i am in the process of overcoming an addiction. compulsive fitness magazine buying. or as i like to call it, “getting fit for $5 and good intentions”.
over the last several years, anytime i went to any grocery store, bookstore, or any place with a magazine rack, i would scan the fitness section for one of two or three different magazines looking for the latest issue on how to lose fat, gain muscle, and be more attractive. throughout my years in college, and the years since, i have gone through significant periods of time where working out and staying in shape have been high priorities. nothing unhealthy, no obsessions, just a sincere desire to take care of my body and to be healthy, strong, and confident. Some of these magazines offer some decent tips, strategies, and advice on acheiving some of these goals. but over time, i came to recognize that for the most part, i never really read anything “new” or groundbreaking. different people would word and re-word the same information. as i looked through a pile of fitness magazines the other day, nearly all of them had covers promising the definitive excercise or diet to better abs, stronger arms, leaner waist, and other highly sought after attributes of any man’s ideal body. more or less, all of these magazines (some of them the same title, just different months) contained the same information.
so what’s the problem?
the problem is that i keep buying them. for the most part, i know the information. im sure that there are formula’s and equations, ratio’s etc. that i dont have memorized, but for what it takes to get stronger, gain muscle, and lose fat, i know pretty much what i need to know to do these things. i don’t need to get a subscription or buy next month’s “special weight loss” issue (which must contain brand new scientiffic data, since they just had a “special weight loss issue” two months ago). what i need to do is save that $5 (yes… unbelieveably…) and put in to practice what i already know.
but what i have found out about myself is that when i am at the grocery store buying a 2 liter of dr. pepper and a frozen pizza.. plus “low fat” chocalate chip cookie dough ice cream (see.. healthy right?), it makes me *feel* better to buy that magazine. because in my mind, buying that magazine convinces me, if only temporarily, that i am making an “effort’ to be healthy. so after i gorge myself on dr. pepper, pizza, and ice cream, i can read an article about how to improve my cardio to maximize weight loss. but the fact remains, i knew that information already, and whether i lose weight or not doesn’t depend on my reading the article, it depends on my doing the excercise. not putting the junk in my body that makes me so full i fall asleep reading how frequent aerobic activity increases my energy levels.
another fascination of mine doesn’t have to do with my purchasing, but with the obsession of so many people who buy magazines whose sole purpose is to report every move, hairstyle, wardrobe, and latest romance of celebrities. why on earth do people pay up to $5 to read about some famous person who they will never meet?
i suppose that it fuels our idea that if we know the details of the lives of those who are famous, then that somehow makes us important, or at least “in the know”. but who cares? i do not care how many children angelina jolie has adopted or what color brittany spears’ hair is this week. i certainly could care less about jessica simpson and her husband who is only famous for being married to her.
he is definately *not* still famous for being in the boy band 98 degrees who came in third place in the popularity contest behind the backstreet boys and n’sync. “clear pepsi” and “new coke” had a longer shelf-life. they didn’t even get as big as new kids on the block, and how often do you find yourself wishing you could bump into “danny” from the “new kids”? “danny?” you may ask. “dont you mean donnie wahlberg, who is now a decent “b” list hollywood actor?” no, there was a danny too.
and because i remember this, i want to light myself on fire.

my point is, what does it take to be famous these days? apparantly, not much. some people are famous only for being .. well.. famous. take paris hilton. what has she contributed to society? absolutely nothing. yet people follow her, record her every move, and photograph her at every opportunity…. because she is rich….. with daddy’s money. she isn’t good at anything. she doesn’t contribute to anything. no one seeks her opinion on important issues. she is rich. and because of that, in our society, she is a celebrity.
people grab these magazines to read about what the biggest names (which, in a lot of cases aren’t even their real names) are up to. i simply do not understand it. why do we make celebrities out of these people? are our lives so void of anything to pour ourselves into that we have such strong opinions about some “person”‘s new hairstyle, clothes, or significant other that in some cases they will inspire heated debate? when i worked at wal-mart, i heard more than one literal argument over whether brittany spears was pregnant. i’ll say it again… “who-cares??”
surely, as christians, our lives are not so empty as to have to fill them with trivial information about people who do nothing to bring us closer to the knowledge of and presence of the lord.
now hear me out, i enjoy sports, and knowing the stats of those who play them. i enjoy certain movies and t.v. shows. i am not at all implying that we should remove everything from our lives that we didnt get at a christian bookstore. (believe me.. i would never do that.. but that is a whole other can of worms). but i honestly believe that if we are honest, on a day to day basis, our passions and desires for knowledge of “celebrities”, or what happens next on our favorite televison or movie series far outweighs our desire for knowledge of our lord and our pursuit of a holy life.
we may say that deep down, we know we desire a closer walk with jesus than who is divorcing who in hollywood, but when we look at the amount of time and money spent, what do our actions say?

it’s not too different than my fitness magazine addiction. it screams for a reference to james 1:22-25.

but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. for he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.but the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

as christians, we cannot go through our lives simply “knowing” what the scriptures say, but never applying them. likewise, we should heed the wors of paul in romans 12

i appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of god, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to god, which is your spiritual worship. do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of god, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

and in phillipians 4
finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

if we are to be consistant in our lives, we must take a look at what our actions say about our priorities and what we believe.

“some christians sow to the flesh everyday and wonder why they do not reap holiness”.
-john stott

grace and peace,
-stephen

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