Neuro-Semantics for the Christian Mind
oving From Learning to Doing

by Mike Davis

 James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving your own selves”

As a believer in Jesus Christ do you ever find yourself not acting on and living by the wonderful truths of God’s Word? Have you ever had times when, in studying God’s Word you learned some powerful truths, gain marvelous and exciting insights into Scripture that you truly believed would change your life – only to have that excitement and illumination fade a few days later with your life still unchanged?

I have, and let me tell you – it’s a bummer! The first few years of my Christian life I could not understand why the things I was learning and studying in the Scriptures were not changing my life.

I was taught that God’s word was alive, active, powerful and transforming (Hebrews 4:12; Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:57,63; James 1:21). I was learning awesome truths about being a new creature in Christ, being filled with God’s Spirit, abiding in Christ, and the riches I now have in Christ – yet most of what I learned didn’t seem to impact my life in a transforming way.

Oh sure, for a few days after learning something new, or gaining a new insight from the Scriptures or from a Christian book I had read I would feel like my life had changed for the better. And it had – for a while. But usually after a week or so I would be back to the same struggles I had before. And once again I would begin my studies afresh and anew for the answers to my problems.

And this just wasn’t my experience. My friends were also experiencing the same things. They were also frustrated by the gap in what they knew and what they lived. We did everything we knew to do or had been taught to do: we studied the bible, we prayed, we fasted, we rebuked the devil ( I like to say that I would “rebuke” the devil and he wouldn’t “buke”) we confessed our sins, we had others pray for us, we tried to “let go and let God”. We did it all. And still we found ourselves being more hearers than doers.

It wasn’t that we were trying to be perfect. We just wanted to be obedient!   We wanted to experience in our own lives the truths that we read about in Scriptures. We wanted “being dead to sin and alive unto God” to be more than just a theological truth but a living reality in our lives and behavior.

We wanted to live “….if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away behold all things are become new” and not just read about it or preach it.

The question was (and is) “How”? How do you make the truths of God’s word a living reality in your life? How do you move from being a hearer to a doer?

 Knowing the truth

Jesus in John 8:31, 32 states that 

“ If you continue in my word then are you my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”

Notice what Jesus says here “ You shall know the truth and the truth [that you know] shall make you free”

He didn’t say that it is the truth that we learn or hear that makes us free; it is the truth that we know that makes us free. What is crucial is that we know the truth. So what does it mean to know the truth?

Is it just studying Scripture and gathering information about what the Bible teaches? Is it memorizing Scripture? While these things are important they do not necessarily constitute what “knowing” the truth is all about. As a matter of fact one can study and memorize the Scriptures and yet not know the truth of Scripture. A person can even go to seminary or Bible College, get a degree, read the bible in Greek and Hebrew and still not “know” the truth.

So what does it mean to know the truth?

First let’s remember that Jesus is a part of first century Jewish Culture. He is not speaking in a vacuum but rather is using language, metaphors, terms, and phrases that the people of his day would readily recognize and understand. Often he uses terms that are recognizable to 20th century readers but that possess a different meaning today than they did two thousand years ago.

One such term is the word  "know". Today such a term can mean, “to have information about, to intellectually grasp”. While the term  know in the scriptures can possess these definitions it also means more than these.

Author Robert C. Dentan in his book The Knowledge of God In Ancient Israel states that to the Hebrew (or Jewish) mind to know involves more than just an intellectual grasp of information. Rather,

 “Genuine knowledge involved the whole of man’s personality – his mind, his feelings, and his deeds” (page 40) (1)

Denton also writes that

 “A man’s theology [i.e. his knowledge] should engage his passions as well as his thoughts, and must call forth not only the response “I understand”, but “I love” and “I will”. (page 41) (2)

In biblical /Hebraic thought to “know” something is to have the knowledge of what you know influence, shape, and, direct your intellect, will, emotions, words, and behavior. To the Hebraic/Jewish/biblical mind, that which you truly know influences all that you are and is manifested in your behavior and lifestyle. In biblical thought true knowledge is embodied knowledge and is revealed in how you live.

Both Jesus and Paul confirm this biblical view of knowledge

Jesus: “….I know Him [God] and keep [obey] His saying” (John 8:55).

Here Jesus links knowing God with obeying God, with living by and embodying His Word.

Paul in Titus 1:16 speaks of those who “….profess that they know God; but in works [i.e. in their behavior] they deny Him being abominable, disobedient…”.

Here again true knowledge of God is judged by ones behavior. Paul here denies the professed knowledge or knowing of God because such knowledge is not being embodied and expressed in behavior.

To quote Dentan again,

 “….knowledge that did not issue in appropriate action was not true knowledge at all” (page40) (3)

and also,

 “ …there is no true knowledge of God that does not involve the whole of man’s personality” (page 41) (4)

So when Jesus states that it is the truth that we “know “that sets us free he is speaking of a truth that has grasped us, that is shaping and influencing our entire being – intellect, will, emotions, and behavior.

 In Neuro-semantics we call this getting a concept, principle, or idea “into muscle”. When we have gotten a principle or concept “into muscle” it becomes our way of being and living in the world. It guides and directs our thinking, emoting, deciding, and behaving. 

Thus we could paraphrase Jesus words

 “ When you know the truth, when you get it into muscle, then you will experience and walk in freedom”

 I believe this is why as believers we often have difficulty and struggle with living the truth that we have learned. We have heard it, memorized it but in order to do it, to live it consistently we need to know it, we need to get it into muscle.

But how do we come to know the truth? How do we get it into muscle so that it becomes our way of being and living in the world?

Does the Word of God provide a process for knowing the truth, for getting it into muscle?

And if so how does it relate to Neuro-semantics?

The Lost Art of Biblical Meditation

The Bible does provide a means, a process for knowing the truth, for getting it into muscle. It is called meditation.

In Joshua 1:8 God speaks to Joshua and tells him

 “This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth but thou shalt meditate therein day and night that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.”

God in this verse tells Joshua that in order to live His will, to be a doer (and thus prosper in life) he must meditate in the Word of God (the Law/ Torah) by day and by night.

Biblical meditation, I have found, is the key to knowing the truth of God, to getting it into muscle and becoming a consistent doer of it.

I have also found that biblical meditation is a “lost art”. I have found in my experience as a pastor that while many believers read the Scriptures, and even study them most do not meditate upon them. Time is not set aside for this important practice. And again it is through this practice that we can “mind-to muscle” biblical truth, that we can come to “know” it.

What does it mean to meditate on the word of God?

Meditation: Hagah and Siach

In Hebrew there are several different words that can be translated as meditation or that have to do with the concept of meditation. In this article we will look at only two.

The first word is hagah. In Hebrew hagah means to utter, to speak to oneself in a low voice, to repeat to oneself out loud. This is the word that is used in Joshua 1:8 when God tells Joshua to “meditate upon my Law day and night” (5)

The second word is siach. Siach means to speak or converse with oneself, to rehearse or repeat to oneself either inwardly or outwardly. This word is used in Psalms 119:97 where David writes “ O how I love thy Law it is my meditation all the day” (6)

Author and Scholar Johanes Pedersen in his book Israel: Its Life and Culture says that biblical meditation means:

 “…to make oneself familiar with something and thus to be determined [or influenced] to act.” (7)

 So meditation upon the truth is the God- ordained means of getting the truth into muscle, of knowing the truth so that we can live by it and benefit from it.

So how do we meditate upon God’s word so that we can know it, get it into muscle and consistently live by it?

Effective Biblical Meditation: The 7 Elements

In my studies and teaching over the years on biblical mediation I have identified at least seven elements that I consider to be crucial to effectively meditating on the truths of scripture in order to “know” them

The seven elements I have formatted in to the acronym D.A.R.E.

The seven elements are:

1.  Decision: Decide what truth of Scripture you are going to meditate upon in order to live by. Deuteronmy30:19 tells us

“I have set before you life and death blessing and cursing therefore choose life…”

In the context of chapter 30 the choice the people are asked to make is the choice to obey God’s word (see vss.15,16). To choose obedience to God’s will is to choose life. Part of meditating effectively upon the truth is to choose the truth you are going to meditate upon.

2. Declaration: The second element is to declare or to speak out loud and to ourselves the truth that we desire to “know”. Remember that both hagah and siach, the two Hebrew words for meditation, carry the meaning of “to speak out loud” or “to converse with oneself”. Declaring or speaking God’s word to yourself is one of the primary ways to get that word in your heart to do it (see Deuteronomy 30:14).

