Sunday, April 19, 2015

EMOTIONAL HEALTH: (Habits for Healthy Living-II)


           Last Sunday we began a series of study on Habits for Healthy Living. I shared that healthy living starts with healthy eating and healthy eating does not start in the plate but it starts in the mind. After sharing about Healthy Eating, I came across Dr. Daniel Amen’s book, “The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep it Off. In his book he talks about five brain types: Type 1. Compulsive Overeater. People of this brain type tend to get stuck on the thought of food and feel compulsively driven to eat.  Type 2. Impulsive Overeater. People of this brain type have poor impulse control, get easily distracted and reach for food without thinking. Type 3: Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater. While this may seem contradictory, it is possible to be both at the same time. Compulsive eaters, for example, are compelled to eat and have little control over their impulses.

Type 4: Sad or Emotional Overeater. People with this brain pattern overeat to medicate feelings of sadness and to calm the emotional storms in their brains. They often struggle with depression, low energy, low self-esteem and pain symptoms, and tend to gain weight in winter. Type 5: Anxious Overeater. People with this brain pattern medicate feelings of anxiety or nervousness with food, complain of waiting for something bad to happen and frequently suffer from headaches and stomach problems.[1] I am interested to learn more about brain types 3 and 4 as these two are linked with emotional health.

Today we will look at the importance of emotional health for healthy living. What are the emotions, and how many are there? What does the Bible say about emotions? What is emotional health? What contributes to Emotional Health?

What is an emotion? “A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” According to this definition emotions are natural. They depend on circumstances, one’s mood and relationships with others. Another word for emotion is feeling. Robert Plutchik created a wheel of emotions in 1980. He came up with eight basic emotions. Fear: feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, and phobia. Anger: Feeling angry. Sadness: Feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief, or depression.  Some people tend place depression as a separate emotion.

Joy: Feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness. Disgust: Feeling something is wrong or dirty. Trust: A sense of trusting and being trusted. Anticipation:  A sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen.  Surprise: How one feels when something unexpected happens.[2] There could be other emotions attached to these basic ones.


The scriptures tell us that God made us as whole persons in his image. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This scripture tells us that both men and women were created in the image of God. Let that sink in for a moment; we are created in the image of God.

What does that image include? It concludes physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual, components or spheres of life. Healthy living takes all these five aspects into consideration. When we learn to engage, interact and grow wisely in those five spheres of life we become better people and the world becomes a much better place to live.

Many Christians focus growing only in the spiritual sphere and neglect the other four. When that happens their lives become out of balance and out of control. Pete Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality notes, “Ignoring any aspect of who we are as men and women made in God’s image always results in destructive consequences in our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others.”[3]

Therefore it is important that we look into all these five spheres when it comes to healthy living. Last week by talking about Healthy Eating I barely touched on the “physical sphere” of our lives and there is much more to talk about the physical sphere. Today we are looking into the second sphere which is the “Emotional Sphere”

We have emotions because God has emotions. Scriptures tell us that we are to use all our emotions when it comes to worshiping, and serving God and serving others. For example the call of God to the Israelites and later on emphasized by Christ to his followers.  Matt 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (emotions). This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

The scripture tells us to use our emotions in loving God, loving ourselves and loving others. Our emotions and feelings are God given and there is nothing wrong with them. They are very fragile and can easily get hurt and wounded if we are not careful. Even when we are careful at times they get hurt by the insensitivity of others. Unfortunately there are so many people walking around in the world with crushed and wounded emotions. They are looking for healing.

In the last twenty years are so there has been a lot of awareness and study done in the area of mental health and emotional health. Here is what I found out. Mental health is your ability to properly think and process information while emotional health is your ability to appropriately express feelings. While these two are very different, you can’t have one without the other. The choices you make on a daily basis involve both mental and emotional processing.[4]

With all the advanced scientific discoveries and technology in the USA we are dealing with more people who are mentally ill. One study tells us, “One out of five, which means about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia every year.”[5]

Think about how much money and the resources the US government is spending on research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of these mentally affected people? It pains me to see so many people who are struggling in this area. Many are wrongly diagnosed and labeled and others are heavily medicated and can’t seem to hold their lives together.

 Is it possible even in our church there may be several people struggling in this area of emotional health? Mental health and emotional health are real concerns in this country. Who can solve this epidemic level problem? Who can improve the overall emotional health of individuals, families, churches, the society and our nation? Only one person can and will, his name is Jesus.


Satan and sin have always caused such devastation in the world since Adams Fall.  The Prophet Isaiah explains the nature of Satan and his final miserable end. Isaiah 14: 15-17, “Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”

Literally Satan has imprisoned millions by attacking their emotions and their mental health and he is continuing to do so. Do you know why Christ came to this world? For two reasons; one is to destroy the works of the devil whereby to destroy Him eternally and permanently. Secondly to set the captives free. To free those who are shackled by emotional bondages and addictions and physical sickness. 

Jesus is the hope of our nation. He can better understand you than any psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, and any other spiritual leader, why because, he has made you in the first place and knows exactly what you are going through. Jesus understands your emotional needs. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was anything but an emotionally frozen Messiah: He shed tears (Luke 19:41). He was filled with joy (Luke 10:21). He grieved (Mark 14:34). He wept at the grave side of Lazarus (John 11:33) He was angry (Mark 3:5).

Sadness came over him (Matt 26:37). He felt sorrow (Luke 7:13) He showed astonishment and wonder (Mark 6:6; Luke 7:9) He had an emotional longing to be with the twelve apostles. (Luke 22:15). All these scriptures portrays Jesus as one who had intense, raw, emotional experiences and was able to express his emotions in unashamed, unembarrassed freedom to others. He did not repress or project his feelings onto others. Instead we read of Jesus responsibly experiencing the full range of emotion throughout his earthly ministry. In today’s language, he would be considered “emotionally intelligent” a term popularized by Daniel Goleman.”[6]

What is your emotional state today? Are you emotionally tired and weary? Even after being medicated, and seeing several therapists you feel like your situation is hopeless? Is anger taking control of your life? Are you afraid and feel sad? Are you depressed? Do you feel like giving up? Do you feel rejected by people? Do not lose hope. Jesus knows everything you are going through. He had been there where you are now. He is lovingly reaching out to you today.

In closing here is a hope giving scripture. Isaiah 53:3-5, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” The wounded healer is here today and inviting you to bring your wounded emotions, crushed spirit and receive healing and wholeness. By His wounds you are healed. Amen

[3] Peter Scazzero, “ Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” page 18
[6] Pete Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church page; 75

Sunday, April 12, 2015


            After 13 years as the pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church in Green-Ville, S.C, the Rev. Sean Dogan, a short, stocky man with a sculpted goatee had given over 400 eulogies for his parishioners, most of whom had died from heart disease, diabetes, obesity or stroke. And after each funeral he’d sat down with friends and families of the deceased to a meal of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and collard greens boiled in fatback.
            Then one day five years ago, Dogan had a revelation: It was the food that was killing his people. So on a bright Sunday morning, he stepped up to the altar with a small scale, and for all to witness, the reverend weighed himself. It was a high drama at Long Branch, but Dogan wanted to make a point: Like many in his congregation, he was overweight. The time for change, he declared with fire-and- brimstone, urgency, had come.[1]
            When I read that article it made me wonder. Certainly, I did not make 400 eulogies for our church, but what struck me was that perhaps if I weighed myself in front all of you like that pastor did; I too might be overweight. Is that a concern? Yes it is for me; given my background.
            On my 50th Birth day I wrote in my journal, “I want to live the next 30 years of my life loving, knowing, and serving God together with my wife.” If I like to reach that goal I need to make some drastic changes in my life; especially in the area of my food intake. My wife keeps reminding me that now that I am 50, I don’t need to eat as much as I used to eat when I was 20.” Well may be it is about time that I pay attention to her advice.
            A Baylor university study reveals that “More than a third of American clergy are overweight or obese.”[2]  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey in 2010 suggests that 2 in 3 adults in the USA are considered overweight or obese.[3] The USA tops the list of the prevalence of overweight people in the Anglosphere. Well you, may be thinking “Pastor are you interfering with our eating habits like the government does?” No not at all, but I do wonder how God feels about it? Does the Bible have anything to say about food and eating?
            When I was preparing this message my wife jokingly said, “You need this more than anyone else!” I know when you talk about “food & weight” it can be a sensitive subject for all of us but I believe we need to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to us in the area of food. This message is not aimed at any one particular person; I believe we all need to pay attention.
            God wants all of us to live healthily and live joyfully. In order to live healthy we need to cultivate healthy habits. I want to title this series, “Habits for Healthy Living”. The first habit we want to cultivate is a healthy eating habit. We want to watch what we eat.” I would like to share this morning about God’s provision of food, its pitfalls and how to cultivate healthy eating.

            What is food? Food is any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth. On a lighter note some people make Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Bacon as their goal in life. Others see it as a constant battle in life. Others fool themselves by saying they are on a diet. Yet others have a deep love for some strange foods. Was food an afterthought of God or a forethought? 
            Food was a forethought! It was all along in the plan of God. In Genesis chapter one we read God created a perfect Eco system before he ever even created man. He created light; water; the earth; vegetation; seed-bearing plants; all kinds of fruit; living creatures in the waters; birds; animals; and livestock.
            After creating all that he said “Let us make man in our image; in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26).God well thought through all the details that were necessary for mankind to survive on this planet earth.
            Vs 29, “Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.”  Chapter 2”15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” This scripture tells us that God has entrusted us with a responsibility to take care of the earth.
            Food was God’s idea; and it is good for all of us.  God had all our senses in mind when he created food, think of the appeal of a delicious red apple, the smell of meat roasting, the taste of chicken soup or whatever favorite foods you may think of.   He wanted us to enjoy it; live by it and manage it wisely. But if we are not careful that very good thing can become a pitfall. The devil could use for evil what God meant for good. Let’s look at some pitfalls of food.
            In Genesis 3, we see how the devil tempted Eve in the area of food. He came to her and said, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  With that question the devil planted seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind and Eve fell into the devils trap.
            “When the woman (Eve) saw, “that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave it her husband, who was with her.” (Vs6). The desire for the forbidden fruit became a pitfall for Eve.
            Fast forward, hundreds of years to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Remember he fasted for 40 days without food, and the devil said to him “If you are the son of God tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but one every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus overcame the devil.
            Even today the devil uses food to tempt us. How does he do that? He tempts us to think that we have to eat more than what we actually need. In the process we eat excessively. Let’s take honey for example, raw honey is referred to as “liquid gold.” The medicinal applications to the skin and internal body seem limitless. It is loaded with key vitamins (B1 – B6 and C) and it contains several minerals. Honey is good for health, but excess honey consumption, as with any excess sugar consumption, might result in insulin insensitivity and could cause diabetes.
            Proverbs 25:16 “Have you found honey? Eat only what you need that you not have it in excess and vomit it.” If you ask the experts they tell you, that the principle of weight gain is very simple: When you eat more than what your body needs, regardless of whether it is sugar, fat, or honey, the excess calories are stored as fat which in turns leads to weight gain.
            Why do people overeat? Several reasons; people over eat when they are bored, frustrated; experienced loss in life or to overcome pain or when they are depressed. A lot of people over eat because of soul hunger. They try to fill that void with food; the more they try the emptier they become.  God made food for man; but not man for food. We eat to live but we don’t live to eat.
                Please don’t get me wrong here; I am not against food. Do you love food? I do too. No matter who you are we all have a natural appetite for food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; however the problem arises when that appetite takes control of us, the Bible calls it “gluttony.” Gluttony is SIN. How can we overcome gluttony? We overcome gluttony by repenting and with the help of God cultivating healthy eating habits.
            When it comes to cultivating healthy eating habits where do we begin? I am aware that many of us here are already aware of our need for change.  I admire the health steps that some of you have already taken by changing food habits, by joining a gym or other health programs.  As a church it is important to remember that we can only work on changing our own wrong habits and not to be critical and judgmental of each other. We support and encourage one another by sharing our struggles and victories in this area.
            I want to create an atmosphere of openness; let’s keep the conversation going. I would love to hear from anyone who might have creative ideas on how we as a church can move towards better health. Here are a few suggestions in case you are wondering where to start in cultivating healthy eating habits. Pause and thank God before you eat your meals, food is a gift to be received with gratefulness. Every good gift comes from our heavenly father.
            I am not here to tell you what to eat and what not to eat. Let the Holy Spirit convict you on that. In the Apostle Paul’s time there were some people who became legalistic when it came to food so this is what he had to say to them. I Timothy 4:3-4 “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
            As much as possible slow down and enjoy your food mindfully.  Avoid eating on the run or while reading or watching late night TV.  Mealtimes are great opportunities for families to connect with each other. We find them important for the overall wellbeing of the family. In ancient Israel, in Jewish homes the fathers used meal times to instruct their children in the ways of God. The early Church met in homes daily over meals and fellowshipped. That’s why we encourage community meals in our church.
            After listening to this message you may be feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit; if you are struggling in the area of food you need to repent of your poor eating habits. Ask God to give you creative strategies to fight your battles. Remember, healthy living does not happen by chance, it takes determination and hard work but it is worth it. I believe it is time for change and it is time for a new beginning. Healthy living starts with healthy eating.” Amen

[1] AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities April 2015 page 12