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How to Win ANY Battle in Life

You've tried it your way and failed. Don't give up! Choose to stay in the game and see how God even takes our mistakes and builds them into our greatest victories.

How many times have we heard this one: “It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game that counts.” Some of us realized winning meant a lot when we noticed that the guys who got the girls were the ones who won the starting positions on the team. Even if how they played the game was anything but nice, they still won and got the girls.

Go out in life thinking that winning does not matter and you will be very disappointed. Winning matters a lot.

Winners get the best stuff. The world talks about and celebrates winners, while it shuns the loser who seems to not have what it takes or has it for a while and then loses it. Few can tell you who raced in the Indianapolis 500 in any given year. The winners are the ones that count.

Your Personal Battles
Everybody struggles with something and battles it day after day. Your main battle might be overeating, pornography, drinking, anger, depression or one of many other things that could have been tripping you up, perhaps for years.

You have made two choices that most everybody else has made: (1) You have tried real hard to fix it yourself; (2) You have asked God to take the battle from you and just heal it right now.

You may have begged Him and even questioned whether or not there actually is a God, or whether or not He loves you based on the fact that your battle has continued. You may have even defended your problem, saying it is just the way God made you since He hasn't seen fit to change it for you.

It is always good to ask for God's healing, but if you are still struggling, still losing the battle, now is the time to make some different choices that will turn your life around.

When dealing with your innermost battles, keep in mind that winners are not just those men who develop a plan for their life, go out and execute it and then watch everything fall perfectly in place. Winning also comes from the response we choose when things don't go so well.

Great coaches train the team to go out and win. But championship coaches take it a step further: They train their teams to respond when the other team scores first. Great teams know how to come back when they are behind. It is the response to things not going well that often determines whether or not a team wins or loses. The same goes with individuals.

You have a choice of how to respond when things go wrong. Most likely there is some area, some battle in which you have experienced defeat over and over again. Now you have choices before you that will either turn your life into a succession of loss upon loss or a life defined in every way by winning.

Giving Up Old Choices
One choice in response to mistakes and personal failures is arrogant defensiveness. This is the choice to justify, rationalize and stand your ground. It is the choice down a path of repeated failures and stunted growth. I have used this response often and have to surrender it up every day.

It always feels good for the moment to exercise my right to defend what I did and stand my ground. But it never helps me move forward, and, eventually, I have to acknowledge my arrogance and let it go.

I have to replace the choice to remain stubborn, resistant, arrogant and defensive with the choice of a winner. It is the unattractive choice of humble willingness.

The Choice of Humble Willingness
Those who are both humble and willing realize they do not have all the answers, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to find them. This place of humility allows them to seek help from others and shift their reliance from themselves to God.

Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us to not lean on our own understanding and to not be wise in our own eyes. A humble willingness to do whatever it takes, to reach out and get the help that is needed is a sign of character and strength. It is the beginning of the path to the victory circle. But to get there you have to allow God to use your struggle to teach you to rely less on your own resources and totally on Him.

Over the years I have watched people reach this crucial point where they are willing to do whatever it takes, and I have watched everything in their lives turn around. I have also seen those who reach the point and turn and run in the opposite direction. The biggest reason is that they are unwilling to make a bold move toward healing.

You can't just declare yourself a winner. You have to heal the things that are preventing you from having victory. The biggest reason you have lost the battle is that you have relied on your own strength, trying to win on your own.

Once you are humbly willing, you can move to connect your life with others who can help you. This means that you are willing to call someone or get in the car and go to a meeting or find a counselor to help you. In humble willingness, tell your wife or close friend that you are finally willing to look into getting some help that they suggested. Humbly acknowledge that you are only as sick as your secrets, and you must break out of secrecy and into connection that heals and helps you to win whatever battles you are facing.

The winning life starts by moving beyond trying harder and merely asking for healing. You give up the old ways and defending the old ways, and you are willing to become involved in the healing by reaching out and connecting.

The connection begins the healing process that will include several difficult processes, such as grieving your past losses so you can move forward. It may involve forgiving those who have hurt you, and giving up old resentments and grudges. And rather than numb your feelings or deny they are there, you will need to acknowledge them and feel the depths of your emotions.

Then, as the reality of your situation becomes clearer, it will require that you embrace your life, the good and the bad of it all, and allow God to do with it what only God can do.

Embracing Rather Than Rejecting Life
God takes our mistakes and blends them and builds them into our biggest wins. I know that may sound strange, but it is true.

You're probably familiar with the Old Testament story of Joseph. The guy went from being the favorite son in his father's house to the depths of an Egyptian prison. Some would say that he had it coming.

Joseph was so arrogant that he was not smart enough to edit what he tells his brothers about God's plan for his life: “One night Joseph had a dream and promptly reported the details to his brothers, causing them to hate him even more. 'Listen to this dream,' he announced. 'We were out in the field tying up bundles of grain. My bundle stood up, and then your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before it!' 'So you are going to be our king, are you?' his brothers taunted. And they hated him all the more for his dream and what he had said” (Gen. 37:5-8, NLT).

So Joseph's brothers decided to kill him, but they changed their minds and sold him into slavery instead. He found favor with his new master only to be thrown in jail after the lady of the house lied about Joseph, accusing him of an impropriety. At some point, I'm sure Joseph was kicking himself for the way he had bragged to his brothers, which started the chain of events leading to his imprisonment. But he didn't give up.

In prison he connected with his fellow inmates, telling them what their dreams meant and that eventually led to his release. Once again, he gained favor by telling Pharaoh what his dreams meant and ended up running the country, enabling him to save his family and, ultimately, an entire nation.

Now, I don't think God meant for those mean brothers to sell Joseph or for him to be falsely accused and thrown in prison. But, somehow, God worked out a big win in the end. As Joseph notes, “God turned into good” what his brothers meant for evil (Gen. 50:20).

You may feel like you are living in your own self-constructed prison. You may think your life is wasted and you are the loser of all losers. But it is not true. If you will stay true to God, God will work with your circumstances and weave them into a wonderful win. But you must humble yourself and become willing to do whatever it takes to heal.

You must reach out and connect with others, getting support, accountability and even treatment for the character defects within you. You must open up your life to others and allow God to manage the outcome. Then you must embrace the reality of your life and allow God to use the things you are most ashamed of. Allow God to weave them and wind them into your future.

Perseverance
The final element to win at anything is perseverance. Whether it is a personal battle or a new project, be in it for the long haul.

Too often, we want the quick fix and the instant solution. We want the big win now and when it does not happen, we give up, throw in the towel and walk away a loser. But if we persevere, hang on and hang in, the win we so badly want may be just around the corner.

Here is how perseverance worked for me. One of the things I feel best about in my life is the creation of the Women of Faith conference. God gave me a vision for discouraged and disappointed women, and we began conferences for women in 1996. Now, almost 15 years later, they are stronger than ever with more than 3 million women having attended, more than 400,000 attending each year. Nothing has ever made me feel more like a winner than the success of Women of Faith and the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been changed by it.

But in 1995, the year before the conferences started, I felt like the biggest loser around. It was then that I created a traveling conference that toured the country in 12 cities. That year, my efforts at creating conferences resulted in a grand total of less than 1,000 people showing up … total.

I remember the grand ballroom in Chicago where we had less than 30. No one looked like or felt like a bigger loser than me. But I did not take the loss as an indictment on who I was. A losing idea and the mistakes I made in implementing it did not make me a total failure. So I persevered with conferences, and it was the next year that Women of Faith started filling every seat available.

Had I given up, I would have never experienced the joy of seeing Women of Faith become the ministry that it is today. The win was not in pulling it off. The win was persevering with God and watching Him do what I had proved I could not do alone.

Perhaps you are about to give up. You don't feel there is any hope for you. If I were sitting there with you, I would encourage you to look for the big win just around the bend or just over the next hill. You may not see it, but it is there.

Stand strong in God's Spirit and resist Satan's lies that you will fail. Take Paul's encouragement in Ephesians 6:10-13 to heart: “Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

No matter how low you feel or the degree of humiliation you have experienced, you can choose to keep going and stay in the game rather than quit right before you see what God is about to do. Your loss could actually be the springboard to living the life of a winner because of what you have experienced and what you have learned in the heat of battle. But to experience the life of a winner, you must have a willingness to wait on God and to persevere.

Rather than give up on life, I encourage you to give up your old ways of handling your battles and turn your life over to God. Trust in Him and those He chooses to use to help you. You will heal, and you will win. And, you will find purpose for your life that you never dreamed possible.

Romans 8:28 will unfold before your eyes over your lifetime: God really “causes everything to work together for the good.” But first you must choose to win His way and not your own. And once you experience winning God's way, you will want to share the message with others and help them understand the path toward creating a winning life.

