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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

God made our brains to change: Repentance & Neuroscience (Sun Follow-Up)

This past Sunday I preached about a non-Christian, a Christian, and a group of Christians
all of whom radically changed their minds when God spoke to them (Acts, ch 9). Such a change of mind, we learned, is called repentance. The New Testament word translated as "repentance" is metanoeo (meta - "to change condition" and noeo "exercise the mind or think"). The more habitually one changes their mind toward God's truth, the more increasingly the mind itself begins to change such that actions/habits begin to naturally follow (cf. Acts 26:20). 

A recent surge of research has emerged regarding the neuroplasticity of our brains - that is, our brains are adaptable, not static, and therefore have the ability to re-wire themselves in a way that shapes our behavior. In other words, God so wants us to be people of continual repentance He has built within our minds flexibility for change. The physical make-up of our brains testify: You can change!  

Nathan Hrouda of Summitview Church (Fort Collins, Colorado) aptly explains this phenomena, but how also its opposite is also true - "Addicted to staying the Same: Thoughts on Repentance and Neuroscience." The further we slip into addiction/idolatry - our brains become increasingly wired toward misplaced pleasure and destructive habits.

I pray we (myself included!) might first change our minds and believe that our highest pleasure will be found in Christ and the things of Him - in serving or praying for another person, spending time praying or even singing a psalm, enjoying the stillness of God out by the sea or your back porch, doing that next hard thing God's way even though it doesn't make perfect sense - and watch our minds might become increasingly wired toward true and lasting pleasure (Psalm 16:11). 

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