• johned@aibi.ph
Part Two

Our Inner Self

And Our Emotional World

(2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB) Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

The following chapters deal with our inner selves and how emotions develop within us

Perception

(2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Perception is the first of the five stages of Biblical EQ and by far the most complex, which is why we will spend two whole chapters looking at it. In this chapter we will look at perception as it flows from our stance toward life, our life perspective, how we see things and how we explain the world to ourselves. These perceptions and explanations later become the things out of which we form our beliefs, and out of those beliefs will flow our emotions. In the next chapter we will look at perception at its deepest level, in the human spirit, and how it forms the foundations of and framework for our personality. In logical order that chapter should precede this chapter but I have chosen to put the simple material first and move you to the more difficult as a better teaching strategy. Now read on.

How would the people of Jesus' day seen Jerusalem? A tourist may have just seen a dusty city with a beautiful temple in the middle of it. A trader would have seen an economic opportunity. A priest would have seen the religious community and a chance for prominence in the Temple service. An anxious mother would see it as "the big smoke" where her son had gone to find work. Rome saw it as a trouble spot to be kept under tight control. The disciples at this time saw Jerusalem as a dangerous city with Herod and others intent on killing them (Luke 13:30, John 11:16). Jesus saw Jerusalem in terms of its long hostility towards messengers of God

(Luke 13:34-35 NKJV) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! {35} "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!.

His unique perspective was one that viewed cities in terms of their spiritual responsiveness and their attitude to the light that they received. Jesus, the apostles and the prophets all had a unique perspective on people, places and events. They saw things differently and viewed reality in spiritual terms. Instead of the world being a chaotic jumble of almost random events it is a place planned by a sovereign and just God. For Jesus the primary reality was not economic but spiritual - how a person, or even a city relates to God . Spiritual people see life differently. Spiritual people have deep abiding spiritual perspectives. The perceive reality through an entirely different set of glasses. They see the world “right side up”.

When our perceptions about life are wrong soon all else goes wrong. If we perceive life to be utterly random - we will be without hope. If we perceive ourselves to be unlovable - we will live alone in the land. If we perceive others to be hostile when in fact they are friendly - we will needlessly create enemies. In this chapter we shall first look at secular material that explains how our perspective on life is formed. We will also look at some proven secular techniques for fixing common errors and becoming optimistic and functional. Then once we have achieved that we shall then look at how to gain a biblical heavenly perspective and know life and peace.

The correct perspective on life can calm fears, break us out of depression, give us peace and stability, bring joy and hope, give us empathy and compassion and give us the ability to plan wisely and well for our future. First we have to understand how our perspective is created, then we can look at how it can be fully redeemed.

Explaining Reality To Ourselves
A key element in the creation of our perspective is how we explain reality to ourselves. Bit by bit these explanations become our story about the world and how it came to be and why it is the way it is. Soon we start seeing the world the way we have imagined it to be, through the story we have constructed from our explanations of the world. The psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman has done much research on people’s "explanatory style" and his book "Learned Optimism" is excellent. Here is my twelve point summary of its basic teachings:

1. Optimism and Power-fulness are the opposites of Pessimism and Helpless-ness.

2. Optimism and pessimism are learned by experiences in life.

3. Experiences form beliefs. These beliefs then combine to produce outlooks on life.

4. The beliefs which we draw from experiences can be well-founded or poorly founded depending on how we explained the experience to ourselves.

5. We can explain things Personally (its always our fault) or Externally (its something outside)

6. We can explain things Pervasively (its in everything, everywhere) or Specifically (this is just one instance).

7. We can explain things Permanently (it will always be this way) or Temporarily (its just a glitch).

8. Personal, Pervasive and Permanent explanatory styles produce self-defeating beliefs and a negative outlook.

9. The negative outlook is reflected in negative self-talk.

10. The self-defeating beliefs we have formed can be reasoned with and our thoughts (negative self-talk) can be disputed with or distracted.

11. Marshalling evidence against self-defeating beliefs and attacking them logically can slowly but surely lead to a more optimistic outlook.

