Thursday, October 20, 2011

Safe place or stronghold?

by Niki Turner

Strongholds are places and/or things in which we place our confidence outside of God and His Word; things we build up in our minds that represent safety, security, and a place of refuge, but in actuality are little more than mirages in the desert.

What is a stronghold, you ask? One source defines a stronghold as a "house made of thoughts." That agrees with Paul's letter to the church at Corinth:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."
2 Cor 10:3-6 NKJV (emphasis added)

The problem with building our own strongholds (and we all have them) is that the self-constructed barriers we erect to protect ourselves from hurt, from humiliation, from the harsh reality of life,  eventually turn into self-made prisons.

Strongholds can take on many forms and features, appearing to be a safe place, a necessary defense, or even a proactive measure of protection, but the underlying characteristic all strongholds share is fear.

and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Heb 2:15 NKJV
Fear of death isn't just fear of physical or spiritual death, it's fear of ANY kind of death or loss or ending – relational, emotional, financial, etc. It's the abused woman who won't leave her abusive spouse for fear she'll never find love. It's the addict who is afraid to let go of the substance for fear of the pain he or she will find in sobriety. The miser who clings and clutches to every penny for fear there won't be another one coming to meet his or her needs. It's the student who fails to turn in assignments and is perpetually tardy and sabotages his or her GPA. It's the writer who can't release a manuscript to a crit group or an agent or a publisher for fear of rejection.

What's holding you back today? Is it the strongholds you've built to protect yourself that have turned into a self-made prison? Have you snared yourself in your own net? Are you caught in a prison of your own making? It's time to escape to the freedom that belongs to you in Christ Jesus. How? Thought by thought, moment by moment, feeling by feeling. Until we reach the place of true freedom––total confidence in Christ.

Father God, I pray today that you would reveal to each of us the hidden strongholds that have held us back, hindered us from the joy and peace to which we are called in Christ, and limited us in our endeavors to glorify and honor You. Lord, pour out upon your daughters the supernatural grace we need to tear down those man-made strongholds and step into the fullness of our place and position in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Mother of four, grandmother of one, Niki Turner is an only child, wife of a former pastor, and lover of fiction. Her dream is to create settings and plots and characters that carry the reader into another realm, at least for as long as it takes to read the story!


  1. Excellent, Niki. It definitely strikes a chord with me. One of the down sides of being a writer is definitely the overactive imagination.

  2. Niki, this cements the thoughts I've been having all week about all the 'stuff' I've accumulated. I want to get rid of most of it, but then I look at the trinkets and remember who gave them to me and think I could never let them go. Wouldn't it just be better if I took photos of them?

    And I've been hanging on to baby stuff for when my kids bring grandbabies home, but that's not likely for years. Meanwhile, the stuff I've saved down in the quonset is getting mouldy and smelly from all the flooding we've had the past couple years. And the stuff that hasn't probably isn't even child-proof any longer. :( But my babies all used it, you know?

    Anita Mae.

  3. Most assuredly, Dina! I think we have many more opportunities to wrestle with our thoughts than the average bear.

  4. Anita Mae,
    I completely understand! My mom went through that same thing. She had eventually filled an entire garage floor to ceiling with STUFF, and had to get rid of almost all of it thanks to a terrible infestation of mice.

    I found the best way (for me) to deal with "stuff" was to find someone to bless with my excess. Somehow, giving it to someone who would appreciate it, or who needed it, took the pain of losing the "thing" away, and left me with the sweet memories!

  5. Ugh. I know all this but I needed a kick in the pants to remind me of it today. Thanks Niki.

  6. Glad to share the swift kick I got with someone else, Anne! : )

  7. I needed this today too, Niki. I've got an overactive imagination. And I've got too much stuff (and too many books). So I related to Dina and Anita's comments!

    God's working on me. Thanks for the post.

  8. Too many books? That's like saying you can be too rich or too thin! : )

  9. I agree. The correct terminology for "too many books" is "not enough bookshelves."

  10. I concur, Dina.

    Seriously, Susie dear, God is working on all of us, and loves us wherever we are in the process, thank goodness!

  11. Oh my... just found this article on Psychology Today. How very fitting!

  12. I'd like to do a weeklong study on this subject. I've been in head-spinning mode for too long and I'd like to take a good long, quiet look into what I've been hanging on to that I need to get rid of.

    That's not physical stuff by the way, but mental trash.
    I guess I'll mosey on over to Psych today and see what it says about my office...

  13. oh. That article was too frightening.
    Weird? Me?

    I was just thinking tonight when I got home from work how much I adored my month off of work when I was a hermit and ...yikes. just like the article. If it wasn't for going to church and the occasional family commitment, I wouldn't have left the house.

    I also didn't feel overwhelmed by things I had to get done either...
    so maybe being weird but not stressed has its merits.

    I re read your post, Niki.
    I know that one of my strongholds is busyness. It protects me. It also saps my energy.
    I'd love to just relax and watch a movie but I feel guilty because I have so much I should be doing. I'm back to 'where do I draw the line?'

  14. *sigh* I'm with ya, Deb! I've bricked myself in to a place of isolation so deep I can't find my way out when I want to! If I do get out and about in a social way, it takes me DAYS to recover!
    Drawing the mysterious line... that is the question!

  15. Great post, Niki, and lots of great comments. You all are so smart. And Dina, I agree ... I need more bookshelves, too. Oh, wait a minute. I almost forgot my plan to become a minimalist before the end of the year.

  16. Minimalism! Now that is fodder for a blog post!


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