By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
For years, Pastor Lou Giglio out of Atlanta has been known for preaching sermons that are delightfully illustrative and easy to understand. He makes parables come alive by acting out the parts of those in the story, whether they are Bible characters or everyday folks, and he doesn’t water down anything. He does what I find both refreshing and endearing: he busts himself, talks about his own struggles appropriately, and thus creates a safe place for the listener to do the same. He also does it with humor, which we all know when administered properly is as good as any medicine ever thought of being. It’s Time To Win The Battle Of Your Mind is the subtitle of a book whose actual title is Don’t Give The Enemy A Seat At Your Table, and it contains one of the best treatments of Psalm 23 I have ever heard.
Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” who doesn’t know that one? Doesn’t it end up on every funeral bulletin, been on every inspirational calendar, made into a myriad of memes and cross-stitched into oblivion? Yep, and that’s why, at least for me, when someone brings a fresh and accurate treatment of something that we could recite in our sleep, I sit up and pay attention.
When Lou preached the message of the book to his congregation, he set up a literal table with literal delicious food at the front of the sanctuary, and he sat down and ate it. He did so while playing the parts of the Shepherd/King, the Sheep/Saint, and the defeated one. This guy is so good that he could be a screenwriter or playwright. The response of the congregation was a combination of conviction and chuckles, of “Ouch!” and “Oh, that’s good.” Everyone could get on the bus called, “That’s me,” and know that as long as they stayed on that bus, goodness and mercy were going to chase them down and overtake them.
How does Psalm 23 apply to the “battle for the mind?” Well, there is a table that has been prepared “in the presence of [our spiritual] enemies,” and they are NOT supposed to SIT at the table and distract us from our feast and loving conversation with our Shepherd King. They are supposed to watch from a respectful distance and writhe over what has been purchased for us, forever undeserving as we are. But, what do we do when they “pull up a chair” at the feast? We hand them a plate, ignore the King, and listen as they perhaps talk with their mouth full. That, my friends, is the nature of a mind battle, and we have all been there.
The title itself was an actual text sent to Lou, something that he describes as being “nine words that changed my life,” and they are, “DON’T GIVE THE ENEMY A SEAT AT YOUR TABLE!” Watch the sermon to get the picture, listen to get the parable, and read, highlight, and dog-ear the book. It’s 2024, and it’s time to win the battle!