I’ve been a Christian for a long time…and for a long time I struggled with lots of issues. I read my Bible, went to church three times a week, crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s. I was doing everything I was supposed to…and yet something was missing.
If you had told me “It’s all in your head,” I would have been highly offended.
But you would have been right.
Battlefield of the Mind
I didn’t realize it until a book came out in 1995 that quickly soared to the bestseller list. I read it, and the proverbial light bulb went on. The book was Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, a Bible teacher who was just beginning to rise in prominence with a daily TV show and conferences across the country.
Joyce has a teaching style that is straight to the point and relentlessly honest, and she knows what she’s talking about because her ministry came forth from extreme pain. Throughout her childhood she was sexually abused by her angry, alcoholic father, and emotionally abandoned by her mother, who knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.
Her abuse left her emotionally scarred and shattered. She trusted no one and had difficulty in personal relationships. Slowly God began to heal her, and gave her a desire to share what she had learned. God turned her mess into a message, and she now has a worldwide ministry.
Because she came from a background of abuse, it was easy for me to relate to her. Although my abuse had not been sexual, it had still left me with a lot of unresolved problems. I began watching her show, and when her first book came out I quickly picked up a copy.
The teaching within her book was eye-opening.
Strongholds In My Mind
Of course I knew that I had an enemy. His name was Satan, and his goal was to steal, kill and destroy. But I hadn’t fully grasped how much of the battle was in my mind, in my thoughts.
It really was all in my head. And it’s in yours, too.
Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” In her book, Joyce explained that Satan attempts to set up strongholds in our mind. A stronghold is an area in which we are held bondage because of a certain pattern of thinking. Since our actions are a direct result of our thoughts, many people end up with problems that are actually produced by these faulty thought patterns. So in order to attain victory, it is necessary to first line up our thoughts with God’s thoughts.
Joyce writes, “Your life may be in a state of chaos because of years of wrong thinking. If so, it is important for you to come to grips with the fact that your life will not get straightened out until your mind does. You should consider this area one of vital necessity. Be serious about tearing down the strongholds Satan has built in your mind.”
This was the piece I’d been missing. I realized that there were many strongholds in my mind. I had been believing lies that I’d heard so many times I just accepted them as truth. I failed to realize that not all of my thoughts were my thoughts. Some had been planted in my mind by a very devious enemy, and I had to start uprooting them and replacing them with truths from God’s Word.
The Transformation Process
I’d love to tell you that I was instantly transformed. But I’d be lying.
To tell you the truth, it’s been a long and painful process. I think the key word there is process. Transformation takes time. Many people give up when they don’t see immediate results. In her book Joyce notes, “The renewing of your mind will take place little by little, so don’t be discouraged if progress seems slow…Breaking old habits and forming new ones always takes time, but it is worth it in the end.”
That quote reminds me of a dear sister in Christ. Her name is Debbi. Debbi’s past was filled with poor choices and painful consequences. I didn’t know all the details, but I knew enough to recognize a deeply troubled soul. Debbi began attending our church, and soon my wife was mentoring her.
Debbi’s mind was full of doubts and confusion. She would often call and begin the conversation with “I have a question…” My wife would listen, share the truths of Scripture, and pray with her. Sometimes she would give Debbi “homework assignments.” She’d say, “Read these verses and tell me what you think.” Debbi was serious about change, and she would always complete these assignments. Like me, she began to devour books by Joyce Meyer and started putting her teachings into practice.
And Debbi began to change, slowly but surely. It was a joy to see her faith growing as her mind was renewed by the Word of God.
Then Came the Bad News
By the time she sought help, it was too late. The cancer had spread. Treatment bought a little time, but all too soon Debbi died.
The task of cleaning out her little apartment fell to us and our pastor’s wife. We had all spent countless hours ministering to our dear friend Debbi, and there was a lot to reminisce about as we headed over with empty boxes.
I was kind of a third wheel, so the ladies gave me one task: take down everything on the walls.
It sounded simple enough, until we opened the apartment door.
There were some pictures on the walls, and a knickknack shelf, and a mirror. And something else.
Dozens and dozens and dozens of them.
Most of them were handwritten 3×5 cards. Each note had either a Scripture verse or a positive affirmation such as “I am a child of God,” or “I am loved by my Father,” or “I am victorious in Christ”– you get the idea.
And the notes were everywhere. On the walls, the doors, the cabinets, the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror. All at eye level.
Everywhere she turned, Debbi had surrounded herself with the truths of what God said about her. She was tearing down the strongholds in her mind. And she had succeeded.
I picture Debbi now, dancing on streets of gold, embracing her Savior with laughter. She’s totally free.
You CAN Win the Battle in Your Mind
The renewal of your mind is possible. It begins with recognizing the lies you’ve been believing and tearing down strongholds. Replace those negative thoughts with the positive truths of God’s Word. Keep telling yourself, “I am who I AM says I am!”
As Joyce Meyer says, get rid of the stinkin’ thinking. Begin to see yourself as your loving Father sees you.
And…use notes if you have to.
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