Thursday, September 29, 2011

Does Spiritual Health Affect Your Physical Health


We live today in a very compartmentalized society. By that I mean that we look at everything as a separate entity that does not affect the other. I thought of that this morning when I read:

Psalm 32:3 (KJV) - When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

By breaking down this verse of David’s psalm, we learn how our physical health often correlates with our spiritual health:

  • When I kept silence – By keeping silent, what David is implying is that he was silent in confessing his sins. We know this because the previous two verses deals with the subject of repentance.
  • my bones waxed old -  Here, David is alluding to the physical pain he was suffering. He felt that his bones and his body were waxing, or wasting away. Think about it, the older we get the more physical pain we feel,e specially in our bones.
  • through my roaring all the day long – Here, David pulls back the curtain and tells us how he was roaring, or groaning, all day because of this physical pain.

So at one point in David’s life (the Bible shows us at least a couple of different instances that this could refer to) he suffered physical pain because of unconfessed sin. In the common language of today, it could be said that David pens, “When I kept silent and refused to confess my sin, my bones and body wasted away, and I groaned in pain all day long.”

Now, before anyone thinks, '”Well, that is only in the Old Testament,” let me remind you of what Paul warned the Corinthian church in relation to the taking of the Lord’s Supper:

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 KJV (27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  (29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

As I read David’s psalm today, I thought about how much my pain, both physically and mentally, is really just spiritual in nature. Many times, our physical health is tied to our spiritual condition. There is joy when our communion with God is where it should be, and we often suffer from physical ailments when stress and sin separate us from a closeness with our Heavenly Father.

NOTE: Please don’t misunderstand me and paint me as a “Health and Wealth” prosperity preacher. There are many instances given to us in God’s Word where men and women suffered physically do to no spiritual shortfall of their own. Job is an example of this from the Old Testament, and Paul is a great reminder of this in the New Testament. But truth be told, many of us suffer more as David did in this Psalm than as Paul did with his thorn in the flesh.

So, how do we combat this? Here are a few practices that I can think of:

  1. Pray – This is what Psalm 32 is: a prayer and song of David’s reflection on the times when his physical suffering was due to unconfessed sin. I know this sounds so simple, and we know that prayer is what should be done, but do we pray sincerely and deeply as we should? I remember when I lived in Texas the family doctor we had in Decatur, Texas. He was a good Christian man, and when he found out that I was a Bible College graduate and was praying about pastoring soon, we would often spend a couple of minutes talking about spiritual things. I will always remember what he said to me (and I think my wife Darci was with me at that time), “I know a lot of people who come to my office sick, and there is nothing I can do for them because there problem is spiritual in nature.” He then talked a little bit about the importance of prayer.
  2. Confess – Sin is the source of our pain. So if we are tired of it, we should let it go through confession in prayer. When we come to the realization that sin is the source of our health ailment, there is no earthly doctor who has the remedy.
  3. Serve – There is joy in serving the Lord by doing good things for those around you.

What are some other ways to renew your physical health through spiritual disciplines that you can think of?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Labor of Love

love job 1
1 Timothy 5:17 KJV  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

As Paul is closing his letter to Timothy, her reminds him to teach the church how they are to take care of the pastor, or elder leader of the church. While there is a lot that can be said on that subject, I will leave that for others to do at this time since I am a pastor and would not want to come off as someone who is teaching on this subject for selfish reasons. Truth be told, my church takes care of my family very well, and for that I am grateful.

What I do want to briefly touch on the last part of the verse – especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. While I know it is somewhat “taboo” to say that pastoring is a job, it is a labor, as Paul mentioned. And so, as a pastor, I often ask myself, “How well am I laboring? Am I laboring in the best areas of the ministry, or am I sacrificing the best labor to take care of some good labors?”  There is so much that happens within a church, even a smaller-sized church like ours. Many good responsibilities and ministries fall under the umbrella of the church, and too often those things fall into the lap of the pastor. But is that always right?

Remember what happened early on in the book of Acts (chapter 6) when there arose a contention inside the church about the perceived neglect of certain widows. What was the response of the leadership of the church? They cast a vote and added men to the “church staff” to take care of these areas so that they could continue to do the best thing – praying and studying the Word.

I often wonder how this same situation would have been handled in today’s modern church. Unfortunately, this happens a lot and the answer is usually something along the lines of, “Tell the preacher and let him take care of it.” We have lost, in some regards, the aspect that the ministry of the church is to be done by everyone, and not just a select few. There are many responsibilities in the church that would be better handled by others in order to free up the pastor to spend more time in prayer and Bible study.

