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By Jez Godlonton, Founder ChristianWellBeing.co.uk

Hey, I’m Jez, a Christian fitness trainer based in London, UK.

In 1816, English novelist, Jane Austen wrote, “Ah! my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.” Things aren’t that bleak today, but in a city of more than eight million, new 2017 reports suggest that stress affects obesity and heart disease in adults – AND now our youngest residents may be at risk too. I believe that God wants us to take care of ourselves by finding time for health and fitness and reducing the time spent treating illness. Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, therefore glorify God in your body.

My personal story is a testament to God’s provision for health through lifelong fitness. My wife and I have a passion to bring faith-centered fitness ministry to the city of London and help her residents find greater wellbeing.

I started christianwellbeing.co.uk with a vision to see lives healed. We’re all about showing God’s goodness and His father-love for the hurting. We work to help the people in London find more energy through God and through that energy reflect His glory. Fitness done this way creates a legacy of eternal value.

PODCAST

LISTEN TO JEZ SHARE HIS STORY with our ministry partner Troy Ismir of the Divine Wellness Academy. This podcast correlates directly with this article. Stream it or download it and listen to the entire interview while you exercise.  Be sure to share it with your friends.

Christians are called to hate the works of the enemy The Bible puts it this way, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” I hate the fact that many people are deceived by their appetites, believing the enemy’s lies, even in simple things like social habits. My social life was in fact what was killing me, though I couldn’t initially see it. As I grew stronger in my faith I came to realise that there were things in my social life that I could give up --- a sacrifice that was very reasonable. My mind was renewed and I began to experience truth.

 

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Continue reading the next page: MY PERSONAL STORY OF GETTING LIFE RIGHT

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MY PERSONAL STORY OF GETTING LIFE RIGHT

Here’s my own journey and how Jesus saved me from a self-destructive lifestyle.

Having got to the age of thirty without doing any exercise, I had become a Christian, but with no purpose in who I was and taking no care of my body. I was seriously overweight with addictions to cigarettes, fast food and sugar. Diagnosed with depression, I chose not to have the prescribed antidepressants. Instead it was time to make some serious changes to the way I lived and focus on my health. I'll never forget my prayer to Jesus whilst driving to work. Though in the beginning I couldn't even run for a bus, over the next six months God gave me the strength and grace to push myself to give up my bad habits and run a mile a day.

The first week I recall shaking and chucking up black mucus as my body was going into shock and clearing out all the bad stuff. Thanks to God, I got through it and after six months began to up the distance I was running; after a year I had lost all the excess weight. More importantly to me, I had found purpose and a realignment of my desires to Jesus. Over the next ten years I accomplished things I had never thought possible: three London Marathons, winning my category in the 2003 triathlon corporate games and cycling two of the highest mountain sections of the Tour de France.

Then over the next eleven years, I qualified as a personal trainer, enabling me to pass my experience to others. In all I made a huge physical transition from being a couch potato to doing a triathlon.

Having faith in God to pursue a fitness lifestyle isn't easy. But the benefits of time spent going outside my comfort zones are massive. It gives me a better quality of life and, most importantly, it helps me be closer to God, my creator.

When we push, Jesus pulls! He helps us to say, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. For me that way of thinking and living started with prayer, a conversation with God. This two-way communication is vital to having better health built on a rich relationship with God. It leads us to encourage others, “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”

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Continue reading the next page: THE NEED IN LONDON

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THE NEED IN LONDON

I know what it’s like to have faith as a Christian in populous, multicultural London, having lived all my 50+ years on the city outskirts. Christianity is just one of many faiths and cultures shaping our incredible city. For some in the city, uncertainty and tragedy drive them to consider faith. As I write, we find ourselves in shock following the March 2017 terror attack at the Houses of Parliament. Despite being on high alert, many were injured and lives were lost.

I came to faith in 1986 and started going on to the streets of London feeding homeless people with my church then. I saw many desperate situations and heard stories where your heart would just sink, like Arthur from the Caribbean, where I had the pleasure to pray for his health and watch him progress from scrounging on the streets to selling magazines and doing a course to become an accountant.

For many years now, I’ve walked the banks of the Thames with my therapy-dog, George, praying for others as Jesus gives me “God Opportunities” and capturing photographic moments.

The Church in London is very diverse – from St. Paul’s Cathedral with all its history (royal weddings; historic figures lying at rest; mind-blowing architecture) through to black Pentecostal congregations and all those in between. Many traditional churches have found new radical ways to worship, exchanging staid hymns and pews for worship bands and modern furnishings, stirred by the Spirit, especially following the “Toronto blessing.”

For the last ten years I've been part of Hillsong with a London campus population over 10,000. They are mainly young drawing from the many international students studying here. I serve the church as a photographer, capturing the “Hillsong spirit” of lively energy and a heart to help others and make Jesus famous.

Each April, the London Marathon sees over 33,000 people pushing their fitness levels to achieve the 26.2 miles; some are athletes after their best time, others run for charity. I ran my three dressed as Superman. Our city has a heart that pumps style and elegance, but needs Salvation!

The gym culture has become mostly about looks with mirrors everywhere, ladies obsessed with skinny tummies and men putting on muscle at any cost; all aiming for the unreal images portrayed by the media.

Then there’s the drinking culture; seeing city brokers’ food diaries when I train them reveals excessive alcohol intake. Pressure is high when entertaining clients to look hard, get drunk and seal the deal.

I pray that visitors and Londoners see that London is more than just a city of people to the Creator. He knows and loves them beyond imagination.

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Continue reading the next page: THIS IS MY BUSINESS

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THIS IS MY BUSINESS

Why is wellbeing so important to God?

God wants our bodies to be His holy dwelling place; so let’s provide Him a clean, wholesome place for His residence. Looking after our health and fitness gives us the ability to glorify God and has many values. God certainly wants us to do it, and the devil doesn’t.

I provide a wide scope of services as a trainer to help people discover how easy it is to get active, lose weight, become stronger and gain a greater sense of joy and purpose --- wellbeing. Take a look at this suspension strap training video to get a flavor of how I introduce clients to equipment and movement:

What is God's plan for wellbeing?

Most of us know that we should exercise and eat healthily, but often we need help to answer questions like: how do I find the time, how can I learn better fitness and even questions like how much of my budget should I budget? For many, the thought of carving more time out of already hectic schedules to exercise is too much to ask. We’re already too sleep-deprived to wake earlier and too exhausted to think about "fitness" at the end of the day.

But experience shows me that we have to prioritise, make sacrifices and not focus everything on self and material desires; we need to die to ourselves so we can live as God intends. This takes faith and is an ongoing process. In living well we can display how God would like us to live so he can use us to help others. Putting our comfort first idolizes our bodies; Jesus lived differently. Put down earthly nature and set your heart on the things of God.

What is the basic Bible principle for healthful living? It is to live a life that glorifies God and brings honor to His name. We do that not just in what we eat and drink, but in our words, thoughts, and actions, too. Live all of life to the glory of God.

When we recognize that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit our minds can be renewed. We live with our awareness anchored in the superior reality of powerful, productive and purposeful connection with God’s plans for the world.

Neglecting exercise and focusing on nutritionally empty foods that slowly destroy our body means we won’t live to our God-given potential. The Bible says He will call us to be accountable. He loves us and knows what it takes to keep us healthy. This doesn’t mean I leave it to Him. Though my body’s temporary and will return to dust, I’m to steward it well. That doesn’t mean I’m to make exercise my spiritual endeavor, taking my focus off God himself – He must always have first place. Quite simply, our body is his gift to be maintained healthily with purpose.

Ultimately, we are to fear [respect and pursue after] God, desire to please him and believe his words, this way we push into all the goodness he has won for us through his sacrifice.

For help with your faith and fitness in London connect with Jez and Emma.

 


This article appears in the Health & Wellness Department of the April/May 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine.

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