literally in bed for a week, and it took another full week to regain my strength to even just be “Mama” again. Since then, my zeal for exercise has seriously waned. Although I am still gunning for twice a week, my heart just isn’t in it like it once was. Your email today has given me the fuel I need to rekindle my flame. It’s not for me… but ALL FOR HIS GLORY!! Yipee!! I think I’ll go for a run now!!

  18. We started this study at our Circle of Sisters – and, with very little effort on my part, I have actually lost about 6 pounds!! There are days when I actually forget to eat!! Now that is a first for me – I have always found my comfort in food – but now my comfort is in my relationship with Jesus – first thing in the morning!
    And, am finding it so much easier to get to the club daily. I have sermons from a great pastor on my mp3 player that I listen to – so there is another motivation to just go and walk on the treadmill.

  19. I read your book, Made to Crave last year I think it was. I saw people on FB saying how it had changed their thinking. Since that time there have been huge stressors in my family, but I had gotten into the habit of exercise. I can only do it in water because I have Arthritis and I am blessed to live in Fla and have a pool. In winter this year I joined the Y so I could continue because it makes the pain almost totally go away when I exercise in the water.
    I have lost 30 pounds and need to loose a lot more, but I thank God for your book as well as another bible study I did after that which finished convincing me that my gluttony was indeed a chosen willful sin.
    Thank you for the encouragement.
    I was stuck at the same weight for about a month and recently signed up for this email challenge and have lost another pound.
    God bless all as we struggle/wrestle with old habits and invite the Lord to establish new ones that honor Him

  20. Exercise is a struggle for me, but my exercise of choice lately has been the Turbo Fire program. When Cindy mentioned that she sees jogging as her time with Jesus, I began picturing Jesus being there with me giving encouragement during my workouts- “kick higher!” “punch harder!” “you’re not tired!” (As the instructor on the DVDs says. haha) It made me laugh- but what a great thought, and great motivation! I think Jesus IS there with us when we work out, and if we listen He’ll give us the encouragement and strength that we need to get through it!

  21. Well, something is better than nothing. Tonight I think I’ll do 20 minutes of Turbo-Jam or Pilates.
    This is such an area of great struggle for me. I appreciate your guidance and sharing…and at the very least, you have given me insight into WHY it is important to exercise and how it leads to godliness and true faith in the Lord.

    Thank you.

  22. Jennifer Noble says

    Running can actually be counter productive. For a lot of people it’s too much stress on your body and will increase your cortisol levels meaning you won’t lose any weight and actually start to be worse off than when you started. I only say this because it was freeing for me to hear that running and/or long term cardo work outs are not the end all be all of exercise. Now I walk as walking is AMAZING for you. And I do small weight training type exercises like wall push ups or squats. Getting away from what the “norm” is of working out was such a great thing for me.

  23. Melissa Adams says

    For me working out yah is so hard. I am getting better since i have been reading this made to crave. The days I should rest I rest and find it hard to get back at it again. I’m sure that’s the devil saying no to me and I been letting him win. OK OK i know you shoould take break days from working out so you don’t over due it but my one day breaks ends up being a week lol

  24. I just love the thought for today “I fully realize that my body as a temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up to the Lord my willingness to dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.”

    I have been struggling with asthma and sinus issues. I had to take medication including steroids which made me put some weight on with that came being depressed because I could not exercise to lose the weight due to coughing and asthma attacks so often. I put more weight on and then my father passed away I was even more depressed and put on even more weight right I am 50 lbs over weight. One day I went to the healing center at our church to bring a friend who was going to have breast cancer surgery and I thought I need prayer too I too am worthy of Gods healing. In that healing session the holy spirit revealed that I was holding on to regret and blaming myself for a tragedy I had in my life. Once I released that stronghold and unforgiveness in my heart I was released from the coughing spats. I still take medication but I am so blessed to be able to breath and can exercise without coughing and having attacks I know this is a gift from God and I want to lift up to the Lord my willingness to dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself for the gift of healing he has given me and the gift of being capable to get off my butt and do it we are so blessed to have that, there are people who don’t have that choice.

    Thanks Lysa

  25. I really struggle with this. Maybe I’m making excuses but I don’t hear God calling us to work our bodies physically hard at the gym or on gym equipment. The way we work out in today’s world is totally new. All throughout history, people moved their bodies in productive ways for their families and communities.

    Why can’t we channel that “gym” energy into usefulness. As a homemaker and caregiver of my children, I’m constantly moving. Is it giving me a 6-pack, no, but were we meant to have one as women? All throughout the previous centuries, the softness of women was celebrated. It’s only this last half century that the message has changed. Why are now feeding into the message that we should look more like men?

    Overeating and craving food over God’s Word and promises is one thing. How we exercise is another. God gave us healthy food to eat straight from the earth. God never gave us elliptical machines and treadmills. Man did and with one mission in mind—not health but to encourage self-idolatry. Do we listen to health according to man or health according to God? Jesus didn’t jog. He walked…a lot! No one owned gym equipment back then. Why now?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ve been wrestling with this for a few years.

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