Ask a Pastor Ep. 52 - Obesity, Sports, Helping the Homeless

Welcome to Ask a Pastor, a podcast from Orchard Hill Church! Have you ever had a question about the Bible, Faith, or Christianity as a whole? Submit your question and one of our pastors will answer on the program. New episodes every Wednesday.

This episode our Senior Pastor, Dr. Kurt Bjorklund, talks with Director of Women's Ministry in Butler County, Kay Warheit, about obesity, sports, and helping the homeless.

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Kurt Bjorklund: Hi, welcome. Today on Ask a Pastor I'm joined by Kay Warheit, who's part of our ministry team at our Butler County campus. She leads the women's ministries there and Kay, welcome. We're glad to have you be a part of this today.

Kay Warheit: Thank you.

Kurt Bjorklund: And this is some content that we put together weekly just in response to questions that are sent in largely from people inside and beyond Orchard Hill. And so if you have questions you can send them to

Kurt Bjorklund: So Kay, we're going to jump in and these are a couple longer questions and fairly personal. I would say they're not overly theological in a sense. But yet they're very practical in terms of some people's concerns.

Kurt Bjorklund: So the first is this, "My 20 year old niece is dangerously obese. I have tried talking to my sister about it, but I'm not very good at conflict and I don't want to be messing in something that isn't my business. Do you have any suggestions for how to talk about a difficult issue without ruffling too many fathers? Our family doesn't handle conflict well.

Kay Warheit: Dangerously obese is scary. And if that's your niece, I can understand the fear. I don't care how old you are, whether you're two or 92, no woman likes to be told they need to change or they have a weight issue. So she's wise and not wanting to confront it. And I just read with another woman Made to Crave, and it is a book not just about dieting, but it's an understanding that we were born to crave.

Kay Warheit: And so to maybe get into her niece's world to understand, does she not feel accepted? Does she not feel loved? Is she on social media seeing other people are living better and she's eating? Or maybe she simply really is addicted to some of the foods that she started out eat when she was very young. I think it's very hard to talk to anyone and yet it is a real pain to see someone you love, maybe not be able to live the way that God intended or to be able to move about or to just ear that early onset diabetes. Some of these things are an issue.

Kay Warheit: My thought is that we're not supposed to test God, we don't test his creativity. We don't look to see God. What is it that I can do as an aunt? How can I reach out to her? What is it that maybe she's lacking? Could I spend more time with her? Could I read a book with her that's not necessarily Made to Crave, but just to spend time to see you're worthwhile and you are loved and you don't have to spend all your time eating.

Kay Warheit: I think God is much more creative than we allow him to be, and again, I'm always referring to James 5:16 part B where it says "The fervent prayer of a righteous man." Are you praying that God give me the words to say to her? Are you praying that she'll stop eating? A fervent prayer would be, "God, whatever it takes for my niece to find you."

Kay Warheit: And that is a scary prayer. She might have to go to the hospital. She might be to the point where she can't function. But let me be there praying for her and ultimately let her find you. That should be more your prayer than what can we do about her weight?

Kay Warheit: Because I don't think any woman, I know personally, I'm an expert on gaining weight, but I'm not an expert. I can't tell anybody personally how anybody else can lose weight. I know what I need to do. But if someone really loves me and cares about me, they spend time. And if I find out they've been praying, that means more to me. And then how can I be worthy of your prayers? What can I do to pray for you? So maybe it is a spiritual issue. I believe it is with a lot of the overeating in this country, but it also could be a simple addiction.

Kurt Bjorklund: So, your basic advice is not necessarily to confront directly, but instead to love on her sideways to try to help address maybe a core issue. Say a little more about, you just made a statement, you said, I think a lot of overeating is a spiritual issue. Explain that statement and help somebody who's thinking about that. Even somebody who says, "This is my niece." To understand that and why maybe the answer isn't direct confrontation, but it's addressing the spiritual side of something.

Kay Warheit: Well, I had read that years ago that a nation that ... It doesn't take much to look around. You watch on the news, the problems with early onset diabetes or arthritis in young children. That even sometimes family gatherings, it's all about the dessert or whatever. So we get in the habit, but a nation that is overweight, and I can't remember, I'm sorry, who made the quote, is a nation that is spiritually hungry.

Kay Warheit: In other words, we're craving love. We're craving attention. And even myself, I'll spend a long day shopping for my family, grocery shopping, preparing meals. I go to the checkout. I deserve a candy bar. None of us deserves a candy bar, but it's a way of saying, if somebody else doesn't love me, I'll love myself.

Kay Warheit: And to not know that God never intended us to use our bodies to live to eat, but rather to eat to live. And we've switched it around and, again, Made to Crave, it's what can I do to plan my day around you, God? How can I show you I respect this one time on earth, this one body you've given me. I think no matter how old you are, it's a good question to plan. What is it I'm doing for you, Lord? Not just my words, my Bible study, but what I'm eating. And that is absent when you don't think that God loves you or God cares about you.

Kurt Bjorklund: Okay, here's a another question. This is, "My husband watches sports the time." And all the time is in all caps. "It drives me crazy. I try to be a supportive wife, but I don't understand why sports are so important to men. Who cares? The outcome of the games has zero bearing on reality of our lives. It seems a huge waste of time. Also, in your opinion, who's a better basketball player? Lebron James or Michael Jordan?" I assume that that's in jest at the end, although we would be interested in your opinion on that.

Kay Warheit: Well, I just don't think it's fair. Lebron James has all the records. He's fourth all-time scoring, but Michael Jordan lived in a day and age when that equipment wasn't there. The tennis shoes weren't high tech. I think it was raw physical talent. So to Michael Jordan.

Kay Warheit: I did not understand the value of sports until I had sons and I went, rode my horse to school when I was young and we didn't have any girls teams. There were no athletic sports teams. We had cheerleading or drill team and there was competition. But until I had sons, I didn't understand the value of understanding teamwork, perseverance, allowing yourself to be coached, to have somebody else outside your family tell you.

Kay Warheit: Now that's one thing. When your husband is, in all caps, sports all the time. That's hard. And yet I think, again, as wives we can be creative. And my husband loves sports. I'm not that knowledgeable on sports. So LeBron James and Michael Jordan, I had to look that stuff up.

Kay Warheit: But I do find, I love to sew. I love to read. And my husband says, I love to nap. And there are times when he'll be watching the game, he just wants me there. He doesn't want me in the other room even though I'm not aware. But I'm even surprised myself how I've become interested in, "Did you just see what he did?" Or an instant replay. Now again, I don't know to what level and that would be hard, but maybe if your husband sees that you're interested in sitting with them and in sports asking questions, not during the game, during the commercials, that there might be an opening that he would want to spend. Or it's just opening up a dialog that you didn't have before because you're resentful of the time that he spends. I'm not sure that's a all around cure.

Kurt Bjorklund: Well, obviously without knowing the particulars of a situation, to speak generally to it, it's a little dangerous because what all the time is to one person may be really moderate to somebody else.

Kay Warheit: Right, right.

Kurt Bjorklund: So that part of it's hard. What I think I would say is two things. One, try to be interested in what your spouse is interested in. That's never a bad thing. That doesn't mean you have to enjoy it to the degree they enjoy it. It doesn't mean that you have to spend as much time on it as they do. But to throw up your hands and say, "I'm not interested in anything you're interested in here." It's ...

Kay Warheit: Projection.

Kurt Bjorklund: It creates a roadblock in the relationship. It creates a sense in which this is my thing. It's not your thing and we have no-

Kurt Bjorklund: So try to at least at some level say I'm going to enjoy some of it with you. Then I think it's fair, this would be the second thing, to gently challenged the amount of time that anybody spends on something. If you're a spouse, part of your role is to be a person who can hold up a mirror to your spouse and say, "Is this the best way that you spend your time?"

