I Know Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan SubscribeNow this may come as a surprise to many of you, but I know who Michael Jordan is.  I know he was the greatest basketball player of all time. He wore #23 and played for the Chicago Bulls.  He went to college at the University of North Carolina from 1981-1984, and I know that he was 6’6 tall and weighed 216 pounds.

I know a lot about Michael Jordan.  I do believe he was the greatest basketball player of all time, but at the end of my life do you know what Michael Jordan will say about Mitchell Hollis should he be asked? He’ll say, “I’m sure he was a great guy but I never knew him.”

Friends, let me explain something to you.  Many people have knowledge of who God is and they confuse that with a relationship. They think that because they have an answer to the question, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” then they must be good.

They say, “Well I know who God is, I believe there was a Jesus.”  They know lots of facts about Jesus, they may even read the Bible and attend church.  They may even be leaders in the church.

But unless their answer to this question is relational and not just factual they’ve missed the mark.

Holly Hollis is my wife. Lane and Landon are my sons. There is no other way I would describe them.  I would never say, when asked, who is that beautiful lady is with me that she is the daughter of Donna and Jerry Elkins, or that she is a female who happens to live in my house, NO I answer by saying, “SHE IS MY WIFE.”  The relationship is in my answer.

When asked, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”, Is a relationship indicated in your answer?

When I look at this question I say that he’s my Father, He’s my friend, He’s my everything.  Not the guy they talk about in the Bible.

Jesus says in Matthew 7 that many will come to me upon walking through the doors of death saying, and I’m paraphrasing,

“Lord, Lord,

I knew everything about you…

I knew what your Word said…

I was faithful to attend church…

I was a great person…

But I just never invited you to be a part of my life.”

Scripture says that God will say in that day, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you.”

Friends, it’s not enough to know WHO Jesus is. 

What matters is whether or not your answer to this question is relational, or is it just factual?

So how do you know?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Either you’re at peace right now, with what I’m saying, or you’re in agony.  Pay attention to what’s going on inside of your spirit right now.  Are you at peace?  Or is your heart telling you what you need to do, but your mind is looking to close out this blog.  Make no mistake, that’s a spiritual battle being fought right now between your sinful flesh and a Holy God.

Please, please, don’t close this blog without first visiting our Peace with God webpage at www.RunforGod.com/PeaceWithGod.

Cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is simple, but you must be intentional and take that first step.

God Loves You.  That’s truth.

If you like what you’ve read in this blog, then please like it, comment on it, but most importantly, share it.  You never know who might need to hear the simple truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today.

I love you all!

Now go tell someone about Jesus!

Mitchell

God Thoughts

God ThoughtsI don’t know about you, but God is always laying things on my heart.  Things that both encourage me and that could point people to His saving grace, but many times I go through my busy day and let those thoughts slip away.

It is for this reason that we are going to try something new here at Run for God.  We are going to test a series called God Thoughts.

These are simple messages that I feel God has laid on my heart and prompted me to share with everyone in my sphere of influence, and that includes you.

God Thoughts has three objectives.

Number one, for you to Watch.  Join our YouTube channel and watch these short videos and prayerfully consider what God may be telling you.  Maybe He’s offering you encouragement in a particular situation or even prompting you to take some kind of action.  Whatever it is, be obedient.

Number two, Share. The more you like, comment on, and share these videos, the more we will know that they are effective.  This is evangelism in its most simple form. Taking the word of God and sharing it with a lost and dying world, and believe me, there are plenty of people looking at your social media feed who need to hear the hope of Jesus.

Number three, Salvations. This is the primary goal of Run for God. Introducing people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  Each video will conclude with an invitation to visit our Peace with God webpage.  God has already used this simple yet powerful page to bring many into a personal relationship with Himself.

That’s it everyone. My hope and prayer is that these God Thoughts will both encourage believers and draw the lost to Jesus. It’s a simple formula, but if we all pitch in it will make an enormous impact for the cause of Christ.

I love you all, now go tell someone about Jesus.

Mitchell

Subscribe to God Thoughts by visiting our YouTube page here.

Our Lives are like Lake Weed

LakeWeedBannerA few weeks ago I was running with a friend of mine and as we passed a local pond we began talking about lake weed. The particular pond that I’m referring to is known for having lots of lake weed. This is simply algae that grows in the pond and makes its way to the surface during the hottest part of a summer day. You’ll pass that same pond on an early morning run and you’ll see little to no lake weed.

But why, why does this occur? Simply put, it’s the sunlight. Many times when a pond is shallow enough for the sun to penetrate to the bottom, algae will begin to grow and chase the sunlight to the surface of the water. As the sun goes down, so will the algae that has made it’s way to the surface. Many people will even plant trees around their ponds to provide shade and keep the algae problem under control, basically killing the shaded algae because of a lack of sunlight.

Isn’t that how we as Christians are? We are like the lake weed and our sunlight is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.  When we constantly expose ourselves to Jesus through reading His Word and prayer we begin to grow and flourish.  We begin to branch out and share what we’ve found with others. Just like that lake weed uses photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy, constant exposure to Jesus Christ will produce a spiritual energy that can’t be replicated.

But there is a warning in this analogy.  Just like the lack of sunlight will kill the algae in the pond, our lack of interaction with the Son of Man will produce spiritual deadness as well. Allowing unconfessed sin in our life is no different than that shade tree on the ponds edge. They both block the light and begin to kill what is below.

Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Today, I challenge you to seek the light of life, Jesus Christ himself. Remove any obstacles from your life (sin) that would block His light, and bask in the Sonlight that will give you the spiritual growth that nothing else can provide.

Mitchell

If you would like to know more about how to experience the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) and how to have true peace with God, please visit http://www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

Personal Quiet Time

Personal Quiet Time

How important is Personal Quiet Time?  Very! It’s very important.

This past Spring I joined about 45 others from my church on a Mission Trip to South Carolina.  We spent the week going into low-income housing projects and having backyard Bible clubs with the children who lived there. We were very busy.  We’d wake up early, have some breakfast, have our time with these kids, eat lunch, and then we were off to minister to folks in that community through face painting and balloons.  We’d come back, have some dinner, a little free time, and then we were off to bed.  It seemed as though we could not be any more immersed in God’s work.

At the end of the week however, a strange thing happened.  As our team loaded up to head home, our family loaded up to head to a race that my son was doing in Greenville, SC just a few hours down the road. As we were driving there, my mind began to get back on all the things that were going to need to be done after being gone for a week.  The hustle and bustle of my everyday life began to overwhelm me to the point that by time we arrived in Greenville I was frustrated, ill, and just not very pleasant to be around.  I knew it, and I could see that my family knew it as well.

But why?  Why did I just leave a place where we had seen God’s hand move in the lives of many young people, a place where we went to do God’s work, and four hours later I was fit to be tied?  I began to have this blunt conversation with God.  I began to tell him about all the good that I had done (just so you know, I do understand how ridiculous this sounds).  I had taken a week to serve Him, to tell others about Him, and to witness first hand others receive Him.  So why did I feel so far from Him?

His answer was short and to the point.  Because I failed to talk to Him.  You see, on any normal day, I wake up, have my breakfast, and spend some time in God’s word and praying.  It’s my time to connect with God one on one.  But that didn’t happen that week.  I looked back, and though I was doing God’s work, I never once talked to Him one on one. What would happen if you went on vacation with your spouse and never spoke to them?  You get my point.

The bottom line is this. Don’t get so caught up in doing the things OF God that you neglect your time WITH God.  You can get so busy in doing God’s work that you miss Him all together.

