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What if I had Gym Church when I was Twenty-One?

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What if I had Gym Church when I was Twenty-One?

As I sit down to write this I want you to know I have zero regrets in my life as this is the journey that God has me on and I am learning to love and embrace my story.   There is also no sense of blame for anything that has happened in my life as I have learned that not all things are good, but all things work out for good because our God is good. 

That being said, I wonder how the trajectory of my life would have been different if someone would have started a gym church at the gym I used to go to in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Would I have made different choices in my life?  Would I have become a passionate follower of Jesus in my life at 21 instead of at 41?  Would it have saved me twenty years in the wilderness?  

Bodybuilding, Sports, Women and Alcohol

I will never know the answer to those questions and I am totally at peace with that.  What I can do is take my story and share with other young men that may be living the life that I was at twenty-one full of self-indulgences that consumed my life.   My life was consumed by bodybuilding, sports, women and alcohol.    It was a shallow and meaningless existence.    I lived for myself and myself alone. 

I went to church on a weekly basis as I was required to do.  Often times I was hung-over.  It was a check the box experience.   Sometimes I heard the words of the pastor, but often times I was day dreaming about playing sports or thinking about what I did the previous evening. 

This I know now, my heart wasn’t receptive to the words I was hearing, and in fact I think it made me even more rebellious.   I didn’t get it.  I don’t think I wanted to get it.  I had no interest in changing my lifestyle.  To me church was about image.  It was about presenting myself in a way that I thought I should look; dressed nice and putting on a fake smile with lots of mints to cover up my alcohol breath. 

Learning about the Transforming Power of Jesus

As soon as I left high school, I left the church.  Sure I dabbled for years, but never settled into a church home until I was in my 40’s when a tragic divorce brought me to my knees.  It was there that I learned the transforming power of Jesus.  It was there that I learned that it was all about having a personal relationship with God. 

I also remember some mornings as an adult on a Sunday I would be going to church and feel completely broken and lost sitting in the back row with streams of tears running down my face wanting to share my story with someone, but not being able to.  I tried to put on a happy face when someone asked me how things were going.   I would say I am good when deep down inside my soul was screaming for help

I will be forever grateful for what that particular church and pastor did in my life.  It changed me. It changed who I am.  It set me on a path of being a passionate Jesus follower.   The pastor spoke the breath of life back into me that I will be eternally grateful for.

What if there would have been a Gym Church when I was 21?

But that leads me to the question, what if there would have been a gym church at the local gym that I spent hours and hours at being my own god trying to look a certain way for the admiration for others?  What if someone would have invited me to a non-threatening community where we simply shared our stories, our brokenness and our search for meaning in our lives?  What if at age 21 I would have learned that it was about following Jesus that gives us the transforming power to live the life that we are called to live.  A life of freedom, purpose and joy. 

That never happened.  But I have the opportunity to change that for other young men who are in the same position now that I was when in I was 21 years old.

I got a phone call from someone the other day asking me to help this young man that she knows.  She shared with me that this man is in his mid-twenties and is completely lost.   He is living a self-indulgent life of partying and women.   She is aware of the work that I am doing of the integration of faith and fitness and thought I could have some influence with this young man.   He hasn’t reached out to me yet, but prayerfully he will. 

I will invite him to gym church if he does reach out to me.   Our gym church is a community of men that meets at a small, local community gym in Fort Collins, Colorado.   In our gym church we share our story.  We are vulnerable.  Often times there are tears and a lot of times there is laughter through the tears.   We talk about Jesus and what he has done in our lives.  We talk about our battles with our addictions, struggles of loneliness and despair. 

We form new friendships.  We form new accountability partners.  But mainly we show up as our authentic selves knowing that we are loved for who we are.  No false pretenses.  No concern for perfection or image, just men showing up to be seen and heard in a loving and safe environment.  To me, this is church. 

This is Church

We just had “church” yesterday.  We call it Spiritual Warriors Unite.  We met in a circle and not in a row.   This is church.  We had a dynamic conversation on how Jesus is telling his story through our story and how we should never be ashamed of the scars we have accumulated in our lives.

In fact our story is shared through our scars and we are expected to share our story.   There are 7.2 billion people on this planet and we all have a unique and wonderful story to tell.   Life is all about relationships and in order to build relationships we have to be vulnerable and courageous in sharing our story.  This breaks down walls and barriers to open up the possibility of having an authentic conversation about Jesus, not religion.

