Craig Groeschel - Training Your Mind
Well, who's ready to hear from God's word today? All of our Life Churches, it's great to have you guys with us. We are in a message series called Mastermind, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. Before we dive in, if you remember, our last message series was called Hope in the Dark. We were talking about the book of Habakkuk. Evidently there are a lot of people that are hurting because when my new book came out believe it or not, this thing in stores sold out in two days, two days and so literally for three weeks it's not been available anywhere and a lot of you have been asking how can I get one for a friend it is now as of two days ago available again on Amazon and by late in the week it'll be back on shelves in stores. So I'm thankful for my publishers working hard to try to keep up with demand. If you know someone hurting, it's on Amazon now and bookshelves later. Thank you for sharing the message and trying to help people in a dark place.
Let's dive in to today's message. We're gonna be in Philippians chapter four. We're talking about the power of our minds. I need a little participation from all of our churches. It's no fun to play without you. How many of you would say that even though you may be embarrassed you often make decisions that make no sense and are sometimes incredibly irrational? Raise your hands up right now, leave 'em up, leave 'em up. Rest of you perfect people, you just sit there and polish your halo. I came to talk to the real people in the house today. I can make incredibly irrational decisions, it makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe you can relate, sometimes you make up your mind. Like you're gonna eat good. I'm eating healthy and you do. For two days straight. And then somebody brings donuts into the office and you eat one bite, so you eat all 12 and you top it off with a cinnamon roll just to make sure that you go straight to nutrition hell.
You know, why do you do that? I don't know, you decided whatever is is, I'm going to be wise financially. We're gonna get out of debt and for 11 straight days you're making good decisions. Something breaks, you freak out. So to sooth your pain you go to the mall and buy two pair of shoes and an outfit to match your new shows. Why is it that we do this? Why is it so many times when we know we should apologize we don't. When we know we should take responsibility, we do the opposite. When we know what's right, we do what's easy. Why is it that we often make irrational decisions? To illustrate I'm gonna tell a story. Talking about my very first car. My first car was a 1979 Buick Century but not just a regular Buick Century, this one was upgraded with a spoiler on the back and a hawk, or an eagle sticker up on the front. In case you don't believe me, how cool my car was, I've got a couple of pictures.
I know you're laughing at the car and not my hairstyle, I can feel that you're laughing at the car. This one doesn't show the hawk or the eagle on the front, see the spoiler on the back and the hawk or eagle up there landing in the front. Do you realize how incredibly difficult it was for me to be as cool as I was made to be driving a car like that in high school? So to up my chances with the opposite sex I landed myself the coolest used Alpine stereo system your little mind could imagine to upgrade my factory Buick system with an Alpine kick and rocking one to blast and blare some REO Speedwagon. A little U2, a little one arm drummer in Def Leppard. Somebody from the 80s is gonna help me out with the Police or whatever, riding down the road. Some thump thump thump power power power and so I could afford the used Alpine but I spent all my money so I couldn't afford to have it installed.
So lo and behold who was left to install it but moi? I am technically challenged to a level you couldn't imagine. I worked all day trying to get this thing to work. I worked into the night, it was finally dark outside when believe it or not, God as my witness, my Alpine stereo worked. Praise God in heaven I got it to work. It worked all night long. Next morning, it didn't work. No idea why, all day long I couldn't get it to work. Lo and behold though, the very next night it was working again. Day after day the same thing happened. Every day it wouldn't work, every night it would. For weeks, I couldn't figure it out. I wonder how many of you are much smarter than I did and figured it out within about two seconds what the problem was. Why did my car not work? Because I had crossed the wires and instead of wiring it to the proper source of power, I had wired it to my headlights.
So for the rest of the life of my Buick Century I was the guy driving around with the headlights on at two in the afternoon blaring out The Police. Why is it that we often make such irrational decisions? Because the wires are crossed in our brain. We're in a series called Mastermind, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. If you were with us last week we talked about what happens when you think a thought. Your brain is not static, your brain actually grows and evolves like a computer that's programming itself every time you think a thought it becomes easier to think that thought again. Literally your brain is creating neural pathways. A thought creates a pathway which makes it easier to then think that thought again which is good news if you're thinking good thoughts. The problem is we often aren't. All through life, experiences and your thoughts is programming your brain to believe what you think is true based on what you thought, even if the thought was not true.
As a little child it's true, if a baby smiles and the momma smiles back and says goo goo ga ga. The baby's brain says, smiling is good. A pathway is formed, if I smile someone says goo goo ga ga. If a baby touches something hot, ow hot. The brain creates a pathway that says hot is bad, don't touch the things that's hot. If a baby wants a sucker, I want a sucker and momma says no sucker and baby's like, I want a sucker, momma says no sucker and baby cries and so mum, plop gives the baby a sucker, the baby's brain says crying is good. That's why some of your 12 year olds are spoiled rotten because you gave them a sucker when they were crying. What's happening, our brain is constantly evolving, creating neural pathways. It's good news when you think true thoughts. It's bad news though when you believe the lies because your brain basically doubles down and tends to believe the lies more fiercely.
What's the problem? The problem is that most of life's battles are won or lost in the mind. There's a battlefield in the mind and if I can just be real transparent, my thoughts in so many seasons have been my number one worst enemy. I can preach good for 35 minutes about positive truth but what happens before and what happens after in my mind can be incredibly ugly. And that's why in this message series what I'm doing is I'm teaching what I've been learning. Very practically how God is helping to renew my mind. We're talking about the Apostle Paul. Last week we looked at the truth that Paul said this. He said that the weapons that we fight with, those of you that are followers of Christ, our weapons are not of this world. They have divine power from heaven to demolish strongholds. What's a stronghold? It's a wrong thought pattern. It's a prisoner based on a lie of deception. God's power demolishes strongholds.
That's why we demolish, we crush, we vanquish, every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and what do we do? We take captive every thought and we make it obedient to Christ. In other words, we're creating new pathways of truth. We're letting God's truth renew our minds. We're looking at the Apostle Paul, the way he fought and won the battle of the mind inspires me. From a Roman prison, writing from a Roman prison, when he wanted to be in Rome preaching, he was locked up, he wrote this powerful, weighty, encouraging letter to the believers in Philippi and he ends his letter with this word of encouragement. He says, I'm gonna tell you one more thing but what he doesn't say is this. He doesn't say, I'm so discouraged, will you pray for me? I'm hurting, things are bad. I never thought this would happen, where is God? At the end of his letter he says, one more thing. Don't ever forget this. He says, now dear bothers and sisters, Philippians 4:8, one final thing.
Here's what I want you to do. Paul says, fix your thoughts. Somebody say fix your thoughts. Paul says, fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Fix your thoughts, somebody say fix your thoughts. He says, think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, if there's one more thing I can tell you, don't forget this. Of everything that we've covered remember this. Of everything we've talked about, meditate on this truth. Fix your thoughts on God's truth. I love the way the New King James Version translates the end of the verse, it says this. If there's any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate, somebody say meditate. Meditate on these things. Why does this matter? Because your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. If a thought comes into your mind, it comes out in your life. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. Your thoughts matter so much. Your thoughts are shaping you.
If you cannot control what you think, you will never, ever control what you do. Why is it that we so often make irrational, unwise and ungodly decisions? Because, the wires are crossed. That's why this week what I wanna do is I wanna tell you one of the two disciplines that I am now practicing regularly. I'll tell you the next one next week. Essentially what I'm doing is I am training my mind. Training my mind. You may say, how do you train your mind? It's very similar to training your body. If I go to the gym and I'm doing curls, what am I doing? I'm training my biceps. If I work on my mind, I'm training my mind toward truth. Here's what though I didn't understand for years about my physical body. I thought if I just go the gym and kinda work hard and throw some weights around and grunt then I'll be in good shape. What I didn't realize is that to truly be physically healthy it's not just about what I do with my body, but it's about what I put into my body.
Somebody needs to hear that. It's not just what I do with my body but what I put into my body that really matters and helps me be healthy. To truly be healthy, what goes in has to be healthy. Not just what I do with it. The same is true with your mind. To truly have a God-centered healthy mind it's not just about what you do with it but it's also about what you put in it. My goodness, my pastor I'm preaching so much better than they're responding. I don't know what's going on here but it's like, sometimes I'm just say amen to myself. That's good preaching Groeschel. It's not just about what you put in your body, it's what you do with it and what you put in it with your mind. It's not just what you do with it, it's what you wanna put truth in it. So what I've been doing is I've been working on focusing my mind and training it toward truth. I do curls for my biceps, I do mental exercises for my brain. It's training my brain toward God's truth.
In fact, you know a lot of people say, well you know, how would you go about doing this? Well, what I've been doing is I've been working on meditating toward truth. Some people may say, you know, meditation, does that mean you're New Age, you're one with the universe, you're chanting, you're saying ohm, all that kind of stuff? No no no no, let me just give you the simple definition of meditation, the simple definition of meditation, what is it? It's to engage in mental exercise, it's to focus one's thoughts. Let me give you a couple of Scriptures. Psalm 119 verse 15 it says I meditate. Somebody say I mediate, I mediate God on your precepts, I consider your ways. I'm focusing my thought God on your precepts, on your ways. I delight in your decrees God, I will not neglect your word. I'm focusing my mind on you. Psalm 143 verse says I meditate. Somebody say I meditate. I meditate God on your works and consider what your hands have done. God, I'm thinking about your truth, I'm thinking about your presence, I'm thinking about your goodness God. I'm thinking about your works God. I'm meditating on you.
If Eastern meditation is emptying your mind, what I'm talking about is the opposite. I'm talking about filling your mind with God's truth. Just as I train my body, I'm training my mind toward truth. It's not just what I do with it, it's what I put into it. And so, for the past year or so, I've been training my mind to focus and I'll tell you, my journey in learning to meditate on God's truth, I'm not an expert at all but I just downloaded an app and I started for five minutes at a time learning to focus my mind because my mind is not focused and when it's not focused, it doesn't typically drift toward the truth, it drifts toward the lies. I'm focusing my mind. I noticed the first source of improvement, one week into meditating guess where I notice it? In the gym. What's crazy, I'm gonna tell you about my planking which is not to brag at all because you know, if you're good at go, you're gonna go, you're not good at it Groeschel.
Admittedly my son, and my oldest daughter can plank literally three or four times as long as I can. So anyway, if you say you have to work on it, yes I know, I don't like planks, so hard. Okay, so I could plank about three, three and a half minutes. Just a full plank and then I'd go out. After one week of meditating I just decided to focus my mind on a plank and say okay, you're gonna feel some pain acknowledge the pain, push it out, now focus and believe you can do more through Christ. I went from about a three and a half minute record to over five and a half minutes on one try, just in a week training my mind. So what I noticed was, the limitation wasn't in my body the limitation was in my mind. I ask myself, how many other places in my life is my limited mind talking my body out of doing what God has created and called me to do?
So I got serious about training my mind. My meditation and prayer time looks like this. I'm gonna tell you a couple times 'cause you might not be paying attention. I do my You Version Bible study every single day. I focus my brain for just a few minutes in a direction, then I do a five minute prayer discipline. It's very simple, admittedly simple. I put my little watch on for five minutes, my little alarm and for five minutes what I do is I breathe in and I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a name and then when I breathe out I just say that name. And then I do it again and if God gives me a name and I breathe out and God gives me a name. So I might pray in, and God gives me my friend Scott and so I take Scott before God and then he gives me his wife Shannon. And I breathe out Shannon and then he gives me their son Reid. Reid, and so I do this for five minutes and God always gives me a name and I'm taking it before God.
What does it do? It's taking the focus off of me. It's putting it on someone else and it's taking them before God, then after that I do deeper prayer. What that five minutes focus does is, is it's training my mind, it's focusing and my prayer on the other side is really rich because the problem with me is I am admittedly an ADD prayer. I don't know if any of you can relate. Oh man I got good intentions, dear God in heaven I love you today and I worship you and oh my gosh I forgot to change the oil, I forgot to send that text and bird and I'm like, oh, oh, oh, and my prayer might last like 32 seconds. And I wonder what happened. In the same way that I'm training my body, I'm training my mind to focus on God's truth. Meditating on truth. At the very simplest it's just focus. I wanna focus on what is true because when my mind wanders, it doesn't wander toward the truth, it wanders toward the lies. You're not good enough, you can never measure up.
Who do you think you are? Why do you bother trying? Your life is hard, nobody understands, you can't go on at this pace, you'll never make it. No, no no, take every thought captive, make it obedient to Christ. Scientifically speaking I'm creating new neural pathways. Spiritually speaking, I'm letting God's truth renew my mind, I'm not believing the lies, I'm embracing the truth. Let me apply this to last week. I told you what we did last week was gonna matter and this could really be a game changer for some of you. If you can change your thinking, you could truly change your life, your thoughts matter so much. Two questions we asked last week. The first question we ask is this, what stronghold is holding you back? At what point are you a hostage of a wrong mindset? Where in your life are you? You've got the wires crossed. You're believing that something isn't true. You're not good enough.
After what you did, God could never use you. You're always gonna struggle financially, everybody in your family does, you're never gonna get ahead, you're never gonna be a blessing to anybody. Relationally, you're a mess. You could never have true intimacy, you could never be close to anybody. You're always gonna screw up. You oh, oh everybody in your family battles with weight, you're always gonna battle, it's just part of who you are, get used to it. Identify whatever that lie is that held you hostage, what is the stronghold that holds you back. Then what I want you to do is identify the truth. What truth demolishes that stronghold? Name it, write it down. Write it down, the truth. Well I don't know what it is. I am not what I buy. Or what I have or who comments on my Instagram post that I edited and put a filter on to make me look six years younger. You know, I am not a hostage, I'm not a prisoner to that addiction. I have the power of Christ dwelling within me and I can overcome that thing that has haunted me. My God is for me. My God is a great provider, he will meet all of my needs, I will be a blessing to others.
Whatever it is, name that truth. I wanna need if I can get the bands at all of our churches just to come forward. All Life Churches and be prepared 'cause we're gonna worship. What I want you to do is this. I want you to identify what that lie is, then I want you to identify the truth, then I want you to write it down. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. New neural pathways, the power of God's word renewing your mind so you don't react to the lies that you have held you hostage from the past but you respond with truth that is dwelling within your brain. Write it, think it, confess it believe it. Write it, think it, confess it and believe it. I don't know how this will play out in your mind but so many of you are worried all the time. You're a hostage to your fears. You lay awake at night wondering, worrying. What are you gonna do? You're gonna write it, think it, confess it.
Yours may go like this, here's your declaration. Because of Christ, I'm not anxious about anything. I case my cares on God because he cares for me. I have the peace of God dwelling in my heart and ruling my mind. Write it, think it, confess it, until you believe it. Maybe you say, I don't know what to do. I can't make a decision, I don't know what God's will is, I'm afraid I'm gonna mess it up. You declare it. My life belongs to God. Daily I seek him and daily he directs my steps. I know his voice and he leads me to his perfect will. Maybe you lack confidence, never good enough, I never measure up, I never can make a difference, you declare the truth. My confidence is in Christ and Christ alone. Because his Spirit lives within me, I can do everything he calls me to do. Write it, think it, confess it until believe it. Listen, you'll feel foolish at first. You'll be saying something you wanna believe but your life says something different. Keep on renewing your mind. A few minutes every day, sparking the brain that God so intricately created with new pathways of truth. Truth, truth, truth, truth, truth. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. And then one day, the wires won't be crossed.
I'll explain it this way. I used to in the eighth grade I took French then I went to ninth grade, I took it again. 10th grade I did it again because it was easy. I went all the way through high school taking French but I never tried to speak it, I just took tests. Then one day, a French foreign exchange student moved to our school and so I thought I would try to speak French. It was brutally bad. She was speaking French, and I would hear her in French and I would think, I've gotta translate that to English in my mind, then I would think in English and then I would respond in English and I would translate it into French and then I'd try to speak French. It's a trainwreck, this went one for some time and then at some point, something happened. Something clicked, something switched. She spoke in French, I heard in French I thought in French, I responded in French. Somewhere in there the training kicked in, the wires uncrossed and all of a sudden I was able to communicate clearly.
This is what it will be like. You write it, you think it, you confess it until you believe it. Two steps forward, one step back. Three steps forward, two steps back. You continue, you continue, you continue as God is renewing your mind and then one day, one day you're hip with that something and instead of reacting with the lie, that has held you hostage for years and some of you even decades. Instead you step in and you respond with truth. But I would love it if you stand up at all of our different churches. Just stand to your feet, we're gonna prepare and we're gonna worship a little bit together. I wanna be real honest with you. I'm going to show you what I do every morning and tell you what I declare and the reason that I declare this truth is because it's counteracting the lies that I battle with. All the time, for years and years I battled with the lie you're not good enough, you're inadequate, you're never gonna measure up. You don't have what it takes. Haunting my mind for decades.
Here's what I battle with. I battle with putting God first. Because I'm too consumed with what people think, living up to others expectations. When I get overwhelmed, which is a lot here's my default. Take Amy for granted, neglect my kids and dive into work. Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work. The pressure of accurately communicating God's truth in a way that engages a disengaged and disinterested generation is a weight that I feel every single day of my life. The weight, speaking of weight, of leading a church that God is blessing and staying submitted to his Spirit and getting right and dealing with all my confusing emotions and the complexities of it, is a burden that never ever goes away. So what do I do? I wake up, and I renew my mind. I take in God's word everyday. It's not just what I do with it, what I put in it. I take in God's word. I focus, I train it to focus. I declare some truths about me from God's word and I pray for those around me. This is what I declare about me and it's based on the lies that I've believed and God is renewing the truth.
So everyday I say this. Jesus is first in my life. I exist to serve and glorify him. I love my wife and I will lay down my life to serve her. My children will love God and serve him with their whole hearts. I will nurture, equip, train and empower them to do more for the kingdom than they ever thought possible. I love people. And believe the best about others. I am disciplined, Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me. I am growing closer to Jesus everyday. Because of Christ, my family is closer, my body is stronger, my faith is deeper, my leadership is sharper. I am creative, innovative, driven, focused and blessed beyond measure because the spirit of God dwells within me. I develop leaders. That's not something that I do, it's who I am. Pain is my friend. I rejoice in suffering because Jesus suffered for me. I bring my best and then some. It's what I bring after I bring my best that makes the difference and then I declare, the world will be different and better because I served Jesus today.
The world will be different and better because I served Jesus today. Why do I confess it? Because my life is moving in the direction of my strongest thoughts. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. What comes into your mind comes out in your life. What are we gonna do? We're gonna recognize the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. Ours have divine power to pull down to demolish strongholds. We take every thought captive and we are renewing it by the power of God's word.
At all of our churches those of you who would say, I need some help renewing my mind there is a battle in my mind, I'm not always winning. God help renew my mind with truth. If that's you, lift up your hands right now. Lift up your hands right now, leave 'em up if you will, leave 'em up if you will. Listen to me, if it's a problem for you do something about it. Do something about it. Don't lose the battle, if you need to get in shape, change what you put in, and change what you do, if you need your mind to get in shape, change what you put in with it and change what you do with it. A few minutes a day, let God renew your mind.
Father I pray that your truth would set us free. God help us to focus our minds, to meditate on you, your power, your goodness, your kingdom, your glory, your truth, your word. God call it what you want. New pathways are renewing our mind God. Help us not react with a lie. But God help us respond because your truth dwells within us, we pray for a victory. God we pray for renewed minds.
What I want you all to do if you will, all of our churches look up here at me. Every head up, every eye open, everybody looking around. There are those of you, you've been believing a lie for way too long spiritually. Way too long. What's a lie? God didn't care about you. God doesn't love you. After what you've done God could never use you. Let me tell you the truth about our God, our God is love. Love isn't just something that he does, love is who he is. And I want you to know the truth, our God loves you. In fact, you may be here today not by coincidence but by the providential hand of a God who's reaching out to you. The truth is we need him. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God, born of a virgin and he never ever sinned. He in his perfection and holiness, he became sin on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He died in our place, the lamb of God slain for the sins of this world. On the third day when the stone was rolled away let me tell you what, our savior Jesus, he was not there. God had raised him from the dead. Why? So that anyone, and this includes you who calls on the name of Jesus would be saved. Write it, think it, confess it, confess it, confess it, confess it, declare it.
Scripture says this, if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you would be saved. Confess it, confess it, confess it, confess it. At all of our churches there are those of you, it's time to cry out. I'm gonna ask you to cry out in front of everybody. Just to say, I need him. God just said this, if you confess people, for people, I'll confess you. Jesus said, I'll confess you before my God, if you don't, if you're embarrassed, you don't wanna be embarrassed by Jesus. I need his grace, I need his mercy. When you call on his name, God will forgive your sins. He will make you brand new. All of our churches, those who say I need him, I confess my need today. I give my life to him, lift your hands high now. Right in front of everybody, lift your hands say, yes I need his grace, I need his grace. Hands going up everywhere. Hands going up all over the place. I need his grace, I need his grace, I give my life to him. All of our churches, as we see people come into faith in Christ, I need you guys with me right now. We're going to pray, we're all gonna pray aloud together. Just nobody prays alone, pray:
Heavenly father. Forgive me my sins. Make me brand new. Jesus forgive me. Transform me. Fill me with your spirit. So I could follow you. For the rest of my life. Renew my mind. That I could walk in truth. Use me to show your love. My life is not my own. I give it to you. Now you have mine in Jesus' name I pray.