Thursday, October 28, 2010

For Happiness, Sitting in Church Beats Shopping at the Mall

A new study suggests that a decline in religious participation, and an increase in shopping opportunities, could be making us miserable.

By Emily Main,
Can money buy happiness? No, and neither can spending money, suggest researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel. Their as-yet-unpublished study took a look at consumer shopping habits over the last three decades and compared it to participation in religious activities, and found that, among women, money makes us much less happy than going to church.
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The Details: The authors used data collected by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Council. The Council conducts a "General Social Survey" annually or biannually, and collects information from a sample of adults over 18 on their happiness levels. Looking specifically at adults who lived in states where "blue laws" (laws prohibiting commercial activity on Sundays) had been repealed between 1973 and 1998, they compared the happiness levels of adults with reported church attendance over that 25-year period. (Because Christians are most likely to attend church on Sundays, while Jews and Muslims normally attend religious services on Fridays or Saturdays, the researchers looked specifically at Christians for this study.)

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Women, but not men, seemed to experience a steep decline in both church attendance and their happiness levels over the course of the 25-year post-blue law period. The data showed that blue law repeals decreased the likelihood of people reporting that they were "pretty happy" to "not happy" by at least 17 percent. But the authors also noted that people whose religious participation didn't change after blue laws were repealed reported no drop in happiness levels. Using other data collected from the survey, the researchers ruled out the possibility that the declines could be related to women's increased participation in the workforce or to family issues.

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What It Means: We could all stand to take a "day of rest" from commercialism to get some perspective on what makes us truly happy, whether we consider ourselves religious or not. For those who attend them, religious services provide fellowship and often give people a greater sense of meaning to life, says Danny Cohen-Zada, PhD, assistant professor in the department of economics at Ben-Gurion University and lead author of the study. And he adds that although his study looked only at people who identified themselves as Christian, the relationship between religion and happiness would likely hold true for women of other faiths as well.

But if attending services makes people happier, why don't people go more regularly, or go back if they've stopped going? Cohen-Zada has a few theories, he says, foremost among them is simply that shopping provides more immediate gratification. "Since immediate satisfaction from shopping is higher than from religious participation, they choose shopping even if they know that in the long run they would be less happy," he says. "In addition to this, the addictive nature of shopping helps them to choose the immediate lower satisfaction over the long-run higher satisfaction." In the long run, he says, "People derive greater satisfaction from religious participation than from shopping. Our work contributes to the idea that money is overrated, and other factors, including religion, tend to be underrated."

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Here are a few ways to avoid falling into the trap of turning to shopping as a way to derive some immediate gratification and a false sense of happiness:

1. Institute your own "blue laws."

Whether you choose Sunday or some other day of the week that better fits with your schedule, designate one day of every week as a no shopping day. (And yes, that includes shopping online.) Instead, use that day to spend more time with family or to find some other activity you find fulfilling. A study published earlier this year even suggests that it could make you more attractive in other people's eyes: The study found that people who are considered more experiential, meaning they spend money on experiences rather than things, are more attractive than materialistic people.

2. Find religion, whether you're religious or not.

In his study, Cohen-Zada found that for each point increase in church-service attendance, self-reported happiness increased by 10.7 percent. Even those who don't consider themselves religious can tap into that happiness factor through prayer or meditation, says advisor Jeffrey Rossman, PhD. He suggests sharing your feelings with a higher power—even if that means "the universe" or a wise, caring part of yourself. Doing so allows you to open up to something greater than yourself, and eases the feeling that you need to bear every burden on your own.

3. Take a walk.

We've all been known to indulge in "retail therapy" when we're feeling unhappy. But as this study suggests, buying things, or even engaging in the simple act of shopping, doesn't provide us with long-term happiness. The next time you're tempted to hit the mall to relieve stress, imagine yourself late in life looking back on what you buy, and you'll probably realize that stuff will provide you with very short-lived satisfaction. Instead, call a friend to chat, head to your house of worship, or simply go for a walk. Multiple studies have shown that time in nature makes us happier, anyway.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bishop Kenneth Moales dies at 65

BRIDGEPORT -- Even at a young age, Kenneth Moales had something special.

