Playing from the Win – For the Win

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My family has a repertoire of favorite card games: Play Nine, Skip Bo, Garbage. We can be pretty competitive in all of them. For Christmas, a good friend gave each member of my family a unique deck of cards for the game Peanuts. It’s great fun! We race through our cards, try to help my six-year-old sister, Mary, and occasionally fight about who is cheating.

Yes, it’s annoying when you can’t win a card game, but it can be exhausting when you feel like you aren’t winning at life.

In the Bible, God made a promise to a man named Abram.

Genesis 13:14-16 (TLB)
14 After Lot was gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction, 15 for I am going to give it all to you and your descendants. 16 And I am going to give you so many descendants that, like dust, they can’t be counted!

At that moment, Abram wasn’t really winning. The land God promised was inhabited by other clans, and Abram had no children to begin those countless descendants. Yet, not only did God promise both of those things to Abram, God told him to start enjoying them right away. I love how this verse is captured in the version below.

Genesis 13:17 (TLB)
Hike in all directions and explore the new possessions I am giving you.”

Like the promise God made to Abram, God’s promise to us is victory. Not some time in the future—now—right this very moment, even on those days when everything seems to go wrong.

Romans 8:35 & 37
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

“Victory is ours,” not will be ours. Rather than fighting for victory, we can rest in the wonderful knowledge that God has already won, even when we feel like losers.

I find that I remember more of the laughter and jokes of family games than who won and by how much. Sure, we are competitive and loud, and sometimes, games end in tears, but the real victory is enjoying time together, even if we haven’t won.

God says that he has won for us, and that we don’t need to wait to celebrate that victory. We can start the party today.

Questions:
What makes you feel like a winner? What makes you feel like a loser? How can you remind yourself on hard days that God has guaranteed victory?

Next Steps:
Next time you start blaming yourself or give into fear, remember that God has already won. Go, and “explore the new possessions [God is] giving you” (Genesis 13:17b TLB). Make time to enjoy God’s blessings today—consider learning to play Peanuts with your family or go on a winter walk together.

Join 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, to help you focus more on the greatest blessing God promises us—nearness to him.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 5 FocusTo search my heart (Psalm 139:23-24)
Heavenly Father, as I come to know and trust you more, help me to reflect your love through my thoughts and actions. Search my heart. Find anything in me that is offensive to you, and help me remove it from my life. Lead me to live a life that draws people to you. Help me live my life on Earth in a way that impacts eternity. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


Day 6 FocusTo listen to him (John 10:4)

Dear Father, I am so grateful to have you near me, guiding me with your voice. Give me the faith and patience to listen, so that I will not stray from the path you have planned for me—the path that I trust will keep me safe and bring me closer to you. Amen

Today’s Parent Prayer

Day 7 FocusTo worship God’s great name (Proverbs 18:10)

God, I am in awe of you. Your name is a strong tower, a place of protection and safety for me. I praise you as my healer, my shepherd, and my hope. You are my peace, my provider, my righteousness, and my joy. Your name is great, and I worship you. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


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The Struggle of “What If?” – For the Win

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If you spent one day with me, you would notice that I am someone who struggles deeply with anxiety. I have spent many sleepless nights ruminating on situations that may or may not happen, and I often find myself catastrophizing. There is a little voice that haunts me, asking the same question repeatedly: “What if?”

“What if I fail this class?”

“What if the diagnosis is serious?”

Or one of my personal favorites, “What if I’m not good enough?” “What if they reject me and think I’m too much?”

As we learned this weekend, there is a common source deep beneath the what ifs—the desire for control. Trying to control our lives on our own is difficult. Actually, it’s impossible! This is because God did not design his children to be in control. Trying to take control of our lives and the actions of others is a monumental task … a very heavy burden. It steals the joy of the present moment and weighs down our hearts and minds. Thankfully, while on Earth, Jesus reminded his disciples that his followers were not meant to carry such a heavy weight.

 Matthew 11:28-30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Last weekend, we learned that we do not have the authority to control the events that unfold in our lives. It is only when we fully surrender to God that we can experience the goodness that he has in store for us. While at times we may not understand what he is doing, we do know that he is the Mighty God who has unfailingly proven his faithfulness to us. We can only truly find peace when we let God take the reins, knowing that he is actively working in our lives to allow us to fulfill the purpose he designed for us.

