Guest / Limited Access /

It's Monday night at New Hope Community Church in Flora, Indiana, and 40 churchgoers donning T-shirts and sweats are gathering in teams for their weekly weigh-in. There's no camera to capture their reactions when their numbers are announced, ...

Read More

Displaying 1–12 of 12 comments

Latonya Ellington

January 29, 2014  12:53pm

Very good article with one exception, the thorn in Paul's flesh was not sickness or disease. Tradition has taught that Paul's thorn in the flesh was some type of physical ailment or sickness. If you will take time to study the Word, you will find that this is not true. Paul clearly states in II Corinthians 12:7 that because of the abundance of revelations he had received, he was given a thorn in the flesh and the thorn was "a messenger of Satan." The Greek word translated as messenger always refers to someone who is sent and denotes a definite personality. This same word for messenger is translated in other verses of the New Testament as "angel." Angels, as God's messengers, are created beings with personalities. Satan's messengers would be in the same category. In contrast, sickness is not a personality, nor a messenger. The phrase "thorn in the flesh" is a figure of speech or illustration. It is similar to calling someone who irritates us "a pain in the neck."

Report Abuse

Ellen Fedyna

November 03, 2013  7:32am

Although I feel God grieves with us when anything in our lives becomes an idol before Him, I am convinced, along with spiritual health, God wants us to experience emotional and physical health. I feel God created us as a package deal and if one aspect of our health is not focused on honoring God, it will force other aspects away from Him as well. If we are not emotionally well, we may put ourselves on a regimen of prescriptions putting us off balance physically or likewise, if we are not physically fit, we will not feel balanced emotionally. I believe it often becomes a vicious cycle God never intended. There is something wrong with religion, if Christians, specifically fundamental are experiencing problems with weight. Maybe instead of manmade religions and all the pressure of legalism, we just need to return to Christ guided lifestyles of unconditional love and acceptance and parishioners and clergy, alike, would realize before we can counsel others, we must become one with Christ.

Report Abuse

Laura Monica

September 09, 2013  3:03pm

Thank you Leslie Fields for mentioning WholyFit (I'm the founder) and than you for this great article that brings attention to the much neglected topic of health and fitness for Christians! I totally agree with your points on making sure we don't make fitness the focus. Of course the church should never be "Fitness - Driven" but rather Holy Spirit driven built on the foundation which is Christ. WholyFit is a ministry, the same as any other ministry in the church: we exist to draw people to Jesus Christ. We use fun exercise as an activity that draws people into a Bible believing, loving community in order to connect them to both the church and to the Word of God. Ms Fields acknowledges the real need for health and wellness and on the other hand rightly cautions about the deception of health, wealth and prosperity teachings that are contrary to the message of Christ. Memorizing Scripture during exercise is so effective -as old as Sunday School! In Jesus, Laura WholyFit Exec. Dir.

Report Abuse

Helen Baratta

July 01, 2013  9:48pm

Some say all we have to do is eat right and exercise to lose weight. I found that not to be true. We need much more to maintain a healthy lifestyle. After years of losing weight only to gain it back and more, I had given up. Yet the Lord had a different plan. I am supposed to start a wellness ministry at my church. Me a mother, wife, businesswoman, and Small Group leader. Me the forever-obese women weighing in at 274 pounds. In 2006, I started First Place 4 Health at my church. It took four long years to lose 116 pounds. I have successfully stayed at goal since July 2010. I have changed my lifestyle and learned healthier non-food coping strategies. I am beating the odds. I am placing Christ in first place; including what I put in my mouth and how active I am to strengthen my body. Being physically fit at a healthy weight has nothing to do with what I see in the mirror. It has everything to do with surrendering my weakness to the Lord. Every church should have a wellness plan.

Report Abuse

Stephen Bicker

June 25, 2013  10:43pm

Yes, we must avoid dualism. God cares about our bodies. But where is the cross in this preaching? Is this "another gospel?"

Report Abuse

Sheri Torgrimson

June 24, 2013  6:10am

I remember doing Gwen Shamblin's program in 1998. It was all right and I lost some weight. Then I went overseas as a missionary and by the time I came home , she had apparently gone off the rails theologically and been deleted from many church weight loss groups/programs. It seems that the demand for more and more product pushed her to interpret sections of the Bible as having to do with weight control etc. It's really easy to lose balance when something becomes a "hit" and we have to twist the Word in order to sell our product. Balance, balance, balance in Bible reading/interpretation, weight and life generally!

Report Abuse

Tom Andrix

June 23, 2013  4:03pm

There are two key issues on this subject for myself. One is the hold "eating as much as I what when I want it" had on me. It was actually tough to break - and to some extent still is 3 years down my "lose weight and keep it off" journey. Name it what you will, there was the matter of self-control that had gotten out of my control. The second is the ramifications of being overweight. Harvard Medical, Tufts and Mayo Clinic web sites, to name a few, are full of the consequences of simply being overweight - not to mention obese - and it's pretty scary. The spiritual concern I have is losing my ability to minister and care for others, and yes, even become a burden, simply because I did not take charge of the food and fitness area of my life.

Report Abuse

Tumeric TJ

June 22, 2013  5:27pm

One comment which has wrung true to me is that physical health is an issue which appeals to a wide range of people. The apostle Paul acknowledged as much when he used physical analogies to urge Christians to "run the race" and "fight the good fight" of the faith; and Jesus himself was interested in healing the body as well as the soul. Health ministries in church have the power to attract new members and invigorate old ones, as well as to strengthen the notion that the fruits of faith are ultimately experienced by the senses. I feel that this is an important cultural issue for the church to be involved. And ultimately, the church should preach balance and enjoyment in exercise and diet for the glory of God.

Report Abuse

Susan Johnstone

June 21, 2013  8:16pm

AW Tozer said "It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything." This quote could apply to anything in our life, including keeping fit and healthy. Fitness can become a god in itself or another form of self-righteous good works. But if we think about the reasons why we want to become healthy and fit, we have ample justification for doing this as a Christ follower. When we are healthy we can be better workers, and better parents. If we are fit, we can do physical acts of service (chopping wood, delivering meals, help at camp activities for teens, building schools in disadvantaged areas). When we stop spending money on unnecessary food, we become better stewards of God's blessings. When we deny our appetite, we use self-control and exhibit the fruit of the spirit. We develop character and mental discipline. I see much to recommend being healthy, as part of a holistic Christian lifestyle, rather than a fad.

Report Abuse

Crab Grass

June 21, 2013  5:24pm

Christians are just as bad as secular culture in telling Christian women that their primary value is in their weight and physical appearance, though some Christians may pay lip service to the idea of "but really, your value in Christ," but three pages later, these same people are telling women to look pretty and get skinny. Frequently, in Christian sermons and magazines, Christian single women are urged to get or stay trim because supposedly men are "visually wired" (but so are women), and so, if they want to get married, they need to stay skinny. Married Christian women get lambasted with these weight- and- appearance lectures as well. If churches are now pressuring the MALES to lose the lard and be fit too in these church wide exercise fads, it's about time. Most women do not want to date or marry an overweight slob, but Christian males seldom get this message from preachers. (Most preachers and Christian blogs only pressure women to look attractive, not the males.)

Report Abuse


June 21, 2013  1:16pm

As an aside, we should note how large amounts of physical activity have been engineered out of our lives, especially within suburbia. There are movements to reverse such; one such movement seeks streets that are amenable to all forms of transportation such as walking and biking. Imagine if one can get an hour of exercise simply by commuting! It's eminently doable with the proper infrastructure - I was able to do so myself for years. The benefits in our physical shape, plus all the financial and environmental benefits, make such a worthwhile goal.

Report Abuse


June 21, 2013  1:14pm

Having grown up in the SDA tradition I can tell you that dong certain things or abstaining from certain foods in the name of God quickly turns into legalism and judgementalism. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being healthy and fit but to attach in any way that it is a requirement of God or church is wrong and possibly idolatrous. Yes, God wants us to be fit, for our sakes, not the gospel's. And the sad fact that much of the obesity and illness we see is disease related will possibly drive these people away from God if we send the message that to be in God's good will you must be fit and healthy. After all Jesus said He came to call the sick not the well!

Report Abuse