Abba Hugs

When I speak of Abba hugs, I refer to those unmistakable, though often seemingly insignificant, ways in which Abba (Jesus’ term for the Father) shows us how much He loves us. During our recent trip to the Mediterranean, my friend Kristin said she sensed God saying that Kerry and I were “feasting on God’s goodness.” And so it was.

I could list the obvious ways in which God shows His love for us. We are so very blessed to have life, health, wonderful family and friends… And even the so-called blessings that come with living in a country that affords us a very comfortable lifestyle. All of those we receive with gratitude from the hand of God. I could add to that the enjoyment of going in such a wonderful vacation… But the Abba hugs I’m referring to are those little things that show us that we have a father who delights to give good things to his children – just because… Let me share with you one specific example to illustrate what I mean…

IMG_20160812_1119442In Chania, Crete, we were walking along the Venetian Port (marina), observing the delightfully clear water of the Mediterranean. It was extremely hot, and I verbalized how I would give anything to be able to jump in that water. So a man offered to take our picture. We exchanged pleasantries and he told us he’s from Australia but has a Cretan wife and they’re spending some time there. We parted ways and we continued our walk. He then came back and started talking again, and told us we should walk to the Egyptian Lighthouse – which we had seen but had no intention of walking to. So convincing was his argument that we made the long walk, in the heat, only to find that in the middle of the long trek there was a little beach where my desire was satisfied. We went in the water, from which we had the most perfect view of the lovely “Old Town Chania.” And I felt a hug from Abba, and sensed His delight in giving me my heart’s desire.

You could say it was just a coincidence. You could say we would have found that spot anyway.

Perhaps.

But perhaps God ordered our steps so we would have the information we needed to do what was in our heart but which we wouldn’t have known how to do.

As someone wisely said, “I find that the more I pray, the more coincidences I find.” And I find that the more I spend time communing with the Father, the more I see how He gives me the desired  es of my heart.

Are you taking time to notice the “Abba hugs” you are receiving today? Why not take some time to thank the Father for His goodness. It’s a good exercise for the spirit and the soul.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Learning from Trials

We learn from trials. There’s no denying that. Often time we see good coming out of difficult situations. But sometimes our observation results in wrong conclusions about the nature and purpose of trials in our lives. We think that He orchestrates the pain or the trials we go through in order to teach us lessons. We go through trials and feel His comfort, and mistakenly think that He created the trial so we could know His love. But God is not like that.

When my niece, Natalia, was around 5, when she came to visit she always wanted to eat scrambled eggs and avocado. It became a predictable pattern. And, of course, I would make that meal for her. She was getting to that point of feeling like a “big girl” and she wanted to help with the cooking. So I wanted to start teaching her some basics. I pulled a chair next to the stove and gave her very clear instructions not to touch anything except the fork with which she was supposed to scramble her eggs. My mistake was forgetting that our glass-top stove would turn black as soon as the burner was off, but the surface was still hot. We removed the skillet and she saw me turn the burner off, and excitedly put her hand on the surface to reach for something else. You can imagine what happened next. Amid her screams, crying and tears, I felt so badly! Fortunately we had some burn cream at home, and some bandages. Kerry immediately rendered first-aid while I held her, trying to comfort her. After some time the pain subsided and the small blisters seemed to be under control. I took the opportunity to teach her about the glass-top stove, and how to prevent future occurrences of that very bad experience. I am glad to say she bears no scars from that experience; but she did learn a lesson.

Was it a valuable lesson? Of course! Did her parents and I want her to learn not to touch hot things? Yes. Did I intend for her to burn her hand for her to learn that lesson? Of course not! I’m not a child abuser! I love my niece! Did I create that experience so she would feel my comfort and learn that I love her? That would be absurd! And yet, sometimes we think that God works that way toward us.

But Jesus says that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. In other words, we can know what the Father does (or doesn’t do) by looking at Jesus. Did Jesus ever make anyone sick? Did He ever put someone in a difficult situation to teach him a lesson? Did Jesus ever take things away from people to draw them to the Father? Of course not! On the contrary, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). He went about doing good! That is the heart of the Father.

We live in a broken world, where we will experience difficulties. When we go through trials, God – being the good Father He is – will use those for our benefit: whether teaching us a lesson, revealing His love, comfort or peace, opening avenues of ministry, or whatever.

