Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Temple Tending

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
--1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“You are the only you you’re ever going to have.”  I thought of that phrase as I pondered how I would “tweet” the sermon if I was limited to a phrase or two.   
If you weren’t at Advent yesterday, we explored the above passage from 1 Corinthians.  Paul clearly declares that what we do to and with our bodies matters, because our bodies are temples, vessels of the Holy Spirit who is in us.  
The larger context of that passage is sexual immorality, but yesterday we focused on tending our temples, which we defined as caring for our bodies.  
I shared my temple tending story.  In August of 2011, I had my annual physical.  Here’s what my physician had to say to me that day: 
“Here’s the deal: When you first started coming to us 4.5 years ago you weighed 178.  Today you weighed 206.  You have a very strong family history of high cholesterol and diabetes.  Over the past 4.5 years your fasting blood sugar has slowly increased.  Today it was 123.  We consider 140 diabetic.  Michael, you’re running around taking care of everybody else, but you’re not taking care of yourself, and if you don’t buckle down, change your habits, lose weight and exercise, you are going to be diabetic before you turn 40.”  Then, he said, “Michael, you’re not taking very good care of your temple.”  
He knew I’d immediately know that he was referring to 1 Corinthians 6.  And, he was exactly right.  I wasn’t tending my temple.

As I shared on Sunday, I now weigh 174, which is down considerably from 206, BUT it is up from the 168 I weighed when I moved to Simpsonville at the beginning of September.  Our stewardship series, culminating with stewardship of our bodies, has been the fuel I needed to stoke the fires of discipline.  So, this morning I hit the treadmill for a little temple tending before anything else.
From your comments on the way out of the sanctuary on Sunday, I could tell that Paul’s admonition to remember that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit struck a cord.  I hope that you have taken the step of reaching out to a trusted friend to be your accountability partner.  After all, you are the only you you’re ever going to have.  Discipline is worth it.  AND, small lifestyle changes can make a big difference.  
Those of you reading this via email, please click on my blog page to view an eye-opening video created by a physician.  It should supply you a little more motivation. 

The Only Me I’ll Ever Have,
Pastor Michael

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chris, Beat It

        This morning, after one of our Sunday services, a group of lovely women  came out to greet me.  The mischievous expressions on their faces indicated to me that they were up to something, but I had no idea what.  Then, on cue, they snapped into formation and said, in unison, “Chris, Beat It.”  Immediately, I knew that my foolishness had traveled quicker and farther than I would have ever imagined possible.  
This choreographed move in the narthex was a comical response to something that my pastor friends and I did for one of our brothers.  My good friend, The Reverend Chris Barrett (pastor of St. James UMC in Spartanburg), is preparing for a bone marrow transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  This aggressive procedure is the last in a line of treatments he has been undergoing since May when he was diagnosed with a relapse of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  
If you’ve never met Chris, he is a gregarious presence who lights up a room when he enters.  His larger-than-life laugh can be heard within a country mile and cannot help be generate a smile in those fortunate enough to call Chris “friend.”  He is a rare combination of brilliance and down-home authenticity.  I have been blessed to call Chris a close friend for over 15 years.  
That is why some of my other pastor friends and I wanted to do something for Chris to both make him laugh and brighten his day and encourage people to hold him and his wife, Elise, and three children daily in prayer.  
Thus, the genesis of “Chris, Beat It” music video.  It was remarkable to see how the very idea sparked people’s imaginations and created a desire to help.  So, my list of people to thank is long: Chad and Kami Turner sang the vocals.  Laurie Brown Pressly offered a couple of excellent ideas and taught me the choreography, which I in turn taught my friends.  Steven Douglas gave half of his day to be our camera man for the “shoot,” and Helen Mitchell, Rene and Baylie Weeks, Steve Bloomquist, and Elizabeth Blair all shared with us costume materials.  Of course, I can’t neglect to mention a great group of pastor friends with whom I am incredibly blessed to share this vocation and journey.  Many thanks to my brothers Will Malambri (Central UMC, Florence), Brad Gray (St. Andrew’s Parish UMC, Charleston), Joe Cate (Buncombe Street UMC, Greenville), and Thomas Smith (New Beginnings UMC, Boiling Springs).
So, without further adieu, if you haven’t seen “Chris, Beat It” and you are reading this via e-mail, then click this link or visit my blog.  Share it with your friends, but most of all pray for Chris and Elise Barrett.

Pastor Michael