MY FRIEND KEVIN SERVED ON OUR CHURCH STAFF AS ONE of our pastors for close to twenty years before retiring. Way back in the early days, our staff used to play a game called capture the flag in our storefront church offices. We occasionally got violent as players tried to seize the flag. But because we were ministers, it was of course holy violence. Eventually, however, two people ended up getting injured, so we had to establish some guidelines.
One of those rules was no attacks before 8:00 a.m. I tend to get to work early, and one day as I showed up around 7:00 and began walking to my office, my Spidey sense went off. Something wasn’t right. Suspecting a threat, I threw open a closet door to find Pastor Kevin hiding. I don’t know if he had spent the entire night in there, but his plan was to wait patiently for a surprise attack at go time.
But thanks to my superhero ability to detect danger, I thwarted his plan. I was so excited that I slammed the door shut, wedged my foot against the bottom, and yelled triumphantly, “You’re going to spend the day in that closet, Kevin!”
I grabbed a chair to secure my prisoner. Chuckling maniacally, I said, “I’m putting a chair under the doorknob!” But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a chair to fit. And because I couldn’t move my foot from the door, there was nothing I could do to lock Kevin in the closet. Fortunately for me, I realized he didn’t know that. He believed me. So with all the fake confidence I could muster, I sold it. “There’s now a chair under the doorknob, Kevin. You can’t get out!” Yes, I lied, but I’m a pastor, so it was holy lying.
Well, what did Kevin do? More like what did he not do. He never tried to open the door! He just believed my lie.
Kevin started shouting, “Lemme out! Lemme out! Please, lemme out! I don’t want to spend the day in here. Lemme out!”
I couldn’t stop laughing. Because the door was unlocked. All he had to do was turn the handle and push, and he would be free. But he just stayed in the closet.
I had a premarital counseling appointment at 8:00, so I went to my office to meet with the soon-to-be-married couple. At about 8:20, I heard something in the ceiling above me. Then I heard the noise again. It was Kevin. He had scaled the shelves in the closet and gotten up into the ceiling tiles, trying to find a way out.
When a ceiling tile suddenly poked out, I saw Kevin’s eyes glaring down at me. I asked the couple to forgive the intrusion, then looked up and jokingly said, “If you wait until I’m finished with this meeting, I’ll call the fire department and see if they can get you down. If not, you’re spending the rest of your life in that ceiling!” The couple I was counseling faced a dilemma: should they laugh or pray for the guy stuck above us?
Out of respect for them, Kevin waited. The whole time, the closet door was unlocked.
I wonder if you feel locked up or taken captive. If so, have you considered that you might be trapped in a self-made prison? You may feel held back from living the life you want to live, not experiencing the relationship you want with God, with little to no hope for the future, but are you? If you think you’re trapped, if you believe there’s a lock on the door, you’ve bought into a lie. And it is the lie, nothing else, that is holding you back. Yet if you identify that lie, then you can remove it. You can replace it with the truth and be free. Your liberation is a simple two-step process:
- Remove the lie.
- Replace it with truth.
But the struggle in this process is very real and very hard, and it can feel like a war is being fought in your life. Because that’s exactly what is happening.
Craig Groeschel Winning the War in Your Mind
We have just released a new Bible Study on the topic Winning the War in Your Mind
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.