Occupy Relationally (Fit To Serve)

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What’s the greatest thing you want to have achieved by the time you’re 65? (for those who are 65, share what you wished you would have achieved by now when you were younger!)

Just as God has given each of us our faith and family relationships as important resources, He has also placed into our hands the gift of our bodies. The human body is one of our most important resources. The bible tells us that God personally designed and handcrafted the first human body and then breathed into its nostrils the breath of life. God took particular delight in His creation and said it was not just ‘good’ but ‘very good’. And indeed, long before the advances of modern science had shown this to be true, the ancient Hebrews understood just how amazing the human body was.

The writer of the Psalms wrote in Psa.139:13-16, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ What an awesome poem of praise to God for the amazing gift of our bodies!

Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t manage this important resource well. During the first 4-6 weeks every year, some of the most crowded places in our city are gyms and fitness clubs! But I don’t have to be a prophet to predict that by the middle of February, they will mostly be vacant and abandoned! Our lifestyle of crowded schedules, mechanized transport, sedentary desk-jobs and highly processed foods is about to take over! The result is a generation that is suffering from diseases our grandfathers never knew existed. It’s no longer strange today to hear of Kenyans in their 30s suffering from the so called ‘lifestyle diseases’; diabetes, high blood pressure, heart complications, cancer and strokes.

But this was never God’s intention for us when He gave us our bodies. And even though our health is not explicitly mentioned in our principle passage that we’ve been reading, I believe the ‘occupy principle’ still applies to this important resource. So please turn with me to the text we’ve read since we began, what I’m going to call our ‘occupy manifesto’ – Luke 19:11-27 NLT

The amount in this passage was not a large at all. In fact it was quite easy to take it for granted! I mean – it wasn’t something that would make their master considerably richer, or make a dent in his net worth if they lost it. And so it was quite easy for the servants to feel that what they did with the little money they had been given really didn’t matter much in the big picture of things.

This is easily the attitude that many of us have towards the resource that is our body. It’s common when we ask people today why they don’t exercise or eat healthily to hear things like

1. My life is just too busy for exercise, and who has time or energy to cook anyway?
2. Gyms and healthy food are way too expensive. I’m still dealing with the basics!
3. I’m one of those lucky people who can eat chips everyday; it doesn’t show at all!
4. I am still young to worry about such things; after all, I could even get hit by a car and die before I’m 40!
5. I have given up on dieting. Nothing I do seems to make a difference on my weight.
6. Diabetes and hypertension run in my family and I’ll most likely get them too when I’m old anyway.
7. It is socially acceptable for a person of my age or social position to carry the weight I have.

The reality is that many people will lose their health today looking for money only to lose their money tomorrow looking for health. I don’t know if you are aware that lifestyle diseases are the leading cause of death in Kenya today! [not HIV or malaria!] More than half of deaths (55%) are caused by high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes and cancer. These diseases also account for half of all hospital admissions. They are no longer diseases for the rich (there’s a time they were prestigious diseases)! Of the 28,000 people who get cancer in this country every year, 22,000 die because they can’t afford the treatment (80%)! Lifestyle diseases cause 60% of the world’s deaths, and out of these, 80% are in Africa! These are staggering statistics! We’ve gone and occupied other people’s diseases!

But even more importantly than statistics, is the fact that without good health, you will NOT be able to achieve your kingdom purpose. Remember Jesus taught the gospel of the kingdom, not the gospel of salvation. It isn’t just about waiting to one day go to heaven; it’s also about living a full and rich life NOW! Jn.10:10 ‘I have come that you may have LIFE and have it TO THE FULL’. An example of a person who lived a full life in the bible is King David. Acts13:36 tells us, ‘For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep’ in other words, he died after having accomplished the task for which God had created him! But for many of us, not caring for our health means that regardless of how much we want to occupy, we will not achieve our purpose. Unlike Jesus who before he died said, ‘it is finished’, many of us at the end of our days will say ‘I am finished’! You’ll be ‘finished’ but you won’t have finished the job you were put on earth to do!

