Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mustard Seed & Mountains by Craig Hill

Monday night for the elders' meeting, Mike DeCamp asked us to explain how over the past month, considering Kent Brantly’s Ebola virus illness and recovery, we had been changed. My answer was not very much, because I know God answers prayers and can do all things. I did not know if Kent would survive Ebola, but I did know he would if God wanted him to. I prayed for Kent and also Nancy Writebol (Kent’s co-worker) to survive, so the world would know God’s power, and because Kent got sick doing God’s work, and God would save him from it, if God so desired.

Am I amazed Kent has survived Ebola? Yes. Am I amazed at God’s power in this situation? Yes. Of course! I should be amazed at God’s power in all situations.

Mustard Seed
In Mathew 17, verse 20, Jesus says, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” So, while we should always stand in amazement of God, and be continually transformed by the way he works in our lives, we should not be surprised when he answers our prayers.

We should always be in awe of God’s power, but be confident that he hears our prayers.

Maybe I don’t have a lot of faith, but I think I have faith as small as a mustard seed. Is moving a mountain harder than curing Kent of the Ebola virus? I don’t know. But it wasn’t a sure thing Kent would survive it, despite being relatively young and fit, despite being a doctor, despite receiving an experimental drug, and despite being evacuated. From what I understand, Kent’s roughest days may have been before he was evacuated. Ebola is a viscious killer, and can kill anyone no matter how strong, young, or cared for. Complications can arise when your body’s organs and systems are attacked and ravaged.

And the miracle happened! Kent did survive, and so did Nancy! Wow! And yet, what did we expect? That God would take out these two great servants of His? Of course not.

The main question I raise to myself is: Did I pray more fervently for them than for someone else? And if so, why? I should always expect God to answer my prayers, and I should always pray fervently and with confident expectation. That’s what God teaches us. But do I? No. I don’t. But I should. So this is my resolution: to pray fervently always, and always with a faith. Good question Mike.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Health Ministry Newsletter-August 2014 by Lisa Fleetwood

Got the Blues?
It’s normal to occasionally get the blues but sadness that lasts more than just a few days could mean something more serious.

What is depression?
Depression is more than just a low mood – it's a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.

What are the symptoms of depression?
Those suffering from depression may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.

What causes depression?
Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too.

Who is affected?
Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder. Women are 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. Non-Hispanic blacks are 40% less likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience depression during their lifetime. The average age of onset is 32 years old. Additionally, 3.3% of 13 to 18 year olds have experienced a seriously debilitating depressive disorder.

What are the treatment options?
Seeking help is the first step toward reclaiming your life. Contact your physician for an evaluation. Be honest about your concerns. Before your visit, write down your concerns and symptoms. Include severity and duration of each issue. Depression is treatable with therapy and medication but a critical component of recovery is achieved through social support. Reach out to those closest to you.

  • Community's 24-hour crisis line (800-662-3445) provides immediate evaluations by phone and/or face-to-face for psychiatric emergencies.
  • Mental Health America helpline: (800) 273.TALK (317) 251.7575/TEXT CSIS to 839863 Help is available 24-Hours a Day and is Confidential and FREE. Suicide Intervention/Relationship Issues/Substance Abuse/Depression/Stress Management

*Source: National Institute on Mental Health

A Happier Lifestyle
While clinical depression can involve alterations in brain chemistry and requires medical intervention for resolution, occasional sadness can be remedied with lifestyle changes. Try these tips to keep your emotional health in check!
Slow down. Hectic lives include packed schedules that leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. When we cram too much into our day, we end up scurrying from place to place without taking the time to enjoy. By slowing down, we can actually take the time to experience life’s joys. Pick and choose what goes onto your calendar. Keep what’s important but say “no” to what doesn’t align with your core values.

Practice Gratitude. My friend shared with me an interesting article she had read about gratitude. The article posed the question, “What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?”. Well, what would you have? To what extent do you practice gratitude throughout your day? Focusing on what you are thankful for shifts your thinking and changes your perspective. It may have been a rough day, but if you can find something good (and there is always something) you can transform your attitude.

