Thursday, February 26, 2015

Health Ministry Newsletter-February 2015 by Lisa Fleetwood

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,” Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
David begs God in Psalm 51 for forgiveness after he sins with Bathsheba. Interestingly, he asks that God clean his heart. The heart is often used as an analogy when discussing sin and the damage it causes in our lives. The heart is a vital organ, central to our health and is associated with the very essence of life. Having a clean heart is connected with having a clean life. David knew his “heart” wasn’t right, and he wanted God to make it better.

In 2015, we still struggle with unclean hearts. Today, however, heart issues aren’t so figurative, they’re literal. The heart’s corridors are plugged up with yellow, waxy cholesterol plaque that keeps life giving blood from flowing freely to the body’s tissues. This plaque builds up over time and narrows and hardens the vessels that carry our blood. Sometimes these plaques even break free and completely block blood supply. This blockage can keep oxygen from the heart’s tissues, causing the irreversible damage of a heart attack. Heart disease wreaks havoc everywhere it goes, robbing its host of energy, mobility, happiness, and ultimately their very life. Heart disease’s victims are not able to do God’s work to the fullest extent due to the physical limitations caused by a poorly functioning heart. We, like David, need to pray for God to create in us a clean heart and we need to honor God’s gift, our body, by doing our part to keep it clean.

So how can we keep a clean and healthy heart? Choose one thing to focus on and use scripture to give you strength to make the change.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco.

Did you know? Every cigarette you smoke makes you more likely to get heart disease. Roughly 1 out of 5 deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


Did you know? Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Eat a heart healthy diet low in red meat, dairy products, fried or packaged foods.

Did you know? A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Proverbs 25:28 ESV
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Get enough sleep.

Did you know? People who don't get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.

Psalm 127:2 ESV
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Know your numbers.

Did you know? High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.

Proverbs 2:10 ESV
For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

What’s the BIG deal?

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. 
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually. 
  • Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.

How will I know if I’m having a heart attack?
Major Warning signs of heart attacks include:
Chest pain or discomfort.
Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
Shortness of breath.
Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.
*Source: Mayo Clinic

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meaningful Words and a Hurtful Tongue by Mike DeCamp

