Spiritual Brain Surgery with Dr. Lee Warren

Sometimes, Life Can Make Us Feel Overwhelmed, Damaged, or Exhausted

If that's you, here's a some help through the power of learning to abide in God's presence, and some surprising ideas from scripture and science about learning to heal and hear.

Scripture: Isaiah 30, Matthew 12:20

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What is Spiritual Brain Surgery with Dr. Lee Warren?

When life gets hard, does what we think we believe hold us up, or does it crumble under the weight of doubt? I'm your host, Dr. Lee Warren- I'm a brain surgeon, author, and a person who's seen some stuff and wondered where God is in all this mess. This is The Spiritual Brain Surgery podcast, where we'll take a hard look at what we believe, why we believe it, and the neuroscience behind how our minds and our brains can smash together with faith to help us become healthier, feel better, and be happier so we can find the hope to withstand anything life throws at us. You've got questions, and we're going to do the hard work to find the answers, but you can't change your life until you change your mind, and it's gonna take some spiritual-brain surgery to get it done. So let's get after it.

Good morning, my friend. I'm Dr. Lee Warren, and it is time for a little spiritual brain surgery.

We're going to do just a quick little Bible study prayer time this morning.

We're going to review our Abide practice.

We're about four weeks into the 10 to 12 minutes a day of working on learning

how to abide in Him, get our brains and our spirits lined up,

calm our voice, our internal voice, us and just get down to that place where we can really hear.

Today I've got a quick little message for you if you're tired of being so tired,

if everything feels so hard and you just don't know what to do.

Today we're going to address that just a little bit when God's got some words

for you, some things to say.

We're going to talk about all that in just a minute on Spiritual Brain Surgery.


Okay, so we've been working on this abide practice for several weeks now.

And the whole idea is that we're trying to get to a place where we approach

meditation and prayer in a different way, not just a transaction,

not just pulling the handle on the slot machine and hoping that God will give

us what we want, not just telling Him what we're concerned about.

He already knows those things.

But learning how to hear Him and interact with Him on a deeper level than we

ever have before. That's what Abide's about.

And yeah, there's lots of different ways to look at this. It's not Eastern meditation, okay?

When Eastern meditators talk about meditating, they're talking about calming

the inner voice, learning to be quiet.

When Christians meditate, we're talking about learning how to tune our minds

to the right frequency so we can hear what God has to say, to calm our internal

voice so we can hear His voice.

Prayer is talking to God, relating to Him, interacting with Him,

and meditation is part of that. It's the response part where we're quiet,

be still, and know that I am God, he says.

So we have this abide practice. We're going to talk about that again today.

It's been shown clearly from neuroscience that people that learn to meditate

for even as little as 10 to 12 minutes a day for eight weeks make significant

structural changes in the parts of their brain that are related to emotional stability,

resilience, problem solving, handling stress, and we want that, right?

And the idea that I had was if we look at Jesus and we understand that Jesus controlled his mind,

that Jesus then therefore would have written the right programs into his brain,

that his brain would have been structurally ideal for living this life of handling

hard things but also finding abundance.

And so we want our minds to be like Christ, and Paul tells us in Corinthians

that we have the mind of Christ.

If you're saved, you've already got the mind of Christ. The trick is that the

enemy in life continues to convince us that we're stuck with the same old mind that we've always had.

How do we get to the mind of Christ that we already have? How do we stop living like we don't have it?

The answer is we learn to abide in him. It says in John, if you abide in me,

then you're connected to the vine.

You'll get everything you need. Peter says he gives us everything we need for life and godliness.

We have all that we need from him because we have the mind of Christ.

So getting our mind, our flesh mind, aligned with our spirit mind that we actually

have, It's how we get to that place where we can live in this John 16, 33 hard world.

We can live in this John 10, 10 thief comes to steal and kill and destroy world,

but also have I've overcome the world in John 16, 33, and also have I came that

you might have life and have it abundantly in John 10, 10. We want both, okay?

Because we know that life's going to have trauma and tragedy and massive things,

but we also want to be able to have abundance and meaning and purpose and maybe

even something that looks like happiness again.

That's what we're going to get, hopefully, by learning how to abide in Him.

I got an email from Kathy.

