So here we are headed towards summer’s finish line. It’s the first week in August and what wonderful holiday do we have to look forward to his month you ask? Well, let’s see…
- January we have New Years Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
- February there is Ground Hogs Day, Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day.
- March brings us St Patrick’s Day.
- April we celebrate April Fool’s Day, Easter of course and Earth Day.
- May has Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day as well as Memorial Day.
- June we have Fathers Day.
- July we party it up as we celebrate our Independence Day.
- September there is Labor Day as well as the recent addition of Patriot’s Day on September 11 and who can forget all the parents thanking God above for the return of school.
- October of course has Columbus Day and the festive Halloween.
- In November we start thinking about our gratitude and all that we have to be thankful for with Veteran’s Day as well as Thanksgiving.
- Which leads us to our calendar years big finale in December as we celebrate Hanukkah and of course Christmas.
I think we covered all the major holidays of course here are some other smaller and lesser known ones scattered in there….(interruption from someone asking about August).
Oh, I forgot August you say? Well that’s because poor August has nothing. Not one national holiday or day to celebrate anything – which brings us back to today’s scripture verse and the meaning of the message. Since there is no holiday to celebrate this month, I propose we start a new one! Beginning today and every August 4th or whatever day you choose in August, let’s party it up with “The Holiday of You!”
Just imagine what it would be like for a moment if we truly took the words of Psalm 139 to heart and saw ourselves, our lives, our being as God sees us. Not as how we see ourselves or how others perceive us to be…but simply as a beautiful creation of God, created so perfectly and whole. As a being that God longs to spend time with, who knows every in and out of our souls and still wants to be there along side of us – and that alone is enough to celebrate.
I have been reading this amazing book called “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr Caroline Leaf. Which, by the way, we will be having a book/bible study on beginning this fall that will guide us through a 21 day brain detox. In this book Dr Leaf proposes that our mind, which is the soul of our being, is very powerful and actually controls our brain. She emphasizes among other things, that we have been given free will, therefore we can make choices about our thoughts and tear down toxic ones. In doing so, we will actually change and grow the structures in our brains. Dr Leaf’s book alerts us to be careful about what goes into our brains and about what comes back to the surface from within, because both healthy thoughts and bad toxic ones can be built up with mental rehearsal. And both the good and bad will change the actual structure inside our brains. It’s a fascinating concept called neuroplasticity. The book talks about the scientific facts using this process and parallels it with scripture verses that show just how intricately God planned all of this and truly left us the blueprints to live a happy, healthy and positive life right there in the Bible.
Dr Leaf references Romans 12:2 which says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.” Instead of doing what everyone else does, namely stressing, worrying, gossiping, fighting, spinning around and around rushing to and fro without much purpose, if we renew our mind by meditating on God’s word and positive thoughts, purposely blocking the negative, we will find God’s will for our life and truly live how we were meant to be.
This concept of neuroplacisity says that our thoughts become who we are…literally. Take a look at Phillipians 4:8 which I talked about months ago in my first message but it’s a verse worth repeating over and over. It says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” We as God’s people are called to meditate on good stuff and not to obsess over the bad. That doesn’t mean we are some zombie like hippies walking around with sunflowers and holding up the peace sign. I know and you know the world around us is not filled with rainbows and unicorns, but if we look for the good and purposely choose to focus on the better in people and our circumstances we literally can remold our brain into a more God centered one. We were wired for love from our birth. “For it was You who formed my inward parts, You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; this I know full well.”
In II Timothy the Bible says it this way, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We know that fear is really a lack of faith, and that fear and faith occupy the same space inside our minds. If it’s full of faith, there’s no room for fear. This verse tells us that we are meant for love and to have a sound mind and all of that is possible.
*share personal story…(as part of Jim’s entry into the study for ministry, he underwent an intensive psychological evaluation, the results of which left him a bit depressed)…
In the days after that evaluation I thought back to my early childhood, mainly my early teenage and high school years. I looked through my ITunes library at the songs I listened to and gave them a listen with new ears. I thought about the books I read and the prayers I prayed and slowly came out of my funk and realized this is me. The music I filled my mind with as well as the people I surrounded myself with at a young age – all of this created a foundation in my mind, my spirit, as to how I wanted to live my life. This whole evaluation process that originally threw me for a loop, turned around and made me appreciate the blessings I experienced at such a young age. I was able to go back in time and realize this concept of neuroplacisity, renewing my mind had been done at such a young age. It allowed me to celebrate the life, the beautiful life God has gifted me with. Is it all rainbows and butterflies? Of course not, just ask my husband or my kids if I’m always positive or if I constantly see the good in them or myself. It’s a journey…a beautiful journey for which God has given us a map.
Brothers and sisters, God created each and every one of us intricately, beautifully and perfectly. Just take a look at the beautiful Psalm from today’s reading. It is basically an eloquent mediation about how much God loves us as His exquisite creation. We were made out of love and were made to be kind, compassionate and happy people filled with the spirit of the One who made us. God delights in our delighting in Him and all of the creation made by His hands. We have to believe that! Our Creator knows the number of hairs on our heads, every thought in our mind. God will never leave us alone no matter how far we may try to wander just as the Psalm says….and that dear friends is worth celebrating not just today but each and every day. Happy holiday to you!
SCRIPTURE FOR AUGUST 4, 2019 PSALM 139:1-18
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discover my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down; You know all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, You know what I will say, And with Your powerful arm You protect me from every side. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot even imagine it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there.
If I make my bed among the dead in hell, You are there.
If I fly on the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ still, the darkness does not blind You; to You the night is as bright as the day.
For it was You who formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Wonderful are Your works: this I know full well.
Nothing about me is hidden from You! I was intricately woven together in the secret depths of the earth below; but with Your own eyes You saw me even before I was born. You had written in Your book the whole of my life.
Your thoughts are far beyond my understanding – much more than I could ever imagine. I try to count Your thoughts, but they outnumber the grains of sand on the beach. And when I awake, You are still with me.
Friends, listen to what the Spirit would say to us today.