Tag Archives: body

Wholely Healthy

wholely healthy

In the article “The Integrated Pastor,” in the Spring 2019 CT Pastors Special Issue, author Todd Wilson identifies three areas a pastor needs to take seriously to stay wholely healthy. While meant for pastors, the principles can apply to us all. Here are the three areas to focus on:

  1. Take the body more seriously. Eat healthy and regularly. Exercise. Get good sleep. Take care of your body when it is sick or hurting. You are your best self and the person God created you to be when your body is functioning at its best.
  2. Take the brain more seriously. Think positively. Don’t wallow in negative thought. Think about those things that are pleasing to God. I am always going back to Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Thinking on these things keeps our brains stronger and healthier in faith and closer to the mind of God.
  3. Take interpersonal communion more seriously. God has created us to be in community with others. We need to make time to be with others, to learn from them, to grow in our understanding of our place in the Body of Christ. “Encourage one another and build each other up,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says. The mutual support of one another goes a long way to keep our relationships with others and with Christ healthy and strong.

Let these three principles guide your life as you live your best life in the Lord.

Overcoming Temptation

overcoming temptation

In the article “Three Tests in the Wilderness,” in the March 2019 issue of Living Lutheran, author Brian Hiortdahl reviews for us the three temptations that Satan tried to entice Jesus with during his 40 days in the wilderness. The temptations were:

  1. To turn stone to bread.
  2. To throw himself from a high place to be rescued by angels
  3. To gain power over all the kingdoms of the earth by bowing to Satan

Each of these temptations Jesus resists and overcomes, using Scripture and declaring that God should not be put to the test.

Hiortdal reveals that Jesus overcame each of temptations in a much greater way in the last days of his life.

  1. Jesus turns his body into bread for those with hearts of stone on Maundy Thursday.
  2. Jesus is thrown down on the cross on Good Friday, but rises from the dead on Easter.
  3. Jesus ascends to absolute power when he returns to his rightful throne in heaven on Ascension Day.

Because Jesus ultimately overcame these temptations in this way, we, too, have the ultimate power to overcome every temptation the devil sends our way.

Exercising Body and Soul

exerciseThere is a trend in churches today to offer wellness and physical exercise programs within their walls. Some churches have gyms where members and those in the community can work out, and some offer fitness classes on a regular basis. For instance, since 2011 St. Enoch Lutheran Church in Kannapolis, NC, has been offering an hour-long class that incorporates dance, weights, Christian music and closes with a devotion and a prayer (Strybis, Erin, “Fit and Faithful,” Living Lutheran, January 2019, 15).

These sorts of programs help to build community and connections among members and others outside the church. They encourage healthy living and self-care of the bodies God has given us, these “temples of the Holy Spirit” we have been blessed with (1 Corinthians 6:19). The programs also foster and encourage discipline.

Just as we need to exercise our bodies on a regular basis, we need to exercise our souls. Exercising our souls on a regular basis through prayer, reading Scripture, Bible study, small group ministry and worship keeps our spiritual selves healthy and strong. Like physical exercise, there is a discipline to it that is not always something we are good at. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can keep at it. Think of the Holy Spirit as your trainer, always reminding you and encouraging you to keep going and to remember the benefits that come from regular exercising of our souls: a closer relationship with our Savior, a confidence and hope in him and a joy that lasts forever. Keep exercising your soul this week and see how your spirit is uplifted and stays fit.

 

Faith Formation

dinnerOne of the main tenets of the Church is that the home is the primary agent of faith formation. Scripture tells us:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7-8

And it is something that Martin Luther urged strongly and the reason why he wrote the Small Catechism.

So how are we to go about that in our busy lives?

One suggestion is right there in the Scripture. Do it “when you rise” and “when you lie down.” Gather together as a family in the morning and before bedtime to pray and read Scripture and talk about how God helped you through the day and how God will give you strength for the day ahead.

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Beware the Camel!

camelsWorking together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain, —1 Corinthians 6:1

I just recently heard the saying, “A camel is  just a horse designed by a committee.” It made me laugh because we have all been there. When you are on a committee, often what started out as a simple idea gets muddled in the abundance of desires and the incorporation of conflicting ideas.

It makes me think about what often happens at church meetings, unfortunately. The ultimate goal sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of details and multiple opinions. Often things don’t get done in the process or good concepts are abandoned, sadly.

I know that so many times the issues are so complex that they cannot be easily solved, but one caveat that came to mind as I contemplated this “camel” conundrum is that when it comes to working together as a team within a church body, we need to do all we can to keep it simple.

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Organization and Organism

The conventional wisdom these days in our society is to say that the institutional church is old hat, out of date and doesn’t matter any more in these “modern times.”

That’s why I am happy there are people like Kevin deYoung, who sets the record straight for us in his insightful book co-written by Ted Kluck, Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion:

going to churchThe church, as the elect people of God, is both organism and organization. The church is a breathing, growing, maturing, living thing. It is also comprised of a certain order (1 Cor. 14:40), with institutional norms (5:1-13), doctrinal standards (15:1-2), and defined rituals (11:23-26). The two aspects of the church—organism and organization—must not be played off against each other, for both are grounded in the operations of the glorified head of the church through the Holy Spirit. Offices and gifts, governance and the people, organization and organism—all these belong together. They are all blessings from the work of Christ. (p. 170).

The structure, order and governance of the institutional church is important to the development of the faith and in helping the faithful to serve in specific ways that are in line with their God-given gifts and abilities. The church as an institution defines us and reminds us of who we are and whose we are through regular worship, the recitation of the Creed, the gathering for baptisms and the providing of our Savior’s body and blood in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.

So much in our world today is defined by what is fun, what makes us feel good, what is exciting and new. But that is not what the Church is designed to provide. The Church is meant to show us our sins, to remind us our need for repentance and our forgiveness in Christ, things our world is not all that willing to face. So it is no surprise that there is resistance to the concept of organized church. But the ultimate goal is far beyond the immediate desire for instant gratification. The ultimate goal of the Church is to show us our salvation—life eternal with Christ forevermore. I can think of no other thing that is more fun, makes me feel as good or is more exciting and new than that.

So with this in mind, let us follow the advice of St. Paul who said this, long before our “modern” era:  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near ” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Everybody Matters

I recently read the book Everybody Matters, in which the authors, Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia, extol the virtues of a new kind of business culture taking hold in more and more pockets of our corporate world today. It is “a culture that puts people first and where true success is measured by the way we touch the lives of people” and a culture in which “all team members can realize their gifts, share those gifts, and go home each day fulfilled” (Everybody Matters, p. 12).

“Everybody matters” is a principle that can be applied to the church as well, of course. It is a principle that should define our mission statements and be at the heart of our strategic planning as a people of God.

hands clap

We need to cheer everyone on.

I am reminded of the description St. Paul gives of the Body of Christ when he says, in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20:

The body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

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