Sermon Summary: How To Change Your Way of Thinking

Based on the book, “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel, Pastor Amy Miller teaches us that we must rewire our brains to renew our minds. Week 2 of the series, Winning the War in Your Mind, is all about how to change your way of thinking through the rewire principle. If we want to win the war in our minds, we have to be willing to rewire our thought patterns and rewire our brains. Join us as we learn how to change our ways of thinking and fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

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Sermon Transcript

So we are in the week two of Winning the War in Your Mind series based on the book by Pastor Craig Groeschel. And the premise is, that what we think determines who we are and who we become. And the last week, Pastor Michael gave us the first tool, Replacement Principle, Removing the lies, replace with truth. And powerfully, he reminded us that as we examine our thoughts, it reveals the battle that our minds are in. And if we change our thinking, it can change our lives.

Now, if you are a bit skeptical about this whole idea of winning the war in your mind, that’s okay, I get it because all of us have tried. Haven’t we? And we fail sometimes misery. We have tried to redirect our thinking. We’ve tried to stop some bad habit, redirect our runaway thoughts, the narratives, the stories that we tell ourselves, the running tapes in our heads, and it’s hard. But I’m here to remind you that you aren’t alone, that God wants to help you. Then in fact, He loves you so much and that he actually can help you. With God’s help, you can transform your thinking.

You can stop believing the lies that you’re thinking and that the enemy is reinforcing and begin hearing and believing who God says you are. You can allow God’s word, His unchanging truth to begin saturating your mind, and you can allow His thoughts to become your thoughts. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. That sound good? Let’s begin by praying. Jesus, truly we need you. And Lord, I pray that today as we open the word together, as we spend some time thinking about this, wanting our life to go in the direction of you, I pray Lord Jesus that your Holy Spirit would come. You’d be here with us in the room online. And you would teach us more about who you are. So do that. In your name. Amen.

So our lives, they’re always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts. What think will shape what we become. And if you don’t control what you think, you’ll never control what you do.

Philippians 4:8, “And now do your brothers and sisters, one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy the of praise.”

This is God’s heart for us. He knows and He understands the human struggle and He wants to meet us right where we are.

So today I’m giving you the second tool,

The Rewire Principle, Rewire your brain, renew your mind.

Now, for those of you that enjoy the study or science of your brain, this Principle is for you. In fact, if you’ll allow me, we’re going to nerd out a bit together today. Okay? Science plus the Bible working alongside together, always fascinating because after all, our God, Our creator, is really cool like that utilizing both because science is simply the study of God’s creation and we understand better how He made us, then we’re better equipped.

So we’re going to start by focusing on the wires in our brain that get crossed and the ruts that we get stuck in. Because again, if we want to win this war in our mind, we have to be willing to rewire our thoughts patterns, rewire our brains.

1. Recognizing the ruts

Okay. Think back with me when you were a kid and you first learned to ride a bike or learned how to swim or swing a bat or play a musical instrument, you were awkward at best. Typically, not skilled, and you endured many mistakes before mastering it, correct? But over time, as you put your mind to it, coordinating sensory inputs, using complex motor skills, repeating the steps over and over again at this activity required eventually you got it down. In fact, I still remember anybody else, how excited I was when I was learning how to ride my bike and I got my training wheels off? It was the best. And my family still recalls the years of me painfully learning how to play the violin. A lot less fun for them.

So here’s where the science gets fascinating. This repetition of every action, every thought needed to learn a new skill produces a neurochemical change in your mind. Your brain literally redesigns itself around that thought. Like a complex command center, your brain activates your body through neurons. And as these neurons link together to create messages, over time they create neural pathways.

And the presence now, if you stay with me, this is the science part, the presence of each neural pathway now makes it easier to think that thought or your body to do that action. And now each time it’s easier to send the message again the next time. Simply put, neural pathways are brain ruts. The more you do something, thinking a thought or doing an action, it’ll go from off awkward and difficult now to easy. In fact, as you’ve discovered with enough repetition, it’ll become automatic to fall into a neurological rut.

