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Becoming Spiritually Healthy
“A Soul Flow”
You have probably noticed with the whiteboard up here that today’s teaching is not what we normally do. But I believe that it is something that will help us all get unstuck from our unhealthy thought life and emotions.
I believe that God wants us to walk away from today’s message with hope, which is something that most people, unfortunately, don’t find when they go to church, and that’s because while we’re great at pointing out the problem, we don’t know what to do with that information, and how we go about doing it.
Today’s message is something that I have learned, and am working on in my own life, so hopefully this isn’t a technical or clinical teaching, but a way we can work through all of our stuff and come out as spiritually healthy as we can possibly be, realizing that this walk of faith we’re on with the Lord is always a work in process that won’t be completed until we are with Jesus in heaven.
It is a teaching that I am calling, “A Soul Flow,” because as we’ll shortly see from God’s word, that our soul, that is, the seat of our emotions, flows through the brain. Now, the brain is made up of four quadrants. There is the intellectual side of the brain, and the emotional side of the brain, which is basically understood by most if not all those who study brain activity.
The intellectual side is where we gather in facts and truths. I call it the Sargent Joe Friday from Dragnet side of the brain that says, “All we want are the facts.”
The emotional side is basically how we feel about the facts or truths in which we receive. For those who live mainly in this side of the brain, they will say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, they mess up my reality.”
The other two quadrants work in both the intellectual and emotional sides of the brain. They are the “Be” and “Do” quadrant.
Just as a side note. I have heard a lot of negative about church being performance oriented, and while this may be the case when more of a show is put on for the pleasure of those sitting in the pews, performance isn’t a bad thing, because if we don’t perform as God has designed us to perform, especially as a church, then there would be more churches closing their doors than opening them.
We need to be about the Lord’s business, and that is sharing the good news about Jesus Christ and making disciples of all nations, as outlined in the Great Commission.
But the “Be” portion of our brain is where we observe and relate to the Lord, as well as the world around us. It is the relational part of the brain.
The “Do” portion of our brain is where we start acting in a right way to this relationship we have with God. It is that portion of our brain where we direct our “corrected” thoughts and emotions into action for God’s kingdom, and as our mission states, “To make a difference in our community for Christ.”
To understand how these two work together, the “Be” and “Do” areas of our brain, especially in our relationship with God is found in the Great Commandment as brought out by Jesus.
When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV)
This is the relational part. But as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” And so this must then transfer or move into the “Do” portion, or how do we show God how much we love Him, and how we love Him with the whole of our being, or with all our heart, soul, and mind. And Jesus doesn’t leave us in the dark. If we’re going to be spiritually healthy, if we’re going to love God with the whole of our being then this is what it looks like, this is what we must do.
“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39)
So we show God how much we love Him by loving others, those whom He made in His image and according to His likeness, and those in whom Jesus came and died for, just as He came and died for all of us.
Now, why is this important to understand? Because it begins to explain how God created us, and how we can begin to relate to God, others, and the world.
Proverbs 23:7 says, and I am paraphrasing, “As a person thinks in his or her heart, that is who they become, that is who they are.”
What this says is that we are not only what we think about, that is, the intellectual side of the brain, but also how we react to this information, or the emotional side of the brain.
In a personal testimony, Beth Barone, who is a missionary around the world, talked about how after being hit in the head with a ball, was committed to a mental institution because of her condition. While she was there, she connected with Joni Erickson Tada who told her that if she wanted to get better and stop being afraid, she needed to sing and everyday read the Bible and talk with God.
Well, Beth didn’t have any problem with that, especially talking with God, since she had a whole lot of people in her head that she talked to.
And so she started reading from Genesis, because someone forgot to tell her about starting in the gospel of John. But this was obviously God’s doing, because when she got to the Scripture where God says, “Let us make man in our image and according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), she had no problem understanding God as “Us,” because she had a lot of “us’s” in her.
And so she asked God how many was He, and God said, “Three.” And then God asked Beth, “How many are you.” And she said she was about 11. But then she asked, how God as three could operate as one, and this is what God told her.
“We are so close we are one.” And then God said that the reason They were so close is because They dance together as one. “We love and humbly serve each other, and we’ve come to dance you to freedom,” which is what happened.
And then she said something that really made me sit up, if I hadn’t already, because she said that while a person’s behavior may be outrageous at times, it doesn’t make them a bad person. Rather, it means that they are lost, or, in our case, what the Lord was revealing to me is that our bad behavior doesn’t make us bad people; it just means we’ve kind of lost our way.
And then I got the distinct impression, and the truth that God is always there no matter how bad we act, and He has come to dance us back to freedom as well. And so today, God wants to dance with you, and He wants to bring you the freedom that only He can bring, and that only He can provide.
And Jesus said that those whom He, the Son of God sets free, these are the ones who are truly free (John 8:36).
Now, since I am calling today’s message, “A Soul Flow,” let me just show you real quick how it works, and then I’ll take time in and through God’s word, and hopefully show how it all works together, how God created us, and what it is going to take to get us spiritually healthy.
It begins when we get some information, and the accuracy and truthfulness of the information we are receiving, and we do so by demolishing those arguments that are against the truth of God and taking captive our thoughts to the obedience of Jesus Christ. This is the start of spiritual health.
The truth then flows from the informational side of the “Be” quadrant to the emotional side, where it unites with our emotions producing harmony within us. In other words, our brain and our heart are dancing in harmony with one another.
Now, when this happens, it moves to the informational side once again, but this time in the “Do” quadrant where we realize that we can move forward with the truth and information we have received, and this then transfers to the emotional side and where happiness sets in knowing how we go about putting into practice the truth we have learned, and that we have a sense of value as God has chosen us to be His hands and feet to this lost and dying world.
Maybe I can say it like this
And so, the reason I call it “A Soul Flow” is again because our soul flows through our brain, or as the Lord so aptly said in Proverbs 23:7, “As a person thinks in his or her heart, that is who they become,” and so one of our top needs is to guard our hearts, because out of them come the issues of life and from which everything flows from (Proverbs 4:23).
And so, is there hope, which is what we all want and need? And the answer is yes, because Jesus is the Shepherd of our soul, which is something King David knew well when, through the Holy Spirit, he penned, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want … He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1,3 NKJV)
You see, from the time sin entered the world, our souls have been damaged, and our experiences continue to damage something that God created to be beautiful and healthy.
Now, the majority of the battles we face are in these top two quadrants, or the relational side of our intellect and emotions.
Let’s begin then with the intellectual side.
Again, the intellectual side is where we gather in the facts and truths we encounter, and also, like I said, our souls have been damaged through sin and what we continue to experience in this life. Therefore, if our souls have been damaged, and please catch this, then the information that our minds processes will be twisted by the damage that has been done.
This is why we are told to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.
The problem is that humanity has a problem with the truth. When I was new in the Lord, there was a saying that even made it onto bumper stickers. It said, “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy.
The reason is that over all these years we’ve accepted the lies this world continues to feed us as truth. And it’s these lies that cause of some unhealthy behavior. Basically, it’s being told one thing, and then being told something different. And it happens not only with the lies the world propagates, but also by the information we receive from people we do business with, and even our family and friends.
The main unhealthy behavior this creates within us is anxiety, which happens when the lies we have accepted as truth run into God’s truth, or when people tell us one thing and then do or say something different later on.
What are we to believe? This is one of the major causes of stress in our lives.
The world tells us one thing, but God tells us something different. God says, trust Me, but the world and science says that we are to trust what it says.
And so we run smack dab into Proverbs 3:5-6 saying “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Our problem is that we’ve been leaning upon our own and the world’s understanding of how everything works for so long that we don’t know who to trust. Science says one thing, and God says another.
Let me just say that if the science doesn’t match up with God’s word, then the science is wrong. Let me explain. Science deals with facts, not truths. And what we know is that facts change over time as more information is gathered. And here’s the point, facts change, but the truth doesn’t.
God and His word has never changed, and God never lies, and His word has been proven to be true time and time again over the millenniums.
And so we are told in God’s word to demolish, take down, destroy any argument or thought that sets itself against the knowledge of God, and then take captive every thought making it obedient to Jesus Christ and His truth (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Jesus said that His words are both spirit and life to those who hear them (John 6:63).
But the unfortunate reality is that we continually dwell upon the uncertainties our minds create, and these produce within us unhappiness, nervousness, and often times fear. This then causes stress that can lead to such things has headaches, muscle tension, high blood pressure, nausea, and sleep disorders, to name a few.
What we need to do is go to God who provides us with His peace, as we are told in God’s word.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
Therefore, this peace comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)
And so, for the anxiety and stress that often lead to a state of fear, Jesus gives us His peace, a peace that neither the world nor we can fully comprehend, but it is ours non-the-less. And that’s because it’s a peace that calms the soul.
But still the information is received, and if it doesn’t line up with God and His word, it needs to be disregarded. But when we have deemed it to be true, and to be of God, then it needs to flow to the emotional side of our brain.
Here is where most of the problems occur. You see, when the emotions don’t agree with the intellect, we freeze. What happens is that the truths of God’s word runs smack dab into emotions that are raw through the hurts we’ve experienced in this life, and hurts that we hold on to. In other words, it runs into emotions that have been created from past experiences, emotions that have been created to help us survive.
When our emotions get hurt, these hurt emotions twist out of shape and out of proportion everything else, everything we see, hear, and say. And the reason is because we have created a reality that helps us survive, and this reality becomes our default setting, that is, our way of life.
What happens is that when the truth of God’s word meets up with our wounded and hurt emotions, and these hurt emotions kick the information back to the intellectual side of our brain telling it to find new or different information it can connect with.