So let’s be clear about this: God is never the author of destruction. But when we give Him the pieces of our lives, He works something beautiful out of them. He doesn’t create the trials, but He can certainly make something good come from them. So we can confidently praise Him for His goodness.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |  All Rights Reserved 2015

Why You Can Trust God

All of us face a very important question on a daily basis.  It’s a question that gets to the core of our relationship with God.  Many people ask the diagnostic question: “Do you love God?”  But that’s easy.  Loving God is easy.  What’s not to love?  The true question that we all face is, “Do you trust God?”

I mean…  Do you REALLY trust God?

Last week I was babysitting my 10-month-old niece.  When she got hungry, I prepared her bottle, held her in my arms, and as I was rocking her and feeding her, I thought “this little girl trusts me.”  She completely trusted me to take care of her and meet her needs.  And as much as I love her, and as nice as I am, with all my good intentions toward her – I will still fail her.  And yet she trusts me…

So why is it that we have such a hard time trusting God, who IS perfect?

I propose to you that it’s because we have a distorted picture of God’s true nature.  We live in a world that has made it a habit to attribute everything bad that happens to God.  Like earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like are called “acts of God”.  And anything good that happens, well… that’s just “luck”.

And because we have such a distorted perception of who God really is, we have a hard time really trusting Him.  Have you ever found yourself questioning God?  Or shaking your fist at Him?  Have you every wondered where God was in the middle of a situation?

I’d like for us to consider just 3 attributes of God.  Let’s see if we can get a clearer picture of who He really is.

First, God is LOVE.  And because God is love, His will is ALWAYS perfect.  He has good thoughts toward you.  He has loved you with an everlasting love.  He loves you so much, that even in your sins, He loved you and made a way for you to come to Him.  God is Love, so His will is always perfect.

God is OMNISCIENT.  And because God knows everything, His ways are ALWAYS best.  Now, you may disagree with Him, or not understand His ways or His timing.  But He knows everything about you.  He knows your past, your present and your future.  He knows things you haven’t even imagined.  He is omniscient, so His ways are always best.

God is OMNIPOTENT.  And because He has unlimited resources, He will give you EVERYTHING that you need for His will to be done in your life.  He will never give you an assignment without giving you all that you need to accomplish it.  He’s not setting you up to fail.  He is omnipotent, so He will give you all that you need for His will to be done.

Can you trust God?  Can you trust a God who is Love, who is Omnicient, and who is Omnipotent?  Can you trust your life, your decisions, and your future to the one whose will is always perfect, whose ways are always the best, and who will give you all that you need for His will to be done in your life?

Is there an area that you have been struggling with lately?  You can trust God.  He will never let you down.  You can rest comfortably in His arms – like my little niece did in mine – and trust Him.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |   All Rights Reserved 2015

Don’t Settle for Coach when You Can Fly First Class

“Wait… this is a first class seat!” Imagine my surprise when I realized I would enjoy the benefits of first class on my overseas flight.

I had settled in my coach window seat, ready for a long plane ride when I noticed that a family was looking for people to trade their seats so they could be together. I was traveling by myself, so I offered my seat. The grateful father gave me his boarding pass, and I started making my way to the front of the plane to take his seat. Then it hit me! The boarding pass said seat 1A. That’s a first class seat! I enjoyed all the perks and it made that long journey so much better.

Here are some things that are important to notice:

1. I didn’t need a first class ticket to get to my destination. I would have still made it traveling in coach.

2. It was a free gift. I didn’t have to pay for it; I didn’t do anything to earn it.

3. All I had to do was be willing to give up my “comfort zone” and receive.

4. My value as a person didn’t change because I was flying first class instead of coach.

5. The first class seat didn’t make me any better than any other person on the plane.

6. But it made the journey much more enjoyable!

I share this to illustrate one of the primary gifts that God gives us: the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Just to be clear… We all receive the Holy Spirit at the point of our conversion. We see this depicted in John 20:22 when Jesus (after His resurrection), breathed on His disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

But AFTER that event, He “ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4-5).

There is a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit (at conversion) and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls the latter, the “promise of the Father.” And Jesus tells us that all of the Father’s gifts are good (see Luke 11:9-13). I don’t know about you; but if there is something that the Father wants to give me, and that Jesus says I should receive, I want it!

I don’t have space in this blog to mention all of the benefits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit (I may cover those in a subsequent entry). But I want to point out:

1. You don’t need the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to get to your destination. You only need to receive Him (by believing in Jesus) to be saved.

2. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a free gift. You don’t have to pay for it; and you can’t do anything to earn it.

3. All you have to do is be willing to give up your “comfort zone” and receive.

4. Your value as a person doesn’t change because you receive the Baptism.

5. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit doesn’t make you better than any other person – just better than yourself without it!

6. With the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, your journey will be much more enjoyable!

So, let me ask you, Have you received the “promise of the Father”?

All you have to do is ask Jesus to baptize you in the Spirit (Matthew 3:11), and then receive by faith.

1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

If you ask Jesus to baptize you in the Spirit, you are asking according to God’s will. So you can be confident that He hears you, and that you have the request that you have asked of Him.

Don’t settle for “coach” when you can fly “first class.”


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood  |  All Rights Reserved 2015

Crossing Boundaries through Love

How could I possibly minister to her? We had nothing in common… or so I thought.

We were in Poiana, Romania, visiting some of the people that our friends Alex and Heather Chalmers minister to. It is hard to put into words the poverty that we saw, and how helpless I felt. I wanted to minister to them, but had a hard time finding the words. This was particularly difficult when we visited Mihaela.* This lovely old woman lived in a house… I don’t even know that you could call it that. It was more like a room. About 10 feet by 10 feet, with no electricity and no running water. Our team (of 10 people) hardly fit as we visited her. Someone gave her a wind-up flash light, and you would have thought she had won the lottery! She obviously didn’t have many possessions, and yet all that she had was neatly arranged in this small room. She had taken great care to decorate her little space and make it a home. It was forcing me to put in perspective the many comforts that we enjoy and that we so often take for granted.

I wanted to minister to her, but didn’t know how. We had nothing in common! Neither age, nor race, nor language, nor culture… nothing! So I asked the Lord to give me something that I could share with her to let her feel His love. Then I found out her only son had died a while back. Now we had something in common: the pain of losing a loved one. I sensed Holy Spirit prompting me to share my story and comfort her with the comfort I had received from the Lord.

So I asked our translators to tell her that I understood her pain because I had recently lost my husband, and that I would like to hug her. Mihaela looked up at me and her eyes welled with tears. I embraced her and we both cried together. We shared a moment of grief. The pain we had both experienced became the bridge that crossed over all boundaries and joined our hearts.

I later found out that she had never cried over the loss of her son. In communist Romania, they had been conditioned to just bury their dead and quickly get on with life. But God brought a total stranger from the other side of the world to minister to her – not with eloquent words, but with a simple hug. It was a hug that said: “God sees your pain.” It was a hug that said, “God cares about you.”

I am reminded of Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

You can partner with God in bringing comfort and hope to others. No matter where you are, look around. People are hurting. Even if you don’t have anything else in common with them, share the love that you have received from God. Share the comfort that you have experienced from Him. Encourage others with the encouragement you have found in Him. You will be surprised at how God will use you to minister to others, if you are just willing.

*I changed her name to protect her privacy.

Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |   Al Rights Reserved 2015

Look on the Bright Side

20140610 - Colombia (7)“Something like this can ruin your whole trip!” That was the expression of a friend who heard about our travel ordeal. We were concluding two weeks of study in Oxford followed by a short visit to our friends in the Southern coast of England. A perfect finale for an enriching and memorable experience. We boarded the plane in London, and settled in for a 10-hour flight to Houston, and then a shorter one to Dallas. The plane was a 787 Dreamliner (my favorite plane). But the excitement didn’t last long.

About 20 minutes into the flight, the entertainment system froze. Not only did we not have the vast selection of movies usually available on long-distance flights, but my overhead light didn’t work, and neither did the electrical outlets between seats. I couldn’t read… I couldn’t use my computer. Nothing! I was going to have to just sit and do nothing for 10 hours! (7 hours later the crew managed to reset the entertainment system and we enjoyed it for the rest of the flight). As we were about to land in Houston a thunderstorm settled over the airport and they rerouted us to Austin! The additional travel, plus a 2-hour wait in Austin meant that we landed in Houston 4 hours later than expected, and we missed our connecting flight to Dallas. The next available flight was 17 hours later! Not a good option. So we rented a car and got on the road (5 hour-drive), hoping to make it home that night. But we had been up for 21 hours already, and within 3 hours both Kerry and I were falling asleep, so we had to check into a hotel, spend the night, and finish driving the next morning. By the time we got home we had been traveling for over 36 hours.

