Four Prescriptions for Spiritual Health – Reverend Richard Hanna

By Lauren Sanderlin | Publish Date October 20, 2020

As we continue to live with the ongoing reality of the Coronavirus Pandemic, all of us are aware of the need to stay in good physical health.  Here at Kirkwood it’s wonderful to see our residents walking the grounds of Kirkwood or even walking the hallways – and just recently we started our morning group exercise again, of course with masks and appropriate distancing. 

I don’t exercise as much as I ought to but every weekend I try to ride my bicycle for at least 5 or 6 miles – and I do lots of walking in the hallways of Kirkwood.

I like this little joke:  Experts tell us that 10,000 steps a day is good for us.  Boy, that’s a lot of trip to the fridge and back!  Or did you hear about he fellow who said, “I haven’t done any healthy activities during quarantine but still managed to stay in shape. Unfortunately, it’s the shape of a potato.

But as important as it is to stay physically healthy, it’s even more important for us to stay spiritually healthy!

The Apostle Paul talked about that in his first letter to Timothy.  He wrote, “Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  (I Timothy 4:7-8) 

What Paul is saying is, “Yes, it is important to stay in shape physically.  Yes, physical training can be “of some value.  But it’s far more important to focus on spiritual training because that is the MOST VALUABLE TRAINING that will benefit us, not just in this life but in the life to come!”

Well, friends, how do we do that?  How do we train 

ourselves in godliness?

Below are 4 keys for spiritual health that will help us to do just that!  We could call them “Four prescriptions for spiritual health.”

1. The first key to achieve spiritual health:  We need to be on a healthy diet.

Physically, we know we’ve got to eat right if we want to be in good physical shape.  Spiritually, we’ve got to do the same.  We have to put ourselves on a diet that will fill our hearts and minds with good things, with edifying things, with holy things.

That’s why Bible study is so important for us – group Bible study as many of us participate in here at Kirkwood – and individual, personal Bible study is also critically important.  And I’m so glad that so many of our residents use the Daily Bread Devotional Guides that we provide here at Kirkwood!  

Remember what the Psalmist proclaimed, “Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all day long!” (Ps. 119:97)

Or remember what Jesus said?   “Man can not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

And Peter said, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation . . . “ (1 Peter 2:2)

Friends, what are we feeding ourselves?  What are we watching on TV?  What are we reading?  What are we thinking about?  Garbage in – garbage out, so goes the saying.  

So, friends, let’s make sure that we are feeding ourselves things that will help us to grow spiritually, to “grow into salvation!”

2. Prescription number two for better spiritual health is this:  Get regular exercise.

As Paul wrote Timothy in our morning scripture, “. . .  Set before the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  . . . . give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. . . . Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.”   (1 Tim 4:12-15)

Friends, just as athletes have to exercise their bodies, we’ve got to exercise our spirits!

– One of the ways of doing that we’ve already talked about is by regular Bible Study and prayer time.  We just started our monthly Woman’s Circle Meeting by Zoom.  That has been such a blessing.

  And even during the pandemic we have continued to find ways of worshipping together here at Kirkwood and we are soon starting up our Centering Prayer Group again.  The writer of Hebrews commanded, “Do not neglect to meet together as is the habit of some.” Worship with other Christians is important.  Your church might not be meeting in person but just about every church I know is worshipping by Zoom or Livestreaming.  That can be a very powerful and important experience.

And just as importantly we can exercise and practice our faith through service to others – and right here at Kirkwood there are so many opportunities to do that – if we look for them! 

And let us never forget what Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of God, but only he who does my Father’s will.”

Friends, are we regularly exercising our faith through these opportunities for study, prayer, worship and service?  Because until we do, we’re simply not going to be spiritually fit and healthy!

3.  The third prescription for better spiritual health comes in part from the first two:   We need a strong immune system.

You see, in the physical world there are all sorts of germs and viruses and bacteria that are constantly attacking the body.  We’ve learned a lot about that in the last few months.  But thank goodness, God has built within us the ability to develop immunity to those – and the more we grow, the more immunity we develop to the germs and viruses around us.

Well, friends, spiritually we start out our Christian life with an immune system that comes in the form of: a supportive Christian community, a loving church, and a good Father drawing growing us in relationship with Himself. 

And as we grow older in our faith, we need stronger and healthier immune systems – that look more like the characteristics of God in out lives – because whether we like it or not there are all sorts of things out in the world that can attack us or wound us in areas of spiritual weakness.

Paul talked about the protection from harm that our faith can give us in Ephesians 6:10-17:  “Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . . and put on the breastplate of righteousness. . . . and take the shield of faith, . . . and put on the helmet of salvation . . .”

Friends, let’s make sure that we develop a strong immune system so that we can face the challenges of life with confidence and strength!

4. And finally, there is one last prescription for good spiritual Health:  All of us need rest.

You see, friends, we are not machines, we are not robots, we are flesh and blood human beings and we need our rest, we need our seasons of refreshment.

That’s one of the first lessons we learn in the Bible from the creation story.  “In 6 days God created the heavens and the earth.  And on the seventh day God rested.”

That lesson is codified in the Ten Commandments:  “But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; on that day you shall do no work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.”  (Ex.20:10)

And just as rest is vital for our physical health, it is vital for our spiritual health as well, as a time to pause from the labors of life, as time to quietly focus on spiritual things, as a time to be reminded that God can handle things for a time without us, as a time to be reminded that we are saved not by our works but by God’s grace!

Even Jesus knew the importance of rest – remember those wonderful words of invitation that Jesus gave?  “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

Friends, some Christians don’t know how to rest.  They just keep going and going – and sometimes they just wear out and wear down.

But rest is vital for us so that we can become and stay spiritually healthy!

So, those are four prescriptions for spiritual health:

1.Let’s make sure we are on healthy diets that fill our minds with good things and with God’s Word.

 2. Let’s make sure we regularly exercise and practice our faith, through worship, study, prayer and service.

3.  Let’s make sure we develop and keep a strong immune system, the whole armor of God, that will enable us to face and claim victory over all the challenges of life.

4. And, finally, let’s make sure we are taking time for rest, times when we can quietly wait on the Lord to be refreshed and restored for our journey of life and faith.

So, as we go through this pandemic, let’s make sure we stay in good physical health.  But even more importantly, let’s make sure that we take care of ourselves spiritually for “while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  

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The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

My only regret is that I didn’t move here sooner with my late husband. We would have loved living here together. It would have been perfect for us to travel without the responsibilities of a home.

Nell Mehaffey Current Resident

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

We love that Kirkwood isn’t only church affiliated, but faith is a very prominent, important part of the community. To us, there just couldn’t be a better place.

Bob Tate Current Resident

If you asked me, I would say it gets better every year!

Robbie Sevier Former Resident of 37 Years

We’re a family. We really are a family.

Bet Kesmodel Current Resident