Craig Groeschel - Write Your Own Headlines
Today, I have a very special message for you, and I wanna start by building a foundation from God's Word in Colossians chapter 3, are you ready? If you're ready, say, "I'm ready". Ready. Colossians 3:1-3, the apostle Paul said this, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ," this is for those of you who are new in Christ, he says, "set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God". I like this, and this is a key portion of the text, "Set your minds," everybody say, "Set your mind". Set your mind. Type it in the chat, "My mind is set", type it in the chat, "My mind is set". "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things". Set your minds on things that last, on things that are eternal, on things that matter to God, instead of on things that are temporary, on things that do not last. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things, for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God".
What I wanna do today is I wanna share with you a very powerful tool that Amy and I have been using in our life that's helped us to grow closer to God, and to build our faith. In the very crazy, very challenging, very painful world that we live in, there's so much fear, so much anxiety, so much tension. I wanna share with you a tool that I believe can really build your faith, and I wanna show you how to apply it, and invite you to do the same. Who knows, God might use this tool to transform your faith, and build your intimacy with God. And this tool has to do with headlines. How many of you would agree that over the past 18 or 20 months, it almost seems like our world has been dominated by fearful headlines. It goes back to around February or March of 2020, and you can kinda remember this mysterious new disease, this virus called coronavirus. Remember when it was only coronavirus, and we made fun of it, like it was beer, and asked people, "Do you have the 'rona"? And then it became COVID-19, and it was no longer intriguing or funny, it was scary, because it was spreading all over the world, and people were dying, and jobs were vanishing, and businesses were shutting down, and we were told to stay at home.
And there was the ever troubled global shortage of toilet paper. You remember 'em? And just when those headlines were rocking our world, it seemed like things even went up a notch, where we were dealing with all of the racial tension, and all of the political division. And after months and months of painful and negative headlines, it seemed like we almost got a break, when some of the headlines started to say, "COVID is leaving". And then like 30 minutes later, "COVID is back again". And there are so many headlines that feels so negative, and it makes everything in life often feel like it's negative. But that's why I wanna bring to you a tool that I believe that can change your perspective.
Now, as we talk about headlines, how many of you realize that not all headlines are true. Have you figured that out yet? I don't even wanna get started on that, but not all headlines are true. In fact, there are some famous headlines that were incredibly inaccurate, and I'll share just a few of those with you to give you perspective. Not all headlines are true. You may remember, you probably weren't alive, but there is a famous headline that said, "Titanic sinking, no lives lost". We only wish that that were true, but it's not. There was another headline that said this, "Dewey defeats Truman". Now, some of you who are younger are gonna say, "Well, who was Dewey"? And the reason you asked that question is because Dewey did not defeat Truman. There's this headline that says, "Babies will disappear in the next hundred years, except imported ones". "Sociologists predict time when childbearing will be unfashionable". To be honest with you, Amy and I never read that article, six kids later.
All the headlines you read, we have to understand, they are not all true. Not only are they not all true, but some of them, they're actually funny. In fact, I found some funny headlines that happened. This one, to me, was really funny. Actual headline, "Hospitals resort to hiring doctors". Like, has it come to that already? Has it come to that? I can't believe we're there. This one, to me, was funny. It's actually in Oklahoma City, "Rally against apathy draws small crowd". I can relate to that. To me, perhaps the funniest one, and this was a true headline, "Woman accidentally joins search party looking for herself". You can't make this stuff up. Not only are the headlines not necessarily accurate, but some of them are funny as well.
And what I wanna do today is give you a tool. And I wanna teach you to write your own headlines. I wanna teach you, with the help of God, to write your own headlines. Why is this so important? If you're taking notes, you may jot this down, because you can't always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective. The reality is there's a lot of hard stuff going on in world, and probably in your life. And you can't change everything about what's going on in the world, but the good news is with God's help, you can change your perspective. In fact, we see examples of this throughout Scripture, where if you read into it with some creativity, you can almost visualize some of the headlines that some of God's people would have written throughout the Bible. You see all sorts of examples of this, like when Moses sent some men out to survey the land of Canaan, he wanted them to find out what's the soil like? What are the conditions like? What are the people there like? Are there a lot of them, or there a few of them? Are they strong or are they weak?
And two different groups of people went out, and they came back and basically brought back two completely different sets of headlines. The exact same situation, and two entirely different perspectives. One of them was Joshua and Caleb, who went out with a very positive perspective, and came back and said, "Our headline is this, God is with us, and the land of milk and honey is rich with blessings for all". Same situation, two entirely different perspectives, because there was another group of spies that went out and saw the exact same thing. But according to Scripture, when they came back, they said this, "Not only were there giants in the lands," but they said in Numbers 13:32, they said, "The land we explored devours those living in it". The land eats people. And their headline would've been this, "Danger lurks, the land devours the living". Same exact situation, two entirely different reports. You can't always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective.
To me, perhaps the most emotional one is the apostle Paul. And if you know his story, he was gloriously transformed by the grace of Jesus, from a Christian hater, to a Christ proclaimer. And he just knew if he could ever get to Rome to preach the gospel, this would be the most strategic city, that if he could transform these leaders, the gospel could spread all over the world. So he's begging God, "I wanna go to Rome to preach, I wanna go to Rome to preach," and unfortunately he didn't get to go to Rome to preach. Instead, the Roman government arrested him, beat him senseless, took him forcefully to Rome, locked him up, chained up to a guard, and we're deciding whether or not to behead him. This is as bad as it gets. "I wanna go to Rome, I wanna preach," and then he's wrongly imprisoned, beaten, and now is potentially waiting his own execution. Can you imagine if there were media then, what the possibility of the different headlines would be?
I just thought about it based on, I read a lot of news over and over again everyday, several news sources, and so I see a lot of headlines. I came up with some very real potential headlines that you could read about. One would be this, "Apostle Paul awaits likely execution. Christianity is doomed". Can you see it? That's the type of headline that would be there. There would be another version, who would say this, "Apostle Paul wrongly imprisoned, sues Roman government for tens of millions of dollars". Right? Some of you read that news source, okay. There would be the opinion column, and someone would write an opinion, "Seven reasons why Christianity will die by the end of the 1st century". Then someone would do a podcast, and the podcast would be called, "The rise and fall of the apostle Paul". Some of you know that that's a very close to an actual podcast today. The good news is this, that if you're a follower of Christ, your life is not defined by somebody else's headline. That's right, come on.
Let me say it again, 'cause somebody is going to get a revelation pretty soon. You may not be able to change what you're facing, but you can change how you look at what you're facing. Your life, your ministry, your family, your marriage, your family, your children, your health is not determined by somebody else's headlines. When we get a revelation of this, we don't set our mind on earthly things, but we set our mind on things above. We're not conformed to the patterns of this world, but we're being transformed by the renewing of our minds, so we can test and approve what the will of God is for our life, his good, his pleasing, and his perfect will. In fact, somebody should write a book on this. In fact, I don't know if you've read the book, "Winning the War in Your Mind", little shameless plug. But in the book, "Winning the War in Your Mind," I talked a lot about cognitive reframing, an incredible tool that a good counselor will use, but I believe that God can use, and even a more powerful way.
What is cognitive reframing? Cognitive reframing is simply shifting your mindset to look at a situation or a relationship from a positive perspective. It's a shift in your mindset. It's not thinking on what's impure, but thinking on what is pure. It's not looking for what's wrong, but it's looking for what's right. It's not being upset about what you don't have, but it's being thankful for what you do have, because you may not be able to change what's happening to you, but you can change your perspective. And a good counselor will help you do this. My performance psychologist has worked with me on this, and I've worked really, really hard on it. And a good counselor will say, "Hey, something bad may have happened, but you can determine the meaning. You can bring purpose even out of something that's bad". But let's take it to another level. Who's ready for another level? Instead of just saying, "You decide the meaning," we can, with God's help, let God help us determine the meaning. Not only for us to interpret, but when we serve a God who is so powerful that he can work in all things, everything, not just the good things, but the bad things, to bring about something good, according to his purposes, you can let God determine the meaning of whatever you're facing at this moment.
And that's exactly what the apostle Paul did. He didn't buy into the negative headlines. He's facing one of the most horrible situations you can imagine. He is locked up, chained to a Roman guard, waiting on the government to decide, do we cut his head off? And with the help of the Holy Spirit, he changed the headlines. This is what he said, basically, Philippians 1:12-14, here's my headlines, he said, "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what's happened to me," you may think it's bad, it may look bad, it may not look positive, I may look like I'm in trouble, but what's happened to me, "has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result of this," in other words, I'm locked up to this guy, and I'm preaching to him every single day. And my faith is building the faith of others. "As a result," he says, "it's become clear through the whole palace guard, and to everyone else, I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident of the Lord, and their confidence, they've done more to proclaim the gospel without fear".
Paul doesn't buy into the negative headlines. He writes his own headlines. And if Paul was writing a headline, he might say this, "Roman plan backfires, apostle Paul preaches to a captive audience". How good is that? How good is that? How good is that? "Hey, they just thought I was their prisoner, but they're locked up to me, hearing my best 14 sermons, for eight hours a day. I'm preaching to a captive audience". Paul didn't buy into the negative headlines, but in a very real sense, he wrote his own. And you can do the very same thing, no matter what you're facing, no matter what fear and anxiety feels like it's gonna overcome you. You can't control your circumstances, but you can change your perspective.
In fact, I heard a very powerful story about a man who felt like he was at the end. I wonder if I'm talking to anyone today, who you feel like you don't have any hope at all? And that's where this guy was when he picked up his phone, texted his pastor and said, "I'm about to give up. Could you meet with me, because I need some help". And the guy sat down with his pastor, and his pastor had a good relationship with this man. And the man said, "My marriage is falling apart, and I don't know what to do about it. And my finances are a wreck. I don't know if we're gonna be able to keep our home. We might lose it. And in all that I'm going through, I'm starting to doubt God. I'm losing my faith, I don't know how to talk to God. I haven't seen God, I'm in big trouble. My marriage is in trouble. My finances are in trouble, and I'm losing my faith".
And the pastor looked on at his good friend, and he said, "So, let me see if I understand this, 'cause it sounds like you're going through a lot". He said, "So, your wife divorced you, and she's not speaking to you"? The guys said, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, we're still married, but we're really struggling". The pastor said, "Oh, okay," so he wrote that down. And then he said, "So, if I'm hearing you right, you've lost your job, and you're completely unable to work"? The guy said, "No, no, no, I'm still employed. I'm able to work, but things are just really, really tight right now". And the pastor said, "Oh, okay," and so he wrote that down. And then he said, "And so you've lost all your faith in God? You don't believe there is a God, there's no sense of God. You don't think God is real"? The guy said, "No, no, no, I still believe in God, I just haven't sensed him in a long time". And the pastor looked on, and he smiled, and he said, "Because we're good friends, I hope you see what I'm doing. And I don't wanna belittle the challenges that you're facing, because you have some real challenges. But from where I'm sitting, I see some real opportunities. I see a marriage that still has potential. And I see a man who still has a job. And I see a Christian who still has a God".
And so you can buy into the devil's headlines, which is there's no hope for you, and you'll never get through this, and you'll never heal, and you'll never have a good relationship, and you'll always be alone, and you'll always struggle financially, and you'll never be close to God. Or, you can change your perspective and say, "My God is always with me. My God is always for me. Even though I don't like what I see, I know my God is working in me". Because since you've been raised with Christ, what you do is you set your mind on things above, not things below. We think on things that are excellent, and pure, and praiseworthy before God. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna let God help write your headlines.
