Physical Health

At the end of the Books of Matthew and Mark Jesus directs us to GO and DO!  Going and Doing means being able to take action.  To do this we need to be healthy – so let’s see what the Bible has to say about our physical health.

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Tonight, we’re looking at what the Bible has to say about our physical health.

In a room this size, we’ve got people at all ends of the health spectrum.  Some of you are fitness nuts.  You watch what you put into your body. Clean eating.  Scott who can bench press a VW.  Christine who could run to Georgia and back.

Some of you hear the word fitness, and you’re like me, yeah, I’m into fitness, I’m into fitness entire pizza into my mouth.  (my kids have heard that lame joke 100 times)

My goal tonight is to:

  1. Explore what the bible actually has to say about our physical health.
  2. Look at some practical things we can do to make changes to our physical health.
  3. Make every person in the room upset with me.

We all have our thoughts and opinions on physical health.  Food.  Exercise.  Diet.  Chances are, you’re not going to agree with everything I say.  That’s OK.  I probably won’t in a couple of weeks either.  But my hope is, as it is often when I teach, is to get us thinking.  To help us pause and at least reflect on our physical health and what it means as members of Jesus’ Church.

Last week, we had a fantastic Easter Eve together in this place.  Probably my favorite night together since we’ve formed as a church.  And we finished the Gospel of Mark.  Sort of.

If you remember, Mark ended with a cliffhanger.  Mary, Mary and Salome went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away.  An angel sitting inside the tomb who said …  Jesus isn’t here.  He has risen from the dead.  No GO and TELL OTHERS. 

Mark ended with this cliffhanger, because we’re being invited into the story.  Once we accept the Good News, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; That we can have life after death; That we now have a relationship with an infinite, eternal God … we’re invited to GO and share this news.

There are some added verses in Mark.  Listen to what Jesus told his followers after the resurrection …

Mk 16:15–16

15 And then he told them, “GO into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.

Matthew, ends his Gospel, with nearly the exact same words …

Mt 28:18–20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We’re being invited into the story.

  • GO! Tell others the news of eternity.
  • GO! Tell others how your life has been changed.
  • GO! Serve and love your neighbors.  Feed the hungry.  Help the orphan and widows.  Invite people into your homes.  Care for the sick and elderly in your life.  Visit prisons.  Make disciples

(Mt 25:40)and when you GO & DO these things, it’s like you’re doing it to me.

That’s a lot of verbs.  Go. Do.  Feed.  Tell.  Help.  Invite.  Care.  Visit.  Show.  Make.  Verbs are actions.  But it’s tough to take action, when our physical bodies are falling apart.  When we don’t have any energy, because of our poor eating habits and physical fitness.

It’s hard to love our neighbors, when we’re constantly exhausted and cranky.

I don’t know about you, but it’s a lot easier, to deal the express lane cheat, when your head is in a good place as a result of exercise and proper nutrition.

Our motivation for a healthy physical body, can be a number of things … but I think, it has to begin with this idea:

We want to be healthy, because we want to serve Jesus.  We want to honor His sacrifice with our lives.

I’ll be pulling some text from Paul tonight, as he writes to the Church in Corinth.  Of all the early churches and cities, Corinth may best resemble our culture.  Known as wealthy Corinth, it was a busy, more sophisticated city.  The church many think was about the size of us here at Refuge (100-200 people).  A wide range of socio-economic groups.  Men.  Women.  Mostly Gentile.  And at times, often a little too cozy with the surrounding culture.

1 Cor. 10:31 

31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I’m not sure it’s honoring to God when we sit in our recliners, with a bowl of Cheetos sitting on our stomachs, beside the remote control, crumbs down the front of our shirts, watching the biggest loser.  (true story)

And then we wonder why we’re too tired to do a Bible study with our kids.  Or show up at a church service event.

We can have a lot of motivations for wanting to get healthy …

To look better at the beach. To fit into that pair of jeans (or fit back into a closet full of clothes).  It might be to keep up with our kids or grandkids.  It may be to reverse some of the dumb things we did to our bodies in college like smoking, drinking too much, eating pizza every night for dinner.  Maybe it’s because we know improving our physical health, also improves our mental health.  All those things are fine goals.

But our ultimate motivation, and the one, I believe will keep us on track … is a deep desire to serve and glorify God … as well as we can, for as long as we can.

1 Cor. 6:19–20 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

God bought us with a high price.  That price we talked about last week at Easter.  The price paid upon the Cross.  For love.  For us.

And now his Spirit lives inside those who have put their trust in that sacrifice.  God’s Spirit.  Living in me.  Making this (my body), His temple.  His residence.  When that veil was torn, we all became the Temple of God.

