The Life Model for Spiritual Health

Today I’ve invited my friend, Michael Sullivant, to be by guest. He’s the director of Relational Networks for Life Model Works. This organization, founded by my neurothologian friend, Dr. Jim Wilder, has helped thousands of people become more spiritually and emotionally whole by combined the Truth of Scripture with insight about the brain. Dr. Wilder will be presenting a powerful seminar October 10 from 1-5.30 pm called Thinking with God: Enhancing our Immanuel Lifestyle. I highly recommend this seminar. You can check it out here. Enjoy the insight that follows from Michael.

Both my wife, Terri, and I have experienced significant transformation toward greater Christlikeness through our practice of The Life Model over the last 10 years. Along the way we were asked to join the leadership team of the organization and we are blessed to now have many opportunities to pass along to others what we have learned.

The Life Model was developed and formulated over the last 30+ years, primarily out of the biblical, scientific and clinical research and practice of Jim Wilder. It offers an approach to human maturity and Christ-centered identity transformation that integrates biblical theology and neuroscience in simply profound ways. I think of it as “discipleship by design”. It’s a more human-friendly, and therefore effective, way of understanding and practicing spiritual formation.

Neuroscientists have discovered that the yearning for attachment love is the most powerful motivational force in the human being. We all long to be the “sparkle” in the eyes of another and be delighted in by them. Its center is buried deep in the right hemisphere of our brains that registers reality faster than conscious thoughts and words. Attachment is more powerful than the drives for food, sleep, sex and even personal survival. This, of course, fits hand in glove with the biblical idea that we are designed for loving, sustainable, sacrificial and eternal relational connections with God and “our people”. (As it turns out, God wants all people to become His people … even His “enemies”. So, we too are called to love our enemies for His honor and their good, not to mention everyone else He places in our lives.) 

In Scripture, this kind of love that has glue-like properties is captured by one of the Hebrew words for love – hesedAttachment is the recently discovered link between brain science and sound theology. Even our salvation can be understood and explained as a new attachment relationship with God in Christ. (Just think of the image of the vine and the branches of John 15). This idea is more fully explained in Dr. Wilder’s recent book, Renovated and in the recent book he co-wrote with Michel Hendricks, The Other Half of Church.

A basic premise of The Life Model is that God does not by-pass this most powerful motivation in our brains and beings to make us more like His Son. Rather, He engages heals, regulates and uses it by His Spirit for this very purpose. According to our design, once our attachment center is so blessed by God, there is a wonderous growth of our brains and beings that ensues. 

We experience calming peace as we are “presenced” by such love. Relational circuits in our brains are switched on. We experience non-verbal and brilliant mutual mind states with loved ones and even with God Himself. We learn how to regulate disruptive emotions that intrude upon us. We are healed of past traumas by experiencing Jesus as our Immanuel. We grow a secure and transformed identity as “our people” mirror our true identity in Christ back to us. We experience a relational joy that gives us the capacity to endure hardships without being traumatized. We are authentically transformed in our character from the inside-out through the influence of God and a loving community. Plus, we are gently and lovingly “busted” by our people when we manifest narcissistic tendencies!

These are the truly possible outcomes of practicing The Life Model. We are praying and laboring for a relational renaissance that begins within the Church of Jesus Christ, in all its varied forms and traditions, and that moves beyond to influence our culture and the nations at large.

Again (Charles here) I encourage you to attend this powerful seminar by multi-book author Dr. Jim Wilder, October 10 from 1-5.30 pm called Thinking with God: Enhancing our Immanuel Lifestyle. You can check it out here.

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