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HOW YOU ARE PROGRAMMED


by Neil Anderson

 

March 25
 
Colossians 2:8 
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men . . . rather than according to Christ
 
The first step toward the formation of strongholds in our minds can be called “environmental stimulation.” You were designed to live in fellowship with God and fulfill His purposes, but you were born physically alive and spiritually dead in a hostile world (Ephesians 2:1, 2). Before you came to Christ, all your stimulation came from this environment. Every day you lived in this environment you were influenced by it and preconditioned to conform to it.
 
The worldly stimulation you were exposed to was both brief and prevailing. Brief stimulation includes individual events, situations, places and personal encounters you experienced. You were influenced by books you read, movies you watched, music you listened to, and traumatic events you experienced or witnessed, such as a car accident or a death in the family. You learned a way (which may or may not have been God’s way) to cope with these experiences and resolve the conflicts they produced.
 
Prevailing stimulation consists of long-term exposure to your environment, such as the influence of your family, your friends and peers, your neighborhood, your teachers, and your job. If you grew up separated from God, and were raised in a non-Christian environment, you developed a philosophy of how to survive, cope and succeed in this world apart from God.
 
When you became a Christian your sins were washed away, but your predisposition to think and behave a certain way, which you developed as you adjusted to your environment, remained programmed in your mind. In fact, you can become a born-again believer and continue to live on the basis of the lifestyle you developed while living independently of God. That is why Paul insists that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
 
Prayer: I know I was saved in a moment, Lord. But my character still needs daily transformation. Help me be as patient with others in their transformation as You are with me.


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When Strongholds Become Entrenched

     


by Neil Anderson
March 27
WHEN STRONGHOLDS BECOME ENTRENCHED
2 Timothy 2:4 
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier
Once your consideration of a temptation has triggered an emotional response leading to a Plan B choice, you will act upon that choice and own that behavior. You may resent your actions or claim that you are not responsible for what you do. But you are responsible for your actions at this stage because you failed to take a tempting thought captive when it first appeared at the threshold of your mind.
People who study human behavior tell us that if you continue to repeat an act for six weeks, you will form a habit. And if you exercise that habit long enough, a stronghold will be established. Once a stronghold of thought and response is entrenched in your mind, choosing to act contrary to that pattern is extremely difficult.
Like environmental stimulation, a stronghold of the mind can be the result of a brief encounter or a prevailing atmosphere. For example, a woman goes into a deep depression every time she hears a siren sound. It turns out that she was raped 20 years earlier while a siren was wailing in the distance. In the weeks and months after the rape, the sound of a siren triggered traumatic memories. Instead of resolving that conflict, she relived the tragedy in her mind, deepening the emotional scars and locking herself into a thought pattern she cannot seem to break. That’s a stronghold.
Other strongholds are the result of a prevailing pattern of thinking and responding. Imagine, for instance, a nine-year-old boy whose father is an alcoholic. When the father comes home drunk and belligerent every night, the boy is simply scared stiff of him. He scurries out of sight and hides. As the boy continues in his defensive reaction to his hostile alcoholic father, he forms a pattern of behavior. Ten years later, when he faces any kind of hostile behavior, how do you think he will respond? He will run away. His deeply ingrained pattern of thinking and responding has formed a stronghold in his mind.
Prayer: Father, don’t allow the enemy to deceive me into weak-willed actions that dilute my testimony and effectiveness as a believer.