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An Integrative Perspective of Mental Health in Light of Eternity

February 8, 2013 1 comment
Redemption drawing nigh

Redemption

For those who have a relationship with Christ, we look forward to redemption, both in body and spirit. The introduction of sin into a perfect and spotless world tainted everything, from the land to the health and longevity of the human body. What was once a flawless frame, complete with perfected organs, sickness, disease, and death resulted from the Fall. Most amazingly, the Author of life didn’t give up. Though His plan was eternal, physical fellowship with man, man chose separation. God still had a purposeful contingency, a second chance found through Christ’s blood. We are told in the bible, that for those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we have an abiding hope of return to the glorified, original state God intended from the beginning. As Scripture states,

We will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, NIV)

From the kidneys to the heart, our skin and eyes, every part of our being will be made new and perfected. This includes the brain.

Dr. Jenkins (2013) eloquently stated, “My brain is in need of redemption, just like the rest of my physical body. One day, my brain will be in its glorified state.” Time, toxic elements, chemicals, and stress all have tremendous impact in the decay of our fragile bodies. This includes the physical make up of the brain. Most often, when people think of physical health, the brain is not the first thought (No pun intended.). Negative factors, such as those listed above, greatly influence the health of brain material. Combined with genetic predispositions to disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the state of the brain can be precarious, indeed. While evolutionists claim that homeostasis was a natural process that all life forms adapted to ensure the biological maintenance, creationists believe that an all-knowing God planned our bodies with purpose and design (Hart & Ksir, 2011).

Our environment and our personal choices all contribute to the state of our brain. While many issues arise that are not within our control, it is important to consider how we can better care for our health. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize or begin to get serious about these matters until damage is done or the unexpected news is delivered. With our physical mental abilities, come our volition and will.  These, too, will be redeemed and properly focused soley on the Lord.  The mind is an integration of a physical and spiritual state.  There is great hope in our redemption! One day our physical form, every part, will be perfected. We will be changed in an instant and will forever live in the presence of our loving Creator.

References

Hart, C. & Ksir, C. (2011). Drugs, society, and human behavior (14th ed.). Boston, MA:

McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-338090-2.

Jenkins, D. (2013). Models of addiction. Audio Visual Presentation: Liberty University

Gravity and Absolute Truth

Flying Machine

Millions of Americans were glued to the television last year when a “father” slash inventor slash sycophantic hoaxter created a large balloon and tipped off the media that his son was caught within.  For over an hour, cameras, law enforcement, and fire crews chased the balloon only to, thankfully, find that the child was safe at home.  After a bit of questioning, the father admitted that he knew that the child was at home the entire time.  Authorities were not amused. 

For centuries man has had many quests, but none so fervent and comical, perhaps, as the pursuit to defy gravity and fly.  I love watching old films that portray the many contraptions that inventors concocted, trying to get off the ground and soar.  Even today, with the developed machine known as the airplane, people are still trying to fly better, higher and less inhibited.  No doubt most have heard of the infamous jet-pack, with a backpack, of sorts, a few hoses, and some propulsion, a person can lift off of the ground for several minutes, enjoying the uninhibited views and restraints that the air can offer. 

Today with paragliding, hang-gliding, bungee jumping, airplanes, helicopters, space shuttles (oh..wait), and hot-air balloons, we can for a few moments live in a state of anti-gravity.  But, regardless, eventually, the air current or fuel runs out and we come back to ground in submission to immutable law.  Without this constancy, we would careen out of orbit.  Simple elements and tasks are suddenly complex and require extra care that is unnecessary without the gravitational pull.  Liquid would be uncontained and non-cohesive.   Yet, the thought of defying gravity mesmerizes mankind!  Watching astronauts float around without the restriction looks like SO much fun.  Undoubtedly, it IS.  At first.  But, it is gravity that keeps man from drifting aimlessly away. The knowledge that our atmosphere provides oxygen that is required to keep our bodies alive, can bring a sense of relief and respect to the system in place. 

