Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. I Corinthians 6:19-20.
I grew up in the south. Missouri and Oklahoma. Growing up in the south is kind of synonymous with growing up in church, and growing up in the southern church is kind of synonymous with overeating.
It’s funny, actually, because Proverbs talks about gluttony being something equitable with drunkenness (23:21, for example), but plenty of people who would never be caught dead with a Bud Light in hand wouldn’t think twice about going for a second or third helping of baked mac-n-cheese or having a nice, huge slice of pound cake. We would pray for God to bless our chicken-fried junk to our bodies and dig in.
Now, these were really good folks. They were kind and generous, and they didn’t wring my neck when I caused all kinds of trouble. But it’s odd how there was this disconnect between taking care of the soul and taking care of the body.
I had a pretty serious wake up call about ten years ago when I crashed my motorcycle, which was the start of a period of serious burnout for me. I was toast. I had no energy left to serve people. I was over-worked, wrung out, and spiritually depleted. And when I crashed the bike, I had this thought–if I died, what would happen to the church I pastor? Now, there are a lot of things that can kill you, and you shouldn’t spend your life in fear. But I felt really convicted about the fact that God had entrusted me to be a shepherd over this group of people, and I was gambling my life in several ways, one of which was this bike. So I gave it up.
I realized that I needed to make a lot of changes if I was going to survive in ministry long-term. I needed to get more rest. I needed to pay more attention to what I was eating. I needed to exercise more (and more intentionally) than I already was. God gave me a huge responsibility and I couldn’t give it my all if I was exhausted or sick.
Denise has always been great about making meals for our family that included vegetables. But we made more changes–we got rid of our junk food. We quit the chips and cookies and sugar-laden granola bars. We started working with personal trainers to learn how to exercise safely and get stronger. We added more fresh fruits and vegetables. We replaced our sugary cereals with oatmeal and eggs. And you know what? I don’t miss the old stuff. We’re not psychos about it, we still eat your cookies and banana bread at Christmas time, but for the most part, we’ve grown accustomed to feeling so much more energetic and alert, and we would never go back.
We are able to do more ministry because we feel better. And honestly…isn’t that the whole point?
I need you to hear me--it’s NOT about looking like a super-model. It’s not about living up to this crazy, unrealistic idea of beauty that our society pressures us with.
But God only gave us one body, and He wants us to be able to use it for ministry while we’re here! Don’t give yourself an early heart attack by stuffing yourself with McDonald's–that’s such a waste. We take care of our bodies, not because it’s a competition to see who can be the skinniest (please don’t do that), but because we want to be ready to do anything that God might ask us to do.
Here's a quick stat for you to ponder: The average American has 146 pounds of flour a year and 152 pounds of sugar. That’s about a pound of flour and sugar for every man, woman and child in America every single day. Pretzels, bread, crackers, cake, cereal, donuts, pasta. Is this stuff prepping you for ministry and abundant life, or is it weighing you down, fogging your brain, and depleting your energy?
(And by the way, if you’re looking for some great, Bible-driven guidance on this subject, I highly recommend getting a copy of ‘The Daniel Plan' by Rick Warren.)
Let’s take care of our temples. Are you ready?