Who’s In Control

Every Sunday I hang out in a small room at the back of my church. It is a room that houses all of our sound and video equipment. It gets pretty hectic turning mics on and off, adjusting the sound controls, changing displays during songs and sermons, and recording the audio of the service. 

It looks like I have control over everything that happens, doesn’t it?  But, I only have control over a bunch of buttons, knobs and switches. Nobody sees what I actually do, they only see the result of what I am doing. They are watching someone else. If I am not in tune with what people can see, I can cause the message to be distorted.

In reality, although I have complete control over what I am doing, I have no control over what is being done at the pulpit. It wouldn’t matter if I showed the wrong image on the screens. If it isn’t right, the service will be held up waiting for me to correct the problem. If I played the wrong audio for a song, the singer doesn’t just sing whatever I play. They wait for me to find the correct music. 

It may look like I’m in control, but I’m anything but in control! This is not the cockpit of an airplane. I am complimentary to the service – I don’t control it. I can make it go smoother, or I can be an irritant to those who came to be a part of the day. I have to react to what is happening in an effort to present the best face to the congregation. I could do whatever I wanted to do, but that wouldn’t last long before the church decided I didn’t need to do that job any longer.

Even tougher is when someone decides either intentionally or inadvertently change the order of events. I have to be on my toes, recognize it, and make the necessary adjustments. Most days, everything goes smoothly, but occasionally it is a challenge to keep up. The service is better when I follow along with the people in control.

My job on the soundboard is similar to my walk with God. I’m not in control – He is. If I want to present the best picture of who He is to the world, I have to follow His lead. Oh, I can do whatever I want to do, but it changes the presentation. God gives us perfect cues to keep the presentation on track to show who He is. We only have to follow those cues. I know my music director and my pastor pretty well. I can often anticipate what they will do in a service. It makes the task of following their lead easier for me. In the same way, the closer I am in my walk with God, the easier it is for me to follow His lead.

At one time or another we all have the illusion that we’re in the cockpit of an airplane controlling what it does. But, in reality, we’re all standing behind a mixing board controlling what God gave us. The question is: Are we going to continue to act as if we’re in control, ultimately making a mess of the presentation God has planned for our lives? Or, are we going to offer the best presentation possible by following His lead? The choice is mine and yours.

We’re always better off when we follow God’s lead. I hope you choose to follow his lead today!

Now go out and show the world your best presentation of Jesus!

Dean Thompson

The Night That Changed Everything

The NightFrank Blunt didn’t believe in anything good, maybe not even himself. Christmas came for each of his 38 years on Earth, but he had seen nothing to persuade him that it was anything more than greed that drove the gift-giving season. He reasoned that giving only happened when there was an expectation to receive something in return. Frank didn’t believe in the general goodness of the men and women he had contact with every day of his life in the insurance business. Even as he interacted with clients, he could see the greed as they bickered about a dollar here and a dollar there. He was sure people didn’t want to simply give things away for the sake of giving – there was an additional motive in each case.

Frank didn’t care for rich people who seemed to flaunt their wealth and only allow the occasional crumb to fall to those who really needed it as they lived behind walls protected from anything the world might do to infiltrate their wealthy lifestyle. Greed indeed.

But he also didn’t care for poor people. Why couldn’t these people get a job? They would rather beg for money on the side of the road than find a real job that required some commitment to be punctual and contribute to society. It was greed in a different form, he thought. They didn’t want to endure the inconvenience of responsibility. It was lazy greed.

The people who irritated him the most were those Christians. They claimed to be motivated by a mystical being who lived 2,000 years ago in the form of a man called Jesus Christ. Seriously? he thought. It seemed pathetic to him that adults would believe in fairy tales. Still, Frank was sure they were motivated by the need for recognition for the things they would do to help others. It was still greed, only fed through a need to feel less guilty about who they were.

Frank Blunt believed in Frank Blunt, good or bad. It was all he could count on.

Frank’s sister, Joy, had tried numerous times over the years to break through his shell of skepticism. She feared that she had never made a dent or created so much as a pinhole. The shell had proven to be very durable over the years. Still, Joy had prayed thousands of times for Frank and his salvation. If God could soften his heart even a little, maybe he could see that most people were not what he thought them to be. As Christmas approached, she asked God to give her a pick to break through that shell.

But as soon as the Christmas related conversation began, Frank would retreat to his shell and defend his feelings vehemently. “Christmas is about giving, Frank.” Joy would say.

“Yeah, sure, I know, just so people can help other people and make them feel good, right?”

“It’s more than that, Frank. God gave us His son – the most incredible gift ever given. On Christmas we celebrate that gift, in part, by giving to others. But we also simply remember the gift and celebrate what God did for us. Imagine giving your son. Can there be anything more gracious than that?”

“Oh, here we go again!” Frank said. “Christmas is all about greed, not some sense of benevolence. If you don’t believe me, just look at how people act on Black Friday. Last year, someone was shot in a dispute over a toy. The year before that, a 62-year old woman wound up in the hospital because she was trampled at the door because people had to get to those big screen TVs that were on sale. If that is the giving spirit, then I don’t want any part of it.”

