REDUCING THE EFFECT OF SIN IN OUR LIVES

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The writer of 1 John tells us in chapter 1 to walk in the light of God rather than in the darkness. He further tells us if we claim to have a relationship with God but live as if darkness has control over us, then we are living a lie. To have a relationship with a God who is light means that God is holy, pure, acts with complete integrity (always the same, consistent, trustworthy) and is authentic. To walk in relationship with God means it is our desire and goal to have these attributes in our life. Though we have all been born with a capacity for darkness (to live unholy, perverted, false and deceitful lives), if we are going to have a relationship with God, then we need to bring our lives into God’s light. Light both reveals and heals. Persons who live a “secret life” or who are addicts understand that as long as they deny they have a problem or keep it hidden, the thing they are addicted to will continue to hold power over their lives and they will never experience healing or freedom.

It is when we bring our sinful heart into the God’s light that we will begin to experience healing in our hearts and souls. We often look at the outward manifestations of sin – such as greed, lust, entitlement, abuse, addiction or anger – and try to address these. And while these things need to be addressed, what needs to really be addressed is the underlying root issue of these and that is our sinful and rebellious hearts. The sin in our hearts must be brought into God’s light through repentance. We must our heart before the Lord and confess our selfishness and self-centeredness and ask Him to forgive us and give us a new heart, a renewed mind and the power to live a holy and righteous life.

And the good news from 1 John 1:5-2:2 is that as we confess our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us of sins and cleanse our hearts and minds through the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus came and died for us – on our behalf – taking our sin away and the power of sin to destroy us. We don’t need to fear when we confess our sins to God that He will reject us or punish us. Rather He delights in forgiving you, loving you and receiving you. It is knowing this and it is in this environment of acceptance that you can grow and become the person God has designed you to be. Fear will always keep you from being who God designed you to be and from the relationship He wants with you. But knowing He loves you and forgives you allows you the freedom to become the person He has created you to be!

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY

Strong financial health is the product of a series of practices that enables you to know exactly how much money you have and exactly how you spend it. This requires daily recordkeeping to track income and expenses.

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The greatest thief of financial wellness is vagueness. People who are vague – meaning, unclear of what things cost and when bills are due – tend to fritter away money. Vagueness leads to impulse buying that sabotages long-term financial goals. Vagueness creates chaos.

The second biggest saboteur of financial health is magical thinking. Magical thinking includes purchasing lottery tickets and fantasizing how the winnings would be spent. Another form of magical thinking is not having the money to pay off debts in their entirety and, instead of making small payments steadily, waiting for the day when “your ship will come in” and you will be able to pay off the entire debt at once.

Spending and income plans help you avoid vagueness and magical thinking. Record every penny you spend and, after three months, design a spending plan (budget) that puts your needs and goals first. This may mean you give up certain things for the greater goal.  A good example of this is choosing to dine out less so you can save for a vacation, or ceasing to use shopping and spending as hobbies or ways to avoid loneliness.

When you take care of your money, it takes cares of you. For more information and a template for tracking expenses, visit: http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR594.pdf

LIVING IN RETIRMENT

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There is much emphasis in America on retiring early…enjoying your golden years…and banking enough to enjoy a long retirement. Retirement is mostly an American idea. In most parts of the world, people either can’t afford to retire or never even think about retiring because they are too busy working and living their lives. But in America, there is much pressure on people to save for retirement and to retire.  It is a huge goal that Americans work toward and prepare their whole lives for. So, if you plan on retiring or have entered into retirement, don’t just count your money, but also take the time to count on what your retirement years will look like.

For too many, retirement is either a self-indulging time or a time where they have given up doing anything meaningful or contributing to the betterment of society. Either of these extreme views isn’t healthy. Rather think of retirement as a new phase of life or your “second act.”  Like for anything, make sure you have a plan.  Here are some suggestions when thinking about retirement:

Explore interests that you have but couldn’t pursue because you were working or raising a family

Join groups, clubs or communities so you can stay connected with the “outside world.”

Teach – it may be part-time at a local school or university or it may be less formal by offering your skills and knowledge to the next generation

Start a business – turn something you love into a business. This time it won’t be for the money, but for the joy and satisfaction of doing something you love and giving back to others

Work part-time – you earn a little extra money as well as boost your self-esteem and social connections

Volunteer – retirement shouldn’t mean being dead, but rather using your experiences and gifts to make the lives of others better. God may call you to retire from a certain job or career, but not from giving out and giving back. Think of the organizations that can use your time and talents – churches, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, animal shelters, homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, services for the elderly or disabled, meals on wheels, parks, youth clubs just to name a few

Go back to school – you finally have the time to learn things you never had time to learn while you were working.

The more you do during your retirement years, the more balance you will bring to your own life and the more you will contribute into the lives of your family and others. It all starts with a plan!

(Sources: Entrepreneur, August, 2015, University of Pennsylvania, January, 2016)

FIT AT ANY AGE

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Being physically fit is one of the most important conditions for overall health and wellness. Being fit helps keep your lungs, heart, and brain strong. It helps keep your bones and joints healthy. It also helps with balance and mobility.  A comprehensive fitness plan is one that combines aerobic activity with strength building and stretching. Three to five hours a week is ideal for exercising and working out.

Walking is the safest, easiest, and most convenient aerobic exercise. Other good options are swimming, cycling, dancing or an elliptical machine.

Strength training is very important. Everyone naturally loses muscle as they age. But building strength can off-set much of this natural loss. You can use weights, but you can also use your body weight to build muscle as well doing such things as push-ups or pull-ups.

Stretching is another component to good overall fitness because we all lose flexibility as we age unless we work to keep it. And being flexible can help you walk better, do more things and prevent falling. It also is important for your joints, muscles and tendons. Yoga is one of the best ways to achieve this.

However, before starting any new programs, be sure to check with your doctor to see what would be right for you. You can join a gym, your local YMCA or fitness club or look for classes that offered such as Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba and Yoga. You can always work out at home on your own, but it is usually more fun and you will stick with it longer if you do  it with others or if you are in a class where there is an instructor and accountability. Be sure to take care of your body – because it is not only the temple of God’s Spirit – but also the only place you have to live!

(Source: Harvard Health Publications, January, 2017)

ALZHEIMER’S UPDATE

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It is projected that by 2050, more than 50% of all Americans over age 65 will have Alzheimer’s. There are currently no drugs, medications or treatments to prevent the disease. There are five FDA-approved drugs that treat the symptoms of the disease by temporarily helping memory and cognitive reasoning. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

One, good oral hygiene helps improve mental health. The more teeth a person has, the less likely they are to get Alzheimer’s (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society).

Two, never stop learning.  Constantly challenging your brain to learn new things is singularly the best thing you can do to create new neural pathways and stay sharp mentally.

And third, break out of your patterns. Another way to help keep neurons firing is to do the same things in different ways. Take your dog to a different park. Shop at a different store. Take a new route to work or school.

(Sources: Alzheimer’s Association, March, 2017, American Health Line, May, 2017)

Is there a God out there that cares about me?

Is there a God out there that cares about me?

It may be harder for people today to believe in any type of god let alone one who cares about them.  There are so many groups opposed to the notion of God.  God seems to be taken out of more and more areas of life by various groups, including our government.  Science and higher education want to do away with the notion of god.

TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE BY CHANGING YOUR MIND

TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE BY CHANGING YOUR MIND

We might talk about self-improvement, developing better habits, creating a more effective way to do things, or become more disciplined or organized. But if you have noticed, most things based on willpower and desire fizzle out after a while?