by Jeff Lucas on June 19, 2023
"Resetting Our Minds"
In conjunction with the intimate teaching from Pastor Jeff Lucas above, below you will find a five-day reflection for mental health and resetting your mind. We encourage you to spend time resting in and praying over Pastor Jeff's daily reflections below and what God is calling you to recognize within yourself. We hope the next five mental health-focused days are a fruitful time for you to work hand-in-hand with the Lord to reset the unhealthy thought patterns and habits in an effort to break free from the strongholds in your mind.
Jump to Each Day:
Let’s think about the “default settings” that are in our minds. These are the thoughts that we think, without even thinking about them! They are well-trodden mental trails — we call them “mindsets” — a word that speaks of how they are solidly set in our thinking. Some of us tread those same trails every day in the self-talk that goes on inside our heads. We can have false mindsets about ourselves (especially when it comes to shame), about others, about church, about the workplace…the list goes on.
Elijah the prophet did incredible things for God, but check out his locked-up mindset in 1 Kings 19 — Elijah was depressed, terrified, and isolated. God spoke to him:
"The word of the Lord came to him: 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'" (1 Kings 19:9–10)
A little later God repeats the question, and Elijah’s response is exactly the same, word for word:
"Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'" (1 Kings 19:13–14)
So what are our “mindsets” that need to be challenged and changed? Because, as we will see, Elijah was quite wrong in his mindset. A Bible word for “mindset” is stronghold.
A prayer: Dear Father, please show me where I have allowed false mindsets to become concreted in my mind. You are the One who brings truth; help me to see the dead-end trails that I walk, and empower me to think healthily and truthfully. I ask this in faith, grateful for Your love. Amen.
Join me again as we continue to think about us “resetting” and embracing a new season. Yesterday, I asked us to pray about our “default settings” — the mindsets that we have about ourselves and others. A bible word for mindset is “stronghold.” In the Old Testament, David hid from Saul in strongholds:
David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. — 1 Samuel 23:14
No wonder David used the idea of a stronghold positively to describe the Lord as his protection:
He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. — Psalm 144:2
So the idea of a stronghold would be familiar in biblical times, and the apostle Paul uses it as a metaphor for thoughts, ideas, and mindsets.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. — 2 Cor 10:4–5
Strongholds were used for defense and storage, holding food, water, and weapons.
So again, what are the strongholds in our minds?
A stronghold of the mind is a lie that Satan has established in our thinking that we count as true but is actually a false belief. When we embrace these lies, they affect our attitudes, emotions, and behaviors.
Ed Silvoso says, “A stronghold is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable situations that we know are contrary to the will of God.”
So let’s consider these statements as we ponder this:
- A stronghold gets stronger as more stuff — more thought — gets stored in there.
- In the life of the mind, the stuff that we were once aware of gets stored up in unconscious memory, so that can make a stronghold a tough nut to crack!
- A stronghold is a way of thinking and feeling that has developed a life of its own in a person.
- Sometimes a stronghold will cause us to provoke others to reject us (without necessarily knowing we’re doing it).
- It might be a stronghold of resentment or worthlessness.
If a child is abused, a stronghold of worthlessness may build up a stockpile of negative thoughts: "I’m guilty." "Nobody could really love me." "I’m good for nothing." "I’m ugly."
A stronghold gets “stored” with arguments like these:
"Nobody would like me if they really got to know me." "Nobody really knows me." "Nobody really cares for me." "Nobody really wants me for me.”
These thoughts may be a pack of lies, but they can be a stronghold keeping out the truth of God’s love.
So again, let’s take some time and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth about the strongholds in our thinking.
A prayer: Holy Spirit, bringer of all truth, shine the light upon any lies that have been stored in my heart and mind for a long time — make me aware of what I have become unconscious of. Amen.
Here are some words from the apostle Paul, in the Message version.
"We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." (2 Cor 10:5-6)
Kent Hughes says:
"Every fortified city had strongholds, bulwarks that were particularly impregnable. 'Strongholds' references the central arguments that fortify his opponents’ message. Paul’s gospel has 'divine power' to demolish impregnable arguments. The military metaphor expands to destroying high towers and ramparts — 'We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.' (v. 5a) Literally, 'We destroy every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God. Paul’s language of destruction here is not merely about winning arguments or debates.' He means something far more: his weapons destroy the way people think, demolish their sinful thought patterns, the mental structures by which they live their lives in rebellion against God. In Paul’s own words, his spiritual weapons tear down 'every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God.' Paul is referencing the citadels of sin in our lives — every high thing, every haughty thought, every action that forms a barrier to the knowledge of the living God."
So if we are going to begin to “demolish” the strongholds/mindsets that are in our thinking, first let’s know that God’s power is available — and it is mighty power!