Colossians 3:1-4
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Questions:
Are you holding on to a burden that you’re ready to surrender to God?

What are some ways to break the cycle of “what if” and, instead, trust God with the burden?

Next Steps:
Take a step in your faith through Baptism, publicly declaring your faith and completely surrendering your life to Jesus.

Participate in the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting and attend a Prayer Night.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 4 Focus – To surrender to him (Romans 12:1)

Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have given me: all the time, resources, relationships, and abilities. I now give them back to you. I surrender it all. I am only a steward—it all belongs to you. God, guide my actions. Help me to listen for and obey your directions. Teach me to trust you and use what you have given me according to your will. May your will be done in me and through me. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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Push Past the Narrative – For the Win

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I entered the classroom nervously searching for an empty desk next to one of my friends. It was the first day of school of my fourth-grade year, and seats had yet to be assigned. A cold voice growled, “Just find a seat, Mr. Camp.” Panic set in. I had grown accustomed to the sound of disappointment from teachers who didn’t understand I was a different student than my older siblings had been.

Fast forward to my ninth-grade year. I returned from lunch, eagerly looking forward to art class. Suddenly, the familiar “skeptical teacher” voice returned: “Mr. Camp, am I going to have a problem with you too?” Just once, I wanted to start a school year with a win instead of unjust accusations.

It never took long for people to see me for me, but it always felt like I was competing against a hidden opponent of some sort. I never minded the thrill of competition in a game, but trying to win in life isn’t always fun.

Coach Hite used to say, “Good enough is not enough. It is forever the enemy of your very best.” Those words went beyond the football field—in my culture, they carried much weight. To win, I had to push past the narrative placed on me. Accusations of not being good enough only fueled my passion. If someone had asked why winning meant so much, I would’ve said, “Because they said I couldn’t have it.”

Honestly, my drive became my biggest opponent. I always tried to be my inspiration, which eventually became more of a burden than the naysayers.

Romans 8:1
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Knowing who I belong to shuts the door on anyone and anything that tries to hold me back. Winning is more than any singular victory that ends the moment after it’s achieved. Winning happens in the lessons learned from our mistakes, our growth in stepping toward our purpose, and the understanding we gain while building our relationships with Christ and the people purposefully placed in our lives.

You don’t need luck to win, if you know what you’re playing for.

Questions:
How have accusations held you back in life? How do you quiet your doubting voice?

Next Steps:
Step into a freeing life with Jesus by attending a life-giving church and joining a small group that focuses on your needs. Take part in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting – text “21 Days” to 419-419-0707

21 Days of Prayer

Day 3 FocusFor my commitment to him (Psalm 37:5)
Heavenly Father, you are trustworthy. I know I can rely on you, so I commit everything I have and am to you. May I carry out your will in my actions. May my thoughts and behaviors follow your path for my life. Help me to trust you in all that I do. Teach me to listen for your voice and obey your guidance. You are the source of my strength, and my help comes from you. In your Son’s name I pray! Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Victory in Christ – For the Win

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The person I was before I gave my life to Jesus, and began the adventure he planned for me, was not the best version of me.

I allowed my past to consume me and identify who I was. I wasn’t the worst player on a winning team or the best on a losing team. I wasn’t even on a team—so how was I supposed to know what winning felt like … or what it looked like?

In the middle of my struggle with alcohol, I thought winning was putting the bottle down. Little did I know that was just the first step—or enemy—that needed defeating. As difficult as it was to admit that I was powerless over my addiction and my life was out of control, I soon found out that was my easiest opponent.

One of the hardest parts of having an addiction comes after quitting—staying clean and sober. It is a lifelong battle. And one that wouldn’t be possible without Jesus in my life.

Galatians 2:20
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When I was baptized a few years back, my old self was dead to the past, and my new life in Jesus was born. Once I allowed Jesus into my life and handed him the reins, I knew the battle had already been fought and won for me.

Deuteronomy 20:4
For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!

This is not to say I was able to sit back and do nothing after my baptism. There is always work to be done. I found talking to others who have been through similar problems extremely helpful. Getting involved in a recovery program is a great way to win the battle, and when we know Jesus is with us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31b). Celebrate Recovery is an excellent option for those dealing with addictions or for anyone who is suffering from a hurt, habit, or hang-up.

