Monday, May 31, 2010

Ancient Idols found in Israel

If you want to grow spiritually, you need to be involved with God. If you want to regress spiritually, get involved with false gods: IDOLS.

It is possible to make almost anything a false god. Money, sex, drugs, cars, church, etc. But that is not what I am focusing on here. I mean the idols that are built by human hands and are erected to entice people to worship them.

God gave us The Ten Commandments. One of the most important is the Command, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or i the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the guilt of the fathers on the third and fourth generations of those who hate me but showing loving kindness on those who love me to thousands of generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." DT 5:7-89-10.

If you want to live a long and healthy life, choose to love and serve and worship the one true God of the universe. Choose life!

If you want you and your ancestors to live in sickness, pain and destruction then you can accomplish it by king and worshiping idols.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Smoking, Religion, Health and Healing

Blood pressure, a key factor in cardiovascular health, is reduced significantly by regular church attendance, on average by 5mm of pressure.51 Given that reducing blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm also reduces the mortality rate by 10 to 20 percent for any given population,52 a reduction of 5 mm is a very significant public health achievement by any standard. For those over 55 years of age, the average decrease was 6 mm. Among those who smoked -- a practice that increases blood pressure -- regular church attendance decreased the risk of early stroke by 700 percent.

Healing Heart Patients

In what must be one of the most unusual experiments in medical history, Dr. Robert B. Byrd, a cardiologist then at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School, conducted a random-sample, double-blind study of the effects of prayer -- not by the patients but for the patients -- on the outcome of cardiac surgery.

The study was published in 1982. None of the patients knew they were being prayed for, none of the attending doctors and nurses knew who was being prayed for and who was not, and those praying had no personal contact with the patients before or during the experiment. Outcomes for the two sets of patients differed significantly: Those prayed for had noticeably fewer post-operative congestive heart failures, fewer cardiopulmonary arrests, less pneumonia, and less need for antibiotics.

Faith and Physical/Emotional Health

In public health circles, the level of educational attainment is held to be the key demographic predictor of physical health. For over two decades, however, the level of religious practice has been shown convincingly to be equally important.

As early as 1972, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health found that cardiovascular diseases, the leading killers of older people, were reduced significantly in early old age by a lifetime of regular church attendance. By contrast, non-attendees had higher mortality rates for such other diseases as cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema, and arteriosclerosis, in addition to other cardiovascular diseases and even suicide.Research on mortality patterns among the poor confirmed a decade later that those who went to church regularly lived longer. Since then, other studies have reinforced this general finding.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Healing Grace

“Now therefore’, continues the apostle, ‘why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?’…God did not want to put a yoke upon the neck of those whose hearts had been set free by the gospel…He would rather exhort them to stand fast in the liberty of Christ and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage’…..How could we ever admit the thought that those whom God had received in grace He would rule by law? Impossible! “We believe, says Peter, that through the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they.”

Both Jews..and…Gentiles…..were now to be saved through grace. And not only were they to be saved by grace, they were to stand in grace and to grow in grace….Those Pharisees were subverting the very foundation of the Christian faith; and so are all those who seek to put believers under the law. There is no evil or error more abominable in the sight of the Lord than legalism.”

C.H. MacIntosh

Do you agree that legalism is evil? Do your prefer legalism to God's grace?

Gracedagain is compiled by Tom Wood, Church Multiplication Ministries, a non-profit, whose mission is starting, strengthening, multiplying grace-centered churches through consults and coaching church planting pastors, leaders and emerging leaders.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Want to Look Younger or Older?

A London news patch reminds us of what is important to health. It is reported that an in depth study of health, wellness and vitality showed clearly how one can look older, sicker and weaker. And, it isn't hard but it will cost a lot of money. Such things are not cheap, you know.

Here it is!!!

A combination of smoking, drinking, physical inactivity and a poor diet makes people look at least 12 years older than they really are. And, a secondary gain is an early death.

As I look at this in depth,ground breaking research that probably cost millions of pounds, I am struck with how much more this kind of lifestyle will cost you than a life of drinking water or tea, breathing clean air, several walks in the park each week and a diet of fruits, veggies and nuts. Even if you live some 2 years less, you will spend far more money than us old geezers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Space, Hospital Design and Health?

An interesting article in Fast Company about the power of environment to bring health or at least enhance the well being of patients. I have been interested in this kind of stuff ever since I was getting a Masters in Higher Education. The teachers discussed the power of space to enhance education, discussions and well being in colleges and universities and I immediately saw application to mental, emotional and spiritual well being.

Take a look and see what you think.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who Are You, Thomas Merton?

The story goes like this. An old Russian wandering Monk came across a secret army base far out in the woods. He was surprised to hear the very young soldier to bark loudly:

Soldier: "Halt or I will shoot!"
Monk: "What do you want?"
Soldier: "Who are you? What are you doing?Where are you going?"
Monk: "Young man, how much do they pay you to ask these questions?"
Soldier: "Thirty Kopecks a month, sir."
Monk: "I will pay you fifty to follow me and ask me those questions every day."