3. Affirmation: The third element in effective meditation is affirmation. By this I mean speaking out loud and affirming what you believe. Faith and belief are essential to knowing the truth and being able to mind-to muscle it. In Hebrews chapter 4:2 It states that Israel, in the wilderness did not profit from the word that they heard because it was not mixed with faith. In Greek the word translated as mixed means, “to assimilate, to commingle, to unite to, and to make one’s own” (8). It was through faith that the word of God was to be assimilated and become their own. 

In II Corinthians 1:20 we are told that all of the promises of God in Jesus are yes-to which we utter the amen! According to Scholars “Amen” is spoken after something in order to identify with it, receive it as your own and to commit oneself to it (9). Affirmation or the stating of ones belief is an important part of the meditating process.

4. Action: Action is the fourth element in effectively mediating in God’s Word. In James 2:17-22 we are told that faith without works is dead and that through obedience, through action we perfect our faith. By acting on what we believe what we believe becomes even more a part of us. It becomes more of who we are. At first our actions may be halting and stumbling like the first steps of a baby learning how to walk. But as we continue acting, continuing practicing we get better at it like the small child who gets better at walking by continuing to walk. Someone once said, “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well”. By taking action we get better at what we do – it gets into muscle. 

5. Repetition: Repetition is the fifth element of effective meditation.

Inherent in the meaning of hagah and siach is the idea of repetition and rehearsal. In Deuteronomy 6:7 we are told

      “And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy

       heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…”

 In Hebrew the words “teach them diligently” are actually one word in Hebrew “shanan”. Shanan means “to inculcate”, “to impress upon the [heart] or mind by frequent repetition or persistent urging”(10). To learn anything well and throughly we must repeat and rehearse it.

6.  Envision: The sixth element of biblical mediation is to envision obedience to God’s word. By this I mean purposely using your imagination to practice living and obeying the truth of Scripture.

      In Proverbs 12:5 we are told

       “ The thoughts of the righteous are right…”

Here in this passage we are given another word for meditation. The word for “thought” in Hebrew is machashebeth. Machashebeth can be translated as “the plans of the mind, the meditations of the mind, the imaginations of the mind”(11). Johanes Pederson writes that machashebeth

 “…always indicates the plan, i.e., the action such as it appears in the mind…‘Thoughts’ here as else where means plans, i.e., the accomplished work as a mental image involving its execution” (page125) (12)

The word for “right” in this passage is mishpat. Mishpat means among other things  “the manner of proceeding, the way in which something is done, the standard of one’s behavior, that which one is wont to do-their custom”

So we are told in Proverbs 12:5 that the righteous are those who meditate, who imagine and envision doing what is right; they rehearse and plan in mind right action and behavior.

 To imagine oneself living and obeying the truth is an aspect of meditating upon God’s Word.

 7. Emotion: The seventh and final element in effective meditation is emotion.  

Normally emotions are not considered in discussions of meditation upon God’s word. But they are essentially in helping to effectively and efficiently assimilate the word of God. As a matter of fact Strong’s concordance gives as one of the definitions of hagah “to murmur in pleasure”(14). Positive emotions aid and speed up the process of knowing the word and having it affect and transform our entire being.

Author Robert L. Saucy has stated

 “The importance of emotions in human life is seen in that they ultimately drive the behavior…. This truth is behind the biblical concept of not simply reading Scripture, but mediating on it. The repetition and other aspects involved in meditation is designed to let the truth touch the emotions and thus effect a change of life.”(15)

 Biblical meditation involves the emotions as well as the intellect and will. In Philippians 4:8 we are told concerning certain virtues to think on these things”. The word “think” according to the Theologically Dictionary of the New Testament has emotive conations. (reference 16)

Again Author Robert L. Saucy translates this verse as

 “…ponder to the point of emotional involvement leading to behavior” (17)

 And David in Psalms 119:97 had this to say about his emotional response to the Word of God

          “O how I LOVE thy Law; it is my meditation all the day”

 In the above passage David states that he “LOVES” the word of God. The word for love in the passage is the Hebrew term ahav. Ahav denotes “a strong emotional desire for and attachment to the object of love” (18). David possessed a strong desire and attachment to the Word of God. It was in this state of love and desire that he meditated upon the Scriptures to assimilate them and make them his own. David’s mediation upon Scripture was within the context of strong positive and pleasurable emotions.

Meditation with positive and empowering emotional sates helps to make the word we are mediating upon “stick” and become a part of us.

Each of these elements is an aspect of effectively meditating upon and assimilating the word of God. They all play a part in coming to know the word.

How do we put together and use these elements in a comprehensive format that will enable us to meditate upon the word of God effectively?

Actually we already have a format for this in Neuro-Semantics. It called the Mind-to- Muscle pattern.

Mind to Muscle: Getting Ideas into Neurology

Dr. Michael hall has formulated a strategy for assimilating concepts, principles, and ideas and getting oneself to act on them and live by them. That strategy is known as the Mind-to- muscle pattern.

The mind to muscle pattern is a six step process that enable you to take a idea concept or principle and “get it into neurology” thereby closing what Dr. Hall refers to as the “knowing-doing gap” and what James in his epistle calls being a hearer but not a doer.

The six steps of the process are:

 1.      Declare your understanding of the concept/principle:

“I understand…”

2.    Describe and state the principle as a belief “I believe…”

3.    Reformat the belief as a decision “I decide…” or, “I will…”, or, “I choose to…”

4.    Rephrase the belief-decision as a state or experience “I feel… and I experience…” 

5.     State the action that you will take as an expression of this concept belief decision, and state, “The one thing I will do today is…”

6.     Future Pace: In your imagination step into that action and go meta repeatedly. (19)

In all aspects biblical meditation and the mind-to-muscle pattern correlate to each other.

What so excited me about the Mind-to-Muscle Process when I first learned it is that it provided me with something that I had been missing in all the years I had been teaching biblical meditation. It gave me a workable format that enabled me to utilize all the elements of biblical meditation in an efficient and effective manner.

The Mind-to- Muscle Process is a wonderful tool and an effective means of practicing the art of biblical meditation. It enables the user to take the Word of God and “get it into muscle”, i.e., to move from just hearing (or learning) to doing. It provides a truly effective means for knowing the truth in the fullest biblical sense of the word.

So what scriptural truth have you learned that you want to know? What truth do you want to “get into muscle” so that it becomes you way of being in the world?

Have you set aside a time each day where you can meditate upon and mind-to-muscle the truths of Scripture that you desire to live?

In I Timothy 4:15 the Apostle Paul tells Timothy concerning the work he was to engage in

 “ Meditate upon these, things give thyself wholly to them that thy profiting may appear to all”

Are you ready to move forward and excel on a consistent basis in your Christian life? Are you ready to be and do all that God has created and empowered you to be and do?

Then meditate and mind- to- muscle the truths of Scripture. You’ll be glad you did.

To your obedience!


1)    The Knowledge of God In Ancient Israel by Robert C. Dentan

2)    Ibid.

3)    Ibid

4)    Ibid

5)    Strong’s Concordance: Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary #1897

6)    Ibid # 7878 and #7881

7)    Israel Its Life and Culture by Johanes Pedersen page 126

8)    Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon # 4786

9)    Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts page 46; see also the Neuro-semantic article The Power of Affirmation:The Meta-Yes in Scripture by Mike Davis

10)         Strong’s Concordance: Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary #8150 and Webster’s New World College Dictionary

11)         Gensenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament #4284

12)         Israel Its Life and Culture by Johanes Pedersen; page125

13)         Ibid. page 350-351

14)         Strong’s Concordance Hebrew Chaldee Dictionary #1897

15)         Christian Perspectives On Being Human edited by J.P. Moreland and David Ciocchi page 43

16)         H.W. Heidland: Thoelogical Dictionary of The New Testament volume 4:289

17)         Christian Perspectives On Being Human page 44

18)     Lexical Aid to The Complete Word Study: Old Testament # 157 page 2298

19)         For more detailed information on the Mind-to-Muscle process and its application go to  and click on the articles button.

Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D. Min.
NLP of Gastonia
1516 Cecelia Dr.
Gastonia, NC 28054
(704) 864-3585
Fax: (704) 864-1545


1997-2001 Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min. All rights reserved.