“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.” – Romans 12:2
I think Pat Benatar got it wrong in the 80’s. Though it can feel like it at times, love is not the battlefield (side note- I do really like that song): the mind is. Without question it is the control center for our attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and actions. If this ain’t right along with the content and character of the heart, we are in for a world of trouble, Fam. Perhaps this is why it’s referenced or alluded to in at least 150 different verses in God’s Holy Word. I’m talking about:
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Or what about the lyrics to the following Gospel song?
“Woke up this mornin’ with my mind, my mind was stayed on Jesus…”
“Walkin’ and talkin’ with my mind, my mind was stayed on Jesus…”
“Singin’ and prayin’ with my mind, mind was stayed on Jesus…”
(Here is my favorite line because it is absolutely true):
“Ain’t no harm to keep your mind, stayed on Jesus…”
And each verse ends with the highest praise we can ever give to our God: “Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.”
When our minds are fixed on something, heaven help anyone who stumbles across our path; we can be doggedly determined to get whatever it is we want. Think about our childhood, and the cookies we wanted were contained and out of reach. How creative (and daredevil) were we to push the chair into position and climb until we stretched on our tip-toes on the countertop? Remember how our mother or father yelled with fear at seeing us in that dangerous position, and how we turned to look at them with a “What are you yelling for?” expression?
In that state, everything seems to fade in the background- our physical environment, guidelines, morals, consequences and implications. Other things that drift from our periphery while we seek a goal can be our fears, doubts, and perceived lack of capability. Our minds are laser-beam focused on just that one thing, that one person, or that one situation that we absolutely have to have. Depending on what it is and our motive for wanting it, our focus can be askew and leave us vulnerable to – you guessed it – mental and spiritual attacks. The progress in our process (ie, relationship with the Lord) can slow down, and even make a U-turn back to the patterns of this world. These patterns, or the chicken coops from the thought on “Get Free, Be Free”, put us at a disadvantage on the battlefield of our minds, in that we stop using the armor of God like we’re supposed to. 10,000 arrows fly at us and blot out the sun as in the movie “300”, and here we are standing with our shields down, helmets off, and swords on the ground, staring at a flower.
Crazy, right? And yet this is what we sometimes do!
Our focus on the wrong thing or motive can cause selective memory issues, and we forget “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We temporarily don’t know how to fight the Enemy, or even worse that we are in a fight. And that rascal is tricky enough to confuse us into fighting against ourselves, and even God. Fam, every day and all day, our adversary prowls to see who he can kill, steal, or destroy. He seeks to snatch us out of the protective, preventive, and provisional hands of the Lord.
The Enemy’s mind is fixed. On. Us. And that’s why it’s crucial that we get and keep our minds fixed. On. Jesus.
“Well that’s all fine and good, Ms. Writer, but exactly how do we do that? How do we achieve victory on the battlefield of our minds? How are we to be transformed and renewed?” someone may ask.
We do this by understanding that transformation requires a radical and universal change through new habits. And these aren’t truly new, but they can be to us. Below are just a few:
- Reading and studying the Word of God daily — To elaborate just a bit, this isn’t a task for speed-reading purposes, or half listening to while doing something else just to mark it complete. To study is to meditate, to intentionally ask the Lord, “What is this supposed to say to me, Lord? How do I take Your Word and apply it to my life now?” It’s about actively waiting for His answer and putting it into continuous action.
- Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who will hold us accountable — Having a “Hype Man” or “Hype Woman” ain’t a good thing, Fam. They can hinder far more than they can help, even if that is not their intent. We should not be afraid to be called to the carpet, per se, if our focus has shifted in a negative, harmful direction. And we need people who are not afraid to check us (with love, of course) and help re-center our focus.
- Pray, pray, and pray: Scripture encourages and instructs us to pray in and out of season, when we’re walking on sunshine and when nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen. It is the primary (not the only) form of communication and communion we have with God, and it is two-way. It’s not about telling the Lord what we want. It’s about Him telling us what He wants both from and for us. It’s not always asking Him for the tangible. At the right times, it’s about asking for the intangible, like peace of mind, and purpose. And still there are times when praying to God has no request other than “I just want to hear what You have to say, Lord.” We just need to be still and know that the Lord is God.
There are other new good habits to deploy that I haven’t mentioned. But practicing these three until they become true second nature helps keep us on the higher ground mentally and daily transformed to battle the Enemy on the Lord’s terms. God’s ways are guaranteed to work since He’s already won and as we are His children whom He loves, by default we are victorious, too. Even if there seems to be a lull in the attacks to push us back to who and how we used to be, we are to practice, practice, and practice so that we don’t.
Hmm…looks like the Enemy is the one with the selective memory, because he keeps fighting a losing battle. What do you think?
Prayer: Lord, we thank You and bless You for transforming and renewing our minds. Please help us stay on track, on the high ground, so that when the Enemy comes with his usual tactics, we molly-wop him with Your Word, like-minded people, prayer, and other good habits that make him beat a hasty retreat. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.