KEYS TO WINNING ANY BATTLE

  • Give up your old ways of trying to win.
  • Give up arrogant defensiveness and stubborn resistance.
  • Humble yourself and become willing to do whatever it takes.
  • Reach out and connect with those who can help you heal.
  • Heal old wounds by grieving your losses, forgiving those who hurt you and feeling the depths of your emotions.
  • Embrace the reality of your life, including the past you want to forget.
  • Persevere and watch God create something amazing from it all.
  • Reach out to others who need to find the way to win.

Steve Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and hosts the nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show New Life Live. He also serves as a teaching pastor at Heartland Church in Indianapolis and is the author and co-author of more than 60 books, including Every Man's Battle. Contact him at newlife.com. read more

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'The Ides of March' Delivers the Chill of Political Corruption

The Ides of March is a well-executed but unoriginal drama that features an incredible cast and serves as a coming out party for Ryan Gosling’s status as a major leading actor. What this movie lacks in originality and creative writing, it more than makes up for in the acting and directing, making it one of the best dramas of the fall movie season.

Gosling (pictured here with actor/director George Clooney) stars as an up-and-coming political staffer who gets corrupted while trying to win a presidential election. Again, there’s nothing groundbreaking about the plot (really, politics can corrupt people!?), but when you throw in George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright and a surprisingly good Marisa Tomei, every scene becomes a pleasure to watch.

Gosling is in every scene, and he’s magnetic. There’s no overacting here. When he starts having to make the morally questionable decisions, you can tell he’s torn, but it’s underneath the surface. He knows his character and makes him believable in every scene. After breaking out with The Notebook and then working his considerable talents on a number of indie films for the last six years, it was time for him to step up to the plate with a leading role in a mainstream Hollywood movie. Combined with his charismatic, hilarious performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love, it feels like Gosling is finally hitting the big time in 2011, and it’s good to have him.

The funny thing is that Gosling is overshadowed in a number of scenes by Hoffman and Giamatti, who absolutely kill their roles as rival political campaign bosses. Watching these guys chew cigars while dishing political barbs is an absolute joy. Tomei and Wright get limited time but make the most of it, and Evan Rachel Wood gives a compelling turn as an intern on the campaign.

I haven’t even mentioned Clooney yet, and that’s because his role as the seemingly perfect politician almost comes as an afterthought in this movie. Clooney actually did much better work directing The Ides of March than acting in it. He plays down the glitz of politics in favor of the gritty details, which works well given that the film takes place almost entirely in Ohio. This is not Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and that’s a good thing. If you’re looking for solid, well-acted drama to see, you can’t go wrong with The Ides of March.

Content Watch: Not for the kids. The movie features pervasive language. There is no nudity, but the film deals with mature subjects, including abortion. read more

Communication

The Trouble With Christian Phrases


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When CNN posted an article on its Belief Blog asking, “Do you speak Christian?” author John Blake looked into the various phrases that Christians use to describe things, like being “born again,” that may be confusing to those outside the Christian culture. It’s actually a pretty poor article that merely catalogs a bunch of phrases the author seems to find amusing, but it brings up an important point. Are you aware of the words and phrases you are using in your everyday life and how others, especially nonbelievers, perceive them?

This is a debate that goes on in many churches and ministries across the country. Our culture is less Christian and less knowledgeable about Christian ideas than at any point in its history. We can’t assume that our co-workers and neighbors are going to understand a lot of words and phrases that we take for granted, especially those of us who have grown up in the church.

If I tell my co-workers that I have been “saved by grace,” many of them would have no idea what that means. Terms like that are so common to Christians that we don’t even notice when we’re using them. But it is important to be aware; because if we use phrases like that with people who don’t understand, it can be off-putting. It hints to them at a special group—a special language that only insiders understand.

Unfortunately we are not talking about something as tangible or simple as what we had for breakfast. In Christianity God reveals himself to us, and we are dealing with ideas and concepts that aren’t normally discussed at the water cooler. We have to be able to describe these ideas; and so, naturally, we are forced to use words that many people do not use in their everyday lives. The word justification explains a very important, essential Christian idea, but it’s not exactly trending on Twitter right now.

There’s nothing wrong with having words and phrases that explain important concepts, as it allows us to discuss our faith intelligibly. The issue lies in how and when we use these words and how comfortable we get with them. It’s all about knowing your audience.

I remember when I was in college leading a Bible study of mature Christian guys. We were studying Romans and throwing around a lot of these words and phrases because everyone understood them and was comfortable using them. Then in the middle of the semester, one of our members brought a non-Christian friend with him. Immediately we had to change the tone of the study so he wouldn’t feel left out or ignorant. My co-leader and I kept catching ourselves saying things he might not understand. We started re-phrasing. We still studied the same material and discussed the same subjects, but we had to be mindful of our new audience. read more

menpraying

The Four Skills Needed to Be an Accountability Partner

Men who are growing spiritually, emotionally and relationally know the importance of having other men in their lives who can hold them accountable. They also recognize the value of helping other men. Proverbs 27:17 says it well: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV). We need one another in order to be sharp. We also need to realize that every man is sharpened differently.
 
Accountability is not about asking a list of questions. It’s about being involved in another man’s life. It’s coming alongside other men. Godly men know they need to be accountable, but they don’t always know what that looks like. I’ve been in good accountability relationships and bad ones. I've noticed that the accountability partner has four key responsibilities. read more
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'X-Men: First Class' Best of the Series

With four comic-book movies coming out this summer, X-Men: First Class seemed to draw the least amount of excitement. “Another X-Men movie?” seemed to be the common thought. However, X-Men: First Class surprisingly turns out to be the best movie about Xavier’s mutants so far, and it may turn out to be the best comic movie of the summer.

Set mostly in the '60s, the film details the story of the beginning of the X-Men, and, more importantly, the beginning of the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto. It’s this relationship and the two actors, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, that bring it to life and really set this movie above your normal comic action-fest.

The plot follows Xavier and Magneto as they grow up in very different childhoods, one with a privileged upbringing and one in a Nazi concentration camp (guess which one ends up turning into a bad guy). As they grow older, they cross each other’s paths in search of the movie’s villain, a mutant who is arranging the Cuban Missile Crisis in hopes of starting World War III. They form a team to deal with the threat, and the first class of X-Men is born. read more

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Father-Son Missions Adventures

With Father’s Day coming up, we took some time to speak with David Horner, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. Horner is the author of When Missions Shape the Mission, which examines America’s role in world missions. Passionate about spreading the gospel abroad, Horner also took his three sons on mission trips as each turned 16 and had memorable and life-changing experiences with them. He details these accounts to us and recommends other ways fathers can give their children a heart for missions. read more

bible-study-man-tree

Seven Tips to Develop Your Own Bible Reading Plan

A man who became a Christian bought a Bible. He said, "Have you seen this thing?"

The Bible is daunting. At roughly 770,000 words, that's about 2,500 normal book pages--equivalent to 12 non-fiction books!

Bible reading falls into that special category of things we all know are important but struggle to do, like diet and exercise.

Every year since 1988 I've read the Bible cover to cover. This is certainly not required, but I've learned some things along the way that may be helpful to you. read more

Marines pilot

Welcome to the Ready Room

The thing I miss most about being a pilot in the Marines is the Ready Room, where we gathered before and after our flights.

It smelled of sweaty flight suits, and occasionally, coarse humor blued the air while our inflated egos competed, but I loved it nonetheless.

Then came the day I had to let it all go. I hadn't grown up in the church, so when I met Christ in a bunker in Vietnam, my life had to change.

Being a fighter pilot had been my dream since childhood, and here I was living it. But one morning as I sat reading the Bible, I struggled to understand what Paul was saying in Romans 8:15: "You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'" (NIV). read more

Is Your Career Your Calling?

Integrating your faith with your work.

Are you in full-time Christian service? If you say "No" because you work in the secular world, you may be wrong, Robert J. Tamasy says. He explained: "Recently a friend of mine, a financial planner, commented, 'I'd give anything to be able to go full time for the Lord.'

I thought about his statement for a moment and then replied, "What makes you think you haven't already done that?" read more

Men of the Year

Bono and Bush, Jakes and Jennings. The Men of the Year for 2005 have dug wells of inspiration from which others who aspire to the exceptional might drink.


There is little more beautiful to behold in the world than a man in the grasp of an idea. Women, of course, are also thrilling when they passionately give themselves to belief, but since men are the more easily distracted and the more commonly willing to settle for less than they might be, it is a man possessed of an idea who most often holds the fascination of the world.

Our 2005 Men of the Year are just such men. Except for one of them, they are not particularly exceptional apart from the ideas they serve. Yet, because they have chosen to preserve the heritage of a people or to loose the grip of poverty upon nations or to lead a tradition-bound church into cultural relevance, among other causes, they are living exceptional lives. They are also digging wells of inspiration from which others who aspire to the exceptional might drink. read more

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