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Winning Your Inner Battles (Part 1 of 2)

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Winning Your Inner Battles (Part 1 of 2)

Pastor Levi Lusko offers help for overcoming your bad habits and negative thought patterns in a discussion based on his book I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle With Yourself. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 30, 2019
I Declare War

I Declare War

Receive Levi Lusko's book I Declare War for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

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Today's Guests

I Declare War

I Declare War

Receive Levi Lusko's book I Declare War for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

Featured

Episode Summary

Pastor Levi Lusko offers help for overcoming your bad habits and negative thought patterns in a discussion based on his book I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle With Yourself. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 30, 2019

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Teaser:

Woman #1: I have this bad habit of when I’m nervous, I talk a lot – like, way too much.

Woman #2: I need to stop being so fidgety. I’m always messing with my hair and things like that. And it’s a self-conscious thing that I’d really like to fix.

Man #1: I wish that I procrastinated less.

Man #2: I tend to be late a lot because I try to cram everything into every minute of the day.

Woman #3: Sometimes I tend to overthink things. I want to make sure I have all the details of all the pieces and then what they’re thinking and what I’m thinking. I just need to slow down and breathe and realize, it’s gonna be OK, and it’s gonna work out.

Man #3: I would like to be more courageous, especially in conflict where I’m willing to speak up and say what I think rather than just kind of say, “Well, it’s OK.” And let it go.

Woman #4: I wish I could get over the habit of constantly hitting the snooze button.

End of Teaser

(LAUGHTER)

Jim Daly: Hey, I did that today (laughter).

John Fuller: That is – I turned mine off this morning.

Jim: It’s not a habit though.

John: Yeah. Well, you might be able to relate to some of those comments. Maybe you have some habits or behaviors or some triggers that you wish could be different. But, you know, they’ve been part of my life for so long. Change seems impossible. Well, we’re going to challenge that perspective today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, and we’re glad to have you along.

Jim: Hey, John. We need to mention right up front that not all habits are bad. There are many good habits we need to cultivate – reading the Word as often as possible, praying, brushing your teeth. Let’s get down to some basics. How about showering? If you have teenagers, that could be an issue. But uh …

John: Either they don’t shower or they shower, like, forever!

Jim: Too much and working on their hair…

John: Yeah.

Jim: …Constantly. We’re likely to have some bad habits as well. And as John said, that’s what we want to talk about today. How can we begin to reroute that wiring that we have to fall prey to those bad habits and then accept them? I was talking to Jean about this. And she knew of someone who, you know, accepted the Lord. But cigarette smoking was just a habit that this person could not break and never really attempted. He just kind of said, “Well, it’s just who I am.” I don’t think that’s a fair way to look at things. You can break bad habits. And we’re going to show you how today.

John: Yeah. It might be junk food, anger, it could be any number of things but our guest today has thought about this a lot. He’s talked about it. He’s written about it. Levi Lusko is with us today. He’s the pastor of Fresh Life Church. They’re a multi-site ministry. They have locations in Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Oregon. And he’s written a book called, I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself. And I’m really looking forward to the conversation.

Body:

Jim: Oh, me too. Levi, welcome back to Focus.

Levi Lusko: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim: OK. So when we talk about the territory the Lord has giving you, like, how did you qualify for such beautiful areas here in the U.S. (laughter)?

Levi: Well, if you see someone on top of a mountain, you can be sure I – they didn’t fall there, is what they say. And in my case, I didn’t climb there either. God lifted us up, and it – with his helicopter of grace. And we’re just so thankful that he would let us be where we are. It’s the Continental Divide. It’s beautiful.

Jim: Oh, I know right down the line. Montana is beautiful. We love that state. And love the people there. And there’s a lot of Focus supporters there. We’re grateful for them.

John: Yeah.

Levi: That’s awesome.

Jim: Um. Let’s go to the book title. Why do you want people to declare war on themselves?

Levi: Well, I think the reality is that, like, Warren Wiersbe once said, “The Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battleground.” And that’s true on a number of levels. You know, the Bible says that we have an enemy, the devil who, you know, goes back and forth like a roaring lion wanting to destroy us. That’s huge. The world is a source of tribulation. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” Now, that’s where it gets complicated ’cause the Bible says, “Do not love the world.” But then it also says, “God so loved the world.” So you have to separate. And of course, that’s one of the reasons that God revealed the New Testament to us in Greek because there was nuances to the Greek language we don’t have in English.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: We say, “I love ice cream. I love my wife. I love the Broncos.”

Jim: Right.

Levi: And it’s like, do you love your wife the same as you love ice cream? I don’t want to even bring the Broncos in. I know a lot of people do love the Broncos. (LAUGHTER)

Levi: …More than they love their wife…

Jim: No!

John: And we are a national program, so…

Levi: But, you know…

Jim: But I get your point.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: You’re just saying there’s shades in Greek…

Levi: And in…

Jim: …That are really not in English.

Levi: …The Greek, we talk about the world. We have to separate the people of the world from the created world from the worldview. And the worldview is what brings the – the backlash when you give your life to Jesus. But the – and those two I think are predominantly where we focus our attention when we speak about conflict.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: But what I’ve unearthed as I’ve continued to grow as a leader and look into the teachings of Scripture is that the third area is our own self – our fleshly nature, our fallen nature. Theologians would refer to it as the adamic nature. But really, this is just a part of you that you’re not going to have in heaven, that no longer is in control of you now. But we can still choose to let – when triggered or because of habit or whatever bad example or painful things we’ve gone through still allow it to be in charge of our day-to-day affairs…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: This is what Paul spoke about in Romans 7, when he said, “What I do, I don’t want to do. What I don’t want to do, I continually do.

And so my eyes were opened to the fact that sometimes I think I’m complaining about, “Oh, the devil made me do this.” Or, “This is from the world.” And I think God kind of said, “Hey, pal. This was your own fault.”

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: You know? You have – you have three big problems right now, is the way I see it – you, yourself and yourself, you know? (Laughter) It’s like, me, myself and I. And so the message of the book was me coming to terms with the fact that I’m my own biggest enemy.

Jim: Yeah. / Let me ask this broader question, and then we’ll get more into the book content. I don’t think you covered this in the book. But when you look at the way Jesus addressed the Scribes and the Pharisees versus the less spiritual people, sometimes I feel like we feel we – we’re on top of the game, that we’re no longer scribes and Pharisees, that we understood what Jesus said. But then there’s a reality that I think we’re a little blind in that area, that we do look down on people that haven’t come to the realization of who Jesus is. They don’t live a life that is, you know, healthy for the most part. How do we avoid the self-righteousness that we fall into so easily?

Levi: No doubt. I think the closer you walk with Jesus in that relationship, the more he’s going to help you to see that his power in you is what gives you grace. And it’s not something you earn it’s something you receive.

Jim: Is that the fork in the road? I’m thinking, you know, what you learn when you walk with Jesus a longtime is hopefully greater humility…

Levi: Yeah. No doubt.

Jim: …Toward other people which is him.

Levi: Well, I think when you’re with him – it’s like if you were hanging out with Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.

Jim: Which I would love to do, by the way.

Levi: Obviously, you’re playing catch.

Jim: Are you offering? (LAUGHTER)

Levi: Yeah. You’re not going to feel like, “I’m the greatest thrower of the football,” you know? When you’re with greatness what the – right response is humility.

So I think if you’re just religious and you just are at church, that’s fine. But when you’re actually in the presence of God, I think when you’re spending time with him intimately by yourself – now that can happen in church. But you can be in church but miss Jesus, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And so if you’re – if – I think that when you’re near to him, when you’re on your knees, when you’re walking in that pure, sweet, simple relationship, you’re not going to walk around with a puffed-up chest. Your right response is going to be a sense of, “Who am I?”

Jim: Right, that I’m no better than that person.

Levi: Exactly.

Jim: And that was Jesus’s point. Well, good. We got that clarified. Let’s go into more of the content. You referred to – you refer to yourself as the – in some ways as the evil Levi.

Levi: Yes.

Jim: And this was the season it sounds like you’re awakening to the kind of the dark spots in your heart, maybe. What did you mean by that? And do you got some illustrations that’ll help us?

Levi: Yeah, for sure. (Laughter) Well, in the book I’m really trying to help people to see that many of the problems that they’re confronting are because of self-sabotage, you know? And it could be a simple thing because really the Bible presents a picture that God will never do for you what you can do for yourself.

So you know, in the feeding of the 5,000, he could have made it rain bread from the sky. But he chose to say, “What do we have. What do we have to contribute? Go and see. Five loaves, two fish – OK. I’ll work with this.” So God always wants to work within the realm of what we’re called to do. So, you know, if this the person who’s maybe um, wanted to lose weight but without working out. And maybe they’re praying to lose weight. It’s like, you know, what? There’s a part you have to play in all of this. And I’m not trying to say, you know, God helps those who help themselves. But what I am trying to say is even when God is doing what only he can do, he still expects us to do what we’re called to do.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: So in the book, the self-sabotage, I describe it as basically no longer being held hostage by the version of you that you don’t want to be.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …Because there’s a version of me in my marriage that I don’t want to be. I’m short with my wife; I’m self-centered; I’m distracted when I’m with my children. There’s a version of me at work I don’t want to be. It’s this triggered – you know, I would like to think it’s a Steve Jobs, I’m brilliant, so I can’t be bothered with… (Laughter) But it’s really just me being sinful…

Jim: Wow.

Levi: …With my assistant when I’m frustrated, or with someone on our team when I don’t want to take the time to talk to them, instead, I’m just snappy or whatever. And so I decided to name that version of me.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And since you can rearrange the letters to Levi to spell evil, I call him evil Levi.

John: Yeah, pretty harsh. (Laughter)

Levi: Yeah. Well, I encourage people to maybe as an exercise come up with the name for the version of themselves they don’t want to be. So that way when they’re acting like that they can just call it out. “Hey, that’s – that was evil Levi. That was not me. That’s not who I want to be. I want to be a better version of me” because, really, our culture places such a high emphasis on be true to yourself. And, you know, you’re got just live your truth. And the problem with that is what if the truth you’re living is actually a lie?

Jim: Wow. Yeah.

Levi: And if you have a new nature. And a new – if when Christ gave us a new heart and we became new people, then we’re not our old self. We’re not that fleshly nature. It’s still there. And it will be there until heaven. But it doesn’t have the power over us unless we let it. And so when you name that, you can sort of call yourself and live according to who Jesus says you are.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim: You know Levi, I’m imagining some are hearing this and they’re maybe not as self-aware. What is – what is one thing a person can do that may all of a sudden have that pang of, “Wow, I don’t know that I’m that aware of my heart”? What’s something they can do to help them become more sensitized to that evil that’s in them?

Levi: That’s great. Well, I think the first step is wanting to grow in self-awareness, right?

Jim: Desire.

Levi: So desire. You got to start with desire. That’s why in the book I actually give a contract of a declaration of war that I’m not going to allow this version of me to continue. I want to declare war on it. And once a country declares war, they’re – they have a different mindset, and they’re opened up to different rights. And then, honestly, you receive different power.

Now, a declaration of war isn’t starting a battle. It’s admitting a battle’s happening, you know? So when America declared war after Pearl Harbor, that was a war that was raging. It was raging whether we entered it or not.

Jim: Right.

Levi: We finally just said, “OK, now I’m going to enter.” Now, every listener is in conflict, whether it’s something – overspending, overeating, whether it’s, you know, compensating, always one-upping. Someone says…

Jim: Or bad habits, like we talked about.

Levi: Bad habits like you talked about. So that’s what – that war is already raging. It’s going on.

So now it’s just about you deciding to engage. And so that desire would be the first step. And then I would say, as far as self-awareness goes, ask the people in your life. If you meekly and humbly ask people, you know, “What – what are things that I could grow on?” What is it like to – there’s a real convicting book out there where the title is, What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? (Laughter) If you ask that question…

Jim: Oh, ouch!

Levi: If you – if you’re – and then you have to have to make the agreement that you’re not going to…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …Argue with any answer that comes back.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: Otherwise, you know, it’s no good. You – it does no good to punch a mirror.

Jim: Right. “I’m not that way!”

Levi: It’s just telling you what’s going on.

Jim: “That’s not me.”

Levi: “I never do that!”

Jim: “Are you blind?”

Levi: “What are you talking about? Well, you do worse things.” It’s, like, OK. I can’t help you here.

Jim: Not that I’ve ever been guilty of that. (LAUGHTER)

John: You have a friend who did that, right?

Jim: Yeah, a friend that did it.

Levi: We’ve all been there.

Jim: Levi, in your book, I Declare War, you talk about the wolf rising. I think that’s something you gleaned from President Theodore Roosevelt, who was – I liked that guy’s attitude. I mean, he’s a go-getter, man.

Levi: Oh, my gosh. There’s a long list of things I like about Teddy Roosevelt.

Jim: What was that connection with the wolf rising within you?

Levi: Yeah. So Spanish-American War, he had all his life idealized being a soldier because of his father.

Only when he got there, there were bullets involved. And so this picture he had in his head of battle and what it was actually like were two different things.

And in his memoirs, he describes a day where he was separated from no man’s land with the desire to take San Juan Hill by a piece of barbed-wire fence line on the ground. And everything behind him was safety, security and normal. And everything in front of him was danger, and risk and threat. And so he had this crisis moment of, “Do I go forward or go backward?” And I think every listener can relate. There’s a version of you behind you that, it’s normal. It’s your…

Jim: Stay safe.

Levi: …Habits. It’s, hey, at least I know what it’s like. And there’s in front of you all that God’s calling you to, for freedom, Christ to set you free. You don’t have to be that triggered version. You don’t have to be that petty version. You don’t have to stay stuck in your bad-habit loops that you’re in, spending more than you earn or, you know, addicted to a substance, numbing with social media posts that you put out there to feel valuable instead of looking to God to give you your “Likes.”

And so you know, you’re separated right now by this barbed wire fence. And he said once he made the decision to cross it and go forward, he said it was the most supreme moment of his life.

Jim: Right.

Levi: And the power, like a wolf, rose in his heart.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And for the rest of his life, he referred to that day – July 1, 1898 – as the greatest day of his life. And his men said that he – from that moment, it was like a switch flipped inside, and he did not stop pressing them forward until the battle was won that day.

Jim: Yeah. I like – it’s lion-hearted.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. That’s another way to say that.

Let me press you on this idea of proactive versus reactive. That was another element of the book. I – explain what those two things are and then how they apply to our spiritual life.

Levi: Well, I think a lot of times, we just respond to what happens to us. The stimulus, you know, comes in of someone being short, even in a customer service situation.

Jim: Oh, yeah (laughter).

Levi: And all of a sudden, we get our wrinkles up, our righteous indignation. I’ve been here longer, but that guy got seated first or whatever it is. And we respond. And we radiate stress back to people as opposed to putting a step in between feeling and doing called thinking.

Jim: Yes.

Levi: And I think if all of us really just took a second – and it’s almost like adding a joint, where it’s like, normally, wife says this. You do that. Your kids do this. You react with stress eating or whatever it is. And instead, if you put this a small step called think about it – and really, you know, none of us want to be in a situation where we’re yelling at a hostess or yelling at our children or saying something snarky back to our husband. But we allow that to happen where our buttons being pushed are accessible. Now, you can actually install devices to our thermostats where buttons don’t work unless a certain code or key card gets put in.

And I think if you look at your life and you say, “Look. Every time this happens, this is what I do,” you need to lock your goat up somewhere else (Laughter) where people can’t get it so easily.

Jim: That’s good. Yeah.

Levi: And so proactive is choosing to respond with what you – not would feel like doing, because there’s a difference between what would feel good in the moment….and what you actually want.

You don’t want to spend that Friday night in a fight with your spouse. What you want is to be heard. What you want is to be able to say, “That hurt my feelings.” But it’s a lot easier to get angry than it is to admit, “That hurt me.”

Jim: Yeah. No, that’s really good. You know, I’m thinking of airlines. They prey on this because, you know, you’re 1 K (ph). Oh, you got a little attitude. In fact, you get to stand in a special line. And you look down on No. 1 and three and four. It’s like… (Laughter)

Levi: I’ve literally observed situations where someone got huffy and entitled and threw their weight around. And you know what it causes that customer service person to do? Dig in.

Jim: Right.

Levi: …And say, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing for you.” But then I’ve watched people in situations where they just come up, they take a moment. It’s something called empathy. And it actually goes a long way, where they see that person as a human. And then I’ve seen on the side, like, almost like, “Hey, here’s an upgrade,” like, because…

Jim: Right. (Laughter)

Levi: …They didn’t really bully their way through it.

Jim: Right.

Levi: They actually chose the right – not what would feel good. Because, listen – Taco Bell drive-through feels good. (Laughter) Kale salad doesn’t feel good. But the – what you actually want is on the other side of the kale salad, not the Taco Bell drive-through.

Jim: Oh, that’s good.

Levi: And that’s called abs, right?

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. OK. (LAUGHTER) Kale salad.

Levi: Well, I’m just saying, it’s a…

Jim: I don’t even think I could get my hunger up for kale salad even if it gave me a great abs.

Levi: Sure. But, I mean…

Jim: I’m passing on the abs! (LAUGHTER)

Levi: It’s in that book – you know, Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People…

John: Influence People, yeah.

Levi: He says, “If you want honey, don’t kick over the beehive.” And I think a lot of us…

Jim: That’s right. That’s good.

Levi: …We want honey. But we just keep kicking beehives over because it feels good, but it’s not leading to life that we want.

John: Yeah. So think about things. I like that – that admonition. Levi Lusko is our guest on Focus on the Family today. I’m John Fuller. Your host is Jim Daly. And we’re talking about a lot of great stuff. Look inside – and Levi suggesting you declare war on the battle with yourself. He’s got a great book, I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself. We’ve got that and CDs or downloads, our mobile app as well. So you can listen on the go to this conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Levi, in your book, you talk about positive and negative thinking. Many of us as Christians we kind of push that away because we think of an unbiblical application of those things, and it makes us a little uneasy. I admit to that.

Levi: Sure.

Jim: Sometimes I don’t like that language. But you spin it more in a positive direction that we need to be aware…

Levi: I see what you did there – a positive direction.

Jim: There you go. No pun intended.

Levi: Touche.

Jim: But what are you getting at for us to open our minds up to the benefits of positive and negative thinking?

Levi: Yeah. Well, let’s start here. I’ve known a lot of Christians who really resist the idea, as you just mentioned…

Jim: Right.

Levi: …Of positivity. And, you know what? They tend to be pretty negative people.

John: Huh.

Jim:  Interesting.

Levi: I just – we’ll just – I’m just going to let that sit there for a second.

Jim: (Laughing) Thank you!

Levi: …And then just say this. When we read Scripture, we find we’re supposed to love God with all of our soul, mind and strength, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And mind is included in that list. What does it look like to love God with your mind? What does it look like – Romans 12 – to have your mind conform to God’s word? What does it look like, the Bible says, to set your mind on things above and to not allow – allow anything in your mind that would be negative, jealousy – right? – but instead think on things that are praise-worthy.

John: Yeah.

Levi: So as I began to see in Scripture this theme of how we think is actually important, and then, I go, “OK. Positivity isn’t just, ‘I hope this goes well’ or ‘This should be good’ or ‘I wish my Honda Accord would turn into a Lamborghini.’”

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah. Right.

Levi: I don’t think that’s what God intends when he says set your mind on things that are above. But instead, it’s believing that he has a plan. It’s believing the God of Romans 8:28. It’s believing, like Joseph, that even if I’m sold into slavery, even if I’m forgotten by the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker and, you know, I did a good thing for them, but they forgot, even though Potipher’s wife lied about me, my God’s still good. I’m still not going to sin. I’m still going to honor him.

John: Yeah.

Jim: So what I hear in that is positivity being more of keeping and maintaining hope, hope in Christ.

Levi: Well, sure! And – but I think it’s believing in a God who promised, “I go before you. I stand as your rearguard. I anoint your head with oil, and I’m going to make a table before you in the presence of your enemies.”

Jim: No matter your circumstance.

Levi: No matter what.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: I mean, look. We’re all going to face difficulty. But if we have a positive mentality – and let me clarify. I’m not suggesting positivity should be a replacement for God, but rather your response to God.

Jim: Yeah, I like that.

Levi: And this is not half – the glass is half full. It’s much better than that. It’s believing that my cup overflows.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Yeah. I was reading some of the statistics from the book to one of my daughters last night about how often we’re just assailed by negative messages. I mean, the culture is full of it. And I think the book – in the book, you said something like two hours a day.

Levi: Five hundred negative thoughts, on average, for every 16 hours you’re awake.

Jim: Wow.

Levi: …Which boils down to 1.8 hours because each negative thought lasts around 14 seconds or so. So if you think about – you’re allowing two hours of each day to just be into negativity. Now, when I taught my daughter to snowboard, one of the big tricks that I taught her was, don’t worry so much about your feet. It’s where your head goes that your body will follow. So if I want to look – go over here, I look over here.

And so, I would say to everyone listening, what are you allowing to be in your mind? Because any battle is decided by the – who can control the high ground. Why do we put all the money into our Air Force? It’s because we need to control the skies because that’s the highest ground. And that’s why we wanted to win the space race. And that’s why San Juan Hill was the battle in the Spanish-American War. The high ground of your life is your mind. And Paul said, “I fight to keep every thought captive, to honor Christ.” Does – does worrying honor God? Does fear honor God? Does narcissism? And why didn’t they invite me? And why’d she say that? Don’t they know who I am? Those thoughts exalt you. Those thoughts – really, fear, if you think about it, is faith in the enemy. But what is it like to have faith in God? I believe it’s in every circumstances, in poverty, in difficulty, in blessing to people say God’s good, God has a plan, God’s up to something. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

John: Hm.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And that’s I think what it looks like to have a positive mentality.

Jim: Yeah. Not only does it exalt you, it exhausts you.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that’s how I feel. When you spend too much time in that area of your life, it’s exhausting.

Levi: Yeah. It’s like the beach ball spinning on your computer. It just – and nothing’s getting done because you’re allowing that to happen inside your mind. So take control of your mind. You can’t live right if you won’t think right.

John: Yeah. Renew your mind, as Paul said in Romans.

Levi: I quoted the Scriptures, yeah.

Jim: Levi, you know, so often personal experience speaks volumes. And I think you had a tough time, and you mentioned in the book in your junior high years, and I empathized with that because you were bullied.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: And many people today are in that spot. What was taking place? And how did you begin to deal with that?

Levi: Yeah. So when I was in fifth grade, I was the tallest kid in the class. It was amazing. (Laughter) And…

Jim: It’s always nice to be the tallest.

Levi: And all these kids started getting their growth spurts in sixth grade, and I – mine just did not come. I just kept waiting. Then, “I think I can, I think I can.” I mean, that growth spurt did not come. So soon, I was the shortest kid.

Jim: Oh, man.

Levi: We moved, found myself in a new school and as a late bloomer, you know, I just began to really struggle with insecurity. This group of kids I really wanted to like me, you know, they bullied me, gave me a really cruel nickname – rat boy is what they called me – and then physically abused me as well. I eventually, um, ended up having a medical issue because of the bullying. Uh, you know, back in that day, it was the Beavis And Butt-Head era. Physical violence was kind of like this big, you know, manly…

Jim: Fun thing.

Levi: …Thing. And, like, getting kicked between the legs was, like, a big deal.

Jim: Right.

Levi: Anyhow, uh, I ended up having surgery because of the damage that was done through that happening relentlessly throughout that middle school period.

Jim: Oh.

Levi: And I know – I mean, I have enough self-awareness to know that kind of stuff leaves a mark on you. And I, in the last few years, really began to, you know – through counseling and through prayer, really, God opened my eyes up to see that many of my defense mechanisms to this day in social situations come about as a result of those – those days. Because what I – what you have to do is you develop armor plating.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Right.

Levi: And at ideclarewarbook.com, we actually put together a little assessment help you figure out what your go-to mask is…

Jim: Oh, interesting.

Levi: …Because I think everyone has a mask they put on in moments where they don’t feel like they’re enough. And that’s what was going on for me. I didn’t feel like I was enough because these kids didn’t want me.  Now, now, as a Christian, I know that God’s given me my approval. And I don’t need – I mean, I love you guys, but I don’t need you to tell me I’m good. That doesn’t – that’s not gonna do anything for me because the king of the world has already celebrated me.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And when we walk into situations needing to be noticed and wanting to be wanted, I think we’re vulnerable. We’re vulnerable to attack. We’re vulnerable to not living who God’s – how God’s called us to live. And so in those days, it was sense of humor, it was lashing out, it was compensating – things I did that made me feel value. And – and that’s what God wants to give us that can never be taken away.

Jim: And you go on to talk about that sense of insecurity and how those masks, uh, you know, they cover that insecurity. How do those masks prevent God’s blessings, which is another concept?

Levi: Well, when you go to paint your house, you, first of all, tape off what you don’t want to get any paint on. And so they call that masking. And whatever you’ve put the mask on, you can’t get any paint on.

The problem with wearing a mask is the mask that you put on your face or your appearances, on your life, it masks yourself off. God’s blessings can’t get on who you’re pretending to be, just who you really are. So if your value’s coming from the square foot of your home or from your surgical procedures you’re doing to augment your appearances or the brand on your purse or your jeans or, let’s just be real for a second, how big your church is, your podcast following, your followers on social media, that mask prevents God from getting His blessing on you. Because what he can bless is authenticity, humility and vulnerability.  And so when you take that mask off – and that’s the good news I want to say to every listener – if you put the mask on, you can take it off.

You can be authentic. God can heal you and make you whole. And if I could talk to sixth-grade Levi, I wouldn’t lecture him about how dumb those boys are and how you’re going to have a really beautiful wife one day and five kids, so everything’s working in that department.

Jim: Right.

Levi: I wouldn’t tell him any of that.  I would tell him, “Levi — the value you’re looking for is found in Jesus. And if you walked into school not empty, but full, then you would actually be positioned to help other people know their worth in Christ.”

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: Because those boys who were bullying me, they obviously were hurt in some way that would cause them to act out in that way. And so I think it just changes how you walk into work, how you walk into social situations when your value comes from God.

Jim: And that is so good. And I – man, I’m hopeful. Uh, people listening, think of a teenager in your life that needs this message. I mean, I’m doing that, and I think, uh, that’s a great message for young people.

Levi: Well, now with the online bullying…

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Levi: …It’s a whole different level, you know.

Jim: But what a different place it would be for them to have their security in Christ and then the other chips can fall where they may, right?

Levi: I think…

Jim: Because it doesn’t matter.

Levi: …Our identity is so important. And…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …God wants to speak a better word over you as His son and daughter.

Jim: Levi, this has been so great. And, uh, I want to come back next time, continue the discussion. Uh, controlling speech is part of it. And you mentioned kind of four triggers or four ways to avoid those triggers – that’s to analyze, to extrapolate, prioritize, navigate. We’ll get into that next time – where you can explain that. And, uh, hopefully people see the value in this great book, I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself. And I think its solutions-based and great storytelling.

And if you would like a copy of this book, send a gift to Focus for any amount. And if you can’t afford it, just let us know.  We’ll get it into your hands because it’ll change your life for the better and, most importantly, in the direction of Christ, which is the goal. So do that. Get in touch with us. Let us know that this ministered to you, and let us put this resource into your hands.

Closing:

John: Yeah, our number is 800 – the letter “A” and the word – FAMILY.  800-232-6459.  Online we’re on Focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.  You can get a download or CD of this conversation, this app as well.

And Jim, I should mention we have a team of Christian counselors here.  And it takes some courage to look inside and you may need some help on that journey.

These counselors are great people.  I’ve talked with them and spent some time with them  with my own family with some issues we were dealing with. So we’re here to help.  And again the number is 800 – the letter “A” and the word – FAMILY.

Jim: Levi, again, thanks for being with us. It was great to have you.

Levi: Such a pleasure. Thank you.

John: And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family.  I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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