Healing the Brain
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Summary: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Ps 139:14
 
 

Healing the Brain

by Wendy Goubej



I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Ps 139:14 


The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and as we look into science and the intricacies of our human body, this is confirmed over and over again. Take the brain, for example. Neurologists now believe that the brain alone has something like 100 billion brain cells. Within those cells, there are about 100 trillion interconnections. If we used thirty thousand new connections every second of our life, we would not be able to use them all. 


According to evolution, we developed capacity and equipment only as and if needed, but in the brain we see that we have problem-solving capacity far beyond any need in our lifetime. Why would we have so much capacity, if we were not created to live forever? 


Scientists tell us that we lose brain cells as we progress in life.  According to a 28-year study, brain cells die if we don’t use them. The proverb “Use it or lose it” applies here. But the good news is that the brain doesn’t like brokenness. Our brains are able to heal in amazing ways. The brain has processes built in to stimulate nerve growth. If we put forth continuing and appropriate efforts to activate and energize our bodies, the brain is stimulated to heal. 

But is there anything we can do as we live our daily lives that will regenerate our brains, and improve our thinking and brain activity? 


The Bible says that “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound

mind. 2 Tim 1:7 


God usually requires cooperation of us so that His Divine power can work together with our human effort. This is a standard operating procedure for God’s work in us. Sometimes our cooperation involves only submission and faith. Sometimes, our cooperation involves obedience to known duties. 


When people exercise faith, their immune system rallies, wiping out destructive foreign invaders. At the same time, the faith flowing through the neuro-chemical pathways shuts down the pathways that would trigger debilitating doubt.” Healing the Broken Brain, Elden M. Chalmers, p. 65. 


So how can God give us a sound mind, and how can we cooperate with Him in this process?  There is one guiding principle that can help us:  


Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 10:5


By an act of our will, by choosing to change our thoughts, we are able to submit ourselves to God’s way and truth. 


Our will is the key to any act or decision we make. Whether we realize it or not, we are making choices with our own free will. 


They may be habtual choices now, but at some point, they were a decisions we made. 


Ellen White writes: 

The mind and nerves gain tone and strength by the exercise of the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a potent soother of the nerves.” AH 252 


The power of the will is not valued as it should be. Let the will be kept awake and rightly directed, and it will impart energy to the whole being, and will be a wonderful aid in the maintenance of health. It is a power also in dealing with disease. Exercised in the right direction, it would control the imagination, and be a potent means of resisting and overcoming disease of both mind and body.” MH 246 



By steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord's side, every emotion will be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. You will then find your feet on solid rock. It will take, at times, every particle of willpower that you possess, but it is God that is working for you, and you will come forth from the molding process a vessel unto honor.“ MYP 153



Ways to Strengthen Your Will For Better Mental Health and Control:


#1 Practice deciding things—making up your mind positively, immediately after you have weighed the facts—and stick by your decision, willing to change only when the contrary facts are overwhelming. It is often better to make a mistake, than to sit on the fence of indecision! Sometimes writing the choice or decision down helps a person stick to the decision they make. 

#2  Complete each job before you begin another. Don’t flit from one thing to another and from one room to another, traveling in a circle. 

#3 Sometimes games can help develop the ability to decide. 

#4 Do something disagreeable that needs to be done by somebody every day. 

#5 Roll out of bed as soon as you awaken after your planned hours of sleep. Make the decision the night before and stick to it in the morning. 

#6 Read deeply and thoughtfully, and stretch your mind to understand and retain what you read. Excessive reading of emotional fantasies weakens the will. 

#7 The will is strengthened by exercise through the practice of self-denial and self-control.

#8 Link your will with Divine Energy by asking God to empower your will. 

#9 Make a habit of operating your life by plan, not impulse. 

#10 Practice healthful living with good nutrition, exercise, and rest.



Source: Healing the Broken Brain by Elden M. Chalmers



But how can we strengthen our will so that we have improved mental health and better control over our thoughts and decisions?


Ellen White tells us the only sure way to improve our will is if our meditation and focus is on the Word of God. 


