Tag Archives: worship

From Fatness to Fitness, a Journey

It started on November 8th, and today is February 26th. I was sick and tired of my gut and my “snowman body,” which had accumulated over four years. In early November I weighed around 170 with 19% body fat (according to my smart scale, which may not measure body fat with great accuracy but was my gauge all along). My last weigh-in showed 147.4 pounds. I used calipers and found between 8.38% to 10.12% body fat, depending on the method of calculating. I dropped from a 33” to a 30” waist.

Previous to this I had worked hard and effectively to arrive at the same point. However, everything accumulates over time: fatness or fitness. It all depends on what you’re doing, or not doing in the case of decreasing levels of discipline and activity. I didn’t decide to start being unhealthy one day; in fact, I never stopped going to the gym. Everything happened gradually.

I think I did make a decision to gain some weight, but I wanted it to be muscle. However, I broke my clavicle and was unable to perform any bench presses. This is demoralizing for a guy. I continued to work out, but not very hard, and finally averaged only once or twice a week. I continued to eat a fairly healthy diet, and I didn’t overeat. In spite of this, I gained fat and lost muscle mass. Four years ago I weighed 149, so I gained 21 pounds, or five pounds per year. Had I continued on this gradual increase I would have eventually become obese, and likely struggled with type-two diabetes, which runs on my father’s side of the family.

My vanity kicked in when I stared at myself in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Coinciding with this was my decision to return to teaching karate’. I have been an instructor for over 30 years, but had quit teaching or even practicing. I didn’t realize how out of condition I had become. We deceive ourselves when we get older, thinking that everything is pretty much the same this year as it was last, or five or ten years ago. Unlike young people, who naturally grow, when we hit about the mid-twenties we begin to decline, slowly at first, but everything accumulates over time. If you’ve not chosen a disciplined lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating you may be in your late twenties (even younger) and already show significant signs of decreasing fitness.

The last time I started, it was a more difficult journey out of the slough of fitness despondency in which I had found myself. I am happy I didn’t wait any longer to get back into shape. It could have been significantly more difficult to do at this point if I had not already built a fitness foundation. As we get older we have decreased physical capabilities and increased liabilities. In spite of this, we may not realize how far removed we are from the halcyon days of our youth. The result? I go to the gym and attempt to do what I used to 10 or 20 years ago, and discover I cannot. Disappointment may stop me there, or soreness and injury may slow me to a stop later. Then I quit, become depressed, eat more, care less, and put myself at risk for serious physical problems. I learned to meet myself where I am (as opposed to expecting I will be where I used to), and keep moving forward. This motivational strategy has worked to keep me going each time.

I really like being skinny! I have more energy. I look better in my clothes. Since I’ve been going to the gym regularly I’m stronger. Since I’ve been running my cardio-vascular system is healthier and I have more energy. I have more self-discipline in other areas of my life too. Temptation is tough. I was at a birthday celebration at an Asian buffet two days ago and our room was right next to the dessert section. All those beautiful little cakes, cookies and tiramisus were calling to me. I resisted! Why? I’d just purchased new jeans and pants a few hours earlier with waist sizes between 29 and 30. I’m not going to keep myself from fitting into those new clothes! I want to be lean, look good, feel good, have energy and have no self-consciousness about a pooching belly. Half of that is vain, but it’s honest.

In the end, I’m a Christian and a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus. I’m called to offer my body to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is my reasonable and spiritual offering in worship. God is worth more than a feeble sacrifice. I want to present a clean, healthy body for him to use. If I am going to serve the Lord by teaching karate’, then I need to be in top condition. If I’m going to keep away from sickness, and disease like Alzheimer’s, then I have to discipline myself to exercise, eat healthy, as well as reading and writing regularly. If I’m going to defend myself or my congregation against the attack of some violent individual, then I want to be as trained and fit as possible to do so. My body belongs to God; it is his temple. I want him to be pleased. That’s worship. That’s the best motive of all.

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Church Addict

I confess, I am an addict… a church addict. I’ve been going since I was 16. Church didn’t save me: Jesus Christ did—and is. Although church people have been some of my closer friends, I’ve been hurt deeply by them. Church people have wrecked my reputation with rumor and gossip, judged me and assassinated my character in the community. Many more have simply turned away and treated me like a stranger. The reality is, although most church people would claim to believe in Jesus, they aren’t any more like him for the professed belief, and are no worse or better than anybody else in the world. Jesus had the most difficulty with the church people of his day (synagogue people, they could be called), but he still attended and participated every week.

I’ve been in church every Sunday morning for over 30 years. I think I’ve missed twice since I made a commitment to Christ and got baptized. That changes today. I’m not going to church this morning. It’s 6:15 A. M. and I thought I’d sleep-in today, but I’m wide awake, going through withdrawals at the prospect of not being in church. You see, I’m the pastor of our congregation, and I’ve challenged everyone to stop playing church, to stop (just) going to church, and to start being the church.

We are going to try something today, and throughout the summer. I’ve called it The UnChurch Experiment. I told everyone we won’t have church on Sunday morning this summer. Instead, I told them, be the church to the unchurched by shining your light where the unchurched go. Then we’ll gather Sunday at 5:30 P. M. to share our stories and worship.