When people hear the term “absolute truth,” often, there is nay saying and a lack of support.   Absolute truth means that we are tethered to ideas that we may not want to accept, that there is something bigger than ourselves.  We cannot control what concepts are “kosher” and what are not. 

Absolute truth means that I am not the god of my own universe.

No wonder people have such a hard time accepting this reality!  Accepting that we are not really “masters of our domain” is difficult even for people who claim to believe in absolute truth!

Just like man’s quest to fly, we want to somehow defy absolute standards.  “Hey, it might not be good for you, but it’s what I believe.”  People take bits and pieces of what they deem truth and reality and VOILA! Homemade, alternate realities a la carte!  Sure, people can, will, and do, try to beat absolute truth, however, eventually the fuel runs out.  If there are no absolute truths, if there is nothing bigger to keep the system in check, then what is real?  How does one determine what is right and true and good?  If I think one ideal is right and my neighbor thinks it isn’t and worlds collide, what thenSomebody has to win! Man can shake his fist at absolute truth, deny it’s existance, and even concoct his own flying machine, but there are still limits beyond his control.  Chaos will abound and his fuel will run out.  If there are road signs cautioning us to steer clear or state, “Do not pass!” We can still choose to go around or run right through those signs.  But, eventually we will come to the end of the road…

Just like gravity, absolute truths provide the stability of the system that we live in.  They keep us grounded and minimize the chaos.  We are not drifting away into the great unknown.  We know what the limits are and don’t choose to test the boundaries, for fear of an aimless, dark existence.  Staying in the atmosphere allows us the life-giving oxygen for the soul.  And while it may seem appealing to test the truth, when we remain grounded and recognize the reasons for absolute truth, we appreciate the boundaries that have been set.  Many people see absolute truth as a stifling of humanity, I see them as liberation from the unknown chaos.  I don’t have to wonder who to trust, what to think, and rely on my own abilities.  

I know if I jump off that cliff, the boundary that separates law from air, I’m going to die. 

I choose to live and respect absolute truth.

A Letter to My Dear Friend and My Dearest Friend

My dear friend,

I am holding you up in prayer.  I know that you are holding me up, too. 

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 

9 Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 10 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Our redemption is SO near, why would we be assaulted if otherwise? The flames lick at my wounded heart.  The pressure is intense, but this is the closest to Hell we will EVER know, for our Savior has conquered the grave.  He sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes on my behalf…His spirit resides within me and though I wait here in a dry and desolate land, my soul is content in the promise of His unfailing word.  My spirit groans within me longing to be clothed in His righteousness in the heavenly dwelling where I am at home.  I long to look upon the One who paid the debt for my sin, the very One who is desperate to touch a dying and decaying world.  I praise Him despite my foes who are eager to try me for an unjust crime to which their imaginations create to give fodder for their own foolishness.  I pray for them, for their ignorance slanders not my name, but His.

“Lord, You are good!  Your love endures forever!  My soul is quenched by the Living water and my frame is strengthened by one Word from your heart to mine.  I am in awe at the splendor of Your existence and I yearn to proclaim your name from the rooftops!  How long will you put up with the defamation of Your name?  I long to defend One who needs no defense!  I long to stand for the One whose very presence none can fathom!  My soul will only rest in you, yet it shall never remain silent until you sit on your rightful throne, in heaven and on Earth.”

Though none go with me, still I will follow….

God of History – God of the Ages (A Follow Up to “Is God Really ‘In Control?’”)

Little did I know that my last post, “Is God Really ‘In Control?’” would create a small firestorm.  While I greatly enjoy adding visual imagery with observations from scripture, it is not my intention to throw out loaded, controversial questions, merely for a shock and awe affect. My purpose in writing is to give God glory, to illuminate His nature or the solid truth in His word.  As I allow Him to change me, to refine me, I am compelled to share what He challenges me with, in relation to what I have previously written.  Remember:  I don’t have all the answers.  I am on a journey through this life and am merely willing to learn.  I never want to misrepresent or contradict the Bible. I am genuine in my beliefs that God is not a puppeteer, but I feel that I should add an addendum. 

My further thoughts on this topic resulted from studying the book of Daniel.  In a couple of hours it became amazingly apparent that God is in control in much bigger ways that I realized.  I haven’t denied God’s control, but I challenged how direct His intervention was.  How sad that even, try as I might, I limit Him, putting Him in a box wrapped in  pretty words.  I have previously stated,

“There are many times that He intervenes, gently to protect us.  I suppose that would merit the question as to why he doesn’t always.  I can’t answer that except to say that he isn’t a puppeteer.”

I even went as far as to state that other’s actions sometimes glean consequences that affect us, but what I failed to truly grasp is the unparalleled ability of God to use people or situations to train, bless, or even judge His people.  The Old Testament is full of scenarios where God raises up an empire of people who are corrupt to fulfill His purpose! 

It is an undeniable fact that God gave man free will and that He allows us choice.  However, our decisions have consequences.  Sometimes they are harsh, but sometimes we cannot see the consequences of our actions.  He doesn’t force us to do the right thing. Yet, God in His limitless grace knows what actions we will take.  And He can make a way for us in the wilderness of our indecision or the beaten path we have taken of our own accord.  He can take the mess we have made and make something amazing. What is tragic is that we forsake His best, the plan that He had if we simply would have surrendered to His will.  We settle for something less than the blessing that God had set out for us. 

 God is God.  He needs no approval.  He requires no permission to do whatever He wants.  He is unhindered.  Unbound.

He is the Great I AM

 He gives us free will. He isn’t a puppeteer. Nevertheless, He will do as He wishes.

 He does everything for the love of humanity. 

 He allows us to either: draw near to Him or refuse fellowship with Him and reap the consequences.

 However. He can use any situation, any group, anyone, anything to accomplish His purpose. 

 He is the God of history. 

 The God of all ages. 

 Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Is God Really “In Control?”

 Hold on to your hat; you read the title right.  I hear so often, “It’s okay; God has it all under control…”  I confess I’ve become a little jaded and skeptical to this remark.  Before you call me a heretic and demand a refund, hear me out.  I suppose it depends upon the person making the comment.  I assume one or more reasons for this common belief.  Either they: A.) don’t know how else to explain something tragic or stressful, B.) refuse to acknowledge a problem, or C.) really believe that God masterminds every decision, every course of action, including the weather.  There is a fourth option, being sure of what God being “in control” really means.  Let’s examine that, shall we?

When someone uses this common explanation, I can’t help the visual that comes to mind: that of Puppet Master.  The stage is set, the lights are down and suddenly “It’s a Small World” jingles and the puppets begin their show.  You can’t see the strings, nor can you see the “all powerful puppeteer”.  He dances them this way.  He dances them that way.  And if, for some unknown reason, they get themselves all tangled up, He simply snatches a blade and cuts their connection loose, rendering them powerless. 

Is this an accurate portrayal of God?  Does he play games with us, choosing the set?  Do we simply dance to whatever tune He plays?  And when our lives or decisions become entangled, does He cut us loose?  The song is true; He does have the “whole world in His hands.”  Does He manipulate us, pulling our strings to and fro?  Does He cause bad things to happen? 

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I believe that God doesn’t allow anything beyond His control.  He granted us the ability to make our decisions, even when they are the wrong decisions that will likely hurt ourselves and/or others.  There are many times that He intervenes, gently to protect us.  I suppose that would merit the question as to why he doesn’t always.  I can’t answer that except to say that he isn’t a puppeteer.  But, I fear that many people have the puppet master visual in their minds when they think of God.  And that isn’t accurate.  What is interesting is that when the Bible speaks about “control” it isn’t referring to God.  It is a mandate to us!  Self-control, the control of the sinful nature vs. control of righteousness. Romans 8:6 states, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  There is an implication in this verse.  “The mind controlled by the Spirit” requires action, and constant action at that, by man, a choice to follow Him or go our own direction, dance to our own tune.