What if there would have been a gym church like what we have formed in Fort Collins when I was 21?  I will never know the answer to that question, but I get to see other people’s lives transformed no matter the age by being part of our gym church.  

A New Possibility for Church

I would like to invite a new possibility of a way of seeing church.  Church isn’t just a place to go to check the box for our Christian duty.  It’s a place where we come alive and our dreams, purpose and passion are born and realized.  It’s a place where we can be authentic, vulnerable and share our story.   It’s where we are seen and heard.  It’s where deep community is formed.  It’s where we go to become who God created us to be so we can go out and change the world.   This is gym church.  This is church.

I hope and pray I can connect with this young man I mentioned earlier that is struggling in his life.  I see him in me at that age.   I pray that through my story his story can be written on a different trajectory than mine with many years of hopelessness and lack of joy because I wasn’t a passionate follower of Jesus.  I want to show him a better way.  Not an easier way, but a better way. 

My vision is to create a church that resonates and transforms people’s lives through authentic community, story, creativity, passion and most importantly show people that Jesus is the ultimate warrior and when we allow him to be the focal point of our life we will never turn back to our old ways.  We will become a new person living a life that makes us feel fully alive. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

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Creating the Habit of Greatness

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Creating the Habit of Greatness

Whether we want to admit it or not we are all creatures of habit.   The vast majority of us do the same things day after day.  We eat the same foods, we think the same thoughts, we drive to work the same way.

Of course that is good in many ways.  Thank goodness we don’t have to re-learn how to drive a car every day.  We have that habit instilled in us to the point we often times drive somewhere and have no recollection of how we even got there.  That’s a little scary isn’t it?

Case in point when I was living in Orlando I had moved to a new house and had been living there for over a month.  I completely went on auto-pilot when I realized I was driving to my old home.  I had developed the habit of driving to my old home and completely forgot I had moved.

But the problem really lies in our habit of thinking.   We have created these destructive thinking habits that have become hard-wired into our subconscious mind.  Thoughts of fear, lack, being the victim, anger, pride, suffering, shame, guilt and the list of negative emotions goes on and on. 

I realized not that long ago that I was living my life from a place of destructive emotions.   Who wants to follow a leader that isn’t living from a place of joy, love and happiness?  It hit me right between the eyes. 

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Since that time I have been working really hard on creating the habit of greatness, the habit of joy.  But the ultimate habit I am working on is creating the habit of expressing God through me.  I certainly can’t do that when I am living in a place of destructive habits and thoughts. 

Since we are hard-wired to create habits, why not create habits that are positive and healthy?   Why not create habits thing bring us to a place of joy, peace, freedom, love and happiness.

Once I realized that I am my own worst enemy and started to get out of my own way, the world is responding to me in a much different way.  God is opening up doors for me that have been amazing.  God is working in me and through me in a way I never thought possible. 

The hardest thing to do is to remove the limits we put on ourselves and the limits we put on God.  We have developed habits that limit our true greatness. 

How do we go about creating the habit of greatness?  It doesn’t happen by accident.   It takes training our mind daily.  It takes being intentional about what we think about. 

To be more like Christ, we must train ourselves to think like Christ.  One way of doing that is through spending time meditating.  Asking God to work in us and through us.  Asking God to change our destructive thinking habits to thinking habits that lead to greatness.  Being still and letting God work in our hearts. 

Another way to change our way of thinking is by what we allow into our minds.  How much time are we spending reading the Bible, praying, spending time with other godly people, reading inspirational books and listening to podcasts?

I refuse to start my day watching the news or reading the newspaper.  I will skim the paper later in the day just so I am up on current events, but my morning time is spent studying the word of God, journaling, praying, meditating and setting my intention for the day. 

I don’t care how early I have to get up.  Recently it has been as early as 3:45.  To me it’s worth it as I am working on cultivating the habit of greatness.  Unless I believe I am great, no one else will either.  Not out of pride, but from a place of being a son of God.  He created me for greatness and being anything less than great isn’t truly expressing God through me. 

I want to encourage you to start to instill habits of greatness into your life.  Start to think differently and you will start to see amazing things happen around you.  We change the world by first changing ourselves.  I pray that God continues to work in you and through you for His glory. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

 

 

 

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Increase Your Energy and Change the World

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Increase Your Energy and Change the World

Increase Your Energy and Change the World

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

One thing I have struggled with over the years is having an abundance of energy.  Often times I don’t wake up feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep or I feel sluggish throughout the day.  This is one thing I have been really working hard on over the past several months. 