And this is what we've been doing, because to be honest, and this isn't new, I told you, the last 18 or 20 months, I've had some, ah, well, I'll say some mediums, and some downs. And I've had some really low times. And so I've worked really, really hard to let God renew my mind, and practice some different rhythms, and to lead out of health and rest, instead of out of exhaustion and my flesh. And so I've been working on this. And this is one of the tools that Amy and I have been using. We write our own headlines. We're looking for the good things. Amy is annoyingly great at this. Do any of you have someone in your life, that they're so great at something that it's annoying? I married that person, okay, she's so good at it. And one of the things she did, we were driving, we've driven for years and years, sometimes we fly, but most of the times we've driven from Oklahoma to our favorite place in Colorado. And little shout out to all of our Life.Church Kansas locations. We love you, give 'em some love. But when I turn left, and go west, through Western Kansas, it's not my favorite stretch.
And we were on this like 47-hour drive through Western Kansas one time, when I said to Amy, "Like, this is such a long stretch". And she looked at me so confused. She said, "This is beautiful". "Like this is nothing but highway". And she said, "No," she said, "there's actually flowers everywhere". Wow. Now, there may not have been as many as the picture behind me. But admittedly, when I looked off to the side of the road, for the last hundred miles, I never saw a single one. And there might've been millions and millions of yellow wildflowers along this drive. And Amy looked at me and she said, "There's always flowers, if you look for them". What's your headline, "Long, boring drive"? Or, "Beautiful flowers on the side of the road". Now, I know what some of you are thinking, because I read your comments when you are critical of me. You're thinking, "Good for you there, little pastor, with your perfect pastor's wife, and little flowers, going on your little vacation. I got real challenges where I live".
And so do we, so do we. It was recently where it looked like my dad was not going to make it. And my dad is older, and everybody goes at some point, but I was shocked at how hard I was taking the news. If you've ever heard me talk about my dad, both my mom and my dad are amazing, with different qualities. My dad, he's like so optimistic, it's crazy. Like, I wish I had 1/10 of his optimism and faith. He was a pro baseball player, he played semi-pro baseball. And so, he can't talk without using baseball metaphors. So he'll say my sermon, "That was a grand slam. It's still sailing". When he said, when you're gonna pitch, "Hey, keep it low and inside, don't let the devil hit your ball". You know, all this kind of stuff, and that's what he does. And so he was looking bad. We didn't think he was gonna live long. And he said, "Oh no," he goes, "no". He goes, "I got three more innings in me. I got three more innings in me". He goes, "Hey, when I go down, you need to know I'm going head first into the bag". You know, "I'm not taking strike three". And he'd give me all these things.
Well, he went downhill, downhill, downhill, and he could barely speak. And so we knew this was very likely the end. And it just hit me hard, not because of lack of faith, but just because of like the legacy, mom and dad and family, and it hit me hard. And I was having a hard time just holding it together. And Amy said, "What's your headline? What's your headline"? And I thought about it, if you knew where my dad was then, and saw who he is now, it's a real story of the grace and the power of Jesus. And so my headline was this, "Dad, who is likely dying soon, man transformed by Jesus prepares for heavenly reward". It's my headline. It doesn't change what was, but it changes your perspective on it. The good news is after grueling treatment, he just got a very positive report. And so his headline is, "Old ballplayer's got extra innings". That's his headline.
I don't know who this is for, but because you're in Christ, we don't set our mind on earthly things. We set our minds on things above. We look for the good, we look for God. We don't think about what we don't have. We look for what God has given us. We don't complain about what's bad or wrong in the world, we look for the work of God in this world, and we join it. I would even say we're not picking everybody apart, saying where they're wrong, where they're wrong. But instead, we're looking for opportunities to love people, looking for opportunities to share the grace of Jesus. Instead of saying, "They're wrong, and they're annoying," they're just a candidate for a lot of love. And we change our. Some of you, you got some real candidates for a lot of love, and they need, guess what, they need a lot of love. You can't always change your circumstances. You can't always change the diagnosis. You can't always fix a relationship on your own. You can't always get a child to come back to Jesus. You can't always rebuild your faith in a moment, after you've been let down. You can't always heal from a hurt or a betrayal in three seconds. But what I promise you, with eyes to see, you can find flowers, if you look for them.