Eat (And drink) Healthier. Refined sugars, processed foods, salt, and alcohol may contribute to feelings of sadness while foods like salmon and walnuts (high in Omega-3’s), berries (high in mood enhancing anthocyadins), and beans (high in depression fighting folates) can actually keep you feeling mentally sharp and upbeat. Try drinking water, too. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition, those who were mildly dehydrated were more pessimistic than their well-hydrated counterparts.

Make a Change. Feelings of powerlessness contribute to sadness. Some of the issues in our lives that cause us to feel down are out of our control, but there are other things that we can change that will lessen the burden we feel. Reclaim your power and start on the to-do list that has haunted you for years. Clean your junk drawer, change your oil, and even make an appointment for your annual physical. Once you feel the weight of some of these smaller tasks lifted, your outlook will brighten as well. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

After Ebola, What Then? by Mike DeCamp

It has been just about two weeks since I learned of Kent Brantly’s battle with Ebola, and it has been quite a ride.  I’ve written a couple of blog posts.  I’ve done a radio interview on Moody Radio (Thank you Kelli Thompson).  I’ve watched the TV news visit our worship and interview a couple of my friends.  And, I’ve even seen our minister, Greg York be interviewed on a national Fox News TV show.  Not to mention that I’ve seen Kent’s picture on every media outlet possible.

I’ve prayed like I haven’t prayed in a long time.  With fervency.  With emotion.  Pleading.  Negotiating.  Reasoning with God.  Fasting was even in the mix.  (That is a practice we need to renew in our church culture.) 

I’ve been sad for the struggle that the Brantly’s have faced.  I’ve been concerned for the outcome.  I was full of Joy when I watched Kent step out of that ambulance and walk into the hospital.  And, I’ve been sorely tempted to be angry at the ignorant and frightened comments of people who are not fully aware of the facts; whether it was some noted public figure, or just some random person commenting on a newspaper article.

And, I’ve been amazed.

I’ve been amazed at the spirit of the church at Southeastern.  So many people jumping in…praying…asking others to pray…sharing information….encouraging one another.  Getting intimately interested in the struggle to care for the Ebola victims in Africa.  There has been a spirit of purpose and unity that I’ve just never seen before.

I’ve been amazed at how God seems to be using this situation.  Incredible new levels of attention from key potential resources have been drawn to the Ebola crisis through Kent and Nancy’s illnesses.  Potential treatments have leapt over years of study and could be brought to bear much, much sooner because of what happened.  And, then there is Kent’s sermon.  Wow.  In the week or so since the link was posted on our church Facebook wall, it has been seen by over 8000 people and been shared 94 times.  (And those are just the hits we can see on Facebook.  There have been more.)  Everyone from CBN to CNN to Fox News has checked it out.  The woman who interviewed Greg even said she had listened to the whole thing and was moved by it.  The message of God’s call on Kent’s life has touched incredible numbers of people in both high and low places…all to God’s own glory.

And the world is awestruck. 

I’m reminded of Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Jesus

Kent has given us another very personal example of this to follow.  One article in a popular online publication even coined a phrase:  WWKD (What Would Kent Do?).  Well, I can tell you one thing he would do…he would reject that and point to God.  He would give God the glory.  Kent has done the things that he did because God did the things that He did.

So, it’s been a wild ride, and God has been working, and is being glorified like I have not seen in my lifetime.

But, in a couple of weeks, the crisis will be in the past, and what will we do then?

Will we use this as a catalyst for real change in our lives and in the life of the Southeastern Church of Christ?  Or, will we simply slip back into old patterns?  Will we continue to love more deeply?  Pray more fervently?  Share more urgently?  Care more passionately?  Give more fully?  Worship more zealously?  Or, is it back to the same old church that we were?  If YOU won't change, then WE won't change.

Only you can decide.

Let me seriously challenge you.  And, frankly, this challenge starts with those of us who claim to be leaders.  (Are we going to lead?)  Make some specific decisions to change.  Renew your heart.  Renew your zeal for God.  Find God’s “call on your life” and give yourself to it.  I’m looking for my call…and I’m determined to be different as we come out the other side of this thing.  Are you with me?

Judges 5:2
“When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves – praise the Lord!”