Self-discipline in Science and Scripture: A Weekend Series at AU

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Self-discipline in Science and Scripture: A Weekend Series at AU

Chad and Fadia Kreuzer, a husband-wife team of globetrotting evangelists, seminar speakers, and documentary makers, recently visited Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and conducted a three-part, weekend series entitled Self-discipline in Science and Scripture. Revive, a vespers and outreach fellowship on campus, hosted the event. This column will survey the triumvirate of presentations and highlight many of the fascinating and impactful topics that pertain to walking with the Lord in optimal vitality of body, mind, and spirit.

 

Friday’s Seminar

 

On Friday evening, November 1, Chad’s message covered Neuroscience and Self-discipline, which was comprised of numerous themes:

 

  • Everyone has struggles, and different people struggle with different things.
  • Reynald III, the fourteenth-century duke of the territory that currently constitutes Belgium, lost a battle for power to his brother Edward, who “imprisoned” him in a room that the average person could escape, but Reynald was morbidly obese. Edward exacerbated the situation by having him fed a lavish diet, which facilitated a ten-year cycle of tormented captivity. Reynald was released upon Edward’s death, but then followed him to the grave within a year due to obviously poor health.
  • In Chad’s multitudinous interactions with atheists, one told him directly that religion is for the weak. Chad acknowledges the legitimacy of this statement, with the caveat that all people are weak without Jesus Christ.
  • “So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today” (Deut. 6:24, NASB). An aspect of discipline is following a set of rules for our wellbeing, and God was not arbitrary in establishing His hedges of protection.

 

Man’s strongest impulse urges him to seek his own happiness, and the Bible recognizes this desire and shows us that all heaven will unite with man in his efforts to gain true happiness (Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 642).

 

  • God did not establish His law to make legalists, but to bless us. With that said, His law is legalism to those who are unconverted. Jesus changing our hearts makes His regulations a delight instead of a burden.
  • Suicide rates have spiked 56% in the last decade, according to the Center for Disease Control.
  • A Harris Poll indicates that only 33% of people in America, a nation that is very high on the world’s affluence totem pole, expressed that they were happy. The rate was actually a bit higher in 2008—during the time of the recession.
  • Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and some other neighbors are considered among the happiest places on earth. Chad has concluded otherwise during his significant amount of time in the region. Their happiness paradigm places great weight on financial stability, sturdy social structures, and governments that embody integrity and not corruption. Nevertheless, the research reflects high levels of depression.
  • In a recent psychological experiment, a group of people were split into two rooms. One subgroup was offered all-you-can-eat chocolate chip cookies, while the other was offered all-you-can-eat radishes (quite the contrast, huh!). A pivotal takeaway from the experiment was that willpower is like a muscle, in that it can be depleted and fatigued. Thus, making sound decisions can become more difficult toward the end of the day. The radish eaters experienced greater struggles with later decisions than the cookie eaters did. Blood sugar is a factor, within reasonable parameters, of course.
  • Decision fatigue will often be put to the test at car dealerships. A while after the patron is flooded with countless color options, feature options, etc., he or she may concede to the salesperson’s input, at which juncture there will expectedly be an upsell, hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth.
  • “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57; see also 10:13).
  • Things that can sap self-discipline include certain forms of media and electronic devices in general, such as cellphones, the overuse of which can instigate a higher risk of suicide for various reasons.
  • Internet addiction can lead to shrinkage in crucial sections of the brain, including the left anterior cingulate cortex (capacity for mature love; ref. Matt 24:12; 1 John 4:8) and frontal lobe (morality, rationality, self-discipline). Pornography is a specific contributor to these shrinkages. Frontal lobe shrinkage can be reversed (Hallelujah!).
  • Sin is a spiritual issue, but clearly also a physiological issue.
  • Celebrities such as Madonna and Steve Jobs extensively prohibit(ed) their children’s access to media, the former even stating that “TV is trash” (ref. Luke 16:8).
  • Chad referenced an element of Doug Batchelor’s testimony in which he first tangibly felt love in a school with defined boundaries, as opposed to the loose schools he had previously attended.
  • Chad delineated some positive habits that can promote increased abilities to exercise self-discipline, including good posture and quality sleep. Regarding the latter, he alluded to Dr. Neil Nedley’s commitment to not studying for medical school past 9 p.m. (radical for a college student). Surprise, surprise, he finished at the top of his class—by the grace of God. In a broader connection, Chad admitted his early agitation with the Spirit of Prophecy, but a fulcrum point for him was his continual discovery of how often Ellen White was ahead of mainstream medical science.

 

All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. … Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us” (The Desire of Ages, p. 668).

 

Sabbath Morning’s Meetings

 

Chad discussed Focus, Happiness, and Self-discipline during the Sabbath service. The noteworthy talking points are listed below:

 

  • He began with a quote from author Jim Rohn:

 

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

 

  • He shared the account of when he got into a fight with two other guys during his pre-conversion days. Though they beat him up, Chad considers it a blessing in disguise because he learned a memorable lesson and never got into another fight afterward.
  • He revisited Deuteronomy 6:24 and emphasized the longevity dimension. In contrasting the evolutionary and creationist perspectives, he asserted that while the former has given nothing worthwhile to humanity, creationism has fostered sizable increases in quantity and quality of life, especially demonstrable in the SDA Church.
  • Proceeding from the mantra of Jocko Willink, former Navy SEALs commander—“Discipline equals freedom”—Chad mentioned an exchange he had with a homeless man who was convinced that “normal” folks are crazy and he had more freedom than we do—no schedules to keep, clocks to punch, bills to pay, etc. Needless to say, the dichotomy and irony are rather straightforward (see James 1:25; 2:12).
  • Love is the most important factor, but within the context of principles. Chad admitted the shallowness of his love for God in the early stages of his faith pilgrimage–wanting to be right with Him, yet lacking interest in following His ways. Poor sleeping and eating habits compounded his depression, but reversing these habits aided his recovery. He later designated Paul as a prime example of how much love and discipline go hand-in-hand.

 

Never will the human heart know happiness until it is submitted to be molded by the Spirit of God. The Spirit conforms the renewed soul to the model, Jesus Christ. Through its influence, enmity against God is changed into faith and love … The soul perceives the beauty of truth … (Our High Calling, p. 152).

 

  • Chad has two friends (who also know each other) who own drastically different dogs—one well-behaved, one not so much. When Cujo’s owner asked Fluffy’s owner (I’m invoking some literary license with these names) how he does it, the latter mentioned that he affords his dog some daily time to run through an open field unleashed, then said, “He will do whatever I ask him to, because he learned to associate me with freedom.” We need to view God the same way.
  • Chad began regularly reading the Bible out of selfish ambition after an atheist made him look foolish. The Lord still blessed him and effected transformation.
  • In a particular segment of HBO’s documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, Warren and his friend and fellow billionaire, Bill Gates, while sitting together at a table, were asked to divulge the one facet they considered to be the most instrumental to their success. They wrote their answers on separate pieces of paper to ensure genuine, organic agreement or disagreement; they agreed: FOCUS.

 

Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil (Prov. 4:25–27).

 

  • Continuing along this track, King David’s affair with Bathsheba would never have transpired if he had fulfilled his military duty like he should have. He eventually figured it out (see Ps. 101:3).
  • Different people have different strengths and weaknesses with respect to self-discipline. Nevertheless, God can and wants to give us total victory.
  • Scriptural models of focus include Noah (building the ark for 120 years for an event yet without precedent) and Jacob (laboring fourteen years for his dream woman, overcoming deception along the way).
  • Decision fatigue has seeped into the dating world, and this was observationally determined in New York City. Besides being in a locality with so many immediate options, the Internet opens the floodgates even more, and this ultimately cultivates a quest for perfection.
  • Seven disciplines on which to focus for wholeness and happiness: correct posture, sleep and wake up early, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet at the right times, give your life to Jesus and die daily, have daily personal devotions and pray continually, and memorize Bible promises.

 

Sabbath Afternoon Sessions

 

Fadia and Chad tag-teamed the Sabbath afternoon session. Self-discipline and the Gut-Brain Connection seems to be the cornerstone of this series. The key motifs include the following:

 

  • The book A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts (edited by Alfredo Morabia) and the National Institutes of Health (neither are faith-based) both affirmed that the first clinical trial of the gut-brain connection can be found in Daniel 1. The four Hebrews were physically and mentally superior to everyone else in the Babylonian kingdom after a ten-day, vegan-diet test.
  • In referencing one of their documentaries on ancient health, Fadia highlighted a particular young boy whom she interviewed. His performance and behavioral issues in school turned 180 degrees after about a month of shifting to primarily plant-based nutrition.
  • Sticking to the realm of education, an entire middle school changed its menu to vegan only. The drops in violence, occurrences in pregnancy, and absenteeism were remarkable.
  • Approximately 90% of information transmission through the vagus nerve is gut-to-brain, not the other way around.

 

People who have a sour stomach are very often of a sour disposition. … If we would have peace among ourselves, we should give more thought than we do to having a peaceful stomach” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 112).

 

It cannot be too often repeated that whatever is taken into the stomach affects not only the body, but ultimately the mind as well. … It is difficult, and often well-nigh impossible, for one who is intemperate in diet to exercise patience and self-control (Child Guidance, p. 461).\

 

  • Fadia address a selection of issues associated with blood sugar. Regarding crime, approximately 90% of juvenile offenders had glucose levels that were below normal. Furthermore, a separate study revealed that delinquent young people have poorer glucose tolerance.
  • Staying in this lane, two groups of people were assigned to play a frustratingly difficult video game. One group drank something sugary, while the other drank a placebo. Those in the placebo group were more inclined to aggravation and displaying their fits physically. Other ramifications of poor blood sugar pertain to self-control and attention.
  • Stemming from Leviticus 17:11 (life is in the blood), Chad discussed cellular health, specifically coursing through some of the mechanics of how we attain energy—glucose entering the cells and insulin’s role therein. Adding the qualifier that type-2 diabetes can affect slimmer folks, as well as plumper folks, he explained some of the anatomy of the disease—cells become fattier than normal (he interjected the analogy of gum in a keyhole, coined by Dr. Neal Barnard), which renders insulin resistance and increased difficulty in becoming properly fueled and functional.

Perfect health depends upon perfect circulation” (Healthful Living, p. 30).

  • Exposing pseudo-science claims such as fruit being bad for us because of the sugar and eating five or six spread-out meals a day better regulates blood sugar, Chad shared some validated research that puts those claims to bed. Practically every fruit, including dried, is advantageous in preventing and even remedying diabetes (some melons cause some blood sugar spikes, but nothing of measurable concern). Additionally, two meals are more ideal for cellular and hormonal balance, even more so in conjunction with intermittent fasting.
  • There is a proportional correlation between fruit consumption and upgraded mood/diminished episodes of depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Chad broached the very intriguing phenomenon of spicy foods negatively impacting social relationships, including marital. Jalapenos, cayenne, and the like increase intestinal permeability and trigger “leaky gut,” which in turn influences disposition and composure.

He and Fadia tested this notion via periods of abstinence from spicy foods, and this improved their interactions with each other and others. After some friends invited them to dinner at an Indian restaurant … well, you can guess what happened.

  • Varying periods of fasting, eating more whole fruits, grains, and vegetables, as well as a daily handful of nuts (a little more if one is less prone to weight gain), and avoiding spice are ways to balance the gastrointestinal system.
  • An amazing case study was done at Victor Valley Medium Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, California, where a 500-inmate prison was opened by a successful Seventh-day Adventist businessman and the inmates were granted an option between a NEWSTART vegan diet, along with occupational training, Bible studies, and anger management, and the standard fare. Eighty-five percent chose the first, stunningly contrary to expectations. Recidivism (going back to jail) plummeted to 2% (state average is around 95%; national average, 52%).

 

Wrong habits of eating and the use of unhealthful food are in no small degree responsible for the intemperance and crime and wretchedness that curse the world (The Ministry of Healing, p. 146).

 

The most resounding string on Chad’s violin throughout this series was that these modes of behavior modification and lifestyle adjustments in no way get us into heaven. He was inarguably clear that we are saved solely by the grace of Christ. God gave us His health guidelines to enhance our enjoyment of this life, buttress our preparation for eternity, and test our trust in His fatherly wisdom and foreknowledge.

 

To learn more about Chad and Fadia’s ministry, please visit anchorpointfilms.com, the primary site under their proprietorship (they also operate biblememorizaton.com). APF reflects their nearly two decades of dedicated service to Christ and the (mostly secular) world, as well as offers a wealth of resources that span a variety of subjects, including biblical, archeological, and historical research, apologetics, and health.

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About the author

John Simon

John Simon, an almost lifelong Michigander, is a freelance editor and writer. He previously spent a decade working with Adventist Frontier Missions in an accounting role. Though finance wasn't exactly a hand-in-glove fit—more of a hand-in-toaster fit, frankly—it was a privilege to help advance the cause of reaching the unreached. John enjoys spectating and participating in various sports (hockey being on top of both lists), driving/road tripping, visiting his feisty yet loving and supportive family on the other side of the Mitten, and spending time with friends.