Those words triggered a thought in Joy’s mind. The “giving spirit” she thought. She had an idea.

She asked, “So you think there is really no such thing as the ‘giving spirit’ as you called it?”

“Of course not.” Frank said. “Giving is easy when you know you’re going to get something in return. It’s a guiltless way to accumulate more stuff. Nobody gives things away without some expectation of a return on their investment.”

Joy said, “I have a proposal for you, Frank.”

“Yeah, what is that?”

“I want to challenge you to give something away.”

“Easy – as long as it’s not my stuff I’m giving away.” Frank said.

“Okay, so here is my challenge: I will give you $100 to give away, but there are stipulations to who and how you give it away. First, you can only give away five dollars at a time. No matter how much a person may need, you can only give them five dollars. You can give them less, if you like, but no more than five dollars per person. Second, you have to give the money to someone you believe needs it. There has to be some reason, justifiable or not, that you give the money away. Third, anyone you give money to has to be someone you have never met before.” Joy finished, “What do you think?”

“I think that’s an easy assignment. I don’t see the point, but if it will make my baby sister happy for me to give her money away, I’m more than happy to oblige.” Frank said sarcastically, “And, you will see that the world is full of unappreciative, greedy people. I may get a thank you or two, but only because it is the polite thing to do. In the end, you’ll be out $100, and nothing will be different. But I have one stipulation of my own. Once I’m done, for the rest of this year, you can’t try to convince me that people are good or that there is some guy named Jesus who I need to get to know better. Deal?”

“Deal!” Joy exclaimed. “I’m willing to take the chance. You only have to promise me that when Jesus shows up, you will acknowledge it.”

“Okay. If the 2,000-year old man shows up, I’ll let you know.” Frank retorted.

The next day Frank found himself wondering how he had gotten into such a strange situation.  How exactly would he identify people who “needed” the money? Where would he start? He had already been to the bank and exchanged Joy’s 100 dollar bill for 20 five dollar bills. Twenty people, five dollars each. This should only take an hour or so, he thought.

Downtown. How many times had he been approached by people who were living on the street and asked for spare change? He could capture all twenty of those “needy” people in a few square blocks. That would be the most efficient avenue to shut his sister up for the rest of the year.

As he drove to the parking lot, he identified four vagrants, as he liked to call them, along the way. He parked the car and immediately saw a group of three men huddled in the corner of the parking garage. They were sitting on upside down buckets and seemed to be joking with each other. It seemed clear that they were only there because they were trying to keep warm by staying out of the wind. Their clothing and demeanor persuaded him that they may be homeless. They would qualify for a hand out according to Joy’s rules. Frank approached them and asked them if they would each like five dollars. One of them looked at him and said, “What’s the catch?”

He said, “No catch. Five dollars in the spirit of Christmas.”

“Just for free?” They asked suspiciously.

“That’s right.” Frank confirmed.

“Well, how about $20 then?” Another asked coyly, confirming Frank’s paradigm of a greedy world. Here he was giving money away, and it just wasn’t enough.

“No, just five.” He reached into his pocket, peeled off three five-dollar bills and handed them out. They guys high-fived each other. He might be done in less than an hour at this rate. As he walked away from the group he mustered up as much sarcasm as he could and said, “Merry Christmas!”

He left the parking facility walking north and found a lady on a bench laying under some cardboard trying to sleep.  There was a shopping cart filled with her belongings next to her. The cart was tethered to her arm by a rope tied around her wrist. Why would people choose to live this way, Frank thought. He approached her and said, “Ma’am? Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.” She said suspiciously.

“Could I interest you in a five-dollar bill?”

“Oh, no thank you.” She said firmly.

“Seriously? You can’t use five dollars?”

“Of course, I can. But I haven’t done anything to deserve it. I can’t just take your money.”

“What if you consider it a Christmas gift?”

“But you don’t even know me. Why would you give me a gift?” She had not received a Christmas gift in two years.

“I insist.” He took another five-dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to her.

She looked at the bill as if it were priceless. A tear formed in her eye and a smile on her face as she said, “I prayed for this. God has sent you to me, I’m certain.”

Frank knew the truth, that his sister had sent him. He elected not to vocalize that fact, and even wished he could give her more money. But rules were rules. Again, he said, “Merry Christmas,” only this time much less sarcastically, and it may have even felt good to say it this time. He had found the one person who appreciated receiving a gift. What were the odds, he thought.

He moved on and began to realize that the homeless were more difficult to find than he had thought. He walked a few blocks before seeing a man just ahead who was going from one pedestrian to another asking for money. This one would be easy. As he approached the man, he was anticipating the question. Only the question was different than he thought it would be. The man said, “Could you buy me some food. I haven’t had anything to eat today.” So much for the rumor that all of the homeless are alcoholics looking for their next drink.

Frank said, “How about if I give you five dollars and you can go get something to eat?” He handed him the bill looking deep into his eyes as they brightened with the news.

The man smiled and with heartfelt gratitude he said, “Oh, thank you so much, sir!” Frank smiled back at him and again said, “Merry Christmas.” That one felt pretty good.

As Frank was about to walk off the man said, “Sir, may I ask you a question?”

Frank thought, why do you have to ruin a good interaction by forcing me to have a conversation? But instead said, “Sure, but I can’t give you any more money.”

“Oh, that’s fine. Sir, are you an angel?”

Frank didn’t know what to say. He didn’t believe there was such a thing as an angel. “No.” He said surprising himself with his calmness. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, it just seems that you are different from everyone else I see on the street. You looked at me like I was somebody. Most people are always trying to do anything but make eye contact with me. They hope that I won’t approach them. I wish I didn’t have to, but I don’t know what else to do. But you are different. You seemed to be eager to help me. I thought maybe you were an angel sent by God to help me. Anyway, thank you so much for your kindness. Have a Merry Christmas!”

Suddenly those the words “Merry Christmas” rang in his head. He had wished these poor down and out people a Merry Christmas. What did they have to be merry about? He was going to go home in an hour and sleep in a warm bed tonight while these people would sleep in the cold or in a room with fifty others in a shelter somewhere. But this guy just wished FRANK a Merry Christmas. The seemingly incongruous phrase was not lost on him.

As he walked around the town, he had many more similar interactions and conversations. He began to feel more comfortable speaking with these people. With each one, he felt a little more compassion. He didn’t know why these people were living the way they did, but one thing was sure – it’s not what they would have chosen if given a better and more comfortable choice. Most of them really had no choice. The thought of having to live on the streets began to run through his mind. He didn’t know if he was tough enough to do it.

Many of the conversations revolved around God and angels or other spiritual matters. If these people did believe in God, and it seemed clear that they did, why would they rely so heavily on a being that had left them in the circumstances in which they were living? But even as the thought came to him the answer bounced back quickly – what else did they have? God was allthey could rely on. Frank had never had so much compassion for people he didn’t know. For that matter, he had never had anycompassion for those he didn’t know.

By the time he had given out 17 of the 20 five dollar bills he had in his pocket he was losing track of time. He was enjoying the conversations and the idea of helping those who needed it. Sure, there were a few who were scammers and just looking for a few extra bucks. But the overwhelming majority of them were hurting. He began to hope that his words were soothing to them. He actually wanted to help. By this time, it had been two and a half hours, and the sun was going down. It was getting colder.

He approached number 18, an older thin gray-haired lady who was missing her false teeth. As he gave her the money, she asked if she could pray with him. He reluctantly agreed. If it would make her feel better, he was willing to go along.

She prayed, “Lord, thank you so much for sending this man my way tonight. You knew how much I needed it and you provided. I praise your name for your goodness. Lord, bless this man. I don’t know who he is, but You are surely using him tonight as Your servant. I pray that, even as he blesses those around him, that you will see fit to bless him with Your goodness and mercy. Amen.”

Frank thought for a moment and couldn’t think of anyone who had ever prayed with him alone before. Once again, someone with far less than most seemed to have something that he clearly did not. Though he had grown more compassionate through this process, he knew that if he were in their circumstances, he could not be as positive as many of them were.

“Thank you for that. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Do you have a warm place to sleep tonight?” The words startled him as they fell from his mouth. What was he going to do if she said no?

But she let him off the hook and said, “I’m heading for a shelter in a few minutes. They don’t open the doors until 6 pm.”

“Great!” he said in relief.

As Frank turned in search of number 19, he noticed a man looking at him from across the street. He was clearly not one of the homeless he was looking for, but the man kept watching him. When he caught Frank looking his way, he waved and looked both ways as he crossed the street. He was headed straight towards Frank. “Oh no,” Frank thought as he wondered if he was someone of authority who was going to tell him that he couldn’t do what he was doing. Was he in some sort of trouble?

The man reached the other side of the street and said, “Do you have a minute, sir?”

“Depends what you want to tell me.” Frank said with more than a hint of suspicion.

The man continued, “My name is Wilbur Rexhall, the third. I have seen what you have been doing for the last hour or so. Are you giving money to the homeless in this community? Because that’s precisely what it looks like you are doing.”

Growing more suspicious, Frank said, “Why is that any of your business? You’re not with the police department, are you? I’m not doing anything illegal, am I?” The questions kept coming to him and spilling out of his mouth.

“Oh, no sir! I own three businesses downtown and I spend a lot of time people watching. I couldn’t help but notice the very deliberate way you were walking from one person to another, not only giving them money, but taking time to speak with each of them for a couple of minutes. In the 30 years I have been around here, I don’t believe I have ever witnessed such a display of individual generosity.”

Frank was put on the spot. He knew his motive for doing what he was doing had begun in a far from charitable way. He was only trying to prove something to his sister. Still, he had softened his stance considerably by this time. He was much closer to the right motive by now, but he was still looking for number 20 so he could get in his nice car and drive to his warm house.

