The Home Gym
September 12-13, 2009
I’m in a series on the family and it’s one of my favorite topics to talk about because all you have to do is read the Scriptures and see that God’s redemptive plan, his whole purpose has always unfolded through the family. And now of course we know that the family is the backbone, is the foundation of our culture. So it’s really cool that we can talk so openly and honestly about the family. And one of the things we need to understand is, and this is very, very obvious, but many times we forget the obvious. One of the things we need to understand is the simple reality that all of us are members of a family. Whether you’re a single adult, whether you’re a child, whether you’re a student, whether you’re a single parent, whether you are a part of nuclear family with 2.5 kids, all of us are a part of a family. And there’s nothing like it when the family is running right.
And we talked about over the last several weeks, the fact that the family is like a company. We’ve said that parents are the CEO’s. And the kids should be working in the cubes. But so often the parents are in the cubes and the kids are in the corner office. And that shouldn’t be that way. And we talked about some of those issues, some of those power issues set forth in Scripture.
We’ve also been saying that the family is like this clinic, is like a hospital, a trauma center if you will. Parents, we are the doctors and the Great Physician, that’s what they called Jesus in John chapter 5, has given us, parents, this position to help our kids, which are the patients, in their condition. And that’s what we’re about.
Well today, we’re going to get into something else, another role of the family. I think this really, really exciting. And I think it’s very, very fitting especially in today’s culture. But I thought it was rather ironic that we got contacted, a couple of days ago by ABC’s Nightline because, Nightline is doing a show, they’re filming an entire show right here at Fellowship Church in our Grapevine Campus, Thursday night at 6:30, and I would love for you to be our special guest. I’m going to be debating a group of people on the subject of adultery. And you might be going, “That’s odd. Why are you even debating adultery?” Well, there’s a website out there, and I wouldn’t recommend you log on to this website, but it’s called Ashleymadison.com and it’s a website about committing adultery. Ashleymadison.com has 4.5 million users. You pay about $250 a year and they’ll hook you up, literally, with someone else who wants to commit adultery. And you can commit adultery in a very discreet manner. So I’m going to be debating the people who actually started this website. It’ll be pretty crazy. It’s going to be fun though.
So Anyway, would love to have you here, you know. Cheer for us. “Yeah! Go! Get ‘em!” I’m not saying that, don’t do that. We’re going to do it all in love, but, it’ll be, it’ll be fun. So definitely be in prayer.
Also too, I do something called Twitter and if you don’t know what Twitter is don’t worry about it. A friend of mine said ‘twooter?’ No. Twitter, Twitter, Twitter and the address is, on the screen. I’ve been doing something over the last several days that I’m going to do for a long, long time. I’ve been speaking out and doing leadership conferences and preaching messages and writing books for about 20 years. So I’ve decided to put a lot of the thoughts that-that I have come up with that I’ve gotten from other people on Twitter. I want to deposit a devotional thought into your life, just one or two lines every single day. And if you want to do that, I’ll be happy to, um, you know, give you the 4-1-1 on all those different devotional thoughts. So anyway, thought I’d tell you that before we begin.
You might be saying, “Ok, Ed. What is the family like? Ok, it’s like a company, I understand that. The family is like a hospital, I understand that. But what is the family like?” Well, here’s what the family’s like. Because as I ask you this question, I think you’ll discover what the family is supposed to be.
How many of you have ever ordered any exercise equipment from an infomercial? If you’ve ordered any exercise equipment, go ahead and confess, this is church, if you’ve ordered any kind of exercise equipment from an infomercial. I think we all have. I think we all have. Infomercials are intriguing. Don’t you find yourself sometimes just mesmerized by these infomercials. Especially the one’s that promise us these incredible physics and figures. The people who are selling these-these pieces of equipment, they’re always smiling – tsh-tsh-tsh-tsh-tsh – you know, with the ponytails bouncing around and the little outfits and everything is matching and looks so easy. No one is perspiring, and with 24 easy installments this piece of exercise equipment can be yours, it can be mine. It’s very, very tempting, isn’t it? They make billions and billions of dollars doing it.
The idea of these infomercials, the thought behind it is genius. Think about it. Think about it for a second. These marketers have figured out that those of us who are watching television from the comfort of our home can actually bring the gym into our home. Like that. Just pay a little bit of money every month, and your home and my home can become a gym.
