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So why are we at church anyway?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you can visit. The purpose of Teleios is to use the scientific method to show the validity of God’s word as wisdom and guidance in daily life.

Teleios recently performed a survey in six evangelical churches evaluating members’ impressions of their church leadership and the church itself. We presented choices that were positive in relationship to the member’s own maturity (e.g., prayer, fellowship and biblical preaching) and also those which might indicate immaturity, such as self-focused motivations. Fortunately, the negative rating responses were fewer than the more mature, biblically-based scores, but did represent a significant minority of members’ choices.

What are the implications of members using the church for their own agenda? We believe they are extensive and potentially severe. What do these people want? Here are some examples of what we gleaned from our survey.

Table: Most frequently cited ratings potentially indicating using church for a personal agenda

I attend church to:  
Pastoral care. 65%
Providing a warm and comfortable social environment. 60%
Supporting my needs. 51%
Implementing my suggestions. 28%
I have an area(s) that I can control to assist the church. 13%

Who are these people in the church? We do not know for certain but here are my best guesses:

  • Earnest, suffering believers needing help from the church – There are afflicted Christians who are honestly seeking God. Although it may take time and emotion from the church leadership and caring church members, scripture tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2) and assist suffering believers back to spiritual health (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12).
  • Young believers who do not know any better and need to be taught.
  • Immature believers seeking emotional attention with no intent to change – These members may cause significant damage, sucking away people’s time and good grace to satisfy themselves without any intention to change their lives. They are not truly seeking God and provide little benefit the body of Christ.
  • Active anti-church agenda – These members use the church as a personal power base, or to aggrandize themselves in some manner. They may cause harm at a minimum by distracting other members from seeking and serving God and at worst by creating divisions that could divide the church.
  • Tares – Christ mentioned (Matthew 13:24-30) that tares would afflict the church. Tares are non-believers who come to church. They learn the jargon and how to fit socially while maintaining an ungodly agenda that may cause factions, waste people’s time, and distract the church from biblical pursuits. How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them?

The church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love as consistent with God’s word. Attendees who push their own non-Biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort (with no desire to change) or for power, even covered in a pseudo-spiritual façade, represent a potential danger to the church.

We will discuss these important questions over the next several weeks. Our prayer is that this information will help you make your own church more biblically effective while attempting to lovingly bring destructive members into proper fellowship.

Thank you for joining me today. I pray for those of you who read my blog and that the blog might be encouragement to you in your daily life.

Does Going to Church Help Wellbeing?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you can visit again. The purpose of Teleios is to use the scientific method to show the validity of God’s word as wisdom and guidance in daily life.

Teleios recently performed a study evaluating church members’ ratings of their church and its leadership associated with their personal assessment of wellbeing. We performed this study to assist Dr. D. Scott Barfoot, faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary, with his leadership studies. Full results here.

The survey was conducted online with 115 volunteers from 6 evangelical churches in Oklahoma, Texas and California. Participants were mostly evangelical (97%) and agreed they had good wellbeing (88%). Similar findings were shown in surrogate markers of wellbeing including: contentment, peace, joy and purpose. However, there was no control group in our study, so it is difficult based on our data to make firm conclusions regarding evangelical wellbeing compared to other population groups.

Nonetheless, other authors have demonstrated that Christian belief generally is associated with good wellbeing more than in those who do not believe (1,2). The better wellbeing among Christians is most often linked to church attendance, postulated to be from socialization (2-6). Additionally, in prior studies a number of other wellbeing markers have been noted including: forgiveness, gratitude, hope and kindness (7-12).

Teleios also has found that Christians who are more adherent to their faith, using what we describe as the five tools of maturity (Acts 2:42-47; praise, prayer, fellowship, spiritual service and biblical learning) have better wellbeing than less adherent believers (1,2). This was shown again in this survey, specifically for biblical fellowship (P=0.013), but also showing strong trends, despite the relatively small sample size of the study, for prayer (P=0.046), praise (P=0.038) and studying the Bible (P=0.071).

Why would the 5 tools to maturity help wellbeing?

We believe it may result from the satisfaction and comfort of the Holy Spirit as we pursue God (Romans 8:16). Further, we know God’s Spirit matures us to think in a biblical manner that helps us exclude negative thoughts and actions (i.e., sin) from our lives (Romans 8:13).