Mitchell

The Story of Run for God

Event PromotionWhat would you say if someone told you that they wanted you to?

Print Some T-Shirts – Even though you don’t know a printer.

Teach a Class – Even though you’ve never taught before.

Write a Book – Even though you’ve never written before.

Quit Your Job – Even though you have no backup plan.

Build a Business – Even though you know nothing about the industry.

Talk In Public – Even though you’re terrified of doing so.

Form a Non-Profit – Even though you really don’t want to.

Give the Business Away – Because that just makes perfect sense.

Use the platform you’ve been given to tell others about Jesus.

What would you say?

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Mitchell Hollis.

I was born in Dalton, GA on February 7, 1978.  Growing up I liked about every sport.  I played football, baseball, basketball, and in high school I couldn’t decide if I was going to be a professional golfer or bull rider after I graduated.

I met the love of my life my sophomore year of high school when I convinced a shy girl from the west side of town to go to the Homecoming Dance with me.  And even though we never dated again until after high school, I never stopped telling my friends that I was going to marry Holly Elkins one day. I even made a $100 bet with her best friend that by our 10 year reunion we’d be married.  Yes, she paid up.

I grew up in the construction business.  From an early age I can remember marking and totting plywood for my dad.  College was not even on my radar, as I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Taking something that was empty, like a vacant piece of ground, and changing it into something completely different is what drove me.  It was satisfying in that you could turn around at the end of the day and say, “I did that”.

Change was a good thing for me.  I’ve never been one who could stay focused on one thing for very long.  That’s why construction was perfect.  One day you’re building a floor system, the next day your framing walls, and before you know it, you’re installing the mailbox. Change in my world is a good thing, but it always had to be in my control.

In 2007 some of my friends and I got this wild hair to sign up for the Peachtree Road Race.  The Peachtree is a 10K running race (6.2 miles) that is held each year in Atlanta, GA on the 4thof July.  I look back now and wonder what I was thinking? This was 6 miles further than I had ever run, it was taking place in the hottest part of the year, in one of hilliest cities in the south.  Yea, that sounds like a great idea!

After that race, I hurt like I had never hurt, and I loved every minute of it.  Pain and I have a unique relationship.  Pain let’s you know that you’ve just done something pretty AWESOME. Whether it’s riding a bull or running the longest distance that you’ve ever run.  The pain that ensues is a vivid reminder of how AWESOME or CRAZY that thing you just did is.

Over the next few years I became obsessed with Endurance Sports.  I wasn’t very fast, but I loved it.  From 2008 to 2010 I completed a handful of 5K’s, Five 10K’s, Four 10-Milers, Three Half Marathons, Two Marathons, a 208-Mile Relay, a handful of Bike Races, Four Standard Distance Triathlons, a Half Ironman, and a Full Ironman (2.4M / 112M / 26.2M).

I was in the best shape of my life.  I loved this sport.  My son Lane was even catching the fever.  He qualified and competed in his first National Finals Triathlon at the age of 6.

Things couldn’t get any better; I was on the right track.  Or was I?

In the Fall of 2009 I was at our Day of Praise, many churches call it Homecoming.  We are the typical Baptist church in that if you invite a bunch of people, then you must have a meal.  And this day was no different.

That day I fixed my plate and sat down beside an old friend of mine HR Poe.  I have known HR for my entire life.  He was a deacon in the church where I grew up, and he was also a runner. Immediately our conversation went to running.  I was explaining what all I was doing, where I was running, and where I was headed next. HR was always willing to share running stories, but this day was different.  HR looked at me and with his stern yet calm voice said, “Mitch, don’t let this become your god.”

Wow, I thought.  Who is he to be meddling in my faith?  It made me mad, and over the next few days I couldn’t get the words of HR out of my head, and within a week, I knew what I had to do.  You see, I began to realize that it wasn’t the words the HR said that upset me, but rather a Holy God who was convicting me.  God had put someone in my life, someone in my running life, to get my attention.  I knew that I had to either give this sport up that I love, or give it to God.

But what does that look like?  I mean, you hear that a lot, that you just need to give it to God, but what does that look like in practice?  My mind immediately raced back to a picture that I had drawn in church almost 18 months prior.  For some reason I had drawn a funny looking stick man on a piece of paper, and below it, I simply wrote, “Run for God”.  I knew that God was telling me to take some kind of action.  To do something that would bring Him glory through this sport that I love.

The next day I dug that picture out of my files and walked into Advantage Sports and said “I need 12 t-shirts printed.”  My though was that I would get some goofy looking t-shirts printed that would force me outside my comfort zone and tell others what God was doing in my life.  It was quick, simple, effective, and was my way of giving this sport that I love to God.  Little did I know that this was only the first step.

You see, once I had the shirts printed, the first stop I made was at the home of HR Poe.  I walked in and handed him and his lovely wife Adrian one of these goofy looking T-shirts.  I explained to HR that he had really upset me the week before and that God made me realize that He had used HR to get my attention.

Once I started wearing that goofy looking shirt, it wasn’t very long until God began revealing the next step to me.  You see as people began to notice my shirt, there were those who began making comments like “I’d love to run, I just don’t know where to start” or “You should really think about teaching a running class at church.”  The more I dismissed these comments, the more they came.  I had never taught anything in my life.  I helped some friends lead RA’s at church, but that was about it.  There is no way I’m going lead a running class, especially in Church.  No way!

God is Good!  And He’s good at many things, including bringing you around to His way of thinking.  Within a couple weeks I found myself sitting in my pastor’s office explaining this crazy idea of teaching a running class that would draw the parallels of Faith and Endurance and take people who had never run to their first 5K.  Charlie Bridges is a great man of God.  He’s my pastor, and he’s also a great friend. Charlie is one of those who listens a lot and speaks a little so that when he does speak people listen.  It is for this reason that I was on the edge of my seat waiting for his response.

Part of me was hoping that Charlie was going to have some reason as to why we couldn’t do this class. Scheduling Conflicts, Budget, I’m not Qualified, something that would get me off the hook.  Instead his answer was pretty simple.  Do it.  Now his answer was a little more eloquent than that, but that’s what I heard.  DO IT!  It was almost as if I was Moses and the children of Israel standing at the edge of the Red Sea when God said to Moses, and I’m paraphrasing, “Stop Praying and Go”.

So I went.  God was once again moving me outside my comfort zone. By now, it’s November and I began to hang signs up in our church that said, “Learn to Run.  Run for God Coming This January”.  Catchy right?  By mid-December I had 14 people signed up.  This was enough for me to understand that this was really going to happen.  So what next?  I guess I need to head over to our local Bible bookstore and pick out a running program that paralleled faith and endurance.  I walked in and quickly realized that I had a problem. It wasn’t there!  Not, it wasn’t in stock, but it hadn’t been written.  I came home and searched the Internet, called running friends of mine, and had some pretty blunt conversations with God. “Here I am God, willing to teach a class of 14 people, a class that you led me to do, as a result of some t-shirts that you led me to have printed, which resulted from a sport that you led me to believe had become an idol.  And now, you’ve left me hanging with no resources to teach from.  Thanks a lot God!”

Monday Evening – January 4, 2010 at 6:00PM was an hour that had me gripped with fear.  I had 14 people who were going to be meeting me on the second floor of my home church for the first ever Run for God class.  In my mind, they were coming to hear from a great runner who was also a great Bible scholar, neither of which was me. They were coming to walk through a polished Bible study that had withstood all the necessary theological reviews.  I, on the other hand, had a stack of notes that would hopefully get me through the first two weeks.  Uncomfortable and Scarred were both understatements.

