Today Scott Kedersha shares about how he covered and hid his struggle with gluttony. Walking through Philippians 3:17-21, he encourages that freedom can be found as we engage with community, choose to believe truth over lies, and take a long term view of our sin struggles.
At Home Worship
Christmas Eve 2015
The Greatest Invitation
Making Room, Making Disciples
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Your Trial In Heaven
Fort Worth, Here Is What We Think of You
What the Church Who Believes Is and Does
The USA: United States of Anxiety
From Intimacy to Idols
The Standard: Old Testament, Jesus and Believers
The Path to the Good Life
Nothing Short of Miraculous
Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle With Gluttony
How We Come To God
Dealing with Disappointment
The Story That Never Gets Old the God Who Is Always Behind It and the Way We Are Told to Remember It
The "One Thing"
Baptism Celebration 2015
Believing That Leads to Life
What Should I Do With My Money?
Good morning. It is really good to be here with you today. My name is Scott Kedersha, and I serve on staff in the marriage ministry. I know, as Rick mentioned, the rain has been wreaking havoc in our city and all over the place, and it's also wreaking havoc on me personally. My hair has been an absolute mess, so I decided to shave it for you just today so you didn't have to deal with that.
My name is Scott, as I mentioned. We've been in Dallas since 2002. My wife Kristen and I moved here from the great city of Atlanta for me to go to Dallas Seminary. Our plan was to go to DTS for a couple of years and get out of Texas as quickly as possible. We are still here 13 years later, and I am so incredibly thankful. We love Texas, and we love this church. More than anything, I've learned to love Jesus as a result of being here.
While in seminary from '02 to '06, I would drive in… We lived in Mesquite at the time, so I would get into the car and drive to seminary in downtown Dallas. I also worked at Baylor Hospital as a physical therapist. I would drive in every day. That was part of my routine. I would get into my car, and I'd bring my bookbag with me.
Either on the way to seminary or Baylor or on the way home back to Mesquite, I would make a stop and make a purchase for myself. I would drive up to this location, and I would make sure I didn't know anyone there, that no one saw me pull off to the side of the road, and that no one was inside or around this location when I made my purchase.
I would make my purchase, shove it into my bookbag in the zippered pouch, put my bag on, get into the car, and go to where I was going. I'd get home or to wherever my location was, and I would get inside as quickly as possible. I would get behind a closed, locked door, and I would indulge in my purchase and satisfy my flesh.
Most of the time, that would be the bedroom at home. It would be behind some locked door. Sometimes, it was so bad that I would get inside a locked bathroom stall. I would sit down on the toilet, make sure the door was closed and locked, reach into my bag, and get my purchase out.
I'll bet you're wondering what was inside my bag. "Is Scott looking at pornography behind a closed, locked door? Is he doing drugs? Is he rolling up his sleeves about to take care of himself? Is he drinking?" No. I'd get behind that stall, I'd make sure the door was closed and locked, I'd reach into my bag, and I'd pull out a chocolate bar.
There's no verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not eat chocolate," amen? The problem is sitting in a stall with the door closed and indulging my secret obsession with food that nobody knew about. I had to make sure the door was closed. This would not look good if someone walked into a bathroom and I were holding this and eating. I had to make sure it was closed and locked, and I would satisfy my flesh behind that door.
I have an obsession with food. I think about it all the time. I wake up thinking of food. I go to bed thinking of food. My life centers around it. "When am I going to get my next fix?" That's what I want to think through. We are made, designed, and created with a need for food. There's nothing sinful about eating food, but the way I ate it, the secrecy, the isolation, the hiding, the obsession, the fact that nobody knew what I was doing behind that closed door… I am obsessed with food.
One of those days, while sitting on the toilet, I realized, "There's something wrong here." It wasn't the fact that I was eating chocolate in the bathroom, but there's something about the hiding, the secrecy, and the fact that I wanted no one to know what I was really going through. Not only am I obsessed with food, I'm also obsessed with a number that's related to food. I'm obsessed with my weight.
In May of 2014, I stepped onto the scale and saw three numbers: 267. That was my weight in May of 2014, just one year ago. I'm obsessed with that number. I go to bed wondering what it's going to be in the morning. I wake up wondering what it's going to be when I get over to the scale. I've been overweight and obsessed with that number my entire life.
The problem for me is so much of who I am is wrapped up in that number that I find myself, at times, not identified as a follower of Jesus Christ, as a husband, as a father, as a friend, or as a pastor. I've found myself identified as a 267-pound man. The scariest moment for me every year is not that moment every day when I get onto the scale, but it's those times when I go to the doctor.
When you go to the doctor, they weigh you on a scale I am so positive is always a few pounds more than my home scale. I don't know why. I don't get to redo it the next day. The number I get at the doctor is the number that is written down in ink. It's in the computer forever. It's in the cloud. I can't change it now. I go to the doctor, and I'm obsessed with what's going to show up on that scale. What number is going to define Scott Kedersha for the next six months until I go back?
The night before, I fast. I lay out my clothes, and I'm not wearing jeans. I'm wearing the skimpiest… Don't get a visual. I'm wearing short shorts. I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt. I'm wearing my Toms so I can kick them off really easily. I'm emptying my pockets on the way to the scale. I'm spitting… I'm getting as much weight out of this body as possible so, when I step on that scale, the number is as low as possible.
I'm obsessed. It's tyranny. It's oppression. It's enslavement. I am tormented by food and my weight. The issue for me is heightened by the fact that my dad died when I was 6 years old. He died at the age of 39 of heart disease. He left behind a single mom and two boys. I grew up in a single-parent home. When he died at 39, my weight, my health, my behaviors, my stress… Everything was worse than his. It is solely by the grace of God that I made it past 39 to 40. Now, at 42 years old, it is only by God's grace that I am still able to stand and walk today.
The Lord has really captured my heart. When I turned 40, it was a big turning point for me. I'm 42 now, and the last two years God has taught me so much about eating, about food, about weight, about my deceit, and about my struggle, and I want to share these lessons with you today. Specifically, I'm going to share three things I've learned along the way. This is not just an eating and food message. Some of you may not think you struggle with food, your body, or your appearance, but the reality is this applies to all of us for three specific reasons.
First, we are designed by the God of the universe to have a need for food. Every day, three times a day, six times a day, twelve times a day… Whatever it may be, we eat food to live. God designed us that way. We all have a relationship with food, every single one of us.
Second, every one of us has a physical body. We are physical human beings who have bodies that are perceived a certain way. We are flesh and blood. We are not just spirit. Some of us have a dysfunctional view of our bodies. Some of us are like me. You fall into the camp where we neglect our bodies. We don't sleep as much. We don't exercise. We neglect our bodies, and we let them go. On the other side of the spectrum, there are some of you who are way too obsessed with your body. The way you look, your image, and how others perceive you dictate your identity and your value in life. We all need to evaluate how we are stewarding our physical bodies.
Third, this message applies to all of us, whether you struggle with food or not, because these three lessons I'm going to share with you apply to every single sin struggle out there. Whether you struggle with food, pornography, anger, people-pleasing, smoking… Whatever it might be, whatever your sin is, whatever your secret struggle is, or whatever is out in front so people know what your struggle is, these three things I'm going to share apply to you and me.
Make no mistake. This is going to be a morning where we talk about food. Oh joy. You're the tough one, the 11:15 service. You're the ones who have to go out for lunch after we're done, so I want to say this up front. I am not putting a yoke of slavery upon you, and I think that will be clear in the message, but you have a tough job. I'm not trying to put guilt and shame on you. I want you to evaluate your relationship with food.
These three lessons apply to every single one of us, but specifically, we're going to talk about food, eating, exercise, and gluttony. We don't talk about those a lot, at least in the corporate body of Christ. I want to share with you something I think is a great story of hope. I want you to walk away this morning encouraged and challenged on whatever your sin struggle is or whatever your relationship with food might look like.
Our main text this morning comes from the book of Philippians. If you have your Bible with you or your Bible app, open it up or turn to Philippians 3. Philippians happens to be my favorite book of the Bible. I love it. I don't know if you're allowed to have a favorite, but I do. Philippians is written by the apostle Paul probably around AD 60.
What I love about Philippians is Paul actually wrote this letter from a prison cell. If you know anything about Philippians, the themes that run through it are joy and thanksgiving, which has challenged me like crazy. To be in prison and yet to write about joy and thanksgiving… Paul writes to us in chapter 3 verse 17,
"Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
From this passage and from what I have learned, we're going to see three things this morning. First, we're going to see we need to choose community, or isolation will choose us. Second, we need to choose truth over lies. Third, we need to choose the long-term life change over the short-term, quick, Band-Aid fix.
1._ We need to choose community, or isolation will choose us._ This point centers on the importance of community. Let me read to you again verses 17 and 18. "Brothers…" Paul is writing to followers of Jesus, to believers. He says, "…join in imitating me…" He says this in a similar way in 1 Corinthians 11:1, where he says, "Follow me, as I follow Christ." Paul is saying, "You can imitate me, not because I'm a good person but because my focus is on the right thing. I am imitating Jesus, so you imitate me."
He says, "…and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ." Paul is pleading with the readers. He is pleading with the church. You have two choices, church. You either follow Paul and the example of someone who is Christlike and following Jesus or you follow the example of those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. We have that same decision in front of us today. Who are you and I going to choose to follow?
The Lord has gifted and blessed me with four young boys. All boys, no girls. I have twins who turn 11 this week, an 8-year-old, and a 6-year-old. We have this conversation all the time: "Okay, boys, who's going to be your example? Who are you going to follow? Which set of friends are you going to hang out with? Are they going to influence you or are you going to influence them?"
My old pastor back in Atlanta said, "Your friends largely determine the direction and quality of your life." Who we walk with and who we choose to follow is incredibly significant. Said better than any other is Proverbs 13:20: "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Are we going to walk with the wise or choose to follow fools?
Of course, community is going to be number one on the list. If you've been at Watermark for more than a minute, you know we talk about community all the time. It doesn't matter what we're talking about. Whatever the topic is, it seems like number one on the list is community. Process with community. Get in community. Go to your community. Share with your community. Pray with your community. We are Watermark Community Church. Community is our middle name. It's always our answer to everything around here, isn't it?
The reality is that is not just Watermark's plan. That is God's design. That's the way he made us. Genesis 2:18: "It is not good for man to be alone." When you go to the New Testament, you see dozens and dozens of examples of one-anothers. We're not intended to live life on our own, to live in isolation.
My problem is not whether or not I am in community. I am Mr. Community. I've been at Watermark for 13 years. I was on the Community Team. I've served with Foundation Groups. I've been in re:gen. I know what community is. Don't tell me what community is. I know community.
We moved here 13 years ago. The minute we got to Texas, we got into a Community Group. We also got into a Community Group at Dallas Seminary. I am so spiritual and so pro-community that I was in two Community Groups at the same time. The problem wasn't whether or not I was in community; the problem was I was playing community. I was pretending community.
I went to Group every week. I completed the study. I got up early on Tuesday mornings to meet with the guys at 6 am. I arranged my schedule and paid babysitters for us to go to Community Group on Thursday night. Check, check, check, but all along I was just playing and pretending.
Let me tell you what that looked like for me. That meant my Community Group got the partial picture. You got what I wanted you to know. I'd let you see the parts I was proud of, and I wouldn't let you see the parts I was ashamed of. I'd let you see I was eating really well, that yesterday I chose to get the salad at Chipotle with no brown rice. I did the right thing. No carbs. I didn't let you see that yesterday I was in the bathroom again eating a chocolate bar behind the stall. I didn't want you to see everything going on. You got what I wanted you to see.
Or, you would get this. Maybe for two weeks, I killed it. I worked out everyday. I worked out twice some days. I would show you my food log. I would log everything I ate. I would let you see what I was doing for two weeks, and then I would quit again. The problem for me was I loved my sin too much, and I chose isolation over community. I would hide, I would manage, my weight would go up, my health would decline, and my sin grew in isolation over and over and over.
At some point along the way, I realized this isn't normal. It's not normal to eat and hide and to give a partial picture. I realized I needed to choose community so isolation did not choose me. We all know this. Whatever your sin struggle is, whether it's eating like me, alcohol, infidelity, pornography, people-pleasing, anger, or whatever it is, we know we don't grow best in isolation. We need to be open with others.
I realized for me it was time to do something drastically different. I couldn't just do the same deal I had done for years. I had to make some significant changes. I watched a friend walk through this, and the way he invited others in challenged me. It was a drastic step I knew I needed to take for my wellness, my marriage, my kids, my ministry, and everything God was doing in and through me.
On May 8, 2013, four days after I turned 40, I sent the following email out to a group of guys: "Men and Kristen, this is an email that is way overdue in my life, but there's no better time than the present to get it out. As you all know, I have struggled with weight, exercise, health, and wellness for a long time, really my whole life. The challenges boil down to overeating, food idolatry, lack of commitment to follow through, deceit, hiding, laziness, passivity, and probably other areas.
There's way too much on the line for me to be complacent in this area of my life. The Lord has stewarded to me an amazing wife, four boys who need a healthy daddy, family and friends whom I love, a church I love, and a great ministry at Watermark. It's time to make some changes, and not short-term changes, but permanent changes."
