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He Did It!

by David Keith Moss, Assistant Director of Compliance HBU

On this Memorial Day let’s remember the men and women who fought and died in service to protect our country and to continue to provide us the freedom we have today! We often times take that freedom for granted and more times if we take the time to recognize the freedom, we don’t acknowledge the people who suffered and died to provide us that freedom! Please take a moment today to sit back and thank God for those military men and women who gave their lives for us, to provide the freedoms we enjoy today. One of those freedoms is that of reading our Bibles and loving the Lord our God out loud!

 

What do I mean by loving God out loud? I mean to have the freedom to carry a Bible, to talk openly about your belief and to speak boldly about your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. We have that freedom, but do we evoke the right to speak about it openly? I am so guilty of shying away from opportunities to claim Him to others and actually am ashamed that sometimes I get hesitant when I say God bless to a cashier or waiter for fear they will reject or that I will hurt their feelings. Why is that? Because I go on my own power and I allow self to enter into the equation of being rejected. What I need to hang on to and to carry with me is the power of the Holy Spirit and through his power and love I can overcome that fear and fight off the thoughts of rejection and boldly claim Jesus Christ as my Lord.

 

My prayer is that each of us would take heed to God’s truth and listen to Christ’s words when he spoke them to the large crowd who was following him in Luke 14:25-35. What does it mean to follow Him? Jesus was telling the people, his followers, his disciples what the cost looked like, meant and the importance for each of them then and for us today, to weigh those costs by looking closely at what those costs would amount to. He uses the example of how a builder would look at a costs of building a tower to find out if he had enough to complete the project. He is asking us to do the same when it comes to following him. Take the time, do your homework and observe and study what it would means and what it takes to be a Christ follower. Jesus was encouraging those who were following him to either go deep or go back! Are we allowed to be a minimum requirement Christian? Or does He expect us to be a maximum commitment disciple?

 

My question to us is: have we weighed the costs and is our desire to be a Christ follower?  Can we follow and remain a minimum requirement Christian? My study shows me we don’t have the choice and if we claim to be a Christian the only way is to become a maximum commitment disciple!

HE DID IT!

Let’s Do IT!

Your friend and fellow follower of Christ!

Let’s go and make a difference both globally as well as locally, by loving people where they are and loving them till they ask why!

Can You Be Spiritual and Not Religious?

James 1:27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Corinthians 10:3-5.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

 

by Dr. Tom Kennedy

“I’m spiritual but not religious.”  I hear and read this many times.  What does this phrase mean? For people who do research in the area of religion and spirituality, however, separating the two is very difficult, if not impossible.  For millennia the word religious had about the same meaning as the word spiritual.

Today religion is popularly labeled as the doctrine and beliefs of a group.  Spirituality, on the other hand, is individualized and only concerns itself with the relationship of that person to the sacred or transcendent (Koenig, 2005, pp. 44-45). Yet current research finds that at least 74% of people do not make a distinction between religion and spirituality.  How then can we best define the relationship between the two?

In my young adult novel, My First Week in Heaven, I gave an analogy of that relationship.  Let’s assume we have an imaginary child who represents the relationship between religion and spirituality.  The skin, muscles, heart, and other tissues represent the child’s spirituality.  The bones represent his/her religion.

First, correct religion, like bones, provides the proper structure for spirituality.  Spirituality grows in distorted ways without religion.  Imagine reaching over and grabbing the child’s head.  Then imagine lifting up the skeleton out of the imaginary child.  What would happen?  Spirituality would collapse to the floor,

Secondly, religion, like bones, also provides much of the immune system for spirituality.  It helps to fight toxic influences that may corrupt one’s spirituality.  Two of the most toxic influences are the individual’s own selfishness and the willingness to let other people control one’s spirituality.  Of course, if religion itself becomes corrupt, one’s spirituality also becomes corrupt.

Many people think of spirituality as perfect and incorruptible.  Unfortunately, that is not true.  Non-religious spirituality emphasizes special experiences, something you feel.  If there are no feelings to this kind of spirituality, people would not pursue it. I have heard of many strange experiences that were labeled ‘spiritual’ just because there was a burst of pleasant feeling involved.

Perhaps we need to look at who has the right to define religion, spirituality and their relationship.  In I Corinthians 10:4 spirituality is defined as a relationship with Jesus.  Religion in the Bible is a catalyst for that relationship.  The Bible is equally clear that religion and spirituality are not defined by us.  They are only defined by God.  He didn’t ask advice about spirituality and religion at the beginning of humanity and he doesn’t ask us now.  He has already figured it out.

Jesus died on the cross to make God’s religion and spirituality alive, dynamic and interactive with each other.  There is no option to delete one or the other.  So, can you be spiritual and not religious?  I would say, yes.  But this kind of spirituality is weak and directionless, or worse, narcissistic.  Jesus wanted us to have a vibrant faith that focuses on him and he wants us to use the teachings of the Bible to shape both our religion and our spiritual interactions with him and God.  

That is just good psychology.

Koenig, H. G. (2005). Faith and mental health: Religious resources for healing.  Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Press

Summer Vacation 101

Dr. Carol McGaughey

 As everyone knows, summer vacation is a carry-over from the agrarian era when school children were needed during the summer months to assist on the family farm. In this digital age when school children are taken to farms on fieldtrips or play Farmville to learn about farms, this is certainly not a reason to have a summer vacation, yet the break from school still persists. Why?

    Well, first the mythology of summer vacation needs to be examined more closely. According to historians at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that recreates an 1830’s New England farming village, farm children attended school from December to March and from mid-May to August.  Rural students were not in session in spring or fall so students could help with spring planting and the autumn harvest. Urban schools in the 1800’s were on an 11 month school year to provide a safe, affordable place for the children of immigrants to stay while their parents worked. These students had no summer vacation, despite the common belief that summer vacation is a legacy from the era of farming. So, how did having a vacation in the summer begin?

    According to Professor Ken Gold of City University in New York, school reformers of the late 19th century instituted summer vacation for several reasons, none of which relate to agriculture. First, reformers wanted a standardized school year for the urban and rural communities.  The rural essentially had two terms; summer and winter; while the urban schools ran all year with time off for holidays. The compromise was to remove the summer term with school in session the rest of the year except for important holidays. So, with otheravailable choices, why remove the summer term?

    The wealthy families in urban areas vacationed during the summer, thus pupils were absent for long stretches of time. That was certainly positive for these children as the heat in urban school buildings without air conditioning was stifling causing many other children to stay out of school at that time as well. Additionally, doctors of the era actually thought it was medically unwise to confine students in a classroom year-round. They believed a break was needed. Finally, the summer months were a time for teachers to train as there were few colleges to attend for certification but an availability of summer teacher training.

    Thus, the summer vacation was born. Over the years, it became entrenched in American culture, and the economy began to depend on the many facets that accompanied this extended break from school. Whatever the origin, college students, and their professors, look forward to a time to rest and recharge, to regenerate and re-invent, to remember and reflect.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Best Psychology for a Healthier Life: Go to Church

by Dr. Tom Kennedy

Hebrews 10:24-26 (NIV)

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

The best way to live longer, healthier, and happier is to avoid certain behaviors and increase other behaviors.  Avoiding cigarettes, too much fatty food, drugs, and anxiety provoking situations are among the top things to avoid.  We could easily brainstorm other items.  Most of them are lifestyle choices that are called ‘risk taking’ in the research literature.  Reducing risks to one’s mental and physical health increases one’s longevity and happiness.

What can you add to your life to increase the length and quality of it?  You can exercise, eat more vegetables, marry (and stay that way), develop a group of supportive friends, and find meaning in your life.   Did you know going to church regularly can improve your mental health and to a lesser extent your physical health?  People who attend church at least once a week have, on average, healthier and happier lives than those who attend occasionally or not at all.  Six decades of research has clearly shown this result.

Church attendance can give a person two healthy things to add to their life.  As people settle into churches, most of them develop strong supportive relationships among the other members.  During times of health and family stress these church friends pray for and encourage each other.  Psychologists have realized for many years how powerful these relationships are and that there are very few organizations that can imitate the church’s ability to support its members.

What about bowling or soccer leagues?  Can’t they substitute for church?  Though different competitive activities can be ‘fun’ and provide a type of support group, church gives its members permission to share hurts, fears, and disappointments.  Competition does not foster this kind of openness.

In addition worshipping at church is an expression of one’s reverence and gratitude to a God who demonstrates love, compassion, and sacrifice for us.  The meaning we find in Jesus Christ tells us that the purpose for life is outside of ourselves.  Our task is to focus on Him and we will find the meaning that we desperately seek and need.  He leads us to invest ourselves in Him and into others.  Isn’t it interesting that psychological research has shown that people who have a purpose in life derived from outside of themselves are happier and healthier than the self-centered.

I can’t guarantee if you will be happier and healthier if you attend church regularly.  Psychological research only shows that on average people who attend church once a week or more are healthier and happier.  But psychology indicates that two of the best, if not the best, behaviors to increase in your life are to give yourself to God and frequently go to His church.

It’s the healthy thing to do.

References:  Koenig, H. G.  (2008). Medicine, Religion, and Health: Where Science and Spirituality Meet.

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