Who is the most influential man in your life? No, seriously. Think about it! It doesn't have to be your father or even a relative. He can even be someone younger than you. What man has made a difference in your life? How would you feel if that man was suddenly ripped away from you - forever! How would you feel if you knew that his death could have been prevented?
According to the Center for Disease Control, in eight out of the top ten leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, strokes, diabetes, alzheimer’s, pneumonia/flu, suicide, homicide, and HIV/AIDS), men have a higher rate of death than women. Alzheimers is the only ailment where women are more likely to die, and men and women have a nearly equal chance at dying from a stroke. Some refer to these statistics as the Silent Health Crisis.
Women will, on average, live five years longer than men By the age of 100 women outnumber men 8 to 1. This is likely do to the far greater willingness of women, to have annual exams, which can detect health problems earlier, allowing treatment to be more effective. That’s right men - your tough macho act can actually kill you!
So this month, men get yourself checked out! Make an appointment and talk to a doctor about that nagging problem you have been ignoring! Nothing is off limits when you talk to a doctor about your health. Because never forget - to someone, YOU are that inspirational man!
Moses ran from his heritage, not wanting to accept responsibility. Elijah ran, fearing for his life and forgetting God. Jonah ran from God, fearful of what was being asked of him. David ran, quite frequently, from other men, forgetting to ask the Lord for guidance. Jeremiah protested his appoint to prophet. Esther hid, scared to publicly acknowledge who and what she was. Andrew, Bartholomew (Nathanael), James, James, John, Jude (Thaddeus), Matthew (Levi), Philip, Simon, and Thomas all ran in fear the night Jesus was arrested. And Peter denied Christ, three times! Saul persecuted those who stood for Christ.
Cole felt that the Lord was directing him to become a minister, but it was not what he wanted. Cole wanted wealth and power, attending school for a business degree instead. Alyssa was stressed because her family had to move across the country for her husband’s job and planning for the move was not going smoothly. To manage the stress, she turned to alcohol, concealing her actions from her family. Throughout high school, Wes attended church every Sunday and youth group every Wednesday night. Wes was recently arrested, for stealing and other crimes. Alex had just started his second year of college. He no longer attended church, giving in to the college partying mentality. Throughout school, Katie was frequently ridiculed for her faith in the Lord. She tried to witness, experiencing no success, becoming somewhat of an outcast. As she began her job, she kept quiet about her belief and made no complaint when forced to frequently work Sundays, preventing her from finding a church to which to belong.
The Bible is filled with examples of men, and a few women, who, in some way, shape, or form, ran from God, His instructions, or His identity with them. We are certainly not immune from running! Can you honestly look back on the choices you have made in life and say that there is not a time when you ran from God? Are you running now? There are many different ways to run, some of which do not even seem like running!
The people recorded in the Bible are remembered not because they ran, but for their actions when they weren’t running. Moses, David, and Esther are remembered for being great leaders. Elijah, Jonah, and Jeremiah are remembered as influential prophets. The disciples and Saul are remembered for all they did for the early church. But how? How did they go from running from God, to influential, inspirational, remembered individuals? The same way you can! Stop running, and start rebuilding!
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24, ESV)
Jesus knew the lives of those to whom He was speaking. He knew the lives of the people who would one day read His teachings. He knew that they were not perfect and that many had turned from the Lord. He told a story, a parable, of a young man who thought he knew best. The young man took his inheritance and left home to enjoy his life, but it did not last. Eventually he ran out of money and had to return to his father as nothing more than a beggar. His father welcomed him home with open arms, throwing a great feast in his honor!
Too often, we are like that young man, thinking we know best, living our life as we see fit. Then, for one reason or another, we are forced to stop and examine what our lives have really become. We can continue with our charade or begin rebuilding our life and find our purpose. And when we chose to begin rebuilding, our Father will be there with opening arms, ready to welcome us and throw a feast for our return.
This month, the month of June, is National Rebuilding Month! Are you like the young man? Are you still running? Are you ready to rebuild?
John sat up, swinging his feet off the bed onto the floor. He rested his elbows on his knees, rubbing his face with his hands. His night had been like many others he had recently; what seemed like a few minutes of peaceful sleep, between the unpleasant memories that haunted him. Once he found himself awake, crouching and peering around the bed towards door, grabbing for the weapon that wasn’t there, before remembering where he was, and where he wasn’t. John shook his head, as if to clear the memories, before pushing himself up to get ready for the day. John was hyper-aware of his surroundings. He kept an eye on his coffee timer, so that he would not be startled when it went off. He still flinched when it went off, as if struck. Upon hearing a knock at the door, John’s first reaction was to take cover, already crouching and moving before it registered that it was simply Nicole, his friend, at the door, whom he had asked to stop by at this exact time.
Nicole understood why it took him longer than it should have to open the door. She understood why he hesitantly peered around the door before opening it enough to allow her in. She understood why he quickly shut the door behind her. John had been an active duty soldier for years before returning home. She didn’t know what he had been like before the military, before returning to his hometown suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly referred to as PTSD. She had heard that he once use to be life of parties, regaling those around him with stories of his high-school antics. He now preferred to avoid large social situations altogether, standing off to the side, usually with his back to a wall, when did attend one.
