Friday, June 01, 2007

OBESITY IS A HUGE ISSUE

Southern Baptists are known for their uncompromising stances on spiritual issues such as the virgin birth of Christ, His lordship, and the inerrancy of God’s Word. Southern Baptists have made their voices heard on many social issues by their uncompromising stance on abortion and alcohol. There is now an issue that is both spiritual and social that Southern Baptists are in danger of compromising. The issue is obesity. The biblical word for the problem is gluttony which describes a person who has no self-control when it comes to food. All reports show that obesity in America is on the rise, especially in children. If we don’t deal with this problem we are asking for health problems that could destroy a generation. I want to challenge the Southern Baptist Convention to develop a denomination wide emphasis on health and weight loss. I believe it is time for the Southern Baptist Convention to not only be pro-life, but also pro-health.

This issue is a personal one. I am an over weight Baptist preacher. In the past I justified my weight in lots of ways. I justified my weight by pointing to my busy schedule. My schedule didn’t allow for exercise or time to prepare health meals because I was too busy doing God’s work. The truth of the matter was that the reason I didn’t exercise is because I didn’t want to exercise. The reason I over eat is because I found comfort in food. After a stressful day at the office, a snack would take my mind off my troubles. The combination of over eating and not exercising is deadly. I found this out the last time I went to the doctor. With my blood work results in hand, the doctor said, “You need to lose weight because your blood results show some early signs of serious health problems. I believe with changing your diet and exercise, we can reverse these numbers.” As I made my decision to take my health serious, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why did I wait so long to focus on my health?” I don’t believe I’m alone. Many people are in my situation. You have made your excuses and you’re overweight. Please understand what I’m saying, “You need to be concerned about your health and get some help so that you can avoid serious health problems in the future.”

This is a serious issue for us as Southern Baptists. From the Pulpit to the Pew, many Southern Baptists are obese. So how do we create a movement that results in people becoming healthy? Maybe we should consider what is going on in
New Jersey. Should the Southern Baptist create a task force on fat? It couldn’t hurt, but a task force alone won’t solve the problem. Maybe the solution is making a resolution like Ben Cole is submitting for the ’07 SBC annual meeting. A resolution couldn’t hurt because Southern Baptists need to agree that obesity is a serious problem. Maybe the solution is in creating a website that has articles and information about how to become healthy like LifeWay has done. There are many helpful things on their site, but I still don’t see that being the cure for our obesity problem. I believe this problem doesn’t just have one answer but many. The answer revolves around the local church becoming passionate about the health of our members and our community. For too long, there has been a concern for a person’s spiritual health and not their physical health. The two are related and as Southern Baptists we need to show that we care.

Pastors and church leaders, change begins with you. How many of your plans or visions for the next year deal with a person health? We need to begin planning events that encourage health and proper diet. Hire a nutritionist on staff or find one that may volunteer some time. Each church member needs to meet with a nutritionist to help them plan their diet. Create accountability teams around weight loss. Create a regular prayer walking night. Open your building to having dance or aerobic classes. Preach sermons of health and living a disciplined life.


We can help people to avoid serious health problems by taking a stand on this issue. The result will be people will be able to do more for the Lord and live longer for the Lord. It has been said, Southern Baptists should do everything within their power to make sure their members live as long as possible because with the declining baptism rates, once this generation dies there will be no one left. While the statement is very pessimistic it does show my final reason Southern Baptists must respond to the obesity problem with a demonition wide emphasis on health that premates the local church because we care about every Southern Baptist member
.

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