That should cause us to pause, and think about how we steward, how we manage and care for God’s house.

Smokers.  Your body is the temple of God, and you’re giving his temple lung cancer.

Any fans of the Golden Arches in the room tonight?

It’s interesting when you tell people you like McDonalds.  You get that look.  I’m so much better than you.    Very few will even admit to going to McDonalds, yet somehow they’ve sold Billions and Billions of burgers.  300M people in the US?  I’m not a calculus wiz or anything, but … I think everyone is lying.

Does God’s temple run best on Big Mac’s, and those delicious golden brown-just enough salt-perfectly crisp- fries, and a two-gallon drum of coke?

Of course not.  At least not every day, if you’ve seen the documentary Supersize Me on Netflix.  (not that it should take a documentary for us to know that).

If we go back in that same chapter in 1 Corinthians, Paul says …

1 Co 6:12–14

12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”— but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 13 You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.)

We’re allowed to eat anything.  Broccoli.  Kale.  Wheat Grass.  Bacon.  Doughnuts.  Ho-Ho’s.  But not everything is good for us.

There was a saying apparently the people in Corinth went around saying.

Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.

It’s like saying “It’s OK to put anything into the body that the body craves.”  Or, a phrase we might be more familiar with “I don’t just eat to live, I live to eat.”

The reason many of us are unhealthy, is we have become slaves.  We’ve made it a vice.  We took a good gift from God, and we made it our master.  We can be a slave to food, by eating too much, or eating all the wrong things.

Until recently, I spent most of my life being enslaved to food in this way.  I’m fortunate.  I have decent metabolism, so I could hide it well … but for the last 40-years, I’ve basically lived off carnival food.  Pizza, hamburgers, fried fried … I love food.  And not the healthy green stuff that grows in gardens.

If you Google … Fort Myers Pizza … I come up on the first page.  I’m serious.  Try it tonight..

That got me on blood pressure medicine by 30, and now at 40, I have an Rx for Lipitor sitting on my bathroom sink because of my enslavement to food.  I allowed it to control me.

Even working out, was mostly a means to an ends to eat more McDonald’s and Organic Cheetos.

Food can enslave us.  Eating too much, eating too little.

I lost a cousin, who is just a few years younger than me to anorexia.  His slavery to food, although it looked different, was even more deadly.

Fad starvation diets = Slavery.

Overeating = Slavery.

High fat, high carbs =Slavery.

Sedentary lifestyle = Slavery.

Slavery can make you feel trapped.  Beaten.  Hopeless.  But Jesus came, and broke that bondage.  He’s supposed to be our master, not food, not anything else.

But man, sometimes it’s hard isn’t it???

(CHRIS PRATT VIDEO)

God gives us his Spirit, this power within us, to overcome our enslavement to food.

Remember the fruit of the spirit?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and SELF-CONTROL

Caring for our health and our bodies is not easy.  If you say it is … you’re also a liar.  But anything worth doing is rarely easy …

God gave us our bodies.  He cares about our bodies.  He dwells within our bodies.  And he’s given us Self-Control to manage that temple.

I know there are some in this room, who would do anything for a healthy body.  Wheelchair.  Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Parkinson’s.  No amount of right eating and exercise is going to remove these debilitating diseases, which come as a result of living in a fallen and broken world (at least that science has shown us yet).  To this group, I want you to know, God can be glorified with your physical bodies, never think he can’t.  Remember God always uses the humble and meek for his purpose.

Some of us are paying the price for really bad health choices over a long period of time … we may never fully recover from.  Kids, if you learn one thing tonight … as my wife always says to our kids … take care of your bodies, you only get one of them.

I may have blockage in my arteries forever, because of 40 years of bad choices.

That doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements and changes, that will still honor God.  That He can use, maybe even to slowly and surely, who knows, maybe even miraculously, make me a healthy food loving person, so that I can continue serving Him for as well, and as long as possible.

A recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) … should tell us something that our poor health choices are even on the CDC’s radar …

  • More than one-third of Adults in the US are obese.
  • The annual cost of treating obesity related conditions … $147 Billion

In another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that …

  • Nearly one-half of the American population will be obese by 2030

It’s an epidemic!  And the church, not only isn’t leading the way out of this mess, but is actually contributing to the problem.

  • A 2011 Northwestern University study tracking men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese.
  • The Pawtucket Heart Health Program found that people who attended church were more likely than non-church members to be 20 percent overweight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
  • A Pulpit and Pew study of clergy found that 76% were overweight or obese, compare to 61% of the general population at the time of the study.

