JP begins a three week series on loving God with our head, heart and hands. Today JP discusses the critical aspect of renewing our minds; bringing our thoughts under the Lordship of Jesus in the midst of the world's marketing campaign that seeks to control of the real estate of our minds.
Keeping the Head, Heart and Hands the Way God Wants Them
Many Hands, One Body
Navigating The Heart
Change Your Mind, Change Your Life
Who here loves chocolate? Come on, man! All right! My people. I loved chocolate as much as anyone I've ever met. True story. I would eat chocolate for breakfast, and I don't mean Cocoa Puffs. I mean Hershey bars for breakfast. That's how I rolled. I loved chocolate. It was one of the greatest loves of my life. There was chocolate and coffee and my wife (not in that order) and Jesus. I want to tell you how that changed. You'll notice I'm using past tense. I want to tell you how that changed. It all changed in a moment. True story.
My wife and I had been married about six months and we were going to visit some friends in Houston. We pulled up to their house (it was a group of my buddies) and they were playing football in the street. I got out of the car and I stepped into the huddle. I said, "What's up, guys?" I looked at the quarterback and said, "Hey, I'm going to run a post along the sidelines. I want you to hit me high. I'm going to run as fast as I can, just hit me." He says, "Great," steps up to the line of scrimmage. "Down, set, hut." The guys guard me. My buddy Murphy is in front of me.
I run as fast as I possibly can down the sidelines. I jump in the air and I turn to catch the ball. Now keep in mind, all of my momentum is going that way. Yep. The first thing to hit the ground was my back and then my head bounced a couple of times. I woke up with a bunch of people around me. "What happened?" They said, "You okay?" I said, "Yeah, I think I'm okay. Let me just lay here for a minute." I got up, fell down, got up, fell back down. I said, "All right. Maybe I'm not okay." They said, "All right."
They loaded me up; they took me to the hospital. I said, "Wait a minute. Where are we, by the way? Is this Dallas?" They said, "No. This is Houston." I said, "Okay." I looked at my best friend. I said, "Hey, will you hold my wallet?" He said, "Sure." We're driving down the road. I go, "Oh, man. Guys, I just came to! Are we in Dallas?"
"No. We're in Houston."
"Who has my wallet?"
"I have your wallet."
"Okay. All right. Hey, guys! I just came to. Who has my wallet?"
"JP, I have your wallet. I have it."
I did that six times. "Who has my wallet?" He's like, "Bro, I have your wallet." Now they're starting to get scared. You get to the hospital and you get sick (I have a concussion). You throw up, which is weird because if your stomach is messed up or you have a virus or a bacterial infection it makes sense you throw up. It doesn't make sense to me you hit your head and vomit. That was confusing. I remember being there and the doctor diagnosing I have a concussion, "You need to go home and just rest for a couple of days," and so I did that.
Eventually I went home, rested for a couple of days, and it came time to go back to my normal routine of eating a Hershey bar for breakfast. I did, and I spit it out. I said, "Oh, it's bad! Oh, it's gone bad! The chocolate has gone bad. Bring me some good chocolate!" My taste had changed. In a moment, some of you are going to be tempted to leave here and try to hit your head hard. Don't do that. In one moment, my taste had changed due to a head injury. My sense of smell had changed.
There were lots of things that tasted different after that moment moving forward. Really weird, right? It showed me how important our head is, how much it controls. I know we know that. I know cognitively… Hey, your head is important! We know that. We can't live without it, but when you go through that experience, it was just like, "Wow! This thing really controls everything! It's sending things and telling me what stuff tastes like." Don't we wish it was that easy?
They say when you become a Christian your desires change, but I will tell you experientially it didn't happen like that. It didn't happen that fast. I wish it was just like the concussion I had that one day, that Jesus came into my life and instantly my desires changed. Maybe it did for some of you. Praise God! For me, that just wasn't my story. Some of those desires changed a little slower.
Did you know we have a part in that? I think we think, "Okay. Well, the Spirit of God comes into my life and he begins to change my desires." Did you know the Scriptures give you a role to play in that? That it actually has imperative commands for us to do? It's a partner, and we are partnering with the Spirit in changing our desires and changing our minds. See, this is a real estate God wants. That's what he does. If you're here and you're a follower of Christ, this is real estate God is after.
We're starting a new series called Head, Heart, Hands. We know the Scripture says in Mark 12, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Today, specifically, we're focusing on the head, talking more specifically about changing the way we think because what you do controls how you think, controls what you love, controls what you do. It's very circular.
You eat chocolate. You think about chocolate. You want chocolate. You eat chocolate. You think about chocolate. You want chocolate. You eat chocolate. You think about chocolate. Very circular. You drive on 635. You don't enjoy it. "I don't want to drive on 635 anymore." When 635 comes up in conversation, "I don't like 635." You avoid 635. What you do controls what you think, controls your affections, controls what you do. This is true in life. This is absolutely true, and it's very important to understand as we read the Scriptures and his commands for us this morning.