That night I stepped up to that podium and started with a simple question, a question that I still encourage other instructors to ask today.  “Why are you here?”

It was almost as if God stepped out of heaven at that moment and into that room.  A peace beyond understanding came over me as I listened to all 14 answers.  People opened up their hearts.  There were some who were struggling with depression and needing hope; there were others who had struggles in their marriage, while some had struggled with their weight their entire life.  And yes, there was one gentleman who just wanted to fit into a Speedo by summer. He was joking of course.  God let me know very clearly that I wasn’t the only one in that room who didn’t have it all together.

The next few weeks seem to fly by.  We were having fun and I began to realize that I would make it through this 12-week process and God and I would finally be square.  I would have done my part by printing some shirts and teaching a class. Things were going to get back to normal. It was almost as if God knew I was getting comfortable.

At about the three-week mark, I received a call from a staff member in our church.  She told me that she had received a call from a sister church in the community and they wanted to start a Run for God class.  I politely explained that there was no such thing and that no one had written a program yet.  The next day a buddy of mine from another church called making the same request, then another, and another.  It seemed as though the more I kept pushing away these phone calls the faster they came.

Let me introduce Jerry Brooker.  Jerry is a friend, a deacon in our church, my Sunday School teacher, the guy I helped in RA’s, and a guy who will tell you straight up that he doesn’t like exercise. He played football in school and 40 yards is all a person should ever need to run. He and I were in the parking lot of our church one evening and I guess he had heard what was going on with Run for God.  Jerry of all people made the comment, “I guess you’re going to have to get this thing published.”  Why? Why would this guy tell me that? I’m not a writer.  I don’t know of any publishers.  After all, I’m a builder and I don’t have time for this.

Unlike my previous reaction to the words of HR Poe, I came around to the fact a little quicker that Jerry’s words may not have been his words at all? Maybe God was speaking through someone who was outside this class so that I would listen.  God was once more pushing me reluctantly outside my comfort zone.

Once again, I reached out to my friend and pastor Brother Charlie.  This time, Holly and I invited him and his lovely wife Lynn over for dinner. I caught him up on what had been going on and the interest that this loosely written program had received.  After that, I told him about the crazy comment that Jerry Brooker had made.  Now keep in mind that I’m still looking for a way out here.  Charlie is a very smart man, and there is nothing about this idea that is smart, in fact, from a worldly standpoint, it’s about as crazy as you can get.  But so have the past five or six weeks.  I no more got Jerry’s comments out of my mouth and Charlie simply said, “I agree”.

In the days following that conversation, God and I once again had some pretty blunt conversations. Here I am still trying to hold down a job building houses with my brother, I’m leading a Run for God class and group runs three times a week, still trying to write content for the coming weeks, and now I feel God is telling me to hurry up and get this program published.  “Wow God, You’re asking a little much aren’t You?” I thought.  My deal with God was simple.  Make this easy, because I have no idea what I’m doing here.  Don’t just give me signs God, give me billboards.

The next day I picked up the phone and called one of the largest Christian publishers.  Actually, it was the only Christian publisher that I knew of.  I remember being transferred to a gentleman who began to listen to my story and the crazy eight weeks that I had.  The whole time that I was talking, this guy was typing on his computer.  I know this because I could hear him.  My thoughts were that this guy is not listening to a word I’m saying.  He’s tuned me out and is letting me talk as a courtesy.  Little did I know, he was searching for this program that I was pitching. He also, just knew, that it had already been done.  He quickly realized that it hadn’t.  Long story short, within an hour and a half of me calling this gentleman we had agreed on the parameters of a book deal and I needed to get to work.

The next day I had come to the realization that this project would be dead before it even started. You see, one of the parameters of this deal was that I had to get copyright releases on all the material that I did not personally produce.  Obviously you can’t take someone else’s material and publish it without their approval. “This is the end,” I thought.  I had used some material from a variety of people including some big corporations and Olympic athletes.  There is no way I’m getting approval to use this stuff, and to prove my point, I picked the most unlikely person and fired off an email. The email was to Ryan Hall.  Ryan is an Olympic Marathoner who still holds the US Half Marathon record time of 59:43.  He’s a busy guy and there’s just no way that he’s going to get back to me.

The next morning, I had a billboard waiting in my inbox.  It was Ryan Hall asking what I needed.  “OK God”, I prayed, “You’ve got my attention, let’s start walking down this list of releases I’ll need.”  Believe it or not, I had secured every release I needed within two weeks. Everyone was 100% supportive and some even offered additional help should I need it.

I still had a pretty big problem.  Time. My brother Jerome and I were partners in a construction and development business.  At the time, we both worked together on the job and each of us played a critical role in the day-to-day activities.  Getting this project polished and where it needed to be for publishing was going to take a lot of time.  Time I simply didn’t have.  So, I did the only logical thing I could think of.  I mustard up my courage and told my brother I needed to take a few months off to pursue this crazy idea.  Thinking this would go not go over well, I was prepared to make my case. But once again God provided yet another billboard when my brother simply said, “Ok.”

God offered billboard after billboard and by July 2010 we had a polished program, a new and improved logo (not the seemingly 2ndgrade hand drawn version I had done), and the ability to replicate The 5K Challenge on a much bigger scale.  I remember calling everyone who had shown interest in teaching this in their church.  At this point, there were 16 other churches in my community who had shown an interest.  We all met for lunch one day and cracked a plan to all start this program together in Whitfield County, GA.  We would all have classes at our own churches, but on certain nights, we’d come together.

I remember the first night of our second 5K Challenge.  It was going to be much bigger.  That very first 5K Challenge had 14 start and 21 finish.  You see, a funny thing happens with Run for God classes.  There are those who are brave and sign up the first time around.  But there are also those we call “shadows”.  They are the ones who don’t sign up but observe from a distance. They may have a friend or family member who is in the class, and they just watch.  They make the mental call that if they can do it, I’ll do it next time. And that they did.

77 people were signed up for this second class, and I was a nervous wreck.  I had never been in front of that many people.  I’ll never forget Shannon Coker, a good friend of mine, could see the uneasy look on my face.  He knew I was not ready for this.  Yes we had 77 signed up, but there were more than 77 coming through the doors. Shannon and another deacon in our church Rick Cobb grabbed me and took me to the most logical place to pray over me, the bathroom.  Once again, God’s spirit moved into that place and my nerves subsided.  As I took the stage, God took the mic.  That night we had over 200 in attendance at my home church.  Two weeks later, we had over 500 people come together from 16 other churches to learn about shoes.  We had Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist; we had almost every denomination from our small town represented coming together to learn about Shoes and Jesus.  That must be a picture of Heaven!

The race we all graduated at that September was a local 5K and Half Marathon.  Over half the field had on Run for God shirts.  What a statement.  God can do amazing things if we just follow a few simple billboards. I remember thinking, “16 churches, wow, how can this ever get any bigger?”

I’ve never been one to fully embrace technology.  I tend to see the bad before I see the good, and in 2010 I saw no good that could come from Social Media.  I was against it, I wanted no part of it, and I wasn’t going to have it.  It wasn’t until Mrs. Gaye Coker came on the scene that I changed my thinking.  You may know Gaye now as one of the faces of Run for God, but in 2010, she was one of my first students.  Gaye was a schoolteacher who was not having fun in that first class.  She despised it when I would come along side her during those three-minute runs and offer a rebuttal to her “I can’t do this” response. She could, she did, and now she’s better for it.  I’ll never forget Gaye coming up to me one day and making the statement, “You need to get with the times and get Run for God on Facebook.”