12. Sometimes you can “externalize” the belief by writing the thought down on paper or talking it over with a friend.

Martin Seligman then goes on to show how we can dispute our wrong perspective and learn to be optimistic by writing down our thoughts and looking at them logically and in the light of the three P's - Personal, Pervasive and Permanent. According to Seligman’s research optimists are healthier and have better lives than pessimists. But oddly enough pessimists tend to be more accurate! Pessimists are right in their conclusions but wrong in their living. They are unhappy, unsuccessful and unhealthy. The three key ways pessimists defeat themselves is through their explanatory style - see points 5-8 above. For instance the way we explain things to ourselves will determine how quickly we recover from minor incidents. If I have an argument with a friend and then think "I am terrible at relationships, I will always have arguments with everyone I meet, I'm just a total loser" then I will be unhappy and I may stay unhappy for a while. On the other hand if after the argument I say "I think I was overtired, I'll get over this and have a better day tomorrow, I don't always blow up at people" then I will be much happier and recover more quickly.

Faith Application

Christians have explanatory styles too - that determine their faith level, their happiness and their joy. Explanations can vary from "God is punishing me and will always punish me because I am so wicked" -to "The Devil made me do it.." We have a habitual faith perspective on life - and just like the pessimists in Seligman's research we can be re-educated to a more functional and liberating explanatory style and faith perspective. This is a three stage process.

Stage One is acknowledging that our spiritual explanatory style is in need of major repair.

Stage Two is finding out exactly where it needs to be fixed and

Stage Three is the job of repairing it.

Is Your Explanatory Style In Need Of Repair?

Try the following consciousness raising quiz. Its not a psychological test, just a series of questions to help you become aware of the way you explain events to yourself. It is just a simple diagnostic tool to help you realize what you are thinking so you can fix it. Please be honest.

Answer the following questions by putting the numbers 0 to 4 next to the corresponding questions as follows:

0 - never think that way

1- I sometimes think that way

2- I think that way a fair bit but not often.

3- I frequently think like that.

4- You got me! I always think like that.

There are fifty questions in two sections Personal Explanations (20) & Spiritual Explanations (30) and unlike many tests they are deliberately arranged so as to make the patterns obvious so you can see how you are thinking. The areas being examined include the three P's - permanent, personal and pervasive and a factor called "locus of control" which looks at who or what you see as being in control - yourself, God, other people, luck or the Devil. The theological section also looks at these but adds questions testing our trust in God and our belief in His goodness and our faith in His Word as part of our spiritual explanatory style.

Personal Explanations

Permanence

o After making a mistake I tend to think "this is the end".

o I feel as if I will never change.

o If you are a success you stay successful, if you are a failure you are always a loser.

o Nothing can be done about society - it is bound to go downhill forever.

o You never recover from bankruptcy.

Locus Of Control

o I believe you need a lot of luck to succeed in life. Success is mainly random.

o The world is unpredictable chaotic and confusing so its not worth trying too hard to do anything big. It will probably just be messed up.

o Other people make me react. My emotions are not under my control.

o You can't do anything about the Government.

o If I have a win at anything it was because the other people did not try hard.

Pervasive

o Evil is everywhere and here to stay. All people and systems are ruined by it.

o My entire personality is dysfunctional.

o I am basically bad and if people really got to know me they would despise me or hate me.

o I am frequently suspicious of other people and their evil motives.

o All politicians are corrupt.

Personal

o I find failure depressing because it reflects on who I am.

o The reason I make mistakes is because I cannot do anything right.

o When people are late for an appointment and say it was the traffic they are just lying to me. It actually means that I am unimportant to them.

o When some one fails to return a phone call I think they are rejecting me.

o If I fail an exam it means that I am stupid.

Now add up your score in each section:

Permanence _____ Locus of Control ______ Pervasive ______ Personal ____

Did you notice any patterns emerging? Where were your highest scores?

Spiritual Explanations

Permanence

o My habitual sins are there for life.

o You can't change the world. It will always be this way.

o It is easy to sin or mistakenly miss God's will and the results are life-long.

o I am what God has made me to be and I cannot change.

o Its all over, I'm washed up, I've totally failed God. This is the end..

Locus of Control

o Things go wrong because God is not really in charge of my life.

o Satan is very powerful and in charge of this physical world and much of my circumstances.

o I must save the world, the job just cannot be done without me.

o I am not responsible for my actions. The Devil makes me sin.

o Of course I have to panic in a crisis. Someone has to do the work and the worrying - namely me!

Pervasive

o The Universe is totally polluted by sin and cannot be enjoyed.

o Even my prayers are an abomination to God.

o My life is riddled with inconsistencies. I am hopeless.

o All denominations are filled with greedy clergy.

o Theological error is everywhere.

