Volume. XIX, No. 33
Sunday, 27 February 2005

From the pastors heart: the best healing

Humans are fundamentally communal that they need to be connected with others for healthy life. Herb Benson is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He has been trying to establish a relationship between the healing process and faith/spirituality. I must say that he is not talking about issues on the basis of Christian faith. However, his studies have shown some interesting results that we can have a healthier life when we are connected with others. Anne Foeast tells us about her encounter with Herb Benson in her book, God in the Machine, p. 124.

“I met him several times and he told me about two experiments he conducted. In one case, he sent a rabbi daily to talk to patients after open-heart surgery. In comparison with a control group without daily visits, the counseled group of patients left the hospital, on average, three days earlier. Herb added that they might just have wanted to flee from the rabbi, but then it turned out that the patients who had talked to the rabbi also had significantly lower relapse rates than the people from the control group. Before any surgery, it is common that the anaesthesiologist visits the patient the night before and informs her about the procedure and possible dangers. The patients, then, signs a consent form. Usually such a visit is very short and perfunctory. In another experiment, Herb sent the anaesthesiologist to a group of patients with the order to spend a long time with them. The anaesthesiologist sat down at the bed and at length with the patient about her fears and anxiety, her situation at home, and much more. Compared to a control group who had the usual, perfunctory visits, the patients with extensive visits needed only a third of the anaesthesia chemicals.”

His experiments clearly indicate that it is important for us to be connected to each other. We need one another and long for companionship. For the last few weeks, we have emphasized on the importance of striving together. I have said over and over again that there is no reason for us to be left out or left alone. We ought to work together for healthier spiritual life. The more we read Acts 2:46, the more we must agree on the importance of Christian fellowship. “And they, continually daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” When a man withdraws himself from others, though he may be spiritual, he becomes like Moses and Elijah in their lowest point. Does anyone have a withdrawal syndrome? We need to watch him carefully and to encourage him to return to the fellowship.

Modern man is plagued with illnesses. There are so many diseases and illnesses we have never even heard of before. It is not uncommon to hear that people are stressed out. It has been known that between 60 to 90 percent of visits to physicians are prompted by stress-related conditions. 75% of the health problems presented to Medical Doctors in the United States are stress related illness, caused by emotional stress (statistic from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).  Thus, their mental health is threatened. Not only is most illness stress related (caused by stress), stress also destroys the body's ability to repair itself and to fight disease.  Therefore, there are many organizations promoting their ways of stress management. Even if our physical illness is not stress-related, the speed and completeness of your recovery is limited by our emotional tendencies.

“Stress has been defined as the-perception of threat or danger that requires behavioural change. It results in increased metabolism, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased rate of breathing and increased blood flow to the muscles. These internal physiologic changes prepare us to fight or run away and thus the stress reaction has been named the 'fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight' response was first described by the Harvard physiologist, Dr. Walter B. Cannon earlier in this century. It is mediated by increased release of adrenalin and noradrenalin (epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the blood stream.”

Herbert Benson testified before the US House of Representatives, November 1997, as published by the American Psychological Association (apa.org/ppo/benson.hmtl). He said, “Modern medicine has largely disregarded and ridiculed the importance of mind/body interactions such as the placebo effect. Starting with the work of Dr. Louis Pasteur and Dr. Robert Koch about 150 years ago, the Western tradition of incorporating non-specific factors - the placebo effect - in treatments was progressively replaced with an almost total reliance on specific remedies for specific illnesses. The specific therapies were so dramatically effective that they became the sole treatments utilized. For example, insulin and antibiotics took the place of the power of the mind to heal. These awesome (specific) treatments also changed our attitudes toward the nature of healing. Rather than using a combination of specific and non-specific therapies to promote healing, medicine began to value and rely exclusively on the specific effects of pharmacological and surgical and procedural interventions. The non-specific effects of beliefs, thoughts and emotions were devalued even though they are 50 to 90 percent effective in a vast number of conditions that include asthma, angina pectoris, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, all forms of pain, herpes simplex (cold sores) and post operative recovery.”

If we have a stomach, heart or mental disorder, our doctors may attribute our conditions to stress. Stress is also related to headaches, backaches, cholesterol and high blood pressure. The negative effects of stress on health are indisputable. Interestingly enough, stress has been the subject of more than 20,000 scientific studies. What I want to talk about is not medical conditions or stressful life, but the importance of connection with fellow believers and most of all with God. Psalm 119:25 says that the psalmist’s soul cleaves unto the dust. His soul faints for salvation from afflictions and troubles in verse 81. He cries to God in verse 145. Psalm 120:1 says, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.” In times of troubles, Jeremiah said in his book, 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” Are you healthy? Being together with God and His people gives you a healthy lifestyle both physically and spiritually. Why would you make a plan in order to be with somebody today for fellowship in the Lord and spend some time in prayer to God today?

Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 91: How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation? The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

Please pray for healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, & Sisters Myung Ki, Aranka Rejtoe & Susan Varadi “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28)

Please pray for - Journey Mercies for Dr George’s father as he returns to India, & Sis Joyce Gong (Canada); Rev & Mrs Moses Hahn and their ministry in Sihanoukville; Khmer Bible students and pastors to remain faithful to the LORD; Bro Surish in Laos - for the LORD’s guidance & his health;

Praise and thank God for - Journey mercies granted to Dn & Mrs NJ Gong, Aunty Viola Gong, Dn Edwin D’Mello, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan, Sisters Peng Ha Yeo & Amanda Fu, Mrs Maggie Wong (Sis Serene’s mother) and her friends (Adl), & Bro John Wong (Mt Gambier); New worshippers and visitors recently; Providing accommodation for Sis Rebekah Neumann; Good attendance at YAF Welcome Night; Cambodia Missions Presentation at the AFG last night; Working Bees who helped at the Stone Mansion yesterday.

Family Bible Camp at Easter Weekend: 25-28 March 2005 at Mylor Recreation Centre, Mylor.

YAF Committee thanks all members who helped to make Welcome Night a success.

Looking ahead: BBK Class starts next Lord’s Day. Those who would like to become Church Members or be baptised/confirmed are advised to attend. Please see Elder Michael Lee or Dn Edwin D’Mello for details.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041