by Edward Caballero, Teen Convention speaker
As a husband, father, and pastor, I have many responsibilities but a limited amount of time. There is only so much I am able to do with my day and week (I am sure most homeschool parents are in the same situation). Because of the busyness of each week, it is vital that I take care of myself on a physical level. If I do not care for my body, it will fail me. This is something that I learned the hard way in the Spring of 2006.
When I was near the end of my seminary training, I spread myself too thin. I was working on two degrees at three schools while serving as a deacon at our then-home church and putting in about thirty hours in the office each week. All this while doing my best to be a good father and husband. My day began before sunrise and ended after midnight. Because of the workload that I placed on my shoulders, many things were demoted in importance or ignored altogether; hobbies, personal time, a good-night’s rest, and unfortunately, taking care of my physical body were not issues of importance to me.
One afternoon, during my last semester before graduation, I recall feeling a bit lightheaded, I had some tightness in my chest, and my left arm felt a bit tingly. As you can imagine, I thought I was having a heart attack right there in the seminary parking lot. That night (after I finished the rigors of the day) I went to the ER to have myself examined. After hours of blood work, and multiple tests, I was able to speak to the physician on duty that evening. He immediately informed me that my tests came back negative (meaning I did not have a heart attack); however my blood pressure was a quite high and my pulse was erratic. He immediately began to ask about my daily routine, diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
I immediately knew where he was going with his many questions and I was embarrassed to answer him.
You see, my diet consisted of fast food and Starbucks. My exercise was stepping on the clutch and shifting my gears (and an occasional flight or two of stairs). My sleep was more like one eye open cat naps. And my mental load consisted of home and ministry responsibilities, and over twenty units of semester work. When I explained why I lived the way I lived (primarily to finish seminary in a reasonable amount of time), the doctor told me that if I don’t slow down, take care of my body, and get some relaxation time, I would see him again for a more serious reason. Needless to say, I took his advice to heart.
We Belong to God
Not long after that eye-opening experience I came across a couple of passages in God’s Word that I had read more than once but apparently overlooked in application, “. . .discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8) and “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). In these two passages, Paul made it clear that our bodies and minds belong to God. Being His creation and His possession, every aspect of our being belongs to Him and should be lived to the glory of His name. As humans, we have both a physical and spiritual being and both need regular attention and maintenance. Otherwise we risk serious consequences.
As Christians, God has given each of us the ability to attend to and nurture both our physical bodies and our spiritual being (our souls). As with many things in life, there are extremes in almost every area. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves focusing entirely on spirituality, and neglecting our physical bodies. On the other hand, we could pay so much attention to our physical bodies that we neglect our spiritual growth and stability. Neither of these is a healthy biblical balance. In 1 Timothy 4:8 Paul informs us, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Note that this verse does not negate the need to care for and nourish the body. Rather, it says that physical care of the body is valuable, but it clearly states that the physical care of the body is nowhere near as valuable as caring for the soul.
When Paul spoke of exercise he had in mind the rigorous and self-sacrificing training that would be the regular pattern for an athlete. Throughout history, various cultures have praised and admired their athletes. In fact, this coming August most of us will be glued to the television as we watch athletes from all over the world compete against one another striving for the highest honor in their preferred sport; the gold medal. As exciting and healthy as it it to feed and train the body, ultimately there is only a temporary benefit to all the hard work. All our efforts to keep our bodies healthy will ultimately end in defeat; for the physical body which we now possess has been cursed because of our sin against God and will return to the dust from which it came. However, the hope that we have in Jesus Christ is that our frail and finite bodies will be renewed to a most glorious state (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
Since my seminary scare in 2006, I have tried to maintain a healthy balance between my spiritual and physical care. When speaking about the spiritual health of the Christian, the Bible uses the terms “put on and put off” (this is in reference to putting off the old self and ways and putting on the new self and ways). In addition to the spiritual application of this principle, I applied this concept to my physical habits. Recently my wife and I have committed to change what and how we eat and to increase our frequency and intensity of daily activity. In a few short months we have noticed considerable differences in how we feel and how we look. Clothing once snug has become baggy, energy levels have increased, aches and pains have decreased or in some cases, disappeared altogether. Needless to say, we are quite pleased and even more committed now than when we began. The benefits to caring for and properly feeding our bodies has resulted in convincing results and reasons to persevere until the Lord chooses to call us home to glory.
These new habits which we have “put on” have also been implemented with our children. Swimming, walking, park visits, beach trips, and activity in general are becoming more and more frequent. Additionally, our new way of eating has been enthusiastically embraced by the whole family. Healthy meals and snacks are now the norm and the family loves the new menu (though we do make our occasional cheat visits to In-n-Out). Together, as we care for our God-given temples, we bring glory to His name and reduce the possibility of unnecessary physical ailments that would surely become a burden to our physical and quite possibly our spiritual state.
In my situation, better health has contributed to a stronger spiritual condition and has helped me to maintain my family and ministry responsibilities. However, as important and beneficial the feeding of and caring for my body is and has been, it can and will never be more important than feeding and nourishing my soul. If our bodies are in fact a temple of God, then we must strive to maintain temples that are worthy of the name of Christ and presence of God. In order to accomplish this, the feeding of the soul must become and remain the priority.
So the question then is “How does one feed and care for the soul?” As there are specific disciplines that are common to good physical health (diet, exercise, and rest), likewise there are specific disciplines that will result in good spiritual health. As parents we must implement these in our lives and then exhort our children to follow our example. I encourage you to join me this year at the CHEA Convention in Pasadena as I share some important ways to ensure that your soul (and the soul of your child) will be both fed and strengthened.
Edward Caballero is the pastor at Anaheim Community Church and a graduate of The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary. He and his wife Monique have been married since 1989 and have four children. He is a speaker at the Teen Convention July 8-9 at the Pasadena Convention Center. His Teen workshop is as follows:
Keeping Your Spirit Fed
God created you with physical and spiritual attributes. Your body must be fed in order to remain healthy. But what about your spirit? Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” If, as a man, Jesus needed to feed His spirit, you too must feed your spirit. Join us for some biblical and practical examples of feeding your spirit..