Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Winning Your Inner Battles (Part 2 of 2)

Winning Your Inner Battles (Part 2 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 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 31, 2019



Levi Lusko: 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 (John: Yeah) 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.”

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Pastor Levi Lusko describing some of the challenges we all face when we’re trying to overcome bad habits or behaviors in our lives. And it’s really tough to reinvent yourself. But Levi’s back with us again on Focus on the Family to help us. And, uh, your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, we had a great conversation last time with Levi. Now, he’s trying to help us, as Christians, to step away from the complacency of life, right? – we all know that – and take charge proactively, uh, have a different attitude about those conversations we have in our head – uh, the wins and the losses. And even last time, we talked about over 500 negative thoughts and negative images you’re going to have throughout a 16-hour period of time. That’s overwhelming. And how do we get control of that and change the way we view things?

Uh, we have a – what I would call a victim mentality. And people often say, “I can’t help myself. That’s just the way I’m made.” You know what? That’s not accurate. You can help yourself, especially in a relationship with Christ. I mean, he’s there to provide you that power through the Holy Spirit and to change these things that you think are unchangeable. Levi wants to help you confront those. And he’s written a great book, I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself. And I’m telling you, with all the marriage counselling we do here at Focus and parenting help that we provide, it often, I’d say almost always, starts with your own heart first.

John: Hm. Yeah, your heart and your head – address those and life goes better, especially when you’re walking with Christ and the Holy Spirit’s presence is making the difference. Uh, we have audio available of, uh, our previous conversation. And of course, you can find out more about the book, I Declare War. Just stop by

And Levi is a pastor and an author, and, uh, he was a best-of-broadcast guest last time he was here, and I think that’ll probably happen again.


Jim: Yeah, that’s right.  Levi, welcome back to Focus.

Levi:  Thank you so much for having me, guys.

Jim: It’s good. Man, you know, just to talk about that dimension, uh, meaning what you do day to day, just to paint a picture for the listener, I mean, you have churches in four states, right?

Levi: Yes, Sir.

Jim: I mean, that’s…

John: Do you travel a lot?

Levi: I’m on a lot of airplanes, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, I mean, that’s -has its own demand.

Levi: But I’m able to write books – I wrote most of this book on airplanes, so that was – you get some uninterrupted time, right?

Jim: That’s it.

Levi: …And a constant stream of coffee, so that’s the key. (Laughter).

Jim: And you told us that you really pore over your work, your sermon notes, as well as when you write a book. You’re a wordsmith. Dr. Dobson was like that, too. Remember, John…

John: Uh-hm.

Jim: …How he would talk about that?

Levi: Well, ’cause, you know, I heard someone say books actually don’t change people’s lives, sentences do.

Jim: Wow.

Levi: It’s one sentence. It’s something that…

Jim: That impact.

Levi: …You read and say, “OK, that hit me. That was for me.” And so I think you can’t just, oh, I’ve got my 50,000 words. It’s – it’s gonna be – I imagine, and it changes as I write, one person I’m writing to that this is for and what it could do for them in that moment. And so I think each sentence matters.

Jim: Well, and that’s perhaps why you have such a sensitivity to words, but it’s also why you say they can be a problem for you, right?

Levi: Oh, yeah.

Jim: So…

Levi: That’s…

Jim: …Give us an insight into the…

Levi: Well, what do they say? An unguarded strength is a double, uh…

John: Weakness.

Levi: …Curse – right, double weakness, yeah. So, um, my whole life – and part of it was what we talked about last time, which is that I was bullied, and I was shorter than the rest of the kids in middle school, so I…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …Developed kind of a thick skin. And part of that armor plating for me was words. That was the way to survive – being funny, always having the wisecrack…

Jim: Quick wit.

Levi: …The cut-down.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: Yeah, and it’s part of God’s, you know, strength in my life, but it – when I’m not paying attention or not careful, it can be really easy to cut people down to size. But here’s what I’ve learned – you’ll never rise cutting people down to size.

And I realized a while back that my words to me were largely critical. You know, why’d you do that? You’re so dumb. And just kind of like, you know, this isn’t gonna go well. And I – one day I got so sick of it. I was driving my car. And I kind of stopped at a four-way stop and just kind of hit the steering wheel and said whose side are you even on? You know, like, if you’re not gonna help then get out of here, you know… (Laughter) And really decided I – to fire myself as my own critic and rehire myself as a coach.

You know, because a coach is invested. A coach calls out errors, you know, but a coach also says, hey, you got this. And I…

Jim: And you can do better.

Levi: And I see that in Scripture. You know, David said, “Why are you so bummed out? Why are you so disquieted within me?” This is a Levi translation. He said, “Hope in God, David. Praise him. He’s gonna help your countenance.

And so think about that. Your countenance is your facial expressions. And if you speak to yourself in such a way that pushes you towards God, pushes you towards, you know, uh, the right choices, the Lord never speaks to us to shame us. He speaks to us to convict us, to get us to the right place. So if all we’re ever saying to ourself is negative things and lashing out – things to ourselves – that’s also gonna impact how we speak to other people.

Jim: Yeah, that is so good. You know, as a wordsmith – uh, the power of word and knowing that as you do – in Matthew 8, uh, you note that exchange between Jesus and the Roman centurion. What did you glean from that?

Levi: Well, the words that the Roman centurion, who had a sick servant – this servant was, you know, really unwell – he came to Jesus, which is shocking because he was a Roman and Jesus was a Jewish Messiah, and he said, “My servant’s sick.” And Jesus said, “Well, show me where he’s at. I’ll come right now.” And the guy goes, “no, no, you just speak the word, and my servant will be made well.” And Jesus was dumbfounded. The word in the Greek is…

Jim: Right.

Levi: …Uh, astounded and stupefied. He said, “I haven’t found faith like this in all of Israel.” He said, “As you have believed, so let it be to you.” So because this man spoke words of faith, Christ granted his request. And in that way, I believe that we all have the power of life and death in our tongue.

This man chose to use his words to speak faith. And I think God wants us to do the same thing about, you know, the day to day things of our life. Think about it this way, Proverbs says, life and death both are in the tongue. So you can choose, with your words, to build a life for yourself you love…

Jim: That’s right.

Levi: …Or a life that you loathe.

Small example – let’s say you’re driving to work, and you notice that your car is a few years older than you wish it was, and your town is small and just not, you know, the hustle and bustle you wish it was, your apartment is little, your wife forgot to do one thing you asked her to do, all of a sudden that’s what you’re speaking, that’s what you’re saying. Like, wow, this car is so old. And my kids, they never remember. My job – I hate my boss. Now, I think God, if he’s put power in our tongue, he essentially says if you say so. And then all of sudden, that’s all you’re gonna see, because you’ll – one of – psychologists and sociologists will tell you, you see more of what you stare at. So that’s why when you research Honda Accords, what do you see more of driving around the city? The Honda, Accord.

And, ah, something as simple as journaling five things you’re thankful for one time a week can increase your perceived sense of happiness by as much as 25 percent. So let’s say the same situation. Now you’re driving down the street, and you notice your car, and you notice your job, and you know your boss’s bad breath and all that (Laughter) …all that stuff, but instead, you say, “You know what, Lord? I’m thankful that I have a job. And this car might not be a Mercedes, but I’m grateful that I’m not walking down the street. Or I’m thankful that I’m healthy, I’m thankful for this.” All of a sudden, you’re gonna start to see more of those positive things. You’re gonna start to see more of things going right. And I believe just choosing to change the way you talk could make a massive difference not only on the morale of people around you but on your own self.

Jim: Yeah, that’s such great practical help. And, uh, that’s what I love – uh, your book really gets to that point to help people move from point A to point B and down the line.

In fact, you describe triggers that can make us react with anger instead of, uh, a more reasonable response, the adult response you might say. (Laughter) Uh, you’ve identified – and we mentioned this last time quickly – you identified four things that can help us calm down and avoid those triggers. So this may be the golden-nugget question – what are they, and how do we implement them?

Levi: That’s a great question. And it – really, it boils down to, like, you – uh, you mentioned earlier on, self-awareness, self-management. And I found some techniques that really help to, um, catch yourself before you go ballistic. You know, imagine you’re riding a horse. And the horse, all of a sudden, gets spooked and just runs off. And all of a sudden, you’re like – you’re flailing your arms in the air, and the horse is just going off a cliff. What would help in that moment would be to grab the reins and pull the horse back to control.

A lot of times triggers cause us to be like that runaway horse. We’re in a bad mood now. We’re throwing…

Jim: We get spooked.

Levi: We’re throwing a tantrum.

Jim: Right.

Levi: Something caused us to be provoked. And the one thing we need to do is the one thing that’s so hard to do when we’re mad at our spouse or we’re angry at our sister, who I can’t believe she said that on Facebook, and we want to go back and (Laughter) post a nasty comment or unfollow her or whatever. And all of a sudden, we’re in that triggered state. So in the moment what we need to do – and I give, in the book, a four-part matrix that you can fill out – is to analyze and extrapolate and prioritize so we can navigate. Now I know that’s a lot. But it’s a four-part matrix that all you have to do is draw a cross, and then you can do those four things. Basically, it’s what do I feel like doing right now? And if I do that what’s gonna happen? And what do I really want to happen? And what would I need to do to get to what I really want to happen? But the key thing about that is it takes time.

John: Yeah.

Levi: Because in the moment, we just tend to react right as life happens.

So one thing that helps me is remembering the power of a deep breath. You know, they say actually that most of us live in a state of perpetual shallow breathing, where we don’t breathe enough to puff out our stomach, thus diaphragm breathing. And so as a result, our lungs are never getting their full capacity of air. Now, your brain is always going to get the bulk of any incoming oxygen because your body knows 20 percent of any air you get needs to go to your brain just to keep you alive. So what’s gonna suffer is good decision-making. The part that we need to make good decisions is gonna lack oxygen if we’re taking shallow breaths.

By the way, that’s why when you get flustered, and you – you’re in a moment, and you get out of it later, you realize the perfect thing you should have said. You know that moment where you’re like…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …Oh I should have said this…

Jim: Right, right.

Levi: …Just one hour too late. That’s because now you’re breathing good. When your adrenals are firing, your body’s diverting all that oxygen to your brain just to stay alive, and you’re not getting what you need to make good decisions. So if you could just stop for a second and take a long breath, like (breathing), you’ll feel yourself calming down. You think about it for a second. I heard one person who takes a drink of water when he’s feeling mad. And during that drink of water, he’s actually saying what do I feel like doing?

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: What do I want to do in the moment? What would happen if I do that? What should I do instead? And where will that take me? And if you’ll just take that minute – and, you know, if you believe in God, that’s a perfect time to say, “God, help me.”

Jim: Right.

Levi: “I need your strength right now.”

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And I think that can make all the difference in a marriage, in a work relationship, or you keep, you know, going from job to job, and it’ll be the same at the next three churches you leave and the next three jobs you quit and the next three people you marry. If you deal with the problem in your own life, then you can actually move forward.

Jim: Well, and it really comes down to those most intimate relationships, like you’re saying, with your spouse or with your children. I mean…

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: …Those triggers by kids, it’s phenomenal how they can trigger you.

In fact, you talk about the dictator and the porcupine and kind of defines a moment that you and your wife, Jenny, were having.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: I like that idea. (Laughter) I think I get it, but explain it.

John: You like getting in conflict?

Jim: No, I like the idea of the dictator and the porcupine. It’s such a classic description of what’s going on.

Levi: Well, Evil Levi – as I talk about in the book, naming the version of yourself that you don’t want to be so you can take them off the guest list.

Jim: (Laughter) Right!

Levi: My evil Levi is a dictator.

Jim: Right.

Levi: And that’s part of my, you know, Myers-Briggs and all of that – is on my best day, I’m a good leader. On my worst day, I’m – you know, I’m a dictator.

Jim: Right.

Levi: My wife, her defense mechanism is she becomes a porcupine. And so when she’s feeling triggered, she’s bristly, but then she wants me to do the one thing I don’t want to do to a porcupine – get near it.

