Offering Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices by Bryan Craig
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
This verse is probably one of my favorite life verses. This speaks to me about abiding in Christ, about consecrating my life before the Lord, about transformation which leads to a fruitful life, about discovering God’s will and purpose for my life. I love it. However, I’ve come to realize that I have been very diligent and disciplined in offering God my spirit and my soul, but I cannot say I have offered him my body. What I mean is that I have not been a great steward of my body. I have eaten whatever I like for most of my life. Thankfully, I seem to have been blessed with high metabolism that burned most of it away, but as I’ve gotten middle-aged, that has changed. I also have paid little attention to physical exercise. Sure, I enjoyed going on walks with my wife, which does render some benefit, but I’ve had no physical exercise plan.
Last year, a few months after I lost my Dad to COVID, I was contemplating my life, including my physical life. I heard a sermon which talked about disciples of Christ being in “training”. The pastor talked about disciples in training doing hard things like getting up early to spend time in God’s Word, to give of themselves in service, etc. I liked the word “training” and I felt like that was me when it comes to spiritual things. However, there was still something not right within me. I came to the conclusion I needed to work on offering God my body, too. I prayed, “God, I know I need to get in shape, but I don’t know how. I’m not a gym guy. Would you help me?” As soon as I said “Amen”, the Spirit whispered something to me immediately… “Remember F3”
F3 (www.f3nation.com) is a nationwide men’s fitness movement whose mission is “to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.” I was introduced to this 4 years ago by our Regional Director in Carolinas, Glenn Gordon. Glenn was a part of this group and asked me to come speak to them about Influencers and The Journey, with one catch…I had to do the workout before I spoke. Gulp! I thought he was joking. I thought I would throw up and pass out since I was so out of shape. Surprisingly, I was strengthened by the way these men welcomed me and encouraged me and helped me complete the workout. I came away feeling “invigorated” as their mission states.
God reminded me of this experience and I found myself talking to Glenn about starting an F3 chapter right here in Northwest Arkansas. I couldn’t even believe I was suggesting it. I even started trying to recruit Influencers to help me. Then, one of them sent me a text with a link to the F3 NWA page. It already existed! Wait! That means I could start working out that very week. Ugh. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I drove to Bentonville Square at 5:30 AM on a Thursday morning. I won’t say it was easy, but I will say that I found the same comradery, encouragement and strength from the men who were there. I kept pushing myself to go, challenging myself to go 15 times before I even considered quitting. It was difficult to re-train my brain and my rhythms, but after a few months, it started to click. I started to look forward to the exercises, and I felt a commitment to the other men. I began to help some of them with their spiritual training, and believe it our not, I’ve led the workouts several times. This is unbelievable to me, were it not for God!
Every time I questioned my sanity or the validity of this exercise thing, the Holy Spirit interceded. He put Nate Sweeney’s book, “Abiding in Physical Health” in front of me. He also spoke to me out of a book I was reading “Sacred Rhythms” by Ruth Haley Barton, which had a chapter on physical health. And when I started to use the excuse that I was too old for this at 54 years of age, a 57 year old Influencer joined the fray.
Now, I can say that I am in “physical training” along with my spiritual training. I am now working on eating better so I’m giving my body better fuel for life. I can also say that I now see the connection between the physical and the spiritual. My physical health has opened new portals of spiritual growth and strength that has invigorated my leadership. I was in a meeting with some F3 guys the other day, and one of the leaders said, “In F3, we do the hard things like getting up for a 5:30 AM workout to train ourselves for the hard things life will inevitably throw at us.”
I see so many parallels between this and The Journey. We train men and women to discipline themselves to do hard things to get to a better version of themselves so they can make an impact on their world. If you are a disciple of Christ, you are in training, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I share my testimony of F3 and my physical fitness journey in hopes it might inspire you to pray about offering your body as a living sacrifice, so that you can find God’s will for your life, His good, acceptable and perfect will.
TO FIND OUT IF THERE IS AN F3 GROUP NEAR YOU, CLICK HERE.
TO ORDER NATE SWEENEY’S BOOK, “ABIDING IN PHYSICAL HEALTH,” CLICK HERE.