Why is it that our youth, and even those of maturer years, are so easily led into temptation and sin? It is because the Word of God is not studied and meditated upon as it should be. If it were appreciated, there would be an inward rectitude, a strength of spirit, that would resist the temptations of Satan to do evil. A firm, decided willpower is not brought into the life and character, because the sacred instruction of God is not made the study and the subject of meditation. There is not the effort put forth that there should be, to associate the mind with pure, holy thoughts, and to divert it from what is impure and untrue. There is not the choosing of the better part, the sitting at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn the most sacred lessons of the divine Teacher, that they may be laid up in the heart, and practiced in the daily life. Meditation upon holy things will elevate and refine the mind, and will develop Christian ladies and gentlemen.” MYP 425 


God desires man to exercise his reasoning powers; and the study of the Bible will strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can. Yet we are to beware of deifying reason, which is subject to the weakness and infirmity of humanity. If we would not have the Scriptures clouded to our understanding, so that the plainest truths shall not be comprehended, we must have the simplicity and faith of a little child, ready to learn, and beseeching the aid of the Holy Spirit. A sense of the power and wisdom of God, and of our inability to comprehend His greatness, should inspire us with humility, and we should open His word, as we would enter His presence, with holy awe. When we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must bow to the great I AM. SC 109



Food Affects The Mind


If we are serious about keeping our minds as clear and as healthy as possible, we will adhere to the 8 laws of health, we will avoid a diet of dairy, meat and even sugar as these tend to clog the mind, and we will choose to limit our exposure to harmful substances – whether electronic or dietary. This includes caffeine and chocolate, which contains theobromine a substance that also alters the brain, as well as TV and video games. Keep a record of your past week’s health activity and see if it was balanced. If not, resolve to improve your balance today.  




Making it Practical


Remember that our warfare is not with worldly weapons. We are in a spiritual war and the war is about our minds. This is why television watching, excessive exposure to blue-light from laptops and mobile devices can also contribute to the deterioration of our minds.


How can we reverse bad habits and actually undo some of the damage we have done to the way our brains function? 


Every time we have a thought or perform an act, we fire nerve cells, and the nerve fibers that are involved in that thought or act are strengthened. Any thought or action often repeated strengthens and builds the nerve fibers so that it becomes easier to repeat that thought or action next time. These thoughts or actions create pathways that either bless or curse us once strongly established. 


What the child sees and hears is drawing deep lines upon the tender mind, which no after circumstances in life can entirely efface. The intellect is now taking shape, and the affections receiving direction and strength. Repeated acts in a given course become habits. These may be modified by severe training, in afterlife, but are seldom changed.” CG 199 


The best way to change habits is to develop new habits that are stronger than those we wish to overcome. There are some ways to increase our effectiveness when attempting to replace wrong habits. 


If someone offers you a cake, for example, your first thought may be "That looks so good." Immediately your brain sends a message with a certain number of millivolts of energy saying “Fire”, in other words, “Take the cake!” But if at that moment, you tell yourself, “No, I shouldn’t!”, your brain sends a number of millivolts of energy saying the opposite “Don’t fire! (or “Don’t take the cake!”). Your brain calculates the difference in millivolts of energy that those two messages contained, and if the latter message contains more millivolts of energy, your brain goes with the “Don’t fire!” message. Now if the difference in energy is only 10 millivolts for example, your response will be very weak, albeit, a “No thank you”. It takes at least 10 millivolts of energy to cause a brain cell to fire. And the devil, who is behind all the temptation we receive, when he sees that you hesitated weakly, will know that next time, if he lays better plans, he will win. If however, your No response is firm, and contains greater energy or emphasis, you will strengthen your will that much more. 


If we act decisively, say an emphatic “No!” or a positive “I will do it!” anytime we speak of our new desires, the nerve currents travel faster because they have been triggered more strongly. The stronger our decisiveness and the more energy we invest in our actions, the faster the nerve impulses will travel down the paths of our brains to build a new habit or to prevent an old one from repeating. 


This coincides with the verse: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; ... 

Eccl 9:10


As we make these decisions, one by one, we move closer to the goal of a stronger will, and a sound mind. Every little decision can move us into the realm of an addicted sinner, or a saint in the moral sphere, or an expert in the practical sphere. By so many separate acts, and always in cooperation with Divine Power, we can become what God has intended for us.



We shall be individually, for time and eternity, what our habits make us. The lives of those who form right habits, and are faithful in the performance of every duty, will be as shining lights, shedding bright beams upon the pathway of others; but if habits of unfaithfulness are indulged, if lax, indolent, neglectful habits are allowed to strengthen, a cloud darker than midnight will settle on the prospects in this life and forever debar the individual from the future life.” 4T, 452 



What if we fail?


Now suppose that you have been successful for the past few months in your new habit forming, and then one day, you slip, and act just as you used to, or indulge in something that you had vowed to avoid. This is when the devil comes in to whisper in your mind, that you are a failure, and that you haven’t changed at all. The devil would like you to give up right then and there, and to tell yourself that after all your trying, you have made no progress, and that it is utterly hopeless. This is not only the devil’s tactic, it is scientifically incorrect. Each victory you have had prior to this fall has strengthened the new pathways. There have been physical and chemical changes that have taken place in your nervous system. The devil would like you to keep this information from, but if you understand the power of every little choice made, you will realize that it’s a trick. 


When you experience a failure or fall, you must get up immediately and start working on the new pathway again. You have not lost any ground by the occasional fall. Every success in the right pathway is one time that you have not failed. Eventually, you will have developed such a strong habit in the right way that it will be very unlikely that you will respond in the old way. 


“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again ...”

Prov 24:16 



Toying With Destructive Thoughts


Another secret to good habit forming, especially when it comes to thoughts we’d like to change, is to cut off the old impulse immediately when it arises, and not to allow it to fully form. This takes practice, especially to catch it quickly. If we are dealing with a habitual thought or a very strong impulse, we may respond slower than we’d like. But with practice, our responses can become swift and deadly. As soon as a thought arises in your mind that you know you should not have, or that is not edifying, immediately replace the thought with something better. The most powerful replacement is to turn to God in prayer and praise. Praise Him for the victory He is going to give you. Thank Him for what He is already doing for you, and tell Him you are coming to Him for victory. Let your mind focus and linger on the opposite thoughts. For example, if a critical thought comes into your mind, replace it with a cheerful thought, a thankful thought focused on God or what He has done or is doing. Even something simple such as the bird song outside your window, or the beautiful view or sunshine, can be used as a stepping stone away from the destructive thoughts, and back to God. Repeating a Scripture that expresses the opposite thought that has come into your mind, is also extremely helpful. Psalm 103 is a fantastic psalm that can be repeated to lift the thoughts out of depression to the light of God’s love and the hope He offers.  This mental practice works for innumerable instances including, depression, anxiety, pornography and more. 


Toying with destructive thoughts strengthens them. According to Elden Chalmers, “The best way to nip the impulse in the bud is to go right back into the mind, uproot those character-destroying motives, plant the seed of your new purpose, and cultivate the new habit of thinking.” 

Healing the Broken Brain, p. 38 


This means that instead of saying “I wish I could do it, but I shouldn’t”, say truthfully, “I really don’t want to do it, and I won’t.” If you have trouble saying that truthfully, ask God to give you the desire to do what is right. Practice the opposite of the destroying habit you are trying to replace. Instead of criticizing, compliment, instead of being idle, plant a garden or go for a swim, instead of complaining, sing. Practice your new habit at every opportunity. Any time you have an emotional prompting to do right, do it. Don't silence it or postpone it. New habits grow with exercise. 


“For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he:…” 

Prov 23:7


“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” 

Matthew 12:37:


“Our words make a feedback loop to our brains and body centers that prompted them, compounding or intensifying our deep-seated thoughts and feelings.” Healing the Broken Brain, p. 57 


What we say reinforces our thoughts, which reinforces our behaviour. Do not allow yourself to express depressing or untrue thoughts, or you will be reinforcing them and adding to your troubles. Express hopeful and truthful thoughts. God loves you. He wants to save you. He has promised and is able to save you to the uttermost. (Heb 7:25) His plans for you are of hope and an expected end, not destruction and failure. He wants to give you the victory.  (Jer 29:11) He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.  (Heb 13:5) 

Fill your mind with the promises of God, both from God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy, and recite these to yourself whenever you feel yourself drifting, or even just as a precaution. 


Ellen White confirms this when she speaks of putting our doubts and negative thoughts and feelings into words:


Every word of doubt you utter is inviting Satan's temptations; it is strengthening in you the tendency to doubt, and it is grieving from you the ministering angels. When Satan tempts you, breathe not a word of doubt or darkness. If you choose to open the door to his suggestions, your mind will be filled with distrust and rebellious questioning. If you talk out your feelings, every doubt you express not only reacts upon yourself, but it is a seed that will germinate and bear fruit in the life of others, and it may be impossible to counteract the influence of your words. You yourself may be able to recover from the season of temptation and from the snare of Satan, but others who have been swayed by your influence may not be able to escape from the unbelief you have suggested. How important that we speak only those things that will give spiritual strength and life! SC 119


Many, walking along the path of life, dwell upon their mistakes and failures and disappointments, and their hearts are filled with grief and discouragement. While I was in Europe, a sister who had been doing this, and who was in deep distress, wrote to me, asking for some word of encouragement. The night after I had read her letter I dreamed that I was in a garden, and one who seemed to be the owner of the garden was conducting me through its paths. I was gathering the flowers and enjoying their fragrance, when this sister, who had been walking by my side, called my attention to some unsightly briers that were impeding her way. There she was mourning and grieving. She was not walking in the pathway, following the guide, but was walking among the briers and thorns. “Oh,” she mourned, “is it not a pity that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns?” Then the guide said, “Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks.” 


Have there not been some bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the chapters of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages? Are not God's promises, like the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand? Will you not let their beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy? 


The briers and thorns will only wound and grieve you; and if you gather only these things, and present them to others, are you not, besides slighting the goodness of God yourself, preventing those around you from walking in the path of life? 


It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,—its iniquities and disappointments,—to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with discouragement. A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others. 


Thank God for the bright pictures which He has presented to us.

SC 117, 118



Pray


Use prayer as a way to reinforce your good habits and desires, not the bad ones. E. Chalmers writes again: 


“When you ask God for victory over some bad habit, ask Him to bless you with those gifts that are the opposite of the habits you want to overcome. Don’t dwell on your bad habits in prayer!” Healing the Broken Brain, p. 39 


When praying, dwell on the emotions and habits you wish to experience, and allow the emotions of those new habits to touch you. Remember to ask in faith, expecting to receive, for if we ask anything according to His will, He will give it.  (Matt 7:7; Mark 9:23, John 14:13)  If we dwell on our failures, we will not be developing pathways of victory. But if we pray in faith, focusing on the positive promises of God, and not the weaknesses of our human flesh, God can strengthen our minds and our will. And as we dwell on the noble qualities we wish to develop, as we pray for them, our brain will send impulses to establish habit tendencies in harmony with our lingering thoughts and intents



Depression and Your Thoughts



Depression is a very common problem many of us experience and is a tool whereby Satan can bring us to distrust God and rob us of the joy God wants His children to have. Thinking negative thoughts can cause us to spiral into more and more negativity or depression until our whole life seems to be one long, sad journey. Our trust in God also diminishes and our problems seem insurmountable. But often our perspective is a faulty one, and without realizing it, we are giving Satan access to our minds.


Satan is exultant when he can lead the children of God into unbelief and despondency. He delights to see us mistrusting God, doubting His willingness and power to save us. He loves to have us feel that the Lord will do us harm by His providences. It is the work of Satan to represent the Lord as lacking in compassion and pity. He misstates the truth in regard to Him. He fills the imagination with false ideas concerning God; and instead of dwelling upon the truth in regard to our heavenly Father, we too often fix our minds upon the misrepresentations of Satan and dishonor God by distrusting Him and murmuring against Him. Satan ever seeks to make the religious life one of gloom. He desires it to appear toilsome and difficult; and when the Christian presents in his own life this view of religion, he is, through his unbelief, seconding the falsehood of Satan. SC 116


The techniques in this article can help towards combatting depression. You may want to seek additional professional help or research additional resources on treating depression, such as Neil Nedley’s book Depression—the Way Out.


Another technique that can help whenever depressing feelings or thoughts hit, is to physically move out of the spot where you are and to start thinking about something you can do with your hands. A change of environment can help you gain hold of your thoughts. Bring your mind to some physical activity – scrubbing, digging, planting, whatever you are able to do. Drink a glass of water. Breathe deeply in fresh air. Wash your face and back of your neck with cold water. Take a hot and cold shower to improve circulation. Any of these mechanical methods can help shift the firing patterns as well as improve the circulation of your blood. As you do these things, think new invigorating thoughts. This will trigger more new thoughts. Just as one depressing thought can lead to another, until we are spiraling into depression, so one positive thought, however, small, can trigger another one, until we have climbed out of the pit.

This may seem like a never-ending struggle, but have hope. There are many who struggle with the same fight. The fact that you have these struggles does not mean that you are less of a person, or somehow disabled permanently. The devil would have you believe that, but it is just a temporary state, from which God can give you the victory if you cooperate with Him.


Remember also the victories you have had. Recite them, and praise God for them. Remembering how God has helped you will strengthen your faith and help you to move forward.


We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history.” 9T p. 10


Jesus does not ask us to do anything He did not Himself practice. He practiced these techniques even on the cross.


Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In

Those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father'  acceptance heretofore given Him.

He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father's favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.”  DA 756



It was during those terrible hours of suffering, when Christ had no evidence that His Father was near, or that there was any sympathy for His suffering, that He clung to the evidence He had received in His life of His Father’s love.


This is walking by faith. If Christ used this method during His own trials, we should surely use it in ours.


We cannot but look forward to new perplexities in the coming conflict, but we may look on what is past as well as on what is to come, and say, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25. The trial will not exceed the strength that shall be given us to bear it. Then let us take up our work just where we find it, believing that whatever may come, strength proportionate to the trial will be given. SC 125


But even here Christians may have the joy of communion with Christ; they may have the light of His love, the perpetual comfort of His presence. Every step in life may bring us closer to Jesus, may give us a deeper experience of His love, and may bring us one step nearer to the blessed home of peace. Then let us not cast away our confidence, but have firm assurance, firmer than ever before. “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” and He will help us to the end. 1 Samuel 7:12. Let us look to the monumental pillars, reminders of what the Lord has done to comfort us and to save us from the hand of the destroyer. Let us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies that God has shown us,—the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed,—thus strengthening ourselves for all that is before us through the remainder of our pilgrimage. SC 125



Conclusion


The brain’s plasticity offers a promise of healing. We don’t need to live with the loss of our abilities, loss of emotional control, or memory, or with confused thinking. Our hereditary and cultivated tendencies need not control us. We can take responsibility for our choice of lifestyle, and the thought patterns we practice. If we take God at His Word and believe His promises, with His help we may reach new heights mentally and spiritually.


By faith we may look to the hereafter and grasp the pledge of God for a growth of intellect, the human faculties uniting with the divine, and every power of the soul being brought into direct contact with the Source of light. We may rejoice that all which has perplexed us in the providences of God will then be made plain, things hard to be understood will then find an explanation; and where our finite minds discovered only confusion and broken purposes, we shall see the most perfect and beautiful harmony. “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 

1 Corinthians 13:12. SC 112 




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Who is Jesus?
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Did Jesus Ever Exist? Was Jesus the Messiah? Jesus: The Mercy Seat Is What Christianity Teaches True? The Godhead and the One True God Movement Is Jesus God? Why Did Jesus Have To Die? Six Purposes for Christ's Life and Death on Earth The 70-Week Prophecy What Day Did Jesus Die? Jesus, the Recycled Redeemer Names of Christ in Revelation
Prophecy
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
The First Beast—Comparing Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 Revelation Identifies End-Time Babylon Identifying the Antichrist The Second Beast of Revelation 13 The Final Confederacy The Seven Plagues Walking Through Daniel Walking through Revelation
Religious Trends
What are the trends in the religious world today? Sun Worship, The UN and the One World Religion, Eastern Mysticism and Spiritism... Just what do all these things mean in light of Bible prophecy?
Babylonian Religion Sun Worship Wealth Redistribution The Charismatic Movement Politics and the Papacy Paganism and Mary Spiritism throughout Religions Catholic Pentecostalism Unity at All Cost? Sustainability Paganism and Christmas Pentecostalism The Charismatic Movement and Spiritual Gifts The New Age Movement Manifesting the Charismatic Spirit Paganism in our Culture Secret Societies The United Nations' Global Government The History of Tongues Revival and the "Power of God" Signs and Wonders What’s So Bad about Spiritual Formation? Zionism
Sabbath
Most people can understand the reasoning behind nine of the Ten Commandments—don't kill, don't lie, don't steal. But what about the Sabbath Commandment? Why would God give such a law? Why should we follow it?
What is the Seventh-Day Sabbath? Creation and the Sabbath The Weekly Cycle Why Sunday? Sabbath FAQ
The Second Coming of Christ
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Signs of The Second Coming of Christ The Second Coming of Christ Viewpoints How Christ will Return What will Happen to God's People? What will Happen to the Rejecters of God? Will there be a Secret Rapture? The Millennium of Peace
The Bible
Can the Bible be trusted to provide answers to our questions? Does it contain truth? Learn about the evidence that proves the Bible's authenticity.
Archaeology Confirms the Bible Choosing the Books of the Bible Testing the Gospel of Thomas Studying Scripture Scripture is Inspired by God Testing the Gospel of Judas The Spirit in Scripture The Gospel Story The Lost Books of the Bible Spiritual Gifts
Christian Living: Sin and Salvation
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life.
Christian Living Good God, Bad World. Why? God's Plan to Eradicate Sin The Ceremonial Feasts Pointed to Christ
Death
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life? What are the false doctrines involving the immortality of the soul?
Death: Understanding the Terminology A Biblical Understanding of Death The Resurrection of Lazarus Spiritism Hell and Purgatory An Immediate Afterlife? The Parable of Lazarus