I really wonder where Run for God would be today if it were not for Mrs. Gaye’s blunt comment.  I began making posts about Run for God. Those posts began to be shared. People began calling. Orders for Instructors Kits began coming in.  A website was built, a company was setup, and things started to change quickly.

One of the first products we had made for Run for God were car decals.  Early on I remember seeing those in my community and always speeding up to greet the person in the car because I knew who they were.  One day I saw a decal on a car, I sped up to offer my greeting, only to realize I had no idea who that person was.  Right then it hit me, God is moving this thing beyond Mitchell Hollis and onto where He sees fit.  Almost overnight it seems that God took this ministry from a class to a full time business.

A Giant of a Man

Through the years God has given me some tremendous billboards.  Billboards like HR Poe, Charlie Bridges, Jerry Brooker, and Gaye Coker, but none of those compare in size to Mark Yoho.  By size I mean literally.  Mark Yoho is a giant of a man both physically and spiritually. Standing at 6 foot 4 inches tall it may be Mark’s height that catches your attention, but after just a few minutes talking with him, it’s his giant love for telling people about who Jesus is that will hold your attention.

Mark is a self-described “street preacher”.  Yes, he’s the guy you’ll hear preaching when you pull up to a red light in a big city. Mark feels as though he’s not doing his job if he’s not getting threats and insults hurled at him from passersby. I always had my doubts about “street preachers”.  Not necessarily about their message or sincerity, but about their method.  I just didn’t see how that method could actually work.

Mark was in my second 5K Challenge, the one that I previously discussed being so large.  I knew Mark and his wife Gynnette, and I knew what Mark did, but that was about it.  They had been members of Grove Level for years, but I didn’t know them well. For some reason Mark loved sitting right down front in my class, which really made me nervous.  Here I am, a guy still fumbling his way through this Bible Study, and I have a student who is both intimidating to look at and he’s probably forgotten more scripture then I’ll ever memorize.

The more I got to know Mark the more I became intrigued in his straightforward approach to sharing the Gospel.  I was often drawn into the Facebook posts that Gynnette would make about where Mark was sharing the Gospel.  Mark even told me once that after working a crowd at a Christian music festival that it just didn’t feel right because he didn’t get ridiculed or attacked.

One night after our class Mark asked me to join him the next Saturday.  He was going to be walking the streets of Chattanooga, TN and simply telling people about Jesus.  I agreed, but I’ll admit that I was nervous, very nervous!  That Saturday we loaded up and headed north.  We started the day at a homeless shelter passing out tracts and just talking to people.  Keep in mind; Mark was doing all the talking while I watched in amazement.  We continued on for a couple hours, but it’s what would play out later that really impacted me.

We walked up to the Walnut Street Bridge.  This bridge in downtown Chattanooga is roughly a mile long and is closed to traffic, it’s for pedestrians only.  As we were walking Mark zeroed in on a young lady who was propped up on the rail looking out over the river.  No one was with her and she just seemed to be lost.  I saw a person who might be lost in direction, but Mark saw much more, he saw a young lady who might be eternally lost.  Mark approached her and within five minutes this young lady was praying to receive Christ.

I’ll never forget that encounter.  Mark was hypersensitive to the Holy Spirit in that moment and he was armed with Good News. The simple yet powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That day changed me.  It showed me that there are people all around us who put on a good act as if they have it all together, but inside they are screaming for a Peace that only One can provide, and His name is Jesus.  All it takes is us making the introduction.  That day Mark didn’t do anything special, he didn’t have a prepared sermon, he simply told this young lady about a man named Jesus.

The Change In Focus

 Run for God continued to grow.  Classes were popping up all across the country and we became very busy.  When it came time to hire someone to help Holly and I hold on to God’s coattails, we went straight to the lady who had told me to get with the times.  Although Gaye Coker was still teaching, she agreed to hang up her Home Economics Apron for what would sure be an adventure at the Run for God camp.

As we continued to grown, God began to impress on my heart that we needed to make a change.  We began getting feedback from Instructors all across the country that a large percentage of students attending Run for God classes were unchurched.  They were coming to learn how to run and didn’t give much thought to the Bible Study part.  At first impression that sounds great.  I mean how can it not be a good thing getting unchurched people inside the doors of the church.  On it’s face it is good, but once in the church are they being introduced to Jesus?

In the case of The 5K Challenge – Volume One the answer was no.  You see this program was built for 14 people at Grove Level Baptist Church. To my knowledge all those people has trusted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and there was no need for Evangelism.  It was written as a discipleship program, helping those in the church do better in there walk with Christ.  In 2010 I was not ready for Evangelism and God knew that.

It was about this time that Dean Thompson came on the scene.  We were getting to the point where we needed some help writing running content.  I knew of Dean through the running community. I knew he had run a 2:27 marathon, so he was fast, but I also knew that he was pretty outspoken about his faith. I asked Dean to meet me for lunch one day.  I really had no idea if this guy could write his first name much less help write content for a growing ministry.  Well, wouldn’t you know that Dean had always dreamed of being a sports reporter, but because he was on scholarship at Georgia Tech and they didn’t offer journalism at the time, he let that dream go.  Funny how God works!  In the winter of 2014 work began on the new version of The 5K Challenge.

Each Thursday Dean and I would meet at a local coffee shop and sit across from each other while our writing ensued.  I was working the evangelism side while Dean was tackling the running side.  Dean had his people on speed dial that he would bounce ideas off of while I had Mark Yoho on speed dial that I leaned on heavily. What came out of those weeks of coffee infused writing was a well though out, all new, 5K Challenge.

It’s the perfect mixture. Early on in the study, we kept it light on spiritual content and heavy on running and discipleship.  This is the time where everyone is getting comfortable with each other and relationships are being formed.  But starting in Week 9 things begin to change.  We begin discussing our testimonies and how to share those with other people.  This is where discipleship meets evangelism.  While we are educating those who have a testimony of how to effectively share it, we are also helping others come to the understanding that they may not have a testimony to share.

There is no better way to learn to share the Gospel than by hearing the Gospel and there’s no better way to accept the Gospel than by hearing the Gospel.  Week 10 is simply presenting the Gospel clearly and boldly. Instructors are both teaching and sharing all at once.  The new version of The 5K Challenge was released in January 2016 and since that time God has been using chapters nine and ten in powerful ways.

Who do you say that I AM?

God used the seven simple words “Mitch, don’t let this become your god” spoken in love by HR Poe to kick start this ministry, and in the fall of 2016 He was beginning to lay seven more words on my heart.  Who do you say that I AM?  These are seven words that Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:15.  I would argue that this is the most important question ever asked.  Why, because the answer has eternal consequences.

When confronted with this question you must answer it.  Yes, it may be answered in your head, but you answer it non-the less.  The answer to this question determines where you’ll spend eternity.  Billy Graham used to say that Jesus Christ came to this earth claiming to be the Son of God and that there were only two conclusions that people could have drawn back then.  Either He was crazy, or He was who He said He was.  What is your conclusion?

Before long, God began making his plan obvious.  I was to take this verse and share in a way that would capture as many eyes as possible. But how, how do you share a verse of scripture with as many people as possible, and then what do you do with those people who want to respond to that verse of scripture?  Publish the verse in Runners World Magazine, and build a webpage for people to respond that clearly leads them through the plan of salvation.

“Now that’s just crazy”, was my thought.  And my thoughts were confirmed when I brought this idea to our staff.  All I got were crazy looks.  Ok, let’s assume that we had the money to take out an ad like this, which we didn’t, and let’s assume that we had a webpage built that could handle this, which we didn’t, and let’s assume that we were all prepared for the barrage of hate mail and threats we would surely receive, which we weren’t. Even if all that were in place, there is NO way that a magazine like Runners World, a very secular magazine, would even allow this to be put in front of their 2.8 million readers each month. We live in such a PC world today and that would surely kill the deal before it even started.

I didn’t have to look back to many years to know that God loves taking the impossible and saying, “Watch This.”  I prepared an email along with the copy of the ad that we’d like to place and sent it on to the powers to be at Runner’s World Magazine.  The initial response was, “I’ll have to check.”  I knew it I thought.  This is out of bounds for a publication like this and the young lady on the other end of my email was going to have her boss confirm that.  The next morning I opened my email and was shocked at what I saw.  Another Billboard.  It was an email from this young lady that simply said, “They said yes, and we can get that in next months issue.”

God is good.  God laid this on my heart and opened this door, but we didn’t have the $7,000 it was going to take to run one ad much less multiple. We are a small ministry who has trouble some months even making ends meet, this can’t possibly work.

Have you ever read stories in the Bible where you wondered how people had a lack of faith?  Like the children of Israel.  God guided them with a pillar of fire and smoke; He parted the Red Sea and allowed them to walk through on dry land only to have it close back on their enemies as soon as the last Israelites set foot on the bank. You read these stories and you ask yourself, “How?”  How could these people have so little faith?  Then you go through the exercise of writing out your own story only realize that you’re no better.

Within a couple weeks of asking around we had secured the funds not only to run one ad, but several. Now we wait.  The first ad was to run in January 2017.  We built a webpage for people who responded, we partnered with organizations making it possible for people to reach out to someone live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should they need to talk.  Everything was in place.  God had opened all the doors necessary for His plan to come to life.

The January issue of Runners World hit newsstands and we were ready for the hate mail.  But it didn’t come.  People were seeing the ad, our web traffic numbers showed that, but no hate mail?  Instead, we began to get God winks.  These are simple emails that we receive anytime someone responds to the Gospel on our website.  It’s a conscious decision they make to let us know that God used this website, that God used that ad, and that God used those dollars effectively.

Let Go of It All

By the summer of 2017, it was obvious that the plan God hatched was working.  God winks had become common, people were sharing their stories with us of how God used those seven words and that website.  We even started a “God Loves You” campaign on Social Media where we purchase ad space for these three simple words and offer up our website as a place to learn more.  God was working in a mighty way.

In the world of marketing, a company only has one “main” platform that it can promote, while all others become secondary.  Historically Run for God’s main platform was The 5K Challenge.  All our time, marketing capital, resources, and passion went into promoting The 5K Challenge which is what got this ministry to where it is, but in 2017 that began to change.  Our platform was quickly becoming the Gospel.  This began to produce some unique challenges.  Run for God since its inception had been a “for profit” company.  It was set up this way because Holly and I had no idea it would ever be what it is today. We simply needed a company to run this ministry until it was no longer needed.  We talked about a non-profit early on, but the cost of forming one was just too high.

So here we are, eight years after God had convicted my heart with seven simple words and we were at a crossroads.  We had built a company and a brand that had substantial value.  God was using this platform to reach people with the Gospel of Christ.  But we were finding ourselves in the red month after month because our focus was no longer building Run for God bigger, but reaching more people for Christ.  It seemed as though we were in a lose lose. If we increased the product to boost revenue then our focus would come off evangelism.  If we continue on the track we are on by focusing on the evangelism then the ministry would continue to operate in the red, which can’t last.

God began to once again speak to me through His Word, through prayer, and through others.  You see, I began to agonize about how this could work.  How we could shift our focus from selling the program to sharing the Gospel.  One avenue helped the bottom line while the other hurt it.  I knew what God was telling me, but I wasn’t clear on how we could do that.

The Lord once again put someone in my life that seemed to make things clear.  In the summer of 2017 God put a very smart businessman in my life that made me step back and take a simple look at a situation that I had turned into a big problem.  I was trying to figure out how I could fix this instead of simply handing it over to God. My story seems to be riddled with situations just like this.

I have always said that this ministry was not mine.  It was God’s. God birthed it, God grew it, and God is the only one who could take credit for what it had become.  But my name was on it.  And because my name was on it, then this ministry was forced to operate as a traditional business.  We had to generate revenue just like any other company, which meant more promoting the product, and less sharing the Gospel.  So what do we do?  How do we create a shift in focus without breaking the bank?

Give it away.

Give it away is what God was laying on my heart.  Create a nonprofit ministry, give the assets of Run for God to that Nonprofit, live by faith, and let God work out the details.  Now, I have no doubt that the gentleman who shared this idea with me was simply sharing what God had laid on his heart, but that was little comfort at the time he was sharing it.

So let me paint this picture a little more clearly.  Not only had God already called Holly and I away from the only careers we had ever known, but he was now asking us to form a nonprofit and give away all the assets of a business that we had spent the past 8 years building.  Not only that, but he was asking us to become employees of a ministry that is run by a board that could fire us at any time.  I was looking for my comfort zone, but it was nowhere to be found.

2 Corinthians 5:7 tell us to walk by faith not by sight.

We were at a crossroads in our lives.  Holly and I could honor what God was asking us to do, or we could say, “Not now God.” I’ve always been amazed at people who take radical actions to follow God.  The Queens who are members of our church sold everything and moved to Africa to be on the mission field.  Paige Queen was a successful radiologist who made lots of money as a partner in her own practice.  Another couple in our Church, The Rickman’s, also sold everything and moved to Africa to be on missions.  Jennifer was a successful graphic designer while her husband Brent was a schoolteacher and coach.  They had two young children and were living “The American Dream”.  Both families dropped what was normal in their lives to go and be a part of what God was doing.

God had already given me a glimpse of what He was planning to do.  He was going to use this ministry to reach out to a community that is over 65 million strong in the US alone and draw them in to His saving grace.  The only question was, “Am I going to be a part of it?”  There wasn’t a lot of thought or discussion.  Holly and I both knew what we had to do.  Within days, we had attorneys and accountants working on getting a nonprofit started, stock transfers drafted, appointing a board of directors, and simply ripping the Band-Aid off that we had always known as comfort.  By November, I was no longer an owner of a construction company, Holly no longer had an active license to practice ultrasound, and we were no longer the owner of book copyrights and trademarks.  We were simply domestic missionaries working to share the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

Now you may be thinking, that’s just crazy.  Who in their right mind would do that?  These were the exact thoughts I had.  There have been many periods where I question everything, but God never lets me question long.  It seemed as though every time I slip into questioning, a simple God Wink comes through.

Today, Run for God is a nonprofit ministry who’s goal is to “actively” spread the love of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world through the sport of running.  Yes, we still have classes all across the world that parallel faith and endurance and take those who have never run to their first 5K. That’s where this ministry was born and that’s what continues to build its platform, but God is calling us to do much more than that.

There is a day that I could see the “Who do you say that I AM” campaign as a Full Page ad in every running magazine in the world, not just a few.  There is a day that I could see the “God Loves You” campaign plastered on billboards on every interstate in America.  And there is a day that I could see both campaigns canvasing Social Media platforms of all kinds.  But we’re not there yet.  We need your help!

