Friends May Be Key to Churchgoers’ Happiness

Mental Health
Regular churchgoers may lead more satisfying lives than stay-at-home folks because they create a network of close friends who provide important support, a new study suggests. Conducted at the University of Wisconsin, the researchers found that 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they are "extremely satisfied" with life as opposed to only 20 percent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from more from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found. Here are the details from HealthDay News: Regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church, according to the research. Study co-author Chaeyoon Lim said it's long been recognized…
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Devotional for Men – Healthy Through and Through – Part 6 – The Spiritual Wheel of Health

General Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health
Here’s the sixth of an eight-part devotional for men based upon my chapter on health in Coach Joe Gibbs best-selling book, Gameplan for Life. The devotional was featured by the Men of Integrity ministry of Christianity Today. I hope you enjoy the series. Here’s Part 6 of 8 THE SERIES’ THEME: Healthy Through and Through. What does it mean to be a truly healthy man of God? THE SPIRITUAL WHEEL KEY BIBLE VERSE: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." (John 10:10) Dig Deeper: Psalm 32 What does it mean to be in a state of maximum well-being as we relate to our Creator? Obviously, for us to be spiritually healthy, any break in our relationship…
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Patients use prayer as part of healing process

Alternative Medicine, General Health
The Chicago Tribune reports, "The relationship between prayer and physical healing has long been the subject of conflicting studies. Some indicate prayer can help, but at least one study concluded that in some cases it can be harmful." Researchers "found that coronary bypass patients who were told strangers were praying for them did worse than those who got no prayers." But, "increasingly ... prayers are being offered by chaplains, doctors, nurses, and social workers. They are recited in hospitals before and after surgery, during treatments, upon admission and discharge, and on the anniversary of a diagnosis." Despite this one negative study, there are not "some" studies showing prayer can help, but hundreds of studies showing a positive association between a wide variety of spiritual interventions (spiritual assessment, prayer, spiritual counseling, etc.) and…
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Taking a Spiritual Inventory of Your Healthcare Professional

Take a Spiritual Inventory Finding a doctor and other health care team members who share your spiritual foundation and practices may be crucial for you—and thankfully it’s fairly simple. You can use a spiritual inventory. Doctors are increasingly using spiritual inventories in their care of patients. In fact, when I make presentations at medical centers, medical schools, and professional meetings, the question I most often hear is, How can doctors take useful spiritual inventories of their patients? In the same way a doctor can inquire about a patient’s spiritual beliefs, a patient should feel free to ask about how a doctor’s spiritual beliefs and prac- tices relate to his or her medical care. A winning health care provider should be perfectly willing to let you know where he or she…
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Positive Brain Changes Seen After Meditation (What is Christian meditation?)

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
A number of Christian scriptures recommend meditation as a spiritual discipline: Psalm 77:12: I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 119:15:  meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:27: Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. Psalm 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 104:34: May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. Now, comes a study showing that positive brain changes take hold after just 11 hours of practicing a form of meditation. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News: The study included 45 University…
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Belief in God Relieves Depression

Bioethics, Mental Health
I wanted you to read an excerpted from, "Belief in God Relieves Depression," an interesting article in the The Washington Times by Jennifer Harper: The "Big Man Upstairs" is getting accolades from mental health specialists who say they are finding that a belief in God plays a positive role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that "believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress," their research showcasing "distinct brain differences" between believers and nonbelievers. In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, "belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment," said the new research, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The operative term here is "caring," the researchers said. "The study found that those with…
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Bedside Economics and Healthcare Reform – A Christian Doctor’s Response

Bioethics, Medical Economics
My dear friend, Al Weir, MD, is an oncologist in Memphis, TN. He has served in Africa as a missionary and served with the Christian Medical Association. He's just written a wonderful devotional called, "Bedside Economics" It is based upon Psalm 106:3, "Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right." Al's writings alway provoke me to deep contemplation. None moreso than this one: It has provoked me to deep contemplation. He was an oncologist transplanted from the Caribbean to Canada where he worked in a small British Columbia city. We sat beside each other at a medical meeting and began to discuss the economics of healthcare in both his country and mine. In discussing a given treatment regimen, both effective and approved for use, he made…
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Increased spiritual support may be linked to higher quality of life in cancer patients

Bioethics, Cancer
This headline is likely not news to most of the readers of this blog -- or likely to most people. We all seem to know intuitively that terminal diagnoses cause people to begin to think about spiritaul and eternal issues. HealthDay reports, "Addressing the spiritual needs of someone with advanced cancer could be just as important as taking care of their medical needs." This is based upon a study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study of 670 patients showed that 60 percent "said that their spiritual needs either hadn't been met or were minimally supported," even though patients ranked "pain control and being at peace with God" as the two most important factors "at the end of their lives." Patients who received "greater spiritual support from their…
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Dr. Walt’s Testimony Before Congress on Faith-based Perspectives on the Provision of Community Services

Bioethics, General Health, Medical Economics
Back in 2004, while serving as Vice President of Medical Outreach at Focus on the Family, I was asked to testify before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources on the topic of “Faith-based Perspectives on the Provision of Community Services.” Recently someone asked me to post my comments, so here they are. You can also read them in the Congressional Record here. Mr. Chairman, I am Walter L. Larimore. Prior to joining Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado in February 2001 to become Vice-President of Medical Outreach, I practiced family medicine for over 20 years in small rural towns in North Carolina and Florida. In both practices, I was actively involved in teaching medical students and residents. I was also involved in medical research and writing…
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