The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Do You Have Spiritual Imagination?

Posted on: November 08, 2016

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FIVE WAYS WE CAN FUEL OUR SPIRITUAL IMAGINATION

We made the point last week that we can use spiritual imagination to pull ourselves in to the future, spiritually.

We made two observations from neuroscience:

  1. The brain always changes in the direction of that which is put into it.
  2. The brain cannot tell the difference between a real event and a vividly imagined event.

Because those two things are true, we can change the brain in very important and positive ways by vividly imagining the right things.

Here are 5 ways we can use spiritual imagination to pull ourselves into a more robust spiritual future.

  1. Memorize and meditate on Scripture.

One obvious way we can use spiritual imagination is to memorize and meditate on Scripture. As we do, the Holy Spirit gives us new insights, helps us connect dots, helps us see things in perspective, to be able to discern what is more important and less important, and generally helps us to convert to seeing the temporal world with an eternal perspective. I have written of this in other blog posts, so will not expand in this one.

  1. Review affirmations

We can also use affirmations to pull ourselves into a more complete spiritual future. I use affirmations to capture ideas that are more complex than a single Scripture passage.

For example, one of my affirmations is, “I leave behind small attitudes, values and behavior and I rise to great ones.” There is no one passage of Scripture that expresses this idea, but it is implicit in many passages. I find it helpful to capture the idea in an affirmation and review it daily.

Another affirmation I use is, “I take every negative thing in my life as an opportunity to grow stronger spiritually.”   The truth of this affirmation is found in any number of Scripture passages that I already have memorized, and meditate on (James 1:2-4, Roman 8:18, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Yet I have found it helpful to add the affirmation to my spiritual enrichment process, as a double whammy against an issue that is a significant challenge for me.

I make a list of the areas of my life that I would like to grow in, and create an affirmation, regardless of whether or not I also have a Scripture passage for it, just to attack the problem on more than one front.

  1. Mentally rehearse right attitudes and behavior

If I am going into a difficult meeting, for example, I will spend time before the meeting trying to envision the challenges I may face in that meeting. I vividly imagine their actually happening. Then, I vividly imagine myself responding properly, saying the right things, conveying the right attitude.

In a variation of this exercise, if I have just come out of a meeting in which I feel I didn’t live up to Christ’s standards in attitude or word, I will replay the experience in my mind, vividly imagining having said all the right things, and conveying the right attitudes. This helps the brain correct that behavior in preparation for the future.

Unfortunately, sometimes I may have to return to someone to ask for forgiveness. Other times, the battle was merely internal, and I don’t have to ask anyone for forgiveness, but I do rehearse the experience mentally, with the corrections, to prepare myself for the future.

Athletes do this all the time, of course. They visualize the right action before hand, and if necessary, mentally correct mistakes afterward, to ready the brain for the future. And while we may not be trying to excel athletically, we are trying to excel spiritually, so the discipline applies.

  1. Watch good movies/read good books

The imagination is powerfully engaged when we watch good movies and read good books. It helps our brain envision ways in which we might rise to the level of whatever inspired us in the movie or book. Be cautious, however, that the movie or book is not feeding your brain negatively in other ways.

  1. Spend time with good friends

We are also powerfully affected by spending time with other people whose example inspires us to higher ground. We can imagine ourselves behaving with the character qualities we admire in them. If you have friends like that, spend as much time with them as you can. If you do not, make it a priority to try to find them.

Conclusion

The brain is a powerful thing, and will take us, powerfully, in the right direction or the wrong direction, depending on how we feed it. We must feed it good and helpful things and starve it of bad and harmful things. You can make a whole world of imagined experience “real” to your brain.  So, choose the spiritual world that you would like to live in:

  • Imagine you at your biblical best
  • Imagine Jesus having complete sway in your life
  • Immerse your brain in Scripture and other good things

Use your imagination to reinforce things that the Holy Spirit will use to pull you into a more robust spiritual future.


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