Are you losing your mind?!?!
There are numerous external forces (good and bad) targeting our minds everyday. Well meaning friends, enemies, acquaintances, perfect (and imperfect) strangers, advertisers, teachers, preachers, store clerks, telemarketers, parents, and yes, even children. To be honest the list is endless and includes people we’ve never encountered directly. We may not even know they exist or that have any connection to us at all.
The individual(s) in question may have influenced the man who influenced the woman who donated to the organization that chose the curriculum taught in the school your child attends which caused your child to change their career choice which frustrates you because up until then you thought for sure you’d finally have a doctor in the family and now you’re grumpy and making everyone around you miserable. [Deep breath] This example may seem contrived, but it probably happens almost everyday in some form. Keep in mind that some of the other possibilities involve cults, politics, addictions, lawsuits, and just about any other nightmare inducing scenario you can think of. The battle for the mind is not for the faint of heart.
The Battle For The Mind In A Fallen World
We live in a fallen world.
Romans 8:19-22 says that creation itself (the world) is frustrated, groaning and in bondage to decay. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to look around us and recognize that the world is broken and filled with chaos, confusion, illness, and death. Yes, there are bright spots and the world isn’t completely enveloped in darkness, but the reality of the world’s brokenness is hard to deny.
We are also broken. None of us is perfect. None of us can claim to have lived a perfect life. Even the most wonderful person you can think of has made mistakes. To suggest that any of us is without blemish would be evidence of either uncompromising arrogance, tremendous levels of denial, or a complete lack of self-awareness.
The Bible puts it this way:
Isaiah 53:6a We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
“It’s not that big of a deal.” “I’m not really hurting anyone.” “What they don’t know can’t hurt them.”
The truth is that our brokenness has consequences both for us and for those around us. Even the sins we think no one knows about affect us and therefore those around us. And, these consequences can reach beyond time and space. For instance, many of our ancestors were faced with and impacted by the horrendously evil choices and actions of a man named Adolf Hitler. Some directly and others indirectly. Hitler’s behavior affected people on every part of the globe and many of those effects are still felt to this day. Veterans and their families still carry the scars — physical, mental, and spiritual — inflicted by the choices of this one man and by the subsequent choices of those that his choices affected. Brokenness gives birth to a seemingly endless chain of more brokenness.
Of course, this is an extreme example used to make my point. But, the day-to-day battles and pain experienced by many are no less significant to those feeling the weight of the brokenness in their lives no matter the cause.
Certainly, challenges and adversity can also bring out the best in some people. They can be sources of growth and change for the better. But, even so, we must exercise caution. We must not ignore the battle that continues to rage on around and in us. To do so puts us and those we care about in peril.
John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.
2 Timothy 3:12-13 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Unfortunately, as we noted above, everyone is broken, not just us. In our quest for hope and healing, it’s important to recognize that many of those around us are seeking their own interests and not ours. They often say they are looking out for us or that they want what’s best for us. Although this may be true, the sad reality is that often it simply isn’t so. Even when others do have the best of intentions, people are flawed and biased. They come to the table with their own baggage and agendas. So it is up to us to evaluate these outside influences carefully and proceed with caution.*
*WARNING: See also Winning The Battle For The Mind: Part 1 for cautions and tips regarding the dangers that lie within our own hearts.
The Counterattack Part 2
In part 1 of this series we discussed our need for a new heart provided by the transforming power of God. Having this God-given heart is crucial for winning the battle for the mind. Once we have a transformed heart we must feed and nourish it with good food. We need to protect it from any enemies that might try to derail our new life. Proverbs 4:23 says to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
Philippians 4:6-7 says “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.
As we face life’s challenges, staying connected to God is important for achieving victory. One great way to maintain this connection is through prayer. Don’t over think it. Prayer is just talking to Him. Letting Him know what you’re struggling with and where you hurt and allowing Him to begin the healing process. There are no special incantations or magical words that you need to say. It’s simply about being open and honest with Him and giving Him permission to take the reins. That’s probably one of the hardest parts for me because I like to be in control or to at least think I am. But, when I have been able to do this, the results have been nothing short of amazing. He promises that when we do this, He will give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. And, He will guard our hearts and minds.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good”. There is a lot of garbage out there trying to get us to act or think in certain ways. These approaches are often not in our best interest even thought they may seem good on the surface and may even give short-term relief.
The old saying is actually true, “Garbage in; garbage out”. Therefore, victory requires us to identify garbage and get rid of it before it pollutes everything it touches. Ironically, the best way to identify garbage is to become as familiar as possible with the good stuff. A significant portion of the training for bank tellers that enables them to better spot counterfeit bills starts with studying genuine money. In the same way, discernment in this area is greatly enhanced by studying God’s manual for life — the Bible. Then when someone presents you with a supposed solution to your problem or a sure-fire path to wealth and happiness, you will be in a better position to spot the counterfeit solution and then, with God’s help, find the real deal.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I encourage you to get a Bible and start exploring. I like the “New American Standard” (NASB) and the “New International” (NIV) versions which I use for the Bible quotes in this blog. If a Bible is not accessible then use a free online site like Bible Gateway or a free app like YouVersion. Arming yourself with this Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) is of great importance. Please, don’t delay.
With God’s help, we can find peace and hope. Start your journey now.