Meditation Monday: Vitamin D and Brain Health

Now may God, the fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust Him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! Romans 15:13

This weeks meditation is from the book of Romans. This verse is a prayer that Paul prayed over his brothers and sisters in Christ living in Rome. May you be filled with uncontainable joy and peace as you trust Him. Joy and peace are emotions that have been linked to physical and emotional health.

Interestingly, Vitamin D has also been linked to physical and emotional health. Vitamin D is a steroid-like fat soluble vitamin that is synthesize in the skin by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish and other fortified foods. The brain uses a lot of vitamin D and studies are revealing it’s neuroprotective effects. Low vitamin D has been linked to disease like dementia, autism, cardiovascular disease, and depression (Anjum et al, 2018). I suggest that taking 2000-5000 iu daily.

As you trust Him this week, take time to meditate on the joy and peace that is promised to you. Jesus said “I am Light of the world”. Let His Light shine on you. Peace be with you all.

————————————————————————————————————-Anjum, I., Jaffery, S. S., Fayyaz, M., Samoo, Z., & Anjum, S. (2018). The Role of Vitamin D in Brain Health: A

Mini Literature Review. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.2960

Meditation Monday

Jesus replied, “If you only knew who I am and the gift that God wants to give you, you’d ask me for a drink, and I would give you living water.” John 4:10

Water is essential to life. The human body is composed of mostly water, but most people do not drink enough. Water helps maintain our body temperature, lubricate our joints, and helps our cells perform their vital function. Many common aliments like heartburn, muscle aches, and head aches might be alleviated by just drinking enough water. One simple way to find how much water you need per day is to take your body weight and divide it in half and that is how much water you need per day. For example, a 120 pound woman needs 60 oz. of water per day.

Our mediation this week is from the Book of John. The word that stood out to me in this scripture is the word “gift”. How many of us are going around thirsty, because we have not recognized the gift of living water given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Water in the bible often symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that whoever believes in Him will have living water flowing from their innermost being (John 7:38). Jesus also said that he would give us another, a Comforter, that would remain with us forever (John 14:16). The living water is the Spirit of Jesus. It is His Life giving Spirit that is as vital to the body and the Spirit as the physical drinking of water. Have you ask Him for a drink? Are you thirsty today? Are you hurting physically and spiritually? Come and drink the life giving water! You will never be thirsty!

Meditation Monday

A Stanford University brain scan study revealed that people who think or focus on negative things, about themselves or life situations, have increased activity in the amygdala, producing fear that releases negative neurotransmitters into the brain. Other studies of the brain have shown that choosing to focus on things that make you angry or frightened can actually damage your brain. Choosing to focus on positive, faith-based thoughts, through meditation and prayer, changes the synaptic activity at the end of the neuron improving its function. Daily meditation, focusing our thoughts on positive things, improves the memory and trains the brain to remain calm in adversity. Lastly, mediating on God’s love strengthens the same neurological circuits that allow a person to feel compassionate towards others. This weeks mediation is from the Book of Isaiah 26:3-4:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Radial Transformation

Jesus came to show us the Father. He obeyed the Father out of love, not in fear of punishment or to prove himself. He (Jesus) understood His obedience to the Father had a bigger purpose than himself. His obedience to His Father would reinstate the would back to Himself, redeeming the whole world.

We are are called to live in relationship with the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in Love and obedience. When we understand the power of the cross and the Love that drove Jesus, there is no other response, but to surrender to King Jesus in obedience and love. It is our of love for Him (Jesus) that drives us to respond to His love by loving others.

Jesus brought the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, and those that followed Him, brought the Kingdom of Heaven to a hurting world. We are called to be conduits of His Love, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. The Kingdom is not about eating or drinking but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven is not about you and me, and what God can do for us, but about you and me dwelling in the secret place and releasing the Kingdom of heaven everywhere we go.

In order to bring heaven to earth, first and foremost, we must spend time with Jesus in order to know Him. We have to let go of the things of the world that keeping us from developing a close relationship with Him. Go to Him today. He is a good King who rules in power and truth. He is a safe place of refuge and of radial transformation. Radial obedience will lead to radial blessings in all areas of our life and right believing will lead to right living.

Meditation Monday

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverb 17:22

Medical studies are confirming that a healthy mind contributes to a healthy body. Our brain is connected to our immune system through small vessels. Fearful, negative thoughts release negative stress neurotransmitters. Over time, these negative neurotransmitters can accelerate cellular aging and damage the brain. What you mediate on matters! Our mediation this week is from the Song of Songs 2:14-15:

For you are my dove, hidden in the split-open rock. It was I who took you and hid you high in the secret stairway of the sky. Let me see your radiant face and hear your sweet voice. How beautiful your eyes of worship and lovely your voice of prayer. You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together.