When we announced we were starting church, the question I heard the most (news cycle?), was “so what’s your stance on Gay marriage” … that was THE QUESTION.

Guess how many times I heard the question “so what’s your stance on gluttony in the church?” 

Zero.  Not once.  We like to put things in a hierarchy.  Worst to “not really that bad”.  The things WE don’t struggle with are the worst, and the things we do struggle with, we turn a blind eye to.

Yeah, I realize I don’t honor God with the way I take care of my body, but what God really hates are those (fill in the blank) people? 

Today it’s rare to hear a sermon preached on the stewardship of the physical body, and even more rare on the vice of gluttony.  It’s become a secret and acceptable sin in the modern church.

It’s easier for pastors to talk about the declining moral fabric of America OUT THERE, instead of calling your congregation, who pay the rent and your salary … FAT.

Or maybe this rarely gets spoken on, because 76% of clergy are overweight or obese, and it’s tough to look at our own heart.

 Gluttony is a heart issue.  It’s a craving for excess.  Trying to fill a void God is supposed to fill.  It’s sin.  A big plank in the churches eye, that we often sweep under the rug, and pretend isn’t really a problem.

Perhaps, one of the ways, we can be misfits who change the world and church culture, is by leading by example.  In being good stewards of our bodies.  To be a light, in a world of over-eating and excess.  To show as we sang earlier that the SPIRIT OF THE LORD truly is here, by our fruit of SELF-CONTROL!

  • Diseases caused by being overweight and obese are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.
  • Worldwide, at least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
  • 44% of the diabetes related deaths, 23% of heart disease related death, and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer deaths are attributable to being overweight and obese.
  • In the US, it’s the 2nd leading preventable cause of death (behind smoking).

By changing our outlook on our bodies … to it being about Christ within us/taking care of his temple … and then by sharing this perspective with others, we could literally save lives, both in this life, and maybe even open the door for eternity.

So where do we begin? 

RIGHT MOTIVATION

Of wanting to be HEALTHY so we can (1) serve God, and (2) love his people!

This isn’t about the distorted body image of beauty our culture defines.  Of being a certain body size and shape, having a six pack, giant biceps, or thigh gap.

Please do not hear that tonightHealthy is not what you see on the airbrushed covers of magazines in the check-out line.

There are plenty of unhealthy overweight people; there are plenty of unhealthy skinny people, unhealthy average size people, and even unhealthy body builders and professional athletes.

  • Healthy is what you see when you get your lab work work back and everything is within range.
  • Healthy is having the energy to play with your kids.
  • Healthy is your body feeling good, being in a good mental space because of diet and exercise, maybe so much so, that you can actually love your neighbor, your enemies, and maybe even the snowbirds … who don’t seem to want to leave this year.
  • Healthy is pleasing God by what we do with our bodies, not accolades from others because of the shape of our body.

When Paul told the Corinthian church, “Your body is a temple” he wasn’t challenging them to become super model thin, or world class athletes; he was reminding them to use their bodies to honor God.

So where can we begin? 

Bible says to SEEK WISDOM  

Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 19:20 (ESV)

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. 

Proverbs 15:22 (ESV)

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. 

We live in a day and age where information is everywhere.  Some of it good, some of it totally worthless.

It’s difficult to pick through all the info out there.

Certainly, we should avoid the quick fix advertisements.  Take this pill and lose 20 lbs while you sleep.

For just $19.95 you can go to from flab to fab in just minutes with the ab enhancer. 

Proverbs 14:15 (NLT)

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!  The prudent carefully consider their steps.

We should be wise/prudent in how we steward the bodies God has blessed us with.  Carefully consider our steps.

There is a wealth of information out there on proper eating.  I know, because I’ve been reading a lot of it lately.  It can be a little tough to disseminate I admit …

Google // How do I lower my cholesterol?

Don’t eat things high in fats. 

Well, some fats are OK.  Avocado.  Olive oil.  Just avoid the transfats and saturated fats. 

Oh, and no processed foods.  Sugar.  White pasta/rice.  Dairy is bad.  Greatly limit or eliminate red meat.     

Google // Is chicken OK?

Well, be sure it’s not pumped with hormones.  That they are free range.  That they’ve been ethically raised.   

Google // Do I just need to be a vegetarian.

Sure, just be sure to buy organic.  And remember not all things organic are created equal. 

Google // What if I grow my own vegetables?

Don’t use commercial fertilizer.  Be sure the seeds aren’t GMO.  Actually, you’ll need your own worm housing unit, so you can make a tea out of their poop to fertilize the plants and keep everything organic.     

