Brain Debates and Delusions – Food for Thought

Man considering himself is the great prodigy of nature. For he cannot conceive what his body is, even less what hisspirit is, and least of all how body can be united with spirit. That is the peak of his difficulty and yet is his very being. – Blaise Pascal

colorful brain clipart

The brain has been deliberated for hundreds of years. The physician Alkmeon of Kroton proposed that sensory information such as sight and sound were more earthly and occupied distinct brain areas.  Thoughts, however were spiritual in his book, so he decided they were part of the soul, and therefore, unable to locate in the physical body.

Plato said that the brain was supreme among the organs of the body, but thought that the lower, rounded part of the brain (medulla) was where God planted and enclosed the soul.

Aristotle thought the heart was the place to find the human soul and the brain was merely a type of radiator or “kettle” that either warmed or cooled the blood.

Today brain research is unravelling the mysteries of the brain.  Just thirty years ago we were able to first ‘see’ the way nerve cells communicated with each other. This is very fascinating to brain geeks, like me! In fact, I have a video tape of one of the very first brain cells captured electronically – yes on VHS. And thank you, Tony Buzan, for sharing it with me!].

I have tossed about food for your brain to ponder.  I challenge you to consider what you think and what you know about your brain and your soul.  Now, I challenge you to dig deeper.  Always seek the Word of God, in conjunction, with trusted research.  Anything that outright contradicts the Bible is false.  Trust me, the more you search scripture the more you will see the great depths of wisdom revealed about the science of our brains.  A few starting points for you: the work of Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf and the book used for this post: Blame It on the Brain? by Edward T. Welch.

Wood, Stone, and Fire: Beauty, Brawn, and Blazes – Reflections of Worship

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8-9

As we study Exodus chapter 25 through 30, we see that God is the Master Planner. In this case, God gives Israel the exact specifications to build the Temple where He will “dwell” among his people  The incredible part of this documentation is that it took place 2000 years prior to the birth of Jesus and each element and requirement laid forth by God, points perfectly to His ultimate sacrifice.  Whether you believe, or not, that Jesus truly lived and died for you – will you read Exodus 25-30 along with 1 Chronicles 21:24; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 8:2; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Ephesians 2:19-22.  This reading could change your life. Forever.

The Tabernacle prepared for God’s presence. He provided the stone, the fire, the wood, and the precious gems to make this Tabernacle beautiful and worthy of His presence among his people.

Fireplace 2014

I am so thankful today for the joy I have gazing at the beauty of God’s creation.

I have an unusual love for stones [BEAUTY]. I delight in the colors, shapes, and original designs of nearly every stone I spy. It is a common sight to see me stopping on a walk to bend down and collect yet another rock from the dirt path.

God is the Master Planner and the Master Provider of all the materials and the skilled craftsman of the original Temple.  As I consider this,  I am especially grateful at the place I find myself worshipping God in my home. Here at the foot of my beautifully crafted split stone wall; the work [BRAWN] of my skilled and artistic brother-in-law; and near the warm wood fire, installed by the hardworking hands of my husband, who also laid the slate hearth and chops the wood for us. This place combines many things that are precious to me.  It is a reminder of God’s Master Design in Creation (stone, wood, fire) and God’s provision of family, love, and the warmth of fire [BLAZES].  As we seek Him and worship Him we know that He will show us the perfect plan for our day and give us wisdom (Daniel 2:21, James 1:5) for decisions that affect our future.

And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 16:14 NIV [BEAUTY]

The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Psalm 28:8 KJV [BRAWN]

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT [BLAZES]

Jot and Tittle, Journal and Jar

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” Exodus 17:14 NIV

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ” Exodus 16:32 NIV

Recently I was recommissioned to begin writing my book again. As I sat down to begin, my mind was blank.  I have many ideas, in fact, I have two books started. The trouble is I want to be certain that I am writing on the right topic.  So I went to my knees and asked the Lord for insight and began typing. I wrote out my first sense (or calling) that I was to write a book. I wrote down all of my feelings of opposition and how God walked me through those with various promises, His presence, and major provisions. It was such an encouragement to me.  Of course, I knew these things had happened, but to see them all together in order as a reminder was a huge encouragement to my faith and a bolt to my initiative to keep writing!

I have a radiant friend who has been faithful to record every jot and tittle of her call to adopt two precious preemies over two years ago.  This journey has been filled with significant challenges and rewards.  She confesses that the ups and the downs are all worth it and God has given her a supernatural love for these two new family members.  They are now legally a part of her family, but they have been a forever part of her heart from the moment she laid eyes on them. Because she was faithful to detail this incredible journey – this Sunday she will stand before her church community and confidently recall God’s faithfulness.  This will prove to be an amazing encouragement to people whose faith is waning or to those who wonder if God still speaks today.  It will be a charge to others who may be sensing the calling to adopt or foster children.  My friend’s journal will be a faith builder and a call to action.  Had she neglected to record all of the little things, the big things may not have had such a powerful impact as they do with the full record.