I’ve got news for you. That idea isn’t original. I’ve got news for you. The marketers have ripped that off from God. God’s been saying that for thousands and thousands of years. God has told us that your home and my home is a gym. It’s a gym. G-Y-M, God, You and Me. Or if you’re from the south, God,Y’all, and Me. Your home, my home is a gym. Parents, that makes you and me –vwm, vwm, vwm, the trainers. That’s right, that’s what we do. We train.
Because the definition of parenting: Deuteronomy 6, teaching, Proverbs 22, training, Genesis 2, our kids to leave. As parents, what does it mean to put the ball to the net? We teach them, teach them what? The ways of God. Teach them what? To glorify God. Teach them what? What it means to apply the Word in their lives and to live the kind of life that God wants. We train them. We give them opportunities, to work, to serve, we stretch them, we mold them, we make them, under God’s directives, into the kind of people that he wants. We train them to do what? Leave. And we and we shoot them with great trajectory out of the family unit, out of the gymnasium, so they in turn, can start their own gym. That’s the beauty of the family. But we’ve got to ask ourselves a question. Against the backdrop of thinking about the fact that the family is a fitness center, against the backdrop of thinking that the family is a gymnasium. We’ve had to ask ourselves a question. How is the family doing? Seriously, I mean, how is the family doing? Let’s look at some of the raw data. How is the family doing?
Fifty percent of marriages still end in divorce. Half of all first time marriages end up in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of second time marriages end up in the deep weeds. Seventy-four percent of those who try a third time, I’m sorry, wow, 74 percent – ha – of those who try a fourth – uh, uh, I can’t say this right [rewind] you know what, I’m gonna start all over with that. I’ve done confused everybody. Ok.
50% of first-time marriages end in a divorce. 67% of second-time marriages end in divorce. 74% of third-time marriages end in divorce. I didn’t check for the 4th and the 5th. Ok. On top of that. People living together has multiplied exponentially.
Now, just think in your mind for second. How many babies of all the babies that are born in our country, how many babies are born out of wedlock? 40%. 50% of students are sexually active. 25% of those have had at least 4 different partners. With that in play, the USA is the number one consumer of porn in the world.
Now, let’s bore into the Christian community just for a second. Because if you look at the research, those who call themselves Christians, and a lot of people call themselves believers, who aren’t, I hope you know that. But those who call themselves believers, those who say they are a Christian family, as you look at their kids in their 20’s, 61% of their kids, when they hit 20 years of age, distance themselves from the faith and from the church.
Now, hopefully, the clue phone is ringing. Hopefully you’re going, “Wow, this is jacked up. Wow, something is not working. Whoa!” How’s the family doing? As we look at the family, it doesn’t look that great.
Well what’s God’s strategy for the family? He wants the family to be a gym. God, You and Me. He wants the family to be full of trainers, to be full of kids who submit themselves to the trainers and who do the stuff that trainers want. But again, what does God want the family to do and to be?
Plan A, Deuteronomy chapter 6. If you have your Bibles turn there. Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 5. What does it say? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” Impress them on your children. This is God’s strategy. Talk about them when you sit at home. When you walk along the road. When you lie down, when you get up, tie them as cymbals on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Isn’t that something?
So the main thing in the family fitness center is not to give your kids some trust fund it’s not to give them some opportunity to become this scholarship athlete, all those things are fine and dandy. It’s not to give your kids trips around the world. Again, those things are awesome. The number one thing, God’s agenda for the family, is to do what? It is to teach and to train our kids to leave. It’s to impress upon them the things of God. It is to give them the opportunity to love God with the totality of who they are.
But I like that word I read, I hope you didn’t miss it. Love God, Love the Lord your God with all your [vwooom] strength. I like that. Strength. Trainers, parents, trainers, trainers, what are we supposed to do? The first thing trainers do is, we’re into strength training. Talk to anybody who wants to be in good shape, what do you gotta do? You gotta pump the iron. You gotta do some sort of strength training.
The best trainers are not people who have their clients as their best friends. The best trainers don’t have the happiest clients. I’ve seen trainers before, and I’ve seen trainers go, “Well, I just want my clients to be happy. I want to do what makes them happy.” Those clients don’t last very long. The best trainers understand that their clients have got to go through long periods of time when they’re unhappy, so they can make the gains that they need to make. It’s like the old adage, “No pain, no gain.”
And trainers, we have to allow our kids to build strength in their lives, to build muscle in their lives. In other words, we have to work out in the family unit what God by his grace has worked in. That’s what we’re about. And working out is not always fun. It’s not always convenient. It’s something that we’re called to do. Parent’s you’re the trainers. And here’s the thing about training. You can’t train your kids, parents, if you’re not training yourself. I remember going to a gym years ago and some of the trainers were out of shape. I didn’t want to hire one of those guys. I was looking around for the person who was the most ripped. I’m like, “I want him to train me. Not that person, I want him to train me because that person is shredded. That person is training themselves.
We have a lot of body-builders that come to Fellowship Church, did you know that? We got some big ol’ monsters that attend Fellowship. Huge guys, huge girls, I mean people who are, who are just who are just ripped. I mean they have veins the size of garden hoses in their arms. It’s like, whoa, man. Body builders. I have a lot of friends who are body builders. And it’s fun to talk to body builders. The only joke I know is a body building joke, you want to hear it? Yeah, yeah, you want to hear it, yeah. I do, I do. How many body builders does it take to screw in a light bulb? 2. One to screw the bulb in, the other one to go, “Hey man, you’re looking big, you’re looking big, dude, you’re lookin’ big.” [drum/cymbal]
Walk into any gym and you’ll see some body builders. And talk to them because these cats are disciplined. Hey, ask them, what does it take to get those muscles, they’ll be like, “Man, you got to have discipline, you gotta work out like 3 hours a day. You’re your diet needs to consist of tuna, just about 2 ounces of brown rice, and water. And supplements. That’s it. You gotta pump the iron man.” Whoom-whoom.
But if you really want to mess a body builder up, ask a body builder this question. Now, I’m not diss’ing body builders, but I’m just saying, if you want to mess their brain up, ask them this, just say, “Hey, Mr. Body Builder, hey, Ms. Body Builder, why are you lifting all that weight and punishing your body with that strict diet?”
They’ll say, “For a contest.”
“A contest?” You say. And then ask them this. This will really mess them up. “What are your muscles for?”
The body builders will think, and they’ll go, “Uh, to pose.” [Ed laughs]
“Wait, you’re telling me you’re lifting all this weight and you have all these muscles, and you’re muscles are there just to pose? Whoom-whoom-whoom, Aaa-HAA.”
“That’s right, man, just to pose. That’s what we do.”
Well, I’m here to tell you, in the family, our muscles aren’t just to pose. Our muscles should be broken down and should be built up. They should be trained, why? So we can use them to love God with all of our strength. To love God out of character, out of vision and integrity, and commitment.
Parents who are trainers, parents are spiritual spotters. We’re spiritual spotters. Because trainers will push you past what you would normally do. If I work out by myself, compared to working out with someone who’s training me, a training partner, the training partner will take the workout always to a higher intensity level. I think about, where’s my Bible, here it is. I lost my Bible for a second. I was like, “Someone stole my Bible.” Galatians chapter 6 verse 2, it says, “Carry,” you could write here ‘spot’, “each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What do I mean by spotting? When you spot someone, let’s say you do 12 reps. You’re like, “[whoom-whoom] shhhheven, whoom-whoom-eight, Oh, uhhh, mommy, uhhhhh, uhhhh.”
Well, if you’re by yourself, you’d go, “Whew, that’s enough.”
But a trainer is going to say, “Oh, come on now, let’s push that weight, eat the iron, come on, crash through the quitting point baby.” And they’re going to help you with that weight. They’re going to give just enough pressure where you’re still working your rear off to get the weight up. And that right there, that is where the muscle is built. And you do rep eight, whoom, and you do rep 9, and then like the tenth and eleventh, you might do some negatives, “Ahhh-hhhaa,” the veins are sticking out. [heavy breaths] “Whew, it’s over.” Your muscles are broken down. But you gotta break ‘em down to build them up.
Parents, that’s what we do. So, I would argue that if your goal as a parent is to say, “Ok, I want my kids just to be happy all the time.” You’ve missed it. You’ve missed it. Because for kids to grow and to develop, and to have that strength to love God with all of their strength, they’ve got to go through periods of unhappiness. So in the family unit we’re always helping one another, we’re spotting one another, we’re encouraging one another, we’re building one another up. We’re praying for one another. The family is a gym.
God’s plan, his design, is Deuteronomy 6, Proverbs 22, and Genesis 2. But as you see, the family ain’t doing so hot. The only other entity, Plan B, that God uses to support the family, is right here, this fitness center, the church. So parents, trainers, get in to strength training. Break down to build up.
Also, the second thing, you know this. You gotta do cardio. Cardio. Cardio is boring to me. But you gotta do it. It’s for the heart. Some people jog. Whoo-whoo. Have you ever looked at people’s expressions when they work out? Especially doing cardio? They have these weird expressions. [heavy breathing] Some people power walk now [power walking breathing]. Others on the stair master, [stair master breathing] they’re reading all these magazines. [breathing] Novels. [breathing] It gets harder and harder. [labored breathing] Isn’t that funny to watch people work out? Look at their expressions.
People have weird… there was one guy, he was a trainer, and he had the weirdest voice. And he used to be a trainer at this gym where I worked out. Every time I walk in, he’d go, “[stuffy high voice] What say Ed, how you doin’ dare?”
I say, “Well, man, I’m doin’ fine.”
And he used to always say, “Don’t do cardio, cardio’s bad for you, it’ll kill ya. Cardio’s not good for you.”
I remember thinking, “Uhh, I’m not sure I’d agree with that.” This guy, he was like in his 60’s, would push some serious iron. I’m talking about this guy was a monster. And when he would do reps, he would always call out like the numbers real loud. And whenever I want to stop in my cardio or stop in my strength training, I remember this guy, because here’s how he would count when he was doing a set. [Ed is counting loud, imitation – not pronouncing numbers normally] turn all red in the face, [strained lifting noise] like that.
He used to train these women, it was hilarious. These women would start talking, he’d come in there, “Ok, ladies, ok, ladies. Stop the social hours, this ain’t the social hour. This is lifting weights. Come on, come on, come on. Hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu.”
Anyway, I could imitate him a lot. But the guy’s a real inspiration to me. Cardio. What does the Bible say about cardio? The Bible says that we need to be into strength training, but it also says that we need to be into endurance training. We need to grow big hearts. And the Scripture tells us a bunch about it. Hebrews 12, verse 1. “Therefore since we are surrounded [cooow-coooow-coooow] by such a great cloud of witnesses [wiiiin-wiiiin-wiinn] let us throw off, let us throw off everything that hinders us [whsh-whsh] the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run [whoom-whoom, whoom-whoom, whoom-whoom] with perseverance.” Sound effects mine, “the race marked out for us.”
Parents, there’s a race marked out for your child, for your student, for your college student. We’ve got to help them, we’ve got to train them in perseverance, and endurance, and commitment to run the race. Life is all about endurance. Life is all about perseverance. Life is all about commitment.
When I ran a marathon years ago, I arranged for this guy to run the last 6.2 miles of the race with me, because I knew I would hit the wall. I knew my body would break down, I knew I would want to quit, and he told me so. And I was looking in my office this morning, at my house, a picture of me running, I almost brought it, but I didn’t, it’s too embarrassing, and this guy beside me has this white sweat-suit on. And I have this look like that, everything is cramping up, and this guy runs the last 6.2 miles of the race with me, he’s coaching me, “Here’s how to run, here’s how to take the curves. Keep on running. Don’t stop, don’t quit, don’t think about the cramps, take in water.” And I was able to sprint the last 4 miles of the race. Not because I’m a great athlete, but because I listened to the guy who had trained me for the marathon.
Kids, as you run this race, listen to the trainers. Listen to them. You gotta crash through quitting points. Parents don’t always rescue your kids. Don’t always snowplow everything for them. Allow them to face the consequences. Allow them to fall flat on their face. Allow them to go “[whoom] I can’t lift any more, Mommy!” You help them with the weight. You’re building muscle, you’re building responsibility, you’re building work ethic, you’re building Christ-centered character. You’re building people who follow the Lord.
Because go back to – go back to Plan A. Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 5 and 9. Go back and read it. Because the whole tenor and tone of it is: pass this on from generation to generation to generation. That’s what we’re to do. Read Deuteronomy chapter 6 when you go home. We’re to pass the baton with intensity, with creativity, with fun to our kids. I’m basically a product of great generations. I really am. I look back at my great-grandparents, who were people who loved God, who did the best with what they had. They understood the home was a gym and they passed that baton to my grandparents, my-my grandparents not perfectly, passed it to my parents, and then my parents have passed it to my brothers and I. So I’m a blessed guy.
Just a couple days ago, I traveled to Houston to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. And I took this picture of them at the table around a meal as we celebrated this time. And you can look at their expressions and you can just think about the challenges and the struggles and the victories. You can think about the children and the grandchildren and the hopes and the dreams. Fifty years of marriage. I’m such a lucky guy! And some of you are like, “You know what, I’m lucky too, Ed. I mean I’m kind of the same, I’m kind of the same situation, my brother.”
I feel you up there. Others of you are like, “Mmmmm, no. Not my family. Whoa. Wow. I prob-ha, man, Ed, my family, you kidding me? A picture like that? Are you kidding me?”
Well, you know what? The good news is, you can start today. You can start today to establish that legacy. You can start today by realizing, “Wow, my home is a company. And I’m the CEO. Wow, my home is a fitness center, and I’m a trainer. Wow. My home is a clinic, and I’m a doctor. Wow, I’m all these things as a parent and my kids are with me and I have just a big opportunity, just a little short span of time. I want to make the most of it.”
Well if you want to make the most of it, understand who you are. Understand who you are. You are a trainer. You are a physician. You are a CEO.
Strength training, cardio. Do that cardio. Perseverance. Commitment. Do that cardio. There’ll be times when you want to quit. Do that cardio. You’ll want to quit school, quit the team, quit marriage, quit with your children. You’ll want to quit. Don’t do it. We’d rather quit than commit. We’d rather throw in the towel than stay in the game, we’d rather bail out than blast through, we’d rather leave than last. We need to stay with it and do what God wants us to do.
Because what if Jesus had quit? What if Jesus on the cross had said, “You know what, I don’t want to persevere.” We wouldn’t be here.
So, strength training, cardio, one more. This is so simple, everyone knows it. You want to be in great shape, you’ve got to eat right. It’s proper diet. You gotta feed on the Word of God. The Bible says we can be washed by the water of the Word. Most of our muscles are made up of what? Water. You want to get strong? It’s the water of the Word. Get together for the corporate feeding of the Word. Get together for a private feeding of the Word. Feed on the Word.
But what I’m talking about though, is a regular meal. I mean a real meat and potatoes meal. I’m talking about the whole enchilada. What’s a meal? Because we’ve forgotten what a meal is. What’s a meal? The Bible talks about the power of the meal from cover to cover. What’s a meal? We should be about it from the cradle to the grave. What’s a meal? M-E-A-L: It’s a Magical Engagement that’s Always Loved. Families need to gather together at least 4 nights a week for a family meal. Lose the TV. Turn off technology. Sit there and eat and begin to converse. Begin to talk.
“Well, Ed, we’ve got a bunch of little one’s.” You’re teaching them. You’re training them.
“We got some teenagers.” You’re teaching them, you’re training them.
“Sometimes we argue.” So do we. You’re teaching and training.
“Sometimes we throw food.” So do we.
“Sometimes we say this or that,” so do we.
“Sometimes we get into a debate.” So do we.
Those times though are so rich, are so amazing, are so supernatural. And it’s not the food, ladies. Guys, it’s not the food. It’s not that. It’s the celebration, it’s the ceremony of the conversation.
When I look back in the rear view mirror of my life, as I look back over the most meaningful times in my family, so many of them occurred around the table. And it was so fitting to celebrate my parent’s 50th around the table. You begin to establish a meal, and during the meal, you can do strength training. During the meal, you can do cardio. During the meal, you can talk about the Word and get washed in the water of the Word. The meal is the real deal.
People all the time say, “Well, Ed, how in the world did you turn out ok? You’re not crazy. A lot of preacher’s kids I know are absolutely buck-wild, haha-house, straight-jacket, crazy-pill nuts. Why did you turn out, you know, relatively sane?”
I’ll tell you why, because my parents were not one way on the stage and another way off the stage. They were real. And I saw how real they were so often at the meal. It’s a biblical concept. You do it, and you watch what God will do. Because God wants to build your muscles and mine into a Deuteronomy 6, Proverbs 22, and Genesis 2 family. He wants us to continue the legacy or start the legacy as we pass the baton off strategically and lovingly and give our kids something that money can’t buy: this relationship with Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray together.