Live Long & Prosper: 10 Habits that can Add Years to Your Life

June 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

By the year 2050, the U.S. will have more than 600,000 people over the age of 100. This is more than ten times the number in 2010 (i). Moses lived to be 120, climbed to the top of a mountain (Mt. Nebo in present day Jordan) and died. Deuteronomy 34:7 (NIV) says, “His eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” I like that bit of detail because it tells us that Moses remained vibrant right up to the end.

While living to 100 may not be your greatest aspiration, the bigger question is “What factors determine how long you will live?” Perhaps the biggest factor is your family history or genetic makeup. Routine checkups and preemptive lifestyle choices can quash what might have been an early death sentence just a few decades ago. But here are ten other factors that lead to longevity.

A whopping 37 percent of men are sedentary (ii). Exercise is at the top of the list for those who live longer and healthier lives. The key is aerobic fitness which simply means getting your heart and lungs working through running, cycling, swimming, or hiking. One out of every two men will develop heart disease at some point in his life (slightly less for women). Aerobic exercise helps offset heart disease by increasing the flow of blood throughout the body.

A second and often neglected element of healthy living is how you deal with anger. Are you quick to hold grudges, scream at someone who cuts you off, or react to unpleasant or frustrating circumstances with a rush of anger-inducted adrenalin? Anger raises our blood pressure and places us at greater risk of having a stroke or incurring heart disease.

A third ingredient to longevity is maintaining good relationships. A healthy marriage and the love that goes with it is a major indicator of lasting health. This includes our relationships with children, grandchildren, co-workers and friends. A toxic relationship, especially a marriage, can create stress. This weakens our immune system, which makes us vulnerable to disease.

A forth factor that can shorten your life is stress. Perhaps you have heard the comment, “Stress kills.” The way we learn to deal with the difficulties of life can either add to or detract from our life expectancy. The greatest stressors are often those we have no control over (a prodigal child, the choices of our mate, etc). Learn to control the things you can in life and let God take care of the rest.

Fifth, be born female. Women live longer.

Sixth, have wealth. The more money you have, the better health care you can afford.

Seventh, pray. Prayer is a natural way to relieve stress.

Eighth, maintain a healthy weight. Too much weight, either due to lack or exercise or overeating, is lethal. Obesity will rob 13 years from your life.

Ninth, maintain healthy skin by protecting it from ultraviolet rays. When you are in the sun for extended periods of time, use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

Finally, eat in a healthy way. This means limiting overall consumption and adding fruits, grains, and vegetables. Likewise, this also means limiting excessive alcohol intake.

Our bodies are marvelously designed. They are incredibly resilient machines but like all machines, they won’t last forever. Learn to be a good steward of the equipment God has given you. Treat it with respect and you will live longer and find more joy in living.

(i) “This Baby May Well Live to 100”, National Geographic, November 2011
(ii) Laura Roberson, “Your Healthiest Year Ever,” Men’s Health, January/February 2011

Beat the Bah-Humbugs!

By Julie Morris –

Do you have the Bah-Humbugs? Do you even know what it is? “Bah” is an old fashioned word that means that you dislike something, and “Humbug” means that you think that something is a fake.

Do you have a “Bah-Humbug” attitude when people talk about peace and joy at Christmas? Or, do you have the Bah-Humbugs all of the time, not just at Christmas? Do you say things like, “Everyone has it better than me,” “I give up. There’s no hope that things will change”?

If you have the Bah-Hubugs, you’re not alone. Do you know the first guy who had the Bah-Humbugs? It was stingy old Ebenezer Scrooge—the meanest man in London. Charles Dickens wrote the book A Christmas Carol in 1843, and Ebenezer is the main character. You may have read it or seen it on TV.

Ebenezer is a businessman who thinks only of making money. For him Christmas is, humbug—a fake. On Christmas Eve he has a dream about three ghosts. Let’s look at some of the things Ebenezer Scrooge learns from the three ghosts in his nightmare on Christmas Eve.

The Ghost of Christmas Past.

