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Monstrous Thinking...

During the mid-4th century AD, a western-Asian peoples called the “Huns” became a serious threat to the eastern Roman Empire. Their famous leader, Attila, led many successful raids on the Romans, at one time making it all the way to Italy. However, after the death of Attila, they ceased to be a threat and all but disappeared as a people. They left behind very little archaeological evidence to be studied, and the people themselves were likely absorbed into the surrounding people-groups.

Roman soldiers who fought them regularly mentioned how the Huns were “monstrous” in appearance. For centuries after historians just thought that Romans were particularly turned off by Asian features. But then archaeologists began discovering skulls of what turned out to be Hun soldiers that were very misshaped due to artificial cranial deformation – also known as “head binding. This is a process by which an infant’s still-soft, pliable, head would be tightly wrapped, pressuring it to grow in an unnatural way until the bones permanently fused leaving it somewhat conical, like the example above. If you were a Roman soldier, you can imagine what that looked like charging at you with hair and full war paint and such. Monstrous!

This strikes me as an analogy to what might be happening, not to our skulls but to our minds. Our enemy applies pressure to deform our thinking and worldview, usually through cultural lies, personal traumas, and our own brokenness.

The Apostle Paul recognizes this danger when he writes in Romans 12:2  “Do not conform 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.”

The word translated “conform” comes from a Greek word that means to be “pressed into a mold.” Unless we resist and push back, our minds, our thinking, will be warped into monstrous shapes. But how do we push back?

The first thing to understand is that pushing back is impossible without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He motivates and enables genuine disciples to resist the bands that would wrap and warp our minds and begin thinking in righteous ways. So, we’re not in this alone. However, this isn’t just a passive process – we must cooperate.

Prayer can be one of the ways we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in resisting our enemy’s pressure. We usually think of prayer as asking God to act on a circumstance we would like to see changed. And it is that. But more often it’s during prayer that we begin to change. As we talk a thing out with the Lord, the Spirit molds and shapes us into the character of Jesus, where, eventually, we learn to:

·         Readily recognize and avoid the influences that might warp our thinking into monstrous shapes.

·         Begin praying in ways near the heart of God.

So, while you may think your prayers are not getting past the ceiling, and nothing dramatic is happening, every simple and sincere prayer is pushing back against the darkness’s pressure to conform our minds.

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