Messages from Ron

On Having a Whole Soul

This past Sunday, I spoke for the Every Nation NYC West side service, but unfortunately never finished my last three points. After a few requests, I’ve decided to send this out by blog, since it holds important truth for all of us.

 
I Thessalonians 5:23-24 says,
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
In these verses and several other places in the Bible, God makes it clear that it’s His will for our spirit, soul and body to be sanctified. “Sanctified” means to be set apart, to belong to God. This is not a future sanctification, but something for the here and now in all three areas of our being. 
 
What does this look like for the soul? The soul consists of our mind, will, and emotions. Our spirit man (also called the inner man and the heart) and our soul are referred to in Hebrews 4:12 as distinctly different. 
 
Scripture has much to say about walking, living and being led by the Spirit, yet many Christians tend to live out of their souls, in particular through their emotions or strength of will.
 
When we live God’s way, we avoid so much wreckage and pain. Yet far too many persist in the path of walking, living and being led by their own soul. As the country song by Dierks Bentley says, “I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?”  Countless mistakes stem from living through our emotions, not to mention when we limit our lives to natural reasoning, we fail to see the plans and purposes of God (Proverbs 3:5-7).
 
The soul, while an extremely important part of our lives, needs to be recognized through the lens of our own brokenness and depravity. All of us will have to deal with this complicated part of our identity with its many fractures, cracks and failings. 
 
Like the transplant medic team that dropped a human heart on the airport runway, too many have been heartbroken and injured by others in their soul — hurt, dropped, cheated, and devastated by the hands of others or through the hardship of life itself. 
 
In addition, too many Christian believers break their own souls. We make decisions to hurt or destroy ourselves. Proverbs 6:32 describes one example of this, 
Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. 
For our souls to get whole, we need to commit to three long-term, lifelong processes. There’s no short cuts in soul healing, no pill-a-day, no yoga position, no new boat to buy or weed to smoke that makes the soul well. It is a lifelong process with three commitments that will make a substantial difference. 
 
Commitment 1
The first commitment involves what we believe about change and healing. We must believe it’s possible to change, to be restored and to be made whole. So often Jesus asked a struggling pilgrim, “Do you believe?” (Matthew 9:27-29) He asked this in order to see whether they had faith and reliance on God. 
 
Neurosciences are now helping us understand Scriptural truths indicating the brain can and does change, regardless of age or circumstances. Neuroplacticity as a science underscores the reality that our beliefs and connection to God’s word (Romans 12:1-3) have a transformational impact on our wellness and future.
In Luke 4:18, Jesus’ mission statement made it clear:
“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and … to set at liberty those who are oppressed…”
There comes that time when our soul wreckage, inappropriate soul ties, and psychological meltdowns come into the presence of Jesus the Healer, and we are touched, restored and changed. You are no “Humpty Dumpty” shattered and hopeless. You’re a child of God and healing is your inheritance since the Lord is your Shepherd and He restores your soul (Psalm 23:3). Believing this is possible is the beginning.
 
Commitment 2
Our second commitment is to the daily reading of the word of God. More change can occur through this than is imaginable! The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The bible is not just an ancient history book. It’s alive! 
 
My wonderful wife, Lynette, encourages me to eat food that’s alive…like a raw carrot, active yogurt cultures, nuts and seeds. I asked why chicken nuggets don’t count!! Turns out the answer is a double blow — chickens are dead and then they are fried!  
 
Similarly, when we spend our days reading “Pop” Magazines, it’s much like eating chicken nuggets. Sure it’s fun to catch up on the stars, but it can also mean we are neglecting the star of God’s choice.. you!  The word of God in our lives every day will have a dramatic impact on our souls.
 
So every morning at our home we eat living things like spinach, avocados, yogurt, probiotics, oils, green powder, and more, all put in a blender for a colorful green shake. Sounds nasty but it’s life-giving and I’m learning to love it. We are also committed to daily reading of God’s Word so our souls can come alive, just like our bodies.
 
Commitment #3
The third commitment is our lifelong focus on the actual “work” of soul health. We cut off things leading to damage, much like we put on sun block at the beach to avoid harmful rays. We stay away from damaging thoughts, people or ideas, anything that attempts to harm and damage our souls, or grieve the Holy Spirit.

 

Solid christian counseling, therapy and connecting with healthy believers is beyond important, it’s vitally essential. Unfortunately, not everything can be healed through private prayer; some issues in our lives are healed through the community of the church. Our churches have adopted a great program created through Jack Hayford’s church (Church on the Way), called Cleansing Stream Ministries. Twice a year we offer these 8-12 week classes. It’s work, but the healing that comes is beyond worth it. And more than 800 New Yorkers have been through this program in our church, Every Nation NYC (EveryNationNYC.org).

 

Through this type of ministry we learn the safety of exposing our pains and weaknesses in a secure way. As Henry Nouwen said, “Vulnerability, letting go, surrendering, crying, mourning and grief are not in the devil’s dictionary.”

 

These three commitments are all part of moving on and healing. It is a process that takes time, but in the end our soul begins to “get it.” Like working a muscle group, strength comes over time. Our souls no longer rule or dominate but begin to rejoice and respond to the Spirit of God who lives within.

 

As King David so often spoke to his soul, so we should as well, as he does in Psalm 103:1-5: 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” 
 
Even so, may your soul be satisfied, healed, renewed and restored to all God has for you.