Be Different

Be Different BannerHey everyone, Merry Christmas! 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 my truck. Number one, I always tell him to “Tell someone about Jesus today”. It’s my conviction that we just can’t tell our kids that enough. But there’s something else that I also tell him on a regular basis.

Be Different.

You know I’m wearing a Run for God shirt about 90% of the time, and when I’m not, people notice. They notice that the Run for God guy is not wearing his normal attire and many times they’ll even make comments to me. But there’s a lesson to be learned 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 this 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 by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope your week goes well. Love on your family, love on your friends, don’t eat too much, Run for God, tell someone about Jesus, and be different!

Mitchell

If you would like to learn more about how to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, please visit our Peace with God page at www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

To Win. Or to help a brother?

“By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

If you don’t’ follow the sport of triathlon, then you may not have seen what took place this past Sunday in Cozumel, Mexico during the final moments of the World Championships.

Alistair and Johnny Brownlee from Great Britain are two forces that must be reckoned with if you want to claim a top spot in the sport of Olympic distance triathlon. These two brothers claimed gold and silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but it’s what they did this past weekend that has the whole world talking.

While competing at the ITU World Championships in Cozumel, both brothers were beginning to set the stage for yet another one-two finish. Johnny had a comfortable lead as he approached the finish line while his brother was battling it out for second place just behind him. With 1K to go, things went south for Johnny. His body began to shut down in dramatic fashion as a stumbled to the side of the course only meters from the finish.

Johnny appeared to be done. He looked dazed, and a podium finish seemed to be disappearing. It was at this moment that his brother Alistair rounded the corner on his way to what would now be a gold medal when he noticed Johnny standing to the side of the course. To everyone’s sheer amazement Alistair also stopped as his gold medal chances ran buy him. He put his brothers arm around his neck and all but dragged him to the finish line. As if that were not enough, as they approached the finish line, he pushed his brother to the finish ahead of him.

Today, you see the images and pictures all over the Internet. Alistair is being called a hero, which in my eyes he is. It’s a teachable moment for athletes of all ages all over the world. Here is a guy who sacrificed his own aspirations for another brother.

Could this be a living picture of 1 John 3:16? Now I do not know the spiritual well being of Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee, but I do know this, Alistair showed sacrificial love for his brother. He showed a side of humanity the Christ calls us to put on display daily. He showed that when your brother is down, you help them up, not run past them. He showed us that real love is an act of giving ones self even at a cost.

Thank you Brownlee Brothers for not only being a shining example of sportsmanship, but for showing how we can all live 1 John 3:16 lives.

Watch the dramatic finish of the 2016 ITU World Championships HERE.

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!!!

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.

Run for God – Devotions

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Below is an excerpt from Run for Gods – Devotions. Formatting will be different in actual book.

Week 18

Run the Race God Has Set Before You

One Sunday morning during the meet and greet time at church, two ladies commented on my upbeat personality. One woman said that I am always so bubbly, and another said that I always smile. I didn’t have time to tell them that I don’t always wake up that way. Some days I have to talk myself into that smile. I also have to remind myself daily to be grateful for all I have and force myself not to dwell on things I don’t need.

Every morning, I mentally prepare myself to face the world. I hit snooze a few times. I get up, go into the bathroom, and look at the scared person staring at me in the mirror. I make breakfast and pack lunch for my son and myself, but during this whole process, I am in prayer. If you were sitting in my kitchen watching me, you might think I was doing what any normal mom does as a morning routine. If you were to look closer though, you would see that I was quietly talking.

I give my fear and anxiety over to God. Jesus says I don’t have to carry that burden, so I try not to. I thank God for the food I am preparing, the home we live in, the little boy laughing at cartoons in the other room, the heat, electricity, and the most basic of things that I take for granted every day. By the time I am ready to walk out the door, all of the worldly junk that fills my mind has finally been cleared. When I get to my porch, I am able to greet my neighbors with a smile.

Most people don’t understand how I can be so positive all the time. It is simple. I choose not to worry about what I can’t control. I choose to give the negativity, illness, worry, and stress in my life over to God, but I didn’t learn to do that on my own.

In January 2013, my sister convinced me to join a local Run for God 5K challenge. Scared and worried about embarrassing myself, I agreed to try it. I ran track in junior high and high school, and I was so bad my parents begged me to quit at the end of my freshman season. Run for God was not what I expected at all. Everyone was so warm and friendly. The program is tailored to reach people of all faith levels and fitness levels, and God did what God does. He met me where I was and carried me to the finish line.

The Run for God class prepared me to begin a journey back to God. Each week I read the story and listened to people’s responses to the discussion questions, and I thought, “Why am I so angry all the time? I have a good life in spite of being a single mom. I have enough money for all the things my son and I need, a wonderful family, and a good job. Why can’t I just be happy?” During week three of our Run for God class, the discussion was titled “Running Your Own Race: Running the Race God Has Set before You.” I knew then that it wasn’t my sister who led me to the class, but God.

