Craig Groeschel - Winning the War in Your Mind
Hey I'm gonna need a little bit of help today from all of our different churches, to celebrate with me something amazing that's happening in the next 90 days, believe it or not because of your faithfulness, because of your generosity, because of God's goodness, we're gonna launch three brand new Life Church locations in three different states. And on this day right now, we are launching campus number 30 in the Northwest corner of Arkansas. Could you all please help me welcome today, Rogers, Arkansas gathering together to meet for the very first time. In fact what I would love it if you would do at all of our different churches in honor of the reading of God's word today and to join our hearts together in prayer, would you mind just standing to your feet all of our churches? I would love it if we could put our faith together and pray for the work of God in Northwest Arkansas and beyond. Let's just join our hearts together in prayer.
Father we thank you that we're a part of a church where your Spirit is moving freely, where every single week God, we see literally hundreds of people born into your family. God we pray for our leaders and we pray for this amazing core group on the ground even now in Northwest Arkansas. We pray for Pastor Ben, God we pray for all the volunteers, God we pray for all of the leaders who are setting up, praying and believing for great things. God would your Son be lifted up, God would you draw people to know Him, God would you bless our work in the community partnering with other great ministries, partnering with other churches. God that there would be lives, families, literally generations transformed by the grace of your Son Jesus. God bless this work in Northwest Arkansas. God we thank you that we get to be a part, a small part, of something big you're doing in a new city. We pray this and believe in Jesus name and everybody said amen.
Would you guys remain standing if you will? Remain standing, we're starting a brand new message series today. I want to read to you in a moment from God's word. I want to set up this series for you and tell you what it's about. It's called Mastermind, change your thinking, change your life. Over the next four weeks, what we're gonna do is we're gonna look at the mind of the apostle Paul. What I love about this guy is toward the end of his life, if anybody won the battle of the mind, Paul mastered his thinking. The good news for you and the good news for me is, he wasn't always there. In fact if you read some of the early writings of Paul, sometimes he looks crazy. Which is really encouraging to me because often times I feel crazy in my mind. He battled, he said one time, he said the things I want to do I don't do, the things I don't want to do I end up doing. Who can help me, who can deliver me from this body of death? He battled again, again, again in the mind but he battled, he fought, he won, he took ground and over time he mastered his thoughts. And even when all of life was stacked against him from a Roman prison, he could say things that were other worldly because he'd captured the thoughts in his mind, that's what we're gonna talk about.
Let me just set the tone by reading to you from God's word. These are the words of the apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians chapter 10, he says this, he says for though we live in the world, we do not wage war, somebody say wage war. We do not wage war as the world does. The weapons that we fight with, for those of you that are followers of Christ, you have access to supernatural weapons from the kingdom of heaven. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power. Somebody say power. The Greek word that's translated as power is the word dunamis. We get our word dynamite from this. It's the explosive, miraculous power of God. The weapons that we fight with have heavenly divine power to do what? To demolish strongholds. What is a stronghold? A stronghold is not a word we use every single day often in our normal life. But this comes from the Greek word ochumora, and what it means is, it means a fortified prison.
One commentary I was reading was talking about when you're in a stronghold, what it is is you are a prisoner, you're in this fortified prison, you're a prisoner locked by deception. You've believed lies that have put you in this prison. What does our enemy do? Our enemy tries to shape our thinking one lie at a time. So that we're in this prison believing something that is not true. What does your enemy often tell you? You can't trust people. You can't let them know the real you. God doesn't really love you, God doesn't care about you, God doesn't hear your prayer, you're never gonna get over it, your life is always gonna be bad, you're always going to be hurting, you can't have real intimacy. Whatever it is, the enemy lies to you and lies to you and lies to you. This is what Paul said, he said, we demolish, we crush, we vanquish, we destroy, we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Anything that is not from God, we crush it, we vanquish it, we demolish it, we obliterate it, we crush everything that is not in line with God's truth.
And so what do we do? We take captive every single thought, every single thought and we make it obedient to Christ. Over the next few weeks, what we're gonna learn to do is we're gonna learn to recognize any thought that is not from God and we're gonna capture that thought and we're gonna make it obedient to Christ. Why does this matter? The life that you have is a reflection of the thoughts that you think. You're life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. If you want to change your life, change your thinking. Change your thinking, change your life. What I would love for you to do is look at somebody sitting next to you, give them a big high five and say God is gonna change your life. God is gonna change your life, high five them, hug them, knuckle bump them, chest bump them if it's appropriate. Go ahead and have a seat.
Who's ready for a little bit of God's word today, anybody ready, anybody ready, anybody ready, anybody ready? I would love for you to write this down, write this down, your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. I'm gonna say that again, I'm gonna let it sink in. Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. I love the Old Testament Proverbs 23:7, for as a person thinks, as he thinks in his heart, so he is. As you think, so you become. If you think you can't you probably won't. If you believe through Christ that you can, you can. If you believe that you're a victim, always suffering at the hand of some outside circumstances, you will be a victim. If you believe that you can overcome through the power of Christ, you can overcome. If you're always looking at the problems, dwelling on the problems, your problems will overwhelm you. If instead you're looking for solutions, looking for the work of God, you will find solutions and see God working. What do we know about our thoughts?
For almost all of us, in almost every situation, most of life's battles are won or lost in the mind. They're won or lost in the mind. The mind is a battlefield. Some of you who were children of the 80's thought love was a battlefield. Thank you Pat. But I want to tell you the mind is a battlefield. It is a battle between God's truth about you and Satan's lies to you. A war between God's truth and between our enemy's deception. What I want to encourage you to do as we just build a foundation in our message series, is to think about, what you think about. Think about, maybe over the last few days, what it is that you are thinking about. I'm gonna call it a thought audit and I want to give you three different extremes to think about what you thought about. If you look in your notes, there's a little three scales with extreme thoughts and I want to just go through them briefly and have you take a moment to think about what you thought about. We'll start with worried thoughts versus peaceful thoughts. Worried thoughts versus peaceful thoughts.
I wonder how many of you are worried about what people think, about your children, about the future, about money, about job, about health, about how long I'm gonna preach today, or whatever. You're worried about different things. Versus those who have a peaceful mind where you rest well at night, your mind is at peace, you're always at rest, there is not anxiety. What do you think about? Is your mind characterized by worry or by peace? Let's talk about another one. Let's contrast a positive mindset with a negative mindset. Which one are you? Are you generally negative, critical about people? Can you believe she wore that? Who does she think she is? I can't believe he walks in here acting like that. Do you find fault easily? Are you discontented, do you feel like life is always hard and it's gonna get worse? Are you negative in your mindset or do you see the positive? I believe the best about people. Life is generally good and I believe in the goodness of God and I believe He's for me and He's with me and that He's working in all things to bring about good.
Are you generally negative or do you have a positive mindset? Let's talk about a contrast between worldliness and an eternal mind. Worldliness and eternal mind. Would you say you're more worldly, thinking about the things of this world, what benefits me, what I get, what I have, what I want? Or are you more eternal minded, thinking about what benefits the kingdom of God, how I can be a blessing to others, how I can use my life to bring glory to my heavenly king? Think about what you think about. Because your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. In other words, what comes into your mind, comes out in your life. No matter what you do, no matter what you have, no matter what you know, no matter what you buy, no matter where you live, no matter where you travel, you can not have a positive life when you have a negative mind. Your thoughts matter. Let me say it again, your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.
Question, are you excited about where your thoughts are taking you? Think about it. Think about what you think about. If our life is always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts, are you satisfied, blessed, excited by the direction your thought life is taking you. For me, a couple of years ago when I answered that question, my answer was plainly no I was not. I'm gonna be real transparent, I hope you don't leave the church and think I need counseling. Stay in the church and I probably do need counseling, okay. My thought life, okay, I preach for about 35 minutes and so for 35 minutes I can be faith-filled and positive. The problem is the three days before preaching and the three days after, so often my thoughts are so out of control.