Yes, all of this could have ruined our trip. But when we go through bad experiences, we always have a choice to make. We can focus on all the bad things (the normal human tendency) and feel miserable, or focus on the good things and give thanks.

Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise.” And he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances.”

On this occasion I had to choose whether I would focus on everything that went wrong, or on all the good things involved. For example:

* I could focus on the length of the flight – or be grateful for the opportunity to travel overseas.

* I could focus on the broken entertainment system – or be grateful for the technology that makes any sort of entertainment available while cruising 30,000 feet in the air!

* I could focus on the detour to Austin – or be grateful for a smooth and safe flight.

* I could focus on missing our connecting flight – or be grateful that we had all our luggage with us and were able to rent a car without hardship.

* I could focus on having to stop on our way home – or be grateful that were able to find a nice hotel and that we can afford it.

I choose to focus on the good, and give thanks for the many blessings I receive daily from God.

If you are going through difficult circumstances, give it a try! There is always something to be thankful for. Make a list of the things for which you are grateful, and set your mind on those things.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |   All Rights Reserved 2015

Enhanced Enjoyment

Walking down the streets of Oxford by myself today.  I’m admiring the imposing architecture that holds so much history, so much knowledge, so much beauty… and I have no one to share it with, except God. I find myself talking to Him about it, and pondering the dichotomy of wanting to share this experience with others and yet valuing this time alone with Him.

20150805 ChristchurchThen my thoughts turn to what we have been discussing in class this week. We are talking about the renewal of worship. And the thought that has been prevalent in my mind is how we think the biblical admonition to “gather together” is satisfied by being in a building with lots of people once (or maybe twice) a week. Generally speaking, in our church services we all enjoy the same thing simultaneously (the music, the sermon, the prayers); but are we really gathering? Are we really worshipping together? Or are we simply worshipping individually in the presence of a multitude? Don’t take me wrong; I’m discounting neither the value of individual worship nor what happens in large church gatherings.  But I wonder if the writer of Hebrews had something much greater in mind when he says “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (10:15).

Back to my walk in Oxford. I can enjoy and appreciate this by myself. But the enjoyment would be enhanced if I could share it with someone else. I can appreciate what I see; but my appreciation is enhanced when other points of view. Others may see things that I’ve missed, or share emotional responses that are different from mine. Perhaps they know things that enrich my understanding of ‎the experience. And simply articulating what I’m enjoying makes it all the richer, all the more fulfilling.

20150805 Divinity School 2It’s the same with our enjoyment of God. It’s one thing to worship Him on my own. And it’s good. But it’s so much better when it’s shared with someone else. ‎When we praise God – not by singing the same song at the same time (though there is value in that) – but by speaking well of Him one to another, our worship is enhanced. Some of my richest worship experiences have taken place around a dinner table with friends, sharing what God has done in our lives, making Him “famous” one to another. It is one thing to sing songs to God, and quite another to “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).  It’s one thing to thank the Lord on my own, and a different expression to share my gratitude with someone else. It’s one thing to praise the Lord personally, and something else to speak the praises of God to others who can join in praise.

God has wired us for relationships for a number of reasons (not the subject of this blog). But as the relational beings that we are, we know that we can’t get the full enjoyment of anything in our lives unless it is shared with someone else. So I encourage you to seek opportunities to worship together with others, to praise the Lord one to another; to sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs with your friends. Cultivate a life of worship that goes beyond the structured worship of a Sunday service.

You were made for worship, and you were made relationally. Don’t settle for anything less.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |  All Rights Reserved 2015

Todas las cosas obran para el bien

“¡No veo cómo esto puede obrar para el bien!”  Este es el pensamiento que me vino a la mente cuando mi esposo, Aníbal, murió después de cinco años de estar luchando contra el cáncer.  Desde el primer momento en que lo diagnosticaron nos habíamos parado firmes en la fe, creyendo que Dios lo iba a sanar – en contra de todos los pronósticos.  Estábamos esperando un milagro, y aun cuando su salud se deterioraba y parecía que su muerte era inminente, yo estaba convencida de que iba a ser sanado y que tendríamos un ministerio predicando acerca del poder de Dios para sanar.  Unos meses antes había recibido una palabra profética que parecía confirmar esto: ¡Dios me había dicho que de mí saldría gozo, alabanza y un ministerio!  Imagínese mi desilusión y confusión cuando no vi el final que esperaba.  ¿Cómo iba a obrar esto para el bien?  ¿Qué tipo de ministerio podría tener después de tener semejante “fracaso de fe”?  ¿A quién le interesaría oír mi historia cuando el resultado no había sido lo que esperábamos?”