The interesting thing about laboring in word, doctrine, and prayer is that it is something that will be unseen by the average church member. And because it is unseen, the pastor is often viewed as having “done nothing” all day and wasted away his time. I must admit that there have been days that I looked back on all that I had done and found myself a little underwhelmed because there was nothing “concrete” to show for it, i.e. a visit made in the home or hospital, etc. But just because your pastor is not in your home visiting you every other day does not mean that he is not busy in the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, we will often forsake the best work of the ministry because it is unseen, for the good work that can be seen and recognized by others. Think about how your church could be revitalized if:
  1. Your pastor had more time to pray and study uninterrupted
  2. Everyone had a part in the ministry of the church
Please don’t misunderstand this post as a pastor trying to get out of “work.” In truth, if you take some of the ministry responsibilities from your pastor and allow him to spend more time in his office, you have created more work for him. But it is the best work! That is why I chose the picture for this post that I did. I love the opportunity I have to study, pray, and help God’s people every week. I just think that more pastor’s out there might enjoy their church and pastorate more if they were allowed to focus on the best things while the church members took care of the good things.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: The Runner’s Devotional

runners devotional;

ABOUT THE BOOK: Ever wondered if there’s a purpose to your running and what it has to do with your spiritual life? The Runner’s Devotional will inspire you in your faith while encouraging you to excel at the sport you love! This book is for runners of all levels—casual and avid, competitive and recreational—who want to improve their running skills, attain personal running goals, and grow closer to God. Fifty-two devotional readings will keep runners motivated, inspired, and running in the right direction, both on and off the road, through life’s many peaks and valleys. Each devotional includes an inspirational reading, a personal story from a runner, Scripture application, running tips, and questions to consider. Additional features include health and fitness tips, and weekly runner’s logs.

MY TAKE: First, let me admit I requested this book because I was in the last half of a successful diet and really wanted to get into long distance running. But that was BEFORE I tore both of the meniscus and my ACL in my left knee, which not only stopped the diet/weight loss, but shelved any possible notion of me taking up running. Still, I found this book to be not only interesting, but I could see it being helpful for someone who is either an avid runner, or an aspiring one to be. There seems to be many good training  tips throughout, and a weekly chart to keep tabs of your progress. The book is a little “lite” on the Bible, but makes good applications from running and the nuances of marathons and training to the everyday spiritual aspect of life.

MY RECOMMENDATION: I could see this book being very helpful to anyone who is a runner, and the weekly logs at the end of each chapter seem helpful. But let me caution you on two things:

  1. This is set up as a weekly devotional, and not an every day devotional.
  2. This is strictly geared to the runner, and probably would not be very useful to someone who is not.

But, if you are a runner and understand that this is not a daily devotional, I think you will be helped by this book.

NOTE: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

To Blog or Not To Blog…Is That The Question?


Let me first say, “Sorry.” While I have mixed in a couple of reviews, I have not posted a true blog post in a while. It seems that for a month or so in the summer I get super busy and blogging is one of the first things to go. August was that month, and even the last part of July as I got ready for all that August would bring. We had a combined church camp, then our first Vacation Bible School that we put together from scratch. Not our first Bible School, but our first one that we did not buy the prepackaged program from a publishing company. This meant we came up with the theme, lessons, songs, crafts, games, skits, etc. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding when it was all said and done (and it saved our church a lot of money that was normally spent). Now, I could try to deny the fact that I have not posted in a while, but it is true. While I don’t know that there is anyone out there who just waits with bated breath for my post, I am sure that most people have not noticed. But if you did – I’m sorry.

Even though I may not have posted any real blogs lately, that does not mean that I stopped reading other people’s blogs. While many people will get up and read the daily paper, I usually read blogs – and a wide variety of blogs and topics. Some are long post, some are short. Some are devotional in nature, and some are theological in discussion. A couple are sports related, but most have to do with the Bible, church, Christianity, etc. My criteria for following and reading a blog is very simple: if it helps me in some way, shape, or form, I will follow. If not, then I don’t. And on regular intervals, I will re-evaluate my blogroll and drop those that I have stopped reading. Pretty simple and straight forward.

Now, this does not mean that I have to, or that I do, agree with everything I read on a blog that I follow. All this means it that that certain blog is a help to me. Sometimes reading an opposing view will help sharpen me as to what and why I believe what I do. That is why my blogroll is somewhat eclectic. And it may be why I can be somewhat eclectic in my practice of faith and why I do not necessarily fit into one “camp” or another. Seems as though there are some who think I am a little too “liberal,” while others feel as if I am too “pharisaical” in practice. But at the end of the day, I suspect that are many more preachers, pastors, and Christians like myself – they just aren’t as vocal as the extremes of both sides. At the end of the day, we must be fully persuaded in our own minds (Romans 14:5).

And as I thought about the reason why I choose to read and follow certain blogs, it reminded me once again of the importance of using my blog to be an encouragement for whoever may read it. Encouragement is not always a pat on the back, but sometimes it is the illumination of God’s Word to certain areas of my life that need to be improved. But never is it mean-spirited, hateful, or accusatory – and neither should my blog be! I understand that I might be in the minority on that one, especially considering how many blogs, websites, and even ministries seem to be devoted to being as mean-spirited and crude as possible while pointing out supposed short-comings. These folks often remind me of those who are trying to preform eye surgery on an unsuspecting brother or sister in Christ to remove a small splinter while a huge rafter beam is sticking out of their eye (Luke 6:42).

I hope and pray that you are reading this because somewhere along the way you were helped or encourage, and it is my prayer that will continue to happen in the future.