Craig Groeschel - Reframing your Mind
Hey, I can kind of tell there are a few people in the mood to celebrate today at all of our churches. I wanna give you some things to celebrate. We always say that we're not praying for revival, that we're actually living in the middle of one. I want you to try to get your mind around this. Last weekend, we asked people to publicly declare their need for salvation through Christ, and we had over 1900 people last weekend alone call on the power and the name of Jesus. This is something I never, ever wanna take for granted, and even now, as we speak, we've got a campus that moved from a storefront this weekend into a new building. Little shout-out to those in Fort Smith, Arkansas, moving into a brand-new facility.
There's the first service, standing room only with 71 salvations in the very first service in the brand-new building. We praise God for you guys in Fort Smith. And next weekend, guess what? We're launching the 31st Life Church location. If you know somebody in the Springfield, Missouri area, we've got a brand-new building coming out of the ground and a fantastic core group meeting next week. Big thank you to all 30 Life Churches. Because of your generosity, imagine this. Those buildings are debt-free. We don't owe anybody anything except the continual debt to love. It's the work of God through all of you. So thank you for your amazing work. We are in a message series that's called Mastermind. Change your thinking, change your life. And we're looking at the mind and the teaching of the apostle Paul. What do we know about the mind? We know that our thoughts are incredibly powerful. There's often a war going on, and the war is generally won or lost in the mind. What comes into your mind comes out in your life. It's almost impossible to live a positive life when you're consumed with negative thoughts.
We learned last week, if you don't change the way you think, you can't change the way you live. You can't change what you do. Our thoughts matter. In fact, our key verse is from the apostle Paul, II Corinthians 10 verse three, four, and five. I want to revisit those to set the tone for our message today. This is what Paul said. He said, for though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. We have different weapons, he says. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have what? I need somebody to help me out. They have divine power to do what? To demolish strongholds. We have power from heaven to crush, to vanquish, to demolish the wrong patterns of thinking that hold us hostage. So what do we do? We demolish argument, and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.
How do we do it? Paul says this, he said, we take captive every thought, and we make it obedient to Christ. Any thought that is inconsistent with the truth of God's word, we grab it, we make it our prisoner. We are not a prisoner to the lies; the lies are prisoner to God's word. We take 'em captive and make it obedient to Christ. If you've been with us in previous weeks, we've talked about the power of the brain that our God created. For centuries, people thought the brain was essentially fixed after adolescence. We know now that's not true, that the brain continues to evolve, and there's something called neural pathways. What is a neural pathway? Essentially, the more we think a thought, the more we create a pathway in the brain. The more we think a thought, the easier it is to think. And that's good news if we're thinking on things that are true and good and pure and lovely and excellent and admirable and praiseworthy, as the apostle Paul would say.
The problem is, many of us are thinking on things that are not true. The easier it is to think on things that are not true, the more it compounds into more negative thoughts, and we think on those things even moreso. I wanna introduce another idea today that's been helpful to me, and that is the idea of a cognitive bias. What is a cognitive bias? A cognitive bias, we could also call it a mental filter or a mental framework. A very simple definition is this: it's a mistake in reasoning based on personal preferences or beliefs. When we have a cognitive bias, in other words, we've got a mental filter or a mental framework that is not necessarily accurate. Our wrong thought process or our wrong belief causes to make mistakes or errors in judgment.
It's a little bit like when Amy got some new glasses, I walked up to her when she had the new glasses, and she looked at me in a moment of panic, and she said, what's wrong with you? You look horrible. Your coloring's all off. Your face looks discolored. I said, take off your glasses. She said, oh, you look good again. I said, why don't you come over here. We'll celebrate just how good I look. What had happened? You've all probably had this before. When you put on a frame with different filters, it colors or distorts who you see the world. What you see is not actually what is there. What happens? If we have a wrong framework or wrong mental filters, the wrong mental filters distorts or discolors how we see the world; therefore, we end up with a cognitive bias, making wrong decisions based on wrong assumptions. Because of personal beliefs that may not be true, we're biased in a direction, and that can cause all sorts of troubles in our life. That's why different people respond in different ways to the exact same situation. Have you noticed that? The same situation, same environment, and yet, two totally different responses. It's not the facts that are different. What is it? It's the filter that's different.
