The Root of Our Problems

Posted: March 9th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

When I was 16-years-old, I began weight training to get in shape for football. I immediately fell in love with it and have kept at it for most of the past 31 years. Except for the previous 11 months.

A year ago, we moved which made it much less convenient to get to the health club where I used to train. A few months after moving, we let our membership lapse. While I tried to keep up with running, I didn’t continue weight training.

Just after the holidays this year, I was feeling the effects of not training. I’d gained some unwanted body fat. My lean mass (muscle) had decreased dramatically. So while the scale hadn’t changed much over the past year, my body composition had changed.

I was also starting to notice some physical symptoms related to stress. For most of the past three decades, my body had a way to relieve some of the stresses of life, but without weight training, I was feeling the ill effects.

I knew I needed to do something.

Several weeks ago, we joined the fitness center on campus, which is just a short walk from our house. In just a few short weeks, I’m seeing my body (and stress level) return to what I’ve been used to.

Even though I’m getting older, I keep telling myself year after year that I want to be in the best shape of my life. While it’ll be tough to top my condition at the age of 19, it doesn’t mean I can’t try.

That’s the problem though. Sometimes I can try a little too hard.

To build muscle (and lose fat), it’s necessary to push the body beyond what it’s comfortable with. That principle is called, “progressive overload.” You place more load on the muscle or cardiovascular system than it’s used to handling, which forces it to adapt by getting stronger. If you don’t push, you don’t grow. At least not very much.

A year ago, I was experiencing pain in both elbows–the result of lifting heavy loads during my training. I tried adjusting the exercises I did, but the pain didn’t actually go away. The only thing that really helped was resting for the past 11 months.

So now at the age of 47, my fitness training is a balance of pushing myself and listening to my body tell me when it’s had enough. Continuing to ignore the pain (injury type pain, not just the discomfort of a burning muscle) is just foolish. I’ve learned from my mistake. You can’t just manage symptoms if you really want to fix something. You need to get to the root issue.

Which leads me to this question: what’s at the root of most of the problems in my life? How about your life?

I’m not talking about exercise any more. I mean problems with relationships, work, finances, emotional health and any other issues you want to name.

What’s at the root?

In Matthew 22, there are two different groups of people who are trying to trap Jesus in His words. If they could trap Him, then they could arrest Him or discredit Him. The Pharisees gave it a shot by asking him a tax related question, but Jesus aced it. “So they left him and went away.”

That same day, the other group came and asked a question related to marriage and heaven. I’m sure they thought they could stump Him, but He began His answer by saying:

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

Isn’t that the root problem for most of us? We’re in error, we make wrong choices, because we don’t know the Scriptures (God’s word to us) or His power that’s available to us?

If my elbows begin to hurt again, I could try ice and ibuprofen. I could try different exercises. I could keep pushing and hope the pain goes away. Or I could go to the root of the problem and make a real change.

Maybe the pain in your life is pointing to a root issue. Maybe it’s the result of not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God. Why no let the pain and confusion press you into God’s word?

Get to know Him. Learn what He has to say about your life and your choices. Discover the power that’s available to you if you’ll simply surrender your life to Him.


Progressive Overload

Posted: August 17th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We moved across town four months ago. We love our house and location. It’s right across the street from the University of Arkansas campus. It’s a perfect location for ministry to students. We’re about one mile from the high school and about two miles from the junior high, so it’s easy to get to both schools. The grocery store is only a 1/2 mile away, so that’s convenient, too.

What’s not convenient is the athletic club. It’s now on the other side of town, so we let our family membership lapse in June. We haven’t yet joined the facility on campus that’s within walking distance. We need to…and fast.

I’ve been watching my upper body disappear right before my eyes. It’s like I’m performing a slow magic trick on myself. My muscles are not being pushed, so they’re not growing…they’re shrinking.

The key principle in weight training is “progressive overload.” For a muscle to grow and get stronger, you progressively increase the resistance you’re asking the muscle to lift. The muscle responds by getting bigger and stronger.

For example, if you begin weight training today and can do 3 sets of 10 bicep curls with 40 lbs., then to continue deriving benefit, you’ll probably need to increase the resistance to 45 lbs. next week.

You progressively place more load on the muscle than it’s used to handling. It adapts and gets stronger.

You can see where I’m headed with this, can’t you?

Our faith grows in the same way.

When we experience various kinds of trials, we choose to believe God, we see God come through and our faith grows stronger. But what tests our faith today is not what tested our faith two years ago. As we grow stronger, God is able to increase the “resistance” of the trial, so we can continue to get stronger.

James said it like this:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Is your faith being tested today? Don’t quit. God is developing perseverance in you. Perseverance leads to maturity and completeness, which includes strong, powerful faith.

Anyone who trains with weights knows it’s important to include rest in your training schedule. You can’t continually overload your muscles and expect them to grow. They need time to rest and recover.

God understands rest as well. He will not place more load on your faith than you can handle. He knows when you need a break. He is the perfect Trainer.

You may be experiencing a heavy load today, but know that God sees what you’re going through. He understands the weight or pain you’re enduring. He will not let it crush you. He will remove it at just the right time.

You can trust Him.