After vomiting on them over email, I then proceeded to detail out what I was going to do moving forward. I was going to send them a plan every week. "Here's what I ate. Here's literally everything I ate in the last week." Every week this email would go out, and it would have what I ate, my weight, and my exercise, and more than anything, it had: "Here's what God is teaching me in the midst of my battle with food."
I learned more than ever the value of confession, of what it was like to be free as I shared with others, to come out of isolation, and to no longer sit on the toilet of my sin. I learned Proverbs 28:13. "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."
I found and obtained mercy in spades with a wife who loves me and friends who loved me, challenged me, and were on board with me. I want to ask you this morning…Whatever your struggle or sin is, what is the drastic step you need to take? What is the thing you need to do to invite others in so isolation doesn't choose you?
Specifically, this issue of eating is a tough one. We don't talk about our bodies. We don't talk about food with other people. That's a very private issue. It's like sex, parenting, money, and all those things we think are taboo that others can't talk about. I think we're really missing out when we don't invite others in. I want to tell you, in your community I hope you are processing how you are taking care of this body, of this temple. We need to not make wellness a taboo topic. It's been a taboo topic in the church for way too long, so we need to invite others in.
Also, the value of working out in community is something I've learned. You CrossFit people are nuts. You are a cult. I'm just telling you what the rest of us think on the outside looking in. I get it. I've done it one time, and I don't know if I ever want to go back, but it really is incredible. You're working out with a group of people. It's genius. That is one of the reasons why CrossFit does so well. You have someone to encourage you and challenge you so you don't work out in isolation.
Within your community, I want to encourage you first to talk about it; secondly, to look at the exercise piece along with eating; and then I want to challenge you to celebrate faithfulness and perseverance. In our community, if we celebrate only a waistline, a dress size, or a number on a scale, we're missing it. We have to learn how to celebrate perseverance and faithfulness when it comes to wellness.
For those of you who are married, I want to remind you your closest community is your spouse. It's not a group of guys for the guys or a group of ladies for the ladies. It is your spouse. That is God's gift, plan A for your sin when it comes to others. I want to give you a couple of thoughts on how you involve your significant other in your battle with sin, whatever it might be.
If you guys know my wife Kristen, she does not struggle with food and eating in the same way I do. Her issue is she's just way too hot, but that's another story. Eating and wellness just don't resonate with her like they do with me. When I wrote this letter and copied her on it, that gave her incredible insight into what's running through this mind, this head, and this heart.
What can you do to invite your spouse into your sin struggle so they can empathize with you? Guys, if you are married, your spouse is God's gift to you to help you become more like Jesus. When we don't invite them in, we're missing out on God's provision to help us grow in our marriage, our sin struggle, whatever it may be.
If you are married to someone who struggles, here are a couple of thoughts. First, I want you to win them over without nagging. First Peter 3:1-2 talks about the wife's conduct, that she is respectful and she is pure. In other words, she wins her spouse over without a word. In other words, she's not nagging. She's a constant source of love and encouragement. Whatever your spouse's struggle is, you are not going to win them over by nagging them or beating them down.
When you say "I do" to someone, whether this is your issue or not, when you marry them, you are one flesh with them. Kristen's battles are my battles, and my battles are her battles, so you need to learn how to take these things on together. While Kristen never nagged, she would be the first one to tell you she wishes at times she had encouraged me more, challenged me more, or prayed for me more. I want to tell you, if you're married to someone who is struggling, find ways to invite them in and pray for them, and please don't give up on them.
When you commit, when you say, "I do. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish…" you are with them until one or both of you dies. You are choosing to partner with them in their battle with sin. Please do not give up if you are married to someone who is struggling. You are God's provision to help them become more like Jesus. We need to choose to bring community in or isolation will choose us.
2._ We need to choose truth over lies._ We believe a lot of lies. Whether it comes to food, eating, or whatever your struggle is, we have to choose to believe the truth. We see this in verse 19. "Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things."
While we talk about food and eating, we believe a whole lot of lies in this area. There is a lot that is communicated to us that is simply not true. Verse 19 says, "When we walk as enemies of the Christ, our end is destruction, our god is our belly, we glory in our shame, and we set our minds on the temporal instead of the eternal."
How backward is that, that we would choose to enter into sin that leads to destruction, makes our god our belly, and leads to shame; that we celebrate our shame; and that we think about things that are temporal and not eternal? In other words, our view of God and our view of sin is all messed up. I will tell you, for me personally, I have had a very messed-up view of who God is and of food over the last 40 years of my life. Let me tell you what that looked like for me.