Mass Media is effective. Billy Graham proved this in the 1950’s with his Hour of Decision show.  During his ministry, Billy Graham reached over 2.5 Billion people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ resulting in over 3 million salvations.  Will this be the result of God’s influence through Run for God? The flesh in me says, “That’s a lot of people.”  But I’ve also learned never to underestimate God.

All I know is that God has taken this ministry from one small church in Dalton, GA to over 3500 churches around the world.  He’s taken a builder who was terrified to speak in public and put him before you today. He’s taken seven simple words from Matthew 16:15 and used them to draw people to His saving grace through the pages of Runners World Magazine.  And He can take the gifts of a generous people just like you and multiply then in ways that we can’t even imagine.

You see, God may be speaking to you today.

He may be asking you to partner with us financially.  If that’s the case then visit www.RunforGod.com/Donate.  Since our change in focus, monthly partners are vital to the needs of this ministry.  If that’s you, then I’d ask you to follow God’s lead and give.  Maybe its $20 or $100 or $500 a month.  Whatever the amount, if God’s laying it on your heart then give.  There is no way that we can do what we do without partners like you.

He may be asking you to step out and do something crazy.  Maybe you’ve heard my story and thought, “Wow, that sounds a lot like what God’s been prompting me to do.”  Maybe it’s something like talking to someone at work who need’s encouragement, or sharing Jesus with that family member.  Or maybe it’s something as radical as selling everything and going where He leads. What ever it is, DO IT.  There is nothing more peaceful than living where you know God wants you.  Now don’t hear what I didn’t say.  I didn’t say it’s always easy, but rather peaceful.  People may think your crazy that you’ve gone mad, but many times that is what sets us apart from the world and draws people in to what we’re saying.

Maybe you’re sitting out there and God’s convicting your heart to surrender your life to Him. Maybe you’ve realized that you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Maybe when you saw the slide that said, “Who do you say that I AM?” you didn’t have an answer.  Please, please, nail that down today.  Stop right now and visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

This story that I told is a great one.  At time’s, it’s unbelievable.  It’s full of twists and turn, ups and downs, excitement and disappointments.  It may be my testimony, but it’s God’s story, and you all have one.  Some may be shorter, some may be longer.  Some may not have even started yet.  But we all have one.  Are you ready to leave here and share yours?  Are you ready to start yours if you don’t have one?  Nothing is more powerful than the influence of our testimony, and my challenge to you today is to formulate yours, bath it in prayer, and share it.

Look back on what God has already done in your life, at what He has brought you through, at where He’s already lead you and know that Hindsight is always 20/20.  Then look ahead at where He’s calling you and simply take that first step.

Mitchell

7 Essential Foods For Runners

If you want to be a strong runner, you most likely know how important it is to train consistently. While training is great, you won’t reach your full potential as a runner unless you also eat healthy. The challenge for most of us is that we’re not quite sure what “healthy” actually looks like. We want to eat foods that fuel our body, but are confused because of all the conflicting information.

Michelle and produceI’m Michelle, the founder of Faithful Workouts and I’m passionate about  helping people reach their health and fitness goals. Today I want to share with you 7 foods every runner needs in their kitchen and how to use these foods to make quick, healthy meals.

1. Quinoa

Sometimes mistaken for a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and is naturally gluten free. It is one of the best foods for lasting energy. It’s a complete protein which means it contains an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids and it is loaded with antioxidants. This superfood also has anti-inflammatory properties and is actually a member of the spinach, Swiss chard and beet family!

When I cook quinoa I always make extra. It is great to have on hand so you can mix it with eggs for breakfast, sprinkle it over a salad or into a soup. It’s also a great replacement for rice when making your favorite stir-fry. One of my favorite recipes is our Quinoa & Black Bean Salas with Lemon Dressing. (recipe available at www.faithfulworkoutsplan.com/run)

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale and chard are high in folate and contain nitrites that convert fat-storing cells into fat burning brown cells which promote weight loss. Leafy greens also decrease the risk of cognitive decline thus keeping our minds healthy. Their anti-inflammatory properties promote heart health and decrease the risk of diabetes. Plus, they are a great source of non-dairy calcium.

I buy a bag of organic, pre-washed “power greens” almost every time I go to the store. One of my “go to” breakfasts includes putting 2 handfuls of greens into a pan. I cook them over medium heat stirring often. Once their wilted I crack an egg right on top of the greens. I cover my pan and cook over medium heat until my egg is set.

I also add handfuls of these awesome greens into my smoothies, soups, open faced sandwiches, and salads. At dinner, I put a little oil in a pan and heat it over medium heat with a large clove of minced garlic. I add several handfuls of greens and cover. Once they’re wilted, I stir in vinegar and a little salt and they make a nutrient packed side dish.

Greens

3. Avocado

Because who doesn’t love avocado… and for good reason! Not only is it awesome tasting, it also offers many health benefits. It’s high in mono-unsaturated fat which is good for you! When you eat an avocado with other nutrient rich foods it improves absorption of the nutrients. If you eat a salad with an avocado, you absorb up to 25% more of the nutrients from your salad!

Avocados also lower the risk of heart disease and improve blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Avocados are nutrient dense with high amounts of pantothenic acid (one of 8 B vitamins that helps the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy), fiber and Vitamin K.

One of my favorite ways to start my day is with a slice of organic toast with 1/2 an avocado sliced thin on top. I’ve also been making amazing desserts using avocados. (Yes, you read that correctly!) For a yummy, yet healthy, Chocolate Cream Pie recipe (recipe available at www.faithfulworkoutsplan.com/run)

4. Wild Caught Salmon (or Cod, Flounder, Sole, Trout)

Salmon is a great source of protein and Omega-3 fat that helps to decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer anddepression while keeping the mind strong and improving joint health. I highly recommend wild caught salmon over farm raised.

We have many great salmon recipes included in our online cookbook, but here’s one of my favorites. Stir together 1 tblsp orange juice concentrate. 1 tsp minced fresh ginger and 1/4 cup soy sauce. Put one 4 oz salmon filet in a ziplock bag and pour the liquid over it. Marinate for at least an hour. Remove salmon and cook on a grill or in a hot pan. Such great flavor!

5. Organic Pasture Raised Eggs 

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, contain all the B vitamins your body needs and are high in Omega-3. It’s important to buy organic pasture raised eggs. They are worth the extra cost because eggs that come from pasture raised chickens means they are free to roam on open grassland, eat an organic diet, enjoy bugs and worms, see daylight, are not given hormones or antibiotics, have darker/richer yolks, have been known to taste better, and have better nutritional profiles in vitamins A, E, betacarotine and Omega-3’s.

I typically take my leftover vegetables from dinner and warm them for breakfast and eat them with a poached egg on top. I love starting my day with all the nutritional benefits from my veggies plus the protein from the egg. I also like to make hard boiled eggs at the beginning of the week so I can grab one when I need some quick protein.

6. Almond Butter 

Almond butter has high amounts of magnesium and monounsaturated fats for heart health. It also has high amounts of Vitamin E and is a great source of manganese, copper, Vitamin B and riboflavin needed for energy. Be sure to be a diligent consumer and check the ingredients to make sure there are only almonds and salt with no added sugar or oil.