Now, when we started our church, there was no morning worship service, but I still met with our most dedicated people for brunch and Bible study during that time. With this UnChurch Experiment, though, I won’t be teaching, preaching or even attending church. It’s unsettling. That’s part of the purpose. We need to take risks, shine our light out in the world, and be deliberate about sharing the Gospel with people who have less exposure to it. We need to bring Jesus to people who have less opportunity to hear and receive. Sounds good. I’m still going through withdrawals, though.

Here are the ten assignments I’ve given to our people for Sunday mornings.
1. Invite some unchurched friends and/or family to brunch, ask if you may pray for their needs.
2. Go somewhere fun and find an unchurched person to check out Lifewell Worship
3. Do a service project with your friends and/or family.
4. Relax and relate with your family: no electronic devices or TV, just face to face contact.
5. Read your Bible for one hour without interruption, then post to a social network about what you learned. Invite people on your network to Lifewell Worship.
6. Knock on a neighbor’s door and share something with them. Invite them to check out Lifewell Worship.
7. Make a video to share the Gospel, i.e., interview some people about a relevant topic that may be used as a catalyst for sharing the Gospel. Tell them it will be played at a Lifewell gathering.
8. Walk or ride bikes at a park near your house and meet others. Invite them to Lifewell Worship.
9. Walk the ROC neighborhood (an area where there are many apartments) and invite people to Lifewell UnChurch Worship at 5:30p.m.
10. Volunteer somewhere. Shine your light and tell everyone about Jesus. Invite people to Lifewell Worship.

So, it’s Sunday morning: time to be the church.

You Serve What You Fear

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“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

In the New American Commentary David Garland make this thought provoking observation: “It is said that whatever it is that one fears the most that is what one will serve the most.”

What do you fear the most in this life? In what ways can you see yourself serving that fear? Perhaps we could look at it this way: what do you serve to keep your fear at bay? Before I committed my life to Jesus Christ, it was fear of demonic evil that drove me toward salvation. I sought protection from Christ. I believed he had more power than what threatened me. Still do.

Now, if it is true that what we serve most is what we fear most, then it explains why so many people’s worship of God is half-hearted, and why sincere service among those who claim to believe in Jesus is so infrequent and weak. We simply do not fear God.

Failure to fear God may be the backlash from too much teaching on cheap grace. It is also the expected consequence of the widespread assumption: “I can do whatever I want; God won’t care.” We could see this as a relative of atheism. For all practical purposes, regardless of what one professes, without fear (deep respect) there can be no realistic faith in the God who created the universe and will call every person to account for their actions.

Paul always kept the judgment of God before him. He fully expected to be evaluated by Christ at the judgment bar of Christ. I do not believe that the Apostle feared that the verdict would go against him. He had confident faith that he was made right by Christ’s atoning death on the cross and victorious resurrection. However, he fully realized that everyone needs to be persuaded of the truth. The reality is, “It is appointed for everyone once to die, and then comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT).

Everyone will be judged and we all desperately need salvation from eternal condemnation. Concern for those who are headed for destruction drove Paul to persuade people by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6, NLT).

So, what do you serve? Could it be something that helps you suppress your fear? Some people serve addictions to alcohol and/or drugs to escape anxiety/worry, which is a type of fear. People absorb themselves in academics or their careers, distract themselves with entertainment and games, become obsessed with competition or personal projects, all to escape the fear of insignificance, loneliness and death.

“Fear God and you need fear nothing else” (Isaiah 8:13). Add to that, “Fear God and you will worship nothing else.” Fear God and every activity will be an act of worship, every act of service will be for his sake.

The UnChurch Experiment

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Lifewellchurch.com will be doing something different for the summer. Perhaps you can incorporate this challenge into your own church experience, or apply it in some way to your walk with God.

Beginning June 1st we will not meet on Sunday morning…   for the rest of the summer! 

Do not to go to church anywhere Sunday morning; instead, be the church to the unchurched by shining your light where the unchurched go. 

We will gather together each Sunday at 5:00 p.m. to hear your stories, then we’ll worship our God in Spirit and Truth at 5:30.

10 UnChurch Experiment Assignments.

1. Invite some unchurched friends and/or family to brunch, ask if you may pray for their needs. 
2. Go somewhere fun and find an unchurched person to check out Lifewell UnChurch Worship
3. Do a service project with your friends and/or family. 
4. Relax and relate with your family: no electronic devices or TV, just face to face contact. 
5. Read your Bible for one hour without interruption, then post to a social network about what you learned. Invite people on your network to Lifewell UnChurch Worship.
6. Knock on a neighbor’s door and share something with them. Invite them to check out Lifewell UnChurch Worship.
7. Make a video to share the Gospel, i.e., interview some people about a relevant topic that may be used as a catalyst for sharing the Gospel. Tell them it will be played at a Lifewell gathering.
8. Walk or ride bikes at a park near your house and meet others. Invite them to Lifewell UnChurch Worship.
9. Walk the ROC neighborhood (an older and poorer area of town densely populated with apartments) and invite people to Lifewell UnChurch Worship at 5:30p.m.
10. Volunteer somewhere. Shine your light and tell everyone about Jesus. Invite people to Lifewell UnChurch Worship.