All right, let's go! Self Care continues. Welcome, friends in the room. Yes, Happy Valentine's Day week. Singles Awareness Day is coming up. We are continuing this series Self Care. Anyone been to New York City recently? The concrete jungle where dreams are made of. New York during the winter is one of the best times to go to that city. It's such a fun city.
My wife and I went not long ago, and we did, of course, what you do when you go to New York and you're doing all of the touristy things. We stayed in the Lower East Side. We went and saw a show. We went to Times Square. We went and saw the Christmas tree and just had a blast going around getting to experience all that was New York.
One of my favorite parts of our trip I didn't expect to be one of my favorite parts, and that was the subway station. Any subway travelers? Here's what I love about the subway station experience. First, it's unbelievably cheap. For a nickel, you can go all around the city as many times as you want. Compared to an Uber, it's unbelievable.
There's something that feels like, "Hey, I'm a real New Yorker. I'm in this little box right now with everyone who is…" It's essentially who I see at the DMV all in one. We're getting a reunion together. We're hanging out in there, and here we are. We're riding around, holding on to the thing. We just had a blast. It almost feels like you're going on a scavenger hunt every time, like, "Hey, where do we go now? Do we take the F train? Do we take the A train? What do we do?"
Throughout that experience, there were different times where because I wasn't that familiar with the train, I would think I was getting on to one train and I would make a mistake. I thought we were going to SoHo or we were going to Chelsea or we were going to Brooklyn, and we ended up heading toward Queens. You don't realize it until you get close, and you're like, "I don't think this is where we're supposed to be right now."
What do you do in that situation? You're like, "Well, I have to get off. I have to figure out which train I need to be on and make sure I get on the right train." Now, what does that have to do with self-care? Well, very similar to the idea of if you get on the wrong train it's going to take you to the wrong destination, so it is with our thoughts. The thoughts you have are not just one and done. "I had this thought and then it's done."
If you allow that thought to stay in your mind and you continue, it will invite other thoughts like it, and it will lead you toward a destination. We even have a term for this. What's it called? Train of thought. Our thoughts are not just an individual one-off; they're a train of thoughts. Unlike anything else in your life, what you think about in your mind is going to impact the person you become.
So if you don't have the ability to control the trains of thought that are trying to get you and the ability of "Hey, I need to get off this train of thought right now, because it's making me freak out, and I need to get on that train over there," you will live a life where you are no longer in control. So we're going to talk tonight about what it looks like to control the mind.
The mind can be so powerful, and it can just lead you. All of a sudden, one thought leads to another that leads to another, and you've jumped on this train, and it is heading toward a destination you don't want to be at. What do I mean by that? Here are some examples I wrote out. I call this the "Step on the WebMD" train.
All of a sudden, you have a sore back, and you're like, "Man, what could this be?" I go into WebMD, I pull up the app, I put in the symptoms, and everything that comes up is like it could be an appendicitis rupture, kidney failure, or cancer is in all of them, and you're like, "Oh man. That is not good." All of a sudden, you're scheduling doctor's appointments, because "I need to go see a doctor, because I think my kidneys are failing right now. I have cancer, back cancer. I didn't even know that happened."
Or here's another train: the "reading into things in a dating relationship" train. You're dating someone, and you've gone on a few dates. Things are going well. Maybe you're the girl there. He's dropping you off. You're a few dates in, and he drops you off, and he's like, "Hey, I had a nice time." Then he gives you a side hug, and you're like, "What does 'nice time' mean? And side hug? Really? You're giving me a side hug?"
So you begin to play the train. You're sitting there like, "I don't even know if this guy likes me. He doesn't think I'm attractive. I bet he likes Sarah, is what's going on. He's probably going to break this off. You know what? I'm going to break it off with him before he breaks it off with me. That's what I'm going to do." You just go crazy because you follow the train of thought. It's so true. We can all be a little crazy.
Or maybe it's with your boss. I don't know if you've been here. You send an email to your boss, and you don't get a response. You're like, "Huh. No response. I wonder if he got the email. Of course he got the email. You couldn't not get the email. We work at the same company. It's not like it went to spam. He must have not liked my idea. He probably doesn't like me. I bet I'm next on the chopping block. I need to update my LinkedIn profile. I don't even know my LinkedIn password. Man! I have to find a new career."
