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‘Fit 4’ wellness plan rooted in knowing God, says Paul Carlisle

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–“If you hate change, you’re going to be frustrated because life is about change,” Paul Carlisle told participants in a conference on emotional wellness during Discipleship and Family Week, July 1-7, at Ridgecrest (N.C.), a LifeWay Conference Center.

Carlisle, professor of pastoral counseling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., spoke during sessions introducing “Fit 4: A LifeWay Christian Wellness Plan” emphasizing health of heart, soul, mind and strength. The plan is published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“The simplest way to change is to know the one who doesn’t change,” Carlisle said. “If you want stability, anchor yourself to the unchanging one.”

To achieve wellness in all dimensions of life, Carlisle, a member of the Fit 4 advisory panel, said the Christian must draw from the power of God’s kingdom while living in the world.

“Fitness is living under the rule of his kingdom. When you’re doing it, it will show on your face,” said Carlisle, who also is the author of “Strength for the Journey,” a discipleship course on dealing with depression.

As a person who has dealt with two bouts of clinical depression as well as a childhood of abuse, Carlisle said he has had to learn he couldn’t change by himself.

To allow God to bring about change requires giving him control, something many Christians find it difficult to do.

“I am convinced our culture is a control freak culture,” he said. “Many want to know enough about God to manage him.”

The spiritual change process begins with becoming aware of something that needs to be changed in one’s life, he said.

“Whenever God heightens your awareness of you, there is a natural resistance. It takes a while for awareness to get through,” Carlisle said.

A person who refuses to respond to God’s direction moves into denial that a problem exists, he said. One who comes to grips with awareness moves forward into understanding.

“We are meant to be totally dependent on God and interdependent with each other,” Carlisle said. Mentors and soul mates are critical to helping Christians in the awareness and understanding stages of change.

“To be near Jesus is to know the truth about you. When you have awareness and understanding, you can begin to see what is true about you,” he said.

Taking action to implement understanding represents the next step, Carlisle said. “When you start acting, you’re going to feel awkward.”

After acting out the change, it begins to become a real part of a person’s life, Carlisle said, though people sometimes fall back into old habits and have to work through the process again.

“Ask God to invade your thinking, your emotions,” he urged. “Invite him to intimacy, even if you’re afraid of it.

“Then you can know him in such a way that it will radically change your life,” Carlisle said.

Christians who allow God to change them can learn to embrace rather than fear change, he said.

“When you get over the fear and threat of change, you actually look forward to it because you’re anchored in another kingdom,” Carlisle said.

In addition to emotional and spiritual health, Fit 4 includes resources to address lifelong health needs for exercise, diet and stress. More information about Fit 4 is available on the Internet at www.fit4.com.

Branda Polk, LifeWay health ministries specialist, said, “The church for too long has had the key to wellness and we’ve been sitting on it. The key is a relationship with Christ. It’s not a diet, not even an exercise plan. It’s a biblical approach to total wellness.”

The conference was sponsored by LifeWay’s discipleship and family group.

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  • Linda Lawson