Nicole had come to walk with John that day. For John, her presence was reassuring. It let him know that he was not alone in his struggle. He had learned that an estimated 7-8 percent of the US population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. During any given year, approximately 5.2 million people will suffer from PTSD. John also knew that his story was unique, because it is his story! PTSD is not the same for everyone. Each person who suffers, suffers in their own way. No two persons’ experience is the same, even if they had the exact same trauma to cause their PTSD!
Shortly after the nightmares and erratic behavior began, John learned all he could about PTSD, hoping that knowledge would help him combat his sleepless nights and hyper-vigilance. Upon hearing PTSD, many people imagine soldiers, but PTSD can be caused by any traumatic or life-threatening event in a person’s life. This can include a personal experience, simply witnessing the event, or in-depth research of such events. PTSD can occur to anyone, of any age, of any race, for any number of reasons. PTSD can manifest in a multitude of different ways, with different intensities for different people. John and Nicole are examples of that.
John’s case is severe, but he is, slowly, getting better. He is beginning to be able to sleep without medication, something that was impossible when he first returned home. He attends counseling everyday. It helps. John has also begun expanding his activities, by volunteering, along with another member of his support group who also has PTSD. He is exploring the idea of buying a dog. Not only will it give him a purpose, but he thinks it may help ease his mind to have someone else watching his back. It will also force him out of the house.
Some of John’s old friends wonder what’s wrong with him. He is no longer willing to throw back a few beers with them on Saturday’s during the game, or any other time. John has tried to explain, but they do not understand; drinking and drugs simply make him worse, intensify his already heightened feelings of worry and anxiety. Should anything happen, he could lose control. His friends loudness do nothing to ease his troubled mind. So for now, John avoids them.
Nicole also suffers from PTSD, although not as severe. She has held down a job for the past year. A quiet, but physically active job. She is an encouragement to John, that one day his life may once again have a semblance of normality. Nicole told John to let her know when he thinks he may be ready to start working. Her boss is understanding, willing to let him start just a few days of week.
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June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. We ask that in your prayers this month, you remember those like John and Nicole, those suffering from PTSD. Please pray for healing.
Each year, millions of children suffer from some sort of abuse. It can be mental, physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. All too often, the abuse happens at home. Sometimes it is a parent or relative who lives with the child that inflicts the abuse, and sometimes it is simply a result of where they live. June 4 is designated as International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression Observance Day. All over the world, on June 4, people take time to remember the children who are abused and those organizations who strive to help those children.
On August 19, 1982, the General Assembly of the United Nations held an emergency special session regarding the situation of the children caught in the ongoing war between Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon. The United Nations was appalled at the number of children who had been killed because of the conflict, more than two million in the past two decades. Of course, this is not the only region of the world in which children are dying because of violence. In Latin America and the Caribbean, about 80,000 children die annually from violence.
According to the United Nations, “The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children.” The United Nations has several organizations dedicated to helping children who are abused and protecting children’s rights.
Children are special. They are the future. Children should not have their childhood robbed by abuses. We are instructed in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NIV) It is our responsibility to teach children right from wrong and to protect them. By doing so, we can help children have a better future.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matthew 19:14, NIV) Children are special to our Heavenly Father and should also be special to us. We should shield them from the abuses of this world and help those that have been abused. On June 4, International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression Observance Day, take time to pray for children who suffering from abuse. Pray for their safety. Pray for peace. Pray for these children.
SUMMER!!! School’s out, the kids are home, the sun is shining - hopefully!It is time for swimming, beach vacations, and grilling. With the nicer weather and more free time, for the kids at least, also comes additional hazards, so start this summer off right!June is National Safety Month, so before summer activities get into full swing, have chat about how to stay safe!
How many times have you done something without thinking which resulted in an injury, even a minor one? Or been goofing off with friends and someone got hurt? We have all done things like accidentally trip over a root hiking or accidentally knocked a friend out of a boat with a paddle … ok, maybe that wasn’t an accident, but it was in good fun!Sure, the injury may be nothing more than a sprained ankle or a lump on the head, but there is always a possibility that innocent actions can have much more serious consequences. Not everyone can swim. A bad sunburn and can lead to cancer. Grilling will inevitably lead to someone being burned. Texting while driving endangers everyone around you on the road.
All activities, summer or winter, comes with inherent risks. Does this mean we should stay inside?No!Of course not!God made the outdoors so that we could enjoy the beauty and marvel at His works. He also gave us a brain. So use it to make smart decisions when having fun.
When there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14, ESV)
Danger, taking risks, is a part of life. It does not mean we need to be reckless about it though!
Communicate to children the dangers. If you are doing a special activity, let them know of specific dangers. Make an action plan for if something should go wrong!Encourage your children to come to you with any issues. If they think there is a danger, listen to them!
As part of National Safety Month, examine your behavior and actions. Is there something you do that could be putting yourself or others at risk? Make a commitment to change it!Is there an action from your friend that could be endangering him or herself or other around them? Speak up! Are you out having fun and notice a potentially dangerous situation or behavior? Find a way to make it safer! Accidents happen, but let’s do our part to help avoid them! Now get out there and have some fun!