The phrase “coming out of the closet” has become popular during the past decade. Let me make it very clear that I have nothing to come out of the closet about; however, I am coming out of the refrigerator.

If coming out of the closet is anything like coming out of the refrigerator, it sure takes a lot of courage, I must say. I have been known to preach fire and brimstone on occasion but this time I am the one who finds himself in the fire.

Throughout Scriptures found in the Bible, Jesus is pictured many times as the sinner’s friend. He showed tremendous compassion for those who struggled and was an advocate for the weak. On the other hand he also was known to rebuke the religious establishment from time to time, even going to far as to call some religious leaders hypocrites.

Recently, I have been convicted by the Scripture found in Matthew 7:3-5 — “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or, how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I have spent the past 18 years preaching against many issues, but have stayed silent on gluttony. Not only have I grown in the faith over the years, but have also grown in the waistline as well.

I must admit, I have been a poor example to the children who attend our ministry as I stand before them, sweating uncontrollably and out of breath, trying to give them some direction in their lives. It turns out that I am the one who needed to be turned in a new direction, and that is as far away from the “all you can eat buffet” as I can get.

The truth of the matter is that my poor eating habits had become out of control.

It all started back in February when a visit to my doctor was more like a revival meeting than a checkup. The doctor pointed at me and reminded the good reverend that his body is the temple of God and that I was not to destroy it.

It was a very uncomfortable doctor visit to say the least. I walked out of his office felling like I had been at an old-fashioned altar of repentance.

You see, I would make fun of people like New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg for trying to push a ban on super-sized sugary drinks and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign” to fight against childhood obesity.

I don’t want to be crude, but when you surround yourself around fat preachers and fat choir members you don’t tend to be concerned about your weight.

How can I, a very large preacher, stand over a very thin drug addict and yell “repent” when I am struggling with my own cross to bear?

I had to admit I had a problem in order to receive help with my problem.

It has been more than 20 years since I was set free from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, and now was the time to go fat free.

I know preaching about people’s weight is a very heavy matter and a topic most preachers try to sidestep. No minister of any church would open their pulpit for me to preach in if I had alcohol on my breath or a hypodermic needle sticking out of my arm, but most did not seem to be bothered by mayonnaise stains on my necktie and egg rolls in my back pocket.

Now, of course, I am trying to be funny, but it really is no laughing matter.

So, these days, fast food consists of salad in a bag and a cup of green tea. I have lost 60 pounds since February and it is amazing that when people see me for the first time in a long time, they ask, “Have you been sick?” I was on my way to 300 pounds and possible heart problems and diabetes and no one ever asked me if I was sick.

If I am sick of being a hypocrite. I want to be a good example to others.

The Rev. Douglas Taylor is director of the urban youth outreach The Jesus Party in Lewiston.

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