To heck with it … girls we’re going to McDonalds.

It is going to take prudence, patience, and possibly even some professional help to be good stewards of God’s temple.

  • Did you know the Lee County Health System now offers a free consult with a nutritionist? I didn’t.  Until my doctor recommended I see one.
  • One important key for me in being prudent, has been to really stop and look at how I eat. I use the MyFitnessPal app, which let’s you track everything you eat.  It’s how I found out that the smoothie I love, and thought was at least something healthy I consumed … the Chia Blueberry Banana Max … while filled with a lot of good healthy antioxidants, also has over 1000 calories.
  • Talk to others. There are people here at Refuge, who obviously take care of their bodies.  Speak to them.  Ask questions.

I like to keep things simple, so I’ll share a few things I’ve learned about being healthy …

  • Eat the proper amount of calories (size/activity).
  • Reduce your saturated fat intake.
  • Limit red meat to no more than once/week.
  • Reduce bad carbs (white pasta/rice/candy).
  • Increase good carbs (fruit, veggies, brown).
  • Don’t drink your calories (soda/beer).
  • And get plenty of exercise.

And let’s be clear; I mean actual exercise. Golf is not exercise.  Shopping is not exercise.  Ladies, don’t even let your man try to use the old “hey honey, want to go exercise in the bedroom.”  No.  Just no.

We’ve all probably done this right; Joined the gym …

I’m going to go every single day.  Next day comes.  Well, not every day.  I got to let these muscles breathe.  Maybe every other day.  Next day.  You know what, I’m happy with the way I look. Don’t want to get too caught up in that beauty culture.

Or maybe you’re one of those people.  Hang on a moment Brian, the Bible doesn’t really tell us to exercise.

No.  It also doesn’t explicitly tell us to use light bulbs, aspirin, or drive cars either.  That doesn’t negate their benefit.  And the bible makes several references to not being lazy, and working hard with our bodies.

God made our bodies, and he made made us to move, and to do so vigorously. He wired our brains to reward and reinforce this movement with chemicals called “endorphins.” Exercise makes us happier human beings, and thus better able to serve God and love our neighbor

Human exercise has been assumed throughout history.  In biblical times, we don’t see teaching about exercise, because the people got plenty.  They walked … EVERYWHERE.  They didn’t sit at computers all day.

But … Brian, you don’t understand, I don’t have the time to exercise.  I don’t have money to join a gym. 

Well, you’re in luck.  Let me show you just how easy it is to work out with no gym or money at all, and using the time you spent this week watching that baby giraffes on FB.

Need some volunteers

  • Stair steps
  • Push Ups
  • Lunges

We’ve been doing driveway boot camp as a family.  As far as I know, something we just made up.  But we go outside together, most days now, and spend an hour doing these types of exercises together.  It’s good family time together with no electronics.  We’re improving our health.  Getting blood pumping.  The neighbors have given a few strange looks … but my iWatch tells me I’ve burned as much as 800 calories during this hour.  Every bit as good as hitting a gym, and we’re getting stronger, and healthier TOGETHER.  Even the animals have joined in.

Tonight is about being HEALTHY.

HEALTHY so that we can better serve and glorify God.

So as we close, let me leave you with a few words of caution.

Everyone is at a different point in their physical health journey, so let’s not get all judgy on each other.  A self-righteous dieter is just another Pharisee.  We love eating together at Refuge … I can just imagine the dinner conversations tonight.  I’m never going out to eat with Brian again.   

Let’s make a deal.  You don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you when we go out to dinner.  Cool?

I encourage you, if you’re enslaved to food, and you’ve failed over and over at diets that have been motivated by guilt and shame, maybe it’s time to change that motivation.  Begin to see your body as a God’s temple/tool, meant to do good works in Jesus’ name.

Pray for the fruit of self-control in your life for diet and exercise.  Friend says amazing how this self-control can then can roll over to other aspects of our lives.

If you’re not a very active person. That’s OK.  No time like the present to start.  It might just be walking for an hour/day to begin with.  Heck, maybe even use that time to kill two birds with one stone.  Listen to a good sermon, or some worship music, or spend the time talking to God.

By the way … that Lipitor sitting on my bathroom sink … I haven’t taken it yet.  For the last month, I’ve totally changed my eating habits, increased my exercise, and trying to me break those chains of slavery to food without medication.  I want to be here for my wife/kids/church/business, and GO & DO as much as I can, for as well as I can, for as long as I can for God’s Kingdom.

We don’t need more shame & guilt to change our physical health.  We just need a better motivation.

Written by Brian Culbertson

Sinner turned Saint because of Jesus.

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