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How’s Your Physical Health—REALLY?

A lot of pastors are fat, including ME.  The other day I stepped on the scales and was promptly mortified with round mass of man I have become.  This is sad because a pastor that refuses to address his weight is hypocritical.  I will often tell people to have “self control” when it comes to sex before marriage or have “self control” when it comes to smoking…but I can’t seem to practice “self control” in a buffet line.  In Baptist world, the one I am most familiar with, many of the pastors have a problem with people drinking alcohol but they would NEVER speak against someone eating too many biscuits.  There is even a inside joke of “Baptist Butts” to refer to the oversized nature of our posteriors in our churches.  Statistics prove that way more people die every year due to obesity or obesity related (and preventable disorders) than alcohol yet the SBC remains silent on the subject and it’s literally killing us.

Here’s the deal, I am not comfortable telling you how much I currently weight but please know it is embarrassing and reflects my lack of discipline in this area of my life and no matter how hard I pray the fat would not go away (trust me I’ve tried).  I have realized my weight was a spiritual issue and I have to do something about it so I am letting the world know that I’m doing the following and you have permission to keep me accountable:

  • I am beginning to exercise at least 30 minutes at least 6 days a week.  I don not have the income to purchase a gym membership but last year I found the time and space to run 3 times a week and I know how to add 3 more workouts, I just need to do it.
  • I am cutting out ALL soft drinks those things (which I don’t drink all that often) alone were responsible for hundreds of extra calories a day that I did not need.
  • I will quit ALL snacking after 6:00 at night.
  • I will begin eating healthier.  This will be hard as I am always out eating and hosting people but I have to learn that if I “eat clean” most of the time then I can eat whatever I want some of the time.  I love salads salads and veggies and I can cut way back on the carbohydrates.

Our bodies are supposed to be a temple fro the Holy Spirit to reside and I an verging on a mega church and  need to downsize. If you think I am being tough on this one it is because I am.  I know how hard it is to take control back of this area, I know how if feels to struggle with this and I know what it is like to overcome, I have done it before.

So how’s your physical health?  Would you want to join me on this journey?  Let me know your thoughts below


Lenten reflections

When I was a kid Lent was so simple, we never celebrated it.  Actually, I used it as an occasion to torture the Catholics and other high church weirdos in my school.  Every year they gave up sweets and got a break on Sundays, honestly it seemed simple and rather silly.  Seriously, didn’t Jesus give up so much more when He was in the wilderness for 40 days and nights being tempted by our enemy yet not succumbing?  Years later I meant the love of my life and as I pursued her I found out something rather odd, she observed Lent.  This sweet Baptist women followed a fast that many people in her church merely dismiss as sophistry.  I will not say that I picked up the practice for the most holy of reasons (young men will do anything to impress a women, and I am not exempt from this fact), but as I did I decided to begin researching the history of this season and this is what I came across:

The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer, through prayer, penitence, alms-giving and self-denial, for the annual commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Christ (Easter).

In our house we yearly practice this fast as a reflective and prayerful act to prepare our heart, soul/mind, and body for Easter.  We concluded the fast with a Seder [meal] (pictured above) to reflect on three (3) important Seders:

  1. Israel’s original Seder conducted in Egypt as they prepared to experiences the mighty deliverance of God (Exodus)
  2. Our Messiah’s Seder which He shared with His disciples just prior to His execution and sacrifice nearly 2000 years ago
  3. Our Seder which is conducted  in our home as is we ourselves are actually a part of the original experience and to continually remember the willing sacrifice of our Savior, that released us from slavery to sin into the Freedom to follow and worship Him.

So this year we participated in the Daniel Fast.  While searching on what to give up for Lent a friend of ours, Angie Lomas mentioned that she was thinking of doing this fast along with a program called Couch to 5k or C25k (this is the actual program).  Immediately, I latched on to the idea and told Heather who has also seen the same post.  The Daniel fast basically whittles you down to a few things to eat (depending on where you look and how literal you take His fast from scripture.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. Daniel 1:8-16, ESV

The fast was challenging on so many fronts but we endured and made it.  We were praying for many things and God gave us clarity on some and left us in the dark on the others.  A few of the things were:

  • Next steps after my residency at Concord has ended (it has almost been a year already and we have to begin thinking in that direction)
  •  Clarity in my calling (i.e. what type of church)
  • Many personal things
  • Complete the C25K program

In the end the Father is always faithful to us and this time once again brought about some frank discussion and drew us closer together.  Additionally, it was a great teaching point for my children to see another spiritual discipline exhibited by their parents.  The reason I wanted to write this is to simply reflect on the goodness and gracious of our Father and the sustaining power of His Spirit in the Christian’s life.  We are not super saints at all, we are just beggars trying to show other beggars where the bread is. Next time you should join us on the journey, I promise you wont regret it.

6 questions for you

Over the years I have had the privilege of introducing many people to Christ. Little did I know what would happen after I introduced some people to Christ I would see and experience such varied reactions. Honestly, a few people have completely surprised me. One young man in particular experienced a spiritual renovation and his life has continually demonstrates transformation. His lifestyle was radically changed, his attitudes underwent a major overhaul and his values were revolutionized. For more than 5 years I have watched a continual process of transformation and he has become a brand new person.

On the other hand the majority of people I run across are on the other side of this equation which is a conundrum to every pastor. They have been around evangelical churches all their life and know all the right answers. They routinely goes through the so called Christian life, but after being a believer for most of there conscious life, they continue to be obnoxious in their behavior, excessively legalistic in their attitudes, incapable of relating well with more than a few close friends, an much more. Though they have a great deal of biblical information, there is virtually no demonstration of Christ-likeness in their personality.

It’s a puzzle to me that so many Christians plateau in their walk with God and that the process of being conformed into Christ’s image is aborted. It’s as if they say, “I’ve got this Christian life figured out now and I’m finished changing.”

Peter made it clear.

“… grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18).

There is to be a life-long process of practical spiritual transformation. Spiritual maturity is not a merit badge for accumulating biblical knowledge; it’s the daily application of that knowledge to life situations.

How can we know we’re growing? Here are six questions to ask yourself. Be honest as you work through these questions.

1. Do I have a greater hunger for God’s presence?
Has God become ho-hum to you? Do you take God for granted? Do you treat God casually? Have I lost the wonder of the Divine Majesty? Or is there an intense passion to know God more intimately? King David said,

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

A growing Christians should crave a greater sense of God’s presence.

2. Do I demonstrate love for people more than I did last year?
Too often I think that if I do not hate someone, I must love him. Christian love is not the absence of hate. Christian love is the opposite of indifference. Love is proactive. Love initiates. Biblically loving others means giving up personal convenience and preferences for the well-being of someone else. True love is sacrificial. People who genuinely love have short memories. Forgiveness comes quickly, whether it is asked for or not. There are no lingering grudges. Lovers demonstrate kindness.

What have you done in the last month that demonstrates Christ-like love?

3. Am I more intrigued with God’s Word?
While I was in school, I had a friend who knew he should read his Bible each day, but he had an interesting habit. Often at night when he knew he should be reading his Bible, he read Psalm 117, a psalm with just two verses. He must have read that psalm 50 times that year. But there was no fascination with what he was reading. There was no search to know what God was speaking into his daily experiences. He just soothed his conscience and did his religious duty.

What was the last great insight God revealed to you while reading the Bible? When was the last time you sensed God speaking directly to you?

As I study I am continually amazed at the power of God’s Word. God’s Word is unique, eternal, life-changing and powerful. It is continually new and fresh. Most of all, it is intensely personal, speaking directly to us. I am intrigued by what the Bible says and the topics it deals with. I am stretched to understand what it meant to its readers, but what it means today in our contemporary world. I am constantly challenged to understand how it applies to my personal experiences.

4. Are the disciplines of the Christian life more appealing to me?
Paul told Timothy,

“…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Life change does not happen by chance. It requires our cooperation with the Holy Spirit. That cooperation involves the regular practice of spiritual disciplines – regular habits of meditation (yes, meditation), solitude, Bible reading, praying, fasting and contentment. Have these disciplines become a drudgery and duty? Or are they a source of delight to be anticipated? For people who are growing, spiritual disciplines are never routine; they are exciting discoveries. Spiritual disciplines are a key to spiritual transformation. What’s your attitude to these disciplines.

5 . Do I have an increasing concern about the eternal fate of spiritually lost people?
Here’s something that confuses me. Despite the biblical teaching about spiritual lostness, I’ve concluded that the longer most people have been believers, it seems the less they are concerned about lost people. People who are growing in Christ-likeness, become like Christ! Jesus said he came to seek and to save the lost. Growing believers are learning to seek and introduce lost people to the Savior.

6. Am I more conscious of heaven than the things of earth?
Modern thinking is a long way from the thinking of Paul. He wrote,

“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:22-24).

Not many believers today are torn between death and going on living, to be honest I really struggle with this one. In place of an increasing heaven-consciousness, we’ve become enamored with the comforts of materialism and affluence. We act as this life is the ultimate experience. We’re taken with the “here and now“ and have forgotten that the “then and there” is so much more wonderful. It is not that we become so heavenly minded that we become useless and ineffective in this life (I’m pretty sure that it’s been a long time, if ever, since I met someone too heavenly-minded). Rather, I regularly meet people who are so earthly-minded that they are of little value to the kingdom of heaven.

“A heavenly perspective gives us a Christ-life perspective on earth. Paul said, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”(Colossians 3:1-2).

As I begin to eat right and exercise each day, I don’t see any noticeable change in my health that day. But these disciplines each day will produce changes in my body that are noticeable over time. You’ll see the spiritual change after a period of time, just keep going.

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