Everything we do starts in our mind. If you change your mind, you change your behavior. If you change your behavior by changing your mind, you change your life. The Scriptures call us to love God, but I tell you, you cannot love God if you do not know God. We are called to know God intimately, not know of him; that's very different. The demons know of him. Pagans know of him. Non-Christians, non-believers know of him. We are called to intimately know him.
The offering of the verse we're going to look at today in Romans, chapter 12, is we can know the will of God. You can leave here and go through life knowing God's will for you in every moment. That is the offering of the verse today. Every verse today I'm going to look at, if you've been in church long, they're going to be familiar to you. My fear is these verses become so familiar to us, they're these memory verses we say without engaging our mind, without actually understanding what these verses mean.
The verse today has tremendous implications for our life. It not only gives us something we're to do on a regular basis, but it tells us, it offers us the benefit of knowing the will of God. Today we're going to look at how changed lives come from changed minds, how minds are changed by taking corrupt thoughts captive, and how corrupt thinking should be replaced with truth. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
It says, "Do not conform to the pattern of Fort Worth. Do not conform to the pattern of Dallas, to the pattern of Plano, to the patterns around you, to the patterns of your neighborhoods and your friends, but be transformed." Now that's passive imperative. That's something that happens to you. It doesn't say, "But transform yourself," it says, "But be transformed." Then it's going to give us something to do.
My first point is changed lives come from changed minds. Changed lives, or changed living, comes from changed minds. See, we live different lives because we think differently than the world. We think different from the world. We have to wrestle with it. Is that true? I have a non-believing partner or employee or employer at work. Do I think differently? Do I approach ideas differently than they do because I'm pursuing the mind of God, because I want God to take over real estate in my mind?
The world should think hedonistically. The world should follow their flesh. They're opportunistic. What's best for me? How do I get what's best for me? The world, people of the world should have the worries of the world, but not people of the kingdom. People of the kingdom should have the concerns of the kingdom.
Let me play out practically what this looks like. When the world thinks of gaining from the hurts of others, we think of giving to their needs at our expense. That should not make sense to the world. The world sees something like, "Here's an opportunity for me to make money." We see someone's hurt, someone's needs, and we say, "How do I meet those needs at my cost?"
That doesn't make sense to the world. When many are given to anxiety, we are given to trust. People think like they control it all and so they're focuses on their worries, and we're like, "We know we don't control it all. We know God controls it all." When others are thinking of self-preservation, we're thinking of serving others.
When the world sees someone sick, they're just like, "Oh, they're sick. Let's get away! I don't want my kids to be sick. I don't want to deal with that." When we see someone sick, we say, "Hey, what can we do for you? How can we serve you? What do you need? How can we render aid to you? How can we help you be comfortable? Can I bring you meals? How can I serve you?"
We think counterintuitively, which means going against our intuition or the flesh, than the world does. This is because our minds are different from the world's minds. Our patterns of living determine our patterns of thinking. This is what this verse is saying right out of the gates. Our patterns of living determine our patterns of thinking, so if we live in patterns of success it becomes more and more important to us. We begin to focus on patterns of success. "How do I take part in this success?" This is where our minds go.
If we live in communities, for example, that idolize sports, we will idolize sports. We see that as an example and we begin to continue to consume that, continue to think about it. "Hey, how do I get ahead in these ways?" If we're good at doing something, we're more prone to think about it. If we do something and we're good at it, we see success there, then we get in our car and we continue to think about strategies. "How do I get better at that? Man, what if I did this?" It's just natural. This is just what happens. You don't need to feel bad about it, but you need to be aware of it.
You need to know that some of those behaviors are inconsistent with what God wants for you. This is the reason it's difficult to stop thinking about work when you get home. You get home and it's hard to turn that corner for some of you. That's why. Because if you're good at doing something or if you've given your mind to it, it's hard to take those thoughts captive. If we find pleasure in something, we're more prone to think about it because it was rewarding for us.
The world has a pattern, and its pattern is rooted in selfishness. The world markets to your desires by feeding your thoughts. This is true. It's a battle of real estate. The world wants your mind. Satan wants your mind. The Enemy wants your mind. They market to your desires by feeding your mind, but you've been called to march against this pattern, which can be exhausting.
I grew up in a small town. My house is actually on the Guadalupe River, the house I grew up in where my parents still live, and something we would do is tube the river. On this particular day, I'm with a group of friends and we're tubing the river. One thing important to note when you're tubing the river is you have to know when you're going to get out of the river because if you get separated, there are a lot of people there. We were all going to get out at this one point. Well, we all did, except one of my buddies. He continued to float down the river until he realized we weren't with him.
What he did then is he picked up his inner tube and he began to march against the current, sometimes swim against the current, and got to us. When he got to us, I will never forget how exhausted he was. He was red in the face. He was breathing heavy. He threw up. He was that exhausted. Why? Because he was going against the current. Some of you right now (who are smarter than my friend) are thinking, "Why didn't he just get out and walk along the shore?" I don't know. I asked the same thing.
I will tell you, there is no more exhausted Christian than someone who has the mind of God, but they're living worldly. You will wear yourself out. You will go to bed, "Why am I so tired? Why do I feel so exhausted?" Because you're living outside your purpose and it is exhausting. To have one foot in the world and one foot in the church, you get the worst of both worlds. You're trying to perform. It's exhausting.
