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Brain Science, Chicken Nuggets and the Bible

-Joe Boone

The Bible is meant to be meditation literature, that shapes our thinking and in turn shape the way that we live. 

I was a very picky eater as a kid. I lived off of chicken fingers, french fries and Dr. Pepper. My mom used to say, “you’re gonna turn into a chicken finger” because I ate so much of them. I would’ve been content to eat that for the rest of my life but my mom wasn’t so convinced. 

She’d cook all types of food and set it in front of me at our dinner table.  She’s a great cook and I appreciate that now but I refused to eat her food as a kid.  We had countless standoffs at the dinner table where I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I had eaten everything on my plate.  

My thinking about food had shaped the way that I lived. I had made it up in my mind that I wasn’t going to like food if it wasn’t chicken. 

That’s a silly example but the principle plays out in many other scenarios. The stories that you tell yourself shape the way that you think and live. What you think about is what you become.  You probably won’t become a chicken finger but it will transform your brain. 

That principle has been proven in science.  Evidence shows that what you meditate on, changes the chemistry of your brain.  We didn’t need science to tell us this because we experience it on a daily basis.  Think about when a friend has wronged you in the past.  You meditate on the wrong. Thinking about it over and over again, reminding yourself of how much it hurt.  If the situation is not taken care of, that hurt becomes bitterness in your heart and that bitterness shapes your entire life.  At the very least it will shape the way that you treat that person, most likely with anger and contempt. 

What you think about is what you become.

Paul said it in a different way in Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind

The Bible is meant to transform your mind. It should be the thing that you meditate on day and night because the stories that you tell yourself shape the way that we think and live.  

The guy who is told that a man is someone who drinks hard, gets the girls, and has power, will inevitably meditate on those things and aim to become that man. 

The girl that is told that a woman, has a perfect physique, dresses in the right brand, gossips successfully, and liked by all the guys will inevitably meditate on those things and aim to become that woman. 

I don’t think anyone would say that’s the man or woman that they want to become, but the media of our day is telling that story.  We embrace these characters in our favorite shows, “like” their pictures on Instagram, and internally want something that they’ve got. Why is that? 

What we meditate on or think about continually is who we become. 

The Bible is meditation literature. It’s meant to be read over and over again.  It’s supposed to be the thing that comes to mind as we make decisions. When we come across situations that are similar to stories that we have read from the bible, we are supposed to learn from them and use that wisdom to guide us in our decision making.  

The Bible is not a book of rules.  It’s a story of God’s people, who were in perfect unity with him in the garden of Eden but sinned and broke that unity. 

The rest of the story is how God is bringing His people back into perfect harmony with him through a man named Jesus.  The stories that you read in the bible are often not examples to follow but the failures of the people of God.  They are meant to remind us of the foolishness of living life without God, and the joy, peace, and love that comes with a life devoted to God.

Let the Bible become the story that shapes the way that you live. 

3 practices to make the Bible your meditation

1.Get on a bible reading plan. 

The Bible is a big book.  It takes approximately 74 hours to read through the entire Bible. In just 12 minutes per day, you could read through the bible in a year.  If we are being honest, most people have more than 12 minutes of free time in a day.  

Let’s say you only consume 3 hours of media per day, which is on the low end of the spectrum. If you replaced 30 minutes of that with reading your bible, you could read the entire bible in less than 6 months.  Whatever you choose to do, make reading all the way through the bible a regular practice in your life.

Check out the reading plans below and try one of them for a month. 

Prof. Horner's Bible Reading Plan

9 ESV Bible Reading Plans

You have more time for Bible Reading than you think 

2. Meditate on scripture Most of us think about yoga, crisscross apple sauce, clearing the mind, and a quiet hum when we hear the word meditation.  Christian meditation is much different than that.  Christian meditation is about filling our minds with thoughts of God, and scripture and then thinking about how those could impact our day to day lives. 

To begin meditating on scripture. Pick a passage to read then ask the following questions about the passage: 

  • How can I apply this?

  • Why haven’t I applied this better in the past?

  • If I were to apply this what changes would it require in my: Attitude? Behavior?

  • What aspect of God’s character requires that I apply this truth to my life?

  • What would be the long-term and far-reaching effects of applying this truth to my life?

  • What would they be if I didn’t apply them to my life?

  • Think of an example of when Jesus applied this truth (write it down).

  • Who do I know who applies this truth consistently?

  • What do I need to trust God to do regarding the application of this to my life? What is my part in applying this truth to my life? Visualize yourself living out this truth in the different situations that come up in your daily life.

3. Memorize Scripture

Memorizing verses from the Bible is one of the best ways to transform your mind. To memorize something it takes time and effort to be able to quote it perfectly.  It will also to continual review to keep it in your memory.  If I have a verse memorized, then I don’t have to have my bible with me to think about scripture. I can meditate on it “day and night” like Psalm 1 talks about. 

I memorize key verses that are meaningful for me but I also memorize entire chapters at a time. There’s no right way to do it. Just pick a system and stick with it. 

I personally use a box system.  You can check it out at the link below. 

Scripture Memory Box Review Plan

You can transform your mind

Paul told us to “not be conformed to this world” but to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind”.  We do that by making the bible our meditation.  What we think about is what we become, so let’s use that principle to our advantage and transform our minds to become like Christ. 

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