A couple of years ago, it was a real, real battle. My thoughts would say, okay so last week's message was okay but I can not do it again, I don't have what it takes, this message isn't gonna be any good, I don't even know why people come here, I don't think I would even go to this church. I'm exhausted, I'm overwhelmed, I don't know how long I can do this, this is so difficult, nobody knows what I go through, poor me, ma-ma-ma-ma-ma. Afterwards, well that wasn't any good, oh my gosh I can't even believe, is that the best you have? And my mind would race and race and race and race and race and race and race and race. So I decided to do something about it. And for literally over a year, it may be even closer to two, this has been one of the number one areas of prayer focus for me and I've made massive improvement. I still have a long way to go. And letting God renew my mind replacing the lies with truth.
I've read I don't know how many different books, I've studied it and I have brought into my life a couple of daily tools that we're gonna talk about in the upcoming weeks. Very, very practical where I am learning to retrain my mind off of the lies of the enemy onto God's truth and it is completely changing the trajectory of my life. This is what I want to talk about in the upcoming weeks. I can not overstress how important this is. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. There's a battle, almost every battle, the marriage you have is a result of the thoughts you think, your financial standing is often a result of your mindset about things. The joy, or lack of joy you have, is based on what you think in your life, what you focus on, what you believe about you and we're gonna dive into it.
How are we gonna build a foundation today? What we talk about today is gonna matter in the upcoming three weeks. This is ground zero, this is the foundation, I'm gonna give you two very simple things that we're gonna work on today. Then we're gonna build on top of those in the weeks to come. The first thing I want you to do is this, identify the number one stronghold that's holding you back. What is a stronghold? It's a prisoner locked by deception. What is the lie? What is the deception? What is your enemy using to keep you from living the life God wants you to live? Maybe you just hear in your self-talk, I'm never gonna be good enough, my past is too bad after all that I've done God could never ever use me. I can't trust anybody, I can't get close to anybody, after what they did to me, you can't trust anybody at all. I'm never gonna be in a job that I love, I'm always gonna be well behind, I'm never gonna have enough. All of my relationships, no matter how hard I try, they all fall apart.
What is the number one lie or stronghold, that's holding you back? What happens and why is this so important? Whenever we have a thought, our brain is literally re-designing itself around that thought. There's a changing chemical make-up of the brain, every single thought creates a neurochemical change in our body. If you think a positive thought, your body rewards you with a legal drug, a little dopamine. Some of you are gonna be excited, like did I just hear dope-amine. It gives you a legal buzz, a quick hit, a thrill. You know that feeling? You hear some good news, dopamine! Someone that you like comments on your Instagram post, dopamine! Somebody says, oh you're looking good today, dopamine!
My wife Amy says I'm thinking about you, come home, dopamine! Okay, it's that little chemical hit, that high, that thrill and your brain is saying I like that thought, let's think it again. What happens is the more you think a thought, the more you're creating what scientists call neural pathways in your brain. Your brain creates a path, kind of like if I walk across grass non-stop in the same place, I'm creating a path across the grass. Your thoughts, the more you think a thought, the easier it is to think that thought again. In fact, if you think a thought enough, that thought becomes a default thought in your brain. If you tell yourself you don't have enough over and over and over again, you create a pathway where it's easier to think, that you're never gonna have enough rather than believing that God is your source. You've created negative neural pathways. In order to change your thinking, we have to change the path that our thoughts travel on.
For example, if I've got nothing but a negative path, I have to stop and say, wait, that thought is not helpful, not productive, and not from God. Therefore I'm capturing that thought and I'm choosing a different thought. I'm choosing to walk this way toward a different thought, I am creating a new pathway. Here's what happens, if you continue to travel an unhealthy pathway, the path is clear and is easier to travel. If you choose to stay off of the unhealthy pathway, over time that grass starts to grow back up, and it's not as easy to travel and not as appealing and you create new pathways, with new God honoring thoughts, and suddenly the God truths becomes the default instead of the lie becoming the default. Does that make sense? Is it making sense? Okay if you're with me say I'm with you. Are you with me? We're creating God honoring neural pathways in our brain.
For example, if you have a frustrating day at work and you come home and there's chaos everywhere and the kids are and then you just say, okay, I'm gonna yell at them, baa! And every day when that happens you yell, you're creating a pathway that says, when there's chaos I yell. What we have to do is we have to capture that thought and say that's not a healthy, God-honoring pathway. And then we change our thinking. It might be well I stop and I count to 10, or in your case count to 500 hundred, whatever you need. And you pray a prayer and you walk in and you hug your spouse and you embrace your kids. You're creating a new pathway. Whenever your mind says I don't feel good about myself, let's eat. There's a clear pathway between a bad feeling and the refrigerator. I don't feel good, ice cream is the solution. What you do is, you capture that thought and say no actually when I don't feel good about myself and then I eat more, then I've compounded the unhealthy feeling about myself.
So instead I'm going to not travel that path, I'm going to choose a new path. I might go for a walk, I might exercise, I might eat something good and then you feel better and you do your little walk, you get a little dopamine. And then you're rewarded for doing the right thing. And the old pathway starts to grow over, it's not as easy to travel, it's not as appealing, and you've created a new and a more healthy pathway. Your mind tells you, I'm gonna blow it, I'm never good enough at this, I screw everything up, nothing goes my way. That is not a God honoring path! You say I'm not gonna travel down that anyway, I capture those thoughts, they are not healthy, they are not productive, they are not lifting my spirit. I'm choosing a different path, I believe my God is with me, I believe my God is for me, I believe that He's blessing me, I believe His Spirit dwells within me, I believe that He hears my prayers, I believe that He'll never leave me, He'll never forsake me, and you're creating new pathways. How do we change our lives? We change our thinking away from the lies of the enemy and we reprogram them with the truth of God. What does scripture say about this? Very, very clear, so clear, the application of God's truth.
Romans 12:2 says, do not conform to the pattern of this world. I could say it this way, don't conform to their pathways. Don't think like the world thinks, don't live like the world lives, but instead be transformed, be changed. How are we transformed? Somebody help me out, by the renewing of your mind. Science would say you're rewiring your brain, God's word would say, you're renewing your mind. My assignment for you is this, identify the one stronghold that's holding you back. Just one, what's yours? It's so important, you have to define it. You think I'm not lovable. It's not worth it. It's too much effort. I'll never be good enough. I don't deserve anything good. I'm always gonna be broke. I can never be close to God. I can never have a real and a meaningful relationship. Whatever it is, name it. You can not defeat what you can not define. Give it a name. This is a lie for the enemy that has kept me imprisoned, name it and we're going to attack it. Identify that one stronghold.
The second thing we're going to do is this, I want you to name the truth that demolishes that stronghold. What's the truth? We're not gonna travel the old unhealthy, unhelpful path, instead we're gonna say that is a lie, here is the truth and this is the path that I will follow. I'll illustrate it like this, there's a very close friend of mine named Kevin Penry, Pastor Kevin. Pastor Kevin served on our directional leadership team for close to 20 years before he retired maybe a little over a year ago or so. Pastor Kevin goes all the way back to the early days. Years ago we had an office space that was in a store front and we played games, this was before we were in multiple locations. We played a game called capture the flag. Where different teams would go in and basically create violence in the name of Jesus against each other to seize the flag. And it became dangerous and two people went to the hospital and so we changed the rules so we didn't have to pay so much money. Not 'cause we really cared they got hurt, 'cause when Pastor Brian Bruss down in Norman got hurt, I kinda laughed. Love you Pastor Brian.
So anyway, so we had to have rules. And one of the rules was, you can not attack before 8:00 A.M. So I have always been one of the earliest to get in the office, I came in at like, I don't know, 7:00 A.M. that day whatever. I was walking to my office and I just had a sense that something was not right. You know I glow in the dark and I have these visions and such, just joking. But I just sensed something, and so I went and I opened up a closet door and Pastor Kevin had come in, like 4:30 in the morning and was waiting patiently for the eight o'clock bell to ring so he could go and attack the flag. And so I caught him, so I was so excited. So I just slammed the door and I put my foot on the door and I said, you're gonna spend the rest of the day in this closet. And so I reached over and grabbed a chair and said I'm putting a chair under the door and I tried to put the chair under the door. And I couldn't quite get it to fit and so I just told him, there's a chair under the door even though there wasn't.
Pastor Kevin never one time tried to open the door. He just believed my lie, he sat there, no let me out, let me out! Please let me out, I don't want to spend the day here! I'm busting up, laughing a gut, the door is unlocked, the whole time he could have just done this and walked out. And he's in there. I had an eight o'clock premarital counseling appointment, I went in my office, Kevin's still in there, he's still in there, never tried the door. About 8:20 or so, I heard something in the ceiling above me. Pastor Kevin had scaled the shelves, gotten up in the ceiling tile, was trying to find a way out in the ceiling! I'm dealing with this couple who's in a difficult situation, the ceiling tile pokes up, two Pastor Kevin eyes gleam down at me and I said, if you wait until I'm finished with this couple, I'll help you get down. The whole time, the door is unlocked. Some of you are locked in a prison and the only lock on the door is a lie. Identify what the lie is, identify the truth, there is a truth that will set you free.
I want to look at our text again, the whole text again. 2 Corinthians 10, this is the apostle Paul, this is the guy who struggled with his mind, this is the guy who fought for health, this is the guy who never surrendered to the lies but continued to press for the truth. He said, for though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, listen church, our weapons have heavenly power, divine power, the miraculous, explosive power of God to demolish the lies of the evil one, to crush the strongholds. So what do we do? We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. What do we do church? We take captive every thought and we make it obedient to Christ. I love this word captive, it comes from a Greek word that literally it means to arrest or to seize with a sword or a spear. It means to capture at sword-point or with a spear.
What I love about this is when you think about what the apostle Paul also wrote in Ephesians chapter 6, he talked about the armor of God that we have to do battle against the forces of darkness. And every piece of armor is defensive except for one the helmet is defensive, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the shoes prepared with the gospel, the readiness of peace. But there is one that is an offensive weapon and that is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. What we do is we capture the lie with the sword of the Spirit, with the truth of God, and we declare that is not from God, therefore I will not believe it. This is what my God says, therefore I will embrace it and we capture any wrong thought. I'm not going down this negative pathway, this does not lead to God's destination, I'm choosing a different road.
And I'm watching, that path is starting to grow over, that's not appealing, now it's not so easy. The more I travel God's truth, the more I believe it, the more He renews my mind, the more He changes my thinking, the more I'm able to walk by faith and not by sight, the more His Spirit guides me, the more His word directs me, the more His power empowers me to do what He called me to do. Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. What comes into your mind, comes out in your life. We capture the wrong thoughts, we capture the wrong thoughts. What is the number one thought that's held me hostage? The number one thought, man it goes back to my childhood. I remember literally, little kid, I'm not good enough, gotta try harder, I'm not good enough, I gotta try harder, I'm not good enough. Now decades later, it's matured, no matter what you do, you fail. If you give it all to the church, you fail at home. If you give it at home, you fail at church.
Well whatever message you do is never quite good enough. You can't meet everybody's expectations, they want to meet and you can't meet with everybody, and you let them down and you're nothing but a failure. You try and you try and you never have enough. The reason this lie is so powerful to me is because there's truth in it. There's truth in it. The truth in it is that I am, on my own, never enough. On my own, I don't have what it takes. On my own, I am not good enough. But the truth is, I am never on my own! My God is always with me, His Spirit dwells with in me, I have access to His living word, which is powerful and sharp. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells within me. When I start to recognize this, I don't travel the wrong path, I'm on the right path. I have time to do everything God wants me to do. I have the resources to do everything He wants me to do. I have the power to do what He wants me to do. I have His truth dwelling within me. I have His Spirit comforting, guiding, correcting, convicting, empowering me, I have everything I need to do everything that God wants me to do.
That's the truth, it's from 2 Peter 1:3, this is my truth, God's divine power has given us, I'm gonna personalize it, God's divine power has given me everything I need to live a godly life. I have everything I need! The more I walk in this, the more God's pathway becomes clear, the easier it is to travel and the more His truth becomes the default. Satan tells me you can't. Oh no, no, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. You never, no I have the Spirit of God dwelling within me. I don't know what it would be for you, but you say I can't get it all done, I can never, no when I am weak, He makes me strong! But I'm not attractive and I'm just not good, no I am fearfully and wonderfully made! But I'm just miserable and I'm always hurting, the joy of the Lord is my strength! But I'm always gonna be alone, no He will never leave me, He will never forsake me. But I'm just a victim, I can't overcome, there's just too much, I'm always gonna be addicted. No, I am an overcomer by the blood of the lamb and by the words of His testimony, I am not who the enemy says that I am, I am who my God.
Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. What comes into your mind comes out in your life. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. What do we do? Capture the lies. The next couple of weeks we're gonna get practical. How do we do that, what are the disciplines that will renew our mind? We capture them and we replace them with truth. What is truth? Jesus said this, John 8:32, He said, and you will know the truth and the truth will what? Who knows it? And the truth will... Set you free. Listen to me, do not stay locked in a prison when Jesus has opened the door. The truth will set you free.
So Father we pray today, that you do some free-setting, set us free God with your truth. All of our churches reflecting in prayer, those of you who would say, yes my thoughts can race, I can be overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, negative thinking, worry whatever it is. And I want some pathways to truth God. Help me, help me, bring my thoughts under the truth of your word. If that's you, lift up your hands right now, just all of our churches, lift them up, lift them up, lift them up. God thank you for people who are hungry for your truth. God I pray that this as a foundation, we do this. Name it, the number one thing that's holding us back. Now God help us identify the spiritual truth, I pray God that again and again this week, the moment the lie starts to surface itself, that we would recognize it. Nope, that's not from God. That's the wrong pathway, I'm choosing a different road, I'm choosing to walk in truth. God remind us, again and again, I know this can take weeks, this can take months, this can take years, to create new faith in your truth. God help us to recognize it, help us to walk in your truth, that we could honor you with the life that we have.
As you keep praying today, at all of our different churches, some of you right now, your problem, your prison is that you've got wrong beliefs about God. Satan will often tell you things like, hey yeah, God didn't care about you, after what you've done, God could never love you. Hey you've been too bad for God, hey you need to try really hard and then when you try hard, that wasn't good enough. God doesn't love you, He's ashamed, He's embarrassed by what you did. You don't have what it takes. There's some truth in this, and the truth is that you don't have what it takes and that little bit of truth leads to the good news and that is this, God has what it takes. God in His love, in His mercy, here's the truth, God in His love and in His mercy became one of us in the person of His Son Jesus. Jesus is God the flesh, perfect in everyway. Jesus loved those that religion rejected, Jesus embraced them, Jesus was perfect, He died on the cross, He rose again as the perfect sacrifice. Why? So that anyone, and this includes you, who calls on the name of Jesus would be saved, forgiven, transformed, you're not made right with God by your works, you're made right with Him by the perfect work of Jesus when you placed your faith in Him.
At all of our churches, there are those of you, you may be under the bondage of a lie, the truth will set you free, the truth will set you free, the truth is He loves you, He is here when you call on His name, He will forgive you, He will make you new. He doesn't just save you from your sins, He fills you with His Spirit to live a life of joy and abundance on this earth. All of our churches, those who say, I need His grace, I'm coming out of the lie, I want to embrace the truth, today Jesus I give my life to you. If that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now, all over the place, lift them up and say that's my prayer. Right here, God bless you guys. Right back over here as well, in this section lift them up and say yes Jesus I call on you. Right back over there, my goodness gracious, over here, oh sir, praise God for you. Others of you today, lift them up and call on Jesus. Church online, you click right below me. Right back over here. Somebody ought to give a little bit of shout and praise up here, praise God for you. God we love you, others of you today, Jesus take my life, back here in this section. We're not praying for revival church, we're living in the middle of one. Would you pray with those around you.
Heavenly Father, I give you my life. Save me Jesus. Forgive all my sins. Make me new. Fill me with your Spirit. So I can follow you. So I can live for you. Renew my mind. With your truth. Capture the lies, teach me your ways, so I can sow your love, live your truth and glorify your name. My life is not mine, I give it to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine, in Jesus name.