The Bridgeport native, who went on to found the Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love (now the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit), died Monday evening of a heart attack. On Tuesday, which would have been his 65 birthday, friends and colleagues remembered Moales as someone whose spirituality and leadership were visible to the world almost immediately.

"His life was a shining example to the young people on this side of town," said the Rev. Aaron Sneed, administrative pastor at the cathedral.

In addition to his work at the cathedral, Moales was a national figure in the Pentecostal church. In 1995, he was installed as presiding prelate of the Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ, and he served on the executive board of the Joint College of African American Pentecostal Bishops. Moales also was a giant in the field of gospel music. In 1993, he was named president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. He was also inducted into International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum for his many years of work in the field.

Sneed met Moales when they were kids, both singing in a community choir. Moales began singing at the age of 7, and "used to be known as the boy wonder of Bridgeport," Sneed said.

Moales founded Prayer Tabernacle Church in 1969, when he was only 21 years old. At the time, it was just a storefront ministry on Stratford Avenue, a place where children from the area could attend Sunday school. "He didn't even have enough money to turn the lights on," said Sneed, who was 16 at the time. "He had to hold classes during the day."

Yet despite the challenges he faced -- and his own relative youth -- Moales was committed to ministering to the youth of Bridgeport. Sneed said Moales offered hope and guidance to many children and adolescents, including himself. "We are who we are today because he ministered to us," Sneed said.

Over the past 42 years, the church has grown and moved to various locations along Stratford Avenue. According to its website, the church serves roughly 1,000 worshippers a week. It's also added a variety of ministries and programs since Moales first opened it, including Love Christian Academy, an elementary school that opened to 2003.

Mark Brevard, headmaster of Love Christian Academy, said Moales' death is a huge blow to everyone affiliated with the church. "Everyone has been very sad," Brevard said. "A lot of us have also been in shock. We're praying to get through this."

Parishoners also mourned Moales, including Neal McGee, owner of Kingdom Cutters barber shop on Stratford Avenue. "He just had such an impact on my life," McGee said. "He was the only pastor I ever had."

McGee actually cut Moales' hair on Saturday, the day of Moales' 65th birthday party. It was the last time McGee saw him. "(Moales) was a spiritual father, not just to me, but to everyone in this city," McGee said.

Another longtime parishoner, Wilhelmina Jackson, of Bridgeport, called Moales a "man of integrity." Even as he gained prominence on a national level, Jackson said, he always had time for his flock at home. "His door was always open and the community always knew that and respected him for it," said Jackson, a midwife at Bridgeport Hospital.

Various community leaders were also devastated by Moales' passing, including Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch who was at Moales' 65th birthday party. As a party favor, Moales handed out mix CDs to his guests.

"This morning, I got in my car, and just as I put in his CD, I got a call from (Councilwoman Sue) Brannelly telling me the news. Really shocking," Finch said.

Brian Bodt, president and chief executive officer of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, was also stunned by the announcement. Moales' church was a member of the council, and Bodt said he met Moales on several occasions. "He was a significant leader in the community and very well-respected," Bodt said. "I liked him a lot. It will be a big loss."

Funeral arrangements hadn't been finalized for Moales as of Tuesday afternoon, but Sneed said he expects a large turnout. "They're going to come into Bridgeport in throngs over the next few days," he said.

Moales is survived by his wife of 43 years, Peggy Ann Moales. He also leaves three children, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Staff writer John Burgeson contributed to this report. Conneticut Post

In my opinion Bishop Moales was one of the General's in the Kingdom.  He was not only the Bishop in Conneticut but he was the Bishop to many across the globe, such as Bishop Hezekiah Walker and the Kingdom Churches, Bishop Walter Hawkins and many others.  He gave us a 'war cry' and told us to 'dance now and talk about it later'.  Whenever he was in my city I would make my way to hear him.  Whenever I needed to celebrate and be reminded that I had the victory I would watch this video.  He will be greatly missed.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Spirit of Offense

I have been hearing of a lot of people in Christ who are offended and holding unforgiveness in their hearts.  I taught from this message a few years ago.  Today, I think it deserves looking at again.

In the Gospel of Matthew verse 24 - the disciples asked Jesus as He was departing for Heaven “What will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the world?” And Jesus answered: Matt 24:10-13 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved..

This day has come. The Church has become offended. Members are offended by their Pastors, so they leave the church. Employees are offended by their employer, so they quit. Couples are offended in marriage, so they divorce sighting irreconcilable differences. Children and Young Adults are offended, so they bring guns to school and shoot anyone in there way. We wake up with attitudes. Angry. Mad. Upset. This has become your disposition.

The Dictionary defines offense as: a violation, transgression, to hurt or cause pain, to cause to fall into a sinful state.

The "spirit of offense" chokes off ordinary conversation. It chokes off benefit of the doubt. It chokes off forgiveness. It chokes off tolerance. It denies human imperfection, and expects a simple, loving person to be precise and mechanical while trying to express sincerity. It assumes the worst. It ignores the obvious intention and digs for something ugly. It allows common every day words to be misconstrued and implicated as the offender of rights. I believe it is the most vicious problem in our society today, and that it nourishes an attitude of dissatisfaction with life, especially for those who choose to carry it around like a badge of honor that reads, "Indignant, and rightfully so." So easily offended and never seeing that the problem is within them, but most often they would rather place the blame on someone, anyone else, rather than accept responsibility and acknowledge that it is their choice to be offended.

An offense is Satan’s trap to hold you back from God’s blessings in your life.

I believe that recognizing this spirit of offense and restraining it is the key to personal freedom that ultimately unlocks the ability to enjoy life and its simplest pleasures.

We have all had our feelings hurt at one time or another. We have all felt insulted by someone or felt like an injustice was done to us. When our feelings are hurt or some other injustice perceived, we have to let it go, resolve it immediately, forgive and move on, otherwise; resentment begins to build, soon followed by indignation, intolerance, hatred, and finally, seeking some form of revenge or restitution. What a trap. If we do not recognize offenses for what they are, not only can we have our joy stolen, but we also trap ourselves with our own lock and key.

Luke 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

The spirit of offense can affect us on a daily basis. We have to choose not to allow people, words, or actions to offend us. After a period of time, if you consistently build on benefit of the doubt, tolerance, patience, understanding, and always allowing for human imperfection, you will begin to enjoy the people around you and even cherish their unique differences. Sometimes you may even find that you are amused at the very things that used to annoy you.

We need to learn how to release it and move on with God.

Mat 5: 23-24 states, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Jesus thinks so much about your relationships that He doesn’t even want your sacrifice until you mend your differences with your brother.

Unforgiveness is an acid in the container it dwells in.

Generally you will notice that people who constantly talk about their past probably have been badly hurt. They may have been in an abusive relationship, or had an abusive parent, or perhaps even been raped. Some may only have been hurt by a comment made against them - whatever it was - you have to let it go. It can literally kill you.

Forgiveness doesn’t make the person right – it sets you free.

Allowing offense to stay in your heart can stop your growth in Christ.

Take any offense you may have had in your life and right now take it to the Lord - get on your knees and ask Him to forgive you for harboring this offense - and then PRAY for that person. Even if you think you are not holding un-forgiveness in your heart. Ask God to search your heart and purge you from unforgiveness Prayer will change how you feel about that person and cause you to love them with God’s love (agape).

Naked and Not Ashamed,

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