Do you know who you are; what you are doing; and where you are going? These could be crucial to your spiritual growth. Thomas Merton was a Roman Catholic Monk that lived and wrote in the Gethsemane Center in Kentucky. His books about spiritual growth became very popular in the Sixties and Seventies. He said this about who he was.

“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”

Thomas Merton, Journal, October 2, 1958

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Families with Disabled Members

The sick soon come to understand that they live in a different world from that of the well and that the two cannot communicate. Jessamyn West

I am reading a book titled, Wired to Care by Div Patnaik with Peter Mortensen. It is all about the importance of developing empathy with people so you and your business can respond better to their needs. For example, they authors write a great story about a woman did everything she could to make herself "function" like an elderly person. She put all kinds of braces on her arms, tied her self so she could not move with speed and wore glasses with the wrong prescription. It changed her view of being older.

We at Sweeten Life Systems are doing something very similar in our research study of parents with Special Needs children. However, our approach was dramatically different and a much better approach. We gathered a small group of parents with young children who had chronic disabilities and we spent nine months getting to know them. We did not try to BE a parent with a disabled child, we rather tried to be WITH the parents and listen carefully to their real life situations.

Empathy is described by these authors as "Waking in another person's shoes for a mile". But I disagree. It is not actually feeling another person's feelings. It is understanding how that other person thinks and feels and how the two are interrelated.

I also heard the famous author and speaker John Maxwell speak about the issue of empathy. He called it, "Connecting" and gave five rules for doing it. Mr. Maxwell is a good speaker and a prolific writer. His latest book is on this topic but I disagree with his approach because I have seen the research on Empathy and read what people say they want from a caring relationship. Maxwell says we have to find a common ground in order to connect. He related how we can ask a few questions and soon find a common connection to discuss as a bridge to mutual understanding.

After having trained lay and professional Helpers/counselors for thirty years I know that suggestions like these are too easy to slip into a mechanical interaction that is the opposite of Empathy. The real key to connecting with Empathy is to L+I+S+T+E+N

When I listen I can tune in to the hart and soul of another person without questions, probes, tricks or guides. The quiet, listening ear is very powerful. To listen is to be Empathic. It is impossible to be Empathic without it. We sent those twelve families in depth questionnaires about their lives, families, stresses and spiritual lives. We got the answers back and read them carefully and went to their homes for a two hour personal taped interview to follow up on the written part.

We took the interview tape home and watched it to see what we had missed in person. After reading and re reading the questionnaires and watching the videos we started to really understand what the families were living with. This was an in depth exercise in listening.

We did that every month for six months and the results were amazing.The target families began to better understand each other and their entire family system. We started to understand the families and how they thought and felt. it is true Empathy to deeply understand another person's thoughts and feelings. .

If you want a great book on Listening, get mine.
Listening for Heaven's Sake
from Equipping Ministries International and read it. then sign up foe the seminar they put on each year. If you are in ministry, order Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty from Author House Publishers.

I hope you get the book Wired to care and read it carefully. It gives the rationale for showing Empathy in the work place. It will inspire you to allow yourself to care.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Miracle of Mutual Love

Together we can overcome a lot. But it takes hard work, perseverance, grit and determination. It is not easy.

When the Franciscan Monks first came to came to France to increase the health of the people in France,they were stunned by what it would take. They had to drain the swamps and stop them from emitting toxic vapors and attracting toxic mosquitoes. They were used to prayer but this was something new so they adopted a new slogan. In Latin it was Ora et Labora or "Prayer and Work!"

As I read the following story I thought that this slogan is always the case in healing and growth. People do not change nor are the healed and whole without both prayer and work.

The Miracle in the Coal Mine

In what the news called "The Miracle at Quecreek," nine miners trapped for three days 240 feet underground in a water-filled mine shaft "decided early on they were either going to live or die as a group."

The 55 degree (Fahrenheit) water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia, so according to one news report "When one would get cold, the other eight would huddle around the person and warm that person, and when another person got cold, the favor was returned."

"Everybody had strong moments," miner Harry B. Mayhugh told reporters after being released from Somerset Hospital in Somerset. "But any certain time maybe one guy got down, and then the rest pulled together. And then that guy would get
back up, and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That's the only way it could have been."

They faced incredibly hostile conditions together and they all came out alive together.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Measuring Spiritual Growth

If you want to know about maturity, ask God if you need more agape and phila love in your life.

The book shown here is a great read about the journey toward maturity. It is by Janet Hagberg. The Critical Journey is its title.

Reposted from my Brave Heart Blog.

I can remember clearly my first forays into the realm of comparing church successes and by analogy, pastoral leadership success. As a 30 year old volunteer campus minister I was invited to the monthly meetings of the local denominational gatherings with all the local ministers and various denominational officials. I was excited to be with these mature spiritual leaders.

I wanted to learn how to be a "real man of God" and I assumed that I could see them up close and personal here. I must admit that I was sorely disappointed. I discovered that almost all the talk was about numbers, noses and nickels. The number of baptisms, the noses that showed up at the various church meetings and then how many nickels the congregation had contributed to the church.

