Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups

Part 5 - Make Up Your Mind

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(4/5) We’ve been in this series Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups based on Rick Warren’s Road to Recovery, because we all have hurts we will never forget. We all have hang-ups we will never get rid of. And we all have habits that are messing up our lives, so today we’re going to look at transformation… true change… as we make up our mind.

It’s based on the verse, in Romans 12:1-2: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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." NIV

Transformation begins with the renewing of your mind. The way we’re transformed is by having our minds changed. By allowing God to influence us in such a way as to change our way of thinking. So this morning I want to talk with you about making up your mind.

To make up our minds to do three things:

First, to turn the page on our character defects.

Second, to let go of the past cooperating with God’s change process

And third, to move on as God changes the hurt, the habits, and the hang-ups that have been messing up my life.

So number one is make up your mind to…

1. Turn the page.

You see, for us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds… to know and understand God's good, pleasing and perfect will… we’ve got to be willing to turn the page. We’ve got to be willing to address the biological, sociological, and even theological sources of our character flaws. And we got to turn the page on our natural tendencies, the circumstances, and the choices that have contributed to the character defects that have kept us stuck in a rut and that have kept us from conquering our hurts, habits, and hang ups. So we’ve got to make up our mind to turn the page.

Now where did these character defects come from?

Some of them you inherited. Your mother and your father gave you some of their weaknesses. You may have inherited some physical defects or emotional defects from your parents. And this may explain your inclination to explode in anger. You may have a tendency to be drawn toward certain addictions. So one source is your genes, but that doesn’t excuse wrong behavior.

Some of your character defects may have come from the way you were raised. You learned a lot of your ways of relating, and your patterns and habits from your parents. You learned to respond to your own needs in certain ways… you learned how to cover for yourself… you learned how to handle hurt and rejection. And a lot of our defects are simply self-defeating attempts to meet those unmet needs for respect… for love… or for security.

And these character flaws become ingrained in who we are, because if you choose to do anything long enough, it becomes a habit, and once it becomes a habit, you’re stuck. Things you never intended to develop in your life become your identity and that’s what makes it so hard to turn the page.

You see we didn’t get them overnight. It took years… many of the habits and patterns you developed in childhood, and you’re not going to lose them overnight. Now they may not be beneficial, they may even be self-defeating, but like a pair of old shoes, they’re not the best for running, but they’re comfortable. And so it’s hard to let go… it’s hard to turn the page. So we justify our behavior saying, "That’s just the way I am." But what happens is that we confuse our identity with our defects. You don’t have to be that way. You can turn the page, you can change, and you don’t have to find your identity in your defects.

Now it may mask your pain. It may give you an excuse to fail. It may allow you to compensate for guilt in your life. It may get you attention. Your defect may allow you to control and manipulate other people. But any time a negative behavior is rewarded there is a payoff. You may be getting the attention you wanted. You may be getting the upper hand. You may be controlling somebody or something. There’s a payoff.

Now you may be thinking, "This is good. I’d really like to get rid of this habit, I’d like to forgive, I’d like to stop hurting, I’d love to change..." Then the moment you walk out the door Satan starts: "Who do you think you are? You think you’re going to change, forget it! Other people can change, but not you. You’re stuck. It’s hopeless. Don’t even think about it." But let me tell you this… Satan is a liar. He’s a liar. The Bible says that the truth sets us free (John 8:32).

So let’s see what we need to do. Number two… make up your mind to…

2. Let go of the past.

Now you can change, you can grab the steering wheel, and by your own will power go the opposite way. But pretty soon you’re going to get tired of fighting, you’re going to get tired of wrestling the steering wheel, you’re going to let go and it’s going to automatically turn the other way. So if you want real lasting change, if you want transformation, you’ve got to change your mind, the auto pilot, the default mode of your life.

Romans 12 says: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You see, your thoughts are the auto-pilot in life. If you want to change your life you’ve got to change the way you think. You see, your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions. So you’ve got to make up your mind to let go of the past. And there are several ways to change your mind so that you can let go of the past and become the person that you’ve always wanted to be… and God created you to be.

To let go of the past and conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to look ahead and focus on changing one defect at a time. Proverbs 17:24 tells us, "Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth." Some of you have been following along in this series and you think, "This is great; I’ve got thirty things I want to change." Well, don’t do it, because you’re going to get overwhelmed… you’re going to get discouraged… and you won’t change anything. So you’ve got to be specific.

What I would suggest is going back and get your moral inventory that you made last week in Part 4. Go down that list you made and ask, "God which one of these is damaging my life the most?" And then ask him to start there. You’ve got to work on one defect at a time. If you don’t aim at anything, you’re not going to hit it. So you’ve got to be specific.

To let go of the past and conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to focus on victory one day at a time.

Jesus tells us how to pray in Matthew 6:11: "Give us today our daily bread." You see, God wants to give you enough strength to change for one day. He wants you to take it one day at a time so you trust in Him. He wants you to come back tomorrow and walk in a relationship with him.

It’s kind of like the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

You take that hurt, habit, or hang-up that you’ve been dealing with for a lifetime and you break it down into bite-size pieces. You work on it one day at a time. And you get God’s strength one day at a time. You pray when you get up in the morning, "Lord, help me today." Or better yet, "Lord, help me for the next hour…" "Help me for the next fifteen minutes…" And so you take it a little bit at a time. Bite-size pieces. Don’t worry about tomorrow, take one defect at a time, and get victory one day at a time.

To let go of the past and conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to focus on God’s power and not willpower. You already know that willpower isn’t enough. If willpower worked you’d already be changed. But you haven’t, so you can’t, and you won’t, because you don’t have the power to do it. So you know that willpower doesn’t work.

But, here’s the good news: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

So you’ve got to picture God taking away your defect. Whatever it is that you’re working on first. Maybe your temper… those angry words… or those lustful thoughts? You’ve got to focus on God’s power and not willpower… you’ve got to picture… to visualize… giving it to God just like you would take out the trash. You throw it in the trash can, the garbage truck picks it up, and you never see it again. You see willpower doesn’t work, but when you trust in God’s power he can help you conquer it.

To let go of the past and conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to focus on focus on what you want… not on what you don’t want.

The Bible says, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).

You’ve got to focus on good things… not bad things. You see, whatever you resist… persists. The harder you push saying, "I’m not going to do this" …the harder it pushes back.

Instead of resisting, the Bible teaches refocusing. You make up your mind to turn the channel. If you’re watching a bad show on TV you don’t just tell yourself repeatedly, "I’m not going to watch this, I’m not going to watch this …" No, you just change the channel.

The Bible says, to "fix your thoughts" (Hebrews 3:1) and to "fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2).

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

You refocus off of what you’ve been… to what you want to be… to what God wants to do in your life. You’ve got to reprogram your mind. And if you want to become a positive person then you’ve got to memorize the truth about life from the Bible rather than believing the lies from the TV and what other people are saying about you. It’s a major shift, but if you want to know and experience God’s "good, pleasing, and perfect will" you’ve got to remember that your mind is like a set of scales. And on one side are all the negative thoughts that the devil tells you, that former girlfriends and boyfriends have told you, maybe your parents or a teacher told you. And over here on the other side are the good things that God says about you in the Bible, in the Word of God. So if you’ll invest your time to shifting the scales… to thinking positive thoughts based on the Bible instead of listening to the devil’s lies. You’ll be able to let go of the past, the scales are going to turn, and you’ll have more positive than negative, you’ll be free, because that’s what God wants to do in your life.

You can claim the verse, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13). If you’ve surrendered all of your life to the care and control of God, if you’ve invited Christ into your life, then the old has passed away, and God is saying, "I’ve forgotten all of your past, and you can learn to let go of it too."

Number three… make up your mind…

3. It’s time to move on

To conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to move on.

If you’re walking through this with me, then you’re a new person in Christ, you have a new identity based on your relationship with Christ and not your hurt, habit, and hang-up. It’s no longer "I’m just a whatever lie you used to believe," now it’s "I’m a believer. I’m a follower of Christ. I’ve been born again." So you’ve got to make up your mind to move on, to focus on doing good, and not feeling good.

You see you’ve got to do the right thing even though you don’t feel like doing it, because eventually your feelings are going to catch up. AA uses the phrase "Fake it until you make it." You see anytime you start trying to change a major part of your life, a major hurt, habit, and hang-up, anytime you start trying to make a major change, it’s not going to feel real good at first. In fact, it is going to feel real awkward, uncomfortable, because it won’t feel normal. You’re so used to feeling abnormal, that normal doesn’t feel normal. But if you do the right thing, over and over and over eventually your feelings are going to catch up with your behavior.

So to conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to move on. And focus on people who help you and not those who are holding you back from making these positive changes you want to make in your life.

The right kind of people will help you, but the wrong kind of people will hold you back. They will keep you from winning and becoming a conqueror. The Bible says, "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33). In other words, if you don’t want to get stung, you stay away from the bees. If you know what kind of people tempt you, stay away from them. If you’re struggling with alcoholism you don’t go down to the bar to eat peanuts. If you’re struggling with pornography, you don’t visit those sites or go to those stores. You don’t get around the things that mess you up.

On the other hand, the Bible says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12). When you have help from another person, if one person falls the other can help him up again. I said this in the first part of this series, but most of you didn’t believe me, so I’ll say it again. You can’t recover on your own. You must be in a group or in a relationship, because recovery always happens in a relationship where there’s accountability, never on your own. You’ll never recover just listening to a series of messages. It happens when you’re with other people.

You see we all need somebody who will help us down this road. That’s why we have this thing called Celebrate Recovery on Wednesday nights, because you won’t make it on your own. We need each other. God says in Proverbs, "As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other" (Proverbs 27:17, NCV).

If your life has been detoured and corrupted by hurts, habits, and hang-ups, all the willpower in the world cannot make that kind of change in a person. All the therapy, sessions, and seminars cannot make that kind of change. Only Jesus Christ can make those kind of changes in a person. And God who began that good work in you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His work is finished in you. God’s going to do it.

To conquer those hurts, habits, and hang-ups… you’ve got to make up your mind to move on… and focus on progress not the problem.

Now some of you have been taking this series seriously, but maybe you don’t see a whole lot of change yet. Don’t worry about it. It’s a process. It’s a decision followed by a process. You make up your mind and God who starts His work in you will bring it to completion.

Some of you are thinking that God will only love you once you make certain changes in your life, but that’s wrong. God loves you right now and at every step of your growth. God will never love you any more than He does right now. He will never love you any less than He does right now. As a father I look at my kids and I don’t expect my five-year-old to act like a sixteen-year-old. He still does foolish things, but I am pleased with the stage he’s at right now.

And in the same way God is pleased with your growth. He knows your heart and your desire to see the changes he wants to make in your life. He knows your heart and your desire, but he won’t start changing you until you surrender… until you’re completely ready for the change. That means making up your mind to surrender to him and humbly ask for his help. This morning it is time to turn the page, to let go of the past, and to move on. Make up your mind. When you’re ready He’ll start working on you.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

Learn more about the Christ's Community Church