Action Guide: Renewing Your Mind With Re-Centered Strength

As we have been learning about renewing our minds in light of the goodness, gladness, graciousness and generosity of Jesus, we have tried to associate each practice to help us do this with a different punch. So far we have covered:

This blog post is an action guide for learning to throw the right hook!

Our key Scripture is Luke 22.39-46

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Specifically we focused on three things:

  • A Retreat
  • A Recognition
  • A Re-Centered Strength

I will recap each below, but again you can listed to the full message in the audio link above.

A Retreat

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father....

Jesus had a regular habit of retreating away from the hustle and bustle of his work and ministry. As you read through the Gospels, He is consistently drawing away- sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night, in this scene from Luke's Gospel we see him again, as was his custom, withdrawing to a garden area (the Mount of Olives).

His retreats were not part of a hermit lifestyle, even in this story he is with his disciples. As we follow his lead, we are not talking about withdrawing from society and relationships, but in the context of community, taking and making time to retreat.

His retreats were not unto himself in isolation, but were unto God the Father, and there in these private moments, He turned to His relationship with the Father.

Why is this important for us?

Theologian Miroslav Volf writes, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The greatest of all temptation isn’t to serve false gods, as monotheists like to think. The greatest of all temptations, equally hard to resist in abundance and in want, is to believe and act as if human beings lived by bread alone, as if their entire lives should resolve around the creation, improvement, and distribution of worldly goods. Serving false gods- or turning the one true God into a mere bread provider, which amounts to the same thing- is the consequence of succumbing to this grand temptation.

When we live by bread alone, there is never enough bread, not enough even when we make so much of it that some of it rots away; when we live by bread alone, someone always goes hungry, when we live by bread alone, every bite we take leaves a bitter aftertaste, and the more we eat the more bitter the taste, when we live by bread alone, we always want more and better bread, as if the bitterness came from the bread itself and not from our living by bread alone."

Regular retreating is an active practice and reminder that we are more than just natural beings whose lives solely revolve around the creation, improvement and distribution of worldly goods.

It reminds us that we are made in the Image of God, and made for the Bread of the Word of God.

Put it Into Practice:

  • How can you follow Jesus's lead in developing a custom of retreating? We recommend starting simple with some regular time to start the day. If you have already been doing that, could you also pull away a day a month to retreat?

A Recognition

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

As Jesus comes before His Father, there is a deep recognition of what is going on inside of him. Think about the statement for a moment that he offers up vulnerably to His Father: "If you are willing, remove this cup from me."

To be in the place of prayer and be both aware and able to acknowledge your desires and feelings in a vulnerable way takes a great deal of authenticity.

How can you cultivate the same?

Here are some questions to help, adapted from Dr. Caroline Leaf's book Who Switched Off My Brain:

  • What are my circumstances right now in my life that are burdening me?
  • What thoughts are bubbling up in my mind as I think about these situations?
  • What is the attitude behind those thoughts?
  • What feelings do those thoughts generate in both my body and mind? (peace, worry, tense muscles, comfort, stress heart pounding, adrenaline rush, etc.)
  • Do I feel dominated by the feelings that have risen from these thoughts? Do they make me feel like a victim or a victor?
  • Do I want these feelings and thoughts to be a permanent part of me? This is huge, because you are not defined by your feelings "I feel, therefore I am"- you are defined by being made in the image of God, and as a follower of Jesus adopted as a son or daughter of the King- it is this identity that is the truest and most authentic reality about who you are and this question then turns the corner for us into re-centered strength

A Re-Centered Strength

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

Jesus then prays an incredible prayer, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." In doing this He centers in on the goodness and graciousness and wisdom of His Father and voluntarily commits his agreement. Then an angel comes to strengthen him for the journey that is ahead.

This is such a powerful example.

How do we learn this skill of re-centered strength? Here are some questions to help you:

  • Focus on the Scripture for Today- What is a Scripture that speaks God’s perspective into these feelings, beliefs and circumstances.
  • Control your attention on this verse and prevent chaotic thoughts from moving through your mind. Be aware of your body, emotions, and sense of self as you do this.
  • Mentally rehearse this Scripture in your mind slowly, let it deeply touch you. Be listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit as you dwell on this Scripture.

Resources to Help You Go Deeper With This:

Photo Credit: Art of Manliness