I will tell you, there is not a more exhausted non-believer I have seen than someone who does not have the mind of God but is trying to play religious games. They're trying to perform so they might get to know a God they've heard of, and that will cause you to be exhausted. We live in this world with the mind of God, by the mind of God, with the power of his Spirit working through us, marching against the current.
Friday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. What I saw on social media was a lot of Christians asking the question, "How did this happen?" Specifically, what they were referencing is in 2005, a decade ago, 68 percent were against same-sex marriage, and 32 percent were for it. Just short of a decade later in 2015, now 60 percent are for it, with 40 percent against it. So those statistics almost were inverse. In just short of a decade, how did this happen? This is the question people were asking. How did it happen?
Let me tell you how it happened. It was a slow, strategic battle for real estate of mind. I'm going to show you how this happened. There's a picture GLAAD put out unapologetically saying, "This is our strategy." They said, "In 2003, there were 25 shows that referenced LGBT characters. In 2012, just short of a decade later, there were 111." You can't see those words on top there, but they just unapologetically say, "This was our strategy for consuming the minds of a culture and turning a vote in just short of a decade. This is how we did it. We went after people's minds."
Do you want more evidence? Let me tell you something. "Same Love" by Macklemore was the GRAMMYs best song of the year last year. You want more information? "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga was the fastest-selling album and fastest-selling single in the history if iTunes. Do you see what happens? They began to market to the minds, consume the real estate of the minds and they changed people. It's a battle for real estate of the mind.
We are called not to conform but to be transformed. As I said, this transformation is something that happens to us, but now we're going to spend the rest of our time this morning talking about your part. In the short remaining time we have, we're going to talk about our part. Our part is "renewing our mind," the Scripture says.
My second point is minds are changed by taking corrupt thoughts captive. We begin to change our minds by taking corrupt thoughts captive. This is a command to you from the Scriptures. This something you are to do, and it's hard. It's difficult. It takes practice. You become better at it, but it is a command. It is something for you to do. A lot of you who are hearing this for the first time are like, "I don't know that I've ever really tried to take thoughts captive."
This is something I hope you leave here with, understanding this is Scripture's calling to you, a role you play. When I hit my head, my taste changed instantly, but as I told you earlier, when I trusted Christ, that happened a lot slower. In fact, there are still desires inside of me that wage war against my soul. Now I will tell you, as a recovering addict, it does get easier and easier and easier. I do see victory; victory in other seasons of my life I never thought I would have.
Our response in not conforming to the world but being transformed is to continually renew our mind. It's an ongoing effort. It's not a one-time thing. It's not one-and-done. It's not like you leave here, "I've renewed my mind. I don't ever have to renew my mind ever again." It is a daily practice. When you're driving in the car. When you're sitting at your desk. When you're in conversations. You are continually renewing your mind.
You say, "How?" Step one: You take negative thoughts captive. You take corrupt thoughts captive. Right? Take corrupt thoughts captive. Because here's the discouraging part. You can't remove the corrupt thoughts. Absent of a lobotomy, absent of a brain surgery going in and snipping out those memories, you can't remove them. You can't erase them instantly. That's the downside.
Some of you were pagans in epic proportions, right? You have lots of stuff up here. I'm in that category. I have lots of stuff up here I just can't remove, I can't forget. Those files are there. When I reach for a file, that's the one that's right there. Then there's useless stuff. There's stuff I don't use. There's some stuff that's useful in very rare occasions. I have the Spanish alphabet. I don't use it often, but it's up here. I have about a hundred rap songs. I mean, verbatim. Lil' Troy's "Wanna Be a Baller," it's up here somewhere, and it doesn't help me in my transformation.
I have Romeo and Juliet, "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid are far more fair than she. Be not her maid, since she is envious. Her vestal livery is but sick and green, and none but fools do wear it. Cast it off. It is my lady; O, it is my love! O that she knew she were! She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that? Her eye discourses; I will not answer it. I am too bold; 'tis not to me she speaks. Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven…"
We have lots of stuff up there. I'm not showing off. You have it too. You have stuff up there. You have recipes. You have songs. You have lyrics. You have "Friends" lines. You have statistics from football players and players' names. All that stuff is up there just taking up real estate. So when you're driving down the road and you're going for a file, if those are the files you continue to pull, that's going to be the file you pull. That's going to be what you give your mind to.
Think of your brain like a filing cabinet. You have corrupt files (the red files) and you have truth;you have good files. My oversimplification, but your brain works like a filing cabinet. When you continue to pull those corrupt files, when you continue to go in here and you're reaching for a file and what you see are corrupt files, that's what's in front of you right there. That's what you're going to go for.
But when you begin to put truth in there, when you reach for a file and you take it out with the mind of God, you're like, "Wait. I don't want to give thought to that. You know what, I'm not going to open that file. I'm going to put that one back." See, you did not sin when that file came to your mind. It felt involuntary. You didn't sin, but when you open that file and you begin to think about that file, then obsess about that file, and you spend time giving yourself to that file, now you've crossed that line.
What the Scripture tells you is you have a choice. The Scripture tells you you have a choice. Some of you are like, "I disagree with that." Hang in there with me, okay? The Scripture tells you you have a choice, that you don't have to mind your mind. How about that? Now you don't have to be under the control of your thoughts. You can actually control your thoughts.
Some of you, your entire life, you thought, "Oh, I thought I had to do or I thought I had to think about whatever just pops up in my head." No, you don't! You can take your thoughts captive. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive…" We take captive. We stop. We put the file back. We let those files collect dust. "…every thought and make it obedient to Christ." Thoughts that don't further our mission of Christlikeness or being transformed, we take captive.
What are these thoughts? These are obsessive thoughts. These are idolatrous thoughts. These are anxious thoughts, covetous thoughts, jealous thoughts, materialistic thoughts, entitled thoughts, lustful thoughts. You do not have to dwell on them. You can practice taking them captive. If you leave today and you try to do this, I'm going to tell you something: you're not going to be very good at it.
If you've never practiced this, you're not going to be very good at it, but the Scripture tells you if you are a follower of Jesus Christ and you have his Spirit, he will help you in this effort, that you are to take thoughts captive. Sinful thoughts. Take them captive. This is a continual, tiresome effort. I've met with lots of people who said, "I can't do this," and really what they're saying in most cases (and there are exceptions), but in most cases (because everybody thinks they're the exception), they've given up too easily. They've stopped short of success.
Keep taking thoughts captive. The files will fade. They will move to the back. If you don't pull those files or you don't open those files, they will go to the back, eventually to be forgotten. You'll sit there, you'll think, "Romeo and Juliet. 'But soft…what…soft…What light…' Oh, man. It was up there once. I don't know where it is." You've stopped pulling those files. It will fade. You'll replace them with new files and take them captive at the thought level.
Confess sin at the thought level. Ask for prayer at the thought level. That will be a new practice for some of us. Not, "Hey, I looked at something I shouldn't have," but, "Man, I was driving down the road and I really wanted to. I want to tell you guys that. Would you pray for me?" Not that I cheated, but the other day, my boss told me to do something and I thought for a second, "You know what? I know how I can do that. I could cut this corner right here." I didn't do it, guys, but there was a moment where I really wanted to.
Confess sin at the thought level, and that will help you take those thoughts captive. Ask for prayer because it's a battle of the mind. When a lie or an old way of thinking comes up, you put it in a cage. Something that might help some of you who are visual thinkers: literally, picture it. Put it in a cage. Close the door. Throw a lock on it. Take it captive. "I'm not going to open that file."
Let me tell you about a really difficult season in our life, not because marriage was difficult, not because work was difficult, but because we had rats, lots and lots of rats. Now I don't know if you've ever had rats, but it was extremely frustrating. There was a party going on in the attic.
I'm thinking, "This is easy to solve. I'm going to call the exterminator. They're going to come. They're going to kill the rats, and we're going to move forward. They're going to trap these things. I don't know what they do, but then we won't have rats anymore. This is going to be awesome." The exterminator comes. He seems to be impressed by our rat situation, which is never… He's like, "Wow! You guys have a lot!" I'm like, "Hey, thanks, buddy."
He says, "Okay. I think I can do this. I'm going to need a couple of weeks." I'm like, "A couple of weeks? What? Bomb it or something." So he begins his thing. A couple of weeks go by. He's gone. I'm lying there at night and you just hear them. It's a dance party up there. They're holding up signs, "Free rent! Come on!" There are rats everywhere! You start to get anxious. You lie in your bed and you hear them and you're just like, "Ugh! We still have rats!"
It seems to be this thing you can't get rid of, so I took matters into my own hands. I went to Home Depot. I spent $1.33 on a trap. I bought four of them, put some Nutella on there. A couple of hours go by. Snap! "Yes!"Get it, empty it out, set it again. Snap! Get it, empty it out, set it again. Snap! Get it, empty it out, set it again. Snap! Get it, empty it out, set it again. Snap! It was exhausting, but I was winning. I knew that because after a couple of days, they began to slow down…Snap! Snap!...until I had killed every rat in North Dallas.
That's how you do it. You take your thoughts captive. You don't give up when it feels difficult. It will feel difficult. Take it again. Obsessive thoughts, anxious thoughts, materialistic thoughts, sinful thoughts. They're all sinful thoughts, lustful thoughts. Jealous thoughts, covetous thoughts, take them captive. Don't feed things that stir it up. Be careful with social media, careful with what you feed your brain. Take the thoughts captive. Make war with this thing.
Hebrews 12:4 says, "Resist to the point of shedding blood." Don't give up before that. This is the battle of resilience, and this passage clearly puts this responsibility on us. Some of you, your grace radar is going off right about now. You're like, "Wait a minute. The Lord doesn't…" Listen. I'm telling you. You study the Scripture. This part in the Scripture, this is our part. He says, "This is what I want you to do. Yes, you have my Spirit, and my Spirit is transforming your life, but your part, I want you to take these thoughts captive in renewing your mind."
My third and final point is corrupt thinking should be replaced with truth. Corrupt thinking should be replaced with truth. It's a huge idea in the Scriptures. "Upon believing in Jesus, you're given the helmet of salvation," Ephesians 6. I love what Ephesians 4:21-24 says. I'll read it to you.
"…when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful [sinful] desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Colossians 3 says to set your minds things above. Romans 8 (I love this) says, "The mind set on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life." The mind set on the flesh and what it wants, like the world does, is death, but if you set your mind on things of God, it is life. Jesus says in John 8, knowing the truth is what sets someone free. "If you're mine, you will know the truth, and knowing this truth will set you free."
I remember after I became a Christian, after thinking I was a Christian my entire life, I remember sitting on a friend's couch and just realizing, it was like the scales had fallen from my eyes. I was like, "If this is true, if Jesus really did come back to life, if Jesus really died for all my sins and he's offering me eternal life and I'm going to be with God for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever, then what matters in this world beyond knowing him and making him known?"
I saw the vanity of my efforts to constantly run the race and get ahead and try to beat everyone else. He who dies with the most stuff still dies. It was just like, "But this is about God! I want to know him." Knowing God takes work. Knowing God, it's a discipline they say. Some of you marvel at Todd's Bible knowledge. He's up here and he's just spilling these Scriptures (like Romeo and Juliet) he memorized in his 20s.
I think we think he was born that way. He wasn't born that way. He worked hard at it, to write the Word of God on his heart. He didn't do anything you can't do today. He hasn't done a single thing that is not available to you to start doing today. I've heard it said that the Holy Spirit has an affinity for the trained mind. How beautiful is that? The Holy Spirit has an affinity for the trained mind, so we must feed our minds the truth.
I was driving with my family the other day. My truck has been in the shop, so I was in a rental. They're all in there with me. We drive past this street near my house and it's trash pick-up day, so there's all this trash on the side of the road, except this looks like appealing trash. It looked like nice trash. I collect things, so I drive by and there are volumes of encyclopedias and lots of books (some of them looked like cool books), so I thought, "This is interesting. I'm going to go check this out and see what's there."
My family is like, "What are you doing?" "Well, let's just see what they threw out." Right on the top is this brand-new Bible. I mean, it's in a box. It still had the price tag on it. It was like it just came from the store. I opened it up. It was a leather Bible. I opened the Bible, it was like it had never been opened. Pages still stick together like it's brand-new in the store. It has this guy's name on it: Jeff Smith. (Sorry, I have your Bible.)
I'm like, "This is brand-new." It's an NASB Bible, so I was like, "That will be good. I'll study from that." So I get this, and I get in the car. My 8-year-old daughter, Presley, goes, "What is that? That's a Bible! Who would throw away a Bible?" Now Presley, we're trying to get her to read her Bible (we gave her one for her birthday), and I just said, "Well, what's worse? Someone who put this out on the curb for someone else to collect it, who would find use out of it, or it sitting on the shelf collecting dust in someone else's house? Which one's worse?"
See, a lot of us, we have access to the truth, but it is a very minor part of our life. The minority real estate on our calendar. Everything else, majority. These are things we care about. These are things we pursue, and there's this thing. You know what? It's just not that important. What's worse?
Putting it on the curb or letting it collect dust? I think our problem is we have football stats and players' names and song lyrics and essential oil types and brands, and we are experts on all sorts of things, but not the things of God. I want you to make a point to know God's Word better than you know anything else.
I was with a friend just yesterday, and he said someone asked him (because he went through this incredible transformation when he became a Christian), "How did you do that? What happened?" He said, "You know what I did? I did one thing that had tremendous impact on my life." His friend said, "What was that?" He said, "I made it a point not to watch SportsCenter until I had been in the Bible for an hour." He said, "You know what happened? I ended up not watching SportsCenter altogether. I ended up spending more time in the Word, and it changed my life."
This will change your life. If you're sitting there and you're skeptical, I don't know what else to say other than take me at my word and tell me I'm wrong. Better yet, take God at his word, and see that he's right. I don't know what you love to do that you can say, "Before I do that thing I love to do, I'm going to be in God's Word." My other friend says, "No Bible, no breakfast." It's effective. I like breakfast.
We can't erase these thoughts, but we can replace them. Right? We can't erase these thoughts. Like when you go in this filing cabinet and you're going to pull something out and that red file is right there in front. I can't get rid of that thought. I don't know how to remove that thought, but I can put it back and I can let it collect dust. I can surround it with truth. I can begin to consume truth and I can put truth in the front and continue to put the red stuff… When I pull the corrupt files, when I pull these out, to continue to say, "You know what? I'm going to put that back."
So when I go in this filing cabinet, I'm pulling something, I'm driving down the road and I want something, it's God's Word I'm meditating on. It's the eternal truths of the Creator of the heavens and the earth I can fix my mind on. This is what Paul writes in Philippians 4:8. He says, "Finally, brothers and sisters…" **Watermark. Believers in the gospel."…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…"**"This is that I want you to do. I want you to think about these things."
Fix your minds on the things of God. Think about these things more than you think about anything else and renew your minds. Not just taking corrupt thoughts captive but replacing them. You cannot erase them, but you can replace them. You can surround them and take them captive to the truth so you can look at that thought you're tempted to obsess about and you can say, "Wait a minute. Is that consistent with who God is? Is that consistent with what God wants? Is that consistent with what God says? If it's not, I'm putting that back.
Lord, help me put it back. God, give me the strength to put it back, and take over the real estate in my mind." Now here's the deal. There's a pitfall. Every week, Head, Heart, Hands, there's a pitfall. The pitfall with the head is you can certainly know a lot about God and not know God. You can certainly know a lot about God and not love God, absolutely you can. But you cannot love God if you do not know God. It starts there. It starts with you knowing him and making sure your heart stays connected.
Keep in mind, it's a three-week series, and we're going to be on heart next week. Yes, Jesus' entire ministry was against people who thought they really knew a whole lot about God but they didn't know him. As a wrap-up, I want to say this to you. I found this incredibly interesting. Science has recently proven this idea. Earlier, if you were like, "Hey, I disagree with that," let me enlighten you to something I was enlightened in as I studied this passage.
There has been a discovery within the past decades (it has evolved to where now it's more common knowledge) called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is this idea that you can, in fact, change your mind. For centuries, science and psychiatric work have actually thought that past the formative years, your mind no longer changes, the brain no longer changes.
But what they've said in this idea of neuroplasticity (neuro-, of the brain, and -plasticity, that it can be changed and malleable and moldable) is this idea that if you take these thoughts captive or if you stop this particular activity and you replace it with another activity, that pathway in the brain atrophies and there's a new pathway you learn.
You've seen people, they do this. In fact, a lot of the healthy habits we pursue were based on this idea when science thought it wasn't possible. This is what I'm telling you and this is what's compelling. Science has recently proven what Paul said 2,000 years ago when for centuries, they would look at that and say, "That's not possible, Paul. That's not possible, God of Christians." Now they say, "Oh, wait. New discovery. It is possible." That's actually how the brain works.
We didn't know that, but now we can see that's actually what happens. You create new neurological pathways when you replace bad habits and bad thinking patterns with new ones and positive ones. How about that? It says, "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will." Renewing your mind might be difficult, but it has a promise attached to it that you will know God's will. What a huge benefit!
Here's what I'm telling you: Knowing the unrevealed will of God starts with knowing the revealed will of God. Knowing the unrevealed will of God… Where do I work? Who do I marry? What neighborhood should I live in? Where should my kids go to school? That's the unrevealed will of God. Knowing the unrevealed will of God starts with knowing the revealed will of God.
Understanding his Word and how to navigate through it by the power of his Spirit at work through your life. God making known to you the things of him. The Spirit of God making known to you the things of God. Knowing the unrevealed will of God starts with you knowing and understanding and living the revealed will of God, and I will tell you, the mind wholly surrendered to God cannot escape the will of God. The mind wholly surrendered to God cannot escape the will of God. We must be committed to becoming experts on God.
So what I want you to do as you leave here, consider changing the station. Consider stopping taking in trash and start meditating on whatever is pure, whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, and lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. I want you to consider replacing a TV show with something else, a different activity or a better TV show; "The Bachelor" with "A.D." or something. Change the channel.
I want you to consider getting off social media and getting in the Word. I may want you to stop reading the news to read God's Word, if that's what it takes, or before you read the news, if that's your obsession. You don't read the news until you've read God's Word. You can create these things for yourself that will help you, will help God take real estate in your mind.
We must learn the Bible. There's no better time. Join The Journey starts Proverbs tomorrow, so if you're looking for a plan, check out jointhejourney.com. These are the three things you need: find a place, a time, and a plan. If you don't currently read the Bible on a daily basis, find a place, a time, and a plan to study God's Word. Where am I going to go? What time am I going to go? What am I going to read? The Journey will help you with that.
If we continue to think on particular things and do particular things, they create pathways. If we stop doing the wrong things, those pathways slowly atrophy and new pathways are created. So generally speaking, an unhealthy brain can be made healthy again. That's good news, and that doesn't even account for the work of the Spirit. In summary, changed lives come from changed minds. Minds are changed by taking corrupt thoughts captive, and corrupt thinking should be replaced with truth.
We're driving. I had to go get my truck out of the shop. I was in a rental car, so the plan was to pick up the guy from the rental car company and then we were going to drive in that rental truck to my new truck and he was going to drop me off, and I was going to be at my new truck. As we were doing that, it was about 5:00, so we got stuck in 5:00 traffic.
It was just me and the guy from the rental, so we're talking. I say, "Let me ask you a question. Do you have a faith?" As we continue that dialogue, he said, "Yes. I was raised Christian." I said, "Cool." He goes, "I've actually been to The Porch." I was like, "Oh, that's fun," and we got to talking around that, and I said, "Well, do you live as a Christian today?" and he said, "No, not really." I said, "Well, why?"