You see, you are not primarily a physical being – your body is a vehicle. But it is the vehicle that will take you where you need to go! And like a car, it serves best when well serviced. But Christians often tend to prioritize their spiritual lives and neglect their physical bodies! We feel that’s the more holy thing to do! But we forget two things. Firstly the bible asks in 1Cor.6:19 ‘do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit’. As a Christian because God’s Spirit dwells in your body, it’s a holy place and must be treated with respect! But secondly, when we neglect our physical bodies, we compromise our spiritual lives! If we keep living in the same way, many of us will increasingly lack the energy and endurance to pray, to stay in a good mood, to give the best to our work and to serve others. And as we grow older, we will become financially drained and a burden to our families. This is NOT the “full life” that Jesus envisioned for us!

One thing I notice from our passage is that no one knew how long the master would take to return. His journey may have taken months, years or even decades. The passage doesn’t say. It would have been very easy for the servants to lack any urgency in their work! ‘What’s the hurry? Why are you thinking so far ahead? Relax, you’ve got all the time in the world!’ In the same way, we often lack urgency when it comes to our health. ‘I’m still young and have many years to go. There’s so much time to correct things if I make mistakes! It’s not like I’m dying in the next 12 months. Even if I eat chips every day, it will be a while before I see a major difference! Some even saying – maybe I can wait to hear this sermon next year!’ [Let me tell you this; when I was 20, I used to think a 40 year old had one foot in the grave!] Note what our passage tells us however – the servants who succeeded created 1000% and 500% profits. This suggests they didn’t just multiply but they did so diligently, patiently, consistently! They must have started early and kept going, even when no one else was!

The reality is that having a healthy body doesn’t just happen. It takes discipline and exertion! The apostle Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 9:27, when he said ‘I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.’ (NLT). In another version he says ‘I beat my body to make it my slave’. He was speaking about how we must discipline our bodies now in order to ensure we finish well IN OUR FAITH! And indeed at the end of his life, he was able to say in 2Tim.4:7, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’. The impression we get is that it had been a long, tough journey physically, mentally, and spiritually, but that like Jesus, he too had successfully occupied and completed his assignment.

Let me say finally that simple lifestyle changes don’t have to be expensive. One of my relatives who comes to this church surprised us all last year. He’s a busy banking executive who has a nice car. But the whole year, he decided to walk to and from his house near Wilson Airport and his office in town. It would take him 40 minutes to an hour each way! To our amazement, this guy who was extremely overweight lost all the extra weight he had had for quite a while and now looks extremely fit and trim. The best part of it was that it didn’t cost him a cent! It’s those little choices that count – walking up the stairs to your office instead of using the lift, carrying a packed lunch to work, giving your kids a fruit instead of chips for snack, walking home from work in the evening, cutting out soft drinks…

I began by asking you a question… What’s the greatest thing you want to have achieved by the time you’re 65? What if simple changes in your lifestyle today could ensure that you will be active, engaged, joyful, and still fulfilling your purpose? What if you could serve God to the end of your days and finish strong? What if you could be healthy enough to enjoy the life-to-the-full that Jesus came for you to have? This year, God wants you to commit to a healthy lifestyle that will allow your body to serve you well to the end!

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22 Responses to “Occupy Relationally (Fit To Serve)”

  1. This was just one of those numerous new years I resolve to go to church every Sunday but as usual by mid Feb… Am in my early thirties and since I walked into Mavuno the last Sun of Dec, for the first time in my life I look forward to church every Sunday. Without feeling a sense of duty to fulfill any obligation but for the chance to transform that I have craved my entire life and has so eluded me.
    When I first got there, they went on and on abt these pastors that were on Sabbatical and it went on when they returned. I learnt they were founding pastors and so ….ok…yeah…we would want to recognise such but it still felt exaggerated. Two sermons later….and I get it! Man, you are such an inspiration and a blessing. I don’t know how you do it but you speak into my life and am looking to a great testimony for 2013. I am occupying 2013! And all I can say is-Thank You. And I know I speak for many. You are accomplishing lots exponentially… God continue to bless you.
    Sincerely, glad I checked into this place when I did.
    I lost my dad to diabetes and my mum to cancer just last Sept. So I know what you mean by making right health choices.
    By 65, I want to showcase Kenya in the field of waste management and environmental consciousness where littering will be frowned upon by all. An Ever Green Kenya! #occupy.

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  2. Motivating…..thank you

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  3. I am a Christian and a health freak for that matter.By the time pastor M finished the questions all my seven fingers were still up.

    But apart from my body which I take care of God has blessed me with wonderful children.I am in my early thirties with 3 kids.I bring my kids to church but honestly I hardly ever talk to them about God.I have all the excuses i.e I am too busy,they are too young,when one day I get to be a stay at home mum maybe I will have time ,I mean the list is endless.

    Last night my 10yr old daughter was playing with my phone as usual.I took it back when she went to bed and realised that my 10yr old was busy on you tube checking out how lesbians do it!!!

    I was in shock .I cried asked God what was happening.The truth was revealed to me through the sermon today.I have to occupy my kids.They are a gift from God.Apart from just praying for them I have to ocupy their lives and spirituality with Christ.

    When Im 65 I want to have Godly children and grand children.For this to happen today we begin our family devotion together as a family.

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  4. I DID IT!! The 21st day of Jan 2013 marked the beginning of my journey to living a healthy fulfilling life…it started by a morning run…pastor M nahema as i type away with a smile..joints are aching but i feel like tomorrow i might run unitl loitoktok,am feeling great and am thinking,it must be the dopamine!!! I am a very blessed girl when it comes to my health,I have the highest and strongest immune system in history of mankind(well,in my family) and i had slacked so much in terms of doing exercise. After yesterday’s sermon,after seeing Kanji’s dad,after having bigger dreams of what I would like to have achieved by 65,after falling more in love with my body…the time has come…. on ur marks,get set=====>GO!! Bless you daddy M,may the good Lord continue to use you as a vessel to minister to His people!

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  5. […] Remember… FAITHFULNESS TODAY MEANS FRUITFULNESS TOMORROW! check out the sermon I preached about this here […]

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  6. SAturday afternoon I walked from South road to town… Not that I didn’t have fare, it just looked like something I had never done before. In town I felt, instead of tired, like I had achieved something. And after that preaching yesterday, I must say, it had a purpose beneath. God bless you.

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  7. Great message that brought the procrastination chickens to roost. You spoke to my heart and to many others. I make some concrete decision for action. Keep it that practical. God bless you.

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  8. Last year’s matatu strike was a blessing in disguise. I was lucky to get a ride to town from a private vehicle at fee , the problem was getting to Yaya where my office is. I walked to All Saints with the hope that I will find a matatu, but there was none so walking was the only viable option. The steep slope on valley road scared me and I took a detour; I ended up in the heart of Kilimani ,lost, tired and frustrated. Thanks to google maps I found my bearing and 1 and half hours later I got to the office. In the afternoon, i got a ride to town and because I still felt tired from my morning walk, i tried my luck at the bus station but there was no means of transport. It was the longest journey home but i made it.
    This year i resolved to live a healthy lifestyle having had challenges in my health last year. Gym was not an option because i would have no time and money so when I remembered my trek home last year, I knew walking would be the best option. As i type this, I am on my third week of walking and I trust God to give me the discipline to keep on. With time I have become swifter and I love how alert I feel. I also love the fact that I save 70/- or 80/- shillings which they charge, for a trek that takes me between 1 hr 10mins to 1hr 30mins. Everyday I tread my heels for my Ngomas and each step I take and the dust I gather is a crown and a reminder that am walking to a healthy me. Other than walking, I also eat healthy and takes lots of water and I intend to make this my lifestyle and this is just the beginning. Thanks Pastor M for the sermon, it gave me the strength to go on.

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  9. (New International Version)
    So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’

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  10. pst m in the beginning of this year as my husband and i were making resolutions we talked about health..he said that God has a big purpose for us and we would have to be there to achieve it…we made major changes..we used to drink coke and drink daily after work and eat pizza and ice cream every week..we threw all that out and now he drops me 6am at the gym while he works out at home…we realised we are happier and less tired we are able to catch up in the evening after work without dozing off..as you spoke this weekend we kept looking at each other in shock that it could have been Gods word..on our way home my husband said ‘BABE MAYBE WE ARE IN THE SPIRIT’ lol…thank you for reaffirming us…

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  11. Pastor M
    what do i say, every year health is usually on my resolution list,that part of the list that i never get to.
    i say i will wake up thirty minutes earlier and run but i never get to it. i work for almost thirteeen hours straight and by the time am done am too tired to even make a decent meal so i live on bread and coffee and of course the very occasional fast food during the weekends, when i feel entirely bad about this habit i eat an apple:
    by the time you were done with the questions, only two of my fingers were up.
    i got my wake up call when i suffered a common cold for almost a month, and now your sermon.
    i cant promise to go full throttle, but i will definately take action.
    thank you for making Mavuno not entirely about spirituality but taking care of our physical health too.

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  12. i got a baby last year and this year i have resolved to be fit because i have one of those desk jobs where i sit for a long time. i have started small with taking 1 hour walks thrice a week. i feel so much more energetic as a result. however i am trusting God that my husband will join me in this fitness regime, he is quite fit but i feel some of his lifestyle choices have made him lethargic. thank you pastor M for this timely message

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  13. virginiah Says:

    I was a victim of the so called sedentary desk jobs, That led to me accumulating a lot of weight especially around the waist and not even my fruity lunches and small servings would help. You see, many Kenyan women believe that when you eat fruits only for lunch it supports your inactive office job.
    My routine was that I had ‘healthy cereal meal’ for breakfast and would sit behind my desk for the rest of the day, giving instructions from the phone and hardly ever moving unless I went out for lunch.
    I couldn’t understand why I had so much weight yet I ate very little. In fact I was overweight given my short stature and many times I said to myself that the weight would never go and resolved to stay like that because i had a job to take care of and I needed a great deal of rest when I reached home after a hard day’s work. You see, gyms weren’t for people like me, because I knew people quit along the way and I didn’t want to go down that road.Oblivious to me, my inactivity and unhealthy diet was the reason for many other health issues I had at the time wich saw me in and out of hospitals not to mention high stress levels and a grumpy mood. That is when I realised I had to act.
    I quit my job at the bevinning of 2012 and what followed thereafter was heightened activity because I was at home. Given that I’m a stroke survivor for 19 years with a left side paralysis, my work-out regime is limited and so I devised a plan for myself. A morning walk and an evening walk later, coupled with frequent visits to the shop and back home plus a healthy diet drove away my health issues, lowered my weight (from 65kg to 55kg. Get me right. I’m only 5’1 tall and my appropriate weight should be at least 58kg. Ever since the weight loss I’m tempted to stay home longer and not resume work. Nowadays I even find myself calling friends asking them to take wster! But I help out fat friends become aware of their unhealthy lifestyle I am a living testimony that unhealthy lifestyle steals your joy and money too. The sermon last Sunday just urges me on

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  14. Guilty as charged. As you spoke on health and being fit to serve there i was in service sipping away my soda. Oh and did i mention that during the week i had enjoyed those roadside delicacies, wow! Also that i watch series and movies late into the night waking up late in the morning. When i could be exercising and keeping healthy

    It hit me, all these goodies are sweet and tasty to the tongue but what was or rather am i doing to myself. The big question that lingered was, what type of inheritance and legacy am i leaving for my children.

    I would not want to get to 65 and my kids are busy taking care of my health instead of enjoying their lives. I also don’t want to be the kind that lives life on the edge.

    It’s quite a challenging task but am determined to do it. I did my first walk 2hrs long in my neighborhood, call it an evening stroll. My it looked or felt like nothing but wait till i got back home my joints ached but i know its for the good therefore i will keep on. Even if i don’t keep on to the schedule as long as i have the willingness to keep on trying till i get there. I WILL DO IT!

    I want to be FIT TO SERVE.

    Thank you Pastor for emphasizing on this as i believe its very relevant especially more in our generation where we want everything instant.

    Bless

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  15. I loved the sermon… And as we embark on the corporate fasting… I will not buy a single piece of chocolate or bag of chips… Stuff that I would otherwise opt to break my fast with 🙂 Occupying takes discipline and I realise it starts from the basic things… Here’s to a great year!!!

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  16. Am totally confused Pastor I need urgent advice. U have totally blessed my heart since the year began with the occupy series bt nothing seemz to work 4 me life is becoming more difficult coz I can go several days without food. I have brilliant ideas which can help me generate income bt everyone I approach 4 financial assistance are jus apprehensive n reluctant I have tried getting a job but nothing is forthcoming. Due to all these factors I am taking the painful decision of donating 1 of my kidney for monetary gain and I have already found willing buyers from pakistan, india and phillipines. Pastor am I making a foolish decision?

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  17. Thanks Pastor M. for your sermon “Fit to serve”. I am a living testimony that healthy living comes with loads of benefits …renewed energy, joy and better reasoning among others. I lost over 29kgs within 17 weeks on the Slimpossible show ,Season 2 and have maintained my weight between 73-76 kgs from 2011. High blood pressure is no more, my cholestrol levels are now normal and no longer at risk of getting diabetes as was previously the case. I moved 4 dress sizes down ( from size 22 to size 14) and the transformation feels great,thanks be to God.

    To create awareness and make people more health conscious,I created the Healthy Evaluation of Lifestyle Program (HELP!) which has outdoor workout sessions and health talks every fortnight (there is one this Saturday 26th January at Nairobi Arboretum from 8:00am) . Please search and view the Healthy Evaluation of Lifestyle Program (HELP!) page on Facebook for more details , it is an open page.

    Let us not lose our health today looking for money only to lose our money tomorrow looking for health….let us start today.

    Monica.

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  18. Dear pastor M n fellow mavunites i must say this has just spoken to me. It’s the push i needed in the right direction. I’ve been attending church and i don’t think it hit as hard as this just did. On 25th morning January 2013 I began to OCCUPY, and it is the beginning of taking charge of my body and my health. I must admit i’ve tried it before but something tells me you’ll encourage me and pray for me not to quit along the way

    In making my body a safe haven for the lord to dwell and change my life from the inside out..God bless you and continue granting you wisdom like Solomon to change and transform many of us out here..thank you so much for the motivation:)

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  19. My wife has never implemented a service series before like this one. We are newly weds , still in our first few months, and i think this was her queue to make the radical changes needed. Following the series that Saturday evening, there has been a radical change in the house. When we went shopping, all the usual suspects that characterized the trolley were missing. No sausages, biscuits , soda’s etc ..instead, broccoli’s , and all manner of veggies.

    We argued, I threatened to take over shopping . The meals have changed, and we are now eating healthy, following the creation of a weekly Menu . To catalyses this, the portions have changed. I’m still adapting to the changes. All is not lost though, and towards the end of this week, i can say i have joined the crusaders, and im making deliberate efforts to take care of my body including Gym and cycling. ….In Short, thank you for the wisdom nuggets.

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  20. Pastor M, you are killing me. First week you told me i have to start praying for myself. So I did. No more asking others to pray for me. Then you said i have to pray for my family. So I made a prayer list for every day of the week that included family, friends, co-workers and some acquaintances. I have started using it every morning.

    And now you are telling me i have to eat right and exercise too!

    So I want you to know that I spent the week cataloging my every meal and have realized my diet is too starchy and almost totally veggie-free. So yesterday, i began to include more protein and greens in my meals. As for the exercising, well………….

    So what’s next? Please make this week easy.

    Thank you and God bless you for teaching us.

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  21. I wished you were serious about the press up challenge on the pulpit, i could have made u sweat…not bragging but am just naturally fit. Sometimes i feel so blessed that am this guy who can junk anyhow but my weight never seems to be affected. It’s always constant. However, even with my fitness and everything, i’ve been having a problem of high blood pressure. At the age of 21, a second year student, i was under medication for HBP.

    The risk of me suffering from such kind of conditions is very minimal because am not overweight, i don’t drink, smoke, and it’s not in my family. But through the sermon i realized that i have to always be a faithful steward for every resource that God gives me, including my body. Even as i live to manage this condition, my prayer is that i always make the right decisions with regards to dieting and exercising. I hope one day in my old age i will be able to testify of God’s healing power and faithfulness as i become a faithful steward of the body he has given me

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    • fannymwaka Says:

      As i read the blog I’m ashamed of myself for God has blessed me with a good job that provides accommodation in five star hotels some of them having the best facilities like gyms and pools yet I’ve never bothered to use any one of them. I’m going to occupy physically from today and I’ll start with a walk,thank you pastor M you are God send.

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