For many, Lent is a time to give up something for the purpose of honoring the 40 days Jesus was said to walk through the desert, lured by the devil on many occasions. Christian or otherwise, Lent can be observed by anyone wanting to experience discipline, inner strength and conviction. Whether it is a vice we’ve been battling with, an addiction we need to curb, or simply the wish to deny ourselves our favorite luxury, the essence is in finding the devotion and dedication to let go of the inner demon of temptation.
Forty days is a long time to live without something you’ve been used to doing or having. Some of us make it easy on ourselves, while others will go all out in an effort to really challenge themselves. I have heard vegetarians say they are going to give up meat for Lent, and just recently my father told me he was going to give up listening to his Wayne Newton albums. Both are absurd, the prior for obvious reasons, and for those of you who don’t know my dad, he is definitely not a fan of Wayne Newton.
But for those of you who are actually going to give up something that will make you squirm, cringe, and want to renounce your devotion, the following meditation will help you stay the course.
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Replacing the gym for church might be the key to health and weight loss success. In the last year, a movement started by famed pastor Rick Warren has lead to the loss of 250,000 pounds.
Warren, considered one of the most influential pastors in the U.S., is best known for his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. Recently Warren was struck by how overweight his congregation was, including himself. Warren admitted to gaining 90 pounds over the last 30 years and failing at various diets along the way.
This realization lead to the creation of the Daniel Plan. The Daniel Plan is a diet and lifestyle program that was devised at Warren’s church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and gets its vision and name from the story found in the book of Daniel in the Bible. In the story, Daniel and his friends refuse to eat royal food and wine. They only eat vegetables and water. In Daniel 1:15 it says, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”
The plan was also devised with the aid of three medical professionals: Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist; Mark Hyman, a family doctor; and Mehmet Oz, a TV host and cardiac surgeon. Essentially, the plan advises healthy food choices, promotes workout routines, and urges participants to join a small group for support.
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By Dani M. Stone
Mark Cornelison signed up to be on Biggest Loser 13 with his son Isaac so they could make a “life change.” At 291 pounds, suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux, this 43-year-old youth pastor from Magnolia, Texas knows it’s time to take charge of his future and that begins on the Biggest Loser ranch.
Like many people who struggle with their weight, Mark has been yo-yo dieting since high school, trying to lose weight for a specific occasion or event, only to gain it all back. In the past, Mark has seen “glimpses” of success so he knows he can do it. He just needs a team to show him how to put all the healthy lifestyle pieces in to place and how to adapt healthy living to his daily routine. “This is for life. I need to make the change because I’m getting older, feeling weaker and I want to be healthier.”
In addition to being married with three teenage children, Mark has a busy but rewarding job as a youth pastor for a local church. He frequently does volunteer work and goes on missionary trips but admits his weight gain is making it increasingly uncomfortable to help in the way he used to.
Mark’s faith is ingrained in his life and he takes his position as pastor very seriously. He’s worked with teenagers in the church for 15 years and it’s important for him to be a role model to the kids he mentors, as well as, his own impressionable teenagers at home.
Mark wants to get fit for his family and his personal health but he also wants to be stronger for God. He knows God put him in his current position to use him and he wants to “be the best that I can be for the service he has called me to.” This season Mark and his son Isaac “Chism” Cornelison compete as the grey team on Biggest Loser 13.
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Yoga in America is now a six billion dollar industry. It is a highly influential practice that has captured the attention of millions, and continues to do so at an insurmountable rate. It is estimated that 15 to 20 million Americans practice yoga on a regular basis as it has become a celebrated form of exercise, stress relief and an effective method to enhance overall wellbeing. It is not uncommon to find a yoga studio on almost every street corner in the city, see them occupying strip malls in the suburbs and discover them inhabiting old buildings in many small towns.
While most people view modern yoga as a non-denominational practice for the mind and body, Father Gabriele Amorth, the former chief exorcist for the Vatican, does not. Esteemed as someone who exhumed evil spirits for the Vatican, Amorth believes that by practicing yoga, one will be led to practice Hinduism, and that “brings evil” because it supports the non-Christian notion of reincarnation.
The Hindu religion is considered to be one of the oldest religions in the world. Yoga was born in a region where Hinduism was practiced, long before Christianity was conceived. Yoga then manifested as a way to live life for the purpose of selfless service, greater good for humanity and faith in the divine. By definition, the word yoga means to join or to unite. This union is about connecting the human spirit to a higher power and that power can be referred to as God, regardless of how one chooses to define God.
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If you haven’t tried yoga because the thought of chanting praises to an unfamiliar deity after Sunday morning mass makes you cringe, fear not. Christian Yoga is making its way across the country and throughout the world as an alternative yoga practice for those who would rather say Amen than Namaste.
Even though yoga is not a religion, many Americans may still be reluctant to try yoga for the first time due to their strong devotion to the Christian faith. DeAnna Smothers and Courtney Chalfant, a mother and daughter team from Chandler, Arizona founded Yahweh Yoga in 2005 for that very reason.
Yahweh Yoga is a Christ-centered practice and is designed to give people the opportunity to feel comfortable deepening their relationship with God, while gaining all of the other health benefits of yoga.
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