Battle for the Mind

Battle for the Mind

Recently the BBC published an article on the special relationship between cycling and suffering. The writer interviewed various professional cyclists who described their battle in coping with the pain that high intensity exertion brings about. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most said that the majority of the battle takes place in the mind.

Alex Hansen holds the record for competing in the most consecutive Grand Tours. When questioned about overcoming pain in difficult races he said: “you bring up all the reasons in the world as to why you have to continue, while your brain is telling you all the reasons why you have to stop.”

In the first blog of this series on our thought life, I talked about why it is important to pay attention to what is running through our minds. In the second, we talked about what it is to think well, and concluded that we think well when we think about Jesus. In this final blog of the series I want to look at how we go about it.

Like Alex Hansen, at times we need to deliberately tell ourselves what to think, even when our mind is bringing up all kinds of thoughts that conflict with God’s revealed word.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says; “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Generally, I think, the things we battle with most in our Christian walk are ideas, thoughts and desires that challenge the truth that God “is” and that his purposes for us are good. As the above verses say, we should confront such arguments, when we hear them made by others, but also when they pop up in our own heads.

How do we go about doing this? The same passage tells us we have a supernatural weapon that is able to ‘destroy strongholds’.

Hebrews 4:14 also says “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The greatest weapon we have in the battle for our minds is the prayerful reading of God’s word. The more we soak in his word, while humbly asking him to reveal himself through it, the greater our chance of victory.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he himself rebuffed Satan’s temptations by quoting the Old Testament.

The Psalmist says  “your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against you” (119:11). When we are fighting with sinful thoughts – complaints, reproaches, grudges, anxieties, jealousies, you name it – we need a treasure chest of God’s word that we can turn to and use to take these thoughts captive for Christ.

If we know what the Bible has to say on various attitudes, it is much easier to realise when we are in error and nip destructive thoughts in the bud. We can test our thoughts, and turn away from them when they fall short of God’s holy standards, rather than feeding them and allowing them to build strongholds in our hearts.

Reading God’s word is a good start but it is not enough. Similar to Hansen’s approach when cycling, we also need to “preach” to ourselves. We should remind ourselves often of His word , and especially in times of struggle.

In the Psalms, David regularly spoke to himself, asking questions of his own soul and exhorting himself to praise and worship God (Psalm 43:5). He also reminded himself of the great and awesome works of God in the past (Psalm 103:6-7), and repeated verses to himself that spoke of God’s character (Psalm 103:8).

When feeling downhearted, despondent, annoyed, bitter, etc, it can feel unnatural to start reciting to yourself the incredible things that God has done. Or to quote to yourself verses that speak of His merciful character and endless, steadfast, love. But, as you do, God’s word has a transformative impact on your thoughts, renewing your mind. The more we do it, the more natural and habitual it becomes.

Breaking the old habits of our mind is no easy task. Bringing all our thoughts captive to obey Christ is a life-time endeavour. But what we think impacts all we say and do. Our mind is where our character is formed. Whilst it is difficult, if we can control our thoughts, there are great rewards to be reaped.

Cyclist Alex Dowsett, who broke the “one hour record” in May 2015, was quoted in the same article I mentioned at the outset as saying: “The best message I ever get is: you’re winning this and winning significantly. It’s one of the best feelings in the world and the suffering and pain just seem to disappear. Then I find it very easy to go much, much harder. That comes from a euphoric kind of place.”

Perhaps like Dowsett you too thrive off the message that you are winning. The good news is that, if you genuinely love God and are seeking to obey him, you are winning. As the Apostle Paul reminds us:

– we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13)

– Jesus gives us victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)

– in all things we are, already, more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

 

Recipe

For those who don’t know, we welcomed our 5th child into the world on 21st March, hence why I haven’t been blogging so frequently of late.

My cooking and crafting have been on a bit of a go slow too. But this recipe is so easy you can get the kids to make it with very little intervention. It was given to us by a lady at our church when she found out how much our children love to bake.

All the ingredients are measured out using a small yogurt pot and the cake itself is actually pretty tasty…

5 from 1 vote
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Yogurt Pot Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 150 g pot plain yogurt
  • 1 yogurt pot sugar
  • 3 yogurt pots self-raising flour
  • 2 yogurt pots of sultanas
  • 1 yogurt pot vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C fan assisted
  2. Mix all the ingredients together
  3. Pour into a greased and lined baking tin

  4. Place in oven for 50 mins

Recipe Notes

I use a 1lb loaf tin with a loaf liner to save greasing and lining the tin. You can also make this as cupcakes but adjust baking time accordingly. Feel free to add spices or alternative fruit. I'm told blueberries work a treat. I expect chocolate chips would be pretty tasty too.

One Reply to “Battle for the Mind”


  1. I made the yoghurt cake this afternoon and used up some frozen red berries in it. I made a few little cakes plus the loaf cake and Simon thinks it tastes like a Starbucks muffin!

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