All of a sudden, just from one thought, and it's probably irrational… Usually it's irrational. The boss was like, "Oh, I was off yesterday." You just lose your mind because you follow the train of thought. That can happen in little ways, and it can happen in big ways. Regardless, if you and I cannot learn the ability to get off that thought train, then you and I are going to not only not have control of our thoughts; we will not have control over the life we're going to live, because nothing within your control… Your thoughts are in your control, and we're going to talk for the next 30 minutes about how you can step off that thought train.
But nothing that is in your control will impact your life like your thoughts. Your thoughts more than anything else within your control… You can't control all of the circumstances you face, everything you're going to face in life, but you can control your thoughts and how you react to them. Here is why this is so important. It's pretty easy whenever you're on the A train in Brooklyn and you need to get off and get on the other train… I know how to do it.
I just wait until the doors open. I step off. I look at the chart. I'm like, "All right. I need to go here." It's not as easy or intuitive to get off some of the thought trains we can get on. So tonight, as we continue Self Care, we are going to talk about winning the battle of the mind. This series has been a look at what it looks like to care for yourself biblically in terms of mind, body, spirit. We're going to cover body in a couple of weeks.
We're covering all of these different issues about what it looks like to care for yourself. Tonight, we're going to talk about what it looks like in regard to the mind, specifically how you can win the battle of the mind. We're going to look at three principles. We're looking at three things that if you want to win the battle for your mind have to be a part of the way you think. So, three truths about filling your mind with the right things or, really, winning the battle of your mind.
The first truth comes from 2 Corinthians 10. Corinthians was written by the apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul. He wrote this book to the Corinthian church, and in it he lays out some of the things they're to do as it relates to thinking. Here's what he says: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."
That same word strongholds is translated prisons. The things we fight with (he's really talking about truth) have the power to unlock people from prison, from the prisons their decisions have made, the prisons they can find themselves creating in their own minds. That's the power we have in Christ through truth.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive [capture, arrest] …" It's the same word in Greek translated. "…every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Paul says that as followers of Jesus, as it relates to the thoughts we have, you are to take every thought captive.
You are to arrest it and make sure it is in line with what God says, with what is true, and you use the truth to combat the lies the Enemy feeds you. The way you fight the battle of the mind involves taking captive the thoughts you have and aligning them with truth and getting rid of any of the toxic thoughts you have. If you want to experience freedom and really win the battle of your mind, you have to…
1._ Remove toxic thinking._ All of us came into the room tonight and have had thoughts fill our minds that are toxic. They are not in line with God's Word, and you have to capture or arrest those thoughts. Thoughts like that are going to pop up. They're negative thoughts, anxious thoughts, lustful thoughts, all kinds of different thoughts. God would say those things are going to pop into your head, but it is your choice over whether you will dwell on them.
As a believer in Christ, you grab those thoughts. You say, "I'm choosing not to dwell on you." We remove toxic thoughts. Basically, we audit our minds and evaluate, as we think about what we're thinking about, "Hey, what is this thought? Is this from God? Is this what he would want me to be thinking right now?" Anything that's not, I'm going to remove that from my mind. I'm going to talk about what some of those things are.
It's not dissimilar to this. Whenever you go to the airport you have to go through security. You have to go through TSA. You have to take off your shoes and go through and make sure you don't have a belt on and make sure there's nothing hazardous or dangerous or sharp or explosive inside of the bags you have. I was with a friend who was coming with me for a speaking opportunity in Missouri. He just kind of tagged along. His bag got flagged, and they pulled his bag aside.
Usually you're thinking, "Man, did I bring a shampoo bottle that's too big? Come on, guys. This is taking too long. Can we just get out of here?" The guy pulls him aside and says, "There's a knife in your bag." He's like, "A knife? I don't even know what you're talking about." He says, "Well, do you know if it's a two-sided knife?" He's like, "Honestly, I'm not sure." He said, "Well, if it is, there is a significant fine and you will not be able to go forward." I'm like, "Dude, let's hope it isn't. Good luck, buddy, because every man for himself after this."