My sister is extremely athletic. She runs much faster than I do, but when we trained together for the 5K, she never left my side. She pushed me through each work out, running beside me step by step. She refused to allow me to quit or fail. A week before our race, the words “run your own race” rattled around in my head. My sister would have stayed with me through the whole course if I had wanted her to, but I decided it was time for me to trust God and let Him carry me to the finish line. I told her to go run her race, meet her time goals, and I would run mine.

I was scared out of my mind when the gun went off, but I turned on my mp3 player and went on my way. I became discouraged in the first half mile because I felt as if hundreds of people were passing me. I knew I had to change my focal point, so I concentrated on my breathing and paced myself to the beat of the music. Around the one-mile marker, I started seeing the leaders of the race looping back. I passed people from my RFG group as they headed back to the finish line. They were over half way done with the race and I had at least a mile ahead of me. They were throwing me high five’s and yelling, “Good job!” I felt overwhelmed by their love. God was showing His love through them.

My sister’s house is about half way through the course, and when I reached it, I cried. My son was sitting in the front yard with my mom. He yelled and waved a sign that read “GO MOMMY!” It took about 300 feet for me to pull myself back together, but I picked up the pace and started the loop back. As my music carried me, I felt a second surge of energy take me into the last mile. Then I saw my sister, who had already crossed the finish line, running toward me. She ran the last mile with me, encouraging me to stay strong. She stepped off to the side about 200 feet from the end, and in the photo of me crossing the finish line, you can see her in the background with her hands around her mouth, yelling at the top of her lungs.

Faith and God’s great love carried me through that race. Run for God taught me that anything is possible with God on my side and faith in my heart. I smile and have a happy heart today, because I am running God’s race.

In Galatians, Paul says they are focused on the wrong things. Christ gave them a mission. He has given each of us a mission. I had to run a 5K to realize my mission, and now that I am running my race, I don’t plan to ever look back. Every morning I wake up, praise God, and ask Him to show me what path I need to run. Without Him, I would be lost on the trail.

Katie Hendricks – Carrollton, OH

Get In The Word

Galatians 5:7–8

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Scripture Memorization

Write out the scripture(s) in the space below and recite them ten times.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Something to Ponder

What are you withholding from God? What burdens do you carry that you should give up to Him?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and allowed God to carry you through your fears?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you spend time with God each day, asking Him about your mission in order to avoid allowing Satan a foothold for distraction?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Running Observations by Dean

Thank the Volunteers

Races are great fun! It doesn’t matter if it is a local race with 100 participants or a party moving down Peachtree Street in Atlanta called “The Peachtree Road Race.” There are mud runs, color runs, and foam runs. Some races are plotted through downtown areas, some through the woods. Some have tons of awards; some are no-frills. There are 5Ks, 100 milers, triathlons, and duathlons. There is a race for everyone. Whether a race requires a lot of planning or only needs someone to draw a line in the dirt, they all have one thing in common—volunteers.

Many volunteers are runners themselves and understand what you are going through as you run. Many of them get up early on Saturday mornings to help their community or the race’s charitable beneficiary: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or ROTC for example. Almost any race that takes place on the roads will employ the services of the local police department, and although they may be paid for their services, they usually volunteer to do the work.

Race directors have a huge responsibility to bring their event together for everyone to enjoy. Have you ever wondered how the portable toilets show up for the event? Yes, the race director has to pay attention to every detail, and at most events they have curve balls thrown at them all day long. They must make decisions quickly, because more questions are coming in another three minutes. Usually when I want to talk to the race director on race morning, I have to wait in line.

On race day, those who hand out drinks, tell you where to turn, and protect you from traffic have put love and time into their roles under a director’s supervision in order to give you a great experience. If you are not one who already tells the volunteers how much you appreciate them, tell someone the next time you race. For most events, volunteering means giving up a day to a cause, and you are part of that cause. Remember that whenever something doesn’t go well for you. These people care about doing things right. I once ran a marathon and was going to receive the first place masters award. When they called out the winner, the time was fifteen minutes slower than my time. Imagine my shock. I calmly walked to the front to explain what had happened, and the race director sent me a trophy in the mail the next week. Problem solved, and I didn’t need to get upset about it.

Like a race, God has set up a course for us to follow. He is standing at the corners telling us which way to turn. He has aid stations along the way to help with any need. He waits for us at the finish line with something much better than a medal—everlasting life.

  • Races are full of volunteers trying to make your day the best it can be.
  • The volunteers really like hearing appreciation from participants, so thank everyone at your next event.
  • God wants us to run His course.  He said it would not be the easy course, but it will be worth the effort.

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