Whey did they do this? I am sure there are many reasons but the easiest and most direct ways are numbers, noses and nickels. Attendance, giving and commitments are the quickest and most "reliable" ways to communicate how well we are doing in the ministry. Let's face it, measuring spirituality is like catching mercury or measuring the humidity. We only see people at public meetings so we don't really know what people are doing in private.

And, the model of ministry most churches have chosen is preaching and teaching by the ministers. It is not related to the inner spiritual development of believers but the outer, easily counted things like giving and attendance.

Here I am over forty years later and I still do not see many Pastors with different ideas about how to measure maturity of their members. Take a look at the brief article by Dallas Willard to see what you think of his ideas about measuring maturity. I like it a lot and have spent a lot of my ministry trying to foster Christian maturity. But let me say quickly, it is not easy to do.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Brings Healing?

In I Corinthians 13 we read that "these three remain, faith, hope and love; but the greatest is love."

What does that mean? Is God pointing us to look for love with another person because that is the greatest thing we can experience?

Does it mean care and concern for one another?

Does it mean that loving God is the greatest?

Or, does it mean that when we are loving and being loved with an unconditional care we will grow and be healed?

Maybe it has some meaning for all of those things. Human love is called phila or brotherly affection in the Greek language. It is highly recommended in the Bible.

Romantic love is called eros in the Greek language of the Bible and we know of its power to motivate people and even the power to divide, cause jealousy and pain.

Godly love or what scripture calls "Covenant love" is agape in Greek. It means a commitment to lay down one's selfish desires and follow God or do His will toward others. I think this is the best way to understand I Corinthians 13 for agape love is the greatest.

When we minister to others we do need to show some phila or brotherly affection and care. Research shows that phila is a healing force. the book of James mentions this and tells us to touch people warmly when we pray for healing.

Many years ago I read a book on the power of touch to bring relief and improvement to desperately ill patients in a hospital. So, phila is included in agape for wee may not wish to show warm, caring affection toward a diseased person. I have ministered warm touch to patients with AIDS and can say frankly that it requires some agape as well as phila.

As Clinical Counselor I know that the quality of the relationship between the Helper and the Seeker is the single most important factor that facilitates the Seeker's health and welfare. It is not our knowledge, our wise words or even the statements we make from scripture that makes so much difference. It is how we treat the Seeker. If it is with the "Fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22, the person will more than likely get better. That is good news.

Dealing With Issues, Problems, Illnesses

I receive an occasional newsletter from this Pastor Matutis who lives in Germany. His messages sometimes touch me as helpful so I am passing this one on to you.

What to say to ones problems?
Recently, someone came to me and asked - due to a desperate situation she was in - to give her a useful but effective prayer formula.

I prayed with this person when suddenly the Holy Spirit spoke to me to tell that person, speak to your problems:
"I am a friend of God."

She stared at me and said in a loud voice:
"I am a friend of God."
Wow, I am a friend of God. That's effective!
She repeated and repeated these words, got up and left to go home, however, relieved and inspired.

Even I had received a message that grabbed me and didn't let go of me.

A message that I would like to share with you, too.
Tell your problems, all of them, that you met Jesus and that you are a friend of God.

I could not let go of that thought. The greatest thing that can happen to a man in his life is that he becomes a friend of God.

SInce that day, I keep repeating: I am a friend of God.
Both of us stick together, God does not abandon me.
He is my good friend.

Whatever happens to me, I'll simply say: God is my friend.

I tell the difficulties that want to strike me: God is my friend.

As soon as they hear that God is my friend, they get terrified and disappear and hide as fast as they can.

I am flabbergasted, how this works.
I only have to confess courageously, in speaking aloud, that God is my personal friend and life immediately treats me differently.

I meditated about this today and God spoke to me:
"Just profess that you belong to Me and I will profess that I belong to you.
Tell all your adversaries, that you are My friend and all of them will flee from you and will abandon their evil plans against you.
My child, as long as I am your friend they will have nothing at all to harm you. "When I AM for you - nothing can be against you", said to me the Lord.

All I have to say, that I am God's friend...that's all. Right away it continues. Right away God's angels, surround me and I am amazingly surrounded "by the powers of good", and right away all is well again.

Isn't that also something for you to treasure?
Why don't you just say...."I am a friend of God!"
* Say to your problems - I am a friend of God
* Say to your illness - I am a friend of God
* Say to your worries - I am a friend of God
* Say to your temptations - I am a friend of God
* Say to your fears - I am a friend of God
* Say to your doubts - I am a friend of God
* Say to your adversaries - I am a friend of God
* Say to your weaknesses - I am a friend of God
* Say to your needs - I am a friend of God

It is great to be a friend of God.

Alienate yourself as God's friend, and comfort yourself, in turn, with God's friendship.

Your world around you should see, that not you are their friend, but God is.

That will shock them and will instill respect before them.
Become aware that wherever you are "I am a friend of God."
less You

Pastor Joh.W.Matutis