what your body knows about god by rob moll - excerpt

Download What Your Body Knows About God by Rob Moll - EXCERPT

Post on 19-Jul-2016

147 views

Category:

Documents

3 download

Embed Size (px)

DESCRIPTION

Have you ever had an experience where you felt particularly aware of God? If God is real, and we are created in God's image, then it makes sense that our minds and bodies would be designed with the perceptive ability to sense and experience God.Scientists are now discovering ways that our bodies are designed to connect with God. Brain research shows that our brain systems are wired to enable us to have spiritual experiences. The spiritual circuits that are used in prayer or worship are also involved in developing compassion for others. Our bodies have actually been created to love God and serve our neighbors.Award-winning journalist Rob Moll chronicles the fascinating ways in which our brains and bodies interact with God and spiritual realities. He reports on neuroscience findings that show how our brains actually change and adapt when engaged in spiritual practices. We live longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives when we cultivate the biological spiritual capacity that puts us in touch with God. God has created our bodies to fulfill the Great Commandment; we are hardwired to commune with God and to have compassion and community with other people.Moll explores the neuroscience of prayer, how liturgy helps us worship, why loving God causes us to love others, and how a life of love and service leads to the abundant life for which we were created. Just as our physical bodies require exercise to stay healthy, so too can spiritual exercises and practices revitalize our awareness of God.Heighten your spiritual senses and discover how you have been designed for physical and spiritual flourishing.

TRANSCRIPT

  • Mo

    ll

    Wh

    at Y

    ou

    r B

    od

    Y K

    no

    Ws a

    Bo

    ut G

    od

    What Your

    Body KnoWs about

    God

    r o B M o l l

    H o w w e A r e D e s i g n e D t o

    C o n n e C t, s e r v e A n D t H r i v e

    ForeWord BY Michael card

  • 217 pages, paperback, 978-0-8308-3677-2, $16.00

    Purchase a copy of

    WHAT YOUR BODY KNOWS ABOUT GOD

    at one of these retailers

  • WHAT YOUR

    BODY KNOWS ABOUT

    GODHOW WE ARE DESIGNED TO

    CONNECT, SERVE AND THRIVE

    R O B M O L L

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 3 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

  • InterVarsity PressP.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426World Wide Web: www.ivpress.comEmail: email@ivpress.com

    2014 by Rob Moll

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from InterVarsity Press.

    InterVarsity Press is the book-publishing division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, a movement of students and faculty active on campus at hundreds of universities, colleges and schools of nursing in the United States of America, and a member movement of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. For information about local and regional activities, visit intervarsity.org.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION , NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

    While all stories in this book are true, some names and identifying information in this book have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

    Cover design: Cindy KipleInterior design: Beth McGillImages: vadimmmus/iStockphotoAuthor photo: Alisa Clark

    ISBN 978-0-8308-3677-2 (print)ISBN 978-0-8308-9670-7 (digital)

    Printed in the United States of America As a member of the Green Press Initiative, InterVarsity Press is committed to protecting the environment and to the responsible use of natural resources. To learn more, visit greenpressinitiative.org.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataMoll, Rob, 1977- What your body knows about God : how we are designed to connect, serve, and thrive / Rob Moll. pages cm Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-8308-3677-2 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Human bodyReligious aspectsChristianity. 2. BrainReligious aspectsChristianity. 3. Spiritual lifeChristianity. 4. SpiritualityChristianity. 5. Christian life. I. Title. BT741.3.M65 2014 233.5dc23

    2014024732

    P 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Y 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 4 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

  • ContentsCONTENTS

    Foreword by Michael Card . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    Introduction: Created for Communion . . . . . . . . . . . 13

    PART ONE: SPIRITUAL BODIES

    1 PrayerThis Is Your Brain on God . . . . . . . . . . 21 2 Born Connectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 3 Monkey See, Monkey Do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 4 Life Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 5 Wired for Intimacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 6 Strength in Weakness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

    PART TWO: SPIRITUAL GROWTH

    7 Practicing the Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 8 Worship: Engaging the Senses . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 9 Acts of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139

    PART THREE: THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES

    10 Neuro-transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15511 The Great Physician . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17112 Going Public with the Good Life . . . . . . . . . . . 190

    Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

    Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203

    About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 7 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

  • Introduction

    CREATED FOR COMMUNION

    When I Was a boy, my father taught me that the way things are built matters. Dad worked in a mold manufacturing shop. He built molds into which hot plastic would be injected to form toys, cups, peanut butter jars, and intricate and precise medical technology.

