BETTER THAN MEDICINE Health Benefits of a Grateful Heart

BETTER THAN MEDICINE Health Benefits of a Grateful Heart

I have a file labeled: When Science Catches Up with Scripture. Stories from all over find their way into that file; from law, medicine, the natural sciences, child rearing, business, archaeology, and psychology. To qualify, the story must record observations or research on a topic—that’s the science part—that “discover” something already revealed in the Bible. I get a chuckle out of these stories because most of them sound so, “Aha! We’ve found something totally new!” But to those of us familiar with Scripture, they sound like children celebrating when the square block fits the square hole.

I hope to write a book about it one day and if I do the power of gratitude will be one of the chapters.

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT reported on it in 2001 with HAPPINESS EXPLAINED. Harvard Medical School ran a story titled, IN PRAISE OF GRATITUDE in 2011. And BE THANKFUL: Science says gratitude is good for your health, appeared on the Today Show in 2015.

Much of the research on the topic has been performed by Dr. Michael C. McCollough, of the University of Miami, and Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis. A few of their findings on the practice of gratitude include better sleep, lowered blood pressure, and better immune systems. Other researchers found the habit of gratitude associated with less fatigue, lower inflammation, and healthier heart rhythms.[1]

Or, as Scripture has it: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. [2] That’s the Scripture part, written some 3,000 years ago 😉

But key words in the reports are “habit” and “practice.” Like physical workouts, the benefits of gratefulness come only to those who exercise their gratitude muscles often. Want to bench-press some of those benefits into your life? Try these routines:

Journal your gratitude. Write down five things per week for which you are grateful. The process forces us to pause and think about the good things in our lives and writing makes a permanent record to help us remember. That’s a good thing!

Write thank-you notes. It cheers up others as it increases our gratitude quotient. Win-Win!

Thank your mate daily. Husbands and wives who thank their spouses for the little things have less trouble working through problems in their marriages. Find specific things to thank them for and do it daily.

Compare down, not up, and give something away. It’s easy to find people more privileged and envy them. Most advertisements are designed to make us unhappy with what we have so that we’ll buy something else. But those are gratitude killers. Contentment comes to those who realize how good they have it and share their abundance with others less fortunate.

When Christ’s disciples returned from their first mission trip, they celebrated saying, “Even the demons were subject to us in your name!” But Jesus reminded them: “Do not rejoice in that, but that rather your names are written in the book of life.”  If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord I urge you to do it today. For He is the greatest of all reasons to give thanks. Thank God for providing you with eternal life through faith in his Son and no matter what troubles come your way, you will always have something to celebrate.

Happy thanks-giving! It’s better than medicine!

[1] Adapted from Lauren Dunn, “Be thankful: Science says gratitude is good for your health,” TODAY (5-12-17)

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Pr 17:22). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

ONE RING TO BIND THEM

Glenn T. Stanton’s The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage

Ask any pastor what the toughest part of his job is and, second only to funerals of the young, he will tell you “counseling broken marriages.” Nothing else wreaks more emotional, spiritual, familial, and financial havoc than divorce. No wonder then that we are always on the lookout for resources to help couples, especially pre-marital couples, prevent that disaster. Glenn T. Stanton’s THE RING MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE (Moody Publishers, 2011) takes aim at one of the preeminent pre-cursors to broken marriages today: pre-marital cohabitation, and does so with pinpoint accuracy.

Stanton is the director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, and a leading spokesperson on marriage and family issues. He can also be heard on the weekly “Breakpoint This Week” podcast, hosted by John Stonestreet.

At fewer than one hundred and fifty pages, The Ring is an easy read, incredibly well-documented, and highly practical for couples or individuals who want to think carefully and act wisely as they approach marriage. Each chapter has large-print summary quotes for quick review along with five or six insight-inducing questions at the end.

The book is also a great example of science “catching up” with scripture. Anyone familiar with the biblical understanding of marriage knows that sex before marriage is sin and cohabitation is not equal to marriage. The mid-twentieth century sexual revolution and feminist movements undermined that message, and cohabitation has skyrocketed as a result. Most couples just sort of slide in to the arrangement, not intending to commit sin so much as failing to see why it matters. But social scientists have been tracking the results of that sea-change for fifty years and the results support the biblical view. A few of the findings are indicative:

“Marriage matters, not just because it is preceded by a wedding that costs us or our parents tens of thousands of dollars, but because the nature of the relationship itself makes a difference in ways you probably never imagined.”

“Even if (cohabiting) couples consider themselves essentially “married,” they know that without a marriage license, they are freer to exit the relationship at any time. This lack of security in the mind of each partner affects how they deal with each other.”

“Marriage involves things the cohabiting couple–or at least one of them–would rather not deal with. This is why cohabitation even exists.”