And then, as we’ve been seeing over the last couple of weeks, we need to clearly identify the strongholds. This takes work and attention, space for reflection, and prayer — perhaps with fasting. Here’s what Craig Groeschel says in “Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life”:
“What’s your stronghold? What lie is holding you hostage? What mistruth keeps you from taking a step of faith? What wrong thought pattern robs you of living a life of freedom and joy? Know this: You cannot defeat what you cannot define. You have to identify the lie that has become a stronghold for you. You must realize the negative impact it’s had on you and others. Do you see how you have become a prisoner of deception, locked up by a lie you believe is true?”
A prayer: Where I have lost hope in the possibility that I might ever change my thinking, enlarge my vision of Your mighty power - the same power that raised Christ for the dead, available to and at work in me today. Amen.
An important part of resetting is the truth that this is not just about guarding our thoughts and mindsets, attacking strongholds, and establishing healthy habits. For the follower of Jesus, we reset by coming home, in repentance where needed, to God Himself.
I shared in our staff chapel that the word for repentance in Hebrew is the beautiful word “teshuva." It literally means “homecoming.” When we come to our senses about sin, like the prodigal son in the famous parable, we’re not just realigning with a moral code, but we’re coming home to God and to ourselves as we were meant to be.
So let’s read the well-known parable, now in the Message version:
“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here — given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast — beef! — because he has him home safe and sound.'
The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!'
His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours — but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found.'"
So, where are we living in conflict with our core values? When we consistently live outside of our values, we tilt into invisible stress.
Do we find the idea of Jesus running towards us, arms outstretched, difficult to imagine? Why?
I’m praying for all of us right now, that God will help us to live “at home” with Him in the way that Jesus described:
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (Jn 14:23)
A prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to be fully “at home” with You today. Help me to think and live as You have called me to think and live. Enable me to walk closely with You by faith, and find moments to just be at rest with You. Amen.
Today’s reflection is going to be a little longer because I want us to think more about how demolishing strongholds helps us to reset.
Let’s be clear: If we want to reset, we need to know that we can, because God’s mighty power is available. We saw that yesterday. And then we must know that true reset or change begins in the renewal of our minds. Paul says:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” — Romans 12:2
Put simply, renewal/reset will involve the removal — demolition — of strongholds.
“Paul says, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.’” — 2 Cor 10:5
Let me share a story about demolition.
As a young lad growing up in England, I spent some marvelous summers at the beach.
Those were days when a twelve year old was allowed to travel alone on a bus. My grandparents lived just a few miles from the coast, and I had made friends with Ian — whose family made their home in a seaside town
Every summer, I would board the bus — just a few shillings in my pocket for the fare — and make my way to Ian’s home, just a hundred yards or so from the beach. I was always given a warm welcome, even though I had not seen my friend for a whole year. We spent long, wonderful days, tanned deep brown by the salty sun, our tired limbs restored by delicious suppers served by Ian’s Mum at the end of the afternoon. For a London boy, those days by the sea were heavenly.
Until it happened. Excited and eager to begin another few weeks of fun, I leapt off the bus and ran towards the street where Ian lived, I turned the corner, and my dream summer turned to winter in an instant. Ian’s house had disappeared, vanished into thin air. Gone. How could this be?
The entire street had been swept away, all houses demolished, to make room for a new municipal car park. As for Ian and his family, I had no idea where they had gone, no way to make contact.
I never saw him again.
The demolition of that house — and of our friendship — was total and complete.
Okay, that’s a sad story, but let’s allow that imagery to positively stir our hearts. We can see total demolition of the strongholds that dominate our thinking, In Christ, we can take a journey into healthier thinking.
As we’ve been considering, we need to identify the strongholds, the mental trails, and mindsets that are lies. We might want to map them — what are the mental "stopping off points" in the journey that we take in our minds? A further step would be to give the trail a name — but make sure that it’s neutral or even humorous — because if we name the trail too specifically we might start mentally meandering down that trail
Then, let’s begin to attack them, first by "arresting" them. Paul goes on to say, "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:5) We are not to be those who are at the mercy of our thoughts. We don’t leave the "door" of our minds wide open, but rather we determine what we will focus our minds on.
That truth is also celebrated in Philippians.
"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." — Phil 4:8
Paul is saying to us, think about what you think, decide what you will dwell on!
And then we nurture healthy thinking as we feed on and meditate upon God’s word.
We confront the lies that the enemy whispers to us with the truth of what God says about us, and so we begin to demolish the stronghold, stone by stone, brick by brick. Another "replacement" strategy is thanksgiving — being intentionally grateful to the Lord.
All of this takes intentionality, discipline and determination, but the Holy Spirit will help us in this vital work of demolishing lies and replacing them with truth. If you’re like me, you want "microwave" transformation — but often in life change comes from the "crockpot" of ongoing daily discipline and diligence!
I hope these thoughts help you towards reset!
A prayer: Father, some of the strongholds in my mind have been long established. Help me to begin to take authority over what I think about, rather than allowing thoughts to dominate me. Renew my mind and so reset my life as I walk with you today. Amen.