Good morning Maryvale Church Disciples.
Blessings on you this day. Rejoice the Lord is King.
For those who choose to gather in worship we will meet at 10:30 am in the church gym.
For others, for your worship, here is a message for this day and songs for meditation.
June 14,2020 3rd Sunday of Pentecost
Church seasons and the focus of study
- Advent – we study the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ
- Christmas – the events of Christ’s birth
- Epiphany – the life of Jesus; miracles
- Lent – the teachings of Jesus; call to discipleship
- Holy Week – the sufferings of Christ; atonement
- Easter – the resurrection appearances
- Pentecost – the Holy Spirit living in believers
- Sanctification and the witness of the Church in the World
Sermon Series: Spirit of Truth and the God-shaped Brain
Sunday May 31: Pentecost: the Spirit of ALL Truth: truth can be known through scripture, science, experience.
Sunday June 7 – Trinity Sunday: Emotional Reasoning that divides vs the Holy Spirit of Truth that unites.
Sunday June 14 – healing a cripple: an act of kindness judged and condemned
The healing of society and a fallen system begins with the healing of the crippled.
The Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth … he reveals the full truth of God. The Holy Spirit reveals that God is Love. In essence God is love. God is truthful because love has no lie or deceit. There is no fear in God because love casts out fear.
Acts 3 and 4 Crippled man healed
WOW! A cripple man healed – the first miracle after Pentecost was for a poor crippled man. The Holy Spirits power poured out on one who was not allowed to enter the Temple. The nearest he could get to the Temple was the gate.
Lev 21:16-23 ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, … because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.'”
This instruction is given for priestly requirements to serve in the temple. The prohibition of those who have defect from serving as priest has to do with holiness and purity of the Lord and His temple. Blindness and lameness constituted a blemish. The priests are the representatives of the Lord in His temple. Since the Lord (and His temple) is holy and pure, anyone who serves Him must be whole, free from physical defects. Anyone who has one of the listed defects profanes or defiles the temple. Any bodily defect renders a person imperfect, unfit to function as priest. . . The wholeness of the priest, just like the wholeness of an animal acceptable for sacrifice corresponds to and bears witness to the holiness of the sanctuary and the holiness of God.” While the instruction in Leviticus 21 is given to list the priestly requirements for temple service, its restriction had been applied to any Israelite in general. Effectively, Leviticus 21:18 says “any man who has a defect shall not approach.” Physically disabled people had no business whatsoever to even enter the temple. Their exclusion stemmed from fear of polluting the house of the Lord. Any blemish from the offeror and the offering was not acceptable.
The nearest the crippled man could get to God was still on the outside.
This is injustice. A nation that prided itself on its moral laws and high regard for God was blind to its injustice of how the poor, women, foreigners, and disabled were treated; regarded as almost useless. The leaders would be surprised by the charge of injustice …. They had laws that allowed people to beg and laws that encouraged almsgiving. But they believed God was a rule-giver and rules are rules.
Jesus routinely demonstrated another worldview – where the poor, blind, lame, women, and foreigners were treated with justice, mercy and love. The outsiders were included. The law of love is the first and greatest commandment. Love reaches out to others.
And now Pentecost had changed Peter and John. Now they could no longer just walk past people. They could no longer just give some change and consider themselves righteous. Now the crippled was seen as a person who was worthy of their time. Pentecost changed their view on justice and their view of others. Caring for others is made possible by the Holy Spirit.
John Stonestreet writes, “Since the horrific killing of George Floyd, the moral outrage in our nation is palpable. While some cry out against violence by police, others cry out against violence against police. Systemic racism is either the most important problem we face, some say, or it doesn’t exist at all, others say. We must defund the police, according to some, and we must support the police, according to others. Certainly, the debates over what exactly is wrong with this world and what must be done to fix it will continue. In the meantime, we ought not miss what the moral outrage, even when wrongly conceived or violently expressed, reveals about who we are and the kind of world we live in.