Lemme say it again. It's not the facts that are different; it's the filter. For example, you might see this at your workplace. You might have a boss or supervisor that sits down with two different people and gives feedback in the exact same way, and the two different people respond totally differently to the feedback. The first person gets all offended. Well, who does he think he is, to come in here and tell me this and what. And you want some feedback? I'll give him some feedback about the way he lives. Totally offended by the feedback. Second person, same exact situation, same type of feedback. The next person says, thank you so much. You helped me see something in my performance that I didn't know. Now I can get better. Same situation. It's not the facts that are different; what is it? It's the filter.
Think about this. There may be two people sitting side by side that walked into a Life Church location or may be watching online. One person walked in saying, all Christians are hypocrites. They're a bunch of losers. Mega churches are bad. The chances of you having a good experience are very, very low based on someone else who walks in saying, yeah, Christians aren't perfect, but I love 'em anyway, and God works in all sorts of different types of churches. That person is much more likely to have a good experience. It's not the facts that are different. It's the filter. This can even impact our relationship to God. In fact, studies show that your relationship to an earthly father can often shape or color how you perceive your heavenly Father.
In other words, those of you who were blessed with a good dad who was full of compassion and was involved in your life, you might easier see God as a good God full of compassion that cares about the details of your life as opposed to someone else who had an earthly father who maybe was distant or abusive or cold or demanding or judgmental or legalistic. If you had an earthly father that was demanding and harsh or distant and abusive, it's much more difficult to see your heavenly Father as loving and caring and involved. It's not the facts that are different. It is the filter that's different. Last week, we talked about one of the disciplines that I've been doing in order to change my thinking, because as much as I don't wanna disappoint you, even though I'm your pastor, I battle with negative thoughts, and I battle with believing things that are not true about me and about life. We talked about meditating last week on truth. This week, I wanna talk about another tool, and then next week, we're gonna talk about the prayer component of the mind.
Today I wanna talk about something called reframing. Everybody say reframing. Say it again, reframing. We're gonna pick a different frame. What is reframing? Reframing is simply creating a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning. It's creating a different way and looking at something by changing its meaning. It's a little bit like the kid that loved playing baseball and the kid just said, I am the greatest hitter who has ever lived. I am the greatest batter, and the kid went in his backyard, he picked up a ball, picked up his bat, threw the ball up in the air, swung as hard as he could, and he missed it, and he said, everybody misses once. I'm still the greatest hitter of all time. He picked up the ball a second time, threw it up in the air, swung, and he missed again. He said, I'm still the greatest batter who's ever lived. He picked up the ball, threw it up a third time, and he swung, and he missed. He said, wow, I had no idea. I'm also the greatest pitcher who ever lived, 'cause I just struck out the greatest batter in the history of the world. I'm great at everything.
Reframing is simply changing the way we look at something by changing the meaning. It's also called perceptual accentuation. It's called cognitive restructuring, or if you're simply like me, I call it thinkin' different. You can't have the g on thinking when you say it. It's just thinkin' different. It's reframing the situation. Lemme illustrate it this way. What kind of a day are we gonna have? Is it gonna be a great day, an average day, a pathetic day, what kinda day are we gonna have? The answer is, it depends on how we frame it. Some of you, you have a negative framework, a negative filter. This day's gonna be bad. I hate being around these people. They're all a pain in the you-know-what. I hate going to these things. It never works out. Every time I try to do something, I always fail. God's not with me. Life's bad, it's gonna get worse.