The guy pulls it out and begins to look at it, and, thank goodness, it was just a pocketknife. It was one of those things where TSA, security in general, says, "There are certain items we are not allowing to come in here, whether they're hazardous, toxic, or dangerous, like knives or guns and things like that." The apostle Paul says when it comes to your mind, you have to be the security checkpoint. You will not allow knives or negative thoughts or things that are not from God, things that are not biblical, things that are not true, to come into your mind.
As soon as you identify those things, you're saying, "I'm not going to dwell on this thing." Here's why this matters for you. So many of the knives you and I allow into our minds are a little bit like those hidden pocketknives you didn't even realize were there. In other words, just like when you go through security rarely is someone caught and is like, "Oh man! I didn't even realize I brought a bomb. Who knew?" Generally, they're like, "Oh man. I forgot about the pocket knife. Yeah, you can keep it."
In the same way, there are toxic thoughts that you think every day that seem harmless. You may not even realize you're doing it because it's so natural, and they are things that Paul would say, "That's a knife. You need to confiscate it and remove it from your thinking." You cannot choose all of the different thoughts that are going to pop up from time to time, but you can choose what you are going to dwell on. Let me give you some of the toxic ones I've experienced that I think are a really common experience for all of us.
Has anyone ever found themselves not believing the best about someone? Toxic thought. When I'm going, "Oh my gosh, yeah. I can't believe they did that. They always do that. They're a bad apple. That's the type of person they are." Toxic thought. Paul would say that's a knife. You have to remove that from your thinking. You have to choose to believe the best. When you can't, you expose it and say, "I can't believe the best right now." Toxic thought.
Here's another one. Have you found yourself obsessing over why you didn't get invited on that trip, obsessing over why you weren't invited to that dinner? Toxic thought. He would say, "Remove it." Another one that can be common is… Have you ever found yourself living in what I would say is the "What if?" mentality, which is just fear? It's like, "Oh my goodness. What if I never get married? What if my mom doesn't recover? What if I lose my job?" Toxic thought. You have to identify it, remove it, and say, "I'm not going to dwell on that. This will not control me. I am taking back control over the thoughts I have."
Another one: dwelling on your appearance or, really, wishing that you looked like someone else. When you look in the mirror… It's never that blatant, like, "Oh my gosh! It's you." It's never popping up on your shoulder talking to you. It's just this looming thought of, "Man, I don't like who I am." Knife. Toxic thought. You have to remove it. We're going to talk a little bit about how and what that exactly looks like.
You are either going to take your thoughts captive, like he says here, or your thoughts are going to take you captive. Here's the thing. No matter how hard I try to convince you, many of you will not believe me. You can control the thoughts you think, the thoughts you dwell on. Our world around us says you can't control that and you're not in the driver's seat as it relates to what you think about. You can control what you think about.
Paul just said we take every thought captive. Our thoughts don't take us captive. I am choosing, "I will not be owned by this." We're going to talk a little bit more about what those things are and how we can experience taking control back from our thoughts. Let me just do this before we move on. Let's just audit a little bit some of the thoughts we have. If you're inside of the room, the thoughts you have every single day are shaping the person you are becoming. They are taking you to a destination. You're getting on a train.
Let's think in the last 24 hours. I wrote out three categories or scenarios. As it relates to the thoughts you have had in the last 24 hours, here's a question for you. Were the thoughts you had over the past 24 hours more worried thoughts or peaceful thoughts? Were the thoughts over the last 24 hours more negative or positive? Was I more prone to negatively interpret, to step on that negative train? When you step on that train, it just goes farther and farther down the negative road. It gets worse and worse and worse.
Were the thoughts over the last 24 hours more worldly or eternal? It is impossible to live a positive life with negative thinking, it is impossible to live an eternal mindset life with worldly thinking, and it is impossible to live a life filled with peace with anxious thoughts and anxious thinking. The apostle Paul says you have to take those things captive. You remove every single toxic thought. For some of you, this means you have to remove some of the things in your life that are fueling the toxic thoughts.
Here's a true story. There are friends you have… Let's say you struggle with anxiety. Let's say you struggle with lust. Let's say you struggle with…whatever it is. There are friends inside of the room, friends in your life… Maybe they're not here tonight. Maybe they're just in your life in general. They're not helping you get off the wrong train and get on the right one; they're helping you stay on the wrong train.
They're like, "Dude, we're on the train to anxiety, and let's just feed off one another. I can't believe it." Or the train of jealousy. "Let's just feed off of one another." The train of gossip. "Let's just feed off of one another." You have to make sure you don't have people around you who are pulling you on that train. The other thing is just the things you're consuming. The things you are consuming are filling your mind with those thoughts, and those thoughts are a train that lead to a destination.
What are some examples of that? Pornography. We talk about it all the time. If you fill your mind with lustful thoughts, it's going to take you in the direction of a destination of lust-filled desires and acting out on those things, of being unable to experience what God's desire and plan for sexuality really is. If you fill your mind with… There are so many different things. Some of them are not even that blatant.
Some of you need to get off social media, because every time you get on there you're filled with thoughts about how much you don't have and how much you don't have and "I can't believe that she…" And you're insecure about what you look like because she always posts these pictures in these short skirts, whatever girls wear.
Some of you need to get off dating apps. For real. You're on dating apps, and you are a different person. You're checking it every three seconds. You're like, "Oh my gosh. Did he 'like' me again? I can't believe he didn't 'like' me. I've 'liked' him five times." You need to get off it, because it is changing you. You are filling your mind with things that are distracting you, and you need to take those thoughts captive.
One of the ways you take them captive is by saying, "I'm not going to consume that stuff." Some of it is neutral like Narcos or just shows on Netflix, where you're like, "It's filling my mind with bad things. I'm more anxious because of the things I'm consuming." Paul says in order to experience and win the battle in your mind, it has to include removing toxic thoughts from your life.
The second step he lays out in Philippians, chapter 4. Paul writes the book of Philippians from a jail cell. He writes out these words, and he's arrested for his faith and thrown in a jail cell. He's chained to a Roman guard, and he writes out these different words to the Philippian church. He says, "** 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."**
Paul says, "Fix your attention on these things." There's not only stuff we need to get rid of in our lives. We're going to arrest that and that's not coming in. There are also things we need to fill and dwell on over and over and over again, rehearse and replay in our minds. He says whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, which is just worthy of worship. You could say heavenly. He says, "Begin to think about these things." Think about what is true. Think about who God is. Think about the truths that are contained in God's Word. Those are the things to dwell on and not fill your mind with toxic thoughts.
2._ Replace the lies with the truth_. If you want to win the battle of the mind, it involves replacing the lies with the truth. I need to identify when I am beginning to believe a lie, wanting to get on this train, and I need to have others around me and really take the steps to replace the lie with the truth. Imagine what your life would look like if you really applied these verses. Imagine what today would have looked like if everywhere you went, every thought you had at work…
You're sitting there making widgets, or whatever you do for a job, and you're doing Excel spreadsheets, and the only things that filled your mind were like, "Man, God is so good. I'm so thankful. It's another day. I'm alive. God is for me. He put me here on purpose. He is at work in my life. He's going to complete the good works he started inside of me. He's never going to leave me or forsake me." All of these things. These are what flooded your mind.
How filled with peace would you be? How un-frustrated would you be when a coworker interrupts you or does that thing that typically annoys you? How much of your life would change? How much of your self-talk, the things you say to yourself, would change if you really filled your mind with these things? "Those are the things I'm going to dwell on. If it's not that, nope. Thank you. Next. We are moving on." Think about it.
The apostle Paul says, "Think and dwell on these things." There should be nothing in your life that you dwell on… It may pop in. You may think on it, but nothing you dwell on that is not here, that is not found in God's Word, that's not from the truth we see in God's Word. I don't know what lies you're tempted to believe that you need to replace with truth.
I can tell you one of the biggest ones for me is the lie that "David, you are never going to be good enough. No matter how hard you try, you are going to fail. You are a failure. You'll always be a failure, and you'll never be good enough. You know what? You can work really hard at work, and you're going to fail your family. Or you could be amazing with your family, and you're going to fail at work. You're never going to be good enough."