Kathy says, hey, I find my best work, my best ability to communicate is when

I'm moving, when I'm walking on the treadmill, listening to worship music.

I find that moving keeps me able to let my mind become more calm than if I'm trying to sit still.

Some people, this was pointed out to me by Gina Berkmeyer, is a therapist that

has written in a few times.

She's written a great book called Generations Deep, by the way,

about generational trauma.

Generations Deep by Gina Berkmeyer is on Amazon. It's a great book.

And she said, you know, some people find that they need to move.

This is the basis of tapping and other forms of movement-related meditation.

And Jesus did it, okay? Look throughout the Gospels. Jesus was always on the

move. He was going up to a mountain.

He was riding in the sand. He was walking. He was moving around all the time.

And when you move, your brain releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor,

BDNF, which helps calm your brain.

So movement is a perfectly acceptable way to do this.

So if you find that you can't be still and sit, movement is just fine.

Learn how to abide however and wherever and whenever you are.

That's how you're going to connect your mind to your spirit,

to your body, and change your mind and change your life. Okay?

Now, I gave you these words, abide.

Approach. Just get near Him, okay? Whether you're sitting, you're standing,

you're driving, you're listening to music.

And I favor, okay, instrumental music is better than music with lyrics because

when you play music with lyrics, you're getting that left hemisphere of your brain involved.

And it's all about taking a snapshot, trying to figure out what this is about,

trying to know it in the, I want to know the facts of God sort of way.

That's what the left hemisphere fear is all about, presenting to your mind a

fact-based relationship.

I know this, okay?

Like I could say, I know Lisa, my wife, and she's 5'2", and she has the most

incredible sort of tiger-colored hazel eyes, and she's this and she's that,

and I can know all these things about her, okay?

But those language-related ways of knowing God or Lisa or basketball or whatever

else you you want to describe,

those things aren't the same as the kind of right hemisphere of your brain,

the canon, as the Germans would say, the idea that you know who God is, you know how He is.

I know the ways of my wife, Lisa. I know how she moves and what she smells like

and what she sounds like, and that kind of knowledge comes from the right hemisphere.

And that's a deeper, more experiential kind of knowledge and relationship,

and you can't get that with language.

You get it from experience, okay? And so what we want with instrumental music

is to have some music that calms our minds and get some neurotransmitters flowing,

but not language that we're trying to process to sing along, play along.

And maybe that's your choice of what kind of music you listen to comes into it too.

Like for me, I'm a guitar player, so if I play acoustic guitar music like Carl

Minor or something I've given you before, I don't find myself focusing on the music.

Like, oh, what was that? A cello? Was that a violin? Was that a viola?

What was that? What was that part that he played? I didn't understand that.

And I can talk myself out of meditating by trying to focus in on the music.

So find some sort of music that you can listen to that you don't have to focus on.

That becomes sort of the soundtrack, this background playing so that you don't

think about the music and you don't think about lyrics and get that Get that

right hemisphere going.

Get that knowledge of knowing, getting to know who God is and feeling his presence and experiencing him.

So this Abide idea is approach him. Just get close and just be still,

he says, and know that I'm God. And then breathe.

Just learn to breathe in and breathe out. Let's get these breath prayers going.

Teach me to see you all around me, through me, around me. Let me experience you.

And then invite him into the moment. Like, God, I don't know what it's like

to hear you. I want to hear your voice more clearly.

Please come in and show yourself to me. Let me get to know you.

Let me get to know you like a friend, like a person who I could experience and

get to know and not just be afraid of or not just wonder about.

I want to know you. So I'm inviting you into this place and this time.

I'm going to give you my mind and give you my heart and give you my everything.

I'm here. I'm inviting you.

And then depend on Him. Just say, hey, this situation I'm facing,

I can't do it without you.

I figured that out. I've been living long enough that this hard life, I just can't do it.

And I seek my truth and I seek what I think is going to make me happy.

And I try and try to change this habit or break that thing or make this relationship

work. And I just can't. I can't do it, God.

And so I depend on you. And just put that out there and listen Listen for Him

to tell you what He needs and what He wants and what He wishes for you.

And then experience Him. So there's this thing that we have where we don't pay

the right kind of attention.

And we pray for things and then some things happen and we don't recognize that

that came from God. We don't allow us to see.

We don't allow ourselves to see God in the moment.

And sometimes when He does something we ask Him for, we don't give Him credit

for. We don't recognize that he was the source of it, okay?

The Bible says that God provides the seed for the sower and bread for eating.

So we do all this work. We don't recognize that our ability to do the work came from him.

We get the harvest. We don't recognize that the magic and the soil and the chemistry

and the biology of how the soil works is what made the bread grow.

We think it happened because we planted the seeds.

But the seed came from him, and the soil came from him, and the wind and the

rain. and the temperature came from him and the harvest came from him and the

cell germination and the biology of how that crop reproduced came from him.

So just take a minute in this process of abiding to acknowledge.

The entire experience is in and of and through and because of and for him.

And that will center you and ground you in the right way.

You're depending on him. You're experiencing him. You're telling him that you

want to have him in this moment.

So just spend some time allowing him into that experience.

And we'll take it back to the second level to stop contemplating and start operating

a level another time. But I just want to remind you what this is about.

It's about approaching Him, breathing Him in and breathing Him out and inviting

Him into the moment and recognizing that you completely depend on Him and that

the entire experience is because of and for and with and through and from Him.

It's not too stressful because you're not responsible for creating it. He's going to do that.

You're just letting the right half of your brain do what he made it for.

It's an antenna to experience and know him.

Now, I just want to give you a couple of scriptures here. In Matthew 12,

20, Jesus said, A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

And Jesus is quoting Isaiah 42, 1 through 4 here when he said that.

That a bruised reedy will not break, a smoldering wicky will not snuff out.

Right now, some of us are bruised.

Life has beaten you up. You've gone through something hard. You're experiencing a massive thing.

You're grieving. You're hurting. You're stuck. You're addicted.

You're lost. You're cheated on. You've messed up again.

Something's happened, and you're bruised, and you're smoldering.

You feel like your fire is just about to go out.

And every day you look in the mirror and say, how did I get here with this life?

And why is it always so hard?

And I'm tired of being so tired, and my mind won't stop racing.

I've got so much on my mind. There's a million plates spinning,

and I don't know what to do.

And you have to say, what am I doing?

And God says, hey, when you feel like that, when you feel like you're on your

last leg, when you're bruised and you're smoldering, don't be afraid to come to me then.

Like we think we ought to clean ourselves up and get ourselves right for him.

And he says, I want you to come here and fall apart and let me nourish you back to health.

I will straighten that reed out,

and I will prop it up, and I will bandage it, and I will help you heal.

And I will rekindle that fire in your heart. I'll help you come alive again.

He says, I'm not going to snuff you out. I'm not going to snap you down and chop you down.

Yesterday I was out on the riverbank cutting down this tall river grass.

They're reeds, okay? These reeds that come up out of the water.

And they grow so thick that we can't see the geese and the swans and the cranes

and the river. So I went out there with a hedge trimmer, a long pole trimmer,

cut them down, and it's hard work.

I'm out there chopping these reeds down, and I just got this strong metaphor.

This verse from Jesus saying, hey, your reed is bruised.

Like some of them, when I cut them, some of them kind of fall over and they're

not all the way cut through.

And I remember from seeing gardeners before, they can take those reeds and they

can straighten them up and bandage them.

And they'll reconnect and regrow and they won't die.

Like even though they're damaged, you can fix them, right?

So Jesus is saying here, I'm not going to be the guy that when you come to me

and you're bent or broken or you're smoldering and you think you're just about

done for, I'm going to be the guy that puts you back together.

I don't think you have to come to me all perfect and all presentable.

You come to me at your worst moment. So that's the time, friend,

when abide is really going to help you. When you say, God, I'm bruised here.

I'm smoldering. I need you to keep that promise and not snuff me out.

I need you to help me come back alive.

Does that make sense? So this is the kind of thing that you can talk to him

about when you're practicing this, okay?

And I want to give you one more little scripture, and it's Isaiah 30.

There's two pieces of Isaiah 30. One is in Isaiah 30, 15.

The other one is Isaiah 30, 18. So 30, 15, God says this.

You're at the point where you're bruised and you're smoldering and you're just

about done for and you don't know what to say.

And you say, God, what now?

What can I do? And he says this, in repentance and rest is your salvation.

In quietness and trust is your strength.

Now, repentance here, obviously, if there's a sin problem,

if you're stuck in some habit that's harming you, if you have a sin issue,

if you're in a relationship you shouldn't be in, if you're addicted to pornography,

if you're drinking and putting yourself into some state where you can't hear from him.

If you're in a situation where your life is not what he or you know it should

be, then repentance means turning away from that, changing your direction.

So if you say, I'm tired of being so tired, I'm tired of everything being so

hard all the time, he says, okay, well, turn away from that. Change your direction.

And then rest, and I'll give you some rest. And quietness and trust is your strength.

And maybe it's not even a sin problem. Maybe it's that Hebrews 12 thing where

it's just cast off everything that hinders you.

Maybe you are doing too much work that's not what you're being called to.

Maybe you need to learn the holy no.

You're saying yes to too many things. You don't want to disappoint people,

and you're just burned out. You're burning a candle at both ends,

and you're just worn out.

And he says, hey, that's why I told you about Sabbath. And repentance and rest is your salvation.

There's somebody listening to this today that needs to hear this.

It's time for you to rest and stop spinning your wheels all the time.

He says, in quietness and trust is your strength.

We think our strength comes from working harder and doing more and going faster

and saying yes to everything and being out there on the front edge of whatever

it is that's going on. And he says, no, stop.

Repentance and rest is your salvation. Quietness and trust is your strength. I'm going to renew you.

And he even says, but you would have none of it. He's talking to people who

aren't listening. He said, hey, the answer is to stop.

And you would have none of it. You're going to keep going and eventually you're

going to crumble because in fact, in the passage here in Isaiah 30,

16, it says, no, you said, no, we will flee on horses. We will ride off on swift horses.

They're basically saying, we're going to pick up the sword and we're going to

fight this battle ourselves. And God's saying, no, you need to stop. You need to rest.

You need to trust. You need to be still and know that I'm God.

And then down in 18, this is the punchline for today of our practice today.

Day. I want you to spend some time in the abide process and think about this first.

The Lord longs to be gracious to you, friend.

You think that you're bruised and you're smoldering and you're worn out and

how could God possibly want you in that state?

The enemy says, you got to get yourself squared away before you go and talk to God about this.

And he says, no, the Lord longs to be gracious to you. He will rise up to show

you compassion. Do you get that, friend?

The Lord Lord of heaven will get up out of his chair to be compassionate to

you. That's the message you need to hear today.

For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.

It's interesting that this word, longs, when the Lord longs to be gracious to

you, and the word at the end, blessed are all those who wait for Him,

that longing and waiting,

those words are yakal, they're variants of the word yakal, which really in Hebrew means hope.

It's this idea of waiting and waiting, almost an ambush,

like you are going to wait for Him, and you're going to pounce on Him when He

comes by, and you're going to hold on to Him for all that there is, because this word,

this word yachal has to do with sort of being so tightly bound that the rope

almost pierces your skin because

you're going to tie yourself to him because he is where your hope is.

Terri Lee Cobble at the end of every one of her devotionals on the Bible Recap

says, he's where the joy is.

Friends, that's what it is. The Lord longs to be gracious.

He, yachal, he's holding on to hope that you will allow him to be gracious to you.

And he wants to get up out of his chair to help you. For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for him.

A better translation is happy are those who hope in him, who hope for him,

who won't let go of the rope that will hold them to him.

Okay? This is the message for today. He won't snuff you out. He won't chop you down.

He wants to help you. He doesn't want to wait for you to be ready.

He wants you to stop and rest and let Him come and be the great physician and

minister to you. So it's time to abide in Him.

Get you some music. Spend 10 or 12 minutes and just abide in Him.

Approach Him. Breathe Him in. Invite Him into the moment.

Depend on Him. And then be willing and ready to experience Him and recognize

Him when He shows up, friend.

That's all there is to it. We're trying to make our hippocampus stronger.

We're trying to make synaptic changes in our brains that make us more resilient

and more hopeful and more untouchable as time goes on.

And the way we do that is we use the mind of Christ to create the brain that's more like Christ.

That's self-brain surgery. And you can do that, my friend. And you can start today.