Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gospel Wellness: An Interview with Joshua M. - Part 2

Yesterday, I began an interview with Joshua M., about the launch of his new website Gospel WellnessYou can read part one here.

Many of you may not be familiar with who Joshua is, so here is a little more info about him:

Joshua is a self-employed digital analyst in the heart of Chicago. Although growing up in the country, he was given a love for the city and desires to see their transformation through the gospel. This has led Joshua to live in many different cities, helping out numerous church plants, as he has sought to see the gospel go forward in both small and large cities. Most recently Joshua was challenged by his weight, an issue far ignored in the church and one that never comes up in accountability conversations. This led Joshua down his own journey of what complete Gospel Wellness would look like in his life and the launching of his new website, Gospel Wellness. For more about Joshuavisit here.

As was available yesterday, Joshua will be checking in to interact on the blog and answer any questions below.

Let the conversation continue...

4. In what ways does Gospel Wellness challenge and equip the church to grow in body stewardship?

My hope is that Gospel Wellness challenges people by providing a framework for living out the biblical truth that God cares about our bodies and that we are to steward them well, to His Glory.  That may sound obvious and many of us would intellectually agree, but the lives of most in our churches don't reflect that. Ultimately the Holy Spirit will challenge and guide people to gospel wellness, but Lord willing, the website will help people make that connection and see how our mission, lives and those around us are impacted by our obedient stewardship.

At first I struggled a bit over my equipping approach. There are lots of programs claiming the one-true biblical diet or mashing-up fitness & cultural Christianity in really ridiculous and often harmful ways. There is no such thing as THE biblical diet or workout, so it's very important that we not position anything as such.  However, I don't want to challenge people towards believing and then not offer practical information about doing. Since the website is also about my own journey, I share the nutrition and fitness approaches that I'm personally taking and finding success with.  As an analyst (both my personality and profession) I take a very critical view towards wellness and only share techniques that fit within a rather strict criteria.

5. What are the criteria you use to decide which wellness techniques you'll personally use and also share on the site?

It's too much to fully cover here, but I'm happy to give your readers a preview.  Later this year I'll be doing a full series on this.  For any nutrition, fitness or even relaxation technique I consider, there is a series of questions that I ask... Is it natural? Is it sustainable? Does it make sense? and several others.

Is it natural? - God created...and it was good, so I look to God's natural design and provision as first choice, not just a fallback after man-made options fail.  This means nutrition that is based on real (not processed) foods and fitness that promotes whole-body wellness.

Is it sustainble? - Despite what the fitness industry would have us believe, wellness does't depend on costly supplements, pre-packaged meals, monthly gym fees, or a deprivation lifestyle (such as ongoing calorie restriction).  I look for approaches that are sustainable for a lifetime, by virtually anyone, anywhere.

Does it make sense? - What if we were coming at the idea of wellness fresh, without preconceived notions -- would an approach make sense, in light of the alternatives?  Would paying for and commuting to a gym to exercise our bodies one part at-a-time make sense?  Would taking vitamins & supplements, because we are rejecting natural sources make sense?  "Does it make sense?" is always 
complex and requires context, but it's an important question that is too rarely asked.

6. You're currently doing a series on Evolutionary Fitness. What is it and why devote so much time talking about it?

Evolutionary Fitness is a wellness philosophy based on the belief that humans evolved over millions of years, have spent most of our existence as hunter-gatherers and that modern humans would be healthier, fitter, less disease-ridden and overall happier if our nutrition & exercise were a bit more "primal".

This might get me in trouble with your readers, but I'm writing about it because it's a message I'd rather be hearing from the church. Let me explain -- I'm not talking about the evolutionary aspect, that has amazingly little to do with it. I'm focused in on the wellness and stewardship components. EF advocates have a strong appreciation for "natural" food, "natural" movement, and "natural" living in a way that trains the body holistically. As I consider and test these things, I find them pushing me 
towards a deeper appreciation for creation, stewardship and the wonder of the human body, made in the image of God. Even for those who reject the evolutionary language, there are redeemable takeaways, that when viewed through the lens of scripture, can and should point us to a deeper worship and stewardship. 

7. You mention five principles for gospel wellness that you started implementing in your own life when you considered what body stewardship should look like, will you share those with us and expound on them briefly?

  • Seek God - Everything is from and for God. If we're not seeking Him, it's impossible to steward well.
  • Grow in stewardship - A lifestyle of stewardship requires intentionally, it's not an accident. We should seek growth in this area.
  • Eat Real Food - God has provided us with plenty of tasty, nutritious plants & animals. Eat them.
  • Train for Real Life - God gave us wondrous, dynamic bodies. Our training fully engage them and equip us for overall fitness.
  • Rest & Recharge - An active, mission-filled life is strenuous. We need to rest frequently in ways that actually recharge us.

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