Mind Worms…

I don’t know about you…but when I get out of bed in the morning, the first things I hear with my ears can stay with me all day. My kids knew this about me and sometimes, they would play some annoying song when I got up and it would stick in my head all day long. There is nothing worse than having something like “Baby Shark” in your head when you’re trying to concentrate on something else…it’s what I call a mind worm. A mind worm travels into your ear canal and eats its way through your mind until it finally either dies or is substituted by something else.

While that may be a funny story, mind worms are a serious matter. Our thoughts in the morning play a major role in how we well we function. I consider very carefully when I get up in the morning what I listen to because it can set the course of my day. Some might say I am placing too much emphasis on our thoughts, but something one of my readers posted the other day reminded me of a book I read years ago about sheep and the meaning of the verse in Psalm 23 where it reads, “He anoints my head with oil.”
In the book “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm”

“For in the terminology of the sheepman, “summertime is fly
time.” By this, reference is made to the hordes of insects that
emerge with the advent of warm weather. Only those people who have kept livestock or studied wildlife habits are aware of the serious problems for animals presented by insects in the summer.

Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly, or nasal fly,
as it is sometimes called. Here little flies buzz about the
sheep’s head, attempting to deposit their eggs on the damp,
mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If they are successful the eggs will hatch in a few days to form small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the nasal passages into the
sheep’s head; they burrow into the flesh and there set up an
intense irritation accompanied by severe inflammation.

For relief from this agonizing annoyance sheep will
deliberately beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or
brush. They will rub them in the soil and thrash around against
woody growth. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself in a frenzied endeavor to gain respite from the aggravation. Often advanced stages of infection from these flies will lead to blindness.

Only the strictest attention to the behavior of the sheep by
the shepherd can forestall the difficulties of “fly time.” At the
very first sign of flies among the flock, he will apply an antidote
to their heads. I always preferred to use a homemade remedy
composed of linseed oil, sulfur, and tar which was smeared over the sheep’s nose and head as a protection against nose flies.

What an incredible transformation this would make among the sheep. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep’s head there
was an immediate change in behavior. Gone was the aggravation; gone the frenzy; gone the irritability and the restlessness. Instead, the sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment”. 1

The analogy here is obvious. The reason many people go through their lives with such disturbing mental issues that seemingly cannot be defeated is because of seeds that the enemy of their souls planted years and years ago, many times in their youth. As children, we are susceptible to all kinds of destructive eggs that the enemy has laid just waiting for their opportunity to hatch and cause us to dash our heads against the ground in agony trying to silence the irritation and noise of mental strongholds.

Many of those seeds are the comments made by parents, teachers, relatives or important authority figures we respect. When a person in authority speaks destructive words into the heart of a child, the damage may not seem immediate, but just like eggs, they will incubate until the personality becomes entirely directed by the wrong thoughts that hatch due to insensitive comments, accusations and even just hate-filled words. If you constantly or even intermittently have trouble with repeating thoughts of accusation, depression or any negativity whatsoever, this blog is for you…

I have told the story in my blog “How I Became Stupid” how the words of a vindictive teacher caused me to believe that I was stupid, and I did my very best to fulfill her hateful prophecy over my life. For years I struggled with rebellion and hate for learning because the eggs laid in my little soul by a teacher who was angry with me hatched into fully grown beliefs that caused me to hate myself and begin down a self-destructive behavioral pattern. Mind worms destroy reality and cause us to believe lies.

I once counseled a man who was fully convinced that he was born to be killed in a tragedy. He didn’t know what it would be, but he had already been involved in two near-death automobile accidents, a fall from a second-story window and a near-fatal electric shock. He used these examples as proof that God created him to die a tragic death.

When I did some investigating, he related to me of growing up with a maniacal father who tortured him by burning him with cigarettes because he would wet his pants as a little boy. His father had told him, “You will never live a long life…God wouldn’t let someone as stupid as you to live!” His father also had told him, “All the men in our family have died before they lived a full life…it’s your fate…just like it will be mine!” His father was killed at 43, being crushed by a crane on a work-related accident. It wasn’t until that belief system in his mind was rejected and he accepted the scripture Psalm 91 that he was able to be free from the destructive mind worm and its poisonous eggs.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly plague. He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings, you will find refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the pestilence that destroys at noon. Though a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, no harm will come near you.

You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling—my refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and cobra; you will trample the young lion and serpent.

