Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016 Connections

Intellectual 2




One of the most magnificent things in all creation has to be the human brain. 

--The average human brain weights about 3 pounds. Compared to a dog; 2.5 ounces, cat; 1 ounce, and goldfish; 1/300th of ounce.  Our brain is the largest, compared to body size, of all species.  I’m feeling proud. 

--Your brain has 100 billion brain cells!

--Your brain has 100,000 miles worth of blood vessels.

--Each neuron is connected to other neurons by up to 40,000 individual connections called synapses. Your brain has more connections than there are stars in the universe.

--If the brain were a hard drive in would hold 4 terabytes of information. 

--20% of the oxygen your breath is used by the brain, yet it is only 2% of the body weight.

--According to an estimate, the average number of thoughts held by a normal person is 70,000 thoughts every day. 

--Every time you recall a memory or have a new thought, you are creating a new connection in your brain.

-- Information in the brain travels at speeds of up to 268 miles per hour

--The idea that we only use 10% of our brains is a MYTH! You may not use every part of your brain at the same time, but every part is used.

--Our brains generates between 10-20 watts of electricity; which would light a light bulb.

--Your brain doesn’t fully mature until you reach about 25 years of age.

--Your brain NEVER turns off or even rests, not even while you sleep. Your brain is very active at night, especially during dreaming.

--Contrary to popular belief, your brain never stops changing and can continue to form new neural connections throughout your lifetime.



Your brain is the most complicated, amazing organ in the universe! It controls everything you do, feel, and think.  As we have learned – here is the point - God desires all 100 billion brain cells connecting to him.  That is what we are learning to do this year… 2016…Connections!  Our goal for the year is to learn to find those sweet spots of worship where we are connecting our temperaments to the One LORD!



ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”



Last week, we began looking at the Intellectual Temperament. We discovered that 22 of the 66 people here last week scored over 70 on the Intellectual Temperament Test.  That is what I suspected.  Los Alamos is high in the Intellectual Temperament.  But the intellectual temperament is a challenging one to connect to God.



Let’s dig a little deeper into the Intellectual Temperament to find some sweet spots and some sour spots.  






People with an intellectual temperament love to understand God.  When they understand something new about God their adoration is unleashed.  Those with this temperament aren’t necessarily more intelligent than others, nor do they have more formal education.  Rather, these people love God best through using their minds to ponder His truths.  They see faith as something to be understood.  For those with the Intellectual Temperament, thinking right is a sweet spot of worship. 



The intellectual needs to be challenged with hard questions.  If they are not learning new things about God, their relationship feels stagnant. Intellectuals remind us of the high calling to love God with all 100 billion brain cells.  The intellectual temperament agrees with Gary Thomas…



“I’ve never learned something about God that didn’t draw me closer to him.  If you are one of the 22 than you resonate with this statement. 






The intellectual temperament is valuable to the body of Christ.  I believe theology is… important.  It is the Intellectual who challenges us to work out our theology.  The intellectual temperament does the heavy lifting when it comes to helping us understand theology.  Theology drives how we live.  Our view of who God is… may be the most important thing about us.  Researching the interaction between the LORD and humans is vital work.

--It was the ancient Intellectual temperaments who worked out the Trinity.  What an amazing discussion.  The ancient church got together to hammer out “Our LORD is ONE” and “Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is unity.”  Wow, that was a remarkable debate.  We are in debt to those ancient intellectuals for working out this truth. I wish I could have been there for that debate. 

--It is the Intellectual temperament which explains grace, today.  What is grace?  How does the grace of God work in sending Jesus to the cross?  There is the some wonderful work being done today in understanding the atoning, reconciling, restoring, life-giving death of our Lord.  We need to tune into this discussion.

--It will be the Intellectual temperament, in the future, which will continue to refine our theology, bringing us ever closer to understanding our LORD… drawing closer to our Lord.



The intellectual temperament is valuable to the body of Christ. 



The congregation should say… thank you!



But… as with all temperaments there are downsides.






The Intellectual temperament struggles with…

--Arrogance… Intellectuals can often be insufferable know-it-alls.  Have you ever been made to feel stupid when you are around an intellectual?  Arrogance is a show-stopper.  The 22 of you who have over 70 points on the Intellectual Temperament Test must be on guard against arrogance.

--The Intellectual temperament has to fight… Condescension.  You know what I am talking about.  That tone of voice which communicates… “I am better than you.  Just shut up and listen.” The Intellectual temperament can easily sound hateful.

--The Intellectual temperament is tempted with fudging.  I’m not talking about making candy.  I’m talking about making up things as you go.  You are tempted to make up stuff, invent facts, create statistics, fudge the truth; because you want to appear to be an expert. 

--This can devolve into hypocrisy. “I am spectacular because I am the superior intellect.”  But the reality is you know you are not something on a stick.  This leads to hypocrisy; pretending to be more spiritual than you are.  Knowing what is right is no substitute for doing what is right.  Hypocrisy is a another show stopper.

-- The Intellectual temperament has to fight… Criticism. Being the critic is always a danger.  Nothing is up to your standards.  You hunt for flaws in everything and everyone.  Always finding fault with everything is a killer. 

-All of these dangers can be summarized as… lovelessness.  Those with the Intellectual temperament can lack compassion.



I could go on.  But I think we get the point.  The intellectual temperament must work on… compassion.  The danger of the Intellectual temperament is real.  If you are one of the 22… evaluate yourself be sensitive to your connections to other people.  If those connections are destroyed you are going to have a hard time connecting to God as well. 



But this is not the only downside. Each of the temperaments can be perverted.  Each of the temperaments thinks it is the most important.  “Obviously, the Intellectual temperament is the most important.  Theology is… important.”   When we allow any of the temperaments to rise above the others it is in danger of being perverted. 






The intellectual temperament is a wonderful gift to the body.  We should say… thank you.  But when intellectual temperament is not seasoned with compassion it can easily end up in… legalism.  Watch the process.

--Because doctrine is more important than everything else…

--Then, salvation depends upon my precise understanding of doctrine…

--Then, everyone else’s salvation depends upon correct doctrine, often called “sound” doctrine…

--Then, anyone who disagrees with me must, by definition, be wrong…

--Then, everyone who does not believe exactly like I believe is going to hell.

--So, it is crucial that we write every doctrine down, form a creed, and make everyone sign up.

--So, the intellectual temperament can devolve into balloon theology.  Which is… you must have exact theology in order to please God.  Exact theology being defined as agreeing with me.  There is no room for the grace of God. 

--Everything depends upon perfect theology… legalism. 



If we have to 100% right in all our theology than I suspect we are all in deep kimchee.



The Pharisees of Jesus day are examples of an intellectual movement that began with the desire to follow all the commands of God, but ended up in arrogance, condescension, hypocrisy, lovelessness and, then, legalism.



The intellectual temperament, without compassion, is easily perverted into legalism… a serious downside to be avoided.



One more downside.  “Come on Tim, that’s enough.”  Just one more. 






Each temperament can be broken.  I am thinking about, as a kid growing up, or even as a young adult attempting to find their connections to God, being hammered because of their temperament.  Temperaments can be broken.  Other temperaments may be more susceptible to being broken than the intellectual temperament.   But even the Intellectual temperament can be broken.  Image the following things beings said to a young person with the intellectual temperament…

--“You are stupid. You are not smart enough to question me.”

--“Shut up and do what you are told.”

--“Stop asking why. It just is.”

--“Christians shouldn’t ask questions.”

--“Just believe what you are taught.”

--“Faith is never asking questions.



Growing up in that kind of home…  Attending that kind of church… Being taught by that kind of teacher… can break a temperament.  If a person has the intellectual temperament but is taught not to ask questions… this leads to an inner-conflict that usually ends in that person abandoning their faith.  We must not break anyone’s temperament.  It is how they are uniquely wired to worship God.  Breaking a person’s temperament is a terrible thing. 



This is a sober warning…



Let’s change gears. That is enough of the downsides.  That was depressing.  I want to pump up those with the intellectual temperament. 






I want to help the 22 who have 70+ on the test to learn to connect to God with their intellectual temperament.  But I also want to challenge all the rest to step out of your box and work on your Intellectual temperament.  Here are some suggestions on learning to turn the questions into connections… 




1. Write down your questions.  Keep a journal of theological dilemmas.  “The Journal of Theological Dilemmas” you could name it.  Set aside some time, once a week, to ponder this journal.  Do some digging.  Write your answers.

2. Read.  There are lots of challenging theological works.  Pick up an N.T. Wright book… work through it.  Keep a good theological book going.  Make a commitment to read a good book… highlighting, taking notes… discussing it with others. 

3. Connect these activities to God.  Rejoice when you learn something.  Write a prayer of thanksgiving for each discovery.  This is the trick.  It is not just learning.  It is worship.  It is a sweet spot!  Everything you learn about God and His word brings you to a thin place where you can praise God for that learning! 



Specifically… for the next 3 or 4 weeks.

1. Read this blog… http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/  Read “Paul and the Gift” article in your notebook.  Ponder the question… What is Grace? When you hear the word “Grace” what do you understand… can you connect to God with this deeper understanding of grace? 

2. Word study on “The Shema”.  I gave you the simple answer in your notebook… dig and find the fuller answer.

3. Work on your compassion… I'd like you to choose a topic that you're passionate about; some theology that you love.  Then, I want you to write about that topic from three separate viewpoints.  Attempt to be honest as you write from the other viewpoints.  Be compassionate.



Have this verse across the top of the page…

ESV Romans 12:3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.



To be engaged in finding sweet spots of worship is to take some action.  Set aside some time over the next 3 weeks to choose one of these challenges.  Ask yourself, “Is connecting to God important to me?”



There are the suggestions… It is up to you to use them to find a sweet spot.






Our challenge for the year is to find our sweet spot of worship.  We are attempting to learn how to connect to God. 

So far, in our challenge…

--We have learned that God is infinite.  God has made your brain practically infinite.  You can ask infinite questions which can lead you to infinite sweet spots of worship.  

--We all reflect a portion of God’s infiniteness; we are unique.

--We have learned that God requires infinite worship.  Each of us can worship God like only you can worship God.  Those with intellectual temperament can connect to God’s curiosity!

--God is good.  God’s grace is enough.  God desires you. 

--God wants all of you.  YWHW is one.   You must give your One to the One.

--God wants your all 100 billion brain cells.  The intellectual temperament is a wonderful gift to the body of Christ.  Those with the intellectual temperament must season it with compassion and feed it with wonderful questions!



That is what we have learned, so far.





There has never been or ever will be someone who is just like you.  This isn’t a testimony about you, but rather a statement of God’s infiniteness. The significance of your uniqueness is… only you can worship God like you.  No one can take your place. You are invaluable and irreplaceable.  AND God desires you.  BUT, God desires all of you.  God wants your all 100 billion brain cells.


ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”


Join me in reciting…  Shema… Hear this…


My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.




Tim Stidham

January 31, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