“Foxes” are thoughts and attitudes of the heart that distract us from fully engaging in our relationship with Jesus through worship and prayer. “Foxes” are areas in our life that we have not fully surrendered to the Victory of Christ. This week, will you catch these “troubling foxes” that are keeping you from going to the secret place to spend time with Jesus? He calls you His beloved and he thinks you are beautiful and your voice is lovely!

Meditation Monday

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. John 3:16-17

This weeks meditation is John 3:16-17. For believers, this is a very familiar passage, but one that really needs to be pondered. Love is something that everyone needs and desires. Love is at the root of feeling secure. Jesus gave up His life, so that those who believe in Him, shall not perish but shall have eternal life. His love never fails and never changes. Jesus also gave a command: love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself. Today, think about the kind of love that drove Jesus to the cross for you and me. Also, ponder on the love that God has for you as His most prized workmanship. Lastly, think loving thoughts about yourself. You have have been fearfully and wonderfully made. You have gifts and talents and the world needs you. You are valuable to the world and those around you. My prayer for you today:

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! Ephesians 3:17-19

Meditation Monday

There are multiple reasons why many are sick today. Diet, lack of exercise, and genetics play important roles in health, but one overlook area to health is our thoughts and emotions. What one thinks and speaks does matter. The bible tells us that as a man thinks so he is in his heart (Proverbs 23:7) and out of the fullness (superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). The things of this world are temporal or temporary, but there is a Kingdom that is eternal. There is also a King that has come and will come again to establish His Kingdom on earth-King Jesus. This week, instead of mediating on the things of the world, shift your focus to Jesus and His Kingdom. His Kingdom is full of grace and filled with the abundance of life. He has loved you from the foundation of the world and wants to give you life and life more abundantly. The scripture for this week is John 10:9-11. As you read it, take one or two words from the scripture, and intentionally think and speak those words throughout the day and throughout the week. Changing your thoughts will change your life!

John 10: 9-11 I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. A thief has only one thing in mind-he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect-life in its fullness until you overflow!

The Power of Rumination: Good or Bad

Rumination is a process of thinking on something repeatedly or in deep contemplation. The brain is an amazing organ, and like the rest of our body, it has an innate ability to heal itself. Functional brain scans have revealed that negative rumination can actually hurt the brain. People who focus on negative things about life, and or themselves, have an increase in amygdala activity where fearful thoughts. are generated. Fearful or even angry rumination releases negative neurotransmitters that have a negative effect on the brain and the body. The wonderful thing is that a person can choose what they ruminate on. Choosing to think positive faith-based thoughts actually improve health and strengthen neurological circuits. Studies have shown that mediating on love strengthens areas of the brain that increase our compacity to express compassion towards others. (Newburg et al, 2010). 1 John 4:16 tells us that God is love. Focusing on God’s love for us is key to a healthy mind and body. In contrast, religious practices that focus on fear may actually hurt the anterior cingulate area of the brain, and cause people to be less compassionate and more aggressive towards others (Newburg et al, 2010). 1 John 4:18 states that this is no fear in love but perfect love (God’s love) drives fear out because fear has to do with punishment. In Christ, the believer is free from punishment and adopted as a child of God. Focusing on God’s love revealed through His son, will set the believer free from condemnation and fear. The fear of the Lord is a worshipful fear of admiration and awe. He is all powerful. He is all light and there is no darkness within Him. In Him is life more abundantly. Meditation (selective attention) is a powerful tool to help heal the brain. Studies have revealed that the daily practice of meditation helps improve working memory (Newburg et al, 2010). Furthermore, mediation increases IL-10 an anti-inflammatory cytokine and decreases inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF alpha. Inflammation is at the root of all illness so mediation has health benefits. Fearful meditation, or evil foreboding, releases stress neurotransmitters involved in the flight or fight response. These stress neurotransmitters increase cortisol. A chronic state of flight or fight response causes chronic elevations in cortisol that can increase weight gain and suppress the immune system. A suppressed immune system makes us more susceptible to illness. High cortisol levels have a negative affect on DHEA which is important for the productions of hormones and immune function.

Our thoughts have power. We can choose life producing thoughts or thoughts that will bring death. Mediation was always God’s plan for us to live life to the fullest. Scripture tells us to take wrong thoughts captive and to think on things above. In other words, we must choose to think Kingdom thoughts. God’s thoughts are good towards His children. He has great plans His children. The problem is that people do not understand how much God’s loves them. Religion makes God out to be angry and just waiting to punish all humanity. Religion tells people you have to follow all the rules or you will be punished. The truth is that in Christ, we are made righteous not based on works or following rules ,but by faith in Jesus Christ. It His love for us and His grace that empower us to desire to know Him and to follow his ways. We love Him because He first loved us. Jesus came to save the world not condemn it.

What are you ruminating on today? Is it bringing life to you or death? Start today ruminating on God’s love for you. It will heal your mind and bring health to your body. Think life and speak life! Right believing about God and who you are in Him will bring such peace and joy!

