Thanks to everyone for your prayers over the Easter Weekend. Good Friday’s fast was a major success for my own personal Faith Infused Training Project, so much that I plan on fasting every Friday until the book’s release. This past week has been a huge eye-opener for me. I’m really looking forward to where it all leads!
The “Before” Pic
Hopefully, the image you had to scroll over to read this post didn’t make you feel as uncomfortable and awkward as I was when I took it. It’s not actually a picture; it’s a screenshot of a video-selfie I decided to take of myself to representwhat I physically look like going into Week 1. I debated whether or not I should even have a Before pic because health & fitness is more than what we see. However, I thought it might help to be as transparent as possible, and I wanted to give you a little back story to go with it.
Before my wife, Brittany, and I came up with the idea for a ministry that provided personal training, I was in pretty good shape. My body fat was low, I had great muscle tone, I was the strongest I had ever been, and I looked and felt great. The only downside was that it was for all the wrong reasons, and I totally went about it the wrong way. Over time, I ended up gaining most of the weight back, and then some. I experienced a relapse, if you will. But this time, it was different. At some point, I decided not to care so much. And, I wanted to see if anyone would actually notice. As I gained more and more weight, I’m quite sure everybody noticed, but nobody really commented on it.
I put on about 25 lbs. of fat and virtually no one said a thing. I felt as if people had been hoping my body would eventually take on a more “normal” shape. I wondered why I never got any feedback or accountability from anyone. But, then I realized I never asked for it. Maybe I’m too unapproachable to begin with. Whatever the reason, it was a little sad to me. I also began to wonder why I, myself, wasn’t concerned about anyone else’s body or health.
My pursuit of fitness, was all about me and what I wanted. It was all how it could benefit me and my life. I never thought that God might have me help someone else get in shape. When I was single, the only time I would hit the gym really hard, was when I wasn’t in a relationship. The moment I started dating somebody, I felt this huge relief from having to keep my body appeasing to others and to the eye of the opposite sex. But, that all changed when I met Brittany. Together, we found that fitness can be a godly passion and an extraordinary way to build up the Body of Christ. It was something we wanted to achieve and help others achieve.
The Origin of FIT Project
God brought the both of us together and reminded us that the Christian life isn’t meant to be lived in bad health; that we should care for our bodies. He taught us that if we wanted to live in good health, it had to be for all the right reasons. When we finally became husband and wife, we were excited at the opportunity for God to use us, but we had no clue what that looked like. All I knew was that I didn’t want to end up being good at a whole bunch of things, I felt like God was calling me to be great at just one thing! When I told Brittany that, she said, “Me too!”
So I said, “Okay! What does that look like?” We shrugged our shoulders because we both had no idea. But, our priorities were definitely what they needed to be. (1) God. (2) The Church. (3) Our family. We both wanted a life centered on God, in service to the church, and in love for family. At the start of our marriage, I was managing a small bar and grill not far from where we lived. As we were praying and seeking direction, God provided an opportunity for me to be done with the nightlife and for Brittany and I to pursue a career in fitness.
A significant portion of our friendship was cultivated on a mutual desire to be healthy and fit, as we both had testimonies of being way out of shape more than enough times in our lives. After we made the decision to become personal trainers, we set out on a journey together to stay healthy. We love being part of peoples’ journeys on the uphill climb to more energy, more confidence and strength. We were inspired for sure! Learning together, growing together, and consistently motivating each other.
One night during a personal training session with a client, we struck up a conversation about the mission field. I had never been on an international missions trip, so I was intrigued by everything this particular client had to say about it. He expressed a concern that over the years something had been lost in it all. Christians were experiencing long-term exhaustion and suffering from diminished interest. Some were devoted in duty but lacked joy and were now just going through the motions. Others sought to change missions work into something that could be fun, relaxing, and comfortable, out of something that’s typically tough and strenuous.
I don’t believe missions work is supposed to be a vacation. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. It’s about getting in the trenches with people, in the midst of their problems, unprotected by distance or illusion. Ministry should be down and dirty, not cushy and cozy. The scripture that came to my mind during our conversation that night was a direct quote from Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”–Luke 9:23
And there it was! In that moment, I knew, that we Christians, myself included, were fast becoming a people who don’t mind following Jesus, but had found a way to do it without “denying ourselves,” and without “taking up our cross.” In short, we’re missing the mark in this daily charge. I asked myself, “What does it look like to serve God sacrificially, wholeheartedly, and unashamedly?” I wanted to know where I was missing the mark and settling for a lukewarm faith in Christ. I needed to know, for myself, if I was on fire for God, or if I was minimally giving my life to Jesus who has maximally given His all to me.
