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Pastor Chris Paavola:
Well, hey everybody, good morning!

Good morning!

Pastor Chris Paavola:
I feel like I missed you guys, but I saw you last Sunday. But my wife and I, Ashley, our youth and family director, we went away to Phoenix midweek and we had to go suffer for Jesus in Phoenix because we were speaking at a conference there. We were the main session speakers, actually. We got a chance to speak to church leaders from over a thousand churches. It was awesome. It was a conference called Best Practices, and they talk about best practices for churches and they wanted to hear about what we got going on, especially with regards to prayer here at St. Mark. And they were like, “Can you just come up and just explain how you guys are doing, what you’re doing with these prayer nights or these prayer vigils or these prayer walks? What is this and intercessory prayer? How are you guys doing this?” And it was awesome, you guys.

We got to go up there and basically brag about you and what you’re doing. And as I was standing up there talking to these people, I was like, “Man, we’re a part of something special.” And you are, I hope you know that. You are a part of something special that other churches want to learn from. And so you guys should be proud of yourselves. You should give yourselves a hand. You guys are kicking butt and taking names. Good job.

But anyway, so we came back, but that made the shopping fast really hard because we were traveling. I’ll get into that for a second. I’ll give all my excuses and apologies in just a minute. But anyway, we are in a series called Soul Detox where we’re talking about finding freedom from a toxic world and taking a break, just getting away from all of the different things that are toxic to us. And we’re doing this as a part of the season that’s called Lent. It’s the 40 days leading up to Easter. And Christians historically give up something for those 40 days to remind themselves of the suffering Jesus, but to help themselves prepare for the celebrating Easter. But instead of doing one fast for 40 days, we said, “Let’s do a lot of different fasts, one a week and then just do it for six days and we’ll take on different areas of our life that need a little bit of cleansing. It’ll be a soul detox.”

And so in week one, if you remember we did a radio fast and we said, no podcast, no radio, no background noise, TV, all that kind of stuff. But not just that, we said, “This is not just stopping something. This is not just abstaining for the sake of abstaining. You’re stopping something so you can start something else.” So we said, “In that silence, go ahead and pray, or you sing your own pray songs and stuff like that.” And you guys took the challenge up. You were awesome. Great job.

And then, last week, we did the shopping fast. We said, no shopping and just do your best at no shopping. And every week is customizable, but I could only do two days and then one day because we were traveling so much. So we started on Sunday, actually. Did no shopping Sunday, did no shopping Monday. And then, Tuesday, getting out of town, I had to get my hair cut. Hello. It’s a terrible excuse, but it’s true. I was about to go stand in front of people and I look like a shaggy dog. So I’m like, anyway… I’m not going to make it. I was looking at Mark with his bald head and I was going to make a joke, but I wouldn’t do that in front of everybody, Mark. I would not do that. So sorry. Anyway.

But then, when you’re traveling, you’re flying, connecting and all that stuff and you have to eat. And I’m just like, I can’t shop. I can’t do this fast. But we were able to give because that’s the thing that we did. We said, on the days you don’t shop, take the money you would’ve spent in yourself and give it away. And that’s the way we can experience Jesus during the shopping fast is this generosity and giving money away.

And just hearing back from some other St. Markers, you guys went hard in the pain on this one. I heard from a mom who is shopping fast and she dusted off green beans, canned green beans in the basement, “Here’s dinner tonight kids.” And then, for dessert was sprinkles or something like that from the pantry because she was not going to spend any money. She was going hard to the pain in this, but also, you guys, went hardcore on the giving too and just being generous. And I am so proud of you guys because, right, one of our vision statements is to be a church known for generosity, exceptional generosity. And so we heard stories of you guys going through drive-through lines, paying for the person behind you and not buying anything.

I just was stopped in the lobby by another gal who they had all of this money that every day that they were going to go shopping. And then they bought a Meyer gift card with it. And she was at the hospital because where she works. She saw this gal really in a hard place and she gave her this Meyer gift card. Lady instantly started bawling, just such awesome stories, awesome stories. Stories of postal workers getting gift cards. And then I just heard a story right before this service of somebody who they were saving up money, but they didn’t quite know what they were going to do with it. And then they saw a friend was raising money for an adoption. And so he was like, this is just like a friend, but was able to give a very generous gift towards this person’s adoption because of the shopping fast. So, guys, proud of you, proud of you. Thank you for just living this out. You’re experiencing Jesus and your Easter celebration will be deeper because of these fasts.

That brings us to then week three. And if you notice, they’re all kind of different. Week one was stewardship of time, and stewardship is a fancy word that means management, but it’s management of someone else’s property. That’s what stewardship really means. And so we say that our time is not our own. It’s a gift from God and we’re going to manage it the way that God wants us to, our owner wants us to. And so because his time, we redeemed that time for prayer and praise. Week two, we were good stewards with our money, managing our money in a way that God wanted us to being lavish givers and generous people. Awesome.

This week we’re going to talk about stewardship of the body, your body. And we don’t usually think like this. And the church usually doesn’t talk about a theology of the body, like a doctrine or a teaching of the body very often. And there’s a reason for that, actually. In the second and third century, there was this thing called asceticism that started taking root or taking hold and becoming the soup du jour of the time. And asceticism was people misreading scripture, actually. They looked at people like John the Baptist and the lifestyle of a guy never cut his hair and eating locusts or they would read the writings of the Apostle Paul, where he is like, “The flesh is evil. The flesh has its cravings, and if you let the cravings of the flesh take over, it will destroy you.” And so they read this and they assumed, “Oh, the flesh must be evil. The body must be not good.”

And so asceticism started punishing the body. They would flail themselves or they would go off in the desert and extreme heat to punish the body, or they would extreme food fast to try to punish the body and subdue it because the flesh was evil. But that was a misreading. And eventually it was called a heresy. And the heresy that it is.

Because of that, the church usually doesn’t talk about the body very much. And today is actually a chance that I think is a good chance to talk about the body. And I’m excited about it because we’re really underdeveloped in our understanding and theology of the body. And so in order to be a good steward of the body, you have to understand what God’s Word says about it. So here are five things that scripture says about your body that’ll help you be a good steward of it.

And eventually, by the way, if you’re just checking faith out, if you’re just looking into this thing called Jesus, eventually we’re going to get into a discussion. You might disagree with a little bit of what we’re saying or what we believe God’s word says. But eventually we’re going to get into a discussion of your body and I think you might find yourself agreeing with the application. Let’s see.

So the first thing that God’s Word says about the body is that your body is perfectly made by God. I was going to put up there that you’ve got a good body, but I thought it would be distracting and you would be laughing and be confused. But really, you’ve got a good body. Your body is a good body because everything that God makes, He looks at it and what does He call it?

It’s good.

Pastor Chris Paavola:
It’s good, right? So you can stand in front of a mirror and be like, “I’ve got a good body,” because it’s true. Your body is perfectly made by God. He is the most intelligent of intelligent designers. We believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your body is a good body. It is perfectly made by God, from your hair to the shape of your fingernails. I see the giggles. That’s why I didn’t put it up there on the screen. But your body is a good body.

However, that’s the second thing we need to know about the body, your body is under the curse of sin. So we believe when Adam and Eve fell from the garden and ate the fruit and sin was introduced into the world, the consequences, the effects of sin were felt all over because sin was now released into the world. And that includes the consequences of sin on your body, decay, disease, death. These things were not a part of God’s original design for your body. You were not meant to die. But the fact that you can get cancer, the fact that you get wrinkles, the fact that you have to have hip surgery is evidence of sin. Y’all tracking with me so far? And so your body is good, but it’s under the consequence of sin. And so I can look at you and say, your body is perfectly and fearfully, wonderfully made. You are not an accident. God has plans for you with your body, but your body is also under the curse of sin. That’s why your health is failing. That’s why loved ones are laid to rest.

And then we get to the third thing, your body has been redeemed, your body. We like to think, well, God saved me and my spirit’s going to be with him. No, no, no, your body, because think about this, think about this. God came to save humanity, to rescue us from death, disease and decay. And so what did He do? He came in a body. Whoa, this is deep stuff. But God became God in the flesh, incarnation, incarnate in the flesh, and God took on a body and felt the consequences of our sin. He got tired. He got hungry. It’s amazing, but it goes further.

He goes to a cross and scripture says He receives in His body the punishment we are due for our sin. His body is wounded. His body is afflicted. His body is pure pierced. He bleeds. He suffers and dies as a body on a cross. And then He breathes His last and He gives up His spirit and the body remains. And the body of Christ is laid in a tomb, but three days later, praise God, He raises from the dad not as a spirit, but as a resurrected body. Do you guys see this? This is insanely deep theology. And so because he’s resurrected body, now your body has been purchased and away from death, disease and decay. Your body has been purchased, redeemed, and now He says, “It’s mine.” It doesn’t belong to darkness. It does not belong to the devil and the kingdom of this world. No, He has purchased it in your body as well as your mind and your heart have been redeemed and belong to Him now. Whoa.

This is deep stuff. Scripture talks about it like that what is sown is perishable, like a seed. It’s put in the ground. It’s just a seed, but what is raised is imperishable. And the glory of a seed, compared to the glory of a flower, is the body that awaits you. And that’s the fourth thing. Your body will be resurrected. What? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So when you are laid to rest, we believe in the resurrection of the dead. So your spirit will go to heaven. But we believe that one day you will receive a glorious body free from death, free from decay, just as God intended. Adam and Eve were made from dust and He breathed life into dust. When you are laid to rest, you will eventually become dust. And one day, on the last day when Christ returns, He will make a new heaven and a new worth and you will have a new body and He will once again take dust and give it to your spirit that is with Him in heaven, and you will have a glorious heavenly body.

This is the theology of the body and we don’t talk about it, but it is really important because this means then a fifth thing, your body is a temple. This teaching, I want to go a little bit deeper on because it applies to our fast. This comes from that letter that you just heard Pastor Jack reading, Corinthians, Corinthians 1. And then, in chapter, I believe it’s nine. No, six. Verse 19. It says, “Do you not know that your body is a…” Say it.


Pastor Chris Paavola:
“Temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you received from God.” So we believe that when you believe in your heart and confess with your lips, and Jesus Christ is Lord, no one can say Jesus’ Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. That’s what scripture says. You receive His Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism. You have received His spirit and that’s within you now. It’s a gift. You have the Holy Spirit within you making you a temple. But look, it keeps on going. “You are not your own.” Remember, you were purchased, you were redeemed from the grave. You’re not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify, honor God with your body.

I know it goes against our American independent spirit. I can do what I want with my body, but guess what? You are not your own. You were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your body. My job is to be faithful with what scripture says. It’s His body. And that changes the way we handle it. And for Paul, he’s like, guys, it’s like you’re a temple of the Holy Spirit.

And when he said the word temple to this audience and there were Jews in this audience, they instantly had something come to mind and we have something come to mind, but it’s kind of at arm’s length. They saw it fine prints, up close in detail. They knew exactly what he meant by the word temple because the temple was like the center of Jewish life. It was the center of Israel and the center of the city of Jerusalem, the temple. It’s the most towering structure compared to anything else around it. It’s just everything else pales in comparison. It’s just this massive structure. And the temple was built to the exact specifications that were found in the Torah and they quarried the best stones of the world and they found the best cedar trees, the best olive trees, the best acacia trees to make. And then they found the purest gold, refined pure gold and overlaid the temple, and that’s the temple. And they understood the care and the decades of work that went into creating this good temple, but then they understood what was required to maintain the temple.

In the temple, there is a regimented, militant list of rules of how to conduct affairs inside the temple. There is a specific group of people set aside just to sacrifice the animals in the right way. And there’s a specific group of people in charge of sharpening the instruments used to sacrifice the animals in the right way. There’s a specific group of people in charge of cleaning up after the animals are sacrificed in just the right way. There’s a specific group of people that are in charge of cleaning the clothes in just the right way. After the animals are sacrificed. There’s a specific group of people in charge of getting the firewood and cleaning up the ash in just the right way after it’s used for the sacrifices. There’s a specific group of people in charge of baking the bread in just the right way of burning candles in just the right way. And another group of people in charge of burning incense in just the right way. There’s a specific group of people in charge of collecting the money in just the right way, counting the money in just the right way, depositing the money in just the right way. And a specific group of people in charge of guarding the temple in just the right way.

And all of these people follow meticulous, regimented rules to make sure they do it in just the right way. Why? Because it is a holy place. In the temple, Jews believe there’s a courtyard. In the courtyard is a tabernacle, and the tabernacle is a holy place. And the holy place is a Holy of Holies. And in the Holy of Holies is the presence of God Almighty, the holy one of Israel, the spirit of the Lord dwelling on the earth inside of there. And far be it from any of them to do something imperfect when dealing with perfection. Far be it for them to tarnish or desecrate what is perfect yet again. And so they handle it with extreme care.

The punishment for doing something in the wrong way in the temple is severe. I’d describe it to you, but it’s just not worth it. Just know that it’s severe for every single job. The care of the temple was meticulous, regimented because it was holy. And when you are taking care of the temple, you understand I don’t own this. I am a steward of this temple. And so when Paul says your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is a command to you to be a good steward of it. That includes what you do with your body.

In this passage where we saw that reading, he’s talking about prostitution and sins of sexuality that you commit with your body because that is a sin desecrating the temple of the Holy Spirit. But this applies to any sin that neglects the temple. Nehemiah 10:39 says, “Do not neglect the temple of the Lord.” This includes laziness, extreme laziness or slothfulness, gluttony and overindulgence. And this also includes what you put in your body.

I have here a bottle of Coke, soda, pop. Michigan. Okay, yeah, yeah. Now, drinking soda is not a sin. It’s not. It’s not a sin. In that passage we were just reading, he also says everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. And soda is fine, but over consumption has consequences and it’s not good stewardship of the body. In soda, there is carbonated water, okay, and then high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, I don’t even know. Caramel color, phosphoric acid, and then caffeine, right? And that’s why we drink it. We like the pick me up. Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t drink coke. I drink Diet Coke.” Okay, okay. Add to that list, aspartame, whatever that is. Okay? And you’re putting this in your body. It’s probably okay once, a few times occasionally. But constant? Studies have shown you’ve read them, you’ve heard this, that… Okay, well, first of all, there’s like four cups of sugar in here, but it leads to lower bone density, tooth decay, high blood pressure, weight, diabetes, soda.

But I’ll go ahead and pick on myself. Then there’s the other caffeine, coffee. Okay? I just be honest, I drink at least five of these a day. Oh, stop judging me. Your face is a book, girl. I said five and she’s like, “Clutch my pearls.” It is a book. I drink it like five days a day, but same thing, it’s got caffeine, but when you drink coffee, also dehydrates you. It does. When you drink flavored bean water over and over, you can become dependent on it. Anyone get the headaches from withdrawal? What is that? Right? Or then you have the crash afterwards and then the irritability if you don’t have it. And again, it’s not bad. Everything’s permissible, but not everything is beneficial. And being a good steward of your body is saying that you could have this. Over consumption is not a good thing.

Then we’ve got juice, like Gatorade. In here, on the list of ingredients, it says natural flavors. You could drive a Mack truck through that loophole. Natural? What does natural mean? I mean, anyway. And then, on here is literally an ingredient that is red 40, a number. What is red 40? And we’re putting in our bodies. Or blue 10. They’re doing studies on this. You’ve heard about this. They’re trying to link this to types of cancer, blood disease. There’s carcinogens in that. What are we putting in our bodies?

And then there’s alcohol. I got this from my fridge. I am not trying to be a tea total or something like that. I got this from my fridge. We would say just, like all these others, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. And there is problems with over consumption of alcohol. You guys know this. It can lead to some really stupid choices because something else is in control of you. But then you can have an addiction to it just like an addiction to caffeine. And this is also linked to all sorts of things. Blood pressure once again, the carcinogens in there, damage to your liver.

And they all contain water. Water doesn’t have any negative side effects. We just associate water with cleansing. It’s pure. That’s actually a name brand of a type of water, water or pure. It’s just cleansing. It flushes. When you drink water, you’re giving your body the very thing it needs. Your body is about 65% water. Your brain is like 75% water. Your bones are 80% water. And you’re giving your body the thing it needs. When you drink this, it reduces your wrinkles. It gives your hair a natural bounce. It’s crazy. When you drink this, you lubricate your joints and that prevents tissue damage. When you drink this, it helps vitamins and minerals absorb into your body. And it’s just water.

And so that’s why I’m really excited to announce that for week three, we are going to do a beverage fast. Why are you looking at me like that? I said that in the first service and one lady started going like this, shaking her head, and I’m like, no, no, no, no, no, no, I know. But we’re doing a beverage fast. We’re going to drink only water.

By the way, I should mention that our office admin and then one of our worship leaders up here, she’s been on this kick to drink water. So she has one of these where how much water are you supposed to drink in the day? And I grabbed it from her office because it is hilarious. She’ll drink this. So fill it up in the morning and then slowly drink this through the day and excuse herself to go to the bathroom a dozen times. But she will drink this during the course of the day, and I just stole it from her office because she’s sitting right there and I wanted to embarrass her.

I heard earlier though, somebody say, “It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have things, He just doesn’t want things to have you.” And that’s why we’re doing a beverage fast. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to only drink water. You are going to only drink water. And if you’re sitting there going, “I go to McDonald’s and get my McDonald’s fountain drink,” oddly specific, but for instance, I do this every day, let’s talk about this. Okay? This is customizable just like every other week. It should be built with challenging. Say challenging.


Pastor Chris Paavola:
You did not say that with gusto. I’m feeling like public enemy number one up here. Okay? Here we go. It should be both challenging…


Pastor Chris Paavola:
And realistic.


Pastor Chris Paavola:
Okay, there you go. And so what does this look like for you? By the way, because I feel a little bit guilty about only doing a few days of the shopping fast, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going hard in the paint. Starting Monday to Saturday next week, only water. I’m just drinking water. Nothing else. I’m going hard in the paint. I’m giving up everything. And I told you how much coffee I drink, but listen, when I get those headaches, it’s not a Tylenol fast. It’s a beverage fast. So you can drink water, you can pop the Tylenol, that kind of stuff.

But think about that. If you’re getting the shakes because you’re not getting your soda, if you’re getting the shakes, that means that has way too much control over your body, people. It does. And let’s get control. God wants you to have no master over you. He wants to be your Lord master and nothing to have master for you. He’s not a killjoy. He just doesn’t want you to be in bondage. He wants you to know freedom and for nothing to control you, including beverages. Okay?

So how about what?

Sparkling Water.

Pastor Chris Paavola:
Sparkling water does not count. There’s still carbonation in. My son trying to find a loophole out there. Listen to him. He is like… No, water. Okay, we’re drinking water. No LaCroix, sorry, Perrier or whatever that is. Yeah, water.

And I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be saying at this point anymore. Water. So we’re only drinking water. Again, this is customizable, right? So if you’re like, “I can’t do this. I’m going to be getting shakes,” okay make it both challenging but realistic. Give yourself one cup of coffee and then everything else you drink in that day is water. Or if you always have a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the night, okay give yourself one glass of wine, but make sure you drink water all day, or only drink water when the sun is up. Figure this out for you. Find out what this is to be both challenging and realistic and find the freedom that you want for you. Okay? So what does this look like for you? You can do this.

And then, remember, we’re not just stopping something for the sake of stopping something. We’re not just not doing something. We’re also starting something. It’s less for more. So how are we going to use this beverage fast to help us grow closer to Jesus? Every time you take a drink, we are going to recite scripture. What scripture are we going to recite? Psalm 51:10. We’re going to recite this over and over, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” We are going to recite it every time you take a drink of water.

