Life…Up Close Part 2: “Healthy Living”

How many of you have eaten at McDonald's? The golden arches, one of the symbols of America. When Mr. Kraft first started the franchise, his goal was to have a restaurant where you could visit anywhere and receive the same meal and have it taste the same. In a since, he wanted his customers to have a little piece of home no matter where you were: Just like momma cooks it. It doesn't seem to me he imagined his little idea and restaurant would become the center of battle about the America's health and fitness rollercoaster.

The US government research has declared we have a crisis as a nation. And McDonald's is to blame. Well maybe that is an overstatement but it sure has seemed in recent years they are front and center in many peoples' mind.

Me, I love Mickey D's. It is my favorite fast food restaurant. I remember the first time I had my first cheeseburger with my dad and it was great. You may disagree with me but I still think Ronald makes the best french fries. But in his recent documentary, SUPER SIZE ME, Morgan Spurlock attempted to demonstrate the negative results of eating a fast food diet continually. He set out to take in over 5,000 calories a day for 30 days eating only McDonalds and not exercising. Not only did he gain weight but at the same time experienced a multitude of health problems to boot.

While the folks at McDonald's have released their statements, another documentary was undertaken by Soso Whaley. She too ate only at McDonalds for a 60 day period and a 90 day period. She however tried to eat responsibly, iimiting her calorie intake and doing moderate exercise 3 times a week. In the end she lost over 18 pounds and dropped her cholesterol levels as wed. Talk about the ups and downs of the healthy diet rollercoaster!

But in an article in Relevant Magazine by Ryan Blanck, he gets up close on life and points out"... we have a problem. Many... are facing a condition of spiritual obesity, which if left untreated, may cause harm to their spiritual well being. We take in an inordinate amount of spiritual "calories," but many of us do little to "burn them off," so to speak."

We live in a very spiritual world and a very spiritual nation but don't confuse that with a Christian world or Christian nation. We are taking in lots of spiritual calories be it sermons, horoscopes, Christian radio & TV, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Bible Studies, and on and on. So how do we handle this? What is a disciple of Jesus Christ to do to be healthy? Paul writes to the Colossian disciples to help them deal in part with the -abundance of spiritual choices which were surrounding them and many were in-taking.

Colossians 2:1-10 ESV For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, (2) that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, (3) in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (4) I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. (5) For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. (6) Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, (7) rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (8) See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (9) For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (10) and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

ONE: From the outset we need to start by getting a healthy balanced diet. We've got to watch what we're in-taking and how much of it. Even too many apples can make you sick so it's not surprising that eating Big Macs all day could cause one have problems. And lets not miss the other side: some of us tend to be in the middle of a spiritual famine and not getting a enough in our spiritual diet! So should we stop reading the Bible? What about Church or listening to The Fish? Paul says we should "be encouraged in our hearts and united in Iove(v2)" and leads us to "continue" in our spiritual journey with Jesus (v6) which is our exercise which will get to in a minute.

In watching what we eat spiritually Ryan Blanck and Paul remind us "to be mindful of its quality. There is a lot of spiritual "junk food" out there." There is a whole lot of stuff to make us feel good about ourselves, in Jesus' words, "that tickle our ears," but have no real substance. There is a lot junkfood and soda out there which does us no good for our spiritual growth. Some of it comes under the title of Christian while others come from those who are hostile to the disciples' life.
Paul says these may come in the form of fine-sounding arguments (v 4) from human tradition (v 8). The intent is to capture people and leave them empty and hollow and certainly not spiritually healthy. There are many fine sounding arguments about religion and religious leaders, tolerance and peace. In a spirit of humility, Paul reminds us again and again, the mystery of God is only found in Jesus Christ. He is completely God and the only source for the wisdom of living life.

TWO: We can’t forget exercise either. I wouldn’t be much of a pastor if I didn’t look first to Jesus and do just what I’ve said. I felt like I had to live this out too this weekend which is why I signed up to race alongside Logan and Jillian this weekend when I got the chance. I wanted to see just how healthy my living has been. Blanck reminds us its not all about the food. "With a good, balanced diet, we need to exercise our faith. We need to regularly put our faith into action, real action that makes a difference." Paul says we are to "continue to live in Him," meaning Jesus. Literally, Paul tells us to walk or as the Message says:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him- You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! (Colossians 2:6-7).

One of my youth pastors said to me something which has shaped my walk with Jesus for the past 15 years, "Be the Christian you have become." • Don't make excuses for what you don't know, live what you do know. We know we should eat more fruits and vegetables but maybe you don't know how many of each. Start eating more as you learn how much! Don't know how to study the Bible? Start reading and get involved in a Connection Group to learn more. Don't know what is good stuff to read? Start with the reflections in the worship guide. Go to our website and you’ll find links to sites to help. Don't know how to exercise your faith? Mark your calendar for August 1 and come be a part of our Engage Atlanta project at Murphy-Harpst Children’s home. If you still aren’t sure, send me a text message and I’ll help you get going in the right direction.

On top of all else, we have the perfect specimen of spiritual health, we've got Jesus who is our leader. Paul reminds us when we choose to follow Him alone then His power and authority are given to us to live the healthy spiritual life. It is this power, Him being God, which guides us through the ups and downs of our spiritual health.

Look, life is messy when you get up close. Sometimes I don’t live up to it either. I’ve got that hidden candy bar or snack tucked away – not just in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense – and neither helps.

But there is a meal that is here – one that God uses to offer us hope – to allow us to come clean and begin to live healthy again or for the first time. We call it communion and today you have the chance to begin to eat and live right – not on your own strength but on the strength of Jesus.


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