“Because he loves Me, I will deliver him; because he knows My name, I will protect him. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver and honor him. With (a) long life, I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

It is for this reason that the crown of thorns pushed into the head of Jesus on the cross was an important part of your salvation. The blood that covered Christ’s head was the payment for a sound mind…a payment that must be appropriated every day when we rise from bed and every night when we lay our heads upon our pillows. Scripture is very clear about how our thoughts AND WORDS can determine both our destiny and our outlook on life.

While our minds were purchased by his blood, the renewing power of washing it daily with God’s Word is WHAT KEEPS IT CLEAN from destructive mind worms. Counteracting accusations and lies that are thrown at us by the enemy of our souls is something we cannot just pray and ask God to remove from us. God tells us the RENEWING OUR MINDS IS A JOB HE HAS GIVEN TO US!!!

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND. THEN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TEST AND APPROVE WHAT IS THE GOOD, PLEASING AND PERFECT WILL OF GOD.” Romans 12:1-2

“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”. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

“In I John 1:7, the apostle writes that we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. But the cleansing found here in Ephesians 5:26 is of a different kind. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Almost all things are purged by blood.” Almost all but not everything is. There are some things that must be purged in another way.

Ephesians 5:26 tells us that we are cleansed “with the washing of water by the word.” There are things that will be cleansed—things in our minds, things that deal with conduct, things that have to do with character and attitude—that are cleansed by water. The word “water” here is symbolic, referring to the Word of God, as well as to the Holy Spirit.

Christ gave a long discourse in John 6, which we often apply at Passover time, about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Towards the end, He says to his audience, “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

We have in the Bible the Word of God—and Jesus says it contains power. It has the power to cleanse a person’s mind because we can think only by what goes into the mind, concepts that are contained in words. Words are merely symbols of ideas that we use to reason. We turn those ideas into action, into conduct, which becomes part of our character and our attitude.
In other places in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is compared to water and to oil. Both of these have revitalizing, nourishing, cleansing, purifying, and sanitizing properties to them.

We are familiar with how we use water to cleanse things; water is the universal solvent. We do not use oil so much to cleanse things, but, on the other hand, the Samaritan in the parable treated the man’s wounds with oil (Luke 10:34). It had a purifying effect on him.” 2

Today, begin by filling your mind with God’s word…with God’s thoughts, and discover a new and living way of being free and breaking destructive thoughts that seek to derail God’s perfect peace over your life.


Somewhere in a truck, God showed up…

As an encourager, it is particularly hard when I get depressed. In fact, I have discovered the primary form of spiritual warfare against me is for the enemy of my soul to remind me of past failures, and whisper how stupid and worthless I am. God knows I have made some real mistakes in my life, and it appears that a real stronghold over me in particular, is to foolishly leave memories of those failures lying around on the floor for the enemy to pick up and use against me whenever he wants.

 Yesterday was one of those days. The air was so thick yesterday I could barely breathe…it was halfway through the morning before I finally realized that I had slipped into depression. I pulled into the parking lot of a Barnes and Noble under a big shade tree and just sat there…being reminded by memories and the Father of Lies what a loser I was. Ever have a day like that? A day when the clouds put their heads on the ground and the grayness seeps into your soul and makes you want to go home and pull the sheets up over your head and hide in bed? That was yesterday.

As I sat in my truck, of course, being a ENFP (extrovert, intuitive, feeling perceiver) from the Myers-Briggs studies, I just began to weep. Most men don’t act like me…they just buck up and tighten that bolt or bail that hay, but not me boy…I cry like a baby. Sitting under that shade tree, I was reminded of Jonah, the prophet who became depressed after being belched out of the mouth of the great fish and sitting in the shade of the big plant that grew up next to him. I spoke to friend on the phone and felt badly that I had just thrown up all over him. He was gracious to me and we said goodbye.

I asked the Lord, “What is going on?” in a really pathetic voice. I think the Lord kind of sat there in the passenger seat of my truck and was listening compassionately, but I sensed He had that, “You’ve been here before Doug” look on His face. He asked me “So what did you do the last time you got down like this?” I didn’t want to answer Him, cause I hated the answer. Really, I hated the answer! I looked up, and said, “I sang to you”.