“People with cohabiting experience who marry have a 50 to 80 percent higher likelihood of divorcing than married couples who never cohabited.”

All of those findings are important, but the one that stood out most, because it is the one that I deal with most often in counseling, is that cohabitation, even with someone you eventually wed, sets up unhealthy relationship patterns that carry over into the marriage. Cohabitors have fewer and weaker conflict resolution skills. They are less likely to be supportive and self-sacrificing. Most notably, “the lack of relational clarity is likely to foster more controlling and manipulative interactions to try to keep the relationship together and get the partner to do what the other desires. As a result, cohabitors are much more likely to report a sense of relational instability than their married peers.”

Any married person would benefit from Stanton’s book, but I highly recommend it to young men and women contemplating marriage, as well as to those who haven’t yet found that special someone. Read it, and protect yourself from a world of hurt.

 

PRO LIFE SUMMARY

“The Bible never mentions abortion, so how can Christians be opposed to it?”

“Abortion simply rids a woman’s body of an unwanted collection of cells, like cancer, right?”

Ever heard those questions and wondered how to answer them? Then read on.

January 22nd marks the 43rd anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Since then over 58 million babies have been killed by abortionists in America alone. (http://www.numberofabortions.com/)

The numbers are staggering, but the cultural ignorance of reasons to stop abortion is even greater. Most assume it is religion against politics and turn away from the arguments altogether. Many Christians who are pro-life by conviction lack sound reasoning for those convictions and so fail to make the effort to persuade friends and family.

In the following summary, reproduced by permission of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, John Stonestreet, and Scot Klusendorf have done a marvelous job of arguing the prolife position not only from the Bible, but also from science, logic, and America’s founding documents. I’ve broken it into two sections, one for this week and one next, but you can find the link to the whole document, titled 21 DAYS OF PRAYER FOR LIFE, here at http://www.colsoncenter.org.

I urge you to read this, think about how you might put it in your own words, talk about it with your friends, and share it on all of your media platforms. DS.

WHY PRO LIFE? A SUMMARY part 1
By Scott Klusendorf and John Stonestreet

Reason #1:The Bible Affirms Life
Scripture is clear that all humans have value because they are made in the image of God, the imago dei (Genesis 1:26-28; James 3:9). In other words, humans are valuable by virtue of who they are, not because of what they can do. Humans have value simply because they are human.

Because humans bear the image of God, the shedding of innocent blood is strictly forbidden (Exodus 23:7; Proverbs 6:16-19; Matthew 5:21). The Bible is not saying it’s always wrong to kill human beings, a position only a strict pacifist would hold. Its meaning is more specific: We are never to intentionally kill innocent human beings.

Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. Thus, the same passages in Scripture that forbid the shedding of innocent blood apply to the unborn. Some are puzzled that the Bible never mentions abortion. Are we to conclude abortion is morally permitted? No! The Bible’s alleged silence on abortion does not mean that its authors condoned the practice, but that prohibitions against it were largely unnecessary. The Hebrews of the Old Testament and the Christians of the New Testament were not likely
to kill their offspring before birth. To understand why, let’s step into their world. First, children were seen as a blessing, while barrenness was a curse—the worst
curse for a woman (Psalm 137:3-5; 1 Samuel 1:6, Genesis. 20:17-18, 30:1, 22-23).

Second, immortality was expressed through one’s descendants. God promises Abraham to make of him a great nation and that promise is passed on to Isaac, Jacob, etc. “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him,” writes the Psalmist (127:3. See also Gen. 48:16).

Third, among a people surrounded by hostile nations, continuing one’s family line was vital for national security. Fourth, having children was a sacred responsibility: God’s promise to bless all nations through Israel was predicated on replenishing the land with offspring. Fifth, the early Christians of the New Testament were Jewish believers who inherited Jewish morality, including the commands against shedding innocent blood. Therefore, the Bible’s silence on abortion does not suggest permission, but that prohibitions were largely unnecessary.

Reason #2: Science Affirms Life
The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless. Leading embryology textbooks affirm this.

Embryos differ from mere bodily cells, though abortion-choice advocates often claim they’re the same. This is bad biology because it mistakes parts with wholes. The human embryo is already a whole human entity. It makes no sense to say that you were once a sperm or somatic cell. Dr. Maureen Condic, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah, explains the important distinction between individual body parts and whole human embryos overlooked by many abortion-choice advocates: “The critical difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability of an organism to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body as a whole. It is precisely this ability that breaks down at the moment of death, however death might occur. Dead bodies may have plenty of live cells, but their cells no longer function together in a coordinated manner.”

From conception forward, human embryos clearly function as organisms. “Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances.” (end part 1)

TWO TAKEAWAY TRUTHS:
The Bible’s silence on abortion does not suggest permission, but that prohibitions were largely unnecessary.
The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings.