Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jesus had to Go to Samaria by John Wright

Jesus had to go to Samaria                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         By John Wright

          Jesus was always breaking down barriers, walls between us and God. Our sin separates us from God and our only hope was for Jesus to break the barrier of sin. Is there anyone beyond the reach of God's mercy through Jesus? (John chapter 4) Jesus, after hearing the Pharisees were worried about his many disciples in Judea decides to leave Judea and go to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria according to Jn. 4:4, but most Jews would not travel through Samaria. Instead they would detour around it when traveling back and forth between Judea and Galilee. The Jews had completely given up on the Samaritans. In their minds they were the lowest form of life. The Jews and the Samaritans shared a common history going back into the Old Testament. They once were known as the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. They were estranged brothers separated by Kings, politics and rebellion to God. Samaria, the land of Ahab and Jezebel, who worshipped all manner of false gods. God never gave them up. He sent prophets to turn them from their ways, but they refused to turn back to God. After generations of apostasy, and wicked Kings they continued to ignore the warnings by the Prophets that they should turn away from their sin and repent. Finally after a time of much patience God allowed the Assyrian army to invade and exile the Northern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom became known as the ten lost tribes of Israel. Most Samaritans believed they were descended from Jacob, but they were not pure Israelites. Their blood had been polluted with the intermarrying of pagans. The mighty indeed have fallen. These people were not their brothers, in the sight of the Jewish people they were filthy dogs.

            Jesus had to go to Samaria, the land everyone had given up on, the place on earth the disciples believed was hopeless. The ten lost tribes were assimilated into the melting pot of the peoples.  Jesus begins to tell a Samaritan woman about the Kingdom of Heaven, he engages her in dialogue. Jesus had to go to Samaria to show us that any amount of sin could be overcome by trusting in Jesus. Jesus was reaching out to a people that had been involved in spiritual fornication by connecting with a woman who had five husbands and the man she was now with was not her husband. Can you see the parallel? Jesus did not believe that this Samaritan woman was not worth his time. In fact, he was more plainspoken to her than he was when teaching the Jews. When she mentioned that she believed the messiah was to come and he would explain everything, Jesus told her plainly "I am He.” Jesus had to go to Samaria because he said "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

            God said to Jacob at Bethel "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring" (Gen. 28:14). The finished work of God is to redeem the entire world through his Son. (2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Jesus had to go to Samaria because as he told his disciples "Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest". The people of the town came to him after hearing what the woman said about him, she said, "could he be the messiah?" The townspeople longed to hear his teaching so Jesus stayed with them two days. A very large number of them believed on him and they said to the woman who told them about Jesus, "we know that this man really is the savior of the world.”

            The fields are ripe for harvest in Samaria and right now in our town and wherever we may be. The lesson the twelve apostles learned in Samaria was God does his most amazing work in the places where it is least expected. There is no one beyond the reach of God's mercy. Where is your Samaria? May God give us the grace to not judge, but instead plant the seed of the gospel everywhere.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Faith & Health Newsletter-January 2015

Brain Power! Keeping a Sharp Mind

Have you ever run back in the house for something, only to stand in kitchen scratching your head, trying to remember what you forgot in the first place? Some memory lapses are normal but as we age, this forgetfulness could signify more serious issues like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. While these degenerative brain issues are not a normal part of aging, millions of Americans are affected.

  • More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia.
  • Aging is the number one risk factor for dementia.

*Source National Institute on Aging

While Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have some risk factors we can’t control, like aging and genetics, there are many things we can do to prevent these devastating diseases.

Use these tips to improve long term brain health and reduce your risk!

Socialize. Participation in social and community activities improves mood and memory function.

Get moving! Physical activities and exercise, such as brisk walking, help boost and maintain brain function. Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise can reduce your risk for dementia by 40 to 50 percent.

Minimize your intake saturated and trans fats. These "bad" fats tend to increase blood cholesterol levels, which encourage the production of dangerous beta-amyloid plaques in the brain—a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. In the Chicago Health and Aging Study, people consuming the most saturated fat had triple the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains should be staples in your diet. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that protect the brain such as vitamin B6 and folate. The Chicago Health and Aging Study found that a high intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. A plant-rich diet also reduces your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which can play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

Avoid cooking with aluminum pots and pans. Instead, opt for stainless steel or cast iron cookware. While aluminum's role in brain functioning is still under investigation, preliminary data suggests that it may contribute to cognitive problems.

Eat some berries! Berries contain high levels of biologically active components, including a class of compounds called anthocyanosides, which fight memory impairment associated with free radicals and beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Eat berries each day for maximum benefit.

Increase omega-3 fatty acids. In one study, individuals with the top quartile levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, measured at baseline had lower rates of Alzheimer’s over nine years of follow-up.

Go Mediterranean. Two studies that used dietary questionnaires to assess and quantify adherence to the diet in different populations found that patients who were most adherent to the Mediterranean style diet had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s, compared with those who did not follow this diet.

Control your blood pressure High blood pressure appears to be associated with an increased risk of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


Memory Aids

  • Keep "to do" lists and put them where you will see them often. Establish a routine and follow it.
  • Don’t rush. Give yourself time to memorize a new name or recall an old one.
  • Keep everything in its place: If you always put your reading glasses in the same place, you will always know where they are.
  • Use associations. For example, picture an apple on top of a gate to recall Mrs. Applegate’s name.
  • Keep a paper or electronic calendar of important dates. Make sure to check it a couple of times a day.