Those who know me personally know that I have "struggled" with a weight problem for all of my adult life. Twice in my life I have lost >100 lbs - the first time doing the American Heart Association diet (no exercise really) and the second the South Beach Diet (again, no exercise). From 2008 to now, I have lost the same 30 lbs over and over again, but have not been able to break through. Now, I am two years away from 40; things are changing. It isn't as easy to lose weight as it once was, and my metabolism was slowing to a crawl, I'm sure. I had one medical professional tell me that at this point in my life, the weight wasn't going anywhere. So I took that as a personal challenge. I'll show him (which may have been his goal in saying that).
I've posted a little bit about the journey, but I began strength training last August, just keeping an eye on the diet, but no cardio. I could tell there were changes, but between the holidays and a back injury this past February, I fell off the wagon so many times. It was time to do something.
Any time I have been "successful" to any degree with this, I have done something "different." The different thing I did this time is invest in a personal trainer. Meet Marcelo!
Marcelo is a NASM certified personal trainer and certified in advanced sports nutrition. I knew that whomever I worked with would need to strike that ideal balance between challenging me to do more than I thought I could while at the same time being patient with my limitations. I have found Marcelo's approach to be very helpful. We are tracking macros (fats, carbs, and protein), and keeping them in proper proportion. We are doing cardio (novel concept). We are doing strength training - balance and stability, stretching. I've lost 19.6 lbs already, taken five minutes off my walking mile, and I've seen improved numbers in several other areas as well.
I write this post for two main reasons. First, I need the accountability of knowing that this is out there. It will encourage me to stick with it. Then, I want to encourage every brother in ministry - get in shape! Protect your physical body, your health. Protect your earthly vessel. How many men I know let themselves go, and as a result, find their time to bear fruit on the earth cut short. Trust me, I know that God is sovereign over all of that, and at the same time, God wants us to be good stewards of our bodies, no doubt. So, take the plunge. Maybe you need a trainer like Marcelo to monitor your progress and help you customize a program to your goals. Always ask your doctor, of course, before anything like this. But for the glory of God, do what you can do to get yourself in shape. There are all kinds of reasons to do it, and our kingdom work is a very important one. I'll keep you posted on how it goes for me. Why don't you do the same? I'd love to hear from you!
In a relatively short time, American society has gone from a people trying our best not to spread COVID-19 to a nation in shock over the horrific encounter of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. Many acknowledge that the situation was brewing beneath the surface for some time, and the scene in Minneapolis simply was the match that ignited what we have now. Regardless of your political views or even your views on systemic racism, the US is not close to a revolution - we are there.
Look at some facts. The map below (USA Today) shows cities and towns which have had protests (peaceful or not) and states where the National Guard has been activated. Various places throughout the country are seriously considering dismantling their police forces, with New York City having already diverted funds away from its own NYPD. It does not feel to me like this current crisis will blow over (and I'm not saying it should or shouldn't). Ordinarily, these things, when on this scale, end either with a dictator crushing the rebellion or an overhaul of the way a society is constituted and governed.
As a spiritual leader shepherding your congregation during a revolution, here are some reminders and encouragements. There truly has never been a better time to be a pastor, because we have the answers for which so many are genuinely searching.
You can find armchair quarterbacks in our day who bemoan the fact that not every preacher on the planet is a doomsday prophet or that not every preacher dwells on positive-only feel-good preaching. In the Bible, God called and used a variety of different personalities to speak to His people, and it should not surprise us that He does the same today. Popularly, Jeremiah is called the Weeping Prophet. On the other hand, Jesus named James and John the Sons of Thunder. When Jesus asked Peter, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” the responses reflect the many different sides of Jesus’ personality and different ways in which His ministry had touched different people.
Nineteenth Century preaching legend Phillips Brooks spoke of “truth through personality.” Stephen Olford and others emphasized the need for “incarnational preaching” - the life lived out by the preacher supports and continues declaring his message. Erik Rees’ S.H.A.P.E. helpfully noted that God doesn’t just use a person’s spiritual gives (S.) but also his Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience - all of which God gives to or allows for the individual.
To sum it up, we should not be surprised to find variety among the voices God calls to proclaim His truth. What tied all of the Scriptural examples together and validated their preaching was that all of them declared only the message that God had given to them. They were His mouthpieces. They did not invent their messages or monkey with God’s revelation. They declared, best they knew how, what He had insisted they proclaim using the minds, personalities, and resources available to them. The result was a broad variety of emotions - a similar reality in our day also.
One of 1500 hymns written by Alfred Henry Ackley, who had worked with Billy Sunday's evangelism team and Homer Rodeheaver's publishing company, is "I am Happy in the Service of the King." Since July 3, 1960, the date of Ackley's death, one can sense a shift in the degree of happiness written on the faces of the King's servants. As creation marches downhill toward the end of the age, the reasons to despair seem to abound. However, God's Word gives us so many reasons, Spirit-inspired reasons, to rejoice. Let's review a few of them together - and as we do, we are not looking for a superficial rah-rah session. It's helpful to take several moments or even days and meditate on each one of these.
It has taken some time, but I'm at a place now where I can admit that I made some mistakes in my first five years of ministry. I definitely learned from them, and I want to share some of them with you. Maybe you can avoid them. One of them does have to do with growing my hair out way too long, so if you want to see that picture and have a good laugh -- you'll have to click "Read More."
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.