Journals

Benefits of journaling the journey:

Clarifying direction

Testimony to God’s faithfulness

Ability to look back and see lessons learned and successes

Record for future generations

When the Lord told Moses to “Write on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it” It was to encourage this faithful Army Commander for future battles.  It was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.  It strengthened Joshua’s faith in God and helped him to trust that these enemies were in God’s capable hands.  It was a reminder that God was with Him and his army and rendered not only this victory, but the victories to come.

The Lord also knew that the Israelites seemed to have trouble with memory, so he had it ordered that an omer of manna would be preserved for the generations to come as proof that God was able to sustain about 2 million people in the desert by the miraculous provision of food for forty years!  I mean, come on, how else would they have been able to survive?  Apart from this miracle, it makes no logical sense.  This visual reminder would prove valuable to future generations to remind them of God’s provision and faithfulness to His promises.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18 KJV

Just as we can trust the Word of God, let us show our faithfulness by jotting down all of God’s mercies, leading, and provision so we can strengthen the faith of generations to come.

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Non-Conscious Mind

Research shows that 90 percent of what takes place in your mind is metacognitive, or at your sub-conscious level.  This leaves only ten percent of conscious activity of the mind.

 brain scan

According to Neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, the non-conscious metacognitive level is where your unique metacognitive mix comes in, giving your individuality.  This is where memory building and all its electrochemical and electomagnetic reactions actually occur.

Dr. Leaf goes on to say, “your individuality implies and carries with it the taking of responsibility for your actions; you must consciously force the metacognitive and cognitive levels to interact.  You can do this by consciously thinking about what is in your mind which allows you literally to access the psychosomatic (body-mind) network where the memories are stored and redirect it.

She gives an example of detoxing your old, negative memories by recalling them and then creating a new positive thought pattern (memories) ‘over’ the old. This is Detox Step #4 – Take Responsibility and Take Control – in her book Who Switched Off My Brain.

In other words, think of an unhealthy habit: this brings it to your conscious mind.  Next, think upon a new and WISER choice; take action based on what you believe to be right, using God’s Word as your guide. What does God say about this unhealthy habit and what thinking should replace it?  You may need the help of a trained Counselor, prayer partner, Pastor, or trustworthy friend – all depending on the depth and destruction of the negative thought pattern.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (‭I Chronicles‬ ‭28‬:‭9‬ NKJV)

 

Behind the Smile: Devastating Depression

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I am not one who keeps up with the  Hollywood peeps. However if I were to name one of my all-time favorite actors it would have to be Robin Williams. He made me laugh, he made me cry, and he made me laugh so hard – I cried.

And off the screen he seemed so genuine, always caring and reaching out to others, like when he went to boost morale for our troops when they were far from home. Robin Williams was always trying to make a downcast face uplifted with a smile. He seemed to have an intuitive compassion for fellow human beings.

And now with his death and the great awareness of the funny man’s deep dark sad side we realize that behind the silliness and smiles was a feeling of hopelessness.

where then is my hope– who can see any hope for me? Job 17:15 NIV

Perhaps those of us positively impacted by this man’s life can make a determination to continue his legacy of lifting up the downcast. Perhaps we can learn to look past the smile and look into the eyes of the soul for a gauge of what is really lurking behind the mask of laughter.  And then, we can choose to make a difference in the life of a depressed/anxious/bipolar person.  No, not to be responsible for them, but choose to do at least one thing to make a difference in their life: to be a positive memory, an encouragement or a prod, if necessary. Alert someone in their family, find a counselor or resource at a local church or governmental agency that may offer counseling. Do a little research on behalf of this precious person who may be drowning in a sea of sadness unable to come up for air, let alone have the where-with-all to seek help.

For those of you who have walked this road without a happy ending, my heart and prayers are with you. We cannot change someone else, nor are we responsible for what they do with our loving intentions, but we can do our part to be a part of the solution rather than another mask to hide behind.

Please, let us not ignore the mask. I will do my part and ask you to do yours to reach into the walls of a depressed person’s heart to help break the oppression and lift the burden together.

Depression is not simple.  It is very complicated.  I am not implying that you and I will have a cure for our friend, but we can make an effort to help. Dr. Daniel Amen of Amen Clinics treats depression by first analyzing the physical brain through SPECT scans.  He writes:

Our imaging work has taught us that depression is not a single or simple disorder, but rather like a chest pain with many different causes, each requiring their own treatments. Our scans have taught us that some depressions are manifested by over-activity in the brain, while others show underactivity. Some depressions are caused by physical or emotional trauma, while others can be caused by Lyme disease or brain infections. Still other depressions can be caused by the long term effects of drugs or other toxic substances, such as the chronic exposure to paint fumes. Without looking at the brain, psychiatrists are flying blind, and therefore hurting people by not giving them the most effective treatment as quickly as possible.

If you are battling depression, you are NOT alone.  So many millions of others have had similar thoughts of hopelessness and despair.  King David famously suffered from depression.  It would appear that one way that he battled against this evil is to Praise God.  It will do your heart good to read his testimonies to the goodness and greatness of God in the book of Psalms.  What follows is a tiny sampling of the many pages of poetic words to encourage your heart with hope:

 “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart, I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High…The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:1-2, 9 NIV

Please the one thing I do know for sure is that the longing and almost sure need you feel to be alone: is totally the opposite of what is healthy for you! It is the depression wanting to have a stronghold on you, to choke you, alone in the dark where you have no hope of encouragement.  Please make a phone call to a trusted friend or get outside for a walk or go to a public place until you can meet with someone willing to help.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

Is it Really Possible to be Too Heavenly Minded?

LoveLeigh Smile

You have heard it said, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”

I challenge:  Is this even possible?  Those who are sincerely heavenly minded: choose to live like Christ.  Study Christ’s life and you will see that He spent His life serving the people of the earth with the Kingdom of Heaven at the forefront of His mind and heart.

The Bible says, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:2 NLT

I watched my sweet friend, Leigh, live the last months of her life boldly living with a heavenly mindset while doing this earth such good.  She learned in the late fall that the cancer had returned.  It had been 27 years since the first occurrence and then about three more bouts of various “C” reports over her short 64 year life span.  But this last bout was to be her last.  We all rallied together after the first indications cancer had returned.  We encouraged her.  We prayed with her, for her, and over her.  We were ready to do spiritual battle.  We pleaded with the Lord to cure her and to sustain her.  Ultimately, He did both of these things but the curing was not to be done on earth.

As the months progressed it seemed that this may be the last time she would ever have to battle cancer or any sickness.  She began to ‘know’ that this was her time to let go and let God take her to be home with Him, in His perfect timing.  You see my friend, Leigh, she loved the Word of God and she came to have full confidence in it.  She knew that when she died it meant that she would be restored to her Savior.  That she would also be fully healed and whole in every possible way.  There would be no more sorrow or sickness or emotional trials or even any effort to take place to overcome the past or the present trials.  She had full confidence that Jesus is the Risen Christ who Redeems those who believe that His blood was shed for all.

The day before Leigh slipped into unconsciousness I said to her, “Do you feel Him (God)?” And she said confidently, “No. No, I don’t feel Him.  But I just KNOW He is here. I just know.”  And she said it with her infamous bright and beautiful smile.  It literally warmed my heart to watch my friend who, at times, had been plagued by the enemy with doubts.  Doubts that she was ‘good enough’ to be restored to Christ.  And on this the very last day of her conscious life on earth God gave her the FAITH and the full confidence to stand on all that the Word of God said to be True.  It gave her a joyful expectancy to pass.  This makes no sense to a person without faith.  But to those who believe in the Resurrection power of Christ; we rejoice with our friend.  Because now she is whole and she is WITH Jesus.  She did not die afraid, alone, and weak.  She passed from this world into the next; into the eternal presence of Christ and we know from His Word that there is no better place to live. It is a place with no more tears.

Leigh taught me so many valuable lessons by living these last few months with a full-blown heavenly mindset.  I will just share the last lesson and that is to live every day in confident faith that He is with us, no matter what we ‘feel’, ‘think’, or ‘see’ – He is here. We just need to execute the faith He has given us to believe in Him.

So what does a Heavenly minded life look like?  Well, you will have to open your Bible to be abundantly supplied with examples.  Study Abraham’s life (Genesis, Romans 4, Hebrews 11), and the life of Moses, and the Faith chapter = Hebrews Eleven.  Most importantly take a look at Jesus’ life example.

A Heavenly Minded Life Looks a Lot Like This:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34 NIV

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:26-27

Emphasis added in bold and italics to these scriptures by this author.

I am so grateful for Leigh’s life example.  Her smile and beautifully bright eyes linger on in our memories as an encouragement to keep smiling through it all and to live in the hope of Heaven while doing earthly good.

Until we meet again, LoveLeigh, we miss you and cling to the hope you had, and have strengthened in us.  Thank you for showing me that there is no such thing as being too heavenly minded.

Free Fridays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is that time of the year again!  Time to break out the summer attire, take off your shoes and jackets and enjoy the sweet smell of fresh air!

I begin every morning with some quiet time to set my day on due course.  If you are not in the habit of doing this, will you give it a try today?  We will call it Free Friday because the more we open the Word of God – the more free of old habits we become.

Let the chains fall off.

Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Romans 6:18 NLT

Be Still Amidst the Busy

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Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a NIV

If there is one thing common to most in the western part of the world in May–it is busyness.  There is more of almost everything tugging at our time: sports, yard work, open houses, weddings, banquets, honor/awards nights, BBQs, spring cleaning, yard sales, and more.

While we cannot completely eliminate all of the busy, we can take time for quiet re-centering.  In fact, it is more necessary to have a time for being still during a busy season.  The consequences of neglecting it may be severe: tempers flare, harsh words release; overreaction; unwise decisions; double-booking; forgotten commitments-are just some examples.

Remedy:  Make an appointment for your time of stillness every day.  Write it in your day planner.   Make it a priority [i.e., unbreakable appointment].  Make it realistic.  If you only can spare 5 minutes, make it a robust 5 of still, quiet time, between you and your Maker.

Listen.

God.

Still.

Speaks.

“God speaks time and time again — but nobody notices—” Job 33:14

You will seek me and will find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Living a Life of Influence

Dec 2013 046

You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are the people who believe in you. Henry Drummond

INVEST YOUR BELIEF IN OTHERS

AND BELIEVE IN YOU, TOO.

Keep your soul fit to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on memories; let the word of God be always living and active in you. Oswald Chambers

DON’T ATTEMPT TO CHANGE ON YOUR OWN

LIVE BY THE SPIRIT

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26 NIV

MAY YOUR LIFE SHOW FRUIT

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD.

Facing Cancer with Fear and…… Joy

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:8 ESV

Note the contrast of emotions felt and expressed by the women leaving the empty tomb for the first time:  fear and great joy.  How is it possible that the Mary’s could experience both joy and fear at the same time?  Well, they had just received the hope of their Lord being risen from the dead AND they had come face to face with the Angel of the Lord, not something one encounters every day.  Can you imagine the sight and feel the fright?

And on the other hand, stop now and imagine experiencing the great and overwhelming joy of expectation of seeing Jesus again.  These women rushed to share the good news.

Recently the world watched Princess Lacey’s, aka Lacey Holsworth, public two year battle with cancer come to an end.  The diagnosis wrought fear in all the “what ifs” and the ultimate human fear (besides public speaking) is death.  And yet, the Holsworth family also had joy during this time.  The joy of knowing that “if” death came Lacey would be reunited with Jesus, which to this family of faith = great joy.

For a beautiful demonstration of this you may watch her life celebration and family photos here:

 http://www.freep.com/interactive/article/20140421/SPORTS07/304210127/lacey-holsworth-michigan-state-video

When I walked out of the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan on April 16, 2014 after Lacey’s Life Celebration I had a deep joy in my heart, feeling as though I needed to run and share her life’s impact on me.  I wanted to share the message:   #LoveLikeLacey #LiveLikeLacey.

Many of us are walking first-hand with people we love who are facing this evil cancer.  We see our loved ones’ conflicted emotions of fear and joy.  As I type this, my sweet friend, Leigh, is in the midst of the reality of facing the fear of death along with the joyful reality that it brings.  You see for Leigh and Lacey – the end of this earthly life means the end of suffering.  It means the end of sin and turmoil and the beginning of a perfect life with our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who makes all things new.  So it is with this hope that Lacey Holsworth passed from this earth with a smile on her face and is now “dancing with angels.”

It is with the same hope that Leigh, though not as well known as Lacey, is impacting the world around her by enduring this time with the grace God has given her and the purpose He has called her to: praying for the generations.  Leigh has a notebook at her side filled with dozens of children’s faces and their parent’s prayer requests.  She finds joy in her new found life mission to pray for the generations.  So while she has not the energy to leave her home, nor at times her bed, she still has great joy in her Lord and her purpose.  And even when she is too weak or sick to pray she relies on God’s promise that the ‘Spirit intercedes’ for her when she knows not what to pray.

Although my friend knows the power of this joy and purpose, fear still makes it’s attempts to take her over and paralyze her there.  So she puts out the S.O.S. text and she knows that she has a team of prayer warriors who speak Words of Life and Truth to her. ‘For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of Power and of Love and of a sound mind!’ 2 Timothy 1:7  This wise and wonderful woman knows that this type of fear has no place in her life and she knows the One who overcomes it with joy.  The one who has a plan to give her a hope and a future.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy……

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