Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 ESV)
I often read this verse and never really applied it practically into my life. This passage says that we are to glorify God in my body, but what does that mean? The Lord has brought me a lot with my physical health, and just like my emotional health, I needed to own it. I needed to recognize that I haven’t glorified God in my body. I needed to understand that my physical health is no one’s fault except my own. Just like no one can make me feel anything – I own my emotions.
The Lord brought me conviction in His timing so that what He wanted me to do, I can live into that and gain health back into my life. I used to really not care for my body. The following is in my past and you can see I really didn’t take care of my body:
- Alcohol. I started to drink in high school and I became a heavy drinker in the Navy. God delivered me from alcoholism right before I was discharged, but I still struggled for a bit after the Navy. Now I have full healing and victory over alcohol in my life.
- Smoker. I started to smoke cigarettes in early high school. I was a very heavy smoker in the Navy. After the Navy, and as I was preparing to go into ministry. I hid the fact that I smoked and always lied about it. Even in the first years of ministry, there was always lies and hiding. I know – this is wrong on so many levels. But the Lord delivered me from this habit and healed the brokenness of the lies and deception.
- Diet. My diet was horrible. I ate the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). While in youth ministry, my diet consisted of pizza, pop (soda for all you non-Michiganders), fast food, and any type of sweet pastries. My diet is still a struggle and will talk more about this in future posts, because this is one area that I continue to learn.
- Exercise. OK, I placed this right here because I am still learning in this area. But it wasn’t until recently that I understood the importance of physical exercise. This area was non-existent except for the 8 weeks of boot-camp.
- Weight management. Since the Navy, my weight was consistently over 240-250 LBS. At my heaviest, I was well over the 250 mark. You may say that isn’t that bad, but I am only 5 foot 8 inches. So that is considerably overweight. In fact, the VA considered me obese.
- Other physical conditions. I always had high blood pressure. In fact, when I was having some dental procedures done in the last couple years, the dentist almost had me admitted. Because of my diet, I had high cholesterol. I was borderline diabetic. You also throw into the mix my emotional state, everything was completely wacked in my life.
So, I literally did not care for my body properly for over 45 years. My wife shared with me a new local gym that opened up and it is free to veterans, called Victory Gym. I got a membership and never went. Then my son joined a football team that worked out at Victory. I started to hang out with the coach in the lounge area but never worked out. During this time, I tried to tie my shoes and couldn’t reach my feet. I have become so heavy; I couldn’t tie my own shoes. It was during this moment that I knew something had to change in my life. I hired a trainer and started to figure this out. Step by step I learned how to care for my body and really start to live into this verse. Through this process, I learned that heart disease travels through both sides of my family tree. If the Lord didn’t bring me to the conviction of emotional healing then physical care of my body. I am certain that I would be a prime candidate for a heart attack of something worse.
So here is what has happened in the last three years of this journey:
- Weight loss. I have lost about 30 LBS. I am about 15 LBS away from my goal weight. This is not my slave, but only a guide.
- Blood pressure. It is in the healthy realm and steady.
- Diet. I am not into fad diets. I am still learning and I still have a huge struggle with sweets. But I try to read labels and eat clean.
- Exercise. I continue to learn the gym. I love lifting weights. I have also love to run with my dogs. All this was something that I needed to learn and apply in my life.
I cannot tell you how much I have learned the importance of physical health. My biggest lesson is how our physical bodies, emotional well-being, and spiritual vitality (a relationship with Jesus) are uniquely connected.
My purpose for sharing these stories really are leading up to me sharing the lessons I have learned, especially in the physical realm. As a pastor (or any profession for that matter), you physical well-being is connected to everything else. My prayer is that a pastor somewhere reads this, finds encouragement and challenges them into emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
You maybe thinking, “that’s good for you Bruce, but I can never do that.” I will tell you that if I can do this, anybody can. I have excuse after excuse for not exercising or eating right. You see, I injured my lower back in the Navy. I know am suffering from arthritis that is bone on bone. I am constant pain and discomfort. I have very little range of motion and often times my toes and legs go numb. I had to figure out how to overcome this in order to get the rest of my body healthy. YOU CAN DO THIS. You just have to determine if it’s important to you and eliminate the excuses.
Where do we go from here. I have been challenged to share my story as well as my learnings along the way to physical health. So I will be writing more about my struggles, my victories, what the Lord is teaching me in this process. I will also be sharing what I am learning in my post-graduate studies. My hope is that you are encouraged to get serious about your health.