Pero Dios ha sido fiel a Su palabra.  Aníbal murió hace ocho años.  Y ahora estoy escribiendo en un avión, regresando de Bogotá (Colombia), donde hice el lanzamiento oficial de mi libro Lecciones Aprendidas en la Batalla.  Más de 150 personas asistieron a escucharme compartir lo que aprendí durante la etapa más difícil de mi vida, y de cómo Dios me fortaleció, me ayudó y me dio ánimo en todo ese trayecto.  Recibí muchos comentarios positivos.  Muchas personas me agradecieron por compartir mi perspectiva de la victoria – esa victoria que a veces no reconocemos y no sabemos apreciar, pero que podemos tener cada día.

Cuando Aníbal murió hubo varias personas que me dijeron: “Siento que Aníbal haya perdido su lucha contra el cáncer.”  Pero el día en que él dejó su cuerpo terrenal entendí como nunca antes la realidad de Romanos 8:35-39:

¿Quién nos apartará del amor de Cristo? ¿La tribulación, o la angustia, la persecución, el hambre, la indigencia, el peligro, o la violencia? Sin embargo, en todo esto somos más que vencedores por medio de aquel que nos amó.  Pues estoy convencido de que ni la muerte ni la vida, ni los ángeles ni los demonios, ni lo presente ni lo por venir, ni los poderes, ni lo alto ni lo profundo, ni cosa alguna en toda la creación, podrá apartarnos del amor que Dios nos ha manifestado en Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor.

El enemigo vino a nuestras vidas a robar, matar y destruir.  Y a simple vista diríamos que había ganado.  Pero a pesar de todo lo que vivimos, nada nos pudo separar del amor de Cristo.  ¡Nosotros ganamos!  Aun ahora, Aníbal está disfrutando de la plenitud de vida en la presencia de su Padre, ¡y yo estoy compartiendo el amor de Dios, la fortaleza de Dios, la fidelidad de Dios y el consuelo de Dios con cientos de personas!  Estoy consolando con el consuelo que recibí de parte de Dios.  Estoy ayudando a otros con la ayuda que recibí del Señor.  Estoy fortaleciendo a otros con la fuerza que recibí de Él.

En ese entonces no tenía forma de ver cómo Dios lo iba a hacer; pero ahora, mirando hacia atrás, me doy cuenta de que Su palabra sigue siendo verdad: “Dios dispone todas las cosas para el bien de quienes lo aman, los que han sido llamados de acuerdo con su propósito” (Romanos 8:28).

Tal vez esté pasando por algo difícil y no alcance a imaginarse cómo su situación podría obrar para bien.  Quiero animarle a confiar en Dios.  Él ciertamente puede hacer mucho más abundante de lo que pensamos o esperamos.  Y si se las entrega a Él, ¡TODAS LAS COSAS obrarán para bien!


Dra. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |  2015 Todos los derechos reservados.

Facing the Storms of Life

It will come to no surprise to you to hear that all of us face storms in our lives.  Sometimes the storms are mild – they come unexpectedly, but pass quickly and without incident.  Sometimes the storms are fierce, and seem like they will never end.  And we find everything in between.  The point, however, is that we all face storms; but in all of them, we can choose how we will respond.  Let’s look together at three storms in the Bible, and see what we can learn from them.

Our first storm is found in the book of Jonah.  You may know the story.  God called Jonah and sent him to preach in Nineveh.  Jonah, the reluctant prophet, chose to run away – so much so, that he boarded a ship sailing in the opposite direction!  Then came the storm.  The Bible tells us that the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god.  They threw the cargo overboard.  And then they cast lots to see who was responsible for the storm.  When the lot fell on Jonah, they cast him overboard and the storm subsided.

We hear of another storm in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 8).  On this occasion, Jesus and His disciples were all in the boat.  Jesus had gone to sleep.  Then “there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves.”  The disciples called on Jesus.  He rose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Contrast these two stories.  In both cases there was a storm.  In both cases they were on a boat.  But that’s where the similarities end.  Notice how the people on the boat responded to the storm.