Personal

o My failure to memorize bible verses means that I am totally unspiritual.

o I haven't led anyone to Jesus so my life has been a total failure.

o Good events happen to good people and bad events happen to bad people. When bad things happen to me it must be my fault.

o I experience temptation because I am sinful and wicked.

o The reason my family isn't saved is because I have been a poor witness.

Transcendent Spiritual Focus

o Emotional security and happiness is almost impossible if I cannot pay the bills.

o When I talk about blessing I mainly mean something tangible in this life such as a promotion or a new car or a good holiday.

o For me God's approval of me and the pastor's / Christian community's approval of me is almost identical.

o I am easily devastated by criticism at church.

o It is a long while since I have prayed fervently and truly expected a major answer.

Goodness of God

o Bad people get all the good things.

o Prayer is for prayer warriors, average people don't get their prayers answered.

o My life is miserable and difficult but I must not strive to change it, I must accept it as character-building punishment for my sins.

o I fear that if I obey God to the maximum He will make me a poverty-stricken missionary in outer Uzbekistan (or similar).

o The safest thing to do as a Christian is not to expect too much from God.

Now add up your scores in each section:

Permanence ____ Locus of Control _____ Pervasive _____ Personal______

Transcendent Spiritual Focus ____ Goodness of God ___

Did you notice any patterns emerging? Where were your highest scores?

NOTE: This is NOT a clinical test and should not be used as such or employed as a selection tool. This is a consciousness-raising instrument designed to help individuals become aware of their explanatory style and to help them surface a few issues regarding it.

Interpreting The Results

If you get 10 or more in any one section then you may have a problem in that area. This does NOT mean that you are crazy or dysfunctional. It does mean that like many people it may be worth your while spending some time looking at that perspective on life and working out what emotions it is bringing to you. Does your perspective cause you to feel out of control? Do you have trouble believing in a consistently good God. Just use the results from the test to alert you to areas you may need to work on. Right perspectives and beliefs provide a firm foundation for emotional health. We will see much more on this in the section on beliefs that follows.

A Dose Of Perspective Restorer

When I was in Balimo in the remote Western Province of Papua New Guinea the missionary doctor there Dr. Kath Donovan used to talk about “taking a dose of perspective restorer” when things got out of sorts with someone in the mission station. A dose of perspective restorer was often a provocative question or statement that got us to rethink our miseries. In a similar vein here are a few provocative statements and questions that can help you to challenge the dysfunctional perspectives that you have identified as having some influence in your life. I am sure you will quickly get the idea.

Challenging Ideas Of Permanence

· Are your negative circumstances really permanent or do they just feel permanent?

· How impossible is impossible? Is anything impossible with God?

· Haven't you gotten out of difficult situations before? Can't you do it again?

· Haven't you changed and learned before? Can't you do it again?

· Hopelessness is never from God. It is a lie and a deception. He is the God of hope.

Challenging Ideas Of Low Locus of Control

· Is there one single thing you CAN do to change things? .

· Who is in charge? You, other people, the Devil or God ?

· Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Make your luck by preparing your skills and seeking opportunities.

· The Devil is not in control. Resist the Devil and He will flee. (James 4:7)

· You are not God - so you don't have to be responsible for everything. However you are you and you do have some responsibilities. Fulfill those and let God handle the rest of the Universe.

Challenging Ideas Of Pervasive Evil

· You are not totally sinful if you are worried about sinning. Totally sinful people are unconcerned about sinning.

· Are all politicians corrupt? Was Ghandi corrupt? Was Abraham Lincoln corrupt? Are there really no good churches? Not even one? Is absolutely everyone wrong in their theology?

· Has the redeeming work of Christ accomplished nothing in 2000 years? Has he not created some good in some corner of the world?

· Is the Devil so powerful that he can ruin everything? Cannot God preserve some things that are good and beautiful? Cannot one wildflower be excellent in beauty?

· Cannot God make all things beautiful in their time? (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Can He not make you a wonder and a glory? (Romans 8:28-31)

Challenging Ideas That Everything That Goes Wrong Is Your Personal Fault

· Have you noticed that sometimes you think people are rejecting you when in fact they are just busy or having a bad day? Might you be exaggerating the degree of rejection? Maybe its not that bad.