I have come to the realization that my sluggish energy levels has a lot to do with my internal state of being.  I have been engrossed in the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Caroline Leaf over the past six months.  I highly recommend their booksBreaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza and “Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  

One of the biggest take-aways from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work is the only way to change our lives is to change our energy.  To improve our energy we have to change our internal state of being.  We do this by changing how we think and feel.   According Dr. Joe Dispenza and his research on brain waves and energy there is a continuum of emotions ranging from the lowest energy levels up to the highest. 

This is what that continuum looks like from low, negative energy all the way to high, life giving energy:

·         Lust

·         Pain

·         Victimization

·         Suffering

·         Guilt

·         Fear

·         Anger

·         Control

·         Power

·         Will

·         Gratitude

·         Appreciation

·         Joy

·         Love

·         Freedom

·         Bliss

·         Wholeness

Being in a state of wholeness is the ultimate state of being.  We are at the highest energy level we can possibly be at when we have that sense of wholeness.   We feel so complete that we feel like we have everything.  The more whole we feel the less lack we experience.  The more whole we feel the more connected we are to everyone else.   What a powerful emotion. 

Since starting my journey towards improving my energy and coming from a place of wholeness I have been meditating every day.  During my meditation I am intentional in cultivating the positive emotions of gratitude, appreciation, joy, love, freedom, bliss and wholeness.  I get up from my meditation completely different from when I sat down.  My goal is to carry that feeling with me throughout my day. 

The only way we can change our world is by changing ourselves and that is never going to happen if we are mired in negative emotions.  It sucks the joy right out of us. 

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One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  The only way we can be the light is by raising our energy and coming from a place of joy, love and wholeness.

If you are stuck in negative emotions, I would encourage you to read both of the previous books I mentioned and start to implement some of the strategies recommended in the books.  It all starts with changing our internal state of being by changing what we focus on.  We can focus on being a victim, living in guilt and shame or we can focus on love, gratitude and appreciation.

You will be amazed on how you will have an abundance of energy when you start to change the way you think.  When you become the source of light instead of living in darkness.   When you increase your energy that is when your world and the world around you will start to change for the better.  Be the light!

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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Take a Leap of Faith

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Take a Leap of Faith

Take a Leap of Faith

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

One thing I have been guilty in my prayer life is praying for something, but having doubt that God will answer my prayer.  My mind and heart have been out of alignment.   I have been out of coherence.  Thinking one thing and feeling another, or another words, doubting God’s promises. 

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Gratitude is such a powerful emotion.   Gratitude is coming from a state of being that what you are praying for has already happened.   It is expecting God to answer our prayers.  As Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

Those are some very powerful words.  It comes down to taking a leap of faith.  Expecting the unexpected.  To surrender, trust and let go of how and when your prayer will be answered, but truly believing in our heart that God will answer our prayers. 

That doesn’t mean that God is our genie in a bottle.  Our prayers still need to line up with His will.   We need to pray with God’s interest in mind and not our own selfish desires. 

My one word for 2019 is abundance.   One area of abundance I am praying for is financial freedom.  Not out of selfish desires, but as a way to provide for myself, my family and also so I can be a generous giver.  I am expecting God to act on his promise.   

I took a leap of faith about 18 months ago leaving a lucrative career in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue my fitness ministry full time.  I am trusting in God’s provision that he will provide for financial abundance.  That I can do what I love, serve others in my strength and have financial freedom. 

It is up to me to do the work and believe.  To pray believing that God will provide.  To get rid of any doubt or feelings of lack financially.   I am giving thanks as it has already happened.  Trusting and surrendering is the biggest obstacle for most of us to overcome. 

When we decide that God is for us and not against us, nothing can stop us.  When our will is in line with God’s will we can do amazing things for His glory.   Believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 

Go for it, take that leap of faith.   Live your life from a place of gratitude and see the miracles that God can do in your life.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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Change the World with Love

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Change the World with Love

My heart is breaking! Sadly we live in a world where a man goes into a synagogue and randomly kills eleven people because he decides he hates Jews.

We live in a world where a doctor abuses his power and sexually abuses over one hundred women for his own pleasure.

Sadly we live in a world where there is still prejudice. Where we always think we are right and the other person is wrong and we won’t even listen to understand.

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It’s easy to throw up our hands and complain and join in on all of the rhetoric and hate. That is never going to solve the world’s problems.

What if we changed the world with love one person at a time? Not conditional love, but unconditional love to all people.

What if we as men step up to be the spiritual leaders we are called to be? What if we as men got in community with other men where we could be vulnerable and authentic and stop pretending to be someone we are not? What if we saw vulnerability as strength and not weakness?

I am sick and tired of this me against you attitude, us against them. What if we all partnered together as one nation under God and just showed up from a place of powerful love for the betterment of humanity? That would change the world. I am all in! How about you?

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

For seventeen years of my working career I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  It just didn’t fit.  I often times remembered that sense of dread when Sunday evening came around because I knew that it was almost time to start my work week.  Can you relate to that?  Dread is a horrible feeling.  One that will suck our soul dry. 

BURNT OUT

The reason I got into the pharmaceutical industry was that I wanted to spend more time with my kids.  Before getting into the pharma industry I was in health and fitness full time.   I managed a personal training program for a large health club.  To say the least, it wasn’t a very family friendly job.  I left work before my kids got up and when I got home, usually around 7pm, I was exhausted from putting in a fourteen hour day.  It wasn’t sustainable, even though my passion was health and fitness, I quickly got burnt out from the daily grind. 

Therefore, I left my passion of health and fitness to become a pharmaceutical sales rep.  My first year in the industry I was very depressed.  I could hardly get out of bed in the morning to go to work.  I couldn’t stand my job.  I didn’t feel like I was making a difference.  I felt like I was just driving around all day without any teaching or selling opportunities. 

But I hung in there and eventually broke down barriers and became quite good at it.  With one of the companies I worked for I finished first in the country in sales and usually finished in the top ten percent.

OUT OF INTEGRITY

The problem was that I always felt out of integrity.  A square peg in a round hole.   I wasn’t living my passion.  I never thought of myself as a sales person.  A lot of the times I found myself talking to my customers about health and nutrition.    

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I remember when I knew I couldn’t last in the industry much longer.   I was at a national sales meeting and they were giving out awards for the top sales performers.  I was just thinking to myself, this isn’t my gift.  This isn’t why God put me on this earth.  I recall getting in my car and just crying knowing that I couldn’t do this any longer. 

My why of getting into the pharmaceutical industry was no longer relevant as both of my kids had graduated high school and were off doing their own thing.  I knew I had to get out to save my soul.  I was easily making six figures at that time, but I didn’t care.  What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?  That is how I felt. 

PURSUING OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

What I have come to learn is that if we don’t know our purpose in life and are actively pursuing it we will feel empty inside.  We may become bored, restless and turn to other things in our life that usually isn’t healthy such as hours watching TV, alcohol, drugs, porn, power, money or materialism. 

My dream since I was twenty three years old was to be an entrepreneur.  I always wanted to have my own fitness business.  I just never had the guts or quite honestly a faith in God or myself to take that leap of faith. 

That is until about a little over a year ago.  I knew I had to get back into integrity with myself and with God.  I had to go back to what I know I was created for.  I have always been passionate about fitness, but now my faith has become the central focus in my life. 

My calling, passion and purpose is to help men reclaim their inner warrior and lead more valiant lives through physical, mental and spiritual fitness.  My vision is to be revolutionary in impacting men’s lives with fitness as the platform for growing spiritually. 

MY WORK IS MY MINISTRY

My core values are completely lined up with what I am doing now.   My work is my ministry.  Most of the time I don’t know what day it is because I love every aspect of my job.  I know longer dread Mondays.  What an incredible feeling that is. 

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Are you currently in a job that you aren’t passionate about?  Do you go through the motions day in and day out and are bored out of your mind?  Are you not giving your gift fully to the world? 

I would like to invite you to start to dream and imagine the possibilities when you are fully lined with up your purpose and living that out in your life.  Your whole world will change.  I know mine did.

Becoming an entrepreneur has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also the most rewarding.  My faith has grown tremendously over the last year.  I am completely dependent on God’s goodness for him to help me grow my ministry.  He is guiding and directing my path on this great Kingdom adventure. 

Think about what it would feel like in the morning to jump out of bed feeling fully alive because you are making a difference in this world. 

Our calling in this lifetime isn’t to mold ourselves into some façade we think we ought to be, but discover who we already are and become it. 

My challenge to you is to start to work towards becoming the person you were created to be.  Follow your dreams and passions.  You will never feel more alive giving your gifts back to the world.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Divine Wellness Ministries

 

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