You don’t even have to think anymore about every single step in that process the way you did when you first started. You ever travel down the interstate and you hit those ruts that are worn into the road by thousands of cars right traveling down the same path. It’s like your car just drops into them, finds the groove, and just remains there. In fact, you literally could almost just take your hands off the wheel and your car would stay in the rut.

In Alaska, there are two seasons that the locals say winter and July. And when the snow melts in the summer, the dirt roads becomes so muddy, creating ruts that cars literally cannot get out of. In fact, there’s a sign along one Alaskan road that reads this, “Choose your rut carefully because you’re going to be in it for the next 60 miles.” We all know what feeling stuck in a rut in our minds is like, don’t we? It’s like we’re on that interstate or on that Alaskan highway in the middle of nowhere, and we might as well just give up and let go of the wheel because we are hopelessly entrenched.

And that’s what the neural pathways in our brain is like, ruts that are created by repetitive actions and thoughts over and over and over again, which is great for the positive things or the outcomes in our lives that we hope to have like mastering a skill or riding a bike, multitasking. But how about the not so positive brain ruts? Because the same new neural pathways that help you improve performance, are the same ones that are used to reinforce bad habits. It’s the reason that you and everyone else, including me, make irrational self-defeating decisions over and over again that often reduces us to a pile of habitual soul rubble. And you aren’t alone.

Okay. You want to nerd out just a little bit more with me? Okay, here we go. So in addition to these brain rets, I just learned about this this week, there’s also a little bundle of nerves at the base of our brain stem known as the RAA, which is the reticular activating system. Our brain ruts are carved deeper by the RAS sifting through millions of pieces of sensory data being sent to our brain and it begins to categorize them, grouping them together in relevance and similarity. So that we don’t overload or short circuit, the RAS filters out the unnecessary information, allowing only the important stuff to get through. In fact, this amaze me, it only keeps about 121 pieces of data at any one time. Where does the rest go? It’s scary.

It’s the brain system for filtering out all the data in your life, allowing you to focus on what’s important and eliminating the rest. So here’s what it does. If the information that it’s receiving keeps us alive, or prevents problems, averts danger, or brings us pleasure, the RAS is activated. A multi-tasking filtering and deleting system hardwired into your brain, it hears what’s really important to get. It connects the subconscious to our conscious brain. It utilizes our beliefs. Meaning that what we believe, what we think, what we focus on, RAS takes note and accentuates that rut in our brain.

It’s on high alert for us. It’s why when we focus on something, we become acutely aware. Like for example, when you buy a new car, have you noticed that you never noticed this before, but now you see all of your car on the road? You never saw it before, but now you do. Or when you’re in a crowded room and you can tune out everybody else’s voice, it’s loud, it’s crazy, but if someone says your name, you immediately hear it. That’s your brain sifting and filtering. Or as a new parent, how about this? You used to be able to sleep through anything, but now you wake up at the slightest movement or noise that your baby makes. This is the RAS sifting through all the data presenting only the pieces that are important to you that you’ve told it is important to you.

Here’s a cool side note. There’s lots of research and scientific data I’ve been finding it all over the place on the internet and books about RAS and rewiring. Much of that I’m pulling from, but I had a cool thing happen this week. One of our Life Center owners, her name is Deb, she came up and found me. She has a master’s degree in RAS wiring. Who knew? She helps women, this is so cool, she helps women. She’s a personal coach to them, helping them eliminate and uncover what God has intended and gifted them for. Isn’t that cool? Yeah, so shout out to Deb for helping me prep this message.

