More Than Just Dieting
Pastor Ronnie Floyd, author of "Living Fit," shares five gauges in a person's life that are indicators he or she is living to their fullest. The first gauge is foundational to a person's spiritual life. Floyd shares that when a person stops spending time with God and dreaming about what He might want them to do, that means the caution light on their spiritual dashboard is flashing. Floyd recommends praying boldly like Jabez, who called out to the God of Israel, asking Him to extend his border, to bless him, and to keep him from harm.
About the Guest
Pastor Ronnie Floyd, author of “Living Fit,” shares five gauges in a person’s life that are indicators he or she is living to their fullest. The first gauge is foundational to a person’s spiritual life.
More Than Just Dieting
Bob: When we think about being fit, our mind usually goes to our bodies being fit, physically. Pastor Ronnie Floyd says there are a lot of other kinds of fitness we need to pursue; and when it comes to physical fitness, we need to be careful—make sure it’s not too little or too much of a priority for us.
Ronnie: Well, I’ve been with folks that have gone overboard and all of that. I’m not so sure, at one time, I wasn’t there myself a little bit. But I think what I would say to them is: “Balance it out.” You know, again, what you’re adding is not days to your years. The Scriptures says that your days are numbered, but you’re adding quality to your life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 7th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. Living fit is about more than just being physically fit, and we’re going to explore what whole life fitness looks like today with our guest, Ronnie Floyd. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You’re doing this because of me; right? You thought, “Okay; we’re going to schedule Ronnie Floyd in here to talk about Living Fit. [Laughter]
Dennis: There’s a lot to this book.
Bob: Yes! [Laughter]
Dennis: Let me just introduce our guest. Everybody thinks about diets; well, Ronnie Floyd wants you to go on more than just a diet for food.
Dennis: Ronnie, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Ronnie: Thank you.
Dennis: It’s good to have you back here in the studio.
Ronnie: It’s a privilege. Thank you very much.
Dennis: Ronnie is the senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas. He is the husband of Gina for more than 40 years—has two sons and seven grandkids.
You’ve written a book, as Bob said here—Living Fit. He just assumed it was about dieting! [Laughter]
Bob: And there’s a reason why. You’ve been—
Dennis: I’m not saying that, Bob!
Ronnie: Could that have been the Holy Spirit?
Dennis: I don’t know! I don’t know. [Laughter]
But your book is about more than just physical well-being. You talk about five gauges. I think this is worth the price of the book here—just to have someone, who comes alongside you and says: “You know what? If you’d like to kind of measure your life, I’ve got five gauges on the dashboard that you need to be paying attention to.”
So what are the five gauges; and what do they represent in our lives, Ronnie?
Ronnie: Well, Living Fit is a call to, first of all, living fit spiritually, and the importance of how everything, really, is always coming back to those matters. It’s also about living fit, physically, whether we like to talk about that or we don’t like to talk about that—we cannot imagine being fit like something we read in a magazine. We need to think about, you know, the temple we have—God has given us. He lives in it, according to the Scripture; and to the best of our ability, we need to make it livable to His honor and to His glory.
Then, living fit, relationally. I mean, that’s what you men have given your lives to—to building families / the relationships—and what all of that means: “What is love? What does it mean to be selfless?”—all of those matters. And then this whole element of living fit, financially—which the number one cause for issues in families comes back, again and again, to the financial crisis in so many families; so living fit, financially. And then, of course, living fit, emotionally—there’s just a lot to that—and the emotional end, oftentimes, really gets the less of what we are. We get wrung out or, some say, burn out—whatever language you want to use—those only come because you haven’t done a lot of the other real well.
The thing that I kept on thinking, as I was writing this book, is that, when you get in a vehicle, you see all of these gauges. How many times do you get in your vehicle, and you don’t even look at the gauges? That’s what happens in life a lot.
Ronnie: We get busy or—like it was last night—I went to a gathering. I wasn’t paying attention; by the time I got home, we needed fuel in our vehicle that we drove here today to be with you! [Laughter] So the first stop we made had to be there.
Ronnie: It had to alert me; but if that happens to you, personally—that can be very detrimental and even deadly to your life.
Bob: The thing is—our dashboards often have these lights that come on—
Ronnie: That’s right.
Bob: —when we’re low on fuel or when we need to check the engine; but our lives don’t necessarily have the “Check Engine” light that comes on. How can we do a healthy assessment of these five areas and know, “Am I doing okay in each of these five areas?”
Dennis: Yes; in fact, take the first one—spiritually.
Dennis: What would be the equivalent of a red light on the dashboard, going: “You’ve got to change the oil here. You’ve got a problem that’s brewing.”
Ronnie: Perhaps you don’t feel like you have purpose. Perhaps you’ve lost your identity. You’ve lost your, you know, your footing in your own life. Maybe you’ve stopped dreaming. You know, we don’t ever need to stop dreaming about what God might want to use us to do in whatever stage we’re in in life. Perhaps you look at your life, and you’ve been so busy that you haven’t even spent any time with God, which is so true of so many people that profess Christianity. Those are just some of those indicators, and there are many others.
Dennis: You actually had an indicator that showed up in a relationship you had with your brother, who asked you to build a barn.
Dennis: There’s a good illustration in this of a lot of people’s lives. [Laughter] Tell them about your brother. Your brother was actually trying to rescue you.
Ronnie: Yes; he was just trying to help a college student. You know, he was older than I was; and he needed somebody to build a barn—just a pretty simple barn. I said, you know, “Hey! I’ll build a barn.” He said, “Well, good luck!” [Laughter] They kind of came around in a little bit; and the bottom line is—I did the best I could, but I have no ability to do that—so, if anybody wants me to build anything: “No! I don’t do that.” [Laughter]
The whole point is—I built the barn / did the best I could, but I didn’t—I wasn’t checking things. I didn’t even know what to check! [Laughter] Well, after that—I’m sure that barn is no longer in existence / it’s not going to be existent—[Laughter]—because I didn’t know what I was doing, initially. I really think we have to come to the point of being able to know who we are / know what we’re gifted to do—
—and realize there are some things we’re good at and there are some things we’re not good at.
Ronnie: I’m not a good barn-builder! I can help you build your life a lot more than I can help you build barns.
Bob: There are a lot of people who have got a spiritual checklist when it comes to their spiritual fitness:
“I go to church: Check!”
“I try to have a Quiet Time: Check!”
They have got their disciplines in place; but if they look at their life, they would say, “It still feels like there’s a dryness, spiritually, going on.”
Bob: What’s the difference between checklist Christianity and relationship—a real, vibrant, healthy, spiritually-fit Christianity?
Ronnie: I think it comes back to this whole element of purpose. I think it’s very, very important that we always know what God wants us to do as far as seeking that purpose—that the purpose of my life is not simply to go and have a wonderful year, financially.
I’m not lowering that on the pole; but it’s not going to make you happy, ultimately, any more than chasing after some fantasy you might have for something in your life. We have to come back to: “Why has God made me? What is my purpose at this moment, at my age and stage, vocation and location? What is it that God wants me to do?”
Bob: Yes; and this is where what comes to mind for me is Ephesians 2:10, which says, “We are His workmanship—
Bob: — “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we would walk in them.” You’re saying that to be spiritually fit, you have to be saying: “What are the good works that Christ has created me to walk in?” and “How can I be walking in those footsteps that He planned out for me?”
Ronnie: Absolutely! And one of the things that I think is so pivotal is something that God built in my life many years ago, of what some would regard as the “Prayer of Jabez.”
Regardless of who prayed it, it’s in God’s Word in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. That prayer is so powerful, because it calls us to live a life that dreams and gives God the chance to inject the power of dreaming what He might want to do in our lives. That’s what people need today.
Bob: If somebody doesn’t know that prayer—and it’s hard to imagine that anybody doesn’t—because there was a best-selling book, about a decade or more ago, about that.