On the flip side of things, when we entangle ourselves by making poor choices or even genuine mistakes, is God the puppet master, there to swiftly weave our strings back to un-kinked order, whisking us across the stage back to dancing and singing?  Absolutely not.  While God is always there for us, providing wisdom and direction, we choose to move to His tune or another.  Our actions, even mistakes, have consequences and even when we pick ourselves back up, we may have to sit out and repair the chips and nicks we have created.  What is even more difficult is to accept that we often reap the consequences of someone else’s poor choices.  And sometimes, there seems little logic or understanding as to why bad things happen.  Sickness, loss, and other life tragedies are difficult to make sense of, while in the midst of the situation.  Ultimately, it is important to understand that these things, while our actions may have no connection to them, are the result of the Fall of man.  We live in a corrupted world.  We have fragile bodies because of infectious sin.  All because of the gift of a non-controlling God, the gift of choice.  So, while I believe that God is always there and absolutely nothing, escapes under the radar of the Almighty, He is not a puppeteer.  He is not controlling our every move; we must submit to Him.  Daily.

He provides. 

He protects.

He doesn’t attach strings or play with our lives.

He asks us to follow Him and we can choose to be controlled by the Spirit or aimlessly dance to our own tune. 

One way leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death.

Postscript:  For further dialogue, commentary, and explanation, please check out the comments!

“I’ll have the….Dry Bones and a side of cake, to go.”

I. Love. Cake.  Butter cream icing, load it on.  The more the better.  Who needs an actual birthday to get a store bought birthday cake?  I’ll buy one just to celebrate watching the “Cake Boss” on TLC.  I’d consider dueling a one year old infant for her first smash cake.  Yup, cake.  It’s an American past time spiked with a side of gluttony. What’s not to love? Butter, sugar, sometimes chocolate…YuuuuUM!  The unfortunate downside to a steady diet of cake:  love handles, thunder thighs, and a butt that just won’t quit.  There’s also sluggishness, bad cholesterol, and an abysmal self-esteem. You won’t find cake in the dietary requirements pyramid, no nutrients, vitamin C or protein. And although the health benefits aren’t found here on earth I’m pretty sure I have my oldest child convinced that birthday cake will grow on trees in heaven. 

 It seems like the church as a whole wants an all year birthday celebration.  We’re servin’ up gooey, sugary, candy-coated cake to the masses.  Many Christians have given up on nutrient-packed, protein-rich, wholeness found in scripture.  Rather than lead people to the meat of the Bible, we’re content just to throw them the dry bones and hope they can somehow sustain themselves with a pastry delicacy that tastes good and sounds even better. I don’t know what kid (or adult for that matter) who would rather eat broccoli than feast upon a tray of brownies.  But, we know (or we should know) what is best, what is healthy, and what is going to promote growth, health, and sustenance.

 There are people who are salivating for something that will satiate them, but rather than take in what is good for the soul and promotes spiritual growth they are contented to indulge in what tastes good, i.e. what they want to hear without having to make changes in their spiritual diet.  Consequently you have a building (buildings would probably be more appropriate) full of cranky, fake, dry, plastic people hopped up on the portion of extracted sugar from the Bible.  Like a spoiled three-year old who doesn’t understand why he can’t have dessert for dinner, congregants don’t wanna hear what doesn’t taste sweet and make them feel all warm inside. 

 Or don’t they?

