Presentation on theme: "1 Think About This: Have you ever had the experience of driving for a period of time and all of a sudden realize that you have not been conscious of your."— Presentation transcript:
1 Think About This: Have you ever had the experience of driving for a period of time and all of a sudden realize that you have not been conscious of your driving activity? One of the key findings of brain research as it relates to Christian practice is the importance of “mindfulness” which is when one is actively focused on what one is doing.
2 This Week i. Examine some Biblical implications of the battle between Brain VS Mind theorists ii. Explore ways to benefit from brain research in four key areas of our Christian practice III. You choose: Autopilot or Purpose Lesson Plan
4 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind a. Activities of the mind/spirit require mindfulness, that is to say, consciously deciding to take control of our life by moment by moment choice. Gal 5:16-17 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. KJV b. If we do not form the mindful actions of reflective thought, or thinking about our thinking, it is natural to devolve into a set of lazy and eternally self-destructive patterns. In such case, we default to mere brain activity.
5 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind c. Defaulting to mere brain activity is a form of being on autopilot. This does not lead one to the enjoyment of a meaningful spiritual life. This is merely a life of mindless, patterned, habit in which mind has submitted to the brain. d. In autopilot mode we mindlessly walk the path of least resistance as we drift farther from the path of a meaningful Christian existence. In essence, we become the slaves of brain. Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? KJV
6 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind e. This happens because our brains are "hard-wired" to seek shortcuts that link patterns to potential rewards, much like a lab rat working through a maze to find a block of cheese. Matt 6:31-32 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. KJV f. The problem with this rat brain mentality is that we work increasingly harder for a reward that is either quickly consumed or is never really obtained and we repeat the cycle endlessly. This is the limitation of the brain.
7 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind g. The battle of mind vs. brain can be won by awakening to our potential in Christ and by replacing natural patterns with godliness. This is achieved through self-awareness, which will have us align who we are in Christ with what we do. h. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the brain.
8 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind i. The neural connections made in the brain, as a result of thinking Christ-like thoughts, become increasingly stronger. Studies have revealed that the conscious act of thinking about one’s thoughts in a particular way rearranged the brain. J. The path to Christ-awareness is, essentially, winning the battle of mind vs. brain and the steps along that path are made by continual practice of the reflective mind. Joshua 1:8 but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:
9 I. The Battle: Brain VS Mind k. This word for meditate (haagaah) does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. l. Winning the battle of mind over brain does not happen without purpose, intention and effort and while there may be many unknowns involving the interaction between the material and immaterial self, we already know enough to enable victory.
10 II. What We Can Take Away a. Brain research from over the last twenty years is conclusive about the effects of positive attitude, compassion, forgiveness, and love in brain health, functioning and in treating disease. b. The research is also clear that there is virtually no distinction to be made between Christians and non-Christians in terms of the changes to the brains which result from positive attitudes and Christ-like thinking.
11 II. What We Can Take Away c. From this finding, we can see that living a Christ like life, under the control of the Holy Spirit will predictably lead to a higher quality of mental, emotional, physiological, and neurological life.
12 II. What We Can Take Away d. These benefits, while temporal, are entirely consistent with what the Bible says, ought to be the experience of one who is living what he or she professes to believe. Ps 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. KJV
13 II. What We Can Take Away e. Brain research can give us a general idea about the positive effects of Christ-like living, but, obviously, there is no guarantee that any one individual who lives faithfully will avoid disease or dementia. John 11:3-4 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. KJV
14 II. What We Can Take Away f. Individual Christians have no guarantees of good health, long life, prosperity, and the like. But what we do have is a prescription, which, if followed, will generally provide the most satisfactory and satisfying life possible in a sin cursed world. g. But beyond the tangible benefits described above, faithful Christian living is the only possible way to bring honor and glory to God. Such living is also the only ultimate proof that we have of our own discipleship. 2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? KJV
15 II. What We Can Take Away h. Brain research demonstrates the correlation between Christ-like living and temporal benefits, but it also provides us with insight that should help us in our Christian practice as well. i. Specifically, we are instructed by the research to develop certain practices and to avoid others in four important areas: Mindfulness; Worship; Prayer; Meditation
16 III. Mindfulness a. Mindfulness refers to the act of focused attention. As we focus our attention, the frontal lobes as well as the more human (anterior cingulate) parts of the brain become activated. b. At the same time the more primitive region (the limbic system), which becomes activated when we feel anger, resentment, and other destructive or pessimistic emotions, becomes deactivated. c. When the focus of our mindfulness is Christ-likeness, we feel compassion and empathy for others which activates the anterior cingulate.
17 III. Mindfulness d. The synapses of the parietal lobes are energized when we feel a sense of ourselves (self-centered) or separate from other things in the world, but they deactivate when we are experiencing empathy toward another. e. In order to meet the threshold for mindfulness we must be in a state of focused attention whether we are reading, praying, or worshiping. 1 Peter 1:13-15 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; KJV
18 IV. Worship a. Mindfulness is also the requisite state as we worship. If singing is the form of our worship, then, we must participate fully in the activity as we contemplate the biblical truths expressed by the words of our song. b. Full participation requires singing the words as if we truly believe them and in that moment we must desire to present the thoughts conveyed by the song, like incense, before the throne of God. Ps 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; KJV
19 IV. Worship c. When sung in that manner it would be impossible for a worshiper to be simultaneously conscious of the way he sounds to himself or to others. This is so because self-critiquing occurs in the parietal lobes.
20 V. Prayer a. In order for prayer to activate the anterior cingulate and frontal lobes also requires the state of mindfulness. Brief, superficial prayer that is thought or uttered does not usually reach the mindfulness threshold. b. To get into a state of mindfulness it may be helpful to visualize the person for whom you are praying and to actually empathize with them as you express your prayer on their behalf to God.
22 V. Prayer c. When praying for your own needs and concerns it may be helpful to find a passage of Scripture that represents your particular request and to pray that text back to the throne of God. d. Whenever possible, it is helpful to pray audibly as this will tend to keep one's attention focused.
23 VI. Meditation a. Another word for mindfulness, which captures the idea, is the word meditation. In the Eastern tradition and practice, the person attempts to empty the mind. b. Conversely, the Christian idea of meditation is to focus one's attention on a particular passage of Scripture. The goal of meditation is to bring about a deeper and richer understanding of the text and to find ways to apply it to one's life. c. Such meditation is like creating an amplified version of the text in your own understanding. This activity creates many more neuronal connections and makes the passage more meaningful and personally more applicable.
a. Do you live your Christian life on purpose? Or, do you live your life on autopilot? b. How will you put these insights into practice in your own life? 24 VII. Application