I am an astronaut. Don’t believe me? Good call. I’m not an astronaut, but I am a runner. I can say I’m an astronaut a thousand times, even put it on a billboard along a busy highway, but it will not make me one. How do you know I’m not a space man? There’s no evidence. You won’t find photographs of me walking on the Moon, or tethered to the side of a space ship. You won’t find my name on official NASA rosters, because I’ve never been an astronaut. On the other hand, you will find my name and photograph evidence all over the running world. With access to online race results, I will leave a trail long after I’ve left this world. There is evidence going back to the 1980’s! I’m a runner and I can prove it!

I am a Christian. The question becomes, “Is there enough evidence to make it obvious to those around me?” You may have heard it put another way, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Today’s world affords us so much convenience. Technology makes our lives so much easier. Think of all the things you can do with a smartphone, for example. We access a wealth of information at our fingertips each day. I remember having to go to the library to find an answer to a question. What took us hours a few years ago can be done in seconds today. Maybe that’s why there are people who believe being a Christian means saying a prayer and then going back to the same life they lived before. It’s easy to believe in that level of simplicity because we live in an instant satisfaction world, but the Bible is very clear on the issue. James tells us in his letter that faith without works is dead. He also explains in James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” Satan himself knows who Jesus is and he believes. It doesn’t mean he’s saved. How do we know? The evidence shows that he is clearly opposed to God.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “You will know them by their fruits.” He was speaking about Christians who are saved through Him. He goes on to say in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “He who goes to church…” It is possible to be an artificial Christian, going through the motions on Sunday, but showing a different side on Monday through Saturday. Unless there is proof of Christ in us when we are outside the walls of the church, the evidence is not sufficient. After all, one of the most popular reasons non-believers give for not attending church is that they feel church-goers are hypocrites.

On the other hand, we know that good works will not save us. Titus 3:4-7 says, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” No matter how many good deeds we perform, they will not get us a ticket to heaven. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work for Him, it simply means that being good is not enough. We cannot be good enough to earn our way to heaven. It is a free gift!

It is not about what we have to do to be saved, it about what we want to do once we are saved. Once we come to the realization of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will not be able to stop doing good things and spreading His name. James put it this way, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:20-24). The evidence shown in our works proves our faith. Being a Christian is not a box to check off as if it is part of a to-do list.

Here’s the good news. Sometimes you have to go out of your way to show your faith by taking care of someone who needs you, or visiting a funeral home to comfort someone who is grieving. But showing evidence of your faith is an everyday practice too. That means sharing your faith with a waitress at your favorite restaurant, showing kindness to an elderly lady at the grocery store, or sharing the Run for God story with someone at the oil change place when they comment on your shirt. We can show the evidence of our faith in any and all interactions and everyday situations.

If you own a GPS watch, you know that it makes training better. You know your pace, your distance and maybe even your heart rate. After downloading the information, you can analyze everything you have done and create a better plan for the future. But, it won’t run the miles for you. It will only aide you in your training. When you say the sinner’s prayer, it is only the first step, like buying the watch. If you just speak a prayer and your life is not changed, the prayer is meaningless, like leaving the watch in the box. Praying that prayer doesn’t mean you turn into a perfect human being, but people around you should notice the change. I hope you have taken the watch out of the box. I hope you’re wearing it out! If you have purchased the watch but have not used it yet, what are you waiting for?

Dean Thompson, Run for God

The Unlikely Triathlete, Gwen Jorgensen

Every child should have role models that he or she looks up to. For many children, this may be their parents; for others, it may be someone they see on TV. It may be their favorite athlete, a teacher, someone at church, or even a coach. Role models can be good or bad. Many children today see reality TV stars as role models, and depending on the star, that can be a very bad thing!

So what are we as parents and coaches to do—force our children to look to someone we choose as a role model? Of course not! Children, no matter the age, have minds of their own and will make their own decision as to who to look to as a role model. It is our job to educate them on what makes a good role model.

If we are the role models that we should be, then our children will listen and respect what we have to say when it comes to the character of those who should influence them. Yes, a child’s role models may excel in their sports, but do they give God the glory—whether they win or lose? What are they doing to further God’s kingdom? These are questions that we need to encourage our kids to think about.

Earthly role models are great, and Christ-centered role models are in high demand. But it is imperative that we teach our children one very important thing about all role models here on earth—they are human; thus, they are sinners just like we are. Our children have to understand that no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes—even role models!

Share the story of one very special role model—someone who never sinned, never lost, and excelled in everything that He did. Yes, His name is Jesus! Make sure to get this message across to your kids, because it will make a difference. Make Him out to be the superhero that he is!

A few years ago I had the privilege of interviewing 2012 Olympian Gwen Jorgensen for the Run for God – Junior Triathlon Challenge.  Back then, Gwen had a mission.  To be the best triathlete in the world, and to share God’s love in the process.  Since her 38th place finish at the London Olympics, Gwen set her sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  Today Gwen currently sits comfortably in the #1 spot for the sport of women’s triathlon earning the title of “Worlds Most Dominant Triathlete” by ESPN.

Here is our interview with Gwen, enjoy!

Gwen Jorgensen

Gwen Jorgensen is a professional triathlete from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who grew up swimming and running. Gwen was not a young triathlete; she never really thought about triathlon until she was approached by a recruiter in college and was asked to give triathlon a try. She said yes, competed in her first triathlon in March of 2010, and ultimately competed in her first Summer Olympics at the 2012 London games.

That sounds unbelievable, incredible, and downright awesome. But pay close attention. Too many times, people like Gwen who shoot straight to the top cannot stop patting themselves on the back. Not Gwen—she gives all the credit to the one who deserves it!

Run for God: When did you compete in your very first triathlon?

Gwen: In March of 2010.

Run for God: What or who got you started in the sport of triathlon?

Gwen: I grew up swimming and running in school, and while in college at the University of Wisconsin (where I also swam and ran), I was approached by someone who was part of the USAT [USA Triathlon] recruitment program. They asked me if I would like to give triathlon a try. At the time, I was not super stoked about the idea, since I already had a full-time job that I was about to start. USAT assured me that I could keep my full-time job; they would help me get started, they would help me get a coach, and the resources they offered me were just awesome. It’s basically like this opportunity just landed in my lap. USAT said, “Give it a try, if you like it, awesome, and if not, you can stop doing it.” Once I gave it a try, I fell in love with the sport.

Run for God: Wow! So you didn’t grow up with dreams of being a professional triathlete or an Olympian?

Gwen: Never. No.

Run for God: That is incredible! What would you say is your biggest struggle from day-to-day as a professional triathlete?

Gwen: I think it’s hard sometimes to keep things in perspective and to keep everything in balance. I am so lucky in that I have a great support crew behind me—my coaches, my sponsors, my friends, my family, everyone just keeps me very grounded.

Run for God: One question that we get asked quite a bit is “What should I do race morning to prepare for a race?” Any advice that you could offer for that?

Gwen: Remember why you are racing. Every time I am out there racing, it’s just another opportunity God has given me. I feel so fortunate to be out there racing, competing, and training. There are so many people in the world who aren’t able to do that, and I’m just really fortunate to be able to. It’s something that I think about often. You know, when I go out to race, I just try to have fun and remember why I am racing, which is to use the gift that God has given me and have fun doing it.

Run for God: What is your favorite thing to do outside of triathlon?

Gwen: Wow, I have too many! Well, I love my work; surprisingly, I do tax work part-time as a CPA. I also just love cooking, hanging out with friends, being outside, and just being active.

Run for God: What would you be doing if you were not a professional triathlete?

Gwen: Well, since I still do part-time, I would probably be using my CPA full-time. Everything else would probably stay the same. I would still be active in church, volunteering, cooking, hanging out with friends, and just trying to give back.

Run for God: When you are pushing the limits in a race, what are you thinking about?

Gwen: I just always try to remember that God has given me this gift, and I have so much fun doing it, so I need to be glorifying Him through it.

Run for God: What does your favorite workout look like?

Gwen: Anything with people. I am lucky that I get to swim, bike, and run. I swim with some great people, I bike with lots of great cyclists, and I get to run with some great friends, so any time I get to work out with great people, I feel like that is my favorite workout. I know that is so general, but I think what makes the workout is the people who surround you.

Run for God: How can an active lifestyle strengthen a family?

Gwen: I know growing up, I would bike while my dad would run. We would spend that time together just talking, and I have so many fond memories of that. Now that I’m older, we still do that when I go back home, but the roles have reversed. He will bike while I run, and I will never forget the first time that the roles switched—it just gave me chills to know that the dynamics have changed but that I am still able to spend this time with my dad. I just think it is so awesome to be out with your family, finding creative ways to stay active.

Run for God: Any other words of wisdom?

Gwen: I really think you just have to keep God as your focal point and know that He is always number one. When you do that, it will help you to gain perspective on everything in life—not just endurance sports. Now, I am not saying that this is something I am able to do all the time, because I don’t; I try, but I’m not perfect.

To find out more about Gwen, visit http://www.GwenJorgensen.com.  Or if you’d like to learn more about The Junior Triathlon Challenge, click HERE.

I’ve Played Golf, But I’m No Golfer!

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

The other day as I was reading through Scripture during my quiet time, my mind took me back to a passage that I had read the day before. This passage is one that I have read many times before, but this time the Lord prompted me to take another look. The passage was found in 1 Corinthians 6 which I have detailed above.

Why this passage? Why does this passage have so much more meaning to me than ever before? Because I believe that our world today is trying to use this text to destroy the testimony of believers and discount Christianity all together. How? By taking this passage completely out of context.

The text says that neither fornicators (those who have sexual relationships outside of marriage), idolaters (those who put anything above God), adulterers (those who have a sexual relationship outside of their marriage), homosexuals (those who have same sex relationships), sodomites (those who engage in sodomy), thieves (those who steal), covetous (those who desire to possess what others have), drunkards (those who are habitually drunk), revilers (those who speak abusively), nor extortioners (those who take from others by use of their power) will inherit the kingdom of God. Pretty straight forward right? Yes, as long as things are kept in context!

Lets just take the first person that the text talks about here. Fornicator is a noun, and a noun refers to a person, place, or thing, and in this case, it refers to a person. So in other words, a fornicator is a person who has taken on the identity of someone who frequently commits fornication.

Fornicator = Noun   /   Fornicate = Verb

Years ago, I was a golfer. When I was in high school, I played everyday that I could. I thought about golf often, I planned my rounds, and I looked forward to the next time that I could play. I was a golfer, people knew that about me, and that became part of my identity. Today, I’m not a golfer. Since I was in high school my lifestyle has changed, my priorities have changed, and I no longer have the desire to play golf. I could go out today, play nine holes of golf, and still not be considered a golfer. Why? Because that’s no longer my identity and it’s no longer my desire. If I did go play, it would only be because someone talked me into it and I would quickly snap back to my senses after playing my all time worst round.

Golfer = Noun   /   Golfing = Verb

The act of someone committing a sin doesn’t make that sin their identity any more than the act of me playing golf makes me a golfer. There is a difference, and in the area of sin, that difference is the awareness of conviction. God will convict you when you sin. You either hear him or you don’t. Jesus is very clear in John 8:46.  He says that if you hear the Holy Spirit convicting you then you are of God, and if you do not, then you’re not.

So much of society today tries to paint Christians who speak “truth” as haters. They try to discredit our plea’s to turn to Christ and our warnings that heaven and hell are for real, with the argument that everyone sins so we shouldn’t be pointing fingers.

I’ll say this. I do sin, I have always sinned, and I am a sinner. Today, and everyday since I was twenty-one years old, I wake up caught in a spiritual battle of what’s right and wrong. Not in the world’s eyes, but in God’s eyes. Everyday I’m tempted by what the world has to offer. But I also hear the voice of the Holy Spirit countering those temptations. Sometimes, the world has a temporary victory, but it doesn’t take long for the Spirit to convict my heart of where I failed. I am a child of God, and I can never again be comfortable in my sin.

So what about you? Where do you struggle? Is it in one of the area’s talked about in 1 Corinthians 6, or is it another area? Do you frequently and habitually commit that sin? Do you hide that sin, look forward to that sin, and even plan that sin? Has that sin become who you are? Maybe not to the world, but to a God who sees all and knows all? If so, then you may need to take a long hard look at your salvation. Maybe you’re in agreement that you’re NOT a child of God and you’d like to get that taken care of right now. Maybe right now you’re confused. You may remember a time when you said a prayer, walked an isle, and went through the motions, but I tell you, those things will not make you a child of God!

When you truly give your life to Christ several things happen.

  1. You are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 clearly states that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
  2. You’ll never be comfortable in your sin again.
  3. You will begin the process of changing your identity and those things that once defined you will now be who you once were.

Much of society today says that we should love everyone for who they are and just accept their sin. Many even invoke the name of Jesus into their argument stating that Jesus taught love. This is a perversion of the scripture and should be corrected whenever it’s exposed. Jesus did teach love, but he also warned about judgement.

Love is coming alongside someone and pointing them to Christ through scripture, not accepting them for who they are just because we all sin. One will lead to that person’s eternity in Heaven while the other will lead to their eternity in Hell separated from a loving God.

If you’re sitting there right now, and you understand that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, then I beg you to nail down your salvation today!  Call a local church and let them know that you’d like to give your life to Christ.  You can even call the Billy Graham Telephone Ministry from 8:30AM – 11:00PM EST at 1-877-247-2426 and they’ll be happy to walk you thru the Steps to Peace With God.  Either way, I hope that you understand that this blog is rooted in love.

We are ALL sinners in NEED of a Savior!  Trust Jesus TODAY!

Shining Out for Jesus

images-76“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Whenever I put on my Run for God shirt before a run, I pray that God will use me and remind me that I am running for Him. Not only do I have to remind myself that I am running for God, but that I am wearing a symbol that reflects that I am a follower of God. I have to remember that I cannot just talk the talk, I also have to walk the walk (or run) in my every day life even while I am running. I want everyone to see that I’m not just wearing a shirt with God on it, I am living for God because He is in me.

Mitchell Hollis, founder of Run for God, has shared many times that it started with a t-shirt. A simple, yet unique opportunity to share his testimony. God has not only helped Mitchell disciple others through the Run for God program mentally, physically and spiritually, but has allowed him to do so through his passion of running and coaching youth triathletes.

You see, I don’t believe that Jesus intended for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to be an impossible burden. God meant for us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ through naturally living for Him, but somehow, we make it complicated. We think that it has to be a study or we have to be an expert before we can actually answer His call. The thing is that God already designed a program for us and made it pretty simple for us to understand – faith for me, then you.

If we are not committed to applying Christian principles in our own lives, we will not only be unsuccessful, but also we will be seen as insincere. People are not as interested in what we say as they are in seeing how it is working in our lives. One of the best methods to share our faith is to demonstrate the things we believe by staying positive and having a good attitude even in the middle of a crisis in our own lives. Remember the story of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33 walking out onto the water to meet Jesus? He kept walking above the water as long as he was fixed on Jesus, but once he focused on the storm, he sank.

When people around you see peace in our life, especially during the storms, they will definitely want to know how to get what you’ve got. On the contrary, if all they see is the top of your head as you sink into the water, there is not a lot to ask.

Here are some things we can do without saying nothing at all:

  1. Treat people with respect and dignity, no matter the circumstances. Jesus treated people right, even when they mistreated Him. People around you will wonder how you’re able to show this kind of respect for others. You never know, they may even ask.
  2. Find ways to be a blessing to others. This not only plants amazing seeds for a harvest in your own life, it shows that you live what you believe. Saying you’re a Christian is one thing, but living it in tangible ways every day is something else. The Word says, “They’ll know them by their fruit.”
  3. Don’t compromise your beliefs. Situations happen every day where compromise is not only possible, but many times is expected. Show people that your Christianity means living a life of integrity. And, oh yes, that means you tell the sales clerk when she undercharged you for that quart of milk!
  4. The ability to forgive quickly is a very powerful way to show how Christianity really works. Become a model of forgiveness. Nothing creates division, hostility, and turmoil more than an unwillingness to forgive the people who hurt you. Of course, there will be times when you are absolutely right. But being right doesn’t give you a free pass to punish, humiliate, or embarrass someone else. And it most certainly doesn’t eliminate your responsibility to forgive.
  5. Be an example. People will want to know how you can be peaceful in the storm, why your kids are doing so well, why your marriage is so great, and how you know for sure about your purpose in life. And when they ask, you’ll have all kinds of great stuff to share.It is my prayer that in this journey together that it become our hearts desire to learn to run to be light.