“Well, just trying to help those less fortunate than myself, you know.” Frank said, immediately feeling guilty for the way he took credit for what he was doing. It wasn’t even his money he was giving away!

Mr. Rexhall asked, “Do you own a house?”

What an odd question, Frank thought, but answered, “Yes sir. It’s about ten miles from here.”

The stranger continued his line of questioning. “How much money do you owe on your house?”

“Well, that’s kind of a private matter Mr. Rexhall. Is that what you said you name was?” Frank was sure to reply in a manner that said, “Back off, mister!”

“Yes sir. Wilbur Rexhall, the third. I suppose it is forward of me to ask such a question out the blue, so let me explain. The Lord has blessed me far beyond anything I could ever have expected. I grew up poor and spent some time on the street, just like the people you have been talking with this evening. I’m not going to live forever, and I can’t take all that money with me. I would like to pay off your mortgage sir, if you would allow it.”

WHAT? What did he just say? Frank wondered if being out in the cold for a couple of hours could alter your hearing in some way. “Excuse me?” He said.

“I’m terribly sorry if I have offended you in some way. I only wanted to return the kind gesture that you are so graciously offering to these people.”

“No, I mean, seriously, what did you just ask me?” Frank said, still trying to gather himself.

“I’d like your permission to pay off your mortgage, sir.”

That’s what Frank thought he had heard. “You can’t possibly be serious?” He asked incredulously.

“Well, yes sir, I am being serious. As I said, I have been so blessed by God, and I feel His urging to do this for you.”

Frank’s mind was going a million miles an hour. It was almost as if this man knew that he had been struggling to make ends meet lately. Although he was not behind on his mortgage, he had some bill collectors calling his house for other bills that were delinquent. Not having a mortgage payment would allow him to catch up every other bill he had due.

“That’s an incredible gesture, sir, but why would you do such a thing.” Frank asked.

“As I told you, I have a soft spot for the homeless. As a matter of fact, I own a small warehouse around the block that I open up every year when the weather gets cold so that the homeless have a place to go. I open it at six o’clock each night and serve them some soup or other small meal that can help them keep going to the next day. For many of them, the next day is really all they have to look forward to.  I see myself laying on those cots, and I know that those nights are cold, and I appreciate the man who opened up his warehouse for me almost 40 years ago. Without that man’s generosity, I might have frozen to death on one of those cold nights.”

“I also think about Mary and Joseph under similar circumstances. They had no place to stay except for the generosity of a man who offered a stable as a warm place to stay for the night. To make matters worse, poor Mary was pregnant and about to give birth. The Savior of the world was born under circumstances not far removed from the homeless shelter of today. We never know who we help. It could be a young man who would wind up owning several businesses one day and he may decide to give back to those who helped him and those who are helping those who are like he once was. Or, it could be even bigger than that. The man who offered his stable had no idea that Jesus would be born under his generosity, but that’s what happened. No sir, you have no idea who you have helped tonight with your simple gestures of money and conversation. You may have changed someone’s life tonight. That, sir, is why I would do such a thing.”

Frank took it all in and was overwhelmed by it all. Every paradigm he had ever believed was being challenged in this moment. Poor people weren’t who he thought they were. Now, he finds out that rich people aren’t the greedy scumbags he thought they were. Even crazier, this man had him intrigued about that whole Jesus story, as crazy as it was. He wanted to know more.

“Do you really believe the Jesus story? It is so incredible that it seems impossible.” Frank said.

“It not only seems impossible. It was impossible – for humans! That’s how we know it was God Himself who wrote the story. Oh, I am certain of the authenticity of the story. Not only do I know it is true because of what He has done for me, but if you will spend some honest time looking at the facts, you will come to the conclusion that it has to be true. It sounds like you are not a believer?”

Frank answered, “Well, I like to think I’m a common-sense guy who thinks practically. It is awfully hard to square a virgin birth with scientific reality, not to mention being raised from the dead!”

Mr. Rexhall answered, “I completely understand. I was right where you are a long time ago. It didn’t make sense to me either. But that man who opened his warehouse for me all those years ago also gave me my first Bible. I was homeless and didn’t have much to do besides looking for a job, so I scoured that Bible looking for loopholes at first. When I could find none, I began to see the facts. Do you know that the prophet Isaiah predicted the birth of Jesus hundreds of years before it happened and with some detail I might add. If the Jesus story is not true, how did that happen? Yes sir, being practical will only lead you to believe in Jesus.”

So up is down and backwards is forwards, Frank thought. Everything he believed was wrong according to this man. He seemed to be a normal man. He had no agenda that Frank could see. In the span of a few hours, his entire life felt like it was changing.

Mr. Rexhall continued, “If you want proof of the reality of God, look no further than the fact you and I are standing here speaking. Do you think it is mere coincidence that I saw what you were doing this evening? Think about the conversations you had with those people this evening. Do you see God in any of those when you look at it from His perspective?”