It was so clear because people had won the battle of his mind, the real estate for his mind, and he began to tell me, "Well, because I hang out with a bunch of people who aren't Christians." I said, "Yeah. That'll do it." "Not only that, but the things we read. We read a lot of science articles that seem to contradict Christianity." I said, "Really? Like what?" He said, "For example, Christianity says all people come from a man and a woman, Adam and Eve." I said, "That's interesting. Did you know science actually says that, too?"
He goes, "No." I go, "Yes. Chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve." I said, "Science has actually proven this idea that all humanity came from a man and a woman. I assume they say "chromosome Adam and mitochondrial Eve" mocking Christianity, but that's the truth. They've determined that." He goes, "Oh. I didn't know that." I go, "Well, why didn't you look it up?" He goes, "I never thought about it." You have to think about it! I didn't say it like that. I said, "Well, hey. You should think about it."
You can't give up your mind. Don't give up your mind. There are answers to these questions you have. The Lord is after that. God is after real estate. You want to know how this thing went down on Friday? It was a battle of real estate. I think we have a picture. Hey. Look at me. Not that real estate; this real estate. It was a battle of this real estate right here.
There was a little bit that went on this week, and a lot of folks were really wrestling with what do, so I thought I would share with you what God would have you do at a moment like this. What was so great is the Scriptures spoke to this moment, so we don't have to wing it. We don't have to make it up. We don't have to wonder. We can go and pull the file cabinet and say, "Lord, what would you have me do? How should I handle this moment?"
Let me share with you why I jump on social media sometimes. Because it's a very public way for me to interact with people in a way where you can go and look and see if it isn't possible to engage in a way that is both appropriately bold but appropriately loving. The very first thing I said on June 26, just minutes after word came out of Washington, DC, with what our Supreme Court did, was I made this statement.
I said, "The problem with America has been failed Christians under failed Christian leaderships, and the solution is real Christians and godly leadership." Now why did I say that? I said that because I think some people are like, "Oh, man. This community that's trying to change the way things have always been."
I am not surprised people who do not know God are pulling from files I'm not pulling from. It's exactly what they should do. The reason they have to pull from those files is because we've done a very poor job ourselves of loving them and leading them and making a case about the goodness of God, the beauty of his Word, and the life that can be found in walking in his ways.
I did that because Jesus told me what to do. In Matthew, chapter 7, verses 3-5, he basically lays out for us what we are to do. He says, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but you don't look at the log in your own eye? Why do you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' but you don't take the log out of your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye."
The very first thing I did when I heard this Supreme Court ruling is I thought, "Lord, would you just show me where I live by a law that is inconsistent with your blessing in my life, and the good of my family, and the good of my nation? Would you show me where I am not, myself, seeking you in a way that looks really obvious to me that others aren't seeking you? I want to draw a circle right here around me and I want to change everything in it. I want to be more in step with your will and way. Father, I know why the people are unrestrained."
In Proverbs, chapter 29, verse 18, I didn't have to ask myself why folks were going all kinds of different directions. "Where there is no vision…" the Scripture says, a vision for life in some other way that seems right to man, which, in the end, will lead to death. When they have no vision for a God who is good, and loving, and true, the people will be unrestrained, and there is no limit to the ways they will go to try and find life and satisfaction.
"Father, help me do a better case of talking about how good your will and way is, and the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome, and happy is he who keeps the law." Then, as I began to engage with some of my friends who were out there, I was instructed by God again. It says in Galatians, chapter 6, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any [spiritual] trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit…" **This is key."…of gentleness…" It goes on to say from there,"…first looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted."**
What that means is, again, remember you yourself at times need to be admonished and corrected and encouraged, so go to people in a way that you yourself want to be admonished, corrected, and encouraged. Scripture says, "The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouths of fools spout folly." It says, "Just make sure you look to yourself and you clothe yourself in humility."
Also, you want to make sure you look to yourself and say, "God, I know apart from you I can do nothing, so I want to go forward in a spirit of Christ, which is bold but it is loving, so I don't speak out of anger, and malice, and wrath. The Scripture says when you do that, you'll bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. What's the law of Christ? The law of Christ is simply this: It says…
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."
In everything you're doing, if you're not motivated by love to seek the welfare of the city you are in… Not self-righteousness. That's not "Looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted," but because you really love people and by the grace and the kindness of God, you have come to see God's way is good and when you put his Word in the front of your filing cabinet, it leads to life. Scripture goes on to say, "If you have enough faith as to move mountains but don't have love, you are nothing."
The Scripture says, "If I give all my possessions to the poor…" Watch that. "All of my possessions to the poor. If I turn my body over to be burned, but I don't have love, I am nothing." When you look to respond, how do you respond? You don't respond cynically and you don't respond by syncing up. You don't throw rainbows all over your social media page. That's not loving. What you do is you stand firm.
The Scripture says very specifically in Jeremiah (when God was talking to the Prophet Jeremiah), he says, "Gird up your loins! It's time to be a man. You speak to them all I have spoken to you. Don't be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you" because you are my salt and light. It's time for you to step up. He said, "I'm going to make you like a fortified city with walls of bronze and pillars of iron. I want you to speak before the kings, and the princes, and the priests, and the people, and all the folks in the land.
