Therefore brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed by the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you can test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
Can I be honest?
It’s been a hard year.
Last year at this time, I had resigned as a part time school counselor so I could fully focus on writing, speaking, in addition to counseling and coaching. I anticipated doing creative stuff. Instead, I walked through unanticipated grief, sadness, and really hard stuff. Deaths, a major home disaster, writing a book, and people I love experiencing unimaginable things.
We also had a wedding, sent one child to college, another to the mission field full-time, and I still have another who’s in high school.
Many days, I found myself physically and emotionally drained. In addition, the negativity, coarseness, and the “false truth” mentality of recent political events got to me.
Around mid-February, I turned off the news and social media more, enjoying what’s around me rather than what’s on my phone. I’ve been spending more time with people I care about. I’ve realized I need to protect my mind.
I’ve blogged less. I’ve sat in silence more. I’ve spent more time in prayer, reading the Bible, journaling, and processing, letting God’s Word infiltrate my mind rather than the chaos, fear, violence, and uncaring rhetoric perpetuated by the broader culture. Sometimes, I just sit, drink coffee, and pet my dog.
I’ve learned the importance of protecting your mind. Paul says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
As I’ve pursued the renewing and protecting of my mind, here are five important things I’ve learned:
1. The mind and the heart are connected, and so is our behavior. Psychology calls this connection cognitive behavior therapy, but the connection is also woven throughout Scripture. We can’t fill our minds with garbage, fear, violence, sex, hatred, or ungodliness without it affecting our thoughts, beliefs, and behavior. Fear, anxiety, and sin are rooted in our thoughts.
2. God should reside in the primary place in our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37) Jesus commands us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Loving God means filling our thoughts with fondness and adoration of Him the way we do our spouse, children, or others we love. Loving Jesus with all your mind says you don’t pursue and fill your mind with things contrary to Christ. God is a holy God: we can’t say we love Him with our whole mind and then adulterate that mind with things He abhors. This is a different view from the new, popular spirituality.
3. The mind is Satan’s battlefield and the first place he’ll take residence. Satan wants you to believe everything contrary to God’s word. His first strategy is to infiltrate your mind. How many of you believe lies about yourself, life, others, and God? He puts thoughts in your head through people and your visual, physical, auditory and sensory experiences. A majority of my professional work is helping people identify lies, faulty thinking, and core beliefs which shape fears, anxiety, depression, and other things which harm. Those of you who have been harmed or manipulated by others know how those lies shape your emotions, behavior, and beliefs. In order to combat the lies of the enemy, you MUST protect your mind with the word of God.
4. There’s increasing deception in the culture and religion about God. Many articles and sermons have almost truth rather than the real truth of God’s Word, the gospel, sin, and the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible is full of warnings about deception. We must not deny the fact that the enemy is active in perpetuating false truths about God. Several Bible verses clearly place the responsibility about deception on us: “Don’t let anyone deceive you”, “Be careful.” We are to guard our minds just as we guard our physical health and safety and that of our kids.
5. Prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and God’s Word bring peace. Philippians 4:6-8 are verses which give the formula for peace of mind.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
For the Christian, meditating and focusing on things other than the true living Word of God is….not of God. It opens the door to deception from the enemy, who disguises himself as the angel of light. Deception is an art. I see it used by groomers, narcissists, and manipulators. It’s smooth, slick, and looks, sounds, and feels good.
But it’s straight from the pit of hell. Deception started in the Garden of Eden. Almost truth, but not quite. In today’s world, Christians with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ must take these things seriously. We aren’t to look like the world, but be the light of the truth TO the world.
It starts with each of us. Our mind. Our heart. Our actions. You may think these things don’t matter. They do. They matter to your children, to your grandchildren, to the people in your life who hunger for truth about themselves, life, and God.
Your mind is important. Taking care of it is essential. God’s word in the best tool.
Has anything in this article challenged you? I’d love to hear from you. Also, how can I pray for you?