Keep Close

Keep Close

I told my grandson to keep close as he and I made a trip to McDonald’s today. It was a bit of an adventure since he walked, and I used my power chair. While crossing streets, I had him hold my hand even though he’s just about outgrown that. And, while walking down the sidewalk, I kept between him and the traffic. I did these things not because I didn’t trust him; I do. Who I don’t trust are the drivers. So, I kept him close to me.

We learn from Psalms 139 that God goes much further than what I did with my grandson. God thoroughly knows me and keeps me constrained (i.e., hemmed in). Take a look at Psalms 139.

Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV)
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Hemmed In

If we consider verse five, to be hemmed in behind and before, is the same Hebrew wording for laying siege to a city. God is saying He keeps me on a short leash or a tight rein, just like I did with my grandson. The God of all creation loves me enough to know the words I will say before I say them and knows the truth my words. How wonderful; how fearful.

Indeed I need to “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Photo credit: Larry Lamsa on Visual hunt / CC BY

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Neuroplasticity

Plastic human head showing the brain

Alvaro Pascual-Leone is a medical researcher in the area of neuroplasticity. This is the ability of the brain to change how it works based on various exercises. One thing he learned was that the brain would change the way it functions through imagination. We even find this discovery in a business called https://www.lumosity.com.

Alvo Pascual-Leone had a group of people do a simple exercise. They used all five fingers, on one hand, to play a set of notes on a piano for five days. He did brain scans on these subjects. He could see the area of their brains that controlled this action had expanded.

Next, he used a different group of people. He had them sit at a piano and over five days, imagine this same exercise. The only differences being that they did not physically touch or even move their hands. He scanned their brains and found the same area of their brains expanded at the same rate as the people that physically touched the keys.

Thoughts change our Brains

This experiment and many others prove that a person’s brain changes based on what they imagine. We may believe that neuroplasticity is true, but do we trust the Bible? Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” And, we learn in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV), “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I find neuroplasticity very interesting but not surprising. God placed many passages in Scripture that tell us to be careful about what we think and imagine. Our imaginations physically change our brains and, as a result, change who we are.

The world teaches people to meditate, as in Zen. People even practice “guided meditation.” Christians should avoid those because they don’t draw us to Jesus. However, meditating on Scripture has a more profound aspect than many of us may have appreciated.

A Promise From God

In Jesus, we have not just hope but a promise from God to overcome wrong thinking and the sins that continually entrap us. Just look in Romans 12:2 (ESV): “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Now that’s a superior promise to Zen’ish promises of tranquility.

Finally, Christ, through Paul, tells us how to keep our minds pleasing to God. We read in Philippians 4:8 (ESV):  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” As we do these we are rewiring our brains!

Neuroplasticity isn’t new. Thousands of years ago, God in His great love placed instructions for this process in Scripture. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). He leads us into all truth and actively works with us, and in us, so we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. That’s good news!

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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