I became an expert in developing every excuse under the sun. Let me share a couple with you. In high school and college, I believed the lie, "I am just big-boned. That is why I am like I am." "Muscle weighs more than fat, and I am just a highly-muscular person," is what I believed. I would blame Old Navy. "The clothes they make are irregularly sized. The 2X in this is just wrong. That's probably a large, not a 2X."
I would blame the food industry. If there's a food industry enemy, you know I blamed it. First it was fat. Then it became trans fat. Then it became the carbohydrate. You can't have rice, pasta, and potatoes. Then it became gluten. Then it became GMOs. I have no idea what any of those things are, but they were the enemy. I know all of a sudden I'm supposed to eat at Chipotle more because now they're GMO-free, whatever that is.
I would blame our washer and dryer. "We need to air-dry the shirts and not put them in the dryer, because it's shrinking my clothes." "It's the detergent we use." When I was in college… You know, guys, we just put the whites and colors together, and they come out just fine, but when we get married, now all of a sudden we have to separate them, and now there's a shrinkage problem with my clothes when we put them into the washer and dryer. I tried to blame our cooking. "If we used coconut oil instead of olive oil maybe we wouldn't have this problem."
I tried to blame genetics. I'm 100 percent certain genetics plays a role in my story when it comes to food and eating. In fact, genetics plays a role for every single one of us. You see, we each inherit this gene called the Adam gene. It is passed on from one generation to another. Every single one of you has inherited a sin nature from your biological mother and your biological father.
This sin nature is something we all have in common. Paul writes in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." My expression of this genetic sin may look different from yours. My expression led to eating in privacy on the toilet. For you it's something else. For you it's hiding, infidelity, pornography, or whatever it might be. Whatever your genetic disposition and expression is, we all have our thing.
For me, genetics doesn't lead to consuming Snickers bars on the toilet. Genetics doesn't lead to me eating a whole bag of jelly beans on the way home from Mesquite to Dallas and hiding the evidence in the trash can before I walk in the door. My problem was not that I was big-boned, I shopped at Old Navy, we had the wrong washer and dryer, I ate at Chipotle too little or too much, or I had a genetic problem.
My problem is called sin. My problem made food an idol in my life. My problem is I have replaced God with food. I was looking for everything from food to fill me up. My problem was I made my belly into god. Our words really matter, and we need to learn to call our sin what it really is.
For me, my relationship with food was sinful. First Corinthians 6:12 says, "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything." I have been dominated by food. I have obsessed over it. I have looked for life from it. I've looked for satisfaction from it. My relationship with food was all wrong. I had made my belly my god.
Paul writes that in verse 19. He says, "Their god became their belly," so let's talk for a minute about food and gluttony. There's this interesting tension with food. We are made by God with a need for food, which I'm so grateful for. I love food. I love to eat. I love good-tasting food. We're made and designed with a need for food.
God made food. We see that in Genesis 1. We see in the New Testament that all food is clean. There is no barrier between cleanliness and uncleanliness with food. God designed us with a need, a desire, and a craving for food, and that is a good thing. We experience hunger. Our body tells us when it's time to eat, to get some energy, to get some nourishment.
We also see in Genesis 3 that food is actually the cause of death. We see the man and the woman eat the piece of fruit, and all of a sudden everything is different and everything has changed. They've gone from great harmony with one another and with God, and now food is the source of relational death, spiritual death, and physical death. There's this interesting tension with something God gives us that's intended for life but also can lead to death.
We all look to food for the wrong reasons. We look for the satisfaction God has only intended… We look for that in food. We obsess about it. Or, we have another problem with it when we obsess over how many calories we eat. We become obsessed with what we look like and what our body does when we eat. We become gluttons.
Gluttony is not a word we use too often. I don't like that word. Let's talk about what gluttony is. Gluttony is when we worship food, when we live in the excess, when we look for food to give us something it's not intended to give, when we feast on the wrong things, and when we eat beyond what is necessary. Gluttony, very clearly, is sin.
"Is it a big deal?" You bet it's a big deal. It's so big of a deal that the writer of Proverbs says in chapter 23, verse 2, "…put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony." The first and primary danger of gluttony is that it puts food in the place of God, it makes hunger our number‑one enemy, and it makes the pantry, the restaurant, and the refrigerator our savior. We need to look at our relationship with food.
Is it okay to feast? If you feast, are you a glutton? I like to feast. I love Thanksgiving. There's nothing like food, family, football, and food. I said that twice because I like it so much, maybe even more than football. Is it okay to feast? Yes. Very clearly we see in the Old Testament, time and time again, God talks about feasting. He tells his people, instructs them, and commands them, "It's okay to feast."
The problem is when we feast without a heart of thankfulness and gratefulness. The problem is when we feast every time we celebrate. The problem is we feast because it's dinner time, time to feast, or it's Thursday, time to feast. We feast for the wrong reasons, but if you feast with a heart of thankfulness and a posture of humility and gratefulness, it is okay.
The reason why this all matters is because we belong to someone else. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul writes, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a [high] price. So glorify God in your body."
We are not just spiritual people. We are not just physical people. We are not our own. Our bodies and our lives have been purchased at a high price, and that high price is not anything we could ring up on our credit cards. That high price is the death of God's only Son, Jesus, his perfect, spotless, blameless Son whom the Father laid down on our behalf so we can become his and so he can take care of this sin problem.
It's not something we can do on our own. We don't belong to ourselves. We belong to someone else. We have been purchased at a very, very high price. We believe the lie. We think we belong to ourselves.
Another lie many of us believe is not that our god is our belly but that our bodies are our gods. We obsess about what we look like. Some of you are so concerned about your appearance. You worship your bodies. You work out all the time. You can probably tell me the exact date you ate your last carbohydrate. You are believing the lies of the world that tell you your value is found in how you look and how others perceive you.
Ladies, let me speak to you for a moment. I'm a guy, and I have been my whole life. I don't know what it's like to be a lady, but I do know, ladies, that you deal with an enormous amount of pressure. I know the world feeds you a bunch of lies. It tells you you are too big in some areas, you are too little in other areas, and you are only valuable if your body looks a certain way.
Pornography reinforces that. TV reinforces that. Music reinforces that. Billboards reinforce that. I'm responsible for that with the ways I have indulged in pornography over the years or the way I've given too much value to the way a woman looks. I just want to tell y'all I'm sorry, and I want to tell you you are believing lies if you give in to that.
I want to tell you, ladies, you are beautiful and God has created you in his image and his likeness. God has made you as someone he loves. We sang that a few moments ago. He loves us. He loves you. Your value is not found in what a guy thinks of you or what the world tells you is your value. You were bought at a price, God loves you, and you are beautiful, and I don't want you to believe the lies we feed you or the world feeds you.
We often talk about pornography being a sin, drunkenness being a sin, and infidelity being a sin, but what about gluttony? What about overeating? What about making our bodies gods? What about when we make our bellies gods? The second thing I learned along the way in the past couple of years is I have believed many lies and I had to choose to believe the truth rather than lies. I want the same for you, that you would believe the truth and not the lies that culture, your friends, or society tells you.
3._ We need to choose the long-term solution instead of the short-term, Band-Aid fix._ Paul writes in verses 20 and 21, "But our citizenship is in heaven…" We don't belong here, friends. "…and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
The bottom line here is we need to be in this thing for the long haul. It's a little cliché, but it's very true that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I am the king of the sprint. Not that kind of sprint, but I am the king of the short-term, easy fix. Let me give you a couple of examples. If you can think of one, I have done it, and I know it.
I have done South Beach. I've done the Daniel Fast. I know about the "pink drink." I have done P90X with Tony. I have done T25 with Shaun T. I've done INSANITY… Not the whole thing, just the first half, because the second half is ridiculous. I've done Bootcamp. I've done shakes. I've done Camp Gladiator. I have watched The Biggest Loser and cried my eyes out while eating ice cream. Don't judge me.
I'm great at jumping on the program for the short term, killing it for a few weeks, and then returning to the old me. The problem is when we look for a short-term solution to a long-term problem. We were never intended to fight our sin that way. Let's face it. It's much easier to write a check for a program or sign up for a start date or end date… I want that every time instead of knowing I have to be obedient and choose to follow God and honor him with my body until I die.
There are days it's easy, but most days are difficult. We don't want the difficult. We want the short-term fix. Whatever your sin struggle is, you are not going to get better and it is not going to resolve unless you take a long-term view. I'm not talking about earning your salvation. I'm talking about honoring God with your body. We have to sign up for the long-term, never the short-term. It's a long obedience in the same direction. That is God's plan and God's design.
If you are in re:gen, you are working through the 12 steps in our Recovery program. If you are in re|engage, you're working through the 16 lessons. If you are in small group, whether you're a student, college-aged, a young adult, married, divorced, widowed… Wherever you are on the spectrum, this cannot be a short-term solution. It can't be 12 steps. It can't be 16 weeks. It has to be a lifetime of choosing to honor God with our bodies, our decisions, our sin struggles, and our wellness.