Meaningful Words and a Hurtful Tongue
By Mike DeCamp

Borrowed from, 1/29/2013

I wish I could invent a way to tie a string to the words I say so that if I say sometime stupid, hurtful, or offensive, I could just pull them back in before anyone hears.
Have you ever felt that way?  If I could invent it, I bet you'd buy it.  I bet I’d become so rich that I could buy out Warren Buffet.
The other day, I was sitting in a class on Sunday morning at church when one of those moments came around.  A friend of mine was sharing a lengthy comment on the subject we were discussing when all at once a horn began to sound outside.  It kept going off and my friend continued to share for several more seconds before some of the guys jumped up to see what the noise was all about.  It didn’t seem to be much of anything important, so everyone came back to their seats.  Someone was commenting on how it was under control, but I said:
“I thought it was just someone trying to get (my friend) to stop talking.”
Folks laughed.  My friend seemed to not be overly bothered.  But, immediately I wished I had not spoken.  I wished that I had the ability to reel the words right back in.
Words are powerful things.  Words have consequences.  Words can change things…for good or ill.  Think Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address.  Think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Think Hitler in pre-WWII Germany.  Good or ill.
Words matter.
That event from Sunday reminded me of a story from my days in the youth group as a teen in Muncie.  I can’t remember if I was a junior or senior at the time, but I was regarded as a leader among the teens.  I knew that, but often my insecurities took control and I tried to be funny to win the other teens’ approval through their laughter.  Usually, those attempts at humor were harmless…although I suspect they were likely quite obnoxious too.  However, there was one time when I said something so horrible that I still cringe when I think about it today.
I’m going to share it with you now.
It was “Monday Night Fellowship.”  That was our youth group’s weekly teen event.  It was held at a different family’s home each time we met, but I don’t recall where we were that particular week.  We all loved those nights together!  We had so much fun playing games, singing songs, and learning from our youth minister’s devotionals.  I have so many memories from those days!  Wow.
Monday Night Fellowship was also the one event where we could bring friends and be assured that they would have a good time.  It was an outreach event for our group.  It was not uncommon for new kids to show up on any given Monday.
On the night of my big mouth, Kristi had brought a friend, a girl from her school.  In general, I remember that she was very friendly, and out-going, and sort of cute.  However, she had one rather prominent feature that was overtly apparent to everyone in the room.  Fortunately almost everyone had the good sense to keep their mouths shut and their thoughts to themselves.  Almost everyone. 
Everyone but me.
During the devotional, our youth minister, Neil was sharing a message…I don’t recall the overall gist, but in the message we were asked to say something encouraging about someone else in the room.
“Look around the room,” he said.  “Share something encouraging about someone.”
Enter me…and my personal insecurities blanketed in a need to be funny.
I looked around.  I spotted the cute, out-going, visiting girl with the prominent feature, and with impeccable timing, I said:  “She has a big nose!”
Looking back, I just don’t understand how I could say something like that.  Why would I put the need to be funny so far ahead of any sense of common decency?  Was it some twisted, adolescent attempt at flirting?  I am still ashamed to this very moment.
The room went dead silent for what seemed like eons, but was probably only about long enough for Neil to connect his brain to his mouth and say:  “THAT WAS UNCALLED FOR!  I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING LIKE THAT FROM YOU EVER AGAIN!”
My shame was immediate and deserved and I withdrew into myself for the rest of the evening out of humiliation.  I can’t recall if I ever apologized.  I sure hope I did, but that wouldn’t have made the girl’s pain and embarrassment any less.
But, here’s the thing.  I never saw that girl again.  That, maybe is the worst thing about this.  My words severed the potential of relationships between that girl and our group and our church.  Perhaps we could have been great friends, but my words spoiled it all.  Who knows what lasting effects that event has had?  Who knows what the downstream consequences have been?
Words are powerful things.  Words matter.
In the Bible, in the book of James, the writer says:  “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”  James 1:26
I wonder how often our religious words have a similar effect on folks as my thoughtless words had on that girl so many years ago?
Obviously, from the story I told at the outset of this article, I have not yet mastered my mouth.  Unfortunately, I still have a tendency to want the approval of others that can be found in their laughter, and that need comes out occasionally in a rather sharp, sarcastic manner.  I am a work in progress, but my highest goal these days is to use my words in meaningful ways.  To help and not to harm.  To build up and not to tear down.
I like to think that I follow that positive course much more than I used to.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29
I was thinking about the story of my hurtful words tonight while perusing the vast amount of words bantered around on Facebook.  This person hates that public figure.  That person is standing up against that terrible social wrong.  There’s another vulgar joke.  Again, there is another hateful rant against this group or that group.  Many of the words are strong, but how many are truly meaningful and meant to build up rather than to tear down?  How many are meant to show love to one another?  You be the judge.
If I had the chance today to stand in humility before that girl from so many years ago, I would tell her how sorry I truly am.  May I NEVER again have the need to apologize like that to anyone.
Words have power.  Your words matter.  Be meaningful, helpful, and encouraging to someone WITH YOUR WORDS every chance you get.  You can make a positive difference in someone’s life.
The world can be moved with strong, loving, meaningful words; yours and mine.  Be mindful of your power.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Seeking Out Those Seeking God by Steve Faidley

Seeking Out Those Seeking God

It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 NASB

John Wright wrote a great piece for the blog last week about how Jesus broke down barriers to reach out to those that his “people” would never have considered reaching out to.  I had no idea what John was preparing, and the Lord put these thoughts on my heart weeks ago.  This blog was pretty much written before his was posted last week. Maybe there’s a message God really wants Southeastern to hear.

How do we reach out to those seeking God? What does it mean to be seeking God? Does seeking God mean visitors to worship on Sunday, visitors to our pantry, parents of our preschoolers, neighbors, anyone that touches Southeastern in some way? What is our responsibility to take Christ to those seeking God? How do we do that? Are we afraid?  What if they don't look like us? like us?...dress like us? What if they are sinners? Do you have to compromise?

This is not a new topic. We've all been in these discussions before. Greg has talked to us so much about what it means to be the aroma of Christ. How are you doing with that?  How am I doing with that? What are we willing to do to be Christ to those we come in contact with? Was Paul afraid to speak out at the Areopagus in Acts 17? Was Peter afraid to speak to Cornelius the centurion in Acts chapter 10? Did Paul know in Acts 14 when he spoke at Iconium that his own people, the Jews, would be so angry that they would be willing to stone him? Was he afraid? What do we fear? Impact on our jobs? People laughing at us at work or in our social circles? Is there so much confusion in the greater church today about what God condones and accepts because we are afraid to engage those people when they start to search for God? How much opportunity have we missed? Were opportunities missed to teach our children to love first so they could establish relationships and bring people to Christ? Is that why so many of our children choose to not walk in our shoes? Do you love people? I mean, do you really…love…people?  Remember the video that Greg showed us a few years ago of Penn Jillette, the comic illusionist, speaking about the willingness of Christians to speak to others about Christ? Do you remember the question he asked? I’ll paraphrase, “If you know that someone's path could lead them to eternal loss why would you not want to share that with them to help him avoid such a tragic end?”  Here’s an avowed atheist who recognizes the profoundness of what we believe - if what we believe is actually true!  
I've spent far too many years willing to condemn and complain and criticize and far too many years unwilling to recognize that I have to love first. I have to care about the souls of those I know and those I don't know if I’m going to seek out those seeking God.  I have to love everyone because I believe we’re ALL God’s children if I’m going to be brave enough to talk to them about coming home. I'm not just talking about Southeastern. I'm talking about the greater church. I'm not just talking about the churches of Christ. I'm talking about me, as a Christ-follower, being so concerned about getting my hands dirty or being affected by the words, lifestyles, attitudes, and beliefs of those who don't know Christ that I have too often been unwilling to sit with them, to walk with them, to eat with them, to be Christ with them.  What’s the answer?  Is it really so simple?  “Strive to be more like Jesus…every day.”  I need to be willing to sit with them, walk with them, eat with them, and be Christ with those that are seeking God.  Some of you already do this, do it well, and do it daily.  Thank you!  So help us who need to get better at it. 
As we start a new year, let's all commit to a journey to take Southeastern to a place that many of us don't recognize, that some have been looking for, and that some will be uncomfortable with. Jesus gave us examples of reaching out to the lost. He did not give us guidelines or preconditions for doing that.  In John 4, he did it when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He went against the customs and appropriateness of the day and interacted with her. The text doesn't tell us he set out a precondition that she must be willing to accept what he was about to tell her. He just offered her living water.  Again, in John 8, Jesus stepped outside of our comfort zone.  He defended the woman caught in adultery without preconditions. The text doesn't tell us that he knew that she would follow him or change her ways, he just broke with the social norms, refused to condemn her and pointed her in the direction of truth.  In Mark 2, Jesus dined with sinners despite the scorn it raised with the religious leaders and likely the average person. Jesus was about saving souls, reaching out to the lost, about doing his Father’s work.  Jesus was about building relationships so that he could build bridges between the lost and his Father.  Building relationships is risky business.  Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s disappointing.  Jesus experienced those things right up to the cross and he still experiences them today.  But seeking out those that are seeking God holds a reward worth the risk.  If we love people then we want them to experience what we have.  So join me in seeking out those who are not yet part of Christ’s body.  Take a chance and start developing a relationship with a stranger. 

As a new shepherd for what Greg calls “this kingdom outpost at Southeastern,” I ask that you pray for me and for all of the elders that we pray fervently for and listen to God's direction and that we come alongside everyone that considers this place home to grow not into what I want us to be or what you want us to be, but into what God wants us to be.

May His will be what guides our every step.