All posts by dbuyer

Son of the Living God. Husband to Kirsten. Father... Young Adult & Worship Pastor at McKernan Baptist Church. My heart burns to see God transform hearts and lives.

Getting Back After ‘Failure’

Today’s post is not an easy one for me to be writing but it is a really important one. Last year, I was writing a lot about how I had been losing weight and what I was doing to keep that going. I haven’t blogged about weight loss for a while now because, frankly, I ‘failed.’ The photo you see above comes from the end of November, 2015 (with my wife, sister and brother-in-law), when I was sitting at one of the healthiest weights I have been in years… but I was still about 40 lbs. from where I wanted to be.

When I realized that I had set a completely unrealistic weight goal (losing that extra weight in a length of time that became impossible), I gave up. For a couple of months, I just ate as I pleased. After a few months of this, I realized that I had gained back almost 30 lbs! Out of shame, I started doing ‘dietbets’ again, but I would just gain the weight back after because I felt that I had failed.

Something shifted in the beginning of the summer for me, I realized that I had been letting my failure define my weight loss journey. In fear of ‘failing’ again, I just gave up and said “I’ll lose the weight eventually.” I was afraid to set a new weight loss goal because I thought that if I didn’t reach it, I would just fall back into shame. This mentality was BRUTAL and self-defeating, so I needed to put it aside and choose to learn from my failures rather than be defined by them.

  1. I learned that weight loss is a process. It’s something that takes time and is work; but is worth it. If you are able to lose weight quickly, that’s good, but it’s not enough to just lose the weight and go back to how I was eating before (that caused me to gain the weight). Weight loss is a process and it’s not “all-in all-out.”
  2. I learned that it’s important to enjoy the process. When I was shedding weight like crazy, I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I liked going to the gym, but overall I was just thinking about the next time I could treat myself or when “I won’t have to do this anymore.” I learned that gradual weight loss can be enjoyable, and this is more sustainable.
  3. I learned how powerful shame is… but also how ridiculous it is. Shame is probably one of the largest reasons why I am overweight. When I feel ashamed about myself, I overeat… Shame is a liar, and it’s not mine to carry. Over this summer, I have had to give my shame to Jesus, thank Him for who He has made me, and receive my identity from Him.

I have been planning on writing this post for a while, but have held out on it (as it is quite a vulnerable post)… but this morning I saw an email in my inbox from a blog I subscribe to called “How God Feels about failure…” (click to visit full post). In this post, Graham Cooke says some incredibly profound things:

God has a plan to make us successful by using failure for us and not against us….
In the love of God, we cannot fail; we can only make mistakes and mistakes have already been covered by the cross.
This kind of love helps us to relax about ourselves and our lives. In mistakes, we understand how lovely we are to the Lord. That is what empowers us to overcome failure as a negative construct and wield it into a weapon that propels us into developing our destiny…

We are a work in progress. No one condemns the artist of an unfinished picture. Instead we look at it, like God does, loving it for what it is today and picturing what it could become. We wonder, we imagine and we are excited by the possibilities!

Seeing this blog this morning compelled me to write this post for those who may be living in a season of defeat. Don’t let your defeat define you, let God define You – and let Him take you as you are to where He’s calling you to be. It’s not going to be a one-stop fix, it’s going to take work (lot’s of work), but He’s right there with you!

IMG_6828Here I am, back on the scale.. back on the weight loss journey… the failure is behind me. I am carrying the consequences of neglecting healthy choices from the early part of 2016 but that is not what is going to define my journey moving forward. Don’t let it define yours!
Thanks for all of the prayers, support, well wishes, accountability, and friendship!

Feel free to share with those who may need the encouragement.

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A Biblical Theology of Healing

Healing is one of the topics that, I believe, has taken a bad rap in many mainline evangelical Churches today. Whether we have felt that healing has been more about hype or even felt abuse in a ‘healing’ service, we have allowed these experiences to shape our theology of healing. Healing is one of the issues in the church that is extremely polarizing. Some believe that God does not heal anymore today while others believe that God will always heal if we have enough faith. I don’t believe that either of these extremes is Biblical. The most important thing that I have come to believe about healing is:

Our theology of healing needs to come from the scriptures rather than our experiences.