In his discussion of morality and the meaning of the universe in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis observed that humans are irrepressibly moral creatures. We believe that there is such a thing in the world as justice. That we protest when we see behavior, we believe to be unjust, especially when directed at us, reveals that we believe there is a way the world should be. “A man does not call a line crooked,” Lewis wrote, “unless he has some idea of a straight line.” But where does even that idea of a moral straight line, of justice and morality, come from? Why do we even think in terms of justice and morality in the first place? Any naturalistic worldview, built on atheism and concluding the world is merely a product of natural causes and forces, cannot explain the existence of justice and morality. In fact, not only does such a world not offer any grounding for the very ideas of justice and morality, but it can’t explain why we would think in those terms. “If the whole universe has no meaning,” Lewis wrote, “we should never have found out that it has no meaning; just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
But not only do we clearly believe that justice and morality exist in the world, and that we can know what is just and right, we think others should know it too. Lewis writes, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair.’ The protesting and rioting and angry social media posting and news reporting run the gamut of helpful to unhelpful, righteous anger to unrighteous opportunism. And yet, we are seeing across the nation and around the world, a fundamental feature of humankind and the world we live in. There is an expectation that such a thing as justice exists, and that it should be done.
Lewis concludes his discussion of the moral law by wrestling with the desire we hold for a world in which justice is actually done, in which no one is ever murdered and in which racism and violence against innocents are unthinkable. Our ability to imagine this world in which wrongs are all made right reveals much about us, too. Lewis argues that no human longings exist unless its fulfillment also exists. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” So, we live in a world where the very ideas of justice and morality exist. We are creatures able to think in terms of justice and morality, expect others to as well, and who imagine a better world, in which all wrongs are made right and justice prevails. A good God, who is the ultimate source of reality and creates us in His image, giving us moral freedom, promises to restore all things. (Breakpoint 6/11/2020 Cries for Justice)
The essential core defining characteristic of God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and love, in justice, cares for the neighbor, the poor, weak, those who do not have a voice, the blind, crippled and disabled. The Bible does not say that God is
- forgiveness, even though he is forgiving.
- it does not say that God is knowledge although he is all wise.
- or that God is power although he is all-powerful.
All other attributes are like facets on a diamond, radiant windows into the heart of God. And in regards to love, God does not merely act it out- he embodies it. He is the source of all life, health, happiness, wholeness. He designed life to operate only in harmony with his own character because it is from him and in him that all things hold together.
Such love is alien to our world. Love is not self-seeking. Love does not seek self- it seeks others. Love is outward moving; loves heart is moved by another’s need. The law of love is the principle of self-less living, and self-less giving which is the foundation upon which all life is built. The law of love is the law of life. Harmony with this law brings life. Rejecting the law of love brings fear, desire to control, need for walls, division, disharmony, pain, suffering, domination, and death.
Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit; filled with the truth of love…. Love for God and love for others …. No need to live in fear-based religion and fear-based resentments and fear-based prejudices. No longer thinking only of themselves – no fear of not surviving; living with trust in God they were able to think of others.
But the religious authorities were not living according to this spirit of love. They saw this to be an act to investigate… a crowd of excited people mobbed the place, disturbed the peace and solemnity, disrupted the orderly worship. Something was wrong and someone had to be blamed and punished. Peter and John were arrested and placed in prison overnight and brought before the council the next day.
Acts 4:8-10 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Here is a study in contrasts:
Living according to the law of love vs. living according to the law of fear.
Both see the same situation – a crippled healed … but there are 2 different responses.
Dr. Timothy Jennings, The God Shaped Brain, writes about the human brain and broken love.
NOTE: I may have not written the differing brain functions precisely – but my main point is that our brains and therefore behavior is affected by what we believe.
What happens in the brain when we see something wrong or something that might be fearful? …. an alarm goes off – the amygdala calls for increased adrenalin … but if there is a false alarm – the hypothalamus signals to dump the adrenalin – it is no longer needed and the body calms down. For example, when walking through a field you suddenly see a thin black shiny object at your feet … your brain alarm says “snake” …. adrenalin pumps, eyes widen and then just as suddenly the hypothalamus says “stick” … and everything calms down. But if the hypothalamus had confirmed “snake”, the fight response would have taken over.
Or when you hear a loud bang a gun shot or a car backfire?
One of the jobs of the prefrontal cortex is to process stimuli from the brains emotional center and to either calm the system or order a flight response.
Our brains are wired emotionally to respond to any behavior that is dangerous, harmful or wrong. They body responds with fear, anger, moral outrage, fight or flight, etc.
The prefrontal cortex- makes decisions, rational thinking; The limbic system is the emotional side; dopamine side; panic flight response.
The limbic system is a network of structures located beneath the cerebral cortex of the brain that deals with emotions and memory. It regulates autonomic or endocrine function in response to emotional stimuli and also is involved in reinforcing behavior. This system is important because it controls some behaviors that are essential to life – finding food, self-preservation – and in humans it is involved in motivation and emotional behaviors. The limbic system is a complex system in our brain that contains many different structures working together and is responsible for managing psychological responses to emotional stimuli, controlling memory, attention, shaping our behavior and character, as well as affecting our emotions like fear and love. While the limbic system is made up of multiple parts of the brain, the center of emotional processing is the amygdala, which receives input from other brain functions. The amygdala and hippocampus work together to regulate emotions – survival, love for one’s children, aggression, fear, and anxiety. Together, these two organs also help the brain interpret the emotional content of memories.
But there is something called amygdala hijack: The amygdala induces the fear response, even where is nothing out there to be afraid of, or if we live in a continual state of emotions being charged.
If a person is always living in fear, anger, hurt so that the body system is always charged and volatile, there is chronic adrenalin and stress – people have a hard time in calming their circuity. And when people are so charged, they see the world differently – their system processes and interprets life experiences from a fear-based emotionally charged perspective.
Why do we struggle with fear so much? Why do we live in such distrust and so far from the law of love? Why are we so quick to judge an act of kindness as a violation of our rules? In a traffic light a car ahead of you hands money to a man asking for change and is therefore slow to get going when the light turns green. You become impatient and honk… the injustice of having to wait. Why such a response?
Ever since our first parents, humans are born with their brains controlled by fear and selfishness. When Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Adam was afraid of losing Eve. His trust in a loving God was challenged – he believed a lie that God was vindictive. The prefrontal cortex lost is governance and control and the fear center became inflamed. Love and trust in a loving God was suppressed and fear became the driving force …. Adam sinned and then tried to hide. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires but those who live according o the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death. The mind controlled by the Sprit is life and peace (Rom 8). Adam immediately demonstrated how utterly infected he was with the me-first principle – he blamed Eve.
Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:4).
- Lies break the circle of love and trust.
- Broken love and trust results in fear and selfishness
- Fear and selfishness result in acts of sin
- Acts of sin damage the mind, character and body
Every violation of truth is a stab at health of a person and relationships – a sort of suicide in the liar.
The acts of sin are symptoms of our sin-infected hearts and minds. The acts of sin are the inevitable consequences to the law of love being replaced by the law of fear and selfishness. Our biological need is to place self-first – it is so strong that without Gods intervention humans are incapable of anything but fear-based survival driven selfishness.
Only Christs victory over sin and our faith in him can we gain freedom. Our hearts can choose to overcome our hereditary tendencies of selfishness. Neurologically speaking the heart is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) – where we experience empathy, compassion, love and where we chose right from wrong. The prefrontal cortex is where we reason, plan and strategize. The orbital frontal cortex is where we experience guilt and recognizes socially inappropriate behavior. From these regions of the brain – the brain sends instructions to correct improper behavior.
When our conscience is clear we can reason and think more clearly. But when we are in beliefs or actions that violate God’s law of love, the conscience impairs strategizing and planning – we cannot think as clearly when we are guilt ridden. In order for our judgment and reasoning to work best we need to be living in harmony with the law of love. This requires that we live in truth – a true knowledge of God. And when we do, the heart grows stronger, the brain calms the system.
When the emotions control the ACC and override good judgment, we use our energies to satisfy what our selfish desires want. The emotion circuits dominate and selfishness is chosen rather than love. Our acts of selfishness further damage our brain, body, character and relationships, resulting in death. This is our inherited condition from Adam. We were born with a sin infected nature – a sin infected brain – born into this terminally fated selfish sate. It is not our fault were born with brains out of balance … born in transgressions and sins. A brain in which the fear circuit rules cuts itself off from love and trust – the source of life.
Without divine intervention this condition is terminal, for life is only compatible with the law of love. Brain studies has shown that the more a person spends in communion with God and meditating on love the more developed the ACC becomes. The person experiences decrease in stress hormones, blood pressure, heart rate and risk of untimely death. Even in our mortal and defective bodies, love is healing.
And conversely, the more time we spend in contemplating an angry wrathful fear-inducing God, and the more time we spend watching the sin enflamed world, the more damage to the brain and the more rapidly one’s health declines.
Jesus is the giver of life. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10). The abundant life is the life of love, which occurs when we replace the twisted versions of God with truth enabling Gods love to flow through us into others. And it is in the prefrontal cortex that we comprehend truth, experience Gods love and love of others.
We live in a fallen world that keeps us pumped with fear, anger, injustice, hate; ready to judge and point out the error of others.
The Jewish council judged an act of kindness as a violation that needed to be extinguished. They ordered Peter and John to stop and desist and they were whipped to make sure they got the message.
The key to healing amygdala-based anxiety is to use strategies that directly impact the brain and nervous system and bypass the thinking mind. Three examples are exercise, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Amygdala hijack can be eased or stopped by consciously activating your frontal cortex, the rational, logical part of your brain. This may take some practice and persistence. The first step is to acknowledge that you feel threatened or stressed and that your fight-or-flight response has been activated. Can the amygdala be healed? What can you do for an overactive amygdala? In neuroscience terms, cognitive-behavioral therapy retrains the rational part of the cortex to take control over the irrational emotions of the limbic system. After you learn to change the way your limbic system reacts, you have less reason to worry because you’re not processing your experiences the same way anymore.
How can I improve my limbic system? To make brain health as routine as your workout: Exercise your brain.
Put down the smartphone
Get more sleep. …
Eat brain-supportive foods. …
We now know our hippocampus will change and adapt if we treat it right—a term known as neuroplasticity.
Meditation upon the law of love is associated with growth in the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that makes decisions and reasons. Worshipping a God of love stimulates the brain to heal and to grow. But when we worship a God who is harsh judgmental distant critical authoritarian – our fear circuits are activated and, if not calmed, will result in chronic inflammation and damage both the brain and the body.
There is media manipulation to continually keep us hyped on the bad news and in a perpetual state of alarm and fear and distrust. At the same time there is media manipulation technology to make media more addicting. Media stimulates the limbic or emotional system which gives a blast of dopamine – pleasure. smart phones, TV, video games, activate the limbic (dopamine) system so that we have learned to think according to the digital forms of media that stimulates that activates dopamine; it activates a fantasy world that is all about you and objectifies the world; the world is there to please you. The digital world is designed for overstimulation – a massive dopamine blast that keeps you coming back to the site or game. It is designed for addiction. The brain seeks that easiest path to pleasure but too much dopamine makes you a dope.
Addiction is in the brain and in the Fall our brains became twisted and have learned to respond in in wrongful ways to loneliness, fear, anger, love, etc. The brain looks for the path of least resistance – the easiest way to a solution …. But it is twisted and cannot always be trusted to find the true way or to seek that which is pure lovely admirable etc.
God designed the brain to seek pleasure and rewards that come from hard work and effort or accomplishment. Addictions train our brain to cheat … to get the pleasure without the work. But such a reward does not build character.
But there is grace. Brain neural plasticity … brains can be renewed, rewired; renew your mind. God has not given up on us; we can be retrained and it takes work; our brains can be healed – even in our sleep our brains are healing. The world can go on even while we are sleeping, we are not in control, God is. We can learn to think differently we can move to destruction as well as to renewal. We can learn to create a new path. The old path will overgrow. Our brain creates neural pathways – bad and good.
Meditate on Jesus and his love in order to heal and calm your brain. This will affect your brain function as well as your physical health and relationships. Your ability to care for others as well as your judgements will be in harmony with love.
We have heard the joyful sound:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land,
Climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward!—’tis our Lord’s command;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Waft it on the rolling tide,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Tell to sinners far and wide,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Sing, ye islands of the sea,
Echo back, ye ocean caves;
Earth shall keep her jubilee,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves
Sing above the battle’s strife,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
By His death and endless life,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Sing it softly thru the gloom,
When the heart for mercy craves,
Sing in triumph o’er the tomb,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.
Give the winds a mighty voice,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Let the nations now rejoice.
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Shout salvation full and free,
Highest hills and deepest caves,
This our song of victory,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.
Jesus Saves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCv6ECwmPDk
One Thing Remains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoYgi0sdOqc
Consuming Fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XOBBUu_23M
Even So, Come https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKHsSbgbQZg