Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thoughts on Health

As of late I have become increasingly more aware of the brevity of life. I am 26 years old now and am sneaking upon my 10th year high school reunion (which I probably won't go to). Thoughts of aging have caused me to reconsider the way I live my life. Just recently I have started wearing ear plugs and protective eye wear while doing the lawn. I also make sure that I never listen to loud music. I just cannot imagine the thought, as a minister of the Gospel, of losing my hearing, sight, voice, or energy.

While I was living in Kansas City I was mentored by one of the most godly people I know (Rod). Rod was a very interesting man--he was one of those who always looked at things from a unique vantage point. Rod and I used to meet once a week for the sake of edifying one another through the Scriptures. One of the things that Rod always talked about was the importance of health. This is something I have not heard many Christians speak about, which is sort of strange considering the present obesity phenomenon in America. Rod's approach to this problem was extremely insightful. Having become more aware of the brevity of life has caused me to rethink much of what Rod shared with me.

Here are some of his insights: Do not pursue health as an end in itself, rather pursue it for the sake of the Gospel. If you pursue health for any reason other than the Gospel, you put yourself in danger of forsaking the Gospel for the sake of health. This is ultimately seen in those who work out 2-4 hours a day, but somehow cannot find time for the study of Scripture, evangelism, and prayer. The purpose of pursuing health is so that you may become a greater servant of Christ and His message.

One may wonder how pursuing health can make you a greater servant of Christ and His message. Well, the reality is that those who actively pursue health live longer lives. No, not all of those who actively pursue health live longer, however those who pursue health generally live longer lives--thus they are able to serve the Lord for a longer period of time. The man who does not pursue health, even if he outlives others, will not have as great of a capacity of doing the demanding work of ministry as one who actively pursues health.

Christianity benefits from crusty old men (props to Jim Ott for this crude saying) who are healthy and energetic enough to mentor young men. In our present day context, retired pastors are barely healthy/energetic enough to come to the Sunday morning service, let alone healthy/energetic enough to take young spirit-filled men by the hand, leading by example.
Of course, some of these health issues could never be avoided through hard work, however many of these issues can and should be avoided.

Kristal and I have decided to change our eating habits--we keep an eye on ingredients and implement portion control (which is a tuffy for me). I am not here talking about dieting, I am talking about a change of lifestyle (a lifetime diet). What is the purpose? The Gospel! I want to be a servant of Christ and His message not just today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now. I want to be a servant of Christ and His message as long as He keeps me alive on this earth. Anything that gets in the way of me serving Christ and His message on this earth needs to be removed if at all possible.

There is danger of going overboard, which is why Christ and His message must be the purpose of pursuing health.

Rod also talked about the importance of godly men loving and laying down their lives for the sake of their wives as long as they possibly can. What a shame it is when men die early leaving a wife and children behind because of avoidable poor health.

Many men, although not dead, have become virtually useless. They have become so unhealthy that they are forced to rely upon their wives to provide and take care of them. I am not here dogging on those who have fallen into an unfortunate/unavoidable circumstance--I am talking about those who could have avoided such circumstances through (even minimal) preventive actions.

Men, we have a responsiblity to take care of our bodies for the sake Christ, His message, the lost, our wives, and children. Is anyone with me here?

Any thoughts? Any commitments?


Brian Keith Phillips said...

Thanks Jims. This is something that I have often thought about, but rarely heard anyone discuss. When I do for a run alone, I often think about the minutes I may be "adding" to my life but preventing heart disease... It does seem curious that alcohol use and tithing are far more mentioned from the American pulpit than gluttony and slothfulness...

Brian Keith Phillips said...

When I go* for a run . . . sheesh; and I'm an English teacher . . .

Anonymous said...

my dear kristal and jimmy @ baby james: i heard the good news that baby james is eating bunches and drinking lots also. what a blessing prayer is, we have been on our knees for your little guy. the LORD loves him so much, and HE will never let him go. how is your studies doing jimmy, hope every thing with that is going well? and kristal have you been getting more sleep and overall rest. we love and miss you three so very much. we will keep you all in daily prayer. love you lots. great auntie joyce @ steve

Pastor Luke said...


This is a great post, one I have been increasingly thinking about. As one whose BMI is 38, which means I am obese, it is a source of continual conviction and likewise a source of motivation to eat and live more healthy.

Jerry Bridges just wrote a book called, "Respectable Sins." I don't know if this is one that he addresses in his book, but it definitely could be.

Not only is it true that we should actively pursue health, but it is also true that this pursuit is ultimately a pursuit of the glory of God in the Gospel.

Marian Harkness said...

Funny how many times in our lives someone tells us to take care of ourselves and we ignore it. A healthy lifestyle is a simple way to honor the Lord, after all He gave us this life and why not live it honorably. I am so glad to hear that you and Kristal are rethinking your old, bad habits. Hey, we all are guilty of that. I hope everyone who reads this blog will rethink their habits.

Katie said...

So, are you in cahoots with the Girl Talk blog or something? :) They are doing an excellent series right now on eating for God's glory. If you haven't checked it out, I'd encourage it. This series isn't just for ladies even though their blog is

Anonymous said...


Having done a degree is Sports Science, including physiology, and anatomy, and having an interest in nutrition here are some useful facts for y'all.

The health benefits from undertaking a programme of exercise are immediate. It is never too late to start. Someone who only took up moderate exercise at 45 and maintained it will be in much better health at 60 and will markedly increase their life expectancy. On the flip side, having been a great athlete in your younger years, say a professional basketball player, and yet having stopped performing even moderate exercise after 40years old, this person will have no noticeable health benefits from the earlier years of exercise in their later years. It is never too late to start, and it is always too early to stop. The chunky pastor who started at 45 will have a much better life expectancy than the professional basketball player who stopped at 40.

If given a choice between eating healthily and undertaking moderate exercise, it is always better for your health (internal organs) to choose the healthy diet. Genetics aside, healthy diet (fresh foods, whole grains, as God made them) is usually the common determinant for long life. You can do a lot of exercise, but if your diet is bad, you are still polluting your body.

Regular running, although great for cardiovascular fitness, can cause a lot of joint problems and repetitive strain type injuries in later life, particularly of the knees, hips, and lower back. Although there is nothing quite like it for weight loss, it should always be done in moderation and with other forms of exercise. Jogging is not the only way.

Avoid sugar and white flour (breads and pastas) like the plague, as this plays havoc with your metabolic system and often causes people to over-eat. And definitely cut out all sodas. A person that drinks just one can of soda a day is 45% more likely to suffer from coronary disease that someone who does not (largely due to increased belly fat!!)

The healthiest way to start the day is actually with a smoothy. Try blending two bananas, a handful of frozen berries, is some orange juice for starters. Share it with a loved one, as orange juice does have quite high calories!

A brisk walk in the Great Outdoors soaking upGod's creation is my personal favourite form of exercise.

Hope this helps, and gives some direction. Like most things in life, it is not a matter of will power, but joyful submission to God and the Holy Spirit who will enable us to change. Seek it, pray about it, and follow the little invitations from the still small voice as it prompts you about your lifestyle each day.


Jessy said...

what??? You're not going to our high school reunion? how dare you leave me alone? (jk - I'm probably not going either unless I want to out myself on the list for a new lung) jk again, ok - really I'm not.