To Pull Down a Stronghold

The beast between our two horses leapt into the air, twisting in his defiance.  He was not going down without a fight.  My gelding leaned back, his legs wide as he braced himself to stand firm against this 1700 pound mass of rebelling flesh.

The bull surged into the air again, stretching the ropes to their limit.  He snaked his body to the left and the right, in rapid succession.  My gelding groaned, and I felt him lean a little lower to the ground.

Then we heard the sound we didn’t want to hear…

Crack!

Scared that one of the ropes had snapped, my sight travelled down the length of my rope that was connected the head and the other rope that was connected to the heels.

Both were good.

My attention turned back to the bull as he heaved himself into the air once again….

This was unlike any roping that I had ever experienced before.  In the past, we had roped cows that showed their opposition to being treated by trying to charge our horses, but this bull showed his defiance to his situation in a whole new way.

This bull was determined…

But so were we.

This had turned into a field of battle.

Our horses stood firm that day, refusing to give up.

The bull eventually tired.  We got him treated, and in a few days he was doing well.

As I think back on that day, I am reminded of another battlefield that I face every day.

The battlefield that goes on in my mind regarding the thoughts that I think.  Thoughts are like seeds.  If my imagination grabs hold of them, they will begin to take root and affect my thought processes and my attitude.  Soon, my actions and my words will reflect this attitude, which began as a single thought that entered my mind.

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Not every thought is bad…many thoughts result in blessing to others.

Not every thought is bad.  Those thoughts that begin when we see a person in need can quickly take root and turn into an attitude of encouragement.  From this attitude is born an idea of how to help that individual.  This idea turns into an action and brings a blessing to that person.

Or what about those thoughts that we have when we see the grandeur of the midnight sky on a cool, December night.  As those thoughts take root, our hearts are filled with an attitude of humbleness.  From this attitude our hearts are turned upward as our mind are filled with ideas of praise to God.  Then we breathe out words of praise to the Creator as we say with the Psalmist “The heavens declare the glory of God…”(Psalm 19:1).

But just as there are good thoughts that result in blessing to others and praise to God, there are other thoughts that are much more sinister in the effects that they can have on my mind.  When they are given the opportunity to take root and are fed by the imaginations of my evil desire, they will grow and bear fruit, but this will not be the fruit of blessing and praise.

It will be the noxious fruit of sin.  If it is not uprooted by repentance and the forgiveness that comes through the blood of Jesus, it will become a stronghold in my life that is hostile to the truths of God, and keeps me from moving forward and growing in my walk with God.

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Some thoughts quickly take root and take me down paths that do not lead to good.

For example, when I experience a need of some sort, it seems that there is almost always a seed of worry nearby.  If I allow a seed of worry to become snagged in my mind, it quickly takes root.  As these thoughts multiply, my mind becomes so gripped with anxious thoughts that it is hard to focus on much else.  As well, my joy and peace of mind are quickly subdued as I begin to think about all the “what if’s” that could take place.  My worrisome attitude is reflected in the words that I speak to others and the actions that I take.

How different my attitude is when I take that thought of worry captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ.  The need that I am experiencing can be very real and urgent, but God does not want me to worry about it.  In fact, He commands me to not worry (Matthew 6:25 – 34).  Instead, He wants me to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  In doing so, the truths of God’s word begin to take root in my mind as I reflect on who God is…that He is my Good Shepherd (Psalm 23), that He knows my needs and He wants me to bring my requests to Him (Matthew 6:8 – 13), and that I can come boldly to His throne of grace, and find mercy and help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

There was a time when worry was a stronghold in my life.  I am very familiar the paths that anxious thoughts can take me down for these were well dug channels in my mind.  Even though I knew God was my good Shepherd, that I could present my requests to Him, and go boldly to His throne of grace to find mercy and help in my time of need, when a seed of worry hit me…

Wham!

My mind would grip it so tightly I found it almost impossible to remember the truths of God’s Word.  Instead, of taking those thoughts captive and making them obedient to Jesus Christ, I let them multiply in my mind.

It was only when I put 2. Corinthians 10:3 – 5 into practice that I began to win in this battleground of my mind.

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.  We demolish every argument (imagination) and every pretension (high thing) that SETS ITSELF UP AGAINST the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ.

How did I demolish this stronghold in my life?

  1. I acknowledged and confessed to God that my worry was a sin against Him, for in worrying I was doubting the ability and faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises to supply for every need (Philippians 4:19).
  2. As I spent time in God’s Word, I began to see and understand that God is my Good Shepherd. As His sheep, I would lack nothing.  Therefore, if I was facing a need that He didn’t seem to be filling in the way I expected or wanted, He must know of a greater need in my heart, and this was the route that I needed to go through in order for that greater need to be filled.  I needed to choose to trust Him.
  3. I also realized that I could not win this battle in my own strength. I had to be armed with God’s strength and stand firm with His armor on (Ephesians 6:10 – 18).  Worry had long been a stronghold in my life that had been used to keep me from trusting God and growing in my faith, and this stronghold was not going to be given up easily by my enemy.
  4. Then it came time to do battle. Armed with God’s truth, standing in God’s strength, I took up my position.  When that seed of worry came and tried to take root, I pulled out my rope and covered it with the promises of God…that He had promised to provide for every need out of His glorious riches and that since His love and His faithfulness reaches to the heavens (Psalm 36:5), He would be faithful to fulfill His promises to me.
  5. As His sheep, I had to choose to fully put the weight of my trust in the stirrup of His faithfulness instead of wavering back and forth between what I knew to be true in His word and the deception of worry that could so quickly take root in my mind.
  6. It wasn’t easy. There were many times that I faltered and failed…indeed, there are times when I still do today.  Yet, as I look back I can see that God has helped me to demolish this stronghold by learning to take these thoughts captive and making them obedient to Jesus Christ.

I have applied these same principles in other areas of my life…areas that had been raised up against the truths of God’s Word.  I am thankful that God has been faithful to His promises to me and that in Him, these strongholds are no longer footholds that can be used to lead me astray.

Instead…

By awakening the dawn with God so that my mind and heart are saturated with His Word…

By having the right tools and being armed with the truth of His promises…

By having His checklist from Philippians 4:8 memorized so that I can identify and capture those thoughts which do not conform to His standard…

By not giving up when I fall, but instead confessing those times to God so that He will cleanse and purify my mind and heart…

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Choosing to stand firm and capturing every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ

By choosing to stand firm in God’s strength and with His armor because there is battle going on in the field of my mind and there are strongholds that need to be demolished…

Those thoughts – which have the potential to cause me to stumble and doubt the promises of the God whom I love – are quickly captured and brought under the authority of Jesus.

And this leads to a life lived with confident trust in my Good Shepherd.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best – and demolish strongholds and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Jesus Christ – in order that you may pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9 – 11, 2. Corinthians 10:3 – 5