I'm going to say this because I have to, and I mean no disrespect to any of you, but I know what some of you are thinking right now. You are thinking you know how to fix me. You have the right program, you have the right recipes, or you have the right solution for my problem. I fully believe your intentions are good, but don't email me.
I don't want to know what your program is. Don't come find me after church and tell me you have the solution. I have the solution. His name is Jesus, and he has changed my life. That is the solution to our sin. He has given me his Word. He has given me his people. He has given me his Spirit. He is who we need to fix whatever we are struggling through.
For the better part of two years, I have done everything I could do and should do. I have come out of isolation. I'm in community. I have chosen community. Community is better. I've chosen to deal with my sin. I don't excuse it or blame it on the GMOs, the gluten, or my washer and dryer. I have made the long-term decision to follow Jesus. I'm not looking for the short-term, and God has done some incredible things over the last two years of my life.
I've been working out with some friends at Watermark for two years now. We call our little group Well. We work out together. We talk about spiritual things. We pray. We support one another. We look at our sleep patterns and our eating patterns, but more than anything, we push each other toward Jesus. It's been one of the best things I have ever done in my life. For two years I have been at it.
For the past year, I have also really gotten into bodybuilding and lifting weights. I would be way too embarrassed to show you the before picture, but I would love to show you what the after picture looks like, what, after one year, my body looks like. This stuff works, I'm telling you. Actually, this is the year I got good at Photoshop, not at lifting weights.
I did just finish up a one-year challenge, though. I'd love to share that with you. For one year, JP and I did this challenge we started last Mother's Day that ended Mother's Day a couple of weeks back. For one year, JP and I made a deal that we were not going to eat any sweets. That meant no ice cream, no chocolate, no candy, no cake, no ice cream, no chocolate, no ice cream, no ice cream with chocolate, no Coke… Nothing like that. Anything I think is good we chose not to eat for one year.
There was a penalty that if you ate one of those items you had to pay the other person $100. Yeah. That's an expensive chocolate bar there. JP gave in one time. He had to pay me one hundo, and I loved it. I never gave in. I made it through the full year, but I did some math along the way.
In the last year, from Mother's Day 2014 to Mother's Day 2015, I officiated 11 weddings. Do you know what that means? I got to celebrate with the bride and groom 11 times, but not by eating cake. I had 6 birthdays in my own home including my own. It is no fun to celebrate your birthday without a cake. Come on.
I have celebrated Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, an anniversary, and birthday parties of friends. I have walked by the kitchen on the eighth floor of Watermark Community Church. It is a sin den in that room. I am telling you, there are Krispy Kremes there every day. I don't know where it comes from.
The biggest challenge for me was none of those things, though. The biggest challenge was a date night Kristen and I went on a couple of months ago. We were given a big fat gift card to Del Frisco's, and man, we went out, and we killed it. It was awesome. We enjoyed appetizers, sides, a big fat juicy steak… We feasted.
As we're wrapping up the meal, the waiter comes by and drops something off. My thought is, "Okay, that's the bill." I'm ready to pull out my gift card and pay. It wasn't the bill. Do you know what it was? The dessert menu. Satan himself drops off this dessert menu, and for some unknown reason, Kristen and I decide to look at it and play a game: "What dessert would you get if you could have anything on here?"
I pick hers first. It was a no-brainer. I got her one and two very quickly. The chocolate soufflé cake was number one, and the chocolate mousse was number two. Then she starts to guess mine. She starts going through the list, and she says, "Crème brûlée?"
"That's a good guess, but nope."
"Another good guess."
"Berries and cream?"
"Another good guess."
"The soufflé cake?"
"Another good guess."
I'm like, "Do you even know me?" She can't find my dessert. Finally, she looks at the top of the Del Frisco's dessert menu, and there it is in its own little box set apart from all the others: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse Award-Winning Lemon Cake. Yeah, you feel my pain. If I were not a pastor and I were a dessert creator, I would make this cake. Seven layers, lemon filling, lemon frosting, as big as your head… This thing is humongous.
After I tell Kristen that's my choice, our waiter, out of nowhere, in that exact moment, drops a piece of it on our table, unprompted. I'm 42 years old. I was 41 at the time. No one has ever given me a free piece of dessert, let alone during a bet with JP.