In addition, the Spirit, as we allow (Ephesians 4:29), leads us and acts on our behalf according to God’s Word (Romans 8:14; Romans 6:17). The joy and freedom which come from God, help us to be excellent in all our ways, both in pursuit of God and also in our endeavors for family and professional life (Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:16-17; Romans 8:21).

We truly have a remarkable God who provides wisdom not only for salvation but for our personal lives!

Thank you so much for joining me. Join us again next week as we continue to discuss the results of this interesting study.

  1. MacIlvaine et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
  2. MacIlvaine et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.
  3. Parsons et al. Religious beliefs, practices and treatment adherence among individuals with HIV in the southern United States. AIDS Subject Care STDS 2006;20:97-111.
  4. Reed. Spirituality and well-being in terminally ill hospitalized adults. Res Nurs Health 1987;10:335-44.
  5. Keefe et al. Living with rheumatoid arthritis: the role of daily spirituality and daily religious and spiritual coping. J Pain 2001;2:101-10.
  6. Cotton et al. Exploring the relationships among spiritual well-being, quality of life, and psychological adjustment in women with breast cancer. Psychooncology 1999;8:429-38.
  7. Emmons et al. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol 2003;84:377-89.
  8. Froh et al. Counting blessings in early adolescents: an experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. J Sch Psychol 2008;46:213-33.
  9. Datu. Forgiveness, gratitude and subjective well-being among Filipino adolescents. Int J Adv Counsel 2014;36:262-73.
  10. Krause etal. Forgiveness by God, forgiveness of others, and psychological well-being in late life. J Sci Study Relig 2003;42:77–94.
  11. Otake et al. Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. J Happiness Stud 2006;7:361-75.
  12. Lu. Injured athletes’ rehabilitation beliefs and subjective well-being: The contribution of hope and social support. J Athl Train 2013;48:92–8.

So what exactly is the gospel, anyway?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you came to visit.

Teleios recently evaluated how often evangelicals share the good news of Christ (‘the gospel’) and what makes people fear the process. We surveyed attitudes toward sharing the gospel among all attendees at one Sunday worship service in a midwestern evangelical church. Approximately 370 people participated.

We previously discussed that although our survey indicated Bible-believing Christians may fear explaining the gospel to others, our message really is good and true, and we actually benefit others when we share.

We also explored the fact that many Christians perceive they are sharing the gospel with non-believers by non-verbal messages including: giving a video, praying, living a godly lifestyle, or inviting someone to church. However, we noted in Romans 10:14-15, scripture indicates that to hear the gospel the recipient must understand and believe the explicit message.

The question arises then, how do we do this? Rather astoundingly, after decades of teaching Sunday school and individual students, I have never encountered a single person who, when asked, could recite the gospel plan of salvation in an efficient and coherent way, with or without my prompting. This supports what we noted last week and as our data indicate, that most people do not share because they do not know what to say. Therefore, how do we say it?

Although the gospel should be presented with compassion as well as truth (Proverbs 3:3) it also must be spoken clearly and succinctly so a person knows what to believe. Key gospel passages are Romans 3:23-26, Romans 10:9-10, and Ephesians 2:7-10, among others.

The gospel message should contain generally the following information:

  • Each of us has sinned and deserve God’s righteous punishment.
  • God, however, being loving, sent his Son, Jesus to die on the cross and take our punishment.
  • When by faith alone we receive forgiveness by acknowledging His death for us personally, and believe that He rose again for us, we receive eternal life.

You see, it is that easy!

What does a new believer need to do? Nothing, remember the gospel message requires only belief. A person isn’t required to say a special prayer, go to church, or be water baptized; they simply believe!

However, the new believer should be able to repeat the gospel back to you (Romans 10:10). If a person cannot articulate their new faith, then they probably have not understood.

What should you do after the new Christian acknowledges they believe? Good question! Since Christians are regenerated by the Holy Spirit at salvation (Titus 3:5, Romans 6:2-12) they are God’s “workmanship” or product (Ephesians 2:10), not yours! God causes them to grow and stand (Romans 14:4, 2 Timothy 1:12). It is not our responsibility! If a person truly believes they have become a new person and will eventually show others their new faith by their actions in obedient response to Jesus their Lord.

That said, however, it is gracious to engage the new Christian in Bible study to teach them about their recently acquired faith or at least to direct them to a Bible-believing church or person who could instruct them.

I hope this information helps you. Indeed, sharing the gospel is a privilege we have as a Christian. Our society needs to hear it! The only way we will change our culture is to change hearts, and that by the power of God’s Spirit.

