Craig Groeschel - Take Your Mind Back
Well, we're talking about winning the war in your mind. And I want to start with one of the most important scriptures from God's word on this subject. The apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 12:2, he said this, he said, do not conform to the pattern of this world. Don't think like the world thinks, don't act like the world acts, don't behave like the world behaves. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed, be renewed, be changed. And how are we transformed? He said by, let's say it aloud, by the renewing of your mind. We're talking about winning the war in your mind. And I don't know about you all, but I've been making some really dumb and irrational decisions lately. Have any of you done something similar? I just been making irrational decisions. You want me to tell you about one? Do you wanna hear a little story that would embarrass me?
So recently, Amy asked me on the weekend, what would you like to do today? And I said, I wanna do two things. I want to go to church in one of the services I wasn't preaching in, let's go to church like regular people. And I wanna go for a walk. Let's go to church and I wanna go for a walk. And she said, great. Well, because our daughters are popping out, babies like popcorn. She went over to see a couple of grand babies. And she came back from Mandy's house, our daughter, and she got home 15 minutes before church started. Well, our house is only 10 minutes away from church. And she said, let's get ready to go to church. And for some stupid reason, I decided it was too late to go to church. And she said, well, if we leave now, we can be five minutes early. But I dug my feet in, doubled down on my stupidity and said, no, it's too late to go to church. For a few minutes we argued until, we still could have left and been there on time but I drug the argument out for a full 20 minutes until I was finally right and it was too late to go to church.
So Amy said, I can't take your irrationality. She said, I'm going for a walk by myself. So the only thing I wanted was to go to church, go for a walk. And for some stupid reason, my brain misfired and I ended up self-destructing in a very, very stupid moment. Do any of you ever do that? Maybe you like, you wanna be nice to your spouse and you're trying to make up. And the next thing you know, you're yelling or you wanna save money, but instead you go shopping. You want to trust God with something but instead you just worry and you worry and you worry. And it makes me wonder sometimes, why is it that we want one thing but we decide to do something completely different. Why do we behave so irrationally? I wanna try to answer that question today with a story or illustration that might give you a visual of why in our minds, we often make very irrational decisions. I'll tell you about my very first car.
If you've been here for a while, you may have heard about the Turbo Coupe. It was a 1979 Buick Century. And I'll show you that one on the left is me looking rather too small to play football with my Ardmore Tigers sign on it. The one on the right is my sister. If you look down in the very left-hand corner, you can see the Eagle that looks like it's flying. The one in the middle is not actually my car but that's exactly what it looked like with a spoiler and all. So needless to say, at the age of 17 in Ardmore, Oklahoma, it was impossible to be cool in a car that said turbo coupon the back and looked like that. So with great challenges against me, I decided to do my best to up my car game and I could control the stereo system.
So I bought a very high-end used Alpine stereo system. Some of you know what I'm talking about. And you can almost hear the police a little REO Speedwagon, some Eagles or some Outfield thumping right now with some Def Leppard on play. Next okay. I put in, I couldn't afford to have it professionally installed because I spent all my money on it. So I installed the stereo myself, which was obviously a mistake. I didn't know how to do it, it took me all day long. It was well into the evening before I finally had to even turn on the lights of my car just to see what I was doing. And the stereo finally started to play, glory to God, all things are possible, even with me. Okay? The next day I got up to drive my car to school and the stereo wasn't working, I was devastated. Where is my REO Speedwagon? Oddly enough, the next evening when I was driving home, my stereo was magically working again. I was so confused.
The next day, it didn't work the next evening it did. This on day after day after day, I was so confused. Many of you have already figured out the problem because you're much more intelligent than I am. Why was it that it was behaving so irrationally, it's because I had the wires crossed. I had mistakenly wired my high-end used Alpine stereo to the power of the headlights and has not wired it to the proper place. So therefore, every time that the headlights we're on, my stereo would work. Honestly goodness, honest to goodness. My mom will tell you this, for the remainder of the car, I drove around with my headlights on all during the day, enjoying my music. Why is it that we behave so irrationally so often? The reason is, because in our minds, we often have the wires crossed.
