Faith and Science are connected like clasping our hands together in prayer. God connects all life. God is Life (Romans 1:16). Oh, how aware of this connection as we now enter this uncertain pandemic journey. As I share with you some emotions and thoughts, they include my families in California and Georgia. We talk or FaceTime daily; it used to be weekly due to our over-scheduled lives. It may be difficult to manage our thinking with the vast issues impacting our lives which may also change daily! How to live daily, how to shop for groceries, joyful and sad videos, loss, no work, too much work, etc. Wow! Change can be like going through a car wash on a bicycle, getting a drink from a fire hydrant, or ADJUSTING to life in our country with COVID-19! As we adjust to this new way of life, it reminds me of a cross-stitch my mother completed while living with cancer at age 50 and provided strength, courage, and resiliency for years and hangs in my home today. It has provided spiritual growth in my professional counseling and leadership career of 49 years.
The Serenity Prayer
GRANT ME THE
ACCEPT THE THINGS
I CANNOT CHANGE…
COURAGE TO CHANGE
THOSE THINGS I CAN
TO KNOW THE
The Serenity Prayer is known for its origin from theologian Niebuhr, originally published in 1951; military chaplains and soldiers are recorded using it in WW II. The Biblical verse is Psalm 42:1-5, plus other verses. This is also found in other global religions. What does this prayer mean for you? How can we use this prayer? Maybe it is true acceptance since acceptance requires effort; it takes courage to change and surrender; difficulties can be good; and emotional health is attainable now and in the future. Those initial 25 words of the prayer have multiple meanings on multiple levels.
The importance of putting scripture to memory is a guide for all areas and events in life. For Bible scholars, they have many, many, and more! Liz Curtis Higgs authored the book “31 Verses to Write on Your Heart”. These provide a boost to us and for friends, when encouragement is needed. I have participated in many of her books as a Bible Study. Highly recommend! She is an author of contemporary fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, and children’s books.
These two are my go-to from: PROVERBS 4:23
– Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
New International Version
– Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts, …
Message Bible, Proverbs 23-27
There are multiple versions of this. Notice the words above and the following versions. Does a word make a difference? What comparison (different and similar) does that make in your interpretation of the verse.
– Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
New Living Translation
– Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
English Standard Version
– Watch over your heart with all diligence. For from it flow the springs of life.
New American Standard Bible
– Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
New King James Version
– Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
King James Bible
– Guard your heart above all else, for it is the course of life.
Christian Standard Bible
– Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.
Contemporary English Version
– Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
Good News Translation
Cross references are in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, and several in Proverbs.
Guarding our heart? The Serenity Prayer? Are these referring to our emotions that originate in our brain and the feeling from the emotion is emitted in our heart? In our courage? There are some key players in brain research which impact our emotional living: 1) Amygdala, 2) Hippocampus, 3) Prefrontal Cortex. The amygdala determines our emotional expressions and triggers a response to sadness – joy – anger – surprise – fear – disgust. Some say these are “hardwired” from birth unless we teach other types of thinking expressions and responses. The amygdala is programmed to keep us safe and blocks information going to the prefrontal cortex. It can cause us to react without thinking. Have we each done that? Do we each know someone who has reacted without thinking? Notice your initial reaction to events; it lasts only 90 seconds. You might say: “Oh, when I get fearful or angry, it last hours or days.” It does last longer because we keep focusing on the feeling to the event! Another option is to use your favorite Bible verse or prayer to be in the Kingdom of God. Spiritual growth can help keep the amygdala in check so that we can think clearly. React or think it out!
These thinking expressions that are developed and taught: empathy, humility, forgiveness, compassion, sympathy, patience, cooperation, gratitude, perseverance, courage, self-direction, and engagement. ALL of these are Bible based. The prefrontal cortex is our ace for making thoughtful decisions, calculations, problem solving and staying focused on our task. The prefrontal cortex gets information only when the amygdala is calm. The prefrontal cortex passes on to the Hippocampus anything that is worth remembering. Faith and Science connect!
The hippocampus creates, stores, and processes all important facts and memories the prefrontal cortex passes on to it – such as texting shortcuts, your routines, Bible verses, Lord’s Prayer, Nicene Creed, and the deep, warm smell of freshly baked bread or cookies. The hippocampus only grows at night; so, sleep it important, especially the last 15 minutes. The hippocampus is like nightshade plants, tomatoes, and only grows at night. Therefore, the first soul-training in the Apprenticeship Series is sleep. Get your Z’s so your brain can absorb your prayers and Bible verses to send to the hippocampus. Being well rested helps the amygdala: studies show that alert people have fewer accidents. Faith and Science connect!
These are cognitive thinking expressions and skills and not emotions. Each of these are taught through our faith journey of growth. Reading the Bible and prayer helps us mindfully listen to God’s Word and focus our awareness on our spiritual growth. Journal writing also enhances moving from “hardwired” feelings to developing these learned thinking expressions and skills. Neurologist have mapped in the brain that is stimulated when our brain is in a spiritual mode; which is the upper region of the brain. WOW! Amazing! We are different when the brain is resting unproductively versus thinking, especially when practicing and growing in our faith. Keys to handling emotions in healthy ways is by raising the behavior bar through spiritual growth our entire life. Faith and Science connect!
Christianity is a growing experience (Ephesians 4:14-16, Philippians 3:12, Acts 2:42-49, Corinthians 9-17).
Terrible things have happened in the world and we have moved forward.
Don’t give into fear. Take care of your BRAIN through
– Bible Study: consider a Chronological Life Application Study Bible
– Devotional daily: Bob Goff: Live in Grace Walk in Love, or for gardeners: Devotions from the Garden
– Book: Liz Curtis Higgs or Bob Goff (Everybody Always)
In summary, let us each pray our own prayer that this journey and continue to transform and renew our work of the Holy Spirit through (source: Apprenticeship Series)
1. Adopting the Narratives of Jesus
2. Engaging in Soul-Training (Plenty of Sleep, Silence & Awareness of Creation, Count Blessings, Lectio Divina, Boundaries, Read the Bible, Silence, Slow Down), Write a Letter to God, Play, Hospitality (giving to food insecurity), Keeping the sabbath (online), Media Fast, Pray for Success of Competitors, Secret Service to Others, De-Accumulation, and Live One Day Devotionally
3. Participating in Community (new digital venues plus paper and pen!)
We are one body united in the Kingdom of God (Mathew 18: 15-18, John 17: 11-23, Corinthians).
As Dallas Willard says: “Love is willing good for others.” Love to St. Paul Lutheran Church. Gratitude to those who have inspired my spiritual growth: Richard B., Jessica B., Jim S., Deena H., Marilyn & Wendell S., Carol B., RoxAnn R. & Linda D., Cindy T., Lonna N., Brenda H., Pr. Mike, and my dear family.
In closure, a simple prayer may we each do today:
A – Adoration (Psalm 113: 1-2)
C – Confession (1 John 1: 8-9)
T – Thanksgiving (Psalm 107:1)
S – Supplication (our requests) (Hebrews 4:16)
Be Safe. Engage in Soul-Training.
St. Paul Lutheran Church member since 1974
Church office phone: 515-462-4270
Church office email: StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies: 605-351-0867