Here's why that lie is so powerful for me: because there's truth in it. I'm never going to be good enough. I am not good enough. I'm not enough on my own. There's a small bit of truth, but it's only half the truth, because the Bible says that through Christ I am more than enough. Through Christ I have everything I need. Through Christ, when I am weak, if I am not enough, he is made strong, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12. His power is made perfect in "not enough" people like me.
So if that's where I am, a fuller expression of the truth is what I need in the midst of the lie. Here's what I know about you. The reason the lies you're tempted to believe have power or grab at your heart is there's some truth in them. What you need to do is not give some sort of positive… Here, I wrote out some of them. Maybe the lie you believe is, "I'll always be single and alone on Valentine's Day." Maybe that's the lie you believe.
The reason it's powerful is because there's some truth. You may always be single and not in a relationship on Valentine's Day. That's the truth, but it's not all the truth. The further truth is that God says through Christ you have everything you need. He will supply all of your needs. He will never leave you nor forsake you. If you have Jesus, you have never been alone and you never will be alone. You have the thing that will satisfy you like no man or woman ever will.
What I'm saying is when it comes to "I need to combat the lies I believe with the truth," I'm not saying you need to just pick a Bible verse and then hold on to that in those times of trouble. You need to tell yourself the truth. "I may have cancer. I may, but God has promised that he is in control, he's working for my good, he loves me, he has plans to prosper me not to harm me. Anything he allows to come through his hands is for my good and for his purposes, and I can trust him, or I can just worry about it and be anxious and fill my mind with toxic thoughts."
You need to tell yourself the truth. What are some other ones? "I can't change." You can't change. That's true, but over and over the Bible teaches that Christ can change you and he will if you surrender and walk with him. Another truth. "What if my boyfriend cheats on me?" I could come up here and say… It would be awesome to be a pastor and be like, "Dude, here is the promise of God. He'll never cheat on you. He'll never abandon you. It'll be enough every time."
That's not true. He may cheat on you. First, you shouldn't date guys who may cheat on you, and secondly, don't ever put your hope in a man or woman other than Christ. You have to embrace… I don't know what the lies you're tempted to believe are. I don't know what the strongholds that you have to have truth in order to demolish are, but you need to know the truth. It is in confronting those things you'll experience a freedom.
Maybe the lie is, "My friends don't care about me." Again, I could stand up here and be like, "Of course they care about you. Every person with the Spirit of God cares about you." They may not care about you, but you can say, "They may not, but you know what? I'm here to serve, not to be served, and I am going to care about them. That's what I'm on this planet to do: care for people." The choice is yours, and you have to confront it with the truth from God's Word and align that with reality around us.
Finally, "My value is in how I look, where I work, and what I earn." A lot of us can struggle with that. I know I can. Here's the truth: your value is in where you work, how much you earn, and how you look…to the world. Let me say it another way: to people whose opinions don't matter, to people whose opinions won't last. But your worth in the truest sense has already been defined by the God of the universe saying, "I find you so valuable I will give my own life for you." That's how much you are worth.
It has nothing to do with how you look, how much you earn, and where you work. The truth is not to say, "No, that stuff doesn't matter." It matters a lot to worldly people who don't know Jesus, and every day you're going to be bombarded with people who are like, "This is what matters in life." You have to hold on to the truth. "It matters to them. Am I going to let it matter to me? Am I going to let it define who I am or am I going to let Jesus and what he did on the cross define who I am?" That's a choice you have to make.
All of us can experience winning the battle of the mind if we remove toxic thoughts and replace the lies with the truth. Here's what's encouraging to me. The more you embrace God's truth in the midst of the lie, the easier it becomes for your mind to run to the truth. In those moments where I'm tempted to get on the train of anxiety, it becomes easier to go, "God is with me. He's for me. I can trust him. He's in control. I've never had control. That's an illusion and a myth. God loves me. I can have peace, because everything is sifting through his hands and he is for me."
The more I rehearse and ingrain that in my mind and believe that, the easier it becomes, when I'm tempted to get on that anxiety train, to run to the train of truth. The more you continue to renew your mind, combat the lies with the truth, the easier it becomes. It's not dissimilar to this. When I was riding around on the subway, there were times where I was like, "Oh no. I'm on the wrong train here."
Do you know what didn't happen a lot? I was with a friend who lives in that city. He never got on the wrong train. He lives there every single day. If he got on it, he knew immediately, "Oh man, I'm on the wrong train. I have to get back on the A train," and he would quickly get off, because he had familiarized himself with it.
This is how neuroscience, which is the study of the brain, says your brain actually works. It's just aligning with God's Word. In Romans 12 it says when you renew your mind it changes the way you think. You create neural pathways, if you will, that make it easier to run to that truth every single time the more you do it. It weakens the power of the lie. It makes it less likely to run to that. Science is saying this is how your mind works.
The more you renew your mind around the truth from God's Word and reject the lie, it gets only easier and easier. It is also true that there are going to be times where because you don't know God's Word enough… You need to read God's Word if you're going to combat the lie with the truth. There are going to be other times where you're just at a place where you're like, "I am stuck. I don't know how to get off this train. I don't want to be on this train. It's a depression train. I don't know how to get off of here. I don't know what else to do."
What do you do? Very similar to that situation. In New York, my wife and I headed to the Christmas tree lighting. Here's what's true about subways. (This is like a subway train message.) They're never perfect. There's always construction going on on the Green Line one. There's always just something off, and then they operate between the hours of… Between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., no train is going here. So there are times you're like, "I literally don't know what to do." I'm looking at it, and the option we had is not working now, so what do we do?
What did I do? I asked those around me. I brought others in and said, "I don't know. I'm stuck. I don't want to be on this train. I don't want to go to this destination. I want to go to that destination. Will you help me?" This is what you have to do if you're going to win the battle of your mind, because you will not always be able to know… "I can't get on the right train. I want to fight this lie. I just don't know how to right now." You have to bring others in along the journey, as we help one another. It's how God created and wired us to work.
Finally, the third idea as it relates to winning the battle in your mind comes from the same chapter of Philippians where he says, "Rejoice [have joy, be joyful] in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice [be joyful] !" I read this and I'm like, "Are you saying that joy is a choice, Paul? Like, I can just choose to be joyful? Are you writing this from Cancun, or something, with a Mai Tai in your hand?" No. He's writing it with an armed man chained to him from a prison cell. How can you write that, Paul? He doesn't say, "Rejoice in the circumstances." He says "in the Lord in every circumstance." The apostle Paul would say you have to choose joy.
3._ Reframe with the right perspective._ What do I mean by that? I mean with an eternal perspective. You can either choose to see the world around you with an earthly perspective and with today and "This is always how it's going to be" or with an eternal perspective. The apostle Paul was able to choose joy because he maintained an eternal perspective.
He said, "No matter what the situation is, because of the truths I know, because of the fact that I'm going to spend forever and ever and ever with God, that there's going to come a day five billion years from now I look back and the fact that I was chained to Rocky over here was not that big of a deal, I can always choose joy no matter what, because I know where my hope is." And he would say, "So can you."
Whatever situation you're in, you have an opportunity to reframe it with the right perspective around you. Let me further illustrate what I mean by that. To choose to see the goodness of God and the best in the scenario around you. Before you run off, let me explain a little bit more what I mean. The apostle Paul, three chapters earlier, explained exactly what this looks like. In the very first chapter of the book he says this. Philippians 1:12-14:
" Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear."
Paul says, "I'm sitting here locked up next to Rocky, and I'm in chains. I'm thrown away. Most people would be like, 'Where's God now? What are you doing? I'm so angry. This is terrible. I'm just upset.'" He says, "This is amazing. I have a chance where every eight hours I get a new guy." They would change up the guard every eight hours, and they'd come in. "I have a captive audience, literally, and I tell them about Jesus, and now the entire imperial guard knows about Jesus." That's what he just said.
Even in the midst of a circumstance where everyone would be like, "Dude, that is bad. We need to pray for him," he's like, "This is great! I get one guy after the next after the next, and they're all coming to know at least the Jesus I talk about." He was able to see and reframe it with the right perspective. Even some of the worst moments or most mundane, trivial moments, frustrating moments, I can choose, and I must choose, to look for the goodness of God around me.
It's not dissimilar to this, in case you're not following me. It's a little bit of what we do when we choose the right filter on Instagram. Do you guys know what I mean by that? Here's what I mean. Do you guys know what the most popular filter on Instagram is? Anyone know? Clarendon, whatever that is. Clarendon is the most popular. Let's be honest. How do you choose a filter that you use? Whichever one you look best in.
You're like, "No, not as good. I haven't seen the sun in a year in that one. Okay, move to that one, that one, that one." You choose a filter based on whichever one makes it look the best. Right? Like, "Look good. Here we go. And…there you are." Then I would go, and I'm going to take this, and I'm going to be like, "Man, not that one. Not that one. Oh, that's not good." I would choose the right filter based on whichever one looks best or is the best-looking.
In the same way, the apostle Paul would say you do not have a choice over everything you're going to face in life, but you have a choice over the filter you're going to place on it. You can choose the best-looking one and seek to see the goodness of God no matter what's going on around you or you can choose to see the filter just like the world sees, but you can choose joy.
What does this look like? Let me give you some practical examples of what I mean by that. "My car is in the shop." That's a bummer of a day. "My car may be totaled. I don't know what's going on. My engine is having trouble." I can choose to be angry or I can choose to say, "God, thank you that I even have a car. Like, 2 percent of the world has a car. Thank you that I have a car that can even go to the shop."
Maybe you come home tonight and your dishwasher is broken. You can either choose to be like, "Man, what in the world, God? I thought I was following you. I was at The Porch tonight" or you can choose to say, "All right. My dishwasher is broken. I guess I'll have more time to listen to a Porch sermon as I wash these dishes by hand." Think about it. Maybe you're sick and maybe your response is like, "Oh man, I can't believe I'm sick," or I could say, "I'm sick. God, thank you for sickness because it reminds me to be thankful for all of the days where I'm not and I'm healthy."
Or you're at the office and they had this big party and cake. They brought cake in, and everyone ate the cake before you got there. You can either choose to be like, "These people are unbelievable" or you can say, "It's probably good. I didn't need that cake. I don't need more cake in my life, and I'm thankful." Whatever situation (and those are trivial), you will not choose the things you face in life, but you can choose how you frame it and the filter you put on it, just like with Instagram we look for the best-looking.
Because of God…his promises are eternal, we have security, no matter what we face in this life he's working for our good…you can choose to look for the goodness of God in every situation. Inside of the room, I know some of the things I've described pale in comparison to things you're walking through, circumstances you're facing right now. So me talking about a dishwasher being broken… You're like, "My mom has brain cancer. I don't have a job. My fiancé and I just broke up. My whole world just changed. You're telling me to put the right filter on it?"
I don't want to pretend I know everything and every emotion you're feeling and everything you're walking through. I'm also not saying, "Just be positive. Everything will look up." I, like you, walk through things and hear stories and experience things in my own life where I'm like, "I cannot see exactly what God is doing here. I'm not smart enough to know how you're going to redeem someone being molested."
But I know this: there will come a day where, according to Ecclesiastes 3, for even the things in this life we're like, "That doesn't make sense, God. I don't know what you're doing there…" We will see everything made beautiful in its time. That's what Ecclesiastes 3 says. That truth, along with the truth in Romans 8 that if you are a follower of Jesus everything in your life is going to be made to work for your good and God is using that inside of your life…
It's not dissimilar to this. There was a time after I graduated from school I got invited to go to a football game for my alma mater. I was given tickets, and I got to sit on the second row, and I was down on eye level. All of a sudden, at halftime the band came out, and what happens with the band? They start doing a choreographed thing.
When you're looking at it from the ground level, it looks like chaos. You're like, "What is going on right now?" The tuba is about to take over the xylophone, and the clarinets over here… Do they even have clarinets in these things? It just looks like total chaos from the ground level. Then you look up at the screen and you see, "Oh! It's spelling something out. It was all purposeful." It looked chaotic. It looked random. It looked like, "What?" Then up on the screen, when you see it from above, it's totally different.