Many of us have prayed for God to heal, He hasn’t, and because of this we believe that God no longer heals. I want to say today that this is not a Biblical theology, this is an experiential theology (which is the very thing that mainline evangelicals ironically often accuse charismatic Christians of). When I read through the scriptures, I read way more stories of God healing miraculously than I do of God choosing not to heal. Could we dare to dream that God still works in this way?

Rather than write a long blog post about this, I wanted to share with you a sermon that I preached a few weeks ago, the summer of 2016, about my own healing journey. God has done profound physical and emotional healing in my life, so much so that I cannot even begin to deny His ability to or willingness to heal. Thanks for checking it out, sharing with your friends, and commenting if you wish!

 

A Life Changing Week

Last week, I had the privilege of ministering at Camp Caroline at the 4/5/6 Camp. I will be honest, my thoughts when the camp asked me to do this was that it would be ‘out of my league.’ I am a young adults & worship pastor, I have not done any work with young people since my last time at camp (8 years ago) and I tend to teach very theologically… so I was nervous I would have a hard time connecting with the kids on their level.

I said yes to this invitation because I felt that God was completely in on it. In February, I was attending a conference in Calgary and a new friend of mine prophesied over me. Most of the prophecy was confirmed immediately in my Spirit… but one part of his prophecy intrigued me. He said that God would put me in a position to minister to ‘tweeners’ and teens, teaching them to hear God’s voice and help them learn about the love of God from a very early age. To be honest with you, I was so insecure about my ability to work with young people that I thought that this was YEARS down the road, but little did I know that God was going to confirm this prophetic word a few short months after the prophecy had been given.

Teaching Times

The theme of the week at camp was unforgettable. Using a great idea that my brother had from the movie “Inside Out,” I talked about unforgettable core truths that shape who we are as people… God’s unforgettable love, God’s plan for our lives, God’s invitation to the Kingdom, God’s grace… these sort of things. The kids loved it!

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One of the highlights for me came from when we were talking about who God is. I split the kids up into groups and had them read Bible verses that talked about God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Then I had them all answer the question – “What do these verses say about who God is?” The answers were amazing!! (Pictured above) Seeing 190 9-12 year olds and 60 young adults sitting on the floor reading their Bibles was truly a cool experience! It was awesome to see the kids come to understand theology in such a cool way.

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Another highlight of the week came on Wednesday when I was teaching the kids the unforgettable core truth: God has a plan for my life! During the session, I had one of the staff painting the picture that you see above. After talking about how the world tries to get us to find our identity in our successes, our families, our relationships, sports etc. I talked about how our identity is primarily found as God’s children, His disciples (called to be part of His plan), and His masterpieces.

 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

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After my ‘talk’ I looked to the kids and said ‘you’ve probably noticed Jessalyn painting here during this whole service…’ I used her painting as an illustration of how God uses our lives… that we are a like the paintbrush in the hands of the master painter – that He is painting something beautiful through our lives… when we find our identity and purpose in Him… we will live as His masterpieces here on the Earth! I share this with you now because it is as true for you today as it was for the children last week. Be encouraged that God can and is doing something incredible in and through your life.

I also had the opportunity to teach the staff in the morning devotions as well as the Leads (High School discipleship students). I taught the staff on the importance of prayer and the reality of God’s constant presence with us. One of the highlights of this time was an opportunity I had to share on Hearing God’s Voice. After giving the staff a chunk of time to listen to God’s voice, one of them came up to me afterwards in tears saying He heard God’s voice for the first time. It was so incredible to hear about God’s graciousness and goodness towards this young man.

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Testimonies

One of my favourite nights of the week was Thursday night. Thursday night was an opportunity for campers to share their testimonies of what God had done in them throughout the week. The coolest part for me was the amazing enthusiasm the campers had! I bet we could have gone on for hours as it seemed like half of the kids wanted an opportunity to share!