If you were with us last week, we talked about, the neural pathways that take place in our brain. In other words, every time you think a thought, you're creating a new pattern of thought or a new pathway, almost like a mental trail in your mind. Your experiences or your thoughts are wiring or programming your brain. For example, is charged even very young, if a little baby smiles and the mom smiles back and says, goo goo gaga, the baby's brain creak a little pathway that says smiling is good. If a baby touches something hot, a hot stove and the body feels pain, the baby's brain creates a pathway that says, hot stove's bad. If the baby wants a sucker and says, I want sucker. And mom says no sucker. And the babies starts to cry. And the mom gives the baby a sucker. The baby's brain says crying gets me a sucker. And that's why some of you moms are the sucker right now, right? Here's what happens.
When we think of thought our brain is creating new neural pathways. And the more we think a thought, the easier it is to think that thought again. The more dominant that thought becomes, which is really good news, when we're thinking on truth. But it's incredibly bad news when so many of us are believing the lies. Why do we behave so irrationally? Many times, we have the wires in our minds crossed. Let's review some thoughts from the previous week. What do we know about our mind? Our mind is a battlefield and most of life's battles are won or lost in the mind.
We looked last week at the powerful scripture from 2 Corinthians 10, I'll summarize it for you. When the apostle Paul said this, he said, that we live in a world but we do not wage war as the world does. As followers of Christ, we have spiritual weapons and they are not the same weapons of this world. Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds. What is a stronghold? It's a wrong pattern of thinking. It's a place where the wires in our brain have been crossed. Therefore we demolish arguments and every pretension, every wrongly crossed wire that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. Why does every thought matter? It matters because, your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. What comes into your mind tends to come out in your life. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind, when the wires are crossed. If you don't control what you think, you'll never be able to control what you do.
So today, we're gonna create some tools and in the upcoming weeks, we're gonna build upon these tools. And what I want to do is talk to you about, how do you train your minds? I'm guessing that a lot of you probably haven't ever thought about training your minds. You might've thought about training your dog. You might've thought about training your body. And thinking of training your body actually can be a good leap to training your mind. For example, for years, I thought that training your body was all about exercise. You know, we're gonna run, we're gonna jump, we're gonna do ups, sit ups. We're gonna do kettlebells.
I thought it was about what you would do with your body. But when I was about 40, eating anything that I wanted, I discovered that training, isn't just about what you do with it, it's also what you put into it. This is such a good illustration of the mind. Is not just on how we've been thinking, but it's also what we pour into our mind that can either train our mind to continue believing the wrong thing, or we can train our minds with truth. It's not just what you do with it, is also what you put in it.
And I wanna show you the apostle Paul, whom I love, because you could watch the progression in his life in ministry, as he started to renew his mind. In fact, we're going to look at Philippians chapter four. We're going to start in verse eight. And to give you context, the apostle Paul was writing this from a Roman prison. He was locked up on house arrest, not an ideal situation, in fact a very terrifying place to be, awaiting possible execution. This was kinda like worst case scenario. And here's what he said. He said, and now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. And let me tell you what he didn't say. He didn't say, God let me down. When he could have thought that. He didn't say, I can't go on with life. He didn't say, things couldn't get any worse than this. No, he said this. He said, one final thing from a Roman prison. He said, fix your thoughts.
Somebody say, fix your thoughts. Fix your thoughts. Put that in the chat. If you're watching the online, put it in the chat, fixed your thoughts, I'm fixing my thoughts. He said, fix your thoughts on what is true. Fix your thoughts on what is honorable, fix your thoughts on what is right and pure and lovely and admirable. He didn't say fix your thoughts on worst case scenario, on what you hate on what you're afraid of on what could go wrong, but fix your mind on what is good. He said, think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I like the way the new King James version translated the same verse and the translators translated this way. If there is any virtue and if there's anything praiseworthy, what do we do, say it aloud. We meditate on these things. We meditate.
Now, wait a minute. Isn't meditation, some kind of new age spooky like become one with a universe, cross your legs or arm, you know, isn't that what meditation is? Well, that can be meditation, but I wanna give you another definition of meditation. And I wanna show you just how scriptural and healthy the right kind of meditation can be. What is a definition of meditation? A simple definition is this, to engage in mental exercise, to focus one's thoughts. It's just to focus. In fact, if you look at scripture, there are many examples of godly people, meditating on the things that are true and lovely and admirable and excellent. Meditating on the power of God's word. In fact, the Psalmist, in Psalm 119:15 of God says this, "I meditate God on your precepts and consider your ways". In other words, I'm focusing my mind, God, on your truth. I'm training my mind to see your truth.
Psalm 143:5 says, I meditate, God, on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I like this, that Eastern meditation may have a different focus. I've been told that oftentimes an Eastern meditation, you empty your mind and you try to focus on nothing and get it into a state of calm and such. But Christian meditation isn't emptying your mind, instead is filling your mind with truth. It's fixing your mind. It's it. And over the past few years, even working with a counselor, I've been on a journey to learn to focus and fix my mind. One of the highest priorities in my own personal spiritual development, is learning to focus my mind because focus is a skill.
In fact, to quote the great theologian, Jackie Chan, he said, in the remake of the movie karate kid, which, I'm sorry but it doesn't live up to Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Marciano and Cobra Kai season one, two and three, "No mercy sweep the leg". Anyway, Jackie Chan said, "Your focus needs what? More focus". Some of you, if I can just say to you right now, your focus needs more focus. Your mind needs to uncross the wires that have been programmed to believe something that's not true. And you need to focus on what is true. Fix your minds on the things of God because when our mind drifts, and I don't know about you but my mind can drift very quickly. It generally doesn't drift to that which is true. It generally drifts to my own insecurities, my own fears, that might worst case scenarios and the lies that the devil has been telling me about myself for years. You're never going to be good enough, you're incapable, you should be ashamed after what you'd, how could God ever use you?
What we wanna do is learn to meditate on truth, to focus and train our minds on God's truth. And what I'm gonna do, honestly, is give you an exercise that's not real easy. In other words, it's like, this isn't something if you've been believing a lie for 10 years or 15 years or 30 years, sometimes it takes a little while to deprogram that mistruth and replace it with truth. And I'm gonna give you an exercise that honestly I believe can be a game changer in focusing on what is true. And then I'm gonna show you how I've grown in my own thoughts and how I repeat some truth over and over and over again, to create new neural pathways, to renew my mind with truth. And then I'm gonna trust that the Holy Spirit's gonna do on you. Are you ready? Yeah. If you're ready, say I'm ready. I'm ready.
Put it in the chat right now, I'm ready, just type it in, I'm ready. The question. The first one is this. First question. What stronghold is holding you back? What would you say is the top wrong mindset that's holding you hostage. Identify where you have the wires crossed in your brain. For some of you, it could be just a lie. Like you grew up in a household that struggled with finances and you think you're not any good with this. So you just believe, we're never gonna get out of debt. Or you might have the wires crossed and think, you know, I've tried for three years and I can't overcome this addiction. I'm just, I'm never going to be able to overcome this addiction. Or you might think of yourself, I just, I'll never be healthy. You know, people in my family aren't healthy, we're just never gonna be healthy. Or I've tried to get close to God, I've been close to God for like five seconds and then my mind drifted, I'm never going to be close to God. Or I worked so hard to get ahead, but I'm never gonna have a meaningful job, I'm always going to do something stupid and beneath me. Or I'm never going to get married, I'm never gonna have a blessed marriage.
What is the dominant stronghold where your mental wires are crossed, where the devil has trained you with the mental pathway to believe something that is not true about you. That's the first part of the assignment. The second part is to answer this question, what truth, what spiritual truth from God demolishes that stronghold? What is the spiritual truth that demolishes, that obliterates that stronghold? Then what we're gonna do is we're gonna take a scriptural truth, not just a truth, but a truth that's empowered by God's living word. His act of word, powerful enough to bring transformation. We're going to let his word renew our mind. And what I want you to do is to write out some truth, very specific. Whatever it is that demolishes that strong hold in your life. And I wanna encourage to, don't just write a sentence, but think about it, meditate on it, let it be born out of God's word and write a statement that creates emotional energy toward the truth of God. Then what we're gonna do is we're gonna write it or type it or whatever.
And then we're gonna start thinking on it. And I'm gonna encourage you to confess it until God starts to renew your mind. I would say like this, we're gonna write it, think it confess it, until we believe it. We're going to write it, think it, confess it until we believe it. It may take time. We're gonna write it, think it, confess it until we believe it. We're creating new neural pathways. God is renewing our mind with truth. Now let me give you some examples of what yours might look like. I'll give you several. You might be struggling to know God's will in your life. So you're gonna create a statement that could be like this. My life belongs God. Daily I seek Him and daily He directs my steps. I know His voice and He leads me to His perfect will. You're gonna write it, you're gonna think it, you're say it until you believe it. Over and over again, you're gonna say that, my life belongs to God. Daily I seek Him, daily He directs my step. I know His voice and He leads me to his perfect will.
You may be lacking confidence, every time you come in, you feel insecure, you feel inadequate, you feel like you're not enough. And so, your statement is gonna be this. My confidence is in Christ and Christ alone. because his spirit lives within me. I can do everything He calls me to do. You're gonna write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. You might have a struggle with fighting lustful thoughts and you're sick and tired of being hostage to images and shameful ideas. And so you're going to let God renew your mind. You're going to say this over and over again. I am not a slave to lustful thoughts because God has purified my mind. I will honor Him with my eyes and thoughts. My God is faithful. Even if I am tempted, He will always give me a way out. You're gonna write it, you're gonna think it, you're gonna confess it until you believe it. You might find comfort in food and you don't wanna do this anymore.
So you're going to declare, when I'm stressed I turned to God, not food. I come to Jesus because He is what I need. In Him I find strength and comfort. You might find yourself, battling worry all the time, consumed with worry. But you're gonna write it, think it, confess it till you believe it. What is it? Because of Christ, I'm not anxious about anything. I cast my cares on God because He cares for me. I have the peace of God dwelling in my heart and ruling my mind. What are you gonna do? Identify it. What is the stronghold where the wires are crossed? What is the spiritual truth that will set you free. Then you're gonna write it, think it, confess it, until you believe it. You're creating new neural pathways, according to the truth. And God is renewing your mind.
In fact, I'm gonna ask it all of our campuses today, if you wouldn't mind, just standing to your feet. In a few moments, we're going to take some time and I'm gonna give you a chance to worship. But what I wanna do is I wanna show you how this plays out in my life. I'm gonna tell you about some of the places where I've had the wires crossed for years. As a child, for some reason, I always battled with thoughts of inadequacy. Meaning no matter what I do, I've never ever felt like I'm enough. And this just haunts me, because as a pastor, I can never get it all done. Never. There's no, I'm always letting somebody down. And when I try to bring my very, very best to the church, then guess what? I'm an adequate as a husband and inadequate as a dad. And the moment I try to refocus to being a husband and a dad, then I'm leaving more inadequate to the church. And it's a stronghold that holds me back and fills me with ongoing guilt and even shame.
I struggle. And I hate to say this, but sometimes I seem to care more about what people think than even what God thinks. And I don't like to admit that because when I'm preaching and powered by God, I can be really, really bold and that I can come home with just overwhelming sense of insecurity of, oh my gosh, they hate me and they don't like me, and I'm failing and I'm miserable. There are times when my priorities get out of luck, where I worked way, way, way, way, way, way, way too hard. And then I neglect and take for granted the people that are around me. There are times when I just feel incredibly discouraged, thinking, I don't know if I can come up with another message. Sometimes you say, haven't you preached that before? Yes. It's been 25 years. You know, it's like doing a book report on the same book every week. It's the Bible. And it is again, still born of a Virgin this year, Christmas again, you know, it's like, I feel inadequate.
How can I creatively express something in an interesting way that would engage people and transform lives. And I battle with deep feelings of inadequacy. So what I've done with the help of my counselor and Amy and years developing some declarations is I have some truth that's renewing my mind. And this isn't the whole list, cause I don't wanna bore you. But the whole list is in the book, "Winning the War in Your Mind". And I'll tell you what I declare. And I don't do this daily, I did for years and years. Now, I do it when I need it and it's deep in my heart. But, my declaration that I've said now for probably, I'd say four years goes like this.
This is the truth. This is the truth. This is what God is using to renew my mind. This is what I need to uncross the wires and live according to his truth. I declare Jesus is first in my life. I exist to serve and glorify Him. I love my wife and 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 that 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 every day. Because of Christ my family is closer. My body is stronger. My faith is deeper and my leadership is sharper. I am creative, innovative, driven, focused and blessed beyond measure because the Holy Spirit dwells within me. I develop leaders. This is not something I do. It's who I am. I bring my best and then some it's what I do after I bring my best. That makes the difference. And I declare this and believe it to be true, that the world will be different and better because I served Jesus today.
Write it, thinking it, confess it until you believe it. Why does this matter? Because your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. If you don't control what you think, you'll never control what you do. Take back your mind, meditate on truth. Fix your mind on what is true and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, meditate on such things. Focus your mind on the truth. What are you gonna do? Identify whatever mental stronghold, wherever you have the wires crossed and identify the truth that completely sets you free. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. And as followers of Jesus, what will we not do? We will not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but we will be transformed. How? Listen, not by trying harder, not by being smarter, not by more personal effort, but by the renewing of our minds. And what is the greatest power to overcome the lies? It is the truth of Jesus. And he said, and you'll know the truth and the truth will set you free.
So Father today we ask that by the power of the risen Christ and by the truth of your inspired word, that you would renew our minds with truth.
And all of our churches and those of you watching online, Team LC all over the world. Those of you who would say, I want God to renew. I want Him to uncross the wires and in some area of my life, renew it with truth. Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift up your hands, you can type it in the chat, God renew my mind. Just type it in the chat, God renew my mind. As your hands are lifted and you're in an attitude of prayer:
Father I just pray, that you would give us clarity of whatever lie that we've wrongly believed. God I know for some people it's hard to identify the lie because we don't even know it's a lie. God help us to identify that. And then God give us scripture, your truth and a declaration that would renew our mind with your truth. God, I know this may take weeks, months, even years for some to renew their minds. But God, we believe for some this will be a breakthrough. God, renew our minds with truth that we could live according to your perfect will and show your love and all that we do. God, we thank you in advance that the devil is defeated, that you have risen from the dead and that you're gonna renew our minds with truth.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, there are those of you that you may feel like you're far from God. You don't know where you stand with God. Maybe in your mind you feel like you've been way too bad for God. How could he love someone like you? Let me tell you about the truth. Let me tell you about the truth of God's love, the truth of God's love, the truth of God's love, the truth of God's love. God loves you so much. That's true. And there's nothing you can do to earn His love more. And there's nothing you could do that would cause me to love you less. He just loves you, period, so much that he sent his perfect son, Jesus, born of a Virgin, one who never sinned. Jesus gave his life for the forgiveness of your sins. And our God raised him from the dead so that anyone and this includes you, who calls on his name, your sins would be forgiven and you would be completely saved.
Those of you online or if you're watching at one of our live churches locations today. Those who say, I need his grace, I need his forgiveness. When you call on his name, He hears your prayers, he forgives your sins. And in a moment, He makes you new. In a moment, your sins are forgiven. In a moment, you can be filled with the spirit of God. All of our churches, those who say, yes, Jesus, I need your grace. Yesterday, I surrender to you by faith. I give my life to you, that's your prayer, lift your hands high now. All of the place, lift them up and say, yes. We've got people coming in all of our different churches right now, lift up your hands, lift them up high. Call on His name today. Call on His name, as we have people in all of our churches coming to faith in Christ.
Those of you online, just type it in the chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus. I'm giving my life to Jesus. I'll give it a moment or two more for all of our churches that are calling on the name of Jesus. If I could have you all back right now, all campuses back, we're gonna pray together and that I'm going to make some declarations over you. And then we're going to worship the goodness of our God. Would you pray aloud? All of our churches, pray if you're watching online, just pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Make me brand new. I believe you died for me and you Rose again, so I could live for you. Fill me with your spirit. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus name I pray.
Can somebody worship God, can somebody give him praise today, can somebody thank God for who He is and for what He's done. Today before we worship, I wanna make some declarations over you. Are you ready? Yes. Are you ready for truth? Yes. Are you ready for truth? Yes. Type it in the chat, put in the chat, I'm ready. If you're ready to put it in, I'm ready. Are you ready? Say I'm ready, are you ready? I'm ready. For those of you who are in Christ, you are strong and mighty. You have the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling inside of you. You are a weapon of righteousness in a world of darkness. You are not your past. You are not what you did. You are who God says you are. He says you're forgiven. He says you're redeemed. He says you're free. You are not a hostage to your unhealthy thoughts. The weapons you fight with are not the weapons of this world. They have power to demolish strongholds. You have the mind of Christ directing your thoughts. You have the word of God directing your steps.
Worry is not your master. You trusting God. His peace guards your heart, guards your mind and guards your soul, in Christ Jesus. Your God has not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. The Lord is your helper. You will not be afraid. You are not as slave to your habits. You are not a prisoner to your past. You have been rescued by the power of darkness and into the kingdom of God's light. Your God will bless you abundantly so that in all things, at all times, you have everything you need to do everything that God has called you to do. This is truth, it will set you free. Nothing will separate you from the love of God. Not death, not demons, not the present, not the past. No power on earth can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Why does it matter? Most of life's battles, they're won or lost in the mind. The good news is, the battle rages, but you have won the war. The battle rages, but you have won the war. Come on, get ready to sing, the battle rages, but you have won the war.