· Is it really you at fault? Could it just be the circumstances or the other people?

· When thinking about yourself stop using "absolute" terminology including words such as: must, have to, always, never, and totally. They are rarely true. One mistake does not make you a "total failure".

· When there is a problem list those factors you can control and also list those factors that you cannot control. Leave those outside your control to other people or even to God. Do not feel personally responsible for things you cannot control. Then feel free to responsibly and wisely tackle those things you can do.

· Cease seeing yourself as being at the center of the Universe with so many things spinning around you. Be content to just be one of God's creatures, a son or daughter with a few assigned tasks to do.

Renewing Transcendent Spiritual Focus

· We walk by faith not by sight. Do not let visible things such as bills and criticism be the only reality.

· Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God. (Carey). Read Hebrews 11 & Matthew 6

· Faith is often "more caught than taught" so hang around people who are full of faith.

· Have you drifted away from faith? Have you been deeply disappointed with God? Would it help to talk to a good pastor or Christian counselor?

· Are there genuine concerns about the canon of Scripture, miracles, evolution etc? Get some material and investigate your doubts and find answers to your genuine intellectual questions.

Believing In The Goodness of God

· Look at the goodness of God and how He provides for the birds. As a friend of mine says she has "never seen a skinny sparrow". If God is good to sparrows - then how much more good will He do for you!

· Remember all the Lord has done for you. Make a list of His goodness and remind yourself of the things He has done. Bring to mind His past love of you and remember He never changes! He is faithful!

· Spend some time in Psalm 23 and Romans 8. Sing hymns, put on Christian music.

· Examine your background for things like deprivation, cruelty and disappointment. Are you projecting your experiences - particularly of your father/parents onto God? Try and separate the two so that you can see God for all He truly is in His constant lovingkindness and faithfulness. Stand against those lurking feelings from your past and rebuke them in the name of Jesus. Maybe even seek counseling.

· Move self off center stage. Sometimes we doubt God's goodness because we are demanding a certain thing - a partner, wealth, the return of a divorced spouse etc. and He has not answered us yet and we are furious that God is not meeting our agenda in our time. The goodness of God is bigger than His meeting a single important demand of yours. Your focus is too narrow. While you wait for your answer to prayer notice how He sends you beautiful days and good friends and daily bread. Cultivate thankfulness for what you do have instead of focusing on what you do not have.

Coming Up With Your Own Bottle of Perspective Restorer

Cognitive therapists have come up with a general process for giving yourself a dose of perspective restorer. Cognitive therapists believe that underneath our difficult emotions are thoughts that fuel those emotions. With every painful incident there is a thought that makes it painful and which keeps the pain ongoing such as “I’ll never get over this, my life is ruined forever”. When those thoughts are corrected the emotions lose their power and can be brought under control. People vary greatly in their underlying thoughts. That is why one person can just laugh something off and another takes it to heart. Underneath person A is the thought 'Oh that was nothing…", underneath person B is the thought "that's so unjust, unfair and horrible..". . Our thoughts are under our control and as we change them we can also change the emotions that they produce. For instance if you change your thoughts from “I’ll never get over this” to “One day I’ll be able to look back on this and laugh” then you create optimism and give power to your life. Most of the statements that hurt us most are simply not true. In fact if we take a hard look at them they are nearly always illogical. Self-talk such as “Everybody hates me” is generally not true at all. Its painful, its untrue and it needs to be challenged. Your perspective is your thought on the situation and like any thought you can change it. As you change it you change the emotions that result. So you can heal yourself of many painful emotions just by working out a more truthful, balanced and biblical perspective on life. How can we do this? The five step process below is summarized from "Feeling Good- A New Mood Therapy" by David. M. Burns.

1. Find a recent incident that caused you some emotional discomfort.

2. Look at the feeling - name and write down the feeling.

3. Try to find the underlying thought that produced that feeling e.g. "I am always stupid".

4. Dispute the thought with facts, Scripture, logic and common sense until you come up with a more functional perspective on the event.

5. Write down the new feeling that comes with the new explanation.

Lets apply this process to a common Christian situation - rejection at the door of the church:

Incident: Rob goes to shake the hand of the pastor after church but the pastor abruptly turns away because he has just caught sight of the church treasurer who wants a check signed. The pastor gives one of those insincere "fake smiles" as he does so. Rob feels discounted and hurt and is depressed and angry. However Rob realizes he may be over-reacting and thinks maybe a dose of perspective restorer is needed so he gets out his spiritual journal and starts scribbling…

Name The Feeling: Rob writes in his journal - "I feel rejected, hurt, discounted, yes that's the word discounted - like I didn't count, like I don't matter and I have been at that church for five years!"

