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The Chinese Buffet

Everyday I arrive at the gym around 9am. I start my usual routine of cleaning the mats, the bathrooms, and then the floors and walkways. By 10am on most days I have a broom in my hands sweeping by the front windows. Everyday I see the same thing. The Chinese Buffet opens at 10:30am. By 10:20 people are standing outside in a line. By 10:25 they start knocking on the door. By 10:29 they are banging aggressively and yelling to the workers to hurry up. A common feature that a lot of the customers have is they are overweight and obviously in terrible shape. This really gets my mind going every time, thinking about the past and the present.

Most people that know me know that I was a full time Baptist pastor for a over 10 years. I was a full time youth pastor for an additional 4 years. One thing that was common in all those years of full time ministry was that people never listened before a major event, but always called you right after. For years I would see teenagers doing something harmful to themselves and I would call and speak to not only the teen, but also the parents. I was almost always met with the same response, "Not my kid." I was always amazed by this response. In addition a lot of times they would stop attending church in anger that I would have the nerve to alert them to such things. Then a girl would get pregnant, a kid would get caught with drugs, or someone would finally tell their parents about their depression. Then the parent would call a pastor. Not the one that originally told them, but a pastor somewhere. It really is crazy. It wasn't until I was in full time student ministry that I finally understood the old "Don't shoot the messenger" phrase.

The same is true with health. If you want to start an argument, try telling someone in the south that sweet tea is bad for them. Try explaining that milk is bad for you. Try telling someone that diet drinks, white bread, and rice are all bad. You will be in for the verbal fight of your life. Do you know when most people want diet advice? After a doctor tells them they are dying. Unfortunately it is often too late by that time. We simply don't want to hear about our health. We live with the mentality that if I like it, it can't be bad. Just like parents live under the illusion that because their kids have decent grades and they as parents work hard that their kid would never do anything bad. To me this is really a strange mentality. I am a very proactive person. I am not reactive by nature. If I see the possibility of a future problem, I like to solve it now before it becomes a problem. I will not wait until my kids get in trouble to help them get out of trouble. People say, "Well you have to let them learn from their mistakes." This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. If the stove is burning you would never let your child put their hand on it. No good parent would ever let their child play in the street while cars are coming. We have to tell our kids things before hand so they can understand the dangers. Then we have to be willing to jump in front of a car to save them if needed. The same must be true with our health. We have to be proactive. Don't wait until a doctor tells you that your blood pressure is high, your cholesterol is out of hand, and that you now have to take five pills a day. Do something. Be proactive. Today choose salad over fries and water over sugar or other artificial sweeteners. Do something today! Get off the couch and go for a walk, ride a bike, or do something extreme like start training Jiu-Jitsu.

I remember when I was only 12 years old my dad said these words to me, "Son your butt is wider than your shoulders." Now most people would be offended by that. I tell that story and people think my dad was wrong and that he was mean for saying that to a kid. I on the other hand am extremely thankful for my dad and his words. He has a joking personality, so it was his way of telling me that I needed to do something. I did. I started eating better. I am 42 and haven't had a soft drink since I Was 12 years old. I started running, and lifting weights. It was so extreme that when I started 9th grade most of my friends from Jr. High didn't recognize me. My point is that anyone can do it if they are willing to slow down and listen to the advice of people who have their best interest in mind without getting upset. Today I would encourage you to establish small goals for weight loss and health. Create a goal and then develop a plan to achieve that goal. You can do it. It will not be easy and it will not be fast, but you can do it. It just takes a little self-control.

Proverbs 25:28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

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