  • One girl spoke of how she had never knew that God wanted to ‘speak’ to her before. During the week, she started to have dreams where she was sure that God was speaking to her through these dreams.
  • Many campers shared how they thought God was a myth but during the week learned that He really is true and really is ‘for’ them – many of them gave their lives to Jesus for the first time.
  • A few campers shared of the difficult circumstances that they had to face at home, be it the death of their parents or getting made fun of at school. They said that camp helped give them a new perspective on the things that they were going through and God met them in the midst of their pain.
  • One of the campers during the week was unable to participate fully in activities because his leg hurt. He had his cabin pray for him (4 times) and he got healed the fourth time they prayed!
  • One of the staff members separated his shoulder during the wide game on Thursday night. This was the 2nd time that his shoulder had been separated and the Doctors told him if it ever happened again that he would need surgery. Along with his cabin and a few other cabins, we prayed for him for over 2 hours. Long story short – God healed him! Not only did God heal him (mostly, he reported a bit of tightness on Friday morning) of the injury on Thursday, God also healed him from the injury 2 years ago! Praise God for His faithfulness, presence, and ability to heal. This counselor couldn’t even lift his right arm when we started praying and was doing push-ups by the end of the night!
  • While we were praying for the counselor above, one boy gave His life to Jesus for the first time. He was crying as we were praying saying “I want it! I want to be a Christian” — it was amazing
  • The staff reported another camper who got hurt during the week. They prayed for her for healing throughout the week, on the Thursday she reported that God healed her and then she gave her life to Jesus.
  • After camp, I heard from a few parents about how children’s lives were changed! One parent mentioned that the sessions were their son’s favourite part.. how honouring! It was awesome to hear about how God moved!

I don’t take credit for any of these things that happened. All of these things happened as a sign and a wonder. The cool thing about a ‘sign’ is that it points you somewhere – in the New Testament, Signs and Wonders functioned as something that pointed people to Jesus… and I firmly believe that this is what happened at Camp – many were pointed to Jesus!

For a taste of what the worship was like this week, check out https://youtu.be/B2OKEiYBMbA

All in all, it was an amazing week at Camp Caroline. It’s CRAZY what God can do when you give a wholehearted YES to Jesus’ invitation to join Him in what He’s up to!

An Update on My Blog

It has been a while since I’ve posted a blog, but as the summer is drawing to a close and September is just around the corner, I’ve realized I want to get back into the habit of updating this regularly. My purpose for this blog is twofold – a means of sharing the amazing things that God has done, and a means of sharing what God is teaching me with as many people as possible. Please share this blog with your friends and keep an eye on it as I will be sharing all sorts of things as we transition into the fall season.

 

Converge Retreat 2016

This weekend, I had the opportunity to lead a retreat at Camp Caroline for about 120 young adults. This retreat was hosted by McKernan and open to people from all across the province. God moved in a profound way this weekend and I wanted to use my blog to briefly share about some of what happened!

In order to frame what I believe happened, it will be helpful to share a prophetic picture that a friend of mine had a few months back. He said that while he was praying for the Baptist Church, he got this picture of a tree with deep roots. The two of us continued to pray together and we I saw that, while the roots were deep, they were only drawing water from a certain level. Below where the roots were reaching was a whole new water table and it would only take the roots to go a little bit deeper to reach that level. Once that level was reached, the tree would flourish as it now was drawing from a deeper level. I discerned that the deeper level we would be drawing from was the revelation of John 4: that Jesus’ followers would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The revelation was not that there would be a balance between the two, where we have ‘half Spirit – half truth’ or even a tension between the two, where at times we’d have ‘75% Spirit and 25% truth. The deep revelation that I believe God gave to me was that we would reach a place where we realize our worship is 100% Spirit and 100% Truth, for we cannot truly have one without the other, in fullness!

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With this in the back of my mind and a commitment to pray daily for the purposes of God, we set forth on a retreat where our primary focus was going to be on discovering and exploring the nature of Holy Spirit and learning about how Holy Spirit is still at work today in and through the Church.