When I am feeling low on energy I grab a spoon and scoop out some almond butter which gives me an energy boost. I also make great tasting cookies and smoothies that include almond butter. Check out this recipe that is loaded with flavor but not the sugar. (recipe available at www.faithfulworkoutsplan.com/run

7. Plain Organic Free Yogurt (with live active cultures) 

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, improves digestive health and high in calcium for stronger bones. When I buy plain, Greek yogurt I look for more than 20 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar (the sugar should only come from the naturally occurring lactose, no added sugar). I also check to see that it includes high amounts of live active cultures. Digestive issues are on the rise because the bacteria in our gut is out of whack. We eat processed foods that contain preservatives which disrupts our gut bacteria. The live active cultures in yogurt help to reset the good bacteria in our system.

One of my favorite ways to eat yogurt is it to put 1 cup of berries into a small pan. I cook them over low heat until they are soft and juices are released. Once they are cooled I stir the berries, and juices, into 1 cup of yogurt. I then squeeze fresh lemon or orange juice into the yogurt and top with cinnamon and chopped pecans.

I also make a great sauce by simply mixing together equal parts of plain yogurt and salsa. I put that on top of a grilled chicken breast and top it with fresh cilantro.

I hope I’ve taken some of the guess work out of healthy eating and shown you ways to incorporate these nutrient dense foods into your daily diet. If you’re interested in learning more about how to properly fuel your body, sign up for our Free Faithful & fit Plan. It includes 100s or recipes, cooking video and daily menu plans PLUS workout videos for all fitness levels that are proven to improve your running time and your overall health. **Bonus ll our exercise videos include upbeat, Christian music because we truly put God at the center of all we do!

I’m praying for you!

Michelle Spadafora

www.faithfulworkoutsplan.com

Defeating the Odds!

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.23.35 PMHave you ever felt as if the odds were against you? If you met Crystal Tucker she would list them one by one down to the first battle cry, but for the first time in her life, God has given her the desire to share her story and share how God removed her comforts and false securities from her life to remind her that He is the one and only source of strength. 

In 2006, Crystal served as a 68W (Combat Medic) with the U.S. Army with the 32nd Medical Battalion stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In 2007, she was engaging in Afghanistan combat readiness training when something unexpected occurred. “During a 5-mile battalion run with my attending commander, I stumbled, and took a hard fall into a hole fracturing both of my legs,” says Tucker. Her injuries were much more serious than she imagined and resulted in fractures in both tibias, femurs as well as her hips. 

Throughout her recovery, Tucker went through vigorous rehabilitation efforts while relying on ambulatory devices. She was evaluated by military physicians who assessed her with a permanent profile of a non-deployable status, which led to her honorable medical discharge. “Since I had what was called a ‘Permanent Profile’, I was considered non-deployable and of no use to the military,” she said sadly, “I could not run, jump, march correctly, or lift over a certain poundage.”

CRYSTAL_6Upon receiving her medical discharge from the U.S. Army in April of 2007, she returned home to Georgia. “After returning home from the military, I rested for quite a bit, settled back into civilian life, completed my VA paperwork and got back into school,” Tucker said. And for the first time in several months, Tucker and her husband, Chris, received some good news and had a reason to celebrate – a new addition to the family. What Tucker did not expect were her injuries to return.

Throughout Tucker’s pregnancy, her symptoms became worse. “My legs would fall asleep to where I could barely walk. I had trouble sleeping due to the tingling in my legs. I developed arthritis and it became painful to leave my bedside and even participate in physical activity,” said Tucker. “After my son was born in February of 2008, I tried to exercise to help with the circulation of my legs, but decided to seek a vein specialist to correct my problems.”

After experiencing symptoms of numbness, pain and tingling, Tucker was evaluated by her doctor and was diagnosed with Venus Reflux Disease. “Basically,” Tucker said, “the blood flow – instead of making a complete circulation in my body, it was trickling back down.” Tucker’s physician best described her condition as a ‘leaky roof in her circulatory system’ and required her to have two separate surgeries, one on each leg, to correct and burn out the bad veins and reroute the blood flow. After the procedure and during a follow-up with her physician, told her she would never run again. Tucker did not lose hope.

God’s Word speaks a promise of renewed strength.

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will sore on wings like eagles; they will RUN and not be weary, they will not walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

If you have ever been in a place where you have been weary and tired, you have more than likely yearned for renewed strength. Being weary and tired can lead to discouragement and perhaps the desire to give up. It is in this place that we find it difficult to face life, to make decisions or to even take another step.

Tucker did not know what she would go on to accomplish after hearing that she could never run, not just from one, but from two different doctors– but through the Run for God program, God was able to show her that with Him all things are POSSIBLE. Tucker, now a Run for God graduate, found hope and strength during a time when others lost all hope and faith in her. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.30.16 PM“When I think of Run for God, I can’t help, but smile,” says Tucker. “I am so passionate about this group and ministry and I will never think of running the same way again. With all of the odds that were stacked up against me, God lead me right where I needed to be,” she continues. 

“I was looking through the newsfeed on Facebook when I came across a group that involved running and a Bible study,” she said. “At the time, I wanted to try out a Bible study, so I thought I would give it a try.” The class was a Run for God 10k/Half Marathon Challenge that began in January 2014 after the Run for God’s 10k/Half Marathon program release in December 2013. This challenge is a 12-week Bible study that parallels faith and endurance all while preparing experienced runners to run a 10k or half marathon. 

“Once I entered the classroom, I was terrified about the decision I had made,” she said, “I mean, I have only completed a 5k since my injuries.” The class met three days a week for the training: Tuesday evening after the Bible study, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. “The weather could not have been more cold,” said Tucker, 

“I was bundling up as if I was heading to Alaska.” 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.33.09 PMAs the program continued, Tucker thought of all the odds stacked up against her, including not being able to run again. They began to cloud her mind until a 12-mile training run. “I was listening to K-LOVE for motivation to push through the pain of a long 12-miles when a verse from a song said, ‘you are the peace in my troubled sea,’” said Tucker. “It was in that moment, while I had been wanting to quit and wallowing in my pain that God was trying to tell me something. Not only had I come to realize that God had completely restored my health, transformed my life and gave me hope and the renewed strength I needed to run again, but also He wanted me to use it for His glory – I am to run to serve His purpose,” she exclaimed!

“I can still remember our graduation day just like it was yesterday,” Tucker says, “when I ran down the hill of Prater Mill Road, emotional, exhausted, turning the corner to run the last few kilometers. Then hearing the familiar sounds of my Run for God friends cheering and shouting, ‘GO, GO, GO! YOU CAN DO IT!!!’ and God whispering to me, ‘Run towards me.’ ‘Remember your purpose.’ ‘All finished.’ ‘You finished.’

“I am impacted greatly by this journey. It is still a journey. Despite the odds that were against me that should have demolished my future, instead lead me to not stand defeated. With God by my side, He helped me stand up to defeat the odds and to serve a purpose larger than myself,” said Tucker. So when the odds are not in your favor, don’t think that God has abandoned you. Stand your ground and keep your eyes fixed on the LORD. With everything else stripped away, you will be amazed at what your God can achieve.

My Life In a Picture

Have you ever gone through a rough patch of time?  Of course, you have.  We all have. I went through one recently.

It was Sunday morning and I was getting all my last-minute things together for church.  I had my Sunday School lesson plans.  I run the sound and video screens during our service and I had prepared all of that material too.  I got in my car and drove to church on a chilly, rainy day.

On the short trip to church, I was thinking about our pastor.  He was headed to a new adventure and that Sunday would be his last.  I love our pastor.  I have become a better man over the six years he has served our church not in small part because of the great example he set every day in his life. I hated to see him go.