    Dads workbench at the shop was always strewn with blueprints, and as a child I marveled at how he was able to make sense of the confusing array of lines and instructions and drawings. He read them and then cut, ground and polished blocks of steel until they could be used to make delicate IV drips or the dashboards of trucks.

    Dad ran his shop and knew more about steel and plastic products than I could fathom. He could explain how the salad-dressing cap was designed or why a cheap trash can wouldnt survive a years worth of dragging to the curb. But he only occasionally got to see one of his designs at work, to see the full breadth of purpose for the item he had labored over in blueprints and steel shavings. One of those times was when my brother broke his nose.

    After my brother got hit in the face by a basketball, it wasnt obvious at first that he had broken his nose. But after the swelling had gone down a week later, his crooked nose made it obvioushe

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 13 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

  • 14 WHAT YOUR BODY KNOWS ABOUT GOD

    had to have it broken again in order to be set correctly. We sat to-gether in the hospital room as he recovered, my brother more than a bit traumatized for having his nose broken a second time in a matter of weeks. But Dad? Dad was like a kid on Christmas morning. For the first time, Dad was getting to see the IV drip, syringes and hoses that he had spent several years making.

    Dad was beside himself with excitement. He peppered the nurses with questions about how the parts worked together. Did they work well? Did they have problems with the components? How did the confusing aspects of the design help the whole apparatus to function as it should? The design required some unusual manufac-turing on his part that had never made sense to him.

    So thats why we had to build it like that! he exclaimed as we walked out to the parking garage that night to head home. After years of precision-grinding steel, studying blueprints and building parts, my dad was able to understand fully the reasons for the design that he had built.

    Spirit and Flesh

    In our everyday lives, we too find it helpful to understand how things work. We read WebMD to check out whether our symptoms suggest the flu. We watch YouTube tutorials on how to knit, how to carve a turkey or why our cars engine makes a funny noise when we turn the ignition key. It helps to know how things work. But in our spiritual lives, that kind of knowledge isnt simply helpful. It can be life changing.

    The Gospel of John tells us that we are born of flesh and the Spirit (Jn 3:6). But what does that mean? How does it work? Often we only have vague ideas about how our spiritual lives interact with our physical ones. We go to church, we pray, we read spiritual books,

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 14 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

  • Created for Communion 15

    we worship, and then, somehow, we are made more like Jesus. We emphasize belief and worldview, as if knowing the right things will always lead us to do the right things. And when all goes according to plan, we may experience God or have a powerful moment of transformation. We say we feel Gods presence, as though its something palpable. If it is, how can that be? Were not sure exactly what has made that experience possible.

    In many ways we are trying to build a Christian life without fully understanding how all the pieces work together. Prayer, Bible reading and church attendance all can bring us closer to God. We trust this with sure faith. But until recently we have known little about how our spirit and flesh are connectedhow God has formed our bodies such that those activities change us down to our very cells to better commune with him.

    For example, we are all taught to pray; we pray before meals, before bed or during devotional time. But how we pray can have very physical effects. Shorter prayers in which we make requests to Godthe kind many of us are most familiar withgo undetected by a brain scan. This doesnt mean they dont work or they are not valuable. But it may encourage you toward deeper, longer prayer when you learn that twelve minutes of attentive and focused prayer every day for eight weeks changes the brain significantly enough to be measured in a brain scan.1 Not only that, but it strengthens areas of the brain involved in social interaction, increasing our sense of compassion and making us more sensitive to other people. It also reduces stress, bringing another measurable physical effectlower blood pressure. Prayer in this deeper, more attentive way also strengthens the part of the brain that helps us override our emo-tional and irrational urges. Prayer that seeks communion with God actually makes us more thoughtful and rational, enhances our

    WhatYourBodyKnows.indd 15 8/28/14 8:25 AM

    Copyrighted Mater