Thanks for joining me today. Please come back next week as we discuss additional fascinating findings from our research.

So what exactly does it mean to share the gospel?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you came to visit.

Teleios recently evaluated how often evangelical Christians share the gospel and what makes a person fear doing so. We surveyed all attendees at one Sunday worship service in a midwestern evangelical church. Approximately 370 people participated.

Last week we discussed that this survey indicated Bible-believing Christians have generally high ratings of wellbeing. Although some respondents confessed to fear in explaining the gospel to others, they continued to present with better wellbeing than those who do share the gospel.

Approximately 30% said they share the gospel verbally once a month or more. However, they also indicated that they felt a need to exaggerate how frequently they actually evangelized! Why? Perhaps they overstated how much they shared because of their hesitancy to tell the gospel to others.

The survey also discovered what many people consider to be sharing the gospel may not necessarily include a verbal explanation! In fact, a verbal gospel message came in at only #5 on the list of how people say they share. Most common methods are noted below.

Is it important you actually verbalize the gospel? Is simply living a pure life or praying for others sufficient?

The Bible indicates in Romans 10:13-15 that someone has to actually hear the words of the gospel to understand salvation. Further, the apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 2:9-10 noted that although he worked day and night to live a blameless life in front of the Thessalonians, he still verbally spoke the gospel to them. In other words, non-verbal efforts, although important, will not bring somebody to belief. A non-Christian needs to hear the specific gospel message.

Is sharing the gospel message to be feared? In a humanist society where Christians often are demonized as judgmental, and our adversaries claim they are more loving because they accept all religions (except Christianity), we often feel ashamed. Yet if our God is the God of the Bible, He has given us His power and truth to salvation and for daily living. We have a wonderful message to give our colleagues, family and friends. We are correct and society is wrong! Therefore, we should be confident in sharing these truths in a patient and loving manner (II Timothy 2:24-25).

As a physician, if I knew the truth about someone’s life-threatening medical condition and also knew how to cure it, would I withhold disclosing the diagnosis in case my patient found it offensive or didn’t believe me? If so, I would be a terrible doctor! We have the truth which we can help others. Our society needs the truth of the gospel!

How do we effectively share the gospel in our complex culture? That’s a great question and we’ll discuss this next week. Please join me as we discussed how to share the gospel.

Do you fear sharing the gospel?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you can visit.

Do you ever fear sharing the gospel? Almost everyone does, so you’re not alone. We recently evaluated how often evangelicals tell others about the plan of salvation and what makes them fear the process? The results are very interesting so come with me as we explore them and you might discover something about yourself and God.

We surveyed all attendees at one Sunday worship service a midwestern evangelical church about telling others the gospel. Approximately 370 people participated. Full results can be seen here.

Almost all (96%) participants said they feared ‘sharing the gospel’ but thought they should explain it more often to others (5.1/6.0 rating). Further, participants confessed to some guilt in not explaining the gospel (3.0/6.0 rating). In total, 31% indicated that they shared the plan of salvation verbally with someone once a month or more frequently. However, perhaps the fear or social pressure to explain the gospel might have caused participants to confess they exaggerate how often they actually explained the gospel (4.9/6.0 rating).

Why do people fear sharing the gospel? Participants indicated most often that they do not know what to say (56%). This makes some sense to me personally from teaching individual Bible studies, because I’ve never encountered one single student who was able to explain the plan of salvation clearly. Other common reasons were fear of offending the non-believer (28%) and an inability to answer objections (36%). The participants expressed hesitancy although they overwhelmingly believed that the Bible is true.

However, participants who disclose the gospel to others compared to those who do not, were statistically more likely to demonstrate better wellbeing (i.e., peace, joy, contentment and purpose). Why would this be? Several causes might be possible:

  • Believers may feel better after discussing the gospel realizing they are fulfilling an injunction from the Bible.
  • A Christian who explains the message of salvation may derive joy knowing they are providing good advice and helping others.
  • If a Christian does not know how to share the Gospel with someone else, they may not be able to even convince themselves of God’s faithfulness in times of personal doubt, which may hurt their own wellbeing.

Also of interest in our survey was that those who told others about the gospel were more likely to be adherent in other areas of their Christian life including: teaching others, praying, praising God and having meaningful Christian fellowship. These extra measures of adherence, especially in associating with other believers, may have contributed to wellbeing (1,2).

Warning: Participants also noted a moderate level of guilt which potentially could have occurred, at least in part, from not explaining the gospel to others. A believer’s guilt, however, is not part of biblical Christianity. Prior research has shown that greater knowledge of the faith helps prevent guilt and enhances wellbeing (1,2).

Our study suggests that practicing, Bible-believing Christians generally have high ratings of wellbeing. Although Christians may fear explaining the gospel to others, those who do so show better wellbeing than those who do not.

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that you’ll come back again next week.

  1. MacIlvaine, W.R., Nelson, L.A., Stewart, J.A., Stewart, W.C. (2013). Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 19:251-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.05.001.
  2. MacIlvaine, W.R., Nelson, L.A., Stewart, J.A., Stewart, W.C. (2014). Association of strength of community service to personal well-being. Community Ment Health J, 50:577-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10597-013-9660-0.

Was Sigmund Freud right about religion and faith?

A guest blog from Dr. W. Rod MacIlvaine…

In his book The Future of an Illusion (1927) the father of psychiatry, Sigmund Freud, argued that religion is a false belief system. He likened the various religions of the world to “childhood neuroses” and “wishful illusions” that can only lead to a “disavowal of reality.”

Like other atheists of his day, his words were particularly rancorous against the Christian faith. He believed human beings created the God-concept as a means of wish-fulfillment, nothing more.

Clearly for Freud, no real truth could be found in the Christian faith, nor in any other religion, for that matter. On the contrary, Freud believed that only science can lead us into reality.

These truth assertions, however, were never tested scientifically through rigorous experimentation and research. Therefore, they were faith-assertions and mere opinions, nothing more! And yet, they were almost blindly accepted on the basis of Freud’s reputation as a physician and theoretician.

But now, 85 years later, these claims have been tested! And Freud has been proven wrong in his own arena, the arena of science.

In the past 40 years, mountains of research have been published seeking to answer this one simple question: Does active adherence to the Christian faith provide any measurable results in terms of wellness – both physical and mental?

The Bible clearly indicates that adhering to its precepts and commands should indeed lead to significant patterns of mental wellness.

  • In the Old Testament, Psalm 16:11 is a case in point: “In your presence is fullness of joy at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • In the New Testament the fruit of the Spirit is a vibrant picture mental health: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
But does adhering to the Christian faith also produce clear patterns of physical wellness?

When Dr. Jeff Levin began to research this emerging field in 1982, he was surprised as he noticed a pattern: Frequency of attendance in weekly worship services was associated with diverse patterns of physical wellness, including better cardio-vascular functioning, lower blood pressure, faster wound healing and better recovery from surgery.

One study even examined the relationship between church attendance and mortality rate. The study tracked over 21,000 people from the ages of 18-65 over a 9-year period. The found that non-attenders lived to an average of 55.3 years beyond the age of 20, but attenders lived for an average of 61.9 years after the age of 20. That’s nearly seven years longer!

One possible explanation for this was that religious people follow healthier habits. And yet, in one study, religious adherence had marked benefits, even if the person did not necessarily engage in healthy eating habits.

So radical were these emerging claims that researchers subjected them to very stringent testing protocols, and yet in each new study the pattern was clear: adhering to the precepts presented in the Bible was a predictor of overall wellness.

Today the most published researcher in this field is Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical School. He is professor of psychiatry & behavioral sciences and the director for the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health. Other scholars in this field include the epidemiologist Jeff Levin and practicing physician Dr. Dale Matthews.  

At Teleios we too have actively sought to add to this growing body of literature. We are not only passionately convinced that the Bible is God’s Word – we believe that adhering to its precepts increases the health and vitality of the whole person. This is an exciting field because it leads us back to a statement that Jesus made on the night before he was crucified: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

About Rod MacIlvaine – Director of Faith-Based Research – W. Rodman MacIlvaine, III, DMin is on the adjunct faculties of both Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the founding senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Northeastern, Oklahoma – a church that has worked extensively to serve educational needs in the Spanish Speaking Caribbean. A Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Dr. MacIlvaine works with men and women in transition, especially those who are shifting into second careers. Dr. MacIlvaine specializes in apologetics from an historical and theological perspective. His emphasis is in showing how adhering to God’s word has generated many benefits to societies, cultures and individuals.

The influence of culture & politics on pastors

Welcome back to my blog. Today we discuss a survey performed among Bible believing pastors who graduated from Masters, Westminster or Denver Theological Seminaries. With the recent increasing secularization of culture and government in the developed world, influence from government and cultural entities might pressure Bible-adherent pastors to conform to modern cultural norms (1-4).

Consequently, maintaining biblical principles sets a stage for potential conflict with secular society. Accordingly, such cultural tensions could produce mental health issues for pastors in their attempt to maintain their ethical positions. However, little data has been accumulated from Bible adherent pastors regarding the influence of any adversarial relationship with culture and government.

Therefore, we surveyed pastors who graduated from Bible adherent seminaries to assess their perception of their role in society and the potential psychological impact of any adversarial attitudes of culture or government against their ministry (full results here).

We received responses from 164 pastors. They overwhelmingly expressed that Christianity provides a historical and current positive ethical foundation to American society.

Even more strongly, pastors asserted Christianity provides for enhanced wellbeing for society and individuals.

Pastors appear concerned, however, of a larger government encroaching on freedom of religious expression. Approximately 75% indicated that constitutional freedoms were vital to allow full expression of religious beliefs and two-thirds noted that a larger government more likely represses religious expression and acts as a replacement of many actions normally provided by the church or a deity (5).

Pastors were further concerned, by a wide margin, that the government favored other religions over Christianity (Humanism, Atheism and Islam).

In addition, many pastors noted concern over their ability to express freely a political opinion from the pulpit because of current culture, governmental opposition and IRS regulations.

Approximately, 45% said they had suffered persecution for their beliefs. This perceived persecution was most commonly psychological through being mocked, social isolation and a cause of anxiety in some cases. However, a strong minority had experience workplace or educational institutional bias.

In response, pastors indicated that they should be able to express a political viewpoint from the pulpit, that Christians should be active in politics as an expression of their faith in the public square and support candidates who espouse free expression of religious beliefs.

Our study suggested that Bible adherent pastors overwhelmingly believe that Christianity’s ethical teaching is beneficial for the wellbeing of individuals and society. However, many pastors feel negative societal and governmental pressure because of their beliefs with a potential psychological impact. Accordingly, pastors generally assert the importance of constitutional freedoms of expression to maintain their ability to express themselves from the pulpit.

  1. Chaves, M. (2011). Religious Trends in America. Social Work & Christianity, 38: 119-132.
  2. Payne, M.W. (2007). Philosophy among the ruins: Twentieth century and beyond. In W. Andrew Hoffecker, ed. Revolutions in worldview: Understanding the flow of western thought. Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company.
  3. Pearcy, N. (2010). Saving Leonardo: A call to resist the secular assault on mind, morals, & meaning. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  4. Wells, D.F. (2005). Above all earthly powers: Christ in a postmodern world. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  5. Bloom, P.B., Arikan, G., & Sommer, U. (2014). Globalization, threat and religious freedom. Political Studies, 62: 273–291.

Service with a smile!

Welcome back to my blog! We are exploring together what the Bible says about personal wellbeing. Otherwise, how can the Bible assist you living a more contented purposeful life?

Last week we began a fascinating discussion of using our biblically enhanced wellbeing to help other people. We first emphasized that our speech should not be used to satisfy primarily our own emotions or purposes, but to meet the needs of others. That takes some work!

However, to serve God we should turn our thoughts away from ourselves, as we are able, and reach out to others, not only using gracious speech, but our actions as well. Amazingly, the service we provide to others further enhances not only our knowledge of God, but our own wellbeing as well (Colossians 1:10). In a survey Teleios performed at Grace Community Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, pastored by Dr. Rod MacIlvaine, we found among over 300 attendees that those who were involved in church or community service demonstrated greater personal wellbeing (Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82).

Why would this be? We do not know for certain, but we could speculate the following: first, those who serve other people have the satisfaction of knowing they are meeting the desires of God; second, their own problems are put into proper perspective not only by perceiving the suffering of other people but also by ordering their own priorities under God’s; and lastly, by serving they will focus less on their own troubles perhaps reducing the emotional burden of these problems.

Of course, the benefit of serving others is not limited to the person giving but also to the individuals or communities receiving the help. The benefit of service has been little studied in the medical literature, to our knowledge, however, we believe that assistance to communities and giving to individuals promotes a gracious and courteous culture which allows all to pursue their best.

Consider too that a generous local community helps people to remove their dependence on state subsistence which requires taxpayer funding and limits local community action and individual care for one another. Such dependence on a distant government may result potentially in a cold and self-focused community.

Thank you for joining me today. I welcome your comments and questions.

Spreading wellbeing: What’s good for you is good for them!

Welcome back! Thanks for visiting my blog! We are exploring together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Likewise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life?

Today we begin the exciting journey of using our good wellbeing to help other people. Ultimately, to know and to serve God we must turn our thoughts away from ourselves and on to others. Amazingly, however, that service we provide to others further enhances not only our knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10), but our own wellbeing as well (Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82).

We can divide this topic into two sections: our words and our actions. Today we start with our words!

The manner in which we speak to one another is of vital importance. The Bible implores us to control our tongue and reminds us how destructive our speech may be (James 3:1-13).

How do we do this in a practical way? Biblical speech can be broken down into three basic steps:

  1. Foundational biblical thinking
  2. Biblical planning
  3. Biblical speaking

Let’s discuss briefly each point in turn.

Foundational biblical thinking – The first step to speaking to one another in a godly way is to control what we think about other people. Ultimately, what we think about someone will influence our behavior and speech. The apostle Paul is a good example to us in that he typically begins each epistle to a church by expressing gratitude, commendation and his commitment to pray for those to whom he is writing. It’s very difficult to be nasty to someone for whom you are thankful, you realize the good things God has done in their life and you are praying. Such profitable thinking is critical to Bible oriented speech.

Biblical planning – Thinking well of someone is not the end of the process of developing biblical speech. We must consider specifically how we might help a person. This takes some consideration (1 Timothy 4:16). In our busy lives it’s not easy to know or even notice a person’s need. Consequently, taking a few minutes to consider a person’s situation in life and potential needs is critical. What if you cannot think of any needs? That’s easy, ask them! This demonstrates your love and care and helps you to know how to love them. In summary, develop a plan!

Biblical speaking – Once you have a mindset that is favorably disposed towards someone and a plan to meet their need(s), you are better positioned to speak with them. Indeed, how we speak to each other as Christians is very important. The Bible indicates (Ephesians 4:29) that we should speak to one another’s need. Further, the whole concept behind the Greek word for love agape (αγαπη) is to love based not primarily on emotion, but on the other person’s needs. This includes speech. Our speech is not a tool to use primarily to express our own emotions but to help other people. Such thinking and speech processes then will give you the opportunity to give away the lessons of wellbeing that you have learned from scripture and have incorporated in your own life. Wow, what transformative ideas! The Bible is a wonderful tool.

Thank you for joining me today. Next week we will continue this discussion regarding service to others.

Living Well!

Welcome back! Thanks for visiting my blog today! We are exploring together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life?

We discussed several weeks ago four characteristics in scripture that have been shown in the scientific literature to improve wellbeing: hope, empathy, gratitude and forgiveness. This last week we spoke about the importance of the Holy Spirit as a key link, along with the 5 tools to maturity (see prior blogs), in allowing God’s influence in our lives which leads to enhanced wellbeing.

Besides the characteristics mentioned above, what other helpful attributes can we realize in our Christian lives? Many scriptures detail be helpful attributes God desires us to have. One of the most important is stated in Galatians 5:22-23 which details the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

As they are a fruit of the Spirit how can they be gained? Last week we learned that in general there are three roles in the Christian’s relationship with the Spirit. These roles can be used to gain the 9 attributes of the fruit of the Spirit as well as other godly characteristics that can improve our lives. Let’s apply these three principles in regard to the fruit of the Spirit.

Non-variable actions of the Spirit: A Christian should first realize they possess the Holy Spirit permanently: He dwells inside them with all of His available power (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5); and the Spirit is our seal (guarantee) of salvation and cannot be removed (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).

Variable actions of Christians: It is only the believer themselves who can limit the action of the Spirit in their lives. Therefore we are told to “walk” (i.e., lifestyle) in the Spirit and become mature in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18). We do this by being obedient and seeking the attributes of God through scripture.

Variable actions of the Spirit: If allowed, the Spirit through the word of God can empower our lives, put to death the deeds of the flesh, and lead and comfort us (Romans 8:13-16), changes us (2 Corinthians 3:18) and helps produce in us the 9 fruits of the Spirit. Not only may these characteristics contribute potentially to better wellbeing personally, but their presence is a measure of our maturity as a believer.

Other verses also speak about wonderful attributes the Christian may acquire from the Spirit (Romans 15:13; Romans 8:6; 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 14:17; Ephesians 5:9).

That’s all for now. Thank you for joining me. Next week we will discuss how a Christian, having gained better wellbeing themselves, can also enhance the wellbeing of their family, friends and colleagues. See you next week!