When the Ghost of Christmas Past makes Scrooge look back at his childhood, he sees how much he had been hurt, and he gets angry all over again. It’s true, though, that hurting people hurt people, and that’s what Scrooge had done. Instead of dealing with his hurts, he had carried them with him his whole life. We can learn from Ebenezer and deal with our hurts—forgive those who hurt us–so we don’t have to continue to live in the Bah-Humbugs.

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

When the Ghost of Christmas Present makes Ebenezer look at how others are enjoying their lives even though some of them have many overwhelming problems, Ebenezer is jealous and he wants what they have.

Many of us can understand because we have felt the same way—stuck in the Bah Humbugs because others have it better than we do. But there is something we can do to get rid of those negative thoughts. Replace them with positive ones so can get free of the Bah Humbugs.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

After the Ghost of Christmas Present finishes with him, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come makes him look ahead—at his funeral! It is then that Scrooge realizes how empty and meaningless his life has been and he feels tremendous regret.

Like Scrooge, do you feel regret when you examine your life? If you do, discover the life-changing message that Scrooge learns: joy doesn’t come from having what you want when you want it; it comes from loving and sharing and being thankful. And it comes from overcoming problems with God’s help and then helping others to be overcomers too.

Do you remember how Scrooge feels when he wakes up from his nightmare? He is overcome with relief because he still has time to change! He still has time to have the joyful life he has always wanted—and he beats the Bah-humbugs. Will you?


Shepherds for Christ

May 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night”  (Luke 2:8).

Shepherds are amazing people. From biblical times to today, they are on guard as they watch over the sheep and baby lambs placed in their care. By day they feed the sheep, leading them to pastures for grazing. By night they guard the entrance to gated pens, protecting the sheep from wolves and predatory animals.

Shepherds have a distinct place in history. They were the first to whom God revealed the good news of the birth of his son. Standing in a brightly lit field, they stood in awe as the heavenly host descended, singing and praising God, proclaiming peace on earth, good will towards man.  Without hesitation, these simple men left the hills of Judea to see for themselves the miracle of the baby’s birth. They found him lying in a manager wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Today there are many types of shepherds–pastors, preachers, parents, grandparents, teachers and youth leaders.  They each have a role in the guarding of the flock. In God’s way, he uses the few to confound the many for he leads with precision those he has called to shepherd his sheep.

As grandmothers, we have our doctorate in shepherding. Not only does our age bless us with wisdom and longevity but our role in the family places us in a shepherd position. If we look closely at the Christmas story, the Word gives us the key to shepherding. For isn’t this how god made us—to feed our flocks by day and guard our flocks by night.

As grandmothers, we do this a number of ways–physically, spiritually and emotionally. Physically we provide necessities for their well-being, but we also give them fun things we didn’t provide for our own children because of lack of funds. Emotionally, we offer a place of safety and a heart of unconditional love; we see and have time to do the things that others don’t. Spiritually, we show Jesus to our grandkids when we sing songs or hymns of praise, sharing our joy in the Lord. At night we offer comfort and protection through our prayers. In our quiet times we speak and read the Word of the Lord over them, providing a canopy of covering.

But there is more to the Christmas story than just guarding the flock. Luke 2:17 tells us, ‘When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”  This is the heart of the story. First they saw, guarded, protected and watched; then they went and told.

As 21st century shepherds, are we doing the same, telling all that we see about Jesus?  Are the people who hear amazed at what we tell them?  If not, then we are not applying the Christmas story to today.

So our challenge this Christmas is to make a plan. Determine how you will you share the gospel that Jesus, the Messiah, has come. Who will you tell about the good news of the baby Jesus?

Prayer:   O God, I praise you that you sent your son, Emmanuel, the Messiah, to us on Christmas Eve. I praise you that you spoke to humble shepherds who were guarding their flocks by night. I thank you that they investigated, believed and went out to tell others.  I pray that you would do likewise with me. Use me this Christmas season to spread the good news of the birth of the Savior. Use me to amaze people with your story.

You Can Stay Fit During Christmas!

By Laurette Willis –

“I am the bread of life” (John 6:48 NIV).

Those words really put holiday overindulgence into perspective don’t they? Perhaps the overindulgence we could enter into this Christmas is filling up on the “bread of life” instead of the bread of this world—after all, Jesus was placed in a manger (a feeding trough!) as a baby.

When we think of the bread of this world, we think of physical bread, but it can also be “soul junk food.” I’m referring to the PG-13, R-rated (and worse) so-called “entertainment” of this world.

Okay, now I’m meddling, right? It’s just that I’ve found that if I’m filling up on the world’s junk food through my eyes and ears, I also seem to want to satisfy my mouth with the world’s processed junk foods for my body. Could they be connected?

When I’m taking in less life through the Word into my spirit, my discernment and choices in other areas of my life aren’t as clear or focused.

Pick a “Scripture Snack” Each Day.

Fill up on real soul food! Pick one “Scripture snack” to chew on each day. Today my “snack” from the Word was the verse at the beginning of this article where Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”

Throughout the day I went back to that Word and asked the Lord to give me new revelation on it. I noticed my mental focus became clearer, I made better choices in a number of areas and I felt satisfied on the inside (not “stuffed” and numb from overindulging my flesh as I had so many times before).

More Practical Tips:

In addition to ensuring your heart and mind are full of the Word, here are 5 tips to help you spearhead the movement in your family to a healthier Christmas and 2012:

Make a difference in someone’s life.

Focus on one or two people you are going to get to know better over the holiday. This can be a member of your own family, a friend, a neighbor, perhaps even someone at church who needs to be with a family at Christmas (why not yours?).

Exercise.

If you don’t move, you lose. Much of the weight gain during the holidays is due to a lack of physical exercise. Decide to get some exercise in early in the day before the hubbub of activity starts.

Make it a family affair. After the big meal, be the instigator behind a “Let’s all go outside and walk off some of that delicious dinner before dessert!” I think you’d be surprised how many will thank you for it later!

Don’t skip meals.

Even if you think you may be eating more over the holidays, don’t make the mistake of skipping meals so you can stock up later.

Drink plenty of water.

Stay well-hydrated. This will also ensure that you eat less. We often reach for a high-calorie snack when our body is really crying out for water.

Above all, stay focused on making sure your spirit is well-fed. You will sail through the holidays and into 2012 with your heart full, your mind clear and your body full of energy as a fit witness for Christ. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV).

Let’s believe Him for itand share our victory with others this holiday season!


Thirty-three

May 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen-

A few weeks ago our plumbing had a run of unfortunate events.

Early one morning I leaned in to the shower and realized it had not drained from the previous shower. I opened my mouth to groan but a verse came out instead. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). I  swallowed a mouthful of irritation and croaked my thanks for indoor plumbing.

The next morning I woke to find that our hot water heater was not working properly. Thanks for indoor plumbing I mumbled through blue lips. I have to admit I have become an expectant wimp. Where is the thanksgiving for the other days that start with a hot shower, full belly, and the best cup of coffee in town?

Christ left Heaven for Earth and He did not even have a place to lay His head. He was looked down upon. He was called a drunkard and a glutton. But He knew who He was and why He had come. As I work my way through the book of Matthew and consider Christ’s words, I find a priority list slightly different than my own. Christ said that He only does what the Father instructs Him to do. He said give up your life if you want to find it. He says follow me. And when the day came to lay His life down in obedience, He did so.  He is God and He chose to walk among us for thirty-three years, poor and rejected.

I don’t think modern Christianity lines up well with Jesus’ instructions. Because there is a lie we tell ourselves, and it goes something like this: I deserve this. I deserve a nice house, a nice car, to do what I want, to watch what I want, to respond how I want. I deserve to be treated with kind respect and even preference.

I think we tend toward what is permissible rather than what is beneficial. And I wonder what this attitude has cost. If I pursued holiness like I pursue my comfort zone I would be a different person.

I long to be different.

I yearn to imitate a God who does the unexpected and never tries to woo us with a good reputation. We would have been drawn by power, looks and wealth.

He was born in a stable. He did not have anything that would cause us to desire him. He knows humanities tendency to be drawn by outward appearance and lovingly preferred us by coming in humble fashion.

He showed us what was important by the way He lived, and it was not reputation building, it was humble obedience.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).

Philippians 2 goes on to say that the result of Christ’s humility was exaltation, a name above every name, and every knee bowing before
Him.

He laid His life down freely and He says we should do the same. May He enable us, through His great strength, to give up our lives to follow Him.

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