What kinda day you gonna have? Depends on how you frame it. God is with me, God is good. I can sense his presence. I love being here. Some of these people are kinda weird, but I love to see the good in them. I'm gonna choose to believe the best wherever I go. What kinda day are you gonna have? Well, it depends on how you frame it. What we need to understand is this, if you're taking notes, is you can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. Let me say it again. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. If there was anybody who was great at reframing, it was the apostle Paul. In fact, if you know his story, he had a very strategic prayer plan. God, please help me go to Rome. If I can go to Rome and preach the gospel and reach the leaders in Rome, from there, we can spread the gospel all over the world.
Finally, Paul got to go to Rome, but he didn't get to go there to preach the gospel. Instead, he was in Rome as a prisoner, locked up in house arrest, chained to Roman guards, a new one every eight hours, and he was awaiting a possible execution. What he wanted was not what happened. How did he frame the situation? Some of you, this is where you are right now. You thought to yourself, if I just get the degree, then I'll get the job. You got the degree. The job you have is, you're overqualified for in an entirely different field, and you're like, God, where are you? You thought, I'm gonna marry my sweetheart. It's gonna be amazing. You married your sweetheart; it went bad. God, where are you? You wake up at such and such age, and you thought, by this age, I knew I'd be here and I'd be doing this, but I'm here, and I'm doing this. I don't understand it.
This is where Paul was. This is what I want, and this is what is happening. I wanted to preach the gospel, and I'm a prisoner. What kinda day are you gonna have? You can't determine what happens to you, but you can determine how you frame it. Lemme show you what Paul could have said. Everybody say could have said. I need somebody in Fort Smith, Arkansas to say could have said. What Paul could have said. He didn't say it, but he could have said it. If he would have said it, this would have been in Philippians 1:12 and 13 in the NWV. What is the NWV? NWV stands for the New Whiner's Version. This is what Paul could have said. Paul could have said this: Now, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me really sucks. That's what he could have said. As a result of the hell I've been through, I'm quitting LifeGroup, and I'm never going back to church again. That's what he could have said. It's not what he said.
For those of you that may be new to the church world, I just want you to know, there is no NWV. Don't go looking for it. God, I can't find it. Okay, it's not a real version of the Bible. This is what Paul actually said, Philippians 1:12 and 13. He said, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me, watch this, a lot of people say it's bad because I wanted to go to Rome as a preacher but I'm actually in Rome as a prisoner. What's happened to me, can't control what happens to me, but I can control how it's framed. What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it's become clear to the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I'm in chains for Christ. Oh, what everyone else thought was bad, it looks like I'm their prisoner, but I've got strategic Roman soldiers who are influential in leadership locked up to me. And I get a new one every eight hours, chained up to me.
Who do you think the real prisoner is? You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. I want you to know, what happened really started to advance the gospel. Let's look at the next verse. The next verse says this: And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare to proclaim the gospel without fear. A lot of people say, this is really bad, Paul. But you have no idea. When I look through my God frame, I see God is still working. God is still moving. My God is still active, and God is still at work. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. How do we live this out when our thoughts can often drift toward the negative, the critical, discouraging thoughts, self-defeating language? Lemme give you three principles that I'm working on in my life to reframe relationships and situations and my story.
The first thing is this. When things are really, really bad, it's a bad day, I don't like what's going on, one of the tools is I can actually thank God for what didn't happen. Maybe something unpleasant did happen, but there are a lot of things that are worse that did not happen. I can thank God for what didn't happen. For example, there's a story of a college girl who told her parents, I need to have a real serious conversation with you. She drove home from the university to sit in her parents' living room and said, mom and dad, you need to sit down. And she said, I gotta be honest with you. I went out to a bar and I was drunk, and I went back with a guy, and we did things, and now I'm pregnant with twins. The good news is, he'll be off probation in a year, and once he's out of rehab, he plans to get a job. Since he's not able to work right now, he's living with me, and we can't get married because he doesn't have a job, but we are gonna try to raise the baby together.
Mom and dad's jaw drops, hits the floor, and she said, I want you to know, everything I told you was not true. The truth is, I got a D in chemistry, and I wanted you to know, it could have been a lot worse. Sometimes, you gotta thank God for what didn't happen. Some 19-year-old taking notes. Pastor Craig is on fire today. So, you didn't get the project in on time, so you're not gonna get your bonus. You know what? Thank God I didn't lose my job. I still got my job. I'm still employed, I still got a job. Get in a car wreck, aw, this is gonna be a pain in the you-know-what. It's gonna cost money, gonna take a lot of time. Well, thank God nobody got hurt, okay? Thank God for that. Airplane is delayed, again. Satan, I cast you out of all my flights. The plane is broken. I always tell myself this. When the plane is broken, I would rather be on the ground wanting to be up there than up in the sky in a broken plane, wanting to be down there. Sometimes, you just need to thank God for what didn't happen.
The next thing that you can do that I'm learning to do is this, is you practice pre-framing, pre-framing, that your filters, your frame, it determines how you see the world, who you feel, and often what you do. What I wanna do is I wanna choose the frame before the event. Instead of getting there and letting my default filter or my default frame, which is often negative, take over, causing me to interpret what otherwise might be positive as a negative, I wanna pre-frame it with the right frame. I'm choosing the frame ahead of time. I'll tell you the story behind this, and this is a tool, I'm telling you. It impacts what I do to this day. I started playing tennis my sophomore year, my freshman year. My sophomore year, I was number one for the Ardmore Tigers. Do we have any Ardmore Tigers in the house? Nobody. Ardmore is a great town that's particularly known by people driving from Dallas to Oklahoma City. It's where you stop to pee on the way from Dallas to Oklahoma City.
That was the great town I was raised in. I love my tigers. I was playing number-one singles for the Ardmore Tigers. I went to the state championship. I was an unranked nobody. I was playing in the quarter finals, which was a miracle I was even there, against the number-four ranked player in the state, a guy named Mandi Ochola, who was kind of a legend. I'm a nobody. He's a senior; I'm a sophomore. I'm unranked; he's ranked number four, and I had him up against the ropes. We split sets. This big crowd forms. Who's this little kid that's about to dethrone Mandi Ochola? I had him down five-one in the third. I had seven match points. If you don't know what a match point is, that means if I win any one of those seven points, I win the match, I knock off the number-four ranked player in the state as a sophomore nobody.
The reason I say I had seven match points is because I lost all seven of them, ended up losing the match. I was up five-one in the third. I lost seven-five. I lost e very single game straight, and I was nicknamed by all of the state of Oklahoma as Gro-choke-el. When matches get tight, Groeschel chokes. I had a coach who told me this. Do not own that label. Have you ever noticed how the crowd will rarely give you a positive label? Have you ever noticed how your enemy never gives you a positive label? What labels do we often take from the outside? You're a failure, you're not good enough, you don't measure up, you can't make a difference. After what you did, you're always gonna struggle. Negative, negative. My coach said this. He said, what you need to understand is you've got more experience that can help you succeed than anybody else. You've been in that tight spot, and you know what doesn't work.
What works when you get nervous in sports? You start playing not to lose when you need to play to win. You stop taking risks and you start pushing when instead, you've gotta swing hard. You've gotta bring everything in it. What I want you to know is that you are great because of your experience in tight spots. When you're there, you tell yourself, you rise to the occasion. I'm telling you what, from that day forward, I've told myself, I am a pressure player. When things get tough, before they ever get tough, I tell myself, I am great under pressure. My God is with me. My God is for me. In leadership situations, the tougher the situation, the more I wanna be involved. You put me in a spiritual situation when there's someone about to die who doesn't know Christ, let me be the one to have the conversation, why? I pre-framed it. When things get though, I know my God is with me. I never play not to lose. I always play to win, and I do win, because I've chosen to frame ahead of time.
Some of you, pick a new frame. Stop believing the lie from the past. Reframe it, pre-frame it. Before you go into the situation, tell yourself, your God is good, your God is with you. He will help you succeed. Choose the frame ahead of time. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. What do we do to reframe a situation? Well, we always thank God for what didn't happen. We practice pre-framing. And then the third thing we're gonna do is we're gonna look for God's goodness. We're gonna look for his goodness. Here's the promise, promise you. If you wanna see bad, you will find bad. If you wanna see negative, you will find things to be negative about. If you wanna be critical, you can pick apart any organization, any group, any person. If that's what you want to be the determining factor of how you live your life, you can be like the vast majority of the world that lives critical, negative, has bad relationships, and tends to lean toward what is bad instead of leaning toward what is good. Or, on the other hand, you can choose to look for where God is working, and if you look for where God is working, you will see him working. You can choose to look for the good, and guess what? You'll see the good.
If you wanna look for the good in people, you can find good in people, and your relationships will change. Your attitude will change. Your perspective will change. Your impact will change, because you will find what you're looking for. It's called cognitive reframing. It's reframing; it's interpreting your circumstances based on the truth of God's word. A good counselor will tell you this. You determine the meaning of what happened to you. You determined the meaning. I'm gonna tell you this. Let Jesus help you determine the meaning. Let Jesus help you determine the meaning. It's a lot like the difference between two types of birds. Take a vulture. Or a hummingbird. I don't know what their faces look like, but you can only imagine. I can't imagine a smiling vulture, okay? What do vultures find? Dead stuff. Carcasses, roadkill, why? 'Cause that's what they're looking for. What do hummingbirds find? Nectar and sweet things, why? 'Cause that's what they're looking for. You will find what you're looking for.
Look for the goodness of God, and you'll see the goodness of God. Look for problems and things to complain about, you'll see those things. Let Jesus help you determine the meaning. I'm gonna tell you a battle I've had in my mind that's not gonna seem like a big deal to you, and it's really not, but it's been a big deal to me. Almost five weeks ago, my latest book, Hope in the Dark, came out, and it's my 15th book. It's the number-one book that's closest to my heart. It tells the journey of the pain that my family's been through. It was available for two days. It's been sold out since. Three full weeks, it's not available on Amazon. Four weeks, it's not available in stores. Some of you, like Pollyanna people are like, oh, praise God. No, I'm upset, okay? The printers can't keep up with the demand. There's people that want it that can't get it. It loses momentum. It's a message that I want in people's hands, and they can't find it. I'm upset.
This week, I heard about a couple, and it changed my perspective. Rance and Heather, a couple in their 30s. Heather has been sick and dealing with significant physical issues. She almost died, spent three months in the hospital, recovered, and looked like she was on a good track. They have one child named Boston, and things looked up for Heather and Rance. Now, Rance went outside, came back in, and Heather was not conscious. And at the age of 38, she never recovered. She died. That's a really bad day. But God is still good. Heather liked to shop, and evidently, a couple of weeks ago, she made a purchase. What she ordered was not available. She died, and between her death and her funeral, her last purchase was delivered in the mail. And between her death and her funeral, her husband went to the mailbox and got her last purchase. Her last purchase was a book that came at the exact right time called Hope in the Dark: Believing that God is Good When Life Is Not. And Rance, who just lost his 38-year-old wife, said, I can really see who much God is still with me, because he cared that much, to bring it at the perfect time.
So, here's ol' Pastor Craig, full of faith. It's the worst thing ever. No, no, no, no, no. God's timing, his goodness, his timing is perfect. Rance, when he gave me permission to tell this story, said, yeah, it's a really dark time, but Heather's life has inspired so many people. Her faith in God has touched so many people. So what kind of day is it? It's the worst day ever, or, as Rance said, if her story touches one person, then I'm gonna give God praise for that. Here's the problem. So many people see the bad because you're looking for the bad. If you look for God, you will find him. Where do we make the mistake in our minds? It's we often try to interpret God through our circumstances. This is bad; therefore, God is bad.
There's another way to look at the world, and that is to interpret your circumstances through the goodness of God. Then you can recognize, even on what is a bad day, our God is still good. He's still involved. He still cares. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Even in the dark times, even when we're waiting, we can still praise him, because no matter what our circumstances are like, our God is always good. You cannot control what happens to you. But you can control how you frame it. So, Father, help renew our minds with truth. As you're praying today at all of our different churches, I wonder how many of you would say, like me, and lemme just tell you right now, I'm preaching this because I need to live it better, because I need to live it better, because I'm asking God to give me a better frame. Those of you who say, yes, God, help give me a better frame, help change my filter with the truth, would you lift up your hands right now, all of our churches? You need a little better framework on life.
God, I pray that according to your word, that we would not have to be conformed to the patterns of this world, but we'd be transformed, God, by the renewing of our minds. We thank you, God, that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world, but they have divine power to crush, to vanquish, to demolish the strongholds, the wrong patterns of thinking. So, God, help us to restructure our thoughts, God, not just to choose the meaning, but to help let Jesus choose and define the meaning of what happens to us. God, empower us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, good or bad, good or bad, good or bad. God becomes flesh in the person of Jesus. He is sinless and perfect in every way. He reaches out to the lowest of the low, the most broken, the most hurting, the most sinful. He loves them where they are. He heals sicknesses and diseases. He teaches an other-worldly truth that resonates deeply with the hearts of mankind. Then, he's betrayed by his own. He's crushed and cursed and dies the most brutal death. Good or bad? Depends on how you frame it. Three days later, the stone in the tomb in which he was buried rolled away. He was not there. The death of Jesus, good or bad. Depends on how you frame it. If you look at it through the resurrection, it's the best thing in the history of the world. A God who loved you so much that he became one of you died, rose again, why? So that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord would be saved. Some of you, you're hurting right now.
You feel low. Your world is dark. Good or bad? Depends on how you frame it. It's horrible, it's the worst thing ever. Yeah, that's bad. Oh, it's so dark that you need the light. Maybe what looks bad isn't so bad if the darkness drives you to seek the light. Maybe you feel so low. Oh, it bad, bad. Maybe it's not so bad if the only place you have to look when you're low is up to the kingdom of God. Maybe this moment of suffering, if you reframe it years later, will be the moment that brought you to Christ. In all of our churches, there are those of you, you recognize, you've sinned; you feel the guilt and the shame from what you've done. Lemme tell you about the goodness of God. His grace is here. He loves you, not because of what you've done or haven't done, but because he is love. His grace covers your sins. When you call on the name of Jesus, he hears your prayers. He forgives your sins. He makes you brand-new.
There are those of you, you're about to reframe this day. You may feel low. You may be hurting. You may be broken. You may feel guilty. But when you call on Jesus, he makes you new. You're not here by accident. You're here by the goodness and the grace of God. All of our churches, those who say yes, I need him; I need his grace. I turn from my sins; I call on Jesus. Today, I give my life to him. If that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift 'em up and say yes. That's my prayer. Right back over there, ma'am, God bless you. Over here as well. Others of you right back here in this section, sir, right here, both of you gentlemen right here. God bless you. Sir, praise God for you. Others of you way back here, right back here. My goodness, somebody oughta give our God some praise right now. Here in this section, right back here in the middle. Praise God for you. Church online, you guys click right below me, and we're all going to pray together. We're not praying for revival, church. Can you feel it? God is here. He is moving. He is good. Pray with those around you, pray.
Heavenly Father, I surrender my whole life to you. Jesus, save me. Forgive my sins. Make me new. Fill me with your Spirit. Renew my mind, that I could follow you and walk in truth. My life is not mine. I give it to you. Thank you for new life. And now you have mine. In Jesus's name I pray.