“I don’t know what to say, sir. Yes, I do see where it is possible that a God could have coordinated what happened tonight, but it seems so crazy. Why would a God who could do so much be interested in me? I have done nothing but make fun of Christians for years. Surely, He has much better things to do tonight,” Frank concluded.

“No, Frank, He doesn’t. You see that’s the most incredible thing about God. He loves every one of us whether we love Him back or not. Tonight, you were the most important person on His mind, as were billions of other people. He knew this day was coming before you were even born. We can’t understand that in our finite minds, but it’s true. God has always been around you, but it looks like you can see Him tonight. Am I right?” Mr. Rexhall’s question pierced Frank’s heart.

Frank answered reluctantly, “It is hard to explain it any other way, I suppose.”

“Listen Frank, I can tell you’re struggling with the enormity of it all. But, that’s how God works. I see it all the time, and you will too if you choose to believe and live a life for Him.”

Frank said, much more boldly now, “Honestly, this has been the most incredible night of my life. I want to have more days like this one. How do I go about doing that? What do I have to do next?”

Wilbur Rexhall led Frank Blunt through several verses about God’s salvation plan from the book of Romans – aka the Roman Road. It still seemed impossible to Frank that he had felt so differently just a few hours prior, but after what he had seen and heard that night, he knew nothing was impossible with God.

Frank drove home and couldn’t wait to talk with Joy. He realized that he still had ten dollars of hers in his pocket. He didn’t complete his assignment – or did he?

When he walked into Joy’s house, he had the biggest smile she had ever seen. Oh no, she thought, he must have given away all the money and now he’s happy that he doesn’t have to hear any more about Jesus for the rest of the year.

“Sis,” Frank said, “I owe you my life.”

Startled by his comment, she asked, “What do you mean?”

“God didn’t just show up tonight, He showed off!” Frank exclaimed.

They talked about the evening for nearly two hours. Eventually, as the time ran off the clock, it was time to go home and go to bed. It was an incredible day that Frank would certainly never forget. It was difficult to fall asleep, but he did, only after saying a prayer before bedtime for the first time in his life.

At work the next day he was still giddy about the prior evening’s activity and the result of meeting an incredible bunch of people. He couldn’t stop telling everyone he met about what had happened. He wasn’t very productive as the world would measure it, but God doesn’t use the same measures as the world.

Lunch hour came and he used the time to check his e-mail. In the list of messages was a communication from a bank. He clicked on the message and was astounded by what he saw. As Mr. Rexhall had promised, it was an e-mail congratulating him for paying off his mortgage. In all his excitement, Frank had forgotten about the promise. But he had only told him his name and who the lienholder was on his home. How had he been able to complete the transaction so quickly? He thought he would need to give him more information if he was still going to insist on paying off his mortgage, but Mr. Rexhall was apparently a very well-connected man.

Frank wanted to personally thank him, not only for the debt release but more importantly, for changing his life’s direction. But in all the excitement of the moment, he never asked where his office was located. No matter – if he owned three businesses downtown, he would be able to find him.

Later, he went back to the same place he saw him the day before, but he was not there. He went inside several establishments, but oddly, found no one who knew him. Frank remembered the night shelter Mr. Rexhall opened. If he could find the shelter, he would almost certainly be able to find him. He went into one more place, and sure enough, a lady knew where the shelter was located.

He walked three blocks to the shelter, entered, and looked for someone who appeared to be in charge. He found a man who was helping to serve some food, waited for a break, and asked where he could find Mr. Rexhall.

The man asked, “Who?”

“Mr. Rexhall,” Frank said, “The man who owns this building.”

“Oh, you must be mistaken. This building is not owned by anyone with that name. I’ve never heard that name before.” The man seemed absolutely sure of himself.

“Well, that’s odd. No one seems to know who Mr. Rexhall is. Thank you for your time.” Frank said dejectedly.

As he began to walk away, he turned and asked, “What is the man’s name who owns this building if it’s not Mr. Rexhall.”

“His name is Gabriel. You know, like the angel. He prefers folks call him Gabe, though. Something about not wanting to draw attention to himself.”

All Frank could get out was, “Yes, that’s just like Mr. Rexhall – I mean, Gabe!”

Dean Thompson

Take or Teach This January

Do you make New Years Resolutions?  Do you set goals each year?

Sure you do.  Whether we call them resolutions or not, we all have a natural tendency to hit the reset button each January and tell ourselves that something is going to be different.

For many it’s getting healthier.  We all make it our goal to live a healthier lifestyle.  We do that because we know we’ll feel better about ourselves.  Admit it, there is no better feeling than laying our head down at night a little bit sore from the workout that we did that day. We know we did something, and we know we’ll sleep better because of it.

For others it’s doing better in our walk with Christ.  Just like exercise, we’ve got to be intentional and committed to our daily walk with Christ.  Just like exercise there is no better feeling than laying our head down at night knowing that our walk with Jesus Christ is where it needs to be.

Friends, this is what Run for God is all about.  We take the two most common New Year’s Resolutions and combine them into one incredible experience.

The 5K Challenge is a 12-week Bible Study that parallels Faith and Endurance while taking those who have never run to their first 5K.

I tell people all the time that it doesn’t matter if you’re TAKING the class or TEACHING the class, it WILL change your life.

So how can you get involved this January?  We’ve got three very simple options.

#1 Teach a Class

Now I know that gives many of you a sense of anxiety!  Believe me. When God laid this on my heart ten years ago I had never taught anything, in fact, I was looking for the door, because God obviously had the wrong person.  If God is speaking to you, then listen; you’ll be better for it.

We’ve made it simple for ANYONE to teach this class in their community.  I know this, because we are now in over 3500 communities around the world where people just like you are changing lives one mile at a time.

The Instructors Kits are also HALF OFF for a limited time.

#2 We’ve got two ways for you to TAKE the class, to be a Student.

First.  Go to RunforGod.com/Classes and search for a class in your area.  Reach out to that instructor and get signed up.  The friends and accountability partners that you’ll meet will soon evolve into lifelong friends.  There are no better bonds formed than when we sweat and study God’s Word together.

Don’t see a class in your area?  Then head on over to RunforGod.com/Virtual and sign up for our first ever Worldwide Virtual 5K Challenge starting January 8th.  This Challenge will be taught by a Dynamic Duo out of Billings, Montana.  Joey and Cece Traywick have a heart to see the mission of Run for God come to life. They are genuine, funny, and absolutely sold out for Christ.

This option is PERFECT for those who don’t have a class nearby or need a class that will work for their schedule.  You can tune in live and interact with Joey and Cece or you can tune in later and watch the recording.  Either way their desire is to create a community that will encourage each other along this journey.

Well that’s it everyone. Teach the class!  Take the class Live!  Or TAKE the class Virtually this January!

No matter what your interaction with Run for God looks like, my hope, my desire, my prayer is that you will see the heart of Jesus Christ flow through this ministry.  Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ, and what better gift to give Christ himself than to tell others about His Saving Grace.

Friends, I love you, but more importantly God loves you.  Now, go tell someone about Jesus this Christmas season!


Darren Lewis

Darren Lewis.jpgA lot has changed for me since I “found” Run for God. I wanted to become an instructor seven years ago because I was an avid runner and I had rededicated my life to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When I taught my first class, I must have looked like the proverbial deer staring into headlights. I was scared beyond belief, lacked the self confidence to lead a bible study, and could not understand why someone (God) would push me into something I was ill-equipped to do (in my mind). But I listened, and I prayed, and I obeyed, and I persevered, and here I am 7 years later with a whole new perspective on life and my relationship with God.

Run for God has given me an entirely new perspective on running, the bible, and life. My life is no longer about pursuing for my own personal gains, but about eternal gains. And not just for me, but for a lost and dying world. You see, when I first started teaching this class I was going to teach a “running class” that had a little scripture sprinkled in. Run for God has allowed my faith to develop, grow, and flourish to the point where running has taken the back seat to sharing the gospel and helping others to develop and grow in their faith. As I like to say, I am no longer running FROM God, but rather running FOR God!

Molly Wade

Molly WadeWe live in a world where the pulls of a secular society are stronger than ever. Politics polarize, journalists spin, and opinions are loud. Although cultural decorum seems to be slipping away, there are a few constants: nature, health, and God. Run for God (RFG) is a program that focuses people’s attention on those constants and Christian virtues, all while energizing individuals in mind, body and spirit.

While our society and culture focus increasingly on looking at screens and expressing themselves via social media, RFG reminds people that the only audience that matters is the audience of One. For 12 weeks, people of all ages and ability levels follow a training program that strengthens them from the inside out. While their bodies become accustomed to running, their minds become accustomed to discernment, on figuring out the best way to live a meaningful life for Christ. Rather than dwelling on the time it takes to run a certain distance, participants learn to focus on the fact that they are running no matter the pace or the distance. The sense of accomplishment and pride is palpable to all spectators when a Run for God runner crosses the finish line on Race Day. But, more importantly, as they cross over the timing pad, these people realize that they are now superbly equipped to run the race of life with God alongside.  And that… is the greatest triumph.

Molly Wade – Madbury, New Hampshire

Rhonda Williams

Rhonda WilliamsRun for God is an amazing program lead by a dedicated team who are truly Holy Spirit inspired. I have been leading a Run for God group for over 4 years now and I have seen it transform the health and hearts of many people which inspired me to further my education and become an RRCA Certified Coach. Even more importantly, Run for God has inspired me to deepen my faith and focus on developing a more personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. My improved physical, mental and spiritual health came in handy recently when I had to undergo open-heart surgery for a congenital defect. It was a complex procedure so I had to travel to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City from our home in Alabama for the surgery. That was outside my comfort zone to say the least! But through Run for God I had learned to seek Him first and hear His voice more clearly and because of it, I was able to receive the guidance and peace I very much needed. My Run for God family was there to support me through it all. I don’t know what I would have done without them! They really took to heart the commandment to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 and I am humbled and grateful.

