ave to awesome picMatthew 7:13 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention. (MSG)

So when you hear these words from Jesus, what runs through your mind?  Today we conclude the first big section of the Average to Awesome series where we are have been talking about making the decision to be healthy.  One of the things that really matters to us here at MRC, is that we are making decisions that are long lasting.  We don’t want this to be something we say we are going to do, but then we just lose steam and can’t follow through with this for the long haul.  I think it is really important that we stop today and focus on some very important factors that will help us make the decision to be healthy be long lasting and consistent, rather than having an awesome month or two.  I’m going to really talk today about something pretty counter cultural today, and that is that getting healthy requires something of you and I.  It takes time.  It takes focus and it takes hard work.  And if we are really honest, we don’t live in a world that is willing to take time, to take focus, and put in the hard work to get the desired results we need.  If you want to be healthy you have to want it and I know that really goes against the grain of our culture today.  This world screams for quick and easy, but quick and easy never seems to give us the awesome life that God keeps telling us that He came to give us!

We live in a world where we are moving faster and faster every day.  We want immediate results.  And let’s face it if we don’t get them, it becomes hard to stick with something.  I think we could all probably think back to New Years and come up with a couple of New Year’s Resolutions that we made that lasted just a couple of weeks and then slowly faded into the back ground.  It is hard to stick with something when things just don’t seem to happen at the speed that we want them to happen!  What is really interesting is God seems to move at the pace that He wants, doing things He wants…when He wants.  That can be frustrating for you and I at times can’t it?  Well I think Paul talks about this very thing in Romans, check this out….

Romans 3:28 We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.  (MSG)

Boy, oh boy this can be tough to do.  We all would probably be very willing to say that we want to be healthy.  We want to live the awesome life that Jesus came to give us but Paul says that happens when we can take a step back and allow God to set the pace.  Take a moment and think about your life.  Think about the speed at which you are living and answer this question for me today.

Are you allowing God to set the pace for your life?  Maybe a better questions is Are you even willing to have God set the pace?

The reality is that we live in the world of NOW!  We live in a world where we are constantly finding shortcuts to everything we do.  If I want to lose some weight I don’t need to work harder I just need to take the right pill.  I watched the commercial and just by simply buying the ab roller I can have six pack abs in a month!  If I want to know what is going on in the world I no longer wait for the paper boy to chuck my paper into the yard each morning, I take to Twitter and learn about it 140 characters at a time, as it is happening, in real time.  We want healing spiritually, and we feel broken inside so we run to the “Self Help” section of the bookstore (do we even have book stores anymore) how about on itunes in the audio book section and try to figure out how to find true joy.  Maybe even better, instead of working on our hearts we go on a week’s vacation and work really hard on resting, then we may show up at church on Sunday and hope the preacher can get that done for us in 30 minutes or less, because I have a lot of other things to go get done this week.  Hey look at our sports stars, perfect example, if they want to win a championship they don’t even bother sticking it out with one team right?  They just roll on to a better team and take the path of least resistance to their championship.

This is our culture.  We want it quick.  We want it easy, and we want it now!  We are living life at such a fast pace, we simply don’t have the time, the patience, or the capacity to allow God to set the pace for us, and the thought of God setting the pace almost sounds crazy doesn’t it?  How can I allow that when I have so much stuff to do!  What is interesting is that is the exact opposite of what Jesus is saying isn’t it?   Let’s read His words again…

Matthew 7:13 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention. (MSG)

The reality is that if you want to be healthy it is going to take hard work, focus and time.  The way to life, the way to God is vigorous and requires total attention.  You have to want it.  As I really started thinking through how to be consistently healthy and not just healthy for a month, I found 6 very important characteristics of a person who is doing this long term. Here’s couple of things that I want you to know, as you begin making this decision to take your life from average to awesome.

  • This will take hard work.
  • This will take patience.
  • This will take faith.
  • This will take humility.
  • This will take perseverance.
  • This process will produce the character in you needed to be awesome, hey if it were easy everyone would be awesome right?

Hard Work

So when you look at the scripture we started this talk with, we see clearly that Jesus doesn’t pull any punches with you.  He wants you to know right on the front end that it takes hard work to be healthy.  You know, if you think about it, there really are two kinds of people in the world…There is the person who makes things happen, and there is the person who wishes things would happen.  The person that makes things happens understands the real value in working hard.  The person that wishes things would happen usually sits around wondering why everything works out for the other guy.  What’s really interesting is that when you have a Christian won’t work hard and is sitting around wishing things would happen they can try to spiritualize there laziness!  You typically will hear them say really holy things like, “I don’t have to work hard because I have faith in God that He will provide for me me.”  That is a good Godly thing to say, and while I agree completely it can also be a way to hide your laziness behind God!  You hear things like “I’m not going to work at it, I’m just going to sit here and pray….the Bible tells me to wait on the Lord.”  Sounds great…doesn’t it?  The reality is that God honors the hard work we do on this earth.  I wanted to share with you some of the wise words of Solomon today when it comes to hard work…

Proverbs 14:23 Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table. 24 The wise accumulate wisdom; fools get stupider by the day.  (MSG)

Proverbs 13:4 Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.  NLT

Do you want to be healthy?  It will take work, I don’t care if the commercial told you that by using the ab roller you will have six pack abs tomorrow…it’s going to take work.  You want those abs chicken wings, and ribs are out…celery sticks and broccoli are in.  You have to want it.  It’s the same physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Remember what Jesus told us, there are no short cuts to God…the way to God-the way to life is vigorous and requires your total attention.


The second big factor to us making the decision to move towards consistent, long term health is patience.  The reality is that engaging God, getting healthy and having that awesome life that Jesus came to give you will take time.  This is difficult for you and I to deal with in the culture of today where everything needs to move quickly or we lose interest.  So if you’re are thinking with me through this talk today, you may be a little confused.  How can you work hard, and make things happen, and still be patient and wait on God?  That is a great question, the key is what we heard from Paul earlier…we have got to allow God to set the pace.  Let him lead, we can’t push out ahead of him.  We don’t live in a culture of slow down and wait do we?  Yet Paul told us that we need to allow God to set the pace for our lives, which is tough because he doesn’t always move at the pace that we want him to move at!

We often look at the end result and wish we could be there, without ever really understanding just how long it took that person to get to the place they are at today!  Just as an example of the speed at which God moves, you guys know the story of Noah’s Ark right?  Can you tell me how old Noah was when he was asked to build the ark?  This is pretty crazy, he was around 500 years old when God spoke to him and told him that a great flood was coming to wipe out mankind.  So yeah, he was pretty old, and must have ate much healthier than we do to live that long, lots of broccoli and celery I guess, but that isn’t my point…my point is this…do you know how old he was when the rains actually came?  He was 600 years old.  Do the math!  This dude waited around 100 years for the flood to actually come!  How many nights do you think he laid in bed watching Jimmy Fallon wondering why in the world he was building that huge boat?  I wonder how many days he went to work each day building a huge boat in the middle of dry land, while the people laughed and made fun of him.  Do you think this took a little bit of patience?  ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER, God’s words came true!  The entire human race wiped off the planet except Noah and his family, and just as a side note, why is it that we now use that horrific moment for our baby’s nursery?  We did it too, when Monica was born we decorated with Noah’s ark…the animals are so cute but I just always found it odd…here’s a lovely room of pictures representing the complete destruction of the human race for our baby to sleep in… well again, not the point but it is interesting that we take the complete devastation and death of all of humanity and wall paper our baby’s nursery walls with it…the point is this…God moves at a different speed than you and I move.  We all want immediate results.  We want to be whole and healed right now but the reality is that it takes time.   It takes patience.

Psalms 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. NIV

Wait on the Lord?  In our world we aren’t willing to wait 2 minutes on an MTO at Sheetz let alone God to do something special in our lives!  We have got to learn to let God set the pace, and learn to be patient…God moves when He wants.  He moves how he wants.  By whatever means He wants.


As we make the choice to be healthy, and allow God to set the pace of our lives, it will absolutely take faith to stay on course.  You think it took our buddy Noah a little bit of faith to build that big boat, and stick to it for a hundred years?  Yeah, just a little.  Here is how the Bible defines faith…

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. NIV

So we have to make the decision to be healthy and be sure that through God working in our lives we can be certain that we can get where we want to be, even when we won’t be able to see exactly where we are headed.  Just to keep picking on Noah, how much faith did it take for him to just keep working…he couldn’t see the flood, he couldn’t see the rains, but he was certain of what he could not see.  So as you make the decision to be healthy, what happens when it isn’t happening as you thought it should?  Will you stay the course, or give up?  Really your faith is what will keep you on track, your lack of faith is what may cause you to give up.  Are you sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you do not see?  Faith is the fuel, and it will sustain you through the tough times when you aren’t clearly seeing the end goal.


So let’s go back to what Paul was talking about in Romans 3 for a moment…

Romans 3:27 …What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. 28 We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.  (MSG)

Let’s face it we humans have an amazing ability to forget just who is running this show don’t we?  Now let me clarify this…we forget that God is running the show when things are going really well.  So when we get the promotion, when we win the big game, when we fall into some wealth.  When the business takes off and goes to another level…it’s in those great moments that we seem to think of all the amazing things that WE have done to get us to that great place!  We proudly run the parade as Paul says at that point.  The most popular time to give God credit seems to be when things are NOT going well right?  I have always found that extremely interesting, we don’t want any part of God when things are going well, but the moment something bad happens he gets all the credit in the world!  I have friends who don’t believe in God, they tell me they are atheists but the irony is they are very angry with God when bad things happen.  That is really confusing to me, how can you be angry with a God that you say doesn’t exist?  We get so caught up in all the good things we are doing, our successes and victories; that we forget that God is pulling ALL the strings.  God isn’t responding to what we do, we are responding to what He does!  It takes a humble heart to take a back seat, and allow God to set the pace for us.

Remember there are no shortcuts to God…the way to God, to life is vigorous and requires your total attention.


You know choosing to be healthy will absolutely take perseverance.  Let’s think about it from our physical self, when you choose to start working out and getting healthy how does that go the first few weeks?  It is awful isn’t it?  You are exercising so you are extremely sore and you are dieting so you are extremely hungry at the same time!  You get on the treadmill or the elliptical and you feel gross, I know I do, my belly is bouncing around, and you are tired before you start, and I can be really discouraged hitting the scales and seeing no change in my weight, or it going the wrong way.  Then you go sit next to your skinny friend who never works out and is eating McDonald’s burgers every day for lunch, while you eat your celery sticks, knowing that if you look at food like he eats you gain weight…ahhhhh!  It can be frustrating can’t it?  Well it’s that way in every aspect of your life whether that is physical, emotional,  or spiritual, when you choose to get healthy, there will be moments that you must push through.  Perseverance is a really big deal!

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  NIV

As we stick with something, it is doing a work in us making us mature and complete not lacking anything.

Remember Jesus said there are no short cuts to God…maybe he knew what he was talking about!

The reality is that making the decision to be healthy is a long term decision.  It will take hard work, it will take determination and focus.  There will be moments when your faith will be tested.  There will be moments when you feel like giving up, but in the end it will all be worth it because you will have the character to engage the awesome life God has laid out before you.

Can I ask you the big question of the day?  Do you want to be healthy?  I mean do you really want it? 

Because this decision is monumental and it isn’t one for the faint of heart.  We must engage this decision and put in the hard work needed to make this happen!  What we don’t want to see is for you to find the love of Jesus, ask him into your life and then assume that you have arrived somehow!  It just doesn’t work that way.  Being a Christian and engaging the awesome life that Jesus told you he came to give you is all about your actions in the process!  You must choose to be healthy and then make healthy choices.  These decisions will shape and mold the direction your life takes!  These decisions are both practical and spiritual ones!  For your physical health you decide how you will eat, if you will exercise, and when you go to bed!  If you are not willing to change your habits you just won’t get healthy!

With your spiritual self you decide on whether or not you are going to spend time with God.  Just because you show up at church, or have asked Jesus into your life at one point and time doesn’t mean that you are centering your life fully on God.  It doesn’t mean that you have arrived, in fact it means that you are now starting your journey that will take you one of two directions; it will either go towards holiness, or the spirit of religion.  Yes, you area church goer now, but that doesn’t mean you are immune from working at your health.  Remember what Jesus said, the way to life, the way to God is vigorous and requires your total attention!  Jesus warns us of what happens when we do not make the decision to live daily for him…

Matthew 12:43 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”  NIV

This is a warning…don’t leave the house empty.  Fill it with your daily relationship with God.  You have to make him a part of you inside and out, so that when the enemy does return there is no room for him in your life!

So how does this hit you today?  What are you filling your house with?  Is it filled with Christ, or was Jesus that thing you did on that one day, and the home is now sitting there empty?  If it is sitting there empty you are in danger.

So what is it going to be for you?  Are you going to make the decision to be healthy?  This is a decision that you shouldn’t take lightly.  This is a decision that isn’t made just for today, but a decision that should cause action in your life, every day for the rest of your life.  Yeah it is hard to start working out.  Yes you are going to be met with trials and tribulations…yes, God doesn’t always move at the speed that you and I would want.  Please engage this on thought- the awesome life we are speaking of is not going to just fall into your lap…you have to want it, you have to work for it, and it is a long term decision that will not be made for you.  You have to make it.  I understand fully that, what I just said is the exact opposite of everything our culture is telling us.

Matthew 7:13 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention. (MSG)

Hey if it were easy everyone would be awesome.