In the recovery world, we call our addictions a cunning and baffling enemy, and we’re not wrong, because they are. But like any opponent out there, with the right mindset and plan, they can be defeated. The past does come back to haunt me from time-to-time, but when I reflect on how the battle is already won, I find peace. Jesus showed us this when he predicted his death, burial, and resurrection—and the same spirit lives within us.

The battle has already been won.

Psalm 3:8
Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people.

Questions:
Have you ever had to give anything up permanently because it was starting to consume your life? Is there an area of your life that you need to let go of? Does it help knowing your battle has already been won through Christ?

Next Steps:

Read Galatians 2 to see the similarity of Paul’s confrontation with Peter.

Pray on something that needs to be confronted in your life. Join us for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

Attend a Celebrate Recovery group. A great way to start the new year is by working to recover from something in your past that still haunts you.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 2 FocusFor my Love for God and Others to Grow (Matthew 22:36-39)
Dear God, you said that the greatest commandment to follow is to love you with all my heart, soul, and mind. As I connect with you over these 21 Days of Prayer, grow my trust in you and my heart so that I will love you more. Then, as my love grows for you, help me to love those around me more and more each day. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Casey Stengel. Casey is a follower of Christ, a dad, and an avid Chicago sports fan. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He works in recovery and loves to help people however he can. He is also working toward his Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.


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“Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz?” – For the Win

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For much of my early adult life, I thought the pinnacle of my success would be the ability to own and drive a Mercedes Benz SE convertible (apparently, something I have in common with Janis Joplin). I’ve never really been a car person, but this car is cool. I thought that such a vehicle would show the world that I had won!

Then I met Jesus, and my perspective shifted—a lot! I came to realize that while there’s nothing wrong with owning a luxury car, there are things that are much more important! I believe Solomon came to feel that way too when he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

A new year is often a time when we reflect, reassess, and make resolutions to move in another direction. Some of us may conclude that we have been chasing after the wrong win. Perhaps like me and my Mercedes Benz, what you thought would make you happy or show the world you had won, really won’t pay off in the way you originally thought.

We learned in the weekend message that how we view Christ impacts how we view all the other aspects of our life.

So how do you view Jesus?

Is he the authority that you seek when grappling with the big questions of your life? Or are you still trying to make those decisions on your own, only turning to Jesus when all else fails? The Bible makes it clear that Jesus has been given all authority.

Matthew 28:18 & 20
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. … 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

He came to give us new life, a life of purpose according to his plans for us. He is with us. He wants us to obey him and follow him and teach others to do the same. In all aspects of our lives Jesus is the authority because he is the author.

Psalm 139:16 says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

When you embrace this truth,  you realize that a clear view of Christ creates a winning view of life. He has gone before us, and knows the path we will take. He has won the victory for us. We don’t need to be afraid of whatever the future holds because Jesus has already been there. He will walk with us through all of the messes we find ourselves in, whether the messes are our fault or not.

Romans 8:31(b) says that “if God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

Our life now cannot compare to the life that awaits us in his kingdom. God’s best for you comes when you trust him first. It’s the beginning of a new year! You can decide here and now to let Jesus lead your life for the next year. It will be the best resolution of your life!

Questions:
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you successful in keeping them? Have you ever decided to let Jesus lead your life?

Next Steps:

Surrender an issue you’ve been wrestling with to God and trust in him.

If you have never invited Jesus to be the Lord of your life, let today be the day. Pray this prayer: “Jesus, thank you for giving your life for me. I now invite you into my life and into my heart. I ask that you forgive all my sin and restore my broken relationship with God. I acknowledge you as Lord and Savior, and I submit my will to yours. Guide me. Lead me. Show me the next right thing. I trust you today, Jesus. In your beautiful name I pray, amen.”

If you prayed that prayer for the first time, be sure to tell a pastor or Christian friend so they can help you with your next step.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 1 FocusTo place my trust in God (Psalm 62:8)
God, in your Word you invite me to pour out my heart to you. You are my refuge. I know that anything I think, feel, or do is ok to bring to you. Knowing you are a safe place for me, I come to you and give you everything. From what worries me to what delights me, to what I hope for, to what I’m afraid of, I bring it all to you because I can trust you. (Talk to God about the specific things that are on your heart today.) Help me and guide me in every area. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


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