Kurt Bjorklund: And TV on a whole is probably not a great use of time. Whether it's sports, Netflix, broadcast TV, news. And so anybody who is spending a lot of time in any of those, I think if you're a spouse to hold up a mirror and say, "What happens when you spend three hours on the sofa? You're not working out, you're not re investing in relationships, you're not growing, you're not reading, you're not thinking, you're not becoming who I know God made you to be."

Kurt Bjorklund: Now obviously anytime you pulled up a mirror like that, you have to be gentle and probably think through how you do it. But, that's probably the other thing I would say is there's a time to say, "How about I watch this with you and then we go do this?" But again, it's hard to say without understanding all of the particulars.

Kay Warheit: Well, and I think too, sometimes men have very, very stressful jobs. Women do too. But I have seen men, they have to veg. Their job is so stressful that sitting in front of a sports or some program. They just de-stress and like you said, that might be a factor too. What is it that's causing him to want to spend or what is he de-stressing or avoiding?

Kurt Bjorklund: Right. And again, there's some amount that's legitimate, just like any TV or any recreation. And then there's a point where it becomes ... And so I would probably also say check your own perceptions on that. And by that, I'm not sure how to do that best because if you present it in certain ways, you can get all your friends to say, "Oh yeah, that's way over the top." Or something. But there's probably an amount of TV that's reasonable and then an amount that ceases to be. And trying to discern is this a reasonable amount of sports watching versus not is probably helpful because sometimes our perceptions are so strongly held that we cease to see reality. Even in terms of that where it's like, "Oh, they watch one Steeler game a week. They watch sports all the time."

Kurt Bjorklund: Or maybe it's three, four or five hours a night. And then you start saying, "Wow, you really are missing out on time with kids or-

Kay Warheit: Life.

Kurt Bjorklund: Friends or something that would be more beneficial." So, this question-

Kay Warheit: Wait. Lebron James or Michael Jordan?

Kurt Bjorklund: Oh, that's easy. Michael. There's no doubt about it. Lebron played longer. He's more of a physical specimen. But the '90s people were able to hand check, hold, foul, destroy people. No one can touch people outside now. So, it's way easier now. Now that made me sound really old. But on a whole actually, basketball's better and I would say the Golden State Warriors are better than the Bulls of that era. So, there for the millennials among us, that was my tip of the hat to the it's actually getting better not worse.

Kurt Bjorklund: I see homeless people on the streets asking for money at stoplights where I work downtown. The same people are there day after day. I want to be helpful. But I think giving them money at the stoplight clearly isn't helping any of them. What should I do instead?

Kay Warheit: I think the mere fact that you asked the question, what should I do? Is a God thing tugging at your heart. Not everybody sees the homeless. So if you feel, when you're asking that question, that is part of you, that God is saying, "I want you to do something." And Jesus did say the poor will always be with you. And he also said when you feed the poor.

Kay Warheit: I'm aware of two women. One, it was just a habit to buy gift cards. McDonald's gift cards. And maybe five, I don't know if that would be appropriate today. Or $10. But she knew that she would come to the corner in town and that there would be homeless people and they didn't necessarily approach your car, although I often wondered if they saw her coming, but she said that she would just put down the window and hand them out and she had a need to do that.

Kay Warheit: She could not see homeless people. And I think sometimes we think homeless people have a choice. I believe that there are people who just have lost everything or cannot function and they end up homeless. Jesus said they'll always be with you.

Kay Warheit: And then I know of another woman who her thing was to go with her husband and handout little hygiene bags./ Wasn't necessarily food, but she said if I was on the street homeless toothbrush, Kleenex, hand wipes, and she, she would go to the dollar store and fill these baggies and she would go down, "I don't know how often, once a week."

Kay Warheit: But I think if that is something that bothers you or is calling to you, again, you go to God and say, "What can I do to be creative here?" Whereas other people would say that's not something that bothers me. But I think it's something that we can all address, whether it's someone on the corner, someone in your neighborhood. A meal. There are a lot of homeless, meaning that they have a house but they don't have a family. So I think all of those things, find out where God's calling you and say, "We are to visit, you know, in prison or give clothes or to feed." Whatever that area is, do it.

Kurt Bjorklund: All right. There are a couple of dangers, I think, in this. One is every time we see a need, feeling as if it's our calling to fix it.

Kay Warheit: Well, that's true.

Kurt Bjorklund: And the other is becoming so inoculated against it that we don't see the needs or aren't moved by them and say none of them are my job. Because there's other ways that these are being addressed. And so I think either one of those can become difficult in terms of our own heart response. Either I never have a responsibility or every one of these is my responsibility. So I do think there's a discernment, a prayer component, an openness to saying, "God, if you want me to interact, to do something, to give something, to fix something, to step in somewhere, where can I do that in a way that honors people, honors their dignity, and at the same time doesn't thwart responsibility or them getting some longer term help."

Kurt Bjorklund: I know one of the things we do at Orchard Hills, we support Light of Life, which does a lot of care for homeless in our city. And part of the reason for that is it really addresses more of a systemic issue of saying how can we get you out of the cycle? Not just give you what you need today, but get you into a place where you aren't in this much of acute need.

Kurt Bjorklund: And so one of the things that I've done, at least, is point people to that resource and just say this is a great resource. Especially if you go to a game downtown or something. It's right around the corner. You can just say, right over here, people will take care of you. And you know that they'll address it in way. So it's a way to also say, "Here's another resource that I'm aware of that you're not here on your own." I realize that doesn't feel caring to some people in the moment, but if it really does provide a pathway out for somebody, it might be the most caring thing that we can offer.

Kay Warheit: Well and I think to address what you said, to pray. I'm one of those people, you might say, I'm one of those people that doesn't really have a heart and I should. Whether it is to clothe or to give to Light of Life or to volunteer a soup kitchen or like I said, your neighbor. I think we just think it's being taken care of and I don't have a heart for it. And maybe what you're doing is what God wants you to be doing. But to address what am I doing Lord?

Kurt Bjorklund: Yeah.

Kurt Bjorklund: So we have just a couple moments left. What's God been been teaching you in general in this last season of your life?

Kay Warheit: Oh, that's so interesting. What did we hear last week? Do the hard thing first in the easy comes later and I remember just trying to figure out scriptures and wanting what God wants. And now at this point in my life, finding that there's so much more God. That it's a sweet time to share with the next generation. Mentoring, just seeing that life is short and God is good.

Kay Warheit: And this is a goofy old saying, but it truly is where I am. I'm so grateful for serving in the church. I'm grateful for not worrying about the things I worried about in the past. But really what can I do to magnify God to the people around me? And I'm just amazed at the thirst. People will tell you the opposite in the news, that people are apathetic or not concerned about God, but you can just see people's faces light up when they find the truth. And especially in Orchard Hill Butler, where I am, where people were saying, "I had no idea that God was a God of joy." One woman said, "I didn't know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit where one." Just being able to be part of that joy is so sweet.

Kurt Bjorklund: That's great. And are you looking forward to this fall in Butler? Especially around women's ministries, some of those things?

Kay Warheit: I do. I love women in studies. We have life groups. We have activities that we're always planning for social. Women are always saying, "I had no idea that women were going through this." That's what we do when we get together. And especially older women who are finding the Lord, leading their daughters granddaughters to say, "It's not what you do. It's what Christ did for you."

Kay Warheit: And I truly mean that. They are finding this out for the first time. So when we get together, there's always a lot of laughter. And then just joy in opening the scriptures for the first time, whether it's through a life group or a Bible study, or going to coffee. Hopefully a retreat in the near future.

Kurt Bjorklund: Fantastic. And obviously people can find out about specifically what's going on on the Orchard Hill website. Follow the Butler link for Butler. Obviously things are happening as well in the Strip district. Wexford, lots of opportunities wherever you're listening here today.

Kurt Bjorklund: So, Kay, thank you.

Kay Warheit: Thank you.

Kurt Bjorklund: And thank you for spending part of your day around this content and have a great week.