October 5, 2010
I’ve been studying the brain the past few weeks and I continue to be amazed at how our thoughts, our responses to our thoughts and the commandments of the Bible are integrated. I have been repeatedly reminded that when I follow the ways that the Bible teaches me to live, I will have a healthy brain, body and life.
Deuteronomy 30 tells us to choose life or to choose death. I am coming to understand that our thoughts are vital in this commandment. When we think a fear thought, it actually sends a negative chemical into our body that helps to build a bush (the technical word is dentite) that becomes black and mangled. When we think a faith filled thought, it releases a healthy chemical into our body which builds healthy trees. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist who is also a Christian, calls our healthy thought “a breeze through the trees.” Healthy trees create healthy forests in our mind and body which build a strong foundation for which to live.
Do you remember Joshua? He was Moses’ right hand person and when Moses died, the Lord came to Joshua with a message. He was to lead the Israelite Nation to enter into the Promised Land. Joshua needed to be building healthy trees in his brain through faith filled thoughts so he listened carefully as the Lord gave him the key to being able to fulfill his huge calling.
This is the key: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
The key for Joshua to carry out his assignment was to follow the Scripture (which at that time was the Law). He was told that if he carefully obeyed the law, not deviating in any way from it, he would be successful. Then, just to make sure that he heard that word, God told him again: “If you meditate on the Scripture, you will be prosperous and successful.”
It’s an equation that makes sense: God’s way to live found in Scriptural instruction + what we are called to do = success.
It may make sense, but I find myself wondering how seriously we take Joshua’s commandment? Wasn’t that just for Joshua, after all he had a big job to do? It surely doesn’t fit into my small job as an office receptionist, or a stay at home Mom, or even a Microsoft or Boeing employee.
Or, does it? Have we gotten so far from what the Scripture tells us to do that we aren’t even sure what it says? Have we chosen to base our guidance on other things? Information is at an all time high right now, but our knowledge of how to live successfully, not just in terms of finances, but in health and relationships and integrated lifestyle, is actually declining. Information doesn’t equate to success, it can at times overwhelm and mislead.
If you like the idea of living a successful and prosperous life, then make the intentional connection to following God’s guidance to Joshua: know what the Bible says, think about it through your day, and follow it wholeheartedly!
So, I hear the question, how do I know what it says? Where do I start?
Missio Lux held a training at our kickoff for ways to engage the Bible. Keith Ferrin from “”That You May Know Ministries” led the training (www.thatyoumayknow.com)
Here are a few of his suggestions to help get you started:
Build a Foundation through reading the Bible;
Pray before you start asking for God to reveal his Word to you and pray after that God would continue to impress his Word into your thought life.
Read Continuously: read a book from the Bible in one sitting/look for natural breaks in longer books/read for purpose, theme and context/be consistent in reading it!
Repetitious Reading: read it over and over again. Read the same book or passage over and over again: perhaps 30 times in 30 days.
Independent Reading: don’t turn to all the helps in our reading, ask God to reveal his Word. Resist the urge to seek understanding of specifics during this phase.
Thoughtful Reading: work at not letting your mind wander/read out loud/think about what it says/ change your perspective on what you read with questions like:
What was the author thinking as he wrote?
What would the recipients be thinking as they read this letter?
What would the ramifications be if the purpose of this letter is carried out?
If reading the Bible is a new thought to you, here are some of my thoughts:
Set yourself up for success by choosing a reachable goal: make a decision to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day in the morning (or at night) reading. Decide to do this five days a week, so that if you miss a day during the week, you don’t give up in frustration or guilt.
Tell someone about your goal: Ask that person to encourage you in your goal and pray for you, as well as ask questions about what you are reading.
Keep track of how you see God being more present in your life; when you remember one of the things you have read and share it with others, and look for opportunities to multiply it with those who are closest to you.
Celebrate your success. Do something special for yourself each week when you accomplish your goal.
My prayer is that we can all understand that God’s call to Joshua is also to us. We have an important mission to live out on earth and we will be successful and prosperous when we follow the direction God gave to Joshua to meditate on the Law day and night so we can be careful to follow it.