Life Apps – Cognitive Health

At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued the Life Apps series. This week dealt with cognitive health. Ted Beasley spoke at the McNeil campus, and I spoke at the South campus. We shared the following thoughts:

“The Bible is imminently practical for your daily life, and we’re asking, ‘How can I access more of God’s power in my everyday life?’

‘How do you use your unique, God-wired, wonderfully complex brain to connect with your Creator as you go throughout your day?”

Scientists tell us we only use 5-10% of our brain capacity.

We miss out on maximizing our cognitive abilities when we give into conformity rather discovering and living out our uniqueness.

Just as God fashioned you with specific strengths and passions to fulfill a calling in this world, there is evidence in Scripture that he also constructed your brain to relate to him in your own special way.  Consider this: ‘I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and my soul knows very well‘. (Psalm 139:14)   In the original Hebrew text, the word ‘fearfully’ means: with great reverence and heart-felt. The word ‘wonderfully’ means: unique, set apart, & uniquely marvelous.

Part of maturing spiritually is to figure out the rhythms about how you and He best relate.  Avoid comparing yourself to others.

Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 6:4-5: Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

You have a responsibility for your own relationship with God to be carried out the way he specially designed you.

This morning, I’d like to introduce you to six types of brain-wiring.  These are different approaches to meaningfully bond with God that spiritual people have employed on their faith journey.  It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, but as I briefly describe each, I want you to think through which of these might be the way in which you will most often invigorate your relationship with a Father who fearfully and wonderfully made your brain.

#1: Creatives.  In the book of Exodus, one of God’s priorities was to create a portable meeting place, called the Tabernacle, where his people could worship and enjoy the presence of their heavenly Father.  God inspires Moses with the architectural plans for the building, but God says to Moses, “I don’t want this to be some kind of boring and lifeless structure.  It should be artistic and soulful.”

God spoke to Moses: “See what I’ve done; I’ve personally chosen Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. I’ve filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs. . . Not only that, but I’ve given him Oholiab, to work with him. And to all who have an aptitude for crafts I’ve given the skills to make all the things I’ve commanded you. (Exodus 36:1-6)

Some of you are artists – music, painting, photography, film, writing, dance.  Like Bezalel and Oholiab, you’ve be wired to connect with God with these abilities, and if you aren’t expressing yourself artistically, you’re denying a fundamental means God made you to be with him.

#2  Entrepreneurs.  Some of us have a brain that has no problem with ambiguity, a heart that is stout enough to take risks and soul that longs to meet a need in the world that no one else is meeting.  Is this you?  In Scripture, it’s called the gift of Apostleship.  One of the greatest entrepreneurs in Scripture is a guy named Barnabas.  He was always the first to do something.  The first to start a charitable movement.  The first to believe in the potential of a leader named Saul.  He was the first to break down a racial barrier through a new church.  Antioch was the place where the word “Christian” was first used.  After Antioch, he gets an itch to start something new. 

Sent off on their new assignment by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went down to Seleucia and caught a ship for Cyprus.  (Acts 13:4)

Some of you just feel fully alive in God when you are sent off on an assignment by God.  We feel alive when we are creating something new with God’s help.

#3  Discerners.  Some of us draw near to God most easily by stretching our minds intellectually.  We have a natural desire to dig into Scripture and find out what it really has to say.  When we are in church and a new thought about spirituality is presented, we get excited.  And we’ll think about it for days. The Apostle Paul was like this.  He was trained as a Hebrew intellectual, an expert in the law.  When a spiritual problem or challenge was raised, you can watch in the New Testament how Paul just attacks it with his mind.  He says, What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.  (Philippians 3:8)

In that passage, Paul is commenting that he doesn’t get all that charged up about religious resume items.  He wants to engage God with his mind.  He wants to know Christ.  Are any of you like that?  If so, fan that flame with some deep books or articles, listen to teachers who challenge you.  And if you are not like that, it’s okay.  Having theological conversations help a certain type of person in their pursuit of God.

#4  Doubters.  Some of us are wired to draw near to God by doubting.  Buechner explains why doubt is a good thing, “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving” I love that.  Spiritually speaking, some of us have ants in our pants.  Real doubt, real questions, propel you on an expedition to discover answers.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 says this:  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Do you see the formula that God describes here?  Doubt leads to seeking.  Seeking with all your heart leads to faith.  Faith leads to relationship.  The Bible is filled with stories of people who had great faith but also doubted.  Sarah and Abraham laughed at God.  Moses claimed he had a speech impediment, and therefore couldn’t be God’s spokesman.  Gideon soiled his underwear when God asked him to lead the Israelites into war.  David was a homicidal adulterer.  Jonah was directionally challenged.  Samson was relationally challenged.  Zacchaeus was vertically challenged and integrity challenged and worked for the IRS, so nobody really liked him.  Instead of listening to Jesus, Martha obsessed over housekeeping and food preparation.  That’s Martha in the Bible, not Martha Stewart.  Peter was a poster boy for spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder.  And Thomas needed proof.  And yet, God worked through the doubt and faith of all of these people to change the world.  Maybe doubt isn’t a sin.  Maybe doubt isn’t the opposite of faith.  Maybe faith and doubt need one another.  Some of you have been made to feel ashamed for much of your life that you struggle with doubts.  Can’t you see that they can be a fuel for you to connect with the Lord?

#5  Lovers.  God’s presence feels most tangible for some of you when you are volunteering to help others.  Mother Theresa once said, Simple acts of love and prayer keep the light of Christ burning.  She felt an absolute joy in meeting another person’s needs.  And she treated each encounter as if she were ministering to Christ himself.  Some of you here know that pleasure.  Every once in a while I’ll walk up to someone at the church who seems particularly happy or energized in their faith, and I’ll ask, “What happened to you?”  They’ll say, “I just got back from serving the homeless with my Gateway network  And I say to them, “That’s incredible.”  Or they’ll say, “I just volunteered my time back in the kids program, and just sensed God’s love for me.”  And I say to them, “How wonderful that God meets you in that way.”  Or someone who is real dirty and sweaty will say, “I just mowed the church lawn out there.  And when I’m pushing that mower and serving, it really helps me focus on God.”  And I say to them, “Here’s my address.  Come experience God at my place.”  Some of you, when you serve, you feel like an instrument in God’s hands and it leads you closer to Him.

#6 Fighters.  One of the weirdest passages in Scripture is when Jesus is talking about how John the Baptist is a dude who gets stuff done for God.  From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people take it by force.  (Matthew 11:14)

Jesus says, some people who want the kingdom of heaven – they want the full experience of God in their lives and in this world – sometimes there are certain types of people who take it by force.  There are fighters among us, that’s just how our brain has been wired – to get things done.  They feel most on fire when they have immersed themselves completely in a cause that they believe in.  Martin Luther led a reformation against a corrupt church.  Abolitionists like Frederick Douglass viewed freeing slaves as a spiritual crusade.  And during the 50’s and 60’s, Christian activists, both black and white, marched arm-in-arm.  Some of you are like that. Nothing energizes your faith more than a little holy discontent about a social issue.  And the best feeling in the world for you is to come home after giving your heart, soul, strength, and mind to some project, and to just collapse on the couch in complete exhaustion and think, “God used to me to make a difference today.” Are any of you ignoring the fighter in you?  Maybe the activistic muscles you used to have are sort of flabby today.  What is something you can do to engage with God again as a fighter?

Do not be a drone!  Connect with God in your own unique way.”

To listen or watch Ted share this message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.

 

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