Find The Underlying Thought: He deliberately discounted me and despite the fact that I have been at that church for five years I was treated like a nobody.

Dispute The Thought: Yes it was inconsiderate and fake but it wasn't that bad. Most of the time he is polite to me and I need not take things so personally. It was a mistake by him but it doesn’t make me valueless or unimportant. I am important whether or not the pastor pays attention to me. God thinks I am important enough to love, save and die for - that's enough for me. I'll go back and try again next week.

Write Down The New Feeling: I feel much more calm and balanced and I am surprised that I reacted so much! Boy can I be over-sensitive sometimes. Glad I gave myself a dose of perspective restorer! I will try again next week.

Well that's about as far as the best secular approaches can take us. Cognitive psychotherapy like the work of Beck, Seligman, Burns, Ellis and many others is very good and is generally quite compatible with a biblical approach. It offers real relief from emotional pain however it only "goes so far". It cannot open our eyes to spiritual realities nor can it produce the sudden whole-of -person perspective changes that the Holy Spirit and Scripture can. To go deeper still in changing our perspective we must turn to that which is uniquely spiritual and biblical.

The Perspective Of Your Soul

There are three “places” in the inner man that can have a perspective on life. Firstly there is the mind, the rational part of us, that we have just discussed and which can be addressed logically. Secondly there is the perspective of the spirit, how we perceive life in and with the spirit and how prophets see the world. That will be discussed in the next chapter. Thirdly there is the soul. The soul is the place of life and joy and personhood and subjective judgments and valuations. Our soul quickened by the spirit is what makes us a living being. The soul is also a place of unruly and temporary emotions of daily frustrations, of falling in love, of the joy of a good meal or a wonderful sunset, the smile at a catchy tune, the sentiments at a movie. It can be a place of tempestuous emotional storms that need to be stilled. The soul can be up one minute and down the next. [In contrast the spirit is a place of grand and timeless emotions, of great joys and piercing sorrows. We shall discuss this in the next chapter.]

Bringing the stormy world of the soul under control is one of the great tasks of the Christian life and results in what the Bible calls peace. Peace is when the soul is in the state that God wants it to be in. Peace can be brought to the soul, which is subjective, through things such as a sunset or music of which William Congreve said “Music has charms to sooth the savage breast” and which seemed to work for King Saul. However such methods are morally neutral and do not form character or do anything much for us in the long run. We need something better. Pure logic does not quite work with the soul to the extent that it does with the mind. “For the heart has reasons that the mind never knows”.

The law of the soul is the law of likeness. Our souls become like the souls of people we love, admire or emulate or people we respect, see as authoritative, and obey. That is why children become like parents, disciples like their masters and dogs like their owners. Adoration and authority mold the soul. We become like Jesus through loving and obeying Jesus. Thus I have found four methods to work in bringing peace to the soul and giving it a dose of perspective restorer. Christo-Centric Worship, Self-Exhortation, Positive Confession Of Scripture (in its proper context) - and Scripture Memory.

Christo-Centric Worship
Worship, praise and adoration of Jesus mould the soul into a Christ-like shape. Just like a married couple that adore each other become like each other, just like a young lad that adores his father walks like his Dad and talks like his Dad and wants to grow up like his Dad, just like faithful pooch and the grouch owner sometimes look alike so worship that is focused on Jesus gradually makes us like Him. Worship can also help get our soul’s perspective on life back into line. Here are some extracts from Psalm 73.

(Psalms 73 NKJV) Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. {2} But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. {3} For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. …{12} Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. {13} Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. ..{16} When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me; {17} Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. {18} Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. {19} Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors…{21} Thus my heart was grieved, And I was vexed in my mind. {22} I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You….{27} For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. {28} But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.

The Psalm reflects a time of instability and spiritual crisis. The Psalmist says "my feet had almost slipped", "it was too painful for me", "my heart was grieved", "I was like a brute beast before you'. He had lost his spiritual perspective, he was in deep emotional pain, he was envying the wealth and success of the wicked and he thought it was futile to be righteous. He was on the verge of giving up.

The turning point comes when he enters the temple and in God's presence sees the fate of the wicked as it truly is - precarious. After this the Psalmist confesses his folly and rejoices in God saying "it is good to draw near to God". The act of worship was the critical turning point in the spiritual crisis. By fixing his mind on God, adoring Him and coming into contact with spiritual realities his soul and spirit were healed of the turmoil within and a proper perspective on life returned.

By worshipping God, his own perception of reality was changed in three areas. He changed his perceptions about the world, himself and God. Instead of perceiving the wicked as prospering he now saw them as on the brink of destruction. Instead of seeing his behavior as rational and justified he now saw it as wrong and foolish. Instead of seeing God as not rewarding him he turns and says “surely it is good to draw near to God”. True worship restored the Psalmists to a right perspective on his faith.

True worship works. Idolatry does not work. Idolatry creates emotional catastrophe and the soul becomes darkened, limited, superstitious and unstable. If we worship an idol our soul is lowered to the level of the thing we adore be it a statue, a rock, a tree or a fast car. So our worship must be of the Living God, in and through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Worship in Spirit and in truth works because we are designed right from Creation to experience life and peace when our mind is stayed on God and we behold the true God in adoration and become like our Father in Heaven.

With all that is available today it is quite possible to have true worship at home with reading the Bible, a good cassette and a few friends. Prayer and worship do not need to be in a certain building on a certain day but they do need to be in Spirit and in truth. Certain practices can help us to cultivate an atmosphere of true worship in our daily life. I do not wish to be too prescriptive or legalistic as we do have a great deal of freedom in Christ but no matter how free we are we do need to be stayed on God. My personal practice is to have times of prayer and meditation in the morning and in the evening. I also take “saying grace” quite seriously. I always pray with meals and refocus myself on God. As I work I may have some Christian music playing in the background. I also find great assistance from reading carefully selected high quality Christian books. There are other practices as well but I think you get the idea. The constant cultivation of the presence of God based on fixing one’s mind on the truth of God and adoring His glorious nature is one of life’s secrets for maintaining a sweet perspective and right perception of life.

May I also add that I would like to see a greater focus on Jesus Christ not just on doctrine , or on ethics or even on good Christian psychology. The pulpit in particular should preach Christ crucified and regularly take the congregation to behold Jesus in His life, ministry and inner nature. This is the most powerfully transformational of all preaching because it portrays Christ to our souls most clearly.

Self-Exhortation

The following section is based on an excellent sermon of Dr. Daniel Tappeiner that I had the privilege of hearing while attending the Union Church of Manila. His surprising claim was that you can interact with your soul and instruct it to take on certain emotional states. His text was Psalm 42 where the Psalmist, a son of Korah, became aware of his emotional state and eventually used self-exhortation to conquer his despondent mood.

A two-stage process is used of a) questioning the value of the emotion b) then commanding it to change. First the Psalmist questions the value of his present emotional state that was hindering his ability to lead the throng in the worship procession. "Why are you downcast O my soul”. After that the psalmist gives his soul a repeated command to change mood and perspective "hope in God…for I shall yet praise Him" . This eventually causes him to triumph and function again in ministry. In other words the Psalmist did not just accept his dysfunctional emotional state but corrected it by speaking to his soul quite firmly and brining it to a functional and biblical resolution.

As speaking to yourself or addressing one's soul sounds rather strange and building a whole therapy on one Psalm is a bit tenuous I have I searched to see if there is any further Scriptural validation. There is a surprising amount! I have located a number of bible references where people interact directly with their soul and some of these are listed below. These interactions include speaking to one’s soul or commanding the soul to do something. Seven direct references are listed below and there are many more in a similar vein especially in Psalms (quite a few on the familiar theme "bless the Lord O my soul.." ).

(Judges 5:21 NKJV... O my soul, march on in strength!

(Psalms 25:1 NKJV) To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

(Psalms 42:4-6 NKJV) When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. {5} Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. {6} O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. …. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

(Psalms 62:5 NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.

(Psalms 77:2 NKJV) In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. (implies an attempt to speak to the soul to comfort it and some interaction with the soul..)

(Psalms 103:1-2 NKJV) Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! {2} Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

(Luke 12:19 NKJV) 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."'