Praying for this retreat, I had 2 major words going through my head – repentance, and expectation. The first word had to do with the reality that many of us in more traditional denominations, I believe, have limited the Holy Spirit because we have put God into our ‘rational’ box and anything that doesn’t fit inside of our ‘rational’ box simply cannot be of God. The problem with this line of thinking is that the New Testament never paints a rational picture of God and the Church – the New Testament paints a supernatural picture of God and the Church where miracles were an everyday phenomenon and regular people were empowered by the Spirit to do extraordinary things. I believe that these miracles and phenomenon were not limited to the Bible times and that, when we expect the Holy Spirit to move in this way and when we keep our eyes fixed on the giver of the gifts rather than the gifts themselves, God moves! Anyways, I felt the word repentance because I believe that we have been offended with the Holy Spirit when He has done something beyond our expectations (I am guilty of this too). We also needed to repent of all of the jokes that we’ve made about Baptist Churches… like ‘O, Baptists’ don’t speak in tongues’ or ‘typical Baptist, no one was clapping’ and things like this…

The second word was expectation. On Wednesday night, we were praying for the event. God’s word says that He is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine… so that’s what we prayed, that God would do abundantly more than all we ask or imagine! We expected that God would hear our prayers. On a side note, I, Kirsten, and some of our good friends have been praying for YEARS that God’s Spirit would move in a powerful way in McKernan, and I believe that those prayers were answered this weekend!

12509833_10205825215695134_8814129235612252342_nOn Friday night, I shared my testimony and spoke about how I have seen Holy Spirit at work in my own life. My hope in doing this was to help ‘de-mystify’ some of the things that can scare us when it comes to Holy Spirit and ways that He has been at work. I also hoped that my testimony would help to break down some of the impact that an intellectual relationship with God as opposed to a vibrant relationship with the Person of God can have on our spiritual lives (this session was recorded and will be available in the next few weeks online).

After my talk, I led the group in a time or repentance and filling. I asked those present to prayerfully discern ways that they may have been offended by Holy Spirit or allowed lack of belief/wrong views of the Spirit to hinder their understanding of their identity as followers of Christ. After this, we prayed that the Spirit would fill us anew. This was a profound night and I know that some people received Spiritual gifts and others were deeply touched as they realized that God is still at work today in an incredible way.

On Saturday morning, I gave a much more practical teaching on Holy Spirit – what the Bible has to say about the person of God, both identity and activity. It was a fun time of opening the word together and really pursuing what it means for God’s word to move from our heads to our hearts.

12469486_10205825270736510_2306750302888641661_o-2On Saturday night, Luc Niebergall, leader of Royal Identity ministries in Calgary came and spoke to us about the reality of God’s Kingdom today. He shared numerous stories of how God has moved through him and his friends and he also spent some time talking about how he has been compelled through the word of God to believe for miracles in his life. After this, he said that the best way to learn it would be to experience it, so he had those who had back pain stand. He had those seated around them pray for them and a few of those people were miraculously healed! He then had us continue to pray for those who needed healing, both physically and emotionally.

12491967_10205825279656733_6214290262667897649_oA few people had their knees healed (some after 2-3 years of pain), I heard of one girl whose shoulder was healed, Kirsten, my wife, had one leg longer than the other and was healed from that too! After God had done all of this, we worshipped together and glorified Jesus for what He had done. He truly moved as we cried out to Him! This was the answer to the prayers we had been praying that He would do more than we could ask or imagine.

On Sunday morning, Luc took some time to teach on some of the questions that had come up from the night before and it was a good time to really address some of the objections that we have to a night like we had just experienced. It was super helpful for many of the people present. Following this, Luc shared his testimony and led us in a time of inner healing, which, I think was deeply impactful for many in the room.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend. God’s Spirit moved in a profound way. What I found so incredible about it, though, was the fact that it didn’t fit any mould or expectation. It was simply a group of people who were hungry for God and God met them in their place of hunger. My prayer is that we will see incredible fruit from this weekend and that God will reveal to us how we are to continue to steward what He poured out on us as we gathered at camp this weekend. I look forward to what is to come as we continue to pursue the purposes of God together!

 

My Masters’ Program

As of Today, I am one month from completing my Master’s Program, a Masters of Religious Education in Missional Leadership. I am really amping up excitement to graduate, but I need to say that as much as I will appreciate not having to do the assignments, all that I have learned and grown in has really rocked my world and I will miss the conversations and areas of growth that this masters has afforded me. I was asked by my Program Director to write a short article highlighting my experience with the program and I thought I would share on my blog today. I will get back to weight loss stuff (and a whole slew of other revelations that God has been giving me) next week. But for now, let me brag on the Master’s of Missional Leadership.

Let me also quickly honour the Dean of the Program, Dr. Mark Love (yes, my last cohort affectionately referred to ourselves as ‘disciples of Doctor Love’). Mark has been extremely influential and encouraging for me in my life and thinking. He has really helped me to grow as a pastor, leader, and Christ follower. His blog is a great resource that I would recommend to anyone who wants to think on a deeper level about the Church and the role that Christians are invited into as followers of Christ…

Click here for Mark’s BlogClick here for Mark’s Blog
Click here for info about the program

My Experience with the Master’s of Missional Leadership

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A few of my brothers from the first cohort I was a part of. I have learned so much from these men! 

It was over coffee with a friend of mine, Scott Hagley (one of the professors at Rochester College at the time), when I learned about the Masters of Religious Education in Missional Leadership. He told me about a graduate program with a simple philosophy; that education happens more effectively in the context of the congregation than the context of the classroom. He said this Masters program sought to integrate classroom learning with congregational engagement and that many of the assignments would have an immediate impact in the life and ministry of my congregation. As of today, I am set to graduate in 33 days and I have no regrets about my decision to be a part of the Master’s of Missional Leadership. My experience with this program has transformed both my life and my ministry context.

Solid Theological Foundations

One of the things that sets the MREML apart is how theology is taught. I have observed other master’s programs that present a theology of God that is abstract. It becomes easy to talk ‘about’ God but it becomes difficult to see and understand how God is revealing Himself in the Church and the world. This program proposes a theology that infuses our understanding of God with everyday realities.

Because God is alive and on mission, discerning His activity is vital for pastors and congregational leaders. This understanding of theology has drastically impacted my view of ministry. In light of God’s mission, my role as a pastor is not to ‘do’ missional activity, it is to understand that all I am doing is ‘on mission.’ At my Church, we have started to ask different sorts of questions. Rather than asking ‘what should we do?’ we are asking ‘what is God doing and how is He inviting us to be a part of His mission?’ I will be honest, this transition has not been without it’s struggles, but it’s brought a depth and passion to ministry that was simply not present before.

Cohort-Based Learning

Another reason my experience of this program has been so positive is because of the cohort that I was a part of. 12 of us went through this learning together and I can honestly say that these ones have become like family. The week-long intensives were four of the best weeks of my life, as we committed to learning not only in the classroom, but in the restaurants and pubs during breaks and in the evenings. These interactions continued through an online forum as we continued to learn from one another as we sought to apply the material. We created a safe community where anyone was able to ask questions and learn in community.

Investment in the Individual Students

During my first intensive, we got the privilege to listen to Dr. Mark Love talk with a friend of his, Dr. Stephen Johnson, about Christian education. One of the things that stood out to me was their insistence on the fact that educational institutions need to be places that facilitate human flourishing. My experience with the MREML has been one where this has proven to be more than an ideal: it is a reality. This program does not want to simply ‘fill our heads’ with some of the ‘right’ ways to think about the Church and mission. Rather, this program wants to form leaders who are in a healthy relationship with God and serious about fostering attentiveness to Him through intentional, shared practices. The Rule of Life is something that all students commit to during their first intensive, this Rule, then, is something that students live into and seek to apply to their learning. For me, this rule has helped me in so many ways! Physically, I committed to proper stewardship of my body and have lost over 60 lbs. Spiritually, I committed to daily interaction with God through His word and in the world. Socially, I am committed to being a good and Godly neighbor. I really do feel that my relationship with God has flourished during my time in this program.

My experience with the MREML has been a positive one. I have learned and grown so much while being challenged spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially. I have formed relationships that will last for a lifetime and have seen God work in might ways in my congregation as a result of this program. While I am happy that I am graduating in just over a month, I will miss this program and what it has brought to my life.

Working out as Worship (What’s Different, Part 4 of 5)

Since my last blog I hit another weight milestone…. Since February, 2015, I have lost 60 lbs! This has been extremely exciting and has motivated me to get serious about getting the rest of my weight goal taken care of.. I’m hoping before Christmas.

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The photo on the left was from Mid March. I was around 290 lbs. at this time (and had already lost about 10 lbs.).. The photo the right was from September 16.. 239 lbs!

Today I want to continue my blog series.. What’s Different?? In the last few years I have tried to lose weight numerous times but have dropped the ball miserably. This time I have found a lot of success and a lot of people have been asking me what I’ve been doing, so I wanted to keep this blog to help others who may be on a similar journey.

So What’s Different? Today I want to talk about seeing exercise and proper eating as acts of worship. Kirsten (my wife) is always quick to remind me that ‘it’s not just about losing weight,’ and this is totally true. Taking care of our bodies is an act of worship.

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I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

While this verse means a lot of different things, I want to briefly touch on the literal interpretation of the verse. By honouring God with our bodies, we are partaking in a worshipful act. One of the days when I did not want to go to the gym, I was walking down the river valley towards Kinsmen (right by where I took the above photo) and I intentionally decided to put some worship music on through my headphones. At this moment I had a profound encounter with the Lord and He spoke to me about how proud He was that I was choosing to worship Him with my body… The songs that I was listening to that spoke of the goodness of God were confirming the response of worship that I was choosing to partake in – the present my body as a living sacrifice to God! Emotionally, I kept going towards the gym and this was the day that I realized that this journey was about so much more than just getting the weight off, it was about honouring God with my body.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Another verse that really exemplifies this is found in 1 Corinthians. This passage talks about the fact that our bodies are not simply our own, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. One of the most profound sermons that I have ever heard has to do with this topic (by Allan Hood, the link to it on YouTube is below). Allan talks about the magnitude of this, that the living God choosing to inhabit human bodies means that our bodies are of utmost importance. One of the primary ways that we receive and accept the gift of salvation and being filled with the Spirit is by honouring God with our bodies. This is extremely profound!

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Working out is an act of worship to God. Choosing to make healthy eating choices is an act of worship to God. Does this mean that we need to be extreme in either of those… no! The most important thing in all of this is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be pursuing Him with everything we are. How we treat our bodies is such an important element of our pursuit of God. I can honestly say that since I have lost this weight, I have felt better (generally), my self-image has improved drastically (which has impacted my ability to receive and believe what God says about me), my comfort level in groups has improved (I feel that I can be more myself, as God has created me to be), my confidence in my gifts has improved (I believe that I have been walking in greater levels of anointing and being able to hear God’s voice).. I am not saying this to brag, I am saying this to show the example that when we take seriously giving our bodies to God as an act of worship – things change!

One way of looking at this has been that, over the past six months, the outward sign of weight loss for me has been a reflection of what God has been doing on the inside.. but I think it’s more complex than that. I think that the weight loss has enabled and deepened some of the spiritual changes that have been happening. As I’ve sought to steward my body more effectively.. as I have made this about worship rather than about duty… everything has changed!

Lord, I pray for those reading this, and for myself… that we would see stewardship of our bodies as an act of worship before You. That You would help us to take care of our bodies and not just see healthy choices as a means to an end like weight loss, rather we would see healthy choices as a means to end in meeting You and growing in our identity as Your sons and daughters. I pray that You would give us the strength to take up our crosses daily – in surrender to You, to say no to that which will keep us in unhealth and low self image, and to say yes to that which will give propel us towards You and a deeper relationship with You. 

To Fast or to Feast? Sabbath and Weight Loss (What’s Different, Part 3 of 5)

One of the biggest differences for myself in my weight loss journey has been a Biblical principle called Sabbath. One of the 10 Commandments that God gave His people was to work hard for 6 days and take the 7th day to rest in His finished work. Sabbath is something that is not commonly practiced in our culture today but I believe it is essential for followers of Christ.

One of the best descriptions that I have heard of modern day Sabbath is that Sabbath is a day where we get to celebrate the best about God’s Kingdom without feeling the burden of ‘doing’ anything. It’s a day where we simply get to ‘be’ what God has created us to be. It’s a day where we put aside our work and trust that following God’s command (to rest) and putting aside all that is ‘urgent’ or mandatory will actually sustain us as we pursue a thriving relationship with God.

For the Jews, their practice of Sabbath is quite extraordinary. Some of them go to great lengths to ensure they will not break the Sabbath or work at all on the Sabbath (for example, I have heard that many high-rises in Israel have a Jewish elevator and a Gentile elevator, the Jewish elevator will stop at every floor so that no person will have to press the buttons on the elevator in order to reach their destination… good thing this is not the elevator at the Sears tower in Chicago). This is an example of following the letter of the law rather than the purpose of the law… this also does not sound very restful! On the flip-side, though, Jewish people do celebrate on their Sabbath, so much so that they often will spend much of the day before preparing so that their Sabbath is fully practiced. They will begin their Sabbath at night once the sun is down with a large feast, they will then spend the day celebrating with family and enjoying life together! I could embrace that aspect of the Jewish practice of Sabbath.

My latest weigh in photo.
My latest weigh in photo.

So what does this have to do with weight loss? 

One of the things that I have had to accept about weight loss is that it is not meant to be a heavy burden (like the description of Sabbath I described to do with the elevators)… that type of weight loss is simply not sustainable. Now physical trainers may disagree with me on this, but one of the things that has made my weight loss sustainable, and successful, taking a ‘Sabbath’ from counting calories and avoiding all of the foods that I enjoy. How this works for me is simple – 6 days a week (when I am focussing on weight loss as opposed to sustaining weight) I regulate my calorie count, I limit myself to between 1600 (if I don’t exercise) and 2000 (if I do) calories per day. I also try to exercise at least 4-5 of those 6 days. In a lot of ways, I see this as fasting. I affirm that my desire to eat an excess of unhealthy food is contrary to my design and how God intends me to be healthy and I fast from eating those things. I don’t do this perfectly, but I would say for the first few months of weight loss I maintained this about 95% of the time.

To cheat or not to cheat.. Dillon and I stayed away from this one haha.
To cheat or not to cheat.. Dillon and I stayed away from this one haha.

On my Sabbath day, I feast (sometimes this does not line up with my actual Sabbath, though I would like that to become the rhythm, it doesn’t always work). I still try to eat within reason but, on this day, I allow myself to have that piece of cake, glass of milk, or cheeseburger. Like regular ‘Sabbath,’ when you know that your day of rest is coming, you are able to work hard the other 6 days… in fact, you can be more productive if you take a day off then if you don’t. This happens in life and it also happens in weight loss. This may slow the weight loss down a bit but what it does is it allows me to work hard the 6 days because I know that day 7 is coming. I can say no to that 3rd or 4th slice of pizza because I know that day 7 is coming.

A word of warning – Sabbath is not a day to eat like a glutton. My first few ‘cheat days’ I ate myself sick (confession)… in speaking with my counsellor about this, she asked me if there was a way I could use my cheat day to not necessarily increase the amount of food I was eating, but allow myself a few extra ‘treats’ that I would not eat otherwise! And this has worked!

I also apply this principle to my vacation. When I am on vacation, I treated this like an extended Sabbath. Did I gain a bunch of weight back? To be honest, no! I only gained a small amount of weight!

If you ever want to cheat, I recommend Portland Food Trucks!
If you ever want to cheat, I recommend Portland Food Trucks!

Fasting and Feasting

I think God created our bodies to both fast and feast. As long as both are done in a way that seeks to honour Him and in a way that listens to our bodies (as both fasting and feasting can have very negative consequences when done apart from these things). Christians are, I believe, to be the most celebratory people out there! We need to be able to cook the best meals and serve the best food. The culmination of the coming together of Heaven and Earth is a meal – the marriage supper of the lamb! Jesus used meals as a way of breaking down social barriers. The way that He instructs us to remember His death and sacrifice is through a meal (better stop now, I’m starting to preach 😉 ).

Application

If you are having a hard time eating well, here is my encouragement… try setting reasonable goals (2200-2500 calories is a decent goal) and live up to that 5 days a week (even 4 if you need a slower start). The other days, eat as you have been eating now. Honestly, you may not even want to or be able to eat like you used to! Start where you are, God will honour it, you will feel so much better, I guarantee it!

Yep, they are as good as they look.
Yep, they are as good as they look.