The Run for God programs are well written and supported and improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of the participants while developing a special comradery. Many of my students return again and again and I know it’s not just because they love the sound of my voice! They get something special that you just can’t get through other running programs. One of my students recently started her own group on the other side of town. The two groups joined together to run an aid station at a local half marathon as a way to give back to our running community. At Run for God we learn just how deeply our Heavenly Father loves us and how to show that love to all those around us. Being a Run for God Instructor has been a tremendous blessing to me and I hope to continue to lead classes for many more years, as long as I am able.

Rhonda Williams – Huntsville, Alabama

Our Country Needs God

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

This morning I woke up to news that seems to be coming more and more common.  Another senseless shooting which took the lives of twelve individuals.  This time it was in Thousand Oaks, California.  The town immediately caught my attention as I knew that Run for God has a pretty strong presence there.  Was anyone I knew hurt?  Was anyone that our Instructors know injured?  So many thoughts raced through my mind this time because I actually knew someone in that town.  I lifted this community up in prayer during my quiet time this morning and sent a text to one of our Instructors on the ground letting them know that we were praying for them.

As I went through my day I began to think about how close this shooting hit to my home.  Yes, it happened 3000 miles away, but I actually knew someone in that particular town.  I began to think about where we are as a nation and as a society.  It seems as though we are as divided as you can get. But why?  Why are we so divided?  Why, when something like this happens do we all rally together for a day or two and then quickly run back to our political corners?  Republicans think Democrats are the problem and Democrats think Republicans are the problem.  It’s a never-ending circle that is splitting our nation in half.

Let’s take this tragedy for example.  I can tell you what will happen over the coming days and weeks.  One party will say we need more gun control while the other party will say they are just trying to take our guns.  The issue will turn white hot for a few days and then it will be forgotten within days? But why?  Because another divisive issue will come up and the party lines will once again be drawn.

Let me put this as plainly as I know how to put it. The problem with our nation and society is not a political problem. It’s not a gun problem. It’s not a red or blue problem. It IS a spiritual problem.  Our nation has turned it’s back on God.  It’s true.  As a nation, our identity was once based on God and the Bible.  At one time people knew you by where you went to church.  We bowed our heads in prayer before class at school.  Our children were taught right from wrong based on Christian Values and not based on what you’re rights are or what feels good.  There was a time that as a nation we based our identity on Jesus Christ.

This is truth.  I’m not a very smart guy, but you don’t have to be very smart to look back at the heritage of this country to see what set us apart from many other parts of the world.

2 Chronicles 7:14 was written thousands of years ago and yet wrings so true today.  Our land needs healing.  Gun control will not fix our problem.  More guns will not fix our problem.  More or less rights will not fix our problem.  More democrats or republicans will not fix our problem.  Only God Himself can fix the problem that we’ve gotten ourselves into, and He’s willing to do just that.  But He will only do that once certain conditions are met, and His Word is clear about what those conditions are.  Be humble, pray, seek God, and turn from our wicked ways.  It really is that simple.

Please don’t take this as some sort of political writing, it’s not!  Please don’t demonize me as not being non-inclusive.  Please don’t read into something that I’ve not written.  My message is simple, and it is that as a country we need God on our side.  We need to drop the political rhetoric and humble ourselves, we need to pray, we need to call evil for what it is, and we need to seek God’s face.

The instructor that I texted this morning reached back out to me this evening. It was a message that made my heart sink. She told me that two of the young men who were viciously gunned down last night were family friends; in fact one had just left her office hours before.

Please join me in praying for our country. Please join me in praying for revival. Pray that while we desire worldwide revival, we understand that it needs to start with the person looking back at us in the mirror.

Go up and tell someone who has a different political view that you love them.  I’m serious. If we all did that one thing, we’d be a better country.  Love always wins.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide in faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love”

Friends, I love you.  But more importantly, God loves you.  Now go tell someone about Jesus today.


Local Businessman to match all donations to Run for God up to $30,000.

For Immediate Release

Varnell, GA (www.RunforGod.com) October 18, 2019

Since the fall of 2009 Run for God has one mission, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the sport of running.  Mitchell Hollis had no idea where God was taking this ministry when he decided to have twelve simple t-shirts made.  “I was simply doing what I feel the Lord had laid on my heart,” said Hollis who serves as the President of Run for God ministries.

Run for God has now been taught in over 3500 churches, schools, and community centers around the world, but their focus has begun to shift.  “The program itself used to be the focus,” Hollis said, “But God changed all that!  With God’s direction, we’ve built a large platform, the only questions is, what are we going to do with it?”  Hollis feels that while they will still promote new classes around the world and continue to grow the platform, the primary focus is now boldly sharing the Gospel through mass media.

“Mass Media is effective, but it’s also expensive, and we’ll need help,” explains Hollis.  Mitchell Hollis and his wife Holly prayerfully made the decision this past November to step out in faith and take the entire ministry of Run for God Nonprofit.  Hollis continues, “What God was leading us to do simply could not be done with a traditional business format. A 501c3 nonprofit status offers the accountability, integrity, and transparency that donors demand, and that’s exactly what we want to give them.”