We tend to think of going deeper in God’s Word or growing in knowledge of the Lord means reading a voluminous amount of stuff and reading the Bible like lots and lots of sections, and Bible in a ear. That’s not the way the ancient world thought. First of all, most people were illiterate. Second of all, they didn’t have books. So what did they do? They recited scripture. They memorized one text and they thought about it from 18 different angles, and they just memorized it and meditated on it and chewed it over and over, slowly. And so we’re going to take a practice for this. Every time you take a drink of water, every time you take a drink, you’re going to go, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God,” drink, “and renew a right spirit within me.” Every time you take a drink, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God,” drink, “renew a right spirit within me.”

And here’s what’s going to happen. Here’s what’s going to happen because you’re memorizing and meditating on one text over and over. As you become good stewards of the temple of the Holy Spirit, here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to be at school dealing with that person who’s hard to deal with, or you’re going to be at work dealing with that coworker who drives you nuts. And right before you interact to them, right before you respond to them, you’re going to say, “Create me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

You’re going to be at your house dealing with your kids. You’re going to be watching something on TV, and you’re going to say these words and realize that what you’re watching doesn’t match up with what you’re trying to do as a steward of God’s temple, like it’s garbage, it’s trash. And you’re going to change the channel because you want a clean heart and a right spirit within you.

Now, I’ve seen a couple of people already taking pictures of the screen because they’re like, “I don’t have that memorized, and how do I do this?” That’s why this week we printed 250 labels, 300 labels, and wrapped them around water bottles for you. And the labels say, “Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” And when I say we, I don’t mean we or me. I mean, Xylinn put these stickers on tons of water bottles and then had another volunteer. We used the shape profile. We found somebody who likes doing organization stuff using the shape profile. We called them in. They were like, “I’d love to.” And they put on all of… Can we thank her? Can we say thank you, Xylinn? And they look great.

So it says, “Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew right spirit within me.” So you can memorize this. This is your water bottle. So when we get done with communion, you’re going to grab a water bottle on your way, and everyone grab one and take it. And that’s yours. That’s your water bottle. And you can use this all Monday through Saturday. If that freaks you out, you can wash it. If that freaks you out, write it on your own [inaudible 00:34:48] water bottle. I don’t care. Just create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. And that’s what we’re going to do all week. And I’m so excited.

Now, what’s so cool is we’re about to… I think this is just one of the neat coincidences. We’re about to start a beverage fast, and a week of a beverage fast by first celebrating communion. So you have communion. And remember, now you’re a steward. You’re a steward of the temple of the Holy Spirit, your body, right? You’re going to come forward and what are you going to receive? The body, the body of Christ in the bread, broken for you. Wow. That you might be made whole. And then you’re going to come receive his blood in the wine, given to make you clean because you can’t clean yourself. That’s why this is a prayer, create in me a clean heart, oh God. I can’t do this. And He will with His blood and the wine as He forgives you. And then having been strengthened and preserved in the true faith and mind, heart and body, you grab a water bottle and you take it with you all week as a steward of God’s temple. Oh, love it.

Let me pray for you. Heavenly Father, conversations like this we need to first admit and confess and acknowledge to you that we have not been good stewards of the body you have given us. We’ve treated it as our own and done with it what we want. So forgive us, God. Forgive us for living as if it’s our own body. I get the image of Jesus cleansing the temple, turning over the tables, casting out the money changers and the animal market cleansing the temple. And I ask that you come now and forgive us, cleanse the temple, that we may be a pure dwelling place for your spirit. Forgive us for any kind of gluttony and overindulgence. Forgive us where we’ve allowed things to take mastery over us. Forgive us for laziness, any sexual sin. Forgive us for the sins against the body, Lord, and cleanse us. Create in us by your mercy and grace, a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within us. And may you be glorified this week, Lord, may you be glorified in our body.

We pray now the prayer your Son taught us to pray, saying, our Father, who arts in heaven, hallowed it be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.