This is the first of the Strong Tower Men’s health Bible study leader’s guides. I will post these each week to help get you caught up if you miss a week. If you have questions, please let me know.
The Strong Temple
Health Bible Study
The purpose of this study is to critically examine wellness concepts within the context of a spiritual (distinctively Christian) commitment. From this perspective, participants will be encouraged to adopt attitudes and make behavioral choices that support spiritual values. Throughout the course, the theme will be to follow the greatest commandment as defined by Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
Session One – Valuing Wellness, “Love the Lord with all…”
Session Two – Protecting Your Heart part 1, “Love the Lord with all your heart…”
Session Three – Protecting Your Heart part 2 , “Love the Lord with all your heart…”
Session Four – Strengthening and disciplining your body, “Love the Lord … with all your strength…”
Week Five – Energizing your diet, “Love the Lord … with all your strength…”
Week Six – Freshening your mind, “Love the Lord … with all your soul and all your mind…”
Session One – Valuing Wellness: Love the Lord and yourself
When you were a kid, how sick did you have to be to stay in bed and miss school?
Read John 5:1-9
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
What was the paralytic’s excuse for not getting well? How did Jesus deal with his complaint?
Jesus gives this man something to do in order to take responsibility for his own life and his own healing. In the man’s response in verse 7, he had essentially said it was out of his control – he had no one to help him. Jesus was bringing him healing, but he had to take some action on his own.
The same is true of us today. We must take action in order to keep ourselves healthy. We must take responsibility for keeping ourselves healthy. Jesus could have just healed this man and left. Instead, He prompted the man to take action. We must also take action to keep ourselves healthy. This study is designed to provide you with the information on how to make wise decisions which will significantly improve your health. The key to receiving that health is taking up our beds and walking.
Ask for prayer requests and take some time to pray for the needs of your group.
Why should I value wellness?
• Ask the following questions:
o How does creation affect who you are physically?
o How does the fall affect who you are physically?
o How does God’s redemptive work affect who you are physically?
• Give time for participants to consider their own decisions relating to their faith and lead a time of prayer for decisions individuals may need to make in this area.
• Ask the question, “How do you offer your life and body as a spiritual act of worship?”
• Discuss the concepts of developing a personal mission statement. Allow participants to take several minutes to develop this statement. Invite them to share their statements for the next session. You may use the author’s personal statement as an example:
I will strive to serve God and grow in my relationship with Him.
I will love my wife as Christ loved the Church and gave (of) Himself for her.
I will love my children daily and strive to raise them to love and serve God.
I will work with an attitude of service and strive to find ways to share God’s love at my place of employment.
I will work to keep myself healthy and fit and commit to honor my body as God’s temple.
I will serve my church. I will pray for and support my pastor and staff.
I will seek to have fun every day and enjoy the life God has given me.
This is assignment #1 for this week.
Living the Wellness Life
• Wellness Continuum: Have the participants draw a continuum on a sheet of paper. The continuum is a horizontal line drawn from one side of the paper to the other. Have them place a “0” in the middle, under the line. Read the following 10 questions and tell each participant to mark either an “x” on the right side of the line if they can answer “yes” to the question or an “x” on the left side of the continuum if they answer “no.”
1. Do you participate in a lifetime exercise program (i.e. exercise regularly)?
2. Do you refrain from smoking and using smokeless tobacco products?
3. Do you eat right? (i.e. well-balanced meals, healthy snacks, etc.)
4. Do you maintain your recommended body weight or body composition?
5. Do you get 7-8 hours of sleep most nights?
6. Do you utilize stress management techniques to lower your stress level?
7. Do you consume alcohol in moderation if at all?
8. Do you use medication as prescribed and only when needed?
9. Do you surround yourself with healthy friendships?
10. Do you take personal safety measures (i.e. wear seatbelts, observe laws, etc.)?
When finished asking the questions, ask participants to look at their continuum and see how many times they placed an “x” on the right side of the continuum. These represent good choices they have made in improving their health. Each “x” on the left side represents an area in which change would be desirable to improve their health. This study will help encourage them to make good choices in all areas of their lives.
• Ask participants to get into groups of two or three. Each group should develop a list of 10 reasons people choose not to exercise or practice wellness behaviors. When all groups are finished, have the groups develop ways to counter the negative choices. Have groups report on several of their countermeasures.
• Ask, “Why is it easier to find excuses to NOT exercise than it is to just go ahead and exercise?” Allow for discussion.
Changing for the right reasons
• Participants should list five things they like about themselves and five things they would like to change. Ask: Which activity was easier – listing the five things they like about themselves or the five things they wanted to change? Why? Have them pick one thing they would like to change and use that for reference throughout the remainder of the day.
• Ask the following questions, writing on the board, overhead, or computer the responses of the participants:
A. What causes someone to change his/her behavior?
B. What methods could be used to reward positive behavior (working toward or
completing a goal)?
• Briefly discuss:
A. Barriers to change (procrastination, pre-attitude of failure, knowledge, instant gratification, non-planning, short-term planning)
B. Six stages of the transtheoretical model (precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, termination)
C. Processes of change (state your goal, assess your current status, design a custom program, define obstacles, implement your plan, evaluate your plan, re-evaluate your plan)
(This is assignment #2 for next week)
• Changing behaviors is not easy, especially those behaviors which have been part of a person’s life for many years. The apostle Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7:15-25.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Emphasize that it is through God’s power that individuals have the ability to change for good.
Tell participants to go back to their list of five things they liked about themselves and five things they would like to change. Ask: How did they get to like those things about themselves? Those things are usually worked on and developed. In the same way, changing a behavior, attitude, or habit must be worked on as well. Using at least one of those things they would like to change, allow participants to utilize the processes of change described earlier to choose one area of change.
• They may work with others with the same behavioral change. Encourage the participants to ask one of their classmates to serve as an “accountability partner” for them. Each participant should then use the Behavior Change Contract and allow his/her partner to sign the contract. The contract should be filled out and brought to the next class meeting.
(This is assignment #3 for next week)
• Conclude by sharing that an individual may not always be able to meet his/her goals. Goal setters should learn from their successes and failures. Goals should be revised often to reflect these successes and failures and provide incentives for the future.
Utilize Paul’s attitude in Philippians (3:13-14) on goals:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Finish the time with prayer and a reminder of the activities for the week.