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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior!

As sanctified children of God, we respond to what God, in Christ Jesus, has done for us through proper stewardship of all that we have been given. Among those blessings are the various components of our health, including our Relational, Emotional, Physical, Financial, Vocational, Intellectual and Spiritual wellbeing, as set out in the Wholeness Wheel provided through Concordia Plan Services. Our efforts to improve our personal wellness, then, are a part of our sanctified living – as in every aspect “We are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Throughout the coming months as we move toward the 2015 Kansas District Convention, our District is placing an emphasis on helping professional church workers, lay members of the congregations of the District, and all we reach with the Gospel of Jesus, to take steps, with God’s help and guidance, to wellness in all areas of the Wholeness Wheel.

In an effort to encourage positive steps toward wellness, members of the Task Force for the Renewal in Wellness initiative seek your assistance in identifying individuals who have realized success in moving toward wellness in one or more of the areas distinguished within the Wellness Wheel. The Task Force is seeking to collect stories of God’s grace moving His people to wellness that may be used to encourage others toward such wellness.

If you know of anyone who would be willing to share their story of how God has been leading and guiding them to be well in any area of the Wholeness Wheel, please share their contact information (name, phone number and email address) with Deaconess Linda Cosgrove or DCE Cindy Twillman, members of the Task Force. These stories will be shared in locations such as the District Workers Together publication, the District supplement to The Lutheran Witness and congregational newsletters throughout the District.

Your assistance in identifying those willing to share their personal stories can help to encourage all of us as together we seek to grow up into Christ.

May God richly bless each of you as God leads you on your personal journey of wholeness in Him!

Deaconess Linda Cosgrove          
St. John, Topeka                                
lcosgrove@stjlcms.org                      

DCE Cindy Twillman
Ascension, Wichita
cindce@gmail.com

A Pastor's View on Physical Wellness
by Rev. Damian Snyder - Senior Pastor, Trinity, Leavenworth

I have a deep love for theology and for the biological sciences. I absolutely love it when both can be brought to bear on the same problem. The on-going discussion in our district concerning wellness is, I believe, one of these areas. Let me explain. I am a fat guy. I am a sinner. (No, being a fat guy is not a sin!) Both the control of my weight and the control of my actions have plagued me my entire life. (Okay, one summer as a kid I was skinny. However, I have never been without sin.) No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I cannot stop sinning.

There are many people out there who are willing to give advice about how to tame the sinful flesh. Just try harder! Stay away from “sinners!” Some even, in an attempt to help, advise “just stop sinning.” You and I both know the answer to why I, and indeed all people, struggle to control their thoughts, words, and deeds. It is, of course, because by our very nature we are sinful and unclean since the fall into sin. No matter how hard we try on our own, no matter what form of discipline structure we put ourselves under, we are steeped in sin at all points, as Luther is said to have once remarked. For the Christian, life under the cross is still plagued by difficulty in conforming our lives to the will of God. Jesus put it so well when he said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41, ESV) In fact, not until the Day of Resurrection will we be completely renewed for life in the new heavens and earth. 

We Lutherans know all of this because we practice an evidence-based faith. No, I am not suggesting that our faith is based on experience or miracles. Rather, our faith is based on documentary evidence that we call the Holy Bible. Indeed, it is through God's Word that He “calls, enlightens, sanctifies”...etc. as Luther explains in his Small Catechism. In fact, when it comes to our spiritual lives, if anyone makes any claim, we demand to know how that claim can be found in the Word of God. If we find that the evidence in God's Word supports the claim, we accept it and allow it to shape our actions. If it is not supported by the evidence (God’s Word), then we reject the claim. 

My plea is that we also use this same criterion for our endeavor into wellness. As a card-carrying fat-guy, I can tell you that I have heard it all. From well-meaning folks who say, "Just eat less," to those who prescribe a diet of only "health food" and weird roots, or to avoid this food group or that food group. I can also tell you that from my personal experience, none of these work in the long haul. It is not for a lack of trying. It is not for a lack of seriousness or money spent. So, why can't I fix this problem? Why can't I look like my friends who are of a "normal" weight? Well, to the evidence, I say! Just telling a sinner to be a saint is the worst advice that can be given because you are proclaiming Law without Gospel. Law always condemns...Gospel never does. Never does the Gospel make a demand. Rather it creates the change that it desires.  

It turns out that the biological evidence says there is a war going on in my flesh. No, I’m not talking about the war between the old and new Adam. This is the war between what I want my body to look like and how I want my body to process the nutrients that I give it and the way that my brain is actually directing the process. The TED talk by Dr. Sandra Aamodt is only the beginning to understanding the truth about how our bodies really function (at least as far as we understand it today) and why obesity is so prevalent. But it is a start. For me, it is also a relief. As we continue to discuss "wellness", let us discuss and take action based upon solid evidence. Before we make any assertions about the sinfulness of particular body types or eating patterns, let us thoroughly and properly exegete the relevant texts and examine evidence from well-crafted, properly executed scientific studies that inform our lives under the first article.