Run for God – Run Club – Why Now?

Run for God will soon be celebrating its sixth year of sharing the Gospel of Christ through the sport of running. Tens of thousands of people have walked through this program that started with just twenty-two people at Grove Level Baptist Church in Dalton, GA. Although Mitchell did step out of his comfort zone that first cold night in January of 2010, it was never his goal or desire for Run for God to be what it is today. No, if you’ve read his testimony you know that the Run for God of today was nowhere on his radar, but we all know whose radar it was on.

Early on it was obvious that God was at work in this ministry. Doors began to open, walls were taken down, and Run for God almost seemed to grow without any effort at all. Almost daily Mitchell and Holly were pushed farther and farther outside their comfort zone. Holly even left her job doing ultrasounds to keep up with the ever-growing number of classes that began popping up. Why? Because it became very obvious that God was driving this train and someone had better hop on to help.

Since the early days of Run for God not much has changed. We still have a small warehouse that the day-to-day operations are run out of.  We still show up to host races a few times a year, and we still have new classes popping up on a weekly basis. But the Run for God – Run Club may just change that!

Since the beginning, people who have taken The 5K Challenge or The 10K/Half Challenge have all asked the same question. What next? It seems as though the on-going discipleship piece has been missing. We hear from classes all over the country who meet over and over again, not because they need a refresher on how to run a 5K, but because they love the community atmosphere that they were a part of. They learn together, share together, and yes, run together.

We have been discussing a club format for sometime now, but it wasn’t until Devotions that we had a tool to help make that happen. As you know Devotions is an annual study that will keep the Run for God program fresh for years to come. In fact while rewriting The 5K Challenge, which releases this November, we decided to revolve that entire program around Devotions.

Our research tells us that had we started The Run Club back in 2010, it would be the largest running club in America. Not only the largest, but it would be six times larger than the current title holder. Wow! Imagine what a statement would be made if this time next year the Run for God – Run Club was the largest running club in America. It really is no reflection on what the folks at Run for God are doing, but it IS a huge reflection on what God may be up to.

Check out the Run for God – Run Club today at www.RunforGod.com/RunClub and Join The Movement!

Let GO and Let GOD!

Oct7inthewordHebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

In this scripture, the author tells us that we should throw off all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us.  This message is important for those of us who are truly seeking to make Heaven our home.  Imagine yourself running the race for God.  You are running, but you have a heavy load on your back. There are obstacles that keep jumping in front of you that you are allowing to hinder your forward progress. You cannot win a race that way.  You must throw off and get rid of that which hinders you from winning the race!  What is it that is hindering you right now?  Is it a relationship?  Is it a particular sin?  Is it an attitude?  Whatever it is, throw it off such that it doesn’t stand in your way anymore.

It’s so encouraging to know that we can always seek God’s Word and His Will in our time of need. All we need to do is pray and ask God if it is His Will that the obstacle be put aside as you strive to run for Him.  Doing this will not always be easy, but sometimes you have to do something hard for the sake of your relationship with God.  It’s time to evaluate our lives and what is hindering us from being all we can be for God and then as the scripture say–Throw It Off!!!

Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dean Thompson, Run for God

The Unlikely Triathlete, Gwen Jorgensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is our interview with Gwen, enjoy!

Gwen Jorgensen

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

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

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

Gwen: In March of 2010.

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

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

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

Gwen: Never. No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run for God: Any other words of wisdom?

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

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

I’ve Played Golf, But I’m No Golfer!

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

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

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

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

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

Fornicator = Noun   /   Fornicate = Verb

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

Golfer = Noun   /   Golfing = Verb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shining Out for Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asking for Directions

When I was running this morning, I noticed that we are a world of signs. Signs warning us of what is ahead on the road, (when to slow down, when to turn), when there is danger, keeping us off a path, or to stay on track. Our Christian life is meant to be a life with a purpose. It is not supposed to be a walk to nowhere or anywhere, but to somewhere. It’s not just a walk we take, but a journey that has a destination, and there are signs along the way to let us know how far along we have traveled in God’s Word.

The Apostle Paul knew from personal experience what the Christian life was all about. He knew where he was going, and he could tell you or anybody else how to get there. Although Paul had a past, the Christian life to Paul wasn’t about the past, but instead, it was about the present and the future. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13, 14)

Today, we tend to solve our problems by looking back to the root. To Paul, he had a past, but he did not waste time looking backward. We tend to move in the direction we are looking. As we drive, if we spend our time looking back, we will go off the road. It stands to reason that a person who spends a lot of time looking at his or her past life will sooner or later end up going backward. When a person really understands what the Christian life is all about, there is no reason to look back. We can have confidence in knowing that God knows exactly where we are going and how we should get there. So as we navigate through life, we need to continually ask God for directions and through prayer and God’s Word, He will keep us on the right path.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

A Light Unto My Path

Several years ago, I visited Tybee Island for an adventurous race after several weeks of fighting bronchitis and making some tough, emotional family decisions. I headed out solo for a hundred eighty-seven-mile road trip to Georgia’s coast seeking solitude in something us runners seem to know best—run. It was the annual Critz Tybee Run Fest, which consist of five races equaling marathon (26.2) distance. Running is a great stress release and a healthy distraction – not to mention, a great time to meditate with God.

The 5K began Friday evening. The course was very dark and cold. We were told by race volunteers to follow the arrows to stay on course in case we lost our way. We were also given glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, so we would be seen by motorist on the road. The only visible light to runners was the night sky and the lighthouse above.

Once the race began, I felt the week’s events settling. Step by step, the stresses released and the silence took over. Beneath the silence, God began to speak. He opened my eyes to His truths surrounding me. (I love when this happens and this is what my was heart was thirsty for this particular weekend. It’s as if my soul was ignited and coming alive. Excitement filled my heart and I wanted to sing and shout.) This is when my iPod exploded with the words of Third Day. “Jesus, light of the world, shine through the darkness bright as the day. Jesus, light of the world, shine in our hearts show us the way tonight.” It was only then that realized I was already halfway into the race and noticed the lighthouse above shining its light and guiding my steps ahead.

Oftentimes, this is what it’s like when we follow Jesus. He gives us enough light on our path to see our next step. If we knew what we were to do weeks or a month from now, our faith would grow weary and we would not depend on Him. Instead, Jesus shows us what is before us and says, “Trust Me with the rest.”

Just about that time, the course grew darker and I couldn’t see runners or the road. I ran for several minutes listening only to the sound of my breath. I squinted my eyes trying to focus on the course ahead. Suddenly I saw the light of the lighthouse shine, it was like God Himself leading the way. The lighthouse became my guide in the night and to the finish line. Thanks God, this is why I run.

“Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” (Psalm 43:3) Jesus is our Light. He will show us the way.

Have you ever felt like you were in the dark and didn’t know how to proceed? Please share and comment below.

Learning to Stretch Our Faith

images-44“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7 (KJV)

I remember the first time I trained to run my first 5k. I would run as far as I could around the high school track. I felt so defeated if I couldn’t run the entire lap. I didn’t have faith in myself that I could do it. It’s like I gave up on myself before I even started at times.

The Bible teaches us that we are to be growing in our faith. To do this, the Bible says to read God’s word, pray without ceasing, wait on the Lord to accomplish His will, and believe that He has a plan for us. By practicing these spiritual disciplines, we can grow in our faith in Christ. The Lord, however, calls us to go even deeper. 

Our Faith grows when stretched. How do Olympic runners stay in top physical condition? Their muscles had to be exercised, and as they were exercised they were stretched, and as they were stretched they grew stronger. Something we know about the process is that it’s painful. The same occurs with faith. If growing physically stronger was easy everyone would be walking around looking like champion athletes. The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 that the believers’ faith was growing “exceedingly” because of the trials they were enduring. Everyone will experience hard times. The promise of God’s Word is that as our faith is stretched it also grows stronger.

Through time, my faith was stretched and I eventually was able to not only complete one lap, but four laps (an entire mile). I have to admit, it was tough and a bit painful at times, but I was finally able to reach my goal. And guess what? I didn’t stop there, I stretched myself and through prayer and perseverance, God gave me faith and the strength to go even further.

In our spiritual walk this faith process can also be painful. More importantly, God knows it’s painful. However, we have a reward; these trials remind us we are worthy of the kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:5). If we suffer, Jesus understands, for His suffering on our behalf was greater than ours. In Him we find the strength, and the faith, to carry on and run forward in victory.

The Truth About Salvation

Do you know that you know if you died today where you would spend eternity?

Today more than ever our lives are inundated with distractions, and more specifically distractions that take us away from the question posed above. It seems as though everyone wants to know what we think, what we feel, what we would do, or how we would react. I’ve noticed that many news outlets will post a picture or quote of a politically charged nature and simply ask the question “What do you think?” It doesn’t take long until the gloves are off and people are in an all out argument (to put it mildly) about where they stand on the issue, or how they feel. Many times this is done in the name of “A Healthy Debate”.

What good does this do for us as a society? Many will say that we should debate the issues, but many times a debate is the last thing it turns into. So who’s at fault? I submit that everyone who is involved in these distractions is, and that includes me, because I have fallen into these traps many times.