Ronnie: That’s right.
Bob: But what is that prayer that helps give vision to people?
Ronnie: Well, that’s a great question. It comes out of 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10—it says, “Jabez was more honored than his brothers. His mother named him Jabez and said, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’” And here’s the key—verse 10—it says this: “Jabez called out to the God of Israel, ‘If only You would bless me! Extend my border.
“‘Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not experience pain.’ And God answered his request,”—his prayer. To me, one of the real keys to that is what the first sentence says and the last: “He called out to God” and “God answered his prayer.” Wow! I’d better find out what’s between those two!
Bob: Yes; that’s good!
Dennis: Imagine that!
You know, you have a verse that sounds like it—if it’s not a life verse for you, it is an important one—Acts 13:36, which says, “After David had served the purposes of God in his generation, he slept.” That doesn’t mean he took a nap—he died.
Dennis: How do you know what God’s purposes are in your generation? You’re speaking, right now, Ronnie—and you know this, as a pastor—you’re speaking to young people, all the way to older folks. How can they know what God’s purposes are, and how can they be a part of them?
Ronnie: Stop thinking about it way out there; think about it here and now: “How does God want to use me now? What is my ultimate purpose in life?” It should be to bring glory to God. It should be to make myself available to Him and, whatever He wants me to do, I’m willing to do—
Ronnie: —wherever it is, whenever it is, and whomever it’s with. I think, if we start with those basics, then let God fill in the blanks.
Bob: Let me ask you about the gauge that I went to first when I saw the Living Fit book.
Dennis: You’re going to ask this question; huh?
Bob: Well, it’s because one of my life verses is 1 Timothy 4:8, which says, “Bodily exercise profiteth little,”—I’ve kind of held onto that as a verse that I: “This is the Word of God, and I’ll just claim that for my life.” [Laughter] No! But I would say that, during the time I was raising my kids, this whole idea of physical fitness was something I kept at kind of a baseline level.
I stayed healthy enough; I wasn’t missing work—you know, I was able to function / getting enough sleep—but I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to my physical fitness; honestly, because the spiritual gauge, and the relational gauge, and the emotional gauge—
Ronnie: That’s right.
Bob: —all of the rest! I was having to concentrate on those. How do we keep these—all of these gauges?—but this fitness gauge—from being too important or being too unimportant in our lives?
Ronnie: Well, the verse you quoted is an excellent verse to quote there; because it does say that “bodily exercise profiteth little,” but that means it profits some. [Laughter]
Bob: Some; right! [Laughter]
Dennis: I think—
Bob: I’ve been schooled by the pastor, right here!
Dennis: I think you just got lanced!
Bob: I think I did! [Laughter]
Ronnie: So, with that, I believe that the heart of that needs to be that: “Yes; I cannot control the quantity of my days—
Ronnie: —“but physical fitness can help me control the quality of the days that God has given me on this earth.”
Bob: You’re a very busy man—a lot of travel. How do you keep this a part of your calibration of your life?
Ronnie: There are two commitments I have, very strongly, every day. You asked, so I’m going to tell you.
Dennis: And by the way, I read these—and I just have to tell you—
Bob: —a little conviction for you?
Dennis: Oh, yes; oh yes! I’ve got a bad knee from running. [Laughter] It is like, “I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to do what he does!” [Laughter] But go ahead and share with our listeners—
Ronnie: Well, you know—
Dennis: —because it involves the spiritual and also the physical.
Ronnie: That’s right; absolutely! And you know what? People ask me, all of the time: “How do you do what you do? What do you…?” You know, because they see my schedule; or they see me here, doing this…this. Well, all I know is that it comes back to the discipline that God drives in your life and puts in your life. I’m not saying He wants to do this with everybody; but with me, I can tell you that there are two—
—really, I want to say there are three things that I have been committed to that I think God has honored. One, above all / above everything—
Ronnie: —is I have started my day with God, all the way back to, probably, my senior year in high school—never to miss those moments; and they’ve grown, and grown, and grown. Yes; in quantity, but also in quality. I’m committed to it, regardless of how I feel, or where I am, or what time zone I’m in—that’s discipline number one.
Number two is that I really have tried to exercise about five or six days a week, and I’ve done it for a long time. For me, it’s running—conditioning some for strength matters—but it’s the matter of the cleansing of the body and the cleansing of the mind.
I’ve found it to be good for me. I listen to podcasts—I let it be a spiritual time of pouring into me. As a pastor of a local church, with a lot of challenges and pressures of life, like everybody else, I’ve found that to be good for me.
And then the third thing that I’ve been very committed to, really quite honestly, since about 1985—it would be rare that we violate this—every Friday, I spend that day with my wife—it’s our Sabbath; it’s our coming back—because, on Sundays, I preach twice/three/four [times]—I mean, I’ve done all kinds of things. Sometimes, I have to get on a plane in the middle of the afternoon to go somewhere else.
Ronnie: So, you know, I find, when I put my priorities on some of those main things, God just seems to reward the whole energy factor of life.
Dennis: There was a physical wake-up call in your marriage, back in 1990, with your wife, that really helped calibrate the physical in a fresh way.
Dennis: Share with our listeners what happened.
Ronnie: Well, Gina was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age.
Dennis: You had a couple of young sons; right?
Ronnie: Yes; very young. One, I think, was seven or eight, and the other was five. It was a desperate time—the initial prognosis was not overall encouraging. We needed God. You know, we just really began to get the best medical care in the world—we believed and felt and did whatever it took to get that—but also, called out to God in prayer and fasting one day a week for that entire year, just petitioning Him and asking Him for a miracle. That was a wake-up call for us.
You know, Gina’s still alive. She’s awesome; she did great. In fact, you know, she’ll be at a spin class or some kind of class four days a week at the gym before the sun ever comes up. So the point is that—you know, there’s a constant pull. You know, these bodies we have—they’re not here forever.
Ronnie: You say, “Well, I don’t want to give way too much time,”—I would agree! I don’t want to give too much time to it, but you have to make it where you are. The whole thing about living fit, physically, is simply to get yourself in a position where you can, at least, do some things that God wants you to do.
Bob: You know some people who are—diet and exercise have become idols in their lives.
Ronnie: Absolutely; it’s horrible.
Bob: You know other people, where diet and exercise have been disregarded.
Bob: Talk to both groups. What would you say to the folks who have gone overboard with diet and exercise?
Ronnie: Well, I’ve been with folks that have gone overboard in all that. I’m not so sure, at one time, I wasn’t there myself a little bit. But I think what I would say to them is: “Balance it out.
“Get real.” You know, again, what you’re adding is not days to your years. The Scriptures say that your days are numbered—
Ronnie: —but you’re adding quality to your life, and there’s only so much you can do. Don’t give all of yourself to that. If it’s that important to you, make sure you do it every day; but you don’t die for it.
Ronnie: The second group is a lot easier to talk to. Those, who are followers of Christ—at times, you know, we almost have this other checklist of things we can’t do; okay? “We can’t—
Bob: —“…can’t dance,” “…can’t play cards.”
Ronnie: —“…can’t dance,”—that’s right! The whole “Big Five,” you know—or whatever it was. [Laughter]
Ronnie: And “You can’t chew and go with girls that do.”
Bob: Right! [Laughter]
Ronnie: Or whatever the old statement was. [Laughter] But, you know—so Christians would think, for years: “I can’t do this,” / “I can’t do this.” And pastors are—God knows—pastors are real bad about this. “Well, bless God, I can’t eat; because, boy, people like to eat, and I like to eat.”
Well, I like to eat too!—no doubt about it.
What happens is—we justify our schedules. We rationalize: “We can’t do this to take care of ourselves more because we’ve got to do this.” Well, the bottom line is—this is a hard thing to say, because I struggle with this: “We become what we eat.” Oftentimes, there are just some simple practices there that we need to reign in—I’m not talking about radically—but reign in—moderation.
That’s one thing that I’ve found, Dennis, personally—is the value of seasons of prayer and fasting, at times; because it calls me to reign in the will of my flesh—
Bob: —your appetites; yes.
Ronnie: —that can absolutely just go crazy; you know? And everybody needs moderation in those.
Dennis: No doubt about it. I was thinking, as you were talking about that, there was a time—
—and this is past tense—don’t look at me, Bob, with a smirk on your face. [Laughter] You don’t know what I’m about to say! [Laughter]
Bob: That’s funny. [Laughter]
Dennis: You know me really—
Dennis: —we’ve worked together for twenty-five years.
Bob: He’s about to talk about ice cream. [Laughter] Aren’t you?
Dennis: Yes; exactly! [Laughter]
Bob: That’s exactly where you were going; I’ll go with you!
Dennis: Truth right there! But I used to think that being an American and a follower of Christ meant you could have ice cream, every night after dinner, with chocolate syrup!
Bob: You thought there was a verse in the Bible that required it. [Laughter]
Dennis: I did! And I just realized I couldn’t do that; you know?—it wasn’t a lightning bolt, but I now rarely—Barbara and I are eating the healthiest we’ve ever eaten in our lives, and I attest to what you’re saying—it’s really, really good. In fact, Ronnie—you know, you and I had lunch recently; and we offered you a salad.
Dennis: So we’re trying to think smart in here as well. That’s what I like about your book—
—your book, Living Fit, is a great exhortation around five gauges. These first two we talked about today—we’ll talk about the other three later—but the first two: spiritually and physically—boy, there couldn’t be two better ones to start with.
I want to thank you for writing that book; but I also want to thank you for the last one that we’ll talk about later, which is emotionally. I think it’s kind of—I don’t know—it’s something the Christian community doesn’t seem to want to talk about with any degree of honesty. I think it’s an important subject, and I’m glad you broach the subject.
Bob: And it would be good for a husband and wife to sit down and look at these five areas and just say, “Okay; on a scale of 1-5, how are we doing spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, [and emotionally]?
Dennis: Are you going to do that with Mary Ann?
Bob: No! This is good for our listeners to do. I’m not saying I should be doing this. [Laughter]
Dennis: And, by the way, Ronnie, I just want to compliment you. We’ve had a lot of guests on FamilyLife Today—over a thousand guests.
And you ran the sword through Bob—
Bob: —about as well as anybody! [Laughter]
Dennis: —about as well, with a smile on your face. And he was completely—he was had!
Bob: I took it like a man, though. [Laughter]
Dennis: You did, though; you did!
Ronnie: You set yourself up, man! [Laughter]
Bob: We have got copies of the book, Living Fit, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order—1-800-FLTODAY is the number. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, we were talking about living spiritually-fit lives; and our team has come up with an idea. I think this is a great idea! We’ve developed a series of weekly family devotionals for your family that will cover you over a four-week period. It’s the Growing Together devotion series.
Each week, you get devotions that are designed for husbands and wives and for parents and children to help you spend some intentional time together and to create some lasting memories.
This is something you can do during the month of June or during the summer months—whenever it works for you. We’ll send you this four-week devotional for free, because we care about your spiritual fitness as a family. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and download the Growing Together devotion series. Again, it’s a free resource. You can order it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; and then we’ll send you some reminders throughout the summer to help you stay on track with this.
All of this is because we care about your family. Our goal, here, at FamilyLife® is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We’re able to develop these kind of resources because we’ve got friends, like you, who support the work that we’re doing, here, at FamilyLife Today. We’re grateful for your partnership with us in helping to make this kind of thing happen. Again, the devotional is free!
If you’d like to help with a donation today, we’d love to hear from you. You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make your donation over the phone.
And we hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. Ronnie Floyd’s going to be back, and we’re going to talk about fitness—not physical fitness tomorrow. We’re going to talk more about other kinds of fitness, including relational fitness and financial fitness—all of those things. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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