55 for 55: Passages of Scripture that mean a lot to me (31-35)

Thanks for taking time to read this series of posts “55 for 55: Passages of Scriptures that mean a lot to me.” Below are the passages that continue in this series. Thanks again and may God bless you as He has done so with me by conveying His love and wisdom to me through the Bible.

Dr Ken McGill

31. Psalm 56: 13: “For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

This has been a theme verse of mine for many years; I think going back to the mid-1990’s, when I was working at the Los Angeles Mission (1992-1996) then returned to work at the Union Rescue Mission (1996-2000; first “tour of duty” was 1986-1992).

During that time, I finished my Masters in Clinical Psychology (1994, on the day O.J. and the slow white Bronco drove up the 405 Freeway), our daughter Marissa was born later that year (November, 1994) and I just felt a clear calling from God regarding what He wanted to do in me and through me, having equipped me with new clinical and biblical tools and skills to do so in those therapeutic communities.

Coming out of my Masters program, the last thing I needed to do was to study more, but during that season  (perhaps since the study habits were so fresh) most evenings I had my Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible out, a Dictionary of Psychology, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, a 12 Step Big Book and a few other Bible commentaries or dictionaries on the Kitchen table, all in an effort to study and make since of all this knowledge that God had opened up to me.

One of my takeaways from that time period was that God’s light and enlightenment was dwelling in me and the outcome was going to be fruit (John 15:2). This period of my life eventually culminated into the phrase “Light Works,” which I adopted as a trademark and began writing and producing materials that would basically become the foundation for my Doctoral Dissertation. I called the “integrated” desktop publishing items I produced “LightWorks Counseling Materials” which I integrated into my workday activity, my counseling sessions and into my speaking engagements.

32. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

During the same time period (1994-2000), my studies helped me to see how the ancient Greek language was prevalent via the Bible (in Theology, the study of God), in Psychology (the study of Mental and Human Behavior) and in Medicine, and that these interconnections were vital as I considered a holistic approach toward understanding, explaining and treating human behavior.

These truisms caused me to wonder and discover how the integration of these branches of knowledge (in addition to Addiction, Communication and Family Systems) not only overlapped and “seasoned” each other, but that God was also explaining Himself naturally (and supernaturally) through every aspect of His creation, especially in the arena of Counseling and Psychotherapy.

My studies didn’t let me down as I’ve found that the more I dug into His word and the other disciplines, the more I came. away with sizable and valuable nuggets of gold each time I “prospected” or read. One example, taken from a post called “Empathy #2: Your Heart Is Safe With Me”:

“The Ancient Greeks (and contemporary Neurobiology) thought your Viscera (your internal organs such as your heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, reproductive system, etc.) is where your Visceral emotions (course, base, earthy or crude emotions, like suffering, but also where anger, fear and love) were thought to originate. Your Visceral organs are located in the large cavity of your body that we call your “Trunk.” If you place one hand at the base of your neck and your other hand at the base of your genitalia, everything in between is the vital area where your visceral organs are located.

What is of interest here is that the medical term for the part of the human anatomy that we call the Viscera is the Greek word Splanchnon. Even more interesting is that Splanchnon also happens to be the Greek word used in the Bible that translates into our English word “Compassion” (Matthew 9:36). So what is our takeaway from this interdisciplinary lesson?

One of the takeaways for me is that if the “heart” is hurting, grieving, traumatized or misunderstood, then the appropriate response is compassion. When this vital part of ourselves or of others is exposed (their emotions or our viscera), we’re encouraged to demonstrate a compassionate and empathetic response that conveys to them that their heart is safe with us.

Simply stated, their viscera needs our compassion. The best way to ensure that this is done…the best way to make sure their heart is safe with us, is to demonstrate compassion with our spoken words, tender touches and just as important, by providing a listening and empathetic ear that strives to understand their visceral emotions.”

33. John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

My studies have also informed me that God places a huge premium on gaining, growing in and applying Knowledge, especially Knowledge about Him.

He wants us to know Him, and there are untold benefits to “opening up the soil of our heart” and letting Him impart His love, knowledge and wisdom into our lives, but I’ve found that the only way this is going to occur is if we spend consistent time getting to know Him. We’ll look at some specific benefits of opening our heart later in #35, but for now, please take a look at one of the words of Knowledge (there are actually eight different ways that I wrote about in a previous post and I certainly encourage you to review at your convenience!)

Knowledge (Oida): “The meaning of this word is two-fold: First, it describes Jesus’ relationship with God due to Jesus possessing an intimate awareness based on His familiarity and relationship with God. 

The human being Jesus spent time in prayer, fasting, silence, reflection, solitude and the practice of other spiritual disciplines to enhance His connection with our heavenly Father God. We’re encouraged to do the same in our effort to know God just as intimately as Jesus did.

Second, this word denotes a “knowledge ability,” that is, to be able, to possess a skill, competence or expertise regarding something. Think about how your hard work has helped you to become competent and proficient in your skill, trade or profession, and how people seek you out because of your knowledge about that given subject; that’s whats inferred with the second meaning of this word.

So practically, here’s a two-fold target behavior to develop with this word that describes Knowledge: First, which of your Spiritual Disciplines helps you to have a vibrant and conscious connection with God? Think about practicing the discipline(s) to enhance your connection with God so that you grow in your ability to demonstrate insight and awareness, which helps you to “know and then do the next right thing.”

Second, as you grow in Knowledge of God and the characteristics and values that are important in life, what do you think you need to you apply consistently, dependably, reliably and predictably so that your repetition helps you to develop a competence with what you are doing? Do you need to grow and become more competent in your ability to deliver mercy, compassion, understanding, empathy or any of the Fruit of the Spirit, so that others benefit from your wise and mature application of these values? Knowing, then applying these truths helps us to simply be free from behaviors that impede our ability to demonstrate love. 

34. John 12:23-26: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it, for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Its been my experience that if something was in my hands when God wanted to pass along a gift to me, then in order to receive that gift from God, I needed to relinquish or surrender whatever was in my hands. No other way around it. I needed to surrender something that I thought was “good” in order to receive something better from Him.

This passage of scripture, and more pointedly, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from The Cost of Discipleship (“when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”) mean that some gifts that God wants to give to me will only be received when I’m vulnerable, open, empty-handed and most likely “broken” versus hardened, closed-off and unreceptive.

What was in my hands that God wanted me to surrender because He had something He wanted to give to me? My pride, my addictions, my selfishness, my fears, my operating system, my…my…my…,you get the picture.

What was it that God wanted to give to me? His heart, His fruit, His eyes, His tender hands, His love, Him mercy and His compassion, of which He had one simple request: to simply let Him produce this in me for my benefit and for me to wisely distribute it to others (“my neighbors”) throughout my life.

As we’ll see in #35, God wanted to transform me (then and now) into being a very fruitful human being (John 15:8) but in order for that to happen, I needed to open my hands and open my heart to be able to receive.

In the paragraph that follows are questions which God gave to me that called me then and now to surrender…unconditionally. I’m sharing this with you because perhaps it may apply to your life also:

“Ken, would you like for the “seeds” of character that I’d like to give to you to grow and mature into life giving and edifying behaviors? Then you’ll have to die to yourself (Luke 9:23).

Do you wish to personally be changed for the better? The you’ll have to submit to God (James 4:7).

Do you wish to see your life, your recovery and your marriage change, heal and grow? The you’ll have to give up what you think gives you power, and position yourself to gain power (and encouragement) like you’ve not experienced before (Philippians 4:13).

Remember Step One. It reminds you that good things occur in your life when you admit your powerlessness to change yourself and, that there is a Power greater than yourself to restore you to sanity, much less to help you to grow (Step Two).

Ken, surrender to Jesus’ process of change, healing and growth, which requires your unconditional death as a precursor to producing unconditional love. Are you ready? Is your heart like a freshly plowed garden ready for seeds to be sown in it that could transform you into the fruitful person I’ve always had in mind? 

35. James 1:21: “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Step Two of the Twelve Steps says “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  I resonate with that. I couldn’t clean up my life on my own. I needed God and God needed to help me in this process of transforming me from toxic to useful to fruitful. My simple prayer has always been God help me. Change me. Restore me. Renew me. And He does, with a process of change, healing and growth that He’s been using for centuries. This verse reveals His spiritual process that parallels His physical process to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). It’s called Phytoremediation.

Phytoremediation is an environmentally sound technology (EST), in which plants are used to remove, detoxify, or immobilize environmental contaminants that are in the soil and in the water. Phytoremdiation was used after major environmental catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (1989), the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill off the Louisiana coast (2010) and even after the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster (1986).

Plants belonging to the Cruciferae family work the best. These particular plants are named and are a part of this family because they have a corolla of four petals, arranged like a cross. God’s supernatural way to clean up the toxicity in the soil of my heart is the same way He cleans up the soil of His Earth when toxic spills occur; through the work of the Cross (Colossians 1:16-20).

cardamine-concatenata-brassicacaea

Here’s a little more about this amazing clean up process: Phytoextraction is a major part of the Phytoremediation process. Like the plants that are used in the Phytoremediation process to extract and remove harmful contaminants from the soil, its my hope that God will use these posts and any other therapeutic process to help you to identify, own, extract and remove any toxic thoughts or behaviors from your life that have contaminated or compromised your ability to produce His fruit in you.

Equally, know that the “seeds” (His Word and Psychological/Medical truths to impact our character and values) that are planted in your heart also serve as catalysts (Phytostimulation and Phytotransformation) to assist in our healing as His word fertilizes and stimulates our minds and bodies for fruitful possibilities. As James states in this verse, planting these characteristics in your life and engaging in activities that nurture them to maturity means you position yourself to be cleansed, transformed and readied to produce fruit that will edify you and and to edify others who’ll come into your presence to partake of your changed and fruitful behavior. I encourage you to open yourself up to this dynamic process of growth and transformation.

Finally, I encourage you to be patient in this process of change as well. If you’re like me, in light of some of your life experiences, historic and current, it may take days, weeks, months or even years to successfully work through and rebuild parts of your life and your relationships, as you work on and complete your identified tasks to facilitate change, healing and growth. Its no wonder that Joy, Peace and Patience are the first of the Spiritual Fruits to focus on developing. This will take time.

Healing the environment after major catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez and the BP Oil spill have taken years to remediate the soil, water and the environment, and the parallel of healing your life and your relationships may take some time also. The beautiful thing though, is that if you’re open to His process of change and then do the work, change and healing will occur, as we serve a God who, although He works in natural time, He also works supernaturally. May God bless you in your process of being changed, healed and in this season of fruitful growth in your life.

You could find the next 5 passages of scripture (#36-40) in this “55 for 55” series by clicking here.

Thanks for visiting and please visit the other blogs written by Dr Ken McGill: Dr Ken McGill’s blog and “3-2-5-4-24” for additional information that could be helpful. I welcome your comments below or via email and your favorites, your retweets and your “+1’s” if you have a brief moment and find the information helpful, please pass along a rating or review of my book Daily Bread for Life, Vol. 1 in the Amazon bookstore. Again, it is my desire to provide the very best info for your consideration.


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