So we see that here the soul/self is being commanded to: be strong, be lifted up to God, hope in God, wait silently for God, be comforted, bless God and lastly (by the rich fool) to take it easy. We are all familiar with talking to ourselves and even with telling ourselves to cheer up. However Scripture based self-exhortation is a bit more sophisticated and a lot more powerful.

With Scripture-based self-exhortation you empower yourself to take charge of your emotional state and to command it to change by divine authority. You use authority to mold your soul. When Deborah the prophetess, in Judges 5:21 above, says "O my soul, march on in strength..' she is not just giving herself a pep talk! She is celebrating a divine victory over Sisera and is maintaining a faith position that the God who gave her victory then will continue to give her victory in the future so she can progress and "march on" with a confident expectation of God's help and deliverance. Underneath these exhortations lies a deep relationship of God.

So here is the process for changing your perspective by biblically-based self-exhortation:

1. Awareness: Become aware of the state of your soul "why are you downcast".

2. Questioning: Decide whether it is godly and functional. If it is not godly or functional then don't accept it. Decide it must be firmly corrected and brought into alignment with the Kingdom..

3. Go Upstairs: Take your soul before the throne of God either directly or in prayer and worship.

4. Firmly Command The Change: Command your soul to change to a more biblical perspective within the background of God's will and covenant purposes.

5. Repeat as necessary

Lets take an everyday case. You feel depressed for no good reason. You just feel lonely and blue and you start questioning the goodness of God. You find yourself becoming out of sorts spiritually and losing your true perspective.

Awareness: "I'm feeling a bit depressed and blue and I’m questioning God..".

Questioning: Is this useful and spiritual? No! It's useless and thinking this way is damaging my relationship with God.

Go Upstairs: Lord I come before your throne and I admit that I am out of sorts and depressed and that my soul is not fixed on God as it should be.

Firmly Issue the Command To Change: "Soul why are you this way! Stop it! Turn and focus on God. Rejoice in the Lord always! That’s an order!"

That may seem a little strange and dramatic but believe it or not- it works. Painful emotion that is off-center and inappropriate, that does not flow from peace, is often an indicator that our soul is not properly tuned into God, not fixed on the Spirit as it should be. This process is just taking your soul back to its right position – that of being stayed on God. Once it is stayed on God then life and peace will flow in accordance with the promises of God in Romans 8:11 and Isaiah 26:3. Lets do another, this time much longer demonstration with the common, but very painful problem of feelings of inferiority:

Awareness: "I am feeling inferior and the pain is intense"

Questioning: "Why am I feeling inferior?" There is no good reason in the here and now for me to feel inferior, its just messing up my emotions and spilling over into my relationships. I can see that its just a hangover from the past. I can also see that it is not relevant today, it is not true today and it is not functional today".

Go Upstairs: O Lord I come before You now. I know that this inferiority is a lie and that you love me but just now it feels very, very true. Bring to mind Your Word and your truth so I can stay my mind on You. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1) God does not condemn me and He is the only true judge. In fact He regards me as His son! Some people may think that I am inferior to them and I may even be not as good looking or important or powerful as they are but that does not make me inferior in my soul, in my inner self, in my true self. I have received the grace of God, I am seated in heavenly realms with Christ Jesus. God has chosen to display me as a trophy of grace (Matthew 11:11-13, Ephesians 2:6, 1:20 , 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 ). I am not inferior! I am in the kingdom of God! I will rule with Jesus (Rev 2). Praise the Lord.

Firmly Issue The Command: Now listen to God o my soul! Listen to his word and stop your lying and grumbling. Stop telling me I am unworthy. Its not true. Soul I instruct you to believe the truth of the gospel and to hope in God and I instruct you to be believe in the righteousness you have received. If you have received righteousness you are righteous and if you are righteous you are not inferior! Believe in God and rejoice!

Its not just a mental exercise its an almost physical taking hold of one’s self and changing one’s orientation to life. The person stands outside themselves and their pain and their circumstances and makes a faith decision about what they will believe and how they will feel. They then decide to enforce their faith decision by referring to God’s Word and applying the full strength of their will. Thus the above process moves the person from pain to peace by almost forcing their soul to accept the truth of God’s Word. Dr. Daniel Tappeiner recommends walking around as you do this, saying it out loud and with energy. It seems to take energy to move an out of balance soul back into balance.

Now I know that sounds a bit weird, all I ask is that you try it in private and see how it goes for you. It does work, even if it is unconventional. Taking yourself in hand (in a Scriptural way) is good for you.

