It happens about once a week. I’m on the frontage road of Hwy 287 walking in the heat (100 degrees) with my water bottle in hand. I’m not screaming along, but walking at a good clip, when someone stops and asks if I need a ride. I smile and thank them and say: “I’m doing this on purpose!”. That has earned me smiles and a few who stop back the next day and say “You’re still out here? Good job” as they drive away in their trucks (yes, it is always a truck).
The last few years it has been difficult for me to get in shape physically, but that doesn’t mean I don’t work at it. I am not able to run at this time, but I walk as often as I can, lift weights, stretch (very little😊) and Lord willing someday I’ll be able to run some more!
I have to do this very intentionally. With what the Lord has allowed me to go through physically the last four years, it would be much easier to just sit back and remember when. But, I promised the Lord and Donna I would fight for the gifts He has given me until He lets me come home. So, out I go.
I am reminded of a time when Paul talked to Timothy about something similar. He said, “…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 3:7b-8).
It’s OK to work out—it’s even a good thing. I was told by my oncologist that “had you not worked out all those years to build your heart and lungs, you would never have walked out of the hospital”. Pretty good motivation to get back in shape! I’m not the only one who thinks so. Physical fitness is a multi-faceted, mult-billion dollar industry in the U.S. today.
But Paul warned Timothy, and through him you and me, that as hard as we work out physically, we need to work out spiritually as well—training ourselves to be “godly”.
Doing this isn’t any more complicated than working out. We all know how to do it physically, and I think we know how to do it spiritually as well.
We just don’t.
After leaving full time pastoral ministry at the beginning of this year for the first time in decades, I am even more convinced that the American Church is so spiritually out of shape that we are in grave danger. We can change this easily by practicing the Essentials. I’ve been talking about the Essentials for years through this blog. I’ve even started a ministry focused on building these Essentials into the lives of Christians (www.essentialfaithproject.org) . They are called “Essential” for a reason! They are:
Personal and Congregational Worship.
Bible Study (Please NOTE: not discussion, not listening to someone else who may or may not have a clue—study)
Service to those in the Church and to those outside the Church
Relationships with other Christians who are committed to being healthy disciples
Tithing (yeah, I know, this is a Jewish law, not Christian. But the first Christians used this as the starting place, not a low bar they had to dig a ditch under to avoid meeting!)
Sharing Our Faith—the gospel and our experience of God working in our life!
We cannot be healthy without ALL of these: hence, “Essential”. God isn’t impressed with us if we do four of these and ignore the other three because THIS ISN’T ABOUT GOD BEING IMPRESSED! (Yes, I meant to raise my voice). This is about living healthy, as he created us to live. Work out all day, but don’t eat right? Guess what, you are tearing your body down even if you can’t see it
“Go to church” (whatever that means) every Sunday, but don’t study God’s Word or tithe? It has already caught up to you, and the biggest sign that you are in grave trouble is you can’t see this!
This isn’t legalism, it is simply living how God made us to live. Doing these things doesn’t make us worthy or earn us anything except health. But do not make the mistake of believing you can be an “unhealthy” disciple. It is a recipe for spiritual death.
So, keep working out! Fly down to Texas and join me on a very hot walk—we can even lift some weights afterward! But don’t let your physical efforts in any way distract from what is most important—what is Essential to your life. “…godliness has value for all things!”
Know Jesus and Be Faithful!