 Ok, sure, we should love people, but is it really loving them to let them continue on a path to destruction?  If they are making repeated decisions that hurt them and others, isn’t it more loving (not easy or sweet) to tell them how much you care and that they are headed for disaster?  There’s not decadency, on either side, to hear hard truth.  It’s so much more fun to eat the cake without making sure you have a balanced diet of accountability, healthy understanding of sin and consequences, and the ability to recognize the benefits of a spiritually guarded lifestyle.  The Bible has this to say,

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

 People think they want cake.  Sprinkles, candies, frosting, all the love, without the annoyance of all that “sin talk.” But what they don’t realize is that they are starving themselves of what they truly need: grace and truth. Love and conviction. What is most unfortunate is that the leaders in the church are serving up what the people order on silver platters decked out in party hats.

Getting Beyond the Blur

Courtesy: NASA.com

 From the comfort of my couch I am watching humans working in a hostile environment to repair a machine as big as my house.  The journey to get to their project is wrought with danger, yet they are only too willing to risk their lives to reach their target.  The cost is astronomical in monetary terms, too.  Tax dollars, international funding, and donations provide this billion dollar joy ride for a select few that could result in disaster at any moment.  One might ask oneself: What on earth is so valuable?  Possibly nothing. On Earth, anyway. Not in another country or on another continent, but beyond.  The Hubble telescope provides pictures that make the work of da Vinci look like finger paint.  Though tremendous in cost and size, the most vital part of such a complex piece of technology lies in a simple piece of glass: the mirror. By reflecting and refracting light we are given photographs of the most brilliant designs and colors, eye candy that delights the senses and boggles the mind.  In a single snapshot humanity ponders science, technology, origins, history, and theology.  

 The Hubble project was nearly scrapped when pictures ceased to produce with quality.  Many questioned the ability to repair the telescope and the vast amount of resources that would be necessary in the slight chance that Hubble would function again.  Finally, the day came when the fruits of so much labor produced beauty from deep space. 

 These days, the church is also in desperate need of repair.  People are forsaking their marriages.  Families are withering in the heat of our culture.  Pastors are burnt out.  Congregants are subjected and addicted to what the world has to offer. Yet the church, rather than being a haven, a hospital, and a home, functions more like a coffee-house, dinner date, or a social club.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see churches begin to have masquerade balls, so many are wearing a feathered, bejeweled mask. 

What’s to be done then?  When the machine is broken and light isn’t being reflected what on Earth can we do?  Well, we look beyond ourselves first.  Pray, fast, search scripture, but as a friend pointed out, often when we do these things God begins to answer by “cleaning house”.  He brings those things that have been secretly hidden in the dark to light. “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” ICorinthians 4:5 But right now, we are failing to recognize this as the work of God.  We pray for healing, yet we try to put a Barbie band-aid on a carcinoma. It continues to spread, quietly, yet steadily.  So, again, what do we do?  When we recognize that, “Houston, we have a problem!” what should the church do?  There is no doubt things will get ugly. Exposing what has been hidden often causes emotional hemorrhaging and the church MUST be prepared ahead of time.  Expect damage, prepare for the worst, and equip mature believers to hold strong in a hostile environment. Without these proactive measures, the machine will breakdown beyond repair.  Marriages will continue to fail.  Children will be cheated, and people will live defeated.  The benefits far outweigh the costs.  “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10 There must be an intentional, ongoing effort with action and resources to maintain the church. 

 People come to church to worship, but what we fail to realize is that we should be worshiping on a moment by moment basis.  A pastor I know refrains from calling the main room in his church, “sanctuary.”  His premise is that is an inappropriate term.  We are the sanctuary.  We don’t go to church to play church, we should go to lift each other up, reflect the light and allow the beauty of Christ to overwhelm us, give us hope, and inspire us to show others.  What we need is to take the Light.  Reflect it.  Refract it.  And repair and administer to the church as needed.  Not doing so will deny the beauty of what is beyond us.  Just because we can’t see it with our own eyes doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  That goes for the Spirit of Christ and the hidden wounds within the walls of the church….We don’t have to accept a blurry outlook.

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