When you speak, remember you are to speak with your speech seasoned with salt," as it were. "Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous, doesn't brag, isn't arrogant. It doesn't act unbecomingly. It doesn't seek its own. Love is not provoked." Proverbs 27 says, "The sand is weighty and the stone is heavy, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than them both." So brace yourself because you're going to be provoked, but love is not provoked. Love does not take into account wrongs suffered. "Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness."
That's why you should never put a rainbow on your car or try and sync up with others who are running away from God. It's not loving to rejoice in that, but it rejoices always in the truth. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things." "Love never fails…" Friends, I'm going to tell you, these are great days to be alive because God has been very specific and very clear with what he wants us to do and now is our chance to do it, and to keep doing it. It's okay.
Be reminded, in the midst of trials, to be slow to speak and quick to listen. "Fools don't delight in understanding, but only in revealing their own mind." But speak. Speak boldly. When you speak, don't speak with the anger of man, for that does not accomplish the righteousness of God, but know this: the rainbow is ultimately a sign of God's holiness and his grace.
So use the rainbow. I love that's your symbol! Do you know what that symbol means? Do you know where it came from? It came from Genesis 9:16 when God had judged the world because it tried to find life apart from him. He said, "Just like I judged the world once through a flood, I'll never do it through a flood again. But mark my word: I'm going to judge it again. The reason I haven't judged it fully and completely yet is because I'm patient toward you, wishing that none should perish but all should come to repentance."
So listen, rainbow friend. I want you to know there is a God, and he is gracious. He has delayed judgement because he wants guys like me to know he's good so I can tell men like you who don't know he's good, and I know you don't know he's good because you're rebelling against his will and his way and you're choosing to say, "This is life," and he says, "That's not going to lead to life." The rainbow also means judgement is coming. There is a storm, and I want you to know there's a God.
You transition from that to Romans 1:16, which says, " For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…" and you share with your friends about the goodness and kindness of God. You tell them God loves sinners like you and sinners like them. I am for equality for all, I really am. Especially if you mean, by equality, we are all in need of grace and we all can find that grace through the means God has given us in the person of Jesus Christ.
We have equipped you for this moment, to love. You're not going to be able to do it if you do it in the power of your flesh, but if you surrender, you let the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, love and joy and peace and patience reign in you. "So conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity. Devote yourself to prayer. Let your speech always be seasoned with salt, as it were, that it might give grace to those who hear in every single opportunity."
Let's go, friends. Let's go be God's people. Let's be salt. Salt never speaks arrogantly toward meat that is rotting. It always seeks to preserve, to restore. Light invades the darkness. It's loving. Let's be his people. Let's pray, and let's remind ourselves nothing really has changed.
Men have always rebelled against God… institutions, nations. It might break our heart that we have not done a better job of making a case with a government led by the people, for the people, of the people, that God's will and way is a good way, but let's just keep loving and keep speaking all he has commanded us so we will not be dismayed. Let me pray for you, and then we're going to rejoice in our God.
Father, I thank you that your Word is so sufficient. I thank you that you have shared with us all we need to know and do for such a time as this and for such a time as existed in 1973 and for such a time as existed in the 1960s and the 1800s when we were fools about race. Thank you, Father, that your Word is always sufficient. I pray we would be students of it. I pray we would heed the reminder of today, that changed lives come from changed minds.
Lord, we want to be people who set our hearts to study the Word of God and to obey it, and then to teach it to all of our friends. Lord, help us continually to see the log that is in our own eye. There are many things about us we know we can align more fully with you. Help us first to love one another, to shepherd our kids, to initiate with our neighbors. Help us to always do it as men and women who are not clothed in love and not are trying to be loving but are yielded to your Spirit that is always loving.
So Father, thank you that you've given us the privilege to be alive, today, in this country, in this land. Thank you that we're free to gather. We pray for our president, for our senators, for our governors, for our neighbors, for anybody who is in authority, Lord, that they might seek you, that we might live quiet and tranquil lives.
Lord, if we can't be quiet and it won't be tranquil because we need to continue to be your men, I pray we would fall in line to all the faithful prophets of days in the past, that we would follow the example of your Son who was a suffering servant. So Lord, help us to steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing our toil is not in vain.
Help us to be on alert, to stand firm in the faith, to act like men, to be strong. Lord, help us to let everything we do be done in love. We love you, and because we love you, you have commanded us to love others. I pray we do that well. Lord, may we never confuse love with agreeing with sin.
Father, we pray we would not let kindness or truth leave us, but we would bind it around our neck, we would write it on the tablets of our heart because you have promised us at that point we would find favor with God and men. Lord, we trust in you with all our heart. We lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways we're going to acknowledge you. Make our paths straight. Make our lives strong. Make Jesus more famous.
Heal this land. Save those who don't know you. Help us to walk in grace. We thank you as we walk with you. We walk with the God of angel armies, and we can rejoice that you hear us when we call. We need you. Lord, we need you. We love you. We thank you for the rainbow of grace, which is Jesus Christ. We thank you that he himself died for our sins, that we might have life. May we follow him for your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.