Like when Jesus says, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12 NLT)
And our emotions kick it back saying, “No way! Do you know what they did?”
You see, our emotions have a hard time handling the truth of God’s word because they have been so damaged and hurt by others.
But Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging, but tells us why it is so important to forgive the hurts that others have done to us, and that is so we can get spiritually healthy.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)
But instead of taking God at His word, and at the truth of His word, we run to counselors and psychologists who make money from psychoanalyzing our past. And while they give what the world says are the answers to our problems, and then how to deal with them, they also prescribe an unbelievable amount drugs to numb out the depression that these unhealthy emotions create.
And what I find alarming is that it has been estimated that at least one third of American adults are taking drugs that are in some way shape or form linked to depression. It’s as if the world wants us to turn off these emotions rather than dealing with them in a healthy way, that is, God’s way.
Is there a time maybe to take these drugs? Yes, but what is happening is that over time more drugs are prescribed, because the drugs people are taking for depression, stop working, or they carry the risk, according to one study, of making people more depressed.
Further, finding ourselves depressed and taking all these drugs, has a negative effect, because we now find ourselves in state we know we shouldn’t be in, and this often cause guilt and shame. And it’s this guilt and shame that keeps us emotionally messed up causing us to become more depressed.
Is there good news here for those who are finding themselves stuck in this never ending cycle of back and forth and being depressed and emotionally all over the place?
Yes, and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus is bigger than any of our problems. He is the Great Physician and not only does He know what we are going through, but will help us get through it the right way so we can move forward, so that our spirit and soul can become healthy.
Now most Christians try the intellectual approach to healing. That is, “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But until we can get our emotions to agree with God’s reality instead of our own, then we’ll never overcome; we’ll never have the victory.
It is only through Jesus Christ and having that personal relationship with God that can bring health, that along with what Joni Erickson Tata told Beth Berone, and that is, we have to learn how to sing and dance in harmony and unity with God.
Have you ever noticed that when we enter into times worship, singing our praises unto God that everything seems to be okay and there’s a feeling that everything is going to be okay, and that all is right within us? That’s because when we are worshipping God, our emotions are in proper alignment with God, that is, our emotions are now connected with God.
The key then to getting spiritually healthy is found only in a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and then coming into that right relationship with God and glorifying Him.
This is what we see the Lord say in Romans 8:30 that those whom He has called He justified, that is, through this born again relationship with Jesus Christ, God makes us right with Him, that is, He covers and forgives our sins and the unhealthy parts of our lives. And then He said that those whom He justifies, He glorifies, that is, He dances with us, and He helps us dance in harmony with Him.
And so it is in our wounded-ness, it is in these wounded and hurt emotions that God taps us on the shoulder and invites us dance with Him, and when we allow Him to do this, He dances us to freedom.
And God does so mainly through His amazing grace and love.
The one of the most powerful verses in the Bible reveals God’s love for us, and how that love casts out the fear we have.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)
And so, once our emotions accept the truth of God’s word, it is then that we can move into the “Doing” stage of our brain, where not only will we know what we need to do, but also how we are to go about doing it.
It is at this point that we begin to exhibit the last unhealthy behavior in this whole process that I’d like to address, and that is fear. We fear moving forward. “What if we’re wrong, or what if God didn’t say it?” What is going to happen?
It is here that our fear needs to meet up with the perfect love of God.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18a NKJV)
Therefore, it is in the perfect and complete love of God that we can move forward in our service of God and into spiritual health.
How does all this look in real life? How does our soul flow us into spiritual health?
Let’s say we have been, or are now being bullied in ways that are hurtful. Maybe someone said they don’t like us, or that we’re stupid, ugly, fat, or balding.
Here is where we go to God and ask the Lord what He thinks. And God dances with us and whispers in our ear His truth.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV)
God also calls us His beloved. The Bible says, “To all those who are beloved of God” (Romans 1:7), and God said that He calls those who are not His people, and those that the world doesn’t love, His beloved (Romans 9:25).
And so if God loves and accepts us just as we are, who are we going to believe? Are we going to believe what others say about us, or what God says about us? It’s as if God is saying, “I love you, and if they don’t, whose wrong?
Now our emotions are properly aligned with God’s truth.
We now can now move forward knowing not only what are we to do, but also how are we to do it. And that is our need to forgive them, and then to pray for them.
This is now the sign of healthy Christianity. This is spiritual health. This is how our soul flows through our brain to bring us into spiritual health. As the Lord said in Proverbs 23:7, “As a person thinks in his or her heart, that is who they become, that is who they are.”
It is where our heart and our brain connect and become one with God.
And so today, let’s start glorifying God. Let’s start to praise, worship, and dance with Him because He wants more than anything else not only does He want to hear from us, but He also want’s to dance with us.
Therefore, starting today, let’s take time and sing and dance with God. And then let’s let God dance us to freedom.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study