So here’s a few more examples. Remind me that God designed your brain to working a way so that you can smoothly, even automatically create and develop habits. And so many of them are good. They’re not all bad. So many of them are good and helpful. For example, when you brush your teeth, have you ever thought about this? You most likely do it the same way every day, probably annoyingly so. Like your spouse knows how many times you click it on the side of the sink. Or when you shower, I don’t think any of us get in and go, “Okay. I need to make sure I use my shampoo. Then I use my condition.” We don’t. We get in and it’s just automatic because we’ve done it over and over again. Our brain tells us exactly what to do. In fact, we’re multitasking, we’re scolding our kids, we’re rearranging the living room. We’re doing all that in the shower. We’re not even paying attention to what, we just do it. Our brain just does it.

And again, this is great for all the healthy habits in our lives. It’s amazing how God created and hardwired us, but it’s not so much for those destructive habits. Those things that form unhealthy patterns. For example, did you know that the dopamine hit that you get from experiencing the pleasure of eating an entire bag of hot, fresh pumpkin donuts from green bluff. Oh, they’re so good. They can lead to your brain, reminding you to eat them again when you are sad or lonely. Or driving home. We all done this. And you realize there was an entire stretch of road that you don’t remember driving at all. I mean, not good, but your brain does that. It’s working for you when your mind was somewhere else.

Or how about this one? The awkward first time of stumbling across porn on your phone. And the next time it’s less awkward, becomes easier, because your brain has become a new neuro pathway, a rut. I know, she went from pumpkin donuts to porn. But guys it’s a real struggle. I mean, we need to wake up. The direction our lives are going because of where the thoughts of our minds are going. It matters.

So what are your ruts? Have you begun to identify them yet? In fact, when I was writing this talk, I asked myself the same question. I wonder what my ruts are. And without even realizing it, I’ve been checking my phone for text. And then the next thing realized I was also checking my social media, automatic, autopilot, had no idea it was happening. And I do it all the time. And I know I’m not alone in this. This is one of those brain ruts.

So then I began wondering about the deeply entrenched ruts that I formed in my brain. And honestly, this is really embarrassing to admit, but my first thought was, huh? I don’t know if I have any. So apparently denial and pride are my top two. We all get caught in ruts and habits that aren’t good for us, habits that we do on autopilot, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Why does it matter that we identify our ruts? Really, why does it matter? That we not only ask ourselves the question, but honestly answer it because are you going the direction in your life you want to go? Because if you aren’t, you can change that, more importantly God can help you change it.

Some of our habitual ruts are universal. But most are uniquely our own, our own experiences, our relationships, our own thought patterns, and the consequences of our choices. And let’s get real here. Some of us are stuck on that Alaskan highway. We’re deeply entrenched in a rut, having completely blown past and ignoring that road sign of warning to choose our rut carefully. We started to believe that we’re victims of our own circumstances, and we have become passive in exercising choices that would help us change course, and we quit trying, because it feels discouraging and altogether feudal, and we even justify. We do this. Why the course that we’re on is totally fine. Everything will work out. Everybody else could you just calm down.

And based on the science in our brains, the pathways we’ve created, this is exactly where the enemy of our souls would love for us to remain. Truly, he sees this in us. He prays on this. In fact, He’s not creative. He doesn’t come up with new ideas. He’s got plenty of them in your brain to repeat to you over and over again. He reiterates the lies that we tell ourselves, and our brain ruts are now being reinforced. It matters that we identify our ruts.

1 Peter 5:8 says this about our enemy. “Stay alert. Watch out for your great enemy the devil, because he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

It doesn’t say pester. It says devour. This is what he’s doing. And it starts in our mind. The apostle Paul articulates this human struggle that we all are in, the war in our minds so well in Romans 7.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do, and if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me. That is my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil, I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.”

And he continues in verse 23,

“But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man, I am.”

This is a man who gets it. I mean these verses are a soul cry of frustration, of exasperation. In fact, he repeats himself a ridiculous amount of times, on a soul rant. His mind cycle is maddening to him. And can’t we relate to that redundant wrestling that he’s having, but he finishes with this. And it’s so important because the truth of God’s word in rescue mode for our hearts and our souls and our minds, Romans 7:25, he finishes with this,

“And who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul is making a very important declaration of truth here. Isn’t he? In fact, just sit with me a second in this passage.

This is the apostle Paul. He’s one of the giants of our faith, and he’s letting us into the painful tension that he is living in. That he is grieving over. That he’s lamenting over. This is a hardcore Jesus follower. One of the best right here, who’s struggling, as a human with a battle in his mind. In fact, I want you to hear this. You are not an ungodly person. If currently in this moment you are losing the battle in your mind. I’ll say it again, with God’s help you can transform your thinking.

The apostle Paul in this Romans passage is pleading with us to recognize our ruts by revealing his. In fact, he’s stopping the car on that Alaskan highway. He’s trudging through the mud and the mess of his life. And he is staking in the ground, a new sign, a road sign of truth, on God’s word, on Jesus. Who’s the living hope. He’s making a declaration to everyone around him about who Jesus is. And some of us, we need to get out of that car and we need to do the same thing. We need to stake a new sign. Paul recognized his ruts, but he didn’t stay stuck, instead he identified and declared with immense gratitude. He says, “Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Declaring where his hope lies in Jesus. And he created a trench of truth. And that’s point 2.

2. Creating a trench of truth.

Okay. So our initial instinct. When we figure out, when we identify these ruts in our mind, now that we’ve identified them, we always do what we always have. Because, maybe we’re fired up now. We’re like, all right, we’re ready to do this. We’re ready to make a change. We got this. We’re ready to make a commitment to stop doing this or start doing that. And that’s behavior modification at its best. And how well has that worked for you? Because we only have to revisit our annual well intended new year’s resolutions, to eat better, to exercise, to read our bible, to find out how well we do with that.

So simply identifying the problem doesn’t address the root of the problem. The thought that produces the behavior and the false beliefs that are entrenched now in your mind, more specifically, those neural pathways that we’ve been talking about, that leads to the behavior. So as we identify and remove lies, replacing them with truth that Michael talked about last weekend. It’s now time to explore closing those old neural pathways and creating new ones. And how do we do that? Well, instead of remaining and living in this old rut, you dig a trench of truth that runs deeper, diverting the flow of negative thought patterns away from the old pathways and into new ones.

And what’s the best way to start digging a trench of truth? By utilizing God’s word. Hebrews 4:12 says that the word is alive. It’s living, it’s active, there’s power, there’s truth, when we read it. Psalm 119 answers the heart cry to humanity. How do we stay on the path of righteousness, we seek in with all our hearts, not straying from the word, but hiding the word, the truth in our hearts, creating a trench of truth that counters that battle in our minds. If you want to win the war in your mind, you have to declare the truth of God’s word, which means you have to be in it. This truth that’s already declared for you through Jesus, and create a neural pathway that reinforces what he has done for you.

And this is where I get really excited, because God, that created our brain also gave you the power to utilize it to its full and original intend by the power of His word and the Holy Spirit. Using His word to undergird and activate the wonder that our brains are. That God created. When we meditate on the word of God, we begin to create a new neural pathway, saturating our hearts and minds with truth and countering the lies.

Now, I know where you’re going with this. Because many of us, me included, the practice of meditation on the word of God can be so intimidating, so daunting. And in fact, I feel like I fail more than I succeed, but to meditate, it’s simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. It means to read and focus our thoughts for a sustained amount of time as we read the Bible. So start by reading again. If you struggled, start again, get into a habit, join our Bible reading plan. We say it all the time for a reason, because it works. Pick up a journal, learn the context of the passage by watching some of those Bible project videos. How about getting into a you version group, where you can get into community, reading the word together, sharing what you get out of it that day. But whatever you do, however you do it, read the Bible and get into the word.