You know my first thought is, "Where's JP? He must be broke and looking for money." The second thought was I had to check the name tag, because I'm pretty sure his name was Lucifer Jezebel III. The third thing I thought is, "Man, $100 isn't that much. That might be worth it. We got a free meal. It's all even-steven right now." We chose for some of us not to eat it and for others to eat. Kristen had a few bites, I chose not to because it wasn't worth $100, and we left.
Here's the irony of my date night with my wife. We got a free date night and a free babysitter. We had a great time. We had some great communication. We ate a big, fat steak. It didn't cost us a dime. Our kids were nowhere to be found. I love my kids, but they were nowhere to be found, so we enjoyed great conversation. I even got to share the gospel with our waiter. He dropped off the free gift, and I'm like, "Hey, can I tell you about another free gift I received?" He didn't buy it. He didn't want to hear it.
It was a great night, and I actually said "no" to something I wanted, which is also a win, but I didn't leave that restaurant happy. I left that restaurant frustrated and mad. Whether I can eat desserts or whether I can't, I am in bondage to this thing. I'm in slavery. I'm obsessed with food, and in the middle of that, I am reminded of how much I still struggle. Come, Jesus. I need your help.
For real, for two years I've been working out so hard. I've been doing everything I can to honor God with my body. I've been living in community. I'm dealing with my sin. I'm choosing the long term over the short term. You would think after doing all that I would get the results I wanted.
As I go through this on a daily basis, I'm reminded of the show The Biggest Loser. If you've never seen that show, at the end of every episode they match up the two teams, and one by one, each individual gets onto a scale. They weigh in. We know what their starting weight is, and it tells us what their ending weight is.
On the way to the scale, they take their shirts off, they take their shoes off, and they get on their scale. I thought it would be good for me to show you what the difference has been for one year, since May of last year, and what has happened when I have honored God with my body. I'll leave my shirt and shoes on, but I'm going to get onto the scale for you.
Zero pounds. Nada. Zilch. No change. I still wear a 2X. My waist is still large. I look exactly the same in the mirror. My weight has not changed in a year. What do I have to do to get the change I want? I look at that… What if my value were found in the number on this scale? What if my value and worth were found in what size pants I wear or what I look like in a mirror? I'd look back at the last year and go, "What a stinking waste. I am worthless. My value is exactly the same as the amount of weight I have lost. I have no value."
I'm here to tell you the exact opposite of that. I'm here to tell you that while my weight hasn't changed, I still wear a 2X, and I still look the way I do in the mirror, everything in my life has changed. I want to tell you I'm not calling you to an eating plan or, whatever your sin struggle is, the plan to get through it.
I'm telling you I want you to be faithful, because here's what I have gained in the last year. I've gained a group of friends in community whom I love, whom I would do anything for. They have loved me so well. I have grown in my marriage to my wife, Kristen. I have a better, healthier relationship with my kids. I'm not on the sidelines anymore. I'm actually engaged with them. I'm wrestling with them. I'm playing with them. I have better ministry at Watermark than I've ever had before.
More than anything, I know how much I am loved. I know I am valued and my worth is not found in a number on the scale. How tough it is for us when we look for value in a number, a waist size, a dress size, or in our appearance. If that's where we put our value, my last year has been wasted. It's the opposite. My intimacy with Jesus has never been better.
Church, what would it look like if we didn't find our value in the results? What if we found our value in what God says about us and in being faithful to what he has called us to do? The number on the scale has not changed, but my wellness has changed. It is well with my soul. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The thief tries to tell me my value is found in this scale. Jesus comes to give us life and life abundant. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
I want to remind you as lovingly as I can this morning to engage with your community, to deal with your sin as God has called you to deal with it, and to take a long-term view on your sin struggle, whatever it might be. Whether it's eating and food like me or whatever your issue or struggle is, I want you to be faithful. God wants you to be faithful, to not find your significance in where the world tells you to find your significance.
What I want for you more than anything is for you to be free. God has made us free through his Son, Jesus. Let me pray for you, and then the band is going to come out and remind us of that as well.
God, we celebrate who you are. God, we're thankful that our value and our identity is not found in a number, an appearance, or what the world says about us, but our value is found in who you say we are. We know we are loved, we are valued, and we are bought with a high price. You sent your only Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf because you love us and we are valuable, not because of what we do but because of who you are.
God, I pray for my friends here. Whatever their issue or struggle is, I pray they would invite others in, they would deal with their sin, and they would take a long-term view on a sin problem. God, thank you that you have given us the best solution to any sin struggle or any problem. You have given us your Son, Jesus, you've given us your Word, you've given us your Spirit, and you've given us your people. We say "thanks," and we celebrate that together this morning. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.