I know that some people in this room are holding on to something that I have no idea how God, when we see it from above, is going to make us all go, "Wow! It's totally different. He allowed it. He didn't cause it. There was a purpose even in the pain." I further know that, because we saw it ultimately in the cross. The Son of God becomes a man, comes to earth, lives a perfect life. He goes around and never sins, never does anything wrong.
What does he do his entire life? Spends it pouring himself out for humanity. He allows blind people to see. He allows lame people to walk. He heals people. He restores families, transforms the area in which he lived. One day, he's abandoned by all of his friends and betrayed by one of them. He's taken before a crowd, he's wrongfully accused, and the crowd cries out, "Crucify this man!" That's a bad day.
He's led away and crucified on a hill called Calvary, and he dies a brutal death at the hands of men he created and formed in their mothers' wombs, being held up by a cross made of wood from a tree he fashioned and created and gave life to. That's a bad day, depending on how you frame it, because it's also the greatest thing.
The greatest evil act of human history…humanity, the creation, killing their Creator…would also become the greatest act in all of human history, the greatest day in human history, because it's not just the day Jesus died; it's the day death died and where God entered into the world and said, "I will provide a way. I will give a sacrifice of myself so that anyone who trusts in me, not in themselves, can have eternal life." It's all how you frame it.
What some of you inside of this room need to know more than anything else, all of the truths about winning your mind we talked about, about recognizing the thoughts you have, removing the toxic ones, about replacing the lie with the truth, about reframing it in light of God's eternal perspective… The truth you need to know more than anything else is not that you need to get off the train of anxiety.
You were born into this world as a child of wrath, the Bible says. You were on a train from the moment you breathed your first breath. The sins that put you into who you are today, the sins you've created placed you on a train not to anxiety but to hell, and there is only one remedy to get off that train: to put your trust in the Savior who died in your place, who came to defeat death, to offer eternal life to you and me and anyone who will accept it.
According to the Bible, your mind has been blinded. That's what it says. Second Corinthians 4 says the mind of unbelievers… If you're not a believer in Jesus, your mind has been blinded, the Bible says, and it has blinded you from being able to see the goodness and glory of God in Jesus and the work he did on the cross. Today, that God is inviting you. "I want to have a relationship with you. I went to such great lengths to die for you."
Will you accept the hands that are reaching out to you, the hands that reached apart for you? Will you accept that offer? If you do, you will have eternal life. If you don't, you will stay on that train. He offers it to you. Here's the truth: you will never be able to stand before God someday… If you're like, "Man, I don't know if I believe that. I'm not really sure. I don't know what I believe…"
I know this at least: you will never again be able to stand before God and say, "I never heard about Jesus. I never knew he was the only way," because God will say, "On February 12, 2019, you heard about the Savior of the world who came for you." Will you accept him? For the rest of us, the choice is ours. Will we win the battle in our minds by removing toxic thoughts, replacing the lies with the truth, and reframing it in light of the goodness of God with an eternal perspective? Let me pray.
Father, I want to pray for two groups of people. The first is those who I know inside of the room don't know you. They have never had a moment where they have trusted in Christ through faith. I pray that right now, wherever they're seated, they would maybe for the first time just say, "Lord, I believe that I'm a sinner. You died for my sins. I trust not in how good I am but in you dying in my place and rising from the grave, that alone." I pray that truth… There's no magic prayer or magic words but words that reflect a heart that trusts, a mind that trusts, that form the beginning of a relationship, and I pray that all over this room that would break out.
The second group… I want to pray for people who are walking through the valley of the shadow of cancer, the shadow of heartache and heartbreak, the valley of betrayal, abandonment, pain, God, that you would be in this moment and in moments going forward more real to them than the pain, that you would eclipse those things in their minds, they would recognize toxic thoughts, you would give them the grace to reframe, no matter what situation they're walking in, and they would hold fast onto you. Would you replace the lies we all believe with the truth from your Word? Thank you for Jesus. We worship you in song, amen.