Every country thankfully remembers those who battled for their freedom and protection. In the USA, we celebrate Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. We are deeply grateful for their sacrifice. As Christians, we should do something similar regarding those who died for our faith. We should remember those who “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12a ESV)
Fighting isn’t fun. By nature, I’m not a fighter. Most people aren’t. Most prefer peace and harmony. But while standing up for truth isn’t easy, it’s vitally important. We are to “fight the good fight of the faith.”
But what does that mean?
Here’s what I found when I studied how we’re to “fight the good fight of the faith.”
1. Christians are to live in peace, but peace is not always attainable.
I hate to mess up! Even worse, I hate to apologize. Am I unusual? I don’t think so. I recently asked a group of Christians how many believe an apology is the mark of a good Christian and a good leader. They were in almost unanimous agreement that it is.
Dale Carnegie wrote in his fabulous bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People: “When we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. It is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend one’s self.”
To apologize is not a sign of weakness, bad character or bad leadership. It’s a sign of strength, good character and good leadership.
But how should we apologize? You can probably think of examples of poorly done apologies. Here’s how to do it right.
Here are seven steps to apologize, from a biblical Christian viewpoint:
1. State your wrong behavior and call it what it is.
Glenn Cunningham was a remarkable winner. His legs were severely burned in a schoolhouse explosion in which his brother was killed. Semi-conscious, Glenn heard the doctor tell his mother that he would surely die. But he made up his mind that he would survive.
Later, doctors recommended amputating Glenn’s legs. But he was so distressed by the thought that his parents refused the amputation. The doctors said he’d never walk normally. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins, and the toes on his left foot.
But with tremendous determination and countless hours of therapy, he gradually began to walk and later to run.
Cunningham competed in the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics. He was voted “Most Popular Athlete” by his fellow Olympians, finishing just ahead of Jesse Owens. He and Owens roomed together in the Olympics and developed a lifelong friendship.
In 1936, he set the world record in the 800 meter run. In 1938, he set the world record in the indoor mile run. Many consider Glenn Cunningham the greatest miler of all time.
Glenn drew strength and inspiration through his faith in Jesus Christ. He is a wonderful illustration of a Christian with the biblical attitude of a winner.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
From that verse, I see four characteristics of the attitude of a winner.
When Victor Serebriakoff was fifteen, his teachers told him he would never finish school. They said that he should drop out and learn a trade. Victor took the advice and for the next 17 years he was an itinerant doing a variety of odd jobs. He had been told he was a ‘dunce’ and for 17 years he acted like one. He was far from having the attitude of a winner.
When he was 32 years old, an amazing transformation took place. An evaluation revealed that he was a genius with an I.Q. of 161. Guess what? That’s right; he started acting like a genius.
Since that time, Victor has written books, secured a number of patents and has become a successful businessman. Perhaps the most significant event for the former dropout was his election as chairman of the International Mensa Society. The Mensa Society has only one membership qualification: an I.Q. of at least 140.
What turned a dunce into a successful businessman, author and inventor? The difference for Victor was not in his abilities; it was in his attitude! He was no smarter than before, but his attitude changed, and when it did, his whole life changed.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
From that verse, let’s consider 4 aspects of the attitude of a winner:
Years ago, I attended a leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. It was wonderful, but I almost ruined my experience via the curse of comparison. It made me miserable.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a NIV)
Pastor Bill Hybels had started Willow about the same time I founded my church. But his had grown into one of the biggest and most impacting churches in the USA. I compared Hybels’ success with mine and the more I compared, the more discontent I became.
I was rotting inside as Proverbs 14:30 describes, “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life; jealousy rots it away.” (TLB)
Comparison and jealousy rot us as they bring discontent, bitterness, unhappiness, depression, and anger.
I knew I needed to conquer the curse of comparison. But how could I do that?
Life is full of the curse of comparison, but often comparison crushes. Did you watch “American Idol” (or as I like to call it “American Idolatry”)? Generally, I liked the show and Carolyn was a big fan. But sometimes it could be brutal. Especially early in each season when performers thought they were being brought to the next level because they were talented. In fact, they were being set up to be rather viciously mocked and humiliated by Simon and others.
One time our family went to a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where they had an “American Idol” singing venue. I sang “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” The mechanical Simon said it was “amazing.” Then he added “amazingly awful.”
That was funny. Our boys loved laughing and mocking me with Simon. But often comparison isn’t funny. In fact, it can be highly demoralizing. Comparison crushes.
Have you experienced how comparison crushes? Maybe you were judged:
I’ve compared my talents, income, IQ, popularity, home, career, success, children, even my spirituality, and felt like a loser on most all counts.
Why do I subject myself to the pain of comparison? The same reason you do. It is human nature to compare—a temptation that is part of the Curse; it’s the curse of comparison. And comparison crushes.
God’s Word says: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:4 NLT)
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Carolyn’s grandpa Ray Fox had a personal friendship with Walt Disney. He was Disney’s lead carpenter for many years. But they also had a personal relationship. You can watch grandpa and Walt Disney together in this California’s Gold video (hosted by Huell Howser).
This is Grandpa Fox with Walt Disney by the Disney Barn (from the video)
The segment about the Disney Barn starts at 12:50. Grandpa Ray Fox is mentioned at 18:58 as head of the carpentry shop.
Grandpa is shown at 20:13 to 20:39 carrying a caboose with Walt Disney and then riding the train right behind Walt.
The narration on another video of the same scene (video quality far inferior) says, “The barn also served as a workshop and a place to relax with friends.” The friend with Disney at that point in the video is grandpa Fox. Indeed, he had a special employer/employee friendship with Walt Disney.
Grandpa was helping Walt with his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railway. As lead carpenter, he built the Disney Barn, which was also in the Disney’s back yard. The barn had the controls for the railroad.
While Disney’s house at 355 N. Carolwood Drive has been razed and a new home built there, the barn has been preserved. A few years ago, we visited the Disney Barn. It has been moved and is now a museum at Griffith Park in LA. The curators knew who grandpa Fox was and enjoyed meeting some of his family.
Here are 2 biblical reflections on grandpa and his friendship with Walt Disney:
Are you facing crushing circumstances? Carolyn and I have. In 2008 we suffered major financial setbacks due to the mortgage crisis, my stepmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a close family member was threatening suicide and so on. The problems seemed overwhelming.
I became emotionally exhausted and discouraged. It felt like God had reneged on His promises of blessing. It was like He had abandoned me. I lost much of my confidence in God, in myself, and in the future.
Since then I’ve discovered that I made mistakes by adding my own emotional meltdown to the crushing circumstances. My crisis of faith and confidence only added to the difficulties. I should have been confident despite the crushing circumstances.
Because of the wonderful promises of God, we can be like the Apostle Paul who wrote: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT)
How can we find confidence and determination in crushing circumstances? The following verse gives us two reasons: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
Here are 2 reasons you can be confident despite crushing circumstances:
Are you a fruitful Christian? I live in California, where “fruits, nuts and flakes ripen in the sun.” There’s some truth to that barb. But there’s also great truth to the idea that as Christians, we’re called to be fruitful. In John 15:1-17 Jesus gave an entire teaching about fruitfulness. He said, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8 NLT)
But this presents a problem when we look around and see the successes of other Christians. Who do we often compare ourselves to? Answer: to those with more. More fruit, more numbers, more finances, more Facebook and Twitter followers, more “likes,” more awards, and so on.
Compared to great Christian leaders, I’m a complete and utter failure IF I look at fruitfulness in the wrong way.
So how should we look at fruitfulness?
Here are 4 ways to know that you are a powerful, fruitful Christian: