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The Life Abundant: Fitness As A Spiritual Discipline #3 “Workout, Work In.”

Today’s article is a guest post from my new friend, Kim Cook. Kim  is a wife, who became a mother by the grace of God to 3 incredible step-children who in turn have blessed her beyond her wildest dreams with 5 grandchildren.  Kim live in Denton , TX. attended Texas Women’s University. She works at Singing Oaks Church of Christ as the Office Coordinator and serves as one of the church’s Wellness Ministry Leaders. She is a certified Revelation Wellness instructor.

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I am not a fitness professional. Some might tell you I’m a fitness fanatic. But that would not be true. I’m a Jesus fanatic. I’m a woman who loves the people Jesus loves, which includes all people. I believe we are all created to glorify God and to be in relationship with God.  I have had a lifetime of body image issues. I have been overweight, and I have been underweight.  I have even been just the right weight, but I was never happy at any of those places in my life, because Jesus was never allowed into my personal body issues. I never thought to ask Him to help me, or to be a part of that part of my life. I never thought He cared about my body and about what I was putting into my body. Let’s be real. Jesus has much more serious issues to deal with than my personal eating and exercise habits. This has changed for me.  I have learned that Jesus does care, and it matters deeply to him for us to live a holy life. Author and missionary, Elisabeth Elliot, writes, “You can’t give God your heart, and keep your body for yourself.” This quote changed how I read the Bible.

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The Life Abundant: Fitness As A Spiritual Discipline #2 (5 Critical Shifts)

Physical fitness says something about our relationship with God.

Yesterday we began a conversation of fitness as a spiritual discipline. The first earthly gift God gives us is our bodies. Before we know what our interests and talents are, we are physical beings. In fact, when we draw our first breath, before we have contributed anything to the world,  our bodies are protected by law. Human beings have always known the body was special.

One of the first Christians heresies was Gnosticism. In part, Gnostics believed matter was evil and the Spirit was good. Therefore, Gnostics argued they could do anything with their bodies. The writers of the New Testament disagreed. Our bodies do matter.

Because they matter, Christians need to deal forthrightly with issues of food and fitness.

And we can do so by embracing 5 Critical Shifts:

 

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The Life Abundant: Fitness As A Spiritual Discipline (Part 1)

We are obese and it’s getting worse. Americans are more than 50% more likely to have high blood pressure or diabetes, almost twice as likely to have heart disease, and 2½ times more likely to have arthritis than people in other developed countries. The reason is our obesity rate. If the US could improve its population’s health to have the same levels of chronic illness as Europeans do, Americans would save between $1,200 and $1,750 per year each on medical bills.

America is suffering from an obesity epidemic, but I’m not simply talking about Americans, I’m talking about Christians. Before you get offended, give me a moment to explain.

Earlier this week, in a private, pastors-only Facebook group, someone asked, “How many of you preachers are over weight. Fat. Obese. Or as the Bible calls Gluttons.”

The question stung! And you could tell.

The firestorm was immediate. Some members found the post humorous, as the member who posted it suggested it was intended, and others were offended. The conversation raged! Instantly there was talk of lactose intolerance, thyroid issues, the fact that some members exercised everyday and ate healthily yet never lost weight, and some members shared hurt feelings because they’d struggled with their weight their entire lives but felt like they were losing their battle. What was immediately clear is that obesity is both a terribly important and an intensely sensitive subject.

Obesity also happens to be a subject the church is not talking about…and it’s killing us.

Last year a good friend of mine went to a denominational gathering I’ve never attended. I asked about his perceptions of the event, in particular, the attendees. He said, “If I were on the outside looking in at our denomination, I’d say we were old, white, and fat.” Just to be clear, he was not saying this as a compliment. In addition, this past week, as I attended another large denominational gathering I was astonished that so many of my fellow ministers – of all ages and theological stripes – are obese. Brothers and sisters, we have a problem. We are unhealthy and it’s time we dealt with it.

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How To Get Beyond “Sin Management”

About 50 times a day I crash into the reality that I’m not everything God intended when he created me. Part of the wreckage was caused because I was born into a fallen and sinful world. The rest of the damage has been caused because I am a fallen and sinful person.

I don’t like admitting I’m a sinful person, but my disquiet with the phrase doesn’t rob the idea of its truth.

I’m a mix, as I suppose you are. I am sinful, but I don’t want to be. I want to be all that God intended. I want more than “saved” – even though being saved is glorious. I’m not worried about whether God loves me or about my place in God’s everlasting Kingdom. I’m worried about whether or not I’m becoming the kind of person God can trust with His everlasting kingdom.

Here’s what I mean:

Sin Management

 

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Making Disciples: The Problem & Promise of Spiritual Formation

I’m taking a few days for rest and reflection with my family. This week I’ll be reposting some of my favorite guest posts dealing with spiritual formation. You cannot read these and reflect on them too many times.

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I find myself very unlike Jesus. You probably are too. The church I knew as a kid was wonderful. I loved it, and love it still. But I have come to believe that a failure to sufficiently understand what it means to make disciples existed in that church, and that correcting this failure could help many people take hold of blessings that God wants us to enjoy. The following story, a strong memory of mine about church one Sunday, might help explain what I mean.

I was about ten or twelve years old, attending the A&M Church of Christ, and we worshipped one particular Sunday in the large high school gym. Before the event, we invited other area churches and took out an ad in the local paper. We wanted lots of people to know that we were going to have worship in the gym on that particular Sunday. It was very well attended, and lots of people “went forward” following the sermon. I don’t remember the name of the preacher who was brought in for this event, but he made an impression on me. I remember one moment when he was discussing how terrible it would be to look across that great divide between heaven and hell and meet the eye of a hell-tormented friend I had known from life and realize that I never took the time to tell them about Jesus. The preacher was trying to impress upon us the importance of making disciples. One of the reasons my church scheduled this event was, no doubt, to make disciples.

I agree that it is important to make disciples, but I worry that my tradition never properly informed me about what a disciple is, nor how to go about making one. I knew that a disciple was a follower or student of Jesus, but I never reflected on what it really meant to be Jesus’ student. I can be a student in Mrs. Evan’s math class without ever caring a lick about math and without ever trying to be like Mrs. Evans. As a result, it took a long time for me to grasp a mature picture of what it means to be a student of Jesus. Unlike being a student of Mrs. Evans, one cannot be a student of Jesus without coming to care a great deal about what Jesus taught and who he is, nor can one be a student of Jesus without making progress in becoming like him.

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