In fact, I have some hints for you because I’ve learned that for any habit to be sustainable or effective, I have to get creative or just gets redundant and stale. So mix it up. Here’s a couple things you could write verses on a sticky note and you could stick it on your bathroom mirror, because likely you’re going to learn the word better if you can actually see it, that’s helpful. Start memorizing and recounting His truths. Another idea is you can get into nature. If you read your Bible that morning, go on a hike, sit by the lake, speak the truth of His word that you read that morning out loud to yourself and let it soak into you. Saturating your soul. You can have the verse of the day pop up on your phone. Here’s one, you could start with five things that you’re grateful for when your feet hit the floor, and you can use the Psalms to get you started. And here’s my personal favorite. Take your Bible, head to a coffee shop and read the Bible with a friend and share what you learned.

In order to counter this loop of lives from the enemy, your trench of truth needs to become so deep and so wide until it seeps down into the core of your soul, anchoring you. And here’s the deal, creating a new rut, a new habit like reading the word can really feel daunting. I know. In fact, pastor Josh, he loves to say, “Choose consistency over intensity.” Choose consistency over intensity. In fact, you won’t fix everything in your life right now, all at once, but being in the word daily, faithfully reading one active living teaching spirit filling verse at a time, will. I promise miss you it will. In fact, some say that the Grand Canyon wasn’t formed in a day. It was a small, consistent stream of water, every day forming what eventually became a massive rut.

And God’s word is the ultimate way to achieve that in your own mind and heart. God’s truth, not your own. God’s truth, not the enemies, God’s truth, not who the world says you are. And God’s truth fulfilled by Jesus, who is the way, and the truth, and the life, and came to make you fully alive.

So we recognize the ruts. We create a trench of truth, and lastly is the practice of rumination and renewal.

3. Rumination and renewal.

See God understands the power of His word in our life. He invites us to use the same repetition that the enemy does, so powerfully, so effectively, and He utilizes instead, this repetition of His word, to counter those lies. And another word for this meditative repetition is rumination. Now I had to look this word up, because it isn’t one that I come across often or use. In fact, are you guys familiar with this word? Okay. The last service was a lot smarter than you. They all said, “Yeah, we all know what it means.” I didn’t know what it means. So I looked it up. I kind of knew what it means. I discovered that the definition of rumination is not very pretty. In fact, it’s kind of gross, because it means to chew over and over again, like cows do, that chew their cud. It’s kind of gross imagery, but it’s actually quite effective, because you know why? It’s how you get the maximum amount of nutrition, the nutrients right from it.

So cows, just reminding you, they get a mouth full of grass, and not glass. That’d be much different. A mouthful of grass, they chew it up, they swallow it, they throw it back up in their mouth. They chew it some more. They swallow it again, and they keep going back and forth. Chewing, swallowing, throwing up. Ruminating for our purposes is taking a thought. And in this case, a Bible verse, a passage and chewing on it. Swallowing it, bring it back to our minds throughout our day and chewing on it some more. We will get the most from God’s word when we do.

So I’m going to encourage you, make a declaration from your trench of truth, read the Bible, and then share it and discuss it with someone else. Or maybe you could share each other’s cud. Okay. So maybe I went a little too far with that one. So maybe stick to your own rumination then, but doing this over and over again, meditating, ruminating on God’s word, on God’s love, focusing on all that He has done in the midst of this crazy world we live in. The chaos that we are all in, declaring who He is, who then defines who we are.

I’m going to read a few Psalms just to remind you of what meditating does.

Psalm 1:1-3,“Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.”

Psalm 72:12, “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Psalm 119, “I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Cause me to understand the way of your precepts that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 48:9, “Within your temple O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.”

Ruminate, digest, repeat. Ruminate, digest, repeat.

And Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

When we do this, when the habit of rumination begins to rewire our brains, reroute our neural pathways, sitting in the trench of truth of God’s word, a glorious thing begins to happen. We are being transformed by the renewing of minds. That’s what it means. That is how it’s done, in what Romans 12:2 says. And there begins to be a loosening of the grip of the lies of the enemy. Have you noticed that? And then a piece that’s indescribable and unexplainable, there becomes this awareness of our identity, being rooted maybe for the very first time, and who God says we are.

A purpose and a passion begins to cause us to live a life worthy of the calling that He has for us. And then there’s a gratitude that also comes. That’s not dependent on circumstances or outcomes and awareness of the Holy Spirit that’s becoming real and active and present and anchoring, a renewing of our minds. That’s what it means. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Jesus gives us not only a new pathway for our minds, but a way for us to get unstuck from the ruts that we currently are in. He doesn’t just leave us there. He transforms us by the renewing of our minds. And this is a powerful picture of Jesus’s love for us. He doesn’t want us to identify our ruts or our sinful patterns to shame us. He does so to free us.

When a new road is put in around Spokane to reroute a traffic flow, have you noticed that it usually means the old road will just abruptly… Oh gosh, let’s try this again. Have you notice that it usually means that the old road just abruptly dead ends? It just stops. So they put some kind of a roadblock, or some kind of a barrier to put in place while the new one’s being built, but it’s just kind of awkward. It just stops, just awkwardly. But if you were to come back to that dead ended road a few months later, or even a year later, do you know what you’d find? You’d find that it was all grown over. In fact, not even being able to see where it ended and the new road started, those new road improvements have eliminated the awkward stopping of the previous road, giving away to the new, more improved road and traffic flow and friends. I’m telling you it’s time to close some of those old roads.

Instead of those old pathways, the deeply entrenched roads in our minds, Jesus wants to help you build a new trench of truth anchored in His word, allowing what may at first feel abrupt or awkward to close that road of old habit. But instead to trust that it will be rerouted effectively, and it will grow over beautifully by the redemptive power of His spirit at work in you by the transforming of your mind.

And I’ll finish with this. I mentioned the top of my message that I asked myself the same question that I asked of you. I wonder what my ruts are? And I jokingly did I not having any, but of course that’s not true at all. I have many, but that instinctive first response of denial to my own question caught my attention. For I immediately recognize it to be a protective response, a by-product of one of my most deeply entrenched ruts. One that I’ve wrestled with literally my entire life. And that’s my need for control. Which actually is not a rut. It’s just a layer of self protective armor, lying firmly on top of the rut, like an asphalt patch, falsely insulating what lies beneath, and that real rut, that real rut is fear;

For me, a powerful lie of the enemy is the rut of fear. And here’s how it’s played out for me, my entire life. As a little girl, my world was altered at age three, when my parents’ marriage ended. Now, if you asked me to reflect on my life, and people did, all throughout my life at every age, I would say that my parents divorce really didn’t affect me all that negatively. For, because of the incredible parenting by my dad and the co-parenting of my grandparents. I had the most amazing childhood. In fact, both my brother and I would say that we never felt like we actually came from a divorced family at all. Truly. We both found Jesus at a young age. Ministry life was a part of our family culture, and we were championed and released to be all that God created us to be.

But here’s how it actually did play out for me. As a young girl, maybe even at the age of three, when I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling because my mom left, and even more so as an elementary kid, when feeling out of place or alone, I began to create neural pathways in my brain. I didn’t know it yet. That’s what I was doing. They became ruts so that when I felt fear I would counter it. I would self protect myself by being in control. See I learned, and my mind reinforced this belief over and over again, that if I was in control, then fear couldn’t get to or control me, which worked pretty well for me, I thought, over the years.

I excelled in sports, school, leadership. I pick things that I knew I was naturally good at, and I excelled at them. In dating, no guy ever broke up with me. I always did it first. I focused on things that I was good at. I not only worked hard to win, but undergirding it all was the motivation to avoid the fear, the fear of failing, the fear of being abandoned or alone, the fear of not being worthy, fear of not being controlled. So I had to stay in control, order my world all around me by staying in control, because if I didn’t, then I would have to face the fear, but undergirded at all.