My relationship with God is not a normal one I think. I sense the Lord as both a Father and a friend, and this smirk kind of comes on His face and He says…”okay…so whatcha gonna do this time?’ I hated the answer…just hated it, cause I wanted… actually WANTED a pity party, and He simply wasn’t gonna throw me one. And so…

I started singing. In times like these I want to change the words of the praise song. Instead of “In my life Lord, be glorified, be glorified” I wanted to sing, “End my life Lord, here in my truck….here in my truck”. But I didn’t… I just sang simple little ditties, and old ones…”We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord…” “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” Man, let me tell you, I felt like each word weighed a thousand pounds trying to get them out of my mouth. That’s the point of depression see…to keep you in bondage to depression by focusing on yourself instead of Jesus.

About three songs in, something happened. As my pitiful praise was rising to the Throne of God, I began to raise my hands and sang louder. A tangible presence, like something coiled around my neck loosened. The blood began to flow again throughout my body…I had done spiritual warfare and the serpent couldn’t choke me…he tried but he couldn’t do it. And then…I began to laugh. I began to laugh like a fool. Listen, don’t judge me friends…depression is a spiritual attack and I felt those coils release my throat. It was so refreshing to see the world with hopeful eyes again.

I walked into the Barnes and Noble and got some coffee, because being set free from demonic oppression and getting a good caffeine buzz go hand in hand.

As I sipped my bold coffee with a shot of espresso and enough sugar to kill a small pony, I walked through the children’s book section looking at where my children’s book would soon be on the shelf and I was singing very very softly, the same praise songs I had been singing in my truck. From behind a book shelf, a young lady’s head popped up. She had been sitting on the floor in between some shelves of books and I hadn’t noticed her.

I continued to sing softly, still looking at books and she looked up again at me and again sat down. I thought she had been reading a book to a child or something, but I was wrong.

When I came around to look at the books on her side of the bookshelves, she was sitting down with her head on her knees, and with tissues in her hand. She looked at me with tear stained eyes and just put her head back down on her knees. Of course,…being me…I spoke. “Are you okay sweetie”” (Okay, any girl my daughters age or younger, I’m calling sweetie because I was old enough to be her dad.)

She raised her eyes to me and said, “I’m sorry, I just feel so empty.”  I sat down next to her, mirroring her posture. “Why do you feel that way sweetheart?” I asked. Her eyes were welling up with tears which meant I was gonna be a goner soon because I just fall to pieces when other people are crying. “I’ve had another miscarriage…and…” her words trailed off. She had come to the children’s book section to feel close to the child she had lost. She said she had wanted to be a mother ever since she was a little girl. She had so looked forward to holding her own child, reading to her or him…hearing her child laugh at funny stories.

Without fail, I teared up too. Without a moments hesitation I put my arm around her shoulders like I would my own child and hugged her. I let her cry. She leaned on my left shoulder and shook with sobs. I did too. And it was so much a God moment that He made sure we were undisturbed. I began to sing very low, the songs I had been singing in my truck…songs of hope and praise. She calmed, her breathing slowed and she sang too. It was a holy moment…and I had almost missed it. She looked at me and said, “My parents sang that song a long time ago!” I said, “Well, me too honey, me too. It’s called the “Sacrifice of Praise”. “We sing it when we don’t want to, and God shows up.” She nodded.

I stood up and so did she. She said, “My mother had miscarriages too”. I looked at her and said, “But look…here you stand a product of her prayer.” She smiled a big smile and laughed and she made me laugh too. She hugged me and said, ‘I sure didn’t expect this today…” I asked where her husband was and she told me he was at work. I asked if her mother was nearby and she nodded yes. I told her to go and to pray with her momma. To which she said “I have already, but I think I need her today.”

As I picked up my coffee and walked toward the door to leave, I happened to glance back at the counter where she was standing in line for coffee. She glanced toward the door at me, placed her hand over her heart and nodded thank you. I did the same…thanking her.

I got into my truck, and the thought came to me how the enemy of our souls wants us to focus on ourselves so that we will miss opportunities like this. I miss being a pastor. I miss loving on people and crying with them, rejoicing with them and all that comes with it. Over the years I have gotten a little more worldly than I should have and God is correcting that without stripping me of my desire for fun…God loves fun! If you are going through a depression, let me give you the one thing I have learned. Make a sacrifice of praise to the Lord and at the very moment you want to be left alone, go find someone…anyone… and be an encouragement to them. You don’t have to be smart, know a lot of scripture or anything else that’s special. Out of our need for encouragement comes the encourager. Out of sadness comes the rejoicer, out of brokenness appears the repairer of our breach. Joy is never to be subject to despair, nor can it be. It is the sun that overpowers the darkness and that vaporizes the fog.  He meets us in a truck, and gives us His joy to spread to the world. Joy to the world…