When speaking to those around us, we SHOULD be concerned with the answer to the question that I first posed. WHY? Because Jesus tells us all throughout the New Testament to love. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 says that even if we are all knowing, without love we are NOTHING! Let’s just go ahead and take a look at 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The Bible tells us that the Greatest Gift is love and the Great Commission is to share the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations. So if we are to follow the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift, then we are to lovingly point people to Jesus Christ, PERIOD! I cannot find anywhere in the scripture where Jesus tells us to have a “Healthy Debate”. Stop debating, stop calling names, stop the finger pointing, stop saying what you think or how you feel, AND START LOVING. Can this be tough at times? You bet! Should we take to Facebook because we don’t like what someone said, and “let them have it”? No way!

Let me attempt to get back on point. When prayerfully considered, and done with a sincere heart, asking the question “Do you know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity” is the greatest way to enact the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift. In fact, let me ask you this question.

Do YOU know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity?

Lets breakdown the three answers that you will get from this question. Depending on whom you are asking, you may get a variety of colorful reactions. But many times you will only get one of three answers, “Yes, No, or I Don’t Know”.

Yes

Don’t get excited too quickly. If the answer is yes, then the follow up questions where and why should be asked. If the answer is “Yes, I’m going to Heaven because I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I have a personal relationship with Him” then things are looking good, but we’re not excited just yet.

No or I Don’t Know

I would submit that “No and I Don’t Know” would fall into the same category, and that category would be “No, I do not know where I am going”. At least here, you know where a person stands. They are acknowledging that they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior because of the simple fact that they’re unsure of where they’ll spend eternity. You either KNOW or YOU DON’T. At this point, we are able to explain to this person, if they are willing to listen, what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ and to walk them through the plan of salvation.

Yes*

Yes*, is for those whose convictions or lack of convictions may not line up with their words. Notice I didn’t say, “Actions may not line up with their words”, but rather “Convictions”.

You can’t determine where someone stands eternally based solely on his or her actions. If that were the case, we’d all be headed to hell, because we ALL sin! And many times, this is where the debates begin. “My sin is no worse than your sin”, “You can’t judge me, because you sin too”, and the debates, or might I say distractions, go on and on.

Now I’m not going to get into the specifics of what’s sin and what’s not sin because the Bible is very clear on that answer. Simply put, it’s any thing that does not please God.

So we’ve determined that your answer may be Yes*, and we’ve determined that sin is sin, and we all do it. So the next question I would pose is:

Do you wake up each morning convicted of the sin in your life and with a desire to please God?

Jesus said in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10), “Blessed are those who mourn” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”.

If you are a child of God, If you know that you will spend eternity in Heaven, and, If you know that you have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ, THEN YOU WILL AGONIZE OVER YOUR SIN AND HAVE A DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD DAILY! If this is not the case, meaning you don’t mourn over your sin AND strive to please God daily, then you really need to take a hard look at your salvation because you are riding a very dangerous train. It’s one that says, “I’m headed to Heaven” but in reality is headed straight for Hell.

Let me give an example.

An area that many people struggle with in their life is lust. I think we can all agree that lust would be considered a sin, and often the root of many other sins (James 1:14-15). I think we can also all agree that most Christians and Non-Christians struggle with this sin at some point in their life. So does the fact that I, as a Christian, have struggled with lust mean that I am not a child of God. Of course not! But I also know that each time it happens I am convicted of it, I ask God to forgive me for it, and I do everything in my power not to let it happen again. This means taking myself out of situations where it can happen, not watching shows that cause it to happen, and asking God everyday to protect my eyes from the things that will cause me to stumble. I wake up every morning convicted of my sin and with the genuine desire to please God.

Now let’s say that I were to struggle in the area of lust and were not convicted each time that it occurred. In fact, I defended my right to look at the opposite sex however I like, citing that everyone sins and this one is no different. I mean, it’s not like I’m killing anyone, right?

This is exactly where much of the church is today. People sitting in the pews each Sunday and hanging their hat on a prayer they said years ago. Their life revolves around them, they’ve embraced a sinful lifestyle (all in the name of rights), and they have absolutely no conviction of the Holy Spirit or desire to please the Creator of the universe! THEY ARE LOST. There is a fundamental flaw in our society today that says you can “Hunger and thirst for righteousness” without “Mourning over our sin” or simply put, you can desire to be like Jesus without worrying about your sin. They are correct, we can do that, but we would be severely misguided and LOST!

If you are a child of God, you WILL NOT be comfortable in your sin!

I encourage you to think about our first question. If you are 100% confident that you will be spending eternity with Jesus Christ, then praise God. If you are not 100% positive that you will spend eternity in Heaven, then I encourage you to get on your knees right now and talk to God. He’s there, the door is open, all you have to do is acknowledge that it’s your sin that separates you from God and ask Him to become Lord of your life.

I hope you understand that my motive here is to tell you the truth out of love. Nothing else.

Mitchell

P.S.

If you have questions or would like to know more about how to have “Peace with God”, please visit http://www.runforgod.com/peacewithgod.