Jim: Right.

Levi: When she puts those quills out, I want to stay away, but that’s actually hurting because she goes, “Well, I want a hug.” I’m like, “Well, no one likes to hug a porcupine, Honey!” (Laughter) …You know. And so…

John: How does that…

Jim: How does that go down…

John: Yeah, exactly…

Jim: …When you say that?

John: …My question.

Levi: Well, no, actually… (LAUGHTER) Now it helps because…

John: Yeah.

Levi: …Now that we both have clearly come to a place of, you know, you’re being Evil Levi, you’re being a dictator, you know, I realize, OK. And so I think having that language, it helps a lot.

And when she can actually say, “I want to hug, I want you to be near me, I want you to talk to me,” as opposed to bristly response, and then the same thing for me, you know, using my words, calming down, for me sometimes it’s just taking – giving her the space to collect her thoughts because I’m pretty rapid at thinking. She needs a minute sometimes. So just knowing how to come to terms with a disagreement.

Jim: You know, last time, Levi, we went after this idea of what we think – we’re covering a bit of that now – what we think and what we say. But let’s move into the battle about actions and behaviors. I mean, that’s the next sections of the book. Um, one of the biggest timewasters that you attack is cellphones and digital devices. And we all said, “Yes.”

John: Yeah.

Jim: Right. I mean, that is…

John: There’s an exception for Focus on the Family.

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah.

John: …If you’re listening…

Levi: Well…

John: …To us…

Levi: …Sure.

John: …Or watching us…

Jim: Yeah, there you go! But it is – it’s such a humungous timewaster…

Levi: Uh-hm.

John: Yeah.

Jim: …Uh, especially, again, if you have kids, I mean, teens especially.  How do you recommend we practically address this issue of screen time and digital access? What do we do?

Levi: Well, you have to realize, first of all, that anything you do repeatedly is on the way to becoming an ingrained habit.

Jim: Wow.

Levi: Anything.

So your brain is always looking to save processing power. So it’s always paying attention to anything that you – to any pattern in your life. And if it sees, OK, I see you did that – this – in this order, and then you did this, I’m gonna make a habit file for you. And it’s called chunking – where your brain chunks together a series of steps into a file that it pulls out whenever it’s called for.

That’s why it’s so much easier to forget to brush your teeth in a hotel room because you don’t have the environmental clues that you would have in your own home, uh, when I do it in this order, I do this, I do this, and I do this. It’s the way we all shut the refrigerator door – we either – your left hand, right hand, right foot, left foot. It’s a cue, and then you have a routine, and then the reward is what you get from the satisfaction of finishing it. I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up in your driveway going like, how did I get here? I don’t remember anything about the drive home. (LAUGHTER) That’s because the file has just finished, and so now you’re back to the normal operating of your life.

So if that’s true, then think about the fact that, you know, the average American touches their cellphone screen 150 times per day and, you know, four or five hours a day spent on these devices, and, uh, you’ve never paid a cent – a single dollar to Instagram, and neither have I, as individuals. Who’s paying for our eyeballs?

Jim: Advertisements.

Levi: Businesses.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: So we’re not customers of Instagram. We’re the product. And if you think about it that way, we’re like, OK, hold on a second. Am I really wanting to give two, three hours of my life to these companies?

Levi:  You know, we spend so many times on our cellphone screens. And the average American didn’t finish one book last year. And the power that comes through reading – read widely. Read history. Read leadership. Read Christian living – all sorts of stuff. But read and encourage your kids to – read to your kids. Read with your kids. It’s powerful. And …

So I’m reading this book about Thomas Jefferson, and I come across this thing that says he was a botanist, archaeologist, Indian paleontologist. But (Laughter) math was the love of his soul, and music was the love of his mind. And I just got to thinking that’s why this guy was able to write the Declaration of Independence – because of all those varied interests and passions.

And I think for so many of us, we give away so much of our life to mindless entertainment on Netflix to where, you know, I find myself going just one more season, and then I’ll be done – not even one more episode, you know. Because that auto starts the next episode. And I just if we want to make the right decisions, we need to start choosing better choices.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

John: This is Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller. Your host is Jim Daly. And our guest today is Levi Lusko. Uh, he’s a pastor and author and a speaker, and, uh, he’s got this great book I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself. We’ve got it, uh, I would say online, but after the conversation – yeah, well… (Laughter) We’ve got it online.

Levi: That’s funny. Send a smoke signal and a…

John: Or you can call us.

Levi: …Carrier pigeon will bring one to you.

John: Yeah, call us on your house phone. (Laughter) Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Uh, online, we’re at

Hey, Levi, I’ve got to ask one thing here. So I’m – there is somebody who’s got a person in mind who needs to hear this broadcast or get this book, but they’re OK. So talk to that person who hasn’t gone to the level of introspection that you’re talking about doing.

Levi: Well, I would say if you don’t come to a place of emotional intelligence and self-management of which this is all about, it’s gonna hurt you more than anything else.

Uh, we think a lot about IQ. How – what’s your IQ? What’s your SAT? (Laughter) But they’ve actually estimated that a far greater predictive power of your success in life, whether in business or ministry or in relationships, has to do with your emotional quotient, as opposed to your intelligence quotient. As much as 58 percent of success in the workplace comes from whether or not you can exercise empathy, self-awareness and be able to say the right thing even when you don’t feel good. Um, in fact, they say – and there’s a test you can – out there you can take to figure out your emotional intelligence. They say for every point you can raise to your emotional intelligence, it’ll actually, in the long term, raise your salary level by as much as $1,300!

And when I first came across one of these tests, I thought I was going to do great. You know, and I’m a pastor, and I’m an author, and, oh, man, I’m gonna be fine. And I was shocked (Laughter) and appalled. I got, like, a C. But fortunately, you know, you can work on these things, and you can pay attention to it.   And I actually – you know, I have – you know, I talk in the book about speech. There are certain things that I say to myself driving in, you know, certain – into meetings that I know are gonna be tough. There are certain things I do to put my mind right.

Um, I wouldn’t have walked into such a high-pressure thing today as sitting down with you guys without first putting some meditation from Scripture into my life and some time in prayer and asking God for new strength. And I think those things help me and have helped me work on and improve. And I was really pleased to report that I went back and took the test – I had actually raised, after a six-month period, my emotional intelligence quotient by five points on there just from a – I set aside time of actually living out some of the things I talk about in the book.

Jim: No, that’s so good.

You know, another element – I don’t want to miss an opportunity to mention this. Uh, you talk about grit and the importance of grit in a person’s life.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: And I think, for me, I resonate with that because I think certainly my childhood, everything else, it came down to grit and resiliency. And a lot of psychologists, uh, talk about the importance of resiliency for stability.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: And how does grit play a role in us being able to conquer these things?

Levi: Yeah, that’s a great question, isn’t it? I think, uh, a lot of times, and maybe in our culture more than ever, we don’t like hard things. We – you know, there was a previous generation that didn’t trust anything that wasn’t hard – you know, almost this mentality that, hey…

Jim: Give me the toughest things.

Levi: …I don’t want a free meal. There’s no such thing.

Jim: Right.

Levi: It’s this – you know, that Albert Einstein quote, I think – or, no, no, it was a Thomas Edison quote. He said, “A lot of people miss opportunity because it’s wearing overalls, and it looks like work.”

Jim: And failing over and over again.

Levi: Yeah. And I mentioned (Laughter) Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence. I certainly don’t want to insinuate that’s what you need to do – look to the listener – because we already have one. But there is greatness inside of you, but it’s not gonna to be unlocked easily. It’s not gonna be unlocked without hard work, without blood, sweat and tears and passion and you declaring war on the version of you you don’t want to be and rising up like a wolf, like God wants you to. And so I would say that not backing down when you get against a roadblock, but instead doubling down. And, uh, I think it does take that grit – that when it’s not easy that we persevere. We don’t throw our hands up in the air and just say, “Well, oh, well. It didn’t work” and quit the first time we have a bad day and quit on a marriage or quit on a job. But we keep going and keep trying.