I thought, surely there are numerous stumbling blocks and spiritual barriers that I encounter and struggle through each day. But what about the physical ones? I never thought about the connection between spiritual and physical fitness. I wondered if we should pay more attention to the physical health and wellness of the church. On Sundays, we hear exhortations from the pulpit about the struggle with lack of faith, lack of joy, and all things pertaining to spiritual warfare. But, what about the battle of the body? What about the obesity, anorexia, diabetes, and high blood pressure that is crippling the Body of Christ? How can we expect to give our all to God physically, if we aren’t getting equipped for all God has for us physically?
According to the National Institutes of Health, here in the United States, more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or have obesity. That makes it easy to believe that there is somewhere around 5 Christians in every local church who are discouraged physically. They’re not participating in enough missions or ministry because they’re too out of shape or they lack the confidence and strength to do so. The ones that are participating are getting burnt out by the shortage in number of strong people, more specifically strong men. A lot of husbands are out traveling for work, on the road eating fast food and room service. The young men are back at home playing video games and it seems it’s the wives, mothers and daughters that are getting the ministry done.
What if I told you that in addition to the 5 physically discouraged Christians in every church, there’s an average of 5 more that are just plain lazy. When we multiply 10 Christians times 300,000 churches nationwide, we come up with about three million Christians. This is a huge epidemic! This is an issue of catastrophic proportions! Think about the worldwide effect we could have with 3,000,000 more Christians vibrantly helping spread the gospel! Think about how much more energized worship there will be, along with more invigorated generosity, and animate fellowship within communities!
How many more of us Christians would travel to Haiti, Africa, China and other countries if we were in better shape, had more energy, and possessed a stronger drive to serve the nations? What if we could help each other lose excess weight and inspire each other into more ministry? And, what if the dedication and discipline involved in diet and exercise could help improve our marriages, make us better parents, and bring forth revival? These are the questions Brittany and I started asking ourselves.
The two of us began to believe that fitness doesn’t start with a doctor’s orders or a mutual aid group. It doesn’t start with a documentary on processed foods or a miracle pill from Dr. Oz. It doesn’t start with ourselves either. It starts with God. The best place to begin a healthy lifestyle isn’t in the gym, but in the word of God; The Bible.
The next question we asked ourselves was, “Is this biblical?” Do we see Jesus making people stronger and healthier? The answer is yes! Meeting peoples’ physical needs was a huge part of the ministry of Jesus. Once we found this idea in scripture, Brittany and I launched the Faith Infused Training Project. We believe that health and fitness should be pursued through the leadership of the Holy Spirit and carried out in a Christ-like manner (Psalm 25:4-5).
We want to see the people of God, all Christians, be trained, equipped and sent out into the world with the energy of God’s Spirit and the enthusiasm of Jesus Himself. Our hope is to apply what we’ve learned both in the study of fitness and our study of scripture for the benefit of Christians everywhere. If we can motivate each other to attain stronger legs and arms through the strength of Christ, foster healthier hearts filled with God’s love and holiness, together we can stand firm as the Body of Christ. If we can help Christians build stronger bone density upon the firm foundation of Jesus, improve cardiovascular systems to fight the good fight of faith, we can participate in the furtherance of the gospel with Christ-like power, bringing glory to God everywhere we go!
Let’s Get Started!
This week, we kick off our journey! I’d like to share with you what I feel like God spoke to me through my convictions from last week’s fasting and prayer, and what I think it’s going to look like. First off, I had to be done with fast food. The majority of the saturated fat, bad calories, and GMO’s I partake of is found in the compromising convenience of processed food. Second, I put a hold on all alcoholic beverages, except red wine. I decided that during this transformation process, I could still enjoy a glass here and there, probably one every few days at max. But beer, liquor, and mixer drinks, I’ve decided to abstain from, by faith, just because of my former tendency to consume them in a way that’s sinful.
Third, I’m going to be portioning as many meals as I can throughout the day. But, for the times I eat where I won’t have a measuring cup, I’ll either eat half my plate, or just stop eating once I’m 80% full. This technique is call Hara Hachi Bu. It’s Japanese, and it’s a practical way to help me remember that my body is a temple. Lastly, I put together a Four Day a Week workout program for myself. The sessions are about 40 minutes long and the splits are Arms, Core, Back, and Legs. Each session, I’ll begin with a 10 minute brisk walk on the treadmill. I’ll only rest 1 day a week, but my plan is to pay attention to my body, to listen to the Spirit, and to seek God if I need to stretch out the routine a little bit. And, while I’m working out, I hope to share the gospel with at least one person every day.
Now, let’s talk about my goals: So, as you can see from my Before pic, I am overweight. I’m actually considered obese. My body fat percentage is too high and my cholesterol levels could be a little bit better. Not that those are the most pressing matters, but I believe that if I can improve them, it’s a start, and I’m sure that it will improve my ministry. That’s the part that I’m looking forward to the most! The chance to have more energy, more strength, and more focus to serve others!
Are you ready? What’s your plan? What are your goals? Comment below. I’d love to hear about your journey as well. Praying for you as you pray for me! Excited to see where God takes us! God bless your week 1!
Your Brother in Christ,