Positive Confession Of Scripture In Its Proper Context

With this method we correct an out of balance perspective by again using the authority of the Scriptures. In this case we vigorously and repeatedly assert out loud the truth of Scripture in context. As we do this we are fixing our mind on God and bringing peace to our soul. Unfortunately some have taken this practice to foolish and materialistic extremes. They confess Scriptures like a magic amulet to bring good fortune. Lets leave that version of this practice well behind and focus on how to use positive confession in a way that brings emotional transformation.

So here is how to engage in bible based positive confession:

· Acknowledge the problem.

· Search the Bible and find appropriate and in context Scriptures.

· Repeat them out loud declaring them to be true.

Lets just look at how we can use the positive confession of Scripture to deal with an inappropriate and overly anxious life perspective - that of the chronic worrier.

Stage One: Acknowledge the problem “Lord I have a problem with worrying, I worry over every little thing.”

Stage Two: Do your research and find out what the Scriptures say about worrying:

(Psalms 37:7-8 NKJV) Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. {8} Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm.

(Proverbs 12:25 NKJV) Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.

(Matthew 6:25 NKJV) "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? ….."Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? {28} "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;…. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' …. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

(Matthew 8:26 NKJV) But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

(Matthew 10:19 NKJV) "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;

(Luke 10:41 NKJV) And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

(Philippians 4:6 NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Stage Three: Turn this into a positive confession or self-exhortation by quoting the Scriptures or rephrasing it in our own words and applying it directly to our life and circumstances.:

Fretting is ineffective and cannot make one of my hairs white or black or add a cubit to my height. Its useless and I must stop it now.
Jesus has commanded me saying "Do not worry". It’s a serious command from Jesus and I must obey it.
I will relax and live one day at a time as Jesus told me to. (Matthew 6:34)
God has promised to take care of me if I seek His kingdom and His righteousness. (1 Peter 5:7, Hebrews 13:8-10, Matthew 6:33)
Fretting only leads to sin. I will not do anything that leads to sin. I will stop fretting now. (Psalm 37).
Or repeat actual Scriptures such as I Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6,7 and Matthew 6:33,34.

Repetition and will-power are the keys to positive confession as it is with the following technique of Scripture Memory. You are deliberately willing your self to grasp the truths of God and “dinning it into yourself”. In a way it is a humble thing to do because you are acknowledging your own unruly nature and the necessity of taking hold of it almost “by force” and submitting it to the truth of God’s Word. This acknowledgement of a problem, the biblical research, the humility and wisdom to take one’s nature in hand and the power of being focused on the truths of God make in context confession of Scripture a very powerful tool for correction of our perspective and renewal of our perceptions.

Scripture Memory

Scripture memory is a way we can fix our minds on the truths of God’s Word until it “sticks” and is memorized. In the process it develops personal discipline! Scripture memory can make a very useful contribution to having a renewed mind, an informed soul and a more stable emotional life. It is also a valuable perspective restorer and well-memorized verses can be helpful all through one's lifetime. Navigators and other organizations produce Scripture memory flash cards that are quite helpful.

Concluding The Chapter

We have seen that our perceptions of reality, and our perspective on life, have a lot to do with how we react emotionally. We can restore a more functional and godly perspective through changing the explanatory style that builds up our view of events and how life works. We can also change the way we perceive life by correcting the wrong beliefs that underlie painful emotions. On a deeper level we can change the perception of our soul and its stance on life by bringing it into line so it is fixed on God through bible based self-exhortation, Christo-centric worship, positive confession and Scripture memory. As we do these things we will find that our emotions are more constant and more godly and that we experience more and more life and peace and less and less depression and anxiety. We will be stayed on God with our mind set on the Spirit with all the blessings this brings. But there is a deeper perception - spiritual perception - and we will deal with that in the next chapter.

Discussion Questions

1. What was Jesus’ perspective on Jerusalem? How did it differ from that of other people?

2. How important is having the right perceptions and the right perspective on life?

3. What are the ‘three P’s” of our explanatory style and how do they affect us emotionally?

4. How can we get the biblical and the eternal to be part of our life perspective so that it even changes the way we view reality (as it did for Jesus) ?

5. Do you sometimes find yourself challenging the goodness of God? What happens to you emotionally when you do that?

6. List three techniques for fixing your perspective on life? Which one do you like the most?