It is for this reason that an anonymous donor has offered to match all donations to Run for God up to $30,000 in an effort to kickoff the fall donation season.  When asked why a donor of this size chose to remain anonymous, Hollis simply said, “That was their desire.”

Run for God has already seen hundreds of salvations and thousands of visits to its Peace with God webpage as a result of what God is doing through these media campaigns.  If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Run for God, please visit http://www.RunforGod.com/Donate

About Run for God

Founded in 2009 by Mitchell and Holly Hollis, Run for God began as a simple class in a North Georgia church.  The goal was to illustrate the parallels of faith and endurance, all the while taking 22 students to their very first 5K.  Since then the ministry has blossomed into over 3500 classes across the globe with over a hundred thousand graduates.  For more information about this ever-growing ministry visit www.RunforGod.com.

Media Inquiries 

For more information or to request an interview contact Gaye Coker by e-mail at CustomerService@RunforGod.comor by phone at 706-694-0937.

The Greatest Evangelist

Who would you say has had the biggest impact on the cause of Christ in recent history?

In light of his recent death, I bet many of you are thinking Billy Graham.

Many consider Billy Graham to be the greatest evangelist of all time, and I tend to agree. Many have referred to him as America’s pastor, and for good reason.  It is estimated that through all forms of media that Billy Graham reached over 2.5 Billion people with the Gospel of Christ resulting in over 3 Million salvations.

There is no doubt that Billy Graham was a tool by which God used for several generations and is still using today even in his passing.  But I would argue that Billy Graham might not have been the greatest evangelist of all time, at least not in the eyes of Billy Graham.

Hear me out.

Billy Graham did not consider himself a celebrity.  In fact, he often referred to himself as a simple farm boy from North Carolina.

You see, we have a problem with putting people on a pedestal and referring to them as great.  It gives us a reason to allow them to do God’s work and not us.  Billy Graham would not have been the evangelist that we all know if it had not been for a gentleman named Mordecai Ham.  Mordecai Ham is most likely a name that you’ve never heard, and for sure not a name that you’ve ever seen listed among the most influential evangelists. But Mr. Ham is the one who led Billy Graham to Christ, and someone led Mordecai Ham to Christ.

Many times we want to leave the evangelism to the evangelist.  We want those we love to find a relationship with Jesus, but we want that introduction to be made by someone else, you know, someone who is qualified, like an evangelist.

This was not Jesus’ intention when He gave us the Great Commission.  Jesus was not only speaking His last words on this earth, but He was speaking to everyone who puts their trust in Him when He said, “Go and Make disciples of ALL nations.”

Evangelism is defined as the spreading of the Christian Gospel by public preaching, OR personal witness. Yes, public preaching would indicate someone like Billy Graham or your pastor, but personal witness would indicate people just like you and me.

So the next time you are confronted with that person who needs to know Jesus, don’t just pick up the phone and ask your pastor to go see them.  Don’t just invite them to church and hope that they’ll hear a message that speaks to their heart.

No, pray for God to give you the words to say and be obedient.  Understand that person is not guaranteed another minute on this earth and may not be here for that next sermon or that next service.

Understand that by definition we are ALL called to be an evangelist.  We are all called to share what God has done in our life.

Friends, I’m sure that Mordecai Ham had no idea of the impact the person he was leading to Christ in November of 1934 would have on this world.  Just like you have no idea what might happen if you simply say to that friend or loved one, “Let’s talk”.

Maybe you’re sitting out there reading this blog and you’re realizing that God is speaking to you in a very different way.  Maybe you’ve got knots in your stomach, a lump in your throat, and you’ve come to the realization that you don’t know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

I’ve got great news! That can change right now.  Please head over to www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod right now and watch four simple videos. The voice you’ll hear will be Billy Graham himself walking you through the Steps to Peace with God.  Don’t wait, head on over right now.

If you like what you’ve heard 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.

Friends I love you all, but more importantly, God Loves You!

Now go tell someone about Jesus!


Be Different

You know, I just dropped my son off at school and there are two things that I often tell him just before he gets out of the truck.  Number one, I always tell him to “Tell someone about Jesus”.  It’s my conviction that we can’t tell our kids that enough.

But there’s something else that I also tell him on a regular basis.

“Be Different.”

I’m not wearing a Run for God shirt today.  That doesn’t happen often, and when it does, people notice. They notice that the “Run for God Guy” is not wearing his normal attire.  But there’s a lesson here.

Just like people notice a difference about me when I’m not wearing a Run for God shirt, they should also notice a difference IN me because I’m a child of God.

My words, my actions, my attitude, and my LIFE should all point to the fact that I don’t reflect the world, but rather JESUS.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Bottom line, as children of God, we are CALLED to be different.

If you’d like to know more about what I’m talking about, please visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

If you like what you’ve heard 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.

Friends I love you all, but more importantly, God Loves You!

Now go tell someone about Jesus!