My late husband, Paul, and the early years of our marriage was the first to discover this. And he helps me face and unpack the fortress of control that I had built around my heart and my mind to protect it, protecting those deep ruts that now the enemy was reinforcing with his lies so effectively. And with Jesus’s help, I gained a lot of ground. It wasn’t a blind spot for me anymore. It allowed me to have deep, meaningful, transparent relationships, to be seen and fully known. God does some powerful freeing work in my younger years, which I am so grateful for.

But guess when fear really began to affectively lose its grip in my heart and mind, it actually was just in the most recent years of my life. When life all came crumbling down. When I couldn’t control all the things anymore, in fact, not even close, life was spiraling out of control. When I couldn’t affect the outcome. And when God didn’t seem to answer my prayers the away I thought He should or could. When addiction invaded our family, when parenting on many fronts became incredibly difficult and overwhelming, when ministry became messy, and work-life balance got out of focus, when battling for my husband’s life turned into eight years of facing my deepest fear, literally every day that a blood clot could take him, that he could die any moment, eight years guys, of this every day, every moment. And eventually he did.

I would say that that is a really deeply forged rut of fear with the real potential of losing the war in my mind. Wouldn’t you? One of the campus safety guys on our team came up to me just a few weeks ago, out in the commons, the doors weren’t open yet. People hadn’t started coming, and he just walked over to me and he said, “Amy, I got to ask you something. How do you do it? How are you so strong, and so joyful? And so faith-filled all the time?”

And I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud at him, which was kind of rude, but I think it’s because I don’t really see what he sees, because I know, I know what’s in here. I know the eternal battle that’s waged within me all these years, but standing out there in the commons, just kind of facing this question that he had right here, right in the raw of the moment, I began reflecting on all that God’s done in me releasing me of my fear. And I immediately knew the answer to his question. So I just said it. I said, “It is simply and only because of Jesus.”

He met me right there in the depths, when I couldn’t fix it or out strategize it, or control any of it. He was right there. He was holding me and helping me face it, not run from it, but face it. It is because of the power of His word. When we create a daily habit day after day, year after year, that literally renews the ruts of our minds, forging a truth trench, His word at work in us.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing to life, His word, taking it to the recesses of my heart and mind. But then the saturating, literally the depths of my soul, bringing to life what was dead, what was lost, what was so afraid, and what was so not in control, simply Jesus.Ruminate, digest, repeat. Ruminate, digest, repeat. And go ahead, have it out with God while you’re at it. Cry some. Swear some. It helps. But ruminate. Digest. Repeat.

I want to say this too. It’s important that I tell you this. I am still very much in process. I’m a dramatic mess at times. In fact, ask my closest people. They’ll tell you, but I am a mess that is continually being freed up. And it’s a process every day. I’m a new creation, and so are you. I’m fully alive. And so you can be. Not just walking around with gritting my teeth, trying to choose joy, kind of joy, but experiencing, really experiencing to the depths of my soul kind of joy, fear doesn’t rule me anymore. And believe me, it was a huge rut in my mind. I have been through the worst that I could actually imagine in my mind, and fear didn’t win. Jesus did. And not only am I choosing joy, but I’m experiencing it this side of heaven. And I can’t wait to get there and tell Paul all about it.

It takes courage to face it. For you to create a new trench of truth and continual daily rumination and renewal. It’s every day guys, but it’s possible. You can do this. I’m living proof. I’m not just up here being paid to deliver you some message. In fact it’s my birthday guys, I could be anywhere else, but I’m here to deliver the message. The good news of what is possible in Jesus. And He wants this for you. It’s possible to win the war in your mind with Jesus.

Philippians 4:8, “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Let’s pray. I’m going to ask you to do something with me. Will you just extend your hands out, palms up, in that posture? It could be a posture for you this morning of just surrender, of saying, Jesus, I need you. I’m with you on that guys. I need Him. It could be that you need to hear something from Him today. So it’s a posture of receiving. I’m just going to give you just a minute, just to sit in that, say to Him what you need to say, but then also listen for what He might want to say. Let’s pray.

Some of us are really stuck. And you can ignore it. You can try to run from it, but Jesus is right there with you and Him. Even if you don’t know who He is, He is. He wants to meet you there. He wants to remind you that as you’re sitting in that car, in that Alaskan highway, entrenched in the mess, in the mud of your life, some by your own circumstances and choices, some just life here on earth. He wants you to get out of that car. And He wants you to trudge through it. And He wants you to stake a new road sign of truth. That’s based on the trench that you’ve created on God’s word.

So I’m going to ask you to do something. It means you might have to be a little transparent, a little vulnerable, a little brave. But if you’re sitting here today and you want that, you feel like God’s been identifying some ruts. He’s been speaking to you. He’s been stirring by His Holy Spirit. I’m going to encourage you with me in front of everyone. I want you to stand up. And what you’re saying by doing that is I am going to get in my car. I am going to stake a sign of truth, a new declaration that Jesus has the power to change the course of my life by changing what’s in here and what changing what’s in here.

So I’m going to ask you to be brave, stand up, just say to everyone around you, I’m doing this. In fact, look around a minute, guys. We’re not alone. We’re doing this together. How Jesus intended it. In fact, when you bring it to the light, when you take it from here and you open it up to here and to all of here, there is power in that. There’s freedom that begins to happen.

So I’m going to pray for us. Jesus, as I look across this room, I see people that love you and want to become more like you. And it’s hard. It’s difficult, but I know that’s what you want for us. So Jesus, I’m asking by the power of your Holy Spirit. And online, if you’re doing this too, stand up, your living room, don’t stand up in your car. That’s awkward. But we can do this together. We’re the church. Jesus do a new work in us, starting in our minds, into our hearts, saturating all of us Jesus, with you, your spirit and your word. Do that. Do you believe that’s possible? I do.

One more thing. Some of you, either standing or sitting, if you’re honest, you don’t know yet this Jesus that I’m talking about, or maybe you do, but you haven’t surrendered yet. You haven’t confessed with your mouth and your heart declaring that He’s Lord. And you want him to be Lord of your life. You haven’t said yes yet. So I’m going encourage you to do one more brave thing. And if you’re in the room and that’s you, something’s been stirring in you, with everybody looking around, right? All of us together, standing with you. I’m an encourage you to raise your hand really high. So we all see it. I see you. This is a stake in the ground of who Jesus is and who He says you are.

And online, if you’re doing this too, I’m going encourage you put it in the chat because we want to reach out to you. We want to connect with you. We want to help you know this Jesus that I’m talking about. Let’s finish by praying. Jesus, we need you. We love you. We sit in your presence this morning, just in awe of what you’ve done and what you’re doing, what you’ll continue to do. So Jesus change the course of our minds. Change the course of our lives. Teach us to be more like you. We love you Jesus. It’s in your name. Amen.

Series Overview:

The series, Winning the War in Your Mind, is based on a book by Pastor Craig Groeschel. You can’t live a positive life with negative thinking. Truth be told, our mind is the battlefield for our soul on so many fronts: Culturally we have cluttered our minds and maxed them out on stimulants and depressants. Personally, we can be our own worst enemies, saying things to ourselves that are defeating and degrading that we would never say to others. Spiritually, we are under attack. The devil loves to throw darts at us. So, how do we combat this war that is being waged on multiple fronts? God has given us incredible principles to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:2), even taking on the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5-8). This series is all about winning the war in your mind and learning about the 4 principles to do so.

Watch Week 1 of the series.

Life Center
Life Center
How To Change Your Way of Thinking