In addition, we had just completed our annual Run for God Run at the Mill.  The race went well, but our number of participants was down.  I had not done a very good job of promoting and getting the word out about our race.  It hurt me that I let the Run for God team down.

There had also been the text message that had gone out alluding to something on my other job that had gone undone.  In this case, it actually WAS done, but I was lumped in with a group that had largely failed and so I was guilty by proxy.

Oh, and there was that tax thing.  The IRS would be looking for my completed tax documents within the next two days and I had not started on them yet.

I arrived at church felling pretty inadequate.  I dropped off my Sunday School materials and went to the sound room to make sure all of my presentation and audio plans would work that morning.  It was on the thumb drive I carry on my key chain.  But it wasn’t on my key chain.  I had left it at home.

Fortunately, I live very close to my church and could go home and retrieve it.  As I drove home, what was earlier a sprinkle had turned to a hard rain.  I would get soaked because I was too forgetful to remember my thumb drive.  I ran in the house, picked up my thumb drive, and stopped dead in my tracks as I was about to exit the garage.

There in front of me through the pouring rain I could see the picture of how I felt about the circumstances of my life at that point.  My lawnmower was sitting on a trailer, where it had been for two weeks, with a flat tire and the grass grown up around it.  I had planned to take it to the shop because it had stopped running and needed several things done but had not been able to find the time to get it there.  I had gone by the shop with it once, but it was temporarily closed at the time.  Such has been my timing lately.

It hit me so hard that I snapped a picture of it.

LawnMower

Then I ran through the rain to my car to get back down to the church.  Feeling sorry for myself, nearly in tears, I took the thumb drive out and placed in the computer.  I went through the screens to make sure they worked and stopped when I saw a video playing. It was a video of the song “All My Hope” by Crowder and Tauren Wells.  Wow.  The words to the song:

I’ve been held by the Savior

I’ve felt fire from above

I’ve been down to the river

I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God that yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to the prison

I’ve worn shackles and chains

But I’ve been freed and forgiven

And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same

That’s why I sing

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God my yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man

Break him down to his knees

God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two

Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me

What it means to be a man

Come on and sing

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God my yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

Now the tears came flooding. I realized that my hope isn’t in all the things that had gone wrong over the past couple of weeks.  ALL my hope is in Jesus.  Everything else pales in comparison.  Oh, next year will be different at Run at the Mill.  We’ll find another pastor.  It will stop raining.  My lawnmower will get repaired.  Things are already looking up because my taxes were done by the time I sat down to write this.  I thank God that, not only that my hope IS in Jesus, but that He sees fit to shove that fact right in my face when I need I need it most.  Praise God for His grace and mercy!

Dean Thompson

A God Wink

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“…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:10

If you could be a part of a movement that changes the lives of others simply by sharing the love of Jesus Christ, would you? What if I said you already were, would you believe me? Well, you are. If you are reading this email, then you are a part of the Run for God family, and our mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ through the sport of running.

So how do we do this? For starters, we have two entire chapters in The 5K Challenge, which has been taught in thousands of churches and communities, devoted to clearly sharing the Gospel of Christ. We pose the question from Matthew 16:15 “Who do you say that I AM? – Jesus” in Runner’s World Magazine and prompt individuals to visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod where they can find out how to have peace of their own. We encourage everyone we come in contact with to tell others that God Loves Them! We at Run for God are ACTIVELY sharing Jesus Christ.

Yes, we promote the Gospel at Run for God, but it wouldn’t be possible without you. Keeping the platform that God has entrusted us with, takes more than just our staff. It takes people who are willing to buy The 5K Challenge, Books and T-shirts. It takes people who are willing to support us financially. It takes an army of people who are willing to pray for us and this ministry. It takes people who are willing to sign up and run our races. Yes, God has put you in our path for a reason.

A while back I started sending a simple text to our Run for God Board of Directors. I call this text a God wink. Each time someone reached out to us and let us know that they had either accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, or they had rededicated their life to Christ as a result of what God is doing through Run for God, I’d send this simple text. No words, no explanation, no need for a response, nothing but a simple smiley face emoji with a halo over it’s head. We simply rejoiced together without saying a word.

Recently God laid it on my heart that I should give everyone who is a part of Run for God to be a part of these God winks. So that’s what we are doing. If you’d like to be a part of this, simply sign up by following the directions on the graphic.

Thank you once again for being a part of Run for God! You are the hands and feet of this ministry.

Mitchell

God is Love

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He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8

Do you ever have one of those seasons in your life where you feel like God is just really working you over about something? A time where it seems that he takes an issue in your life and He shines a light on it from many different directions? Over the past few weeks I feel that is what He’s been doing with me on the subject of love. Love. Now you would think that love is pretty simple, and there’s not much that we can do to mess it up. You’d be right about the first part of that statement, but there are plenty of ways that we can mess things up when it comes to love.

This all started when my good friend David Hendrix passed away back in January. David was a joyful person. He was always laughing, joking, and more importantly loving on people. On occasion he would even sign his name “Love” instead of David. He loved life, he loved people, and he loved the act of loving people. David understood that when we love people, we give them a glimpse of Jesus.

Fast-forward a few weeks to the passing of Billy Graham. I have always been a fan of Billy Graham. I’ve always seen him as a pillar in society that steered clear of politics, scandal, and anything that could bring his ministry into question. He stayed on point, and that point was that God loves you, He sent His Son to die for you, and He wants to spend eternity with you. He often made the comment, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” Billy Graham loved people regardless of the sin they were dealing with which is what attracted millions of people to him.

Recently I was also introduced to a person that I will be seeing often. Most likely a few times a week for the near future. This person has a very different lifestyle than I do. They give the appearance that God has no place in their life, and it’s very obvious by the lifestyle they appear to live. Was my meeting this person coincidental? I think not. You see historically, I would have had a problem with the lifestyle this person lives, and for that reason I would have begun to distance myself. Not this time. God began to prompt me to love this person, accept this person, not their sin, but this person, and show them Jesus.

And today, it’s as if God tied it all up in a neat package with a bow on top. I’ve mentioned before that anytime I drop my kids off for school, the last thing I tell them is to “Tell someone about Jesus”. I feel that you can’t say that enough these days. But today was different. It was almost as if God brought three simple words to my mind. It’s three words that can be found at the end of 1 John 4:8. GOD IS LOVE.

God is Love. That’s it. Pretty simple. You see, it’s a principal that we all know, but it’s also a principal that we often complicate. Show someone love, and by definition you show them God because God….is…..Love. David Hendrix loved people, therefore he showed them God. Millions were attracted to Billy Graham; he loved people and showed them Christ. If I just love this person who’s been placed in my path, I will show them God. And if my kids just love people they will also shine Jesus!

Does it stop there? Absolutely not. The Great Commission is clear that we are to take the Word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth. But 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that we can have the gift of eloquent speech, the gift of prophesy, and the gift of great faith, but without Love, we are bankrupt. “Showing” others love is where the process of “Telling” them about Jesus begins.

Today, when you see that person cross your path who doesn’t look like you or live like you, Love Them. When you hear that person gossiping or causing drama at your workplace, Love Them. When you see a person you feel deserves to be in the predicament that they’re in, Love Them. Don’t judge them, Love them. Because what we are doing is taking a situation of judgment and turning it into an opportunity for God to shine.

Mitchell

God loves you! For more information on how to experience Peace with God, please visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod