Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Win the Battle in My Head

Mike Novotny - Win the Battle in My Head

Mike Novotny - Win the Battle in My Head
TOPICS: What Was I Thinking?, Thoughts

Do you ever have any untrue, difficult, maybe even toxic thoughts that you don't just think, you know, on occasion or once a year but the thoughts that kind of come back to your brain day after day, week after week, season after season? I do. Have I ever told you that more than half of Sundays, it's probably 75% of Sundays that I'm up here, there's a thought, really aggressive thought, that almost consumes half of my brain space while I'm preaching? I don't know if it's a personality thing, but I just want everything to be like, so good and perfect that this thought messes with me. And I don't know if it's a physical thing that, you know, preaching and pastoring on a Sunday is a lot of work. It's exhausting. Keeping up with everyone, talking to everyone, it's a physical reaction, adrenaline crash.

I don't know if it's a spiritual thing that the enemy just knows where I'm weak and so he just constantly assaults me with the same tactic. But 75% of Sundays, this thought runs through my head constantly, "Mike, you suck". I'm not sharing that with you today just so you can be really gentle with me after the service. I was worried like after church, it'll be like, "Pastor Mike is so..." Like that's not going to help. I'm sharing that with you today because I have a hunch that you have a thought like that too. It might not be the accusing thought, "You suck. You're terrible. You should quit". But I bet there's a thought that's not true. A thought that's like toxic to your soul. A thought that you would never agree with if it was written on paper but somehow and in some way, it just ends up in your head and it just comes back and back and back and back and back.

And it just messes with the life that God wants you to have, the peace in his presence, the joy of being connected to Jesus. If I gave you a second, could you think of an untrue thought that pops up in your head way too often? I'm not sure what thoughts popped into your head if any, but I was trying to brainstorm maybe some of the top lies that people in our church believe. Here's five that I came up with if you're following along. Here's the lie of anxiety, "The worst will happen". Alright. If anything goes even a little bit wrong or if I just think that it could go a little bit wrong, suddenly, I'm like tumbling down until I end up in the darkest valley and pit. Right? "I don't feel well all of a sudden. I'm probably sick. What if I get sick? What if I throw up? What if I can't sleep? What if I miss school the next day? And what if I get a bad grade in school? Well then, I'm not going to get a good grade, I won't get into college. If don't get into college, I, like, won't get a job. And if I won't get a job, I'll be living in a van down by the river. Oh, my goodness like..." Right?

It goes so so fast. "Well, what if it's Covid? And I could get Covid. I could give someone else Covid and then they could die, and their death will my fault and I'll stand by their fresh grave and think, 'I did this.'" Right? Like if you ever loved an anxious person, if you are an anxious person, sometimes you think, "Woah, woah, like where did that come from"? But it's a thought that you just think. Or how about this one? Where are the responsible, hardworking, to do list kind of people in church today? A bunch of you. Yeah. Have you ever battled this lie? "I have to. I have to do more". Not "If I can get to it". Not "If God gives me time". Not "If there's bandwidth". "I have to. I need to. I got to. Why are you people in my home sitting down? There's so much to do. Like we can't rest. We can't rejoice. We can't relax. There's another thing to do, another box to check".

And just this beast of obligation sits on your shoulders, and you can rarely rest, and you're always stressed, and people walk on eggshells because you believe this lie. Not "You suck" but "You have to". How about this one? "I'll never forgive myself. Like, I know the pastors in church, they say, 'Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of all of your sins,' but after what I did, how can you choose an abortion and then smile afterwards like you're completely forgiven? How can you look at something on the internet or cross a physical line and be unfaithful in your... How can you cause damage, so much damage to a marriage or to a family and look in the mirror and forgive yourself"? It's different sins for different people but just this thought that, "Yeah, Jesus might have died for other people but not me. And God's face might be shining upon other people but not upon me. I can't forgive myself". Or the cousin of that lie, "I will never forgive them". Right, "I might be bitter. I might be mad but after what they did, after how much they made me hurt, I can't and I won't". Or how about this lie?

Number four. "If it's not perfect, it's pathetic". You don't have to raise your hand. Any perfectionists in the room? Were you ever the kid who brought home a report card with all As and there was the one B+? And mom or dad says, "Wow, you did a great job". "It's not perfect, it's pathetic". You could play a song on the piano, you miss one note, and what do you think about on the car ride home? You could be playing sports, and you have a great game, and dad is so proud of you, but you missed the one shot and you're so convinced that everyone is judging, and condemning, and thinking about the thing you messed up. Because good isn't good enough. If it's not perfect, it's pathetic. And so, you become the critic of other people, the critic of yourself. The thought gets stuck in your head.

Or how about this last one? "I can't. I can't do this. I can't get through this. I've been in pain, just chronically sick for so long. I can't. I can't get through this divorce. I miss him so much. I just can't go another day. I can't battle it. I can't do this". Right? And God says, "Yeah, I'm going to help you. I'll be with you. I'll give you strength". But this lie just loops in your head and it just robs you of hope and plans for the future. You just think, "I can't". Woo. And if we had more time, we could put a whole bunch of other thoughts on that list, right? "I don't belong in church. I never belong. I don't need spiritual accountability. I'll just be spiritual, but not religious. Or because I sinned that must not mean I'm a saint in the eyes of God".

There's constant lies but here's what they all have in common. They're not easy to shake. It's different from person to person but all of us have that one thought that's not true. It's not noble, it's not good, and it does not come from this book and yet, even if you're the pastor, you just believe it, and you believe it, and you believe it, and it comes back and it comes back and it comes back, and it comes back. It is so hard not to think a different thought but I'm going ask you today, can you imagine how good life would be if we could? Like if there was some way to change that looping script and you and I could literally think again, can you imagine the blessings that would come on the other side of that? Like if I was up here preaching on a Sunday and instead of thinking, "You suck. You suck. You suck".

What if I started thinking, "Mike, okay, this isn't the best sermon ever. Yep, not everyone came to fill the church but right now, you are talking about Jesus and these people are paying you. I mean, these people like they go through all these ups and downs, and they come back and so that you can tell them about God, and about grace, and about hope, and about Heaven, and about eternal life. And you're not doing this on the side, this is your full-time job. What a sweet gig it is to preach..." What if I thought that when I was up here? What if I drove home and the sermon was mediocre, average but I just thought, "But God, you used mediocre people to amazing things. It's not about me. It's about the power". I mean, how different would my Sunday be if I could think again?

Well, today, I have some really good news and some really sobering news. Here's the really good news. We can. According to the Bible, thoughts can change. Even stubborn thoughts. Even thoughts that you and I have been thinking for a long time. God has the ability and the strength to renew our minds. That is the incredible promise of the Bible I'm going to share with you today. But here's the sobering news, it will not be easy. Alright? You don't go up to a stubborn lie and say, "Excuse me, would you please just..." Now, we're about to see in the Bible that this will be a battle inside of our brain. This will be a war over what words we allow to live inside of our heads. If you've ever been in a combat zone before, you know that when life and death is at stake, people fight to the death, and these lies in your head will do the exact same thing.

So, if you came for a church service today in a cushy little chair, sipping your nice coffee, wearing your nice pants to church, like, "Oh, is that what's up"? No, this isn't that service. This is the service where, like, the eye black is going on, the fatigues are being put on, the combat boots are laced up because we are about to go to war and take back our mind from those lies that have lived there for far too long. So, if you're ready to fight, today God is going to give us an amazing promise of how he wants to help. He's a good father. He loves truth, and he hates it when his sons and daughters give in to lies. So, today, I'm going to share you from the book of 2 Corinthians. Just this classic, classic passage about what to do when you get stuck in your own head. But before we get there, really quickly, I need to give you the backstory.

So, I'm about to open my Bible to a passage from 2 Corinthians 10 where the Apostle Paul talks about how to handle false thoughts. But you need to know the context of that passage, so here it goes. Quick show of hands, how many of you have heard of the Apostle Paul before? Yeah, once a really famous Christian, we name churches after him today like St. Paul's. He lived, like, the mid first century, and Paul's passion was, essentially, to go from big city to big city and start Christian communities. And so, about the mid first century, the Apostle Paul, he was traveling through Greece, and he came to this big city, about a quarter million people called Corinth. And there, Paul started a church. For a year and a half, the Bible says, Paul preached the gospel, he grew this church, he came to love these dear brothers and sisters who left the idolatry and pagan practices of Greek religion and came to trust in Jesus.

Eighteen months comes and goes, Paul thinks the church is set, and he moves on to start a different church. But if you read the Bible before, you know that things get pretty messy pretty fast in Corinth. Alright, some members are visiting prostitutes, other members think they're better than other people. He has to write that famous chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, "No, love is patient, love is kind, you have to love each other". So, he writes this really bold letter, even though he's far away, that we call 1 Corinthians. He, like, gives it to them straight, he gives them grace, he gives them truth, he tries to correct the church. They receive the letter, they take it to heart, but soon after 1 Corinthians is written, they show up. A group of guys who went by the name, get this, "The super apostles".

Did you know that's in the Bible? These guys show up, and they say, "Oh, the Apostle Paul? Pfft. We're the super apostles". And essentially, the super apostles wanted to win over the leadership and the hearts of the Corinthian church. They kind of wanted the vote of the Corinthians. And so, just like modern politicians run attack ads against their opponents, the super apostles planted these aggressive thoughts in the Corinthian's heads about the Apostle Paul.

So, there's the backstory. Let's grab a Bible. Let's open up to 2 Corinthians 10, and let's read what the apostle Paul says. "By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you. I, Paul, who am timid when face to face with you, but bold towards you in a way, I beg you that when I come, I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think", circle that word, "Some people think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does". "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments, and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".

About a decade ago, I got to visit the Greek city of Corinth where Paul started this church, and I want to show you two pictures, alright. Here's the first picture. This is me standing in, like, the ancient marketplace, kind of courtroom of Corinth. And you kind of see way in the background of this picture, there's this massive, towering rock. You see that? Two thousand years ago, that was where the stronghold of Corinth was. Like, if things got dicey, and the Corinthians were under attack, that was the safest place they could be. Or if by chance they took a captive that they didn't want to be, like, sprung out from prison, they would take that captive inside of the stronghold. So, if you wanted to get that captive back, could you imagine that work? I mean, trying to get up a rock, trying to fight, and actually, when you got to the top of that rock, it got even harder?

Let me show you the second picture. Because on the top of the stronghold there were these massive, towering walls, thick, brick, and stone. Imagine if someone you cared about was being held captive inside of the stronghold, what kind of weapon would you need to get them out? And that's exactly what Paul's saying in this verse. Did you catch these words? "The weapons I fight with," Paul says, "The Bible, the truth of God, has divine power to demolish strongholds". Like, my brain is arguing with me, he says, "We demolish arguments". Like, these lies that you and I believe, "I can't. I'll never be good enough. I'm not going to get through this. You're terrible. You don't belong". Like, they are strongly held in our heads, but the word of God has such power. It is the wrecking ball that smashes through the walls so we can take that thought captive and change the narrative and script in our heads.

My friends, this is why I love sharing this book. I mean, if this was just some thoughts from Pastor Mike, you should just sleep in, right? If this was just opinions, and we're just kind of sharing our religious experiences, and, "What do you think"? "Well, here's what I think". Don't waste your time. But if we have this book... I mean, this book doesn't come with a warning piece of tape on the front, but it should. "Divine power. Explosive power". The Bible says things like, "This is full of the Holy Spirit, and full of life". "The word of God," one Bible passage says, "Is living. It's active. It's sharper than any double-edged sword". It actually... have you ever been in church, and we're just, like, reading a passage, and it like... it cuts you? Convicts you? You feel, like, "Oh, man, I have to change that".

That's God's powerful word working on your heart. You ever had a terrible day and we're reading something from the Bible and it just lifts you up? Forgives you? Comforts you? That's the power of this book. Like, when I open these pages, I know there's no soundtrack, but maybe we should have the people from the sound booth go every time Like, light, and life and, and power and ability that you and I simply do not have in our own heads that can change what's happening in our own heads. Try to fight your bad thoughts with your own thoughts, and you'll be impotent. Fight your worst thoughts with God's thoughts, and something amazing might happen. Or maybe I could picture it a different way. Let's imagine that this little Lego Square is your head, right. Here's your head space. Let's imagine for a second that this is like a stronghold where, like, that lie is kept.

And finally, let's imagine that this is you. And so, you're sick of that lie. You're sick of these thoughts, but what are you going to do? Hey, oh, I have a yellow belt. Like, this is just, it's bigger than you. It's stronger than you. You can kick it as much as you want and hammer it on your fist. Like, it's just not going to work. But what if you had help? What if you had this? Oh, scratch that. What if you had this? I found the giantest holy Bible that I could at our church. This thing is massive. I almost threw my back out picking this up the other day. Imagine if you had... all right. Imagine if you had a weapon with divine power in your hands. What would happen to that stronghold? Ooh, do you remember the verb from today's text? Demolish. It has divine power to demolish strongholds. So, I need you to picture right now that lie, "Mike, you suck". "Nope, you can't". "Uh uh, you're not going to get through this". "You're not going to do it". "You don't belong here".

What would happen? Ready for the count of three? 1, 2, 3, Ahhhh! Let's go. Yes! Woo. This is what happens every time that you open your Bible in your bed. Like, God, it's not this dramatic, right, but God is demolishing strongholds. He is taking his truth. He's fighting back because he loves you so, so dearly. So, let me ask you, what would that look like? Or unless you want to buy a giant Bible and build something like this tomorrow. Like, what does this look like to actually do? I'll tell you what it looks like. It means finding a truth to demolish your lie and making sure you see it as much as you can, right? This is your homework for today. I need you to write down like, what that lie is. "I can't. I'm not forgiven. I won't get through this. If it's not perfect, it's pathetic. You're the worst, you're terrible, you're worthless".

I need you to write that down. Then I need you to find a Bible passage to demolish it, to expose it, to correct you, to get you back to the place where God wants you to be. This is super easy. Just Google it, the blessing of the internet, Bible passage about anxiety, self-worth, grief, worry, fear, pain. You'll have lots of options. I need you to write that down. I need you to put it somewhere where you are going to see it for the next 90 days. I decided the other day that Sunday is too good to be sad. Church is too amazing. This church is too amazing. This ministry and you as people are too amazing for me to spend half of my Sunday pouting and hanging my head.

So, I'm fighting back, and I brought the proof. The other day, right here, on the podium where I preach, I put my sword. Seven Bible passages that remind me that even if I'm weak, even if I'm not great, God's word works. And so, before church starts, I read these passages. And while I'm preaching to you, I glance at these passages. And after you're gone, before I get into my car, I read these passages. Things like this, "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power". Or 2 Corinthians 12, "My grace is sufficient for you," God says. "My power is made perfect in weakness". Or Romans 10, "Faith comes from hearing the message".

Not from the most amazing messenger. Faith comes, faith is strengthened from just hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Or how about this? Isaiah 55, "So is my word," God says, "that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it". "You, Mike, you will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace, because God's word always, always, always works". So, I'm ready to fight. I'm going to war with my thoughts this week. Are you going to fight with me? Alright, let's pray:

Dear God, thank you so much for truth. Thank you so much that you don't just make us fight these battles alone. The best news in the universe is that Jesus fought for us. He crushed the devil's head. And the only reason the father of lies is working so hard on our hearts is because he knows that his clock is ticking. He knows that the moment is about to come for your entire church, for all of us who trust in Jesus that we will never struggle with false thoughts, half-truths, fake news or flat out lies. I thank you, God that the final victory is secure in your son. And I'm also grateful God, that we don't have to fight alone. So grateful that we have brothers and sisters here to encourage us, and correct us, pray for us and walk with us. And I'm even more grateful for your Spirit, who speaks so clearly through your word. I pray God, that we would be the kind of Christians who put on the full armor of God. Who tie the belt of truth around our waist and put the helmet of salvation on our heads so that we can fight today for what's good, and noble, and true, so that we as your sons and daughters can think again. God, help us as we fight. Give us supernatural strength. And may your word do exactly what you said today, may it demolish ugly thoughts and arguments so that we take all of our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Jesus. We pray this all in his beautiful, powerful, wonderful name. And all God's people said, amen.

Are you Human?:*