So here's what's gonna happen, today, tomorrow, this week, you can open up a news app. And I hope you do, I hope you stay informed. You can turn on whatever your favorite biased news source is. You can read the video of the latest conspiracy theory, that your best friend that's informed sent you. Everybody else is idiots, but your friend's informed. And you may not be able to change what's going on out there, but God can change what's going on in here. And instead of being postured from a place of fear and anxiety, you can step in with faith, knowing that you're a light in this world, that you've been called by God to make a difference. And you can start to call things that are not, as though they were. You can have faith to write your own headlines.
So I don't know what your headline would be, but like, honestly, I hope there's some of you like three years from now, you're writing your own headlines. You're letting God renew your mind. You're not just defining a situation, but you're letting God help bring meaning on the situation. So I created a few headlines for you, just to give you an idea of how you might see whatever you're facing with the help of God. These probably won't be yours exactly, but this is a tool that God can use, because you can't always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective. I believe there will be somebody who will have this headline, "Teen asks for help to escape addiction". That very thing that's held you hostage for so long, that thing that makes you feel shame, the thing you're afraid to tell anyone, the thing that you try to get over, and it comes back, and it comes back, it comes back again. But you finally ask for help, you confess to God, you confess for people. And the headline says, "The healing process begins". That's your headline. That's your headline.
There might be someone here, your headline is, "Hurting woman cries out to God". You've been betrayed, you've been let down, and your heart aches, but instead of staying inward, you look upward, and your headline says, "Finally finds freedom in forgiveness," because he who the Son, Jesus, sets free, oh, come on. You are free indeed. Hey, there's somebody, you've been sitting on the sidelines for a long time. You're just kinda coming to church, but you're not yet the church. And your headline is gonna say this, "Church member says, 'Yes,' to serving. Plans to change others' lives, ends up changing her own". You have no idea what you're getting yourself into, when you thought you were a blessing somebody else, oh you were, but you got even more blessed in the middle of it. And then there may be somebody, and I don't know who it is, but I guarantee you this one will be true. It starts off sad, but with the help of God, it could turn a good.
"LifeGroup member diagnosed with cancer. Close friends trust God for a miracle". We stay together, because when you're in a LifeGroup, you're never alone. You've got the presence of God, and you've got the presence of other people. And you've got the power of God working through community. What challenge are you facing? What pain are you enduring? What question can you not seem to find an answer for? Where's the hurt that no one knows about? Where's the wound that's been there for years? I promise you, you can't always change that, but you can change what God does in that, and through that. You can write your own headlines.
The devil doesn't define what happens in your life, the media, and God bless them, and God help them to do an important job, they don't define your life. What happens in a government doesn't define your life. What happens in your job doesn't define your life. Whatever somebody did to you doesn't define your life. Where you are today does not determine where you can be tomorrow. You can't always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective. And so, it was the apostle Paul who said this, and I love this, you can see him acknowledging what's real, but he brings his own headlines. He brings God's perspective in the middle of the trials. And he says this, "We're hard pressed on every side, it's so hard you wouldn't believe, they're coming at us, and they're coming for us. But though we're hard pressed, my headline says, 'We're not crushed.' We may be perplexed, but we are not in despair. We are persecuted, but we're not abandoned. We're struck down," and you may feel struck down right now, but you're still here, you are not destroyed. If you're not dead, you're not done.
"Therefore, because Christ is risen, we do not lose heart, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all". So what do we do? We don't fix our thoughts below, we fix them above. "We fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". So what are you facing? Set your mind on things above. Fix your eyes on what is unseen. There's always flowers for those who look for them. And no matter what you're facing, with the power of God, with the love of God, and the presence of God, though, you may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change your perspective. And this is a word for somebody, I don't know who, but let God deposit it into your heart, and let him change your faith. Let him change your perspective, and it could change your life.
So Father, we ask in the name of your risen Son, Jesus, that your Holy Spirit would do what only you can do, change some perspectives today.
Wherever you're watching, you're watching YouTube, you're watching Church Online, you're watching at a Life.Church location, those of you facing something difficult right now, that you wish you can change, you wish you could change, but you probably can't change it, and you need God's help to change your perspective, you want God's help to see with faith, would you lift up your hands right now? Just all over the place, lift it up. Those of you online, you can just type that in the chat, "I want God's help to change my perspective. God, help me change my perspective".
Father, I pray in the middle of real trials, and significant pain, God, for those who are battling with anxiety, or depression, or suicidal thoughts, or dealing with incredibly difficult people, or afraid for a job situation, trying to hang in there financially, whatever it is, God, I pray, God, that we would not only define the meaning of that, but we would let you help define the meaning, that we'd see you in it. That even in our trials, God, you would teach us to depend on you. And when we're weak, or we're broken, God, may your power, your presence, your strength be enough. God, we may be crushed, we may be perplexed, we may be struck down, but we thank you, we're not in despair. We're never without you. God, may we hang on to you, renew our minds, help us to set our minds on truth, and let you define our lives. We trust in you, we seek you, God.
As you keep praying today, wherever you are, if you had headlines right now, your headlines, if someone else were defining 'em, might be, "Guy does a stupid thing". "Woman finds herself in bad situation". "Teenager wakes up far from God". "Man feels guilty for hurting wife". "Person feels like a failure financially". Whatever your negative headline might be, I believe that in the presence of God, he could change it in a moment. "Person finds forgiveness from God". "Person born into the family of God". "Teenagers set free by Jesus". "Couple finds new hope in Christ". Let God change your headline. For those of you that don't know where you stand with God, maybe you feel far from God, maybe you feel incredibly ashamed of something that you did wrong. Maybe your sins caught up with you.
Maybe you were a church person, but you feel far from God. Maybe you're not a church person at all, but you're watching this, and there's something drawing you toward God. Let me just, let me tell you what the headline is. Headline is, "God loves you". "God's reaching out to you". "God cares for you". "God has a word for you". "God wants you to know him". "God wants you to surrender to him". "Jesus gives his life for you". "Who is Jesus? The Son of God, perfect in every way". "The innocent one, Jesus, gives us life for the guilty one, us". "Whoever calls on him will be saved". "Person transformed". "Marriage healed". "Life altered". Wherever you're watching, those of you, that you're not walking with God, the good news is you're not here, you're not watching by accident. By the goodness of God, he brought you to this moment. "Person changed by Jesus".
We have all sinned, we've all messed up. We've all fallen short. But the good news is, God didn't leave us dead in our sins, he sent Jesus, his Son, who was perfect in every way, gave his life to pay for our sins. And God raised him from the dead, so that anyone, and this includes you, no matter what you've done, no matter how dark your world feels, anyone who calls on that name of Jesus, you would be saved, you would be forgiven. Your headlines can be new today, by the grace of God. Wherever you're watching, those who say, "Yes, I need Jesus, I want his grace. I step away from my sin. Today, I give my life to him," that's your prayer, lift your hands high. Now, all over the place, say, "Yes". I lift them up right now, 'cause we have hands going up all over the place. Online, you just type it in the chat. Put it in the comment section, "I'm giving my life to Jesus right now". And what we're gonna do, wherever you are, is we're gonna pray right now, pray aloud.
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus, save me. Transform me. Make me brand new. Fill me with your Spirit. So I can know you. And follow you. Change my headlines. Change my life. So I can share your love. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.