I have always been overweight. I never viewed weight as a spiritual issue. Then came Financial Peace University. What does eliminating debt have to do with health? Dave Ramsey has often said, “You don’t take financial advice from broke people. It’s like taking dieting advice from fat people.” He also stressed stewardship in all aspects of our lives. God owns us and everything. We are merely His stewards.
It finally sank in that my stewardship of my health was pathetic. Last summer, I had trouble walking due to the pain and stress on my feet and knees caused by excess weight. I reached the highest weight of my life at 360 lbs. I knew I had to do something.
Shannon and I started Weight Watchers on July 1, 2017. Since then by eating lean proteins, fruits and veggies and making better choices in my carbs I have lost 104.8 lbs.! People have been asking how I have done it. The biggest factor which made this time different was finally have a good enough why.
Why did I want to lose weight? I finally get it that I am responsible to the Lord for stewardship of my health. Paul said in 1 Cor. 4:2 ” 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” ESV My health issues were self-imposed due to bad habits. I also have no desire to get back into a wheelchair. 11 years ago, Guillain-Barre Syndrome left me paralyzed and it was a long road to get back on my feet. Last summer, I saw that I was moving back to the wheel chair as my poor health took its toll on my mobility. I also turn 50 in June 2018. I saw that looming milestone and wanted to get as healthy as possible before entering a new decade. Finally, my last why is my family. My son, Joshua crossed over to Boy Scouts this year and I was sitting at 100 pounds over the maximum weight allowed for many scout adventures. I don’t want my health to limit him. My daughter is entering the high school where I teach next year, and I don’t want to reflect poorly on her. All of us needed to improve our health so we have taken this journey together.
Now that 30% of my starting weight is gone, I feel better. I have energy, very little pain, and my blood pressure is much better. I have discovered a new why and a reason to keep going. Many others have noticed and now turning to this fat boy for information on what works! We are reaping the benefits of working together to get better.
We will plan to remain good stewards of our health so that we can better serve the Lord. Learning self-control and discipline has paid dividends in my walk with the Lord as well. Seeing all life as a stewardship issue makes us more mindful in all of our choices.
Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know the kind. The alarm doesn’t go off so you wake early in and in a panic. You can’t shave properly because you run out of shaving cream. The Keurig sprays coffee all over the cabinet instead of it streaming into your cup. Added to that are the even bigger difficulties of health, finances, relationships, and temptations.
The Psalmist knew that feeling and wrote of it in Psalm 25:16-17:
“16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.” ESV
There are times in which we feel lonely and afflicted from all sides. In those times of distress, remember that we have a loving Father who will rescue us by His grace. Jesus promised to never leave us alone. At times, difficulties can steal our focus and seemingly be insurmountable, but He is with us. Like the Psalmist, in those moments, we need to remember to cry out Him.
Notice the requests in this text. Turn to me, be gracious to me, and bring me out of my distress. When we turn to God, He puts it back into perspective. What seemed overwhelming shrinks back to its proper place.
Spring brings the dreaded testing season in Texas’ public schools. Every year, our staff and students are confined from 4-5 hours per test to give a so called standardized test. The students much pass to move on in many cases and in high school must pass in order to graduate. Even the schools are assigned a grade based on students scores. The odd thing is that a simple passing % such as 70 isn’t the way it is scored. After all have taken the test and the difficulty of each uetion is analyzed they assign it a point value. They then tally the points set a score deemed passing by how many points are earned. In other words, they make a standard after they can see the results! Each version of the test through the years has been more difficult and filled with trickier questions. In fact, much time must be spent on how to spot wrong answers to eliminate them instead of teaching the curriculum. The whole system feels punitive and designed to increase failures rather than having any real benefit for the students.
We face a different kind of testing season in our spiritual lives. God allows us to face trials and troubles which test our faith. He discussed this in James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Notice the purpose of the trials. They are to produce steadfastness. Our growth is the aim of the tests which God allows. He is working to strengthen us. In the end, rather than assigning a grade to us, He is building us until we become “complete, lacking in nothing”. He is equipping us to serve Him for His honor and glory.
So count it all joy when you face trials in the knowledge that God is working to make you all He wants you to be.
I was sitting on the deck in my new furniture (Thanks Craft Baptist Church!) and enjoying a fine spring morning. As birds welcomed the new dawn, the sun filtered through every shade of green imaginable. It seems everyone loves spring. The dreary dead winter is ending and the world is bursting forth in new life. At the same time, it brings its own share of troubles. The beauty of the flowers and trees have brought with them spikes in the pollen counts. Some of the new life emerging are mosquitoes and fire ants. Spring storms are rolling through with sudden fury. Along with the beauty, come reminders of the brokenness of our world.
It wasn’t always that way. When God created Earth, He made a special place for Adam and Eve. This paradise of creation was in perfect harmony. Imagine bees without stings, roses without thorns, and life without death. But sin broke that. Adam and Eve brought death into the world through their sin and have passed that to us. The ramifications of that act still reverberate to this day.
The good news is that it will not always be that way! God will restore the brokenness in human existence and all of creation. Paul spoke of this in Romans chapter 8.
“22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” Romans 8:22-24
Last Sunday, we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again as the down payment of the future restoration of creation and eternal life to all who are in Him. We have hope for the future. We live to make things better now, and know that ultimately He will restore creation to its former glory.
For now we enjoy the rose and avoid the thorn and sneeze our way through the beauty of spring, but remember, the restoration is coming! Don’t lose hope.
I began wearing glasses in elementary school. I had no clue all that I had been missing. Apparently, I had two conditions working to blur my vision. My lens focused the image in front of the retina causing me to be nearsighted. I could see things which were close, but at a distance, it was all a blur. To further complicate things, I had astigmatism. My cornea causes further distortion of my vision. So near or far, I had bad eyes and they have only gotten worse. I remember putting on my first pair of glasses and suddenly seeing the world with much more clarity.
Spiritually we can also need to have our vision adjusted. In Proverb 14:12 God says, “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death” ESV
Human vision is faulty in spiritual matters. Sin distorts our perception of right and wrong. Seeing circumstances through the lens of God’s word gives us a clear vision of the world. When our perception aligns with His, we see the world as it really is. It is easy to allow the world’s influence to skew our perception. We grow more comfortable with the world’s point of view and less comfortable with God’s. That is one of the reasons it is crucial for us to stay in God’s word. Scripture regularly realigns our focus and keeps us on the right path.
Tradition can be a double-edged sword. It can be both comforting and reassuring to have something firm in an unstable world, but it can also be an anchor which weighs us down in the past.
Jesus took the Pharisees to task for that very reason. They were following their traditions to the exclusion of following God. “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”” Mark 7:6-8 ESV
The problem was that they let their traditions take the place of God’s word. They were so focused on keeping traditions that they no longer worried about what God had said. They taught as doctrines the commandments of men. They kept the traditions, and that made them feel good, but they were disobeying God.
We can easily fall into the same pattern. We can get so focused on doing what we have always done that we grow complacent. We can think all is good when in truth we are no longer obeying God. How sad if it can be said of us that we honor God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him. Let us obey Him with our whole heart and not just give him lip service.
Did you know that a boiling water in the microwave can be dangerous? When boiled in the microwave, especially in a new cup, the water can become superheated. It heats up faster than the bubbles of water vapor can form. What is so bad about that? When you take it out through either jarring it or putting something in it, the water is disturbed and allows it suddenly turn to steam. There have been several people scalded by this.
That reminds me of several people today. Many are walking around with their temper “superheated”. The slightest provocation will turn into an eruption of scalding anger. We see it on the streets, in classrooms, online, and even in halls of government.
God gave us wonderful words of wisdom in James 1:19 which will help us avoid the superheated temper.
James 1:19 “19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 “
First, be quick to hear. Listen to others. So often, we hear words and sort them to find a reason to get angry. We are always on guard to defend ourselves and make assumptions about what someone means instead of listening. We have lost the ability to really converse with each other and discuss differences because we no longer listen.
We should also be slow to speak. Instead of jumping in and arguing against what we think someone meant, let us slow down and think about our answer. Really consider what they have said instead of leaping to conclusions which we feel we must swiftly correct.
Finally, we are told to be slow to anger. Keep a calm head! Intentionally fight off emotional responses from your temper. Listen, choose your words carefully, and control your temper.
If we would apply these nuggets of wisdom, the scalding fits of anger won’t continue to hurt those around us and our world will be a calmer place.