And you think about, uh – one of my favorite examples is the Leatherman story. You know that Leatherman pocketknife?

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: Pliers with a knife.

Jim: Oh, yeah.

John: The multi-tool thing.

Levi: Yeah, multi-tool, right? Now it’s ubiquitous. You can go into any hardware store or sports store, there’s multi-tools. Well, the story is that Tim Leatherman was in Europe, and he had a pocketknife and a pair of pliers. And he thought to himself wouldn’t it be great if that was one thing? So he went home and started trying to work on it. Well, it took him three years. His wife was funding them. He was in the garage. He woke up on his 30th birthday crying – it wasn’t working – next day, went back to work.

Third year in he got the patent filed and was successful, and he had the multi-tool, only now he couldn’t sell it. Not one store or company was willing to buy it. They – he – he says in a five-year period, he received 500 rejection letters – the U.S. Army, Stanley, the company – the thermos company. No one wanted to buy it or carry it. So now he’s eight years in, hasn’t made one dollar off this dream. And he finally reaches out to Cabela’s, sends them one last letter, and they buy 500 units and give him a $12,000 purchase order. Well, the rest is history. And now it’s a $95 million a year company that employs 400 people at their headquarters in Portland, Ore., where we have a church. And, um, I just think about how many points along the way he had the opportunity to quit. But what did he demonstrate? Grit.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: Kept going – 500 rejection letters?

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And I wonder, would any of us have the kind of tenacity…

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: …To persevere in the face of such obstacles?

Jim: Well, you know, another element you mentioned – and I think this is a good balancing moment – you describe the difference between trying and trust. And…

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: …As Christians, as believers in Jesus, the foundation is trust.

Levi: A hundred percent. And that’s why at the end of the book, and really the most important part arguably, I talk about the Holy Spirit. Now, I know some listeners think, oh, is that a charismatic thing? No, it’s a biblical thing.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: In fact, Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, but don’t even try without the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Now that’s because it’s impossible to preach the Gospel all over the world without the Holy Spirit’s power. But what I want to say to the listeners is what you’re just trying to do today is impossible in your own strength, even if it’s just getting the kids to school without losing your mind or without being rude to your husband when he’s, you know, hurtful. And so I think we need the power of the Holy Spirit’s help every day. All right, listen, if I was moving, and you offer to come over with your truck and help me, I don’t think I would reject it and insist that I drag my couch down the freeway. The Holy Spirit is like God’s offer to send a pickup truck over to help you move.

Jim: (Laughing) Right! Right. And I think, you know, these spiritual applications are so beneficial to us. Uh, another great concept you mentioned in the book is the difference between being a butterfly and being an eagle. And I love this. And this is – we have to be willing to take constructive criticism, which is what I think this is. Describe those two.

Levi: Yeah. You know, you think about, uh, butterflies – and I love that picture because a lot of times when we feel afraid, we feel butterflies in our stomach, right? – which, of course, is caused by your inner ear 90 percent of the time…

Jim: Nothing to do with butterflies.

Levi: …Which is a funny thing. But, um, and a lot of times we make decisions just based on how we feel, and we kind of flit along, and we let the butterflies, you know, tell us what to do and not to do. But the Holy Spirit in the Bible says, “If we wait on the Lord, it will cause us to mount up with wings like eagles.”

And what think that will do – though it’ll never take the fear away. We’re always gonna feel fear. It’ll whip those butterflies into formation. And if you get enough butterflies flying in the same direction, it’s got the power of an eagle’s wings. And so I think God wants us to be like John Wayne said – “It’s to feel fear but to saddle up anyway.” And…

Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, I love that.

Levi: …God’ll give you the strength to do what you’re afraid to do. And I believe that for every one of us.

Jim: It’s so good. And then let’s end with that description of Jesus, which, again, you mention in the book. And it’s so encouraging. And you urge Christians to fight like Jesus.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: That can be uncomfortable because we don’t understand exactly what that means because we read being meek as the way to go.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: If you want to be like Jesus, kind of lay down and just let people, you know, say or do whatever they want. That’s not Jesus.

Levi: Sure.

Jim: That’s a mischaracterization of who Jesus was.

Levi: Without a doubt. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated a declaration of war. Of course, he was winning a war for our sin and for hell and…

Jim: A spiritual war.

Levi: But there was a spiritual war. But there was a – he was – in his humanity, Jesus struggled with everything we do. So in his own nature, there was that tension because he had that opposition. And that’s, that’s why he’s so relatable to us, OK? So in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t want to go to the cross. He said, in fact, “Father, if there’s any other way, let my – let your – let this cup pass for me, but not my will, your will be done.” And there’s three things he did that I think are imperative for us to do. He prayed to God. He woke his friends up. And he demonstrated grit by committing to something he didn’t want to do.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: So he woke his friends up. And I would encourage every listener have people in your life who you can text when you’re hurting. I would say pray to God. And I would say commit to God’s plan even when it’s hard.

Closing Wrap:

Jim: Yeah, that is so good. Man, uh, Levi, this has been fantastic. And I hope everyone – I know everyone has benefited from the discussion today. And if you’re in that spot where maybe you haven’t done this self-reflection and maybe your triggers are being sprung – yeah, the trap’s being sprung, and you’re reacting to people rather than proactively taking charge and doing the things that need to be done – this is the book for you, this is the resource. I’ve already got four people in mind I want to give this to. And maybe you’re in that spot. I would do it. Uh, this could really help someone and maybe yourself, uh, change the direction of your life. And, I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself, by Levi Lusko is a great resource.

And send us a gift of any amount, and we’ll send, uh, the book as our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah, we very much appreciate, if you can, a monthly gift to, uh, sustain us, uh, throughout the lean times, if you will, that occur throughout the fiscal year. Uh, so a monthly gift would be great. If you can’t do that, if you’re not positioned to commit to a monthly – not in a position to commit to a monthly gift, a one-time gift is, uh, always appreciated. Either way, make your donation, and, uh, request Levi’s book, I Declare War, when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or stop by

Jim: Uh, Levi, there’s a few more questions – I’d encourage people to go to the website where we’re gonna cover a couple more topics, if you’re willing to do that. I’m assuming you are.

Levi: A hundred percent – let’s do it.

Jim: And, uh, it has been, again, great to have you with us. Thanks for making the effort to be here.

Levi: Thank you for having me.


What a terrific conversation with Pastor Levi Lusko these past couple days.  And if we’ve touched on some issues that you’re struggling with, let me encourage you contact us here at Focus.  We have a team of caring, Christian counselors who can listen to you, and pray with you, and point you toward some Godly solutions. Our number is 800 – A – FAMILY. 800-232-6459.

And coming up tomorrow, what you need to know about the persecution of the Christian faith around the world.


Johnnie Moore: As I stood, and I listened to those thousands of people confess their willingness to die for Jesus, I – I just thought of how hard it was for me to live for Jesus.

End of Teaser

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.

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Home Schooling: Giving Your Child a Strong Foundation

Home schooling is one of the fastest growing forms of education in the United States and a lot of families are interested … but intimidated as well! Monica Swanson describes how she was reluctant at first, but soon reveled in the many benefits of home schooling. Things like prepping them for life in the real world, shaping the character of her sons, and providing them with a solid Christian worldview.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Practical Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

Jay and Laura Laffoon laugh their way through a conversation on practical ways to celebrate your marriage. This couple of over thirty-nine years talks about how to enjoy your spouse by improving your day-to-day habits and attitudes. Work, parenting, and the realities of life can keep couples from taking the time to invest in each other, so Jay and Laura advise couples about how to be intentional and connect more deeply.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Moms and Anger: Understanding Your Triggers (Part 2 of 2)

Amber Lia and Wendy Speake discuss common external and internal triggers that can make mothers angry. They share their journeys overcoming their own triggers, like when their children disobey and complain, and when they have to deal with exhaustion. Our guests offer encouragement to moms and explain how they can prepare to handle their triggers in a healthier way. (Part 2 of 2)

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.