1 John 4:16 (The Message) This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

1 John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Reference

Newberg, A. B., & Mark Robert Waldman. (2010). How God changes your brain : breakthrough findings from a leading neuroscientist. Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks.

Pondering Love

Examining what we focus our thoughts on may reveal areas in which have become idols or strongholds.

To the followers of Yahweh, a stronghold is any area in our thinking that is not in line with the truth of God’s Word and who we are in Him. An idol is anything that we put more faith in than we do the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father. For example, I had a stronghold in the belief that God was an angry and just waiting to punish me. The wonderful truth is that those who believe in Jesus have been made righteous by His blood, and have become children of the Most High God. My fear of punishment did not line up with the Word of Yahweh. 1 John 4:18 states that love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment, but His perfect love drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Thinking and mediating on His love will bring freedom from fear.

Idols are just not just figures of animals or people that are worship or pray too, but are things, people, and or circumstances that take more precedence in our lives than Yahweh. An example, an idol in my life was food. I used food like someone would use alcohol. I turned to food to calm my anxiety, instead of turning to Yahweh, who has promised peace and security. Running to food first instead of seeking Yahweh’s rest, was affecting my health and did not bring lasting peace. The breaking down of wrong belief systems and idols in our lives begins with trusting our Creator, who has made us and wants to see us prosper and be in health. Where do you focus your thoughts? Are they producing more fear or despair? I encourage you today to go to the Father, and ask Him to reveal His love for you. He is very very good and He loves you.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Gratitude and Praise: Rewiring the Brain and Healing the Soul

Proverbs 17:22 A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

We are living in unprecedent times. Now more than ever, we need to learn how to navigate these times in order to live healthy and happy lives. I do believe, even with all the uncertainty of today, we can prosper and be in good health. Our emotional health is closely linked to our physical health with diet and exercise playing key roles. We need Wisdom from above if we are going to thrive in the days ahead. A healthy immune system is key to staying well and living a long life. Our immune system takes care of invaders often without our knowledge. Unfortunately, stress, diet, and unhealthy emotions (thoughts) can damage our immune system and our brain neurons, affecting our general health. One can google “health” and immediately be bombarded with health information. There are all kinds of diets, supplements, and exercise programs, but I believe true health begins in the secret place of the Most High.

As you are aware, a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has surfaced in the world. With all our advances in medicine, we have not been able to stop this virus. On top of this, many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, are increasing. All of these diseases have a common link-diet and stress. I have been in prayer asking the Lord how to help people navigate the times we are in. Recently, the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me:

Gratitude and praise (worship) is the key to navigating these times.

Studies have shown that gratitude has a positive effect on the brain and the body. Gratitude release dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that produce feelings of well being and pleasure. Studies have revealed that writing down the things that we are grateful for on a regular basis has a positive effect on our mental and physical health. A blog post by the Aspen Brain Institute reports one study that said this:

“Studies have indicated that people who feel more grateful to Him, are healthier and stress resilient in life (Krause, 2006). An experiment conducted on three groups of individuals, each team representing a particular age-group, revealed that older men and women felt more grateful to God for their lives, and scored a high stress-tolerance index than others.” https://aspenbraininstitute.org/blog-posts/gratitudeandthebrain

God has truly, fearfully and wonderfully made us. More and more scientist are discovering the power of our thoughts and their effect on our health. Choosing to focusing our mind on things that we are grateful for rewires the brain and helps lower anxiety and depression. Meditation and prayer (praise and worship) are keys to transforming our mind and healing our soul. Dr. Andrew Newburg found this to be true in his study of prayer and meditation and the effect on the brain. He states in his book, How God Changes Your Brain, that meditation and prayer strengthen neural pathways and have a calming effect on the body. His work also revealed that meditation and prayer improved cognitive function, reduced the signs of aging, and improved the immune system. In other words, it is the transformed mind that will bring change in our lives. I am speaking of health, happiness, and peace that surpasses our surrounding circumstances. It is the attitude of gratefulness and the willingness to praise Him even in the storm that will guide us through the coming times. Let these words penetrate deep in you soul:

Psalm 34:5 Gaze upon Him, join your life to His and joy will come. Your faces will glisten with glory. You’ll never wear that shame-face again.

It’s time to change our minds for the better. It’s times to examine our hearts and minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s time to examine what we believe and to align ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and who we are in Christ. As born again believers, we are carriers of the good news of the resurrected life in Christ. It’s time to gather up our oil for this season. What “gather up our oil” means to me, is that it is time to go to the “secret place”, gazing upon Him our King, and allow Him to heal our heart and renew our minds. It’s a time to allow Him to mend our broken hearts. Many people have experienced discouragement, financial loss, loss of loved ones, rejection, and hopelessness. We need to be refreshed and filled up again with the precious oil of His Presence. It is inner peace and rest that will bring health and healing to our lives. This peace is found in Him, the Prince of Peace. Gratitude and praise is key to being healthy in mind, body and spirit.