In Jonah’s case, the sailors chose to play the “blame game.”  Who is at fault?  Let’s find out who is responsible, and once we find him, everything is going to be OK.  In the midst of doing this, they lost their cargo, and they lost Jonah.  Yes, the storm died down – but at great cost.

In Matthew’s account, the disciples called on Jesus.  They did not waste time wondering why the storm had arisen, nor whose fault it may be.  The storm was raging, but they knew the One who had the power to save them.  So they called on Him; and He calmed the storm.

And then… we read of yet another storm in the book of Acts (chapter 27).  The apostle Paul was being taken to Rome, as a prisoner, on a merchant ship.  For two weeks the ship was buffeted by the winds and the waves.  But Paul encouraged them: “I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”  Paul heard from God; and had the confidence that it would be as God had said.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  The question is not whether you will ever face a storm; but rather, what will you do when the storms of life come your way?  You can be like the sailors in Jonah’s boat, going about looking for someone to blame, and pointing fingers at those “responsible” for your misery.  A better approach is to be like the disciples, calling on the One who can still the storm.  And better yet, you can live in the sweet confidence that no matter what storms you face, God’s purpose will be fulfilled in your life.  When you are facing a storm, listen to the Holy Spirit; then declare with boldness what God has spoken to you.  Take heart.  He who is with you and for you will not let you down.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |    Al rights Reserved 2015

The Missing Side of “Inside Out”

The recently released animated movie, “Inside Out” is being widely acclaimed as “inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving.”  I concur.  I took my niece to watch the movie (my excuse for watching children’s movies), and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I am fascinated by brain function, and the animators of Disney/Pixar studios did a wonderful job showing how five primary emotions (joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger) function and interact, affecting our memories and, ultimately, our behavior.  From a non-scientist’s perspective, I enjoyed a glimpse into the fascinating world of the human brain.

However, taken at face value, the movie would lead us to believe that we are primarily emotional beings, and that our lives are directed by our emotions.

So, I wonder… How can a man like Paul, who was beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, abandoned, betrayed, robbed, persecuted and incarcerated, write from a cell in Philippi and say, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (4:11)?  He teaches this young church to “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4).  How can James say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (1:2)?  How can Peter call a persecuted church to “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:13)?

You have to be out of your mind to live this way!

Precisely!

Out of your mind!

The grand news is that it is possible to live beyond our emotions.

Don’t take me wrong; I appreciate the overall message of the movie that encourages me to appreciate and value a wide range of emotions.  I’m not advocating for stoicism, for I know how damaging the suppression of emotions can be.  But I am saying that, as a Christian, there is another side to the story.

You see, we are not primarily emotional beings.  Neither are we primarily rational beings.  Both emotions and intellect, along with human will, are part of the human mind.  But we are not primarily a mind.  The Bible declares that, made in the image of God, we are three-part beings: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23).  We are primarily spiritual beings, made to relate to our Creator.  We are perfectly designed to dwell in two realities at once: the spiritual reality where we commune with God, and the physical reality where we interact with one another in the context of a material world.

According to neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, the human soul (or mind), comprised of intellect, will and emotions, is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical.  She says that “The Mind and was created to be controlled by the Spirit of Man. The Mind is supposed to control the Body and therefore the Physical Realm. Any aberration in the hierarchy of the Spirit, Soul and Body of Man is a reflection of a fallen state and is not the original intent of God.”

We are designed to be governed by the Holy Spirit in our spirit; then for our spirit to govern our mind, and ultimately, our body.  But when Adam and Eve sinned, our human spirits died.  We were left to navigate life with only our soul and body.  So we buy into the idea that the goal of life is learning how to us our intellect, will and emotions to dictate the rest.

The good news is that God has a remedy for that!  When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are born again.  His Spirit gives new life to our human spirit.  We can see this clearly in John 20:22, where Jesus, after His resurrection, breathes on His disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  With the indwelling Holy Spirit, our spirit is made alive again, and the hierarchy can be made right again.

We still have a choice.  God has given us free will, so we can choose whether we will be governed by our body, our soul, or the Holy Spirit through our human spirit.  Paul says it clearly in Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”  The whole of Romans 8 is about life in the Spirit as the way to live the fulfilled life, as God intended it.

So, I join Paul in saying, “Walk by the Spirit,” and not by your emotions (as valuable as they are).  This is the missing side of “Inside Out.”


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood  2015  | All Rights Reserved