I’m a Big Loser and Proud of it!

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Over the course of the last decade, the Biggest Loser has been a wildly successful television program as it helps those who are obese lose weight and make dramatic life changes.  I usually don’t watch the show, but much of my extended family gets pretty wrapped up into it.  The stories are powerful, engaging, and often times very emotional.  God tells us that our bodies are a temple of His Holy Spirit. Yet too many of us treat our bodies like garbage!  In the church we spend a lot of time talking about drugs, sex, alcohol, and not near enough time talking about overeating and/or laziness.  Pastors are usually known for being out of shape and let’s just be honest, “Fat.”

Issues with our bodies and health are not going away and they are extremely relevant for us today.  Look at these stats collected from these two sites here and here.

  • More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
  • Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

It’s not getting any better either.  Since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults has almost tripled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older.

There is a major problem, it is getting worse, and Christians don’t want to focus on it.

I had to look at myself in the mirror (literally) a couple of months ago and I wasn’t happy with what I saw.  More than just the weight issue was what I knew was going on in my heart.   I had a problem overeating and specifically going to food for comfort.  I had a problem eating way too much junk food and fast food.  I made the excuses that I’m always out meeting people for lunch and it’s too hard to eat healthy, but the reality was that I had a problem.  And if I didn’t fix my problem, it was only going to escalate.  My kids are still young and I want to be the dad who is out there playing sports with them when I’m 40 and 50 years old.  So I decided I needed to work on it.  In a little over two months, I’ve shed 20 pounds and got myself into a healthy BMI, and I’m still trying to lose another 10 to 15 pounds.

I’m far from an expert in the field of diet and exercise so I don’t have much of  platform to be able to tell you exactly what you should do and how you should do it, but I will give you 7 things that have worked for me on my path to shed some pounds and get healthier.

  1. My Fitness Pal App: I downloaded the MyFitnessPal App on my iPhone and I track everything that I eat and every exercise that I do in that App. You can enter in foods and it gives you the nutritional information and it adds up the calories for each item that you enter.  I am very competitive and so I set a goal on the App to eat a certain amount of calories per day and every day is like a new competition to try to stay under the calorie goal.  If I go over the calories, then I try to run or walk an extra mile or two so that overall I can stay under my net calorie goal.  You can also request friends and encourage them through the App as well and they can see your progress.
  2. Workout Partner: Don’t do it alone. It’s very helpful to have someone workout and diet with you. They will keep you motivated when you are down and likewise you can do the same for them.
  3. Supportive Spouse: Thankfully I have a wife who knows a lot about diet and exercise. She is extremely supportive of my goals to get healthy and lose weight and because of that she cooks extremely healthy meals. In addition, she has gone out of her way to cook a variety of things so I’m not eating the same boring salads every day.  She has sacrificed some of her time to prepare these meals and also she has sacrificed some of the quality time that she would normally spend with me after the kids go to bed so that I could go exercise.
  4. Time: Eating right is a major part of getting healthy, but we all know that exercise is extremely important as well. I’m a very busy person and my excuse in the past is that I don’t have time to exercise.  You have to make time.  For me, many of the nights I can only work out at 830 or 9PM at night.  It’s hard telling my body to do this, but getting there is more than half of the battle.  Once I’m there, I can work hard.  And what I’ve found is that as I’m working out I feel I have a lot more energy throughout the week to get more things done.
  5. Money: It costs money to get healthy. Eating healthier is definitely more expensive. I don’t want to see the amount of money we spent on groceries last month!  Over time, you can learn effective ways to keep costs down and be a smart shopper.
  6. No Soda: I love soda. But they are such empty calories.  When you only give yourself a set amount of calories per day and you are really competitive and try to stay under that threshold each day, you realize that the quickest way to go over the amount of net calories is by empty calories in soda and even alcohol as well.  In the past two months, I’ve not had one can of soda.  This has made a big impact.
  7. Momentum: Getting started is half the battle for me. Once I got into a routine, I was able to keep going strong.  I also entered into a friendly weight loss competition with my family and they have helped motivate me as well.

Those are 7 things that have helped me.  What could you add to the list?  Let’s turn this year into the healthiest year that we’ve ever had at theCross!

Lastly, if you are a part of theCross and you’ve decided it’s time for you to join me as a fellow “loser” I would suggest you get over to Gold’s Gym (Have you heard they are giving the entire church a free month of February?) and start exercising and make a conscious decision to be healthy.  Let’s fill our church up with a whole bunch of “losers!”

Posted by Zach Zehnder with

The Verse That’s Blown Me Away This Year!

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Luke 15:1: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

This is the verse so far this year that has made the most impact to me!  It is the very beginning verse in one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, featuring the Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Prodigal Son.  This chapter is famous due to the parables that speak of God’s relentless and reckless grace, but this first verse has really made an impact on me the last couple of weeks.

Here’s the question that came to my mind that in the past I’ve just taken for granted when I’ve blown through this verse in order to get to the “good” stories:  Why were sinners so willing and even eager to listen to Jesus?  Jesus didn’t have an easy message that tickled people’s ears.  Jesus never compromised on sin and said that everything they were doing was acceptable.  They weren’t gathering around Jesus because he was putting on some sensationalistic show of signs and wonders. At this point in Luke’s narrative the emphasis is on Jesus’ teaching and miracles are hardly even mentioned.

Why did the “lost” seek out Jesus rather than run from him? I believe the answer is his compassion. Jesus loved them and showed them that love with a compassionate instead of condemning attitude. He preached more what he stood for than what he stood against.  In the next verse, it’s going to tell us that Jesus “welcomed sinners and ate with them.” One of the definitions for the Greek word translated as “welcomes” in this verse is to “receive as a friend.” This was Jesus’ attitude toward those who were lost in sin. Jesus welcomed them; he was compassionate and accepting of them despite their sins and faults. He was a friend and not a foe.  Jesus had an attitude that lost people were attracted to, do we? For us as individuals and as a church to reach people we are going to have to show that same love and acceptance and create an environment where no matter what you have going on in your life, you are welcome to be a part of my life and you are certainly welcome to walk through the doors of our church.

Every decision that we make as individuals and as a church moving forward ought to be based on reaching the “tax collectors and sinners,” in our day, those that we would call “lost.”  A person who is “lost” biblically is a person who is dead spiritually to God.  A person, who if they do not ever receive the grace of Jesus in their life, will suffer the eternal consequences of Hell being separated from God’s presence forever.

Are we creating an environment (in our personal lives and in our churches) that the “lost” would want to come to?  Do we have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus who was compassionate and not condemning, who was welcoming of them as a friend even though he had differences, and who preached more for what he stood for then against.

Most of the time in our day, the “tax collectors and sinners” don’t come to us anymore.  If anything, they run from us.  They aren’t eager to listen to what we have to say about Jesus, because for far too long we’ve been saying the wrong things.  We haven’t shown them love, grace, and compassion.  We’ve come off as judgmental and hypocritical.  It’s time to change that.

And to do that, we can’t wait for them to come to us.  We have to go to them.  We are to go to them and give them love and grace and compassion.  We are to go to them and welcome them as friends and then maybe, just maybe after establishing a real relationship with them, they might try coming to church.  But even if they don’t, we still go to them with the same Christ-like attitude that He had with the tax collectors and sinners.

And should they ever come to church, what’s the environment like?  The “lost” have been dodging church and Jesus most of their life.  That’s why first impressions at church are so important.  For some Christians, it takes years of going to a “lost” person, befriending them, investing in their life, and inviting them to come to church for that one person to try “church” just once.  And if anything goes wrong, they may never come back again.  People focus a lot on their church buildings, but the reality is that you can have the coolest building in the world, but if it’s filled with a bunch of judgmental jerks then the “lost” will walk out the door and likely never set foot in a church again.  And even worse, they may walk away from God altogether.

Focus with intentionality this year on what sort of environment you are creating.  Are you creating the sort of environment where “lost” people would come eager to listen to what you have to say about Jesus?  If not, what needs to change?

Posted by Zach Zehnder with