At Gateway Church in Austin, we began the Life Apps series. Week one dealt with becoming emotionally healthy. John Burke shared the following thoughts:
“Americans are obsessed with health. As one guy said, ‘We’re the nation with more food than any other nation, and more diets to keep us from eating it.’ We get bombarded by messages about dieting, eating right, not smoking, exercise, gym memberships, weight loss plans, but nothing seems to really work. We spend 60 billion dollars (nearly $300 each) every year on diets and gym memberships, and in the past 15 years obesity has jumped from 22% to 34% of all Americans. There’s the other side of harmful – from fad dieting that messes up our body chemistry, all the way to anorexia or bulimia that starve our bodies. Then there’s smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, using our bodies in harmful, dangerous ways sexually. So what’s up? What’s the real problem? God actually wants to help us because I’m convinced all of us want to treat our bodies better.
1. If you’re out of control physically, it’s a spiritual problem. Our bodies are gifts from God that He intends for us to willingly offer back to Him.
If you are a Christ-follower, Scripture reminds us how significant our bodies are: ‘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; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ I Corinthians 6:19-20
The true worship of God is to use your body in ways that honor Him in all you do. That’s why scripture says, ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship’. Romans 12:1
Whenever things are out of control with our bodies—whether our eating habits, or our obsession with dieting or starving ourselves or binging and purging, or if we do other things with our bodies that we know is not good for us, but we can’t stop—it’s a spiritual problem. If something’s out of control, it’s a spiritual issue.
It’s actually amazing how many things can gain control over us in a very slow, subtle way if we are not aware. Some of the things may be good things in moderation—like food or drink, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but at the same time if we aren’t aware, it can gain control over us. Here’s how you know. Scripture says: ‘You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.’ I Corinthians 6:12 This is kind of a test you can take to see if you’re out of control in an area physically. As Paul says here, God’s desire is not to restrict us. God wants to give us freedom – true freedom. That’s why Jesus said, if you know the truth, the truth will set you free. But we can be deceived by the lie of what appears to be a call to freedom, but it really is a snare to enslave us. So is there anything to which you are enslaved?
God’s desire is not to condemn us for our failures—all our failures and weaknesses are to remind us that we need God’s power. ‘We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 4 God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our [corrupted] desires’. 2 Peter 1:3-4 We were not created to do life apart from the One who Created us, when we do, our desires or cravings, get misdirected. God allows us to get out of control, so we’ll actually learn to rely on His power so we can share in His nature.
If you have a lack of self-control, where do you get self control? Answer: you borrow it until you can get your own. Self-control is something God’s Spirit produces in us if we ask for His help. I don’t have the power myself. I must surrender my will and learn to rely on God who will help me overcome.
There’s actually something good about the struggle when we learn to rely on God’s power to give us greater self control. Paul once asked God to just take away a struggle he was having, look at the answer: No – ‘my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 It’s when we feel weak, unable, out of control—that’s when learn to rely on God’s power and He helps us truly grow. If we ask Him in our moment of weakness, God give us the power to grow in self control. Don’t treat an out of control physical problem with physical solutions—it won’t last. It’s Spiritual, so get spiritual help from God, and others. If you have no self-discipline, you can also borrow discipline from others to help you rely on God’s power. God helps us, but he also give us each other as His church—not to judge or condemn, to build each other up, support each other, even in our out of control struggles.
A growing body of social research suggests that behavior—good and bad—can actually be contagious. Mya Frazier says ‘overweight friends keep you overweight, pals who smoke decrease your ability to quit; a social tribe that habitually drinks makes it harder to stop.’ We all know this truth that’s been around for 2000 years: ‘Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 If you’re out of control or struggling in some area, you need to put yourself around people who can support you to form new habits in that area. We need each other. You borrow their discipline until it becomes your own.
2. Don’t Diet! One of the surest ways to gain weight is to go on a fad diet. UCLA researchers found 2/3 of dieters gain back more than they lost within 4-5 years. Erma Bombeck says: ‘I’ve been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet’. Author Lysa Tuerquist says: ‘Don’t diet—eat like an animal, and you’ll be fine. Animals eat meats and things that grow in the ground, fruits and vegetables.
There was something else I learned that probably explains why Americans keep gaining weight though we try not to: all our foods are loaded with sugar. Excess sugar is a huge problem because it raises the insulin level. Insulin promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat excessive sugar, you’re making way for rapid weight gain. The average American gets 88 grams of sugar a day which is 200 to 400% more than the healthy maximum. Sugar is addictive so it’s in everything because it sells! Most of our drinks are loaded with sugar, so here’s the best weight loss tip you’ll ever get: Drink Water! Just get in the habit of water only—And watch how much processed sugar added foods you eat. So don’t obsess with diets, just eat and drink less sugars.
3. Don’t Just Exercise—Be Active. Normal daily activities like pushing a lawn mower, walking your dog, cleaning your house, and climbing stairs, just getting off the couch and doing something all burn calories. In fact, people who are most active burn as much as 300 calories a day more than couch potatoes. Over a year, that 300-calorie-a-day difference in activity level can add up to as much as a 30-pound difference in weight.
If you feel out of control honoring God with your body, it’s not just physical—it’s spiritual.”
To listen or watch Ted share this message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.